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SHOWBIZ Greg Berlanti, Rihanna, 'Downton Abbey,' Ralph Lauren
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Producer Greg Berlanti has taken on a side project—a one-night-only reading of Paramount Pictures' Terms of Endearment at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 1, to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, noted. Presented by Berlanti Productions and Supergirl co-showrunner Jessica Queller, the reading will feature Supergirl's Melissa Benoist, Calista Flockhart and Chris Wood as well as Alfred Molina ( The Front Runner; Spider-Man 2 ), Kumail Nanjiani ( The Big Sick; Silicon Valley ), Constance Wu ( Crazy Rich Asians; Fresh Off The Boat ), Willie Garson ( White Collar ), Kate Burton ( Scandal ) and Italia Ricci ( Designated Survivor ). Berlanti and Queller are doing the event to honor the memory of their mothers, who both died of cancer.

Young people around the world have been denied an education because of poverty, sexism and bad public policy, according to an op-ed Rihanna wrote for The Guardian, noted. The piece is titled "Growing Up in Barbados, School Was a Grind. But I Was Lucky," and it focuses on the importance of a solid education in helping to raise a child out of poverty and onto a successful path in life.

In other Rihanna-related news, reported that her home country of Barbados announced that it appointed the singer as "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, with specific responsibility for promoting education, tourism and investment for the island." According to a release from the Government Information Service in Barbados, "Robyn 'Rihanna' Fenty" was given the title because she is an "outstanding Barbadian who has contributed significantly to raising the island's profile across the world."

Focus Features has set the release date for the upcoming Downton Abbey film for September 2019, noted. The big screen debut of the Crawley family will hit international screens on Sept. 13, 2019, with a U.S. release one week later on Sept. 20. Downton Abbey became one of the most acclaimed TV shows of this decade, winning 15 Emmys from 69 nominations —more than any non-U.S. show.

Ralph Lauren's 50 years in fashion will continue with an HBO documentary, Page Six noted. Susan Lacy—who directed HBO's new documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts—has turned her camera on the legendary designer as her next project. During a Q&A with Alec Baldwin after a screening of the Fonda movie in East Hampton, Lacy revealed that Spielberg later sent her a note about his own film profile that joked, "You have a camera style that could get O.J. Simpson to confess."

Halle Berry is now going to put some serious spin on BET's small-screen Boomerang sequel of sorts—and Lena Waithe is joining her, reported. The Oscar winner and the Emmy winner will be executive producers on the 10-episode half-hour BET Networks- and Paramount Television-produced series, which is set to debut next year.

Speaking of the busy Waithe, TBS has solidified the main cast of Twenties, its single-camera comedy from her, according to . Jonica T. Gibbs has landed the lead, with Christina Elmore, Gabrielle Graham and Sophina Brown as co-leads in the project, created and written by Waithe nine years ago, when she was in her early 20s. Twenties focuses on a queer Black girl, Hattie ( Gibbs ) and her two straight best friends, Marie ( Elmore ) and Nia ( Graham ).

After eight years at The Colosseum, Celine Dion will end her Las Vegas residency in 2019, Page Six noted. Dion first took the Las Vegas stage in 2003 for her first residency at Caesars Palace, which ran for five years, ending in 2007. She returned in 2011 for a second residency, which will end June 2019. The announcement came after she posted an Instagram photo of herself on Thursday back in the studio recording new music.

Singer Sam Smith pulled out his iHeartRadio Music Festival performance minutes before he was set to take the stage Sept. 21, Just Jared reported. The 26-year-old performer reportedly suffered a vocal emergency sometime between rehearsal and his set. According to Variety, Sam had been complaining his throat was hurting before inexplicably losing his voice.

Robyn will release her eighth album, Honey, on Oct. 26, noted. Honey will be the Swedish singer's first solo album since the Body Talk series in 2010. Earlier this summer, Robyn released the album's first single, "Missing U," and surprised some of her fans with an appearance at one of Brooklyn's regular Robyn-themed dance parties at Brooklyn Bowl.

For National Deaf Awareness Week ( Sept. 24-30 ), queer/ally folk-pop group Faultines is releasing an ASL ( American Sign Language ) music video for "Love Is All We Own," a press release noted. The ASL teachers were mother and child Sarah and Libby Schmidt, who are Faultlines fans. The video was released exclusively on Sept. 21.

Musician Paul Simon ended his final concert tour under a moonlit sky on home turf Saturday, telling an audience in a park in Queens, New York, that their cheers "mean more than you can know," USA Today noted. Simon performed at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which he said was a 20-minute bicycle ride from where he grew up, ending the landmark night with his first big hit, "The Sound of Silence." Simon, 76, isn't retiring, and hasn't ruled out occasional future performances—but he's said this is his last time out on the road.

DC Comics has launched a new imprint called Black Label, which according to Comic Book Resources, "will feature major superheroes from their pantheon in more adult situations, all taking place outside the main DC continuity," noted. Batman is the focus of the inaugural issue of the new imprint in Batman: Damned—and the comics publisher holds nothing back as they show Bruce Wayne stripping out of his spandex and going fully nude in the Bat Cave. Batman: Damned is out now. However, DC Comics has decided to remove all panels showing Batman's penis and other nudity from Batman: Damned #1—making the originals very valuable, Gay Star News added.

Michelle Visage will join the West End production of Everybody's Talking About Jamie Oct. 18-Jan. 26, 2019, noted. The recording artist, actress, author, television personality, podcast co-host and radioshow host is best known for being a judge on hit Emmy-winning show RuPaul's Drag Race.

Netflix has rounded out the cast for its RuPaul-led comedy series AJ and the Queen, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Josh Segarra ( Orange Is the New Black; Arrow; Chicago P.D. ), Michael-Leon Wooley ( The Princess and the Frog ), Katerina Tannenbaum ( Sweetbitter ) and Tia Carrere ( Wayne's World; Lilo and Stitch ) will co-star in the comedy written by RuPaul and Michael Patrick King ( Sex and the City ). The 10-episode comedy series stars the Emmy winner as drag queen Ruby Red; Segarra will play her boyfriend.

Hallmark Channel announced a veteran, all-star cast for the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation Christmas Everlasting—and it will include Patti LaBelle, Broadway World noted. Other actors will include Tatyana Ali ( The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ), Dondre T. Whitfield ( Queen Sugar ) and Dennis Haysbert ( 24; Far From Heaven ). Christmas Everlasting is the 262nd installment of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution has sold The Kelly Clarkson Show to the NBC Owned TV Station group for a fall 2019 debut, noted. The show is getting a prime slot on the NBC stations where it will air as the lead-in to daytime anchor Ellen—a time period that had been occupied by a Steve Harvey talker for seven seasons now. It is not clear what will happen to the show Steve.

StarVista LIVE, which specializes in nostalgia-based music-cruise experiences, has an inaugural Ultimate Disco Cruise on Feb. 14-19, 2019, from Fort Lauderdale to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico, a press release noted. Yvonne Elliman and France Joli have been announced as the latest artists to join acts like KC and The Sunshine Band, Kool & the Gang, Village People, Rose Royce, Evelyn "Champagne" King, Thelma Houston and more. Cabin fares start at $1,499 and include admission to all shows produced by StarVista LIVE, most meals and major events; call 844.296.3472 or visit .

Joe and Ben Weider were the kings of the bodybuilding circuit for more than five decades—and next month, film audiences will get a chance to relive their story, according to Queerty. Bigger, which costars Teen Wolf alumni Tyler Hoechlin ( Joe Weider ) and Colton Haynes ( Jack LaLanne ), tells the story of how brothers Joe and Ben built an empire around the male physique. Bigger will be in theaters Oct. 12.

Kate McKinnon has joined Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman in Jay Roach's Untitled Charles Randolph Project, reported. McKinnon is set to star as a producer; her role will not be based on a real person. The Annapurna Pictures' film follows the ensemble of women who decided to take on the toxic male culture of Fox News and bring down network CEO Roger Ailes. Jay Roach will direct, and Margot Robbie, Allison Janney and John Lithgow also star.

Hulu picked up an eight-episode revival of Veronica Mars, with series star Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas set to return in 2019, according to . As part of the deal, Hulu has also struck an agreement with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for streaming rights to all past episodes of the original Veronica Mars, including the 2014 feature film.

A longtime writer for Sesame Street says Bert and Ernie are gay, noted. Mark Saltzman, who wrote scripts and songs for the show for 15 years, said in an interview with Queerty that he "always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were. I didn't have any other way to contextualize them," adding that he used parts of his own relationship with his partner, Arnie, for some of the show's storylines. Sesame Workshop stated in a release that Bert and Ernie "remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

A Morrissey impersonator has spoken about the pitfalls of performing as the Smiths singer as the real Moz stirs controversy with his views, reported. Speaking with Manchester Evening News, electrical contracts director Johnny Turner—the Morrissey of The Smiths Ltd.—said, among other things, "It has started filtering through to me. Someone posted on our website asking if I do political rants in between songs, and another asking if I'm a fake Morrissey do I have the same fake views as him."

Les Moonves was not on the Hollywood Reporter's 100 Most Powerful People in Entertainment list this year—after the mogul was ranked number four just a year ago, Page Six noted. Moonves just stepped down as CEO of CBS amid mulitple sexual-harassment claims, which he denies. ( Also off the list this year after allegations are John Lasseter and Roy Price, as well as director Brett Ratner. ) Ronan Farrow—who penned the New Yorker pieces that took down Moonves as well as Harvey Weinstein—made THR's list at number 100.

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit is opening an exhibit honoring Aretha Franklin's life and career, noted. According to the Detroit Free Press, "Think: A Tribute to the Queen of Soul" opened Sept. 25 and will run until Jan. 21, 2019, and a long-term exhibit is expected to open in 2020. For more information, visit

Beyonce's former drummer, Kimberly Thompson, requested a restraining order against her ( which was denied ) because she claimed the singer practices "extreme witchcraft," according to a Page Six item that cites The Blast. Thompson also claimed that the "Lemonade" singer started a campaign of harassment against her, which includes "dark magic" and "magic spells of sexual molestation." She also alleged Beyonce murdered her kitten.

Some Prince fans reportedly are asking the U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota to convene a grand jury to investigate the singer's death, reported. The "Kiss" singer died of an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2016 after taking counterfeit Vicodin pills that were laced with fentanyl, according to the Carver County attorney's office. In April, authorities decided not to file any criminal charges.

Former Today co-host Tamron Hall is officially heading to daytime TV. Disney ABC has cleared the new syndicated daytime talk show hosted by Hall on the ABC-owned Television Stations Group for fall 2019, noted. This is the second new first-tun syndicated series cleared for next fall, joining NBCU's The Kelly Clarkson Show.

America's Got Talent finalist Michael Ketterer had a run-in with the law just one day after finishing fifth on the season-13 finale, US Magazine noted. The singer was arrested on Sept. 20, for felony domestic violence. According to TMZ—which was first to report the news—the performer was allegedly involved in a fight with his wife, Ivey, that left her with a visible red mark on her body.

Yandy debuted a sexy Handmaid's Tale outfit for Halloween—and some people are furious, noted. The retailer shortened the hem via a red mini dress, adding a cape with slits along the front and side and topping off the look with fishnet tights. Last year, Yandy created the controversial pregnant Kylie Jenner costume it called "Reality Star in the Making."

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