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SHOWBIZ The film 'Licorice Pizza,' Aaron Sorkin, WNBA player, Mariah Carey
by Windy City Times staff
2021-12-26

This article shared 740 times since Sun Dec 26, 2021
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Alana Haim, who stars in the film Licorice Pizza (now out in theaters), talked with out.com about how the movie incorporates queer representation by including unsung queer political figure Joel Wachs. "Joel Wachs was such an important person to The Valley and he did so many incredible things in his time in office and he was an amazing councilman and I'm just such a fan of his work and portraying that part of the movie was very emotional," Haim said about what it was like getting to help tell the story of former LA City councilman Joel Wachs (played by Benny Safdie), who had to keep his sexuality a secret during his first mayoral campaign in the early '70s. Wachs served on the LA City Council for 30 years (back before there were term limits), from 1971 until 2001, per KCRW.com . He was closeted during most of that time, not coming out publicly as gay until 1999, at age 60.

Being the Ricardos filmmaker Aaron Sorkin said casting only gay actors as queer characters is an "empty gesture" and a "bad idea," PinkNews noted. The comments came on the back of criticism over Spanish actor Javier Bardem being cast as Desi Arnaz, a Cuban actor, in Being the Ricardos. Sorkin insisted it was "heartbreaking" and a "little chilling" to see the "artistic community re-segregating ourselves" over elements of a character that he believed are "not actable." In contrast, It's a Sin showrunner Russell T Davies has extensively argued in favor of casting queer actors for queer roles.

However, in response, actor Billy Eichner tartly responded to Sorkin's statements. Eichner tweeted, "Completely ignorant of how Hollywood has treated its openly LGBTQ+ actors for a century. Talking about shit he doesn't fully comprehend. Scared that Hollywood isn't (entirely) ruled by straight men anymore. Go write yourself a "walk and talk" back into the past. Merry Christmas!"

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner said it would mean a lot to her to have her jersey retired at Baylor despite not attending a game at the school since her falling out with former Bears women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey more than eight years ago, ESPN.com noted. Griner, speaking from Ekaterinburg, Russia, where she plays overseas, said she wishes both her alma mater and Mulkey well. Griner and Mulkey had a falling out in spring 2013, after Griner told reporters she was encouraged to keep quiet about her sexuality while at Baylor. Griner came out publicly before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Mercury in 2013.

Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" continues to make pop music history. According to a Sony press release, the song became the first and only holiday single to take home the RIAA's coveted Diamond Award (in recognition of 10 million sales and streaming units in the United States). Also, Sony Pictures Entertainment has made two Carey films—Live at the Tokyo Dome and First Vision—available for digital purchase and rental for the first time in the United States.

Elton John and the collaborators from the album The Lockdown Sessions recently reunited over Zoom for a seasonal video, according to a press release. The video was called 'a celebration of the way that Zoom has enabled people to continue to work, interact and create music in the most challenging of circumstances." The video—which Elton John's Rocket Entertainment Group and AKQA created—features all the Lockdown Sessions collaborators, including Dua Lipa, Damon Albarn, Stevie Wonder, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Stevie Nicks, Nicki Minaj, Eddie Vedder and Young Thug, among others. At the end of the video is cameo appearance from a very special guest; see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrcfgxAkb_I.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival gala awards show set for Thursday, Jan. 6, has been cancelled due to COVID surge concerns, Deadline noted. Among those Oscar buzzed contenders scheduled to receive awards were Being The Ricardos star Nicole Kidman; the film Belfast; Jane Campion (Director of the Year Award); Jessica Chastain (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress); Penélope Cruz (International Star Award, Actress); Andrew Garfield (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor); Jennifer Hudson (Chairman's Award); the cast of King Richard; Kristen Stewart (Spotlight Award, Actress); and Lady Gaga (Icon Award). This represents the second year in a row the gala will not go on due to the complications from the pandemic.

The LGBT movie Flee is one of the nominees for Best Indie Feature for the 49th Annual Annie Awards, which honor the best in animation, according to the award's website. Flee will go against Belle, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, Pompo the Cinephile and The Summit of the Gods. Best Feature nominees include Encanto, Luca, Raya and the Last Dragon, Sing 2, and The Mitchells vs. The Machines. The trophies will be handed out during ASIFA-Hollywood's ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, per Deadline.

Also regarding Flee, it's one of two Oscar front-runners that's made it to the next round of voting, per Deadline. Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) and Flee earned spots on the Oscar doc feature shortlist. Flee, the Neon release directed by Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen, not only made the doc feature shortlist, but the shortlist for Best International Film as well, representing Denmark.

Country-music act Brothers Osborne (composed of John and out brother TJ) announced the deluxe edition of their Grammy-nominated album Skeletons will be released Jan. 21, according to a press release. The reigning CMA Vocal Duo of the Year performed the Grammy-nominated "Younger Me" at this year's CMA Awards. TJ prefaced the performance by sharing, "for many years I would watch this show, year after year, and I always thought how incredible it'd be and I'd dream of being here on this stage, and there were so many things that were so many hurdles for me. And I always truthfully felt like it would never be possible because of my sexuality to be here."

LGBT actor/comedian Sandra Bernhard got real about former best friend Madonna while on the Hot Takes and Deep Dives podcast, according to Queerty. "What I tried to impart in our friendship is, 'I'm really your friend, I'm not just somebody that's passing through.' And, I guess, for a while, we had a real friendship," Bernard said. However, she added, "But it's hard for somebody like her. She doesn't really want somebody around who reflects too much of who she is. Therefore, her relationships just don't last."

Netflix and Shondaland announced the return of Bridgerton, with season two set to premiere March 25, Variety noted. Keeping up with the tradition of Julia Quinn's novels, the second season tells the story of Lord Anthony Bridgerton's (Jonathan Bailey's) quest for love as he sets out to find a suitable wife. When Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) and her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) arrive from India, Anthony starts to court the latter sister—and Kate soon discovers that his intentions for marriage are not pure. Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page), the Duke of Hastings, will not be returning for the upcoming season.

Jagged Little Pill ended its Broadway run as of the Dec. 17 performance, Playbill noted. The production had canceled performances through Dec. 21 due to COVID-19, but producers announced the production would close indefinitely. The move follows a number of COVID-related performance cancellations and postponements, though many shows have been able to continue with performances as scheduled. Inspired by and featuring the songs of Alanis Morisette's 1995 five-time Grammy-winning album of the same name, Jagged Little Pill has a book by Diablo Cody and songs by Morisette. The work opened on Broadway Dec. 5, 2019, after beginning previews Nov. 3.

The U.S. national governing body and the major sports league of real-life quidditch will be changing the name of their name in part to distance their league and players from controversial and anti-trans series author JK Rowling, out.com noted. U.S. Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch released statements announcing they have been exploring a name change over the past year. USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball said the decision went beyond Rowling's controversial rhetoric, however, citing potential "sponsorships, broadcasting on major TV networks and other projects that'll address some of the biggest barriers to playing the sport, like access to equipment" as key drivers of the name change.

The classic Marilyn Monroe/Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis film Some Like It Hot is among Kino Lorber's January 2022 DVD and Blu-ray releases, per a press release. Some of the other releases include the 1963 Steve McQueen movie The Great Escape, the 1948 film All My Sons (with Edward G. Robinson, Burt Lancaster, Mady Christians and Howard Duff, among others) and the 1966 Shirley MacLaine/Michael Caine movie Gambit.

Riverdale co-star Casey Cott—who portrays gay character Kevin Keller—wed fiancee Nichola Basara, sharing a selfie with his new wife on his Instagram Story, EW.com noted, citing People Magazine. The couple wed at the Four Seasons in Whistler, Canada. Cott and Basara were joined by several of the actor's Riverdale castmates for their special day, including Drew Ray Tanner, KJ Apa, Madelaine Petsch and more.

Actor/author/singer-songwriter Alicia Witt's parents were found dead inside their Worcester, Massachusetts, home after she called a relative to check on them, USA Today reported. She said in a written statement that she had not heard back from her parents, Robert and Diane Witt, for several days. The cause of their deaths is a mystery; firefighters were summoned and checked the air quality inside the home, but found no noxious gases.

Queen guitarist Brian May revealed he tested positive for COVID-19, according to Page Six. May, 74, said he and his wife, Anita Dobson, had been "incredibly careful" and had been acting "very hermit-like" throughout the pandemic, but decided to go out to a birthday lunch for a friend earlier this month where all guests provided negative COVID-19 tests.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is moving away from opening Memorial Day weekend 2022 after Paramount placed Tom Cruise's long-awaited sequel Top Gun: Maverick on May 27, Deadline noted. The Keanu Reeves film will now debut March 24, 2023, per a teaser. John Wick: Chapter 4 stars Reeves, Donnie Yen, Laurence Fishburne, Bill Skarsgard, Ian McShane and more.

James Franco admitted having sex with his students more than two years after they accused him of sexual exploitation, Page Six noted. Franco admitted in a wide-ranging interview with SiriusXM's Jess Cagle that he thought sleeping with students of his acting school, Studio 4, was acceptable because it was "consensual"—but denied starting the program to have access to them. Ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in October 2019 claiming Franco and other instructors pressured women to get naked for auditions while dangling opportunities for movie roles that rarely materialized; the suit was reportedly settled for $2.2 million.

A fourth woman came forward to accuse actor Chris Noth of sexual assault days after the initial allegations against him made headlines, according to Us Magazine. Lisa Gentile claimed during a press conference on Dec. 23 that she was "sexually victimized" by the Law & Order alum, 67, in 2002. In a Dec. 16 report, two women—using the pseudonyms Zoe and Lily—accused the former Equalizer star of assaulting them in 2004 and 2015, respectively; then, a third woman claimed Noth sexually assaulted her in 2010, when she was 18. In the aftermath of the allegations, CBS and Universal Television dropped him from The Equalizer and Peloton pulled an ad that featured him. Also, plans to acquire Noth's tequila brand, Ambhar, by Entertainment Arts Research Inc., are not moving forward; the deal was reportedly worth $12 million.

Showtime Documentary Films announced We Need to Talk About Cosby, a four-part docuseries from Emmy-winning director W. Kamau Bell (United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell) that offers an in-depth look at the career and personal descent of Bill Cosby, a press release noted. We Need to Talk About Cosby will screen at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 22, ahead of its Showtime premiere on Sunday, Jan. 30. The trailer is at https://youtu.be/raCuh_Q6Ve8.

Allison Baver, a former Team USA Olympic short-track speedskater, was reportedly charged in Utah with fraudulently obtaining $10 million in COVID-19 relief aid to help finance the Elijah Wood film No Man of God, per EW.com . A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City indicted Baver on nine counts of fraud on Dec. 15 for allegedly claiming that her company, Allison Baver Entertainment, had more than 400 employees and a monthly $4 million payroll in a Paycheck Protection Program application—but actually had no employees and no monthly payroll. If convicted, Baver could face up to 30 years in prison on bank fraud counts and 10 years on a money laundering count.



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