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Cher at NYC Pride; Etheridge calls Jolie surgery 'fearful'
Entertainment news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Singer, actress and gay icon Cher will headline NYC Pride's annual Dance on the Pier June 30, according to the Huffington Post. The singer will perform her new single "Woman's World" from her forthcoming Closer to the Truth album, which is due out in September, along with several of her classic hits. The show will take place on Hudson River Park's Pier 26.

Lesbian singer Melissa Etheridge, herself a breast-cancer survivor, told the Washington Blade that she wouldn't get a double mastectomy like Angelina Jolie did after the actress learned she had a cancer gene mutation. "I have that gene mutation, too, and it's not something I would believe in for myself," Etheridge said. "I wouldn't call it the brave choice. I actually think it's the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer." Etheridge also said she wouldn't encourage others to have the surgery without properly researching their options.

Actress Sandra Bullock is currently negotiating a deal to star as Miss Hannigan in the upcoming film remake of Annie, according to a Digital Spy item. Will Smith and Jay-Z are co-producers on the film, which is currently scheduled to be released next year. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is signed up to play the title role after Will's daughter Willow pulled out earlier this year to "be a normal 12-year-old." Bullock supposedly turned down the role when talks fell through in March, but negotiations have reportedly resumed.

Ellen DeGeneres recently surprised a lesbian military couple (Stephanie and Tracy) on her talk show, according to the Huffington Post. The television host gave the active duty Air Force member and former Marine with $20,000 cash and an all-expenses-paid honeymoon trip to Turtle Island Resort in Fiji (worth $17,000). Short on funds, the two have been saving up for their dream wedding; one of the women even picked up an extra job delivering pizzas.

On HuffPost Live, actor/comedian Russell Brand sounded off on same-sex marriage, according to the Huffington Post. Touching on controversial marriage-equality statements recently made by Jeremy Irons and Bill O'Reilly, Brand told host Josh Zepps, "It's silly to legislate bigotry. Let people be married to each other if they want to. People are too entrenched in fear."

Actress/comedian Tracey Ullman could be joining the cast of Into the Woods, Digital Spy stated. Ullman is eyeing the role of Jack the Giant Killer's mother in the film, which Chicago's Rob Marshall will direct. Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Christine Baranski, Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine are already attached to the movie. The is about around a couple who venture into the dark woods to confront a witch (Streep) who has cursed their family; on the way they meet various fairy-tale characters, including Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf (Depp).

Contestant Jonathan Allen took to the stage of TV's America's Got Talent June 11 and displayed what the judges thought was an impressive operatic voice, according to the Huffington Post. However, before performing, he revealed that his parents had kicked him out of the house on his 18th birthday for being gay. After performing, judge Howie Mandel said, "Your own family disowned you, but with your talent, this show has become your family, and we'd like to say 'Welcome home.' We love you, we accept you and we are so proud that you came here."

Lady Gaga producer Zedd has said the singer's new album, ARTPOP, is taking an "experimental approach," according to Digital Spy. The German DJ said he is "really, really excited" for people to hear the outcome of the unusual recording process. On the album's sound, he told Rolling Stone, "We didn't try to make an EDM album—but, at the same time, we didn't try not to make an EDM album. I've done a lot of stuff that's really outside of what I usually do." ARTPOP is expected to be released later this year.

Singer Adele is among those recognized in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list in England, Digital Spy noted. The "Rolling in the Deep" singer received MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) recognition. Among other honors, Tony Robinson was knighted, while singer PJ Harvey received MBE recognition and actor Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) got a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).

Actor Seth Rogen, currently playing himself in the movie This Is the End, probably put an end to future projects with Barbra Streisand by revealing that he didn't like The Guilt Trip, the film he recently made with her, according to E! Online. "We shot that movie in the format that plays on airplanes only," Rogen said on a recent podcast when he host noted that he had run across the road-trip comedy on two different flights. Rogen also dissed his movie The Green Hornet, calling it the "perfect storm of bad s—t happening."

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Josh Thomson asked on his Facebook page, "Should you be allowed to marry whoever you want? Before you answer that, should u be allowed to have more than 1 wife?," according to the Huffington Post. What followed was Thomson, among other things, comparing marriage equality to polygamy, pedophilia and incest. Bleacher Report noted that Thomson issued a statement saying, "I am not against gay rights or gay marriage in anyway [sic]. My comments were completely taken out of context by some members of the media and I have since removed them out of respect for anyone who may have been offended. It was not my intention to offend or hurt anyone."

Former Mad Men actor Bryan Batt—who played closeted art director Sal Romano for the show's first three seasons—recently took the stage of New York's 54 Below club for his new solo cabaret show, "Batt on a Hot Tin Roof," according to the Huffington Post. Batt (who, unlike Romano, is out of the closet) performed a set list that included pop hits by Billy Joel along with showtunes by Jerry Herman, Cole Porter and Maury Yeston. Batt is also set to take the show, which had its 54 Below premiere in January, on the road, with weeklong stints in London and San Francisco in the works.

Singer Chris Brown, who used to be prone to anti-gay slurs, is now incorporating pro-gay statements in his songs, the Huffington Post reported. Brown issued a series of tweets that discussed a new single connected with what he calls his "Unity Campaign." In part, he posted, "The new single is apart of my "UNITY CAMPAIGN" which encourages all races, genders, sexes, (everyone) gay or straight to love each other!" Brown, whose sixth album comes out July 16, has apologized before for various anti-gay statements.

The dates have been set for the production of A Streetcar Named Desire that will star True Blood's hunky werewolf Joe Manganiello, according to . Directed by Mark Rucker, the production will open Yale Repertory Theatre's 2013-14 season Sept. 20-Oct. 12 at New York City's University Theatre. Manganiello will portray brutish Stanley Kowalski.

Ellen DeGeneres' show and the soap opera Days of our Lives were among the winners at the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, broadcast live June 16 from Los Angeles on HLN, according to . The Ellen DeGeneres Show won for Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment while "Days" received Outstanding Daytime Drama honors (the first time since 1975). Chandler Massey won his second Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series for portraying gay "Days" character Will Horton, and LGBT ally Ricki Lake won for Outstanding Talk Show Host, although her show has been cancelled.

In another Daytime Emmy development, Kevin Clash—the gay puppeteer who resigned last year amid a underage-sex controversy—won three awards for voicing Sesame Street's Elmo, according to Gay Star News. Clash, won an Emmy for outstanding performer in a children's series and shared Emmys for outstanding pre-school children's series and directing in a children's series. Last fall, three men filed lawsuits alleging the actor engaged in sexual misconduct with them when they were teens.

New York City country-and- western-theme gay bar Flaming Saddles is getting its own reality show, the New York Post reported. It will follow straight couple Jacqui Squatriglia and Chris Barnes, who own the saloon that's hosted Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Anderson Cooper and members of The Book of Mormon cast. Among other things, the bar is apparently known for its well-muscled dancing bartenders.

Out former diver Greg Louganis is getting married, according to . He and partner Johnny Chaillot, a paralegal, will get married this fall. The HIV-positive, 53-year-old diving champion, who was a judge on ABC's reality-diving competition Splash and currently mentors the U.S. Olympic diving team, told People magazine, "I finally met my soulmate. The more I fall in love with Johnny, the more I fall in love with myself. This is what the universe had in store for both of us."

Gay actor Neil Patrick Harris, who recently hosted the Tony Awards (again), will star in the spring 2014 Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, according to a item. A musical dramedy about a fictional band fronted by an East German transgender singer named Hedwig—whom Harris will portray—Hedwig and the Angry Inch ran for more than two years at Off-Broadway's Jane Street Theatre starting February 1998. Rolling Stone magazine later called it the best rock musical ever.

The life of Emile Griffith, the bisexual boxer who killed an opponent, is now an opera, Gay Star News noted. In 1962, welterweight champion Benny "The Kid" Paret whispered an anti-gay slur in the ear of Griffith, whose sexuality was the subject of whispers at that time; Griffith pummeled Paret, who lapsed into a coma and died 10 days later. The opera, entitled Champion, had its first performance recently at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Griffith, now 75, suffers from from dementia and resides in a nursing home in Long Island, N.Y.

Rosie O'Donnell has sold her Miami mansion for $16.5 million—$3 million under the asking price, the New York Post noted. She bought the Miami property in 1999 from the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, known for its pot-smoking, Rastafarian parishioners. Broker Dennis Mangone has also listed O'Donnell's Greenwich Village apartment for $10.95 million; she bought the four-bedroom unit for $8 million last year. O'Donnell, who now has a fifth child, reportedly needs more space.

Someone else who is selling her home is country-music superstar and marriage-equality backer Carrie Underwood, according to . Underwood and husband Mike Fisher are selling their Canadian home (in Ottawa, more specifically) for $2.2 million. Built in 2010, it's a two-story, five-bedroom, five-bathroom house—and it's where he reportedly proposed to her.

Singer/actress Beyonce has settled a $100-million lawsuit against a videogame company for allegedly backing out of a deal for a motion-capture dance game called "Starpower: Beyonce," according to the New York Post. In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, attorneys for the singer and for gaming outfit Gate Five signed an agreement dismissing "all claims or counterclaims" without attorneys' fees. Knowles had ditched the deal, claiming that Gate Five hadn't secured funding it promised.

Folk singer Jenny Owen Youngs just made two announcements: she's lesbian and engaged, according to the Huffington Post. The 31-year-old Youngs came out of the closet in a blog post on Everyone Is Gay, saying she didn't want to come out because she doesn't want "coming out to be a thing that anyone has to do." Youngs first hit the alternative-music scene in 2005 and is best known for her single "Fuck Was I."

British actress Archie Panjabi—who plays sexually ambiguous Kalinda on the CBS show The Good Wife—helped immunize children against polio during a charity trip to India earlier this year, according to . Panjabi is a longtime supporter of the Rotary International organization's campaign against the disease, and she took time out of her schedule to visit New Delhi. While there, she met people and even administered oral vaccinations.

Britney Spears has confirmed that her eighth studio record will be out later this year, according to Digital Spy. The singer revealed that fans will be "surprised" by some of her new material, and confirmed earlier speculation that she will be working with William Orbit (who has worked with Madonna) on the collection. Spears has officially premiered her new single "Ooh La La," which she has recorded for upcoming movie The Smurfs 2.

A Swedish museum dedicated to the '70s band ABBA has come under fire for charging infants admission, according to Recently, museum officials insisted a woman pay 50 kronor ($7.60) to bring her infant son into the newly opened venue in Stockholm. When alerted to the situation, Abba museum CEO Mattias Hansson admitted the incident had been a "mistake," but then said, "We only require payment for children who can walk." Most museums in Stockholm don't charge admission for children under the age of 2, with some allowing children as old as 6 to enter without needing to pay.

Get ready for Honey Boo Boo merchandise, according to USA Today. The line of items based on 7-year-old reality-TV star Alana Thompson will include a book, How to Honey Boo Boo: The Complete Guide on How to Redneckognize the Honey Boo Boo in You, that will be out July 9. There will also be other items ranging from calendars and posters to T-shirts and talking key chains. The new season of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premieres July 17.

British singer George Michael is writing a new album while he recovers from head injuries sustained during a car accident last month, according to Reuters. The 49-year-old former Wham! frontman has been recuperating at home after nearly two weeks in hospital. British media reported that Michael fell out of a car at speed on a busy motorway outside London during rush hour May 16.

More than a year after stepping down as showrunner on HBO's vampire drama True Blood, Alan Ball is getting back to his roots as a writer, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Oscar- (American Beauty) and Emmy-winning (Six Feet Under) writer recently said, "I'm just writing for the love of writing, getting back to what it used to be with just me and the computer. I have a series idea that I'm working on and writing on spec and have two screenplays I'm trying to put together."

James Franco has launched a new crowdfunding project to finance three feature films about teenage life in his hometown of Palo Alto, Calif., adapted from his own 2010 book of short stories, Palo Alto, according to . Franco has asked Nina Ljeti, Vladimir Bourdeau, Bruce Thierry Cheung and Gabriel Demestree to direct, and is seeking to raise $500K via Indiegogo to split evenly between the three projects.

The legendary Chicago house label Trax is producing a 16-CD box set that will feature the first 75 Trax Records 12-inch releases, including both A and B sides, according to . The set, Traxbox, will document the label's beginnings in 1985 onward, with tracks featuring people like Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles and Farley Jackmaster Funk.

One year after an Adam Lambert-fronted Queen rocked a series of sold-out shows overseas, there's word that the pairing may happen again, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In an interview with MTV UK, Queen guitarist Brian May hinted that the band is ready to welcome the American Idol alum back. In other Lambert-related news, he recently headlined Pittsburgh's "Pride in the Street" event, where he treated the crowd to a cover of the Queen song "Dragon Attack."

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