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SHOWBIZ Neil Patrick Harris, Mary J. Blige, Jane Lynch, Pet Shop Boys
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-11

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Neil Patrick Harris and husband David Burtka are in Walgreens' new #TrueHolidayStory campaign, which finds the beauty and humor in memorably imperfect moments, NewNowNext.com noted. In the new spots, Harris and Burtka's holiday is less than gay thanks to tangled lights, broken ornaments, forgotten presents, missing batteries, winter colds and more. At one point, Burtka responds to Harris' diagnosis by asking, "What—you used to be a doctor on TV or something?"

Oscar-winning filmmaker Vanessa Roth ( Freeheld ) is currently in production on an untitled documentary about two-time Oscar nominee and nine-time Grammy winner Mary J. Blige, according to Deadline. Twenty-five years ago, the Bronx and Yonkers, New York, native released her seminal and sophomore album My Life; now, Blige is revisiting this music and reflecting on her emotional journey. Blige will serve as an executive producer under her Blue Butterfly banner, alongside others.

On the talk show Tamron Hall, author/actress/comedian Jane Lynch spoke candidly about her relationship with her partner Jennifer Cheyne and about her career as an LGBTQ member of the Hollywood community, a press release noted. Also, Lynch said, "I always thank Melissa Etheridge and Ellen DeGeneres and K.D. Lang and those folks who stood up—before it was the cool thing to do ... and at great risk to their own careers. [They] stood proudly and said this is who I am. ... I always say Ellen took a machete down that path so I could just stroll."

Pet Shop Boys newest studio album, Hotspot, will be released Jan. 24 on x2 Records/Kobalt, a press release noted. It features 10 brand new Neil Tennant/Chris Lowe tracks, including previously released single "Dreamland," featuring Years & Years. The album is the third instalment in the series of PSB albums produced by Stuart Price, following Electric ( in 2013 ) and Super ( in 2016 ). The duo will also perform across the UK and Europe for their first-ever greatest hits tour—Dreamworld: The Greatest Hits Live—in May/June 2020.

Twenty-five years after "All I Want for Christmas Is You" was initially released, Amazon announced the song would get its own mini-documentary, Mariah Carey is Christmas!, and released a trailer, CNN.com noted. The documentary will tell the story of how Carey's long-standing hit and how it became a seasonal staple, and feature interviews with people like producer Randy Jackson and the pop singer herself. This year, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" appeared on Rolling Stone's charts as early as Nov. 1.

Also, Guinness World Records honored Mariah Carey with three records for her 1994 hit holiday track "All I Want for Christmas Is You," the Los Angeles Times noted. The trio of certificates includes highest-charting holiday ( Christmas/New Year ) song on the U.S. Hot 100 chart by a solo artist, most-streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours ( female ) and most weeks in the U.K. singles top 10 chart for a Christmas song. Carey's achievements will be recorded in the Guinness World Records 2020 Edition book. She also holds the record for most U.S. number-one singles by a solo artist after 18 of her tracks topped the American charts, putting her one ahead of Elvis Presley, who has the most U.S. number-one singles by a male solo artist.

Disney+ is developing The Biggest Star in Appleton—a half-hour, single-camera comedy from playwright/screenwriter Paul Rudnick, actress Kristin Chenoweth and producer Dan Jinks, Deadline reported. Created/written by Rudnick, The Biggest Star In Appleton stars Chenoweth as Carol Dannhauser—a Wisconsin mom, wife and waitress who, while devoted to her family, finds her deepest satisfaction in small town stardom at the local community theater.

According to a fundraising pitch on the Film Collaborative website, there will be "The story behind the iconic International Male fashion catalog that transformed the 'All-American Boy,' changing fashion, masculinity, and gay rights forever," The Washington Blade noted. With revenues at its peak of $120 million and circulation of over 3 million, the catalog successfully appealed to both gay and straight audiences. According to the film's Facebook page, Jake Shears is set to appear in All Man: The International Male Story, along with Carson Kressley, Brian Buzzini, David Knight, Steve Lyon and Robert Goold.

Former One Direction band member Liam Payne is catching heat for his steamy song about a bisexual woman, Page Six noted. Angry fans are accusing Payne of using bi stereotypes in his new song, "Both Ways," which is part of his first solo album, LP1. "Fetishizing bisexual women for your fantasies & profiting off of it isn't cute," one tweet stated. Another person posted, "I'm sick and tired of people thinking my sexuality is made for threesomes." Tyler Oakley—a YouTuber and gay activist who previously tangled with Payne online—also criticized the singer for the new song.

Alanis Morissette announced she'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of her seminal album Jagged Little Pill with a 2020 tour, Out.com noted, citing Variety. Morissette will be joined on the road with Liz Phair and Garbage. The tour will kick off June 2 in Portland before continuing throughout the country—notably skipping New York City, where Morissette launched the Jagged Little Pill musical.

In a video interview with Rolling Stone founder and editorial director Jann Wenner, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said he was bullied by childhood schoolmates for being perceived as gay, LGBTQ Nation noted. In response to the bullying and his Christian belief that homosexuality would doom him to eternal damnation, Martin became somewhat homophobic. While Martin wasn't sure at the time if he was gay, he still felt conflicted about it because he thought, "If I'm gay, I'm completely f**ked for eternity… Even if I am [gay], I can't be because it's wrong." After several years of worrying about it, Martin said he started reading about the life of Elton John—and at around age 15, Martin decided that it wouldn't necessarily be a big deal even if he himself was gay.

The New York Film Critics Circle chose Martin Scorsese's The Irishman as its Best Film of 2019, the second consecutive major critics group honor for Netlfix's long ( and long-in-the-works ) mob drama after The National Board of Review bestowed it the same award, Deadline noted. Also on the winners list were Lupita Nyong'o, named Best Actress for Universal's Us; and Antonio Banderas of Sony Pictures Classics' Pain and Glory was named Best Actor.

Matt Gay, a kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, aimed to tackle bullying during the team's Dec. 8 game against the Indianapolis Colts, according to a NewNowNext.com item that cited the Tampa Bay Times. Gay—who said he was teased all the time as a kid because of his surname—wore colorful cleats emblazoned with an anti-bullying message as part of the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign, for which participating players wear footwear designed to reflect a cause they support during one game each season.

Netflix announced that its original documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana is set to debut at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, iHeart.com noted. The fllm is sold as a "raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time, as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice." No set release date as been announced for the film's arrival on the platform, but a press release did indicate that Netflix will release it globally in early 2020.

Also, Netflix had a dominant night at the IFP Gotham Awards, notching four wins for Marriage Story ( including Adam Driver for Best Actor ) and one apiece for American Factory and When They See Us, Deadline reported. Awkwafina captured Best Actress for her role in The Farewell. The night's first competitive award, Best Documentary, went to Netflix's American Factory, whose producers include Participant and Michelle and Barack Obama's Higher 6Ground.

Actor Billy Dee Williams, 82, was the subject of reports that he identifies as gender-fluid—but he said he had no idea what that term means, TheUndefeated.com noted. "What I was talking about [when telling Esquire, "I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine"] was about men getting in touch with their softer side of themselves," Williams said, adding, "No, no, no, I'm not gay—by any stretch of the imagination. Not that I have anything against gay people. But personally? Not gay."

The Todd Phillips movie Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, will be available on Digital on Tuesday, Dec. 17, and on 4K, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Jan. 7, a Warner Bros. press release noted. Extras include features such as Please Welcome… Joker!" and "Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos."

Veteran soul superstars Earth, Wind & Fire announced a run of shows in Las Vegas at The Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort set for next spring, LiveForLiveMusic.com noted. As part of the band's spring 2020 Vegas residency, Earth, Wind & Fire will play May 6, 8-9, 15-16 at the Pearl—the act's only scheduled shows for the upcoming year. The band was honored this past summer with an induction into the Kennedy Center alongside fellow entertainers Linda Ronstadt, and Sesame Street.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Electric Forest ( EF ) announced the artist lineup for the annual music and camping festival in Rothbury, Michigan, taking place June 25-28, a press release noted. Marking this milestone are EF originals The String Cheese Incident ( performing 3 Incidents ), who have performed every year of the festival. Other artists slated to perform include BASSNECTAR, Diplo, Big Boi, Major Lazer, Princess Nokia and more. See ElectricForestFestival.com .

Disney and Marvel showed footage from the upcoming spy thriller Black Widow at Comic-Con and the D23 Expo this summer, and now they've dropped the first teaser trailer for the Scarlett Johansson film, Deadline noted. Johansson, whose Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow sacrificed herself in Avengers: Endgame, reprises her role as the assassin-turned-Avenger in this standalone story which doubles as the first installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Phase Four.

New wave icon/synth pioneer Howard Jones is set to return to North America in January through March for dates with his Acoustic Trio, a press release stated. Featuring Jones on electric piano, Robin Boult on acoustic guitar and Nick Beggs on chapman stick, these shows aim to deliver a new take on Jones' best-known hits, which include "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Life in One Day." His most recent album is Transform ( released in 2019 ), his first new studio album in nearly a decade.

Howard Stern pointed fingers in the ongoing America's Got Talent drama over Gabrielle Union's controversial exit, USA Today noted. The former "AGT" judge and radio shock jock said Simon Cowell is to blame for Union not returning to the NBC competition show. "How is it that Simon Cowell has orchestrated this? He has set it up that the men stay, no matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are," Stern said on his SiriusXM show. NBC said, "There will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, [and] we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution," Vulture noted.

Justin Bieber apologized for the racially-insensitive remarks he's made in hopes of inspiring fans to fight racism, iHeart.com noted. On Dec. 3, the "Cold Water" crooner took to Instagram with a graphic with a serious message: "STAND AGAINST RACISM." In the post, Bieber confessed he was ignorant and "uneducated" about the impact his words might have on others who took offense to his past use of the N-word. In a now-infamous video that surfaced in 201, a 14-year-old Bieber was parodying his song "One Less Lonely Girl" with the offensive lyric, "There'll be one less lonely n—."

Award-winning multiplatinum band Maroon 5 announced dates for the band's upcoming 2020 U.S. tour, produced by Live Nation, a press release noted. These upcoming tour dates mark the biggest U.S. shows of the band's career, with the group playing iconic venues such as at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Citi Field and Banc of California Stadium. Tickets for the tour will be available to the public Friday, Dec. 13; see Maroon5.com/tour and LiveNation.com .

Fox Sports 1 is currently airing an NFL Films special featuring the modern family of openly gay former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer and his husband, skin-care expert Joshua Ross, a press release noted. The 15-minute short film is set along with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of their People Magazine spread. In addition to intimate interviews with Rohrer and Ross, Rohrer's ex-wife, their two kids and various pro players discuss the journey of realization and acceptance for Rohrer and the football community. NFL Films Presents: A Modern Family & Football can be viewed on NFL Films' Facebook page.

Reality-TV fixture Snooki announced that she will be leaving Jersey Shore Family Vacation after season three to spend more time with her family, Vulture reported. On an episode of her podcast, It's Happening With Snooki & Joey, Snooki shared her "breaking news" with the fans. This announcement corresponded with the 10th anniversary of Jersey Shore's premiere in 2009.

After Instagram removed a sexy underwear pic posted by the singer because the company said it showed "aroused genitalia," singer Jason Derulo said he wasn't even fully aroused, Page Six noted. "Bro, I was not aroused," Derulo told TMZ when the website asked him about Instagram's explanation. "An arousal looks different. It's a different vibe. When it's fully aroused, it's a different beast," he added. Derulo said he feels the removal of the photo was "discrimination."

Zachary Quinto's production company, Before the Door Pictures, has signed first-look deals with AMC for scripted projects and with Spoke Studios for unscripted fare, Deadline noted. Launched in 2008, Before the Door Pictures announced its arrival with its first feature, J. C. Chandor's Margin Call, winning two Indie Spirit Award and landing an Oscar nomination.

Shout! Factory TV is presenting Cult-tastic: Tales From The Trenches with Roger and Julie Corman, a press release noted. Heralded as "the Pope of Pop Cinema," Roger and Julie Corman pull back the curtain on the Cormans' lifetime of genre filmmaking in this never-before-seen docuseries. The Cormans open up about their iconic pool of collaborators, such as James Cameron, Joe Dante, Penelope Spheeris, Pam Grier and more.

Kino Classics is releasing Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection, a five-film set of early films by Alfred Hitchcock made during his time at the height of the British film industry, a press release noted. Included in the set are The Ring ( 1927 ), The Farmer's Wife ( 1928 ), Champagne ( 1928 ), The Manxman ( 1929 ) and The Skin Game ( 1931 ). The two-disc Blu-ray and three-disc DVD has a SRP of $49.95 for the Blu-ray and $39.95 for the DVD. See KinoLorber.com .

Apple is negotiating to take off the table a documentary on singer Billie Eilish that will be directed by R.J. Cutler, the documentarian behind films including The World According to Dick Cheney and The September Issue, Deadline noted. Eilish—full name Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell—is the 17-year old phenomenon and multiple Grammy nominee who records with her brother, Finneas O'Connell, and has other business with Apple and was named Apple Music's artist of the year.

Kid Rock announced on Facebook he wouldn't be renewing his licensing agreement this April for his Made in Detroit restaurant following his lewd rant against Oprah Winfrey that resulted in people calling him racist, Page Six noted. The musician was escorted off stage in his Honky Tonk Bar in Nashville recently when he went on a profanity-laced tirade against Winfrey, saying in video obtained by TMZ: "F—k her; she can suck d—k sideways." Rock later said that he can be "a loud mouth jerk at times, but trying to label me racist is a joke."

According to Page Six, hell has supposedly broken loose over Celine Dion's latest album. Dion topped the charts two weeks ago, debuting at number one with Courage. But the album then made history by falling out of the top 100—the biggest fall off the charts after a top-selling debut. Dion kicked off Courage with an impromptu karaoke party at drag queen palace Lips NYC last month.

HBO has greenlighted The White House Plumbers, a five-part limited series starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, which revisits one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate, Deadline reported. The series tells the true story of how then-President Richard Nixon's own political saboteurs and Watergate masterminds—E. Howard Hunt, played by Harrelson, and G. Gordon Liddy, played by Theroux—accidentally toppled the presidency they were zealously trying to protect.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, Friends will no longer be streaming on Netflix, Glamour.com noted. The show will air on HBO Max after that date—but the new streamer isn't scheduled to launch untijl the spring, leaving viewers without their Friends fix for a few months.

Quibi has given a green light to a seventh season of the Reno 911 series from Comedy Central Productions, Deadline noted. Creators and stars Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Thomas Lennon all are attached to write and headline the new season.

The Ang Lee movie Gemini Man, starring Will Smith, will be out on Digital on Monday, Dec. 23, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 14, from Paramount Home Entertainment, a press release noted. Gemini Man is the first ever Dolby Vision high frame rate disc to be released. The disc will come iwth more than an hour of bonus content, including an alternate opening, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes explorations of the film's groundbreaking technology, interviews with the cast and crew, and more.

Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood set a tentative trial date for September for embattled R&B singer R. Kelly even before prosecutors have disclosed which of his four separate indictments they intend to pursue first, The Chicago Tribune reported. Over the objections of Kelly's attorney Steven Greenberg, Flood set the initial trial for Sept. 14. Greenberg had argued it would be premature to schedule a trial at this point. ( In addition, bribery charges have been levelled against Kelly regarding his 1990s marriage to a then-15-year-old Aaliyah. )

In another R. Kelly-connected item, girlfriend Jocelyn Savage claimed she was "hacked" when she posted on a Patreon account under her name that she was a victim of R. Kelly's "sexual and psychological abuse, Vulture noted. Savage, 23, posted a video claiming that she had nothing to do with the Patreon account, and that she is still romantically linked to the R&B singer, 52.


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