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.

Tall, willowy, and lyrically named, Paris Pickard seems destined for the spotlight. Brunet and six feet tall (“I prefer to say I’m 5 feet 12,” she says with a laugh), Pickard wouldn’t be out of place on the fashion runways. Instead, she has fallen rather fortuitously into a film project that could not only help to build a reputation for the “20-something” fledgling actress but also have a political impact on moviegoers.

“I don’t want people to think we’re trying to shove some liberal agenda down their throats, because we’re really not,” Pickard says as she makes herself comfortable on a corner sofa in a West Hollywood bar. She’s speaking about A Marine Story, a moving, trenchant character study with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” backdrop that will open theatrically in New York and Los Angeles in November prior to a national release.

The independently produced film, which won top honors at this summer’s Outfest in Los Angeles, marks Pickard’s acting debut. A Marine Story follows Alex (Dreya Weber), a decorated soldier who, after being discharged for being lesbian, is recruited to help Saffron (Pickard), a troubled teenager, prepare for Marine boot camp. The story’s timely relevance isn’t lost on Pickard; nevertheless, she says, “My hope is that audiences will simply respond to a universal story about the characters.”

To get in shape for the physically demanding role as a marine recruit, Pickard worked out with costar Weber, who also coproduced the film. Weber is an aerial choreographer who trained Pink for her recent Funhouse tour and helped create the airborne visuals for Cher’s spectacular Las Vegas show. “I was in the gym every day, sometimes before and after work,” she says. “I was frequently running up and down hills in 100-degree heat.”

When she wasn’t training or in front of the camera, Pickard, a veteran art department coordinator with several studio films, including the upcoming Burlesque, on her résumé, also picked up a producing credit. She quickly became an integral part of the film’s behind-the-scenes production—blurring the line between crew and cast. “She was an incredible asset to me on this film,” says JD Disalvatore, a producer on A Marine Story. “There were times when she acted all day, then stayed hours after the rest of the crew left to paint sets and make props. On the day we wrapped, she even helped load the trucks and was one of the last to leave the set.”

Pickard didn’t pursue the role; it pursued her. Director Ned Farr was looking for an actress powerful enough to go head-to-head with his wife, Weber, who’d already been cast. A mutual friend had invited Pickard to a cocktail party at their home, thinking she might be able to schmooze her way into a production assistant position on the crew while between studio gigs. “But they were looking at me kind of funny,” she says. “Ned asked if I’d done any acting.” Farr asked her to audition, and shortly after that she was offered the part.

November 17 2010 4:00 AM

The Advocate’s man on the New York theater scene is on the verge of a nervous breakdown over Zachary Quinto in Angels in America, Miss Coco Peru, and the triumphant comeback of Pee-wee Herman.

November 16 2010 5:15 PM

Burlesque, the highly anticipated original musical film that marks Cher's return to the big screen, had a star-studded world premiere Monday night at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Among those who attended were Cher, her son Chaz Bono, costars Christina Aguilera, Cam Gigandet, Stanley Tucci, Eric Dane, Julianne Hough, and Peter Gallagher, and director Steven Antin.

Burlesque will open in theaters nationwide November 24.

See additional photos on the following pages.

Photos courtesy of Screen Gems/Eric Charbonneau.

November 16 2010 2:10 PM

Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg had not spoken in years because each mistakenly thought the other was mad at her.

Goldberg appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where the two tearfully discussed seeing each other for the first time in years recently at Tyler Perry’s house. Goldberg appears in his new film For Colored Girls.

November 16 2010 9:00 AM

Ladies and gentlemen, let the games begin. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has finished previews.

Before the official opening night of a musical, there are public performances where tickets are sold and an audience is able to see the show. Though the production is still a work in progress, the creative team uses previews to gauge the impartial audiences’ reaction and see what’s working in the show and what is not. We rehearse and make changes during the day then implement those changes that evening when the curtain goes up. It's a very “on your toes” experience. Actors have to remember new lines, new blocking, new choreography, and new costume changes all in a matter of hours before being thrown to the lions of New York City.

The opening number now tells a story representing everyday life in Madrid. Naturally (wink, wink), roller skaters were added — two male roller skaters I must cover. I do not roller-skate. They didn't ask us if we could roller-skate at the audition. If they did, someone else would be writing this column about WotV and I could very well be playing the role of Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof at the Saskatchewan County fair.

In the number, the two men on wheels have to bob and weave in and out of the “citizens of Madrid” as they walk through the city streets. Since my roller skating abilities are shaky at best and the act of propelling myself in the direction that I am choreographed to skate is a crapshoot, I can only imagine the headlines now: “Roller Skater Rampage! Broadway’s Best Rolled Over by Ample-Bosomed Chorine, John Carroll.” Roller skating reminds me of an audition I once went to where the choreographer asked me if I spun plates. Spun plates as in holding a long stick while spinning dinnerware on the end of it. No, I do not spin plates. I don't know, maybe it's me. Maybe I've made poor choices along the way, like to study at the Juilliard School instead of Ringling Brothers. Some performers have a section on their résumé called "special skills." Under this heading would be such things as "roller skater," "plate spinner," or any other odd thing the person might feel will help them land the job. I don't do anything out of the ordinary that would fit under such a category, and if I did, I would save it for the boudoir. I once knew a person who put "toe waving" on their resume under special skills. This person could manipulate their phalanges in such a way that it looked like they were waving hello to you. I wonder how many people booked a job for such a thing. You know, legend has it, in the end, it was between Meryl Streep and Ruth Buzzi for the title role in Sophie's Choice.

Sometimes it all comes down to toe waving.

November 15 2010 8:10 PM

Rent, the groundbreaking 1994 musical by Jonathan Larson, will be revived off-Broadway in June with a cast of unknown actors.

According to the New York Post, original director Michael Greif will stage the show at the New World Stages after the Tony Awards.

November 15 2010 10:30 AM

Raised on a fifth-generation horse and cattle ranch in Montana, Traver Rains had aspirations for city life. Upon receiving his degree in economics from Southern Methodist University, he moved to the Big Apple for inspiration from a city thriving with style and fashion. In 2000, Traver met his design partner, Richie Rich, in the clubs of New York, and the duo immediately began collaborating on a women’s ready-to-wear collection called Heatherette.

The Advocate: Why are you a photographer?
Traver Rains: Well, I spent 10 years in New York City basically on the set of a photo shoot or behind the scenes of a fashion show (which at the end of the runway is basically a photo shoot). I dealt with every aspect of what it takes to get to that point where the model is ready to shoot — everything from hair and makeup to designing the gowns, getting accessories together, casting the models, creating a story to tell, working on sets and lighting, etc. Really, the only thing I didn't do much of was snapping the lens. So after Heatherette wrapped up, I took some time off in Montana on the ranch where I grew up. It was there I started to feel the need to capture some images of our family history/story — and do it in a way that was unique to myself. All around our property were horses I grew up with passing away, cattle having babies, old barns collapsing ... one changing story after the next. So I flew in a model and hair/makeup team, designed some looks, and started taking pictures.

What catches your eye?
Back at home, every once in a while we'll have a pack rat take residence in a barn or something. They love to collect abandoned silver spoons, shiny strings, buttons ... so I'm kind of like that. There is an old homestead in one of our fields that my grandparents have tried to burn down several times. Basically the only thing left was a gigantic old potbellied stove. When I saw it the first thing that came to mind was a girl wearing it. So I pulled it apart and turned it into a "dress" for one of my images.

How do you choose your subjects?
Everyone in L.A. hassles me because NYC fashion taught me to only see stick-thin, tall girls. I still love a "clothes hanger" type girl — but I've had fun shooting girls with wild personality as well. And I always enjoyed designing scandalously for the guys. So any man out there brave enough to flaunt it is good for me.

How do you describe your work?
I like telling a story and creating an atmosphere. I love designing clothes, hair, makeup, and sets for a shoot. Putting models into a situation or environment that inspires them to move or act a certain way is what I go for.

What makes a good photograph to you?
It's a huge compliment to me when people want to see an image over and over. Like when people choose to hang a photo on their wall or use it as a screen saver. If it's interesting enough to keep you visually stimulated, then I guess you can call it good. The cool thing is that everyone has different taste and turn-ons.

November 13 2010 4:00 AM

The gay-themed film touted as Bollywood’s answer to Brokeback Mountain opened in India to mixed reactions Friday.

Dunno Y ... Na Jaane Kyun, the first Bollywood movie to explicitly portray a gay romance, deals with an affair between two middle-class Mumbai men. It includes scenes of them kissing — the first gay male kiss in an Indian film — and sharing a bed. It was scheduled to be released in May but was held up for further editing, as director Sanjay Sharma dealt with government censors.

November 12 2010 1:25 PM

Cher appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman on Thursday
and discussed her son Chaz's gender transition. The gay icon struggled
with pronouns at times as the host pressed her for an in-depth
conversation about topics like the difference between gender identity
and sexual orientation.

"I still haven't got the pronouns right, but she says that's not so important," said Cher, who stars in the upcoming film Burlesque with Christina Aguilera.

November 12 2010 9:20 AM



A Marine Story — A lesbian marine (Dreya Weber) returns to her small hometown after being discharged, only to find herself enlisted to train a raw female recruit (Paris Pickard). Despite the "don't ask, don't tell" backdrop, Ned Farr's festival award–winning drama avoids message-movie preachiness and features two fine central performances. 


The Taqwacores — Based on the novel by Michael Muhammad Knight, this film centers on a devout Pakistani student who moves off campus and discovers a hardcore Muslim punk rock scene, which causes him to challenge his ideas about faith and sexuality. Each character he interacts with (such a radical lesbian clad in a burka) represents a different dilemma faced by Muslims. Director Eyad Zahra gives his low-budget film an appropriate raw, rebellious energy. 


Morning Glory — Considering that trailers for this Rachel McAdams–Harrison Ford–Diane Keaton rom-com meets The Devil Wears Prada have been showing in theaters since last spring, if it feels like you’ve already seen this movie, you aren’t alone. That said, McAdams is a likable leading lady as the plucky producer of a Today-like morning show, and Ford and Keaton are at their best as bickering cohosts. Gay audiences will be thrilled to see the handsome Patrick Wilson (Angels in America, Little Children) as the love interest, though he doesn’t have much to do. All told, a fun if not altogether memorable flick.   


Skyline — People are vanishing into thin air, leaving a bunch of late-night partyers (led by frequently nude hunk Eric Balfour and Scrubs’ Donald Faison) left behind to fight the alien forces. Above-par special effects aside, this is definitely the type of film that racks up Razzies, so if you’re in the mood for a camp sci-fi mess, run (in slo-mo — you’ll get that one later) to your nearest theater.

November 12 2010 7:45 AM