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SHOWBIZ Cirque du Soleil, 'Downton Abbey' film, Mathew V, Whitney Houston
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-05-28

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The producer of Cirque du Soleil and Dan Lin's Rideback have made a deal to develop feature films based on the stories and characters from the catalog of the iconic global live-entertainment franchise, Deadline noted. The movie projects will be spearheaded by Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group president and CEO Daniel Lamarre and Lin along with Sebastien Ouimet and Rideback film president Jonathan Eirich.

Focus Features has released the first trailer for the upcoming Downton Abbey movie, which reunites the cast of the British series—and it shows villainous gay butler Thomas ( Rob James-Collier ) getting kissed by another man, NewNowNext.com noted. The period drama followed the lives of the fictional Crawley family and their servants in an Edwardian English country home at the turn of the 20th century. The ITV series—which subsequently aired on PBS in the United States—ran from 2010 through 2015. The movie will be out Sept. 20.

Out singer Mathew V released his latest track, "Flashback," via 604 Records, a press release noted. In this song, Mathew shares his experience as a survivor of sexual violence. He said in the press release, in part, "Writing this song was one of the hardest things I've had to do in my life. I wrote this song about my experience with sexual violence/rape at seventeen years old, and how that situation has influenced and affected my life today. It was something that I always knew I had to process, and had always avoided." The video is at https://youtu.be/HdEl8RrUyIA.

Seven years after her death, Whitney Houston may be coming to a venue near you, NPR.org noted. The pop icon's estate has partnered with BASE Hologram to produce "An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour," the company revealed in a statement. The show will include master recordings of the late singer and feature a live band and backup singers. Dionne Warwick, a cousin of Houston, has slammed the tour as "stupid," Page Six added, citing Entertainment Tonight.

Charlie Barnett—known for roles on Chicago Fire and Russian Doll as well as an upcoming part in Netflix's You—talked about bringing Black queer representation to the Netflix revival of Tales of the City, which will premiere June 7, Advocate.com noted. Barnett, who said he came out at 13 after his parents "basically sat me down and were like, homie"—a remark that drew laughter from the audience—cited his gay identity as one of his strengths as an actor. The new Tales also features trans actors and actors of color, among them Garcia, May Hong, Christopher Larkin, Ashley Park, Bob the Drag Queen and Barnett.

Grammy- and Oscar-winning artist, rapper, actor, philanthropist and best-selling author Common has revealed the dates for the first leg of his "Let Love Have The Last Word" tour, a press release noted. This marks his first North American tour since 2009, and the first in support of his upcoming studio album, coming soon on Loma Vista Recordings. The first batch of stops covers July 11-26, and includes cities such as Vancouver, Seattle, Phoenix and Denver, among others.

Almost five decades after the album Lavender Country's debut, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help singer Patrick Haggerty Haggerty release Blackberry Rose—a new full-length album of previously unreleased songs, NewNowNext.com reported. Only 1,000 copies of Lavender Country ( called the "world's first gay country album" ) were made back in 1973, but thanks to word of mouth and a cult following, the record received a re-release in 2014. The campaign is at https://www.gofundme.com/lavender-country-new-album?member=2203424.

Outfest announced its 2019 Achievement Award recipient, Nisha Ganatra, and its galas, including Opening and Closing Night, for the 2019 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, presented by HBO, Broadway World noted. The event will open with Rachel Mason's documentary Circus of Books, about L.A.'s legendary gay pornography emporium run by her parents, Karen and Barry Mason. It will close with Hannah Pearl Utt's Before You Know It, a quirky comedy about two sisters who discover the mother they'd long been told was dead is actually a famous soap star. Outfest will be held July 18-28.

Michael D. Cohen—who plays eccentric genius Schwoz on the popular Nickelodeon superhero series Henry Danger—is opening up about his gender identity, publicly revealing he transitioned almost 20 years ago, NewNowNext.com noted. "I was misgendered [as female] at birth," the 43-year-old Canadian actor told Time. "I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience—a transgender journey." While Cohen does not use the word "transgender" to categorize or describe himself, he does identify as a member of the trans community.

Queer global-streaming network Revry will present QueerX—the 4th annual queer music, film and industry festival—May 31-June 2 in West Hollywood, sponsored by Lexus, a press release noted. The event has added Aja, Brooke Candy, Johnny Sibilly, Nikita Dragun, Gia Gunn, Stevie Boebi and WNBA athlete Sue Bird. See https://filmfreeway.com/queerx.

The stage musical adaptation of the Channing Tatum stripper saga Magic Mike has cancelled what was to be a pre-Broadway Boston engagement, Deadline reported. The production, which had been scheduled to run Nov. 30, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020, lost its big-name creative team last month. Composer Tom Kitt, lyricist Brian Yorkey and book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa left the show over "creative differences."

Oscar nominee Queen Latifah will star in and executive-produce a film adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's 2001 New York Times best-selling children's book The Tiger Rising, Deadline noted. The story follows a 12-year-old boy, Rob Horton, who finds a caged tiger in the center of the woods near his home. Shortly after, Rob meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association—the 88-member nonprofit group that hands out the annual Golden Globes Awards—rejected all five applicants for new membership in May, TheWrap reported. Moreover, two journalists in the group accused fellow members of "bullying" tactics and an "unjustifiable campaign" against one applicant, Kjersti Flaa, who has represented Norwegian outlets like TV2 and Dagbladet for 12 years. The group admitted just one member out of three applicants last year, and a single new member in 2017.

Melanie "Mel B" Brown's vision has been restored after she was temporarily blinded, People.com noted. A rep for the Spice Girls said that Brown was diagnosed with iritis and uveitis, a form of eye inflammation. After being treated, the singer returned to rehearsals for the upcoming Spice Girls tour, The Sun reported.

The new adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary comes home on digital June 25, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Video-On-Demand July 9 from Paramount Home Entertainment, a press release noted. The Digital, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray releases have more than 90 minutes of special features, including deleted and extended scenes, a chilling alternate ending, a look at the main characters, behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews and more.

Shazam! will be out on digital July 2, with the 4K, Blu-ray and DVD debuts July 16, a press release noted. David F. Sandberg ( Annabelle: Creation; Lights Out ) directs New Line Cinema's the origin story that stars Zachary Levi ( TV's Chuck; Tangled ) as the titular DC superhero, along with Mark Strong ( the Kingsman movies, The Imitation Game ) in the role of DC supervillain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and Asher Angel ( TV's Andi Mack; Driven to Dance ) as Billy Batson.

On May 24, Paramount Pictures celebrated the 25th anniversary of the classic film Forrest Gump with a special outdoor screening on the National Mall in Washington D.C., a press release touted. The screening was free to the public and fans were able to take photos on a replica of the film's famous bench. Oscar-winning producer Wendy Finerman and retired Sgt. First Class Sammy L. Davis, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, attended the screening. Davis' real-life medal ceremony appears in the film with Tom Hanks, superimposed. The movie won six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor ( Tom Hanks ), Best Writing, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects.

Adam Levine is exiting The Voice after 16 seasons on NBC's hit singing competition series, Deadline noted. The Maroon 5 frontman has been a coach on the show since its launch in 2011. He will be replaced next season by Gwen Stefani.

Colleen Bell has been picked by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become the new director of the California Film Commission, Deadline noted. The former The Bold and the Beautiful producer was named to the post after it was revealed that now-former executive director Amy Lemisch was exiting the job after 15 years in the job.

Iggy Azalea is asking fans to be considerate of her feelings after her nude photos were leaked on the internet, People.com noted. Speaking to her followers in a since-deleted note, Azalea explained that the photos were outtakes from a 2016 GQ photoshoot and were never intended for public release. Because of this, the singer said she was "surprised and angry" the images were still in someone's possession—and planned to press criminal charges.

More than two years deep into his "The Divide" tour, Ed Sheeran continues his global momentum with the highest grossing tour of April, Billboard noted. In December, Billboard noted that Sheeran would need to gross $171.4 million in 2019 to notch the highest grossing tour of all time. After 18 dates in South America, South Africa, and Asia ( including a May 3 performance in Jakarta, Indonesia ), he has closed that gap, with just $109 million separating The Divide Tour and U2's 360 Tour ( $736.4 million; 2009-11 ).

On the heels of John Wick 3: Parabellum's success, Keanu Reeves will be back as the legendary assassin for at least one more round of ultraviolent, pulse-pounding action as Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment have confirmed that John Wick 4 is in the works, Movieweb noted. Not only is there a fourth installment happening, but there's a May 21, 2021, release date.

Dionne Warwick, Martha Stewart, Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin were among the famous guests who joined music mogul Clive Davis for an epic Memorial Day weekend, Page Six noted. Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Tamron Hall, Tony Award-winning duo Fran and Barry Weissler, NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and Apple Music's Larry Jackson were among the 80 guests invited by Davis to a three-day bash that started with a Statue of Liberty sunset dinner cruise and ended with an amateur talent contest at the music executive's Pound Ridge, New York, estate.

Former Olympic star Michael Phelps opened about his past struggles with anxiety and depression, tweeting at one point he "questioned whether or not [he] wanted to be alive anymore" before going on to say that therapy "helped save [his] life," Bleacher Report noted. In another tweet, the 23-time gold medalist said he was teaming with Talkspace for Mental Health Awareness Month "to let you know that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness."

Ryan Phillippe insisted that he did not assault his ex-girlfriend Elsie Hewitt in a recent deposition, telling lawyers that he only "attempted to pick her up like a baby, Page Six noted. Phillippe was deposed by Hewitt's lawyers as part of her lawsuit against him for an alleged 2017 assault, in which she claimed that he "violently threw her down his staircase as hard he could" and then "picked [her] up like a doll and tossed her down the stairs," according to court documents obtained by The Blast.

Actor Jason Mitchell has been released from representation—including his agent and manager—as well as being removed from two of his most prominent projects: Showtime's The Chi and Netflix's upcoming flick Desperados, The Root noted. A source with knowledge of the Showtime series says Tiffany Boone—who played Mitchell's girlfriend on The Chi—was among several actresses on the series who had issues with Mitchell, The Hollywood Reporter added. She made repeated complaints of sexual harassment and allegedly felt so unsafe with her co-star that at times her fiance, Dear White People actor Marque Richardson, came to set when she shot scenes with him.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali—who stepped away from his restaurants and television appearances after facing accusations of sexual harassment—pled not guilty in a courtroom in Boston, NPR.org noted. The judge ordered the restaurateur to keep away from the accuser in the case, unless he has to be in a room with her for questioning connected to a separate civil lawsuit she has filed. The court released Batali and set his next court date for July 12, where his appearance has been waived.

A former skating partner of deceased figure skater John Coughlin said he sexually abused her for two years, ESPN.com noted. "I'm sorry but John hurt at least 10 people including me," Bridget Namiotka wrote on Facebook. "He sexually abused me for 2 years. Nobody innocent hangs themself." Namiotka skated with Coughlin from 2004 through 2007, when she was between the ages of 14 and 17. Coughlin committed suicide in January—shortly after the U.S. Center for SafeSport suspended him amid allegations of sexual misconduct.


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