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Entertainment: Jennifer Holliday, Jim Parsons, stars say goodbye to Obama
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-01-18

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On Jan. 14, singer Jennifer Holliday released a letter addressed to the LGBT community announcing that she will no longer be performing at the presidential inauguration concert, apologizing for what she called a "lapse of judgment," The Daily Beast noted. She cited a Daily Beast article in her letter, saying that after she read it she realized that "my only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!"

Variety has released a survey of TV's top talent and their respective earnings per episode, and LGBT individuals are really raking in the big bucks, Out noted. The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons makes $1 million per episode, topping the list. Jesse Tyler Ferguson walks away with $250,000 an episode on Modern Family. Regarding reality/talk shows, Ellen DeGeneres comes in third with $20 million a year, and Miley Cyrus with $13-15 million on The Voice. Also, Anderson Cooper takes home between $9-11 million a year from CNN, and Andy Cohen gets $4-5 million a year for Watch What Happens Live.

Speaking of Parsons, Discovery Channel has greenlighted the medical-research docuseries First in Human: The Trials of Building 10, which has him as narrator and executive producer, Deadline noted. The three-part documentary series, produced by McGee Media, begins airing on Thursday, May 18, on Discovery. First in Human gives viewers unprecedented access inside the National Institutes of Health's Building 10, the largest hospital in the world devoted solely to research where some of medicine's riskiest and most critical research is done.

Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton will present the SAG Life Achievement Award to actor, comedian, writer, producer and all-round entertainment maverick Lily Tomlin during the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, a press release stated. ( The trio starred in the movie 9 to 5. ) The SAG Life Achievement Award is the latest in Tomlin's collection of preeminent industry and public honors, which includes a 2014 Kennedy Center Award, the 2003 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, two Peabody Awards, multiple Emmys, numerous American Comedy Awards, two Tony Awards and a Grammy.

Hollywood responded quickly to President Barack Obama's Jan. 10 farewell address, according to Deadline. Shonda Rhimes tweeted a selfie from Chicago with the note, "Here to show our love for our POTUS," Russell Simmons quoted Martin Luther King Jr. about the arc of moral justice and Ellen DeGeneres suggested Twitter couldn't contain her full emotions. Others posting included Orange Is the New Black's Taylor Schilling ( "Yes we can. #FarewellObama" ) and George Takei ( "Watching Obama's final address, and realizing how very, very far we are about to descend. Farewell, O Captain my Captain! Heavens save us."

"If Donald Trump actually watches the show, he might like the show," Dustin Lance Black told a room of TV critics and reporters about When We Rise, ABC's eight-hour miniseries about the gay-rights movement, according to TheWrap. Rachel Griffiths, Mary-Louise Parker, Guy Pearce, Micheal K. Williams and Ivory Aquino star; and Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Denis O'Hare, David Hyde Pierce guest-star in the miniseries that chronicles the personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of men and women who helped pioneer the civil rights struggle.

Musician Robyn and house producer Mr. Tophat have released their collaborative EP Trust Me, PaperMag.com noted. In advance, they released the nine-minue track "Right Time." Robyn is big on collabs, but this is her first since she 2015, when she released Love is Free—her last EP with close friend Christian Falk, shortly after he died.

Harvey Levin's right-hand man, Mike Walters, quit TMZ after the two very nearly came to blows in front of the newsroom shortly before Christmas, according to an SFGate.com item that cites TheWrap. Sources said it started because Levin didn't want to re-negotiate the contract of Liz Walters, who is Mike's sister and ran the company's court reporting beat. Levin referred to her as "shady" to the entire staff and Walters immediately confronted him, needing to be physically restrained by staffers. TheWrap learned that Levin repeatedly shouted "shady" during the altercation, and Mike Walters packed up his stuff and left the office without returning.

Dancing with the Stars pro dancer Louis van Amstel tied the knot with his longtime boyfriend and health coach, Joshua Lancaster, according to ExtraTV.com . The two exchanged vows in a winter-themed wedding in Utah that was attended by other pro dancers such as Chelsie Hightower and Ashley DelGrosso, as well as former contestants Kelly Osbourne and Sabrina Bryan. The couple meet in 2009.

On the other end—just days after her wedding was scheduled to take place—Orange Is the New Black actress Lea DeLaria has announced the end of her engagement to Chelsea Fairless, ExtraTV.com noted. DeLaria took to Instagram to reveal the two are apart, but on friendly terms. "We were happy together for four years and will remain in each other's lives. In fact, we look forward to finding new ways to torture each other," DeLaria posted.

Frameline—a San-Francisco based media arts non-profit and host to the longest-running and largest LGBTQ film-exhibition event in the world—launches a monthly film initiative highlighting underserved members of the queer community, according to a press release. Each month, an LGBTQ film featuring youth, elders, people of color, and/or transgender people will be highlighted on YouTube as part of a Frameline Voices relaunch for 2017. Frameline's online portal, Frameline Voices, originally launched in 2011 and has reached nearly 4 million views on more than 125 short and feature-length films.

Two months after American Horror Story was renewed for a seventh cycle, to air later this year, FX has picked up two more installments, adding eighth and ninth seasons of the horror anthology series that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk created, Deadline reported. The American Horror Story franchise, produced by 20th Century Fox TV, has won 15 Emmy Awards and dominates FX's top telecasts of all time; in adults 18-34, 12 of the Top 15 most-watched FX telecasts ever are AHS telecasts. Also, Murphy revealed that series stock players Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters are returning for season seven, which will be set in modern day.

Madonna is working on a movie project that she hopes will speak to audiences today about sexuality and women's rights, Out noted. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, the queen of pop revealed that she is working on Loved, an adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer's novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. "It touches on a lot of really important topics I've always been invested in or championed—fighting for women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, always fighting for the underdog," she said.

Academy Award-winning actress Mo'Nique has discussed the Kim Burrell controversy, according to NewNowNext. "It's almost laughable, because you're saying that in 2017, we are still dealing with people taking issue with people being who they were born to be, who they choose to be," Mo'Nique said on Mo'Nique and Sidney's Open Relationship, a radio talk show she has with her husband. "People are still taking issue with the cloak o, 'I am a warrior for Jesus and I must fight for Jesus and stop all you fags and dykes before y'all get condemned to hell.' "There are so many other things we could be fighting for. We're wasting our energy fighting over love."

Out journalist Thomas Roberts is featured in the latest issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine, On Top Magazine noted. "[Working out] has become a healthy addiction, I can't live without it," Roberts is quoted as saying. Roberts, 44, came out publicly in 2006 and in 2015 became the first openly gay evening news anchor on network television when he hosted NBC Nightly News. The host of MSNBC's recently canceled Live with Thomas Roberts has yet to announce where his career is headed.

Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Grammy Award winner Melina Matsoukas, and Moonlight writer-director Barry Jenkins will serve as judges for "Elton John: The Cut supported by YouTube," a press release noted. Together with John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin, three winners will be selected, and those winning entries will premiere on YouTube in summer of 2017. Entries are now officially open to the public; people are asked to submit music video for three of John's hits: "Bennie and the Jets," "Rocket Man" and "Tiny Dancer." The deadline is Jan. 23; see https://thecut.eltonjohn.com/.

The Witness—a movie about lesbian Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in 1964—is being shown again in hopes of Oscar's Best Documentary, Page Six reported. Director James D. Solomon said, "Watching her murder in Kew Gardens were 38 witnesses who did nothing to help. The story of apathy is our city's condemnation." Genovese's murderer, Winston Moseley—who confessed to the killings of Genovese and two other young women in a handwritten statement—died at 81 on March 28, 2016.

CMT star/iHeartRadio host Cody Alan has come out as gay, People noted. "Once I realized it was okay to accept the truth, that it wasn't my choice," he told People exclusively. "It was a lot easier to start figuring out where to go with my life next." Since having that epiphany, the CMT personality has spent years coming to terms with his sexuality; today, "I feel comfortable enough with myself to share it," Alan said. He added, "It's awesome now because I have a partner, my ex[-wife] has a boyfriend, and with our kids, we have this really beautiful, blended, loving, modern family that works for us."

Actress Milla Jovovich ( the Resident Evil movies ) talked with The Advocate about various LGBT-related issues, a press release stated. On her support of the LGBT community, she said, "We're talking about my friends, my colleagues, my mentors, people I've known for years, and people I work with every day. So I've never thought twice about supporting LGBT rights." Jovovich also admitted to finding Elizabeth Banks "really hot"—but said that Ruby Rose "is a little too boyish for me. If I'm going that way, I'm more of a lipstick lesbian."

Andy Cohen is adding another job to his ever-growing resume—but this one's on Fox, E! Online reported. Cohen will host and co-executive produce the new version of Love Connection, the relationship game show that ran from 1983-1994 with a brief revival in 1998. Fox's revival of Love Connection will premiere this summer.

There's been another early renewal for Fox's flagship drama Empire, which is being picked up for a fourth season, Deadline noted. The series, now on a winter hiatus, returns for its spring premiere on March 22. In addition to the regular cast, the series has featured guest appearances by Mariah Carey, Taye Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, Chris Rock, Alicia Keys, Marisa Tomei, Naomi Campbell and others.

Amber Rose has proudly declared herself "extremely open" and able to "find beauty in everybody"—but the model/ actress surprised fans recently when she revealed she'd rule out a romance with a bisexual man, The Huffington Post noted. Rose, who is currently dating Dancing with the Stars pro Val Chmerkovskiy, made the admission during a Jan. 4 appearance on Loveline, a relationship and dating advice podcast. She said, in part, "In my personal life, in my sex life, in who I choose to love, I just think that I would think about it too much. It would bother me in a way. I wouldn't be comfortable with it and I don't know why."

The small wooden cottage that was the birthplace of late singer, pianist and civil-rights activist Nina Simone is for sale in Tryon, North Carolina, according to Page Six. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the current owner of the 664-square-foot home has done work to shore up the foundation and restore the interior of the cottage in hopes of it being used as a museum. The asking price for the home, which was built in 1930, is $95,000.

George Michael reportedly tried to end his relationship with Australian lover Fadi Fawaz several times in the last 18 months before Michael's passing, according to News.com .au. According to The Sun newspaper, the star was said to have told his on-off boyfriend not to come to his home, but repeatedly found himself drawn back to the hairstylist. Fawaz, 40, who found Michael dead on Christmas Day at his home, has admitted that their relationship was "very complicated."

The Producers Guild of America has nominated Deadpool, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge and Hell or High Water as the best-produced film of 2016—an honor that typically means the films are in line to receive Best Picture nominations at this year's Academy Awards, TheWrap noted. Oscar frontrunners La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea were also nominated by the PGA, as were Fences, Hidden Figures and Lion. Winners will be revealed Jan. 28 at the Beverly Hilton.

Vogue editrix Anna Wintour will make a cameo in the upcoming Ocean's Eight movie, Page Six revealed. The movie will reportedly re-create Wintour's Met Gala—down to the place cards, VIPs and couture gowns. The movie stars Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock, Dakota Fanning, Helena Bonham Carter and Mindy Kaling.

Musician/social activist Ani DiFranco will publish her memoir with Viking, according to a press release. DiFranco's memoir will be an examination of her life, such as leaving her home and being emancipated at 15, her years of struggle in New York, the honing of her musical and songwriting chops, and the artistic and material success that has thrilled and confounded her. In 2016, DiFranco released "Play God," a single and video championing reproductive rights. The track will be featured on her upcoming album Binary, out in May.

Madonna has been able to turn heartbreak into art, a Page Six item stated. "Art keeps me alive," the 58-year-old music icon told Harper's Bazaar. "I've obviously been devastated or heartbroken all my life, since my mother's death. I've had so many challenges throughout my career, however successful people perceive me to be. The only way I've been able to survive the betrayal of lovers, family members and society is to be able to create as an artist."

Welsh singer Charlotte Church became the latest musician to deny Donald Trump an Inauguration Day performance, The Huffington Post noted. "A simple Internet search would show I think you're a tyrant," she wrote, addressing the president-elect ( and there were four poop emojis accompanying the post ). In a December 2015 tweet, Church called Trump a "Sith death eater" and an "amoeba," continuing to say, "I really, really detest him."

Supermodel Iman, David Bowie's wife of 24 years, honored his memory on the anniversary of his passing with a photo of a double rainbow that was spotted over New York City on the day of his death, E! News noted. "Jan 10th, 2016 NYC Skyline #ForeverAndEver #ForeverLove #BowieForever," she wrote. On Jan. 9, Iman shared an inspirational message when she posted a photo of the phrase "If there is any substitute for love, it is memory."

Jenna Dewan Tatum has signed on to NBC's new dance-competition series World of Dance as a host and mentor, Deadline noted. Tatum joins World of Dance judges Derek Hough, Ne-Yo and Jennifer Lopez, who also serves as executive producer. The upcoming 10-episode series from Universal Television Alternative Studio and Nuyorican Productions will give dancers the opportunity to receive a grand prize of $1 million.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper, received criticism after a Buzzfeed article called them out for attending a church where the pastor of the church is reportedly anti-gay—and now Chip has responded to the comments, 12News.com reported. In a blog post, chip wrote, "Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgment, fear and even hatred." He aded that his and his wife's personal convictions don't discriminate and that the pair "want to help initiate conversations between people that don't think alike."

Former TV host David Benham has claimed that same-sex marriage is a Satanic plot, PinkNews noted. David and Jason Benham were dropped as hosts of HGTV series Flip it Forward in 2014, after it emerged they both had a record of anti-LGBT extremism. David Benham, who has previously compared same-sex marriage to Nazi Germany and protested against Pride marches, is now a regular fixture at religious-right events, claiming he was victimized for his religious beliefs.

ABC has given a pilot pickup to a drama from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry toplined by country star Reba McEntire, Deadline reported. Written by Cherry, the untitled project marks the return to the network for both Cherry, whose dramedy Desperate Housewives was one of ABC's biggest hits of the past decade and a half, and McEntire, who starred in the network's comedy series Malibu Country.


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