Friday, December 14, 2018

First Teaser For Upcoming 'Downton Abbey' Movie

First teaser released for upcoming film version of Downton Abbey which hits theaters on Sept. 20, 2019.

Executive producer Gareth Neame tells EW about the upcoming cinematic event that will be Downton Abbey:
“We had to do everything that all the fans wanted, but we had to do something that was fresh and original. We wanted a kind of storyline and sense of scale and production value that exceeded even the very high production values the TV show was remembered for.

"On the big screen, it just had to look a little bit more lavish and a little bit bigger and better.

"It’s a return to these really beloved characters and seeing them in new sets of circumstances and how they will deal with those, and hopefully, a good mix of the drama, comedy, and romance that had been the mainstays of it all.”

Squeee!!! We love Downton Abbey here at my house!!!

Downton Abbey will hit theaters on Sept. 20, 2019.

Watch the teaser below.

Out Music: NIKO Drops Modern, Sexy "Light My Fire"

Out singer/songwriter NIKO shares his latest single, an intriguing take on the iconic “Light My Fire.”
NIKO drops new take on the classic hit, "Light My Fire)
Out singer/songwriter NIKO shares his latest single, an intriguing take on the iconic hit, “Light My Fire.”

Originally released by The Doors in 1967, José Feliciano found his own groove with the tune in 1968.

“‘Light My Fire‘ is one of my all-time favorite songs,” says NIKO about the classic song. “I wanted to reinterpret it in a modern way, but still be true to the romantic essence of the song, that talks about a deep connection between two people.”

Melding a synth-pop sensibility with rich acoustic elements, NIKO brings his muscular vocal powers to bear as the track builds to climax.

Billboard Pride contributor Jon ALi raves about the track comparing NIKO’s vocals (“a romantic and sensual vocal delivery") to a young George Michael.

I last featured the Milan-born artist back in October when he released “The One,” which also explored the intensity and exhilaration of sexual attraction.

Fusing a European sensibility with a contemporary sound, the handsome Italian brings a sensual touch to pop music as he delves into both universal and personal themes.

Based in New York City, NIKO is prepping for the release of his debut EP in 2019.

Hit play below or check him out on Spotify here.

John McCain's Replacement, Jon Kyl, Announces Retirement As Of December 31

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona (image via Gage Skidmore/WikiMedia)

And speaking of Republicans in the U.S. Senate, according to The Arizona Republic Arizona, place-holder Sen. Jon Kyl has announced he will resign from the U.S. Senate on Dec. 31.

Kyl was tapped to come out of retirement after the passing of John McCain earlier this year.

This will give Gov. Doug Ducey the chance to handpick another replacement to the seat once occupied by McCain.

Odds are Ducey will appoint outgoing GOP Rep. Martha McSally, who lost to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema last month for Arizona’s other U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.

Sinema will be sworn into office Jan. 3.

Appointing McSally now would give her a leg up on the next election cycle as the incumbent.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch Calls For Unity Among Conservatives & LGBTQs On His Way Out The Door

Retiring GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah

The Republican Party has never been a great friend to the LGBTQ community.

Too many conservative, Evangelical votes to court made us less than a priority in their eyes.

But as Congress prepares to recess for the holiday, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, in his farewell address on the floor of the Senate, surprised many by telling his colleagues they should “protect LGBTQ individuals from invidious discrimination.”

Here’s just part of what the conservative Christian and Mormon said on Wednesday via the Washington Post:

“Nowhere is the pluralist approach more needed than in the fraught relationship between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights. . . . Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. It deserve the very highest protection our country can provide. At the same time, it’s also important to account of other interests as well — especially those of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Pluralism shows us a better way. It shows us that protecting religious liberty and preserving the rights of LGBTQ individuals are not mutually exclusive. I believe we can find substantial common ground on these issues that will enable us to both safeguard the ability of religious individuals to live their faith and protect LGBTQ individuals from invidious discrimination.”

Referencing the passage of the “Utah Compromise,” an anti-discrimination law that passed with bipartisan support in Utah in 2015, the 81-year-old shared how the legislation strengthened religious freedom and protected LGBT Americans from discrimination.

Hatch said that passing similar legislation on a federal level could be a unifying piece of legislation that honors the diversity of Americans.

While it’s nice that Sen. Hatch raises his voice in support for LGBTQ inclusion as he walks out the door, pardon me if I find it a bit of “too little, too late.”

As The Washington Post points out, no group is less supportive of same-sex marriage and the advancement of LGBT rights than white evangelicals.

And the Republican Party has been home to white evangelicals since the election of President Ronald Reagan.

And, it was white evangelicals, white Catholics and white Protestant Christians who flocked to Donald Trump in 2016. The same Donald Trump who hasn't paused in his attacks on our community since taking office.

And then there's Hatch's own record on LGBTQ issues:

• Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage

• Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage

• Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes

• Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation

So, while I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Hatch, thanks for not a lot.

Legendary, Gifted Nancy Wilson Passes Away At 81

Nancy Wilson (image via WikiMedia)

My heart is heavy upon hearing the news that the awesome, legendary and gifted Nancy Wilson has passed at the age of 81.

Jazz ballads, standards, torch songs, show tunes, pop songs - there was nothing she couldn't sing. I should rephrase that, there was no style of music she couldn't bring to life in her own special way.

In interviews over the years, she shared that she began singing at the age of 3 or 4.

"I have always just sung. I have never questioned what it is. I thank God for it and I just do it," she told NPR's Piano Jazz in 1994.

In addition to her decades of sterling musical performances and recordings, she had an enviable TV career - her NBC variety show, The Nancy Wilson Show, which garnered her an Emmy Award; appearing as a frequent guest herself on countless variety shows hosted by Andy Williams, Carol Burnett and more; and acting roles on hit TV shows like Hawaii 5-O, The Cosby Show, The FBI and more.

And then, of course, she touches my heart with the moral courage she showed during the 1960s. Among many events, she took part in the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama.

In 1998, she rightfully was honored with the NAACP Image Award for raising her voice during the civil rights movement.

NPR notes that she addressed the idea of retiring at a 2007 gala in her honor at Carnegie Hall.

"After 55 years of doing what I do professionally, I have a right to ask how long?," she told the audience.

"I'm trying to retire, people," she said with a laugh before leaving the stage to a standing ovation.

I won't be morose, folks. I've loved her music and grace, and will continue to do so. My house will be filled with Miss Nancy today.

Here's just a few of what's on repeat in my office right now. I really encourage to take a listen to the incredible range and variety of her musical gifts.

RIP Nancy Wilson.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

News Round-Up: December 13, 2018

• Austin Wolf celebrates getting his Instagram account back online (above). #HappyDanceTime
Austin Wolf

Some news items you might have missed:

• Austin Wolf celebrates getting his Instagram account back online (above). #HappyDanceTime

• The New York City subway attacker who sucker punched a woman he believed to be lesbian has been arrested. His victim suffered a fractured spine due to his attack.

• Janet Jackson is headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Stevie Nicks, The Cure, Radiohead, Def Leppard, Roxy Music, and the Zombies. Nicks becomes the first woman to be inducted twice having been honored previously as part of Fleetwood Mac.

• Fox News host & Donald Trump superfan, Sean Hannity, was caught deleting past tweets that showed his connections to the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, just hours before Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday.

• CBS News reports that Donald Trump is considering his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be his third Chief of Staff.

• Tony Award winner and current Golden Globe nominee Billy Porter dropped a few holiday tracks on Soundcloud just in time for Christmas. The collection - "A Billy Porter Christmas" - can be found here.

Check out his smooth, soulful "Christmas Time Is Here" below.

File Under "I Love The Holidays"

My friend Ian Parks, of Where The Bears Are fame, shared this on Facebook and I think it's quite charming.

Hit the play button and smile.

Judge Resigns After Telling Attorney To Blow Viggo Mortensen

Actor Viggo Mortensen (image via Josh Jensen/Flickr - CC license)
A judge in upstate New York has resigned after allegedly telling a lawyer he should get a hotel room with a certain movie star and “suck each other’s d**ks.”

The story begins back in January when Judge John W. Hallett was speaking to a lawyer who was involved in the promotion of a film festival honoring actor Viggo Mortensen.

According to a complaint filed against Hallet, who has served as a town court justice in Jefferson County since 2003, he allegedly told the attorney that the film festival was “about the gayest thing I have ever heard.”

He then - allegedly - added, "You and Viggo Mortensen should get a hotel room and suck each other's d**ks."

But wait - there’s more!

Five months later, while speaking to the same lawyer, he apparently made a gesture simulating oral sex and then patted the attorney on the cheek and said, “There, there little boy.”

It would seem that the judge has a strong fixation on blow jobs, no?

According to TMZ, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct opened an investigation into Hallet’s odd and homophobic behavior.

While the commission hasn’t handed down an opinion on the complaint, Hallett - whose current term was scheduled to end in 2019 - has offered his resignation.

"Homophobic remarks and anti-LGBTQ sentiments have no place in the lexicon of the courts or the vocabulary of a judge," Robert H Tembeckjian, the commission's administrator, said in a statement to The Times Union in Albany.

"Such statements undermine public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, which demands that a judge be and appear fair-minded and unprejudiced toward all who have business in the courts," he added.

In light of Hallet’s resignation, and his promise to never serve in any judicial capacity again, the commission dropped its investigation.

His resignation will take effect at the end of this year.