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SHOWBIZ Judi Dench, HIV+ musical comedy, Black LGBTQ musicians, Ryan Reynolds
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-30

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Dame Judi Dench ( perhaps jokingly ) had a different take on Old Deuteronomy, her character in the panned movie Cats, Out.com noted. The role is traditionally played by a male actor, but Dench was tapped for the big-screen version. "I kind of call it 'trans Deuteronomy,' is the part for me, you know," she said. Dench was supposed to star in the 1981 West End stage production of the musical as Grizabella the Glamour Cat and Jennyanydots the Old Gumbie Cat, but had to drop out after snapping her Achilles tendon. However, Dench has been criticized for her remark; the queer-friendly sci-fi site io9 wrote, "Comments like Dench's are the perfect example of what Hollywood needs less of: hand-wavey, out-of-touch nonsense that makes it seem as if people have no idea what proper representation actually looks like," LGBTQ Nation noted.

The award-winning HIV+ musical comedy web series Merce will return Jan. 21 for its second season, a press release noted. The second season will featurs eight new episodes—each with its own elaborately choreographed original musical number—while tackling issues such as PrEP, slut-shaming, and same-sex love and marriage. Charles Sanchez is the show's writer, producer and star. The second-season trailer is at https://vimeo.com/269297393.

Billboard ran an article on 12 Black LGBTQ musicians who help shaped the 2010s. Among them are Frank Ocean, MNEK, Todrick Hall, Big Freedia, Vincint, Shea Diamond, Lil Nas X, Young M.A, Kehlani, Ze Taylor, ILoveMakonnen and Kodie Shane. Of Ocean, the publication noted, "With the release of his 2011 mixtape nostalgia, ULTRA and his subsequent debut album, channel ORANGE, in 2012, Ocean consolidated himself as an immovable force on the edge of music's future."

Ryan Reynolds, who plays the titular anti-hero, confirmed there is a Deadpool 3 on the way, Vulture noted. "We're working on it right now, the whole team," he said on Live With Kelly and Ryan on Christmas Eve. "We're over at Marvel now, which is like the big leagues all of a sudden." Deadpool 3 is the first of the franchise to be developed after Disney and 21st Century Fox merged.

President Barack Obama revealed his favorite films and TV shows of 2019, USA Today noted. A few of the movies included the Aretha Franklin gospel documentary Amazing Grace; Booksmart, a comedy-drama about two high school overachievers ( one of whom is a lesbian ); The Farewell, which stars Crazy Rich Asians breakout Awkwafina; the Martin Scorsese mob epic The Irishman; the acclaimed film The Last Black Man in San Francisco; Watchmen, HBO's loose adaptation of a superhero graphic novel; and the Netflix divorce drama Marriage Story.

Sara Gilbert filed to legally separate from wife Linda Perry after five years of marriage, Us Weekly confirmed. According to documents that Us obtained, she listed their date of separation as Aug. 13 and cited the reason as "irreconcilable differences." Gilbert requested joint legal and physical custody of their 4-year-old son; she is also the mother of two other children, with ex Ali Adler. The Roseanne alum exited The Talk in April, citing her workload and a need for time with her family.

On the Showtime podcast All The Smoke, former Miami Heat point guard Dwyane Wade spoke about his close relationship with his child, who he still calls his son, but now refers to with she/her pronouns, Outsports noted. In the interview, Wade talks about realizing that when Zion was as young as 3 that she "wasn't on the boy vibe" like her older brother, Zaire. And he spoke about doing the work—on his own prejudices and fears—after realizing his child was not the one with a problem.

The George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward opera Porgy and Bess—starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the title roles—will air on PBS stations around the country July 17, 2020, Playbill noted. The classic opera, set on Catfish Row—a fictional town inspired the African-American "Gullah" culture of South Carolina—is one of five operas that will air on PBS in 2020 as part of the 14th season of the Great Performances at The Met series. The 14th season will launch Jan. 5 with the French tale of Manon, and will continue with Turandot ( March 20 ), Akhnaten ( April 5 ) and Agrippina ( June 7 ).

Soccer stars Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris officially exchanged vows in a ceremony with family and friends at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami on Dec. 28, People.com reported. Singer Kina Grannis performed as the couple walked down the aisle. Harris and Krieger helped the U.S. women's national soccer team win the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, giving the country its fourth championship in the tournament.

Per doctor's orders, Madonna cancelled the last North American show of her Madame X tour because of injury, Yahoo! reported. Sharing a video of a moment in her show that requires her to ascend a ladder, Madonna wrote that the maneuvers left her in tears. "As I climbed the ladder to sing 'Batuka' [on] Saturday night in Miami I was in tears from the pain of my injuries, Which has been indescribable for the past few days," she captioned the clip on Instagram. "I spent the last two days with doctors. Scans, ultra sounds, Xrays. Poking and probing and more tears. They have made it very clear to me that if l'am to continue my tour—I must rest for as long as possible so that I don't inflict further and Irreversible damage to my body." Madame X, Madonna's 14th studio album, was released in June.

Rami Malek said he used aspects of playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody while filming the upcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die, in which he plays the villain Safin, Us Weekly noted. "If I went in there and tried to make a carbon copy of someone, what joy or fun would that be for anybody? I guess that may be a lesson I learned from Mr. Mercury: If it's not original, then why bother?," he told Empire magazine. Additionally, Malek worked with dialogue coach William Conacher, who he also worked with on Bohemian Rhapsody.

Zac Efron was reportedly hospitalized after contracting a bacterial infection while filming his new reality series Killing Zac Efron in Papua New Guinea, Page Six reported. "I did get sick in Papua New Guinea but I bounced back quick and finished an amazing 3 weeks in P.N.G.I'm home for the holidays with my friends and family," Efron tweeted. It's unclear what Efron was stricken with, but Vulture cited reports that it may have been typhoid—a deadly bacterial disease that spreads through food and water contamination.

Several Broadway favorites join John Mulaney for his holiday Netflix special, John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, according to Playbill. The title, now available on the streamer, evokes children's variety show specials of yesteryear, such as The Mickey Mouse Club or The Electric Company. Appearing alongside the comedian are Hadestown Tony winner Andre De Shields, Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford and her Sunday in the Park With George co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and Russian Doll's Natasha Lyonne, among others.

Stephen King's Carrie is getting its latest treatment for the screen, with limited-series adaptation of the iconic horror novel being in development at FX, Page Six noted, citing Deadline. The FX project comes six years after the second feature film adaptation of the book, starring Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role; the adaptation was penned by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa and directed by Kimberly Peirce. The first film adaptation ( out in the '70s ), directed by Brian De Palma, starred Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, with Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, William Katt, P. J. Soles, Betty Buckley and John Travolta as co-stars.

A mural of legendary singer Tina Turner was vandalized with a red, incorrectly drawn "swastika-type symbol" in Asheville, North Carolina, CNN.com reported. The mural was located on the pull-down storefront of a record store, Static Age Records. A spokeswoman for the Asheville Police Department told CNN on Saturday that the "incident is under further investigation," and encouraged anyone with information that could aid the investigation to contact the Asheville Police Department or Buncombe County Crimestoppers.

A New York appeals court ruled that film director Paul Haggis' rape accuser will be able to proceed on a civil-suit claim that the director committed a gender-motivated hate crime, Page Six reported. Publicist Haleigh Breest alleges that Haggis raped her in his Soho apartment in 2013 following a film premiere. Breest's lawsuit against Haggis—who won two Oscars for Crash—will go to trial in February, and he will now also face charges of violating a New York law aimed at preventing "gender-motivated violence." While the decision is an overall victory for Breest, the judges found that other, unnamed women accusing Haggis of sexual assault—referred to as Jane Does—could not level the hate-crime charge against him. Haggis has maintained his innocence.

Kevin Spacey posted another cryptic video on Christmas Eve, Yahoo! reported. "You didn't really think I was going to miss the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas, did you?" the actor said in the voice of his former House of Cards character Frank Underwood. In last year's video, Spacey responded indirectly to the sexual misconduct accusations that derailed his career, resulting in being killed off on Netflix's House of Cards and also excised from the film All the Money in the World after numerous men accused him of predatory behavior.

Speaking of Spacey, Ari Behn—a former member of Norway's royal family who was one of the actor's sexual assault accusers—died by suicide at age 47, Page Six noted. The successful Danish author was married to Norway's Princess Martha Louise between 2002 and 2017. In December 2017, Behn came forward to accuse Spacey of groping him under a table at a Nobel Peace Prize concert in 2007; Spacey never responded to that allegation. "Dear beloved Mikis," Marianne Behn, Ari's mother, wrote on Instagram, People.com noted. "The darkness never took you.. IT was the bright shining LIGHT merging with you." A funeral for Ari will take place Jan. 3 at the Oslo Cathedral.

A former Disney Channel actor charged with trying to have sex with a 13-year-old boy in Salt Lake City contends he can't get a fair trial because the judge handling his case is biased against gay people, Page Six noted. An attorney for ex-Andi Mack actor Stoney Westmoreland said in court documents that U.S. District Judge Howard Nielson Jr. is incapable of being impartial because he represented proponents of a gay-marriage ban in California when he was a private attorney, the Deseret News reported. Nielson refuted the notion and denied Westmoreland's request for him to recuse himself from the case, saying views of his clients don't represent his own opinions.

Actor Ryan Phillippe responded to the criticism that he has received for going on a trip to Saudi Arabia, Just Jared noted. People criticized celebrities for attending the MDL Beast Music Festival due to the human-rights violations in the country recently and its history of oppression of women. Phillippe said, in part, on Instagram, "i love travel. i love different cultures. i love how we can find ways to connect through our human oneness, the pure desire for love and freedom. no matter where in the world." Model Emily Ratajkowski said she turned down the trip.

Vicki Gunvalson defended herself against accusations of being homophobic following her Real Housewives of Orange County reunion rant against Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Page Six noted. Gunvalson was met with hostility online after telling Burke she's sick of the cast newbie's wild behavior, including kissing co-star Tamra Judge on camera. "I'm gonna hit it right on, head on—I am not homophobic," she said in an Instagram video. "I've got family members that are gay and lesbian and I've got obviously Bravo fans, personal friends. I'm not [homophobic]."

Sales of the sweater Chris Evans wore in the movie Knives Out are up 150 percent, AOL.com noted. The intricately woven Aran garment, also often called a "fisherman knit," is named for the islands in the west of Ireland.

Billie Eilish said her "heart is shattered" following the deaths of two teenage superfans, People.com noted. The "Bad Guy" singer, 18, mourned the losses of Skylar Davies and Kira Stanley on her Instagram Story, sharing a series of photos of the star embracing each girl. Stanley died two years after being diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare brain cancer; a cause of death wasn't listed for Davies.

Revolver Magazine listed nine things it learned from visiting musician Trent Reznor's studio. Some of the revelations included that Nine Inch Nails ( the band Reznor plays in ) plan to play shows in 2020 and record new, collaborative music; Reznor's come to peace with the fact that Nine Inch Nails' song "Closer" is a strip-club anthem; and that his kids dance to "Old Town Road," which samples the Nine Inch Nails' instrumental "34 Ghosts IV," off the 2008 album Ghosts I-IV.

Ed Sheeran is once again stepping back from music, Yahoo! noted. Just two days after he released the music video for his new single "Put It All on Me," Sheeran, 28, announced on Instagram he was taking a break from music and social media for the time being. "I've been a bit non stop since 2017 so I'm just gonna take a breather to travel, write, and read. I'll be off social media until it's time to come back," he posted. Sheeran also revealed he recently lost about 50 pounds, Page Six noted.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, fantasy writer George R.R. Martin ( Game of Thrones ) quietly opened Beastly Books next to the movie theater he revived in 2013, USA Today noted. Martin, a longtime Santa Fe resident, wrote on his blog that he opened the bookstore in part because the lobby of his Jean Cocteau Cinema theater was too small to display books by visiting authors.


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