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Entertainment: Sir Ian's 'Street' moves; Audra on HBO; FCKH8 calendar
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-12-23

This article shared 4331 times since Tue Dec 23, 2014
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Gay actor Sir Ian McKellen, 75—who plays the wizard Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films and the mutant Magneto in the X-Men movies—appears in a new Sesame Street video in which he defines for Cookie Monster a word that goes against his very nature: "Resist," according to E! Online. The furry, blue critter, who calls himself Sir Cookie Monster, appears enthusiastic about learning what "resist" means but says he doesn't "really understand" it after McKellen explains it to him. The video was posted on Sesame Street's official YouTube page a day before the third and final The Hobbit movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, was released.

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will bring her acclaimed portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Broadway smash Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill to HBO, according to a press release. Filming before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special will feature McDonald in her history-making performance as the jazz icon. Originally written for off-Broadway by Lanie Roberston in 1987, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill tells Holiday's life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness."

Activist T-shirt company FCKH8.com has issued a 2015 benefit calendar that features straight and gay men getting naked together for a cause, accoding to a press release. Lensed by photographer Justin Monroe and promoted by the gay social app Jack'd, the 12-month photo calendar features straight and gay men stripped down to their bathing suits—or their birthday suits. Visit http://FCKH8.com/.

Actress-comedienne Margaret Cho and her artist husband Al Ridenour have split after 11 years of marriage, US Weekly reported. The couple have been in an open relationship since tying the knot in June 2003. "I'm married to a man but I'm bisexual so I like both," she said during an appearance on The Real. "We got together because we both have this [idea of] 'I just don't want to have sex with the same person my whole life. That's just gross.'"

Mariah Carey has been hit with a lawsuit from a former employee, according to the Huffington Post UK. A former assistant of the pop diva is seeking a "significant amount of money" in compensation, claiming that over the seven-year period she worked for Carey, she was treated unfairly. Ylser Oliver, who filed the lawsuit in New York, alleges that she was made to work 16-hour days every day of the week, without being paid overtime for her extra work.

Tennis icon Martina Navratilova married long-term partner Julia Lemigova in a ceremony in New York, according to The Huffington Post. Navratilova and her Russian partner of eight years tied the knot three months after Martina popped the question during a surprise on-camera proposal at the U.S. Open. Speaking after the ceremony, Martina told the BBC: "I'm 58 years old—I got married for the first time! It's about time. Growing up as a gay woman you just don't ever think about that."

TLC will broadcast a special in January that features four Utah Mormon men who are attracted to men but do not identify as gay, according to On Top Magazine. My Husband's Not Gay follows three married couples—Jeff and Tanya, Pret and Megan and Curtis and Tera—and a bachelor, Tom, who are all devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Mormon faith teaches that being gay is not a sin, but any sex outside a marriage between a man and a woman is.

Actor Ansel Elgort ( Divergent; The Fault in Our Stars ), who is set to play gay pianist Van Cliburn in an upcoming biopic, took to Twitter to clear up persistent gay rumors, according to Towleroad. At first, he posted, "Just in case it isn't clear... I like girls. A lot." However, he then added, "Also let me say if I was gay I wouldn't hide it. Being gay or straight isn't bad or good—['it's] just IS. U are who you are. Be true to yourself."

Gay soccer player Robbie Rogers has split from TV producer-writer Greg Berlanti ( Arrow; Everwood ), according to Queerty. Talking with SiriusXM Progress, Rogers said, "Yeah, yeah, we're no longer dating but we're friends. And that just goes with things. ... I understand that my personal life is going to be more and more in the spotlight. And it's not going to stop me from dating people or being public about it. I just want to live a normal life. It doesn't bother me, to be honest."

Madonna has released six songs from her new studio album, Rebel Heart, according to a press release. Additional music will be released Feb. 9. The full album of Rebel Heart, on Interscope Records, is scheduled to be released the first week in March 2015. Song titles that are currently available from the new album are "Living For Love," "Devil Pray," "Ghosttown," "Unapologetic Bitch," "Illuminati" and "Bitch I'm Madonna," which was recorded with Nicki Minaj. The decision to release the songs much earlier than anticipated was due to the leaking of several work-in-progress demos.

Logo TV is co-producing, with Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, two new series from Russell T Davies ( Doctor Who; Queer As Folk ) to air in early 2015, Deadline reported. Cucumber and Banana are interwoven drama series that explore 21st-century gay life through the lens of two disparate generations. The hourlong Cucumber focuses on the lives and misadventures of Henry Best and his long-suffering boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan. The half-hour Banana will follow the individual lives of younger characters orbiting around Henry's world.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced that the cast and filmmakers of The Imitation Game will be honored at the group's upcoming New York Gala Dinner in January, according to a press release. The Weinstein Company film, which stars actor Benedict Cumberbatch, tells the story of the late gay British cryptographer and computer scientist Alan Turing, who developed a method of cracking previously-unbreakable Nazi codes. HRC's 2015 Greater New York Gala Dinner will be held Jan. 31 at the Waldorf Astoria.

Oscar winner and on-screen legend Meryl Streep played a part in helping her co-star Billy Magnussen land the role of Rapunzel's Prince in the cinematic feature Into the Woods, according to US Weekly. "I remember the first day coming into rehearsal," Magnussen, 29, told the New York Post, laughing. "Meryl was like, 'Listen, I want you to know, I got you this f—-king part.'" It turns out Streep, 65, had seen the Broadway actor in the Tony-winning play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike back in 2013 and then lobbied for him to land a role in Into the Woods.

Former NSYNC member Lance Bass, 35, married artist Michael Turchin, 27, at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles on Dec. 20, according to People magazine. Wedding planner Sharon Sacks—who did Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's nuptials—produced a ceremony with a wedding party that included, among other things, supermodel flower girls and the couple's three dogs. Actresses JoAnna Garcia Swisher and Jamie-Lynn Sigler officiated the ceremony. An E! special based on the nuptials—Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding—will air Feb. 5.

Sir Elton John officially married David Furnish—exactly nine years after they tied the knot in a civil-partnership ceremony, The Guardian reported. The "I'm Still Standing" singer married his partner at their Windsor estate in England Dec. 21. John has posted a photo of himself, pen in hand, sitting next to Furnish at a desk, with a piece of paper in front of them, and wrote: "That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony! ShareTheLove DavidFurnish." The couple has two sons, Zachary and Elijah.

Michael Egan—who accused X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him when he was a teen—has been indicted on wire-fraud charges, according to The Wrap. The FBI has stated that Egan "engaged in a fraudulent investment scheme by inducing his victims to enter into various fictitious business and investment contracts" from August 2007 to February 2012. Egan is accused of promising that he would invest the victims' money in various projects, such as Halloween-themed attractions and investment deals, when, in reality, he did not invest victims' money as promised.

A decade after the end of Sex And The City, series star Sarah Jessica Parker is nearing a return to HBO with a new half-hour comedy, Deadline reported. HBO is finalizing deals for the single-camera project, which Parker is expected to star in and executive-produce. Titled Divorce, the project, which is awaiting a formal pilot green light, is being written by British writer-actress Sharon Horgan.

"Anaconda" singer/rapper Nicki Minaj suffered yet another nip slip—this time on Dec. 17, when she appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, US Weekly noted. Within the first 20 seconds of her appearance, Minaj was broadcast with more than just cleavage showing from her tight, incredibly low-cut black bustier. Ironically, talk at one point moved to Minaj's previous wardrobe malfunctions with no mention of her very recent mishap.

Seventies disco act KC and the Sunshine Band ( "That's the Way ( I Like It )," "Boogie Shoes," ) is releasing a new album, Feeling You! The '60s, on March 15, according to a press release. The album will feature covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Ben E. King, The Kinks, The Righteous Brothers, Jackie DeShannon, Aaron Neville and others.

Famed showrunner Shonda Rhimes is reportedly launching a major trans storyline on the series Grey's Anatomy in 2015 focusing on a character named Travis, an attractive, good-humored thirtysomething man who will make the "believable transition" to a woman over time, according to TV Line. Rumor has it the newbie will form a strong bond with a Grey Sloan staffer whose identity will remain unknown for now.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights took issue with a Tom Ford-designed piece of jewelry called the "penis pendant necklace," according to The Huffington Post. The $790 piece, which is available in gold and silver, looks exactly like the name suggests and comes in sizes small, medium and large. The controversial Catholic League considers the piece offensive, however, because the pendant appears to be in the shape of a cross.

The production company Prospect Park has several new TV shows on its slate, including a soapy hourlong dramedy about Las Vegas entertainers executive produced by Christina Aguilera at ABC Family, according to Deadline. Aguilera's work, tentatively titled Hearts and Clubs, follows a group of Las Vegas entertainers as they fall in and out of love. Another show, the Fox drama Patriarch, is a mystery-thriller that kicks off with the murder of a father who lived with two families—one straight and one gay.

The Recording Academy announced its Special Merit Awards honorees for 2015, according to a press release. They are the Bee Gees, Pierre Boulez, Buddy Guy, George Harrison, Flaco Jimenez, Louvin Brothers and Wayne Shorter as Lifetime Achievement Award recipients; Richard Perry, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, and George Wein as Trustees Award honorees; and Ray Kurzweil as the Technical Grammy Award recipient. A special invitation-only ceremony will be held during Grammy Week on Saturday, Feb. 7, and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards telecast that will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8.

Kris and Bruce Jenner—who first announced their separation in October 2013—finalized their divorce Dec. 16, fewer than three months after they filed documents with the L.A. Superior Courthouse, US Weekly noted. the couple divided up their bank accounts and other assets, with Kris getting the family home. Neither star will receive spousal support, and they'll share custody of 17-year-old daughter Kylie. ( Daughter Kendall, 19, is no longer a minor. )


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