Arts & Entertainment

In the Arts & Entertainment section, The Advocate brings readers all the latest news on Hollywood, Broadway, and beyond. From New York to Los Angeles, The Advocate shines a spotlight on the stars of the screen who are lending their voices to support the LGBT community, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are moving the cultural needle. Discover A-list interviews, the best gay movies and reviews of theater, music, books and television. Learn how Arts & Entertainment can shape national dialogue and can work to advance equality.

Jimmy Kimmel asked Channing Tatum to recall the most memorable aspect of working with acclaimed film director Ron Howard, and Tatum replied that it involved being “bent over and taken from behind in a very sexual way” by Howard.

Tatum, who stars in The Dilemma, told Kimmel about the hands-on way Howard blocked out one of his intimate scenes with Winona Ryder, and how it made him feel.

January 13 2011 8:35 AM

Alfons Haider, the gay Austrian TV celebrity believed to have inspired Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno character, has selected a man to be his partner on the country's next TV dance contest.

January 12 2011 9:45 AM

Californication star David Duchovny indicated that Twilight actors Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner top a "long list" of men he'd go gay for that also includes film director Woody Allen.

Hollywood Life reported on the statement of Duchovny, who was treated as a sex addict in 2008 and plays one in the Showtime series. He is married to actress Tea Leoni.

January 12 2011 8:50 AM

 “I have no concern in whether a person is gay or straight,” photographer Tim Hailand says. “I’m just interested in whether they’re an interesting subject.” Judging by the first three books in Hailand’s One Day in the Life of… (Hailand Books, $35) gay people might just be more interesting than straights. The second and third in the series, both of which will be out in February, feature out musicians Jake Shears and Rufus Wainwright, respectively.

January 12 2011 4:00 AM

Country music star Chely Wright, who came out last May, talks about the reaction among her old fan base, some of whom sent hate mail and stopped buying her records.

In an interview with Autostraddle, Wright deflates the perception among the gay community that coming out helped her career in every way.

January 11 2011 8:30 AM

 When John Cameron Mitchell was directing his new movie, Rabbit Hole, he hated the idea of commuting nearly three hours round-trip from his West Village apartment to the house on the outer edge of Queens where the film was shooting. So he did what any frugal, old-fashioned artist obsessed with his work would do: He slept at the house in Queens.

“I’d see his toothbrush and his breakfast in the morning in the sink,” says Nicole Kidman, laughing at the memory of her director’s unusual habit. “He bathed in the house. The only other person I knew to do something like that was [avant-garde Danish director] Lars von Trier.”

The queer writer-director-actor behind such peerless creations as the transgender glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the sexual boundary–pusher Shortbus has headed into international movie star territory for the first time, but he has definitely not gone Hollywood. Instead, he’s bringing the red-carpet regulars over to his way of doing things. “The movie stars are learning the pleasures of making it on the cheap,” says Mitchell, who shared an on-set bathroom with Kidman. “These people are working on our level,” he explains. “I’m very Scottish in my keeping everything under budget and hating anything to go to waste. The most important thing to me is creative freedom.”

But creative freedom doesn’t always come cheap, and Mitchell’s come by his with another recent project — writing and directing a seven-minute “commercial” for Dior, featuring Marion Cotillard and Sir Ian McKellen, that debuted online in December. “Hopefully this will pay some bills and I won’t have to do my films for money,” he says.

The 47-year-old didn’t do Rabbit Hole for the money; he says he took the job because he felt a connection to David Lindsay-Abaire’s script, based on the screenwriter’s own Pulitzer Prize–winning play, which starred Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery on Broadway. It’s about a couple (Kidman and Aaron Eckhart in the film) whose 4-year-old son has died in a horrible accident. Mitchell was 14 when he lost his own brother. “All the feelings that the characters deal with came up in our family,” he says. “So it felt like a necessary experience for me, something I had to do.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — Mitchell’s transgressive work, Lindsay-Abaire and Kidman, who is one of the film’s producers, knew he was right for the job. “Obviously, most people think of John’s films as being so out there and bold, [whereas] Rabbit Hole is, by design, incredibly naturalistic and unadorned,” says Lindsay-Abaire. “And yet I think the heart of Rabbit Hole and the heart of John’s stories are the same. The wigs and the sex scenes, those are just the wrapping paper. Underneath that, both Hedwig and Shortbus are about people desperately trying to connect and trying to make sense of an upside-down world.”

January 11 2011 4:00 AM

Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky (pictured) is one of the five nominees for the Directors Guild of America award for outstanding achievement in feature film, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Other nominees, announced Monday morning, are David Fincher for The Social Network; Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech; Christopher Nolan for Inception; and David O. Russell for The Fighter.

January 10 2011 2:55 PM

Omarion denied Twitter-fueled rumors of his bisexuality with a press release and tweet that denounced the attempt by an unknown source to generate "negative publicity" about the R&B singer.

January 10 2011 8:20 AM

 As someone who has worked on the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the past 12 years, I felt conflicting emotions watching the U.S. Senate authorize the repeal of the policy on the same morning that it rejected the DREAM Act—the proposed path to citizenship for illegal alien students of good moral character. The demise of the military ban is a great civil rights triumph for all Americans, not just gays and lesbians. But the failure of the DREAM Act illustrates why, in an important sense, repeal is not much of a victory at all.

By engaging in a dishonest debate about military readiness and failing to focus instead on the paranoid basis of the policy, we in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal community missed an opportunity over the last 17 years to talk about the real source of discrimination—the tradition of paranoia in American culture. Our strategies were effective in paving the way for repeal. But the failure of the DREAM Act shows that paranoia simply moves on and affixes itself to other targets.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” has taken a disastrous toll on gay troops. I know gay and lesbian service members who have been raped and not reported their assaults to commanders. Doing so could have generated rumors about their sexual orientation, and such rumors could have been used as evidence in discharge hearings. Others have lost their careers, failed to seek needed medical services, and attempted or committed suicide. For gay troops, equal treatment is the final stage in a long march that began in 1778, when the Continental Army drummed out Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin for sodomy.

For gay and lesbian civilians, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” marks a critical step in the path toward equality as well. Symbolically, the right to serve in the military has been a key marker of first-class citizenship in many societies. More concretely, the elimination of military bans often paves the way toward the expansion of other rights. Seven of the 10 nations that recognize same-sex marriage lifted their military bans before doing so. Groups fighting against repeal have been correct in pointing to the military ban as a line in the sand whose elimination would usher in greater acceptance.

Despite these historic stakes, the repeal struggle has always been about more than gay rights. It has been about the meaning of American citizenship. When the government punishes an entire class of people on the basis of their identity, it sets a dangerous precedent for everyone else.

Punishment on the basis of identity, just for being oneself as opposed to engaging in criminal activity, is nothing less than the first step toward fascism. That is part of the reason why Harvard professor Janet Halley has argued that if the legal mechanism at the heart of “don’t ask, don’t tell” were expanded to other laws, it would do great harm to individual freedom.

The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a historic civil rights victory for all of these reasons. Yet in one important sense, it is not a victory at all.

January 10 2011 4:00 AM

 “She’s the genius,” J.D. Samson says of her girlfriend, singer-songwriter Sia Furler. “I’m clueless.” Samson, a respected musician behind pioneering electroclash band Le Tigre and the new group Men, is referring to her surprising need to frequently ask for Sia’s help in finding the right word to finish her sentences. The busy couple is indulging in a favorite pastime, thrift-store shopping, while on a rare day off together visiting Samson’s hometown, Cleveland.

Besides self-deprecation, the mustachioed, gender-blurring Samson, 32, is full of other surprises. Charismatic, magnetic, and forceful onstage and in video, she is unexpectedly gentle and soft-spoken away from the spotlight. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear her say she relates to another androgynous pop star.

“I totally agree with Michael Jackson, who said he felt more like himself onstage,” she says. “I feel safe and comfortable and strong, even if I’m not playing anything; there’s something about being that close to music being played that’s great for me.”

Out since high school, where she learned to play classical guitar, Samson left the Midwest to attend Sarah Lawrence College, just outside New York City, partly to be near a larger gay population. While studying experimental film, she fell in with the city’s vast feminist punk scene. Soon she met members of Le Tigre and started working with the band as a video projectionist before being asked to join as a musician. The band’s radical political lyrics and urgent dance beats made it one of the most popular and influential of the electro movement of the early 2000s, and Samson became the focus of a lot of press attention. The band is now on hiatus.

Lately, though, Samson’s focus is on Men, a two-piece synth-punk band she fronts alongside guitarist Michael O’Neill (a third member, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, recently left the band to pursue a solo project). The band’s name, taken from a discussion about being more aggressive after a promoter questioned its mainstream appeal and canceled a show (“What would men do?” Samson asked), is emblematic of the band’s softer politics. “Just the nature of who we are and being queer people makes us political,” says O’Neill, 30.

Men’s first album, Talk About Body (released this month on IAmSound Records), is a postmodern collection of danceable anthems, reminiscent of the Talking Heads, a primary influence on the band, though Men is more concerned with queer lifestyle issues. “It’s mostly about money and bodies,” Samson says of the album’s pervasive theme. O’Neill agrees, adding, “We think a lot about our gender and bodies and how that makes people perceive us in the world.”

January 10 2011 4:00 AM