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Entertainment news: Melissa Etheridge, Matt Bomer, Sam Smith, Dolly Parton
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2016-09-06

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The fifth-season finale of the syndicated public TV music series Infinity Hall Live featured an hourlong solo performance from Melissa Etheridge, according to a press release. The set had some of her chart-toppers, along with a seven-minute cover of "Rock Me Baby" ( from her upcoming Stax tribute album, MEmphis Rock and Soul, out Oct. 7 ) as well as the first performance of her most recent song, "Pulse." See http://ihlive.org/.

Variety broke the news of a new "transgender drama" that's in the works, a film starring award-winning out actor Matt Bomer, LGBTQ Nation noted. He will appear alongside John Carroll Lynch, Mark Ruffalo and Maura Tierney, among others, in Anything. Bomer will play Freda Von Rhenberg, a trans prostitute next door—and that detail triggered an eruption on Twitter and in the LGBTQ media, with one person tweeting, "trans roles should go to trans actors." ( Having cisgender actors play trans roles has been dubbed "transface," following award-winning performances by Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Hillary Swank, John Lithgow and others. )

Out British singer Sam Smith might be getting a new retrospective debut album, PinkNews noted. It has been revealed that back in 2008, Smith laid down some tracks for the album Diva Boy, for Flipbook Music. The studio apparently retained the rights to the material, and now that Smith is famous it's heading toward a public release with which Smith has no involvement. The first single, "Momentarily Mine," has already been released.

Dolly Parton, in an interview with PrideSource, said she has "many" gay and lesbian family members, and she's always loved them unconditionally. Parton didn't name names, but added that she's "had many people through the years who I have helped to feel good about themselves," The Huffington Post noted. "Whether it's about being gay or whatever, a lot of people do me like they used to do my mama and come to talk to me about things," she said. "I say, 'You need to let people know who you are and you need to come on out. You don't need to live your life in darkness—what's the point in that?'"

In an interview with The Guardian, Bjork revealed her picks for groundbreaking artists. Among them are musicians Serpentwithfeet and Jeremih, director Clio Barnard, TV personality RuPaul, visual artist Jordan Wolfson, and game designers Robin Hunicke And Jenova Chen, among others. Bjork Digital, a touring exhibition currently at London's Somerset House, shows the results of collaborations among the Icelandic musician, as well as several visual artists and programmers around the world.

Actor Jon Polito—best known for his roles in Coen brother films like The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing and "Barton Fink—has died at age 65, The New York Daily News noted. The actor was diagnosed with melanoma in 2008 and recently underwent surgery that led to an infection; recently, he slipped into a coma. Polito was openly gay and had been with his partner, fellow actor Darryl Armbruster, since 2000.

How To Get Away With Murder actor Conrad Ricamora accepted the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award recently, speaking to his journey from a closeted teen in rural Florida to an out actor portraying an HIV-positive, sexually active gay man of color on network TV, LGBTQ Nation noted. "I will say that it's a little ironic to be getting the Visibility Award because so much of growing up as a kid was spent trying to be invisible," said Ricamora, who plays Oliver on the ABC show. Ricamora's character is the only openly gay Asian-American character on prime time television, and the actor says he's proud to be able to provide that representation.

Actress Elle Fanning has called her transgender role in the film About Ray her "most challenging," On Top Magazine noted. In About Ray, Fanning, 18, plays a teenager transitioning from female to male. The film also stars Susan Sarandon as Ray's lesbian grandmother and Naomi Watts as the mother. About Ray premiered at last year's Toronto Film Festival but has yet to open in the United States.

The creator of Last Tango in Halifax, Sally Wainwright, has said she made a mistake by killing off a popular lesbian character, PinkNews noted. The TV show dramatically killed off heavily pregnant Kate ( Nina Sosanya ) in a car crash last year, just after finally marrying partner Caroline. At Edinburg TV Fest, she told Queer As Folk creator Russell T Davies, "It was a shock. I didn't realise how attached the audience had become to that relationship and to those two characters."

Out actor Sir Ian McKellen argues in a new interview that gay men are more masculine than straight men, On Top Magazine noted. "I've probably played even more military men than Patrick [Stewart, with whom he did a joint interview]," McKellen, 77, told the London Evening Standard. "Gandalf is a soldier, Magneto is a soldier, Richard III, Coriolanus, Macbeth. And I think the reason is because I want my revenge on them all." McKellen is best known for playing Gandalf in the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and Magneto in the X-Men films, and he came out in 1988.

Legendary comedienne Carol Burnett was full of laughs on her long-running variety series, The Carol Burnett Show—but, behind the scenes, she feuded with various celebrities, Radar Online stated. The 83-year-old spitfire revealed her biggest feuds in the website exclusive preview of her upcoming tell-all, In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox. A few of the celebrities she tangled with reportedly included Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Ryan O'Neal and Carol Channing.

Mariah Carey's older brother, Morgan, has blasted her for not helping their troubled sister, Alison, Inside Edition revealed. Morgan, a model and music producer, said he and Mariah used to be close but now has said, "Mariah just doesn't care about anyone but herself." Mariah's publicist said she "spent hundreds of thousands of dollars" over the years to support Alison ( a drug addict who was recently arrested for prostitution ) and her children. The segment did not state to what extent Morgan ( a model and music producer who now resides in Florence, Italy ) has helped Alison.

Bradley Cooper's bond with A Star Is Born co-star Lady Gaga was seen Cooper rode shotgun as Gaga drove him and two other pals to Vintage Grocers in Malibu for some afternoon grocery shopping, Page Six noted. Page Six exclusively revealed in July that Gaga had replaced Beyoncé in the upcoming remake of the 1954 Judy Garland classic, which will be Cooper's directorial debut. After the "Formation" singer reportedly demanded too much money for the role, Cooper, 41, personally sought out Gaga, 30, for the part.

Madonna has verbally attacked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's sons after they posed for a picture with a leopard they had killed during a hunting trip in Africa, The Guardian noted. The pop icon wrote on Instagram that the picture, which showed Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump holding the dead cat's body, was another reason to vote for the Democratic party. She wrote: "How big of [a] pussy do you have to be to kill this noble animal for sport? Just ask Donald Trump Jr and his brother Eric. One more reason to vote for Hillary!"

Logo TV's first-ever gay dating competition, Finding Prince Charming, has been rocked by the revelation that the show's star, 33-year old interior designer Robert Sepulveda Jr., once worked as a male escort, TheWrap reported. The network was allegedly blindsided by the disclosure, and is scrambling to contain the PR nightmare as gay activists join the growing chorus of critics for a show that's been dubbed the gay version of The Bachelor and is set to premiere Sept. 8. A person close to the situation told TheWrap the network followed "standard protocol" when vetting Sepulveda and that "nothing came up during the background check." However, many in the LGBT community are especially sensitive about shaming anyone for their sexual behavior.

ABC will continue to broadcast the Academy Awards in an agreement extension through 2028, Deadline reported. The network's previous contract was set to expire in 2020. The 89th Academy Awards returns to the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 26, 2017. The ceremony is televised live to 225-plus countries and territories around the globe.

Olympian Gus Kenworthy will compete on Celebrity Family Feud to raise money for the Happy Hippie Foundation, On Top Magazine noted. Kenworthy's team includes his father, mother and two brothers, who will be "feuding" against The Talk co-host Sheryl Underwood's family. The 24-year-old Kenworthy publicly came out gay in an ESPN story last year.

Multiple Grammy winner Mary J. Blige is set to guest star on the upcoming third season of ABC's How To Get Away With Murder, Page Six noted. Blige has been making the transition from a mega-career as singer-songwriter to acting: She just finished Dee Rees-directed Mudbound, alongside Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund and Carey Mulligan. She starred earlier this year as Evillene in NBC's The Wiz Live!—a role that earned her a Critics' Choice TV Award nomination.

Jaden Smith once again finds himself the victim of a death hoax, Inquisitr noted. Fake websites are reporting that The Get Down actor is dead—and many of Smith's fans believed he was dead and expressed their grief on social media. Smith is not the only celebrity to be targeted with a death hoax; more than 1 million people searched Sylvester Stallone last week when a similar death hoax about the Rambo actor was spread on Facebook.

Page Six noted that Victor Voronov's engagement to ice dancer Joti Polizoakis is back on—and Voronov is blaming his ex-husband Johnny Weir for trying to split the couple. "The only thing that Johnny has is jealousy, anger and resentment toward this—trying to break up my relationship," Voronov, 32, told Page Six. Recently, Voronov split from the 21-year-old ice dancer because of trust issues. But now, Voronov claims Weir, 32, fed him lies, like accusing the ice dancer of having visa troubles and faking his Olympic standing.

Lifetime has opted not to renew Devious Maids for a fifth season, Deadline noted. The decision comes a couple of weeks after the series ended its fourth-season run on the network. Devious Maids, developed by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry and based on a telenovela format, migrated to Lifetime after being developed and piloted at ABC. Devious Maids, from ABC Studios, was the first all-Latina ensemble on English-speaking television.

Actress Gabrielle Union wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, speaking out about her own harrowing experience with rape, TheWrap reported. In the piece, the actress admitted to struggling with the allegations over Birth of a Nation writer, director and co-star Nate Parker's case. Parker was accused and acquitted of rape 17 years ago; four years ago, his accuser committed suicide.

ABC is developing a new drama with Scandal star Kerry Washington, Variety revealed. She is slated to executive-produce Patrol, a workplace drama about four female LAPD officers who attended the police academy together five years ago and are forced to reconnect after a high-stakes, traumatic secret returns to haunt them. The project marks the first to fall under Washington's new overall deal with ABC, which she inked this April to develop new projects for ABC Studios, the studio behind Patrol.

Iconic singer Linda Ronstadt has sold her longtime home in the historic Colonia Solana neighborhood in central Tucson, Arizona, for exactly $1 million, Variety noted. The 4,100-square-foot, pale-pink-stucco Mediterranean dates to the late 1920s, and has four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. n order to be closer to family, she relocated to San Francisco, where she paid just under $2 million in 2009 for a shingled Dutch Gambrel cottage.


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