Stephen Fry married the man of his choice, and the haters still hate … sometimes even the gay ones

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Fry and Spencer, with mini Wilde attending

Stephen Fry, the openly gay and truly important comedic actor (he and former comedy partner Hugh Laurie are superstars in their native England), married his fiance, Elliott Spencer, over the weekend. They are British, where same-sex marriage is legal, and has been for a while. So basically, this should be one of those “oh-is-that-so-how-nice-for-them-what’s-for-dinner” moments. Only it’s not, and often as not those expressing their disapproval are as likely to be gay as straight.

They aren’t upset two men are marrying. They object to the age difference — Fry is 57, Spencer is 27.

And it pisses me off.

One very progressive friend of mine went so far as to cluck “It’s practically pedophilia!” Another said “The boy looks like he’s 17!” Well, guess what? Even if he was 17, he would be “legal” (in Texas, at least) and that’s not exactly pedophilia when you marry someone of age, now, is it?

When Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson starred in Lost in Translation, he was 53 and she was 18, and Sofia Coppola won an Oscar for her “charming” screenplay. Where was the outrage then?

It’s an infuriating double standard when old men date fully of-age but young-looking boys; the tongues begin wagging. What could they possibly have in common?

I wrote something about this phenomenon and few weeks ago, in my piece about being considered a daddy, but the point still has to be made: People of different ages can fall in love, and we should celebrate it as much as we do when two octogenarian lesbians tie the knot. How do you dare to know their love and relationship?

Spencer isn’t exactly my type, but then again, Fry isn’t either. But they seem happy, and that’s what marriage equality should be about — not just the right to marry someone of whatever sex, but whatever age, race, background, etc., we choose. When we impose judgments (“He’s too old for him!”) on people whose private lives we know positively nothing about, how are we being any better than the homophobes who oppose same-sex marriage?

We all need to get on board and support marriage whatever form it takes. Even if it fails. Even if we roll our eyes in private. Because criticism based on ages only fuels the culture that says others should be able to decide the rightness of our relationships, which is what we have spent decades fighting against.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Newly engaged couple Sam and Cammisano post bday engagement pic

SameVitoThis is just in: Michael Sam just posted on his Facebook page a photo, apparently taken on Sam’s birthday last week, a picture of himself on one knee. No, he’s not listening to a coach give a pep talk. It appears to be the moment of his proposal to fiance Vito Cammisano. Cute couple. And how romantic!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: Afternoon Lagoon

AfternoonI’m not a mixologist myself, but I know what I like, and recently, I’ve liked guava nectar. It’s sweet and unique … and I had no idea how to use it. So I decided to experiment.

Lots of missteps. Lots.

Then I decided I was over-complicating things — why not just get down to the basics? The Cape Cod — often dismissively referred to at bars as a “vodka-cran” — is a foundational drink that gets tweaked a lot. Add grapefruit juice, it’s a Sea Breeze; add pineapple juice, it’s a Bay Breeze; add o.j., it’s a Madras; add lime juice (and triple sec), and it’s a Cosmo. So what if I just added some guava?

In the spirit of Sex on the Beach, I give you the Afternoon Lagoon (I’m sure someone has made something similar, but this is my take).

2 parts Zodiac vodka

2 parts guava nectar

3 parts cranberry juice

Making it: Combine liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice; strain into a highball glass with ice.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Rodeo Goat opens in Dallas on Market Center

IMG_6400IMG_6397There’s a Rodeo Goat in Tarrant County, but who has time to cross the Trinity for a good burger? Now we don’t have to. The Dallas locale of Rodeo Goat just opened across the street from Dallas Voice offices. Known for its burgers and cheesy fries, it’s not exactly raw-organic-vegan low-fat fare … which is fine with us.

We’ll have a more formal review soon, but until now, this is what it looks like outside the Rodeo Goat.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Hot gay dads in Nikon ad

gaydadsOK, first off: Who doesn’t wish they had dads as hot and attentive as they two men, Kordale and Kaleb? When their Instagram selfie went viral, though, some folks (anti-gay, anti-black, anti-brains) railed against them. But Nikon begged to differ, and now features the Atlanta couple in a new ad. Anyone who doubts that “gay parenting” is just “parenting” (the way, frankly, “same-sex marriage” is becoming simply “lifelong misery” … I kid, I kid) needs to watch this piece. Worst thing about it? They keep their damn shirts on!

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Oscar nomination reward Texans, and there’s even some gay stuff

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‘Boyhood’

Two Texas filmmakers — Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater — continue their march to Oscar gold with the Academy Award nominations, which were announced this morning. In addition to their films (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, pictured, respectively), Birdman and the gay-centric Imitation Game were among the major nominees.

Budapest tied Birdman with the top number of noms — nine each — including best picture and director. Boyhood managed the same, with six nominations.

Imitation Game, about the gay English mathematician Alan Turing, received eight nods, including one for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Foxcatcher managed five nominations, including one for Steve Carell playing creepy-gay billionaire John DuPont. Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, the gay couple who used to do porn films, saw Julianne Moore, the star of their film Still Alice, get a best actress nomination. Selma got only two nominations, for best picture and best song. That means Guardians of the Galaxy got more noms that MLK, Jr. Lesbian filmmaker Laura Poitras was shortlisted for her amazing documentary Citizenfour, about Edward Snowden and the NSA.

A full list is below:

PictureBirdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Whiplash.

DirectorAlejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher.

Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game;  Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper.

ActressJulianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night.

Supporting actorJ.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Robert Duvall, The Judge.

Supporting actressPatricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods.

Original screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; Grand Budapest; Nightcrawler; Foxcatcher.

Adaptation screenplay: Imitation GameWhiplash; Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Inherent Vice.

Cinematography: Birdman; Budapest; Unbroken; Mr. Turner; Ida.

Film editing: Boyhood; Imitation; American Sniper; Budapest; Whiplash.

Score: Imitation; Theory; Budapest; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Song: “Glory,” Selma; “Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie; “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights; “Lost Stars,” Begin Again; “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

Sound mixing: Birdman; Sniper; Interstellar; Whiplash; Unbroken.

Sound editingThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Sniper; Birdman; Interstellar; Unbroken.

Production design: Into the Woods; Budapest; Imitation; Interstellar; Mr. Turner.

Costume design: Grand Budapest; Into the Woods; Maleficent; Inherent Vice; Mr. Turner.

VFX: Guardians of the Galaxy; Interstellar; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Makeup: Guardians; Foxcatcher; Budapest.

Documentary featureCitizenfour; Finding Vivien Meier; Last Days in Vietnam; Virunga; The Salt of the Earth.

Animated feature: Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Song of the Sea; The Tale of Princess Kayuga.

Foreign language filmTangerines; Ida; Leviathan; Timbuktu; Wild Tales.

Live action shortAya; Boogaloo and Graham; Parvaneh; The Phone Call; Butter Lamp.

Animated short: The Bigger Picture; The Dam Keeper; Feat; Me and My Moulton; A Single Life.

Documentary short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1; Joanna; The Reaper; Our Curse; White Earth.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Preview: Oscar nominations are tomorrow, and here are my predictions

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Birdman is a hotly fancied contender

The Golden Globes are barely cold (well, they are probably always cold) and it’s already time for the Oscar nominations, which will be announced tomorrow. There are always surprise snubs and inclusions, but if you’re up for an office pool, here’s my educated prediction for the major categories. Just don’t blame me if you lose $5.

Picture. The rules now permit from six to ten nominations, with nine being the usual figure, so here are a list of a dozen films that should make up the final list: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; American Sniper; Gone Girl; Whiplash; Unbroken; Foxcatcher; Wild.

Director: Best director will surely be culled from the best picture finalists, so look for some of these directors match their films’ nominations. Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, Budapest; Ava DuVernay, Selma; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Morten Tyldum, Imitation; James Marsh, Theory; David Fincher, Gone Girl; Clint Eastwood, American Sniper.

Actor: Once more, a strong year, led by these five (and a few spoilers): Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; David Oyelowo, Selma; plus Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Ralph Fiennes, Budapest.

Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything; Jennifer Aniston, Cake; plus Emily Blunt, Into the Woods; Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; Amy Adams, Big Eyes.

Supporting Actor: A great category, led by: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; with the final spot a toss up for Tom Wilkinson, Selma; Raz Ahmed, Nightcrawler; Robert Duvall, The Judge; and Miyavi, Unbroken.

Supporting Actress: Not a very deep bench, but the likely nominees were all excellent: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Laura Dern, Wild; Meryl Streep, Into the Woods; Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; and Rene Russo, Nightcrawler.

I’ll post the actual nominees here Thursday morning!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Was Whitney Houston gay?

Yolonda Ross

Editor’s note: This week, the Lifetime TV movie Whitney — directed very ably by Angela Bassett — makes its debut. For a TV biopic, it’s pretty good, though many fans will be disappointed that it doesn’t delve into her life much before or after she met Bobby Brown (it’s really a love story). But Deborah Cox, who dubs the singing of Whitney, does great with the numbers and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

But some folks may wonder what, exactly, was left out, which is what freelancer Mark Dawson asked about when he interviewed Yolonda Ross, who plays Whitney’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the movie.

There’s one thing Yolonda Ross — the actress who plays the role of Whitney Houston’s (rumored) lesbian lover in the upcoming Lifetime movie, which premieres Saturday — knows for sure about Whitney and her gal pal, Robyn: “They were two people that deeply loved, cared for and respected one another,” she says. “Theirs could have been more than a friendship and if so, it’s really unfortunate if others got in the way of it or compromised it.”

Directed by Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston will focus on the singer’s rise to stardom and her stormy relationship with Bobby Brown.

To prepare for the role, Ross feverishly studied Houston and her longtime assistant, Robyn Crawford. According to reports, the two met at 16 during a summer job in East Orange, N.J., and allegedly soon began a romantic relationship. They purportedly broke up when Houston married Brown in 1992.

“Robyn seems to be a straight-up, very grounded person,” Ross says, “somebody who, no matter what the situation, has got your back or is gonna set you straight. She offered security to Whitney and uncompromised companionship.”

The film is the first-ever produced about the life and death of Whitney Houston. Ross predicts it will be a piece of history. “Like The Jackson’s movie, The Temptations and The Five Heartbeats: three movies every black person in America has seen at least once in their life. This will be one of those, but reach an even wider audience due to today’s global media.”

Ross made her feature film debut in 2001’s Stranger Inside. The film earned the actress her first Film Independent Spirit Award nomination, along with the IFP Gotham Award for breakthrough performance.

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Ya Ya DaCosta and Arlen Escarpeta as Whitney and Bobby

She went on to appear in Denzel Washington’s Antwone Fisher, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works, David Mamet’s Phil Spector, HBO’s Treme and the independent film, Yelling To The Sky. In 2014, she starred in John Sayles Go For Sisters, a film that has done what no other has — featured two black women leading a buddy film. This role earned the Omaha native her second Spirit Award nomination (for supporting actress). She has several films slated for 2015 including the indie drama Meadowland with Olivia Wilde and Lila and Eve starring Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis.

“I’ve always been creative,” she says. “I paint, write, sing and play instruments.” However, she never imagined she’d pursue a career in acting. “I have always been painfully shy. Getting in front of people and acting something out was nothing I ever thought I would do.”

That all changed when she moved to New York City and realized she would need extra money to get by.

“I was in school and friends convinced me to try commercials and music videos. The opportunity came to do extra work on Saturday Night Live. It got me my AFTRA card and an agent. I didn’t hear from the agency for a while, but out of the blue, they sent me on an audition for New York Undercover, and I booked it. Months later they called me for another audition. It was for Stranger Inside.”

That HBO film forever changed the course of the young actress’ life.

“I had never taken an acting course,” she says. “But I was blessed with a gift and I have always studied people, and used music to help me create. I just applied that knowledge to scripts.”

When taking on a role, Ross’ objective is to embody a character to its fullest. “I aim to be that person inside and out, from the way they smell to the way they think. I want to know their ticks and personal traits. I want the character to speak through me and to make the viewer feel something,” she explains.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing. Ross describes being a young black woman in Hollywood today as “swimming upstream against the current and sometimes having rocks thrown at you.”

There are multiple hurdles. “Where roles for white actresses are endless, we only get to play limited types of characters,” she says, “and many are side roles that are only given few lines in a movie.”

She also sites lack of support from the black community. “Unless you’re Halle, Angela, Kerry Washington, or Viola now, it’s easy to be overlooked by the community, but social networking does help. Some of us keep ourselves employed by creating our own interesting content, but it takes money, time and people to do all that and not all actors want to do everything.”

Fortunately for Ross, she does.

 

 

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Serial?’ Killer!

IMG_9003As this goes online, it’s 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 13, and unless something happens, you should be able to finish it in under 21 minutes. If those facts mean nothing to you, then you didn’t become addicted to Serial, the podcast spun off from Public Radio’s This American Life show. Serial began late last fall, and finished up its 12 episodes late last year, spending one episode each (from 28 to 55 minutes) dissecting a murder that, if you believe the jury system, started exactly 16 years ago this minute, and ended fewer than 21 minutes later with the death of a teenaged girl at the hands of her jilted boyfriend.

Only chances are, you don’t believe that.

Serial was an addictive experience, and after it ended, there were quite a few critics who cried foul. Why? Apparently, because they feel they wasted 8.5 hours of their lives listening to, and countless hours caring about, what happened to Adnan Syed. When he was 18, he was arrested for the murder by strangulation of his ex-girlfriend. There was no material evidence against him — no witnesses to the crime, no fingerprints, no DNA, and barely a motive — he was allegedly upset she dumped him, though no one said he was angry, violent or planned revenge.

No one, that is, except Jay.

Jay was the only real witness, a drug dealer who claimed Adnan called him at 2:36 p.m. on Jan. 13 and confessed to having just killed the girl, and solicited Jay’s help in disposing of the body. That was the first time Jay knew what had happened. Except that Jay told the police at another time that Adnan told him days before of his plan to kill the girl.

So which is it?

I found it strange, listening to this show, that folks would honestly expect producers of a podcast to retroactively solve a 16 year old crime, but that seemed to be one of the major reactions. Why didn’t you end the story for us?

To which I say: What the fuck?!

First, consider this: Serial is not journalism, and its host/reporter/producer Sarah Koenig not a journalist. Yes, she has a journalism background, but she is an entertainer. (I’ve head Ira Glass say as much.) I love This American Life, but it is not a show in a vacuum. It knows it tells compelling stories in a compelling way, and it’s structured precisely to do that. Are they “reporting”? Absolutely. But they are also perpetually commenting on their own feelings and reactions and misgivings and conflicts. And they do so in such a way to tell a juicy tale.

Second, Serial is not something else, either: A piece of fiction. They don’t get to make up the ending they want, or create theories to fit the facts just to satisfy some need in listeners. They tell the story as they find it.

Third, and something Koenig says repeatedly on the show, Serial‘s staff are not detectives. They aren’t employed to solve a crime, but to report on the aftermath of it. Again, for entertainment. And damned good entertainment at that.

That said, Koenig did infuriate me in the way only armchair liberals can. She clearly feels for Adnan, and thinks he got a raw deal (there was evidence that his attorney totally dropped the ball on an alibi witness, something that has actually led to Adnan getting a new hearing in front of an appeals court, which will take place tomorrow, Jan. 14. Talk about timing!). And she casts certain folks, like some of the jurors, in a harsh light for not following the law (they admitted to holding Adnan’s silence at his trial against him, even though that’s a constitutional no-no), and she wonders why the police didn’t follow up on leads, why his attorney didn’t hit home inconsistencies in the cell phone records, etc. And then Koenig turns around and does the same things they do.

She wonders, “If he is a sociopath, he’s a manipulator, and he’s manipulating me. Do I trust him?” She concludes the podcast — and this is what angered many devotees — by saying she would have voted to acquit were she a juror, even though she has doubts about whether he did it. And that’s one of the worst things she says, because implicit in her judgment is that some doubt matters. We convict people beyond all reasonable doubt, and personally, I have those. Everyone should. Adnan — who, of course, we never see, because it’s radio — maintains his innocence without inventing explanations. That makes sense to me: If he wasn’t there, what could he know about that happened? But ultimately, it’s just one more story of someone mishandled by the justice system (even if he really did do it).

To me, Serial was never a waste of time. As a lawyer myself, I was fascinated by the legal wrangling, especially the trial record, where Adnan’s attorney was, to me, a shrill, ineffective shrike. There was so much to learn about racism and inner city life. And it exposed a lot about the well-meaning elitists (like Koenig, or even myself) who judge others by their standards rather than those that make sense to their community.

I can’t wait to find out what happens at Adnan’s hearing. I hope he eventually gets real justice. And that would make a really good podcast.

Did you listen to Serial? What did you think?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: Dallas Opera announces 2015-16 season

Jake Heggie

Keith Cerny, general director of the Dallas Opera, announced the upcoming season for the company (its 59th) at Hamon Hall inside the Winspear Opera House this afternoon.

Among the guests present were out composer Jake Heggie, pictured, who wrote the world premiere Moby-Dick for the DO, which closed the company’s inaugural season in the Arts District in 2009-10. As had been previously announced, Heggie has reteamed with librettist Terrence McNally to compose a new opera, Great Scott, which will launch the 2015-16 season on Oct. 30.

For the first time in the DO’s history, a Broadway musical — not an actual “opera” — will be on the slate: Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s 1927s hit Show Boat. The show is best remember for the song “Old Man River,” which has often been a signature performance for powerful operatic baritones, including Paul Robeson and William Warfield, who performed it memorably in the MGM film adaptation in 1951. (See a video of Warfield’s rendition after the jump.) It will be performed April 15-May 1. It will close out the season.

Among the other productions slated for the new season: Puccini’s Tosca, Nov. 6-22; a second world premiere, Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, Dec. 4-12; Manon by Jules Massenet, March 4-12.

The current season continues later this month with two one-act opera: La Wally and the new creation Everest, both set on mountaintops.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones