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Showbiz news: George Michael, Oprah, Adore Delano, Imagine Dragons
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-23

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George Michael—the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who died last Christmas at 53—was honored in Los Angeles for his decades of humanitarian work with Project Angel Food, the L.A. non-profit that delivers meals to people who are critically ill, Billboard reported. The occasion was Project Angel Food's 27th annual Angel Awards, during which Michael won the Elizabeth Taylor Leadership Award. Adam Lambert, who performed a three-song tribute to the former Wham! frontman, was one of several stars who honored Michael; Carson Kressley, Sharon Lawrence, pop singer Aaron Carter and Broadway's original Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee Ralph were among the presenters.

Oprah Winfrey Network has greenlit an hourlong coming-of-age drama from Moonlight co-writer/executive producer Tarell Alvin McCraney and Warner Horizon Scripted Television—the studio behind the network's hit drama series Queen Sugar, from Ava DuVernay, according to Deadline. Set in South Florida at the end of the Obama legacy, the show ( inspired by events in McCraney's own life ) explores a 14-year-old prodigy's search for the balance needed for the making of a man.

Former RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Adore Delano recently talked with Billboard about her new punk album ( entitled Whatever ) and being gender non-binary. In part, Delano said, "In a year's time, traveling the world and having so many experiences, I feel like I've grown five years. I'm like Catwoman—I've died, like, four times." She also said, "We're in this weird, cool sexual and gender revolution with people broadening their horizons and trying to figure out where they're at. It's a '70s vibe right now that I'm in love with."

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds was busy putting together this month's Orem, Utah, concert to benefit at-risk LGBTQ youths when he got an offer from an unexpected source: the Mormon church, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The Utah-based faith—famously at odds with gay-rights activists over same-sex marriage and certain Latter-Day Saints ( LDS ) Church policies—wanted to know what it could do to help with the Aug. 26 LoveLoud Festival, and Reynolds accepted. The LoveLoud Festival will include Reynolds' band and Neon Trees ( who has gay frontman Tyler Glenn ) as well as EDM duo Krewella and singers Nicholas Petricca, Joshua James and Aja Volkman.

Bob Mackie is designing costumes for the off-Broadway return of the drag musical When Pigs Fly, according to NewNowNext.com . Created by costume designer and playwright Howard Crabtree, When Pigs Fly is a meta-musical recounting the story of Howard, who struggles to mount a lavish production despite the near-mutiny of his cast and the memory of his high-school guidance counselor—who told him he'd succeed "'when pigs fly." The original 1996 production ran for 840 performances, winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revue.

Richard Simmons is acknowledging in new court papers to the recent announcement by President Donald Trump that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Facing an attempt by American Media to kill his lawsuit over a false National Enquirer story about a gender change, the fitness guru says Trump's transgender ban shows there isn't societal acceptance of trans people. Simmons filed his defamation suit in May after a series of articles he characterizes as "cruel and malicious" suggested he was transitioning from a male to a female.

Prince's estate and Pantone announced that the late singer officially has his own purple hue, Love Symbol #2, named after the iconic symbol Prince used as an emblem, Billboard noted. The royal shade was originally inspired by the singer's custom-made Yamaha purple piano, which was originally scheduled to go on tour with the performer before his untimely passing in 2016 at the age of 57. Prince had been using this particular shade of purple though since his release of 1984's classic, Purple Rain.

In other Prince-centric news, items from his Paisley Park will head to London's O2 Arena in October as part of an exhibit showcasing ephemera from the late icon's career, Rolling Stone reported. The My Name Is Prince exhibit also celebrates the 10-year anniversary of Prince's record-breaking run of 21 straight sold-out shows at the O2 Arena in 2007. Like Prince's O2 run, the exhibit will spend 21 days at the arena, starting Oct. 27.

Stuart Thompson—the multiple Tony-winning theatrical producer and manager behind such stage productions as On Golden Pond, Proof and The Book of Mormon—died of complications from esophageal cancer at his home in New York at age 62, Deadline reported. ( Thompson's husband, Joe Baker, confirmed the passing. ) Thompson also produced the three longest-running Broadway plays of the past 25 years: The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Proof ( 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama ) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Olympic diver Greg Louganis has revealed how he found his birth father after decades of feeling abandoned, according to People.com . On July 17, Louganis and husband Johnny Chaillot arrived at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu for Louganis and dad Fouvale Lutu's first official father-and-son hug. In addition to meeting his extended family for the first time at the reunion, Louganis spent the day with Lutu sharing stories of their past and putting unanswered questions to rest. Louganis is the subject of a new documentary streaming on the PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network.

Rupert Everett is claiming Hollywood studios wanted to use his sexual orientaiton to their advantage, Page Six noted. While filming The Next Best Thing with co-star Madonna, out gay actor Everett believed the studio behind the film was taking advantage of his status as a gay man. Although Everett doesn't name the studio, the film was produced by Lakeshore Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Jillian Michaels is warning her followers to be wary of rental scams after she claimed she was taken advantage of "three times" by renters in the last six months, People.com . One instance was a "simple scam on Airbnb" and the other incident occurred when the fitness instructor and five friends chartered a yacht named The Never One for an Italian vacation that cost more than $60,000. Airbnb responded with a statement to People saying, "We have no tolerance for this type of behavior and upon learning of this incident, we permanently banned this host from our community and fully refunded our guest."

Sense8 fans could have an unlikely savior following Netflix's plans to cancel the Wachowskis' drama series after two seasons, TheWrap reported. Porn site xHamster posted an open letter to series co-creators Lana and Lily Wachowski, offering to produce a third season of the show. Netflix announced in June that it will run a two-hour special in 2018 to serve as the finale for Sense8, which has earned praise for its strong LGBTQ characters. "We're not talking about a parody, or something less than, but an actual revival of the series," xHamster vice president Alex Hawkins wrote.

Spotify has begun to remove music of a number of self-declared "white power" bands from its catalog in the wake of the deadly neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to Variety. Google and digital-music distributor CD Baby also pledged to remove music promoting hate. Spotify came under pressure after Digital Music News reported that the service was streaming music from a number of bands highlighted in a 2014 campaign by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The anti-discrimination group had originally assembled a list of 54 bands with explicitly racist or white-supremacist messaging to pressure Apple to stop selling their music on iTunes.

Singer Steve Grand spoke with Attitude magazine about the dangerous role alcohol played in his life, Queerty reported. Grand's drinking became a problem after a seven-year relationship came to an end that started when he was only 18. Grand, now 18 months sober, recalled his low point: "I woke up in my own urine in the bed of a person who I don't even think particularly likes me. But he was the only person who came up in the recent messages on my phone so was the one they called and he took care of me. That was the last straw for me."

Paramount Pictures is pursuing a big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard to star Tony winner Glenn Close, who just ended a revival run of the musical on Broadway in June, TheWrap noted. Close is in advanced talks to play the part she originated on the stage in 1994, and the studio is actively searching for a director and a leading man to star opposite her, two individuals familiar with the project told TheWrap. TV mogul Ryan Murphy was approached to helm, both insiders said, but no deals are in place.

Dolly Parton announced the release of I Believe In You, her first album written and recorded for kids and those young at heart, a press release noted. A digital release of the new album, on Dolly Records/RCA Nashville, will be available Sept. 29, whereas the physical album will street worldwide on Oct. 13. All 14 tracks on I Believe In You were written and performed by Parton.

Actress/designer Sarah Jessica Parker has debuted her first West Coast standalone SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker boutique at Bellagio Resort & Casino, making it one of only two locations in the country to offer her label's full collection of shoes, handbags and accessories, a press release noted. To mark the occasion, Parker has introduced a new color line—Bellagio Blue—exclusively available at the Las Vegas boutique.

RuPaul's Drag Race season-nine winner Sasha Velour and 30 drag queens and kings will perform at a show benefiting the homeless LGBTQ youths of New York City's Ali Forney Center ( AFC ) on Sept. 7 at Highline Ballroom, a press release noted. The evening's goal is to raise $50,000 to support AFC's housing and supportive services for homeless LGBTQ youth. AFC, which sees more than 1,400 homeless youth each year, is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated serving this population.

Singer Bonnie Tyler was slated to perform her 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" during the Aug. 21 eclipse, BBC News noted. Moreover, it was on a cruise ship with "Cake by the Ocean" hitmakers DNCE, a band led by Joe Jonas. Before sailing, Tyler said, "I have a ship of my own. I go with the flow, darling. I'm not worried about things like [getting seasick]."

Netflix signed Shonda Rhimes to a multi-year production deal, ending a 15-year relationship with ABC Studios that yielded hits from Grey's Anatomy to Scandal, Variety noted. Rhimes will begin producing new series for Netflix while she continues to stay involved in her current broadcast series. Executive producer Betsy Beers will also come to Netflix with Rhimes, one of the most successful TV producers of the past decade.

The spirit of Debbie Reynolds will be remembered in "Halloweentown" this year, Page Six noted. The annual Halloween celebration that takes place in St. Helens, Oregon—where the 1998 hit was filmed—will be paying tribute to the late icon during their jack-o'-lantern lighting ceremony. Although the town recreates the "Halloweentown" set for the month of October, the ceremony remembering Reynolds will take place on Oct. 14.

Katy Perry has pushed back the planned Sept. 7 opening date on her Witness: The Tour due to what her spokesperson deemed "unexpected production delays," Billboard noted. The outing is now slated to kick off with a Sept. 19 date at the Bell Centre in Montreal, "to accommodate the complexity of the scope and enormous scale of this tour." The opening acts for the tour were also revealed and they include Noah Cyrus ( Sept. 19-Nov. 1 ), Purity Ring ( Nov. 7-Dec. 20 ) and Carly Rae Jepsen ( Jan. 5-Feb. 5 ).

Days after the jury awarded Taylor Swift $1 after ruling former DJ David Mueller had groped her during a 2013 Denver meet-and-greet, the singer acted on her pledge to donate to organizations in support of survivors of sexual assault, including friend Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation, Page Six noted. Although the sum of Swift's contribution was not released, the foundation's CEO, Malie M. Zambuto, shared her donation is an "extremely generous financial investment in the movement to end sexual violence."

Paris Hilton backtracked on her controversial statement about the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault in the lead-up to the November 2016 election, asserting that her comments were "misapplied," Rolling Stone reported. In part, she said, "I was speaking about my own experiences in life and the role of media and fame in our society and it was never my intention for my comments to be misapplied almost a year later." Talking with Marie Claire magazine, Hilton said that women who accused Donald Trump of harassment "are just trying to get attention and fame."

Kim Kardashian West is set to co-host Live With Kelly and Ryan with her pal Ryan Seacrest on Aug. 28, stepping in for Kelly Ripa, according to Deadline. This will be Kardashian's first time co-hosting with Seacrest and her second time co-hosting on the show, after having teamed up with Kelly Ripa for a day in 2012.

Shania Twain has announced that she will hit the road next year in support of her new album, NOW, a press release noted. These dates mark Twain's first tour since "Rock This Country" back in 2015. Produced by Live Nation, the tour kicks off May 3 in Tacoma, Washington, and will run through the rest of the summer, culminating in Las Vegas on Aug. 4 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. ( She will perform in Chicago on May 19 at the United Center. )

The stuntwoman who died on the set of Deadpool 2 has been identified, People.com noted. Joi "SJ" Harris, who billed herself as the first African-American female road racer, died while performing a motorcycle stunt in Vancouver. The film's star, Ryan Reynolds tweeted, "We're heartbroken, shocked and devastated… but recognize nothing can come close to the grief and inexplicable pain her family and loved ones must feel in this moment."

Mission: Impossible 6 is halting production in London for between six weeks to three months to give Tom Cruise time to recover from an on-set injury, according to Variety. The extent of his injuries are still unclear, but one individual close to the production said that Cruise may have broken his ankle in two places and hurt his hip. The production stoppage could cause headaches for other cast members such as Simon Pegg, Henry Cavill and Rebecca Ferguson.

Platinum-selling group En Vogue has teamed with fashion line Ashley Stewart for the #ImGoodChallenge, a press release touted. Fans can listen to En Vogue's new song "I'm Good," from the forthcoming album Electric Cafe, and enter for a chance to win a trip to the contest finale in New York City for a special performance by En Vogue and a chance to meet the group. People have until Aug. 27 to post public Instagram photos ( including #ImGoodChallenge in the captions ). See AshleyStewart.com/imgoodchallenge.html.

Social-video platform Twitch will partner with Shout! Factory to host a marathon of Starcade, the classic game show where contestants competed in arcade video games, a press release noted. The Starcade marathon will feature all available episodes that aired in the original broadcast run, most of which have not been widely aired in more than a decade. The marathon begins Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. PT and will air through Sept. 3 on Shout! Factory's official Twitch channel, Twitch.tv/shoutfactorytv.


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