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SHOWBIZ Trans baritone, Billboard Awards, Kate McKinnon, Lena Waithe
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-04-16

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Kirkpatrick & Kinslow Productions have announced it is greenlighting a documentary entitled Lucia's Voice ( Working Title ), OperaWire.com noted. The new film center on internationally renowned opera star Lucia Lucas will perform the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at the Tulsa Opera in May. Lucas is set to be the first baritone transgender woman performing a lead role in an opera in the United States.

NBC and dick clark productions announced the star-studded first round of performers for the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, coming up Wed., May 1, on NBC, the publication noted. Kelly Clarkson, Lauren Daigle, Khalid, Panic! at the Disco, Sam Smith and Normani will all perform their hits. Also, Mariah Carey will receive the ICON Award, and will perform a medley of her greatest hits. Carey led the Hot 100 in each year of the '90s—becoming the only artist ever to rule the chart in every year of any decade—and has 18 number-one singles.

Hulu is eyeing a series order for The Dropout—a limited series about Elizabeth Holmes, with Kate McKinnon set to play the disgraced tech whiz, Variety reported. The title refers to the fact Holmes dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos, a company which invented the Edison machine, a revolutionary diagnostic tool. However, the machine did not work as Holmes claimed, and her lies allowed her to reap a fortune from investors such as Betsy DeVos and Rupert Murdock, and even appear on the front cover of Fortune magazine.

Lena Waithe has been cast in the third season of Westworld, Page Six noted, citing Variety. Waithe previously starred in and wrote for the Netflix series Master of None—winning the Emmy for best comedy writing for the episode "Thanksgiving." She is currently the showrunner on the BET series adaptation of Boomerang. The second season of her Showtime series The Chi—which Waithe created and executive-produces—premiered earlier this month.

The landmark LGBTQ+ documentary Paris Is Burning returns to theaters this summer, via Janus Films, EW.com reported. Nearly 28 years after the film's Aug. 9, 1991 release, director Jennie Livingston has supervised a digital restoration of the original project, which follows a vibrant group of Latinx and African American New Yorkers as they navigate the drag and ball scenes of 1980s Manhattan. The film chronicles its subjects lives across seven years, zeroing in on their community of fashion houses—populated by vogue icons, drag queens and trans women including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey and Venus Xtravaganza—as they compete throughout New York while dealing with transphobia, homophobia, racism and poverty during the AIDS crisis.

Ryan Murphy dropped the title for this fall's American Horror Story's season nine, which will be known as AHS 1984, Deadline.com noted. It's a throwback to '80s slasher movies, as evident in the clip that Murphy posted on social showing a teenage girl fleeing a dark-Jason Voorhees-like guy wielding a knife. Emma Roberts is coming back to season nine—and her boyfriend will be played by openly gay Olympic silver-medalist freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. Evan Peters has said he's not returning for next season.

Promoting YouTube premium's The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story—a documentary about "one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in American history—former NSYNC member Lance Bass estimated he lost $100 million due to Pearlman, EOnline.com noted. Per Bass, The Boy Band Con takes a journalistic approach to the life and death of Pearlman and is a "cautionary tale." ( Pearlman died behind bars in South Florida in 2016 while serving a 25-year sentence for organizing a $300-million Ponzi scheme, USA Today reported. ) Also, Bass indicated that he and husband Michael Turchin are going to be dads very soon.

The Disney+ upcoming direct-to-consumer platform is developing a Love, Simon, comedy series based on the praised 2018 movie, Deadline noted. In the series remake, life is complicated for 17-year-old Simon—who hasn't told his family or friends he's gay, and doesn't know the identity of the anonymous classmate he's fallen for online. Greg Berlanti, who directed the romantic teen comedy-drama film, does not seem to be involved.

Also, Disney+ will resurrect Encore!—a series in which Kristen Bell ( Frozen; The Good Place ) reunites castmates of high school musicals from yesteryear, getting them to re-create their original performances, Playbill noted. Encore! premiered as a one-hour special on ABC in December 2017 as Bell brought together stars of a 1997 production of Into the Woods. Fittingly enough, Encore! joins a Disney+ slate that also includes High School Musical: The Musical, a metatheatrical musical series about a high school putting on a stage adaptation of the Disney Channel original movie.

Aretha Franklin was awarded a special Pulitzer Pride "for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades," CNN.com reported, citing a press release. She is the first individual woman to receive a special citation prize, which was first awarded in 1930; past winners have included Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and John Coltrane. Franklin died in August at age 76 of pancreatic cancer.

Showtime's Shameless is bringing back Noel Fisher's Mickey Milkovich for its 10th season, Deadline.com noted. The return by Milkovich raises the question of his relationship with Ian ( Cameron Monaghan ), who welcomed back his co-star with his own tweet. Monaghan had left the show, but is returning, ETOnline.com noted.

Madonna has finally unveiled her new project: Madame X, NewNowNext.com noted. For weeks, the Queen of Pop has been filling her social media accounts with cryptic images of Xs and random words. In the video teaser for the new album, Madonna stated, "Madame X is a secret agent traveling around the world, changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places. Madame X is a dancer, a professor, a head of state, a housekeeper, an equestrian, a prisoner, a student, a mother, a child, a teacher, a nun, a singer, a saint, a whore, and a spy in the house of love. I'm Madame X."

Idris Elba recently performed at the music/arts festival Coachella as a DJ, People.com noted. Though the actor sometimes performs under the name DJ Big Driis, he opted to perform under his own name at the Indio, California, festival. Elba's 17-year-old daughter, Isan, and fiancee, Sabrina Dhowe, came along on the trip.

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union-Wade showed their support for their son Zion, 11, during Miami Beach's Pride Festival, The Washington Blade noted. Zion, who is Wade's son from a previous relationship, was accompanied to Miami Pride by his stepmother; Wade was unable to attend because Miami Heat had a game against Toronto but he made sure to show his support for Zion on Instagram. Wade and Union-Wade's support for Zion was praised on social media.

In a new interview with The Guardian, singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes ( again ) talked about speculation about his sexuality, among other things, NewNowNext.com noted. "For me, it's hurtful," he told The Guardian, referring to a Rolling Stone profile from November 2018 that focused in part on speculations about his sexuality. "I get mad when people assume things about me because I imagine the people who don't have the support system I have and how that must affect them. That was why I was so angry, and you can see I still get riled up, because I don't think people understand that when you come at me about something that's stupid you hurt so many other people."

The Crown has found its Princess Diana, as newcomer Emma Corrin will portray Lady Diana Spencer in the Netflix drama series, Deadline noted. The Crown, created by Peter Morgan, tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II's early reign as the fragile social order established after WWII breaks apart. Corrin will make her first appearance as the character in season four.

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Kino Lorber Repertory is releasing a new 4K restoration of Frank Simon's queer classic The Queen, a press release noted. Decades before Paris Is Burning and Rupaul's Drag Race, this groundbreaking documentary about the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant introduced competitive drag to the world, along with LGBT icons/activists Flawless Sabrina and Crystal LaBeija. Andy Warhol is one of the pageant's judges. A theatrical release is slated for June 28 in New York, followed by a national rollout.

Queer global streaming network Revry is presenting the 4th annual QueerX festival May 31-June 2 in West Hollywood, California, a press release noted. Formerly known as Out Web Fest, QueerX is the intersection of music, film, and industry. Past awardees and industry participants include Tyler Oakley, Gigi Gorgeous, Dan Reynolds, LoveLoud, Tegan and Sara, Hannah Hart, Ari Fitz and Bebe Zahara Benet, among others.

Eric LaJuan Summers—whose moves in Broadway's Motown led to a 2013 Astaire Award—died April 9 at age 36 following an ongoing battle with cancer, according to Playbill. Summers was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017; he was in the ensemble of Kinky Boots at the time, having also understudied the role of Lola. That summer, his co-stars and Tony winner Billy Porter—the musical's original Lola—came together for a benefit concert to help fund his treatments.

Singers Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin will embark on a series of tour dates throughout the fall, a press release noted. Carpenter and Colvin—longtime friends for more than 30 years—will appear on stage together as an intimate acoustic duo, swapping songs and sharing stories. They toured together in 2013.

Non-binary singer-songwriter Grayson has released their latest song, "Cherry Pits," with an accompanying lyric video, a press release noted. This marks Grayson's second single, following the release of "Brother" last year. Both tracks are from Grayson's forthcoming debut, EP Head To Head, produced by Aidan, which will be released May 10 via One Half Records.

On May 16, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will host the fundraiser "An Evening of Wicked Fun Honoring Stephen Schwartz," a press release noted. The event will feature performances from artists such as Idina Menzel, Megan Hilty, Andrea Martin, Liz Callaway, Angel Blue and many others. See TheWallis.org .

As singer/songwriter/feminist/activist Ani DiFranco gears up to release her memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream on May 7, she is also announcing her summer run of tour dates, a press release noted. She kicks off her run on May 3 at JazzFest in New Orleans before a block of book events, then returns to performing May 31 in Houston, hitting other cities such as Indianapolis and Anchorage along the way. See http://anidifranco.com/tour.

Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Tony Kushner ( Angels in America ) had the theater crowd buzzing when he walked out of new, critically acclaimed play The Lehman Trilogy after the second intermission, Page Six noted. However, a Kushner rep said, "He was not feeling well and had to leave. He wishes he could have stayed to the end." The Sam Mendes-directed play tracks the rise and fall of financial giant Lehman Bros. and has been getting raves.

HBO has confirmed drama series Westworld will return for its third season in 2020, along with the fourth season of Insecure and season 10 of Curb Your Enthusiasm," Page Six noted, citing Deadline. The premium cabler's new comedic thriller comedy Run also is slated to premiere in 2020.

Hallmark Channel drama When Calls the Heart is moving on without Lori Loughlin, People.com noted. The show has been renewed for a seventh season, a little more than a month after the actress was dropped by the network in light of her alleged role in the college-admissions cheating scandal. The network dropped Loughlin on March 14, halting the development of future projects and claiming it would not air any past content featuring the actress.

Actress Joan Collins recently dealt with a fire that erupted in the London home she shares with husband Percy Gibson, People.com reported. "The fire broke out yesterday. They were both in the apartment. Joan smelt some smoke and Percy went out to investigate. They discovered that the guest suite was on fire," a rep for the actress said. Neither Collins nor Gibson were injured.

Pittsburgh Pride—the largest LGBTQ Pride festival in Pennsylvania—returns the second weekend in June, and will be headlined by R&B artist Toni Braxton and popular alt-rock band Walk The Moon, PGHCityPaper.com noted. In a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Walk the Moon vocalist Nicholas Petricca shared how after losing his father, he began to re-evaluate his sexuality. Braxton will perform June 8 and, during a video showed at the press conference, she said she "simply cannot wait to perform."

The Netflix comedy movie Otherhood, starring Felicity Huffman—originally set to stream on April 26—has been pushed after the Emmy-winning actress and Oscar nominee pled guilty in a college-bribe scheme in which she is accused of shelling out $15K to boost her daughter's SAT score, Deadline noted. Otherhood, which also stars Angela Bassett and Patricia Arquette, may stream in August. ( Huffman's hearing is set for next month. )

Howard Stern has collected his greatest interviews in Howard Stern Comes Again—and one of the items includes Bravo figure Andy Cohen talking about a threesome with a straight couple, Page Six reported. Cohen ( who's gay ) told Stern: "One of the things that was on my turning-40 bucket list was, 'How cool it would be to lose my virginity?' In my mind, if I did it, I would want to do it with a straight couple." A few of the other interviewees include Paul McCartney, Madonna, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga and Jimmy Kimmel. The book comes out May 14.

"Havana" singer Camila Cabello was announced to make her acting debut in a feature film based on a new retelling of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, iHeart.com noted, citing The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to her role, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter is said to also be involved in the music for the upcoming motion picture, established at Sony's Columbia label.

A new Bruce Wayne is on his way to live-action television: Iain Glen will portray Gotham City's most famous citizen as a recurring role on Titans when the DC Universe series returns for season two next fall, Deadline noted. The Scottish actor is best known as the grizzled mercenary knight Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones, and he returned in that role April 16 with the eighth-season premiere of the HBO series. His face is also familiar to fans of Downton Abbey and the Resident Evil franchise.

Talk-show host Wendy Williams has filed for divorce from her husband, Kevin Hunter, NBC News noted. Williams filed a complaint for divorce April 10 in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County. The couple married in a civil ceremony in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Nov. 30, 1999. Williams recently flaunted her lack of a wedding band in a video posted to her makeup artist's Instagram account.

Eammon Films announced the nationwide theatrical release of Stuck—a modern musical film starring Giancarlo Esposito ( Breaking Bad; Better Call Saul ), Amy Madigan ( Gone Baby Gone; Field of Dreams ) and musical sensation Ashanti, set on the New York City subway, a press release noted. The supporting cast includes Omar Chaparro ( Show Dogs; Compadres ), Arden Cho ( Teen Wolf ) and Gerard Canonico ( Broadway's Be More Chill ) as New York City commuters with stories to sing. Michael Berry wrote and directed the film, adapting the stage musical by Riley Thomas. Stuck will open in select markets—including Chicago, Tampa, New York City, Dallas and Cleveland, among others—nationwide on April 19.

Carly Simon is writing an "intimate, vulnerable" memoir about a very famous friend: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Page Six noted. Simon's Touched by the Sun is scheduled for release Oct. 22. According to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Simon and Onassis met at a summer party on Martha's Vineyard and began an "improbable, but lasting friendship."

After decades spent as the reigning "Queen of Disco," Gloria Gaynor has announced the release of her new gospel album, Testimony ( June 7 ), a press release noted. Recording for the first time in Nashville with Grammy-winning producers Chris Stevens ( TobyMac, Mandisa, Blake Shelton ) and Reid Shippen ( Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney ), Gaynor recorded classic hymns, self-penned songs and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Man of Peace." The first single from the album, Gaynor's "Amazing Grace," has been released.

The Vivica A. Fox-hosted syndicated show Face the Truth is ending after one season—but The Doctors and DailymailTV have both renewed for a 12th and third season, respectively., Deadline.com noted. Led by Fox and a panel that included attorney/ advocate Areva Martin, psychologist Dr. Judy Ho, actress/life coach/mom Rosie Mercado and Judge Mary "Scary Mary" Chrzanowski, the show ( from Jay McGraw's Stage 29 Productions ) was described as having a unique take on talk by providing meaningful conflict with constructive resolution.

Investigation Discovery ( ID ) has greenlit Twisted Love ( working title ), an all-new original series executive-produced by Khloe Kardashian, a press release noted. From the production team behind ID's program Twisted Sisters, the six-part new series explores what happens when love and affection spiral into a twisted web of extreme obsession and jealousy.

Restaurateur Stratis Morfogen has partnered with singer Patti LaBelle on a line of frozen Chinese food to be sold in supermarkets, according to Page Six. LaBelle has become a pie mogul with her hit line sold at Walmart, and she even whipped one out for dessert at a recent celebration at Morfogen's Brooklyn Chop House. Morfogen's prepping a book, Damn Good Dumplings.


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