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'Wicked' breaks record; trans actress educates Couric
Entertainment news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 6134 times since Tue Jan 7, 2014
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The Broadway show Wicked—the decade-old musical that tells the backstory of the witches in The Wizard of Oz—recently became the first show to break $3 million barrier in a single week, Ace Showbiz noted. It grossed an estimated $3.2 million over nine performances for the week ending Dec. 29. Another big hit is The Lion King, which shattered the house record at the Minskoff Theatre with a weekly gross of $2.8 million; it additionally becomes the highest-grossing show of the year on Broadway with $96.9 million.

Transgender Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox enlightened Katie Couric on a recent appearance on Couric's show, noted. Couric asked about media preoccupation with surgery and genitalia, and used "transgenders" as a noun—a no-no in the trans community. "I do feel there is a preoccupation with that," said Cox ( who appeared with fellow trans entertainer Carmen Carrera ). "The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don't get to really deal with the real lived experiences," to which she included violence, discrimination and unemployment. Cox also said she'd like to be called a "possibility model" instead of a "role model." released its list of the 15 most powerful LGBT celebrities of color. Among those on the list are wrestler Darren Young, singer Monifah Carter ( also of TV's R&B Divas ), stylist Lloyd Boston, Broadway star Billy Porter, former NFL star Wade Davis, classical violinist/vocalist/actress Tona Brown, director Paris Barclay, NBA player Jason Collins, iconic singer Johnny Mathis, Good Morning America's Robin Roberts and journalist Rod McCullom ( who's behind the blog Rod 2.0 ).

Jennifer Hudson got her assistant a house for Christmas, according to The New York Daily News. The "Spotlight" singer posted a video of her employee Walter Williams' reaction when he learned the news. Williams and Hudson have been longtime friends, meeting as classmates at Yale Elementary School in Chicago.

Ke$ha has entered a rehab center for a 30-day stint to treat an eating disorder, according to TMZ. The "Tik Tok" singer is at Timberline Knolls near Chicago, the same place Demi Lovato went for her issues. She told TMZ, "I'm a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself, but I've found it hard to practice. I'll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder ... to learn to love myself again, exactly as I am."

NFL player Torrey Smith ( of the Baltimore Ravens ) has responded to what TMZ said was a "homophobic slur" he allegedly posted. According to The Baltimore Sun, Smith posted a pic of his brother wearing pink socks with flowers on them and included the caption "Look at this queen" on Instagram. Smith later tweeted that the socks belonged to his sister, adding, "The things these gossip sites do to get attention smh [shaking my head] ... I wasn't being offensive nor am I homophobic not apologizing or taking it down."

Actor Seth Rogen may have revealed too much about his past sex life when exchanging compliments with RuPaul, according to E! Online. It started when the Drag Race host tweeted his top 10 movies of the year, which included Rogen's flick This Is The End. In his response, Rogen posted, "@RuPaul thanks Ru Paul! When I was 15, I accidentally jacked off to a picture of you thinking you were a girl!!" RuPaul then stated, "A fist full of Jergen's lotion, a vivid imagination and look at you now @Sethrogen #Superstar #WerkBitch."

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, appearing on his weekly radio show ahead of the Jan. 5 playoff rematch with the San Francisco 49ers, disputed recent Internet rumors that he is gay, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm just going to say I'm not gay," Rodgers said Tuesday on 540 ESPN Milwaukee. "I really, really like women. That's all I can really say about that." That topic came up when he was asked about the positives and negatives of being a celebrity, to which he talked about the "uncool side" of dealing with "crazy rumors." The Packers lost, 23-20.

Bethenny—the series that features reality star Bethenny Frankel—is expected to return for a second season even as it suffers from low ratings and behind-the-scenes drama, The New York Daily News reported. However, the show will reportedly no longer be formatted as a talk show. Producers have struggled all season long to book high-profile celebrity guests, and show may take on a more conflict-oriented approach, similar to daytime mainstays like Jerry Springer and Maury. The show averaged 1.1 million viewers; by contrast, Judge Judy drew 10.3 million people daily.

Juanita Moore, an actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner's Black friend in the classic movie Imitation of Life, has died at age 99, according to Entertainment Weekly. Moore was only the fifth African-American performer to be nominated for an Oscar. The 1959 film ( itself a remake of a 1934 movie ) tells the story of a struggling white actress' rise to stardom, her friendship with a Black woman, and how they team up to raise their daughters as single mothers.

Melissa Etheridge was among the performers who entertained people in New York City's Times Square on New Year's Eve for CNN's special, according to . During an interview, Kathy Griffin ( who co-hosted the event with Anderson Cooper ) asked Etheridge if she was wearing underwear—to which the singer said, "Sort of."

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. said it settled a lawsuit with retailer Macy's Inc over a home-products deal with J.C. Penney Co Inc., according to a Chicago Tribune item. Macy's sued Martha Stewart and Penney last year after the two announced a partnership in 2011 to open Martha Stewart home shops at hundreds of Penney stores.

In an interview with Today co-anchor Matt Lauer, now-out figure-skating icon Brian Boitano talked about going to the Winter Olympics in February and being public with his sexuality, according to . Boitano said, "I knew that I had to go past my comfort zone and reveal a private side of my life that I've never done before because I felt that the message is so strong." Regarding Boitano's coming-out, Lauer said, "Can I say—and please don't take this the wrong way—I wasn't shocked." Boitano laughed and agreed that he has never hidden his identity.

Village People frontman Victor Willis is not on board with gay-rights activists' idea of playing the group's hit "Y.M.C.A." as U.S. athletes are introduced with the start of the upcoming Winter Olympics, according to The Huffington Post. In fact, Willis has claimed he disco track was never even intended to be an anthem for the gay community. Willis reportedly said, "If they want to use the song that way, go right ahead, but I think it's silly because the lyrics were written by me as an expression of urban youths having fun at the YMCA."

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has alleged in an editorialon Deadspin that he was released before the season as a result of being outspoken in support of same-sex marriage and was a victim of anti-gay remarks by Vikings special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer. According to, Kluwe said he didn't approach the team, the NFL or the players' association about Priefer's comments at the time because doing so is "something that ends careers." Priefer has denied Kluwe's allegations. The law firm Clayton Halunen, in conjunction with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, will represent Kluwe, according to .

In a related matter, ex-NFL star Brendon Ayanbadejo told TMZ Sports that former Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe is "100-percent right" about claims he was cut from the team because of his pro-gay rights crusade—and he's reportedly has the stats to confirm this. Ayanbadejo ( who shares Kluwe's pro-gay stance ) added that if Kluwe had championed a cause that was NFL-approved, like education or physical fitness, Kluwe would probably still be in the league.

Pop star Ricky Martin is back on the market, according to USA Today. The singer and his longtime boyfriend, Carlos Gonzalez Abella, have called it quits, his spokesperson confirmed. "Ricky and Carlos have mutually agreed to end their relationship, but continue to be united by friendship and their shared experiences," his statement read.

Openly gay newsman Thomas Roberts has been chosen to take over the MSNBC show Way Too Early, eight months after the channel named Brian Shactman as the show's anchor, according to . Roberts said in the announcement the job is "right in line with my career goals and aspirations." Meanwhile, Shactman said, "I don't want politics to be my only focus. … I want to continue to branch out, making sure my career is not solely defined by that."

GLAAD has named the character Bill from the PS3 video game The Last of Us among its most intriguing LGBTI characters of 2013, Gay Star News reported. The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic world where lone plague survivors must protect themselves from the infected and each other. Among the other entertainment-related items mentioned in GLAAD's list were the film Blue Is the Warmest Color, the Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine ( which features a gay police captain ), ABC Family's The Fosters, the British drama Last Tango in Halifax, the movie The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones, the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, BBC America's Orphan Black and stand-up comic Josh Thomas' live show Please Like Me.

Handsome Woman Productions has released a second, extended trailer for the game Ultimate Gay Fighter that includes a more extensive slew of characters and a look at their abilities and fighting techniques, according to The Huffington Post. Included in this trailer are the villains of the game: the League of Oppressive Self Righteous Zealots ( LOSRZ ), which include characters such as "Anne Paylin" and "Preach." Ultimate Gay Fighter will be available on iOS, Android and Windows phones later this month.

Exactly 20 years have passed since figure skater Tonya Harding became infamous after her ex-husband was involved in an attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan—and Harding is now saying the media attention just became too much for her, according to ABC News. Two days before the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, an assailant appeared backstage brandishing a police baton and clubbed Kerrigan ( the favorite in the event ) on her right knee; Harding won the event and both were chosen for the Winter Olympics. Harding has now also claimed Kerrigan failed to respond when she apologized for her ex-husband's actions.

In a related development, Nancy Kerrigan has been tapped as a skating analyst for NBC at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, according to . Kerrigan, a two-time medalist in figure skating, will provide analysis across multiple platforms, including NBC and NBCSN. The Olympics kick off Feb. 6.

U.S. boxing legend Evander Holyfield told a housemate on UK Celebrity Big Brother that being gay is no different than being handicapped because a doctor can ( allegedly ) fix both—resulting in the show's producers immediately scolding him, according to TMZ. When reality star Luisa Zissman asked him if there were any gay boxers in the sport, Holyfield—a deeply religious Christian—cited the bible and said homosexuality is not a choice. After the scolding, Holyfield ( who once had Mike Tyson infamously bite his ear ) said he understood the comments, but did not apologize.

Canadian lesbian duo Tegan and Sara will headline Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, Calif., according to a press release. The duo—whose latest album, Heartthrob, debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 200 album charts—will perform at the Palm Springs Convention Center on April 5. See .

In a letter, Lady Gaga begged her fans for their forgiveness for her underperforming ARTPOP album—even as she slammed the people in her operation who she said didn't have her back, according to the L.A. Times. In explaining the delay for her "Do What U Want" video, she wrote on her website, "It is very devastating for someone like me, I devote every moment of my life to creating fantasies for you." However, she added, "Those who have betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health, and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result." The album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in November, but nose-dived in sales after that.

Madonna is again at the center of controversy after posting an Instagram photo of her son Rocco, 13, and his seemingly underage friends posing with bottles of gin and vodka, People Magazine noted. With the photo, she wrote, "The party has just begun! Bring it! 2014." After some fans disliked the idea of the kids posing with bottles of alcohol, Madonna replied, "No one was drinking we were just having fun! Calm down and get a sense of humor! Don't start the year off with judgement!"

The season four premiere of Downton Abbey, which aired Jan. 5, turned in the highest-rated drama debut in PBS history, according to . An average audience of 10.2 million viewers tuned in for the opener, which had a 6.2 household rating—a 22-percent increase from last year. Season four will be available for free streaming on PBS station websites; the PBS Video Portal; and PBS' apps on Xbox, Roku and Apple TV for a limited time after each national broadcast.

Robin Roberts discussed her longtime girlfriend, massage therapist Amber Laign, on-air for the first time on Good Morning America Jan. 6, according to The Huffington Post. Roberts came out publicly in December, thanking her "long time girlfriend" in a Facebook post in which she reflected on her year. On the show, Roberts said, "I have never been happier or healthier than I am right now and my year-end post was just full of gratitude and just telling everyone all that I'm grateful for, including my girlfriend, Amber, who really loved me through a difficult year."

In a lawsuit that has dragged on for years with the late pop artist Robert Rauschenberg's family and charitable foundation, three friends who were asked to oversee his $600-million estate are asking for $60 million in fees as compensation for administering the trust, according to The Associated Press. At issue is if the $60 million in fees r is the "reasonable fee" Florida law allows. ( Rauschenberg died on May 12, 2008, of heart and lung failure at the age of 82. ) According to, Rauschenberg and artist Jasper Johns were lovers for six years in the 1950s and '60s.

The TV film version of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway revival of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, starring Tony and Emmy winner Cicely Tyson, will air on Lifetime Feb. 22 as part of the network's Black History Month programming, according to . The cast also features Tony nominee Vanessa Williams, who co-starred in the recent Broadway production, along with Blair Underwood and Keke Palmer.

ABC Family—home of shows such as The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars—has given a series order to Mystery Girls, which features former Beverly Hills, 90210 stars Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth, according to . The show follows two former detective TV show starlets brought back together by a real-life mystery. Charlie Contour ( Garth ) is a suburban housewife and mother, while Holly Hamilton ( Spelling ) longs for her glory days in the '90s, when she was on television.

Iconic actress/comedienne Lily Tomlin married writer Jane Wagner, her partner of 42 years, in a private ceremony in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, according to People magazine. "They're very happy," said the spokesperson, Jennifer Allen. Wagner, 78, was born and raised in Morristown, Tenn.; Tomlin, 74, is from Detroit. They reportedly met when Tomlin was looking for a collaborator to help her develop the character of the wicked child Edith Ann.

Just months after American Idol season nine runner-up Crystal Bowersox announced a divorce from husband Brian Walker in May 2013, the singer sat down with the show Good Day L.A. and discussed her bisexual identity, according to The Huffington Post. "I've been bisexual for as long as I can remember," Bowersox told reporters. "I remember being made fun of in junior high for that. It was something that was shameful, and it really shouldn't be." Bowersox also recently released a track titled "Coming out for Christmas."

The Sandra Bullock space drama Gravity scored 11 BAFTA ( British Academy of Film and Television Arts ) Award nominations, leading all movies, according to BBC News. Bullock is up for best actress, while Alfonso Cuaron is nominated for best director. Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave and David O Russell's American Hustle each recevied 10 nods. Dame Judi Dench scored a record 15th acting nomination for her role in Philomena. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at London's Royal Opera House Feb. 16.

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