Monday, February 28, 2011

And the 2011 Oscars Go To...

The King's Speech ruled over the 2011 Academy Awards on Sunday, taking home four honors including Best Picture and Best Actor for the movie's star, Colin Firth.

The royal drama, about stuttering British monarch George VI, led the competition with 12 nominations going into this year's Oscars, and edged out the likes of Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception and The Social Network to claim the most coveted title of the night.

Firth was crowned Best Actor in a Leading Role, emerging triumphant over Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and James Franco (127 Hours).

Filmmaker Tom Hooper also basked in Oscar glory as he was hailed Best Director, beating Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David O. Russell (The Fighter), David Fincher (The Social Network) and Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit).

Pregnant Natalie Portman fought back tears as she walked away with Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of a tormented ballet dancer in Black Swan, ahead of Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

She gave special thanks to her Black Swan choreographer and fiance Benjamin Millepied, telling the audience, "So many people helped me prepare for this role... my beautiful love, Benjamin Millepied who choreographed the film and has now given me the most important role of my life."

It was also a golden night for The Fighter, about tough Boston, Massachusetts boxing legends Mickey Ward and Dickie Eklund, as Christian Bale and Melissa Leo dominated the Best Supporting categories.

Meanwhile, moviemaker Francis Ford Coppola, actor Eli Wallach and historian Kevin Brownlow were given a standing ovation in recognition of the lifetime achievement honors they received at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Governors Awards in November. Fellow honoree Jean-Luc Godard did not attend the ceremony.

Oscars co-hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco opened the 2011 Academy Awards with a hilarious spoof poking fun at the Best Picture nominees, while 2010 presenter Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman also made surprise appearances in the skit.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, Randy Newman, and Florence Welch and A.R. Rahman provided the music for the night as they performed the tracks nominated for Best Original Song.

And Celine Dion took to the Kodak Theatre stage in Los Angeles to sing Smile during the ceremony's annual In Memorium segment, remembering the stars lost in the past 12 months, including Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, Pete Postlethwaite and Gloria Stuart.

The complete list of winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards is as follows:

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Best Screenplay - Adapted: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Screenplay - Original: David Seidler, The King's Speech
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World (Denmark)
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Documentary (Feature): Inside Job
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara, Alice In Wonderland
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick, Inception
Best Sound Editing: Richard King, Inception
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Best Original Song: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3, Randy Newman
Best Costume: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland
Best Documentary (Short Subject): Strangers No More
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Make-up: The Wolfman
Best Animated Short Film: The Lost Thing
Best Live Action Short Film: God of Love
Best Visual Effects: Inception

Spartacus Creator Talks 'Gods of the Arena' Finale & Epic Season 2 Plans

Six hours was far too short of time to spend among such fine gladiators in Starz’ Spartacus prequel, Gods of the Arena. Below is Entertainment Weekly's Q&A with creator Steven S. DeKnight.

They talked about the prequel’s finale and learn some details about season two (and when it airs), plus get an update on our favorite gladiator, Andy Whitfield. Warning, spoilers ahead!

Entetainment Weekly: Gratitude for this interview!
Steven S. Deknight: [Laughs] Sure, I love the way it’s starting.

So one headline is: “Gannicus lives!” Your “Han Solo meets Achilles” — as you once described him — will fight another day. Those who know the history of Spartacus figured this, but was still great to see him make it out alive.
Yes, Gannicus is one of Spartacus’ generals in the actual war. Our original plan was always to introduce Gannicus unto storyline. We will set him up to at some point to come back. It was a wonderful performance. When I designed that character I wanted something different from Spartacus and Crixus. He brought it in spades.

‘At some point’? So not necessarily at the start of season two?
We’re still working on it. We don’t know when or how. We got some very juicy ideas. He won’t pop up immediately.

So one possible take-away from this season: It’s pretty much all Lucretia’s fault. Did you hesitate to have her poison Batiatus’ father? That seems pretty heartless even for her.
The two major things she does — poisoning Titus and maneuvering her husband to kill Tullius — are all done for love. Love of her husband and her friend Gaia.

Glad to see one of my favorite characters, Ashur, got so much development this season. Is it fair to assume he will be serving Lucretia like he did Batiatus in season two?
Ashur serves himself at the end of the day. Who he aligns himself to is an ever-shifting arena all its own. I love the character at the end of season one when you realize the reason he’s bad is he just wants a hug — he wants love and respect, but he can’t get it. It was great to show how he got started, and how it all fell apart. He’s going to have some amazing stuff in season two.

Does it ever get boring dreaming up new gross ways to kill people?
Does any red-blooded American male ever get tired of that? We come up ideas in the writers room, it’s part character focused and part “wouldn’t it be cool.” Then we turn it over to the stunt team and they make it ten times better.

Also noticed you threw in some mixed martial arts moves in this season.
Yeah, it started with that first blindfold fight with Gannicus. We didn’t want him to appear to be a superhero. [Executive producer] Rob Tapert and the stunt team came up with the idea the best thing to do is get him on the ground and grapple. Then they found some natural places to throw [MMA] in.

You once again had some great dialogue, though not all of it I’m happy to have in my head: “Words fall from your mouth like shit from ass” still haunts me.
I can never tell what the audience will really love. That one I see retweeted all the time. It seems to have culturally stuck and I’m thrilled.

The show must be a blast to write.
I love the world. I love playing with the language. But it’s a pain in the ass to write. It takes twice as long. We tried writing it in modern language, then going back over it, but that didn’t work. It’s a linguistic exercise that never gets easier.

The arena is such a major part of the storyline. With the escaped gladiators on the run, will there be gladiator fights in season 2?
We definitely won’t be in the arena as much. Season 2 is the segue period where we’re segueing out of the arena. Eventually we will put an exclamation mark on never returning to the arena.

Since the show is shot entirely on greenscreen, you need a number of regular interior settings since it’s expensive to use special effects to make outdoor backgrounds. Since the gladiators are on the run, what will those settings be?
We find incredibly inventive ways of putting them inside. One of the cool things is you will never see our heroes inside a tent for season 2. I can’t tell you what we do, but they find different places to be inside. And in season 2 an equal part of the story is the villains side, which is much more interior.

Can you give fans an update on how Andy Whitfield is doing?
Last I heard he’s doing great, fighting the good fight, very much concentrating on his health and family. It’s a horrible thing, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I have no doubt Andy will beat it. He’s one of the strongest and most centered men I’ve ever met. He’s very private, but I hear third-hand that he looks great and is in high spirits.

Liam McIntyre, who will play Spartacus in season 2, looks a lot like Andy. How important was that?
Not important at all. We were trying to find somebody who didn’t look exactly like him. We saw a thousand people. It came down to a handful of choices. Liam was the only one who resembled Andy. What we really loved about Liam is he had an honesty and intensity and compassion and sympathy in his performance — something that Andy really brought to the role. Spartacus doesn’t come from a place of anger.

I recently re-watched season one and was really struck by Andy’s performance — he played anger well, but he was also came across really vulnerable.
He was. It was incredibly difficult finding Andy. And nearly impossible finding somebody else to step in. Liam was so good in his audition, we overlooked he had dropped like 35 pounds for another role — he looked like Christian Bale in The Fighter. We’re keeping him down in New Zealand beefing him up, putting him on the [gladiator training] program. The last picture I saw of him, I can’t believe it’s the same guy.

Lesley-Ann Brandt, Lucretia’s body slave Naevia, is also leaving the show.
Things like that are always complicated. That had to do with her contract and the lost period of time it’s taken to get back to season two. She relocated to Los Angeles and is getting work and we couldn’t make schedules to work out. We wish her the best, she was great in the role. But in this show we weather characters dying and being recast.

So season 2 is not coming until next January right?
Unfortunately, we cannot air it until the end of January. Our post-production process takes so long. We can start airing it sooner, but we’d have to air five episodes and go on a long break. And Starz has Camelot in the spring and Torchwood in the summer.

And Gods of the Arena will be out on DVD when?
I don’t know the official date. I will assume it will be around the same time season one, which was September. We also like to pack in a lot of extras. [Note: Starz confirms September is the target, but adds this plan is still tentative.]

Since you have one season of Spartacus done, and you have the second mapped out, and you know the overall story of Spartacus that you’re telling from history — you must have some idea at this point how many seasons this story should be. So what’s that number?
It’s entangled with other numbers. One is budget — the show gets more expensive each season. The other is ratings. I could go anywhere from three to six seasons. Budget is not a small part of it. As the gladiator war continues and Spartacus’ army grows, it becomes more difficult to produce on a TV budget.

So is it fair to assume season two has a bigger budget than the first season?
Yes. The budget was always planned to go up a bit.

Anything else about season 2 you can tease to?
It will be epic. In true Spartacus fashion, nothing will be easy for our heroes or our villains. The thing I love about this world is you have villains who are not all bad and you have villains who will try to screw other villains — and the same is true on the heroes side. The scope and scale we are attempting is much larger than anything we have done before. And I’m guessing a few beloved characters may die.

Gaga Godmother to Elton & David's Son?

In an interview with Canada’s Maclean’s magazine, Elton John’s husband David Furnish discusses gay rights up north and his feelings about family shields while (more or less) confirming that Lady Gaga is son Zachary’s godmother.

“I’m always very proud when people ask me about being a Canadian,” Furnish told the magazine when asked if he felt support from his home country. “I know when [Stephen Harper] was elected he talked about repealing gay marriage—legislation that was already passed in Canada. When it went to the House of Commons, more people voted to keep it than put it in in the first place. That is a sign of society taking a step, walking into unknown territory and realizing that this isn’t going to be the destruction of the moral fabric of our society. This isn’t going to hurt or kill anybody.

Furnish says he feels Canada is “more progressive and more accepting” than America “on all sorts of levels relating to same-sex couples and families,” especially after an Arkansas grocery store recently placed a “family shield” over the Us Weekly cover that featured Furnish, John, and Zachary. “I was disappointed but not outraged,” he says. “They put the shield up and two days later, they took it down. That is progress in its own right.”

When asked whether or not reports were true that Lady Gaga had been named Zachary’s godmother, Furnish replied, “We haven’t publicly confirmed that yet but your sources are very good! I prefer not to comment on it because we are going to make a statement about godparents later on.”

Furnish feels that Gaga is an excellent role model because “she’s all about inclusiveness and tolerance. She believes that you can be whoever you want to be and that we don’t have to live in a world of conformity and that we can all [benefit] from individuality. That’s the best message in the world.”

American Idol Top 24 Announced

"Will Jennifer find the strength to go on?" Ryan Seacrest asked at the start of Thursday's two-hour American Idol.

Wednesday night, you'll recall, ended with a sobbing Jennifer Lopez listing to the side, like a leaking ship sinking into a sea of tears, giving bad news to Chris Medina.

Within two minutes, Ryan answered as we expected he would: "Jennifer knows the show must go on."
Not only that, she looked fabulous. The hair! The luster!

And off we went as the judges rounded out the top 24 roster, 12 guys and 12 girls, teasing (or more likely torturing) each singer with feints and sighs before finally delivering a verdict.

"You're mean," said Laina Alaina, who looked as if she were about to drop dead before getting good news.

Here are some of the dramatic highlights of the episode:

Goodbye to Jacee: The one big twist came at the end of the night, when poor little Jacee Badeaux – I guess there's really no need to describe him that way – was sent home, along with Colton Dixon. The last male spot went to the very nice, very talented Brett Loewenstern. He also happened to be the most deserving, but ruling against Jacee somehow feels like ruling against a puppy, or baseball cards in the spokes of a shiny new bike, or the American flag.

Country showdown: Scotty McCreery, who sang a great, old-fashioned cover of "Long Black Train" for the judges, made it through. They loved his classic country voice, of course, but also his decency – he's still apologizing for not sticking up for Jacee in the group round. But John Wayne Schulz and his big black hat hit the trail. Not too surprising, considering how he's barely been on camera since his audition. You had to keep an eye out for him from week to week.

Worst birthday ever: The last female spot came down to Thia Megia, who so far seems pretty much perfect, and Jessica Cunningham, who's auditioned seven times before. And Jessica was rejected once again – on her 25th birthday, unfortunately. She (jokingly?) made a rude gesture to the cameras. But she could have meant it and you wouldn't have blamed her.

Mr. Sunshine: Given good news, Jacob Lusk, the nightingale with the lungs of steel, stood up and let whoop with a high note, then hopped, danced, ran and whooped some more. He must have been especially stoked that Randy Jackson called his Hollywood-week version of "God Bless the Child," the "single best performance ever on Idol." If he actually wins, he'll spontaneously combust.

In general, the night's other winners were the obvious ones, and included Stefano Langone, James Durbin ("I don't think you'll ever be selling pizza," Steven Tyler told him.), Jordan Dorsey, Julie Zorrilla, Lauren Turner, and Casey Abrams ("I don't think we've ever seen a musician as talented as yourself," Randy said. "It's like three people in one"), who was so excited he accidentally knocked his chair off the stage. Also vying for your votes: Tim Halperin, Tatynisa Wilson, Robbie Rosen, Rachel Zevita, Pia Toscano, Paul McDonald, Naima Adedapo, Kendra Chantelle, Karen Rodriguez, Jovany Barreto, Haley Reinhart, Clint Jun Gamboa and Ashthon Jones.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tom Cruise to Play 'Rock n' Roll God' in New Movie

Tom Cruise has signed up to play aging musician Stacee Jaxx in the big screen adaption of the hit musical Rock of Ages, and director Adam Shankman is sure his performance is going to impress everyone.

The actor has been taking voice lessons for his role and has been studying the '80s rock songs in the musical to make sure he gets everything right.

Adam told Access Hollywood: “I think we’re going to see him every drop the rock ‘n’ roll god! I’m very excited. He’s so committed to doing it. He’s pouring himself in this part in a way I’ve never had an actor do … it’s pretty intense.”

Tom will have to perform several songs in the film, including Styx’s "Renegade," Bon Jovi’s "Wanted Dead or Alive" and a duet of Foreigner’s "I Want To Know What Love Is," possibly with Anne Hathaway, who is set to play the character Sherrie.

Shankman also confirmed rumors Russell Brand is in talks to join the cast as Lonny, the manager of The Bourbon rock club, while Alec Baldwin is set to play Lonny’s boss Dennis.

He added: “We are talking to Alec Baldwin and there may be some Russell Brand. I can only say at this point that there may be, because the deals aren’t closed."

American Idol Adding Online Voting Via Facebook

Will you accept American Idol‘s friend request?

The Fox hit will soon announce that it’s adding online voting for the first time.

Here are the details: Users will be able to use their Facebook accounts to reach a dedicated Idol voting page that will include all the current contestants. Each fan will be able to vote 50 times during a telecast’s voting period. Viewers will still be able to vote via text messaging and toll-free phone calls as well.

The Idol plans have been in the works for awhile, though Fox hasn’t commented. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe leaked plans to introduce a form of online voting earlier this week, followed by somebody leaking plans to introduce Facebook voting for next fall’s The X Factor.
Idol creator Simon Fuller has been pushing for the show to embrace online voting as part of its widespread overhaul of season 10. With Idol still dominating in the ratings and viewers embracing Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges, the industry consensus seems to be that the show has managed to pull off something that many thought impossible — soldiering on successfully in the wake of Cowell’s departure.

This latest change, online voting, is expected to go into effect during the performance show on Tuesday, March 1th.

Elton John Cuddles with Son, Zachary

Elton John has spoken of his unbridled joy at becoming a first-time father at 63. But this picture really tells the story.

In this new photo, the legendary British musician is seen grinning from ear to ear as he holds his son Zachary, who will be two months old on Friday.

John and his partner, David Furnish, welcomed Zachary, via a surrogate, on Christmas Day and having been dividing up the parenting duties ever since. "I knew it would be incredible," John said recently, "but honestly I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been so shocked. I'm like a gibbering wreck in front of him."

Kelly Osbourne’s New Material Girl Ads

In her ads as the new face of Madonna and daughter Lourdes Leon’s clothing line, Material Girl, Kelly Osbourne is showing off her colorful side — and both Kelly and Lourdes are talking to People magazine about their fashion favorites for the upcoming spring season.

“The military jacket. I love that and I put it with a bunch of badges on it to make it my own, too,” Leon said recently, whereas Osbourne points to the accessories. “The shoes–there’s a pair of nude heels that I’m really obsessed with,” Osbourne gushed. “There’s so much stuff in it that’s so me and what I wear. There’s a leopard dress that I get to wear next that I’m excited about. I love prints,” she said.

When it comes to clothes for warmer weather, it’s shorts for spring that are all the rage for the girls. “I’m like obsessed with them,” said Lourdes. But one of the greatest things about the line, Osbourne observes, is that it’s accessible to everyone. “There’s not many other companies besides Material Girl that do clothes at an affordable price that are high fashion and [are] what people see in the magazines and can emulate themselves without having to go and spend $1000 on a dress,” she said.

And one of the most important aspects of the line for 14 year old Lourdes was making sure that other girls her age could buy great clothes without breaking the bank. “I don’t go out and buy all of these expensive [clothes]…so it’s good for my friends. It’s good for everybody and it’s good clothing, too.”

Read more from Lourdes Leon and Kelly Osbourne in this week’s issue of People magazine!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glee Cast to Debut Original Songs on March 8th

It was teased at the end of last week’s episode, but now Sony has confirmed that the Glee cast will release two original songs on Glee: The Music, Volume 5, on sale March 8th.

Titled “Loser Like Me” and “Get It Right,” the tracks are the first original music to produced for the show. “Loser Like Me,” an ensemble piece, was co-written by pop vet Max Martin, who’s written for the likes of Britney Spears, Pink, and the Backstreet Boys. “Get It Right” is a solo ballad that will be sung by Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry. Both will be featured in the March 15th episode, fittingly titled “Original Song.”

The full track listing for Glee: The Music, Volume 5 is as follows:

1. Thriller/Heads Will Roll
2. Need You Now
3. She’s Not There
4. Fat Bottomed Girls
5. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
6. Firework
7. Baby
8. Somebody To Love
9. Take Me or Leave Me
10. Sing
11. Don’t You Want Me
12. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
13. Kiss
14. Landslide
15. Get It Right
16. Loser Like Me

Carlos Leon: I'm a Lenient Father to Lourdes

Their own relationship didn't last, but Carlos Leon found the love of his life thanks to Madonna – their daughter Lourdes.

"I'm forever grateful to [Madonna]," Leon told People magazine. "I have no regrets. I wouldn't change anything. I got the best thing out of that relationship, and that's my daughter. My daughter is everything to me."

Like many smitten fathers, Leon, 44, admits he has a tough time being strict with Lourdes, now 14.

"I'm a lenient dad," says the personal trainer and actor, whose new film Immigration Tango came out Friday. "I'm very empathetic, and I'm good at listening to my daughter … I'm probably a bad dad when it comes to disciplining her."

One area where he tends to be overly compromising? Her curfew. "I try to work with her on it," he says. "We settle on a time, say around 10 p.m., and she's like, 'How about 10:30?' And it eventually becomes 10:15."

Leon says Lourdes isn't dating yet, but knows it's coming. "I'm dreading it so much, because she's my little girl. I want her to stay young forever," he says. "I'm already overprotective, so when the time comes, I will be ready to have a talk with the guy she brings through the door. He better be ready, because I'll give him the rundown!"

For now, he and his daughter bond by going on bike rides in New York City and hanging out at home, watching movies like Harry Potter and Twilight.

"She loves to watch Harry Potter. It's a favorite of hers. We can watch that 100 times – well, she can," Leon says. "Twilight is also pretty big at our house. She likes Robert Pattinson. She's Team Edward all the way."

Besides wizards and vampires, Lourdes loves fashion and is a budding fashionista. She even gives Dad a few pointers.

"Sometimes she will give me a hard time about my clothes," Leon says. "I wore a pair of jeans once, and they weren't as skinny as I usually wear them, and she was like, 'Oh my God, Dad, those pants are ugly. Please change your pants.' "

He adds with a laugh: "They were too bootcut, so I changed."

Charles Perez: Getting the Last Word

Charles Perez, the former television anchor and talk show host, has a new memoir that pulls no punches. Perez talks to Neil Broverman from The Advocate about Confessions of a Gay Anchorman, and why many TV journalists are stuck in the closet.

Even though he was out back then, Charles Perez's time hosting his self-titled talk show in the '90s was relatively scandal free. After the show wrapped in 1996, Perez transitioned into the role of television journalist, working for the program American Journal, and then serving as a weekend anchor on the number one station in the country's largest market, New York's WABC.

In 2008, Perez was named main evening anchor at WPLG in Miami — a job he says was a joy until bad publicity, regarding an ugly break-up with an ex-boyfriend, began rearing its head. Perez says his bosses become anxious about the headlines surrounding his personal life, called him "too soft," and then pulled him from the main anchor desk. After filing a complaint under the Miami-Dade Human Rights Ordinance, Perez was fired; WPLG says it had nothing to do with Perez being gay and, since the scandal erupted in 2009, the complaint against WPLG has been dismissed.

Perez's tumultuous time at WPLG, along with his entire career in front of the camera, is documented in his new memoir, Confessions of a Gay Anchorman. Happily married and with a new baby daughter, Perez talked to The Advocate about his book and why it's so hard for some television journalists to come out.

The Advocate: Why did you want to write the book?
Charles Perez: I would not change anything about how my life has unfolded—I have an amazing husband and a beautiful daughter. But when I parted with my last station, WPLG in Miami, which, up until the end, was a great relationship—I felt like two things finally collided—Charles Perez, the TV anchor personality, and Charles Perez, the gay man. And when they did, I felt like fate put me on that intersection and I had to deal with it. It had been a long time coming.

How have people reacted to the book?
I think there’s two reactions—I stay away from reading things online; lots of people have lots of opinions and I have no power over what people think and they have a right to their opinion. But especially with the book, many people with opinions haven’t read it yet. Facebook is a great example—a lot of people have started reaching out to me, particularly young gay men. Most of all, I wrote the book because I thought we have to erase the shame associated with being gay. It’s time for gay men to have our own Rachel Maddow, if you will. There are lots of examples of gay men on television, thank God—there wasn’t when I was coming out in the '80s. But even though that changed, I do believe there’s still a ceiling. I think that’s really disconcerting and I wanted to put a spotlight on it. I know that makes some people uncomfortable, but nothing changes until it changes.

In the book, you mention a newspaper article that had the headline, “Charles Perez, Too Gay for WPLG?” How strongly did you feel there’s a limit on journalists’ "gayness?"
I give an example in the book of a co-worker who called one of our meteorologists “too gay”; he needed to be tempered. First of all, [the gay man] was a great meteorologist. Bottom line. And that’s the other message of the book—as Martin Luther King said, we should be judged on the content of our character. We should also be judged by the quality of our work and our results. But in today’s corporate culture, particularly if you’re on camera, you’re a commodity. Being gay is still considered by the top brass a liability. They’ll take that shot with you if you’re a reporter in the street or if you’re a morning anchor, but if you’re the main evening anchor that they’re putting their image behind—not so much. This is true at a local stations and at a national network. [Executives] might be OK with it, but there’s an unspoken expectation that you will not only not lead with it, but you will allow the misperception that you’re straight to be perpetuated.

Does Joe the Plumber, et al, care if he gets his news from a gay anchor?
I don’t think they care. And if they care, they care for a moment and then they’re more interested if you’re doing a professional job. I think the fear comes more out of advertisers and out of television executives who are afraid what advertisers will think. Ellen DeGeneres is a great example, if you go back to her sitcom. When she came out, there were great ratings, everything was fine, and then unfortunately advertisers started to pull out and ABC didn’t stand with her; they dumped the show. I think in the long run, Ellen and Rosie O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow have proven the case—if you’re good, no one cares. But I think there is a double-standard with men. The Celluloid Closet put a spotlight on how gay men were only allowed in films as jesters or clowns. There are a lot of great people who are on TV today and accepted by management and their colleagues, but there also sort of the role of “Jack” on Will and Grace. That’s unfortunate and needs to change. We can’t be that narrow; our community is broader than that.

Congratulations on your new baby, Madeline. What are your thoughts on Florida’s new house speaker Dean Cannon recently telling the Florida Baptist Witness that he’s interesting in enforcing the gay adoption ban that was struck down last year?
It’s not over until it’s over. And this is an example, like the TV business. Bigotry and discrimination continue to exist, and the fact that some politicians would be willing to consider reversing this decision and reinstituting a ban on gay adoption—Florida being the only state in the union that had a specific ban on gay adoptive parents—tells you there are still a lot of people uneducated about what it is to be gay. I don’t really believe George or Laura Bush had a problem with gay people; they had staff members who were gay. But Bush was willing to stand up and propose an amendment to the Constitution to limit our freedom for political reasons. That may be what’s happening in Florida, but that hurts people like our daughter.

We’re not perfect parents but I dare you to come into our home and tell us we don’t love and care for our child as well as anybody can or would. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in Florida who get behind this issue. When I left the station, most of the response that I had from viewers was really supportive. But there was one guy who wrote me a letter and said, “I am going to do everything I can to get my congregation to start a campaign against you to make sure you never work in this market again.” And I thought, That’s a good use of your time.

As I wrote the book, the “It Gets Better” campaign started. I love the campaign, but it also falls short. The message is that it gets better after you leave your home, after you leave your school, after you leave your place of worship. Shouldn’t we try to make it better in those places? Along with the book, I’m launching the “No Shame” campaign, and people like [openly gay former baseball player] Billy Bean are involved. The purpose of the campaign is to make it OK to be gay and unacceptable to shame someone for being gay—at home or church. It’s no longer OK for someone like Joel Osteen to say homosexuality is a sin.

There was a cover of Time magazine in 1976 with two men holding hands. My dad held it up and said, “Enough with all these damn queers. They should put them on a damn island and get rid of them.” At 13, I shrank and told myself no one would ever know I was gay. Every time a preacher or politician takes an antigay stance, they do that.

How important is passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act?
When I lost my job in Florida, I was struck by the lack of employment protections for gay people in this state. I knew I’d be OK; I had a high-enough profile. But I thought about the kid who works in the hardware store or the young mother who’s gay and her employer find out and cans her, regardless of how good she is—my heart went out to them because they have no recourse. When the House became Republican as a result of the midterm elections, a lot of people, including Barney Frank, felt the wind just leave their sails. But [ENDA] is not dead. It’s got to come back, and the earlier versions of it that didn’t include transgender protections were not right. We can’t do to each other what others have done to us. I would love to help champion [ENDA]. My agent said, “Do you want to carry around a gay flag?” I said, “No, but I want inequality to go away.” The only way for the issue to go away is to grant equal protection.

Cee-Lo Green & Adam Levine May Host Mark Burnett's Singing Competition Show "The Voice"

Grammy scene-stealer Cee-Lo Green and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine are in serious discussions to join Mark Burnett’s singing competition The Voice for NBC.

Producers also considered Lenny Kravitz, Roger Daltrey, Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Enrique Iglesias about occupying a judging seat on the show. Plus, there’s a major-name female star who’s in talks to join as well, but is not yet close to a deal (according to two unconfirmed sources, it’s Christina Aguilera, which would obviously be an enormous name for any talent show).

Deals are not signed and things could still change. But NBC hopes to close deals with the male singers within the next few days, and then sign another judge sometime next week. While taking a break from his work on Gnarls Barkley, Cee-Lo has been on a star-making run with his hit single “F-You” and Grammy performance with Gwyneth Paltrow (during which he was dressed, appropriately enough for a man who may judge a show on NBC, as a peacock). Meanwhile, the LA-based band Maroon 5 released their most recent album last fall and played Fox’s Super Bowl pre-game earlier this month.

As Fox discovered last year when trying to fill spots on Idol, securing high-profile judges can be difficult as pop stars tend to come with prior commitments. Signing with a network for a TV show often means canceling other obligations, sometimes at a price.

Clearly NBC is going after pop stars instead of record label suits for their judges spots, and is hoping to land current and relevant artists. If hired, Cee Lo and Levine, along with the third judge, should lend some name recognition and industry experience to the show, as well as generate press interest.

The Voice seeks to gain market share when it launches this spring in the toughest of reality genres just as Idol is ramping up for its Top 12. It’s a high stakes plan, especially since Idol has already bested one competitor this season, CBS’ performance series Live to Dance starring former Idol judge Paula Abdul. But NBC has proven it can draw a good ratings with a singing competition with its winter a cappella competition The Sing Off.

The Voice is based on a Dutch hit where contestants audition while judges face the other direction, unable to see the contestants. The Susan Boyle-friendly format has judges making their verdicts based on the singer’s vocal talent alone rather than being influenced by the contestant’s physical appearance. Once they hit a button deciding whether to accept the performance, their chairs swivel around. Unlike Idol, contestants will not be sequestered during the competition, but will be free to interact with fans and perform on their own (such as doing club dates) while trying to build their fan base.

Last week NBC announced The Voice will take the unique step of opening its audition process to any singer with a web cam.

Carson Daly will host.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jennifer Lopez's forthcoming album 'Love?': Producer RedOne spills on the sound

American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez’s long-gestating album Love? is currently slated for a March 29th release, and one single, the Pitbull-infused, “Lambada”-riffing “On the Floor” has already hit radio (although not the Billboard charts in the U.S….yet).

So we’ve gotten a taste of what’s possibly to come, but what’s up with the rest of the forthcoming album? Lopez is reportedly using music that she recorded for the album back when it was in the works at Sony and songs that she’s newly recorded with producers Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, and RedOne.

Which is interesting considering RedOne came down the red carpet at Sunday evening’s 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, where he spilled some details about what to expect when Love? drops next month. “I did about half of the album and I am one of the executive producers with LA Reid,” Red One told Entertainment Weekly. “The first song, ‘On The Floor,’ is already blowing up and the rest is even better. Lots of dance songs.”

The sound, as you might guess, nods to Lopez’s roots — but it’s more than that. “A little bit of the Latin flavor is infused in it,” RedOne explains, “but I would describe it more as a global sound. It is all about love and covers all emotional sides of Jennifer. She is in a good place.”

How does Lopez’s role as a new judge on American Idol fit into her new musical iteration? “Most of the album was done before she started Idol so I don’t think that will influence her sound, but I think it has probably been a great experience for her to be reminded what it is like to just be starting out and to be excited when everything is new,” RedOne offered. “She is an icon because she had a dream and a passion and then she worked really hard to attain it. But I think she was the perfect choice for a new judge. She knows what it takes to make it.”

Richard Hatch: The Naked Truth

As Richard Hatch returns to reality TV to face Donald Trump on Celebrity Apprentice, the Survivor legend worries he might be sent back to prison for more tax-related problems. Can his gay wiles win him another battle?

When The Advocate interviewed Richard Hatch for an October 2000 cover story, the gay, 6-foot-4 Rhode Island native had just won the wildly popular premiere season of Survivor, a million-dollar victory some fans viewed as a metaphor for a gay man’s survival in a hostile heterosexual world. More than 10 years later, the snakelike strategist is equally famous for getting bitten by the IRS for tax evasion, a conviction that landed him in prison for nearly four years. Now free to compete on the fourth edition of Celebrity Apprentice, which premieres March 6th on NBC, the 49-year-old Hatch talks prison sex and the ongoing legal troubles that threaten his alliance with the gay tribe.

The Advocate: I can’t believe this is your first chat with The Advocate since 2000.
Richard Hatch: Well, you know, that whole prison thing can get in the way.

Oh, we’ll get to that. But when you last spoke to us, you still had very little sense of what your Survivor win meant to the gay audience. How has your relationship to the gay community evolved over the past decade?
As time unfolded, I started to recognize what my being on the show and being openly gay meant to people, because they started expressing it to me more and more. It’s hard to think about having the kind of impact that it turns out I had. To this day, people still write to me to talk about their experience of seeing somebody not afraid to be who they are. As a kid, I didn’t struggle as much as the kids who contacted me after the show, so it’s been humbling and rewarding, and I’ve really come to respect the influence that I’ve had.

You’ve said that your being gay was a main reason for your Survivor victory, in part because it taught you “to interact assertively with people.” Did you use your sexuality to your advantage on Celebrity Apprentice?
I think so, yes. [Laughs] I’m always using my gay wiles, but you’ll have to tune in to see how. But I never expected that some people might not even know I’m gay.

When you first saw your competition on Celebrity Apprentice, did you immediately have an idea of whom you’d befriend?
All strategy aside, the little gay boy in me would’ve made a beeline to Lisa Rinna.
I did make a beeline to her. I adore her, and I couldn’t help it. I’m totally drawn to her, and we got along really well. She’s phenomenal. I love her because she’s so real. But the strategy part of the game was very similar to Survivor for me in that I needed information before I could fully strategize. I didn’t know anyone on Survivor, and even though I might’ve known who they were, I didn’t really know anyone in Celebrity Apprentice either. You need to get a feel for people before you can decide how they’re going to be helpful.

NeNe Leakes is already making headlines for her antagonistic behavior on the show. Are you a Real Housewives of Atlanta fan?
Oh, sure. NeNe’s a character. She’s just larger than life. When I meet famous people, very rarely are they who I think people might imagine them to be, but NeNe is. I’m drawn to her because she speaks her mind, and I don’t deal well with the whole superficial, hidden agenda thing. We actually got along well.

Were you starstruck by anyone?
Starstruck isn’t in my vocabulary — I’ve never really understood it — but I’m often impressed with goodness, kindness, and realness, and I did encounter that on this show. Some people were just wonderful to be around. And some weren’t. Irrationality is very difficult for me, so maybe you can make some speculation there.

Did you encounter homophobia from any of the contestants?
No. Other than with my legal battles and in the courts, I really haven’t encountered that in my life. Now I know what it is, but I certainly didn’t encounter it on Celebrity Apprentice.

Did you get the sense that Donald Trump is gay-friendly?
I had a great sense of that from before, encountering him a number of times in a number of situations. He even invited me to sit on the dais for his roast at the Friars’ Club, which I did. He’s a good guy. He loves women, so I don’t think he could relate to my being gay if his life depended on it, but I don’t think he cares.

Mr. Trump famously fired former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Khloe Kardashian because of a past DUI offense. Were you worried that Mr. Trump might judge you on your personal legal issues instead of the competition at hand?
Oh, absolutely. Obviously we’re not that close, so I’m certain that, as with most people, he only knows as much as he can know through the media. He has to be concerned about a person who’s been charged and convicted, though wrongfully so. I’m sure there was some tentativeness and wondering there, and that’s just what I encounter as a result of what’s happened.

That hardly seems fair.
It is fair because that’s life. You can’t know who somebody is until you spend time with them and process whatever data you have, valid or not. People don’t have an accurate understanding of who I am, and most of what the media has portrayed about my situation isn’t complete or accurate, but I’m used to it. I move forward, and hopefully someday people will understand.

As we’ve discussed, Survivor positioned you as a role model for the gay community. When the media’s focus turned toward your legal woes, did it feel like you had let the community down?
Absolutely. Well, I don’t know that I felt I had personally let them down, but I felt as if I was learning how undermined we as a community can be because of our second-class status in this culture and the pervasiveness of bigotry that I didn’t know was as powerful as it is. So, yeah, given the strong guy that I consider myself to be, I didn’t expect for anyone to abuse me the way I’ve been abused. It was a disappointment.

Even with some time having passed since your May 2009 release, you fully stand by your previous statements that antigay discrimination played a major part in your conviction?
It’s incontrovertible. This court refused to allow us to ask potential or selected jurors about their feelings toward homosexuals, even when many of them had submitted questionnaires that claimed “I could never find that fag innocent,” “I hate queers,” or “not a chance I could serve on this jury” — really unbelievable, blatant, clearly spoken homophobia that I didn’t even know existed. But I don’t blame the jurors; I blame the court and the bias of that particular judge from the outset.

Though most of your sentence was served at the Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia, which is a minimum-security facility, the first six months of your sentence were served in a maximum-security facility. We’ve all heard the same horror stories, so how did you feel going to prison as a famously gay man?
I was never afraid of being raped or of anything physical because I’m a healthy, strong guy, and I’ve always held my own. I also know that people are people, wherever they are, so I truly didn’t have the sense that they were going to be animals in prison. But it’s fascinating to me how sex is such a part of that all-male environment. In the Federal Correctional Institution, where I spend three years, there were 1,500 guys, one of whom was an in-process transsexual who was in there for prostitution. Her breasts had already grown in, so she ended up being removed from the prison after being raped. There’s also a lot more education than I imagined — access to information about how disease is transmitted, what to do if you feel threatened, etc. — but there was quite a bit of sex in there.

Were you able to connect with other gay people in prison? I want to imagine you in there like Jim Carrey in I Love You Philip Morris.
I haven’t seen that yet, but yeah, I met quite a few people in prison who were gay. There were even some gay people on staff.

Were gay staffers generally friendlier or more lenient?
No. Like with anything, it ran the spectrum. There’s as much homophobia among gay people as there is among straight people, and with gay people it’s often more damaging and destructive. Just look at our politicians. And with positions of power often come exaggerated homophobia, gay or not.

Have you maintained any of the friendships you made with gay prisoners?
Well, there are rules. Being currently on supervised release, I’m not allowed to be in contact with any felon with whom I was in prison.

You married your partner, Emiliano Cabral, in Nova Scotia in 2005. How did your relationship survive your long absence?
I’m the luckiest man on the planet. Our relationship is as strong as it has ever been. I adore him. But living in a country that doesn’t recognize our marriage is still infuriating beyond description. We’re in our eighth year now, and I can’t even begin to describe the additional torture, stress, and difficulty this has created only because we’re gay.

I assume there were no conjugal visits.
No. And for the first six months, before I was moved to the Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia, any visit with anyone was behind glass. The system is so broken that I don’t even know how to begin. That’s an entire topic I could go on about, and hopefully I will someday.

Aren’t you working on a book?
Oh, yeah. I wrote every day the entire time I was in prison. What publishers are waiting for and what I’m waiting for before accepting the offer is for the ending to be that I’m exonerated. It’s a heck of a battle, but I’m hopeful.

As recently as two weeks ago, it was reported that you might be headed back to jail. Should we be worried?
Absolutely you should be worried. I’m worried. Prosecutors are desperate to uphold this wrongful conviction. I’ve served nearly four years in prison, my entire sentence, and I’m on supervised release, which other people know as probation. I’ve also done everything humanly possible to comply with the original judge’s special conditions. One condition was that he ordered me to get mental health counseling. Probation got me a psychiatrist who said he didn’t understand why I was even there, so probation said I’d met that condition. The second condition was that he ordered me to amend my tax returns from 2000 and 2001, but they’re still the subject of an ongoing audit. To this day, the IRS has never given me a bill, so no taxes have ever been determined to be due. You can’t submit amended returns in the midst of an audit, not that I could submit them anyway because I haven’t been given figures as to how those returns should be amended. Not knowing what to do, the prosecutors just submitted their last brief on January 31, arguing to put me back in prison for not amending the returns. It’s infuriating. Now we’re waiting for the judge to decide what to do — decide whether this is a technical violation or whether I’m thumbing my nose at the court, which I’m obviously not. I’ve been in communication with probation this entire year and a half, and I have a hundred e-mails that express my cooperation with the IRS. But I’m still worried because I’ve seen what’s happened before. It’s not always about what’s true.

Here’s the million-dollar question: Considering all the problems that have stemmed from your Survivor winnings, do you wish you’d never won the damn prize in the first place?
That would be a waste of time, wouldn’t it? As an observer of life and one who lives it day by day, it is what it is. You take what you can from your experiences. It’s been devastating to me, my family, my friends, but I’m blown away and fascinated by what I’ve learned. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a huge contribution one day. Once I’m finally exonerated, I’ll have the credibility to make a difference that will affect many peoples’ lives.

Prince Harry to Be William's Best Man

It will be all in the family for Prince William and Kate Middleton, who Monday morning announced their wedding party.

As was widely predicted, Kate, 29, has chosen her sister Pippa as her maid of honor – whose job, it is stated, will be to make sure the bridal gown is displayed properly and the young wedding party is kept in line – while Prince Harry will be his brother's best man, the palace announced.

For royal watchers, the real treat may be in observing the young friends and royal relatives who will make up Kate's bridal party. Among them are Lady Louise Windsor, 7, the daughter of William's Uncle Edward and his wife, Sophie Wessex. Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, 8, is also from the wider Windsor clan. She is the daughter of Queen Elizabeth's nephew Viscount Linley and his wife, Serena.

A close friend of the couple, Hugh van Cutsem, is the father of another bridesmaid, Grace, 3. She, like one of the pageboys announced by the palace, Tom Pettifer, 8, is a godchild of William's. Pettifer is the son of William's nanny, Tiggy Pettier (nee Legge-Bourke), and her husband, Charles.

There's also a spot for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall's granddaughter, Eliza Lopes, 3, whose mother is Camilla's daughter, Laura. The other pageboy is William Lowther-Pinkerton, 10, son of Jamie Lowther-Pinker, who as the princes' private secretary is the one heading up the wedding planning – and all the crucial work for the couple and William's brother Harry.

The palace ends its announcement by saying that the couple will withhold news of the what the bridesmaids dresses and the uniforms of the pageboys until April 29th – which happens to be the wedding day.

Elizabeth Taylor's Health is Improving

It's good news for Elizabeth Taylor!

A week after checking into an L.A. hospital for symptoms associated with congestive heart failure, the Hollywood icon is showing marked improvement, People magazine has learned.

"Since being admitted, there has been steady improvement in her condition, and over the weekend she has had visits from family and close friends," says a statement from reps for the legendary actress, 78, who suffers from an ongoing heart condition. "Her medical team is gratified by her progress to date, and it is hoped and expected that this will continue over the next few days. For now, she will remain under their care in the hospital for continued monitoring."

While Taylor is enjoying visits from those close to her, "she is sleeping and resting a lot, which she really needs to recover her strength," the star's rep Sally Morrison told People. "Due to symptoms of congestive heart failure, she is still being monitored and continues to need rest to recover her strength. She did not have a heart attack."

Symptoms of congestive heart failure include difficulty breathing and fluid in the lungs.

Taylor, who underwent heart surgery in October 2009, appreciates support of her loyal fans. As the statement continues: "Friends and fans around the world should be reassured that Elizabeth Taylor is in good hands and receiving the best possible care from her skilled and dedicated doctors and nurses."

HBO to Air Lady Gaga Concert

HBO will host quite the little monsters mash when five-time Grammy winner Lady Gaga headlines her first solo concert special on Saturday, May 7th.

Lady Gaga aka Stefani Germanotta “is the single most exciting music talent on the scene today,” HBO Entertainment president Sue Naegle said in announcing the event. “We’re especially thrilled that she’ll be creating unique new elements for the special that will make the show an even more memorable experience for our viewers.”

Gaga’s concert special will tape February 21st and 22nd, when Madison Square Garden sets the stage for her “Monster Ball Tour.”

Lady Gaga’s next album, Born This Way, is set for release May 23rd. Her debut disc, The Fame, earned two Grammy Awards and spawned five No. 1 hits, while the follow-up, The Fame Monster, netted three Grammys this past weekend.

Friday, February 11, 2011

HBO Launching True Blood Blog

HBO is about to unveil a new way for fans to keep up with True Blood.

The network will announce on today a production blog called “Inside True Blood” that will give fans behind-the-scenes details of production on season four. The idea was prompted by the success of the network’s production blog on Game of Thrones.

The blog will have real-time contributions from Gianna Sobol, assistant to series creator Alan Ball, straight from the set.

The first post goes live today at 9:00 am (ET) at and all I know is it contains this sentence: “Today’s call sheet includes the words ‘hostage,’ ‘bites,’ ‘dinner’ and ‘Eric.’”

GLAAD to Honor Ricky Martin & Kristin Chenoweth

Grammy award-winning singer Ricky Martin and Emmy- and Tony award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth will be honored at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Martin will receive the Vito Russo Award, which is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for LGBT people, in New York on Saturday, March, 19th.

"Ricky coming out was a game changer for many gay and transgender Latino children, who for too long did not have many out gay people to look up to," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in a statement released to the press. "Through his music, videos and interviews, Ricky has sent an important message that our community wants the same things all people do: an equal chance to raise our families and take care of our loved ones."

Chenoweth will receive the Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who have increased the visibility and understanding of LGBT people, in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 10th.

"When allies like Kristin take such powerful stands against antigay sentiments in the media, it sends an important message of equality," Barrios said. "It is a privilege to honor such a talented and conscientious advocate for fairness towards the LGBT community."

For more information on the awards, click here.

Ken Leaves Barbie for Ben?

Mattel is pushing its line of Barbie dolls by insinuating in tweets and on billboards that the toy character's ex-boyfriend, Ken, wants her back — but there's a rogue effort to get the blond doll together with another "man."

Aside from tweets like, "How does a doll know when she’s thinking about an ex ... and not just memories with him?" Mattel has purchased billboard space in Southern California where Ken asks for Barbie's love back (they "broke up" in 2004). But a website has sprung up featuring a Ken impersonator (with facial hair) standing next to Ben, a moustached doll wearing a sleeveless shirt. A message from Ben reads, "Let's come out with the truth. Ken is head over heels in love with me, Ben Collins. But Barbie is trying to get back together with him. Please help me show the world that our love is real and not plastic."

Congressman Resigns Amid Photo Scandal

A two-term, conservative Republican congressman Christopher Lee from Western New York abruptly resigned on Wednesday after a gossip Web site published a photo of him shirtless, which he allegedly sent to a woman on Craigslist.

"I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness," Lee, 46, said in a statement on his congressional Web site.

Lee, who is married and has a young son, quit after published an e-mail exchange between him and a 34-year-old Maryland woman, whom he had evidently sent the photo, reports The New York Times.

Lee had replied to a personal ad the woman had placed on Craigslist seeking a financially and emotionally secure man between the age of 30 and 40, according to Gawker. She responded flirtatiously but stopped after searching for his name online and realizing who he was.

The woman, who was not identified, then sent the e-mail exchange to Gawker.

In his resignation message to constituents (which was delivered by his office and not by him personally), Lee, a former manufacturing executive, wrote: "The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What's the Sweetest Moment of Glee's Valentine's Day Episode?

It was Valentine's Day at McKinley High on Tuesday's "Silly Love Songs" episode of Glee – and love was in the air. But which moment was sweeter than a box of chocolates?

Less than seven minutes in heaven – er, the janitor's closet – was enough for Puck to fall hard for his plus-size classmate Lauren Zizes. When she rejected him, he tried everything to earn her affection, including singing "Fat Bottom Girls," which she found offensive. After convincing her to go on a date to Breadsticks, Puck was stood up. When he confronted her and told her his attraction wasn't about her curves but because she's the "bigger badass," she agreed to take things slow and be his Valentine's date – as friends.

After witnessing Blaine's embarrassing Valentine's Day serenade of a Gap junior manager, Kurt tells the cute warbler that he was not alone in misreading love signals. "I thought the guy that you wanted to ask out on Valentine's Day was me," Kurt said, pointing out that they sing "flirty duets together" and know each other's coffee orders. "I really, really care about you but ... I'm not very good at romance," Blaine tells him. "I don't want to screw this up."

At his kissing booth to earn money for glee club, Rachel told Finn she still loves him and asked for forgiveness for cheating with Puck. Finn gave her the star necklace that he bought her for Christmas before they broke up. "You're better than everyone at this school," he said, adding that he wants to be alone for a while. "You're a real star and you need to shine." Later, he admitted that he kissed Quinn and saw fireworks, and she said she was glad to know the truth. "Now I'm free to pursue my dreams without anything holding me back," she said.

Aretha Franklin to Get All-Star Grammy Salute

There is only one Queen of Soul, but it takes a chorus of artists to celebrate her.

"As a "valentine" to Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and Grammy Legend Award recipient Aretha Franklin, four-time Grammy winner Yolanda Adams, four-time Grammy winner and Latin Grammy winner Christina Aguilera, Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson, country superstar Martina McBride, and current nominee Florence Welch will join together on the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in celebration of the 18-time Grammy winner and current nominee's music and ongoing legacy," the Recording Academy said in an announcement Wednesday.

The salute, to take place at the start of the program, will feature individual and collective renditions of some of Franklin's classics – though Franklin, 68, is not expected to attend Sunday night's event, presumably due to her recent, undisclosed health problems. According to her rep, she'll be at home in Detroit watching with her friends and family.

The tribute will be among several performances set to take place at the Grammys, by such artists as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Jaden Smith, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and, in his live Grammy performance debut, Mick Jagger.

On Tuesday, the Academy also announced that best traditional pop vocal album nominee (for her Love Is the Answer) Barbra Streisand would also perform, introduced by her long-ago A Star Is Born costar, Kris Kristofferson.

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards will take place Sunday, Februart 13th at Los Angeles's Staples Center and air live on CBS starting at 8:00 pm (ET).

Katy Perry Appreciates Her 'Enormous' Bust

Katy Perry has no problem flaunting her cleavage these days, but that wasn't always the case for the Firework songstress.

"When I was a kid … I had enormous boobs that I didn't know what to do with," Perry says in the March issue of Elle. "I wore minimizers, which were not cute. Those thick-ass straps! I got made fun of for the over-the-shoulder boulder holder."

In fact, Perry, 26, longed to resemble a supermodel. "All I wanted was to look like Kate Moss," she says. "Little did I know ... [my breasts] would come in handy someday."

One person who likes Perry just the way she is? Her new hubby Russell Brand.

"Everything clicked really fast," the pop star says of her British comedian counterpart, 35. "We kind of instantly got past all the surfacey stuff. And ever since then, there hasn't been a dull moment."

Perry says the lack of dullness in the relationship will most likely continue because she and Brand plan to expand their family.

"I want to have kids!" Perry said. "I'm totally fine with saying that. I think some people are … worried it's going to ruin their career, but I want to live a full life."

Read the entire interview in the latest issue of Elle magazine.

Simon Cowell to Be a Judge on X Factor

Simon Cowell won't speculate on who will be behind the judges' table on the American version of The X Factor, but he confirms there will be one familiar face on the panel – himself.

"Once the show goes into production, I become a judge," Cowell told reporters Monday. "Then I have to put my trust into the producers' hands, which is effectively how it works in the U.K. Yes, I am judging."

Before the show starts, Cowell will serve as executive producer and participate in the selection of the judging panel, which has been widely speculated about. Nicole Scherzinger, Rihanna, Jessica Simpson, Paula Abdul, Cheryl Cole, Katy Perry and Will Smith have all been rumored as possible judges on the show.

Cowell says feelers are out to certain possible judges, though he would not list their names. Asked about his former Idol pal Abdul, he said, "I'm a massive fan of Paula. We honestly haven't made our mind up yet … We're talking to a number of people. We hope to make an announcement in three to four weeks."

So, can viewers expect the same hard-nosed Simon Cowell they have come to expect from his years on American Idol? Or will he be a softer, gentler Simon on X Factor?

"I started to cringe over the years as I saw people being booked as the so-called 'mean' judge and being gratuitously rude for the sake of it. I had my own style and like to think I'm honest and wouldn't sugarcoat something to make myself popular," he said. "I am gong to try and be consistent, as I have been over the years … People know what to expect if I'm on the judging panel. I don't think things will change too much."

Cowell is excited about judging on this show since, unlike on Idol, it will involve working directly with contestants. "I wanted to make a show where I could help the competitors on a weekly basis and that's more interesting to me because I will have a lot more to do," he said.

On X-Factor" competitors will make home visits to the judges during the evaluation process and perform in front of live audiences of several thousand right from the start to see "who can handle the pressure," adds Cowell.

Plus, the stakes are high for the hopeful stars: The winner of X Factor will be awarded $5 million record deal, the largest guaranteed prize in TV history.

Cowell also says he's glad that audiences are still interested in talent competitions. "The good news is people are still excited about these shows – Idol, Dancing with the Stars, America's Got Talent – people, thank god, still like these shows and that gives me confidence for when we launch ours [in the fall]."

Cynthia Nixon & Wife Welcome a Son

It's a boy for Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni!

Marinoni gave birth to the couple's son, Max Ellington Nixon-Marinoni, on Monday, February 7th, Nixon's rep confirms.

"Christine and baby are doing great," stated her rep.

Nixon, 44, and Marinoni, 43, began dating in 2004 and announced their engagement in 2009. The Sex and the City star has two children, Samantha, 14, and Charles, 8, from her previous relationship with teacher Danny Mozes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Shares 5 Facts About Himself Including His Crush on Glee's Darren Criss

People Magazine has a fun “5 Facts About Me” feature about Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson in its current issue.

What he can’t get enough of: “Coffee. I could have seven or eight cups in a day.”

What he’s addicted to: “[The iPhone app] Angry Birds. There was a point when I was playing it at red lights. Oprah said not to text and drive, but she didn’t say not to do that!”

Who he would love to be: “Michelle Obama for a day. I don’t want the pressure of being the president, but I want to see inside The White House and put the girls to sleep.”

His bad habit: “I bite my nails. It’s boredom, it’s nerves, it’s when I’m happy, when I’m hungry. I work through the bitter nail polish. It’s really bad.”

His celebrity crush: “Glee’s Darren Criss [pictured below with Jesse and Neil Patrick Harris]. I got to meet him the other day. He’s the nicest guy, so sweet, so talented. It was wonderful.”

Anderson Cooper Attacked in Egypt

CNN's Anderson Cooper escaped serious injury Wednesday when he was attacked by a group of demonstrators in Egypt, which has been plunged into crisis in recent days by political protests.

Cooper, 43, said he and his production crew, reporting from Cairo, were set upon by demonstrators loyal to embattled president Hosni Mubarak. "The attackers pushed and shoved the CNN crew and punched them in the head, he said, but no one was seriously hurt," according to a report on

A colleague, CNN's Steve Brusk, tweeted that Cooper was "punched 10 times in the head" by a "pro-Mubarak mob."

Appearing on CNN's American Morning Wednesday, Cooper looked fine, and the anchor continues to file reports on the unrest in Egypt.

Farrah Fawcett’s Iconic Swimsuit Donated to the Smithsonian

The red swimsuit that made Farrah Fawcett into a iconic pin-up is headed to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal donated the swimsuit and other items, including an original copy of the swimsuit poster, a leather-bound book of Fawcett’s personal copies of scripts for the first season of Charlie’s Angels, a Fawcett swimsuit jigsaw puzzle, a “Farrah Phenomenon” 1976 edition of TV Guide, an original 1977 Farrah Fawcett doll and a “Farrah’s Glamour Center” hairstyling toy, to the Smithsonian on Wednesday.

The items will join the museum’s pop culture history collection, which includes items ranging from Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz to Kermit the Frog.

Best known for her role on Charlie’s Angels, Fawcett’s iconic 1976 poster in which she donned a clingy red bathing suit sold millions of copies.

After a long battle with cancer, Fawcett died in 2009 at the age of 62.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How Ricky Martin Juggles Single Fatherhood with Twin Toddlers

Ricky Martin has been through a lot in the past year. But keeping him calm at the center of his crazy life are his two most adoring fans – 2-year-old twin sons Matteo and Valentino.

"Every day they teach me different things," the pop star, 39, tells Parade of his boys, born via surrogate in August 2008. "The love is there. When you have a 2-year-old saying every other hour, 'Papi, te amo. Papi, I love you,' it can't get better."

Certainly, there's never a dull moment. "A lot of people say, 'Wow, you're a single father of twin boys, that's crazy!' " he says. "Two toddlers can get hectic, but I wouldn't change it for anything."

Asked what fatherhood has taught him, Martin replies: "Heavy lessons about simplicity and unconditional love. I don't want to sound cliché, another father talking about unconditional love, but man, that's the way it is. You hear it all the time, but when you feel this other branch of love getting stronger and stronger every day, it's just amazing."

He also reveals that the twins are already following in their famous father's footsteps. "The other day I took them to a toy store and they went straight to this tiny piano," he says. "And I'm like, 'Look at the robot!' But no, it was the piano. Both of them. So it's very beautiful."

Martin, who came out last spring, also talks about being a voice in the gay community – and says it's a natural progression for him.

"It's something I feel really good about doing," he says. "I have been an activist for human rights for many years. Today, I'm in touch with who I am and I have the opportunity to be in front of a camera and talk to millions of people."

Ricky Martin's latest CD, Musica+Alma+Sexo (Music+Soul+Sex) was released yesterday.

Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy & Linda Gray Onboard for New 'Dallas' Show

Larry Hagman is a lock! TNT confirmed today that Larry Hagman will participate in the Dallas reboot that’s in the works at the cabler. Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray will also appear in the pilot that’s based on characters created by David Jacobs and executive produced by Cynthia Cidre (Cane).

The original Dallas aired from 1978 to 1991 and followed the Ewing family of Southfork. (Hagman played J.R. Ewing, Gray played his wife Sue Ellen, and Duffy portrayed J.R.’s younger brother Bobby). The modern story will focus on the Ewing offspring – J.R. Ewing’s son, John Ross, and the adopted son of Bobby and Pam Ewing, Christopher – as they clash over the future of the family dynasty.

Josh Henderson (Desperate Housewives) will play John Ross while Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious) will play Elena, who is involved in a love triangle with Christopher and John.

Hagman told Entertainment Weekly in September that he continues to make appearances on behalf of Dallas, which syndicates in 60 countries today. ”It’s like an annuity, really,” Hagman said. ”I go out, they adore me, and then they pay you. What better job can you have?”

This isn’t the first time that someone’s tried to revive the Texas oil family drama that aired from 1978 to 1991. In 2006, Twentieth Century Fox decided to adapt the soap for the big screen, closing deals with John Travolta, Jennifer Lopez, and Luke Wilson. But then research indicated that the Dallas brand didn’t mean much to younger moviegoers, says a source close to the project. Travolta and Lopez soon dropped out.

More Details on the New Charlie's Angels

Entertainment Weekly has shared fresh details about ABC’s Charlie’s Angels reboot. Unlike the original 1970s series, where the team of private investigators were disgruntled graduates of the police academy, the update currently has the crime-fighters as a trio of not-so-angelic criminals. In the pilot, Charlie brings them together and offers an opportunity to redeem themselves — by working for him, of course.

One major character is still being tweaked, however, and keep in mind pilots tend to undergo plenty of changes before they air. One of the trio has been previously reported as a con artist, while another is an ex-Marine and weapons expert.

Though the recent feature films were light-hearted (and, like the new series, executive produced by Drew Barrymore), sources say the new show will be a “fairly serious, non-campy” take on the concept.

But ABC’s Angels will match the original series in at least a couple key respects… Angels will consist of self-contained episodes — a new adventure each week, rather than having a serialized storyline. (There are some serialized elements, of course, like with all shows, but it’s mainly episodic).

Also, Charlie will remain a voice in a box — no video at least, when talking to the Angels – and the story will explain why, in the age of iChat and Skype, he’s still using such low-tech communication. (81-year-old Hart to Hart star Robert Wagner is near a deal to play Charlie.)

The pilot begins shooting in March, which gives the new Angels (Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh) time for some specialized training for the physical demands of the show.

The script is being polished by executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar, and then, like all pilots, could get tweaked more in the coming months. ABC will decide in late April or early May whether to pick it up to series for fall.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Kids on the Block's Jonathan Knight: “I Have Never Been Outed By Anyone But Myself!”

From time to time, you will have a celebrity come out as gay and say they were never in the closet. Most recently, Johnny Weir came out.

But the truth is, whether you are famous or not, sometimes you have to come out time and time again in so many ways. So this appears to be the case with Jonathan Knight, a member of New Kids on the Block.

Last week, it seemed that singer Tiffany had possibly outed him when she casually mentioned that he is gay. Knight quickly showed his support of her via Twitter and has now taken things a step further in the New Kids on the Block website.

Here is an excerpt from his statement:

“I have never been outed by anyone but myself! I did so almost twenty years ago. I never know that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay! Apparently the pre requiste to being a gay public figure is to appear on the cover of a magazine with the caption “I am gay”. I apologize for not doing so if this is what was expected! My belief is that you live your life by example, and not by a caption on a magazine! If there ever has been any confusion about my sexuality, then you are someone that doesn’t even know me!” “I love living my life being open and honest, but at this time I choose not to discuss my private life any further!”

Now, how much longer before his brother, Jordan, also comes out of the closet? Hopefully soon!

David Cook: New Album, New Confidence

His gritty rock voice is what helped David Cook, 28, win season seven of American Idol.

But when working on his latest, as yet untitled studio album, he learned to use that voice in a whole new way.

As usual, Cook collaborated with an array of music industry veterans, from Kelly Clarkson songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk to OneRebublic vocalist Ryan Tedder. But in contrast to the "anxiety" he felt making his platinum-selling, self-titled, post-Idol album, the Missouri-bred singer told AOL's Popeater: "Sitting in the room with these people, I still managed to find my voice … really speaking up for myself and making sure that what was happening was going to come across as me and not, 'Here's David Cook singing somebody else's songs.' "

In a behind-the-scenes video shot at Emblem studios in Calabasas, California, Cook comes across as self-assured, but not cocky: "I'm very confident in my own ability to write music, but I think anytime you can bounce ideas off of other people – you know, two heads are better than one."

Henry Cavill Cast as Superman

Look! Up in the sky! It's Henry Cavill as Superman!

The British Tudors star, 27, will play the Man of Steel (and his human alter ego, Clark Kent) in Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman movie, set for release in December 2012.

"In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen," said the 300 and Watchmen director in a statement released Sunday. "I also join Warner Bros. and the producers in saying how excited we are about the casting of Henry. He is the perfect choice to don the cape and S shield."

Like Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh before him, Cavill is an under-the-radar leading man for whom the Superhero role represents a big Hollywood break. He'll next appear in Immortals alongside Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto and Kellan Lutz, expected to premiere in November.