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SHOWBIZ Trans acting challenge, NYE parties, Charlize Theron, Diana Ross
by Windy City Times staff

This article shared 1305 times since Mon Dec 14, 2020
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Michael D. Cohen, with support from Nickelodeon, is launching the Trans Youth Acting Challenge, according to a press release. Trans and non-binary kids can submit audition self-tapes online (preferably through their parents), and the top 12 submissions will be invited to participate in an online master class with Cohen, known for his role on the Nickelodeon series Henry Danger. All applicants will also be able to participate in an online group webinar Q&A with Michael and the Nickelodeon casting team. The deadline is Dec. 23. See . In 2019, Cohen said he transitioned from female to male 20 years prior, Deadline noted.

A press release noted that dick clark productions and ABC announced that Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Billy Porter—who hosted the New Orleans festivities for the first time last year—will join Ryan Seacrest and Lucy Hale in Times Square in New York for Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021. In his 16th year as host of the special, Seacrest will lead the traditional countdown to midnight live from New York City on Thursday, Dec. 31, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, while Ciara will oversee the Los Angeles festivities. (This is a broadcast event that is closed to the public.) Additionally, country artist Jessie James Decker will return as Powerball correspondent for the second year, revealing the Powerball First Millionaire of the Year just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2021.

To ring in the new year, YouTube is having a global celebration with some celebrities, including RuPaul, Demi Lovato, Dua Lipa, Matthew McConaughey, Storm Reid and more, noted. "Hello 2021" will be made up of five uniquely curated shows for specific regions across the world and will feature speeches, musical performances and dance parties. "Hello 2021: Americas" will premiere Dec. 31 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT on YouTube. Juanpa Zurita and Reid are set to host the event, which will welcome guests like McConaughey, Lovato, RuPaul, Emma Chamberlain and the D'Amelio Family; Lipa, J Balvin, YG, Karol G and Kane Brown are set to perform.

It turns out Charlize Theron would like to star in a lesbian-themed action movie, according to . "Lesbian Christmas rom coms [such as Happiest Season] are all well and good but what I really want is a Die Hard where Charlize Theron goes on a rampage to save her wife," one Twitter user posted—to which Theron responded, "Where do I sign [?]" Also, when she recently talked with Happiest Season's Mackenzie Davis for Interview magazine, Theron said, "I feel like a good actor is a good actor, and I can't wait for us to look at non-binary queer actors in the same way that we do hetero-cis actors."

Diana Ross' debut performance as legendary singer Billie Holiday is featured in the classic drama Lady Sings The Blues, arriving on Blu-ray for the first time ever Feb. 23, 2021, from Paramount Home Entertainment, a press release noted. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actress in a Leading Role, for Ross. The Blu-ray includes the following previously released bonus content in standard definition: commentary by executive producer and Motown founder Berry Gordy, director Sidney Furie and artist manager Shelly Berger, a making-of featurette entitled "Behind the Blues: Lady Sings the Blues" and seven deleted scenes.

Disney has announced that Hocus Pocus 2 is officially happening, Movieweb reported. The original 1993 movie was not a hit upon its release in theaters, but it quickly became a cult classic, thanks to the performances of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy—the Sanderson Sisters. As of this writing, all three original actresses have not officially signed on to star in the sequel, although they have all expressed interest in possibly reprising their roles.

PETA marked its 40th anniversary with a virtual, star-studded party Dec. 12 co-hosted by Alan Cumming, with special appearances by Tim Gunn, Jillian Michaels and many others—and its honorees included Lily Tomlin (who received an award from longtime friend Dolly Parton), a press release noted. The event was also scheduled to include special appearances by Sir Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Chrissie Hynde, Iggy Pop, Anjelica Huston, Pamela Anderson and Edie Falco, among others.

The LGBTQ film Cowboys will be out in virtual cinemas and on VOD on Feb. 12, a press release announced. Steve Zahn stars as Troy, a troubled but well-intentioned father who has recently separated from his wife Sally (Jillian Bell). Aghast at Sally's refusal to let their trans son Joe (Sasha Knight) live as his authentic self, Troy runs off with Joe into the Montana wilderness—with a police detective (Ann Dowd) in pursuit.

Originally recorded for archival purposes only, Bianca Del Rio and Peaches Christ will livestream-screen What Ever Happened to Bianca Del Rio? on Dec. 19-20, according to a press release. Audiences will find out what happens when two aging drag sisters live out their twilight years together in a house of horrors. Baby Bianca is a former child star who wants to revive the show she made popular as a little girl, when her hit song "I've Written a Letter to Draggy" dominated the vaudeville circuit—but her drag sister (played by Christ) proves to be a burden on wheels. See

While Bob Dylan has been making news for selling his song catalog for at least $200 million, Stevie Nicks sold the majority stake in her song catalog to music publisher Primary Wave last month, Business Insider noted. In the deal, Primary Wave acquired an 80% stake in Nicks' copyrights—which was valued at about $100 million—The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people close to the transaction. This year, the 1977 Fleetwood Mac song "Dreams," written by Nicks, was back in the Billboard charts for the first time in more than 40 years.

Paramount Network's latest LGBTQ+ project, Dashing in December (which premiered Dec. 13), brings together Fuller House star Juan Pablo Di Pace, Golden Globe winner Andie MacDowell and Young and the Restless star Peter Porte in a story about family, acceptance and Christmas in Utah, according to . Di Pace—who said making the film was "very therapeutic"—made headlines last year when he came out publicly at a TedX event in the Netherlands. Porte is also gay in real life, and has been married to Jacob Jules Villere since 2018, according to .

Netflix has started production on the show Feel Good, noted. Series co-creator and star Mae Martin said in a video that the comedy-drama was renewed for season two and will return for a second and final season "very soon." Feel Good follows Mae (Martin), a stand-up comedian and recovering addict who starts dating George (Charlotte Ritchie), a woman who's never been in a same-sex relationship.

Emmy winner Lena Waithe has teamed with Amazon Studios and Big Beach to develop a series based on a play by Obehi Janice titled Ole White Sugah Daddy, Deadline noted. The currently untitled series will follow the story of Janice, a Nigerian-American woman in tech who spends her days navigating her peers at the co-working space she works out of in Boston; the angel investors who aren't giving her the seed money she needs to get her app, Neighbr, off the ground; and her friends and family who are pushing her to move her business back to her hometown of Lowell.

Country-music icon Charley Pride died Dec. 12 in Dallas of complications from COVID-19, at age 86, a press release announced. Born a sharecropper's son in Sledge, Mississippi, on March 18, 1934, Pride emerged from Southern cotton fields to become country music's first Black superstar and the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He had chart-topping hits including "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'," "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" and "Mountain of Love." In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to The Pride Scholarship at Jesuit College Preparatory School, St. Philips School and Community Center, The Food Bank or the donor's choice.

The musical act Brockhampton relaunched its Gay collection, a press release announced. Originally released online in 2018, it is a line of clothing intended to further represent and empower the LGBTQ+ community in mainstream media and retail. The collection's lookbook—with creative direction by Kevin Abstract and photography by Ashlan Grey—includes portraits of activists from GLAAD's Youth Engagement Program, a network of young LGBTQ and ally activists who promote LGBTQ acceptance through the media.The five-piece collection includes t-shirts, a hoodie and a hat, which range in price from $9.99 to $71.95, and are available exclusively at

Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski announced on Instagram the forthcoming release of his new cookbook, Antoni: Let's Do Dinner, Page Six noted. Porowski, whose Antoni in the Kitchen cookbook with Mindy Fox debuted in September 2019, said his new recipes will emphasize the sacredness of home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Antoni: Let's Do Dinner, which HMH Books & Media is publishing, will arrive next September.

Ariana Grande will bring her hit songs to Netflix with her new tour film Excuse Me, I Love You, Deadline reported. Named after the first lyrics of her number "R.E.M.," the pop star's newly announced project will bring her 2019 Sweetner world tour to audiences stuck at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Excuse Me, I Love You is the latest in Netflix's music-tour slate. Additional tour-related titles on the streamer include Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky and Taylor Swift's Miss Americana.

CAA has signed Luke Evans, who is currently filming David E. Kelley's and John-Henry Butterworth's Hulu miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers, alongside Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy and Michael Shannon, Deadline reported. Evans will next be seen in the ITV miniseries The Pembrokeshire Murders, which debuts in January.

The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken signed a big overall deal with Universal Television to develop and produce scripted content, Deadline noted. As part of said deal, Chaiken will serve as executive producer/showrunner on the first season of NBC's upcoming Law & Order: SVU spinoff series Law & Order: Organized Crime, starring Chris Meloni. She is coming off a high-profile showrunner stint on Fox's Empire at her previous studio home, 20th Television.

Quiver Distribution landed U.S. rights to Falling—the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen that had its world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Deadline noted. A theatrical, digital and on-demand release is set for Feb. 5. In Falling, Mortensen plays John, who lives with his partner and their daughter in California, far from the traditional rural life he left behind years ago; Laura Linney and Lance Henriksen co-star.

DC Comics announced that the new Batman will be Black, noted. The next caped crusader will be called Tim Fox and will be the estranged son of Bruce Wayne's business manager, Lucius Fox. The new comic book series will be written by 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, with art courtesy of Nick Derington and Laura Braga.

Hulu has renewed The Handmaid's Tale for a fifth season—ahead of the series' fourth-season premiere, Deadline noted. Based on Margaret Atwood's novel of the same name, The Handmaid's Tale follows the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. The show stars Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski and Samira Wiley, among others.

Three of the five nominees for the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Children's Music Album asked the Recording Academy to rescind their nominations, noted. "We are deeply grateful to the Recording Academy and its voting members for the honor we've received, but we can't in good conscience benefit from a process that has—both this year and historically—so overlooked women, performers of colors, and most especially Black performers," wrote Alastair Moock & Friends, the Okee Dokee Brothers and Dog on Fleas.

Jessica Simpson is collaborating with Amazon, as the streamer is working on an unscripted docuseries based on her memoir Open Book and Amazon-owned IMDb TV is also developing a coming-of-age scripted series inspired by the book, Deadline reported. Separately, Simpson will write two new original essays to be published through Amazon Original Stories.

Capitol Records released the uptempo song "Easy," which features Troye Sivan and Kacey Musgraves along with Mark Ronson, a press release noted. In the official video, which received a YouTube premiere, Sivan and Musgraves embark on a dark journey, with the grittier side of Nashville as the backdrop. As dawn breaks, they leave Music City as quickly as they came, with the next town in their sights. The video is at

Legendary singer, songwriter and producer Barry Gibb has released the song "Butterfly," featuring special guests Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, a press release noted. Originally recorded in 1967, "Butterfly" is the second unveiled from Gibb's anticipated new album, Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1, which will be released Jan. 8 on Capitol Records. The album will feature Gibb collaborations with such acts as Keith Urban, Olivia Newton-John, Brandi Carlisle, Dolly Parton, Little Big Town and others.

A True Blood reboot is in the early development stages at HBO, Variety confirmed. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Jami O'Brien are attached to write the script and executive produce, with original series creator and showrunner Alan Ball also attached to executive produce. At this time, none of the show's original cast is attached to return; those cast members included Anna Paquin, Alexander Skarsgard, Nelsan Ellis (now deceased), Joe Manganiello, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, and Rutina Wesley.

Disney Studios President of Production Sean Bailey stated that Disenchanged—an Enchanted sequel—will star Amy Adams and go straight to Disney+, according to Deadline. The 2007 live-action movie was a satire on Disney animated princess musicals, a fish-out-of water tale about a cartoon princess who is submerged in modern day New York City.

Marvel Studios said it will not recast Black Panther, the character played by the late Chadwick Boseman, reported. "(Boseman's) portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past, and it's for that reason, that we will not react the character," Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said during his presentation at Disney Investor Day. The sequel is scheduled to be released July 8, 2022, and will be written and directed by Ryan Coogler. Boseman died in August at age 43 after fighting a private battle with colon cancer.

FX has renewed its flagship comedy It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for four more seasons—a move that will take the series into a record 18th season, according to Deadline. It had already broken Ozzie & Harriet's record for longest-running live-action comedy when it was renewed for season 15 in May. Co-star Rob McElhenney tweeted, "Sunny was originally pitched as a 36 season arc. So happy to be halfway done."

Roadside Attractions will release the film Pinocchio only in theaters on Dec. 25, a press release noted. Shot in Italian locations, Matteo Garrone's movie stars Academy Award-winning actor Roberto Benigni as Geppetto, the old woodcarver whose puppet creation, Pinocchio, magically comes to life with dreams of becoming a real boy. Easily led astray, Pinocchio (played by 9-year-old Federico Ielapi) tumbles from one misadventure to another as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits through a wonderful world full of imaginative creatures.

New Line made a preemptive deal for a music-driven holiday comedy pitch fashioned as a potential star vehicle for Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar-winning Dreamgirls star who'll next star as Aretha Franklin in the upcoming film Respect, Deadline noted. The New Line film calls for Hudson to sing Christmas standards as well as new holiday tunes.

Aubrey Plaza said COVID-19 hit the set of the Kristen Stewart-led LGBTQ Christmas movie Happiest Season in late February when they were filming, according to Page Six. "Yes, right before COVID, in fact, COVID was on our set. Kristen got sick, but we didn't know," Plaza said on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Plaza added that a lot of people on the set got sick around that time and no one thought anything of it.

In a recent interview, Big Brother star Zach Rance opened up about his bisexuality and even said he hooked up with a fellow castmate—Frankie Grande, noted. "I fell in love with who he was as a person," Rance said. While the pair were on the show there had been commentary from viewers about the closeness of their friendship. After the season ended, the two stayed close and one night it led to a hookup. "He was the first guy that I ever hooked up with. After that night, I was very unsure about the direction of my sexuality because I like women," Rance said. Recently, Rance was shown nude with reality star Jozea Flores, who was linked with Jeffree Star earlier this year.

Wendy Williams revealed on her show that her mother, Shirley Skinner Williams, passed away several weeks ago, noted. "My mom passed away many, many, many, many weeks ago," she said, adding that her mother, 85, died "peacefully." She did not give a cause of death, and Deadline noted the show is pausing production until Jan. 4 so Williams can be with her family following her mother's death. Fans of Williams will see more of the New Jersey talk show host's life in Wendy Williams: The Movie. The Wendy Williams biopic, produced by Williams, is due out Jan. 30 on Lifetime and will cover her rise as a radio host, marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter, struggles with addiction and more.

Joe Exotic—the ex-zookeeper convicted of trying to hire a hitman to kill rival Carole Baskin—is reportedly hoping Kim Kardashian West can get him out of jail, The New York Post noted. Exotic, whose story was made famous in the Netflix show Tiger King, penned a letter to Kardashian West, asking if she could help score him a pardon from President Trump, ET reported. She successfully lobbied President Trump in 2018 to grant clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother who was serving a life sentence without parole for drug offenses.

Shia LaBeouf has been sued by his Honey Boy co-star FKA Twigs for sexual battery and assault, Deadline reported. "The days in which LaBeouf can mistreat and harm women with impunity are over," the lawsuit stated, citing a cycle of "relentless abuse" by the Emmy-winning actor. Twigs and LaBeouf met when she was cast in the 2019 Alama Har'el drama.

Fans of the James Bond movie franchise now have the chance to watch the first 19 movies (the ones without Daniel Craig) for free on YouTube, noted. The platform revealed a new James Bond section of its Movies & Shows channel, where all of the movies made before Daniel Craig's current tenure are available to stream for free. The streams will include several ads throughout the movies.

Five essential John Hughes classics arrive in one fantastic Blu-ray Collection on Feb. 23, 2021 from Paramount Home Entertainment, a press release announced. The John Hughes 5-Movie Collection includes the favorites Pretty in Pink; Ferris Bueller's Day Off; and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, as well as the Blu-ray debuts of She's Having a Baby and Some Kind of Wonderful. The collection also includes access to a digital copy of each film.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century—the '80s sci-fi classic TV series and 1979 theatrical feature starring Gil Gerard—is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, a press release announced. Buck Rogers: The Complete Collection has an SRP of $99.95; the theatrical feature is also available individually on Blu-ray (SRP: $24.95) and DVD (SRP: $14.95). The series co-starred Erin Gray as well as Felix Silla, Tim O'Connor and the legendary voice of Mel Blanc as Twiki. Among the many guest stars were Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Newmar, Jack Palance, Roddy McDowall, Macdonald Carey, Cesar Romero and Gary Coleman.

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