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Entertainment news: Dustin Lance Black, Lady Gaga, 'Dreamgirls,' 'Frozen'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-05-04

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WME has signed writer-producer-director Dustin Lance Black, who won the Original Screenplay Oscar in 2009 for penning Milk, Deadline reported. He most recently created and wrote the upcoming seven-episode ABC event series When We Rise, about the gay-rights movement. He will also direct the final two episodes, with Milk director Gus Van Sant, Dee Rees and Thomas Schlamme also taking helming duties.

On his Facebook page, out actor George Takei ( Star Trek ) praised Broadway diversity, Deadline noted. In part, the actor wrote, "I am writing to give thanks to the Broadway community—for not being Hollywood. In a year when the movie industry celebrated only white actors for awards, then used gross stereotypes of Asians during the broadcast to gain cheap laughs, Broadway celebrated its most diverse year ever. ... On a personal note, I am especially thankful I have had the opportunity, at the age of 78, to fulfill a lifelong dream to tell the story of the Japanese-American internment [in the production Allegiance]."

Macy's has recruited Lady Gaga and Elton John for a limited-edition line of clothing and accessories called "Love Bravery" that will also raise money for their respective foundations, Fortune reported. The line will include shorts, outerwear and backpacks to scarves with piano prints and even skateboards, and will cost $12-$99. Items will go on sale May 9 online and at 150 of Macy's 750 or so stores. Approximately 25 percent of sales will benefit Gaga's Born This Way Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Chris Isaacson Presents, in association with Ronn Goswick, has announced a Broadway Under the Stars special event—a one-night-only concert starring the original Dreamgirls ( Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine and Jennifer Holliday ) in conversation and song, according to Broadway World. The curtain will rise Sunday, July 10 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Additional performers will be announced soon.

A GLAAD Media report states that Paramount and Disney had zero LGBT characters in any of their 2015 movies, TheWrap reported. That's the first time in the report's five-year history that any studio has not had at least one non-straight character on screen. Overall, only 22 ( or 17.5 percent ) of the 126 releases from major studios included LGBT characters last year. That number is consistent with the year before, although portraits of non-white LGBT people dropped nearly 7 percent. Not one studio received a grade score of "Good," while Warner Bros., Paramount and Disney were all deemed "Failures."

The hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend has begun to pick up steam, lobbying Disney to create the first lesbian fairy-tale princess in the upcoming Frozen sequel, slated for 2018 or later, Refinery29.com reported. It appears that Twitter user @lexi4prez started the hashtag—and it's taken off from there. "We will tackle other issues that, I think, are out there today that boys and girls, men and women, are dealing with," Frozen director Chris Buck told MTV News of the sequel last year.

Lesbian actress/SNL member Kate McKinnon is among those set to join Scarlett Johansson and Zoe Kravitz in an R-rated Sony comedy currently titled Rock That Body, TheWrap reported. The story follows five friends who get a beach house in Miami for a wild bachelorette weekend that goes completely off the rails. The film will start production in August and is being eyed for a summer 2017 release.

Shawn Ashmore, who played Iceman in four of the X-Men movies, wants to bring the mutant out of the closet on the big screen, according to a NewNowNext item that cites BANG Showbiz. In part, he said, "We did establish him as having a love interest with Rogue and with Kitty Pryde ( Shadowcat ) so it would have to be handled well to have that shift in his sexuality work for viewers. I think it could be really interesting." Ashmore's revelation isn't all that surprising since he already voiced his support last year, when Bobby came out as gay after teammate Jean Grey telepathically heard his inner thoughts in the Marvel comic series All-New X-Men.

Billboard and dick clark productions announced that Britney Spears will receive this year's Millennium Award at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on May 22, according to a press release. ( Past Billboard Millennium Award recipients include Beyonce in 2011 and Whitney Houston in 2012. ) Spears will also perform a medley of her hits on the show, which will air on ABC. To purchase tickets to the show online, visit www.axs.com or www.t-mobilearena.com .

On her website, Dolly Parton announced the dates for the first leg of her Pure & Simple tour, which will kick off June 3 in Greensboro, North Carolina, according to NewNowNext.com . Speaking out about performers canceling shows in that state in light of its anti-LGBT show, Parton has commented, "A lot of people are canceling shows and all that. I have no plans to cancel the show. I think I serve better from the stage. I think everybody should be treated great and with respect and everybody knows that about me. I can address that from the stage."

Stevie Nicks surprised the audience at Broadway's School of Rock with a performance of "Rhiannon" after the cast took its curtain call, Page Six noted. After singing, she shared her memories of Prince while recording her 1980s hit "Stand Back." She said the idea came to her while listening to "Little Red Corvette" while driving, and she was compelled to call him about it. She added, "I didn't have to call and tell him that I kind of ripped off his song, but I did because I'm honest. So it turned into a really amazing relationship. Is my heart broken? Absolutely."

The just-announced My2K Tour—featuring acts 98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream and Ryan Cabrera—will not be stopping in North Carolina due to the state's new anti-LGBT statute HB2, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Originally scheduled for 37 dates, My2K will now stop in only 35 cities across the United States, kicking off July 8 in Park City, Kansas, and wrapping up on Aug. 28 in Saratoga, California. It was 98 Degrees, acting as the tour lead, that announced the decision to drop two North Carolina dates ( in Charlotte and Raleigh ).

Recently, Mariah Carey honored the late musician Prince with a rendition of one of her most popular songs, People noted. Carey took a moment during her show in Paris to reflect on the late singer's death, noting that the iconic performer would have wanted fans and friends to celebrate his life rather than make "everything bleak." Carey then launched into an emotional rendition of the 1995 song "One Sweet Day." Carey covered Prince's 1984 song "The Beautiful Ones" for 1997's Butterfly.

Tony and Emmy winner Martin Short and Emmy winner Derek Hough ( of Dancing with the Stars ) have joined the cast of NBC's Hairspray Live!, the network's next live Broadway musical holiday event after The Wiz Live, a press release stated. They will join Harvey Fierstein and Jennifer Hudson; Fierstein will provide a new teleplay and Jerry Mitchell will serve as choreographer for the live production, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Oprah Winfrey will star in HBO Films' The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on Rebecca Skloot's critically acclaimed, best-selling nonfiction book of the same name, a press release stated. The book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks ( Winfrey ), the film chronicles her search to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks' cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs.

At this year's Daytime Emmys, ABC and CBS tied for the most number of wins with six each, taking between them more than half of the total statuettes given out tonight, Deadline noted. However, the most intriguing moment was when Live with Kelly and Michael stars Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan took home a joint win for Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host just a week after being at the center of serious drama surrounding Strahan's move to Good Morning America. Neither host attended the event but Dr. Oz, who presented the award, accepted on their behalf and joked that they'd share custody.

Joan Rivers' iconic rainbow coat, which she originally wore to the Las Vegas Pride Parade in 2012, will be donated to the Family Equality Council by her daughter Melissa Rivers, NewNowNext noted. "My mother loved, respected and celebrated families of all kinds," said Melissa. "She would be thrilled to know that her coat, which celebrates diversity, is being sold to benefit loving families." The donation will be included in the Family Equality Council's May 9 auction in New York City to promote LGBT equality.

Some political insiders were offended when CNN's Don Lemon flipped the bird at the White House Correspondents' Dinner emcee Larry Wilmore—but the vulgar gesture has apparently raised Lemon's profile at the news network, Page Six noted. Lemon flashed the finger at Wilmore when the Comedy Central star dubbed him "alleged journalist Don Lemon." Lemon later relived the middle-finger moment when he posed with Wilmore at a Vanity Fair/Bloomberg after-party.

Gwyneth Paltrow's famously strict diet gets skewered in the revival of foodie play Fully Committed, about an overwhelmed restaurant reservationist dealing with ferociously demanding customers, Page Six noted. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays over 40 characters in the one-man show at the Lyceum Theatre, is the one-named Bryce, who works as Paltrow's assistant and calls several times with ever-stricter requests. The Paltrow character replaces Naomi Campbell's character in the comedy's original 1999 version.

Out musician Raphael will release his first full-length album, The Dark of My Mind, on May 17, according to a press release. Among the songs are "Superstar," "Boys Are Trouble" and "Bogota." The album's trailer is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_9tAuusk10.

How To Get Away with Murder star Viola Davis has signed an overall deal with ABC Studios, which produces the ABC drama series, Deadline reported. Under the pact, Davis and her partner Julius Tennon will develop new projects for broadcast, cable and streaming services through their production company, JuVee Productions, for ABC Studios and its cable/digital division ABC Signature. As part of the deal, JuVee has brought in Andrew Wang to serve as head of television development and production.

Garbage ( Shirley Manson, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Butch Vig ) have announced the "Strange Little Birds" U.S. tour in support of the forthcoming new album Strange Little Birds, a press release stated. The dates will kick off July 6 at Summerfest in Milwaukee. The sixth studio album is due out June 10 on the band's own label, STUNVOLUME.

The Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival will take place May 5-29 in Los Angeles, according to Moviepilot.com . This year's sci-fi celebration will present one-act plays adapted from the works of famed author and comic book writer Neil Gaiman, openly gay horror auteur Clive Barker and lesbian singer-songwriter-turned-sci-fi-writer Janis Ian, among others. See Sci-Fest.com .

Original Jersey Boy Michael Longoria is releasing the CD Broadway Brick by Brick May 5 on Broadway Records. Some of the songs are "Home" ( from The Wiz ), "Over the Rainbow ( The Wizard of Oz ), "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" ( Jersey Boys ) and "Maria" ( West Side Story ).

Bravo has ordered new seasons of 14 of its current series, including new installments of Real Housewives set in Orange County, Beverly Hills and Atlanta, TheWrap noted. Other renewed series include Manzo'd with Children, Flipping Out and Don't Be Tardy, which will premiere in the summer; and Married to Medicine Atlanta, Below Deck, Ladies of London, Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules, which will premiere later this year.

The Valentino brand pays homage to comic book superhero Wonder Woman in a brand new capsule collection available through the summer, according to NewNowNext. The 2016 Wonder Woman Valentino collection "pays tribute to all women," according to designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and is available for purchase in beautifully decorated Wonder Woman pop-up shops in Valentino locations in Rome, Milan and New York City.

CBS has renewed its entire slate of daytime programming, according to TheWrap. Shows include The Talk, The Price Is Right, The Young and the Restless and Let's Make a Deal. On the primetime side, CBS has renewed most of its shows, including The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Mom, Madam Secretary and Scorpion.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians returned with season 12 on May 1, according to TheWrap. The website says that the return coincided with the Kardashians' struggle to maintain relevance, and that the most popular Kardashian board at present appears to be one who is no longer with us: patriarch Robert, whose depiction by David Schwimmer helped to boost the FX anthology series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story that wrapped April 5.

Dean Sheremet and his wife, Sarah Silver, are divorcing after five years of marriage, Yahoo! News noted. This is the second divorce for Sheremet; prior to his marriage to the shutterbug, the former dancer was married to country singer LeAnn Rimes for seven years, before her cheating scandal with Eddie Cibrian ended their union.


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