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Archive for March, 2017

StoliĀ® Vodka Honors the Legacy of LGBTQ Bartenders in the Movement for Equality, Kicks Off Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic Competition

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

PR Newswire
Stoli® Vodka Honors the Legacy of LGBTQ Bartenders in the Movement for Equality, Kicks Off Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic Competition
Mar 01, 2017, 08:57 ET

4-27-2013 3-29-19 AM

NEW YORK, March 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/—Today, Stoli® Group USA, LLC in partnership with the Key West Business Guild, is returning to New York to kick off the world’s largest annual LGBTQ bartending competition, the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic. Now in its fourth year, the competition will feature more contestants, participating cities and charitable donations than ever before.

In addition to recognizing the talents of the industry’s top LGBTQ bartenders, the Cocktail Classic celebrates the role that gay bars have played in the movement towards equality as original community centers. The competition will culminate in Key West, FL, a diverse and accepting city with a thriving LGBTQ community.

The world’s largest annual LGBTQ cocktail competition, The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, returns for its fourth year, showcasing the creativity and talent of mixologists and bartenders in the LGBTQ community. Seventeen regional finalists will compete for the 2017 Cocktail Classic Champion title at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2017.
The world’s largest annual LGBTQ cocktail competition, The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, returns for its fourth year, showcasing the creativity and talent of mixologists and bartenders in the LGBTQ community. Seventeen regional finalists will compete for the 2017 Cocktail Classic Champion title at the Grand Finale during Key West Pride 2017.
The Fourth Annual Key West Cocktail Classic finale is generously being hosted and judged by actor and musician, Jai Rodriguez, and past as well as returning celebrity judges include president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk; writer and Emmy Award-winner, Bruce Vilanch; American Idol’s Latoya London; fashion designer and nightlife personality Andrew Christian; and Key West’s drag queen star, Sushi.

“Every year we look forward to bringing together the people, charities and business that make up our extraordinary LGBTQ community,” said Patrik Gallineaux, Stoli’s National LGBTQ Ambassador and Brand Manager. “While our mission is to recognize the most talented and innovative bartenders, community will always be at the heart of Cocktail Classic. It has been a privilege to support and grow together over the years.”

A maximum of six LGBTQ trade staff and/or allies from 17 cities across North America will be selected to create an original cocktail using Stoli Vodka as their primary ingredient. A panel of judges and 100 eligible audience members will evaluate each cocktail based on taste, balance and presentation, as well as each bartender’s authenticity, knowledge, and creativity in presentation and performance.

The finalist from each regional competition will win a six-day, all-inclusive trip to participate in a week of events and celebratory entertainment culminating in the grand finale during Key West Pride 2017. In addition to being named the 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Champion, the winner of the final event will ride in the Key West Pride Parade as Honorary Grand Marshall and receive:

$12,500 grand prize for a pre-selected charity of his/her choice;
a victory celebration and charity check presentation at champion’s home bar hosted by Stoli Vodka;
and an all-expense paid exclusive Stoli Vodka destination event
The first runner up to the 2017 Champion will also receive $2,500 for their chosen charity.

“Stoli’s work through the Key West Cocktail Classic is an example of how companies can use their resources to make a difference both large and small,” stated Matt Hon, Executive Director of the Key West Business Guild. “From the charitable monetary donations to general awareness, the Cocktail Classic has significantly impacted our local community by becoming a destination event for the city of Key West. In 2016, we saw tourism and revenue increase by 20-percent on the island during Pride!”

The 2017 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Tour Schedule:

Kick Off: New York, NY: Boxers – March 1
Dallas, TX: Round-Up Saloon – March 6
San Diego, CA: Rich’s – March 22
Los Angeles, CA: The Abbey – March 25
Denver, CO: Hamburger Mary’s – March 27
Atlanta, GA: Swinging Richards – March 30
Miami, FL: Score – April 5
New Orleans, LA: Oz – April 12
Philadelphia, PA: Franky Bradley’s – April 18
Washington, D.C.: Nellie’s Sports Bar – April 24
Chicago, IL: Sidetrack – April 26
Dayton, OH: MJ’s on Jefferson – May 1
Boston, MA: Club Cafe – May 4
Toronto, ON: Gladstone Hotel – May 11
Portland, OR: CC Slaughters – May 16
Vancouver, BC: Numbers Cabaret – May 18
Northern California (San Francisco): Club 21 – May 22
Finale: Key West, FL: Bourbon St. Pub– June 10
Last year’s Champion, Rocky Collins from the Round-Up in Dallas proudly competed for DIFFA/Dallas and which raises funds for organizations that support education programs, treatment and direct care services for people living with or impacted by HIV and AIDS. Rocky also won a matching $5,000 donation to the Wesley House Family Services in Key West, an organization he represented on behalf of the Key West Business Guild. Rocky’s winning cocktail and presentation best embodied the spirit of the Key West community and the heart of the competition. Named ‘The Key West Kitty Kat,’ Rocky’s original Stoli cocktail is made with 2 oz. Stoli Vanil, 2 oz. coconut simple syrup, 1.5 oz. pineapple juice, 0.5 oz. key lime juice, coconut cream, grenadine, cinnamon and garnished with a pineapple slice and served over ice.

For more information about the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic including how to apply, rules, guidelines and the full schedule of events, visit http://www.out.com/keywestcocktailclassic.

About Key West Business Guild

The mission of the Key West Business Guild is to promote LGBTQ travel to Key West through marketing and the promotion of specialty events; to support gay-owned, gay-managed, and gay-friendly businesses; to strengthen the Gay community’s position within the local community by supporting relevant LGBTQ issues. The KWBG was founded in 1978 by 8 local gay business owners and has grown to approximately 400 members, which work together to continue efforts to brighten the rainbow over the island, an island now known as Gay Key West. Promotion of events, such as Key West Pride, Tropical Heat and Womenfest, has made Key West a year-round LGBTQ travel destination. For more information visit www.kwbgonline.org.

About Stoli Group, USA
Stoli Group USA, LLC is a U.S. importer and marketer of alcoholic beverages, headquartered in New York City. Stoli Group USA is a subsidiary of SPI Group based out of Luxemburg, one of the world’s most dynamic wine and spirits organizations. Formed in 2013, Stoli Group USA’s current portfolio of brands includes the Stolichnaya® brand of premium vodkas and Stoli Ginger Beer, ultra-premium elit®Vodka, Louisiana-distilled Bayou® Rum, artfully designed KAH® Tequila, Achaval-Ferrer™ from Argentina, and Arinzano wines of Spain.

Media Contact:
Patrick Rizzuto
Golin for Stoli Group, USA
T. +1 212.373.6015
PRizzuto@golin.com

Bruce Vilanch, Chris Hendricks, Roslyn Kind and More Slated for MY NEXT BREATH Fundraiser

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Broadway World
Bruce Vilanch, Chris Hendricks, Roslyn Kind and More Slated for MY NEXT BREATH Fundraiser
Mar. 6, 2017

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An evening of music and comedy will serve as a fundraising event for the filming and editing of the documentary project “My Next Breath” (mynextbreathfilm.com/about), hosted by Bruce Vilanch, with musical performances by Chris Hendricks, Roslyn Kind and Mary Wilson, on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at Catalina Jazz Club 6725 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028.

The evening features the comedy of Kathy Buckley and Geri Jewell. Under the musical director of Michael Orland with director/producer and David S. Zimmerman, the event will include special surprise guests.

Program: 8:00 pm show (6:00 pm doors / VIP Seating – 6:30 pm doors / General Seating). Tickets here.

My Next Breath is a documentary that takes a journey inside the world of an intensive acting class, and finds out how the artists are able to be thoroughly open enough to create from a true and sacred place inside. The documentary also shows the profound impact the workshop has had upon its participants years later and how it facilitated a powerful imprint among each of the members the group.

 


 

SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Washington Blade
SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.
March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am EDT | by Karen Ocamb

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LOS ANGELES — The fundraiser for SAGE USA March 4 in the Hollywood Hills felt like a reunion, a coming together of a generation of LGBT people with shared memories and a desire to confront aging, an issue, SAGE Board Development chair Bill Weinberger said, he heretofore had avoided thinking about. Honorees Jewel Thais-Williams and Bruce Vilanch, however, exemplify how LGBT people can age as respected elders with grace, continued activism, and humor.


Weinberger introduced Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, whom he has known since the early 1980s. Shortly after, Wilson discovered he was HIV positive. He noted that while “many of us were dealing with whether we would survive or not, SAGE has always believed we would.” Wilson shared how Thais-Williams bravely opened Jewel’s Catch One Disco as a refuge for LGBT people desperate for a place where they could be themselves.


“Jewel has been a leader, a hero, and a visionary and an advocate for a long, long time,” Wilson said. “Jewel was one of those ‘bridge’ people,” linking the LGBT African-American community to organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and her alma mater, UCLA. You always speak up, whether you’re afraid or not.”


Thais-Williams joked that she was honored to be honored, having spent the last 42 years at Catch One “partying,” adding that she will turn 78 in a couple of months. “To be of service to my community has been a great joy,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to do. Remember to always reach out to those in need.”


“There has never been a more important time to come together,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the diverse crowd of SAGE board members, staffers and supporters at the elegant home of James Frost and William Yi. “We are living in very challenging times,” a notion received with a knowing chuckle for its understatement.


A civilization is historically measured by how it cares and supports its children and most vulnerable and how it supports its elders, Adams said, not just the “right kind of elders….We owe it to our elders, the pioneers who paved the way for the equality we celebrate today….We need the wisdom of our pioneers, our elders.”




Demographic estimates predict that there will be 6 million LGBT people age 65 years or over in America by 2030. That sets the stage for a potentially disastrous future since, as SAGE notes, LGBT seniors are “twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers.”  And, Adam said, facilities that take care of the aging population are “woefully unprepared” to take care of LGBT seniors who fear having to go back in the closet in order to get care and treatment without discrimination.


In introducing comedic writer/actor Bruce Vilanch, SAGE Board co-chair Elizabeth Schwartz—whose co-chair is former LA-based board activist Kevin Williams—said Vilanch’s appearances on “Hollywood Squares” were “instrumental in shaping gay images.” Watching him, “we didn’t have to speculate obsessively” about whether he was gay “as I did over Kristy McNichol.”  She was also grateful that he was also out about being chubby. Vilanch, she said, has a “tireless dedication to the LGBT community.”


In accepting the handsomely shaped glass award, the legendary Oscar writer said that when he was told he was being honored by SAGE, his first thought was: “You have the wrong envelope,” referring to the Best Picture mishap at the Academy Awards.


However, a recent interview with a young journalist underscored that he is now arcing “into my dotage.” The young gay man had no idea who Ted Mack was, though “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” the variety-show precursor to shows like “American Idol,” launched the careers of such future celebrities as Pat Boone and Ann-Margret.  The young man sat stone faced at the mention of her name.


“When queens don’t know who Ann-Margret is, we’re in trouble,” Vilanch said to an uproar of laughter.


“Senior gays are not venerated,” he said. “But we are valued because we can pick up the check or write it.”


As to his decision to be openly gay at a time when being out was a brave decision, Vilanch noted that he worked in the more accepting entertainment industry. But early on, he worked as a journalist writing features for the Chicago Tribune and tried to get gay stories into the paper. Vilanch cited a quote that stuck with him: “A faggot is a homosexual gentleman who just left the room.” He determined to be “the faggot who stayed in the room.”


LGBT progress is result of taking action. “We did the bravest thing—we came out and that changed everything,” Vilanch said. But the LGBT community cannot rely on help from outside. “We have to do it for ourselves….[and] we’re not done yet.”


SAGE CEO Michael Adams also announced the launch of a new initiative in conjunction with AARP—SAGETable— to build “intergenerational connections in the LGBT community” by “breaking bread with your LGBT family on May 18. Visit sagetable.org.

Academy Awards 25 Years Ago: Not So Different From Today

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

New York Times
Academy Awards 25 Years Ago: Not So Different From Today
By BRUCE FRETTS
FEB. 24, 2017

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From the moment the host Billy Crystal was wheeled onstage wearing a straitjacket and a face mask à la Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” viewers knew the 1992 Oscars were not going to be normal.

“It was a bit like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” Jodie Foster, the “Silence” star who won best actress that year, recalled in a telephone interview. “You were being catapulted from one surreal experience to the next.”

The circumstances surrounding the Academy Awards 25 years ago were not so different from the ceremony set for Sunday: Presidential politics served as the backdrop (in that case, Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown, whom Mr. Crystal jokingly compared to that year’s self-destructive cinematic rebels Thelma and Louise, were trying to unseat President George Bush). Major social issues played out at the podium (then it was homophobia and sexism), and black filmmakers were making inroads. But in 1992, four of the five best-picture nominees were among the year’s top 20 domestic box-office hits; this year, that’s true for only two of the nine contenders (“Hidden Figures” and “La La Land”).

“In those days, people still believed the recipe to make a popular film was to make a good film,” Ms. Foster said. “The way the economy has shaped the industry over the last 25 years, it’s ghettoized films into either big, dumbed-down mainstream movies that are trying to attract as many audience members as possible, and movies that are substantial and meaningful, which are relegated to a different sphere.”

I asked winners, nominees and one of the show’s writers about that year’s most memorable moments.

The Show Opener

A review in The New York Times described the 1992 ceremony as “uncharacteristically lively,” and that began with the first bit the writers devised for the host. “It’s a great entrance for Anthony Hopkins in the movie, so we knew it would work with Billy,” Bruce Vilanch, one of the telecast’s writers, said in a recent telephone interview. “It was kind of irresistible.”

One-Armed Push-Ups

Jack Palance doing one-armed push-ups at the Academy Awards in 1992. Credit Craig Fujii/Associated Press
The bizarre mood was struck early when best supporting actor went to Jack Palance, Mr. Crystal’s co-star in the western comedy “City Slickers.” Mr. Palance gave, as The Times put it, a “cheerfully unprintable acceptance speech.”

“It was an odd thing to say at the Academy Awards,” Mr. Vilanch said, recalling a specific line in the speech. “But that was Jack. He was a genuinely strange and scary guy.”

Then, in a display of his virility, the 73-year-old character actor dropped to the floor and did one-armed push-ups. Backstage in the writers’ room, “we looked at each other and said, ‘We have to go with this — it’s too funny.’” Thus began a run of on-the-fly jokes from Mr. Crystal (“I was just given a bulletin: Jack Palance is now on the StairMaster”) that stretched through the night.


A Family First

For supporting actress, Mercedes Ruehl won for “The Fisher King,” but it was one of her competitors, Diane Ladd, who made Oscar history. She was the first mother to be nominated along with her daughter (Laura Dern) for the same film, the Southern drama “Rambling Rose.” Ms. Dern and Ms. Ladd also presented the award for best visual effects to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

“When I was standing on that stage, and I looked out at my peers and then over at Laura, it was a great honor,” Ms. Ladd said. “I had to fight to keep from crying.”

A Surprise From Space

More emotional moments played out as George Lucas received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from his old friend Steven Spielberg and, in a bit of technical wizardry, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, complete with a floating Oscar. Another satellite link allowed the acclaimed Indian director Satyajit Ray to accept his honorary Academy Award from his hospital bed in Calcutta; he died 24 days later at 70. “Gil Cates, who produced that show, loved technology,” Mr. Vilanch said. “He always had remotes.”

Gay-Rights Protesters

Many Oscar ceremonies come with some controversy, and the 1992 show had its share. Gay-rights advocates picketed over villainous characters in “Silence” as well as in “J.F.K.” (Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for best supporting actor for his turn as a gay man put on trial and acquitted for an alleged conspiracy to kill the president) and in the just-released “Basic Instinct,” which starred Sharon Stone, who was also a presenter. “It was a good discussion, but it was also very stressful,” Ms. Foster said.

The protesters could take solace in the fact that Howard Ashman — who had died a year earlier at 40 — became the first person lost to AIDS to win an Oscar: best original song for “Beauty and the Beast.” His longtime companion, Bill Lauch, accepted the award on his behalf.

A Toon Dispute

Disney’s wildly popular “Beauty and the Beast” stirred up discord when it became the first animated film nominated for best picture, which didn’t sit well with some Oscar purists. “They created the best animated feature category after that because they didn’t want more cartoons nominated for best picture,” said. Mr. Vilanch. (Only “Up” and “Toy Story 3” have managed the feat since.)


Streisand Slight

The night’s loudest contretemps surrounded Barbra Streisand, who was passed over for a best director nomination even though her drama “The Prince of Tides” snagged a best picture nomination. The group Women in Film cited sexism. “In some circles, they said I took her slot,” said John Singleton, who at 24 became the youngest and first African-American best director nominee, for his searing debut, “Boyz N The Hood.” “What people don’t know is that I’m a huge Barbra Streisand fan. She signed my application to get me into the Directors Guild.”

Mr. Crystal gracefully defused the situation with a satirical lyric during a musical number. Referring to “The Prince of Tides,” he crooned, “Seven nominations on the shelf, did this film direct itself?” The cameras quickly cut to Ms. Streisand, laughing appreciatively.

Rookie Mistake

Mr. Singleton lost best director to Jonathan Demme for “Silence,” but he had higher hopes of winning best original screenplay. Yet the award went to another first-timer, Callie Khouri, for the feminist road-trip saga “Thelma & Louise.”

“I was trying not to jinx myself, so I wrote an acceptance speech in pencil,” Ms. Khouri said. “By the time I opened it up, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, so I just winged it. I forgot to thank the producer, so that was fairly horrifying.” (For the record, Mimi Polk Gitlin produced the film.)

A ‘Silence’ Sweep

The biggest winner, of course, turned out to be “The Silence of the Lambs,” which became only the third film in history, after “It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” to sweep the top five awards: best picture, director, actor, actress and adapted screenplay (by Ted Tally, based on Thomas Harris’s novel).

“Three years earlier, I had won best actress for ‘The Accused,’ and I was the only person nominated from the film, so I was by myself,” Ms. Foster said. “But for ‘Silence,’ it was really extraordinary — we kept winning, one after the other, and we all met backstage. I remember everybody was really hot and sweaty, and we all had our arms around one another.”

Postscript

That wasn’t the only happy ending. Five months later, Mr. Crystal, Mr. Vilanch and his fellow writers Hal Kanter, Buz Kohan, Robert Wuhl and David Steinberg took home Emmys. “We won for throwing out the script and rewriting it on the spot,” Mr. Vilanch said. “That’s Hollywood.”

Bruce Vilanch, Josh Groban, Cynthia Erivo & More Join Broadway Backwards March 13, 2017

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Broadway Buzz
Bruce Vilanch, Josh Groban, Cynthia Erivo & More Join Broadway Backwards March 13, 2017
By Lindsey Sullivan February 28, 2017

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This year’s Broadway Backwards just got even more star-studded! The Great Comet star Josh Groban, Tony winner Cynthia Erivo, Tony winner Cady Huffman, Broadway.com Audience Choice Award winner Santino Fontana and more have joined the previously announced lineup. The annual benefit showcases Broadway favorites offering gender-bending takes on their favorite tunes. Tony winner Julie White returns to host the event, which is directed by Robert Bartley and set for March 13 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Six-time Emmy winner Bruce Vilanch, Tony nominee Carolee Carmello, Cagneys Robert Creighton, School of Rocks Eric Petersen, Megan Sikora, Elizabeth Stanley, Dominic Nolfi, Michael Longoria and Daniel Reichard will also take the stage.

As reported, the roster already includes Sierra Boggess, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Javier Muñoz, Alex Brightman, Rachel Bay Jones, Andrew Rannells, Tituss Burgess, Kathleen Turner, Bobby Conte Thornton, Ariana DeBose, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Lora Lee Gayer, Len Cariou, John Glover, Levi Kreis, Bobby Steggert and Rachel York. Performers are subject to change.

Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the event will benefit BC/EFA and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.