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Showbiz news: Todrick Hall, Ellen Page, Jake Gyllenhaal, immigration projects
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-13

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Dancer/YouTube personality Todrick Hall—who appeared in Taylor Swift's "Look What Your Made Me Do" video—has spoken out after he was criticized for taking part, The Independent reported. Hall was featured as one of the dancers in the clip, and found that he was instantly trolled as a "sellout." Hall, who is openly gay, claims he was accused of betraying both the black and LGBTQ communities just for associating with Swift. Beyonce fans were among those apparently sending him abuse, despite the fact that he had appeared in two videos by the Lemonade artist, because many claimed Swift's video was a copy of the visuals for Beyonce's song "Formation."

Actresses and friends Ellen Page and Kate Mara recently talked about the film My Days of Mercy—a love story between two women who are opposite sides of the death penalty debate, Variety reported. "It was definitely heavy," Page told Variety. "We didn't have that many days and we were sprinting every day, but I feel like whenever I'm around Kate, she's able to find the lightness and the joy and the fun. She was a comfort to me." The film follows Lucy ( Page ), whose father is on death row—and she meets Mercy ( Mara ), an attorney and the daughter of a police officer whose partner was killed by a man who will be executed. Despite their differences of belief, they are drawn together.

Jake Gyllenhaal will receive the Golden Eye Award at this year's Zurich Film Festival, Page Six noted. The Oscar-nominated actor will be at the festival for a gala screening of his film Stronger, which is about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, based on the New York Times bestseller by Patty Bauman and Bret Witter. Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman in the movie, who lost both legs in the terrorist attack.

Jill Soloway is stepping down as showrunner on the upcoming fifth season of the Amazon series Transparent, and will be succeeded by Jill Gordon, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed. Soloway will continue to write, direct and executive-produce the comedy. However, the news comes as the Emmy winner has begun to split her time between several projects, including the Amazon comedy I Love Dick, which is awaiting word on a second season. Soloway renewed her overall deal with Amazon Studios, which produces both Transparent and I Love Dick, in May.

The Big 4 networks ( ABC, NBC, CBS and the CW ) are all developing multiple projects that focus on immigrants in one form or another, Variety noted. For instance, CBS is developing the comedy Welcome to Maine, which follows a ninth-generation Maine family and a recent immigrant and his daughter. Meanwhile, Gina Rodriguez has set up Latino-led series at CBS and The CW. At CBS, the drama Have Mercy centers around a Latina doctor who is unable to practice when she immigrates to Miami; at the CW, the dramedy Illegal follows a 16-year-old U.S. high school student named Rafael who discovers he is undocumented.

Beyonce returned to her hometown of Houston to provide comfort to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, telling them "This is a celebration of survival," Page Six noted. Accompanied by her mother, daughter Blue Ivy and former Destiny's Child bandmate Michelle Williams, Beyonce visited h evacuees at the St. John's Church, where she grew up singing. Among the other celebrities who visited evacuees at shelters Sept. 8 were Janet Jackson, comedian Kevin Hart and actress Jennifer Garner.

Michael Friedman—a composer and lyricist whose musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson played on Broadway in 2010—died Sept. 9 at age 41 of complications from HIV/AIDS, according to TheWrap. In addition, Friedman served as artistic director of Encores! Off-Center at New York City Center and was co-founder of The Civilians theater company.

Netflix has landed Ratched—a new drama series from Ryan Murphy, with Sarah Paulson set to star as a younger version of the diabolical Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Deadline reported. Production on the drama, from Fox 21 TV Studios, is slated to begin sometime in mid-2018, with Murphy directing the opening episode, as he does on all of his series.

Bisexual The Walking Dead star Daniel Newman is responding to those who said he came out as gay earlier this year, according to Queerty. Speaking to the Advocate, Newman said, "People magazine even said that I was gay. I had just told the reporter about being bisexual and having girlfriends and things like that. ... She's like, 'Oh, cool. It's awesome you came out as gay.'" Newman let the comment slide at the time, but wishes he would have corrected her.

GLSEN will honor actress and activist Zendaya with the Gamechanger Award at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards, to be held on Friday, Oct. 20, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a press release noted. The release read, "Zendaya will receive the award for her activism and for inspiring young people around the world. She utilizes her platform to connect with millions every day, taking a stand for women, people of color, and LGBTQ people whose rights are under attack." Zendaya will join previously announced honorees Kerry Washington and Bruce Bozzi.

Brian Austin Green has a message for anyone who has a problem with his son Noah Shannon wearing dresses: "I don't care," People.com reported. The Beverly Hills, 90210 alum ( who has three children with actress Megan Fox ) spoke out in a series of candid interviews with Hollywood Pipeline's Straight from the Source in August, opening up about the way his eldest son's chooses to express himself. "My son, he's 4," Green explained. "I've heard from some people that they don't agree with him wearing dresses. To them I say, I don't care. He's 4 and if he wants to wear it then he wears it."

RuPaul was among those who won at the Creative Emmys on Sept. 9, snagging the award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program, a press release noted. The RuPaul's Drag Race host said, "I am beyond grateful to the Television Academy for giving love to our show again this year. Providing an international platform for 113 outrageous, courageous and talented queens has been the greatest reward of all. None of this would be possible it weren't for the incredible cast and crew of RuPaul's Drag Race, and my partners at World of Wonder and VH1."

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami—a documentary about singer/model Jones—has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the movie, British documentary maker Sophie Fiennes follows the veteran art-pop diva around the globe. Part of the publication's review reads, "Opting for a fly-on-the-wall travelogue approach punctuated by lavishly staged musical numbers, Fiennes rejects rock-doc conventions like talking heads, archive footage and linear narrative. [This] is commendably bold on one level, but may leave some viewers scratching their heads and craving a little more context."

Following the success of his debut album, In The Lonely Hour, Sam Smith has revealed his new single, "Too Good At Goodbyes," out now via Capitol Records worldwide, a press release noted. "Too Good At Goodbyes" is the first new music from Smith since the release of his Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning "Writing's on the Wall," the James Bond theme song for Spectre.

Musician ILOVEMAKONNEN is back to share a new single and video ( "Love," featuring Rae Sremmurd ), according to a press release. The track is available across all digital platforms now via Warner Bros. Records. Earlier this year, he used social media to announce that he is gay, Page Six noted. In part, he wrote, "since y'all love breaking news, here's some old news to break, I'm gay. And now I've told u about my life, maybe u can go life [sic] yours." The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxo3xSRctb4&feature=youtu.be.

Out singer Troye Sivan has joined the cast of Boy Erased—a film adaptation of a memoir about a teenager's time in a harmful "gay conversion" program, QNews reported. Sivan will star alongside fellow Australian actors Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in the film, which will be directed by Australian actor-director Joel Egerton. The film will tell the story of Jared ( played by Manchester by the Sea actor Lucas Hedges ), the son of a pastor in a small American town. When Jared is outed to his conservative parents ( played by Kidman and Crowe ) at age 19, he's forced to undergo harmful, church-supported "gay conversion" therapy program or face being disowned by his family.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King and Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone—who plays King in Battle of the Sexes, which will be released nationwide Sept. 29 —congratulated U.S. Open women's champion Sloane Stephens at, fittingly, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, according to Tennis.com . Stephens defeated fellow American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 for the championship, becoming the first U.S. woman besides Serena and Venus Williams to win a Grand Slam singles title since Jennifer Capriati at the 2002 Australian Open.

The third season of Narcos recently debuted on Netflix—and the premiere of the gritty drug-cartel drama contained a steamy scene between two men, NewNowNext.com noted. In the first episode of the new season, feared Cali Cartel don Helmer "Pacho" Herrera ( Alberto Ammann ) entered a crowded club seeking violence, but instead grabbed a man for an erotic tango on the dance floor in front of the other patrons. The first two seasons of Narcos focused on Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but in the new season more screen time has been devoted to Pacho.

Openly gay actor Andrew Rannells and award-winning actor Don Cheadle will topline Ball Street, a new comedy series that Showtime has ordered, according to a press release. The show is set in 1987, when Black Monday—the worst stock market crash in the history of Wall Street—occurred. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will direct and executiv- produce the pilot.

The Doctor Who spinoff Class won't be getting a second semester, as the BBC announced that the show would be canceled after just one season, TheWrap reported. The show received generally positive reviews from critics but failed to attract an audience. Lead writer Patrick Ness had already announced on Twitter that he wasn't going to be writing any more episodes.

Mavis Staples has, for the third time, joined forces with songwriter-producer Jeff Tweedy for a new album entitled If All I Was Was Black, out Nov. 17, according to a press release. Staples will join Bob Dylan for a series of North American live dates beginning in October. Staples and Tweedy's first partnership in 2010, You Are Not Alone, won a Grammy Award for Best Americana album.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appeared on The View with his daughter, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as they faced tough questions about how they can defend President Donald Trump, The Daily Beast noted. Later, Huckabee told Fox Business about the appearance, "Frankly, it juxtaposes our view and spirit versus theirs, which is full of anger and irrational hatred towards the president." "We really worked hard to do a fair interview," Goldberg replied on The View the following day. "And I resent that you would do that. ... Why are we 'irrational?' We asked you questions and told you how we felt."

The first posthumous single from George Michael is a remake of his 1990 B-side "Fantasy," according to Billboard. Given a funky makeover by famed producer and Chic leader Nile Rodgers, "Fantasy" is dance pop, complete with one of Rodgers' signature choppy guitar riffs, some distorted robot-sounding backing vocals and a bass line. Reacting to fans' anxiousness about the song before its release, Rodgers tweeted, "You SHOULD have mixed feelings. No one's heart was dragged through emotional ambiguity more than mine."

The public broadcasting mainstay PBS is continuing to solidify its presence as a digital media player, launching a YouTube channel in collaboration with Independent Lens, an Emmy-winning indie documentary series, TheWrap reported. The new channel, Indie Lens Storycast, debuted Sept. 12 with its first doc, Iron Maidens, highlighting an all-girls competitive robotics team from Bronx Science High School.

Country-music singer Jo Dee Messina revealed to fans in a touching Facebook post that she was diagnosed with cancer, Page Six reported. The "Because You Love Me" singer's team, who penned the post on her behalf, did not reveal the specifics of the disease. Other Messina hits include "Heads Carolina, Tails California," "Stand Beside Me" and "Lesson in Leavin'" ( a remake of a Dottie West hit ).

Atlantic Records has announced the label debut album from multiple Grammy-winning singe/songwriter Kelly Clarkson, with Meaning of Life coming out Friday, Oct. 27, according to a press release. The album is available for pre-order, accompanied by instant grat downloads of "Move You" and the album's first single, "Love So Soft." The American Idol alum has a slew of number-one Billboard singles as well as total worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 36 million singles.

Erasure announced a brand-new single, "Just A Little Love," out digitally on Oct. 6, a press release noted. The digital EP will include remixes from Bright Light Bright Light—who will be joining Vince and Andy as the special guest on all of Erasure's 2018 UK and European tour dates—Dave Ball ( Soft Cell, The Grid ), Barry Harris ( Thunderpuss ) and 7th Heaven. Andy Bell and Vince Clarke released their latest album, World Be Gone, earlier this summer.

HBO's Veep is coming to an end, Deadline noted. The multi-Emmy-winning series will wrap its run with its upcoming seventh season in 2018, which will be its last. Winner of the past two Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series—and vying for a third this month—Veep stars Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, the former vice president and ( briefly ) president, who is struggling to navigate uncharted political territory. The series has been nominated six years in a row for the outstanding comedy series Emmy, winning for its fourth and fifth seasons.

Caitlyn Jenner, appearing on Good Morning Britain, confirmed that Kris Jenner has made good on her claim to not speak to her, and Caitlyn hasn't heard from Kim Kardashian since publishing the book, either, according to LGBTQ Nation. "Since the book came out, I never talked to Kris again," Jenner said. "Kim I haven't talked to in six, nine months, whatever it is." However, Caitlyn has called children Kendall and Kylie, in particular, "nothing but supportive, and from that standpoint it's been great."

A re-imagining of Steven J. Cannell's 1981 cult classic The Greatest American Hero is flying back to development with a new creative team, a big new commitment and a big twist, Deadline noetd.

Billy Magnussen, a white actor, has been cast to play a prince in Disney's upcoming Aladdin live-action remake—but many social media users criticized the move, accusing the studio giant of "whitewashing" the film's plot, according to Page Six. Magnussen, who played a prince in Disney's Into the Woods, was slated to play Prince Anders, who was not a character in the 1992 animated version. The Telegraph reported that Magnussen's character would be Aladdin's rival to winning over Princess Jasmine's heart.

Kanye West may have had a nervous breakdown, but he has to prove it if he wants the money back from his canceled tour, The New York Daily News reported. In a countersuit filed by a syndicate for his insurance company Lloyd's of London, documents alleged that West's team is refusing to provide the necessary proof surrounding his medical history in order to move forward with payment, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Lloyd's cites certain clauses in the insurance policy, which focus on pre-existing psychological conditions, alcohol and illegal drug use, and nonprescription use of prescription drugs.

The U.S. version of Big Brother—the one of the world's most popular reality-competition shows—is joining its international cousins by having celebrities as residents on the show, TheWrap reported. Set to air this winter, the special edition of the long-running show will see multiple episodes broadcast per week in a concentrated run. Big Brother host Julie Chen will also serve as host for the celebrity edition of the show, which will include Head of Household and Power of Veto competitions, as well as live evictions. ( Celebrities have not been announced. ) The show will appear in addition to the upcoming 20th season that is set to air next summer.

Jane Seymour ( Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman ) has been tapped for the plum co-lead role on Pop TV's new half-hour comedy Let's Get Physical, a modern-day story set in the world of aerobics that takes its comedy cue from the '80s, Deadline reported. Seymour will play one of four leads on the project, which recently received a series order, alongside Matt Jones, Chris Diamantopoulos and AnnaLynne McCord, The comedy, from Pop and Entertainment One, is slated to begin production this month in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a 2018 premiere.

Usher has responded for the first time to accusations he exposed sex partners to genital herpes, filing a legal document containing a broad denial without actually specifying whether he has or had the sexually transmitted disease, according to USA Today. The singer's attorneys filed an answer to a lawsuit brought last month in Los Angeles Superior Court by Quantasia Sharpton as well as an unnamed man and unnamed woman who claim to have been Usher's sexual partners.

Dancing with the Stars has announced the celebrities competing in its 25th cycle, according to an ABC press release. Some of the stars include Nick Lachey and actress wife Vanessa Lachey, Sasha Pieterse ( Pretty Little Liars ), singer Debbie Gibson, ex-football player Terrell Owens, Drew Scott ( Property Brothers ) and Barbara Corcoran ( Shark Tank ). Additionally, ABC has started the first-ever official Dancing with the Stars Fantasy League on ABC.com/dfl; the game allows players to predict which couple will win the season and take home the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.

Showtime is picking up its drama series I'm Dying Up Here for a second season, according to a press release. Season one starred Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Michael Angarano, Clark Duke and Stephen Guarino, among others. Created and executive-produced by Dave Flebotte and executive produced by Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, Michael Aguilar and Christina Wayne, the series will go back into production in the fall, with 10 episodes premiering in 2018.

Three of TMZ boss Harvey Levin's top employees are now working for a rival site, according to Page Six. Levin's longtime No. 2, Mike Walters, quit to start his own operation. Walters announced he's launched TheBlast.com, and some TMZ alums—including former top-tier staff Gary Trock and Daniel Goldblatt—are reportedly manning Walters' new site.

A utility task vehicle crushed Ryan Phillippe's leg during a family outing in July as the actor attempted to stop the vehicle from barreling into a crowd, People.com noted. The cause of Phillippe's injury was shrouded in mystery after the Shooter actor shared social-media photos of himself in a hospital bed with a cast on his leg back in July. The father of three gave a health update to fans on Instagram, with a shirtless photo that was captioned, "Gettin bak [sic] in fightin' shape — war ready."


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