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SHOWBIZ Laverne Cox, lesbian coach, Jim Parsons, 'Brokeback,' theater items
by Windy City Times staff

This article shared 1351 times since Mon Jan 11, 2021
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Laverne Cox is teaming with Meryl Streep and Rashida Jones to executive-produce a new documentary exploring one of the most critical issues at the intersection of race, feminism, and power: the sex industry, noted. Sell/Buy/Date will be directed by Tony winner Sarah Jones, who originally brought the project to life in a one-woman show that debuted off-Broadway in 2016. In the critically acclaimed production, Jones channeled more than a dozen multicultural characters as she explored their independent relationships with sex work.

San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers—the first publicly out gay coach in NFL history—will not return to the team for the 2021-22 season, according to Outsports. She confirmed her exit from the 49ers coaching staff in a text message to the East Bay Times: "I will sadly not be back." On Instagram, she wrote, "I don't know what 2021 has in store but I promise you, it won't be boring." Sowers etched her name into NFL record books in 2017, when the 49ers, under then-new head coach Kyle Shanahan, brought her on as a summer intern under the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship.

Actor Jim Parsons added his voice to ongoing discussion around who should play gay roles in movies and television, noted. In a recent interview with the LA Times, Parsons star of Ryan Murphy's adaptation of Boys in The Band, said that "there's definitely this spectrum" of answers on the issue. "I think the fight, as it were, is not about having only gay people play the gay parts but to ensure that all parts are open to all actors," he continued. "It's important that gay characters are portrayed as well-rounded and completely human individuals." He added that even some of his favorite gay characters in movies were played by straight actors, specifically mentioning Brokeback Mountain.

And speaking of Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx—the author who wrote the short story that was later adapted into that film—said she wishes she'd "never written the story" because fans keep trying to change the story and give the characters a happy ending, noted. Proulx told The Paris Review that she regularly receives mail and contacts about her story that hope to see a happy ending for Jack and Ennis, or at least for Ennis after Jack is murdered. Proulx, who is straight, wrote "Brokeback Mountain" for The New Yorker in 1997 and won the O. Henry Prize.

Michael Urie (Broadway revival of Torch Song; TV's Ugly Betty), Constance Shulman (TV show Orange Is the New Black), Colby Lewis (Chicago's Hamilton, TV show Chicago Med) and Ann Harada (Avenue Q and Cinderella on Broadway) will be the key figures in the new play Smithtown, which The Studios of Key West will stream Feb. 13-27, a press release noted. Smithtown shines a spotlight on the ways people communicate, and miscommunicate, in a rapidly evolving digital era. Tickets ($15-$20) are available at

The 2018 Broadway musical Mean Girls—based on Tina Fey's 2004 comedy of the same name—will not reopen at the August Wilson Theatre when Broadway resumes post-pandemic, Playbill reported. The production effectively ended March 11, 2020 (the eve of the New York State-mandated shutdown), running for 29 previews and 804 regular performances. The musical was nominated for 12 2018 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. A national tour launched in fall 2019, halting operations around the same time as the Broadway shutdown.

Out entertainer Sam Harris' life story is chronicled in the new musical Ham: A Musical Memoir, now on BroadwayHD (Digital) worldwide, a press release noted. Based on Tony nominee and multi-platinum recording artist Harris' book, Ham: Slices of a Life, the original stage production (in which Harris plays 12 different characters) was developed and directed by Tony- and Emmy-winning actor Billy Porter.

Doom Patrol actor Matt Bomer is set to lend his voice in DC Universe Movie's Justice Society: World War II animated film, noted. The project will be the first DC movie to feature the Justice Society of America. That team of superheroes includes The Flash (Bomer), Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Dr. Fate (Keith Ferguson), and Aquaman (Liam McIntyre).

Singer Rufus Wainwright announced Rufus-Retro-Wainwright-Spective! 2021—the virtual live-stream tour through all nine of his studio albums, a press release noted. The tour will see the albums performed in chronological order, with one album side performed for each date. The shows will be performed on various dates through March 26. Tickets can be purchased at

Miley Cyrus announced a new album of Metallica covers, noted. In an interview with Capital FM, Cyrus revealed that she's working on an upcoming cover of Metallica's hit "Nothing Else Matters" with pop icon Elton John, and she's working with others. "I've got Yo-Yo Ma, [Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer] Chad Smith—so many all-stars in this band," she added. Cyrus recently released her seventh studio album, the '80s rock- inspired Plastic Hearts, which features collaborations with Dua Lipa, Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks.

Proudly displaying their wedding rings, soccer great Marta Vieira da Silva and teammate Toni Deion Pressley announced they were engaged to be married in a series of Instagram photos, according to . The pair have been dating since 2017 and are teammates to Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, who married in 2019. According to People, the pair first started dating after becoming teammates on the Orlando Pride, of the National Women's Soccer League.

Singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman was awarded $450,000 in a copyright lawsuit against Nicki Minaj for the use of one of her songs in an uncleared sample on a song that was supposed to be on the rapper's last album, reported. In 2018, Chapman first filed a suit against Minaj over the rapper's song "Sorry," which samples Chapman's song "Baby Can I Hold You." After Minaj couldn't clear the sample, she leaked the song through Funkmaster Flex. In June 2018, Minaj's team asked Chapman to clear the song so that Minaj could include it on her album, Queen; when Chapman's team refused, Minaj leaked the song to a DJ.

SAG-AFTRA issued a statement condemning the rioting that took place Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. In part, the statement read, "Rioters, emboldened and encouraged by a sitting president and his enablers who have peddled baseless conspiracy theories, stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to subvert democracy. As a union and a democratic organization, we are appalled by this attack on the values we hold most sacred. The disgraceful scenes coming out of the nation's capital have undermined America's institutions and its standing in the world. Displays of the Confederate flag and other symbols of white supremacy and hate were meant to subjugate and terrorize people of color and those of certain faiths. This poison attacks the diverse membership of our union and the labor movement."

HBO Max has given a series order to And Just Like That…—a new chapter of the HBO series Sex and the City, from executive producer Michael Patrick King and starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis, a press release announced. The series will follow Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte as they navigate the journey from the complicated reality of life and friendship in their 30s to the even more complicated reality of life and friendship in their 50s. The 10-episode, half-hour series is scheduled to begin production in New York late spring.

RuPaul's Drag Race set ratings records with its season-13 premiere on Jan. 1, according to Deadline. The Emmy-winning reality drag queen competition rang in the "Ru year" with a new season that attracted 1.3 million total viewers. In the episode, the queens were met with a huge twist: As soon as they made their grand entrance into the "werk" room, they were ushered to the mainstage to defend their place in the competition by lip-syncing for their lives.

Actress Maddie Hasson—of shows like The Finder, Twisted,and Impulse—has come out as bisexual on social media, noted. Hasson, who married composer Julian Brink in 2015, posted a picture of herself looking directly in the camera and said "Hi. I'm bi and proud." Hasson got her first big acting break in the short lived 2012 spin-off of Bones, The Finder.

New York Times best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey died Dec. 3 at age 59, Essence reported. Dickey was the man behind several classic books about the more tender realities of Black life, including Sister, Sister; Friends & Lovers; and Between Lovers. "I am truly saddened to hear about the passing of Eric Jerome Dickey," author Roxane Gay tweeted. "His were some of the first novels I ever read about black people that weren't about slavery of civil rights. He was a great storyteller."

The Carey Mulligan-led movie Promising Young Woman will be available at home on demand for a 48-hour rental period beginning Friday, Jan. 15, a press release noted. Currently in theaters, director Emerald Fennell's project presents a new take on revenge. Everyone said Cassie (played by Mulligan) was a promising young woman—until a mysterious event abruptly derailed her future; however, she is determined to right the wrongs of her past.

After a previous false announcement about Tanya Roberts' death, it was confirmed that she did, indeed, pass away Jan. 4, Deadline reported. The A View to a Kill, Charlie's Angels and That 70's Show actress, 65, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized since Christmas Eve after collapsing in her home, her partner Lance O'Brien told The New York Times and TMZ. A cause of death has not been specified.

The Recording Academy is postponing the 2021 Grammy Awards until later in the spring in response to the surge of coronavirus cases impacting the country, Deadline reported. The event had been scheduled for Jan. 31 on CBS live from Los Angeles' Staples Center, with Trevor Noah hosting an already scaled-back event. The event will now reportedly be held in March.

Tony winner Tonya Pinkins has been tapped to co-star opposite Adrienne Warren in ABC's limited series Women of the Movement after Niecy Nash left for personal reasons, Deadline reported. The six-episode limited series, set to premiere in 2021, centers on Mamie Till-Mobley (Warren), who devoted her life to seeking justice for her son, Emmett Till. Pinkins will play Alma, Emmett's grandmother.

Oscar and Tony winner Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to star opposite Michael Sheen on the upcoming second season of Fox's serial-killer thriller drama Prodigal Son, according to Deadline. Zeta-Jones will appear in the latter half of the season as Dr. Vivian Capshaw, Claremont Psychiatrics' resident MD. Prodigal Son follows Malcolm Bright (played by Tom Payne), a criminal profiler with a rare talent for getting inside the minds of killers; Sheen plays his father—a former serial killer known as "The Surgeon" who now uses his intellect to help his son and the NYPD solve murders.

Gay chef Kenneth J. McDuffie is on the newest cast of the Fox show Hell's Kitchen, according to Philadelphia Gay News. The show—which begins with 18 contestants and through a process of elimination reaches a winner—is headlined by the famously acerbic chef Gordon Ramsay. McDuffie also tried out for the show six years ago, but didn't make the cut.

After nearly seven years, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's marriage may soon be coming to an end, reported. According to multiple sources, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star is preparing to file for divorce from her rapper husband, whom she wed in May 2014, and is working with top divorce lawyer Laura Wasser. Page Six stated that West's failed presidential run was "the final straw" for Kardashian.

Speaking of Kim K., beauty company Coty Inc announced the acquisition of a 20-percent ownership interest in her business for $200 million, according to The Daily Mail. The strategic transaction was announced in June 2020 and successfully completed on schedule in Q3 fiscal year 2021. Plans include Kardashian launching her skincare line, which remains on track to debut in fiscal year 2022.

Kanye West's former bodyguard, Steve Stanulis, sent TikTok star Cole Carrigan a cease-and-desist letter—after Carrigan claimed to his 339,000-plus followers that Stanulis set up a clandestine meeting for him and West at an L.A. hotel last year, Page Six reported. In a TikTok clip, the online beauty influencer claimed he first met West at a Bel Air, California, party in May before getting messages from the ex-bodyguard. Carrigan recalled, "He asked if I remembered him from the party and he said that Ye wanted to meet me tonight." However, Stanulis told Page Six on Friday he's never met or spoken to Carrigan, and pointed out that he worked for West years ago, back in 2016, and only in New York City.

Singer Halsey is set to launch her beauty line, about-face, on Jan. 25, according to a press release. The release stated, in part, "Inspired by music, fashion and art, about-face honors inclusivity, acceptance, experimentation and the democratization of beauty for our multiple identities." Halsey said, "The beauty industry has norms, but I want to encourage people to challenge those standards and allow things to be imperfect and fun." Products are formulated to be vegan and cruelty-free; prices range from $17 to $32.

A report stated that, more than five years after their official split, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale have been granted an annulment by the Catholic Church, Page Six reported, citing Us Weekly. The No Doubt frontwoman filed for divorce from the rocker in August 2015 after nearly 13 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences; they finalized their divorce in April 2016. Stefani had reportedly put off the idea of marrying fiance Blake Shelton until the annulment was finalized, due to her religious beliefs.

The legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard continues to be contentious. Deadline reported that, as the once-married couple inch toward a May 3 trial start in Depp's $50 million defamation suit against Heard, claims have re-emerged if the Aquaman star actually donated her $7 million 2016 divorce settlement to charity, as promised. While Depp initially handed over $100,000 of a promised $3.5 million to L.A.'s Children Hospital Foundation in Heard's name in 2016, a 2019 letter from the organization asks the actress "if you have knowledge if CHLA should expect further installment(s) on your behalf or if the pledge will not be fulfilled."

The game show Jeopardy! ended its run of episodes with Alex Trebek Jan. 8 with a video montage of the late host, Deadline noted. Trebek died Nov. 8, 2020, after a very public battle with pancreatic cancer, and the syndicated show had been running the pre-taped segments. The show is now in the process of trying out guest hosts (including all-time Jeopardy! winner Ken Jennings) while it seeks a permanent replacement.

Singer The Weeknd stunned fans with his appearance recently—but it's part of a performance piece, according to US Weekly. On Jan. 5, the Weeknd, a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye, appeared in his "Save Your Tears" music video with a crooked nose, super-high cheekbones and surgery scars, plus a bloated face and lips. However, the look was created by Prosthetic Renaissance's Mike Marino—the same mastermind behind Heidi Klum's many head-turning Halloween costumes.

Justin Bieber took to his Instagram story to deny a Page Six report that he's studying to be a minister at Hillsong Church in New York City—a megachurch known for attracting celebrities and which recently fired pastor Carl Lentz amidst cheating allegations, noted. "I'm not studying to be a minister or anything even close to that. Have no desire for that. This is fake news," he wrote.

Rising star Tyler Lepley discussed his sexuality—and Tyler Perry's—on the podcast Angela Yee's Lip Service, noted. "I remember when I first started out, I was seeing that here and there," he said. "For whatever reason, people were associating it with my first show," referencing The Haves and the Have Nots, Perry's popular drama series on OWN. "I came out on a Tyler Perry show, and for whatever reason, he gets a rap like that," said Lepley, who's also on the Stars show P-Valley. "I know Tyler [Perry] personally, and he's not gay. I was seen around him, and all of a sudden, 'he's rubbing off on me,' and people felt like I was gay or something like that."

Reality-show personality/businesswoman Eva Marcille and her new accessory brand allegedly stole the name and likeness from a similar company run by a Black woman named Jordan Simone, according to Madame Noire. Simone—whose jewelry line is named Jaded by Jordan—claimed that Marcille blocked her Instagram account from viewing the Jaded by Eva Marcille page as a way to keep Simone in the dark. Since then, users on both Twitter and Instagram have been showing evidence in an effort to help Simone spread her message and hold Marcille responsible for stealing someone else's brand and likeness. Marcille's jewelry page on Instagram has been taken down.

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