Doubling Up: Ellen DeGeneres to Host Oscars for 2014 Academy Awards

RT@Dannyboy0713: I totally hope @TheEllenShow gets every celebrity in the ballroom to dance when she hosts The Oscars @TheAcademy

And The Winner Is…

Because Twitter announcements count as official (well…until they don’t…), Twitter scooped most folks on this first: Ellen DeGeneres announced her delight to be returning as the emcee for the Oscars ceremony next year, on behalf of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts Sciences.

DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Finding Nemo”), in the customary “Aw shucks wink-wink” way we know and adore, shared this joyful tweet on her Twitter page:

It’s official: I’m hosting the #Oscars! I’d like to thank @TheAcademy, my wife Portia and, oh dear, there goes the orchestra.

The broadcast’s executive producers (Craig Zadan and Neil Meron) cosigned her “squee” on Twitter, tweeting:

Neil Meron @neilmeron welcome back to the Oscar stage, Ellen…we can’t wait to start working with you! @theellenshow @theacademy @craigzadan

And they love Ms. Ellen so much, they went from pitch to decision in a mere 48 hours’ time.

“I agreed with Craig and Neil immediately that Ellen is the ideal host for this year’s show,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President. “We’re looking forward to an entertaining, engaging and fun show.”

According to the organization’s CEO Dawn Hudson, “Ellen is talented, wonderfully spontaneous, and knows how to entertain a worldwide audience. She’s a big fan of the Oscars; we’re huge fans of hers. It’s a perfect match.”

 

All This Funny Business

According to Variety magazine, “’The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ has won 45 Daytime Emmys during its 10 seasons. Though DeGeneres’ show airs on NBC owned-and-operated stations, she has a history with Oscar broadcaster ABC, with her landmark sitcom ‘Ellen’ having run there from 1994-98. In 1997, DeGeneres won the Peabody Award and a writing Emmy for the episode in which her character came out as a gay woman, with 46 million viewers watching.

“Over the last eight years, the 2007 Oscars hosted by DeGeneres stands as the top rated in both adults 18-49 (14.1 rating/33 share) and women 25-54 (19.2/40).”

Since coming out in 1997, though Ellen shared myriad challenges she faced because of her public declaration, she’s a master at the art of the “Reboot and Rally.” These days, you feel like she’s never missed a beat.

You always get the sense that even while Ellen’s ribbing you, she’s laughing with—not at—you, and you’re never on the arse-end of even her snarkiest inside jokes. Ellen saves more observational or cutting humor for political issues.

Case in point: remember when she riffed on fatphobia? Ellen quipped:

“Now [Abercrombie & Fitch] actually have a double zero. What are we aspiring to? ‘Honey, do these jeans make my butt look invisible in this?‘”

Crafting jokes, skits, comedic sets and punchlines in such a way is living a rarefied air and artistry we don’t see quite enough of. Too, though reading and shade has its place in queer culture, this type of kidding around is based on finding and digging into flaws, and adding salt to wounds (real, perceived or straight-up made up).

In other words, the origin and intent of reading/shade/the dozens, however creative, is more degrading.

And Now, Your Host…

Ellen’s first Oscars hosting gig took place in 2007. In a tongue-in-cheek self-released press statement Ellen added:

“I am so excited to be hosting the Oscars for the second time. You know what they say – the third time’s the charm….”

Laugh on, Ms. E. Laugh on.

Click below to watch 5 of Ellen’s Best Award Show Moments:

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/article/ellen-degeneres-returns-oscars-host-5-amazing-award-show-moments-video-108091

The 86th Annual Academy Awards takes place on March 2, 2014. So is Ellen the right woman for the job, or what?

 

Queer Pressure: Raven Symoné Comes Out Twice On Twitter

Tales of Celebrity Progenies

You’re young—a sitcom mini-starlet. You’re growing up as the sitcom progeny of an ultra-conservative, ultra-strict, ultra-exacting and uber multitalented entertainer who plays your grandad on TV (Bill Cosby, “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World”). Oh! By the way—then when you’re not on TV, he’s still fathering you in the exact same way. Sometimes there are cameras on y’all then, too.

No pressure, though. Have fun with that!

Life’s challenging enough for child stars all the way through to adulthood, but these were the early beginnings for a young Raven Symoné (“The Cosby Show,” “That’s So Raven,” “College Road Trip”) making her television acting debut as little Olivia Huxtable Kendall, the bright-eyed and intelligent stepdaughter of Denise (Lisa Bonet). She’s transitioned into grownup roles and projects with virtually no scandals or trouble. She is to be commended for that.

Raven’s career steps have always been measured, squeaky clean and safe, moving from the safety of a network sitcom to the apple-pie familiarity of her own show on The Disney Channel (“That’s So Raven”).

Coming of Age And Making Your Own Choices

Ironically, Symoné’s choices contraposed those of her TV step-mom Lisa Bonet who instead chose to play risky, sensual roles (“Angel Heart”) while still on “Cosby,” making adult life decisions while she was still a teenager, and finding her own footing, in her own way. Bonet’s character on the show was so popular, the Cosby production team even created a spinoff show for her (“A Different World”), and as an audience favorite, Bonet was apparently to be “kept in line.”

Instead, Lisa Bonet got pregnant before marriage, then she married a man Cosby didn’t particularly get along with. All told, Bonet’s personal choices forced her premature Cosby Show departure.

Because one of “Cosby’s own” went on to do other things, the unspoken pressure to conform for Symoné and the rest of the cast must have been immense. In fairness, Bill Cosby always advocates that people of color present in public spaces with pride, intelligence, elegance and demonstrable educational achievement. He considered the kids on the show to be his responsibility.

Cosby himself wound up caving in to his own self-created pressure, ultimately revealing foibles of his own (of a sex-scandal nature). Everybody’s got to unfold their own lessons, and the paradoxes in the real-life story lines here are more than relevant.

Why Coming Out Is Squeaky Clean, Too

By default, “heterosexual anything” is considered to be normal, squeaky clean and non-threatening, so long as the sacredness of the marital institution is preserved.  The naughty things any two consenting adults do (while “straight and married or coupled”) is pardoned.

Any sexual or gender expression outside of the norm still connotes questionable behavior with it a whiff of taboo or wrongness, i.e. “dirtiness,” to it. Culturally, this is a myth that we all need to transition away from. Doing so frees not only queer folks from pressure, but it frees straight people to alleviate free-floating pressure, as well (see: the “50 Shades of Gray” best-selling fantasy book phenom).

When you walk around “feeling wrong as a being,” you start having to justify doing “bad or wrong things” as a being, whatever those things mean to you (often people reach for addictions, whatever their familial taboos are perceived to be, or so-called “out of character behavior,” in an effort to feed the feeling of “feeling bad or wrong.”) In essence, this is chasing displeasure to fuel more of it. Even when doing things that feel good to you, you might perhaps do them to excess, or never let yourself fully enjoy them.

Heterosexual people find themselves to be casualties of such pressure on a daily basis. Human sexuality is fluid—any scientist or psychologist can tell you this. When people in the healing profession refute this idea, they usually cite religious reasons why this should not be, which validates the fact that such fluidity is indeed the norm, or they cite anti-queer statistics funded by faith-based projects or organizations.

It is only a matter of time before our thoughts and our actions stray from such pressure, and because each person’s path is their own to experience, claiming your own truth as what’s truly normal is going to make your life experience—including coming out—easier and feel less “aberrant.” We act “out of pocket” and erratically when we feel wrong or “made-wrong” (see: Cosby scandals, above.)

Because television kindles such a felt sense of intimacy,  Symoné’s viewers and fans believed their grown-up Olivia was straight-laced, likely straight, and free of new decisions, choices or surprises. Because she took her time during her coming out process and picked an opportune time to share her news, the story was nearly anti-climatic.

Raven Symoné’s short and sweet “Coming Out Tweet” made a debut of its own, to soft applause. In her own words, Raven tweeted her support for LGBTQ culture, all the while proudly incorporating herself into it, by tweeting this:

             Raven-Symonè  |  @MissRavenSymone I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud       of you.

Her fan base voiced pleasant “out of left field”  surprise,  ultimately lavishing her with support for her social share. She then received loving feedback from friends, celebs and other well-wishers thereafter.

Since sharing her big news, she has since been spotted happily attending gay pride events (http://hellobeautiful.com/2523947/raven-symone-gay-pride-event-lesbian-raven-symone-az-marie-livingston) and simply enjoying her life.

Her latest reflections on sexuality in the press continue to be private yet positive, and over a year ago, she’d left glittery little breadcrumb clues for those who were at all curious, due to outing pressure from American tabloid “The National Enquirer:”

In May of last year the actress posted sub-tweets to no one in particular, tweeting:

“I’m living my PERSONAL life the way I’m happiest. I’m not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I’m dating. and I shall not start now.

My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m dating to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life.

However that is my right as a HUMAN Being whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I’m not harming anyone.

I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses!”

 

Kisses indeed.

Letting your hair down on Twitter’s absolutely liberating. When do we get to see your frolicking, footloose and fancy free tweets?

Queer Indie Comedy Revolution

Stand Out National Queer Comedy Search

Queeriously Funny: Let’s Start A Comedy Riot

There’s funny as in “funny…” and funny as in “Ha-ha!” Like Lady Gaga said, “Thank God and the Gays” we get to have both, Mary. Queers can “do funny” like (snaps fingers) nobody’s business. Making being “funny” funny is a straight-up Survival 101 tactic, and LGBTQ folks are living, breathing comedy maestros.

Stand Out: The National Queer Comedy Search is looking for the best of the best in “LGBT-owned and operated” jokes, routines, comedy skits, standups, funny performers and all-rounder smart-alecks of LGBTQ comedy.

Reviewing the submissions now, Stand Out just wrapped up its inaugural queer comedy search, and final contestants will each vie for a shot at winning over of $2,000 and a featured article in The Advocate magazine. Top-headlining performances will be hosted by Queer Comedy at Zanies in the heart of Chicago (thought by many to be the standup capital of the United States).

Laugh Queen, Laugh

From an OutLoud Chicago post:

“Presented by OutLoud Chicago, Absolut Vodka, Sidetrack The Video Bar and The Advocate Magazine, Stand Out strives to find the best in queer and queer-friendly comedy from all across the country, giving comedians national exposure and ending with a live competition for over $2,000 and a feature story in The Advocate.”

Though The Advocate’s always been a forerunner in covering queer comedy news, in the last few months, the leading gay publication has been promoting Gaysayer, their new LGBTQ-inclusive comedy Twitter stream, pumping out queer (and allies’) comedy tweets like clockwork. You don’t have to be queer to play @Gaysayer, but you’d better make it funny to get retweet-able attention.

Care for a sample and a chuckle? Check out a few of Gaysayer’s greatest RT’s.

Retweets (RT’s) shared via @Gaysayer:

RT ‏@michelleisawolf “Cool, yeah, keep calling yourself the LONE Ranger like I’m not right here” – Tonto.

RT  ‏@mkpaulsen I love wearing tight tshirts in dangerous areas, or as I call it “Anderson Coopering”. #StevieTV

RT ‏@LesbianLounge I am totally ready for the Lindsay Lohan/Amanda Bynes remake of “Thelma & Louise”.

RT @Zackblows Anderson Cooper’s nickname is “the silver fox” which is also what Betty White calls her vagina. #StevieTV

RT  ‏@jamismithcomic I just made decisions about my own vagina in honor of Wendy Davis.

RT  ‏@Jefflawrencenyc Anderson Cooper finally admitted he was gay. That’s the only thing he ever said that wasn’t news. @Gaysayer

RT ‏@HeyJeffreyJay I knew I had to lose weight when I grew out of my fat pants and had to start wearing my old skirts. #TransProblems

RT  @jamismithcomic I keep bumping into women at this crowded parade and calling it sex later on the phone with my friends.

RT  ‏@JasonBerlin The Greeks had a word for gay athletes. It was “athletes.”

RT @louisvirtel I imagine Britney Spears has perfect Comic Sans handwriting.

RT @RubinReport #PopeFrancis won’t judge gay people. I knew when he said, “Hey Jesus Heyyyy! at his first mass it was a good sign.

RT @kellyoxford Can I use Grindr to find a gay man to tell me if my outfit is okay?

Tee-hee! Visit here to tweet along with Gaysayer. (https://twitter.com/gaysayer) No guarantees, but they’re known to RT the sharpest barbs and wittiest quips they discover.

Are you a queer comedian, or do you want to be one? Psyche yourself up for next year’s contest by checking out the info here (http://www.advocate.com/comedy/2013/07/02/do-you-stand-out-were-searching-best-queer-comedy). Good luck…and stay gay!

Your move, funny people….

Gay Teen Suicide Sounds Too Familiar

Even with the gains in lgbt rights and recognized freedoms this year, there are still moments when we realize that there is still more work that needs to be done, for everyone within the community and without.

In an era with such publicized facts about and initiatives against bullying, it claims a lot of lives. Two weeks ago, a New Mexico teenager posted a final letter to his Twitter account before committing suicide after enduring a lifetime of bullying.

Carlos Vigil, 17, was actively involved in anti-bullying measures. Just before his death he was in North Carolina lobbying for an anti-bullying bill in the legislature. He regularly counseled other teens who felt bullied, and was thought of by many of his peers and adults to be quite confident. Overcoming bullying was an important subject to Carlos, who had just recently changed schools to escape harassment from classmates.

“We found out three years ago that he was going through this stuff and we’ve been trying to help him every day since,” his father, Ray Vigil told NBC affiliate KOB-TV. “We realize he’s been going through it every day since he was in third grade—that’s a long time for a child to hold that within himself.”

After finding out about Carlos’ note online, Ray rushed home to try to save his son. Carlos was rushed to the hospital on Saturday, July 13, and was taken off of life support that Tuesday. Dozens of classmates showed up to show support that Monday, and after he had passed Carlos’ family used his Twitter account to show their feelings: “Carlos is finally at peace! Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. Please don’t forget what he wanted STOP THE BULLYING.”

Chez Pazienza wrote a blog post on Huffington Post talking about the tragedy of Carlos and why it is important to remember him. Among many painful things, Pazienza wrote that,

“Carlos was a little boy with a smiley face lunchbox—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a chubby, awkward kid with glasses—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a teenager with acne—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was gay—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. He wasn’t like everybody else—but in reality he was exactly like everybody else. He had a mother and a father, and friends, and a future, and dreams that could have come true.”

Sadly, Carlos saw himself to blame for his bullying. His heartbreaking note begins with “I’m sorry to those who I offended over the years. I’m blind to see that I, as a human being, suck. I’m an individual who is doing an injustice to the world and it’s time for me to leave.” It’s a terribly sad way for anyone to feel, to have internalized so much of the hate put on them cruelly by others.

An organization he helped found, Warehouse 508, plans to honor Carlos and the positive impact he had in his community while he was alive. Hopefully children and teenagers will get the assistance they need to overcome bullying in this country, because there seem to be far too many suicides, especially within the lgbt community, with ties to severe bullying.

 

Wanda Sykes & OWN Kick Out the Jams In New HERLARIOUS Comedy Special

Call Wanda Sykes a “power lesbian” and you just might be right—the way she rocks her power, however, is with strictly comedic brilliance.

Here to make your summer sizzle with all-girl comedy giggles, Multi-Emmy and GLAAD award-winning comedian, actress and comedy writer Wanda Sykes is back in full effect.  Feeling better than ever, Sykes returns to cable television with a new production deal and an Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) TV special debut.

You’ve likely seen Wanda’s many other comedic treats including her longstanding funny business with Chris Rock, Logo TV’s “NewNowNext,” the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” team, her self-penned and produced shows  “Tongue United,” “Sick and Tired,” “I’ma Be Me,” and of course her own “she-larious”  program “The Wanda Sykes Show.”

Sykes’ new two-part OWN special HERLARIOUS debuted this week (July 13) and ends next week (July 20), teaming up queer women of color with a veritable rainbow of all-female mega talents (including straight but not narrow folks).  Said to be among Sykes’ favorite up-and-coming stand-ups, the guest starring funny ladies include Andi Smith, Gloria Bigelow, Marina Franklin, Tracey Ashley, Carmen Lynch and Dominique Witten.

Sykes’ press indicates all comediennes were handpicked by Wanda herself, and that this effort spearheads a multi-project first-look production deal that’s also pulling in NBC/Universal TV execs and production partner Page Hurwitz, said to be teaming up on several productions after HERLARIOUS airs.

Both one hour-long comedy specials were recorded in front of a live audience at Oprah’s home base, Harpo Studios.

“Life is better when you’re laughing,” The Oprah Winfrey Network team tweeted (via @OWNTV), continuing, “@iamwandasykes presents #Herlarious.”

And you know your girl Wanda big-upped OWN’s social share with her own retweet.

Sure, Wanda’s calendar is filled to brimming over with holiday jaunts to France (wife Alex and two darling kids are on board, natch) but she’ll always make extra room for Oprah.  In the HERLARIOUS sneak peek video Wanda jokes, ” I keep getting asked, ‘Wanda…why are you doing a show with all female comics?’  I’m like, because Oprah asked me to!  Shoot…Oprah asks you to do somethin’, you move.  Come on!”

To watch exclusive performances including audience Q and A’s, celeb sightings of Brooke Shields (“Lipstick Jungle”) and Kym Whitley (“Next Friday,” “Raising Whitley”), and oodles of queer-centric laughs, visit this page.

You can also hang out at Wanda Sykes’ “homepage away from home,” Wandasykes.com.