Friday, April 20, 2018

News Round-Up: April 20, 2018

(Image via Instagram)
Some news items you might have missed:

• My totes woofy pal in the South, handsome Joe Woolley (above), is giving you full-on gay rainbow action as he looks to the weekend. Joe and his hubby Jim are big deal LGBTQ activists in Nashville, TN, where we can always use the help.

• Openly gay teacher Michael Hill began receiving threatening letters after coming out last fall. “You need to be fired and you can take your gay ideas with you. Fags are not welcome in our schools.”

• It looks like GLEE alum Kevin McHale finally came out via a tweet about Ariana Grande's new single, "No Tears Left To Cry."

• The Democratic Party has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump. #TooLate

• Out journalist Thomas Roberts has announced he is donating $25,000 - his fee for hosting the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia - to the Human Rights Campaign.

• The White House has revealed no Democrats or members of the media will be invited to Donald Trump's first state dinner hosting French President Emmanuel Macron. #NoSoupForYou!

Where The Bears Are star Ian Parks reminded me of his admittedly "gratuitous" video from a few years ago. I can watch a few times :)

Happy Friday!

Released Comey Memos Backfire On Trump & GOP

Donald Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey's personal memos detailing his meetings with Donald Trump were released last night to Congress and, of course, are now out for public consumption.

Trump immediately took to Twitter to declare the memos cleared him of any "collusion" or "obstruction," which is false.

Here on Earth One, nowhere in Comey’s memos does he say that Trump did not collude or obstruct justice. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact site dubbed Trump's claim "Pants On Fire" lying.

Here's just a few items from the newly-released memos:

• "The president spoke an overwhelming majority of the time. He never asked me an open-ended question or left it to me to choose a topic of conversation."

• The pee-pee thing in the Steele dossier really, really bothers Trump.

"I said, the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013. He interjected: 'there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes.' He then said something about him being the kind of guy who didn't need to 'go there' and laughed (which I understood to be communicating that he didn't need to pay for sex.)"

"He said '2013' to himself as if trying to remember that period of time ... He said he always assumed that hotels he stayed in when he travels are wired in some way. I replied that I do as well."

"He then started talking about all the women who had falsely accused him of grabbing or touching them (with particular mention of a 'stripper" who said he grabbed her) ... "

"The President said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense but that Putin had told him 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'"

"He said he thought maybe he should ask me to investigate the whole thing to prove it was a lie."

• Comey did, in fact, notate that Trump specifically asked for "loyalty."

"He [said] that he needed loyalty and expected loyalty. I did not reply, or even nod or change my facial expression, which he noted because we came back to it later."

• Trump wondered about having journalists arrested:

“The president ... [returned] to the issue of finding leakers ... I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message. He replied by saying it may involve putting reporters in jail. 'They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.' I laughed."

Teaser: "South Pacific" At San Diego Musical Theatre

As I've previously mentioned, I'm currently down in San Diego where I'm on musical staging duty for a new production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein hit South Pacific for San Diego Musical Theatre.

The powers that be released this little video preview from rehearsals featuring director Kirsten Chandler (who I'm loving collaborating with), Robert Townsend as "Emile De Beque," Carolyn Agan as "Nellie Forbush" and our terrific company.

You know the songs - "Some Enchanted Evening," "There Is Nothing Like A Dame,""Younger Than Springtime," "Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair" and so many more.

The smart research folks at SDMT share these little known facts about the show:

South Pacific won 10 Tony Awards including a sweep of all four acting categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress) which has never been repeated.

• Juanita Hall, who had played "Bloody Mary" in the original Broadway production, obviously sang her own songs onstage, but was dubbed in the film version at the request of composer Richard Rodgers. Rodgers and musical director Alfred Newman brought in Muriel Smith (who had played Bloody Mary in London).

• Dating back to the development of the stage musical, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were pressured to eliminate the song "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," but they resisted. The movie was greeted with objections and even boycotts in certain parts of the country specifically because of the song.

• France Nuyen had not yet learned English when playing the role of "Liat". Fortunately, she was able to converse in her native language (French) with co-star Rossano Brazzi, who spoke French as well as his native Italian.

• The love scenes between characters "Joe Cable" and "Liat" were considered shocking by the still conservative standards of the late 1950s.

• The film adaptation of "South Pacific" ran for just under 4 years and 6 months at the Dominion Theatre in London. It opened on April 21st, 1958 and closed on September 30th, 1962, for an unbroken, record run that will probably never be equaled.

Watch a bit of the behind-the-scenes action below and check the official website for more info.

We begin performances next Friday and run through May 27.

Bette Midler Will Return To HELLO, DOLLY! For Final 6 Weeks On Broadway

Bette Midler in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway
Bette Midler in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway
The Associated Press is reporting that when Bette Midler sang "So Long Dearie" to her blockbuster Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! she really meant "See you in a while" as producers have announced that the Tony Award-winner will return for a six-week run before the production closes August 25.

Bernadette Peters, who took up the mantle of "Dolly Levi" after Bette departed in January will continue in the role until July 15. The Divine Miss M will be "back where she belongs" beginning July 17.

Additionally, co-stars David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel back as well.

Creel wan the Tony Award for "Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical" for his performance as "Cornelius Hackl," and Pierce earned a Tony nod as "Horace Vandergelder."

We won't be saying goodbye to Dolly any time soon though.

Fans eagerly await the first national tour of "Hello, Dolly!" which will star Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley when it kicks off in October at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.

Daily Dance: Melissa Gilbert "If They Could See Me Now"

"Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert struts her way through the Broadway classic "If They Could See Me Now"

I'm not laughing at child star Melissa Gilbert but laughing with her as I enjoy this clip from 1978 where the Little House on the Prairie star kick-ball-changes her way through the Sweet Charity hit "If They Could See Me Now."

I just love 1970s variety show dancing. It takes me back.

At this very moment in time, I was learning to dance myself with most of the vocabulary you see here.

According to the YouTube page, Melissa Gilbert herself has seen the video and her response was: "OMG! Adolescence at its worst!"

Ah, good times :)

EDM Star Avicii Dead At 28

Avicii (image via Instagram)

EDM artist, DJ and producer Avicii (real name Tim Bergling) has passed away at the age of 28.

According to Variety, his body was found in Muscat, Oman.

His rep issued this statement:

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii. He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given.”’

Citing health reasons related to acute pancreatitis, Avicii retired from live performing in 2016.

In an announcement to his fans at the time, he made it clear he intended to continue his creativity in the studio.

For me it’s creating music. That is what I live for, what I feel I was born to do.

Last year I quit performing live, and many of you thought that was it. But the end of live never meant the end of Avicii or my music. Instead, I went back to the place where it all made sense – the studio.

The next stage will be all about my love of making music to you guys. It is the beginning of something new.

Hope you´ll enjoy it as much as I do.”

The two-time Grammy nominee received a nod for a 2018 Billboard Music Award on Tuesday.

Donald Trump Will Not Attend Funeral Of Former First Lady Barbara Bush

The White House has announced Donald Trump will not attend the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush citing a desire to "avoid disruptions" in regard to the president's security detail and "out of respect for the Bush Family and friends."

First Lady Melania Trump will attend the memorial service for Barbara Bush this Saturday representing the First Family.

Reps for former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have indicated they will attend the memorial service as well as former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Barbara Bush, wife of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92.

You'll recall when Obama didn't attend the funeral of former First Lady Nancy Reagan, right-wing pundits couldn't wait to criticize.

Music Video: Ariana Grande Defies Gravity In "No Tears Left To Cry"

Ariana Grande's new music video for "No Tears Left To Cry" is an eye-popping wonder of computer generated gorgeousness.

Directed by Grammy Award®-winning director Dave Meyers, the trippy video allows Grande to defy gravity as she floats, falls and pretty much stays off-balance through a series of CGI futuristic landscapes.

It's easy to wonder if the metaphor was intended to represent Grande's state of mind following the Manchester Arena terror attack during her concert last May, which killed 23 people and wounded approximately 500.

The new single represents Grande's first since 2016's Dangerous Woman.

Watch the video below.