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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.

Miss Golden Globe: Past Honorees Tell All – Nepotism Has Never Been Hotter

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Hollywood Reporter
Miss Golden Globe: Past Honorees Tell All – Nepotism Has Never Been Hotter
by Seth Abramovitch
January 05, 2017, 6:15am PST

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Sly’s kids join A-list offspring from Laura Dern to Dakota Johnson as alums dish on the gig their parents love: “He was so honored,” says Gia Mantegna of father Joe’s reaction to her selection in 2011. “It was the fact that your parents had a career in Hollywood that was respected.”

Scarlet, Sistine and Sophia Stallone were lounging in the living room of their family’s Beverly Hills estate when their father — that would be Sylvester — announced that he’d just been on the phone with Lorenzo Soria, president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The trio, ages 14, 18 and 20 (more about them here), had been chosen to share the honor of being 2017’s Miss Golden Globe.
“We all started screaming and jumping up and down, music blasting, dogs barking,” recalls eldest sib Sophia. “We didn’t think we would get it.” Perhaps they did not, but just about anyone else could have scanned the checklist — stunning, personable, fruit of the loins of a genuine Hollywood legend (and 2016 Golden Globe winner for Creed) — and seen the Stallone girls as shoo-ins.

In truth, the competition for Miss Golden Globe — the young women (and sometimes young men) who help hand out trophies and escort the winners on and off the stage at the HFPA’s annual awards ceremony — can get hairy. It may not be a speaking part, but it’s still a gig performing onstage at one of the biggest awards shows of the year, a chance to make a first impression not just on the Hollywood elite but on millions of viewers (18.5 million in the U.S. alone in 2016). For many actresses — Anne Archer (1971), Laura Dern (1982), and Melanie Griffith (1975) and her daughter Dakota Johnson (2006) — it’s among the very first screen credits on their résumé, while for others, like Candace Savalas (1987), Lisabeth Shatner (1985) and Lily Costner (2004), it’s also the last.

To qualify for the title, candidates must be poised, polished and harbor the DNA of a bona fide A-lister, although lineage has not always been among the criteria. When the HFPA first created the title in 1963, the honor was bestowed upon a pair of more or less randomly selected up-and-coming actresses, one from the world of film and one from TV: Donna Douglas (Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies) and Eva Six (a Hungarian actress whose career didn’t quite pan out). “It was the very first award ceremony I ever attended,” says Linda Evans, Miss Golden Globe 1964, of her memorable night schlepping shiny hardware. “It was something MGM arranged for me to do,” recalls the 74-year-old Dynasty star. “They dressed me up, sent me there, I gave out the awards — and the rest is history.”
In 1971, though, the HFPA made a change: From that time forward, the title would be granted only to the offspring of the stars, preferably those with two famous parents. The shrewd move began what’s since become a Hollywood birthright and sparked a vigorous free-market competition among the town’s co-mingling gene pools. The next big change came 24 years later, when, in 1995, the club went co-ed, naming John Clark Gable, Clark Gable’s only son, the first Mr. Golden Globe (then 34, he also was the oldest ever chosen). “Truly an honor,” says Gable of the experience. “For the first time, they asked a male heir.”

The custom is not without its fans. “I love the Miss Golden Globe tradition. So retro. So old Hollywood. So ‘A Star Is Born,’” says New York awards season event planner Peggy Siegal. As for any aroma of entitlement, longtime Oscars head writer Bruce Vilanch is quick to wave it off: “Please — nepotism has never been hotter. Just look at the Trump kids! The Golden Globes are always ahead of the curve.”

The process of selecting a Mr. or Miss Golden Globe is not chiseled in stone. Some years it’s a more grueling gantlet than others. “There were about five of them in there,” remembers 24-year-old Greer Grammer (Kelsey’s daughter) of her interview with the HFPA at its Robertson Boulevard headquarters for the 2011 awards. “They asked, ‘What are you doing? What are your career hopes?’ I remember one person telling me that Frasier was more popular in England than in the United States, which I thought was hilarious.” Grammer had just been cast in the MTV series Awkward, and was feeling pretty upbeat about her prospects. “But I didn’t get it,” she says. “I was so sad because I had done pageants before, so I thought I’d be perfect.” Gia Mantegna, daughter of Joe Mantegna, remembers her audition that same year: “[They asked me] about my life and my career and what it meant to be the daughter of someone in the industry,” recalls the actress, now 26. “To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with what Miss Golden Globe was. [My father’s publicist] just told me to show up to this building and go on this interview. It seemed silly. Like, what is this? This is not anything I’m earning on my own. This isn’t a job. I’m just doing this because my dad’s an actor.” She ended up getting the gig.

Other years, the selection process has been considerably more laid-back. 2016’s Miss Golden Globe, Corinne Foxx, the 22-year-old daughter of Jamie Foxx, received a phone call “out of the blue” informing her she’d been chosen. “I was completely shocked,” she says. The same thing happened to Grammer, who in 2014, three years after being rejected, also received a call from the HFPA finally offering her the job. “I didn’t even have to go in for an interview!” she says.

There is no Miss Golden Globe training. Instead, the anointed are thrust into a whirlwind of nomination announcements, red-carpet appearances, pre-parties and rehearsals. Foxx says she “went into complete research mode” when she got picked. “Greer Grammer was the year before me, so I watched YouTube videos of how she gave out all the trophies.” The heavily publicized Miss Golden Globe party — the Stallone daughters’ was held at Catch on Nov. 11, though their selection had been leaked a few days earlier — serves as a dry run. “You are given a welcome by the HFPA president and you deliver a speech,” says Grammer. But those who’ve held the title say nothing prepares you for the physical (and even emotional) intensity of the job itself. “I didn’t realize how involved you are onstage,” says 2010’s Miss Golden Globe, Mavis Spencer (daughter of Alfre Woodard). “You have to give the winner the award and then move them to this mark. Then you have to move everyone off the stage and behind a wall. You’re running the show a little bit — it’s not just standing there being a pretty face. It isn’t as easy as you think, especially after the actors have gotten a few drinks into them.” Mantegna says she worked closely with the stage manager, “basically corralling everyone on and off. One of the scariest moments for me was seeing how comfortable everyone was just lingering.”

Spencer discovered this the hard way after The Hangover won best comedy or musical motion picture and “like 12 or 15 of them” rushed the stage, a task she likens to “herding sheep.” One of the Hangover crew — she’s not sure who — accidentally stepped on her foot, fracturing two bones. And that was not the evening’s only indignity: “I had a 6-inch pair of Valentino stilettos on,” says Spencer, who stands 5-foot-11 in flats. “Colin Farrell was one of the presenters and just looked at me and said, ‘I’m not standing next to her. I’m not doing it.’ I was a bit taken aback. And he was like, ‘Darling, I really don’t mean that in a bad way — but you’re huge.’”

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

Bruce Vilanch: Cause For Jubilation

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

BeyondChron
RING OUT THE BELLS, THERE’S CAUSE FOR JUBILATION, STARTING HERE!
by Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave‚ May. 02‚ 2014

 

4-27-2013 4-16-42 AM

 

Bruce Vilanch’s sparks will bring laughs to the Eureka Theatre with delightful, tuneful and captivating music. And of course, the Talented Show Stopper Vilanch will probably give out gang buster ditties. And we are talking high quality here. Believe in me – it will be unbridled Joy.

You can expect double entendres and many hearty chuckles and guffaws along with raucous, funny romps. And as he always has been – he will will be bouncy and spirited. Take my word for it.

I hear the show is sleek with fast-paced yeas and bravos. A dazzling show like this is Dream Land. San Francisco Plays the Eureka Palace (42nd St. Moon.) He will make the audience snicker, as you break into belly laughs – and then whammo! Yep – Vilanch struts his stuff.

This is a Must-See! Romantic Sparks light up the stage. The show continues laughs along with romance and charm. It all builds to the final Curtain.

We’re told that the Direction is awesome. It’s emotionally Exhilarating with gorgeous girls and guys. Thats what we need – a big, old-fashioned musical.

This is a preview – but I will be at one of the nights. And that will lead to more to talk about.

GET YOUR TIX. THEY ARE GOING FAST.
I can’t wait.

NOTE: THIS IS AN ADVANCE. The actual Play at the Eureka Theatre will start on 5/2-14.
Get your tickets now.

FOLLOW LEE:
twitter.com/famereporter
Facebook.com/leehartgrave

Video: Chris DeRose talks one-on-one with comedian Bruce Vilanch

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Chris DeRose talks one-on-one with comedian Bruce Vilanch about his new movie ‘Scrooge & Marley’, as well as the comedy business and his Twitter feud with James Franco.

Interview: Bruce Vilanch performs May 7 in Queens

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Queensboro Chronicles
04/28/2011
Bruce Vilanch: king of the funny business
by Mark Lord , qboro contributor


He’s long been the go-to man for anyone in show business in need of a funny line. He’s probably even made you laugh, though you may not know it. The often clever sometimes crass words of Bruce Vilanch have been uttered by everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to James Franco.
Yes, Franco, whose recent stint as co-host of the Academy Awards didn’t exactly leave anyone rolling in the aisles.
“It was difficult to try to make him a sparkling host when it’s not his natural inclination,” Vilanch, 62, admitted in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles, which has been his home since 1975.
But Vilanch and the actor, better known for more serious undertakings, have apparently forgiven each other for everything — including a Twitter spat spawned after some bad press.
“I’ve gotten rave reviews and hideous reviews for the Oscar shows,” Vilanch said, and often for the same one — he’s written more than 20 in all.
In 1991, the year Jack Palance won as best supporting actor, Vilanch was in his element. When the then 73-year-old Palance dropped to the floor in celebration to knock off some one-armed push-ups, Vilanch and his fellow writers found themselves in the wings rewriting the show, tossing the old jokes and putting in some new Jack Palance jokes. Pure comedy gold and one of Vilanch’s several Emmy Awards were the result of the endeavor.
Adopted when he was four days old, Vilanch was raised in New Jersey. “My family still lives there except in the winter when they’re in Boca,” he said.
“There are always reasons to be back in New York. Astoria has become the chorus boy capital of the world. The N train is now called the ‘Gypsy Rush,’” he joked.
He recalled that as a child he visited the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of his upcoming show. “I went for the Belgian waffles ... A breakfast snack all day long,” the amply proportioned Vilanch said. On May 7, the comedian will bring his life story to the Queens Theatre in the Park stage for one night only.
Though he loves New York, the West Coast denizen has no plans to leave sunny Southern California, “I love the weather,” he said. If anyone doesn’t like the lifestyle out there, he tells them, “Please leave — more parking space for Bruce.”
In his show, which he dubs “a sit-down comedy,” he will regale audiences with inside stories “about the crazy people who are in show business.”
His opening act, the Bev Leslies, are a soulful band who cover a wide range of music. He met them thanks to his ongoing association with Bette Midler.
“I’ve worked with her for 40 years,” he said. “And she’s only 32.”
Early in his career, Vilanch focused primarily on writing, a discipline he described as “very private. You have to set a schedule for yourself. When I’m writing what I like, I get into the zone. When I sit down and focus, it comes naturally. Is it because panic is the mother of invention?”
Since appearing on the revised edition of television’s popular game show “Hollywood Squares” in the 1990s, he’s added more frequent gigs to his schedule.“You get instant gratification when you’re performing,” he said.
He described his Broadway debut in 2005 as Edna Turnblad, one of the stars of the musical “Hairspray,” as a career highlight, along with “watching Bette Midler ascend” and writing the Oscars.
Vilanch recalled watching the Oscars as a child in a bathrobe, knowing he was destined for a career in show business. “From the time I was a little kid, I was totally struck,” he said. Luckily, he had a supportive mother who encouraged everything he did. “She has great timing. I imitate her a lot,” he said.
“I once got her a part as a dead body on ‘Law and Order,’ but she declined because it cost too much to join the union.”
Vilanch is known for sporting tight fitting T-shirts bearing slogans replete with double entendres, a practice that began because “when you have a body like this, you have to show it off.” In truth, he did it originally as an act of rebelliousness against his fastidious mother, but soon found the style suited his career.
What question, if any, does he wish he would be asked? Ever topical, the openly gay Vilanch quipped, “‘Are rumors about you and Prince William true?’ But why would they ask that?”

Bruce Vilanch
When: May 7, 8 p.m.
Where: Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Park
Tickets: $37; $35 for seniors; $22 for students.
Visit queenstheatre.org