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Showbiz news: Oprah, Jim Parsons, Morrissey, Kristin Chenoweth
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-12-19

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Oprah Winfrey is the next luminary who will receive the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Cecil B. DeMille Award, TheWrap noted. Presented annually at the Golden Globes ceremony, the prize recognizes "a talented individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment," according to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Winfrey's honor was announced by actor Morgan Freeman—who won the same prize in 2012—during an NBC special marking the 75th anniversary of the Globes. Previous DeMille award winners include Audrey Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, George Clooney and Harrison Ford, among others.

Jim Parsons and Todd Spiewak's That's Wonderful Productions has optioned the film rights to Michael Ausiello's memoir Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies, with Parsons attached to star, Deadline noted. Parsons and Spiewak will be producers, and Ausiello—the founder and editor-in-chief of Deadline's sister site TVLine.com—will be the executive producer. In his memoir, Ausiello told the story of the 11-month span between when his partner, photographer Kit Cowan, got a diagnosis of terminal cancer and his passing.

After much controversy surrounding Morrissey's interview with German publication Der Spiegel, the raw audio has officially been released, Billboard reported. The singer made headlines in November for alleged comments defending Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, and saying he would kill Donald Trump if given the chance. Morrissey took to social media recently to defend himself, slamming the accusations and vowing never to speak to print media again. When asked if he would press a button to make Trump "drop dead," Morrissey replied, "I would, for the safety of the human race."

Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth is attached to star in a stage musical version of the 1992 dark comedy Death Becomes Her, which Universal Theatrical Group is currently developing, TheWrap reported. Chenoweth would play Madeline Ashton, the vain actress first played by Meryl Streep in director Robert Zemeckis' hit, which won an Oscar for visual effects. The film starred Streep and Goldie Hawn as bitter rivals who drink a mysterious potion expecting eternal youth—only to discover that they have died and become walking and talking corpses; Bruce Willis also starred.

Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation has honored the Mormon teen who came out to her congregation, Gay Star News noted. Savannah came out as gay to her Utah congregation this past June. Members of the church cut off her microphone and did not allow her to finish her testimony. The foundation awarded Savannah with one of its eight Channel Kindness awards, which recognize young people aged 13 to 24 who are "improving their schools and supporting their communities through acts of kindness." Each award recipient receives $500 and support from the foundation.

Gloria and Emilio Estefan's daughter Emily celebrated one year with her girlfriend, Geremy HernÔndez, with an Instagram post proclaiming her love, The Washington Blade noted. The 23-year-old musician posted a snap of a polaroid of the couple captioned, "Happy anniversary to my delicate, bold, intelligent, important, honest, loving, funny ( but not funnier than me ), brave, compassionate, patient, badass, talented, and the most beautiful… Moon Flower. I love you. One circle exquisitely sealed in time forever. Cheers to many more, and tons more laughing."

Responding to tweets from Rose McGowan that called her a hypocrite for planning to wear black at the Academy Awards to show unity with women who have been sexually assaulted and abused, actress Meryl Streep just sent out a public statement telling McGowan that they are actually on the same side "standing in defiance of the same implacable foe," Deadline reported. McGowan's series of tweets over the weekend also took Streep to task for calling disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein's behavior "disgraceful" instead of calling it "a crime" and for remaining silent and continuing to work for the man. Streep won a Best Actress Oscar for The Iron Lady, which was a film from The Weinstein Co.

Singer/reality-TV figure Tamar Braxton is alleging that Texas gay spot JR's Bar and Grill denied her entry based on her appearance, Eater Dallas noted. Braxton took to her Instagram story to detail her account, which someone else reposted: "I can't come in this establishment. Here in my favorite town Dallas, they said zero tolerance for black people." JR's spokesperson Waylon Tate issued a press release that said, in part, "We have strict guidelines that have been designed in collaboration with city and state regulators. Compliance with government and community is of the utmost importance and responsibility when serving alcohol in the state of Texas."

Just two days after the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS will celebrate the legendary career of Elton John by presenting "Elton John: I'm Still Standing-A GRAMMY Salute," a press release noted. The live concert taping will be held Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET at The Theater At Madison Square Garden in New York. The special will be broadcast later in 2018 on CBS. Tickets are for event are available at Ticketmaster.com .

HBO is picking up two more series from Issa Rae, who brough the comedy Insecure to the network, Vibe.com noted. According to Deadline, the comedy Him or Her as well as the drama Sweet Life are part of the Golden-Globe nominee's "first look" producing deal with HBO. Him or Her chronicles the life of a bisexual black man, and is co-executive produced by writer and Emmy-winner, Travon Free. Sweet Life will focus on affluent Black teens in a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Musician Lenny Kravitz's preference for going commando hasn't changed since a viral incident that revealed his privates, People.com noted. Kravitz's pants split during an August 2015 performance in Stockholm, Sweden, exposing his crotch and a piercing on his privates. The footage quickly made the rounds on social media. "I'm over the whole fashion thing," he explained, opting simply for "denim, denim, denim" while planting trees in Eleuthera. "On the island, I wash my clothes with a hose."

This year, the Screen Actors Guild Awards will only feature female presenters. The ceremony's 13 acting awards will be presented by women, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Additionally, the award show's two stunt categories, which are handed out before the televised ceremony, will also be presented by women. The goal of prioritizing female visibility at the televised event is designed to be a response to the slew of sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood. Traditionally, a man and a women have been paired to present each category's winner at the SAG awards. As previously announced, Kristen Bell will serve as the ceremony's first-ever host, and Morgan Freeman will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sophia Bush shocked audiences earlier this year when she left Chicago P.D. after the show's fourth-season finale—and she recently talked about her experience on ther series on Refinery 29's Unstyled podcast, Page Six noted. "I landed this job that, since I was 20 years old and trying to become an actor, I said I wanted. And aspects of it, don't get me wrong, were wonderful," the actress said. "But I knew by the end of the second season I couldn't do that job anymore." She described the experience as feeling "like I was trapped in a burning building. … I was miserable and I had to go."

GLAAD released its second annual Spanish-language media report "Still Invisible," according to a press release. Still Invisible analyzes the LGBTQ characters in primetime scripted television airing in the United States between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. The report found that of the 698 characters in primetime, just 19 ( 3 percvent ) were LGBTQ; of the characters that were LGBTQ, six ( 30 percent ) died and six did not have motivations of their own and only served to further other characters storylines. The report is at https://www.glaad.org/stillinvisible-todaviainvisible.

At New York City's Stephen Sondheim Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company presented its Damn Yankees benefit concert reading, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Matthew Morrison, Broadway World noted. Roundabout's Associate Artist Kathleen Marshall directed this one-night only special event, with musical direction by Rob Berman. Proceeds from the reading supported Roundabout Theatre Company's programs and initiatives, including Education at Roundabout.

PBS has suspended its longtime late-night talker Tavis Smiley after looking into allegations of sexual conduct against its host, Deadline noted. The pubcaster said that an inquiry into Tavis Smiley, who has fronted the LA-produced show for nearly 14 years, "uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS." Variety cites sources as saying a lawyer at the firm hired to conduct the investigation took reports from 10 witnesses—a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley's organization ( mostly former staffers ). Smiley has talked with several media outlets, saying that PBS "made a huge mistake," according to ABC News.

Academy Award-nominated actor and advocate for equality Sir Ian McKellen recently addressed the numerous sexual-harassment allegations running rampant through the industry, saying that wrongful accusations can definitely have an impact, according to Deadline. He also pointed out how earlier in his career, many women would have sex for roles. McKellen also said the way Kevin Spacey chose to come out was "reprehensible because it linked alleged underage sex with a declaration of sexuality."

Salma Hayek is breaking her silence about Harvey Weinstein in a New York Times op-ed in which the star details sexual harassment and abusive behavior on the set of Frida, according to a CNN article. Hayek said after starting the development process, she found herself dealing with repeated instances of sexual harassment by Weinstein, including requests that she take a shower with him and offers of massages and oral sex. Weinstein released a statement to USA Today via spokeswoman Holly Baird saying "all of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired."

Entertainment figures are funding a new Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Worksplace, Deadline noted. The chair will be Anita Hill, a law professor who accused then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. Attendees at the meeting to form the commission included WME co-chair Ari Emanuel, Disney chairman/CEO Bob Iger, CAA co-chair Bryan Lourd, and Alliance Motion Picture and Television Producers president Carol Lombardini, among others.

Actress Alyssa Milano taught a master class on the problems of sexual misconduct—to actor Matt Damon, according to The Huffington Post. Damon raised more than a few eyebrows when he suggested that sexual harassment and sexual assault "shouldn't be conflated," then gave examples of how he and others should handle different levels of sexual misbehavior. "It's the micro that makes the macro," Milano tweeted Damon. "We are in a 'culture of outrage' because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous."

Three women accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct teamed for a joint interview with NBC Nightly News in which they called the Oscar winner a "bully," Page Six noted. Anna Graham Hunter, Cori Thomas and Kathryn Rossetter appeared on the program, marking their first televised appearances since their allegations against Hoffman, 80, went public.

Morgan Spurlock—the filmmaker best known for his 2004 documentary Super Size Me—acknowledged examples of sexual misconduct in his past in an online confessional titled "I am Part of the Problem," NPR noted. In part, Spurlock admitted, "I don't sit by and wonder 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'" Spurlock, 47, detailed an encounter he had in college that he described as "a one-night stand" that she later viewed as rape. The filmmaker also acknowledged a repeated history of infidelity and the verbal sexual harassment of a former female assistant that occurred eight years ago. Spurlock has stepped down from his production company.

Former Glee star Mark Salling ( who played Puck ) has pled guilty to possession of child pornography, USA Today noted. Salling entered the plea in a downtown Los Angeles federal court on Dec. 18 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7. The actor reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in October in which he admitted he possessed images of prepubescent children. The agreement states a search warrant found more than 50,000 images of child porn on Salling's computer and a thumb drive.

ABC has fired The Great American Baking Show judge Johnny Iuzzini and axed the remaining episodes of his show amid sexual-misconduct allegations, according to Deadline. Claims against Iuzzini first surfaced days after Thanksgiving, when Mic posted a story in which four former employees described allegations of sexual harassment and abuse while working under Iuzzini at a New York restaurant between 2009 and 2011. It followed up with a second report in which four more women came forward with new allegations. Iuzzini has denied the allegations.

Lin-Manuel Miranda launched a MoveOn petition asking the government to help Puerto Rico, a press release noted. The petition has already gathered more than 150,000 signatures, including social media support from Star Wars actor Mark Hamill and Hamilton cast member Anthony Lee Medina. The petition is at https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/tell-congress-puerto.

Ruby Rose took to Twitter to show off a Prada bag with a graphic image of a face which she believes looks exactly like her own, Teen Vogue noted. Before receiving an image of the bag from a photographer, Ruby claims she had no knowledge of the brand seeking her likeness for their accessory. The bag is from the fashion house's spring/summer 2018 collection and comes in more than one shape, produced as both a top-handle as well as flap-front shoulder bag.

The revival of Roseanne has an official premiere date, Variety reported. The new installment of the classic sitcom will debut on March 27 at 8 p.m ET/PT in a special hour-long premiere. It will then air in its regular Tuesday 8 p.m. time slot beginning April 3, followed by The Middle, which will move to 8:30. The complete original cast of the original show is returning for the nine-episode revival.

Musician John Legend is to play Jesus in NBC's forthcoming live musical remake of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!, Deadline reported. He will face up against Alice Cooper as King Herod in the Easter Sunday production, which will be helmed by esteemed British theatre director David Leveaux. Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! is NBC's latest live musical, following The Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan Live! and The Wiz Live!

Beth Ditto will kick off her first tour of 2018 in her home state of Arkansas, performing at Revolution Music Room in Little Rock on March 7, per a press release. A few of the other stops will include Nashville, Chicago and San Francisco, with her final concert on March 29 in Seattle. See BethDitto.com .

According to Kelly Ripa, Regis Philbin preferred to keep the former co-hosts' communication to a minimum when the cameras weren't rolling, People.com noted. In an interview with The New York Times, Ripa said, "Regis had a mandate: Absolutely no talking off-camera." In a February interview on Larry King Now, Philbin ( who departed the show in 2011 ) said of Ripa, "She got very offended when I left. She thought I was leaving because of her; I was leaving because I was getting older and it wasn't right for me anymore."

Kelly Clarkson, Kane Brown, BTS, Fitz and The Tantrums, Khalid, Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth will perform on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2018, per a press release. This year's ABC special marks the 46th anniversary of the celebration and will include five and a half hours of special performances and reports on New Year's celebrations from around the globe.

The Greater Los Angeles Softball Association ( GLASA ) announced that 18 LGBTQ sports associations have registered to participate in the 2018 Sin City Classic Sports Festival, a press release noted. This year's festivities will be held January 11-14, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the athletes and guests being hosted at the LINQ and Flamingo hotels. Competitions will take place in billiards, body building, bowling, bridge, cheer, diving, dodgeball, flag football, frisbee, golf, ice hockey, kickball, running, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball and wrestling. See SinCityClassic.org .

A roster of big names and legends will be competing in the Oscars race for Best Original Song, with the field including Taylor Swift, Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Questlove, Nick Jonas, Mariah Carey and the category's reigning champs, La La Land lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, TheWrap noted. There are 70 eligible songs, exemplified by Swift's "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," from Fifty Shades Darker; Blige's "Mighty River," from Mudbound, in which she also stars; and Pasek and Paul's "This Is Me," from the musical The Greatest Showman. The final nominees will be announced Jan. 23.

The CW has confirmed that Colton Haynes will return to Arrow for a short arc in a reprisal of his role as Roy Harper AKA Arsenal, according to Deadline. Haynes exited the CW/DC series at the end of season three. The Teen Wolf alum joined Arrow as a recurring character in the second half of the first season, and became a regular at the beginning of season two with a two-year deal.

Adam Driver, back on the big screen with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, will lead a Broadway revival next season of the late Lanford Wilson's drama Burn This, Deadline noted. Michael Mayer ( Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Spring Awakening ) will direct the planned 2019 show, at a Broadway theater to be announced.

Jaxton Wheeler—a gay male porn star who was accused of cyberbullying August Ames—said he does not believe he played a role in the actress reportedly taking her own life, MercuryNews.com noted. Nearly three months before she was found dead, Ames opened up in a podcast about her history of childhood sexual abuse and struggles with bipolar disorder, depression and multiple-personality disorder, the Independent reported. Shortly before her death, Ames was caught up in a Twitter controversy when she posted she had turned down a job because it would have required sex with a man who had performed in gay-porn movies.

Following an Eater NY report detailing decades of alleged sexual misconduct by Mario Batali, ABC removed the celebrity chef from his role as a host on the network's daytime talk show, The Chew, the website stated. On Dec. 12, co-hosts Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Michael Symon addressed Batali's absence. They read a statement that said, in part, "We want you to know we take these matters very seriously and are committed to a safe work environment. Our commitment to our viewers remains the same: to deliver the entertaining show that you've come to expect." Batali has since apologized—but was criticized for including a recipe at the end of the statement.


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