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Marc Jacobs' film debut; Idina back on Broadway
Entertainment news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Out fashion designer Marc Jacobs is now trying his hand at acting, according to a press release. Jacobs is in the Henry Alex Rubin movie thriller Disconnect, which stars Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgard and Frank Grillo. The movie—which has several subplots about people trying to connect in today's wired world—is slated to open in theaters April 12.

Idina Menzel will return to Broadway for the first time since Wicked in a new Broadway musical by the team behind Next to Normal, according to . Titled If/Then, the musical centers on a woman on the cusp of turning 40 who uproots herself to New York City in search of a fresh start. When Menzel last appeared on Broadway in 2003, she nabbed a Tony Award and turned Wicked's "Defying Gravity" into one of the musical world's most instantly recognizable songs.

True Blood star Joe Manganiello will release a fitness book, noted. The book—Joe Manganiello's Evolution: The Cutting-Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted—is slated to be released next January. Manganiello will share his own lifelong experiences with diet and exercise in the book, as well as black-and-white photos and a step-by-step workout routine.

Actress Scarlett Johansson has an all-girl band called the One and Only Singles, according to . In revealing this on the show Live with Kelly and Michael, Johansson said that she loves another all-girl band: The Go-Go's. Johansson recently lost to Adele at the Oscars for Best Original Song for "Before My Time," featured in the documentary Chasing Ice.

Stephen Sondheim, Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Christine Ebersole and other stars of music and musical theater are featured in a new three-part season of Michael Feinstein's American Songbook, which returns to PBS April 5 at 9 p.m. ET. The first two parts will air April 5, with the third on April 12. Season three finds Feinstein exploring the enduring popularity of show tunes, the interaction between music and choreography on stage and the big screen, and the indelible impact that radio—in its star-making heyday—had on the American musical canon.

Van Cliburn, the Texas native who became one of the most acclaimed pianists of the second half the 20th century, has died at age 78, according to the Dallas Voice. Cliburn shot to fame in his early 20s, winning the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow during the height of the Cold War; he later founded the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, which marked its 50th anniversary last year. USA Today noted that the devoutly Baptist Cliburn was "quietly gay"; in the late '90s, his longtime partner, Thomas Zaremba, unsuccessfully sued the pianist over compensation claims.

Celebrity escort Christopher Gaida was given some A-List treatment himself after the legendary Pink's Hot Dogs named one of its classic hot dogs in honor of his new book, Arm Candy: A Celebrity Escort's Tales from the Red Carpet. The best-selling book that follows Gaida's adventures as he falls into the job of celebrity escort, the (non-sexual) profession of walking celebrities down red carpets at award shows and other high-profile events.

Gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is now a father, according to OK Magazine. Hilton revealed on his website that he welcomed a baby boy about a month ago, writing, "I am ready to announce that earlier this month I was blessed with the birth of my first child, a beautiful and healthy baby boy—with lots of hair on his tiny head!"

Quashing break-up rumors, actor Neil Patrick Harris tweeted that his relationship with fiance David Burtka—along with their family, with twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace—is "all good," according to . He wrote, "The Nat Enq is cray cray. We've never had a wedding date, just engaged (Prop 8 and all). We're on a cruise as I write. He's rad. All good." In 2011, Harris and Burtka announced they had been engaged for some time.

Anastacia—a U.S. pop star who made it big in Europe and Australia—has announced she will be canceling her European tour because of a second breast-cancer diagnosis, according to the L.A. Times. Anastacia, 44, made her way to international fame with her 2000 dance track "I'm Outta Love" and successfully battled breast cancer in 2003. Her "It's a Man's World Tour" was set to kick off in London April 6 but has been canceled until further notice.

Singer Morrissey canceled his scheduled appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, citing his moral qualms with being on the same program as the bird-hunting stars of A&E's Duck Dynasty, according to . This prompted Kimmel to take some swipes at the former Smiths frontman in his opening monologue. Meanwhile, Morrissey has also started a feud with Sir Paul McCartney after Morrissey got L.A.'s Staples Center to go meatless for an upcoming concert.

Oscar winner Kathy Bates will square off against Jessica Lange on the third season of the FX series American Horror Story, according to . "Story" season one alum Taissa Farmiga is returning, along with Lange, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson and Frances Conroy. Of season three, out gay creator Ryan Murphy said, "What we're doing is more ambitious than what we've ever done. This one will be shot on location in three different cities in the country."

Add Jane Fonda's name to the list of people who found Seth MacFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" song—performed at the Oscars—as misogynistic, according to . Fonda said, ""What I really didn't like was the song and dance number about seeing actresses boobs. I agree with someone who said, 'If they want to stoop to that, why not list all the penises we've seen?'" Others who have criticized MacFarlane include Jamie Lee Curtis and Geena Davis, according to E! Online.

Newly engaged actor Christian Slater said he thought fiancee Brittany Lopez was a lesbian when he first saw her, according to US Magazine. Slater saw Lopez get down on one knee with a "slightly older lady" and thought she was proposing to her; however, Lopez was actually with her aunt and was joking around with her.

The Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague will become an ABC miniseries, according to . The documentary focuses on the work of ACT UP and Treatment Action Group, whose activism pushed the pharmaceutical industry to vigorously pursue HIV and AIDS drugs. The series would be a fictionalized drama that covers this, but also looks at the bigger picture.

Singer Susan Boyle will make her film debut in the upcoming holiday movie The Christmas Candle, according to . The film tells the story of a town that angels visit every 25 years. In addition to Boyle, the movie also stars Samantha Barks (Les Miserables), Hans Matheson (Sherlock Holmes), and Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

Former Weeds actress Mary-Louise Parker has been accused of using an anti-gay slur at a New York antique-shop owner, reported. The situation reportedly started when Parker, 48, got angry that some purses she placed on consignment at the antiques shop were not priced higher. For the time being, it is unknown if the shop owner will pursue any further action against the actress. Parker has denied using the slur, US Magazine reported.

Gay Eagle Scout Derek Nance started a campaign on, asking pop stars Carly Rae Jepsen and Train—who've been announced as headliners for the Boy Scouts of America's 2013 Jamboree—to denounce the organization's anti-gay policies, according to a press release. Jepsen's hit song "Call Me, Maybe?" featured a gay character in the video, and her music is a staple at pride events; Train has also been outspoken about supporting gay rights. Subsequently, both acts cancelled their gigs.

Marky and Ricky Slater (who advertise themselves as your "typical gay teen newlyweds") have released several songs, according to a press release. They produced the songs—which include a cover of "I Saw Him Standing There," with Little Richard—in association with Andy Jackson, who has worked with the band Pink Floyd. Find the tracks at .

Teen actor Cameron Monaghan—who portrays a gay character on the TV show Shameless—has come out as "not gay," according to . On Twitter, he posted, "This is the only time I will answer this here: No, I'm not gay. Yes, I play a gay character. No, the question should not be relevant." He added, "Thanks for the kind words, everyone. It feels a bit odd to 'come out' as a straight guy."

Bonnie Franklin—the Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated actress who played Ann Romano in the CBS hit sitcom One Day at a Time—died March 1 at age 69, according to . News broke in September that Franklin had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On "One Day," which ran 1975-84, Franklin played a divorced mother of two struggling to raise her two daughters (played by Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli) on her own.

Former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mark Knudson believes gay athletes should remain quiet about their sexual orientation, according to an On Top Magazine item. Knudson, who played for eight seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), said in a column for Mile High Sports that an openly gay player would lead to "awkward moments." Knudson, 52, retired in 1993.

Producer, actress and singer Queen Latifah has gone into business with Netflix to help further distribute films produced by her Flavor Unit production company, according to . Netflix will get to choose which Flavor Unit films it would like to premiere on its DVD and streaming movie service after the movies' theatrical release. Starting in spring 2013, Netflix subscribers will be able to exclusively enjoy the Flavor Unit produced movies House of Bodies, starring Terrence Howard, and Percentage, starring Ving Rhames, Cam'ron and Macy Gray.

Ellen DeGeneres talked about the Supreme Court, Prop 8 and DOMA on a blog post, according to Gay Star News. DeGeneres, who has been married to actress Portia de Rossi since 2008, wrote that her time with de Rossi "have been the happiest"of her life. "And in those 4 years, I don't think we hurt anyone else's marriage. I asked all of my neighbors and they say they're fine. ... I hope the Supreme Court will do the right thing, and let everyone enjoy the same rights. It's going to help keep families together."

Regarding the hit PBS show Downtown Abbey, actress Siobhan Finneran has confirmed that her character, scheming maid Sarah O'Brien, will not be returning for season four, according to the Huffington Post. "O'Brien is a thoroughly despicable human being—that was great to play," she said. However, has reported that Shirley MacLaine will return as Martha Levinson, and that six new cast members (including opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and actor Tom Cullen, who was in the gay-themed movie Weekend) will be around as well.

GLAAD announced that Madonna will present journalist, author and talkshow host Anderson Cooper with the Vito Russo Award at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards March 16 at the New York Marriott Marquis, according to a press release. The anchors of Good Morning America—Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott and Sam Champion—are hosting the evening. Special guests include NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, director Brett Ratner, Ellen Barkin, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry and Thomas Roberts, and actor/comedian John Leguizamo.

Victoria Principal, one of the stars of the 1980s hit Dallas, is denying that she may join her co-stars Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray on TNT's sequel series, according to . In a statement to Deadline, Principal said, in part, "When I filmed Pam's fatal car accident, for me that was the punctuation mark on my role as Pam. I cannot be held responsible for any choices made by producers, once I left Dallas, but I do take responsibility for my decision, not to risk tarnishing Bobby & Pam's love story, with a desperate reappearance."

Project Runway host Heidi Klum has joined America's Got Talent as the NBC show's fourth judge, according to US Magazine. Klum reportedly began filming with her fellow judges March 4 during the first round of auditions in New Orleans. Klum will join judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Melanie Brown, who replaced Sharon Osbourne.

Charlie Sheen is speaking out about his close relationship with Lindsay Lohan, saying there's nothing romantic going on between the two—he's just trying to help her, according to the Huffington Post. In an exclusive statement to TMZ, Sheen admits his past experiences make him the perfect mentor for Lohan, who has battled legal problems and substance abuse.

The FBI released decades-old files on the late pop singer Whitney Houston, detailing letters from obsessed fans and an alleged extortion attempt the bureau investigated, according to Reuters. The 128 pages from Houston's files posted online on the FBI's website showed one fan's letters, but did not reveal any new insights into the troubled singer's personal life. An alleged $250,000 extortion attempt was brought to the FBI's attention shortly after Houston's marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown in 1992; Houston told the FBI in an interview that she had considered the person a friend.

Domestic diva Martha Stewart took the stand in New York State Supreme Court because she is at the center of a bitter legal battle between two of the nation's largest retailers: Macy's Inc. and J.C. Penney Co., according to U.S. News and World Report. Macy's, which has sold Martha Stewart products including towels and pots since 2007, is trying to block Penney from selling those products. Testimony had portrayed Stewart, 71, as someone who turned her back on her good friend, Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren, so she could enrich her company.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines will air on PBS April 15 at 10 p.m. ET, according to a press release. A film by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Kelcey Edwards, Wonder Women looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society's anxieties about women's liberation. The film goes behind the scenes with TV stars Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman); comic writers and artists; and women such as Gloria Steinem. See

Legendary music producer Clive Davis had words of praise for singer Frank Ocean, who came out last year, according to . Davis—who comes out as bisexual in his memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life—said, "Put my story aside; it was very brave of him. I'll tell you what was heartwarming was the reaction of the hip-hop community. I mean, they accepted him as a person. This could have been very controversial." Davis has been with the same male partner for more than seven years.

Halle Berry will return as Storm in the next X-Men movie, reported. The Oscar-winning actress has been confirmed for an appearance in the superhero film X-Men: Days of Future Past. Out gay director Bryan Singer tweeted, "Couldn't be more excited that #HalleBerry has joined the cast of #XMen #DaysofFuturePast. Hopefully she can improve the weather in Montreal."

Fashion's Night Out (FNO) events have been canceled in the United States this year in response to designers' concerns about budget constraints, according to . Launched at the height of the 2009 recession in New York, FNO was a celebration of shopping at a time when it was desperately needed to jump-start the city's economy. By 2012, FNO had expanded to stores in more than 500 cities nationwide and 30 cities around the globe. This year's event will still be staged in select international cities.

Pro football player Tim Tebow may have backed out of going to a Dallas megachurch because of its anti-gay pastor, but he's slated to appear at Virginia's Liberty University this weekend, reported. Liberty's convocation is advertised as "North America's largest weekly gathering of Christian students." Tebow's talk, slated for March 8, will focus on men's issues. Liberty, which the late televangelist Jerry Falwell founded, bans out gay students.

De'Borah—the openly lesbian singer who competed on season three of The Voice—is releasing her debut single, "Coming Out Looking Good," on March 12, according to a press release. The song will be available exclusively via retailer Liquid Spins ( ). De'Borah's live performances started in her hometown church and high school music department in Chicago Heights, Ill.

Out Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar promises that his comedy I'm so Excited will be one of his most risque, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Of the film, Almodovar said, "Men don't usually speak so openly about sex as the characters. I think the male viewers are going to have more problems than the women. Because we men are more hypocritical—regardless of [them being] homosexual or heterosexual." The ensemble movie stars Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Paz Vega and Blanca Suarez, among others.

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