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SHOWBIZ George Michael, Billy Porter, Michael Hutchence, LGBTQ-history film
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-10-22

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The holiday romantic comedy Last Christmas (starring Emilia Clarke, Emma Thompson and Henry Golding) won't just feature the music of George Michael—it will also include a previously unreleased song by the late queer pop legend, Out.com noted. As director Paul Feig revealed in August, Michael was involved with the film before his death in 2016. Michael classics like "Faith," "Freedom" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and the title song will be in the move, as well as a previously unreleased song: "This Is How ( We Want You to Get High )." Last Christmas is in theaters Nov. 8.

At the New Yorker Festival, Pose star Billy Porter discussed how racism and homophobia impacted his career, especially early on, Out.com reported. According to Porter, the music industry was "hugely, violently homophobic." He told interviewer Rachel Syme about signing a deal with A&M Records in the 1980s, and how quickly homophobic record execs started to try to push him out. Despite having the talent and drive to succeed, Porter said becoming a successful recording artist "was never about the music."

Fans of INXS will get an intimate look into the life of lead singer Michael Hutchence when the feature-length documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence arrives in movie theaters across the country for one night only on Jan. 7, 2020, a Shout! Studios press release noted. Tickets for Mystify: Michael Hutchence can be purchased beginning Monday, Nov. 8, at FathomEvents.com and participating theater box offices. Fathom will also be screening INXS: Live Baby Live at Wembley Stadium in theaters for one night only on Dec. 9, 2019. The trailer for "Mystify" is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRIFR3hkIpo.

HBO Max has commissioned a four-part docuseries on the history of the LGBTQ+ movement, Variety reported. Titled Equal, the series will explore the true stories of leaders and activists of the movement. Each hour-long episode will feature interviews, reenactments and previously unseen footage. Among those who will be profiled in the series are Harry Hay, Bayard Rustin, The Daughters of Bilitis and Christine Jorgensen. The series hails from Warner Horizon Unscripted Television, and Jim Parsons and Greg Berlanti are among the executive producers.

MGM and Bron Creative have finalized the cast for its Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, who was previously announced in the lead role, Deadline noted. The movie follows the rise of Franklin's career from a child singing in her father's church's choir to her international superstardom. Joining Hudson in the Liesl Tommy-directed movie is Forest Whitaker; Marlon Wayans; Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner Audra McDonald; Grammy winner/Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Mary J. Blige; Marc Maron; and Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, among others.

For the second week in a row, Jane Fonda was arrested while protesting climate change—and, this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston was also present at the Washington, D.C., protest and placed under arrest, USA Today noted. "Scientists tell us the tipping point for catastrophe is only 11 years off," Fonda says in a video clip with the United States Capitol in the background. "But there is still time if we move quickly and ambitiously to prevent the worst impacts, by beginning the transition off fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy now."

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ( RRHOF ) announced the nominees for the Rock Hall Class of 2020—and of the 16 artists shortlisted, nine are first-time nominees, Billboard noted. Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, The Doobie Brothers, Motorhead, The Notorious B.I.G., Soundgarden, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and Whitney Houston are up for the honor for the first time. Returning nominees include Depeche Mode, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Nine Inch Nails, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and Todd Rundgren. After the 2019 induction ceremony in Brooklyn, the RRHOF returns to its homebase in Cleveland, Ohio for its 35th annual induction ceremony on May 2, 2020.

Rosie O'Donnell opened up on her former The View boss Barbara Walters, Extra noted. At the opening night of the Broadway show The Sound Inside, O'Donnell told Us Weekly, "I don't think she's up to speaking to people now. I think she's a wonderful woman, and it's hard to age in America—never mind if you're internationally famous." Walters has kept a low profile since retiring as co-host on The View in 2014; she created the hit show in 1997, and still is an executive producer.

Jonathan Groff, Miriam Shor and a roster of stage veterans are set to perform at the Drama League's 36th annual benefit gala, to be held Oct. 28 at the Plaza, according to Playbill. The gala will honor two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster, who is returning to Broadway opposite fellow Tony winner Hugh Jackman in the 2020 revival of The Music Man.

Songwriter/activist Justin Tranter hosted "BEYOND," their third annual Spirit Day Concert benefiting GLAAD, at Sunset Room Hollywood, a press release noted. With more than 500 guests attending, the event raised more than $400,000 for GLAAD's Spirit Day anti-bullying campaign to support LGBTQ+ youth—a record amount for the concert. As a GLAAD board member and dedicated advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, Tranter has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization to date.

Harry Connick Jr.—who will return to Broadway in December in Harry Connick, Jr.: A Celebration of Cole Porter—will be honored with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Oct. 24, Playbill noted. Connick's star will be placed next to that of late composer Porter. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Rana Ghadban will emcee the ceremony, with guest speakers Oscar winner Renee Zellweger and American Idol Executive Producer Trish Kinane.

Singer Frank Ocean has announced a party series, "PrEP+," Out.com noted. "Starting late on Thursday 17th in New York City, Blonded debuts club night PrEP+," a press release stated. Blonded is the name of Ocean's Apple Radio show that had seven episodes and ended in 2017 ( though the out musician did a few special episodes in 2018 ). The press release also stated, "The night is named PrEP+ as an homage to what could have been of the 1980s NYC club scene if the drug PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ) — which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDS for those who are not infected but are at high risk — had been invented in that era."

In the new Travel Channel series Famously Afraid, debuting Nov. 5, stars tell their true tales of coming face-to-face with unexplained phenomena, a press release noted. The first episode will spotlight Howie Mandel, Hal Sparks ( Queer As Folk ) and Christi and Chloe Lukasiak ( Dance Moms ); other episodes will feature celebrities such as Tori Spelling, Ty Pennington ( Trading Spaces ), Kate Flannery ( The Office ), Carson Kressley ( RuPaul's Drag Race ) and singer/reality-TV figure Aubrey O'Day.

Liam Payne will release his debut album, LP1, on Dec. 6, a press release noted. Hit singles featured on the album include Liam's debut "Strip That Down," featuring Quavo; "Polaroid," which sold 2 million copies; and "Stack It Up," featuring U.S. rapper A Boogie wit da Hoodie. Payne has sold more than 18 million singles in two years as a solo artist since leaving One Direction.

Actress Gina Rodriguez ( TV's Jane the Virgin ) apologized after an Instagram post showing her singing a lyric with the N-word sparked a social media backlash, Deadline reported. The offending post, which has been deleted, showed Rodriguez in a makeup chair and passing the time by vamping and singing along to the 1996 Fugees track "Ready or Not." Rodriguez has taken heat for past comments regarding race; in a 2018 Net-a-Porter roundtable, for instance, the actress offered a hierarchy of pay gaps that was criticized in some corners as polarizing or clumsy.

The Mrs. Doubtfire musical will definitely happen on Broadway and, as rumored, it'll be arriving with Beetlejuice's Rob McClure in the title role, Deadline noted. The musical—directed by Jerry Zaks and based on the 1993 Robin Williams hit movie—will begin previews March 9, 2020, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, with an opening night set for April 5. Zaks is a four-time Tony winner ( eight-time nominee ), most recently on Broadway with the Bette Midler hit Hello, Dolly! as well as A Bronx Tale: The Musical.

Leonard Soloway's Broadway—a new documentary produced and directed by Jeff Wolk—will premiere in New York City Nov. 4-7 and will be distributed by 1091 to digital platforms including iTunes, On Demand and DVDs will be available on Amazon beginning Nov. 12, a press release noted. The documentary, narrated by Campbell Scott, features candid interviews with people such as John Slattery, Olympia Dukakis and Tovah Feldshuh. See LeonardSolowaysBroadway.com .

Actor Neil Patrick Harris revealed he underwent surgery after suffering an accident while on vacation in Europe, Queerty noted. He posted, ""Had surgery today. I tripped and hand planted onto a sea urchin almost two months ago while climbing rocky cliffs in Croatia.Most of the tiny spines I dug out myself, but two refused to leave and one got infected. Turns out it pierced through a tendon."

Bill Macy—who played the frustrated husband Walter Findlay opposite Bea Arthur on the hit 1970s sitcom Maude—has died at 97, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Macy also stood out as the weasly Charlie Hatter, an old pal of Art Carney's aging detective character, in Robert Benton's The Late Show ( 1977 ), and his Stan Fox helped Steve Martin's Navin R. Johnson bring the ( ultimately flawed ) eyeglass invention the Opti-Grab to market in Carl Reiner's The Jerk ( 1979 ).

Angela Bassett was one of the hosts of the Rape Foundation's annual brunch—and, on the red carpet, before it started she talked about being molested by her mother's former boyfriend as a child, Atlanta Black Star noted. She also praised her mother for taking swift action when she learned of the assault, and Bassett said that feeling of protection and being believed was an important message for her to receive as a young person.

Ms. Lauryn Hill will contributing a song to the Queen & Slim film soundtrack, and it's due to be released Nov. 15—marking her first new music in years, Showbiz Cheat Sheet noted. Written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas—director of Beyoncé's "Formation" and Rihanna's "We Found Love"—Queen & Slim follows a young Black couple on a first date who get pulled over by a white cop that they kill in self-defense. They then go on the run like Bonnie and Clyde.

Country-music star Keith Urban joins the list of musicians with Las Vegas residencies next year with his 12-date stay at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Wide Open Country noted. Keith Urban Live: Las Vegas will start Jan. 10 and return sporadically through November. It follows Urban's Graffiti U World Tour. Tickets start at $69 each ( not including fees ); visit Ticketmaster.com/keithurbanvegas or the Colosseum at Caesars Palace box office.

The film Official Secrets—based on the true story of a spy who tried to stop a war—will arrive on Digital Nov. 5 and on DVD with Digital Copy Nov. 26, a Paramount Home Entertainmen press release noted. Official Secrets reveals the true story of British intelligence specialist-turned-whistleblower Katharine Gun ( played by Keira Knightley ). From director Gavin Hood ( Eye in the Sky ), the movie features a supporting cast including Matt Smith ( Doctor Who ), who portrays Martin Bright, the real-life investigative journalist who broke the story; Matthew Goode ( Downton Abbey ) as one of Bright's colleagues; and Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes as Gun's lawyer.

Suzanne Somers celebrated her 73rd birthday in her birthday suit, sharing a photo of herself in the buff crouched behind some sparse shrubbery in Palm Springs, Page Six noted. "Here I am at 73 in my Birthday Suit!!!," wrote the former "Three's Company" star on Instagram, wearing nothing but a slight smile in the photo and covering her chest with her hands. The Three's Company actress celebrated good friend Beverly Johnson's 67th birthday just the previous day, sharing a photo of the festivities on Instagram.

Instrument brand Gibson announced the worldwide release of the new, limited-edition Chuck Berry 1955 ES-350T, a press release noted. The guitar brand joined forces with the Chuck Berry family to create a perfect replica of Chuck's beloved 1955 ES-350T. The historically accurate guitar was made available starting Oct. 18, in celebration of the late musician's birthday, at Authorized Gibson Dealers worldwide.

At the Hudson River Park gala, Martha Stewart auctioned off a horse-riding expedition at her estate in Bedford, plus a breakfast personally prepared by herself inside her place's palatial kitchen, Page Six noted. Stewart took to the stage in front of a crowd at Cipriani's new South Street venue that included Michael Bloomberg, Lucy Liu, Olivia Wilde and host Sandra Bernhard. The winner offered $30,000.

Harry Shum Jr. ( Shadowhunters; Crazy Rich Asians; Glee ) leads the cast with Chris Sullivan ( This Is Us ) in movie thriller Broadcast Signal Intrusion, which is now shooting in Chicago, Deadline noted. Jacob Gentry ( Synchronicity ) directs the feature that is inspired by real broadcast interruptions that occurred in the Windy City in the late 1980s.

An online ad for Real Housewives of New York's Luann de Lesseps' cabaret show, "Countess and Friends," includes a seemingly glowing quote from the New York Times—but that really wasn't the xase, Page Six revealed. The poster supposedly quoted the Times as saying the show was "inspiring," but journalist Anna Peele said that the full quote was "Tickets to the first performance of #CountessandFriends went on sale on Dec. 10, and quickly sold out, INSPIRING Ms. de Lesseps to add a second date, which sold out within 24 hours." ( Note: Windy City Times added the uppercase to "inspiring." ) Sources close to De Lesseps acknowledged that there's no other Times review that includes the word "inspired" as praise.

Teresa and Joe Giudice reportedly want to put it all out on the table in a candid interview with Andy Cohen, Page Six noted. "Joe and I will be sitting down with @Andy to discuss everything that has been happening with us and our family the past few months," Teresa, of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, tweeted. Viewers can tune in to The Real Housewives of New Jersey Special Event: Joe and Teresa Unlocked on Oct. 27 on Bravo.

FX fired Kurt Sutter, the bombastic creator of Sons of Anarchy and Mayans M.C., Entertainment Weekly reported. The prolific writer/creator sent a letter to the cast of Mayans letting the actors know he was leaving the network that made him a household name. He also referred to himself as an "abrasive jerk" in the letter. Sutter is married to actress Katey Sagal, who starred in "Anarchy" but is best known as Peg Bundy on the TV classic Married With Children. He is notoriously outspoken on Twitter, often relying on the c-word to express a strong opinion about a person or subject.


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