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Billy Masters
by Billy Masters
2018-09-26

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"America's Got Talent got a bigger audience than the Emmys. Write your own punch line. It's a Jewish holiday."—Perennial awards show scribe Bruce Vilanch's quip on the ratings for the Emmy Awards.

If you missed the Emmy Awards, you weren't alone. Not only were the ratings down 11 percent from last year; the show hit an all-time low. But don't take these numbers as a waning interest solely in television—ratings for this year's Oscars telecast were down 19 percent, while the Grammys tanked more than 23 percent. The decline for a televised awards show about television is also deceptive—the vast majority of nominees were for cable and streaming services, while the show was hosted by Saturday Night Live cast members on NBC. Relevance is as hot a topic as diversity, which was the theme of the Emmy's opening musical number.

Since most of you missed the show, here are some of my highlights. Jenifer Lewis showed her support for Colin Kaepernick by arriving clad head to toe in Nike (and she threw in a high kick on the red carpet just to show those bastards she still could). After his first nomination 42 years ago, Henry Winkler finally won an Emmy! I'm not entirely sure Betty White knew where she was, but she managed to pull it off ... even though she was dangerously close to exclaiming, "Gladiator!"

RuPaul presented an award with Leslie Jones. Girl, would it kill you to wear a gown? Yes, I'm talking to you, Leslie! As to Ru, congrats on making history by winning Best Host of a Reality Competition Series and snagging Best Reality Competition Series with RuPaul's Drag Race. Darren Criss never misses an opportunity to remind us he's straight. I LOVED the "Reparation Emmys" sketch. Why is it that Tina Fey always looks as comfortable walking in a dress as Jodie Foster or Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg? Taraji, you work that train! Sandra Oh is still trying to explain to her mother that she didn't win (but as she said, "It's an honor just to be Asian"). I'm still not convinced Tim Gunn isn't being held hostage by Heidi Klum and possibly the Symbionese Liberation Army. Lastly, that was an awfully chaste kiss between Ricky Martin and his hubby.

I am proud to announce what is likely destined to be one of this year's Billy's Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions—the Stormy Daniels comic book. Political Power: Stormy Daniels is available digitally and in two collective and one hardcover edition on Amazon. It's not what one would call heavy reading—the 24-page comic will likely hold the attention of an 8-year-old boy or a 72-year-old commander-in-chief. Written and drawn by Joe Paradise, it chronicles Stormy's "journey from scrappy opportunist to unlikely feminist icon." The artist kinda made Stormy look like Pamela Anderson as Stripperella or Barb Wire, and shows her in such situations as spanking a sitting president. We'll show some of the more choice illustrations on BillyMasters.com .

Adam Rippon is officially an American treasure. Last week, he announced (on Twitter, of course): "Pretty cool to soon have something on display in the American History Museum. Now, I just need to convince someone that they need to be next to the ruby slippers." Rippon donated his Olympic costume and skates to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

I'd say Sesame Street qualifies as an American treasure. And I'd place Ernie and Bert near the top of the list of indelible inhabitants. Every once in a while, people wonder whether the "roommates" are gay or straight. Former "Sesame" writer Mark Saltzman added fuel to the fire, saying, "I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were gay. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them."

It should be noted that the characters were actually created in the original Sesame Street pilot in 1969; Saltzman didn't start writing for the show until 1984. The Sesame Workshop issued a statement of their own: "Sesame Street has always stood for inclusion and acceptance. It's a place where people of all cultures and backgrounds are welcome. Bert and Ernie were created to be best friends, and to teach young children that people can get along with those who are very different from themselves. They also added "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation." Tell that to Miss Piggy, who constantly lusts after an ambivalent amphibian: Kermit.

With all the buzz about Bradley Cooper's remake of A Star Is Born, many media outlets say that the one film you have to see FIRST is Barbra Streisand's remake of A Star Is Born. The 1976 version has been available in the home video market for years. However, Streisand recently remastered it, added in some deleted scenes and spruced it up for Netflix. Well, you didn't expect her to sit back and let Lady Gaga have a moment, did you?

When I heard that Cicely Tyson was receiving an honorary Oscar, I was sure it was for her stirring performance at Aretha's funeral—except, of course, that wasn't a film (but it might as well have been). This particular honor is for her body of work on the silver screen. The presentation will take place at the 10th Annual Governors Award on Nov. 18—because, of course, they don't have time to give it out during the Oscars telecast.

Those of you in Southern California will want to save the date of Oct. 6. That's when the AC Gallery in Hollywood will host a "red-carpet" life celebration of Tab Hunter, which will coincide with a series of life-size paintings of the actor by video director Vance Lorenzini. Hunter's partner, Allan Glaser, came up with the idea of remembering Hunter with this event, which will start at 6 p.m. The exhibition runs through Nov. 28.

When we're saying goodbye to Tab (the actor, not the drink), it's time to end yet another column. And what a long column it was. I barely have time to remind you to check outBillyMasters.com—the site that doesn't need remastering. As always, send your questions to me at Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Ernie and Bert get married in a very special episode of Sesame Street! So, until next time, remember: One man's filth is another man's bible.


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