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Showbiz news: Stephen Amell, 'Empire,' Michael Stipe, 'Sense8'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-15

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Arrow star Stephen Amell has hit back at fans who left homophobic comments on his Facebook page, PinkNews reported. The TV star took time out from filming Arrow in Vancouver to attend the city's Pride parade over the weekend, posting a snap of himself wearing a giant rainbow balloon contraption—and some fans left anti-gay messages. Amell responded, in part, "I had a fantastic weekend in Vancouver with my wife and friends, met some terrific people and more than anything just tried to soak in all the positive energy from people living their best lives. ... If I'm in Vancouver next year I won't just go back, I'll walk in the parade."

Cast and creators of Empire came to TCA to tout the fourth season, which picks up as Lucious Lyon ( Terrence Howard ) makes his first public appearance since being injured in an explosion, Deadline noted. Asked if the show's move to the earlier 7 p.m. CT time slot will affect content, star Terrence Howard joked "No, we get to get off earlier," while co-creator/writer/EP Lee Daniels insisted "Empire is going to be Empire." Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker is going to guest-star in a multi-episode arc, playing "Uncle Eddie," a music icon/hitmaker who gave Lucious his first radio airplay.

Patti Smith, Michael Stipe, Cat Power and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea are among the artists taking part in this year's Pathway to Paris concert, scheduled for Nov. 5 at New York's Carnegie Hall, according to Rolling Stone. The Pathway to Paris: Concert to Fight Climate Change event takes place on the eve of the COP23—the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany—and will also feature speakers including environmentalist Bill McKibben, activist Vandana Shiva as well as Pathway to Paris founders Rebecca Foon and Jesse Paris Smith.

In a video posted Aug. 8—the sensates' collective birthday—Sense8 creator Lana Wachowski as well as many cast and crew members celebrated the Netflix drama's surprise revival for a finale special after its second-season cancellation, EW.com noted. "I think it requires a moment to just take a breath, to appreciate it, to look around and admire the holy s—tness of it all, because what you fans did was quite frankly unbelievable," Wachowski says. "It happened, you did it, it's real." Directors Tom Tykwer and James McTeigue joined in with messages of their own, along with cast members Doona Bae, Jamie Clayton, Tina Desai, Tuppence Middleton, Max Riemelt, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Brian J. Smith, Toby Onwumere, Freema Agyeman, Alfonso Herrera and more.

The television series based on RuPaul's early days as a '80s New York club kid has found a home at Hulu, NewNowNext.com noted. The streaming platform has signed on to develop the half-hour dramedy, tentatively called Queen. RuPaul recently told the New York Post that he was pushing for Willow Smith to play him the fictionalized version of his life. RuPaul will executive-produce Queen along with J.J. Abrams, Ben Stephenson, and World of Wonder's Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Tom Campbell.

Fox has renewed Love Connection for a second season, bringing back the revival of the classic game show, which is currently airing its 15-episode first season, Variety reported. Host Andy Cohen will return as well, and he said, "This show fits like a glove and I can't wait to make more love connections." Fox's Love Connection is based on the original game show that ran from 1983 to 1994.

Lea Salonga ( Miss Saigon ), Alex Newell ( Glee ), Merle Dandridge ( Greenleaf ) and Quentin Earl Darrington ( Cats ) have joined the cast of the Broadway revival of Lynn Ahrens' and Stephen Flaherty's Once on This Island, Playbill noted. The production will begin Broadway previews Nov. 9 in advance of a Dec. 3 opening night at the Circle in the Square Theatre. The musical, which was first produced on Broadway in 1990, follows peasant girl Ti Moune and her star-crossed romance with a young man from the wealthy side of her island, a world ruled by four island gods.

Bisexual actress Anna Paquin ( True Blood ) stars in the new lesbian drama Tell It To The Bees, with English actress Holliday Grainger ( The Borgias ) playing her love interest, NewNowNext.com noted. Based on a novel of the same name, the film follows the two women as their relationship develops in small-town England in the 1950s. Now shooting in Scotland, Tell It To The Bees has several women at the helm, with Annabel Jankel directing a script adapted by Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth, twin sisters who currently have seven other feature film and television projects in the works.

During a live feed, two houseguests on CBS' Big Brother attacked a former contestant who is transgender, referring to her as "a he" and "it," according to NewNowNext.com . Jason Dent and Cody Nickson, currently appearing on Big Brother 19, were in a hot tub with fellow contestants Jessica Graf and Matt Clines when the topic of Season 17 came up. Graf mentioned, Audrey Middleton, the show's first openly trans contestant, sparking a transphobic dialogue between Nickson and Dent. On Twitter, Middleton asked followers to educate the houseguests, not shower them with hate.

Britney Spears had a scare recently when an overzealous fan jumped on stage while she was performing in Las Vegas, Page Six noted. Jesse Webb, 37, was arrested for trespassing by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers. Footage showed Webb rushing onto the stage before he was apprehended by the pop star's security team and backup dancers; Spears then asked a security guard, "What's going on?"

Watching transgender characters on fictional TV shows has the power to influence attitudes toward transgender people and policy issues, according to a press release concerning new research from USC Annenberg. Just published in the peer-reviewed journal Sex Roles, the research further highlights the ways political ideology shapes viewer responses to transgender depictions in entertainment. The researchers surveyed 488 regular viewers of the USA Network series Royal Pains, of whom 391 saw a June 2015 episode featuring a portrayal of a transgender teen, played by trans activist Nicole Maines. The report is at https://hollywoodhealthandsociety.org/new-research-transgender-portrayals-entertainment.

Cynthia Nixon wouldn't address rumors she's eyeing a bid for governor of New York, cryptically telling Page Six at a premiere of her film The Only Living Boy in New York, "I really can't say." However, the former Sex and the City co-star did say what she likes about New York City: "It is all the different kinds of people here from every country, so many different languages and religions, gender identities, and I think that one of the things the film is about is, as New York gets wealthier and wealthier, we are losing our working class."

Singer Aaron Carter has said attempting to explain his bisexuality to his ex-girlfriend Madison Parker didn't go over so well, Page Six noted. "I had to discuss it with my ex-girlfriend, and she didn't really understand it and she didn't want [to]," Carter shared on The Bert Show. "And that was it. So we left it mutual and parted ways. … It was something that I felt was important and that I needed to say." Carter also made news recently for getting emotional during a performance at a gay club in Tampa days after announcing that he is bisexual. Video footage shows Carter visibly tearing up as he addresses his fans.

And just three days after pop singer Aaron Carter came out as bisexual on Twitter, rapper Lil Peep has followed suit, according to NewNowNext.com . the 20-year-old musician tweeted, "Yes, I'm bisexual." Born Gustav Ahr, Peep has amassed millions of views for music videos like "Gym Class," "The Brightside" and "BeamerBoy." His first full-length studio album, Come Over When You're Sober, was released Aug. 11.

Missy Elliott has signed with WME, The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard revealed. ( She was previously without an agency. ) The move marks another significant step in the rap legend's long-awaited comeback. With five platinum albums ( including 2002's double platinum Under Construction ) and one gold under her belt, Elliott ( the best-selling female rapper in Nielsen history ) is currently at work on her seventh studio album. Earlier this year she released Billboard Hot 100-charting single "I'm Better," whose music video has notched more than 22.7 million views on YouTube.

A judge threw out a former Denver radio host's case against Taylor Swift, claiming the pop star could not be held liable for the DJ getting fired, Page Six noted. After U.S. District Judge William Martinez's ruling, Swift smiled and wiped away tears. Also, a jury ruled in favor of Swift in her countersuit against former radio host David Mueller for alleged assault and battery. Swift accused Mueller of groping her at a meet-and-greet event in June 2013; he will be required to pay a symbolic $1 in damages to Swift.

In a related item, as Taylor Swift faced off in court against a former Denver DJ whom she claims assaulted her at a meet-and-greet in 2013, Nelly Furtado spoke out about her own experiences with "radio staff" who she alleges "attempt to cross lines," People.com noted. Furtado tweeted, "Been in several meet n' greets where radio staff attempt to cross lines. Love @taylorswift13 for fighting 4 women's safety in the workplace."

Benjamin Lemke—a popular performer in the mid-2000s for companies like Falcon Studios and Buckshot who once went by the name Benjamin Bradley, and former model for the underwear company Ginch Gonch—is dealing with his second bout of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Queerty reported. Lemke has a large metastatic tumor in his neck that is growing larger and has begun pushing up against his jugular, and he has developed several cavity lung lesions. His partner, Alfred Robles, has started a YouCaring fundraising campaign to help cover Lemke's expenses; it's at https://www.youcaring.com/benjaminlemke-891837.

Gloria Reuben will bring the show "Great Ladies of Motown" to New York City's Feinstein's/54 Below on Sept. 27, Broadway World noted. She will perform songs by the The Supremes, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells and more. Reuben—known for her roles on shows such as ER, Law & Order: SVU and Mr. Robot—starting celebrating women in music with her show LADIES' NIGHT: Great Ladies of Song, which she performed at Feinstein's/54 Below in March 2017, singing songs by k.d. lang, Ella Fitzgerald, Alanis Morisette and Sade.

Music stars Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, Lady Antebellum and Wynonna Judd have been added to the momentous lineup for "All In For The Gambler: Kenny Rogers' Farewell Concert Celebration," an all-star concert event taping at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Wed., Oct. 25, a press release stated. The new additions to the lineup will join previously announced artists Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Little Big Town, Alison Krauss, The Flaming Lips, Idina Menzel, Jamey Johnson and Elle King.

Singers Brandy and Monica took their nearly two-decade rivalry ( that started with the hit "The Boy Is Mine" ) to new heights with dueling birthday tributes to the late pop legend Whitney Houston, Page Six noted. First, Monica posted a simple message alongside a photo of Houston, writing, "Happy Heavenly Birthday Nippy ... You will forever be missed." Next, Brandy posted, "Lord have mercy on my soul!!! Happy Born Day Whitney," and then posted videos of herself covering Houston's hit "Greatest Love of All." Twitter users were quick to slam Brandy for what they viewed as self-centered posts. Brandy didn't take kindly to the criticisms, blaming Monica for the hate.

A recent event saw stars step out for the summer party of fashion brand of the #YSLBeautyClub at The Curtain in London—but two sets of attendees likely not to have been seen chatting were Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Lance Black, and singer Sam Smith, The Daily Mail noted. Last year, following the 88th Academy Awards when Smith won the gong for best song for James Bond track Writing's On The Wall, he and Black became embroiled in a spat over Twitter due to a mistake Smith made. The singer caused controversy when he claimed he was the first openly gay star to win an Oscar; however, Black won an Academy Award himself for Best Original Screenplay in 2009 for Milk.

Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement and investment gave new life into Weight Watchers, is branching out into food branded under her own name, USA Today reported. Winfrey is behind a new line of refrigerated soups and side dishes in conjunction with Kraft Heinz that will come with a clever name: "O, That's Good." Marketed as healthy riffs on comfort food, the inaugural offerings include mashed potatoes with cauliflower mixed in, creamy parmesan pasta with white-bean puree replacing some of the cheese and broccoli cheddar soup infused with butternut squash.

Beyonce and Solange's dad, Mathew Knowles, has sold his Houston-based Music World Entertainment property, where Destiny's Child recorded their early hits—sparking buzz that he's broke and estranged from his daughters, Page Six noted. Knowles sold the property to Group 1 Automotive in September and vacated the property earlier this summer. Knowles has been downsizing his life since he got into enormous credit card debt and was hit with child-support lawsuits by multiple women.

Ahead of its midseason season-five return on Sept. 12, USA Network has renewed its hit unscripted series Chrisley Knows Best for a sixth season and greenlighted eight-episode after show According To Chrisley, which will premiere immediately following the midseason premiere, Deadline noted. In addition, USA has ordered 18 more episodes for the show's fifth season, bringing the season's total to 26, culminating in a two-part Christmas special.

Milla Jovovich is in final talks to join the Marshall-directed reboot of Hellboy as the villainous Blood Queen, according to Deadline. The plan is for her to join Stranger Things' David Harbour ( playing the red-skinned creature originated by Ron Perlman in the Guillermo del Toro films ), and Ian McShane, who's also set to play Professor Broom. Jovovich is no stranger to the sci-fi action genre, having been in the Resident Evil films, The Fifth Element and Ultraviolet.

Ken Downing of Neiman Marcus let Page Six know which woman he'd like to be for one day. He said, "It would have to be Iman. She is ageless, superchic, and she was amazing on and off the runway. She was also married to David Bowie, so how can you go wrong with any of that?" As for what accessories every woman should have, Downing said, "Every woman should have a Chanel bag, and if you can not afford that [then] a great pair of huge statement earrings. Big earrings take 10 years off. You can get a big -earring at any price."

New York City-based singer-songwriter Chris Wills has dropped his debut EP, This Place Ain't For Me, a press release noted. The producer is Grammy-nominated engineer Koby Hass ( who has produced or engineered for Matt McAndrew, Mali Music and Lupe Fiasco's Lasers, Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul Simon and Lady Gaga ). See ChrisWillsMusic.com .

Fun-loving, cartwheeling, iconic designer Betsey Johnson turned 75 last week—and she's well aware that's a milestone, The New York Daily News noted. Despite popular opinion, Johnson said she does not feel ageless. "That's the only thing to tell yourself because ... what are you gonna do?" she said at the Accessories Council Excellence ( ACE ) Awards, where she was honored as a style icon.


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