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After Globes, all eyes on Oscar

‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘The Favourite,’ ‘Boy Erased’ just a few of the year’s best

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Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman star in ‘The Favourite.’ (Photo by Atsushi Nishijima for Fox Searchlight)

It’s more than a week into the New Year already, and for movie fans, that means the season is upon us – awards season, that is.

Though some organizations start handing out their prizes in early December, the presentation of the Golden Globes – which took place last Sunday – is the first of the big, glitzy ceremonies we expect from a Hollywood awards show. The telecast of this year’s affair was watched by 18.6 million people, a little down (2 percent) from last year but a much smaller decline in viewership than those experienced by the Oscars and other awards in recent years.

The Globes are a big enough event in their own right, of course, but they are also a signal that the year’s Oscar race has kicked off in earnest. The Globes are considered the first real barometer for which films stand the best chance of grabbing Academy gold, and even though the winners aren’t guaranteed to win an Oscar, too, they are almost assured to be front-runners.

The Globes split the categories for most of the big awards – Best Picture, Actor, Actress, etc. – into two divisions, “Drama” and “Musical or Comedy.”  This makes handicapping the Oscars a tricky endeavor, since the Academy doesn’t make the same distinction; it means – in the performing categories, anyway – only half the number of nominees make the cut, and it’s happened before that even Globe winners get shut out from the final ballot.

Even so, it’s impossible to resist speculation about what the Golden Globes presage for the Oscars.

This year’s Globes reflected the increase of onscreen LGBT inclusion in 2018 by including what seemed like a record number of nominations for movies with queer narratives and characters. 

The surprise winner in the Best Picture Drama category was “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a blockbuster biopic of Freddie Mercury – played by Rami Malek, who also won Best Actor in a Drama – in which the singer’s sexuality is a chief point of focus.  The winner for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical was “Green Book,” about the relationship between real-life black musician Don Shirley and his white driver in the segregated South of the early 1960s; Shirley was gay, although the film barely touches on his sexuality, and again the actor who played him –Mahershala Ali – won the Globe in the supporting category. Another winner, Olivia Colman as Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for “The Favourite,” also played a queer character.

Besides the three winners, a total of five other performers were nominated for playing LGBT characters in films – and since the Globes also celebrate television, the tally is even higher. For queer roles on the small screen, actors Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace”) and Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”) won as Best Actor and Supporting Actor, respectively, in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television. Whishaw – the only one of the winners who publicly identifies as LGBT in real life – even dedicated his award to Norman Scott, whom he portrayed in the show, and called him a “queer hero.”

There was also a wide showing in the non-acting categories for LGBT-centric narratives.  On the film side, besides “Rhapsody” and “The Favourite,” others on the slate include “Boy Erased” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” In addition, movies like “A Star Is Born” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” both of which were mainstream hits and included queer characters in supporting roles, were heavily represented among the nominations.

In terms of Oscar, this means there are a lot of potential nominees in the running that could allow the Academy to promote and reward inclusion and support for the LGBT community – something for which many will be watching closely, in light of the Kevin Hart controversy – a debacle that may still be ongoing, considering reports that the Academy’s leadership may still be open to reinstating the comedian as this year’s host.

There are good odds that some of these will make the cut. The surest bet is probably on “The Favourite,” Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ bawdy and quirky tale of behind-the-scenes lesbian intrigue in the 18th-century court of Queen Anne. It’s one of the year’s most-lauded films, and with up to 10 slots open in the Best Picture category, it seems certain to earn a nomination there; almost as probable are nods for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and odds are good it will snag nominations in several technical and design categories, also.

The film’s three stars are likely shoo-ins; two of them, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, are former winners and Oscar favorites, and have both been nominated in the Supporting Actress category for most of the major awards so far; as for Olivia Colman, she may be less-well known – at least in the U.S. – than her co-stars, but she has been taking a hefty share of wins for her turn as the childish and petulant Queen Anne. All three actresses will almost certainly be nominated; Stone and Weisz would be competing against each other in the same category, potentially canceling each other out and making a win improbable, but Colman stands a stronger-than-average chance of being named Best Actress – especially after her win at the Golden Globes.

She has heavy competition, however.  “A Star is Born” features the breakthrough screen performance of Lady Gaga, who was an early favorite in the Oscar race – though her loss to Glenn Close’s work in “The Wife” at the Golden Globes, seen by many as an upset, may not bode well for her chances.  The Bradley Cooper-directed remake is another almost-sure Best Picture nominee, and will probably get nods for its screenplay, for Cooper (as both director and leading actor), and for Sam Elliott (Best Supporting Actor), as well. Still, with Gaga facing off not only against Colman’s formidable performance but sentimental preference for Close (she’s been nominated six times without winning, and Oscar loves to reward beloved stars who are seen as long-overdue), this film’s (and Gaga’s) easiest shot at a victory is a Best Original Song award for “Shallow.”

The third “big” LGBT title in the running is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which survived a troubled production history – and accusations of “straight-washing” when early previews seemed to indicate an erasure of Mercury’s queer identity – to earn the biggest box-office take of any LGBT movie to date. While critical response to the film has been mixed, at best, it has proven to be highly popular with audiences, and Malek’s performance as Mercury has garnered nearly universal acclaim. Since he took home a Golden Globe, he could be poised to grab an Oscar as well – though previous winner Christian Bale, who also scored at the Globes for his performance as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” probably has the edge. As for the movie itself, it may snag a few other nominations, including for Best Picture – but even with a Golden Globe win under its belt, a win there is probably a long shot.

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” a true-life drama about a literary lesbian con artist and her gay accomplice, is also on the buzz list; leading actress Melissa McCarthy, and her supporting co-star, Richard E. Grant, have been predicted as nominees in their respective categories (both were nominated for Globes). With the aforementioned three-way competition in the Best Actress race, it seems improbable that McCarthy could win – particularly considering that Oscar has a history of denying victory to comedic actors in dramatic roles.

As for Grant’s chances in the Supporting Actor category, he will probably have to face off against Mahershala Ali and Timothée Chalamet. Ali won the Globe, so he has a strong chance. Chalamet, the acclaimed young star of last year’s “Call Me By Your Name” has a huge LGBT fan base that will be rooting for him, even though the teenaged meth addict he plays in “Beautiful Boy” is straight; he lost out on last year’s Best Actor prize, and the Academy has a history of “making up” for past oversights by bestowing awards in subsequent years – making many Oscar pundits place him as the odds-on favorite to win this one. Either way, Grant’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me” performance is a very dark horse.

“Boy Erased,” the film adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir about his experiences in a Christian “conversion camp” for gay teens, was anticipated early on as a strong contender for this year’s awards season, but it hasn’t made much of a showing so far; its young star, Lucas Hedges, snagged a Globe nomination, and has a fighting chance of repeating that feat at the Oscars. Of all the films likely to be contenders this year, this one has the most LGBT-centric focus, and of all the actors in the running for playing queer characters, Hedges is the only one who has publicly identified as anything other than straight (though he stopped short of putting a label on his sexuality, saying he sees it as “existing on a spectrum”).  A win for him would send a powerful message of inclusion – but even if he makes the cut in a field limited to only five contenders, his status as a first-time nominee, coupled with the acting pyrotechnics displayed by probable Best Actor front-runners Malek and Bale, make his chances slim.

While those are the biggest – and most probable – contenders for Oscar gold when the Academy Awards are presented on Feb. 24, there are a host of other possibilities. Acclaimed indie films like “We the Animals” or “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” could always earn a surprise nomination in such categories as Screenplay or Cinematography, and there will almost surely be LGBT recipients among the evening’s many winners.

It’s also true that it’s still early in the race – until the Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 22, it’s all just speculation as to who will even be competing, and the other awards ceremonies upcoming before the Academy presentation (especially the SAG Awards on Jan. 27) will no doubt provide further hints to the way Oscar voters will lean.

No matter how it all plays out, it seems certain that the 91st Academy Awards will have a host of LGBT-friendly nominees on its slate; whether or not any of them actually end up as winners is something that remains to be seen.

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Belinda Carlisle brings a heavenly Christmas Bash December 16th

Her work evolves beyond the demands of the pop market while never losing its hooks and whimsy. it reflects Belinda’s evolving life

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Courtesy of Belinda Carlise

HOLLYWOOD – On December 16th, 7pm, the city of West Hollywood transforms into a piece of “Heaven on Earth.” An angelic supernatural deity from the sky won’t be delivering this gift, but rather an angel from iconic pop paradise.

That night, Belinda Carlisle makes a grand entrance and gives an eager audience the presence of a queen of pop, the most recent inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with her group, The Go-Gos.

It will be on that night that Belinda Carlisle hosts THE party event of the season with co-host, drag superstar, Trixie Mattel. One sings, one throws comedic shade, and a packed room at the Abbey will be losing their collective minds.  Not that the party itself isn’t all the reason you would need to get it on your calendar, the evening benefits a fantastic charity, The Animal People Alliance (APA), that intertwines the love for animals with the salve to human suffering.

Courtesy of Trixie Mattel

APA’s charter reads: “To provide high quality and compassionate care, of the highest standards, to neglected street animals in India and Thailand. We train and employ vulnerable people from the community, and pay living wages that help them improve their standard of living.”   The organization, by employing people who would otherwise be stateless and/or in poverty, has treated over 16000 street animals since 2014. Their programs for animals include rabies vaccinations, sterilizations and other emergency health aid.

Belinda sat down with me this week on the podcast RATED LGBT RADIO to talk about her life, her amazing career, her party and the strength she has achieved in standing up to both inner and outer demons.

She survives. She fearlessly opens herself up, and if anyone scrutinizes her past… she will lead the way.  She happily tells of being a member of the most successful all-women pop bands in history.  They sang and wrote their own songs, they played their own instruments. They did it on their terms. No men were needed or required. She candidly shares about her struggles with eating disorders and drug addiction. 

Belinda shows profound compassion for those struggling with addiction and darkness, “Addiction is a sickness…it is a disease of perception, you can’t see your effect on other people… It is a trap you feel you can’t get out of. Every addict has a heart and a humanity that is obscured by addiction. It is a horrible, horrible thing for anyone to go through. It is hard to remember that there is a heart under all that, there is something divine under all that darkness.”

Her interest focuses more on what came after she embarked on recovery  “My life is much more exciting since sobriety, even more exciting than the hey day with the Go-Gos. For anyone out there who is worried about aging, or life being over at a certain point—it’s not. Life is just the most amazing miracle and privilege.”

Her significance for the LGBTQ community, impacts many of the most vulnerable.  She is the mom of a gay man, activist and writer, James Duke Mason. His birth made her examine the trajectory of fame, drugs, and rock & roll in which she was on, careening threateningly close to disaster and death.

She had settled comfortably into maternal nurturement when Duke came out to her at the age of 14. Belinda had been impressed with Duke’s ability to explain the situation to her. She found out that he had been online with PFLAG for weeks learning about how to present his news to her, information to give and educated about key talking points. 

Appreciating their real life help of a young person in need, Belinda vehemently supported PFLAG, the Trevor Project and others ever since. “I am so glad I have a gay son, I can’t even tell you,” she says.

Artistically, she also continues to thrive.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally inducted the Go-Gos this year.  It was an honor 15 years in the making.  It should have been an obvious choice to put them there.

As the first all-female group making it big, they sang, wrote every note and played every instruments. The Go-Go’s, a 2020 American/Irish/Canadian documentary film directed and produced by Alison Ellwood, cast attention on the Hall of Fame oversight, and essentially made the case for how special the group actually was.

Belinda also recently released a new single Get Together a cover of the 1967 Youngbloods hit. The Youngbloods sang it at Woodstock in 1969 to make a statement about the divisions of the Viet Nam era in America.

Belinda sings it now, her voice pure, mature and as an anthem making a plea, if not a motherly order, to reconsider the divisions we are experiencing today.  She says, “We live in this age of outrage.  This song is ‘ok people, CHILL OUT’. All this divisiveness is not going to get us anywhere. It’s timely.”

Beyond Get Together, Belinda works on more new music including singles and a new album.  She continues to produce with the top song creators of the industry including award winning song writer Diane Warren and Go-Gos dates at the end of the year.

Her work evolves beyond the demands of the pop market while never losing its hooks and whimsy. it reflects the channeling of Belinda’s evolving life.  When she lived in France, she released a French collection.

As she delved into spirituality and the culture of Thailand, she released the powerful Wilder Shores, which blended a spiritual mantra into pop hooks. “Chanting is a science, it has a super power. It is not airy fairy,” she states.

The fact is, Belinda Carlisle continues arriving and thrilling.  She does not need to prove herself to anyone.  She has defined the next thirty years of her life as philanthropy.  

“I just wing it as I go along. I learned what it is like to work from the heart. Work in a way where you don’t care about any kind of outcome. That is how I am working now. I am just having fun, and doing just what I want. I am really lucky that way,” she declares.

Her party on December 16th at the Abbey appears right on track to bear that out.

Love, humanity, care of animals and a major splash of fabulousness enveloping an enthused audience.

In other words, pure Belinda.

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Listen to the full interview:

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Rob Watson is the host of RATED LGBT RADIO, a national podcast and he’s one of the founders of the evolequals.com.

A gay dad, business man, community activist and a blogger/writer, Watson is a contributor to the Los Angeles Blade covering entertainment, film, television, and culture with occasional politics tossed in.

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Andy Grammer partners with Trans Chorus of Los Angeles

Celebrating how important it is to live your life, your authenticity, and to feel good about who you are

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Andy Grammer partnered with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (Screenshot via YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, Andy Grammer partnered with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (America’s first Trans Chorus, embracing all members of the trans, non-binary and intersex communities) for a special live performance of “Damn It Feels Good To Be Me” – celebrating how important it is to live your life, your authenticity, and to feel good about who you are. What a special moment. In conjunction with the partnership a donation has been made by Andy to the TCLA.

A note from TCLA: “The Chorus really enjoyed the song and especially performing it with Andy around the piano. It was upbeat and expressed how important it is to live your life and your authenticity and to feel good about who you are. That is the thrust of our Chorus philosophy of moving from victim to victorious.”

Connect with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles:https://transchorusla.org/

Andy Grammer – Damn It Feels Good To Be Me (featuring Trans Chorus of Los Angeles)

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Michael Kearns, the Godfather of LGBTQ+ authenticity

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level

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Michael Kearns by Keida Mascaro

HOLLYWOOD – The arc of LGBTQ+ history over the past 50 years has been one of constant upheaval and evolvement. From a period when it was both illegal and insane to be gay, through the achievement of being able to serve openly in the military, to marriage equality and the ability to create families to today’s fight against the tyranny against Trans people, the movement has not stopped to take a breath.

Michael Kearns, the first recognized “out” actor on the Hollywood landscape, has been a visible presence through it all. More importantly, he has always” been visible on the gay scene. In the seventies he epitomized the free love and erotic freedom that many gay men lived. He was featured in classic gay porn movies and did a PR stint as the face of the “happy hustler.”  

“That was my introduction to a lot of people,” Michael told me when we sat down for a chat on Rated LGBT Radio. “I kind of captured the zeitgeist of the times, the freewheeling seventies. We forget that there was that period of time when sexuality was joyful and exciting and thrilling.”

In the eighties he was visible in mainstream media as a gay man playing gay men characters. In 1983, Michael was cast in a minor role on the Cheers Emmy winning episode “the Boys in the Bar.”  He was instantly recognized for his gay sexual iconic status by LGBTQ audiences, even though the population at large did not know who he was. The casting director who fought for his casting was Stephen Kolzak, who would himself become a prominent AIDS activist before he died at 37 in 1990. Stephen casted Michael to make a statement. He wanted to signal to the LGBTQ community that Cheers had our backs. “He was one of the only ones that had the guts,” Michael remembers.

“There were a lot of stereotypes in television regarding gay portrayals. I was pegged and cast in some of those roles. I did play the stereotype, but rather than a straight guy playing those roles, I brought authenticity. I was real. Straight guys playing gay would always spoof the role. They were always ‘winking’ and signaling to the camera ‘I am not really that way.’  So, the performances are by in large horrible, even with some academy award winners. The actors were constantly saying that it was not who they were—if they weren’t making that clear on the talk shows, they were doing it in the performance itself.’ Michael says.

Michael soon morphed into an HIV positive man playing HIV positive characters, while off camera becoming a visible and vocal AIDS activist. “It was a new kind of cliché. They had to always make me look horrible. The ghastlier the better. They could not have an HIV character who looked normal—as I did when I arrived at the set. Finally, I had enough and refused to do that anymore.” Michael then immersed himself in theater where he found greater character honesty and truth.

 As gay men captured their identities in the 90s as husbands and fathers, Michael was there too—becoming one of the first gay men to adopt a child.  It is that role, as a father, that Michael has said is his greatest.

Today, Michael has been a driving force behind QueerWise, a multigenerational writing collective and performance group. Through QueerWise, Michael gives poetic voice to talent that would otherwise be voiceless. Its members include published poets, writers of fiction and non-fiction, playwrights, singers, musicians, social activists, dancers, actors artists and teachers. 

This weekend, on Sunday October 17th, QueerWise launches its latest work, The Ache for Home. 

“The Ache for Home is a video presentation of heartfelt stories from formerly homeless/unhoused individuals in and around West Hollywood. It was developed through a mentorship program facilitated by QueerWise members. The production represents citizens-turned-writers who share their inspirational stories from those glamorous streets and sidewalks, ranging from soaring self-acceptance to narratives of truth-telling defeats,” states Michael. The production can be seen on QueerWise’s YouTube Channel starting 5pm October 17.

The Ache for Home features a young cis male with a passion for music and art, who finds joy “when I can put a smile on someone’s face and give back”, a retired mixed race bisexual government worker who is a voracious reader and literacy advocate, two trans males share their experiences of living on the street, and a former resident playwright who was homeless for 44 days and nights in the city. “I am thrilled at our inclusion of transmen in this work,” Michael says. “It is a poorly represented community within a poorly represented community.”

On current controversies with media and transgender targeting, particularly the Dave Chappelle issue, Michael remarks, “I am glad it is generating passion. It is bringing up conversation on the plights of black trans women who are victimized at an alarming rate, we should not say victimized… we should say murdered. I am glad we are shedding light on that.”

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level. The Ache for Home takes its inspiration from the Maya Angelou quote, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Michael Kearns work has always encouraged us to go, and live, “as we are.” He is the amalgamation of eroticism, grief, healing, and appreciating the richness of life itself.

He is the godfather of LGBT+ authenticity. In earlier days, he may have represented sex, he may have walked us through a period of darkness and death into the arms of the creation of the new family. He has now brought us home, and when we look at him, we see a new quality.

Wisdom.

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Rob Watson is the host of RATED LGBT RADIO, a national podcast and he’s one of the founders of the evolequals.com.

A gay dad, business man, community activist and a blogger/writer, Watson is a contributor to the Los Angeles Blade covering entertainment, film, television, and culture with occasional politics tossed in.

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Listen to the show here:

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