Andy Roddick has always been a great wit and his sense of humor was again on display at a tournament in Atlanta this week when he explained his shaved head to the media: “The haircut was my idea. I must have been having a Britney Spears moment.”
The pop star, of course, famously shaved her head during a very public meltdown a few years ago.
Andy is recovering from an unexpected fourth-round loss at Wimbledon where he was trying to win the title for the first time after three runner-up finishes.
Andy is now turning his attention to next month’s US Open where he was champion back in 2003. He is playing in the Atlanta tournament to regain the terrific form he had earlier in the season when he amassed a 26-4 hardcourt record.
Atlanta is where Roddick won his very first career title. The year was 2001 and was the last time the tournament was played in that city before this year.
Joked Andy: “I guess that makes me the defending champion.”
You gotta wonder if the editors of the supermarket tabloids that cook up stupid stories about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie feel any remorse.
The headlines for years now have this movie star couple breaking up and all the rest (and they still manage to drag poor Jennifer Aniston into it much of the time).
Maybe the real story just isn’t interesting enough: This pair are the proud parents of six children, they try and use their fame for good causes both domestically and internationally and they focus on each one making one good movie per year.
Angelina is the star of the new action flick Salt and last night the film had a big, splashy at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Also in attendance were Angelina’s brother, James Haven, and their formerly estranged father Jon Voight.
I’ll tell you why I’ve always had a lot of respect for Angelina: About six years ago at the very same theater, the premiere of Alexander was held. It was a terrible movie directed by Oliver Stone and also starred Colin Farrell, Jared Leto and Val Kilmer. Everyone knew it was bad and after sitting through this three hour disaster, we could not wait to get to the after-party at the Roosevelt Hotel across the street.
Stone, Farrell and others briefly appeared by soon were gone but Angelina stayed and shook every hand, posed for every picture and was the epitome of a movie star.
I never forgot her professionalism that night and thought it said everything about her.
The break-up between singer Melissa Etheridge and actress Tammy Lynn Michaels has been stunning in its bitterness and in the online airing of dirty laundry by Tammy who claims she has been left broke.
When I saw publicist Howard Bragman at the Outfest panel Coming Out In Hollywood over the weekend, I wondered what he thought of the split from a public relations standpoint. Etheridge had initially released a tidy statement but Michaels – who gave birth to the couple’s two children – has since been posting items on her blog claiming she has no money and is seeking full custody of the children.
“We used to call it crisis control, now it’s crisis management,” Bragman said of the flow of online bombshells. “In the old days, you’d try and shut it down. In the world we live in now, the lava’s gonna flow and what you want to do is have it flow harmlessly into the ocean as opposed to take out the village.”
“I’ve handled lots of celebrity divorces,” he added. “Divorces are always good people at about the worst time. I don’t believe everything I hear, I try and be as totally empathetic as I can be because, like everybody else, I’ve been in one of two bad relationships in my life. I hope they can get beyond this and develop some kind of friendship because I think they’re both good people.”
Etheridge has been painted as the villain in this split by her ex but Bragman thinks the Grammy and Oscar-winning singer and songwriter will emerge intact: “I think Melissa is an icon, a leader. I think she’s a wonderful person and I call her a friend. I think she will get beyond this. I think if you are Melissa Etheridge and people are saying these things about you, it probably hurts.”
Pic from even earlier in the drive: Oh my god! AAAH! It so bright, and so vivid! AAAAAH! (sob) It’s so beautiful! http://yfrog.com/nfappxj about 14 hours ago
Don’t you just love how engaged Neil Patrick Harris is in life? The Emmy-nominated star of How I Met Your Mother took to Twitter (he has just under 617,000 followers) to share this photo of a rainbow.
Neil also tweeted about the upcoming Harold and Kumar movie in which he has a role: Just wrapped Harold & Kumar 3. In 3D, no less! Had a crazy fun time filming. I think it’ll be funny. Dark and super raw, but still funny. … Not sure about the rest of the movie (though it has Tom Lennon, who is hilariawesome), but the NPH stuff is crazy, nutso, out of control.
Since I don’t think I’m going to be able to engage in Big Brother 12 this summer (life is too short), I am glad that I saw at least one reality show through: ABC’s True Beauty.
Last night, this handsome fellow – Taylor Bills – was named the winner of the competition that secretly judges the inner beauty of contestants who think they are competing to be the “face of Las Vegas.”
After eight episodes, the hottest guy on the show on the outside turned out to be the most beautiful inside.
Taylor is 24 years old and stands at 6’5. He’s a former pro baseball player whose only fault during the competition were a few little minor flashes of temper.
He is the eldest of six children, grew up Mormon and moved around a lot in his childhood.
As the winner of the competition, he received $100,000 and will appear in People Magazine.
“I’ve always had these golden dreams to make it to the top and I won,” he said on last night’s show. “I’m on top right now and it feels awesome. As long as you can learn from your mistakes and work on constantly improving yourself, that’s the take home message.”
I didn’t think for one minute that Kathy Griffin was losing a wink of sleep that Rep. Barney Frank was mad at her for calling Sen. Scott Brown’s daughter’s “prostitutes” last week on her Bravo show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.
In fact, she probably wanted to call and thank him for fanning the flames and helping to provide her with her biggest controversy since her “suck it Jesus” Emmy speech three years ago.
Kathy sent out this Tweet earlier today: “haha,Scott Brown is the Spencer Pratt of the US Senate.THIS is a great time 2 come c me live. OF COURSE I’m lovin all the publicity LOVIN IT.”
Her nemesis on The View, the humorless, talentless and generally irritating Elisabeth Hasselbeck, joined Frank in publicly ripping on our Kathy this morning calling her “scum.”
“You defend your daughters against scum who come after them,” Hasselbeck said during the Hot Topics segment.
“Are you calling Kathy ‘scum’ now?” Joy Behar asked Hasselbeck.
“In general, if someone called your daughter a prostitute would you think they’d be scum?” replied Hasselbeck.
Said Behar: “I know my daughter’s not a prostitute, so it [would be] funny. It’s just a joke, Elisabeth.”
Brown, as could be expected, did not find it funny and issued this statement: “People can call me any name they want, but families are off limits. I love my daughters Ayla and Arianna very much, and any parent would be proud to have them as children. Kathy Griffin and Bravo ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
I don’t blame Brown for defending his daughters though. Ayla is 21-year-old and a contributor for CBS’ The Early Show while Arianna is a 19-year-old pre-med student at Syracuse University and also a part-time model.
Anyway, I’m just glad Kathy has this controversy to milk for now because I was never crazy about the Levi Johnston schtick.
Here’s the part of the show that is causing all the fuss – and free publicity:
Want to get super rich? All you have to do is create a television show that gets huge ratings, 19 Emmy nominations in its first season, spawns several enormously successful recordings and a concert tours and basically has come to dominate pop culture.
Ryan Murphy has managed to do that with Glee and he is being handsomely rewarded for his genius: Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Murphy “is closing a new 4-year $24-million overall deal with Glee producer 20th Century Fox TV for his services on the Fox series and new development through his Ryan Murphy Productions. … Under the pact, Murphy will share profits from Glee’s music business – album sales and downloads – and will also receive a portion of Glee‘s touring and merchandising revenues. Both clauses are retroactive, covering the show’s red-hot freshman season. Also, Murphy has the option to mount a Glee Broadway musical, on which he also would be a profit participant. All in all, the new deal could potentially earn Murphy as much as $10 million a year over the next 4 years if Glee continues to grow.”
When it comes to a male actor deciding to come out of the closet, the conventional wisdom is that it will ruin his chances of ever being a big movie star – especially if he wants those coveted romantic leading men roles.
If the audience knows the guy is gay, apparently it will kill the fantasy and no one will want to buy tickets.
We hear it time and time again from the Hollywood power players and creative folks – both gay and straight – and we heard it again over the weekend at the Outfest Film Festival during a panel called Coming Out in Hollywood.
You wonder though, how do they know? Has it ever been tested? Have we ever had a major studio film flop because an openly gay actor had the romantic lead role?
I’d love to see , for example, what would have happened if the red-hot Neil Patrick Harris had the Tom Cruise role in Knight & Day. Might it have made more than the paltry $70 million it has taken in so far domestically?
Maybe. Maybe not.
We don’t know because it has never really been tried as far as I know.
But it’s hard to change things when an openly gay writer-director such as Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex, Bounce, Happy Endings) has issues with gays playing straight and vice-versa.
“I think the relationship between an audience and an actor is a very complicated thing, especially in a romantic lead,” Roos said during the panel discussion. “When you’re in a movie theater, what’s on the screen isn’t necessarily appealing to your best instincts. Most of the audience is going to be homophobic, they’re mostly violent in their hearts and that’s what they’re responding to on the screen and you can’t wait to have a career until the audience is not homophobic. That’s never going to happen. … In a romantic role, it can be very distracting for the audience to not be able to give themselves to a particular character. Like when I was watching Philadelphia — I knew [Tom Hanks] was straight.”
Roos has directed such actors as Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom Arnold, Lisa Kudrow, Christina Ricci, Lyle Lovett, Jason Ritter, Laura Dern and several other people who are quite well-known, not exactly blank slates in the minds of the public.
It makes me wonder if knowing that Affleck and Paltrow are straight was a distraction in Bounce.
“I think everybody should be out to their circle but it’s more difficult if you’re a romantic lead,” Roos said at the Outfest event. “It would be hard for me to cast Natalie Portman as a woman rancher because she’s this crazy vegan. I want to not have conversations about is he gay or is he not gay; I want to know as little as possible.”
I wanted to publicly ask Roos to expand on this topic but could not manage to get called on by the moderator.
So I talked to Don face-to-face after the panel and we started by talking about his problems with Hanks and his Oscar-winning performance as a gay man with AIDS fighting being fired from his job in 1993′s Philadelphia.
“I kept feeling distracted knowing that he wasn’t really gay,” Roos told me. “I was admiring him and thinking, ‘Oh my God, how well he’s playing that.’ The more I know about any actor about anything, the more distracting it is.”
“I’m just saying in general, the more I know about an actor and his personal life and his personal beliefs, the less useful it is to me as a director. Sometimes I’m distracted because I’m mad that it isn’t a gay actor playing that role. Whatever your political thing is, it interferes with the storytelling.”
More specifically, if an actor were gay in a straight role, he admits he might be similarly distracted. But then he said: “I saw Sean [Hayes] on Broadway [in Promises, Promises] and the only distraction was that I sometimes saw the character that he played on Will & Grace but I totally bought him as a straight guy.”
Now I was really confused and asked: “Would you cast an openly gay actor as a romantic lead in a straight role? Would you be the one to do it?”
Roos: “That’s hypothetical. It would really depend.”
“Cheyenne Jackson?” I suggested.
Roos: “I would have to know what the part is.”
So he’s open to it?
“Oh, I’m open to it, absolutely. What I’m talking about in a more general sense is only romantic leads. That’s a relationship they can have with the audience that it’s distracting whatever they know about you.”
He’s still got the romantic leading man block but, thankfully, he is not willing to make some kind of blanket rule about not casting gays as straight and straight as gay.
“As a director, as a casting person … if someone comes in and you fall in love with them, you don’t care anything about them … if they embody what your vision is, you go for them. … I think sometimes it’s a little hurdle for the audience but if I love the guy, I’m willing to take my chances. My films are all very counter-culture films anyway, it doesn’t really matter in my world.”
Much more clear during the panel were the feelings of openly gay actor Jonathan Slavin (pictured, left) who most recently was a regular on the ABC sitcom Better off Ted. He thinks it is time for someone in a position of power to make the leap of casting a gay actor in a major movie lead.
“Don’t you think that there were people who said to Sidney Poitier that an audience is never going to accept a black man as the lead of a film?” he said during the panel. “At a certain point, you have to just cast (gay actors) and grab the reins and move forward and see what happens. It is about taking risks and taking risks and not waiting until it’s safe. We’re accommodating a narrow-minded mentality.”
John Barrowman, star of the BBC’s Torchwood series and one of the most popular openly gay stars on Earth, hosts a new series in the UK called Tonight’s the Night on BBC 1 Scotland. The show makes people’s life-long dreams come true.
John talked to AfterElton.com editor Michael Jensen about the show, about Torchwood, his stint on Desperate Housewives and more. Here is an excerpt:
AE: When you first started out in television, I read you were advised to keep your sexuality quiet and now as an openly gay man you are the presenter of a family show on BBC prime time – how much have attitudes changed in the industry?
JB: To be honest with you I don’t care about the industry’s attitude because by being truthful about who I am and encouraging others to be truthful; this contributes to change. When I had already been on television for quite a while, there was someone that told me I should keep my sexuality a secret, but I just looked at them and said, ‘You can’t tell me to do that.’ Why should I hide who I am when that should be an asset?
AE: Given that, what do you think of the recent Newsweek Sean Hayes controversy? It seems pretty clear that the UK is more accepting of gay actors – would you agree or disagree?
JB: I certainly think there is more tolerance on this side of the Atlantic than in the US. With regards to Sean Hayes I didn’t see it play out so I can’t tell you all about it, but there are a lot of gay men in Hollywood right now that are playing straight men – not just in front of the camera but also in their everyday lives.
I might be stepping over the line here, but maybe Ramin Setoodeh didn’t like Sean Hayes and felt like being a bit of a bitch that day. The fact that he himself is gay and wrote what he did is really detrimental and quite frankly an asshole thing to do.
AE: There are rumors that you will appear on a future episode of Glee - any truth in that?
JB: The whole story is that I told my manager Gavin that I wanted to meet the Glee people. They then asked me to come to a meeting – it wasn’t an audition just a meeting. I thought that it went well but I never heard back from them and that’s the current situation.
Still to come are more coverage of the Coming Out In Hollywood panel from Saturday and interviews with some of the Outfest Award winners.
But I wanted to wrap up my daily coverage of Outfest 2010 with some closing thoughts on this year’s event which ended last night.
I found myself too wiped out to make the trek to Ford Ampitheatre for the closing night screening of Spork and the after party at Madame Tussauds. The 8:30 p.m. start time just stretched the weekend a bit too much for your faithful blogger.
Anyway, I saw over two-dozen movies and shorts programs over the 11 days and attended several of the panels.
Favorite Movies (three-way tie): BearCity, Fit (pictured above), A Marine Story
Favorite Short: Gayby
Favorite Documentary: Out in the Silence
Favorite Panel: A Conversation With Jane Lynch
Seen and Heard:
*** A man inside the lobby of the DGA on Saturday sees Meredith Baxter and says: “I know you from somewhere.” The actress gives him a minute to figure it out then helps him along: “Family Ties?” The guy lights up and says: “That’s it! What are you up to now?” This poor uninformed dude clearly did not know that Miss Baxter had come out publicly last December and was minutes away from being the star attraction at a panel inside the DGA 1 Theatre.
*** I had this exchange with a festival goer as we walked from parking structure to the DGA Theatre: “I really loved An Ordinary Couple. It makes you believe in love.” The guy looked shocked and said: “I hated it. It made ME believe in anonymous sex.”
*** After sitting through the confusing Chinese movie Spring Fever, a guy sitting in my row turned to a friend and said: ‘It was like three bad movies rolled into one!” I could not have agreed more. As much as I wanted to like it – to follow it and understand it – it lost its way about halfway through and so did the audience.
*** Just as the lights went down for the screening of Boys Shorts the first Saturday of the festival, an out of breath and dishoveled-looking guy made his way into the DGA Theatre, made his way down to the front and plopped into an empty seat to the left of me. Within minutes, he was asleep and started to snore.
I tried to ignore his sawing of lumber but finally had had enough. I tapped him on the shoulder and surprised even myself when I said: “Either wake up or leave the theater.” He seemed mortified but was back to sleep a few minutes later. I moved seats, looked back awhile later and there he was, head thrown back, mouth open, asleep.
I sat next to musician Michael Mirlas during the screening of BearCity but in writing about it, misidentified the song he wrote for one of the movie’s key scenes between Joe Conti and Gerald McCullouch.
David Loren is one of the stars of the gay romantic comedy Is It Just Me? which screened at Outfest last Friday.
He was just adorable in the role of Xander, the Texas guy who falls for a guy online but becomes a victim of as mistaken identity plot twist.
David has found work as a cast member on two web series: Harper’s Globe and Prom Queen and has been getting guest spots on network dramas lately including roles on The Mentalist, House M.D. and Without a Trace. He also had a small role this year in the comedy feature Kill the Rabbit and last year starred in the short film Kurdish Spring Break.
I don’t have much more information on David except what he has written on his Facebook page which is that he enjoys football, baseball, backpacking, sarcasm, watching old movies, listening to film scores, reading and writing.
I have complained bitterly that Meryl Streep, despite turning in a stunning series of classic portrayals, has not won an Academy Award since 1983.
No statue this year for Julie & Julia or last year for Doubt and no Oscar wins for Postcards From the Edge, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation, One True Thing or The Bridges of Madison County.
All were Oscar worthy and in most cases more deserving, in my opinion, than the actual winners – including Sandra Bullock this year.
Because of Meryl’s Oscar jinx, I’m so very glad that Angels In America aired on HBO as a six hour miniseries. It not only gave the great actress the opportunity to play four very different roles, she also won every award in sight: the Emmy, the Golden Globe and the SAG prize.
Her Golden Globe speech was especially memorable: ”I just realized you can see completely through my dress.”
Here is a video highlighting her work in the superb Angels in America:
I’m a far bigger fan of Kathy Griffin than I am of Barney Frank so I’ll side with Kathy on this one.
The U.S. congressman from Massachusetts has come to the defense of Republican Sen. Scott Brown over some comments our favorite redhead made about Brown’s daughters.
On last week’s episode of Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List airing on Bravo, the comedienne is interviewed by a pair of CNN reporters and when one of them displayed a photo of Brown, Griffin reacted by saying: “Scott Brown, who is a senator from Massachusetts. And has two daughters that are prostitutes.”
A disclaimer on the show is then read, saying that “Scott Brown’s daughters are NOT prostitutes!!! We now return you to our regularly scheduled negativity.”
Since Frank also appeared in the episode, he felt compelled to distance himself from Griffin and to publicly scold her: “I think it’s possible to have fun, and even to poke fun at people in my businesses, without this kind of completely unfair attack,” he wrote in a letter to Griffin. “And while I don’t usually feel compelled to comment on what various entertainers do, since you did include me in that show I wanted to make it very clear that I thought what you did was wholly unfair and inappropriate. It’s the kind of thing that makes it less likely that I or others can cooperate with you in the future.”
Kathy had gone to Washington to appear at a rally against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and in the episode tells Frank during a visit to his office: “I need [don’t ask, don’t tell] repealed by Thursday, because I’m leaving Friday.” If it’s not, she said, “That’s a bitter pill to swallow.”
Frank replied: “My guess, Kathy, is it’s not the only pill you’ve swallowed this week.”
I think Barney Frank needs a sense of humor!
I also lost a lot of respect for Frank, one of the few openly gay members of the congress, last year when he dismissed the National Equality March in Washington D.C. saying “the only thing they’re going to be putting pressure on is the grass.”
He later told Joy Behar: “I am afraid that some people will come to Washington and they will march and think they’ve done it. That’s why I said what I did. Marching isn’t a negative thing, but to the extent that people think that having marched they’ve done something effective, they wouldn’t do something that is effective.”
Had a front-row seat for the awards presentation for the 2010 Outfest Film Festival this morning.
I was thrilled to see that several of the films and performances championed by Greg In Hollywood – including A Marine Story, The Four-Faced Liar and BearCity – were big winners!
The festival ends tonight and I will miss it because, as always, it’s been a very fun and rich experience.
The awards were hosted by the very funny drag queen Momma (pictured, left) who told everyone how happy she was that there is such a wide array of LGBT movies these days unlike the past when coming out stories dominated: “I just can’t see another movie about a 15 year old boy who discovers he likes penis and comes out. If you want that, there’s porn on the web!”
Momma was very funny throughout the awards – and very politically incorrect! First off, let me start off with sharing the awards won by the powerful drama A Marine Story starring Dreya Weber, written and directed by Ned Farr and produced by Jd Disalvatore.
I hung out a bit with Jd (pictured at the podium with Farr and Weber) last night at the DGA and told her I thought A Marine Story was going to win some big awards. She was skeptical, citing the strong competition. I’m so glad she was wrong and I was right!
A Marine Story won the Audience Award for Outstanding Dramatic Feature Film AND the Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic Feature Film. In addition to that, the film’s star, the sensational Dreya Weber, took the home the jury’s award for outstanding actress.
“I love you guys so much,” an emotional Jd said to Ned and Dreya while accepting the Grand Jury Prize. “It was so great to work with you. I’m kind of a total wreck!”
I’ll be posting an interview I did with Ned and Dreya (married in real-life) in the coming days but here is some of what they said while accepting their awards:
Ned: “This really was unexpected. We hope that things changed very soon and that our ending [in which Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed] wasn’t some kind of fantasy.”
Added Dreya: “I’d like to thank every gay and lesbian currently serving in the military that doesn’t allow them to have full lives. … There’s no better feeling than putting things out in to the world that you can fully stand behind and say, ‘Yes!’”
The Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Actor in a feature film went to Stephen Guarino (pictured, left), one of the stars of the wonderful BearCity which also won the Outstanding Screenwriting Award for Douglas Langway and Lawrence Ferber.
“I’m totally shocked, that movie is a total ensemble piece,” Guarino said at the podium. “I’m totally shocked. To shoot a feature fim in a 100 degrees in New York at The Eagle at 11 am in the morning, it’s not pretty honey. It’s just a beautiful movie. Oh my God.”
[My interview with Stephen will run soon]
The terrific The Four-Faced Liar, which I loved, won the Audience Award for Outstanding First U.S. Dramatic Feature Film, an award which came with a $5,000 cash award from HBO.
“That’s crazy, we don’t ever win anything at these things,” director Jacob Chase (pictured at the podium) told the crowd. “Thank you for embracing me and my film. We’re shaking up here so we’re gonna get down there.”
There were three Special Programming Awards presented and they went to: The Topp Twins directed by Leanne Pooley (for freedom), actor Drew Droege for emerging talent; and Undertow (Contracorriente) directed by Javier Fuentes-Leonfor artistic achievement.
“It’s been an amazing week, I’m kind of speechless about the whole experience,” Fuentes-Leon said while accepting the award. “Tuesday [at the screening] I felt like Cinderella and I still feel like that.”
The Grand Jury Award for Outstanding International Dramatic Feature Film went to The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister directed by James Kent.
Other winners: Audience Award Outstanding Documentary Short: I’m Just Anneke (directed by Jonathan Skurnik); Audience Award for Outstanding Dramatic Short Film: You Move Me, directed by Gina Hirsch; Audience Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature Film: Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight directed by Michelle Lawler.
Other Grand Jury Awards included: Outstanding Documentary Short: Close (Pod Bluzka) directed by Lucia Von Horn Pagano; Outstanding Dramatic Short Film: Samaritan directed by Magnus Mork; Outstanding Documentary Feature Film: Strange Powers: Stephin Merrit & the Magnetic Fields directed by Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara.
One of Broadway’s biggest stars during its “golden” era and beyond, Gwen Verdon was an actress and dancer who won four Tony awards for her musical comedy performances and was once married to Bob Fosse.
She and Fosse first worked together on the Broadway production of Damn Yankees in which she played the vampish Lola who sells her soul to The Devil to be a beauty. The musical ran for 1019 performances. Vernon won her second Tony and went to Hollywood to repeat her role in this 1958 movie version.
In those days, Hollywood was often replacing Broadway stars with bigger movie star names if a musical was made into a feature film. But, thankfully, this was an exception.
When I was a kid, I only new William Holden from the classic episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy encounters the movie star at The Brown Derby and he ends up with a tray of desserts all over him. Later, her putty nose catches on fire as the two are having coffee!
But that’s just a footnote to one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history.
The handsome Holden got his big break as the star of 1939′s Golden Boy opposite life-long friend Barbara Stanwyck. A stint in the US Air Force during WWII slowed him career momentum but he was back on track by 1950 starring opposite Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard which earned him his first Oscar nomination for best actor.
Holden won the Oscar in 1953 for Stalag 17 and also starred in such classics as The Country Girl, Picnic, Sabrina, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Born Yesterday.
Later roles included The Towering Inferno, The Wild Bunch, The Earthling, S.O.B. and an Oscar-nominated performance in Network. He won an Emmy Award in 1974 for his performance in the television film The Blue Knight.
He died too young. Holden was just 63 when he slipped while intoxicated and hit his head on a night table in his Santa Monica apartment and bled to death.
Meredith Baxter’s coming out as a lesbian last December got a lot of media attention including a compelling interview on The Today Show and an extensive profile in People magazine.
Now the star of Family Ties, Family, Bridget Loves Bernie and the Betty Broderick bioflicks has had time to process what has happened in her life and she seems quite content these days.
“I had a couple of very uncomfortable days … and after that, it has been fine,” Baxter said at the Outfest Film Festival Saturday. “It has probably been more than fine and there is a great deal of relief, freedom and a sense of we aren’t keeping any secrets and that’s a secret I don’t have.”
The actress was joined on a Coming Out In Hollywood panel by out actors Doug Spearman (Noah’s Arc) and Jonathan Slavin (Better off Ted) as well as out director Don Roos (Opposite of Sex) and out publicist Howard Bragman.
She was asked how she reached the decision to come out publicly as a lesbian.
“I don’t know how much it was actually a decision on my part,” Baxter said. “To be honest, I was at a point in my life where I was sort of entertaining the idea … I thought I might put an ad in the paper, kind of like a little birth announcement that would say, ‘Okay, I’m gay. – Meredith.’ I didn’t really know how that was supposed to come about but I was planning to talk to my business manager about that the same day he called and said that Perez Hilton and The Enquirer and all those guys were ready to talk about the fact that [her partner] Nancy [Locke] and I were on a lesbian cruise.”
“When it became apparent that this was not in my control any longer I was put in touch with the lovely [publicist] Howard Bragman and he sort of put things into motion in ways that I thought was way over the top…an article in…People Magazine….followed by on air with Matt Lauer saying to national television ‘hello im a lesbian!’”
Baxter added, “It was not in my plan but I will say that an enormous amount of relief followed that. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know to look for that. I didn’t know to want that. But now the feeling is ‘Fuck it. Everyone knows. I don’t have to worry about anything.’”
The actress said that before she went public, “it just felt normal to be in, to be in the closet frankly because it hadn’t been that many years and I’d always been one of those obnoxious people who didn’t want you to know anything about me! So that was just one more thing I didn’t want you to know. I just kept a low profile. Certainly to my family and friends I was [out].”
The moderator asked Baxter if she was still pursuing acting roles and she said: “That’s a question you have to ask, isn’t that funny? One would hope you wouldn’t have to ask that. … It’s just been a long, slow period – it was tough before I came out, it just hasn’t gotten better.”
Coming soon: Much more from the Outfest panel Coming Out In Hollywood
Tomorrow is closing day of Outfest 2010. I’m looking forward to seeing Spork at the Ford Ampitheatre (Chad Allen pictured with cast and crew is a producer and has a supporting role) then wrapping things up at the Closing Night party at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood.
I’ll also be at the awards program before lunch and try and catch an early afternoon flick – most likely From Beginning to End at 2:30 at DGA 1. It was added to the schedule as a replacement for a Drop Dead Diva program that was dropped.
There is plenty else going on during the final day with encore showings of some of the more popular films. At noon inside DGA 1 you can catch Boys Shorts which is well-worth seeing with such standout short films as GaySharkTank.com, Gayby, Billy and Aaron, and Curious Thing. Here is a LINK to my review of the collection.
At around the same time (12:15 p.m.) in DGA 2 is an encore showing of Girls Shorts and over at the Redcat at noon is a second encore presentation of the German drama Sasha.
At 2:30 p.m. at Redcat, you can catch the second showing of BearCity which I saw the other night and enjoyed immensely.
Directed by Doug Langway from his screenplay with Lawrence Ferber, thing of this flick as a very hairy Sex and the City.
The flick follows the funny, romantic, and occasionally dramatic adventures of a group of bears and cubs in New York City leading up to a big bear weekend. From the folks who brought you Another Gay Movie, Bear Cub, Raising Heroes, and the short film Birthday Time.
I did not expect this movie to be so damned funny but probably should have since Stephen Guarino of The Big Gay Sketch Show cast has a principal role.
At the Thursday night screening, I sat next to musician Michael Mirlas whose song Puppy Dog Eyes plays over one of the movie’s key scenes between leads Joe Conti who is fresh and appealing and cute as can be be and Gerald McCullouch who is the real sexpot in this flick. He reminded me of a combination of Harrison Ford and John Slattery and that is damned sexy!
At 5 p.m. in DGA 1 is the drama Role/Play which rests on the able shoulders of leading men Matthew Montgomery and Steve Callahan. (pictured at last weekend’s screening).
Both lead characters are high-profile guys (one a soap actor, the other a gay rights activist) who are guests at a gay resort in Palm Springs.
Both arrive with some serious baggage and secrets and it all comes out as the two get to know each other – mostly in bed! Both are accomplished actors, are a real-life couple and they have all kinds of chemistry. They are also both very fit as you will see for yourself with a lot of nudity – all very tasteful!
As much as I enjoyed seeing these guys in the buff, I enjoyed their conversations even more like this fun exchange:
Callahan: “You have no sense of gay culture. Have you seen Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”
Matthew: “It’s a TV movie about a little girl who fell down a well.”
In addition to the performances (David Pevsner plays the resort owner and Jim J. Bullock is fun as Callahan’s publicist), it’s an intelligent script that nails the worlds of daytime soaps and of gay activism.
The movie was shot on location in Palm Springs in just eight days. Explained writer-director Rob Williams at last weekend’s screening: “These guys were so good we didn’t need more time. It’s not something I would recommend but it can be done.”
Other Sunday screenings include:
Rosie O’Donnell’s HBO documentary A Family is a Family is a Family has been added to the schedule and will screen at 5 p.m. in DGA 2.
It was not until doing research for her 58th birthday post did I realize that the great singer Phoebe Snow is recovering from a brain hemorrhage suffered in late January.
She is facing a long recovery from the stroke but doctors are optimistic, according to a note on her website posted by her manager.
I hope that Phoebe knows how many fans are praying for her.
When the stroke hit, the legendary singer – best known for the 1975 classic Poetry Man – was still dealing with immense grief following the death of her only child, Valerie, in 2007 at the age of 31.
She was recording again and planning to kick off a tour in March.
In 1975, shortly after releasing one of the most acclaimed debut albums of the era, Snow gave birth to Valerie who was born severely brain injured. She was told her child would not live very long, be extremely disabled and should be placed in a residential facility.
“She came home with me and that’s where she lived for 31 years,” Phoebe told me when we spoke in late 2008. “Back then, the music industry saw that as a liability. But my daughter was the most amazing person.”
Snow had been nominated for a Grammy, been on the cover of Rolling Stone and continued to release an average of one album a year through the 1970s. She cut back to put motherhood first and recorded only sporadically.
But Snow, who uniquely combines elements of jazz, blues, folk, and rock music into her songs, has always managed to retain legions of fans including Bill Clinton who asked her to perform at Camp David during his presidency and Howard Stern whom she serenaded earlier this month at his wedding to Beth Ostrosky.
During her darkest times, Snow found surprising solace in a television show she happened upon one day: “Noah’s Arc,” a drama on MTV’s Logo Channel about a group of gay African-American men navigating life and love in Los Angeles.
“It was kind of a fluke that I even found it,” she said. “About 2-3 months after my daughter’s passing, I was in a vegetative state when I happened to see some of the season two episodes. It sort of brought me out of my abyss and gave me something else to focus on. I became a little emotionally involved with the characters and found them very endearing and charming.”
But the Logo series ended after two seasons – in a cliffhanger!
“I wanted to know what happened!” Snow said. She asked a publicist friend of hers to find her series creator Patrik-Ian Polk An hour later, the friend called back and said Polk was having a private party in Manhattan that night. Could Snow, who lives in New Jersey, be at the Splash Club on 17th Street at midnight?
“It had been quite awhile since I’d been somewhere like that,” she recalled. “They put me in a little room, Patrik came in, we met, and I loved him. I said, ‘Your series has been virtually kind of saving my life here and I have to know, what happened to the characters?’”
The two kept in touch and Polk kept the singer updated on the progress of a feature film, based on the series, that was being planned and included the wedding of title character Noah (Darryl Stephens) and his longtime love Wade (Jensen Atwood).
She volunteered to do a song for the soundtrack of the feature film Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom then something else happened.
“He said, ‘Do you want to be in it?’ I said, ‘You’re kidding!’ and the world stopped rotating for a minute. I freaked! I’ve never been in a film before.”
Snow soon found herself in Nova Scotia where the movie was filmed. She played a singer who performs in the climactic wedding scene.
“It was unbelievably cold and I’m just not a cold person. But it was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
But being surrounded by members of the cast that had gotten her through some tough times suddenly made her very emotional.
“I was like a weeping bag of crap,” she said. “I was hysterical crying.”
“They put 18 pounds of eyelashes on me, I got glue in my eyes. I was trying to pull myself together and (while on the set) I had a grieving moment. I was trying to hold myself together, lost it, and the lashes were melting off. (Jensen Atwood) just came over and gave me a big hug.”
We all want to give Phoebe a hug and wish her the very best always.