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GLAAD chooses new leader: Sarah Kate Ellis

It was last May that Herndon Graddick stepped down as head of GLAAD after just over a year on the job.

It was for personal reasons that have never been revealed.

GLAAD has moved on and earlier today, announced that it has chosen a successor for Graddick who will start as CEO and President in January.

Her name is Sarah Kate Ellis and she was hired following a lengthy nationwide search.

Ellis is an award-winning media executive who worked at Time Inc. and most recently was Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at Martini Media, a digital firm specializing in online branding, public relations and marketing.

Here’s what she has to say in her first statement: “While our community has made great strides in recent years, our movement has an important and critical journey ahead. Together with our dedicated staff, I will push for a culture where everyone in the LGBT community is fully welcomed and respected by our neighbors. I look forward to leading GLAAD and creating a world where LGBT people and our families have the freedom to joyously– and openly– live a life they love.”

Ellis co-authored a memoir with her wife, Kristen Ellis-Henderson, titled Times Two, Two Women in Love and the Happy Family They Made, released by Simon & Schuster. The autobiography chronicled their simultaneous pregnancies and road to motherhood.


“Hello Ross” renewed by E! for second season

For a guy who started out as an intern on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Ross Mathews is doing amazingly well.

In fact, he’s doing amazingly well for anyone!

His weekly E! talk show, Hello Ross, has just been renewed for a second season.

This is just the latest success in a stellar year for Ross who also had his memoir of the same name published this year.

I got to see first-hand just how popular Ross has become when I was at the Palm Springs Pride parade where Ross was grand marshal. I hurried along a crowded sidewalk to try and get several different photos of Ross in the convertible in which he was riding and overheard all the comments from people young and old.

“Oh, that’s Ross, he’s so funny!” said one-middle-aged woman to her husband. Then there were the young guys yelling “Ross! Ross!”

It was fascinating. I wish he could have heard what I was hearing in this “fly on the way” way because it was a beautiful thing.

Anyway, his E! show is produced by Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing and it includes celebrity interviews, sketches and commentary on the day’s entertainment news.

The Season one guests have included Gwyneth Paltrow, Kris Jenner, NeNe Leakes, Joe Manganiello, Leah Remini, Lance Bass, Norman Reedus, Gloria Estefan and Kelly Osbourne.

Ross has been nominated as Favorite New Talk Show Host by the People’s Choice Awards.

FILE UNDER: Talk Shows

Perez Hilton on former “wifey” Lady Gaga: “She globs onto people, uses them and once they’re no longer of use to her, will just throw them aside”

I don’t know if it gets any uglier than this when it comes to friends having a falling out.

Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton are one-time besties who have taken to doing interviews in recent weeks to tell their side of what happened to make them such mortal enemies.

Gaga was on with Howard Stern earlier this month and had plenty to say. You can read about that HERE.

Meanwhile, Perez appeared on The Wendy Williams Show today and said of Gaga: ‘She said in an interview recently that I was a ‘fake friend’. Now if you know anything, or one thing about Perez Hilton, I think, is that I am not fake and I keep it real. And, I viewed her as an IRL friend – in real life friend. I viewed her as more than just a friend. I jokingly nicknamed her ‘my wifey’. To me she was that kind of friend.’

“She hasn’t really gone in depth about her issues,’ he added. ‘She said recently, over the last couple of years, she’s had issues with drugs and alcohol. When we were filming that [interview] she got obliterated drunk, amongst other things.” After they turned the cameras off while filming the interview, “She got really upset because I asked her about her boyfriend. And I’m like, I didn’t ask anything inappropriate. Just me even bringing her boyfriend up set her off. But you know, when people are on drugs and alcohol, they behave irrationally, erratically and are mean to those they love.’

Of his recent tweet about Gaga being a real life vampire, Perez said: ‘She globs onto people, uses them and once they’re no longer of use to her, will just throw them aside. That is what I’ve observed.’

On being accused by Gaga of stalking her when apartment hunting in NYC he said: ‘I was looking at places and I didn’t know she lived in that building. Everybody knows where she lives, I mean in her mind the world revolves around her. If I would have known she was in that building, I not have even looked at it in the first place.’


Behind the scenes of HBO’s “Looking”

Only seven more weeks until the Jan. 19 premiere of HBO’s Looking, a new series about the lives of a group of gay men in modern day San Francisco.

I. Can’t. Wait.

HBO has just released this “Invitation to the Set” video which features interviews with leads cast Jonathan Groff, Frankie Alvarez and Murray Bartlett and executive producers Michael Lannan and Andrew Haigh.

FILE UNDER: Television

Monday Morning Man: Jared Ward!

Jared Ward is one of those actors with leading man looks who also happens to be quite funny.

He’s made quite an impression in the indie comedy film Wrong which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival as well as in the indie comedy Hollywoo in which he plated an arrogant, ego-maniac Hollywood Director opposite French superstar Florence Foresti.

When not appearing in films, Jared is busy doing television guest spots – his first of which was a 2002 episode of Will & Grace. Since the, he’s been in Dexter, Homeland, NCIS, Southland, and Castle, among many others.

Thanks to my pal Lorna for making me aware of this dishy man!

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

Lance Bass on his coming out: “I was uneducated with what the issues were and what was going on at the time”

Lance Bass irritated more than a few people back in 2006 when in his People magazine coming out story he described he and his friends as “straight acting gays.”

Lance now says he would have done things differently. He tells Wonderwall:

“If there was one thing that I could take back, it was how rushed it came out, but that wasn’t up to me. I had 24 hours to do it. I would love to have had a chance to sit down and figure out a way it could really hit in a positive way to change people’s minds [about LGBT people].

“At the time, I wasn’t involved in the LGBT community and I was uneducated with what the issues were and what was going on at the time. When the story was at its height, I could’ve had some really great ammunition to support the LGBT community.”


Ian McKellen on coming out at 49: “I wish I had come out much earlier … You do what you can now”

Sir Ian McKellen did a Q&A with Men’s Journal and was asked about coming out publicly in 1998.

“It was very easy, but I was 49 years old. I hadn’t given much thought about it before then, to tell you the truth. I was living very happily and openly as a gay man. It all happened in a bit of a rush when I decided to come out. I was angry because of a law that was anti-gay in the United Kingdom, and it was easier to come out in my indignation. When people are worrying about coming out, they’re worried about what other people will think, they’re worried about whether they’ll lose the love of their family. I’m involved in an organization which helps kids like that in the U.K. called Albert Kennedy Trust, and we have a lot of homeless kids thrown out by their parents. I do have a regret about coming out – I wish I had come out much earlier, but again, what can you do? You do what you can now.”


Showtune Sunday: From Meryl to ABBA to Susan Boyle, versions of “The Winner Takes it All”

I was so impressed by Meryl Streep singing The Winner Takes It All in the film version of the musical Mamma Mia.

But now I’ve seen Susan Boyle’s version and am just blown away by it. Just gorgeous.

So here are both versions along with Faith Hill’s and, of course, ABBA.

FILE UNDER: Showtune Sunday

Morning Man Classic: Joseph Kennedy Jr.

With the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination just a few days ago, I’ve still got the Kennedy family on my mind.

So let’s shine the Morning Man Classic spotlight on the eldest of the nine Kennedy siblings: Joseph Kennedy Jr.

He was a junior officer in the United States Navy, a Naval Aviator, and a land-based patrol bomber pilot during World War II.

JFK’s older brother had been expected to become president by their father who, when he was mayor of Boston told reporters: “This child is the future President of the nation.”

But Joseph was killed in action during WWII at the young age of 29. From then on, the high expectations then fell upon JFK.

He accomplished a lot during his brief life graduating from Harvard College in 1938 where he was on the football, rugby, and crew teams and served on the student council.

Before he went away to war, he spent a year studying at the London School of Economics before enrolling in Harvard Law School. He left law school before his final year to begin officer training and flight training in the U.S. Navy.

Joseph was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940 and was planning to run for Massachusetts’s 11th congressional district in 1946. He and his father had begun laying the groundwork for the campaign when he was killed.

He had completed 25 combat missions and was eligible to return home but instead volunteered for an Operation Aphrodite mission. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal.

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

A recap of the Outfest Legacy Awards honoring Lee Daniels with surprise guest Jane Fonda!

I’ve attended The Legacy Awards just about every year since they began eight years ago and I have to say, the event just gets better and better each year.

You mix the very worthy cause of preserving LGBT moving image media with a most outstanding VIP pre-party and ridiculously fun after-party and that makes for one of the best times at any awards event this year.

Held on Thursday night at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, the gala benefits the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and this year honored filmmaker Lee Daniels.

Gabourey Sidibe, directed by Daniels to an Oscar nomination in Precious, was supposed to join Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in the presentation of the Visionary Award to Daniels.

So who was the last-minute replacement when Sidibe (who sent a video message) was stuck filming: Jane Fonda!

My guest David Trudell and I were seated in the third row and we were trying to process the surprise of Miss Fonda being there (she didn’t walk the red carpet and her name was not in any of the pre-publicity) then we had to wrap our heads around how a 75-year-old woman could still look, well, so HOT!

Said Fonda: ‘Gabby Sidibe was supposed to be here tonight and Lee called me about four hours ago and said Gabby was called to work in a series that she’s doing and could I replace her. I am honored to replace her. I Know her and I love her and I love Lee for discovering her and giving her a chance.’

The actress, a two-time Academy Award winner, then said to the largely LGBT crowd: ‘I’ve lived a long time, twenty years of that time was in the south, and I have seen too many lives destroyed and distorted by homophobia and I pray with all my heart that I live to see the day when people can come out freely, safely and be accepted by every strata of society.’

She then turned the focus back to Daniels who she worked with on The Butler.

‘One of the things that makes me so proud of Lee Daniels and so proud that I could be here to present him with the visionary award, no one could dispute that Lee knows his way around leading men: Kevin Bacon, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Heath Ledger, Forrest Whitaker, John Cusack and Cuba Gooding Jr.’

But she thinks of him even more though as an actress’ director.

‘Just ask Monique, Mariah Carey, Gabby Sidibe, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey. These are women who were guided by Lee’s production or direction.’

Fonda herself was under Daniels’ direction for her small role as Nancy Reagan in The Butler.

‘It was only a day and a half down there in New Orleans but I loved working with Lee – in his pajamas. He only wears pajamas when he works in movies. I just loved it and I love Lee, I just love him.’

Daniels then took the stage to wild applause.

‘I’m speechless because I’m so very, very humbled by this experience. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,’ he began.

He thanked his partner and his two college-bound children who have understood when he disappears every time he does a film.

‘I’m away from them, I’m not there for them. It takes my soul. I come back up and it’s a year and a half, two years later and they’re there and I love (them) for being patient with me and for loving me unconditionally – and for telling me the truth about my movies.’

Daniels also thanked the many stars who have worked for him who, he admits, probably lost money taking the jobs.

‘I don’t know why you want to work with me, I don’t pay you no money (laughs). ‘All I do is scream. Oprah told me, “Jane’s scared of you! Jane’s scared of you!” I’m not mean. We roll up our sleeves and it’s like putting on a show. It’s like putting on a play. We don’t have much but we have love and everybody’s equal.’

Daniels has spoken in the past of beatings he received from his father as a youth for being gay and for dressing in his mother’s clothes as a child. He spoke again of his father to the audience Thursday.

‘My dad told me awhile ago, when he found out that I was gay, that I would never be anything. And I was really angry with him, I was really angry and everything I’ve done so far is to prove him wrong. I’ll show you, you know. And then after I did The Butler, I understood where his anger was fueled from. His father was a servant and was beaten and his father’s father was tied to a tree and his father’s father’s father was a slave. He wanted the best for me. My movies are therapeutic and I forgive him and I love him for that.’

The presentation to Daniels was the highlight of a fast-moving show that included a charmingly nervous Shane Bitney Crone (Bridegroom) introducing never-before-seen footage of Harvey Milk on the campaign trail in the early 1970s, a gorgeous and confident Raven-Symone introducing a powerful scene from the 1993 documentary Jewel and the Catch, and Scandal star Guillermo Diaz introducing a scene from the 1995 film Stonewall in which the openly gay actor starred as a drag queen.

Also appearing was Emmy winner Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) who introduced footage from 1976′s We Were There. It was silent footage of LA Pride and San Francisco Pride celebrations in 1976. It’s beautiful footage, such freedom and joy in this post-Stonewell, pre-AIDS era.

Daniels did double-duty. After receiving his award, he asked Fonda to stay on the stage with him to watch scenes from the 1990′s Paris is Burning, an exploration of the world of drag balls in 1980 New York City.

We didn’t see Miss Fonda at the after-party but it was great to meet and chat with Lee Daniels and Guillermo Diaz!

Kudos to all involved in this year’s Legacy Awards. Go to to find out more about the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project.

FILE UNDER: About Town, Outfest

Days of Our Lives: Ari’s dad and grandmothers are reeling over her mom’s plans to take her to NYC

Great to have our Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis getting so much screen time in recent days as this Gabi modeling job in NYC storyline heats up!

Will is contemplating moving to NYC to be near his daughter but Sonny won’t consider moving: “Don’t make me choose between you and my daughter,” Will says.

Uh oh.

Meanwhile, the baby’s grandmother Sami and great-grandmother Kate are now involved and Kate figures out Nick is behind this somehow and confronts Gabi’s ex-husband turned creepo-stalker.

FILE UNDER: Days of Our Lives

John F. Kennedy had gay best friend named Lem Billings who had his own room at The White House

Never knew about this but I’m so glad I do now.

President John F. Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas 50 years ago today, had a gay best friend named Lem Billings who he met in prep school when he was just 15 and Lem 16.

They became fast friends and forever friends who wrote letters to each other when apart, traveled to Europe together and were so close that Joseph Kennedy Sr. thought of Billings as another son.

From what I have read tonight, and I’ve been immersed, Kennedy knew Lem was gay early on.

The book Jack and Lem: John F. Kennedy and Lem Billings: The Untold Story of an Extraordinary Friendship (by David Pitts) tells of when Jack casually wrote at the end of a chatty letter to Lem after his friend made a sexual advance: “I’m not that kind of boy.”

But Jack didn’t end the relationship.

From the time he and Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings met at Choate, until the President’s assassination thirty years later, they remained best friends.

Lem was a virtual fixture in the Kennedy family who even had his own room at the White House.

The book about their friendship draws on hundreds of letters and telegrams between the two, Billings’s oral history and interviews with family and friends like Ben Bradlee, Gore Vidal, and Ted Sorensen.

It was a friendship that endured despite an era of rampant homophobia.

Billings was a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School and was an advertising executive at the Manhattan advertising firm Lennen & Newell. He put his business career on hold to work on Kennedy’s campaign for president.

Bradlee says in the book: “I suppose it’s known that Lem was gay….It impressed me that Jack had gay friends.”

Billings obviously never came out but did once say: “Jack made a big difference in my life. Because of him, I was never lonely. He may have been the reason I never got married.”

(I’ve already ordered the book on Amazon! Here’s a LINK).

FILE UNDER: Newsmakers

Video: In fascinating PBS interview, MacNeil and Lehrer recall covering Kennedy assassination in Dallas

Of all the coverage marking today’s 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I have found this to be the most fascinating.

Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer later co-anchored the PBS Newshour for many years but had not yet met on Nov. 22, 1963 — the day President Kennedy was killed.

Both men covered the president’s visit — MacNeil for NBC News and Lehrer for The Dallas Times Herald.

They returned to their old program last night to talk about the morning leading up to the assassination, the days following, the conspiracy theories that persist 50 years later and how the tragedy shaped their careers as reporters.

FILE UNDER: Newsmakers

Lunch Break Video: See Judy Garland’s TV tribute to JFK a week after his assassination 50 years ago

There are a lot of Facebook postings about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

They have made me think about how my parents always spoke so sadly of the day and kept newspapers and magazines about it for years. I can probably still find them in a box in the garage.

Everyone was so heartbroken.

One of the Facebook posts, by author Randy Schmidt (Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter) included this video clip of Judy Garland’s tribute to JFK performed on her weekly TV show the week following his assassination.

“This is for you, Jack,” she said into the camera.

But her dedication was cut by those at CBS who considered it to be too political.

The terrific film “Philomena” starring Judi Dench as mother of long-lost gay son opens in theaters today

If you live in a big city like Los Angeles or New York, you can see the terrific film Philomena starting tonight before it goes nationwide next week.

I saw it a few weeks ago at AFI Fest and was completely crazy about it.

So moving and yet also so funny at times with an Oscar-caliber performance from Judi Dench.

I think this is my favorite performance of hers in a career of great performances.

Steve Coogan is also outstanding in this well-written and terrifically-acted film.

They end up being quite the odd couple as Coogan’s journalist character decides to help Dench’s Philomena look for the son the Irish woman was forced to give up for adoption 50 years earlier.

It’s a true story so that makes it all the more powerful – and heartbreaking.

The film is being released under a PG-13 rating after the MPAA relented after originally giving it an R rating. An R? Ridiculous. There are two F-bombs uttered in a completely understandable way.


Billie Jean King turns 70 today – what a woman!

I am such an admirer of the amazing Billie Jean King that I was going to sit here and come up with 70 reasons why on the occasion of her 70th birthday today. But I just do not have the time so I’m going to just toss out 25 off the top of my head:

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 Nw 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 this year.

25. At 70, Billie Jean is still looking to do ‘one more big thing.’

FILE UNDER: Birthdays

Days of Our Lives: With Gabi planning to move to NYC, the pain of living apart from his baby is hitting Will

Our Will Horton is crushed at the thought of being separated from his baby, Ari, as her mother makes plans to move to New York for a bog modeling career.

Grandma Sami wants to fight but Will and Sonny are trying to understand Gabi’s side of things even if it is painful for them.

Sonny makes peace with Gabi after calling her a “selfish bitch” but there doesn’t seem to be a chance in heck that Sami is going to follow Will’s wishes and stay out of it!

FILE UNDER: Days of Our Lives

Friday Morning Man: Jason Sudeikis!

Today’s Morning Man, Jason Sudeikis, ended his eight-year run on Saturday Night Live last spring and now has a pretty good movie career going.

We’re the Millers, also starring Jennifer Aniston, has been a huge box office hit as was Horrible Bosses in 2010. Other films he’s appeared in include Hall Pass, The Bounty Hunter and What Happens in Vegas.

He is set to appear in Horrible Bosses 2 which begins production next year.

In an interview with The Advocate in 2011, Jason was asked if a guy had ever hit on him. He replied: “No guy’s offered to whisk me away on a boat to some amazing island, unfortunately, but I have been high-fived a few times with a thoughtful, lingering glance.”

Jason, 38, is engaged to actress Olivia Wilde and they are expecting their first child.

FILE UNDER: Morning Men - 2013

Jesse Tyler Ferguson “confused” by Alec Baldwin

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has weighed in on the Alec Baldwin controversy but the Modern Family star tries to be diplomatic.

The openly gay actor thinks maybe some good can come out of the “cocksucking fag”controversy which got Baldwin’s MSNBC show pulled off the air for two weeks.

‘Whether or not he said it or not, it [has] brought to attention that that’s not to be said,’ Ferguson says in a recent interview with E.W. Radio.

‘It’s not a good word,’ he added. ‘That’s a no-no word.’

Baldwin has acknowledged saying ‘cocksucking’ but has not copped to saying ‘fag’ despite the incident being captured by TMZ cameras.

Ferguson says of Baldwin: ‘I have met him several times, and he’s completely lovely, and certainly I know he’s a supporter of marriage equality, so I was kind of confused by it all.’

‘But I think he’s a very talented actor, and I feel for him going though something that seems a little rough right now,’ he added.

FILE UNDER: Controversy

Lunch Break Video: Songs from “Free to Be … You and Me” in honor of Marlo Thomas’ 76th birthday

Marlo Thomas, who turns 76 today, has done many remarkable things in her life from starring in the classic sitcom That Girl to winning an Emmy for her unforgettable performance in Nobody’s Child.

But perhaps her most important achievement – and something that really impacted me as a kid – was the recording and the 1974 TV special Free to Be … You and Me.

The basic concept was to encourage post-1960s gender neutrality, saluting values such as individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one’s identity. A major thematic message is that anyone—whether a boy or a girl—can achieve anything.

Here are a trio of videos from the TV special including an adorable duet by Roberta Flack and Michael Jackson.


FILE UNDER: Birthdays