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Entertainment: Darren Criss; Kelly Clarkson; chef Art Smith; Tom Ford
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 7378 times since Tue Feb 24, 2015
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Glee star Darren Criss is set to replace John Cameron Mitchell in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, according to . Mitchell is temporarily stepping out from the show to recover from a knee surgery, but is expected back late in February. After Mitchell leaves the show for good, though, Criss will step into those iconic heels and wig for a 12-week run starting April 29. Criss will be the fifth actor to take on the role after Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall and Mitchell.

On the Feb. 20 episode of Glee, Kurt ( Chris Colfer ) and Blaine ( Darren Criss ) had broken off their engagement before the beginning of the sixth and final season of the show—but were convinced to exchange vows by couple Brittany and Santana as well as Coach Sue Sylvester, resulting in a double same-sex wedding ceremony, according to People. One thing the two actors aren't so thrilled about is the Brangelina-esque name of their on-screen relationship: Klaine. "Klaine sounds like a country in Europe that you would rather not go to—you know, that you'd rather skip over," Colfer joked.

Despite her success, singer Kelly Clarkson said it's difficult to find people to work with her, The Huffington Post noted. "I honestly would collaborate with a lot of people, but everyone usually says no," the three-time Grammy-winning singer told BBC Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw. "I'm not kidding you. I have legitimately asked several people that I'm not going to call out, and that's cool, but I don't know." Clarkson says she doesn't want to work with "crap people" and she's been very critical in the past of other artists.

Chicago-based celebrity chef Art Smith threw a free wedding Feb. 21 at the 101 Gay Weddings event in Miami, the Miami New Times noted. The grand event ( which took place at the James Royal Palm Hotel ) was a part of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The Food Network's Ted Allen co-hosted the ceremony and reception.

Hollywood's biggest stars came out for Tom Ford's recent autumn/winter 2015 womenswear show—the first time the designer staged a show in Los Angeles, according to E! Online. The guest list included Beyonce, Jay Z, Miley Cyrus, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon, Neil Patrick Harris, John Legend, Ryan Murphy, Elton John, Sofia Vergara, Joe Manganiello and Vogue editrix Anna Wintour.

Speaking of Ford, he revealed to Women's Wear Daily that he's working on his second film, The Fashion Spot noted. Ford just finished writing the screenplay in September; it's based off a little-known novel he declined to reveal. Tom Ford's first directorial effort, 2009's A Single Man, starred Colin Firth as an English professor in the 1960s who is unable to deal with his boyfriend's death.

Lee Daniels, co-creator of the hit Fox show Empire, opened up about how test audiences and focus groups reacted to the scene where the show's gay character had a same-sex kiss, EDGE Boston reported. In a video interview with Daily Xtra, the openly gay director said test audiences disapproved of the kiss. "They're at a 10 [the highest score possible for the audience] until the two men kiss," Daniels said. "So at the end the questioner asks, 'Why is it a zero when two men kiss?' And you knew that the hundred people in the room ... didn't want to admit to their homophobia so they just sort of look at the floor."

Soap-opera actor Freddie Smith has been sentenced to two years' probation and had his driver's license suspended for a year after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a car crash that seriously injured his girlfriend, Page Six reported. Smith—who portrays gay character Sonny Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives—lost control of his vehicle Oct. 7 in Ashtabula County in northeast Ohio. He pled guilty in December to felony vehicular assault and misdemeanor driving under the influence. Smith must also pay nearly $1,400 in fines, attend a driver's intervention program, and speak at every Ashtabula County high school about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Legendary singer-actress Cher, 68, took to Twitter to express her frustrations with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has said he won't veto the bill that bars individual cities and counties from sanctioning LGBT anti-discrimination laws, according to The Huffington Post. The Arkansas House of Representatives voted 57-20 in favor of the bill on Feb. 13, and it will become law the week of Feb. 23 since Hutchinson has remained mum. Cher has been openly supportive of her transgender son, Chaz Bono, noting, "Most important to me is that he is very happy. That's what I care about the most."

Jason Biggs will not be returning for season three of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, Variety noted. Biggs has played series regular Larry Bloom, the ex-fiance of Piper ( Taylor Schilling ), since the start of "Orange" in 2013. "They're not focusing on Larry at the moment," Biggs told the New York Daily News. "Larry will not be in season three. But there's always a possibility he can come back." The show is set to premiere its third season in June.

Melissa Rivers has signed on with Entertainment Tonight, TheWrap reported. The 47-year-old TV personality and producer will conduct a series of interviews for the daily syndicated news show. Her first sit down was with Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris, in an interview that aired Feb. 19. Entertainment Tonight is currently in its 34th season.

This year's Oscars pulled in 36.6 million total viewers—6.4 million fewer from 2014's 10-year high, TheWrap noted. Neil Patrick Harris hosted the broadcast as Birdman took Best Picture. In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres hosted the hit show when 12 Years a Slave scored the night's top trophy.

GLAAD announced it will honor writer, producer, director and philanthropist Roland Emmerich at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on March 21, according to a press release. Channing Tatum will present the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to Emmerich. Tatum starred in the Emmerich film White House Down and will next be seen starring in Magic Mike XXL, The Hateful Eight and Hail, Caesar. Emmerich will receive GLAAD's Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality.

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is set to play social and political activist Gloria Steinem in Ms., a miniseries co-starring Kathy Najimy that is currently in development at HBO, TheWrap reported. Steinem will serve as a consultant on the project, which Bruce Cohen ( Silver Linings Playbook ) is executive-producing with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, as well as Tomei and Najimy. The miniseries will examine the creation of Ms. magazine in 1971 through the eyes of both the women who founded and ran it, and those whose lives it changed during the early days of the women's movement.

The band Pussy Riot dropped two videos for its first English-language song, "I Can't Breathe"—a tribute to Staten Island resident Eric Garner and the words he said 11 times before he died in July 2014 that went on to inspire a rallying cry, Entertainment Weekly noted. The first, shot by Max Pozdorovkin at the scene of Garner's death, features images of New York City cops as well as members of Garner's family, community, and protesters. The second turns its attention back to Pussy Riot's home, finding two of its members buried alive in Russian riot police uniforms.

Openly gay personality Terry Sweeney was nowhere to be seen during NBC's recent Saturday Night Live 40th-anniversary special, according to Gay Star News. Sirius XM Radio talk show host Frank DeCaro posted, "Leaving Terry Sweeney—the only openly gay male cast member in the forty-year history of Saturday Night Live—out of the anniversary special doesn't sit well with me." Sweeney, now 64, impersonated Nancy Reagan, Joan Collins and Diana Ross, among others. Nora Dunn, Dennis Miller, Mary Gross and Gilbert Gottfried were among some of the other cast members omitted from the event, noted.

MSNBC's daytime changes continued with the cancellation of Ronan Farrow Daily, TheWrap reported. Farrow's program was mired with poor ratings since its premiere one year ago; he will now become a special correspondent for the network. ( Farrow—the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow—has admitted that he's dated men and women in the past, but does not consider himself gay, straight or bisexual, The Daily Mail has noted. ) In the places of shows by Farrow and Joy Reid, the network has arranged for out gay correspondent Thomas Roberts to anchor a new daily two-hour block of news programming at 1-3 p.m. Roberts will quit his gig anchoring Way Too Early, the 5:30 a.m. show he started a year ago that is on before Morning Joe.

Los Angeles-based street artist Plastic Jesus created a life-sized golden Oscar statue that appeared next to Elvis Presley's star on Hollywood Boulevard. However, rather than the normal pose millions of movie fans are used to seeing, this statue was crouched on all fours, snorting a line of cocaine, according to Page Six. The artist later removed the piece following reported complaints.

Michael Sam is set to compete in a different area: dancing. TMZ has reported that Sam will be participating on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, Yahoo! Sports noted. Sam, who announced to the world a little more than a year ago that he's gay, is not currently on an NFL roster. The free-agent defensive end has been out of work since being released by the Dallas Cowboys from their practice squad last season. The show is set to start filming its 20th season on March 16. In addition, Sam has said he'd like to participate in the NFL's first-ever veterans combine, which takes place on March 22.

As for Dancing with the Stars, the whole cast has been announced, ABC News reported. Television icon Suzanne Somers, music great Patti LaBelle, football star Michael Sam and Olympian Nastia Liukin are among the stars getting ready to rhumba and samba on the dance floor during season 20. "Shark Tank" mogul Robert Herjavec, "Hunger Games" actress Willow Shields, artist-actress Rumer Willis, "Party Rock Anthem" singer Redfoo, disabled U.S. vet Noah Galloway, model Charlotte McKinney and R5 singer-songwriter Riker Lynch will also be vying for the trophy this season.

Rachel Potter—best known for her appearances on Broadway in The Addams Family and Evita, as well as being on The X-Factor—is gearing up to release her new album, Not So Black And White, The Huffington Post noted. The country-music album, due out March 3, includes "Jesus and Jezebel," a song about struggling to understand the true meaning of love while standing in the shadow of the dark judgments that people can make in the name of religion. "I grew up in a Baptist church and was always taught that Jesus loves everyone equally," Potter emailed. "So, as I got older and saw different people being outcast for their 'controversial' lifestyles, including my best friend who came out to me when we were 18, I always found it hard to understand."

The U.S. Postal Service will honor Maya Angelou—the late author, poet, actress and champion of equality—with a Forever Stamp, according to a press release. "Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word," said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. "Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture." The Postal Service will preview the stamp and provide details on the date and location of the first-day-of-issuance ceremony at a later date.

Presented in a clamshell box, Bee Gees: 1974-1979 will be available Tuesday, March 24, for a suggested list price of $44.98, according to a press release. ( The set will also be available digitally. ) The five-CD collection begins with the group's 12th album, Mr. Natural ( 1974 ), the first of many the Bee Gees would record with Grammy-winning producer Arif Mardin. It concludes with a bonus disc, "The Miami Years." Among the tracks in the collection are "Charade," "Jive Talkin'," "If I Can't Have You," "Tragedy," "Stayin' Alive," "You Should Be Dancing" and "Nights on Broadway."

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, actress Goldie Hawn opened up about the film The First Wives Club and why the rumored sequel never materialized, according to . Hawn said, "Two years [after the original movie], when the studio came back with a sequel, they wanted to offer us exactly the same deal. We went back to ground zero. Had three men come in there, they would have upped their salaries without even thinking about it. But the fear of women's movies is embedded in the culture."

International music superstar Ricky Martin has been named executive producer and the first judge to be revealed for Univision Network's music-based reality entertainment competition La Banda, set to premiere in September, according to a press release. Martin, together with the entire La Banda team, will focus on finding the ultimate Latino boy band through the largest talent search in U.S Hispanic TV history. The show was developed by Univision Communications Inc., Simon Cowell's SYCO Entertainment and Haim Saban's Saban Brands, and co-produced with FremantleMedia Latin America.

A former North Dakota college football player has been given probation for stalking billionaire David Geffen, Page Six noted. Jamie Ralph Kuntz, 21, pled no contest Feb. 9 to one misdemeanor count of stalking and was ordered to stay 200 yards away from Geffen for 10 years. Kuntz said he was kicked off the North Dakota State College of Sciences football team two years ago because he was gay after being seen kissing a 65-year-old boyfriend at a game.

American Horror Story: Freak Show actor Ben Woolf died following an accident last week which caused a severe head injury; he was 34, TheWrap reported. he actor, who played Meep on the most recent season of FX's popular horror anthology series, was hit by a car mirror at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gramercy Place in the Hollywood portion of Los Angeles.

In a New York Fashion Week first, an Israeli designer married his same-sex partner in a Valentine's Day ceremony shortly before his debut catwalk show in the Big Apple, The Times of Israel noted. Tel Aviv-based Idan Cohen, who designs bridal and evening wear, married Israeli life/business partner Elad Borenstein in the Pavilion—the same room hosting their afternoon catwalk show. It was the first and probably the last wedding hosted in Fashion Week's heated tent headquarters at the Lincoln Center, which next season moves to new, yet-to-be-determined premises.

The new Broadway revival of On the Town will welcome So You Think You Can Dance winner Ricky Ubeda to the cast beginning Feb. 27 for a limited engagement through April 26, Playbill noted. Ubeda received the opportunity to join the cast as part of his prize for winning the show in September 2014. Immediately following his run on the show, Ubeda participated in a 77-city nationwide tour. His accomplishments have been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine, and he has been a guest on LIVE! with Kelly and Michael and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa announced "Out at Borgata," a special-events and marketing initiative designed to showcase the LGBT-related offerings at the property, according to Philadelphia Gay News. Joe Lupo, senior vice president of operations at Borgata, explained that the property has long valued its diverse patrons, but the new campaign marks a more-targeted effort to attract LGBT visitors. Among other things, Borgata will also create LGBT-specific events, such as parties featuring popular LGBT DJs or using LGBT party promoters.

The Gay Games that took place in Cleveland last summer generated $120,000 for the Gay Games LGBT Legacy Fund at the Cleveland Foundation and $27,000 for the Gay Community Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation, Crain's Cleveland Business reported. The donations represent the net profit from Gay Games 9, which Cleveland organizers describe as the most profitable in the event's 32-year history. The report was issued in conjunction with a panel discussion, "2014 Gay Games Lessons and Legacies" held at the City Club of Cleveland. "Lessons and Legacies" revealed that the games generated $6.8 million in revenue: $2.36 million from sponsors and donors, $2.64 million from registrations and civic contributions, and $1.8 million in in-kind contributions.

J. Alexander—the popular America's Next Top Model runway coach who often dresses in drag and teaches women to walk in heels—is particularly looking forward to watching Bruce Jenner's rumored transition, according to Page Six. "I just want Bruce to call me so I can take him through some moments in heels and so forth and so on," Alexander said at a fashion show. "I'm waiting to see which designers [will] use his transformation—or his transition, shall I say—as inspiration."

Elisabeth Hasselbeck took a shot at her old show The View in a new interview on cook Rachael Ray's show, TheWrap noted. The former ABC panelist and current Fox News personality told Ray she no longer watches the daytime talker and explained why she has zero interest in returning to guest host. Hasselbeck said, "That time is passed. I was thankful to have the decade that I did there… And you know what? You break up with me, I'm not going to kiss you."

On April 2 in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings will take on the Boston Bruins for the second "Pride Night" in National Hockey League history, according to Outsports. Proceeds will go back to the Ruth Ellis Center and employee-resource groups at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Company, among other organizations.

The National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for the Class of 2015, according to a press release. Nominees can be gay or lesbian individuals; organizations that have made tremendous strides in recognizing gay and lesbian athletes; or individual allies. Nominations are due March 1; The Hall of Fame will induct its third class of honorees at a ceremony July 24 in conjunction with Chicago's Out at Wrigley. See .

Among the points of interest at the 2015 Westminster Dog Show this year were that a beagle named Miss P brought home the title of Best in Show, and Patty Hearst's shih tzu Rocket won in the Toy Dog category, noted. Hearst became a household name when she was kidnapped in 1974; she has also become an actress, appearing in John Waters movies such as Cecil B. DeMented, Cry-Baby and Serial Mom.

Kristen Stewart became the first U.S. actress to win a Cesar at France's most prominent film awards show Feb. 20, Variety noted. Stewart won best supporting actress for her co-starring role in Cloud of Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayas and also starring Juliette Binoche and Chloe Grace Moretz. "Clouds"—in which Binoche plays an actress who agrees to appear in a revival of a play that launched her career 20 years earlier—premiered in Cannes last year and was nominated for six Cesars.

Bobbi Kristina Brown—the troubled 21-year-old daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown—was under the influence of drugs when she was found unresponsive in her bathtub Jan. 31, People revealed. Bobbi Kristina reportedly regularly used heroin, cocaine and Xanax in recent months, and was a heavy drinker. She was rushed to the hospital and has been on life support in critical condition ever since.

Cameron Diaz has won an award, but it might not be one she wants, according to USA Today. Diaz won worst actress at the Razzies for her work in The Other Woman and Sex Tape. Another Cameron—Kirk Cameron—won for worst actor for Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, with the movie winning for worst film. ( Also, Kirk Cameron and his ego won for worst screen combo. ) Annie ( which co-starred Diaz ) won worst remake while Michael Bay was named worst director for Transformers: Age of Extinction. The Razzies are always announced on the eve of the Oscars.

Dannii Minogue has confirmed that she will be making a music comeback later this year, Digital Spy noted. Kylie's younger sister—who has appeared as a judge on The X Factor and Australia's Got Talent in recent years—will mark her return with a performance in Sydney next month. Dannii will make her comeback with a live performance at this year's Mardi Gras Party in Sydney, alongside Nick Jonas, Jake Shears and Betty Who.

After grappling with controversies last year over HBO's decision to submit True Detective as a drama series as well as Showtime and Netflix's move to switch hour-long series Shameless and Orange Is the New Black from drama to comedy consideration, the TV Academy has adopted a slew of rule changes, Deadline reported. For example, from now on, only 30-minute series are considered comedies; all others are presumed dramas. The best drama and comedy series categories are undergoing another expansion—with the number of nominees increased to seven.

Actor/filmmaker Tyler Perry threw a christening for three-month-old son Aman at his Beverly Hills home—and named Oprah Winfrey, Cicely Tyson and Oliver Ripley as the child's godparents, according to The Daily Mail. The festivities began with a ceremony inside his home's very own chapel, which he revealed on Facebook was "almost a direct replica of the one my mother grew up in." Perry welcomed his first child with model girlfriend Gelila Bekele on Nov. 30.

Police in Philadelphia say arrests are expected in the killing of a member of rapper Nicki Minaj's tour, Page Six revealed. Detectives have identified three people involved in a fight early Wednesday that ended with the fatal stabbing of 29-year-old Devon Pickett of New York City. Minaj had posted on Twitter, "Two members of my team were stabbed last night in Philly. One was killed. They had only been there for two days rehearsing for the tour."

Mama June Shannon was recently confronted about her daughter Alana Hamilton's weight, according to Radar Online. During a taping of The Doctors, Dr. Travis Stork and his co-hosts voiced their concern over 9-year-old Honey Boo Boo, who, at 4'6", has tipped the scales at 125 pounds. In an effort to solve the problem, an age-appropriate, modified diet is being tailored for the family based on Stork's best-selling book and eating plan, The Doctor's Diet. The first show will air Feb. 25.

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