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SHOWBIZ Judith Light, RuPaul, queer docufiction film, Lil Nas X, Mika
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-01-27

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GLAAD will honor award-winning actress, producer and activist Judith Light with the Excellence in Media Award at the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York, a press release noted. The organization also announced that Lilly Singh—the openly bisexual executive producer and host of NBC's A Little Late with Lilly Singh—will host the ceremony, which will take place at the Hilton Midtown in New York on March 19. GLAAD previously announced that Ryan Murphy will receive the Vito Russo Award at the New York ceremony.

On Feb. 8, RuPaul will host Saturday Night Live for the first time ever, EW.com noted. NBC announced Tuesday that the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race icon, recording artist, actor and drag superstar will front the episode, with Justin Bieber as musical guest. RuPaul and Bieber's episode will fall one week after NFL star J.J. Watt and country artist Luke Combs handle the Feb. 1 show.

Outspoken Films announced the release of Bookish: Reading the Queer Subject, a new full-length docufiction film, a press release noted. "Bookish"—which is about art, love and the queer diaspora—follows the journey of an artist ( William Bond Walker ) and his subject ( John Balkema ) from their meeting in 1950s middle-America to their migration to the gay metropolis of New York City and rural Columbia County in upstate New York. They were life partners for more than 60 years before they both died in 2017. Trailers are available at vimeo.com/376708418 and vimeo.com/385152036; the full-length film is at https://vimeo.com/377425559.

Lil Nas X was on the cover of Variety's Grammys issue. In an interview with the publication, he talked about his father's reaction to him coming out ( "We have become closer. I mean, especially now because I don't have anything to hide. It was a shock for him. It's still the beginning phase. I'm not comfortable bringing a guy around yet" ), industry acceptance ( "I don't feel like any specific place in the music industry accepts me as a whole" ) and many other topics. The interview is at Variety.com/2020/music/news/lil-nas-x-grammys-old-town-road-1203469735.

Following the release of his fifth album, My Name Is Michael Holbrook, global pop singer Mika returns to the states for a North American headline tour this spring, a press release noted. It kicks off April 11 on the first weekend of Coachella in Indio, California; visits major markets across the country such as Denver, Chicago and New York; and concludes May 16 at Videotron Centre in Quebec, Canada. Also, a live album entitled Mika Live From Brooklyn Steel is arriving Jan. 31.

Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson revealed on The Late Late Show with James Corden that he and husband Justin Mikita are expecting their first child, CNN.com noted. Ferguson joked the sex of the baby was "human." Mikita is an attorney and founder of the nonprofit organization, Tie the Knot, which raises money and awareness for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights.

Best known for her role as Candy on the hit FX show Pose, actress/transgender-rights advocate Angelica Ross is now the face of luxury brand Louis Vuitton's newest ad campaign, NBC News reported. The ad features Ross against a backdrop that resembles a vintage movie poster. The ad says, in part, "When the future knocks, open the door!" Anthony Ramos, head of talent at the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, said Ross' inclusion in the campaign is a "major step forward for LGBTQ visibility and representation, specifically for trans women of color."

Famed record producer DJ Junior Vasquez is back in the studio and announced that his Private Collection Mix of Donna Summer's "My Life" was recently chosen to close the late Donna Summer's most recent album, which is set to be released March 27, a press release noted. The new album, entitled Encore, will feature Summer's iconic studio albums; it will be presented as 33-CD box set ( within 24 individual albums ), featuring 329 tracks and all of Summer's 17 studio albums, from Lady of the Night up to 2008's Crayons.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced that it will honor two playwrights with the HRC Equality Award at the 19th Annual HRC Greater New York Gala on Saturday, Feb. 1—Jeremy O. Harris, the playwright of Slave Play; and Matthew Lopez, the playwright of The Inheritance, a press release noted. Harris and Lopez join fellow honorees Naomi Campbell, who is being honored with the Global Advocacy Award; Kristin Chenoweth, who will receive the Ally for Equality Award; and PVH Corp., which will receive the HRC Corporate Equality Award.

Three-time Emmy nominee and American Horror Story alum Billy Eichner is joining FX's Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky sex scandal limited series American Crime Story: Impeachment in the role of famed journalist and Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge, Deadline noted. It was the Drudge Report that first broke news of the White House affair on Jan. 17, 1998, then reporting that Newsweek editors were sitting on a story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff.

Sabra Dipping Company, LLC, unveiled teasers for its first-ever Super Bowl commercial—and the segments feature, among others, drag queens Miz Cracker and Kim Chi as well as rapper T-Pain and Real Housewives of New Jersey figures Caroline Manzo and Teresa Giudice, a press release noted. The full spot will be available on Sabra's social channels after the Super Bowl.

Hallmark announced that the chief executive of its subsidiary overseeing the Hallmark Channel is stepping down—a month after the network was at the center of backlash over its decision to pull a same-sex marriage advertisement, NBC News reported. Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks, is leaving the company; no replacement has been announced. Mike Perry, president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, said in a statement that it was "more important than ever that we find relevant new ways to grow our business," but he did not give a reason for Abbott's exit.

Lena Waithe and wife Alana Mayo have separated, EW.com noted, citing People Magazine. The couple married last year after three years of dating. News of the breakup comes just two months after Waithe, 35, revealed she had secretly married Mayo in a meaningful, under-the-radar San Francisco ceremony. The couple had the wedding at San Francisco City Hall—a location that serves as hallowed grounds for the LGBTQ ceremony.

Harry Hamlin said playing a gay writer in the 1982 big-screen drama Making Love put his career on ice for several years, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The actor said the film "was too early. It was 10 years too early, I guess, and it completely ended my career. That was the last studio picture I ever did. The door shut with a resounding smash." While the film did modest business at the box office, Hamlin said his movie offers dwindled after the movie came out— and he wouldn't work again until 1986 and the NBC drama L.A. Law, on which he played law firm partner Michael Kuzak for eight seasons.

Transparent star Alexandra Billings joined the cast of the Broadway production of the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical Wicked Jan. 20 at the Gershwin Theatre, Playbill noted. Billings, who was last on Broadway in The Nap, succeeds Tony nominee Nancy Opel in the role of Madame Morrible. Billings and Michael X. Martin join a cast that currently includes Hannah Corneau as Elphaba, Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda, Michael McCormick as The Wizard, Jake Boyd as Fiyero, Riley Costello as Boq, and Shoba Narayan as Nessarose.

Following much excitement regarding Beyonce's Ivy Park collaboration with Adidas—it immediately sold out following its launch on Jan. 18—the line received some criticism from the plus-size community, Refinery29.com noted. The collection—which includes maroon and orange accessories, clothes, and footwear—features a limited size range, from XS to XL. Chicago blogger LaToya T. Wright penned an essay for The Curvy Fashionista, regarding the lack of size inclusion, saying, "No orange boxes were shipped to any plus size star." Beyonce sent full wardrobes of the collaboration to stars like Reese Witherspoon, Cardi B and Yara Shahidi ahead of the launch.

Attorney Jose Baez is suing Rose McGowan for suggesting that he was "bought off" by Harvey Weinstein, Page Six noted. Baez was retained by McGowan in a 2017 case in Virginia, and later served on the legal defense team of Weinstein, whom McGowan has accused of sexual abuse. In court papers filed in Illinois, Baez claims McGowan—who was charged in 2017, and last year pled no contest to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance— defamed him in comments on Twitter and in the Daily Beast and The New York Times, and on CNN.

Greta Gerwig took home top honors at the 32nd annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards for Little Women, her adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel, Deadline noted. The win makes Gerwig the frontrunner for the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award, which would be her first Oscar. In the TV category, the Scripter went to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the first episode of Amazon Prime's Fleabag, based on her one-woman play.

Showtime released the trailer for the upcoming season of the IDA Award-winning series The Trade ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, a press release noted. Directed by Emmy and DGA Award winner and Oscar nominee Matthew Heineman, the four-part series ( which begins March 6 ) follows Central Americans on an odyssey to the United States ( including some heading back home after being deported ), while also delving into the shadow industries that prey on them every step along the way. The trailer is at https://youtu.be/Vb09s1YGnO4.

Whoopi Goldberg is returning to the Star Trek universe, Decider noted. On The View, Sir Patrick Stewart handed Goldberg a "formal invitation" to join Star Trek: Picard in its second season. The View's longtime moderator happily accepted the invite, and she hugged the show's guest to seal the deal. Goldberg has a long history with the Star Trek franchise: from the 1980s to the early 2000s, she played Guinan, a bartender aboard the USS Enterprise-D.

Elements Music & Arts Festival announced its lineup for its fourth annual event, taking place Memorial Day Weekend, May 22-25, in Lakewood, Pennsylvania, a press release touted. The event will feature Diplo, Bonobo, Chris Lake, Gramatik, TOKiMONSTA, Jade Cicada, Bob Moses and many more musicians on four stages ( called Earth, Air, Fire and Water ); there will also be art installations, wellness initiatives, interactive performances, vibe villages, a functional pirate ship and summer camp-inspired activities.

A month after his passing, more details have been released about Juice Wrld's death, Extra noted. The Cook County medical examiner's office revealed his cause of death. According to a statement released by the office, "The Medical Examiner's Office has determined the cause and manner of death of 21-year-old Jarad A. Higgins. Higgins died as a result of oxycodone and codeine toxicity. The manner of death is accident." Just since last year, Juice had a dozen singles that charted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Wendy Williams made a surprising announcement on her show Jan. 21, claiming she got a text from Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes that simply said "I'm quitting," TooFab noted. "I know something about NeNe that you all will cry, be sad, feel bad for her," Williams added. "She's carrying the weight of a huge thing on her shoulders." She went on to say that Leakes' health is fine, and everything is okay with her sons. However, later reports to TooFab indicated Leakes is not quitting—she was just venting, TheJasmineBrand.com noted.

Amid troubles in Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich's marriage, the NHL star is focused on learning more about each other—including their sexuality—in the year ahead, People.com noted. Opening up on his podcast How Men Think with Gavin DeGraw, Laich confessed that he doesn't feel "100 percent fully expressed" in his true sexuality and that he is now taking a "pleasure first" approach to his life. "One of my goals this year is to really explore like, learning about sexuality," said Laich.


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