Returning to the Kennedy Center Opera House with an audience for the first time since 2019, the 44th Kennedy Center Honors ceremony recently honored a music-heavy class of Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Motown founder Berry Gordy and opera great Justino Díaz, as well as Saturday Night Live mastermind Lorne Michaels, USA Today noted. Another tradition was also restored for the first time since 2016: the attendance of the president of the United States. Tributes came from Stevie Wonder, Brandi Carlile, Paul Simon, Billy Porter, Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, Chita Rivera and nearly a dozen SNL cast members. David Letterman emceed, quipping at the start, "It feels like there's going to be a show, doesn't it? I wish I had a show."
Season 14 of RuPaul's Drag Race will feature two out trans competitors for the first time, per LGBTQ Nation. Additionally, for the first time, a heterosexual, cisgender man will be behind one of the queens in the cast as well. Kerri Colby and Kornbread "The Snack" Jete, trans women from Los Angeles, are among the 14 queens that are vying for Drag Race's $100,000 prize and prize title as America's Next Drag Superstar; Maddy Morphosis is the straight cis man also among them. Alyssa Hunter, Angeria Paris VanMicheals, Bosco, Daya Betty, Deja Skye, Jasmine Kennedie, Jorgeous, June Jambalaya, Lady Camden, Orion Story and Willow Pill are the other competitors.
AMC Networks' Shudder announced the renewal of the drag-competition series The Boulet Brothers' Dragula for a fifth season, per a press release. The renewal came ahead of the final two episodes of season four, with the finalewhich will crown the world's next drag supermonster and award the season's $100,000 grand prizedebuting Tuesday, Dec. 21. In the seven weeks since it premiered, The Boulet Brothers' Dragula's fourth season has been the most watched program on Shudder.
Bjork Orchestral, an intimate tour featuring Bjork's orchestral arrangements, has two shows scheduled for Feb. 13 and 16, 2022, at Miami's Arsht Center, a press release noted. Bjarni Frimann Bjarnason will conduct the shows. Most recently, Bjork performed four orchestral shows in Reykjavík after postponing them due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets to the February events are at www.arshtcenter.org/Tickets/Calendar/2021-2022-Season/Arsht-Center-Presents/Bjork-Orchestral/ .
The New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) recently announced its winnersand the victors included Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) and Benedict Cumberbatch (who portrays a gay rancher in The Power of the Dog), Variety noted. The organization named Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car the best film of 2021. NYFCC's winner for best film has typically had a strong correlation with the Academy Awards' best picture category. Since the expansion to nominees in 2009, only Carol (2015) and last year's First Cow (2020) have missed recognition. Regarding Power of the Dog, Jane Campion won for best director and Kodi Smit-McPhee was named best supporting actor. Contortionist performer Kathryn Hunter surprisingly nabbed best supporting actress for her turn in Apple Original Films/A24's The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Actor Wil Wheaton shared a personal story on Facebook as he gave his take on why Dave Chappelle's anti-trans comments in The Closer were so dangerous, ET Canada noted. He opened up about being 16 and loving Eddie Murphy's 1983 standup special Delirious. However, despite the special having bits in it that still "kill" him, Wheaton wrote: "There is also extensive homophobic material that is just f**king appalling and inexcusable. Long stretches of this comedy film are devoted to mocking gay people, using the slur that starts with F over and over and over." He added, "I accepted the framing, I developed a view of gay men as predatory, somehow less than straight men, absolutely worthy of mockery and contempt. Always good for a joke, though," sharing how he went to play hockey with a group of "really great dudes" he didn't know were gayand used the slur. He said he was still mortified 30 years later.
And despite the anti-trans controversy surrounding his Netflix special The Closer, Dave Chapelle will open the network's first-ever comedy festival in Los Angeles next spring, The Hill noted. Chapelle will headline the show "Dave Chapelle and Friends" at the Hollywood Bowl venue April 28, the first day of Netflix is a Joke: The Festival, which runs until May 8 and features more than 130 comedians and performers. During The Closer, Chapelle called himself a TERF, or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and proclaimed "gender is a fact" while defending other homophobic or transphobic comments made by J.K. Rowling and rapper DaBaby. However, the comedian said he would stop making jokes about the transgender community until "we are all laughing together" and that he "never had a problem with transgender people."
Acclaimed Shakespearean actor Antony Sher died at age 72 following a battle with cancer, according to an Extra item that cited The Hollywood Reporter. Sher's husband, Royal Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Gregory Doran, had taken a leave of absence from that post to care for him after Sher's terminal diagnosis earlier in 2021. His last stage work was in 2019's Kunene and the King, in which he played an actor diagnosed with cancer; his films include Shakespeare in Love and Mrs. Brown. Dame Helen Mirren posted, "I am devastated to hear of the death of Antony Sher. The theater has lost a bright light."
Peacock announced the acquisition of the documentary short Right to Try, which chronicles HIV survivor/activist Jeffrey Drew's pursuit to find a cure for HIV, a press release noted. The documentary, which hails from producer Octavia Spencer and is directed by Zeberiah Newman, premiered Dec. 1. The short reveals Drew's experience participating in an experiment that could lead to a historic medical breakthrough for the millions of people living with HIV around the world. See PeacockTV.com .
The People's Choice Awards named Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian among this year's Icons, Extra noted. Berry received the People's Icon award, and was honored for her contributions to television and film. Cardi Bwho helped Berry executive-produce the soundtrack for Berry's latest film, Bruisedpresented her with the honor. In addition, Kardashian received the Fashion Icon award; Grammy winner Christina Aguilera will be presented with the first-ever Music Icon award; and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was anointed with the People's Champion title at the Dec. 7 event.
"I'm back!" declared Kate McKinnon, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, in the opening of Saturday Night Live on Dec. 11, Deadline noted. The episode took jabs at Jussie Smollett, Donald Trump, Sylvester Stallone and others. "Smollett was found guilty of charges of staging a hate crime; it was the worst staged hate crime since my all-Christian production of Fiddler on the Roof," Weekend Update co-anchor Colin Jost joked.
Pentatonix announced Pentatonix: The Evergreen Experience, the three-time Grammy-winning and multi-platinum-selling act's full-length streamed concert, via Moment House, a press release noted. The exclusive live show will be streamed on the premium social live media platform Sunday-Monday, Dec. 19-20 (depending on territory). The show will highlight the band's sixth and latest holiday album, Evergreen, as well as other holiday classics from the group's five other Christmas albums. See www.momenthouse.com/pentatonix.
Drake's management has asked the Recording Academy to remove him as a nominee on the final-round ballot for the 64th annual Grammy Awards, and the Academy honored the request, per a Billboard item that Variety originally reported. Drake was nominated for just two awards this yearbest rap album, for Certified Lover Boy; and best rap performance, for "Way 2 Sexy" (featuring Future and Young Thug). Over the years, Drake has won four Grammysfar fewer than such peers as Jay-Z (23) or Kanye West (22).
Apple Original Films confirmed it will be the studio backing and distributing Bad Bloodthe drama about the rise and fall of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes that Adam McKay is writing to direct, with Jennifer Lawrence starring, according to Deadline. Holmes is in the middle of her trial on charges of defrauding investors and patients on claims she made about her blood-testing start-up, even as it became clear there were major flaws in her mousetrap. Apple's confirmation also comes as McKay and Lawrence are getting strong notices for Netflix's Don't Look Up, a satire about the global warming crisis.
Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark; Jurassic Park III) is in talks to star opposite Michelle Williams in Todd Haynes' Peggy Lee biopic, Fever, Deadline noted. Nivola will play Dave Barbour in the film. Barbour was the virtuoso guitar player whose passionate relationship with Lee unraveled as he succumbed to alcoholism.
The same-sex parenting documentary Circus Boy will start streaming on Apple TV, iTunes and Vimeo on Tuesday, Dec. 14, courtesy of First Run Features, according to a media release. The Lester Alfonso film is about a gay man named Thomas who seeks reconciliation with his mother after he and his husband, Michael, adopt a boy he's training for circus school.
Opening the vault and revisiting a series of historic UK broadcast performances, five-time Grammy-winning band Green Day unveiled the BBC Sessions live album, a press release noted. The 16-track collection features four performances recorded at BBC's legendary Maida Vale Studios from 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2001 together on one album, marking the first time these recordings have been mastered for official release. The live album includes "2000 Light Years Away," the lead track off of the band's sophomore album Kerplunk, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Dec. 17.
K-pop phenomenon BTS will take a hiatus at the completion of their scheduled upcoming events, which include the BTS Permission to Dance on Stage shows and the Jingle Ball Tour, according to Billboard. BTS is the year's top international artist, finishing 2021 with the top song on Apple Music and the Billboard Global Excl. U.S. chart, with "Dynamite." BTS has gone where no other K-pop act has gone before, snagging five No. 1s on the Billboard 200 chart and five leaders on the Hot 100.
Chris Noth, who memorably played Mr. Big on Sex and the City, defended his on-screen galpal-turned-wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, in her long-running feud with Kim Cattrall, Page Six noted. "I have to tell you, I have absolutely no idea what her thinking is, or her emotions," Noth said in a Guardian interview. "I just don't like to see anyone talking down about SJ because she's a target and people can be nasty. I feel very protective of her and I was not happy about that. That's all I'll say about that."
Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox arrived to an event to celebrate Kelly's debut unisex nail-polish line, UN/DN LAQR, in West Hollywood chained together by their nail art, People Magazine noted. Kelly went with a Barbie doll pink hue, while Fox went with talon-shaped nails with black art, and both accented their pinky fingers with a chain, linked to the other's pinky.