Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Hot Sheet: The Happy, Sad Dog Days of Summer

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3. THEATER: New York International Fringe Festival
Fringe NYC, the largest multi-arts festival in North America, opened last week, but it still offers plenty of chances to have a gay old time before it closes August 25. There are LGBT-themed shows aplenty; just a few of the titles of interest are En Avant! An Evening With Tennessee Williams, portraying the great playwright discussing his work, loves, and demons; Sparkle Hour!, in which a gay video-game enthusiast gets drawn into a hookup site, among other adventures; 2&2, about a man attracted to his sister’s boyfriend; and The 3rd Gender, set in a futuristic world ruled by beings who exist in an intermediate state between male and female. For the full schedule and more info, go to FringeNYC.org.


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2. EVENT: Help Is on the Way XIX: Broadway & Beyond
The largest annual AIDS benefit concert in Northern California happens Sunday night at San Francisco's beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. Help Is on the Way features performances from stars including Spencer Day, Alex Newell (pictured above), and Loretta Devine, and the voices of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Tickets are still available for the event, which raises funds for groups such as Aguilas, AIDS Housing Alliance, Project Open Hand, and Shanti.


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1. FILM: Lee Daniels's The Butler
Lee Daniels, the gay director of Precious and The Paper Boy, has created what is sure to be his most commercially successful project to date: Lee Daniels's The Butler. This historical drama centers around the tale of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who escapes his fate as a repressed worker on a cotton plantation to become a butler in the White House. Through his eyes, and from the perspectives of his wife (Oprah Winfrey) and his rebellious son (David Oyelowo), the viewer observes a succession of presidents as they grapple with the African-American civil rights movement. Inspired by a Washington Post article profiling the real-life Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler through eight presidential administrations, the film is a breathtaking ride through 20th-century American history, and it sparkles with star power from a cast that reads like a who's who of Hollywood: Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and more. However, Whitaker and Winfrey, in their quiet quest to raise a family in the nation's capital, steal the show, proving that even major revolutions can begin with the setting of the dinner table.

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