Broadway Stars Have ‘Georgia On My Mind’

Producers Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, alongside Broadway superstar Audra McDonald, director Schele Williams, and Broadway Inspirational Voices’ Joseph Joubert and Michael McElroy, announced today that they have released a very special recording and music video of the beloved song “Georgia On My Mind” to mark the first day of voting for the January 5th Georgia Senate runoff elections.

“Now more than ever it is crucial for every American to have access to the resources to make their voices heard during an election, whether that be on a national scale, or in their local races,” said 6-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald.

L-R Tony Award winners Kelli O’Hara, Billy Porter, Audra McDonald

“We are in awe of the work that Stacey Abrams and Fair Fight have been doing to ensure that that is a reality for all Georgians, and knew that we wanted to raise our own voices to raise awareness about this important election in the way we know best – through music.”

The song will help to raise funds and awareness for Fair Fight’s work to ensure that every eligible Georgian has the resources and information they need to vote in the January 5th runoff election.

Clearly, there was no lack of all-star talent as stage and screen stars from all over the country contributed from the safety of their own homes.

Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Idina Menzel

Those joining McDonald, Rudetsky, and Wesley include: Danielle Brooks, Andréa Burns, Allyson Kaye Daniel, Raúl Esparza, Santino Fontana, Josh Gad, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Mandy Gonzalez, Celia Rose Gooding, Angela Grovey, Crystal Monee Hall, Wilson Jermaine-Heredia, Carly Hughes, James Monroe Iglehart, Jeremy Jordan, LaChanze, José Llana, Allen Louis, Beth Malone, Anastasia McClesky, Michael McElroy, Idina Menzel, Ruthie Ann Miles, Bonnie Milligan, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Javier Muñoz, Jesse Nager, Kelli O’Hara, Adam Pascal, Steve Pasquale, Peppermint, Rosie Perez, Bernadette Peters, Ben Platt, Billy Porter, Conrad Ricamora, Lauren Ridloff, Jai Rodriguez, Anika Noni Rose, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Rashidra Scott, Keala Settle, Ephraim Sikes, Phillipa Soo, Will Swenson, Chris Sullivan, Anastacia Talley, Tracie Thoms, Allyson Tucker, Leslie Uggams, Blair Underwood, Jenna Ushkowitz, Fredi Walker, Adrienne Warren, Susan Kelechi Watson, Lillias White, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Schele Williams, Vanessa Williams, and BD Wong.

The song is available on all digital download sites as well as Broadway Records.com.

The arrangement is artful taking its time to build and build and build. Bravo!

Tonight: Vanessa Williams & Renee Fleming Live From The Kennedy Center

L-R Renee Fleming, Vanessa Williams

On Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, two Tony nominated divas — opera legend Renée Fleming and pop star Vanessa Williams — team up for a live concert from the Kennedy Center’s storied Opera House.

It’s the first in-person event at the D.C. institution since March, and only a smattering of invited folks will be sitting in the seats.

But you can watch from home as these vocalists croon an eclectic selection of tunes, including “Children Will Listen,” “Stormy Weather” and a brand-new number by Andrew Lippa.

Isolation and harmony, fragility and resilience, oppression and hope.

These are the emotions of our time, and the subjects explored in A Time to Sing — a very personal collection of songs to be performed by two of America’s most celebrated vocalists in a unique event at the Kennedy Center.

This is a rare opportunity to view these artists and experience the healing power of the performing arts.

Tickets are just $15 and a recording will remain available through the end of the year. To purchase your ticket, click here.

Kennedy Center Announces Special Live Concert Series

Vanessa Williams to perform in special concert series at Kennedy Center (via official website)

Since the permanent audience seating can’t be moved for proper social distancing, the Kennedy Center’s famed Opera House is planning a series of concerts putting a limited-size audience onstage spread apart and the artist on an extension built on the front of the stage.

From the Kennedy Center official website:

Artists will perform from a stage extension built into the front of the Orchestra-seating level of the hall while concert-goers, entering through the wide loading doors on the Center’s front plaza, are seated in physically distanced pairs on the Opera House stage to watch performances set against the iconic red interior of the theater.

These hour-long, intermission-less concerts will take place approximately once per week for a ticketed audience of under 200 once the District of Columbia reaches phase three of reopening.

Select concerts, including performances by four-time Grammy Award® winner and National Medal of the Arts recipient Renée Fleming; Emmy®, Grammy®, and Tony Award® nominee Vanessa Williams; award-winning Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet and Broadway actress Tiler Peck; and award-winning choreographer and Artistic Director of Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Camille A. Brown, will be streamed digitally via the Kennedy Center website.

Additional artists from the worlds of jazz, hip hop, comedy, and Broadway will be announced at a later date.

Performance details and ticketing information will be announced as D.C. approaches phase three of reopening.

Imagine being your view as you take in these special concerts:

The Kennedy Center Opera House

News Round-Up: March 18, 2020

Me with birthday girl Vanessa Williams

Some news items you might have missed:

Happy Birthday: Bestest birthday wishes to my Syracuse University bestie, Vanessa Williams! V is currently in London where she’s starring in the (currently coronavirus-paused) West End production of the Tony Award-winning musical, City of Angels. The pic above was taken a couple of years ago when I introduced her at the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s ‘Woman of the Year’ event. Always much, much fun to catch up with, I can affirm she’s still ‘saving the best for last.’

PrideSource: Devon Robinson was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the spring 2019 shooting deaths of Alunte Davis, Timothy Blancher and Paris Cameron as well as assault with intent to murder two others. Both Davis and Blancher were gay and Cameron was a transgender woman. This week a jury found Robinson guilty of all charges. Prosecutors say Robinson’s actions were an attempt to cover up having taken part in an orgy with the trio.

Instinct Magazine: Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), the most conservative Democrat in the House, lost his primary race last night to progressive challenger Marie Newman, and LGBTQ folks are cheering. Lipinski has repeatedly voted against LGTBQ rights and protections. He voted “present” for a proposed U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, voted against an early version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and gave his support to the First Amendment Defense Act, which supported the “religious freedom” movement. #GoodRiddance

Yahoo News: A new survey released Tuesday from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist polling shows that only 37 percent of those polled have either “a good amount” or “a great deal” of trust in the information they hear from the president about the coronavirus, while 60 percent say they do “not very much” or “not at all” trust Trump’s words on the subject.

KIT212: Kenneth remembers 11 times hunky Lyle Waggoner stole the show on The Carol Burnett Show.

Lyle Waggoner (via kenneth-in-the-212)

Washington Post: White House officials are working with congressional Republicans on an emergency stimulus package that could send two $1,000 checks to many Americans and also devote $300 billion towards helping small businesses avoid mass layoffs, according to two senior administration officials and a Treasury Department fact sheet.

LGBTQ Nation: Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) voted against the “America First Coronavirus Response Act” this week because he said it “redefined family” by including sick leave to care for an unmarried partner’s children. Biggs went on to say that sick leave for domestic partner’s children has “nothing to do with the coronavirus.”

New York Post: After being found inebriated inside a Miami Beach hotel room with another man who allegedly overdosed on crystal meth, former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has announced he is withdrawing from public life and entering rehab for alcohol abuse.

NBC News: By a vote of 90-8 the Senate voted to approve a second coronavirus aid bill Wednesday, paving the way for lawmakers to turn their attention to a third proposal that could include direct payments to Americans. Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law. The bill provides free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave for those who are infected or caring for a family member with the illness, additional Medicaid funding, food assistance, and unemployment benefits.

 

News Round-Up: March 5, 2020

The West End cast of City of Angels

Some news items you might have missed:

West End Theater: The Donmar Warehouse’s Olivier Award-winning production of the Broadway musical City of Angels (starring my college bestie Vanessa Williams above) hits the boards on the West End for its first preview tonight. Word in theater circles is the show is stylish, smart, and stunning.

Greenville Journal: A county in South Carolina was about to repeal a 1996 anti-LGBTQ resolution when religious dissenters, citing “traditional family values,” overwhelmed the County Council meeting just before the vote causing two council members to change their votes.

The Hill: Vice President Pence, who is heading up the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus threat told reporters today the United States does not currently have enough tests to meet the expected demand.

Washington Blade: Chris Johnson is one of my favorite LGBTQ reporters and he’s penned an excellent assessment of the historic candidacy of Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “He made a mark on American politics — and not just because he broke barriers as a gay presidential candidate.”

Washington Post: Now that Mike Bloomberg has exited the race for the White House, he has announced he plans to form an independent expenditure campaign that will absorb hundreds of his presidential campaign staffers in six swing states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina) to work to elect the Democratic nominee this fall.

Out Music: Maia, who records under the moniker mxmtoon, released her exuberant single and music video, “fever dream,” where she dances with her past and future self. 

“We wanted to work with the themes of the single to make a video that exemplifies the nostalgia the lyrics evoke but also the courage to move forward,” shares the out bisexual artist.

With a blissfully nostalgic lilt, mxmtoon’s vocals are soothing and sure. The sentimental, upbeat melody is a refreshing escape from the clutter of today’s current news cycle.

Her 2018 debut EP plum blossom – recorded in her parent’s guest bedroom – has garnered more than 100 million streams on Spotify. You can follow her on Instagram here.

InstaHunk Round-Up: Weekend Edition

Jeff Ferreira (via Instagram)

Checking in with some of our favorite hunks of Insta-Land:

First up is NYC-based Jeff Ferreira (above) living for the uber-mild winter weekend in the big apple.

MTV’s team of hotties #JOGAN (Joss and Rogan) are prepping for their debut on the Las Vegas Strip next weekend as they take on Celebrity Hosting duties at the world-famous Chippendales:

Karlitos Amarilla in Paraguay leaned on some tires looking anything but tired:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

We only REGRET the rides We didn’t take!!… So don’t fear dying, fear not living!! let’s take a Ride!!!

A post shared by karlitos Amarilla (@karlitoschac) on

Woofy Matthew Camp took a snow day to just lay back:

Tyler Valenzia worked out as he chatted on workout motivation:

Designer Daniel Sheehan got ‘savage’ for a moment:

Award-winning singer/songwriter (and former Broadway baby) Matt Zarley caught up with longtime friend (and Tony Award winner) Lilias White:

Broadway, TV and recording star Vanessa Williams (in London for the upcoming revival of the hit musical City of Angels) shared this clip of RuPaul saying hi to the fans of DragConUK:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

UK came out to welcome @rupaulofficial #dragconuk was fab! Much love and respect to all the Queens

A post shared by Vanessa Williams (@vanessawilliamsofficial) on

Silvio Horta, Creator Of LGBTQ-Inclusive ‘Ugly Betty,’ Dead At 45

Ugly Betty writer/showrunner Silvio Horta (screen capture)

Silvio Horta, who created the hit ABC dramedy Ugly Betty, was found dead in his Miami hotel room on Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to a statement from his family, the 45-year-old writer/producer “had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression” but added, “he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter.”

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta. Through his friendships, his love and his work in TV and films, Silvio touched the lives of millions. Silvio had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression, but through it all, he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter. He was a kind and beautiful man. He may be gone but his light will shine on.”

Ugly Betty, which ran for four seasons from 2006 to 2010, was a smash-hit for the openly gay writer from the get-go.

The series, an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea, chronicled the adventures (or misadventures) of fashion industry neophyte Betty Suarez, played by America Ferrera, as she made her way up the corporate ladder of the fictitious Mode Magazine.

In addition to being stylish and witty, the show was recognized for being LGBTQ-inclusive with storylines that included the coming out of Betty’s teenage nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato), the hysterical fawning of queer fashion assistant Marc St. James (launching the career of Michael Urie into a new orbit), and transgender character Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn).

The series also gave longtime LGBTQ ally Vanessa Williams the chance to shine as the over-the-top diva, creative director Wilhelmina Slater.   

The show landed with LGBTQ audiences not only for its fresh, undeniably queer slant but an empowering message of embracing our authentic selves.

Over the course of its run, Ugly Betty scored three Emmy Awards including one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, winning two – one for Ferrera and one for Best Television Series (Comedy).

Numerous other honors came from organizations as diverse as the GLAAD Media Awards, the ALMA Awards, The Imagen Foundation Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards.

Horta’s career breakthrough came in 1998 when he wrote the surprise horror film Urban Legend starring future Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club) and Alicia Witt (Dune).

He also executive produced the 2001 series The Chronicle starring Octavia Spencer as well as UPN’s sci-fi series Jake 2.0 in 2003.

IMDB lists his most recent credit as the made-for-TV film The Curse of the Fuentes Women in 2015.

Horta’s Ugly Betty colleagues took to social media to express their condolences.

RIP Silvio Horta.

If you are thinking about suicide or are feeling alone and need someone to talk to, please contact the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. Additionally, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Dr. Oz Spin-Off ‘The Good Dish’ Announced For Fall 2020 With Vanessa Williams, Daphne Oz & More

Tony/Grammy Award nominee Vanessa Williams & Daphne Oz (screen capture)

Created by the producers of The Dr. Oz Show, The Good Dish will serve up chat and chow for a new talk show scheduled for Fall 2020.

Award-winning actress/singer Vanessa Williams, Daphne Oz (daughter of Dr. Oz), Top Chef’s Gail Simmons and Jamika Pessoa (The Next Food Network Star) will serve as hosts.

According to a statement, The Good Dish will offer simple shortcuts, everyday recipes, and trends that will bring families closer, save money, make life less complicated, and help them figure out what they are having for dinner.

The show is a spin-off based on segments titled “The Dish on Oz” that have been featured on The Dr. Oz Show.

John Weiser, President First Run Television, SPT. said in a released statement:

We have experienced overwhelming feedback from our audiences on “The Dish on Oz” cooking segments, which have been recently featured on The Dr. Oz Show.

When Daphne Oz and this all-star ensemble were available, we recognized the opportunity for viewers, advertisers, and local broadcast stations.

We have on-air tested this format and talent for two years perfecting this show we are now bringing to market. Spinoffs have the highest success rate of converting into multi-year franchises. In fact, spinoffs gave us the great Dr. Oz straight from Oprah!

#TBT: Life Is A Funny Thing…

Me and Vanessa Williams

So, life is funny, sometimes.

As I arrived in Barcelona yesterday, I was reminded of this happy coincidence when I was here last year.

In August 2018, while traveling on the Atlantis cruise from Rome to Barcelona, I got word that award-winning actress/singer/dancer Vanessa Williams would be the surprise guest star on the cruise ship.

Longtime readers know I have been friends with the multi-hyphenate super-star since we were both freshman music theater majors at Syracuse University in the early 1980s.

We quickly traded emails excited at the prospect of seeing each other live, in person.

What happened was the bestest catch-up you can imagine as V and I, with my hubby Michael, spent just the most delicious hours laughing and smiling off the French coast near Nice, on the Atlantis cruise.

We explored Mallorca together, and I even joined her onstage during her concert (more about that later).

My apologies for the light posting today, as I was adjusting to the jetlag. But walking around Barcelona this afternoon, it was fun to remember the really wonderful company I got to keep just a year ago.

An Independence Day Celebration For All Americans Tonight On PBS

While the Defense Department scrambles to make Donald Trump's 'ego rally' come to fruition, I want to make sure you all know that the REAL 4th of July celebration - A Capitol Fourth - is still happening across Washington D.C. tonight at 8/7c on PBS.

While the Defense Department scrambles to make Donald Trump’s ‘ego rally’ come to fruition, I want to make sure you all know that the REAL 4th of July celebration – A Capitol Fourth – is still happening across Washington D.C. tonight at 8/7c on PBS.

Live from the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the annual concert celebrating America’s birthday pays special tribute to American military heroes and their families.

Among the performers this year are Colbie Caillat, Carole King, Keala Settle, and Vanessa Williams.

Hosted by John Stamos, the show also features the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” and the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.

The finale includes fireworks and Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with cannon fire.

Click here for more info and to confirm air times in your area.