SHOWBIZ Gay racer, GALECA, Lena Waithe, ‘Chicago,’ LGBTQ+ films

Gay motorsports racer Zach Herrin made his long-awaited debut in a NASCAR-affiliated race in Phoenix, The Advocate noted. “I know I have a lot of eyes on me, and all I want to do is get out there and blur everything out so I can have a great debut race,” Herrin told Outsports. (Herrin finished 18th out of 30 racers, according to Racing News.) The ARCA Menard Series is a feeder series for less experienced racers to eventually make it to the more recognized events such as the elite NASCAR Cup Series.

GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics and Rotten Tomatoes announced the launch of The Crimson Honors—a new college film and TV criticism scholarship program for LGBTQ+ women and non-binary students of color in Southern California pursuing a career in journalism or entertainment criticism, per a press release. GALECA will award more than $6,000 in financial assistance, funded by Rotten Tomatoes. Applicants can submit materials to www.surveymonkey.com/r/crimson-honors2022 by 11:59 p.m. PT on Dec. 31, 2022; entrants will be notified that their submissions were received with winners being announced on Feb. 27, 2023.

Emmy-winning writer, creator and actor Lena Waithe will serve as the ambassador for the 2023 American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Variety noted. As ambassador, Waithe—an influential advocate for underrepresented storytellers in Hollywood—will aid ABFF’s mission of showcasing Black talent and discovering new voices. The 27th edition of the festival will be held June 14-18 in Miami Beach, followed by a virtual program June 19-25 on ABFF Play. Previous ABFF ambassadors include Issa Rae (was the 2022 festival ambassador), Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Idris Elba, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina Hall and Common, among others.

Pose and American Horror Story star Angelica Ross was slated to play her final performance as Roxie Hart in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago on Nov. 6 at the Ambassador Theatre, Playbill noted. Ross, who began performances Sept. 12, played an eight-week limited engagement in the long-running production. She joined a small group of openly trans performers to play principals on Broadway, including Wicked’s Alexandra Billings, A Strange Loop’s L Morgan Lee, Head Over Heels’ Peppermint and Straight White Men’s Kate Bornstein.

And on a related note, fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi—who has also played cabaret engagements at New York’s Cafe Carlyle—will make his Broadway acting debut in Chicago on Nov. 7-26, also according to Playbill. Mizrahi will play put-upon husband Amos Hart at the Ambassador Theatre.

In Indigenous cultures, a Two-Spirit person embodies masculine and feminine qualities through many gender expressions informed by Indigenous traditions and community roles. Being Thunder—an official selection of Frameline, NewFest, The American Indian Film Festival and the Inside Out Film Festival—introduces this Native American role by focusing on the life and advocacy of Sherente Mishitahin Harris, a Two-Spirit genderqueer teenager from Rhode Island’s Narragansett tribe. The film will premiere on VOD and Digital on Friday, Nov. 11.

Two well-meaning, but meddling mothers hatch a plot to reunite their children—who were childhood friends and high school sweethearts—in the holiday romcom Merry & Gay, from A Baker Production. A press release stated that the film stars Dia Frampton (I Hate New Years; runner up in the inaugural season of The Voice; lead singer of the band Meg & Dia) and Andi Rene Christensen (Bel-Air; Hacks). (Incidentally, Christensen is the first non-binary actor to star in a lead role in a holiday romcom.) Merry & Gay premieres on VOD Dec. 1 on DivaBoxOffice.tv—the newly launched LGBTQI+ network dedicated to telling stories featuring and about the lesbian/queer community and women loving women.

Tom Kirdahy—Broadway producer and husband of the late theater icon Terrence McNally—announced the creation of the Terrence McNally Foundation, “continuing the legendary playwright’s singular legacy of mentorship and activism,” Deadline noted. Among other things, the foundation is committed to supporting LGBTQ+ causes. Nov. 3 would have been the playwright’s 84th birthday. He died of complications from COVID at age 81 on March 24, 2020.

British actor Daniel Radcliffe (the Harry Potter series) doubled down on criticizing Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for her anti-trans comments, Deadline noted. “The reason I was felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing Potter, I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that,” Radcliffe told IndieWire. Rowling drew backlash for her anti-trans sentiment and Radcliffe penned an open letter that was shared by the Trevor Project website.

Actor, comic and RuPaul’s Drag Race season-eight winner Bob the Drag Queen—who can be seen on We’re Here on HBO Max—helped celebrate the historic strides the Tony-winning musical A Strange Loop has ushered in for Black and queer representation in theater and U.S. culture during “Big, Black and Queer” night, a press notice stated. Bob led a talkback with A Strange Loop cast members and creatives before a diverse audience that included celebrity guests Peppermint, Mila Jam, DJ 2Face, Kizah Carr, Basit and more people who celebrated the event during LGBT History Month. A Strange Loop—a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer writing a musical about a Black, queer writer—runs on Broadway until Jan. 15.

A GoFundMe account has been started for RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue star Cristan Andre Hurtado, who passed away at age 34, Out noted. On the show, Hurtado was introduced as Kameron Michaels’ then-boyfriend and the couple was shown struggling with the long-distance aspect of their relationship.

And speaking of RuPaul, the entertainer is set to release a brand-new album of original songs, entitled Black Butta, on Jan. 6, 2023, according to The Advocate. The two lead singles of the album were released on Nov. 4: “Star Baby” and the holiday bop “Show Me That You Festive.” Black Butta is RuPaul’s 15th studio album and follows 2022’s Mamaru.

Taylor Swift achieved her 11th number-one album on the Billboard 200 with Midnights, according to Variety. The set entered the chart with 1.578 million album-equivalent units in the United States—the largest week for any album in nearly seven years, Billboard noted. Swift is now tied with Barbra Streisand as the female artist with the most No. 1 albums in the chart’s history. She’s the sixth act with more than 10 No. 1 albums on the chart, joining the Beatles (19), Jay-Z (14), and Drake, Bruce Springsteen and Streisand (all with 11). Also, Swift broke the modern-era U.S. record for single-week vinyl sales, selling 575,000 vinyl LPs of Midnights. In addition, she claimed 13 of the top 15 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart with the entire standard version of Midnights.

Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have joined together in a call to “Protect Black Art,” publishing an open letter in the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging legislators across the country to limit how creative expression can be used against defendants on trial, Variety reported. Specifically, it calls for an end to the racially discriminatory practice of treating rap lyrics as confessions. Among the artists and songwriters who have signed the letter are Megan Thee Stallion, Black Eyed Peas, Drake, John Legend, Post Malone, Mary J. Blige and Morgan Wallen (who was caught using a racial slur in 2021).

Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning singer, composer, director, author, actor and playwright Billy Porter shared a new song entitled “Stranger Things” via Island UK and Republic Records, a press release noted. Porter debuted the song during a set at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City. He introduced the song by declaring, “I came with a message of hope.”

Former Palm restaurateur Bruce Bozzi is looking to tell culinary crime stories of restaurants in New York, Page Six revealed. “I want to tell the stories of five major hits that have happened at steakhouses in New York—what happened at Sparks, Rao’s, Umbertos Clam House,” he said. Bozzi (who is married to powerful Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd) said he got the idea after longtime friend and TV vet, Michael Rourke, approached him about developing a show in “the essence of Bruce.”

Award-winning actor Ben Platt spoke with The New York Times about last year’s movie adaptation of his iconic role in Dear Evan Hansen, and the backlash he faced for appearing “too old” to be a teenager in the high school movie, Out noted. “It was definitely a disappointing experience, and difficult, and it definitely opened my eyes to the internet and how horrific it can be,” Platt said of criticism about a 27-year-old portraying a 17-year-old. “You’d think, after doing Dear Evan Hansen onstage for four years, I would have already known that.”

Glee creator Ryan Murphy revealed that he originally wrote the character of Mr. Schuester for Justin Timberlake, not eventual star Matthew Morrison, Out noted. Murphy made the revelation on And That’s What You REALLY Missed—the podcast hosted by former Glee stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz. However, he also said, “Mr. Schue, I believe, was a crystal meth addict in Ian [Brennan’s] script—the NC-17 version of [a] show choir with a weird protagonist who was unraveling.”

Heartstopper actor Kit Connor has come out as bisexual, according to Out. The 18-year-old British actor—best known for playing Nick Nelson in Netflix’s popular live-action TV adaptation of the queer teen romantic graphic novel series Heartstopper—returned to Twitter after a brief hiatus to reveal his sexual orientation. “Back for a minute,” Connor posted. “I’m bi. Congrats for forcing an 18-year-old to out himself. I think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye.” Connor had been accused by some of “queerbaiting” and, in past talks with the media, he said he didn’t want to label his sexuality.

The CW series DC’s Stargirl will conclude with its current third season, Deadline noted. New episodes will continue to air on Wednesdays through Dec. 7. The cancelation of DC’s Stargirl comes less than a month after Nexstar Media Group completed its acquisition of the network and is the latest series coming to an end. The show joins the likes of series such as The Flash, Riverdale and Nancy Drew, which are also ending.

Madonna shared a new crop of topless selfies to her Instagram Stories, keeping the flashback to her original “Sex” era going strong, per Page Six. The “Borderline” singer posed in a white under-bust corset with lollipop and money-bag emojis covering her nipples. Another shot captured her black leather corset-clad torso with a candy emoji over her nether regions. The photos were posted amid the 30th anniversary of her coffee-table book Sex.

Lupita Nyong’o is in final negotiations to star in Paramount’s A Quiet Place: Day One, Deadline noted. The spinoff will be directed and written by Michael Sarnoski (Pig). Not much more is known about this project other than it not being a threequel but rather a spinoff, based on an idea from John Krasinski, who directed the first two films and starred in the first one.

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Joss Stone’s new whimsical visual for her rendition of the spirited Stevie Wonder classic “What Christmas Means To Me” is out now, per a press release. The video comes as she gears up to promote her debut Christmas album, Merry Christmas, Love, which was released in September via S-Curve/Hollywood Records. The album is available on all streaming platforms and CD; vinyl will be released on Nov. 11.

Even though HBO didn’t renew the show Westworld after season four, the cast will still be paid for the nonexistent fifth season, Deadline noted. The core cast—consisting of Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Aaron Paul—reportedly had pay-or-play deals for season five.

Peacock announced the Friday the 13th expanded prequel series Crystal Lake, a press release noted. Series details are being kept under wraps. Co-executive producer Bryan Fuller said, “When it comes to horror, A24 raises the bar and pushes the envelope and I’m thrilled to be exploring the camp grounds of Crystal Lake under their banner. And [NBCUniversal Television and Streaming Chair] Susan Rovner is simply the best at what she does. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be working with her again.” See PeacockTV.com .

Wendy Williams recently took a photo sitting in the iconic purple chair she used on The Wendy Williams Show for more 12 years, Page Six noted. The star took to Instagram to tell her fans to “stay tuned” for her upcoming podcast, “The Wendy Experience,” adding, “About Last NIGHT… Team WENDY!” Fans commented on how happy and healthy the talk-show host looked after spending two months in rehab—but hey also urged her to not jump back into the spotlight too quickly.

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