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Can de Havilland get Ryan Murphy to the Supreme Court?

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Olivia de Havilland, 102, wants to take the cake and Ryan Murphy all the way to the Supreme Court.

Gossip doesn’t take a holiday – even on Thanksgiving. While your beloved Billy was nibbling on assorted legs and thighs, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featured two women kissing. And? I mean, it’s 2018…there must have been more to it than just that. Nope, apparently that was it. People online were going berserk after a same-sex smooch between two female cast members from the Broadway musical “The Prom,” a show about a group of actors saving a high school prom after the PTA threatens to cancel the event if a lesbian couple attends (I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s great). When the ladies locked lips on live TV, life imitated art and a few vocal people expressed their outrage. One Tweet tickled me. “Millions of small children just watched two girls kiss and had their innocence broken this morning.” Two things: 1) I’d be shocked if the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade had one million total viewers, let alone millions of children, and b) Are kids really shocked by two girls kissing?

In a story that will put the tingle back in your loins, my pal John Wesley Shipp has winched his considerable assets back into tights to once again play “The Flash.” “Billy,” I can almost hear you crying, “Doesn’t he play the father of ‘The Flash’?” Oh, how soon they forget.  Back when James Van Der Beek barely had his first pubes, Shipp was the eponymous “Flash” for CBS. Yes, now he plays the father. But in the ’90s, our superheroes were much hunkier. For the fifth annual “Arrowverse” crossover, “Elseworld” will feature characters from “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Supergirl” in a CW spectacular. The event takes place over three nights, December 9-11, introduces Batwoman and Lois Lane, and features Shipp in tights for the first time since 1990. Well, there was that night I spent with him in Toledo back in 2011…but that’s another story.

Someone else used to tight clothing is Jeff Rohrer, who was a Dallas Cowboy from 1982-1989. The former linebacker not only came out as gay, but married his partner of two years, Joshua Ross (facialist on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”).  Jeff is the first member of the NFL to be in a “known same-sex marriage.” He told The New York Times, “If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately.  It was a different world back then, people didn’t want to hear that.”

You’ll recall that 102-year-old Olivia de Havilland is fuming at Ryan Murphy and FX Networks over how she was portrayed in “Feud.” Despite a lower court ruling with the network, Livvy wants to take the case to the Supreme Court. FX is trying to block her, saying that her case is unworthy of the highest court in the land. Her lawyers think otherwise. “Like the Colorado baker whose First Amendment rights allowed him to refuse to design a cake that expressed a message he did not believe, Miss de Havilland has a right to prevent false words being put into her mouth in a docudrama, just as with any other form of publications.” I hate anyone comparing Olivia to a homophobic baker, but if it gets her in front of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’ll allow it.

Remember Danny Roberts from “The Real World: New Orleans?” Way back in 2000, he was dating someone in the military whose face was blurred – back then you could be drummed out of the service for being gay. We hadn’t heard much about Danny in recent years – except for an erect nude photo of dubious veracity which you can still find on our website.  Roberts recently slipped back into the spotlight via an interview with “Entertainment Weekly”, where he revealed three things: 1) he’s living in NYC, 2) he’s adopted a two-year-old girl, 3) he’s HIV-positive. Apparently he found out his HIV status in 2011 after passing out and waking up in a pool of blood. While he doesn’t go into detail about the passing out or pool of blood, he says this about his status: “The last thing I ever want is pity.  I just want people to know and be aware.  I knew so little myself so I get it.”

Brace yourselves. It’s time for “Billy’s Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions.” Each week between now and Christmas, I’m going to share items that I think would make great gifts for people on your list – both naughty and nice. To kick things off, we turn to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Each year, this organization releases a special Broadway Legends ornament. In the past, these have all been legendary ladies. This year, BC/EFA kinda breaks with tradition by featuring Harvey Fierstein.  Of course, he’s in his “Hairspray” regalia, so he still fits in. Not only is it gorgeous, but it helps raise money for this great charity.  You can pick up one (or a dozen) at BroadwayCares.org.

Finally, we hear that Chaka Khan will be the Grand Marshal for the Rose Bowl Parade. She’s even going to be on the float! Of course, I suspect it’ll be hard to tell where the dress ends and the float begins.

When everything’s coming up Chaka, it’s time to end another column. Before we hit New Year’s, we’ve got scads of celebrating to do at www.BillyMasters.com – the site that can stuff more than just your stocking. Send your questions to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before de Havilland says, “Let them eat cake!”  Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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Laverne Cox Dives into the Uglies World

Cox is the latest cast member to be announced, although exactly which role she plays is still a guarded secret

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Laverne Cox via Netflix

BURBANK – Imagine a world where at 16, you were forced into an operation that made you conventionally “pretty” along with the rest of the humans in the world.  That is the theme of the new Netflix film Uglies, based on the international best-selling dystopian fantasy novel by Scott Westerfeld.

Laverne Cox is the latest cast member to be announced, although exactly which role she plays is still a guarded secret. Joey King, Brianne Tju, Keith Powers and Chase Stokes were previously announced.

Whatever role Cox plays, her participation stays consistent with her brand of finding one’s authenticity and fighting to live as their truest self.  

Amazon describes the novel’s plot, of which the film is based as: “Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever.”

Of the casting, Cox posted on her Instagram, “I feel so blessed to be an artist hopefully getting better at my craft, certainly working hard to do so. What a privilege this film is, based on a powerful young adult book series by @scott_westerfeld!! What a privilege to work with such incredibly talented and committed young actors and @mcgfilm, our incredible director, oh McG you’re just incredible. Stay tuned!”

Cox will also star in the upcoming Netflix series Inventing Anna. Shonda Rhimes and her Shondaland partner, Betsy Beers, are executive producing that 10 episode series.  It is based on a true story in which a grifter faked being an heiress and fooled New York’s high society with her scam.

Uglies will be directed by McG, and has producers John Davis and Jordan Davis for Davis Entertainment Company; Robyn Mesinger for Anonymous Content; Dan Spilo for Industry Entertainment; and McG and Mary Viola for Wonderland at the helm.  Joey King, Jamie King, Scott Westerfeld, John Fox are executive producing.

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Vlogger StanChris; My religious mom reacts to Norway’s “gay Santa” ad

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s gay Santa advertisement! Let’s see what she has to say about it.

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Screenshot via YouTube

LOS ANGELES – The twenty-something StanChris, the Out YouTuber who has been building his audience on his YouTube channel by vlogging about the ordinary everyday experiences of his life as a young gay guy is back- this time interviewing his mother.

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s gay Santa advertisement! Let’s see what she has to say about it.

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s “gay Santa” ad

********************

S O C I A L – L I N K S

→Instagram : stanchris https://instagram.com/stanchris

→ Twitter : stanchrisss https://twitter.com/stanchrisss

Subscribe here!!: https://youtube.com/c/stanchris

Watch more: https://youtu.be/rjI4c7nSXkw

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Verhoeven returns with subversive tale of lesbian nun in ‘Benedetta’

Period drama delivers sex, violence, and horrors of the Black Death

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Daphne Patakia and Virginie Efira in ‘Benedetta.’ (Photo courtesy IFC Films)

There was a time when Paul Verhoeven was a big deal in Hollywood.

The Dutch filmmaker first attracted international attention during an early career in his homeland, with critically acclaimed movies like “Turkish Delight” and “Soldier of Orange,” which found an audience outside of the Netherlands and brought him greater opportunities in America, Once here, he adapted his style to fit a more commercial mold and forged a niche for himself with violent, action-packed sci-fi blockbusters, scoring major hits with “Robocop” and “Total Recall” before reaching a pinnacle with “Basic Instinct” – arguably still his most influential and iconic film.

Then came “Showgirls.” Although the Joe Eszterhas-scripted stripper drama is now revered as a “so-bad-it’s-great” cult classic, it was a box office bomb on its initial release, and its failure, coupled with the less-spectacular but equally definitive flopping of his next film, “Starship Troopers,” effectively put an end to his climb up the Hollywood ladder.

That was not, however, the end of his story. Verhoeven moved back to his native country (where he was hailed as a returning hero) and rebounded with the critically lauded “Black Book” before spending the next two decades developing and producing new projects with other filmmakers. In 2016, he assumed the director’s seat again, this time in France, and the resulting work (“Elle”) put him once more into the international spotlight.

Now, he’s back with another French film, and fans of his signature style – a blend of social satire, psycho-sexual themes, graphic violence, and near-exploitation-level erotic imagery that has prompted some commentators to label him as a provocateur – have every reason to be excited.

“Benedetta,” which receives its long-delayed (due to COVID) release in the U.S. on Dec. 3, is the real-life story of a Renaissance-era Italian nun (Virginie Efira), whose passionate devotion to her faith  – and especially to Jesus – sparks disturbing and dramatic visions. When young novice Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) enters the convent and is assigned to her as a companion, it awakens a different kind of passion, and as their secret relationship escalates, so too do her miraculous episodes, which expand to include the physical manifestation of stigmata. Soon, despite the skepticism of the Mother Abbess (Charlotte Rampling), she finds herself heralded as a prophet by the other sisters and the local community, leading to controversy, investigation, and a power struggle that threatens the authority of the church itself.

Inspired by “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” Judith C. Brown’s biography of the real Sister Benedetta, Verhoeven’s latest work is perhaps his most quintessential to date. In his screenplay (co-written with “Elle” collaborator David Birke), the Dutch auteur – who is also a widely recognized, if controversial, religious scholar – gives free reign to his now-familiar obsessions, weaving them all together into a sumptuously realized period drama that delivers copious amounts of nudity and sex, bloody violence, and the horrors of the Black Death while exploring the phenomenon of faith itself. Is Benedetta a saint or a harlot? Is she chosen by God or mentally ill? Are her visions real or is she a fraud, cynically exploiting the beliefs of those around her in a bold-faced grab for power and glory? And if she’s lying, in the larger context of a world held firmly in the grip of a church that treats salvation as transactional and levies its presumed moral authority to unlimited financial and political gain, which is greater evil? Though the film strongly implies the answers lie somewhere between the “either/or” of absolutes, it shrewdly leaves the viewer to contemplate such questions for themselves.

What concerns “Benedetta” more than any esoteric debate is a sly-yet-candid commentary on the various levels of societal hierarchy and the ways in which the flow of power perpetuates itself through their devotion to maintaining the status quo. As Benedetta’s perceived holiness carries her upward through the strata, from unwanted daughter of the merchant class to Mother Superior and beyond, more important than the veracity of her claims of divinity are the shifting and carefully calculated responses of those she encounters along the way. Fearing the loss of their own power, they ally and oppose themselves in whichever direction will help them maintain it. It’s a Machiavellian game of “keep-away” in which those at the top will not hesitate to use economic class, gender, sexuality, and – if all else fails – torture and execution as weapons to repress those they deem unworthy.

Inevitably, the above scenario provides plenty of fodder for Verhoeven’s movie to make points about religious hypocrisy, systemic oppression, and the way white heterosexual cisgender men keep the deck eternally stacked in their own favor – all of which invites us to recognize how little things have changed in the five centuries since Sister Benedetta’s time. That, too, is right in line with the director’s usual agenda.

Ultimately though, the signature touch that makes the movie unmistakably his is the way it revels in the lurid and sensational. Verhoeven delights in presenting imagery designed to shock us, and key elements of the film – from hyper-eroticized religious visions and explicit lesbian sex, to the prominent inclusion of a blasphemous wooden dildo as an important plot point – feel deliberately transgressive. This should be no surprise when one remembers that this is the director who brought us not only “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” but also “The Fourth Man,” a homoerotic psychological thriller from 1983 still capable of making audiences squirm uncomfortably today; and while all this titillation may trigger the most prudish of viewers, it makes “Benedetta” into a deliciously subversive, wild-and-wooly ride for the rest of us. More to the point, it underscores the film’s ultimate observation about the empowering nature of sexual liberation.

Helping Verhoeven make maximum impact with this obscure historical narrative is a cast that clearly relishes the material as much as he does. In the title role, the statuesque Efira successfully creates a compelling and charismatic figure while remaining an enigma, someone we can believe in equal measure might be sincere or corrupt and with whom we can empathize either way; likewise, Patakia exudes savvy and self-possession, transcending moral judgment as the object of her affection, and the two performers have a palpable chemistry, which is made all the more compelling by their thrillingly contemporary approach to the characters. Rounding out the triad of principal roles is Rampling, a cinematic icon who brings prestige and sophistication to the table in a masterful performance as the Abbess; more than just a grounding presence for her younger co-stars, she provides an important counterbalance with a subtle and layered performance as a woman who has devoted her life to a belief in which she has no faith, only to find herself overshadowed by a charlatan.

“Benedetta” is not exactly the kind of film that’s likely to put Verhoeven back on the Hollywood fast track – it’s far too radical in its underpinnings for that. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome return to form from a unique and flamboyant filmmaker we’ve missed for far too long, and his fans – along with anybody with a taste for provocative cinema – should consider it a must-see.

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