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Christopher Meloni, award nods and George Clooney
Entertainment news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2011-12-21

This article shared 5984 times since Wed Dec 21, 2011
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Former Law & Order: SVU star Christopher Meloni has officially joined the cast of the HBO show True Blood, according to MSNBC.com . Out executive producer Alan Ball told TV Line that Meloni will play "an ancient, powerful vampire who holds the fate of Bill [played by Stephen Moyer] and Eric [played by Alexander Skarsgard] in his hands." Meanwhile, True Blood star Rutina Wesley may join the cast of The Walking Dead, according to DigitalSpy.com . Wesley, who has played Tara on True Blood, was seemingly killed in the last episode of the show's fourth season.

Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) were among film actors receiving Screen Actors Guild nominations, according to Deadline.com . DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor alongside Brad Pitt, Jean Dujardin, George Clooney and Demain Bichir. Williams will compete in the Best Actress category against Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton. In the area of television, nods went to such actors as Close (Damages), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family). The SAG Awards will be televised Jan. 29, 2012 from Los Angeles.

And the awards keep coming, as the nominations for the 69th Annual Golden Globes have been revealed. Ryan Gosling received two nods, for Ides of March and Crazy, Stupid, Love. Leonardo DiCaprio received a nod for J. Edgar while Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Tilda Swinton and Glenn Close will battle it out for Best Actress—Drama. Sir Elton John, Madonna, Mary J. Blige and Glenn Close (!) were among those receiving nominations for Best Original Song—Motion Picture. In television, actors such as Tina Fey, Thomas Jane (Hung) and Alec Baldwin received nods. The ceremony will take place Jan. 15, with Ricky Gervais hosting once again after 2011's controversial stint.

George Clooney will star in the West Coast premiere of 8, a play that chronicles the Prop 8 trial, according to a press release from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER). Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, based 8 on the actual words of the trial transcripts. The premiere, which will benefit AFER, will take place at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Singer Tony Bennett's nude charcoal drawing of Lady Gaga went up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to both musicians' charities, Reuters reported. The drawing is a charcoal sketch on watercolor paper, and it shows Gaga reclining nude, signed by "Benedetto." Bennett, 85, recorded "The Lady is a Tramp" with Gaga earlier this year for his album, Duets II.

Get ready to see and hear a lot of Madonna in the next few months. According to Deadline.com, Interscope Records is releasing her new CD in late March—her first album in five years. Also, "Gimme All Your Luvin'," the first single, is coming out the last week in January, just prior to her upcoming Super Bowl halftime appearance Feb. 5. In addition, her upcoming Weinstein Company film, W.E., is now scheduled for a wide release Feb. 3.

Jane Fonda will join Aaron Sorkin's upcoming HBO drama series in a recurring role, Deadline.com reported. The show, set behind the scenes at a fictional cable-news network, features such actors as Jeff Daniels, Dev Patel, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill and Sam Waterston. Fonda will portray Leona Lansing, the CEO of the network's parent company—basically being a female version of one of her ex-husbands, Ted Turner.

Acclaimed Scottish author Denise Mina will write graphic novels based on Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels, Advocate.com reported. Mina has some changes in mind for her version of the series, which features the bisexual character Lisbeth Salander. Mina told the Guardian, "Lisbeth Salander is just a brilliant character. She is the main event for me. But she is a survivor of sexual abuse and I think every so often [Larsson] doesn't realise how frightened she is most of the time. I wanted to put those bits in."

On the daytime show The Talk, actress Melissa Gilbert said she "always kind of knew" sister Sara—a co-host on the show—was lesbian, according to Examiner.com . Co-host Sharon Osbourne asked Melissa the question, embarrassing Sara. Melissa responded, "I took her to dinner when she was in her teens and I sat her down and I gave her this long speech about how much I love you and it doesn't matter and you're my darling and blah blah blah and you can tell me anything." She then said Sara called her years later: "You know, what if I just said that I'm gay—and I went, 'And?'"

The Transgender Law Center, San Francisco LGBT Community Center and the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative (TEEI) say promotions for new show Work It, scheduled to premiere Jan. 3 on ABC, present unrealistic gender norms and stereotypes about women in the workplace, according to a press release. Work It is about "two unrepentant 'guy's guys' who, unable to find work, dress as women to get jobs as pharmaceutical reps." Masen Davis, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said, "The premise of this show—that it is easier to get a job if you present as a woman—is absurd."

Voters have named Lady Gaga the "Most Overrated Act" in a Billboard Year in Music poll, Digital Spy reported. The "You and I" singer took 30 percent of the votes, edging Britney Spears (25 percent) and Justin Bieber (21 percent). However, she also topped the "Best Fashion" list, beating Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Gaga, 25, recently topped Forbes magazine's list of the highest-earning women in music for 2011.

Comedian Louis C.K. said the gay community lost an opportunity to address Tracy Morgan's anti-gay rant in a positive way, according to ABC News. Morgan told a joke in which he said if his son talked to him in an effeminate voice, he would "stab that little (n word) in the throat," with him apologizing after much public outrage. "To me that joke is Tracy trying to figure it out, 'my sons gay now, ok, but he better not talk like that cause I can't it. I don't know how to deal with it,'" C.K. said, adding, "It could have been a starting point of a conversation that might have actually made a difference in how people feel about homophobia."

Original Girl with a Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace will be in Brian DePalma's Passion, a reimagining of the French psychosexual drama Love Crime, which co-starred Kristen Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, according to SheWired.com . Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows co-star Rachel McAdams may also co-star in Passion. The original featured palpable sexual tension between the female characters.

The NFL's Denver Broncos and quarterback Tim Tebow may not be participating in the "It Gets Better" campaign anytime soon, according to the Huffington Post. Thousands of people signed a Change.org petition asking the Broncos to become the first NFL team to join the project. Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth did not provide specifics about the project but said, "The Denver Broncos are committed to tolerance, acceptance and respect for all in the community." Tebow made the controversial decision to star in a Super Bowl ad in early 2011 for the anti-gay organization Focus on the Family.

Etta James' manager said the iconic singer is close to death, according to USA Today. Manager Lupe De Leon told Entertainment Weekly that James—best known for the classic "At Last"—is "in the final stages of leukemia. She has also been diagnosed with dementia and hepatitis C. She's in a home right now and mostly sleeps." Beyonce portrayed James in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records.

Lady Gaga was the top-earning woman in music, according to Forbes. The "Paparazzi" singer earned $90 million, thanks to album sales, endorsements and a profitable world tour. Her total was more than the earnings of No. 2 Taylor Swift ($45 million) and No. 3 Katy Perry ($44 million) combined. The totals are for all pretax income earned from May 2010 to May 2011, before subtracting agent and manager fees.

Gaga is also the Associated Press entertainer of the year, according to KABC. The award reflects who editors and broadcasters think was the most influential person in entertainment and culture in 2011. Gaga edged the late Apple founder Steve Jobs by only three votes; others who received votes ranged from Adele to Charlie Sheen.

British-American writer Christopher Hitchens—the critic, intellectual, Vanity Fair essayist, atheist and self-defined "conservative Marxist"—died at 62 at a Texas hospital, USA Today reported. He died of pneumonia, a complication of esophageal cancer. Hitchens, known for being a womanizer, wrote in his autobiography that he has sexual relations with men while at Oxford, according to RationalApe.com .

Superstar singer Janet Jackson is now a rep for the food-delivery system Nutrisystem, USA Today noted. "I'm not viewing this as a diet," she said. "I'm not putting a number on it." Jackson's weight has gone up and down for more than two decades, and she said her obsession with being slim started in childhood. Mariah Carey is Jenny Craig's most recent ambassador, while Jennifer Hudson has appeared in Weight Watchers ads.

Mark Goldweber, a leading classical dancer with Chicago's Joffrey Ballet in the 1970s and '80s, died on Dec. 9 of lymphoma in Salt Lake City at 53, according to the New York Times. Most recently, he was ballet master at Ballet West and director of Ballet West II in Salt Lake City. Goldweber won much acclaim as the Blue Skater in Frederick Ashton's ballet "Patineurs" while he was with the Joffrey.

Ellen DeGeneres has purchased Brad Pitt's Malibu estate for $12 million, according to People.com . The property consists of two separate houses; overlooks the Pacific Ocean; and has private beach access, a tennis court and lush gardens. DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi put their own home up for $49 million, and are downsizing from 15,000 to 4,000 square feet.

Writer Nicolas Sparks, who penned The Notebook, said on CBS' The Early Show that there will be a Broadway production based on the romance novel that became a movie in 2004, according to the New York Daily News. when asked who would play the lead roles in the musical, Sparks said, "Gosh, I don't know! Someone who can sing!" Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams starred in the film version.

Tony Award winner Lillias White joined the New York City Gay Men's Chorus Dec. 18 for their annual holiday concerts, according to Playbill.com . The concerts, entitled "Holiday House of Love," were held at The Town Hall, and also featured Bishop Gene Robinson. White won the award for her role The Life; she also has been in Fela!, Dreamgirls, Chicago and Cats, among other productions.

George Michael will reportedly be home from a Vienna, Austria, hospital in time for Christmas, according to Digital Spy. The "Careless Whisper" singer was hospitalized with pneumonia, forcing him to cancel his "Symphoica" tour in the United Kingdom. His boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, tweeted, "Christmas at home. I cannot stop smiling today, the best day ever. He is getting better and better. Nothing to worry about, happy days."

Those clamoring for a reunion of the cast of the original TV series Beverly Hills 90210, they will be disappointed. According to Digital Spy, Jason Priestley (who played Brandon Walsh for nine seasons) said that a new episode with castmates such as Luke Perry and Tori Spelling isn't likely. He said, "I don't think a reunion of that show would ever happen; we've all moved on with our careers" before joking, "It would be almost impossible to get us all in the same place for long enough!"

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced a new anti-bullying PSA featuring WWE Superstars and Divas Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Sheamus and Kofi Kingston, according to a press release. The "Amplify Your Voice" PSA, produced with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), debuted Dec. 13 on the USA Network as part of the WWE "Tribute to the Troops" special. The new PSA can be seen at http://www.glaad.org/amplifyyourvoice.

Tina and Mathew Knowles, the parents of superstar Beyonce, have officially divorced after being married 31 years, according to the Daily Mail. The couple separated two years ago after it turned out that Mathew—his daughter's now-former manager—had fathered a love child. In court documents, Tina, 57, claimed the marriage was "insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told TMZ he expects there to be an openly gay NBA player within the next three to five years, according to the Huffington Post. Cuban said, "I think there'll be guys who'll come out of the closet and continue to play in the NBA and be accepted. ... [It will be] more of a media sensation ... than a player issue." The Mavericks are the current NBA champions, having defeated the Miami Heat in last season's finals.

The National, Melissa Manchester and Mary J. Blige are among those now on the short list for the original song Oscar, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Thirty-nine tunes were selected in all, and now move on to the next elimination round. Manchester's "Rainbird" was in the indie Dirty Girl, and Blige's "The Living Proof" was heard in The Help. Three songs from The Muppets also made the list. The Oscar nominations will be announced Jan. 24.

NYU professor Jose Angel Santana claims in a lawsuit against the school that he was fired after giving actor James Franco a "D" for skipping classes, according to the New York Post. Santana said he gave the 127 Hours star the bad grade because he missed 12 of his 14 "Directing the Actor II" classes while pursuing a master's in fine arts. Santana also suggested that the good grades Franco received were payback for hiring one of his other professors, Jay Anania.

Kelly Osbourne fractured her left hand in three places after falling out of a hotel bed, the New York Post reported. "I must be the most accident prone/stupid person in the world I fell out my bed while sleeping last night & fractured my hand in 3 places," Osbourne tweeted. "I'm staying in a hotel and the bed is so tall I must have dropped about 4 1/2 feet!" She recently cracked her head while dancing in Miami.

Chaz Bono has called off his engagement to Jennifer Elia, his girlfriend of six years, the New York Post reported. "[They] are no longer a couple," Bono's rep tells TMZ. "They leave this relationship with great love, respect and affection toward one another. No further amplification will be forthcoming and they ask that you respect their privacy at this time." Bono's proposal was featured in the OWN documentary Being Chaz.

The Human Rights Campaign and the Tennessee Equality Project have called on all hospitals to review their policies and practices related to hospital visitation, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. The development occurred after Rolling Hills Hospital in Franklin, Tenn., reportedly denied multiple requests by Val Burke to visit her partner, a patient in the hospital's residential facility. The release added, "While the incident at Rolling Hills Hospital has been resolved, it serves as a reminder of the importance of hospital visitation rights for LGBT Americans."

Celebrities joined photographer Adam Bouska on the red carpet in support of The NOH8 Campaign 3rd Annual Anniversary Celebration supporting gay and lesbian causes at House of Blues in West Hollywood, according to a press release. Celebs included singers Erica Chase and LeAnn Rimes, guitarist Dave Navarro, actor James Corp, Dancing with the Stars' Louis van Amstel and NCIS actress Pauley Perrette.

In a letter to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, actors such as Ryan Gosling, Zooey Deschanel, Steve-O and Alicia Silverstone asked the company to adopt stricter animal-welfare policies, according to the Chicago Tribune. The development happened after McDonald's dropped egg supplier Sparboe Farms over reports of animal cruelty. In part, the letter wants the corporation's U.S. restaurants to match the "100-percent cage-free purchasing policy in Europe."


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