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Showbiz news: Jared Leto, Cher, Wanda Sykes, Weinstein fallout
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-10-10

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Jared Leto has landed a new role: playing the late Hugh Hefner in an upcoming biopic, Just Jared noted. The Playboy icon passed away recently at the age of 91, and Brett Ratner has a biopic planned. "Jared is an old friend," Ratner, who will direct the film, told The Hollywood Reporter. "When he heard I got the rights to Hef's story, he told me, 'I want to play him. I want to understand him.' And I really believe Jared can do it. He's one of the great actors of today."

Speaking of Hefner, it turned out that he died of cardiac arrest and respiratory failure, Page Six noted. The 91-year-old Playboy founder's death certificate also revealed he had been battling E. coli and septicemia ( blood poisoning ) for six days prior to his passing on Sept. 27. He passed away in his famed mansion in Los Angeles, which will undergo massive renovations under its new owner, Daren Metropoulos.

Cher has sued several pharmaceutical executives, alleging they tricked her into selling millions of dollars worth of stock in a company working on treatments for cancer and AIDS/HIV for much less than the shares were worth, according to a Hollywood Reporter item. Lawyers for the entertainer say in a lawsuit that Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong used his firm, NantCell, to acquire all of the shares of Altor he didn't already own for about $15 million last year—although Altor should now be valued at more than $1 billion. The suit also names Hing Wong and Fred Middleton as plaintiffs, and alleges that Middleton traveled to Cher's home in Malibu in 2013 to pitch her an investment.

Comedian, actress and writer Wanda Sykes received the Point Legend Award at the annual Point Honors Los Angeles gala Oct. 7 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, LGBT Weekly noted. The award recognizes an individual who has achieved greatness in their professional career and unapologetically supported the LGBTQ community. Sykes can currently be seen on ABC'S black-ish—a role that earned her a nomination for a 2017 Primetime Emmy Award. According to CBS.com, Sykes is also a consulting producer on the forthcoming Roseanne reboot.

The Weinstein Company will no longer accept a top honor from LGBTQ film festival Outfest, amid the scandal of CEO Harvey Weinstein's sexual-misconduct allegations, TheWrap reported. Known for LGBT-themed films like Tom Ford's A Single Man and Todd Haynes' Carol, the mini-studio was slated to receive the Corporate Trailblazer Award at an Oct. 22 ceremony also honoring stars Laverne Cox and Rita Moreno. In a statement, the company said it did not want to 'overshadow the extraordinary achievements of the other honorees."

One person who defended Harvey Weinstein is fashion designer Donna Karan, Page Six noted, citing The Daily Mail. She said that sexually harassed women may be "asking for it" by dressing seductively. "You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble," she told the British tabloid in a red-carpet interview at the CineFashion Film Awards in L.A. When asked if Weinstein had been "busted," she reportedly smiled and told the paper, "I don't think it's only Harvey Weinstein." She later issued a statement to People saying that her initial comments were taken out of context.

However, a lot of stars are criticizing Harvey Weinstein, including Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, George Clooney and Glenn Close. According to Page Six, Close said, "I'm sitting here, deeply upset, acknowledging to myself that, yes, for many years, I have been aware of the vague rumors that Harvey Weinstein had a pattern of behaving inappropriately around women. Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad."

Janet Jackson honored past dancers from her tours spanning nearly 28 years at her "State of the World" Hollywood Bowl concert, Page Six noted. Jenna Dewan Tatum, who danced with Jackson in 2001/2002, joined her as husband Channing Tatum cheered. Christina Milian, Heidi Klum, Helen Hunt, Chrissy Metz, Rosario Dawson, Susan Kelechi Watson, Tank and Gayle King were some of the stars in the audience.

Diana Ross is slated to perform at this year's UNICEF Snowflake Ball, with Harry Connick Jr. hosting the evening's festivities, Page Six reported. The 13th annual gala is scheduled for Nov. 28 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Among the big names on the gala committee are Jenna Bush Hager, newly appointed Elle Editor-in-Chief Nina Garcia, Dennis Basso and actress Tea Leoni ( of the TV show Madam Secretary ), whose grandmother, Helenka Pantaleoni, co-founded UNICEF USA.

Younger star Dan Amboyer, 31, has publicly come out as gay after tying the knot with his boyfriend of a decade, The Los Angeles Blade reported. He recently married financial planner Eric Berger, 37, in front of 115 family and friends in New York City. In an interview with People, the actor explained that he felt pressure from his career to keep his sexuality a secret.

Premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Dee Rees' Mudbound was met with a rapturous response from critics and the public alike, Deadline noted. At a panel, Rees ( who also directed the 2011 lesbian-themed film Pariah ) said, "I feel like any art always comments on the time in which it's made so this could've been set in 2040, but it would've been commenting always on 2016." A period drama set in post-World War II Mississippi, based on a novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, Mudbound tells the story of two men—one African-American, one white—returning home from the war to go to work on a rural Mississippi farm

Lady Gaga has been named the first honorary Miss Gay America, according to NewNowNext.com . Pageant owners Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman crowned Gaga backstage before her concert in Philadelphia last month, and also presented her with a $5,000 donation to her youth-focused non-profit, the Born This Way Foundation. Miss Gay America began in 1972 as the world's first female-impersonator competition. Suzy Wong is Miss Gay America 2017, according to the organization's website.

Will & Grace star Debra Messing has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, People.com noted. Castmates Eric McCormack and Megan Mullally attended ( Sean P. Hayes was sick at home ) as well as Messing's friends ( and fellow actresses ) Mariska Hargitay, Connie Britton and Sophia Bush. Messing gave a speech on her earliest memories of Hollywood.

Roland Emmerich—the openly gay director of films including Independence Day, Stonewall and The Day After Tomorrow—is entering the virtual-reality technology arena with the launch of VRenetic, The Hollywood Reporter noted. Emmerich, who will serve as chairman, co-founded the company with producer Marco Weber ( Unthinkable, The Thirteenth Floor ), who will operate as CEO. VRenetic's debut product, VResh, has been developed to let users share real time 360-degree video by combining a free broadcasting and viewing application with mobile cameras and proprietary headsets.

Singer Sam Smith, 25, and 13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Flynn, 23, have apparently made their romance official, Extra noted. The two recently shared a kiss in NYC's Greenwich Village. The relationship is probably new, since just last month Smith described himself as "insanely single" during an interview with Beats 1 host Zane Lowe.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has collaborated with an all-star lineup of artists to unveil "Almost Like Praying," a hurricane relief single in support of Puerto Rico, a press release noted. Available on YouTube and Google Play Music, proceeds from the song will go to the Hispanic Federation UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund. In addition, YouTube will make a contribution to the organization. Recorded in less than a week, "Almost Like Praying" includes Gina Rodriguez, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Marc Anthony, Rita Moreno, and many more.

Dolly Parton talked about her new collaboration with Jennifer Aniston on the upcoming movie Dumplin', E! Online noted. About Aniston, Parton said, "She's producing and starring in a movie called Dumplin' and it was a best-selling book; in the book this girl that's the character was a Dolly fan and loved her music." In addition, Aniston's dog, Dolly, is named after Parton.

George Clooney has been selected as the recipient of the 46th annual AFI Life Achievement Award in a ceremony to be held on June 7, 2018, Deadline noted. Clooney, a two-time Oscar winner and one of only two people ( along with Walt Disney ) to be nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories, was selected for his versatility as well as his star power. Clooney's long list of films include his Oscar-winning turn in Syriana, and Best Actor nominations for Michael Clayton, Up in the Air and The Descendants.

Jennifer Lopez was the first major star to postpone Las Vegas shows in light of the recent massacre, Page Six stated. She planned to reschedule Oct. 4, 6 and 7 concerts at the Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The concert announcement added that Lopez—who recently donated $1 million to help Puerto Rico following hurricane devastation—is "heartbroken that such a senseless tragedy occurred."

Singer Pink has announced her Beautiful Trauma World Tour 2018, a press release noted. The 40-date North American arena tour, produced by Live Nation, will start in Phoenix on March 1 and wrap up in Los Angeles at The Forum on June 2. A few of the other stops will include Chicago ( March 9 ), Toronto ( March 20 ), Cleveland ( March 28 ), Boston ( April 9 ), Orlando ( April 24 ) and Las Vegas ( May 26 ).

Three-time Grammy-winning singer Gwen Stefani has released her first-ever holiday album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, on Interscope Records, a press release noted. A limited edition white vinyl version of the album will be released Oct. 20. The set features a mixture of original and classic holiday tunes, and is available now at http://smarturl.it/GwenChristmas.

NCIS actress Pauley Perrette is leaving the show after 15 seasons, TheWrap reported. On Twitter, she said the decision was made last year. She posted, "So it is true that I am leaving NCIS... There have been all kinds of false rumors as to why ( NO I DON'T HAVE A SKIN CARE LINE..."

TNT has announced that its drama Major Crimes ( a spinoff of The Closer ) will end after its sixth season, Deadline noted. The last season premieres Tuesday, Oct. 31, and the series will wrap with a two-episode finale on Tuesday, Jan. 16. "Major" is the network's No.1 series in total viewers and has consistently ranked as one of cable's most-watched drama series since its breakout debut in 2012.

Comedy Central Records announced the digital release of Solomon Georgio: Homonegro Superior on Friday, Oct. 20, according to a press release. Born in the Sudan and now living and working in Los Angeles, Georgio intertwines social commentary with stories of his life as an openly gay African immigrant. Pre-order Homonégro Superior at http://apple.co/2y66QLb.

HSN announced the launch of Touch of Cyn, designed by Cyndi Lauper, a press release noted. Lauper will debut her vintage designs—inspired by her own wardrobe and knowledge of fashion history, on Thursday, Oct. 26. Lauper, a Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning artist, has global sales in excess of 50 million records and hit songs such as "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Time After Time."

Kathy Griffin's battle with her neighbor, KB Home CEO Jeffrey Mezger, isn't showing signs of slowing down, People.com noted. According to court documents that the publication/website obtained, Mezger has filed for his own restraining order against the comedian—two weeks after she filed one against him following a verbal altercation in which he allegedly called her a series of sexist and anti-gay slurs and profanities.

Former Glee actor Mark Salling has plead guilty to child-pornography charges that first surfaced in 2015, TheWrap reported. Court documents revealed that Salling pled guilty to one felony count of possession of child pornography involving a prepubescent minor. He could face four to seven years in prison, with 20 years supervised release.

Musician Aaron Carter has left rehab after only two weeks, People.com noted. Publicist Steve Honig said that Carter "is still very much committed to his wellness and will be continually working toward being the best person possible." Carter, 29, had entered treatment on Sept. 22. "Only I can change my life," he tweeted that night. "No one can do it for me."

Maroon 5 announced its sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues, which is set to debut Nov. 3, according to a press release. Executive produced by J. Kash, and featuring special guest appearances by SZA, Julia Michaels, A$AP Rocky and LunchMoney Lewis, the album will include both a 12-track standard edition, as well as deluxe version.

Tyrese Gibson spoke out about the delay in Fast and Furious filming, and seemingly blamed co-star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for holding up production, according to US Weekly. "#PSA Congratulations to @TheRock and your bother in law aka 7 bucks producing partner @hhgarcia41 for making the fast and furious franchise about YOU — And like you, DJ even if they call I will not be deleting this post — Gn folks see you in 2020 April," Gibson captioned an Instagram post. A day after pushing "Fast & Furious 9" to April 2020, Universal is placing a spin-off film starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham on its slate, with the release date set for July 26, 2019, TheWrap reported.

Former Cheers actress Kirstie Alley sparked controversy on social media when she blamed Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock's actions on prescription medication, US Weekly noted. Alley tweeted, "One additional common denominator of 'shooters' is U.S.A.'s mass usage of psychiatric drugs. A % do have side effects of violence and suicide." While there is no evidence at this point that Paddock was using prescription drugs of any kind, the Star Trek actress defended her remarks after facing backlash.

A report by DailyMailTV accused talk-show host Wendy Williams' husband of nearly 20 years, Kevin Hunter, of leading a "secret double life" and engaging in an alleged affair with another woman for more than a decade, according to E! News. The report also alleged Hunter spends his time between a house with Williams and another with his alleged mistress. Williams' spokesperson, Ronn Torossian, told E! News in a statement, "One plus one does not equal three. This woman is a friend but there is no 'there' there." On her show, Williams said, "I stand by my guy."

Rapper Nelly was arrested outside Seattle on second-degree rape charges after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her on his tour bus, TheWrap reported. Nelly was scheduled to perform in the nearby town of Ridgefield as part of his tour with Florida-Georgia Line. "Nelly is the victim of a completely fabricated allegation," a statement from his attorney, Scott Rosenblum, read.

Swiss authorities say they have received a complaint from a German woman alleging that famed filmmaker Roman Polanski raped her 45 years ago in Gstaad, Switzerland, while she was in her mid-teens, CBS News reported. Police and the state prosecutor's office in the northern city of St. Gallen say Renate Langer, 61, issued the complaint over the alleged rape in February 1972. Langer is the fourth woman to accuse the Polanski of sexual assault, according to the AFP news agency.


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