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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SHOWBIZ Ryan Murphy, Lena Waithe, Big Freedia, 'Kinky Boots'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-02-20

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Another TV mega-producer is leaving their longtime studio home to head to Netflix, Deadline noted. In what is believed to be the biggest TV pact ever, Ryan Murphy—an Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody Award-winning producer, director and writer—has signed a five-year overall deal with Netflix that could reach as high as $300 million, sources said. It starts July 1. Netflix is also the home of top broadcast drama showrunner Shonda Rhimes.

TBS has given a pilot green light to Twenties, a single-camera comedy from The Chi creator and Master of None Emmy winner Lena Waithe, according to Deadline.com . Created and written by Waithe nine years ago, when she was in her early 20s, Twenties follows the adventures of a queer Black girl, Hattie, and her two straight best friends, Marie and Nia. Waithe—an Emmy winner for co-writing an episode of Master of None, with Aziz Ansari—is the creator and executive producer of Showtime's breakout new drama series The Chi, which was recently renewed for a second season.

In celebration of Mardi Gras, New Orleans' queen of bounce, Big Freedia, released her new track "Best Beeleevah," according to a press release. The song can be heard as part of "The Sound of Bounce," a Spotify playlist curated by Freedia herself. Following a handful of upcoming U.S. shows, Freedia has also announced plans for a European tour beginning May 19 in Brussels. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.bigfreedia.com/tour/.

Emmy winner Wayne Brady will return to his glittery boots as drag queen Lola in the Tony-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots on March 5, Page Six noted. Brady will reprise his role in a limited run only, with his final performance on April 26. Brady will be taking over for J. Harrison Ghee, who will be temporarily leaving the show for another project. Brady first took over the role of Lola following original cast member and Tony winner Billy Porter.

Openly gay figure-skating commentator Johnny Weir recently posted about the changes that have come about since he skated. On Twitter, he stated, "8 years ago, after I finished my free program at the Olympics, I had to hold a press conference to defend myself against people questioning my gender. Now, watching the world accept a vibrant and powerful hero in Adam Rippon, I am so proud & thankful to those whose came before us."

During breakout Olympic skater Adam Rippon's performance on Feb. 16, actress Sally Field's son, Sam Greisman, shared a screenshot of a text message between the two of them—and it was Field's plan to set up the two, Page Six noted. "Just some really helpful advice from my mom on how to deal with my Olympic crush," he tweeted of the exchange where Field said, "Sam…he's insanely pretty…find a way."

Actor Russell Tovey ( Quantico; Looking ) is engaged to his beau, fitness coach/rugby player Steve Brockman, according to E! News. Speaking to The Daily Mail, the Being Human star said the engagement was "completely unexpected but very very happy and looking forward to having a proper party to celebrate when back in London."

Amy Schumer and now-husband Chris Fischer were married by a drag queen, according to Page Six. Rather than be joined together in holy matrimony by a religious figure, Schumer chose John Early to dress in drag as his character Vicky, who appeared on the Netflix series The Characters. Schumer and Fischer tied the knot in front of a star-studded crowd that included Jennifer Lawrence, Larry David, Chelsea Handler and Jennifer Aniston.

Transgender actress Daniela Vega is among this year's presenters at the Academy Awards, The Washington Blade noted. Vega is thought to be the first openly transgender performer to present at the Academy Awards. The actress has become a critic darling for her breakout role in A Fantastic Woman, which has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. The 90th Academy Awards, with Jimmy Kimmel hosting, will air on Sunday, March 4, on ABC.

The 10th season of RuPaul's Drag Race will start on VH1 on Thursday, March 22, followed by the after-show RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked, a VH1 press release stated. Untucked gives viewers an uncensored, behind-the-scenes look at each episode of the main competition. For more information on RuPaul's Drag Race, go to http://www.vh1press.com/series/rupauls-drag-race-season-10.

Letters Live, in partnership with Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter, announced the first wave of performers for its first-ever public performance in the United States on Feb. 26 at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, a press release noted. The performers include Jake Gyllenhaal, Jarvis Cocker, James Corden, Minnie Driver, Stephen Fry, Mark Hamill, Anjelica Huston, Catherine Keener and Shirley Manson. Ticket prices range from $50 to $200, with all the profits from ticket sales being donated to the two partner charities for the night, 826LA, and Women for Women International; visit http://axs.com/events/347820/letters-live-tickets?skin=acehotel.

Fox has renewed Emmy-winning So You Think You Can Dance for a 15th season for premiere in the summer, Deadline noted. Cat Deeley will return as host for the hit summer dance competition series, which hails from 19 Entertainment and dick clark productions, along with resident judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens. Auditions for the 15th season kick off next month in New York and Los Angeles for dancers ages 18-30.

Shortly after being fired from Amazon's Transparent, Jeffrey Tambor criticized series creator Jill Soloway and the Jeff Bezos-run streaming service for its handling of investigating sexual harassment claims against him last last year, Deadline reported. "I am profoundly disappointed in Amazon's handling of these false accusations against me," the Emmy-winning actor said. "I am even more disappointed in Jill Soloway's unfair characterization of me as someone who would ever cause harm to any of my fellow castmates."

CNN's Don Lemon described late sister Leisa Lemon—who recently drowned in Louisiana—as "a superhero," Page Six noted. Lemon talked about Leisa, who died on Jan. 31 at 58, when he attended the New York premiere of Black Panther. He said the women in the film—including Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright—reminded him of women in his family.

Actor Ryan Reynolds responded to a fan who wasn't happy that Reynolds met children who are part of the Make-a-Wish program on the set of Deadpool, Just Jared noted. The fan stated, "Guys [D]eadpool is [an] R rated movie and those kids are watching it…I think something is wrong here." Reynolds responded, "Yup. Deadpool is Rated R. If my kid went through a fraction of the sh*t these kids deal with daily, I think they can watch whatever they like. That's just my .02 cents."

GoMag.com noted seven lesbian movies slated to air on the big screen this year. They include Becks ( with Lena Hall, Hayley Kiyoko, Christine Lahti and Mena Suvari ), Disobedience ( with Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams ), The Miseducation of Cameron Post ( an award-winning gay conversion-therapy movie with Chloe Grace Moretz ), Lizzie ( based on the story of Lizzie Borden, and starring Chloe Sevigny and Kristen Stewart ), Vita and Virginia ( about author Virginia Woolf and socialite Vita Sackville-West ), My Days of Mercy ( with Ellen Page and Kate Mara ) and Tell It to the Bees ( with Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger ).

Aaron Carter has released his first album in 15 years, Love, via Z-Entertainment/RED MUSIC, according to a press release. Album track "Sooner or Later" has nearly 76 million streams of Spotify. The multiplatinum pop superstar—who has toured the globe with other musicians such as Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys—will set out on an intimate U.S. tour, in support of the album, kicking off Feb 22 in Teaneck, New Jersey. Visit red.lnk.to/Love to stream the album; for more on the tour, see http://aaroncarter.com/.

Liza Minnelli is auctioning her Cabaret costume and Halston gowns as well as items belonging to her late mother, Judy Garland, as she attempts to "downsize her life," according to Page Six. The items will be sold by Southern California auction house Profiles in History in May, following an exhibition of the items at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills on April 4-29. Garland items on sale include an MGM paycheck and a green tailcoat she was photographed in by Richard Avedon in 1956.

This year seemingly all 31 NHL ( National Hockey League ) teams are hosting some form of "Inclusion Night" or "Pride Night" between Feb. 1 and March 5 for the league's "Hockey Is For Everyone" campaign, Outsports.com noted. The NHL teams each handle the celebration of "Hockey Is For Everyone" differently. Some, like the Boston Bruins, have general nights embracing overall inclusion, while others like the New Jersey Devils have LGBT-specific Pride Nights.

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired all North American and Latin American distribution rights to The Happy Prince and plans to release it this year, UPI.com reported. Written, directed by and starring out actor Rupert Everett, the movie had its European premiere this past weekend at the Berlin International Film Festival, and it first screened in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. The drama about the last days of author/playwright Oscar Wilde also stars Colin Morgan, Edwin Thomas, Colin Firth, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson.

And speaking of Everett, he recently applauded recent gains in gay rights and tolerance, but warned oppression of LGBQT communities remains rampant elsewhere worldwide, The Hollywood Reporter noted. "In our world, it's great to be homosexual now. But in lots of other worlds, it's really disastrous to be homosexual in Russia, in Uganda," he told a Berlin Film Festival press conference for The Happy Prince, his directorial debut about Oscar Wilde's final years. Everett argued the gay-liberation movement started with Wilde, the 19th-century Irish poet and playwright who was eventually imprisoned for his sexuality, followed by three years of exile in Paris.

Kelly Ripa delivered a stance on gun control as she continued to think of the tragic shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead, The New York Daily News noted. Ripa, 47, told the audience that, as a mother of three, she had to "talk her kids off a ledge" in the morning because they were afraid to go to school. She added, "You don't want to mislead your kids and say this is never going to happen you hope and pray it isn't going to happen, but when they are inundated with these images every day, day after day, all the time, you start to feel like a liar and I don't like to feel that way."

Alexander Polinsky is claiming years of "sexual-themed hazing" by Scott Baio on the set of their '80s sitcom Charles in Charge, Variety noted. According to the former child star, Baio allegedly exposed himself, threw hot tea in Polinsky's face and pulled down Polinsky's pants when he was a minor. Polinsky, who was 11 years old at the time the alleged child abuse began, has claimed his harassment was homophobic in nature, including an alleged incident in which "Scott Baio told me I was never going to be loved by a woman in my life because I was so effeminate." Baio has denied the charges and is threatening legal action, Deadline noted.

Rosie O'Donnell is selling her real-estate assets, Page Six noted. The actress and talk-show host just sold her main South Nyack, New York, residence for $5.1 million—$200,000 less than her $5.3 million asking price. Another Nyack home owned by O'Donnell is in contract, while three are still on the market. She's also selling a property in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. Last month, she sold her West Palm Beach, Florida, home for $5 million.

Netflix has announced Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's 2018 return, as well as plans to split the fourth season in half, AVClub.com noted. Kimmy ( Ellie Kemper ), Tituss ( Tituss Burgess ), and Jacqueline ( Jane Krakowski ) will be back on Netflix beginning May 30, when the platform will release the first six episodes. The latter half will be out later in 2018.

Web series Brothers' second episode of the second season will be available March 1 at BrothersSeries.com and on Vimeo on Demand, a press release noted. Brothers is a narrative short-form digital series that follows a group of transgender male friends exploring what it means to go up against traditional societal gender roles.

Melissa McCarthy is finalizing a deal to star with Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen, the drama on which Andrea Berloff will make her directorial debut, Deadline reported. New Line Cinema and DC Entertainment are making the film, with a screenplay that Straight Outta Compton scribe Berloff wrote based on the 2014 comic-book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle for DC's Vertigo. The Kitchen is an Irish mafia story set in Hell's Kitchen, New York, in the 1970s; the mob wives take over the business after their husbands are arrested—and end up running the illicit business in more vicious fashion than their husbands ever did.

My Week With Marilyn producer David Parfitt has accused Harvey Weinstein of physically assaulting him during production of the Michelle Williams-fronted feature that was released in 2011, Deadline reported. Parfitt made the claim in Channel 4's Working with Weinstein documentary, which aired in the U.K.; in it, Parfitt said that Weinstein, at one point, "pinned me up against a Coke machine and threatened all sorts of stuff" because Weinstein didn't think Parfitt's version of the film wouldn't work, and it did. A Weinstein spokeswoman dismissed Parfitt's allegations as "provably untrue and outrageous fiction."

Former Survivor winner Jenna Morasca allegedly bit a police officer after she was arrested last month for driving under the influence, People.com noted. Morasca, who won 2003's Survivor: The Amazon, was found unconscious by police officers in a Chevrolet SUV that was running and parked at a stop sign in Washington, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 25, E! News reported. The reality star was with a female passenger, whom officers reportedly saw placing a bag of syringes into her purse. Officers administered Morasca, 37, with Narcan—a safe antidote to opioid overdoses—which she was revived with. She was then placed onto a stretcher and taken into an ambulance, according to TMZ.

Harry Connick Jr.'s syndicated talk show is coming to an end, as NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution confirmed that season two will be the last for Harry, Deadline noted. The show originally had a two-year deal, but a cancellation after its end was fully expected, as Harry has been a soft ratings performer from the start.


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