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Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party United States’

Bruce Vilanch Spoke At The Black Cat LGBT Protests Feb 11, 2017

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Advocate
Bruce Vilanch Spoke At The Black Cat LGBT Protests Feb 11, 2017
BY ADVOCATE.COM EDITORS
FEBRUARY 11 2017 6:35 PM EST

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When a rally tonight in Los Angeles honors the Black Cat protest — which preceded Stonewall by two years — it will be a reminder to President Trump and his administration that protest works.

“You put a microphone in front of me, I’m going to talk about Trump,” said Mitch O’Farrell, the Los Angeles city councilman who is helping organize the rally, which begins at 8 p.m. outside the Black Cat Tavern.

O’Farrell says the Trump administration’s anti-equality agenda is backfiring. “Their authoritarian and anti-constitutional executive orders are galvanizing other historically oppressed communities into greater solidarity,” he said. Trump is giving Americans “an opportunity for us to be more enlightened and stand in stronger solidarity.”

The Black Cat protest in 1967 was itself a turning point triggered by authority. Undercover officers had gone on New Year’s Eve to the tavern in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and waited until the clock struck midnight, when partygoers would kiss. It was illegal to kiss a person of the same sex. As partners embraced, the officers took out their badges and started violently making arrests.

The queer community was fed up with regular police brutality and took what was a highly unusual step: they organized a protest on February 11, 1967.

The founders of that protest would also create a group — Personal Rights in Defense and Education, or PRIDE — and that group created a newsletter called The Advocate. That newsletter became the magazine you’re reading now.

A lot has changed in 50 years. At tonight’s rally, for example, police are taking part in commemorating history. But LGBT Americans also have to contend with President Trump, whose policies are met repeatedly with protests. The Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration included millions of people across multiple cities all over the world. Protests broke out the next weekend at airports when Trump signed an executive order that implemented his Muslim ban at the border. Last weekend, a queer solidarity rally was held outside the Stonewall Inn in New York City after Trump threatened to sign a “religious freedom” order, which would make it optional for federal workers to recognize same-sex marriages so long as they cite a religion that says it’s immoral.

This weekend, as Los Angeles marks history, it will also be speaking directly to Trump and the likes of attorney general Jeff Sessions. Late Friday night, Sessions’ Justice Department filed a legal brief that effectively ends the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. They had been guaranteed, for example, the right to use bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity.

O’Farrell says the Black Cat proves that protest works.

“It just underscores the power of the U.S. Constitution and how we always lean towards advancements,” he said. “One misguided president being in office can not and will not reverse all of that progress. Understandably, there is a lot of anxiety fear and chaos created by what he’s doing, but we will prevail over all of that and we have the Constitution, and we have our level of sophisticated activism. The LGBT community knows how to effect change and that is one of our great strengths.”

Other speakers scheduled to be at the Black Cat rally tonight include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the cast of Queer as Folk, actors Wilson Cruz, Guillermo Díaz and Darryl Stevens, plus comedians Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch, executive director of Equality California Rick Zbur, and editor in chief of The Advocate, Lucas Grindley.

Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Instinct Magazine
Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?
Instinct Staff | September 6, 2016

Boy Culture interviewed legendary comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, who had his own opinions on the joke and the response to it:

BC: Bette Midler recently took it on the chin when she was perceived as mocking Caitlyn Jenner for being trans.

BV: Personally, I thought that was insane. She wasn’t making a joke about transgenders, she was making a joke about the monetizing of transgenderism, which is being done by Caitlyn Jenner.

BC: I guess the waters are muddied because people want to mock Caitlyn, and she’s so famous for being trans.

BV: Exactly. Anybody who would make that leap is out of their mind. It’s not a joke about transgenders, it’s a joke about this person who will do anything to remain in the public eye—and who is not our friend, by the way. She’s more to be pitied than censured. There’s no accounting for the taste of some. You find generally in communities like in the gay community that activists have no sense of humor. They areso sensitive about everything. And to jump on Bette Midler is kind of like, “Excuse me? Where’ve you been for the last 50 years?” Well, you know, probably in Trinidad, Colorado, deciding what you wanted to look like, I don’t know.

That alone would get me in jail. That remark. You know, you’re not allowed to say anything!


Bruce Vilanch

Hollywood History With Bruce Vilanch By Nick Hardcastle

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

SBS
Loud and proud: Bruce Vilanch’s Hollywood history
By Nick Hardcastle
April 18, 2016

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Upon meeting a legendary Hollywood personality it’s only fitting that we meet in a legendary Hollywood establishment. Musso and Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard. Since 1919, stars from Rudolph Valentino and Charlie Chaplin to Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall have been sipping martinis in its old worn leather booths or throwing back scotch in its infamous back room – a watering hole for some of the finest writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Raymond Chandler. I arrive and Bruce Vilanch greets me as ‘Nick Hardcore’.

A regular here, Vilanch is instantly recognisable wearing his signature bright coloured glasses and a t-shirt with a cartoon image of Liam Neeson and the slogan ‘Carpe Liam’.

He has had a long and colorful history in show business and Hollywood. A six time Emmy winner, Bruce has also won a number of awards for his support of LGBTQI and HIV/AIDS charities.

He has written for the Oscars for 23 years as well as the Tonys, Emmys and Grammys. He has contributed to many Broadway shows including Peter Allen’s first, Up in One, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical. He is currently penning a new show based on the music of Petula Clark. He has been a long time gag writer for Bette Midler, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, as well as having worked with the late and great Elizabeth Taylor, Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. Whether he set out to be or not, Bruce Vilanch has been a pioneering gay voice in the entertainment business.

A New Jersey native, Vilanch spent five years in Chicago where he wrote for the Chicago Tribune and occasionally did stand-up comedy. There he met Bette Midler in the mid ‘70s. He thought that she was “funny and should talk more on stage” so he wrote some new material for the rising star and they’ve been working together ever since.

When he relocated to Los Angeles, his first gig was on a late night show called Midnight Special in 1978. There were many people who had appeared on TV before Bruce Vilanch who were gay of course, as well as gay characters in shows like All in the Family and even Australia’s Number 96, but you would be hard pressed to find an openly gay man who discussed his experiences on air before Vilanch did.

“I was completely open from the word go. It was very novel because it was one o’clock in the morning. But being openly gay on TV hadn’t become my schtick yet. I just never denied anything.”

“I was completely open from the word go. It was very novel but because it was one o’clock in the morning. But being openly gay on TV hadn’t become my schtick yet. I just never denied anything.”

Considering the cultural climate at the time, it was a bold move. In 1976 Elton John announced that he was bisexual in Rolling Stone and he was immediately removed from the playlists of many the major radio stations. “Those regional stations were where you broke records. So if some minister comes in to the local radio station in Kansas city and says you can’t play that cock sucker Elton John’s records anymore – you’d better believe he’s getting dropped off the playlist! Elton’s career was pretty much over there for a while – you can understand why it might have just been easier to say nothing.”

“So there was a lot at stake. Although no one ever told me that I couldn’t be out on TV. What they all did say was that I need to be sure. ‘Is this what you want to be known as? Because there are consequences – there will be no working with children and no big money endorsement deals and there certainly won’t be leading man parts because you can’t kiss the girl.’ But I got to be myself.”

At this point our conversation takes a slight deviation into ‘little people porn’ and ‘feeders’ but I assure him that the details are entirely off the record. I order another martini.

Vilanch’s mainstream profile rocketed when he became a regular panelist on the long-running game show ‘Hollywood Squares’ from 1998 – 2002, with his old friend and client Whoopi Goldberg. He says that this was the only time that he ever came under pressure about his sexuality on television.

“And that was only because I was graphic. I had to really fight to get some of my lines across,” he explained.

Producers would insist that there were other ways to get the laughs, and that Bruce should ‘go easy on the gay’.

“But this was coming from the same people who would say to Whoopi, ‘Go easy on the black. You don’t have to be so street’. The notes were always back-to-back. They never said to Gilbert [Gottfried] not to be so Jewish.”

At this time, Vilanch was becoming somewhat of a gay icon and it put him in a position to be able to counsel other LGBTQI people in the media. “I tell other famous people who come out that you really have no idea the affect you are having on young people who are unsure or conflicted – it gives them hope.”

He recalls a young man telling him that he used to watch Hollywood Squares with his grandmother and would be inspired, thinking, “Look at him – he’s so unafraid.”

Vilanch cites Ellen DeGeneres as another great example of that fearlessness in spite of the potential consequences. “When Ellen came out on her sitcom she was very courageous, but she was very smart. She said once she came out that they should cancel because now they would have to go in to storylines that the audience probably won’t like.

“The network thought the numbers were great, but sure enough the southern states cancelled the show and because she wasn’t being seen on the same amount of stations the numbers dropped and the show got cancelled. It took a while for Ellen to really come back from that.”

“I tell other famous people who come out that you really have no idea the affect you are having on young people who are unsure or conflicted – it gives them hope.”

But the landscape was starting to change, albeit, slowly. Will and Grace in particular became a huge hit. According to GLAAD, (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a US non-governmental media monitoring organisation, by the time the show had aired its final season in 2006 almost 2 per cent of regular characters on prime time broadcast TV were gay. While it was certainly not a fair representation of the population, it was a sign of positive change.

Now in 2016 more than 4 per cent of regular characters on prime time are identified as LGBTQI. Guest characters and LGBTQI personalities in non-scripted television are also starting to be represented in more significant numbers. In the last year alone the number of regular LGBTQI characters counted on cable increased from 64 to 84, while recurring characters increased from 41 to 58. In 2015 for the first time, GLAAD counted LGBTQI characters on original series that premiered on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix and found 43 series regulars and 16 recurring queer characters across 23 series.

In 2016, Vilanch says that it’s much more difficult to say if someone’s sexuality really affects their media career as much as it did in previous decades, as each case is individual. “There’s still no leading man action hero who has come out and said he’s gay. We’ve had a few pro sports people but no huge major figures. When that happens maybe things will really change because we’ll finally have an example where the audience will have to believe whether say, James Bond is still James Bond when the actor playing him is openly gay. Can they buy him shagging Pussy Galore when they know he wants Balls a Plenty? That hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

“We have people like Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass and Melissa Etheridge and Portia de Rossi, who are big stars doing great things – but it’s unlikely you’ll see them as action heroes.”

At this point Vilanch accidentally spills come creamy salad dressing right on Liam Neeson’s cartoon face on his t-shirt. Make of that what you will.

As talent, humour and fame can be powerful aphrodisiacs for some people, I finally ask Vilanch if he thinks that being on TV has increased his sex appeal.

“I was only ever a lust object for creepy people– chubby chasers,” he replies.

When I insist that humor is the sexiest quality in any person, he cuts to the chase, “I would love to say it’s the case… but I find that they’ll laugh with you, but they’ll go home and fuck someone else. But humour sustains in a way that physical beauty doesn’t… at least I still have my card to play. ‘Snap!’”

Bruce Vilanch Talks What Really Goes On Behind The Scenes At The Oscars

Friday, February 26th, 2016

New York Post

What really goes on behind the scenes on Oscar night
By Michael Riedel February 25, 2016 | 7:16pm

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Bruce Vilanch, one of the funniest writers in Oscar history, has no doubt Chris Rock will go for the, um, white elephant in the living room Sunday night.

“There’s no way he can ignore it,” Vilanch says of the Oscars So White controversy. “He’ll have something brilliant to say. He deals with big issues. But this year is insane anyway. The presidential race is a carnival. We have a reality TV show host .?.?. That’s a first. Even Ronald Reagan couldn’t claim that label!”

Vilanch, whose Broadway-bound musical “Sign of the Times” debuts this summer atConnecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House, wrote 23 Oscar shows. He’s not on this year’s telecast, but I thought it’d be fun to get his behind-the-scenes take on the biggest award of them all (sorry, Tonys!).

The telecast, he says, is mapped out months in advance, but most of the writing is done on the fly while the show is live.

“You’re in a little room offstage, where the host ‘lives’ when he or she isn’t onstage,” he says. “A bunch of writers are huddled around a monitor, trying to prepare a joke about whoever just won.”

The best off-the-cuff joke Vilanch and his team came up with was aimed at Michael Moore. Accepting an Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003, Moore denounced George W. Bush for sending America to war for “fictitious reasons.” The audience booed.

During the commercial, the writers began screaming out jokes. Steve Martin, the host that year, grabbed one. After the break, he walked out, smiled and said: “It’s so wonderful backstage. The stagehands are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his car.”

But when things go wrong, there’s little a writer can do but stand clear.

Vilanch worked on the 1989 telecast, whose infamous opening number featured Snow White and Rob Lowe, who attempted, sadly, to sing a parody of “Proud Mary.”

The opening was Oscar producer Allan Carr’s idea — and it killed his career. Snow White goes to Hollywood and meets great stars of the past: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Vincent Price, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse.

“In Allan’s mind, those old stars looked like they did when he was a kid,” says Vilanch, 67. But by 1989 they looked “kind of embalmed.”

Vilanch was also backstage in 1995 when David Letterman did his much-derided Oprah-Uma-Uma-Oprah routine.

“I had suggested it might not be the best thing for TV boy to come out and make fun of their names, but it appealed to Dave’s love of the perverse,” Vilanch says. “He was having a horrible time anyway. He kept saying he felt like he was in a hostage crisis.”

On the other hand, when Jack Palance won for “City Slickers” in 1992 and did one-arm pushups onstage, the writers spun gold: “Billy Crystal was the host and he said, ‘This is too good — we have to respond to him.’?” Crystal turned it into a running gag.

Vilanch advises this year’s presenters and nominees to avoid banter.

“Unless you’re really good — like Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller — just come out and say something about the category,” he says. “Don’t make people who aren’t funny try to be funny.”

By the way, the Oscar telecast isn’t much of a pay day for a writer. “It’s viewed as an ‘honor,’?” Vilanch says, “though sometimes the gift basket is nice.”





Will Holt ‘Who Wrote ‘Lemon Tree,’ ‘The Me Nobody Knows,’ ‘Platinum’ Dies At 86

Friday, June 5th, 2015

New York Times
Will Holt ‘Who Wrote ‘Lemon Tree,’ ‘The Me Nobody Knows,’ ‘Platinum’ Dies At 86
June 5, 2015

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Will Holt, a songwriter whose lyrics for the 1970 musical “The Me Nobody Knows” were nominated for a Tony Award, and whose Latin-tinged folk song “Lemon Tree” became a musical signpost of the 1960s, covered by myriad artists and finding its way into advertising and the literature of the Vietnam War, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 86.

The death was confirmed by his son, Courtney, who said his father had Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Holt spent much of his musical career creating theater projects. They included “The World of Kurt Weill in Song,” an Off Broadway revue that he conceived and performed with the Viennese soprano Martha Schlamme in a handful of different incarnations in 1963 and 1964. He also wrote a pair of one-acts, twinned under the title “That 5 A.M. Jazz,” and produced Off Broadway in 1964, starring James Coco. The first was a playlet in the form of a creation parable, the second a rhythm-and-blues musical set in a Las Vegas hotel suite. Another project Mr. Holt conceived and staged was a tribute to the theater music of Leonard Bernstein in 1965. “A Walk on the Wild Side,” a musical he wrote based on Nelson Algren’s novel of New Orleans, had its premiere in Los Angeles in 1988.

Mr. Holt’s first foray on Broadway — a 1969 musical called “Come Summer,” for which he wrote the book and lyrics — vanished quickly after unfavorable reviews. He had much better success in the 1970s, lending a significant hand to three well-received shows.

The first, “The Me Nobody Knows,” a surprise hit that began Off Broadway, was about city youngsters living in poverty and was based on essays written by New York schoolchildren. Mr. Holt’s lyrics, to a pop-rock score by Gary William Friedman that evoked both pain and hope, were all adapted from the ideas of the original child writers.

“I keep on knocking/No one is there,” Mr. Holt wrote for a plaintive chorus in “Let Me Come In,” a lyric that continues:

Windows are black, and the walls are all bare

I stand in darkness, followed by fear

Tell me I’m dreaming, tell me you’re here

Look through the window, give me some light

Tell me I’m home now, say it’s all right.

Though Mr. Holt failed to win the Tony (Stephen Sondheim did, for “Company”), the show ran on Broadway for nearly a year, first at the Helen Hayes Theater and then at the Longacre. He subsequently wrote the book for “Over Here!,” a 1974 musical about life on the home front during World War II, starring two of the Andrews Sisters, Patty and Maxene, and Ann Reinking. And in 1975, with the actress and singer Linda Hopkins, he conceived and wrote the show “Me and Bessie,” which starred Ms. Hopkins as the blues singer Bessie Smith and ran for more than 450 performances.

Mr. Holt was part of the folk-music revival of the 1950s and ’60s. His melancholy song about the passage of time, “Raspberries, Strawberries,” was a hit for the Kingston Trio. His most enduring song, “Lemon Tree,” was written in Chicago in the late 1950s for a nightclub act he was performing with Dolly Jonah, his wife at the time. The melody was adapted from a Brazilian song, “Meu Limão, Meu Limoeiro,” and it retained its samba-like lilt. Mr. Holt’s lyric tells of a father’s warning about the vicissitudes of love, invoking the title as a metaphor:

But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

Catnip for folk singers of the era (and others, subsequently), the song was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio, Chad and Jeremy, the Seekers and Trini Lopez. It was appropriated for a television commercial for Pledge, a lemon-scented wood furniture cleaner. And much later, in 1990, in Tim O’Brien’s celebrated novel about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” one passage testified to the song as an emblem of that era. The narrator recalls a soldier named Lemon, who had stepped on a booby trap and was blown to bits, his remains sprayed onto nearby branches.

“The parts were just hanging there,” Mr. O’Brien wrote, “so Dave Jensen and I were ordered to shinny up and peel him off.”

“The gore was horrible and stays with me,” he continued. “But what wakes me up 20 years later is Dave Jensen singing ‘Lemon Tree’ as we threw down the parts.”

Will Holt — that was his full name — was born in Portland, Me., on April 30, 1929. His father, William, was a doctor. His mother, the former Marjorie Scribner, who played the piano, was the musician in the family.

He attended Phillips-Exeter Academy and Williams College and studied with the folk singer and voice teacher Richard Dyer-Bennet. After traveling for a time in Europe — he found work in a Helsinki nightclub singing cowboy songs — he served in the Air Force. For much of the 1950s he performed in clubs in St. Louis, Las Vegas, New York and elsewhere.

Mr. Holt’s later stage projects included three shows with short Broadway lives: “Music Is,” a 1976 musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night,” for which he wrote the lyrics in a collaboration with the director and book writer George Abbott and the composer Richard Adler; a 1978 musical, “Platinum,” starring Alexis Smith as a film star of the ’40s and ’50s attempting a comeback as a rock singer, for which he wrote the lyrics and, with Bruce Vilanch, the book; and “A Kurt Weill Cabaret” (1979), in which he performed and also translated some of the lyrics.

Ms. Jonah, an actress, died in 1983. In addition to his son, Mr. Holt is survived by his second wife, Dion Alden, and two grandchildren.