Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monthly Wallpaper - May 2009: Animal Actors

With the Calendar Wallpaper for the month of May, Movie Dearest is going to the dogs ... and lions and yearlings and bears, oh my!

That's right, it's a salute to our favorite Animal Actors, including stars both canine (Toto, Asta, Lassie and Old Yeller), equine (the Black and the Pie) and porcine (Babe), plus a whole slew of penguins and even a whale named Willy.

Just click on the picture above to enlarge it to its 1024 x 768 size, then right click your mouse and select "Set as Background", and you're all set. If you want, you can also save it to your computer and set it up from there, or modify the size in your own photo-editing program if needed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Women We Love: Dixie Carter

This is the first in a four-part salute to the Designing Women We Love, the first season of which finally makes its DVD debutMay 26:

Object of our affection: Dixie Carter, actress.

- Her career began in New York, on the Broadway stage with the musicals Sextet and Pal Joey and on the daytime soap operas One Life to Live and The Edge of Night.

- Primetime called, and she answered by co-starring in such sitcoms as Diff'rent Strokes and Filthy Rich; the latter was created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, which led to Carter's most famous role, that of the strong-willed and outspoken Miss Julia Sugarbaker on our beloved Designing Women.

- Subsequently, she has appeared in the series Ladies Man, Family Law and, in an Emmy Award nominated performance, Desperate Housewives, which was created by Marc Cherry, her former assistant on the set of Designing Women.

- Back on Broadway, she played Maria Callas in Master Class and Mrs. Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

- Most recently, she co-starred with her husband Hal Holbrook in the film That Evening Sun, which won a special jury prize for its ensemble cast at the SXSW Film Festival.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reverend’s Reviews: A G’day for Surfing!

Hottie Australian surfers dominate Newcastle (opening in limited release this Friday), a stunningly photographed, well-acted coming of age tale set among the beaches and waves of the port city that lies north of Sydney. Here, 17-year old Jesse (Lachlan Buchanan) yearns to win the Junior Surf Pro final and get out from under the shadow of his older brother. Similarly, Jesse’s fraternal twin brother, Fergus (the cute Xavier Samuels), is out to prove himself … and perhaps find first love with another guy, Jesse’s friend Andy.

I saw Newcastle during last summer’s Outfest in LA, and was immediately overwhelmed by how gorgeous the movie is. The underwater camera work during the surfing sequences is amazing, truly putting viewers in the midst of the action. Also, first-time feature writer-director Dan Castle (click here for my interview with him) revels in the unabashedly sexy bodies of his cast members. Newcastle should not to be missed by anyone into surfing and/or beautiful young men.

UPDATE: Newcastle is now available on DVDfrom

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cinematic Crush: Evan Marriott

This is the final post in our eight-part look at the Hunks of Reality TV:

Crush object: Evan Marriott, reality TV personality.

- He became famous for starring in the controversial reality dating show Joe Millionaire, the premise of which had him posing as a wealthy bachelor when in fact he was a just a working class guy.

- In "real" reality, he was a construction worker and (as it was discovered later) a former underwear model.

- It was later revealed on Secrets of Reality TV that (no surprise) most of the hit show was fabricated, including the infamous "oral sex in the woods" moment. A second season (without Marriott) titled The Next Joe Millionaire, was a high-profile failure.

- Nevertheless, he parlayed his fleeting fame into appearances on the game shows Hollywood Squares, Family Feud and 1 vs. 100. He also appeared as a contestant on Battle of the Network Reality Stars and hosted of his own dating show, fittingly titled Fake-a-Date.

- He has also tried his hand at acting, usually as a variation of his Joe Millionaire persona, such as on The Simpsons and in the low budget comedy Miss Cast Away.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Reverend's Previews: A GLBT Summer at the Movies

Ah, summer. Weekends in the mountains, afternoons at the beach and GLBT Pride festivals beckon. Summer is also the time to enjoy an onslaught of cinematic spectacles in air-conditioned theaters. The following films are those that GLBT moviegoers in particular should be on the lookout for between now and the end of August (please note that all release dates are subject to change):

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (opening this Friday): Gay-friendly star Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role — following interim, song and dance stints hosting both the Tonys and the Oscars — as the indestructible, metal-infused hero.

Little Ashes (May 8): Miss this revealing look at the tortured relationship between writer Federico García Lorca (Javier Beltran) and painter Salvador Dali (Robert Pattinson) at your own peril! It’s one of the best films I’ve seen yet this year.

Star Trek (May 8): This long-running sci-fi series ran out of steam following 2002’s underrated Star Trek: Nemesis, but it’s about to get a re-boot with the help of a hot young cast that includes Chris Pine as James T. Kirk, Heroes star Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock and Eric Bana as their formidable adversary.

Angels & Demons (May 15): Does anything scream “gay” more than Vatican intrigue? In this sequel to The Da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks returns (with a more believable haircut) as scholar-adventurer Robert Langdon. The always-watchable Ewan McGregor co-stars as a papal toady with many secrets.

Big Man Japan (May 15): A slacker becomes a super-sized hero following an electrical mishap, and is pressed into protecting the populace from the requisite giant monsters in this hip, very funny import from Japan.

Easy Virtue (May 22): A Jane Austen-inspired romantic comedy, based on a lesser-known play by Noël Coward. The cast includes plenty of eye candy for both the ladies and the men: Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth and Ben Barnes, the best thing about last summer’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Departures (May 29): An attractive Japanese man thinks he’s going to work for a travel agency when he answers a help wanted ad for someone “to help with departures.” Instead, he finds himself a mortician’s assistant handling funerals for, among others, a transgender person. A surprise winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s ceremony, it is a beautiful and moving story with universal appeal.

The Country Teacher (June 5): In this Czech drama, a gifted, gay teacher becomes friends with the mother of one of his students … and finds himself attracted to her son. Winner of the Audience Award at the Cottbus (Eastern European) Film Festival.

Land of the Lost (June 5): This looks to be an enjoyably campy update of the 1970’s Saturday morning kids show about explorers who find themselves in a prehistoric world. It stars Will Ferrell, Anna Friel (of the late, fabulous Pushing Daisies) and a slew of nasty, rubber-suited Sleestaks.

The Art of Being Straight (June 5): Questions of sexual attraction and orientation arise among a group of friends in Los Angeles. Winner of the Audience Award at the 2008 Dublin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Séraphine (June 5): A biopic of the largely-forgotten French painter Séraphine de Senlis. A housekeeper who dabbled in art as a hobby, de Senlis’ creations today occupy some of the world’s most prestigious galleries thanks to Wilhelm Uhde, the gay German art critic and collector who discovered her.

Sex Positive (June 12): Reviewed here, this is an enlightening expose of the three gay men who pioneered the unpopular but life-saving concept of “safe sex” in the early years of the AIDS crisis.

Public Enemies (July 1): Johnny Depp plays notorious bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale (who also stars in this summer’s Terminator Salvation, May 21) leads the manhunt to put Dillinger behind bars. Hopefully, we’ll see some pre-incarceration frisking!

Brüno (July 10): In what promises to be the gayest flick of the summer, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen takes on American attitudes toward homosexuality in the same stealth-subversive way he exposed the US in his hit Borat.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17): Fresh from his full-frontal turn on Broadway in Equus, the all-grown-up Daniel Radcliffe returns as the perpetually adolescent wizard in his latest adventure, which is also the first film since Dumbledore was "outed".

Lion’s Den (July): A woman serving time in prison for killing her lover gives birth, and subsequently finds herself in a custody battle with her mother. Fortunately, she finds an ally — and perhaps same-sex love — in a fellow inmate.

G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra (August 7): Quit snickering at the subtitle! A cast that includes hotties Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings the classic boy dolls to big-screen life.

Julie & Julia (August 7): Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, who were great together in Doubt, join forces once again in a comedy by director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle). La Meryl plays none other than chef-extraordinaire Julia Childs.

Taking Woodstock (August 14): The director and producer of Brokeback Mountain — Ang Lee and James Schamus, respectively — return with another gay-themed movie. This time, they tell the real-life story of Elliot Tiber, the gay Catskills entertainer who inadvertently organized the Woodstock music festival in 1969.

Patrik, Age 1,5 (August): Thanks to a computer glitch, the baby a Swedish gay couple thinks they are adopting turns out to be a homophobic teenager. This crowd-pleasing dramedy had its world premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

I can already smell the popcorn! Here’s to a great GLBT summer at the movies!

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beatrice Arthur: 1922-2009

The one and only Beatrice Arthur, Emmy Award winning star of Maude and The Golden Girls, passed away today at the age of 86.

For our recent Women We Love tribute to Arthur, click here.

Reel Thoughts Interview: Carrie Preston, Scene Stealer

Carrie Preston ought to be a bigger star than she is, but perhaps she’s like Rachel Griffiths, her co-star in My Best Friend’s Wedding (they played the slutty Newhouse sisters). She disappears into each role so effortlessly; sometimes it’s hard to recognize what a great talent it takes to play the lonely travel agent in Duplicity, the confused mother in Ready? OK! or Felicity Huffman’s sister in Transamerica.

The actress is married to her Ready? OK! co-star, Michael Emerson (Ben Linus on Lost), and in a fun bit of casting, appeared in Lost as his mother (in flashback, of course!). I was excited to ask the multi-talented Preston about her scene-stealing work in Duplicity, and how she’s become such a popular performer in gay-friendly fare:

NC: I am so impressed by your résumé, not only for your acting work, but also in the way you've directed and produced pieces that really mean a lot to the GLBT community. What draws you to work like 29th & Gay, Straight-Jacket and Ready? OK!?
CP: I am interested in telling stories from communities or parts of society that haven't fully been explored. I think the gay and lesbian world hasn't been mined for all the intricate and varied stories that exist there. I consider myself a part of queer culture because I travel in those circles and I'm comfortable there. I'm straight, but certainly not narrow. And frankly, those stories are just interesting to me. And with all three of the movies you mentioned, I got to flesh the woman's roles out in ways that don't generally happen in movies that are predominantly about gay men.

29th & Gay, although I wasn't in it, tells the story of a gay man coming of age for the second time, searching for meaning in his life. And I think being a woman directing that, I was able to put a feminine touch to it. With Ready? OK!, we wanted to concentrate on gender identity, but through the eyes of the mom who is witnessing it. That's a story we haven't seen much of. The mom in those kinds of stories is generally a small role, oftentimes the villain.

And since Straight-Jacket is a comedy, it could have veered into territory where the wife is ridiculed; or worse, is made to be unattractive and repulsive to not just the main character, but the audience as well — the whole "girls are icky" thing that gay boy cinema is sometimes guilty of. But instead, (writer/director) Richard Day and I tried to give her depth and make her intentions clear and her pain even clearer. It complicated a story that could have been cut and dry, which I think is a good thing. And of course, the higher the stakes, the funnier it is. Or at least that's what I think.

NC: Your scenes in Duplicity are fantastic — your interrogation scene with Julia Roberts is a classic. And, trust me, a lot of guys and girls were very jealous of your getting to pose for those “surveillance photos” with Clive Owen. How did you enjoy working on that film? Were there any funny stories from the set?
CP: I was, of course, thrilled to be cast in that film. I was a little nervous, too. I mean, high-powered people there! But Tony Gilroy was completely dreamy to work with. He really set a relaxed and professional tone on the set. The first scene I did was the scene after the bar scene, where we go back to my office. So yes, my first day of work I had to pose for those photos! And yes, I was a little embarrassed. But Tony made sure it was all very comfortable for me, and Clive was of course a sweetheart.

The scene with Julia came a few days later. I had worked with her on My Best Friend's Wedding all those years ago, and she and I had crossed paths a few times over the years. So she was very welcoming when I got on set. Then she said "OK, this is the only time I'm going to be nice to you all day." And sure enough, she was in character the whole time, which helped since I had to cry my eyes out. After we finished the scene, she made the whole crew clap for me, which was the kindest thing and made me feel so relieved! Then the scene with Clive in the bar was a few weeks after that, and it was icing on the cake at that point. I was just so relieved to have had the crying scene go so smoothly that being picked up in a bar was delicious fun.

NC: Ready? OK! is such a big-hearted, funny and warm movie, I think it will touch a lot of people who recognize themselves in Joshua. How did you approach playing his mother and her struggle to understand and accept him?
CP: James Vasquez wrote the role for me, and we worked on the script for several months before going into preproduction. We were able to find the delicate balance of Andrea (my character) being the protagonist as well as the antagonist, with Joshua being the hero. We wanted to make sure people wanted to go on the journey with Andrea, but still have her create enough conflict for Joshua to overcome. It was tricky, but I feel like the key was always making my intention: "to do the right thing for my son." That's not always going to work, and there will be failures and wrong steps along the way, of course. But it's always coming from a positive place.

Since I was also the executive producer, I had to do all of my homework and discussions with James before we started shooting. Once we were in production, I was literally going from acting in a scene to making a phone call to make sure we had crew for the next day to talking with the caterer about lunch. So, in a way, that got me into character just as much as anything!

NC: Your theater work is also really impressive, which is not surprising given your Juilliard pedigree. Do you get more of a charge working in front of an audience or in front of a camera?
CP: For the last three years or so, I have pretty much solely been doing camera work, mostly in front of the camera, and sometimes behind it. Once Michael became a series regular on Lost, I knew LA would have to figure prominently in my life if I was ever going to see him. Plus, I wanted to concentrate on film and TV more, anyway. So it worked out. I directed a play in LA a couple of years ago, and that was really rewarding.

NC: You and your husband, Michael Emerson, have worked together a number of times. You even played his mother on Lost, and now he plays your gay neighbor (and voice of reason) in Ready? OK! What is the best and worst part of working with your spouse?
CP: There is no worst part. I adore working with Michael. With Ready? OK!, it was comforting to be able to have the history and trust already present when we did scenes together. I just had to be in the moment and look in his eyes and listen to what he was saying, and it was enough. For him, I think it was a little alarming and disconcerting to have me running around producing and acting at the same time. He took on stresses that he thought I had, but didn't. I think he was more concerned about me than I was for myself. It was pretty cute, actually.

NC: Since a lot of your work appeals to gay audiences, including True Blood and Ready? OK!, what kind of responses do you get from GLBT fans?
CP: Well, most of them don't realize that the same woman with the long red wig in True Blood is the mom in Ready? OK! and the ’50s housewife with the platinum wig in Straight-Jacket, not to mention the caustic and sarcastic sister to Felicity Huffman in Transamerica. No one at all recognizes me from True Blood. But the audiences who have seen Ready? OK! have been very supportive and moved by the movie, which is really rewarding. I guess I'm pretty different role to role, so it's not like I stick out to any one audience. Honestly, the GLBT audience recognizes me for Sex and the City or My Best Friend's Wedding more than the others.

NC: What are you passionate about in your life? What gives you the most satisfaction?
CP: I'm passionate about my nephews, Mac and Milo, and my family — my brother John (who plays my brother in Ready? OK!), my sister Leslie, my Mom, my Dad. I'm passionate about being creative and making things happen out of nothing. I'm passionate about writers. I'm on the board of the New Harmony Project, a new play development workshop that takes place in southern Indiana two weeks each summer. I spend a great deal of time working on making that happen, which makes me happy.

NC: What are your feelings on Proposition 8? Has it affected any of your friends personally?
CP: I think it is shocking that the same state that voted for Obama also voted yes on Prop 8. I have friends who were going to get married before the election but thought, "Why rush it. It won't pass." But I honestly feel that it won't be long before we figure out a way to amend the Constitution again. Since the vote was pretty narrow, I think the combination of people passing away and other people being persuaded to change their minds will hopefully bring a different vote next time.

NC: What is your dream role? Are there any characters you just wouldn't play?
CP: In my career, the roles that I have relished have come out of left field — ones I could have never dreamed of. I always try to find a way to make them all feel dreamy.

UPDATE: Duplicity is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reverend's Reviews: Found and Lost

From any perspective — gay or straight, black or white — Finding Me (newly released on DVDby TLA Video) can't be judged a very good movie. The photography is amateurish, the script inconsistent and the acting mixed. But it gets points for its noble goal of bringing greater awareness to the coming-out struggles of young African-American gay men, which can be more difficult than for white gay men due to unique and enduring cultural taboos.

Finding Me focuses on Faybien (RayMartell Moore), who lives with his homophobic, immigrant father in a Jersey City housing project. Both are still grieving the death of Faybien's mother three years earlier. Faybien longs to find a better job and a loving man, but continuously misses job interviews and is too afraid to say "hello" to the hot guy he keeps spying at a nearby bus stop.

After intense encouragement from his friends, Faybien finally breaks the ice with Lonnie (Derrick L. Briggs, who delivers the best performance in the film). Despite seeming bound together by little more than their good looks and mutual admiration for the 1997 movie Love Jones, Lonnie and Faybien embark on a rocky affair that is repeatedly undermined by Faybien's self-acceptance issues. Why the more mature Lonnie continually puts up with Faybien's refusal to return his phone calls or be seen in public with him is only one of the script's head-scratching mysteries.

Written and directed by Roger S. Omeus Jr., Finding Me has occasional snippets of insightful dialogue, refreshing humor and romantic/sexual heat. The film meanders, though — not unlike its protagonist — and fails to be truly satisfying.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Out in Film: Silvio Horta

Idol worship: Silvio Horta, writer/producer.

- He is best known for creating the American version of the South American telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea, better known as Ugly Betty.

- In addition to executive producer, he serves as head writer on the award-winning Movie Dearest fave, which not only will return early from its spring hiatus next Thursday, it has also been renewed for a fourth season.

- His first produced screenplay was for the cult horror flick Urban Legend, in which he also has a cameo. His other unproduced screenplays including Even Exchange and The Furies (with Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy).

- Prior to Betty, he also created two short-lived science fiction series for television, Jake 2.0 and The Chronicle: News from the Edge.

- He is the founder of the production company "Silent H Productions", so named because he found that Americans always pronounced the silent H at the start of his last name.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Toon Talk: What a Wonderful World

This past Wednesday (Earth Day, naturally), Walt Disney Studios launched the new film label “Disneynature”, the mission of which is to bring high quality, family-friendly nature documentaries back to the big screen. Considering the popular and critical success of such recent examples of the genre as Winged Migration and March of the Penguins, it is not surprising that the Mouse House would want to get back in the business that they themselves pioneered some sixty years ago with the legendary True-Life Adventures. And with Earth, the first of the planned annual releases under the Disneynature banner, that legacy has been reborn.

Culled from footage gathered for the award-winning Planet Earth television series, Earth is filled with innumerable instances of breath-taking, jaw-dropping beauty. The crystal-clear images — captured through the use of high tech, high def cameras and skillful photography — never fail to amaze the viewer with the wonders of this planet of ours. Truly, superlatives do not do justice to what you see and experience while watching this film, especially if you see it in a theater with state of the art digital projection and surround sound systems.

UPDATE: Earth is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of Earth at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Women We Love: Barbra Streisand

Object of our affection: Barbra Streisand, actress/ singer/composer/director/writer/producer.

- Where do you start with Miss Barbara Joan Streisand? She has conquered virtually every aspect of show business ... and has the awards to prove it (including lifetime achievement honors from the American Film Institute, the Kennedy Center Honors and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association). In addition to her performances on stage and screen, she is one of the most commercially and critically successful female entertainers in modern entertainment history and one of the best selling solo recording artists of all time.

- In the small but scene-stealing role of Miss Marmelstein in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale, she took Broadway by storm, followed by her star-making turn as the Funny Girl herself, Fanny Brice, in both New York and London. She won a special Tony Award in 1970.

- She would reprise her acclaimed performance of Brice in her film debut, Funny Girl, which won her an Academy Award and the first of seven Golden Globes. Additionally, she is the only person to have won Oscars for both acting and songwriting (for "Evergreen", the "Love Theme" from A Star is Born). Her film career has run the gamut from musicals (Hello, Dolly!, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Funny Lady) to dramas (The Way We Were, A Star is Born, Nuts) to comedies (The Owl and the Pussycat, What's Up, Doc?, The Main Event), culminating in directing herself in all three genres (Yentl, The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces, respectively). Most recently, she co-starred in the hit Meet the Fockers, and is set to return for its sequel, Little Fockers.

- Her first record, The Barbra Streisand Album, won the singer her first two Grammy Awards. She would go on to win seven more, for such other classic albums as My Name is Barbra, Color Me Barbra and The Broadway Album. She has recorded more than 60 albums (including 29 top ten hits), and her many hit singles include "Happy Days Are Here Again", "People", "The Way We Were", "Evergreen", "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" and "Somewhere".

- For television, she has won four Emmys out of nine nominations for her legendary musical specials, including My Name is Barbra, A Happening in Central Park, Barbra Streisand ... and Other Musical Instruments, Barbra Streisand: The Concert (which also won the Peabody Award) and Timeless: Live in Concert. She returns to TV this Saturday on the CBS special Streisand: Live in Concert, which will feature performances from her 2006 concert tour.

To All the Working Girls Out There ...

Happy Administrative Professionals' Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reel Thoughts Interview: The Lady Bunny Speaks!

If you’ve seen the film Wigstock (and shame on you if you haven’t!), we have a trailblazing drag superstar named The Lady Bunny to thank for it. If you read a bio of the Tennessee-born, big-haired blonde, you’ll realize that she has been a part of many causes near and dear to the GLBTQ community. That doesn’t mean that she’s tactful and PC — far from it!

Travel to Tucson this Saturday for Wingspan’s Gay West ’09 celebration and you’ll get the pleasure of seeing the full range of Lady Bunny’s comic talents. I had the opportunity to ask the drag icon her views on life (... but forgot to ask her if she’s offended that Lady Gaga was clearly channeling her on American Idol):

NC: You've been described as Dusty Springfield-meets-Don Rickles, but I get more of a Barbara Eden in her prime. Who was your inspiration for Lady Bunny, and whose sense of humor do you love?

LB: Well, you are incredibly sweet! (and quite possibly blind!) I do idolize Barbara Eden! I got to meet her once at a Michael Alig party at the Limelight and she said, "I wish I could get my hair to do like yours!” I told her that every wig I ever wore was inspired by her looks on I Dream of Jeannie. I also loved Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens on Bewitched. I think I was just so bored growing up in Chattanooga, and desperately longed for some magic — and false eyelashes with big hair — to whisk me away from it all! As far as humor, I love Lisa Lampinelli, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amy Sedaris and Dame Edna!

NC: You'll be bringing your brand of fabulousness to Tucson, and I just hope Tucson's ready! What should people expect?
LB: My act is fairly raunchy comedy, but not all of it. I do a lot of song parodies like “All That Jizz” and “Don't Let Your Son Go Down on Me,” but I also sing a few less insane songs. And I'm a little bit country, so that always comes out when I play in the south and west ... (and I) do a little stand-up and a fairly R-rated, Laugh-In style joke routine.

NC: I'm impressed that you'll be honored along with Cleve Jones (creator of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt) and Patricia Field (Sex and the City's costume designer) by AMFAR this June. What causes are most important to you? What pisses you off most these days in general and in the gay community?
LB: I'm most concerned that we the people get involved in our government. We are politicians' bosses, yet we seldom exercise our own power. We did when we reversed the direction of the country's policy by electing Obama, but that's not nearly enough. Obama himself urged us to get involved, so let's stay involved.

I'm disgusted by the American people for sitting back and allowing Bush to steal one, maybe two elections and murder innocent Iraqis with my tax dollars. How does a supposedly Christian nation forget “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and create turmoil in a country that never sought to attack us? If that doesn't bother you, then you are disconnected from the process of government. We're supposedly fighting to spread democracy in the Middle East, yet it's been taken from us here in our own country.

Of course, it doesn't help that corporate interests run the country’s news, so we rarely hear the truth. How does a news anchor who is sandwiched between a commercial for BP and another oil company claim that the war is in Iraq is for oil? Their sponsors tie their hands. Why would a news anchor report that the rich have gotten richer in the last few years while the rest of us experience a recession if their bosses were among the filthy rich? It's a clear conflict of interest and our news is not telling us the truth.

NC: Your humor is so raucous and bawdy (and hilarious). How hard was it to develop your stage persona? Have you ever gotten in trouble for anything you've said?
LB: A religious group in Richmond, Virginia tried to press charges after I appeared at an all-ages Pride fest there. And footage of me on ecstasy in San Francisco Pride parade in the ’80s was used by a documentary in fundamentalist churches to show how far gone the homosexual lifestyle can become. I was high as a kite and flapping the wings in a fairy costume! I'm SO proud to be in that video!

NC: As the creator of Wigstock, you have definitely seen your share of drag performers. What do you think of the state of drag today? Did you follow RuPaul's Drag Race, since I know you've done a duet on RuPaul's new album?
LB: I am saddened that today, drag performers seem to think that it's the height of fierceness to recreate a video — choreography and all. In fact, Drag Race did just that with Beyoncé's “Single Ladies.” Where is the imagination in that? Before videos, queens like Hot Chocolate were tearing it down with their own, genius choreography, not mimicking a video. Why would anyone want to watch a video on TV all day and then see it recreated at night by a queen? I can't think of anything more tired. Overexpose the already overexposed? How about creating something new?

As far as Drag Race, Ru is one of my oldest friends and former roommates so I wish her all the best with the show. But elimination shows are not my cup of tea and I can't identify with this country's preoccupation with who is the best model, chef, drag queen or singer. Take for example the challenge in which Bebe Zahara Benet had to rap on Drag Race. Since when does any successful drag queen need to rap? Yet people are living through these meaningless "challenges." I prefer to focus on real life challenges like getting out of a recession and a war we claimed to have won years ago. We need to focus on getting our country (and the whole world if you count global warming) back on track. That is deserving of our undivided attention. Whether a drag queen can rap or not isn't. On a side note, Bebe did prove that not all black people have rhythm while trying to rap!

NC: I never knew you DeeJayed! What drew you to doing that? How were the Bravo A-List Awards, and how’d you get on with Kathy Griffin?
LB: I don't really spin the latest circuit sounds — I like to mix up everything from disco to contemporary R&B and dance classics like Deee-Lite and Crystal Waters. And I managed to sneak in a duet I've written and recorded with RuPaul called “Throw Ya Hands Up” on Ru's new album, Champion. I've met Kathy once and she could not have been more chilled out and sweet.

NC: You just won an AVN (Adult Video News) Award for best non-sexual performance. What was that event like, and what do you hope comes from the award?
LB: I actually don't follow porn, so I didn't even know I was nominated! But Michael Lucas is a friend and so he asked me to do a demented cameo (in his movie Brothers Reunion). I'd like to parlay my win into some sexual roles — on and off camera! But I might wanna lose a few of my own rolls before I attempt that! OINK!

NC: You keep a pretty crazy travel schedule. How do you manage to keep sane and keep those gargantuan wigs looking so fierce?
LB: Photoshop!

NC: You've said you're pretty political, and I am more than happy to give you a bullhorn, so to speak. What's on your mind?
LB: It's the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the birth of gay rights. And somehow we've lost our fighting spirit. We need to get it back somehow. I just performed in Connecticut and Massachusetts on two consecutive nights. They now both have legalized gay marriage! Which proves that you can get what you want if you fight for it. But no one is going to fight for you. So stop bitching unless you're ready to organize and do the actual work. Showing up and getting drunk at a glitzy benefit once a year is not activism.

NC: You're taking part in Gay West ’09 in Tucson on almost the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. What does gay pride mean to you, and how has it changed over the years?
LB: I've really enjoyed seeing gay events in smaller cities over the last few years — the diverse elements really seem to celebrate and enjoy each other. We all know that the primary image within our own gay publications is of a young, buff, white male, and we are so much more varied than that. Unfortunately, NYC's parade is all about advertising, with straight go-go boys hired to dance on floats hawking lube, some nightclub or some booze. It's important that we come together one day a year to show that there is no shame in our game and to feel our strength in numbers.

But one day isn't enough. Our enemies meet in a church 52 times a year, so the odds are 52-1 that our gay agenda will be advanced by going out and getting drunk wearing rainbow outfits. I love a party too, but where is our fighting spirit? Where's the organization of our movement. Did you go and cry, as I did, when watching Milk? Well, where are the new Harvey Milks? I see most young gays as the shallowest generation I've ever encountered.

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cinematic Crush: Carter Oosterhouse

This is the seventh in an eight-part look at the Hunks of Reality TV:

Crush object: Carter Oosterhouse, TV host.

- The strapping carpenter first caught our eye on the hit TLC series Trading Spaces. He also appeared on the spin-offs Trading Spaces: Family and Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls.

- He made his primetime network debut in the short-lived reality series Three Wishes.

- As "America's Favorite Handyman", he makes regular appearances on The Today Show, as well as such other chat fests as Oprah and Tyra.

- He currently hosts two home improvement shows on HGTV: Carter Can and Red Hot & Green.

- In addition to his work on television, he is also the face of the men's fragrance Voyage by Nautica.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Awards Watch: GLAAD Media Awards Los Angeles

GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) continued their cross-country celebration last night with the Los Angeles presentation of their GLAAD Media Awards. Not surprisingly, Milk won the top prize of the night, for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.

In the television categories, Desperate Housewives stopped Ugly Betty from a three-peat win, earning its first Media Award in the Outstanding Comedy Series category (perhaps turning Betty's transgender character into an attempted murderess wasn't such a good idea after all). Meanwhile, Brothers & Sisters picked up its third Outstanding Drama Series trophy in a row, and The New Adventures of Old Christine was honored for Outstanding Individual Episode for its gay marriage storyline.

Other honorees included gay fave Kathy Griffin, gay icon Reverend V. Gene Robinson and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, for its episode on the wedding of Ellen and Portia. Special Recognition awards were also given to The L Word and Prop 8: The Musical.

The final GLAAD Media Awards ceremony of the year will be held in San Francisco on May 9.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

MD Poll: Lost Loves

Now that we are knee-deep in the mysteries of Lost's fifth season, what better time than the present to take an MD Poll of who is your favorite Lost soul.

And, with its cast of heroes, villains and all those trapped in the shades of gray in-between, there are plenty to choose from, so we have narrowed it down a bit to the major players still in the mix.

You can place your vote in the right hand sidebar and check back in four weeks (right after the Lost season finale on May 13) for the final results.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed; click here for the results, and click here to vote in the next MD Poll.

MD Poll: Close Call

To paraphrase her Fatal Attraction villainess Alex Forrest, Glenn Close should not be ignored any longer by the Oscars. The five-time Academy Award nominee was the victor in the last MD Poll asking you to pick the actress most deserving of an overdue visit from the little gold man.

Julianne Moore and Laura Linney were the runners-up in the voting. See the comments section below for the complete results, and click here for the next MD Poll.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Out in Film: Armistead Maupin

Idol worship: Armistead Maupin, writer/producer.

- His most famous work, the beloved Tales of the City series, began as a newspaper serial in San Francisco. The stories were collected and published as novels, beginning with Tales of the City in 1978 and followed by More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes and Significant Others. Two additional volumes, Sure of You and Michael Tolliver Lives, were original novels.

- He adapted the first three books into popular and Emmy Award nominated television mini-series starring Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney and Billy Campbell.

- His other novels include Maybe the Moon and The Night Listener. The former was inspired by his friendship with actress Tamara De Treaux, best known for playing E.T. in the Steven Spielberg film. He adapted the latter (based on his real-life experiences surrounding the Anthony Godby Johnson hoax) into a movie starring Robin Williams as the character based on himself.

- Additionally, he wrote the narration for the landmark documentary The Celluloid Closet, based on the book by Vito Russo.

- Currently, a stage musical version of Tales of the City is in the works, as well as an eighth volume of Tales.

The Latest on TV: East Hampton Story

From the cult classic documentary to the Tony Award-winning stage musical to (now) a feature-length dramatic TV movie, the bizarre saga of the Beales of Grey Gardens continues its unlikely path through pop culture with the latter's debut on HBO tomorrow night.

Starring Jessica Lange as "Big Edie" and Drew Barrymore as "Little Edie", this new Grey Gardens recreates the acclaimed Maysles brothers' doc, fleshed out (à la the Broadway version) with flashbacks to the estate's pre-squalor days. Jeanne Tripplehorn co-stars (as Jackie O), along with Daniel Baldwin, Malcolm Gets and Ken Howard. Click here to watch the trailer.