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SHOWBIZ 'Judy,' Jill Soloway, John Cameron Mitchell, Octavia Spencer
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-09-03

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Decca and Republic Records announced the release of two star-studded duet, to appear on the brand-new album Judy ( the soundtrack to the film of the same name ), a press release noted. The original soundtrack coincides with the release of the feature film in which Renee Zellweger stars as Judy Garland, set for release globally on Sept. 27. Zellweger is joined by Sam Smith for a version of one of Garland's best-loved numbers, "Get Happy," and teams up with Rufus Wainwright for a rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"—both newly recorded especially for the album.

Makeready has set Jill Soloway to write and direct the upcoming Amy Butcher memoir Mothertrucker as a feature starring vehicle for Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore, Deadline reported. Butcher is the award-winning essayist and author, and Soloway the Emmy-winning writer/producer behind Transparent, I Love Dick and Afternoon Delight. Soloway will also produce with Andrea Sperling, through Topple Productions.

John Cameron Mitchell—the double Tony-winning, Golden Globe-nominated co-creator of Hedwig & the Angry Inch—has added North American dates to his rock spectacle, including a special appearance Sept. 28 at Town Hall in New York City for Live from Here and a one-night-only appearance at Los Angles' Ace Hotel, a press release noted. Mitchell will also share songs from his "musical podcast" Anthem: Homunculus ( "little man" in Latin ), a 10-episode series with more than 30 new songs, starring himself, Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Cynthia Erivo, Denis O'Hare, Laurie Anderson and Marion Cotillard.

GLSEN plans to honor award-winning actress/activist Octavia Spencer with the Inspiration Award on Friday, Oct. 25, at the 2019 GLSEN Respect Awards-Los Angeles, a press release announced. Spencer—a multi-award-winning actor for her standout roles in films like The Help and Hidden Figures—has been an outspoken ally for LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality and issues surrounding equality and homophobia. Past honorees include Kerry Washington, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg, Julia Roberts and Danny Moder, Zendaya, Brendon Urie, Shonda Rhimes and Carla Gugino.

Lil Nas X became the first openly gay man to receive a Country Music Association Award nomination when the chart-topping record breaker "Old Town Road ( Remix )" earned a nod for Musical Event of the Year, Reuters reported. His collaboration with veteran country star Billy Ray Cyrus broke the record for longest-running number one song on Billboard's Hot 100 list with 19 weeks, and was named song of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards. The Country Music Association ( CMA ) Awards will take place Wed., Nov. 13, in Nashville.

HBO has renewed the sketch comedy series A Black Lady Sketch Show for a second season, a press release noted. The show, which debuted Aug. 2, is a narrative series set in a reality full of characters and celebrity guests. The show presents sketches performed by a core cast of Black women, including creator Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, Gabrielle Dennis and Quinta Brunson. Some of the guests to appear on season one have included Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe and Larry Wilmore.

Speaking of Cox, she kept the celebration going after the Video Music Awards with good friend Justin Sylvester as they headed to dinner at LA destination Pacifique, where they dined on house smoked hamachi, spicy ahi tuna and Pead's & Barnett's pork chop, a press release noted. Post-feast, the pals were overheard chatting with new Culinary Director Wes Whitsell about her favorite VMA moments, including Lizzos performance and Taylor Swift's "Best Video" win that featured Cox along with several LGBT stars.

Right off the heels of his on-stage appearance at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards with Taylor Swift, Todrick Hall will headline the Louisville Pride Festival on Sept. 21, a press release noted. The yearly celebration of diversity and unity—which is expected to draw more than 20,000 attendees to Bardstown Road in Louisville's Highlands neighborhood—is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. In addition to Hall, Ally Brooke and Ultra Nate are also this year's headliners. Festivities will run 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Valerie Harper—who played Rhoda Morgenstern, the sidekick to the Mary Richards character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and went on to topline spinoff Rhoda—died Aug. 30 after being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in 2009, Variety reported, citing ABC News. Harper, 80, won four Emmys for the two hugely popular 1970s shows and performed on the stage and bigscreen as well on appearing on dozens of other series. Although she was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, she continued working and competed on Dancing With the Stars in late 2013.

Miley Cyrus and Kaitlynn Carter are still together, People.com noted. The singer, 26, and her rumored girlfriend ( Brody Jenner's ex-wife ) were spotted on a lunch date in Los Angeles. Things between the two have been heating up since mid-August, when news first broke that Cyrus had called it quits with husband Liam Hemsworth.

Those who knew and loved Aaliyah paid tribute to the late singer 18 years after she was killed in a tragic plane crash, People.com noted. The "Back & Forth" singer—who was just 22 when her plane went down in the Bahamas—was remembered by fellow artists Missy Elliott, Kehlani and more for her contributions to the music world on Aug. 25. On Aug. 25, 2001, Aaliyah—a five-time Grammy nominee—was killed in a plane crash along with seven others on her way home from shooting the music video for "Rock the Boat."

Speaking of Aaliyah, she was immortalized with a Madame Tussauds wax figure in Las Vegas—and already fans have broken the rules and adjusted it, Page Six noted. The team behind the late singer's Twitter account tweeted a photo of the original wax figure, alongside a photo of a fan applying lip gloss to the statue, and asked for "respect." The wax figure features Aaliyah in the bejeweled outfit from her "Try Again" music video. "Now, a lot of gay people are getting married, they're adopting, or they're having children," he added. "There wasn't any of that when I was young."

And in a third Aaliyah-related item, Illinois federal prosecutors are citing R. Kelly's illicit marriage to the late singer as proof he should be kept behind bars pending trial, Page Six noted. While the filings don't mention Aaliyah by name, they reference the couple's secret 1994 nuptials when she was just 15 as evidence of Kelly's "intentional and prolific" abuse of minor girls.

Singer Shawn Mendes revealed the launch of his charitable foundation, aptly named the Shawn Mendes Foundation, Time.com noted. The foundation will focus on "youth-related causes" in areas like children's healthcare, sustainability, mental health, human rights, anti-bullying and education. The singer has touched on many of these subjects previously in his music, with songs like the Grammy-nominated "In My Blood" referencing anxiety

Joel Schumacher—the 79-year-old director of smashes like St. Elmo's Fire, Batman Forever and The Lost Boys—told Vulture that he's had tens of thousands of sexual partners, Page Six noted. "Have you ever guessed the number of partners you've had?" interviewer Andrew Goldman asked him, to which Schumacher responded, "It would be in the double-digit thousands, but that is not unusual."

On what would have been his 61st birthday, it's being reported that Michael Jackson was once confronted by friend Marlon Brando over the child-abuse allegations against him—and Jackson broke down in tears, Yahoo! News reported. The podcast Telephone Stories: The Trials of Michael Jackson touts in a press release that it obtained the sworn account Brando gave to Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys on March 14, 1994. ( The interview was slated to be featured in its season finale on Sept. 1. )

Justin Bieber opened up about his early fame and the negative effect it had on his life, People.com reported. The "What Do You Mean?" singer ( now 25 ) shared a lengthy post on Instagram in which he reflected on how achieving fame at age 13, growing up in an unstable home, and having "access to whatever I wanted" led him to struggle both physically and mentally later in life. Despite the problems he faced, Bieber said he found comfort and support in a group of people, including his wife Hailey Baldwin, who "encourage him to keep going."

Baywatch is about to become a documentary, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Filmmakers Matthew Felker and Brian Corso have lined up some of the show's top-billed cast members to take a walk down memory lane for Baywatch: The Documentary, and talk about their time on the show and the hours they spent in skimpy red suits. The film will also investigate the cast, their participation, anecdotes from filming and where they are now.

Taylor Swift got political during her 2019 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech for video of the year—which she won for the pride-themed anthem "You Need to Calm Down"—to call out the Trump administration's current lack of acknowledgment of the Equality Act petition for LGBTQ rights, CNN.com noted. Also, Little Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus' "Old Town Road" won Song of the Year—making Nas the first openly LGBTQ artist to win that award.

Leslie Jones has opted to leave Saturday Night Live after five seasons, Variety.com reported. Jones, who first joined the program as a writer and quickly became a featured player and cast member in 2014, reportedly is set to explore film projects and has a Netflix comedy special scheduled. However, Kate McKinnon is reportedly set to return to the show, although it's unclear if a Hulu dramatic series in 2020 would conflict with a season-long run.

Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and other celebs, musicians and models are now being sued over their role in promoting the infamously ill-fated Fyre Festival in 2017, according to a PerezHilton.com item that cites the Wall Street Journal. The two models—along with musicians Migos, Pusha T, Blink-182, Lil Yachty and others—were specifically named in the lawsuit brought forth in US Bankruptcy Court in NYC by trustee Gregory Messer.

Singer Ed Sheeran bid fans an emotional goodbye as he informed the crowd in Britain he'd be retiring from performing live in order to spend more time with new wife Cherry Seaborn, IHeartRadio reported. Sheeran's live music hiatus comes just a month after he dropped his new EP, No. 6 Collaborations, his first project since 2017's Divide.

Diplo is launching a new house imprint: Higher Ground, a press release noted. Named after his recent deep house-inspired Higher Ground EP, the label is a platform to showcase both established and up-and-coming talent in house music, and be a new home for Diplo's own house tracks and collaborations.

Producer/DJ Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll, a.k.a. Kygo, released the music video for his single "Higher Love" with Whitney Houston via RCA Records, a press release noted. The video showcases the makeup, eccentric wardrobes and haristyles of the 1980s—a nod to the time of Houston's massive successes. The video stars Riverdale actress Vanessa Morgan; it can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR49dyo-y0E.

The Emmy-winning ABC reality show Shark Tank announced the addition of four brand-new guest Sharks, a press release noted. They are Stitch Fix founder/CEO Katrina Lake; KIND founder/CEO Daniel Lubetzky; international tennis champion and Sugarpova founder Maria Sharapova; and personal genomics company 23andMe co-founder/CEO Anne Wojcicki. The guest Sharks will appear individually alongside Sharks Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary in various episodes during the 2019-20 season. Brand builder Rohan Oza and RSE Ventures co-founder/CEO Matt Higgins also return for the show's 11th season, which begins Sunday, Sept. 29.

The Flaming Lips released a video for the track "Giant Baby," from the Warner Records album King's Mouth: Music And Songs, a press release noted. The video was filmed in Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, directed by Wayne Coyne and features a cameo by their longtime friend Fred Armisen. King's Mouth: Music And Songs—which features narration from Mick Jones of The Clash—also serves as a soundtrack for Coyne's immersive art installation of the same name.

Alex Trebek has returned for the 36th season of Jeopardy! five months after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, Deadline noted. In a video, Trebek said he is glad the chemotherapy is over that he is "on the mend." The video also shows him interacting with the audience and backstage at Jeopardy!

Singer, songwriter and actress Diana DeGarmo has released her second studio album, Gemini, through Jimmy Buffett's new music label, Cherry Bomb Records, a press release noted. It is big band country, combining flavors of Western swing, rock, blues, R&B, soul and more; and there's a romantic ballad with DeGarmo's real-life husband, fellow American Idol alum Ace Young. It has been 15 years since BLUE SKIES, her last studio album that she recorded in 2004 with RCA shortly after being named runner-up of the third season of American Idol.


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