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SHOWBIZ Oprah & RuPaul, Well Strung, Obama film, 'Modern Family'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-01-16

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Oprah Winfrey talks with RuPaul in the February issue of O Magazine, NewNowNext.com noted. This isn't the first time the two have crossed paths. In 1995, RuPaul was on Winfrey's daytime talk show and sat down with her to discuss life and his book Letting It All Hang Out for an episode entitled "Look At Me Now."

Trevor Wadleigh and Chris Marchant—two members of the international string sensation Well-Strung—have survived the first two weeks of the CBS competition show The Amazing Race, now in its 30th season, a press release noted. In a season of pairs from the most competitive walks of life including athletes, models, scholars and couples, the duo is representing the music industry. The show features a cast of 11 teams of two competing for a $1 million prize, as the teams complete physical and mental challenges while traveling around the world to various destinations that are revealed only after each mission is completed.

The movie The Final Year—which gives a look at the inner workings of the Obama administration as it prepares to establish a legacy when leaving power after eight years—will be released Jan. 19 on Demand, Amazon Video and iTunes, according to a press release. The film revolves around Obama's foreign policy team: Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Deputy National Security Adviser/presidential confidant Ben Rhodes, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Obama himself.

The co-creators of ABC's popular sitcom Modern Family, Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, have confirmed they're intending to end the show with its upcoming 10th season, Vulture noted. "Our plan is to end it at ten. If we can leave with most of our audience wanting more, I think that's the right way to do it," Levitan told The Hollywood Reporter.

Former figure skater Johnny Weir took exception to Allison Janney's Golden Globes shout-out of Tonya Harding, and the general reception of the film, which he called the "glamorization of a villain," Yahoo! Finance noted. ( Janney won a Golden Globe for portraying Harding's mother in the film I, Tonya. ) "She did a horrible, horrible thing," Weir told TMZ. "So she's a pariah in our sport, and she shouldn't be forgiven for basically, possibly, having the opportunity of ruining somebody's life."

Ellen's Game of Games—which Ellen DeGeneres hosts—has been renewed for a second season at NBC, Variety reported. Every episode features bigger versions of games that have been featured on Degeneres' daytime talk show, such as "Blindfolded Musical Chairs," "Dizzy Dash" and "Scary Go Round." In part, DeGeneres said in a statement, "I don't wanna say this next season is gonna be even messier, but I have invested heavily into a whipped cream company."

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics ( GALECA.org )—composed of nearly 200 critics and journalists in the U.S., Canada and U.K.—released its ninth annual Dorian Award nominations for the year's finest in film and TV, per a press release. Call Me By Your Name leads with nine nominations, starting with Film of the Year; films BPM, Battle of the Sexes and The Shape of Water ( among other movies ) as well as actors such as Mary J. Blige, Armie Hammer and Daniel Kaluuya received nods. In the TV arena, Big Little Lies, Will & Grace, Nicole Kidman, Pink and Sterling K. Brown were among those earning nominations. The final Dorian verdicts, including GALECA's latest pick for Timeless Star ( a career achievement honor ), will be announced Wed., Jan. 31.

The 23rd annual Critics Choice Awards took place in Santa Monica, California, The Washington Post noted. The Shape of Water won for best film, while Allison Janney ( I, Tonya ), Gary Oldman ( The Darkest Hour ), Margot Robbie ( I, Tonya ) and Frances McDormand ( Three Billboards ) were among the acting winners. In the TV categories, Big Little Lies, The Handmaid's Tale, Sterling K. Brown ( This Is Us ), Ted Danson ( The Good Place ) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were among the victors. In addition, Mark Wahlberg got called out for the pay discrepancy with Michelle Williams in All the Money in the World.

Speaking of Wahlberg, he has since decided to is donate, in Michelle Williams' name, the $1.5 million he received for All the Money in the World reshoots to #TimesUp, the legal defense fund founded in response to the #MeToo movement, TheWrap noted. Wahlberg made headlines last week when USA Today first reported that he received $1.5 million to take part in reshoots, while Williams received only a per diem of $80 a day. Her contract required her to do reshoots, which turned out to be much more extensive than planned because director Ridley Scott re-cast disgraced actor Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer.

The 49th NAACP Image Awards handed out awards at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 15, according to Deadline. ABC's black-ish swept the comedy category in television while Power snagged Outstanding Drama. Breakout comedy Girls Trip won for Outstanding Motion Picture and Ava DuVernay took the top prize of Entertainer of the Year. A few of the other winners included Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Omari Hardwick and the film Get Out, while Danny Glover received the NAACP President's Award.

Star Trek: Discovery boldly—which, in 2017, went where no other Star Trek series had gone before by featuring an out gay couple as part of the ship's crew—has killed off one of its gay characters, NewNowNext.com noted. Viewers were dealt a shocking blow when Dr. Hugh Culber ( Wilson Cruz )—who was in a relationship with Lt. Paul Stamets ( Anthony Rapp )—was killed by Lt. Ash Tyler ( Shazad Latif ) when Culber discovered that Tyler was a Klingon sleeper agent. "We knew that this was going to be shocking for an audience and for a community that has unfortunately been assaulted by this 'bury your gays' trope, but I'm an openly gay showrunner and my writing partner is nothing if not the most supportive person when it comes to LGBT portrayals on TV," showrunner Aaron Harberts told Entertainment Weekly.

The Women's International Music Network ( WiMN ) has announced its honorees for the 2018 She Rocks Awards, which will be held Jan. 26 at the House of Blues in Anaheim, VintageVinylNews.com noted. Honorees will include Pat Benatar, Melissa Etheridge, The B-52s Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, X vocalist Exene Cervenka, members of the all-female rock band Fanny and The Otis Redding Foundation Executive Director Karla Redding-Andrews, among others.

Paramount Network's Heathers is technically an adaptation of the 1988 cult comedy starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, but series creator Jason Micallef said at the TCA winter event that the show will still find ways to put a new spin on the story, TheWrap noted. The new Heathers include a plus-size girl, a non-white girl and a gay boy. "[In] our sort-of modern retelling we've got … these communities that still face discrimination," Micallef said. "But in our show [they] are turning that on its head and using the internet and using the power of pure self confidence to trash everybody around them." The series is planned as an anthology, with each season moving to a new high school and a new set of characters.

Terrence Stone, a Billboard- and iTunes-charting recording artist, told Philadelphia Magazine that he is bisexual, Queerty noted. Stone, 27—who has appeared on American Idol, BET's Sunday Best, Showtime at the Apollo, The Word Network and many more TV shows—credits his ex-boyfriend, James, for helping him find the courage to live his truth. Stone was an accomplished gospel singer who performed under the stage name Aaron Thomas; he is now relaunching his career as an R&B crooner.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ava DuVernay, Issa Rae, Catherine Hardwicke and Taika Waititi are heading to the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to discuss their work and the power of media, TheWrap reported. DuVernay, Patrick Gaspard, Rae, Megan Smith and Christine Vachon will speak on a panel titled "Power of Story: Culture Shift" to talk about their work as well as the role of creative choices in our ever-shifting culture. The conversation will be led by Washington Post journalist Sarah Ellison on Jan. 19. Octavia Spencer, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Darren Aronofsky and Steven Soderbergh will also take part in festival panels.

Dolores O'Riordan—lead singer of the Irish alternative band the Cranberries and the voice on such songs as "Linger" and "Zombie"—died Jan. 15 in London at age 46, according to Rolling Stone magazine. The band confirmed O'Riordan's death in a statement, saying in part, "The Cranberries was in London for a short recording session. No further details are available at this time. Family members are devastated to hear the breaking news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time." So far, no cause of death has been publicized.

Now joined by a trio of other women with allegations of their own against the Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, Haleigh Breest filed her own lawsuit in mid-December in what she and her attorneys call "a shocking and egregious case of rape and sexual assault," Deadline noted. Haggis will be grilled by his accuser's lawyers later this month in a deposition by the Oscar-winning director. This follows Haggis earlier this year quietly leaving the poverty fighting charity he helped start back in 2009. Artists for Peace and Justice say that Susan Sarandon and Ben Stiller will now take over the organization's board. Page Six noted that Leah Remini has said that Scientology—which she and Haggis have both left and disparaged—is behind the rape claims.

Julianna Margulies said she wishes The Good Wife were still on TV to see what it would do with the #MeToo movement, Page Six noted. "It would be fun to see what [Good Wife] would do with it," she said. "The truth is the show that I am doing now [Dietland] is kind of a movement. ... I cannot say much about it, but it is so timely."

In the wake of multiple high-profile actresses taking E! to task on the Golden Globes red carpet for the wage gap between former E! anchor Catt Sadler and her male Daily Pop co-anchor Jason Kennedy, E! finally issued a response, TVGuide.com noted. Frances Berwick, president of Lifestyle Networks at NBCUniversal, said there was a lot of misinformation being reported and that she wanted to "set the record straight," adding, "Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries. Our employee's salaries are based on their roles and expertise, not their gender." Sadler left her job in December after finding out she earned just more than half of what Kennedy made.

Marvel Comics legend and pop-culture icon Stan Lee has been accused of sexual harassment, Movieweb noted. The 95-year-old Lee has been accused by anonymous women who worked in his home. The claims include groping, asking for oral sex and walking around naked in front of them. According to Lee's attorney, "Lee categorically denies these false and despicable allegations and he fully intends to fight to protect his stellar good name and impeccable character."

A New York Times event featuring James Franco, who won a best actor Golden Globe on Jan. 7, was canceled two days after he was accused on social media of sexual misconduct, Variety noted. "The event was intended to be a discussion of the making of the film, 'The Disaster Artist.' Given the controversy surrounding recent allegations, we're no longer comfortable proceeding in that vein," the New York Times said in an emailed statement to Variety. The events at the Golden Globes seemed to prompt a few women to accuse Franco on Twitter of inappropriate behavior. Franco has said that misconduct allegations are "not accurate."

Hank Azaria addressed the controversy surrounding Apu Nahasapeemapetilon—a character he voices on The Simpsons—at the winter Television Critics Association event, Deadline noted. Apu is an Indian store clerk, and criticism was mostly sparked by writer-comedian Hari Kondabolu with his TruTV documentary called The Problem With Apu, which commented on the choice to have a white man voicing an Indian character. Azaria said he had watched the documentary and that "the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased, or worse, based on the character of Apu in The Simpsons, the voice, or any other other tropes of the character, is distressing."

Actress Eliza Dushku has accused famed stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of sexually molesting her when she was 12 years old during filming of True Lies, according to Deadline. Her claims, denied by Kramer, are being backed by Sue Booth-Forbes, who was Dushku's legal guardian on the set of the film. Dushku's mother, Judith Ann Rasmussen, also confirmed Dushku's story in a Facebook post. In True Lies, Dushku played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis' characters. Kramer ( who has been the subject of two other lawsuits since ) has been dropped as a client by his agency, Worldwide Production Agency.

Actor Johnathon Schaech has accused Franco Zeffirelli of sexual assault, alleging the famed Italian director sneaked into his hotel room, molested him and tried to perform oral sex while filming Sparrow in 1992, The New York Daily News reported. Schaech told People in a lengthy first-person account that the assault—which Zeffirelli's son Pippo disputed in a statement—led to long-term alcohol and drug abuse, as well as sex addictions. The Ray Donovan actor was 22 when he was cast in the film by Zeffirelli, who by then already had a storied career under his belt, having helmed films like The Champ and the Oscar-nominated Romeo and Juliet.

Two big-name Vogue contributing photographers—Mario Testino, a favorite of England's royal family, and Bruce Weber—are being accused of repeatedly sexually harassing male models and assistants, apparently under the nose of editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Page Six revealed. Testino, 63, groped and made other unwelcome passes, 13 models and assistants alleged to the New York Times. Another 15 male models told the Times that lensman Bruce Weber demanded they join him in private "energy exercises" involving sexual touching. Wintour has suspended her professional relationships with the photographers.

The internet remembered singer/actress Aaliyah on her birthday, Jan. 16, Miami.com noted. Tweets included memoriams by celebrities ( such as Missy Elliott ), appreciation posts and old clips. Her plane—a small two-engine aircraft that was overloaded with equipment—crashed and exploded on Aug. 25, 2001, killing her and several others; she was 22.

Ronan Farrow has signed an exclusive three-year television deal with HBO that will begin later this year, Deadline reported. Under the pact, Farrow will develop and front a series of investigative documentary specials for the network. His stories will continue to document the abuse of power by individuals and institutions, and will proceed in tandem with ongoing reporting for the New Yorker, which he is joining as a contributing writer. Farrow most recently received praised for his groundbreaking reporting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal for the New Yorker.

Superhero-movie news: In a big slate adjustment, 20th Century Fox has moved the release of three upcoming X-Men spinoff films—most notably, Deadpool 2, which is moving up two weeks from June 1 to May 18, TheWrap noted. Meanwhile, Josh Boone's upcoming superhero horror movie film, The New Mutants, as well as the X-Men spinoff Gambit ( starring Channing Tatum ) are being moved to 2019. Deadpool will return to theaters two weeks after his fellow Marvel heroes all hit the big screen in Avengers: Infinity War and one week before the launch of the next Star Wars anthology film, Solo.

Season two of American Gods stopped in its tracks late last year when it was announced that executive producers Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were leaving the series—but, now, Starz is clarifying that the producers aren't leaving completely, but roles are shifting in the visual epic, TVGuide.com noted. Starz boss Chris Albrecht told reporters during the Television Critics Association winter press tour that American Gods author Neil Gaiman will be taking a more central, traditional showrunner role for season two, and the hunt continued to find Gaiman a producing partner to handle the television logistics part of the job.

Speaking of American Gods, actress Gillian Anderson confirmed she's leaving that show and The X-Files, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Regarding X-Files, Anderson said that she originally intended to sign on for the six-episode revival in 2017. X-Files co-star David Duchovny told reporters he would be "good either way" if the show continued without Anderson or if it ended after the current season.


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