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Transgender actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor make history with Indie Spirit Award nods

Performers getting award nominations for playing transgender characters is nothing new.

Hillary Swank won an Oscar for playing a trans male in Boys Don’t Cry while Felicity Huffman was nominated for playing one. In September, Jeffrey Tambor won an Emmy for his performance as a transgender woman on TV’s Transparent.

This year, Eddie Redmayne is a virtual shoo-in to get an Oscar nod for his performance as a pioneering transgender woman in The Danish Girl.

But what transgender actresses Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor accomplished earlier today is a breakthrough: both were nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for their portrayals of transgender women in Tangerine.

These nods give them a tremendous boost in possibly becoming the first transgender actresses to ever be nominated for Academy Awards. Previous to starring in the film, neither woman had major acting experience.

Variety reported last month that this marks the first time a movie distributor has ever backed an awards season push for transgender actresses in Hollywood history.

‘It seems that the TV Academy has embraced what’s happening in the trans movement with Transparent and Orange is the New Black. We feel that the film Academy is a little behind on that front, co-producer Mark Duplass told the trade paper.

Last year, Laverne Cox became the first transgender actress to earn an Emmy nomination for her role on Orange is the New Black.

In Tangerine, Rodriguez plays Sin-Dee who is just out of jail and searching for the pimp who broke her heart with a cisgender woman. Meanwhile, her is best friend Alexandra (Taylor) is getting ready for her stage show. These personal dramas are set against the backdrop of Christmas in Hollywood.


Lunch Break Video: Patti Labelle surprises hosts of “The Today Show” with slices of her sold out pie

I’m still obsessed with Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies even though I’ve given up hope of being able to taste one for quite some time.

Ever since James Wright’s classic video took over YouTube, the pies have been almost impossible to come by at Walmart where they are sold exclusively.

Patti claims the pies had ‘already been selling off the shelves’ but admits Wright’s video has been ‘a blessing.’

Good grief, is she kidding?

What Wright did was make the pies a phenomenon and Patti needs to adjust her take on things to recognize that.

Anyway, on Friday LaBelle surprised Willie Geist and Tamron Hall of The Today Show with a few slices of the pie.

It only takes one bite for Willie to burst into song.

Independent Spirit Awards nominations: “Carol” gets six nods, “Tangerine” gets four

Nominations for the 2016 Spirit Awards were announced this morning and the lesbian-themed drama Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara led the way with six nods.

The awards are for independent films made with a budget of under $20 million and they are presented the day before the Academy Awards in a ceremony that takes place in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.

Carol earned nominations for Best Feature, Best Director (Todd Haynes), Best Screenplay (Phyllis Nagy), Best Female Lead (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) and Best Cinematography (Ed Lachman).

Carol is set in the 1950s and tells the story of a woman (Blanchett) unhappily married to a man who is threatened with never being able to see her daughter after the husband learns of her relationship with a young woman (Mara).

Another multiple nominee with an LGBTI storyline is Tangerine about trans woman sex worker named Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) who is released from a 28 day jail sentence and finds out her boyfriend and pimp Chester has been cheating on her with a white cisgender woman.

The film received nods for Best Feature, Best Director (Sean S. Baker), Best Female Lead (Rodriguez), and Best Supporting Female (Mya Taylor).

Taylor’s competition in the supporting category includes out actress Cynthia Nixon who is nominated for her performance as a woman dying of cancer in the drama James White.

Nixon, previously best known for her role as Miranda on Sex and the City, has quietly amassed an impressive collection of awards in recent years including two Emmys, a Tony and a Grammy.

‘This year’s nominees are a testament to the strength, vitality and diversity of independent, artist-driven filmmaking,’ Film Independent President Josh Welsh said in a statement. ‘It’s an astonishingly strong group of films and performances this year and we look forward to celebrating them all at the Spirit Awards.’

Here is a full list of Independent Spirit Award nominees. The awards will be presented on 27 February.


Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight, Tangerine


The Diary of a Teenage Girl, James White, Manos Sucias, Mediterranea, Songs My Brothers Taught Me

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000.

Advantageous, Christmas Again, Heaven Knows What, Krisha, Out of My Hand


Sean Baker  (Tangerine), Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation), Todd Haynes (Carol), Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)


Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), Donald Margulies (The End of the Tour), Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk)


Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea), Emma Donoghue (Room), Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), John Magary, story by Russell Harbaugh and Myna Joseph (The Mend)


Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation), Michael Gioulakis (It Follows), Ed Lachman Carol Reed Morano Meadowland Joshua James Richards Songs My Brothers Taught Me


Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie (Heaven Knows What), Tom McArdle (Spotlight), Nathan Nugent (Room), Julio C. Perez IV (It Follows), Kristan Sprague (Manos Sucias)


Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Rooney Mara (Carol), Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Kitana Kiki Rodriguez (Tangerine)


Christopher Abbott (James White), Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind), Jason Segel (The End of the Tour), Koudous Seihon (Mediterranea)


Robin Bartlett (H.), Marin Ireland (Glass Chin), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa), Cynthia Nixon (James White), Mya Taylor (Tangerine)


Kevin Corrigan (Results), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Richard Jenkins (Bone Tomahawk), Michael Shannon (99 Homes),

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – (Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast)


Director: Tom McCarthy

Casting Directors: Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee

Ensemble Cast: Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci


(T)ERROR, Best of Enemies, Heart of a Dog, The Look of Silence, Meru, The Russian Woodpecker


Embrace of the Serpent, Girlhood, Mustang, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Son of Saul


George Takei: The most terrifying part of internment of Japanese-Americans for his family was being released

The Broadway musical Allegiance was inspired by the real-life story of George Takei’s family being among the Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II

Their lives were completely disrupted for four years as incarcerated American citizens. There were no charges, no due process. Takei’s parents were both born in California but because they were of Japanese descent, they and others were sent to the camps for ‘national security.’

It was a shameful chapter in US history and the suffering was not over once Takei’s family was released from the camp. He tells Towleroad about that next part of their life:

But when the war ended and we were released, we lost everything. They gave us a one-way ticket to wherever in the United States we wanted to go, plus $25 each. So when we came back to Los Angeles, our first home was on Skid Row. To both me and my siblings, a brother a year younger and a baby sister who wasn’t even a year old when we were taken to the internment camps — that’s all she knew, her whole life was shaped by the internment camp. So coming home, in quotes, was the most terrifying part of our growing up.

In fact, one day we were walking down the sidewalk, and this derelict came right toward us, staggering, and we were just petrified. We just stopped and froze, and then he collapsed right in front of us and barfed, and my baby sister screamed, “Mama, let’s go back home!” meaning go home behind barbed-wire fences, because that became home for us, and Skid Row was terrifying.

That really gave me an understanding of what internment meant — to be penniless and to be living like that. I saw how hard my parents worked their fingers to the bones to get back on their feet, and that was a life-shaping experience, coming home.


Tuesday Morning Man: Lou Ferrigno Jr.!

A little late with the Morning Man but I think this guy was worth the wait!

He’s Lou Ferrigno Jr. whose dad is, well, I think you know.

The 31-year-old son of The Incredible Hulk star has been plenty busy in recent years doing all kind of TV jobs including a recurring role on MTV’s Teen Wolf last year and a recurring role currently on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless.

He’s also guested on How I Met Your Mother, The Mindy Project, Nashville, Agents of S.H.I.E.l.D. and Days of Our Lives.

Aas a child, Lou focused on football and would eventually take his talents to the University of Southern California where he was a walk-on linebacker for the 2007 Rose Bowl Champion USC football team.

Upon graduation Lou began his career as a fitness model, shooting for Muscle&Fitness and Ironman Magazine. As a commercial actor he has landed principal roles in commercials for T-Mobile, Oscar Mayer, Carl’s Jr., Miller Light and Honda, eventually leading to roles in film and television.

According to his IMDB profile, his nickname is “Sweet Lou.”

FILE UNDER: Morning Men (2015)

Reid Ewing, actor who plays Sarah Hyland’s boyfriend on “Modern Family” comes out in casual tweet

It all began with this tweet:

Reid Ewing @media_reid Saw Eugene Bata on @GMA in the Body Dysmorphia segment connected to my article and I just want to say he is hot af.
(hot af means ‘hot as fuck’)
The young actor, who plays the role of Haley’s boyfriend Dylan on Modern Family was then asked by a Twitter follower if he had just outed himself.
Ewing, 27, simply replied: ‘I was never in.’
But the even bigger story is that Ewing has gone public about having body dysmorphic disorder and having plastic surgery he didn’t really need.
It started with large cheek implants when he was just 19. Unhappy with the results, he sought out another surgeon which suggested a chin implant.
He writes in Huffington Post: ‘For the next couple of years, I would get several more procedures with two other doctors. Each procedure would cause a new problem that I would have to fix with another procedure.’
Ewing would go on to have several more surgeries with two other doctors over the next few years and also start using injectable fillers and fat transfers.
In 2012, he finally decided to stop.
‘Not long after I had decided to stop getting surgeries, I saw the first doctor I met with on a talk show and then in a magazine article, giving tips on getting cosmetic surgery,’ he writes. ‘Well, this is written to counter his influence. Before seeking to change your face, you should question whether it is your mind that needs fixing.’
FILE UNDER: Coming Out

Matt Bomer will next star as 1930s studio executive in “The Last Tyconn” pilot for Amazon

They say that nice guys finish last but that’s not true for Matt Bomer.

The truly nice and gracious star is on a roll that shows no signs of slowing down.

Currently starring in American Horror Story: Hotel with Lady Gaga, Matt will next star in The Last Tycoon, a pilot for Amazon Studios which is home to the Emmy winning Transparent.

The pilot is set in 1930s Hollywood and is based on the final unfinished novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Inspired by the life of film mogul Irving Thalberg and his rise to power, Matt will play studio executive Monroe Stahr who it pitted against the studio head who was also his mentor.

Production of the pilot was contingent on the casting of Mr. Bomer, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Since coming out publicly as a gay man in 2012, Matt has continued to work non-stop in gay and straight roles.

He wrapped up a six season run on TV’s White Collar last year, starred in the Magic Mike feature film and its sequel and was nominated for an Emmy and won a Golden Globe Award for his performance in HBO’s The Normal Heart.

Bomer is also currently shooting the feature film The Magnificent Seven with Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington and has wrapped production on The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

FILE UNDER: Television

James Corden gets a big kiss from a mistletoe carrying Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “The Late Late Show”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt brought a mistletoe to The Late Late Show the other night and had lips only for host James Corden.

At the start of the show, the actor ran from his dressing room and to the stage during Corden’s introductions and planted quite an impressive smooch on Corden’s lips.

‘Wow! He really came at me with some force,’ a stunned Corden said, laughing. ‘I don’t even know how to carry on.’

FILE UNDER: Late Night

Carly Simon on her gay second husband Jim Hart: “I wish I’d known that when we were married”

Carly Simon reveals in her new memoir why her 20-year marriage to her second husband, poet Jim Hart, ended.

‘He turned out to be gay,’ she writes. ‘We’re great friends but I wish I’d known that when we were married. His boyfriends would call up here crying.’

They married in 1987, four years after her divorce from singer James Taylor.

The New York Post reported earlier this year that Hart has been working on a memoir of his own called The Second Husband covering his childhood as the son of a Hell’s Kitchen mobster. He studied to become a priest, had friendships with Jackie Onassis and Mike Nichols, and married Simon who he had met on a train but did not know who she was.

“At the age of 52, I discovered I was gay,” Hart told The Post. “Carly was terrific in the midst of that. It’s been quite a life.”

Simon is sad that Taylor, the father of her two children, has not spoken to her for many years but she and Hart remain close.

She tells People Magazine: ‘When I have a bad day, I call him first.’


Wishing a happy 55th birthday to Robin Roberts!

We all know that Robin Roberts has been on ABC’s Good Morning America since 1995 and shared with viewers her battles with breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome.

She kind of felt like family.

But it was not until December 2013 that she shared with the world that she is a lesbian and in a long-term relationship.

Since then she has really felt like family.

Good Morning America celebrated its 40th anniversary last week and Robin has been firmly ensconced as co-host since 2005 after spending the previous decade as a reporter and news anchor.

It’s been joyous to watch her blossom over the decades – especially in the most recent years.

“I feel now more than ever that my life has purpose,’ Robin said in 2013. ‘I think that I am being used for light and love and resilience. For whatever reason, I’m able to touch people, and I’m so grateful for that.”

Wishing Robin a very happy 55th birthday!

FILE UNDER: Birthdays

Monday Morning Man: Brett McGurk!

This handsome guy was on Face the Nation yesterday morning and I was very impressed with his interview.

He’s Brett McGurk and it was just last month that he was appointed by President Barack Obama as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL.

McGurk, 42, also holds the title of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran at the U.S. Department of State – a position he has held since April 2013.

He’s been a most impressive guy since a young age. While at Columbia Law School, McGurk was a Senior Editor of the Columbia Law Review and later served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court during the Court’s 2001 October Term.

McGurk was nominated to be United States Ambassador to Iraq in 2012 but eventually withdrew when illicit emails with The Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon were leaked. He was then married to someone else. McGurk married Chon in 2012.

Novak Djokovic wins ATP Championships over Roger Federer – wraps up best year of his career

Novak Djokovic capped the best season of his career earlier today when he beat Roger Federer in the final of the ATP Championships.

Federer is my forever favorite and, I think, the greatest male player in the history of the game.

But this Novak’s year as he beat Fed to win the US Open and Wimbledon and Andy Murray to win the Australian Open. If not for a loss in the French Open final to Stan Wawrinka, he would have been the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the grand slam.

Djokovic also will finish the season at the No. 1 player for the fourth time in five years after winning the ATP Championships for the fifth time. Only Federer, with six titles, has won more year-end titles.

“It’s been an incredible season. Sitting here with this trophy alongside me, I couldn’t ask for a better finish of the season,” Djokovic said in his press conference.

“This season definitely stands out. I can’t say I expected it, not at all. But I always gave my best, and I’m always asking from myself the most.

“I was always hoping that I can play this well throughout the entire season. Managing to reach this kind of season and achievement this year obviously gives me a lot of confidence for anything that is coming in the future.”

Djokovic has now levelled his head-to-head record versus Federer at 22-22. They played eight times in 2015 with Djokovic winning five times.

He ends the season with an 82-6 match record.


Morning Man Classic: John F. Kennedy

It was 52 years ago today that US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated while visiting Dallas, Texas.

He was just 46 and it still makes me sad thinking about it.

My parents kept the newspaper from that day stored in our garage and that’s how I learned the details of the murder – that yellowed copy of the Orange County Register and my mom’s recollections of the tragic day.

She, of course, remembered exactly where she was and what she was doing.

So here our some photos of the handsome young man killed in his prime. Among them is a photo with his gay best friend Lem Billings who he met in his teens while in boarding school.

They remained devoted to each other until his death.

FILE UNDER: Morning Men (2015)

Greg’s Review: “Carol” is sublime and could win Cate Blanchett her third Academy Award

Is it possible that Cate Blanchett could win her second Oscar in three years – and third overall – for her astonishing performance in Carol?

I absolutely think so.

In this Todd Haynes-directed masterpiece, Blanchett plays a married suburban socialite who becomes romantically involved with a younger shopgirl (Rooney Mara) who she meets while Christmas shopping for her young daughter.

Elegant throughout the film with a killer 1950′s-era wardrobe, Blanchett is sexy and smoldering during her courtship with Mara’s character.

But we also see her as a devoted mother who suddenly becomes completely vulnerable when her estranged husband (Kyle Chandler) takes legal action to keep her away from their daughter.

There’s a magnificent scene in an attorney’s office where Carol calls on her husband, who holds all the legal cards at that point, to do right by her when it comes to their daughter.

It’s the kind of scene that wins people Academy Awards.

I had the same feeling about Blanchett’s Oscar hopes after seeing Carol on Friday night that I did after seeing Blanchett in Blue Jasmine two years ago. Plus this year, she also delivered an outstanding performance in Truth as former CBS News producer Mary Mapes.

So far, I think she’s the one to beat.

I don’t want to slight Mara because she is also excellent. The chemistry between her and Blanchett is electric and very believable. Her far younger character is just coming into her own personally and professionally and Mara makes you root for her to flourish and you feel for her so deeply as she suffers through the anguish of her first real heartbreak.

Carol is currently in very limited release but you will most certainly want to see it once it comes to a theater near you.

FILE UNDER: Greg's Reviews

Andy Cohen on Charlie Sheen’s HIV announcement: “I (was) left feeling very confused”

Charlie Sheen’s recent announcement that he is HIV positive was not without controversy.

Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen, guesting on Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday night, weighed in on the way Charlie handled his big reveal on The Today Show and the tabloid reports in the months leading up to it.

“Before he came out and said I have HIV [this week] it felt like the ’80s where there was this HIV shame going around. And then that it turned out that he was coming out because he had been blackmailed….On The Today Show I found it a little irresponsible that he was on with his doctor who was…guiding him through having unprotected sex with these high risk individuals and it just seemed to me like he had an opportunity to say something or do something and the message was very murky. I left feeling very confused.

“I obviously wish him great health but it was upsetting and then to find out that he claimed, ‘Oh I’ve told everyone that I’ve been with that this is my status’ but then all these women came out and said ‘no, he never told me’. It just got very messy very quickly.”


See Adele belt out “When We Were Young” on last night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live”

Adele was last night’s musical guest on Saturday Night Live and God she ws good.

She was perfect!

She performed Hello which is a good song then she belted out When We Were Young which is a great song.

In case you missed it, enjoy!


Happy 72nd birthday to Billie Jean King!

I’m so glad that in the past decade, the great Billie Jean King has been getting her due.

She certainly deserves it.

For anyone out there who wonders “Who is Billie Jean King?” here is your history lesson:

1. Led the fight for equal prize money for women in pro tennis.

2. Decided to publicly come out as a lesbian (initially bisexual) in 1981 and lose all her endorsements rather than listen to lawyers and managers who suggested she not be honest.

3. Beat Bobby Riggs in the landmark 1973 Battle of the Sexes match when the pressure of the world was on her shoulders.

4. Founded the Women’s tennis tour in 1968.

5. Founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973 during Wimbledon while managing to win the singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles that year.

6. Founded World Team Tennis so males and females could play together in a team format.

7. Won a record-tying twenty Wimbledon titles in singles, doubles and mixed.

8. Founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, a non-profit organization to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity.

9. Was one of the leaders in the fight for passage of Title IX which requires any educational institution receiving federal assistance to offer equal opportunities to male and female athletes.

10. She’s one of the few women since 1968 (beginning of Open Era of tennis) to win all four grand slam singles titles in her career (Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open, French Open). The others are Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

11. Won 39 grand slam titles overall in singles, doubles and mixed.

12. Received of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama.

13. Is the first athlete to be profiled in PBS’s American Masters documentary series.

14. Is the first female tennis player to earn $100,000 in a single season.

15. Is so well-regarded that the National Tennis Center in New York, site of the US Open, was renamed The Billie Jan King National Tennis Center.

16. Won the women’s doubles title as a teenager at her very first Wimbledon when she was known as Little Miss Moffit (maiden name: Billie Jean Moffit). Then at 39, she made it to the semifinals in singles and final in mixed doubles at her very last Wimbledon as a player.

17. Has raised millions for AIDS causes through her annual Smash Hits event with longtime pal Elton John.

18. Has served as a mentor to younger players including Chris Evert, Venus and Serena Williams, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova.

19. Wrote the terrific book Pressure is a Privilege.

20. The Elton John hit Philadelphia Freedom was written about BJK!

21. Was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

22. Was the first female chosen as Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year, sharing the honor with UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

23. In 2000, BJK received an award from the GLAAD for “furthering the visibility and inclusion of the LGBT community in her work.

24. She was among the first class of inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame last year.

25. At 72, Billie Jean is still looking to do ‘one more big thing.’

FILE UNDER: Birthdays, Tennis

Showtune Sunday: Memorable performances from past American Music Awards telecasts

Tonight is the American Music Awards so it seems like a good time to take a little trip down memory lane.

Of course I have picked a bunch of divas including Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John
and Christina Agiulera. Also picked out Adam Lambert’s 2009 performance which was so wild that there was some backlash.

Didn’t hurt his career one bit!

The awards were created by Dick Clark in 1973 for ABC when the network’s contract to telecast the Grammys expired.

Jennifer Lopez is the host of tonight’s show.

FILE UNDER: Showtune Sunday

Lunch Break Videos: Goldie Hawn turns 70 today – let’s celebrate with some of her movie moments

It’s been 13 long years since The Banger Sisters which means it’s been that long since Goldie Hawn last starred in a movie.

I don’t know if she plans to make any more but to celebrate Goldie’s 70th birthday today, here are some scenes from her wonderful career that has included many hits from Private Benjamin to The First Wives Club to Death Becomes Her to Overboard to so, so many more.

FILE UNDER: Birthdays

In case you missed “The D Train,” don’t miss this scene between Jack Black and James Marsden

Earlier this year, my regular movie buddy Jay suggested we see The D Train. I had heard no advance buzz so just went on blind faith.

Ended up enjoying it very much.

Jack Black played a very insecure middle aged dude who wants to impress his fellow high school reunion committee members by convincing the school’s most popular guy to attend the shindig. The popular guy (played by James Marsden) has moved to LA to become an actor.

Black flies out to LA and after a night of partying, things take an unexpected turn. Black’s little flashback as he sits up in bed the next morning had me giggling at random times throughout the rest of the movie!

Enjoy, and prepare to be surprised!

H/T: NewNowNext