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Joan Jett's honor; Nathan Lane's point; 'True Blood'
Entertainment news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5869 times since Wed Jul 30, 2014
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Transgender Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace made a special appearance the Alternative Press Music Awards at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, to present the first ever "Icon Award" ( presented by Blackstar Amps ) to the legendary Joan Jett, according to a press release. The two also performed the song "Soulmates to Strangers," a track Grace co-wrote that is featured on Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' brand-new album, Unvarnished.

Birdcage and The Producers actor Nathan Lane has criticized the notion that straight actors shouldn't be allowed to take on gay roles, praising Mark Ruffalo's performance in The Normal Heart as an example where a heterosexual actor has excelled in a gay role, according to Gay Star News. Lane made the comments at a meeting of TV critics, noting that he wouldn't have been able to take on some of his iconic roles if he wasn't allowed to play straight characters as a gay man. Lane won another Tony Award this year for his performance in The Nance, about a gay burlesque performer in 1930s New York; a taping of the hit Broadway show will be screened on PBS on Oct. 10.

True Blood star Nelsan Ellis, who plays gay cook Lafayette on the show, has spoken out against co-star Luke Grimes reportedly quitting because his own character was bisexual, according to Fox News. Grimes allegedly quit in December when he found out Kent was bisexual and starting a romantic relationship with a gay character in the seventh and final season. "You quit your job because you don't want to play a gay part? You make a big statement when you go, 'I don't want to play this part because it's gay," Ellis told New York Magazine. Nathan Parsons later took on Grimes' role.

Political figures have engaged in a war of words with the cast of HBO's True Blood. A recent episode shot up an event in honor of GOP Sen. Ted Cruz that included referring to the guests as "assholes." ( In addition, lesbian vampire Pam got a high-haired and sequin-dress makeover that had her exclaiming, "Oh my God, I'm a Republicunt." ) Cruz himself called the episode "misogynist and profanity-ridden," and Sarah Palin said that the show aimed to insult a conservative woman in person, saying she was offered a cameo. Kristen Bauer van Straten, who plays Pam, said at Comic-Con, "It's sweet ... that I've made her angry; I had fun doing it."

Jodie Foster—an Emmy nominee for directing Orange Is the New Black—is back at the helm again, heading the new feature film Money Monster, which stars George Clooney, according to SheWired. TriStar Pictures is giving Foster a $30-million budget for the movie. The thriller is about a man who followed a bad tip from a TV-money guru, played by Clooney; the man, in financial straits, then holds the anchor and audience hostage, threatening to kill the host if the stock doesn't rise before the day closes.

Singer Aretha Franklin claims she got no R-E-S-P-E-C-T from a Niagara Falls, Ont., franchise, according to . Franklin said she was denied seating at the Johnny Rockets in the food court area of Fallsview Casino Resort after ordering takeout food. "You can't sit here because you ordered for takeout," said the Johnny Rockets server, according to a statement the singer sent to The News through her agent. "You can only stand in the perimeter." "The woman was very rude, unprofessional and nasty—certainly not the appropriate face for Johnny Rockets," Franklin said in the statement.

Arrested Development star Portia de Rossi will join ABC show Scandal's fourth season for a multiple-episode arc, Entertainment Weekly reported. Ellen DeGeneres first announced the news on Twitter, bragging about her wife's "top secret" storyline: "So annoying when people brag on twitter & that's why I'm not tweeting that Portia just signed on to do a top secret arc on 'Scandal'. Oops." Scandal will return Thursday, Sept. 25.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have collaborated again. According to Rolling Stone, their concert "Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek Live!" will air on PBS Great Performances this fall, and their album of classic jazz standards, entitled Cheek to Cheek, is also coming out in autumn. Previously, Gaga and Bennett recorded "The Lady Is a Tramp" for Bennett's 2011 Duets II album.

TBS's late-night show Conan will welcome the cast of the Emmy-nominated Netflix original comedy series Orange Is The New Black on Monday, Aug. 4, for the cast's first ever late-night appearance as a group, according to a press release. Emmy-nominated actresses Taylor Schilling, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne and series co-star Jason Biggs will all join host Conan O'Brien from Stage 15 at Warner Bros. This marks the third time Conan has featured a show's primary stars, following previous appearances by the casts of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

After all the drama with Shia LaBoeuf, Cabaret star Alan Cumming had some more welcome developments recently, according to Page Six. Cast and crew gathered backstage in Cumming's and Michelle Williams' dressing rooms to celebrate their 100th performance with cake and cocktails. In addition, the cast was visited by John Stamos, who played the Emcee in 2002.

Supermodel Andreja Pejic, formerly known as Andrej Pejic, has come out as transgender, The Huffington Post reported. A statement emailed to HuffPo by GLAAD notes that Pejic "will only be modeling women's clothing going forward, and has received support from her agency, friends and family." Pejic—who has walked in men's and women's fashion shows—said in a statement, "To all trans youth out there, I would like to say respect yourself and be proud of who you are. All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic human right."

X-Men director Bryan Singer and attorneys on both sides of a sex-abuse case agreed to settle the lawsuit for $100,000 in June, according to a memorandum of settlement BuzzFeed obtained. But Michael Egan, the man suing Singer, did not sign the document, telling BuzzFeed he never agreed to the settlement. After BuzzFeed sent Jeff Herman ( Egan's attorney ) the memorandum of settlement and a second document stating that his firm was representing three other victims in cases against Singer, Herman wrote BuzzFeed saying that he was in the process of dropping Egan as a client.

Heartthrob Zac Efron teamed with Bear Grylls for an episode of the adventurer's TV series Running Wild, Page Six reported. In the first clip released from the episode, the pair are shown stripping to the waist to rappel over a canyon. Grylls explains that the pair must take their shirts off and stuff them in their backpacks to "waterproof them" against the river below.

LGBT media-advocacy organization GLAAD has released its second annual Studio Responsibility Index ( SRI ), a report that maps the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios during the 2013 calendar year. GLAAD found that of the 102 releases from the major studios in 2013, 17 included characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual—with most of those being cameos or minor roles. GLAAD made several recommendations, including making genre films ( such as action franchises ) more LGBT-inclusive and getting ride of anti-LGBT slurs. The report is at

On July 28, President Obama awarded the 2013 National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal to distinguished recipients in the East Room, according to a press release. Among the honorees was openly gay dance legend Bill T. Jones, who won a Tony Award for his choreography of Fela! Some of the other awardees included musician Linda Ronstadt, arts patron Joan Harris, director/CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, literary critic M.H. Abrams, composer John Kander and writer Julia Alvarez.

Duran Duran—the '80s pop group known best for songs such as "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "The Reflex"—is suing its Glenview, Illinois-based fan club after it allegedly breached its contract by not giving the band its promised revenue, CBS Chicago reported. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that Worldwide Fan Clubs, Inc. entered into a contract with Duran Duran in 2010 that stipulated the company would create and manage a fan club for the band. Duran Duran is seeking at least $40,000 in damages.

Tony winner Jessie Mueller and Tony nominee Jarrod Spector, who play, respectively, Carole King and Barry Mann in Broadway's Beautiful, are joining forces for a series of concert dates, Playbill noted. Jessie & Jarrod: The Stars of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will play New Jersey Performing Arts Center's Victoria Theater in Newark, New Jersey, March 1-2, 2015. Mueller has also been seen on Broadway in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nice Work If You Can Get It and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Showtime will premiere the special David Bowie: Five Years on Aug. 1, according to a press release. The special explores five seminal years across Bowie's extensive career, with each year illustrating not only the source of his inspiration, but also where those ideas led him. Among the years are 1971, which saw the creation of Ziggy Stardust; and 1983, when Bowie went commercial with the album Let's Dance.

Point Foundation will present its Leadership Award to songwriter Diane Warren, whose work has been recognized with Grammy and Golden Globe awards as well as multiple Oscar nominations, according to PR Newswire. Warren has written music for and established friendships with top LGBTQ artists and important allies of the LGBTQ community such as Elton John, Ricky Martin, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Kristin Chenoweth and Patti LaBelle. Warren will be honored at the "Voices on Point" benefit Sept. 23 in L.A.'s Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. Point Foundation empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.

Season five of the British drawing-room drama Downton Abbey will premiere in the United States on Jan. 4, 2015, according to The L.A. Times. PBS President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger defended—as she has in the past—the decision to run "Downton" months after it has aired in Britain, which has meant that many U.S. fans uncover spoilers online before getting a chance to watch the episodes. "January works well," Kerger said, because the weather has turned cold across much of the country and people have more time to watch.

Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy Houston, has issued a blistering statement regarding Lifetime's upcoming film about her deceased daughter, pleading with the network to "please let her rest," The Wrap reported. Cissy Houston said the deceased singer's family objects to the film, and is "exhausted by the continuing misinformation and comments" from people who did not know the "How Will I Know" singer, who died in 2012 at age 48. The biopic, which Angela Bassett is directing, will star Yaya DaCosta as Whitney.

Actress Kristen Bell has once again mastered an iconic Disney character, US Weekly reported. After the actress, 34, voiced the beloved Anna from 2013's Frozen, she is now taking on the beloved Mary Poppins in a new Funny or Die sketch. In the parody video, Bell's Poppins is quitting her job working for the Banks family because she's only being paid the federal minimum wage.

Scarlett Johansson's Lucy pummeled Hercules and Dwayne Johnson in a box-office battle of the action heroes and sexes over the weekend of July 26-27, taking in $44 million, The Wrap reported. Lucy marks Johansson's top opening as the lead in a film and is the highest opening ever for an R-rated action movie starring a female.

The reality show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is doubling down on soap divas, as it has reportedly tapped Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives actress Eileen Davidson as a cast member, according to The Wrap. Davidson will join a season-five group that also includes the recently added Lisa Rinna, who has been on soap operas, as well as holdovers Lisa Vanderpump, Brandi Glanville, Kyle Richards, Kim Richards and Yolanda Foster.

A male pilot that claims to have had a six-year affair with actor John Travolta has received the green light to fight the actor in court for the right to tell their story, reported. Doug Gotterba, who worked for Travolta's aircraft company Alto in the 1980s, revealed his alleged affair with the actor to the National Enquirer in 2012. During his interview, the pilot claimed he became the Grease actor's lover shortly after landing a job at his company, and that the two remained lovers until 1986.

Jenny McCarthy said "shame on me" for parroting a lesbian rumor often spread by the ring-wing to discredit Hillary Clinton, according to SheWired. McCarthy was talking about a new Bill and Hillary Clinton biography and said, "Well, maybe he has his girlfriends and she has her girlfriends, you never know…. Maybe they have an arrangement." After the Clinton joke, McCarthy said she felt like she'd gone too far.

In a show of solidarity with the LGBT community, Ultimate Fighter Kyle Kingsbury recently revealed a pair pink "Legalize Gay" underwear during his weigh-in, The Huffington Post noted. The hunky athlete dropped his shorts for the weigh-in the day prior to his reported loss against Patrick Cummins. The loss also marked Kingsbury's retirement.

Singer Macy Gray ( "I Try" ) has a new bluesy stomper entitled "Bang Bang," accompanied by a video that features lesbian record-breaking long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad—and Gray kissing a sultry femme fatale, according to a press release. Nyad poses as a sharp-dressed poker player who loses her first hand and quickly exits the scene before the night takes a more sinister turn. Gray has a North American tour this fall, and is dropping her album The Way on Oct. 7.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group ( RUG ) is suing the Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark producer Michael Cohl for canceling the North American tour of Jesus Christ Superstar that had been planned for this summer, according to Deadline. Spokeswoman Janine Shalom said, "The Really Useful Group ( RUG ) has no option but to proceed with legal action to recover its costs associated with the project and in turn, satisfy outstanding payments to suppliers and contractors." Cohl and his producing partner Jeremiah Harris took over the foundering production of Spider-Man at the request of U2 superstars Bono and The Edge; by the time they were done, the production allegedly became an $85-million disaster—the biggest flop in Broadway history.

A U.K. survey selected Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird as the book written by a woman that "most impacted, shaped or changed readers' lives," according to Entertainment Weekly. Shami Chakrabarti, chair of the 2015 judging panel of the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, which organized the survey, named the book as her top choice as well. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, and Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, came in second and third, respectively, followed by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Glee actress Michele will appear in the coming season of Sons of Anarchy's sixth episode, which will air Oct. 14, according to . Michele will play Gertie, "an empathetic truck-stop waitress and single mother, who connects with Gemma ( Katey Sagal ) during a difficult time."

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