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SHOWBIZ 'Brokeback,' Prince memoir, 'Wonder Woman,' Bette Midler
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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The dust has yet to settle on a bit of back and forth over Brokeback Mountain casting, The Hollywood Reported noted. At Santa Monica's Aero Theatre ( where "Brokeback" aired on a double bill with Philadelphia ), Oscar-winning screenwriter Diana Ossana told Rambling Reporter, "It was the role of Ennis that was the difficult one to cast. It was the role of Ennis that actors would commit to and then back away. To my knowledge, Joaquin [Phoenix] never backed away." It was widely reported at the time that Phoenix and Matt Damon were once on board to star for filmmaker Gus Van Sant.

Authorities said Prince died two years ago because he thought he was taking the common painkiller Vicodin when, unbeknownst to him, it was laced with deadly fentanyl, USA Today reported. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz, the top prosecutor in the suburban Minneapolis county that is home to Prince's studio/home complex Paisley Park, told reporters the results of a "painstaking and thorough" two-year investigation found that Prince did not know he had become addicted to fentanyl—and neither did anyone around him. Metz said Prince had long suffered from "significant" pain and had been prescribed other kinds of opioids but, as an "intensely private person," he did not want anyone to know he was addicted or that narcotics were prescribed in his name.

In other Prince-related news, his publishing agent, Esther Newberg, revealed that the first draft of the late icon's biography will be published by the end of 2018, noted. Three editors met with Prince at his Paisley Park home in Minneapolis, and a deal was made weeks before he died in April 2016, Newberg said on Variety's "Strictly Business" podcast. Prince was "committed to the book project" and worked together with author Dan Piepenbring, personally handwriting over 50 manuscript pages. Reproductions of his longhand pages might be included in the book, according to Newberg.

Lynda Carter, who portrayed the iconic character of Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV series, is in talks to join the film's sequel, TheWrap noted. Talking with Megyn Kelly, Carter confirmed that she has been talking to director Patty Jenkins about appearing in the Wonder Woman sequel. TheWrap has confirmed that, like Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 2 will be a period piece, with Princess Diana ( Gal Gadot ) facing the Soviet Union during the 1980s.

Bette Midler will return to her Tony-winning role in the hit musical revival Hello, Dolly! this summer for a final six-week run, TheWrap noted. Original co-stars David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel will join her starting July 17 to wrap up the acclaimed production before it closes permanently Aug. 25. Bernadette Peters and Victor Garber, who in January had replaced Midler and Hyde Pierce as matchmaker Dolly Levi and her reluctant love interest Horace Vandergelder, will conclude their runs on July 15, as scheduled.

Glee co-star Kevin McHale posted a photo of him and another actor, Austin McKenzie, "cuddling up together," according to Just Jared. ( The photo was captioned "#MyCoachella." ) One month ago, Kevin posted a photo of him holding hands with someone and fans believe it's Austin's hand in the pic. The two actors appeared together in the miniseries When We Rise.

Lee Daniels has signed on to executive produce Pimp, a lesbian love story starring Keke Palmer, according to . Daniels is no stranger to the film world, having directed The Butler and Precious, but Pimp will mark his first role as executive producer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he wanted to join the project to "support a new generation of filmmakers with authentic voices and a unique approach to storytelling." Pimp is notable for having a queer woman ( Christine Crokos ) at the helm.

Madonna has been handed a defeat by the legal system, with a judge shooting down a lawsuit she filed over the auctioning of several items, including correspondence between the "Material Girl" singer and her former boyfriend, deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, TheWrap noted. In a decision, judge Gerald Lebovits cited the statute of limitations, as well as a settlement agreement that involved Madonna. She filed suit against her former associate Darlene Lutz, Gotta Have It! Collectibles and others, maintaining that the items were wrongfully taken from her.

The new 40th-anniversary edition of Grease—which features full restored picture and sound, along with new bonus content—is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and digital, Broadway World noted. Paramount worked with director Randal Kleiser to restore Grease to its original quality regarding sound, picture resolution and color. In addition, the audio was enhanced from a six-track mix created for an original 70mm release.

Paramount Pictures is closing a deal to finance and distribute worldwide Rocketman, a picture package that has Dexter Fletcher directing Taron Egerton in the role of Elton John, Deadline noted. The film covers the singer/pianist's growth from a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to a global superstar, through his influential and enduring musical partnership with his songwriting collaborator Bernie Taupin.

Tig Notaro announced that her new comedy special, Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here, will debut on Netflix on May 22, an UPROXX item noted. A Netflix press release read, "Filmed at the historic Heights Theater in Houston, Tig tackles the comedic sides of marriage, parenting and being invited to an Ellen DeGeneres party, then closes the set with a tease that will leave you on the edge of your seat." Notaro's first special, Boyish Girl Interrupted, premiered on HBO in 2015, the same year that the documentary Tig dropped on Netflix.

Charlize Theron put on 50 pounds to play overwhelmed mother Marlo in her new film, Tully, Page Six noted. "I wanted to feel what this woman felt, and I think that was a way for me to get closer to her and get into that mindset," Theron told Entertainment Tonight. Theron, 42, would eat around the clock just to keep on the weight—such as eating mac 'n' cheese at 2 a.m.

Nominations for the 2018 Drama League Awards were announced April 18, Playbill noted. Among the nominees were 55 actors recognized for the coveted Distinguished Performance Award. ( A few of the nominated actors include Denzel Washington, Chris Evans, Laura Benanti, Amy Schumer, Andrew Garfield, Laurie Metcalf, Alex Newell and LaChanze. ) The 84th annual ceremony will take place May 18 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square; the ceremony will also honor Idina Menzel, Casey Nicholaw and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Actress Natalie Portman—this year's recipient of the Genesis Award, dubbed the "Jewish Nobel"—has pulled out of the June awards ceremony in Israel because of extreme distress over recent events in the country, CBS News reported. The Genesis Prize Foundation said it was informed by Portman's representative that the Jerusalem-born Oscar winner "does not feel comfortable participating in any public events in Israel." Previous recipients include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Michael Douglas, violinist Itzhak Perlman and sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Morrissey has published a controversial interview on his own website, Morrissey Central, according to . For example, he said, "As far as racism goes, the modern Loony Left seem to forget that Hitler was Left wing! But of course, we are all called racist now, and the word is actually meaningless." Other subjects of the singer's criticism included halal food certifiers, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and even grocery-store egg sales. Hundreds have since rushed online to purchase merchandise urging Morrissey to shut up, noted.

Model-turned-reality star and actor Nyle DiMarco is a producer on Broadway's Children of a Lesser God, the revival of the Mark Medoff play that just earned three New York Drama League award nominations, Deadline noted. The production's lead producer is Broadway vet Hal Luftig, with a producers line-up that includes James L. Nederlander and The Shubert Organization, among others. The play, of course, was the basis for the 1986 film that won Matlee Matlin a Best Actress Oscar.

GLAAD announced that filmmaker, director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay will be honored at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 5, according to a press release. GLAAD previously announced that Samira Wiley will receive the Vito Russo Award for her LGBTQ advocacy; Wiley will be presented with the award by Alexis Bledel. DuVernay will receive GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award, which is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people.

The nominations for this year's Billboard Awards have been announced—and Kendrick Lamar ( recently named a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his album DAMN ) and Ed Sheeran each received 15 nods, noted. Taylor Swift snagged five nods, while Cardi B recieved eight nominations and Imagine Dragons got 10. A few of the other musicians receiving nominations included Chris Stapleton, Demi Lovato, Calvin Harris, Daddy Yankee, Bruno Mars, Camila Cabello, Lionel Richie and Coldplay. The 2018 Billboard Music Awards will air on NBC live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 20, with Kelly Clarkson hosting.

Shania Twain has apologized for saying in an interview that she would have voted for Donald Trump had she been able to, TheWrap noted. "I would like to apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with The Guardian relating to the American president," she said in a statement to People. The Canadian-born country music superstar came under fire April 22 after telling The Guardian that she would have cast her vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, had she been able to vote.

Tim Bergling, the Swedish DJ known by his stage name Avicii, has passed away at the age of 28, according to a TheWrap item that cited Billboard. His publicist, Diana Baron, said in a statement. "He was found dead in Muscat, Oman. ... The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time." In 2016, the musician announced that he would retire from live performances due to health issues, citing a need "to make a change that I'd been struggling with for a while." Liam Payne, Nile Rodgers and Charlie Puth and Craig David were among those publicly expressing their grief over Bergling's passing.

Simple Minds has announced a North American Tour for the fall, including dates in Toronto, D.C, New York, Chicago, Nashville, Seattle and Los Angeles, a press release noted. Walk Between Worlds is the band's 18th studio album. Simple Minds has had many hits, including "Don't You ( Forget About Me )," "Alive and Kicking" and "All the Things She Said." See

Ghostlight Deluxe, an imprint of Ghostlight Records, has announced the release of Take Me to the World, the third album from two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster, a press releease stated. The recording will be available on physical, digital and streaming formats on Friday, June 1. The album is being released in conjunction with the fifth season of the critically-acclaimed TV Land series Younger, which returns on Tuesday, June 5. Visit

An actor who appeared in Black Panther is apologizing to fans after it was discovered he appeared in gay-porn movies when he was in his 20s, according to . Patrick Mutukwa Shumba, who was born in Zambia and now lives in Atlanta, played a Border Tribe warrior in Marvel's latest box-office smash. Through a publicist, Shumba said he "owns up to the immature behavior in his past." Homosexuality is technically illegal in Zambia, and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Page Six noted that How to Get Away with Murder co-star Karla Souza shocked fans when she Instagrammed a photo of herself well into her pregnancy, writing in English and Spanish, "So I have something to share with you guys." Immediately after that reveal, she posted a picture of her newborn baby girl, writing, "God blessed us." Souza and husband Marshall Trenkmann named their daughter Gianna. She is their first child.

Rihanna confirmed what some were thinking when she revealed her new lingerie line, Savage x Fenty, with another video of models sporting what appears to be her designs, noted. She captioned the video, saying, "we bout to light this up sis!! … introducing @SAVAGEXFENTY lingerie coming soon. sign up now at !!" Customers can sign up at the brand's website to get on an email list to be the first to know about latest news from Savage x Fenty.

Tyne Daly has signed on to the cast of Murphy Brown, CBS' revival of the 1988 sitcom, Deadline noted. The former star of Cagney & Lacy and Judging Amy will play Phyllis, the sister of the beloved, deceased bar owner Phil from the original series. Daly will join star Candice Bergen, who is back as the famous investigative journalist and TV anchor at the FYI network in the reboot, along with Faith Ford ( perky anchor Corky Sherwood ), Joe Regalbuto ( investigative reporter Frank Fontana ) and Grant Shaud ( executive producer Miles Silverberg )—who are all reprising their original roles from the hit comedy.

Jamie Foxx has signed on to host Off Script, a new eight-part digital series, Page Six noted. In Off Script, Foxx will interview Hollywood A-listers about the iconic moments that shaped their careers. Jeremy Renner, Sarah Silverman, Benicio del Toro, Vince Vaughn and Denzel Washington are among the guests confirmed to appear so far. Foxx hosts and executive-produces the Beat Shazam game show that debuts its second season May 29 on Fox.

Britney Spears revealed the secret to her lifelong happiness in a backstage interview with Access Hollywood following her speech at the GLAAD Media Awards, noted. Spears was confronted with a photo of her and GLAAD presenter Ricky Martin back in 1999, a day in her life which she could simply not remember. "The secret to happiness: no memory," she explained, before adding, "Live in the moment."

Actress Allison Mack—known for her work on the superhero TV series Smallville—was arrested and accused of recruiting women into a purported self-help organization, Nxivm, in which they were required to work and have sex with the group's leader, Keith Raniere, TheWrap reported. U.S. attorney Richard P. Donoghue said Mack is accused of "directly or implicitly" requiring women "to engage in sexual activity with Raniere. In exchange for this, Mack received financial and other benefits from Raniere."

ABC show Grey's Anatomy has been officially renewed for a 15th season, Deadline noted. That makes it ABC's longest-running primetime scripted series, eclipsing sitcom 1952 sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett, which aired for 14 seasons. ABC's second longest-running prime-time drama is NYPD Blue ( 12 seasons ).

In the middle of a long series of tweets that will make up a philosophy "book" that Kanye West announced that he's writing on Twitter, he casually mentioned that he's dropping two new albums next month, Page Six noted. West has kept a relatively low profile since cancelling the last 21 dates of the 2016 tour in support of his Life of Pablo album after he was hospitalized in Los Angeles for psychiatric evaluation.

The Kardashian sisters are closing all of their Dash shops, Page Six noted. "After nearly 12 years, my sisters and I have decided to close the doors of our Dash stores," Kim Kardashian announced on her app. "We've loved running Dash, but in the last few years we've all grown so much individually." The original Dash clothing store opened in Calabasas, California, in 2006 before moving to West Hollywood and expanding to Miami and New York. Three years ago, E! released Dash Dolls, a spinoff show that followed a group of employees of the retail boutique.

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