Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James Blunt interviews exclusively for SGN's Valentine's issue

The Seatttle Gay News is pleased to announce a very special upcoming interview with 5-time Brit Award nominee James Blunt. The UK hottie, featured last weekend on a repeat episode of "Saturday Night Live", was personally invited by Elton John to attend his London wedding ceremony in December.

The singer-songwriter's album "Back to Bedlam" (SGN's Top 25 Albums/CDs, 2005) has been certified gold, with 500,000 copies sold. The album contains the hit single "You're Beautiful", and the music video for that song is currently being played heavily on the LOGO network.

Blunt's interview with the Seattle Gay News is an exclusive Arts & Entertainment feature for our Valentine's issue, which streets on February 3 and appears online February 5.

Photo of James Blunt, courtesy of Atlantic-Elektra Records

Oscars Central: Brokeback leads with 8 nominations

Okay, so I haven't had my coffee yet, and my Netscape crashes whenever I try to print out a complete list from the AMPAS website, but I'll do my best to make some sense out of this morning's Oscar nominations.

Make some sense? There were no real surprises, although every category seems to have an "aw" or an "ah" (as in "aw, I'm glad she got a nomination," or "ah, I never thought of him for that category"). Brokeback Mountain leads the pack with best actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, film, adapted screenplay, score and cinematography, while both Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) and Felicity Huffman (Transamerica) were also recognized for their Gay/Transgendered performances. Here's a rundown of major categories:

Best Motion Picture: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Munich.

Best Director: For the first time in a long time, all of the best film nominees' directors made the cut. Now, there's a surprise!

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; and David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Best Actress: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Keira Knightly, Pride & Prejudice; Charlize Theron, North Country; and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain; and William Hurt, A History of Violence.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; and Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain.

For the complete nominations, go to the AMPAS website: http://www.oscar.com/nominees/list.html

Best news (for the good of the nation): George Clooney will have to go the the ceremony. In the past he's said he'll only attend if he's a nominee, not just as a presenter or as someone's arm candy. Well, he had a fantastic morning, receiving 4 nominations. Maybe he'll show up with his publicist. I'm betting he'll take his dad. Best news (personal): I only have five films to cram for Oscars night, if you exclude documentaries and foreign language flicks. And one of them is already sitting in front of my VCR!

Happiest nominations: Matt Dillon finally getting some recognition, post Rumblefish, and Howl's Moving Castle getting a nod for animation. Biggest snubs: What's up with Maria Bello (A History of Violence) and Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger) not getting a nomination? And don't even get me started on The Squid and the Whale's Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels. Huge. Snubs. Best pre-nom prediction: If you remember, I though the SAG Best Ensemble win for Crash indicated that a nomination for director Paul Haggis was in the air. Worst pre-nom prediction: As much as I adored Munich, I was sure it wasn't going to make it. But the worst prediction that I - okay, everyone was right about? Thanks to the crazy nomination process, Grizzly Man really didn't make the documentary list. Sorry, Werner.

In the coming weeks I'll let you know what's on DVD (Hustle & Flow,yea! Thanks, Netflix!) and what's still in the theaters (most of 'em). I'll also drop by with more commentary and viewing suggestions.... And make sure you pick up a print copy of the Seattle Gay News a week before the awards, where I'll have a complete list of predictions for the big night.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Super Bowl: Gay Seahawks fans, players welcomed to Detroit

The Triangle Foundation, Michigan's leading advocacy organization for LGBT persons, will be hosting a "GLBT Welcome Center" for Gay athletes and football fans who will be traveling to Detroit for the Super Bowl.

The Welcome Center will be located at 1515 Broadway, just three blocks from Ford Field (the site of the Super Bowl). Refreshments, referrals to entertainment and hospitality and a safe place for Gay athletes and football fans will be provided.

Call 313-537-3323 or visit www.tri.org for more information.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

No SAG wins for Brokeback; Hoffman's Capote named Best Actor by his peers

So I walk into my apartment, fresh from Chris Botti's appearance at the Moore (yum, by the way), to find that they've given away the Screen Actors' Guild awards without me. How dare! The bad news is I've missed all of the fashions and acceptance speeches. Of course, that's the good news, too. Better news yet, I only have 30 or so hours to wait for the Academy Awards nominations.

So what did I miss? There weren't really any surprises in the men's categories: Philip Seymour Hoffman took the Best Actor Award for Capote. Honestly, he's won every acting award this year, except for the New York Film Critics' Circle, which was taken by Heath Ledger - I'm expecting Hoffman to make his Oscars acceptance speech any day now. While it would have made the Oscars race more interesting, Hoffman's performance was stupendous. Cinderella Man's Paul Giamatti was the sentimental favorite for Best Supporting Actor, especially after his snub at last year's Oscars. I hope this guarantees him a nomination this year, although I thought Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) or Don Cheadle (Crash) might have had a chance. (My fave of the year, though, would be the hitherto un-nominated performance by Donald Sutherland in Pride & Prejudice. Please, Academy!!! Please!)

The actresses were harder to predict, if only because both categories had two strong performances and three weaker ones. For Best Actress Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) was up against Felicity Huffman (Transamerica). As her SAG and Globes wins suggest, Witherspoon's performance clearly benefits from being in the movie with the better reviews, although I'm in the minority who really, really liked Transamerica. And as much as I loved Michelle Williams in Brokeback, Rachel Weisz's win (for The Constant Gardener) at the Golden Globes should have clued in everyone that the Best Supporting Actress category is pretty much up for grabs. She took home the SAG, too.

The best news? Crash's win for Best Ensemble, which included my favorites, Don Cheadle and Matt Dillon. Oh yeah, and Terrence Howard. Crash had stiff competition: Brokeback, Capote or Good Night, and Good Luck were deserving as well. But this was the sleeper hit of the summer, despite being kind of a downer, and it's nice to see a popular movie take home an award. Maybe this will solidify a nomination for director/writer Paul Haggis.

Don't fret about Brokeback Mountain's lack of wins. Remember, these are the SAGs; only actors win SAGs, and Brokeback is being lauded for it's director and screenplay, cinematography and genreal, all-around wonderfulness. In these young actors' cases, it really is an honor just to be nominated. Brokeback is still in for Oscar. Director Ang Lee did win the Director's Guild Award on Saturday night, so all remains right with the world.

I'll be back on the blog Tuesday morning after the Oscar nominations, so when you can't get your web browser to log on to AMPAS website you can get your major scoop right here. But you'll have to give me time to get into work, log on, and waste some time. Talk to you Tuesday!
Capote poster courtesy Sony Pictures Classics.

Grammy Central: Best Country Album

Not sure where you're at, but we're getting pounded with more rain here in Seattle. I'm tired of having wet socks! Anyway, back to the Grammy predictions.

Best Country Album

Fireflies - Faith Hill
Lonely Runs Both Ways - Alison Krauss and Union Station
Time Well Wasted - Brad Paisley
All Jacked Up - Gretchen Wilson
Jasper County - Trisha Yearwood

Great lineup, but a big omission is Lee Ann Womack's incredible "There's More Where That Came From". I'm puzzled, simply puzzled, why Grammy voters overlooked it.

My prediction is that Grammy darling Alison Krauss and her bandmates will win this one, but always watch out for Faith Hill.

My personal pick is Alison Krauss and Union Station's stunning "Lonely Runs Both Ways". A quick listen to the songs "Reckless" and "My Poor Old Heart" are enough to prove why this album peaks above the others. This is bluegrass at its best.

Photo of Trisha Yearwood, courtesy of MCA Records

Friday, January 27, 2006

Grammy Central: Best Female Country Vocal Performance

In case you haven't already heard, this year's Grammy performers include Bruce Springstein, U2 with Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Keith Urban with Faith Hill, John Legend, Kanye West, and Coldplay (who I just saw here in Seattle this week and were absolutely amazing).

Let's peek into the country field, shall we?

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

The Connection - Emmylou Harris
Mississippi Girl - Faith Hill
All Jacked Up - Gretchen Wilson
I May Hate Myself in the Morning - Lee Ann Womack
Georgia Rain - Trisha Yearwood

Such a tough, tough category. I'm not much of a Faith Hill fan, but she earned her nomination solidly this time around with a stunning number. Emmylou Harris is always nominated, and expect her to be in this category next year with her single from the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack.

My prediction is that Faith Hill will win, mainly because she's performing on the show and the PR of her appearance will sway votes in her favor. But I wouldn't be surprised if either of the other nominees, primarily Wilson or Womack, takes it.

My personal pick is Lee Ann Womack. I heart Trisha Yearwood. She's one of my absolute favorite female artists in the biz. And Wilson is the new cool in country music. She's dynamite. But when it comes down to one song, Womack's daring cheating tune is simply too good to overlook.

Photo of Gretchen Wilson, courtesy of Sony/BMG Records

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

BC's "Altitude" back on with new event producers

The Seattle Gay News has just learned that "Altitude" Gay and Lesbian Ski Week at Whistler, British Columbia has been quickly rescheduled with new event producers and a slight change of events.

"Altitude" dates are now February 5-12. Full event information can be obtained at www.TourismWhistler.com and www.GayWhistler.com. And for additional information, check out this Friday's issue of the Seattle Gay News.

Spread the news - the party is back on!

Monday, January 23, 2006

BC's "Altitude" canceled, but some event activities still happening

The Seattle Gay News has learned that "Altitude" Gay and Lesbian Ski Week at Whistler, British Columbia is now canceled. The scheduled dates were February 4-13.

However, various social functions and activities surrounding the event will go on as planned. The SGN is in the process of gathering a list of these activities, and we will likely provide you with up to the minute information tomorrow.

The SGN still plans to attend the opening weekend festivities in Vancouver. We hope to see you there.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Grammy Central: Best Male R & B Vocal Performance

You know what isn't fun? Being sick. Now that I'm on the get well track, it's time to get back to having fun with this year's Grammy Awards. Here are the nominees and my take on another great category in the R & B field.

Best Male R & B Vocal Performance

Creepin' - Jamie Foxx
Ordinary People - John Legend
Let Me Love You - Mario
Superstar - Usher
So What the Fuss - Stevie Wonder

Don't even get me started on Jamie Foxx's nomination. I would've preferred R. Kelly or Anthony Hamilton making the final cut any day before him. Nice to see Mario here.

My prediction is that John Legend will win, narrowly edging out a music biggie, Stevie Wonder. But, veteran Prince beat Usher last year. So you just never know.

My personal pick is John Legend. Even though Stevie Wonder is the true R & B legend in this category, the up and coming Legend has the best song of the bunch.

Photo of John Legend, courtesy of Sony/BMG Records

Friday, January 20, 2006

SGN seeks gifted TV critic

Seattle Gay News seeks Arts & Entertainment Writer: Television

The Seattle Gay News is seeking a television writer for a new column premiering soon in our weekly Arts & Entertainment section. This is a non-paid position, however it does entitle the selectee to benefits within our publication and the opportunity to work directly with television representatives from hereTV, Logo, MTV, Bravo and other national networks. The selectee will formulate his or her own personal ideas to the column, working with our Managing Editor and other staff members of the Seattle Gay News. Desired applicants should possess good grammar skills, basic knowledge of writing composition, willingness to work under supervision until he or she can establish independence to complete all responsibilities associated with their column, and the strong desire to serve a gay readership, both local and global via print, online and blog resources. Desired applicants need not have experience as a published writer. Desired applicants should submit a brief cover letter and two writing samples, published or non-published relative to the television arts field, to the address and contact person listed below. Please limit writing samples between 300 to 500 words. The Seattle Gay News is the Northwest's leading gay weekly publication, operating in its thirty-fourth year of business. We are distributed to numerous locations in the greater metro area of Seattle, including restaurants, hotels, coffee houses, book stores, condominium complexes and every gay bar in the city.

Send cover letter and writing samples to:

Seattle Gay News
Attn: Robert Raketty, Managing Editor
1605 12th Avenue, Suite 31 98122

Or, email to sgn2@sgn.org with Attn: Robert Raketty in the subject line.

All applications should be received by February 5, 2006.

Civil Rights Bill passes state House; heads to Senate

The Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill (HB 2661) passed out of the state House of Representatives on Friday. Six Republicans joined 54 Democrats to pass the measure. The final votes was 60-37.

The bill, which as languished in Olympia for three decades, would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. State law already prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, marital status and other factors.

"This legislation is about more than just changing the law, it is about sending a message," Rep. Ed Murray, who is openly Gay, told his colleagues during floor debate. "A message that the United States and Washington state is a place of tolerance. A message that in Washington state the American dream applies not to just some of our citizens but to all of our citizens, including our Gay and Lesbian citizens."

The Seattle Gay News will publish Murray's remarks in their entirety next week.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where a hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.

The bill failed by a single vote in the Senate last year. However, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland), who voted against the legislation last year, said he would support the bill this year.

Polling by Equal Rights Washington, an statewide advocacy organization for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, found that 71 percent of Washington residents support nondiscrimination legislation. Lake Research Partners had conducted the poll of 600 voters and said the results carry a statistical margin of error of 4.9 percent.

SGN presents "Lesbian Utopia" at Chop Suey tomorrow night

The Seattle Gay News is pleased to join Chop Suey, Double Dutch and Angry Boy in presenting "Lesbian Utopia" (featuring JD of Le Tigre) at Chop Suey tomorrow night, January 21. The three-person DJ set also includes DJ Fucking in the Streets and DJ Fagolas.

Doors open at 9:00 pm. Cover charge is $5. Chop Suey is located at 1325 East Madison on Capitol Hill. Come join the fun and mingle with a hip gay and lesbian crowd! For more information, visit www.chopsuey.com.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Brokeback, Walk the Line take top Golden Globe honors

It's official: Brokeback Mountain is the film to beat in the race for the Oscars. The movie picked up best drama, director and screenplay, as well as best song. Brokeback's Heath Ledger lost his leading actor bid to Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), and Michelle Williams - Ledger's real-life wife and co-star in Brokeback - was passed over for Rachel Weisz's performance in The Constant Gardener. Meanwhile Walk the Line swept the musical/comedy categories.

Here are film winners from tonight's Golden Globes:

Drama: Brokeback Mountain
Actress, Drama: Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Actor, Drama: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Comedy or Musical: Walk the Line
Actress, Comedy or Musical: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Actor, Comedy or Musical: Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Supporting Actor: George Clooney, Syriana
Foreign Language Film: Paradise Now, from Palestine
Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Best Screenplay: Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Best Original Score: John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Original Song: "A Love That Will Never Grow Old," Brokeback Mountain

So how did I do? I'm glad I didn't take a stab at the supporting actor or actress categories, because I would have bombed. Instead - as you, dear, loyal reader, know - I stuck to the lead actor & actress categories, and the best drama and comedy films. I also threw my opinion in on best director . . . and, I'm proud to say I was seven for seven! I'll be back later in the week with some analysis and commentary . . . and, of course, more predictions as we look forward to the Oscar nominations at the end of this month and the various guild awards. But right now it's time for a nightcap and bed.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Grammy Central: Best Female R & B Vocal Performance

Hello again. Thanks for the comments you've posted, thus far.

Here's a look at a much-anticipated category at this year's Grammy Awards.

Best Female R & B Vocal Performance

1 Thing - Amerie
Wishing on a Star - Beyonce
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
Free Yourself - Fantasia
Unbreakable - Alicia Keys

This is a tough category that always features a fierce list of divas. No exception this year. Grammy voters obviously included Beyonce on name recognition alone because her redo of "Wishing on a Star" was passable, at best.

My prediction is that Mariah Carey will win, although "We Belong Together" is more of a Pop tune than R & B. Carey goes into the Grammys with several nominations, she's had a commercially big year and her re-claiming of the charts has been acknowledged as a comeback, which Grammy voters love (think Tina Turner, Santana).

My personal pick is Fantasia, whose classy, smooth as silk "Free Yourself" put to rest any rumors that she wouldn't outgrow her American Idol fame.

Photo of Mariah Carey, courtesy of Island/Def Jam Records.

Oscars central: Golden Globes drama categories

Okay, okay...there are less than 36 hours to go before the first Globes are handed out, and I haven't named my drama picks yet! Having just seen Munich - during the Seahawks game on Saturday, and man was that theater empty! - I feel as prepared as I can be, so here goes:

Best Actor nominees: Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; and David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Who will win: I'll tell ya', it's looking like the year of Hoffman, although wouldn't it be nice if he'd stop mentioning his girlfriend and child during his acceptance speech and once - just once - talk about Tru being a Gay role? Hmm. Yes, I'm a little irked, but so far ol' Phil - or Seymour, as Ang Lee called him at the Critics Choice last week, much to my delight - has taken home the New York, LA and Broadcast Film critics' awards, plus the National Board of Review; I don't really see the Hollywood Foreign Press behaving differently.

Who should win: I'm happy, I guess, for Hoffman (did you see Capote? He was brill) but Ledger needs the win to make him a real Oscars contender; and it's looking like Strathairn will be lucky just to get an Oscars nomination despite his fascinating performance as Edward R. Murrow. I'll admit, I'm torn . . . these were my fave 3 films of the year. Can I choose a three-way tie? No? Then I'll have to go with Ledger just to give him an Oscars edge and make the show more interesting. If Hoffman does indeed win the Globe there's probably no need for the Academy to send the ballots in to Price Waterhouse for counting - Barbara Walters should book him now. Oh yeah, about Crowe and Howard? While Cinderella Man has picked up buzz recently, it doesn't sound like enough to put Russell on top. And Howard might have had a better shot at taking home a Globe had he been nominated for Crash in the supporting category, but he's too new to the scene. That, and Hustle & Flow was produced by MTV, for chrissakes. Blows it out of the wate right there. (Get the DVD - it just came out on Tuesday.)

Best Actress nominees: Maria Bello, A History of Violence; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof; Charlize Theron, North Country; Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Who will win: I have an admission, likely fatal as far as my credibility goes: this is the category I know the least about. I missed Proof and North Country when they were in the theaters. (What kind of film critic am I? The kind who usually reviews DVDs, and the kind who doesn't get to go to all of the screeners. Movies are expensive!) And, of course, Transamerica hasn't been released locally yet, so I've only seen Bello and Zhang's performances.

Just because I haven't seen the films doesn't mean I don't have an opinion. It's pretty clear that the race is between Bello, who won the New York Film Critics' Circle award for best supporting actress, and Huffman, who not only has a double nomination for Desperate Housewives but won another major critics' award - the LA Film Critics Association. (Last Monday the Broadcast Film Critics' Association, or Critics Choice, award for best actress went to Reese Witherspoon, who also won the NY Film Critics Circle, but she's not nominated here because the Globes has a separate comedy/musical category. Lucky for Huffman and Bello.) Both Paltrow and Theron have won relatively recently, and while they gave good performances (allegedly) their respective films (again, allegedly) weren't that great.

Don't even get me started on Zhang. Uh, too late: remember when she was still Zhang Ziyi, and not Ziyi Zhang? She Americanized her identity because, I guess, we're too dumb to remember that in China the family name comes first. (Although it hasn't really helped - I keep reading articles where other actresses are referred to by their last name and Zhang is repeatedly called "Ziyi." And vice versa. So much for the intelligence of the American press. Sigh.) Then there's the whole casting fiasco that was Memoirs. What, they couldn't find another Chinese or Chinese-American woman to cast in a Japanese role? Lucy Liu was too busy? I realize Bai Ling was already committed to VH1's But Can They Sing? (she can't), but I hear that Maggie Cheung was available. And was really pissed that Rob Marshall didn't call her. Allegedly.

Stepping off that soapbox: as adequ . . . okay, good as Zhang was she's too new to get the Globe on her own. She'll only win it if Bello and Huffman split the vote. But I'm guessing that Huffman's gonna walk away with at least this one award, if not two. Bello really should have been nominated in the supporting actress category; I think the voters will recognize that and reward Huffman accordingly. That, and the voters love it when a beautiful actress takes a risk and plays someone, uh, average.

Who should win: Should I plead the fifth? Probably, but I'll go ahead and say Huffman, although I'll have to wait until Transamerica shows up in the Seattle market to really make up my mind by the time the Oscars come around. Thank God that both Proof and North Country will be out on video in February.

OMG, did I just spend all of that space talking about the category I know the least about? If you're still reading this - and ya are, Blanche - then you're really interested in my opinions about best film and best director. Really, really interested. Stalker-interested. Hmm. Well, my biggest handicap here is that Match Point hasn't been released in the Seattle market yet, but that won't really stop me from making a pick.

Best director nominees: Woody Allen, Match Point; George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck; Peter Jackson, King Kong; Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener; and Steven Spielberg, Munich.

Who will win: First off, I'm gonna guess that the reason we have 6 films in this category instead of the usual 5 is because King Kong and Munich tied in nomination votes, which makes them the weakest. I'm also gonna guess that the same director's film will win for best picture, which leaves both Kong and Munich out of the running. I suppose I shouldn't count Speilberg out of the running, but critics either loved Munich or were vaguely negative about its politics; hence the single bone. (As in, throwing the film a bone, people! Step out of that gutter! Btw: I loved the movie.) And who wants to see Jackson on the podium? Again? He's slimmed down a little, but I'm betting he's still going to show up wearing something oddly inappropriate. Speaking of Munich and Kong: it's anyone's guess why Eric Bana and Naomi Watts were ignored. Take Howard out of the male lead category and replace him with Bana and I think you might have a glimpse at a really tight Oscars race. And Watts was really moving in the surprisingly emotional Kong. (Yeah, really moving fast when she was being chased by those dinosaurs!) But I digress; back to the directors.

As refreshing as his directorial style is, Meirelles just won an Oscar for best documentary (last year's City of God) and is a Hollywood newcomer; the rest of his work has been in his native Brazil. So he's out. And they can't hand out an award to George Clooney just because he's hot. Remember, Good Night, and Good Luck is only his second film. He's got plenty of time.

That leaves critical darling Allen, who might get the vote simply for being Woody Allen (ugh), and Ang Lee, who has alreay won every major critics' award this year. I suppose one should never count Allen out, but the odds are not in his favor.

Who should win: Lee. Although I really hearted GN&GL, and I'd love to hear an acceptance speech from Clooney; maybe in the supporting actor category.

Best drama nominees: A History of Violence; Brokeback Mountain; The Constant Gardener; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Match Point.

Who will win: As stated above, I'm guessing that it'll be the same film that wins for best director, so my money's on Brokeback Mountain. Not literally. I'm not betting. It's not that the Globes are consistent about this; one year they split (The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby last year; in 2003 it was The Hours and Gangs of New York, talk about a bone!) and the next year they don't (the final Lord of the Rings in 2004). It's more because, other than the National Board of Review, Brokeback has already taken home every major critics award. (The NBR chose Good Night, and Good Luck, but placed Brokeback in its top ten list.)

It's telling that David Cronenberg - the man who brought us The Fly, Dead Ringers and The Naked Lunch - wasn't nominated for best director; I personally thought the film was heavy-handed, beating up the audience the way Viggo Mortenson beat up Ed Harris; two other overlooked peformances! I personally hate, hate, h-a-t-e Woody Allen (not his movies, really; but Woody Allen, personally. Ick) and can't believe I'll be shelling out my money on one of his films if this makes it to the Oscars. It'll be like watching tennis on TV, which I also h-a-t-e. Of the two remaining films, The Constant Gardener has the stigma of being a thriller.

This makes Good Night, and Good Luck the stiffest competition for Brokeback. The NBR award certainly adds credibility. Plus, the average age of the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is - allegedly - 82, which means that a: they remember the McCarthy-Murrow battles first-hand; and 2: despite the likelihood of their being a few closet queens among them, the subject matter of Brokeback might not be their cuppa. Go on, prove me wrong. I dare ya.

Who should win: Sorry, George. As much as I love, uh, your movie, my vote goes to Brokeback Mountain. Hey, wouldn't it be nice if someone actually said the word "Gay" during the televised speeches?

I'll be back on Monday night with a quick post on the winners in the film categories; we'll see how I did with my predictions. Later on in the week I'll drop by with some analysis. What, I can't do that on Monday, too? Gimme a break, I have a job to get to on Tuesday. . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Joshua Redman cancels SGN interview and Seattle engagement

Grammy nominee Joshua Redman has been forced to cancel his interview with the Seattle Gay News and four-night stay at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley due to illness. More details are in tomorrow's issue of the SGN. Redman was to have performed with his Elastic Band starting tonight.

The Red Holloway Quintet is now scheduled at the Jazz Alley through Sunday. For information, visit www.jazzalley.com. And don't forget, next month Eartha Kitt will dazzle Jazz Alley audiences during a special Valentine's week run.

On behalf of the SGN readers and staff, I've passed along our "get better" wishes to Joshua Redman. When new dates are announced, you'll be sure to hear about it in the SGN.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Oscars Central: Golden Globe comedy categories

What are the Globes? They're given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) every January, voted on by 95 or so journalists (most of them part-time, many of them freelance) who live in Hollywood and write for media outside of the US.

But what do the Golden Globes mean? Well, their credibility used to be zilch, since it seemed like any studio could buy a statuette if it paid out enough in perks to Association members. (Pia Zadora, anyone?) But in recent years the HFPA has reformed its gifts policy and has made more satisfying choices, and I have a hard time raising my eyebrow at any awards show with the cajones to go with The Aviator - my pick last year - over the safer Million Dollar Baby. Of course, I have a hard time raising only one eybrow anyway, but that's another story.

I guess it's time to step out on that limb and make some predictions for this year. Let's look at the comedy categories:

Best Actress nominees: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice; Laura Linney, The Squid and the Whale; Sarah Jessica Parker, The Family Stone; and Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line.

Who will win: I'm pretty sure it will be Reese Witherspoon. She was a tour de force as June Carter, and her chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix was palpable.

Who should win: I'd personally like to see Laura Linney recognized, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Actually, I'd be happy with a win by Witherspoon, too. The real crime is that Joan Allen was overlooked; she was great in The Upside of Anger. Dench's nomination was a knee-jerk reaction (look, she's old, she's fabulous and she's not getting that many roles...but hardly anyone's had a chance to see this performance), and neither Parker or Knightley have the big-screen experiences that would warrant these nominations. That, and the ampersand in Pride & Prejudice really gets on my nerves. Jane Austen is rolling. Simply rolling.

Best Actor nominees: Pierce Brosnan, The Matador; Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale; Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto; and Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line.

Who will win: I'm going to give Phoenix the edge over Depp. Johnny Cash should always win over Michael Jackson.

Seriously, most people have seen Phoenix's and Depp's performances, whereas hardly anyone has seen the others. Yes, even I haven't had a chance to catch The Matador, since it's only been in town since last Friday, so I can't comment on Brosnan's turn as a washed out hit man. I'd love to see Jeff Daniels win; he really made me squirm as the divorcing father in The Squid and the Whale, but unless TS&TW suddenly becomes this year's Sideways I really don't see it happening. And Breakfast is already playing once a day at the Varsity. 'Nuff said.

Who should win: Joaquin Phoenix. But I'd be equally happy with Daniels.

Best Comedy or Musical nominees: Mrs. Henderson Presents; Pride & Prejudice; The Producers; The Squid and the Whale; and Walk the Line.

Okay, let's look at this squarely: No one's pretending that either Mrs. Henderson Presents or Pride & Prejudice are among the top five films of the year. Plus there's that ampersand thing. As a musical comedy - both an adaptation of a stage show and a remake of a classic - love for The Producers has turned into a matter of taste; it's a long shot, but it might happen if TS&TW and Walk the Line cancel each other out.

It really comes down to the big budget biopic and the independent slice-of-life movie. I have to say, as a child of divorce I'm not crazy about TS&TW being in this category, since this film really hit home for me. But it's certainly a lighter subject than McCarthyism or the evils done by drug companies (allegedly), so I'll live with it. I can't really be objective about Walk the Line, either, since my brother worked on the film (props), but I thought it was effective, if not as memorable as Brokeback Mountain, Capote or Good Night, and Good Luck. I'm guessing these films will take the place of Match Point and The Constant Gardener when the Oscar nominations are announced.

Who will win: Walk the Line.

Who should win: Probably Walk the Line, although I'll be screaming my head off if The Squid and the Whale turns into The Little Engine that Could.

I'll be checking back later this week with my predictions in the drama category. What do you think? Does The Producers have a chance in hell? Am I way off with Walk the Line walking away with the Globes? Am I the only person who saw The Squid and the Whale? Drop me a comment.

Chief Justice hopes for marriage equality ruling soon

In an interview with the Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, Gerry Alexander, said he hopes the state's top court will issue its much awaited opinion on marriage equality for same-sex couples before the end of the current legislative session.

The comment has sparked speculation by many who have called or e-mailed the Seattle Gay News with their analysis of the comment. Some have suggested that the comment could mean that the decision would call for a legislative remedy to the inequity of our state's marriage laws. Still, others believe the comment -- while informed -- is merely Alexander's wishful thinking.

While most in the region's LGBT community eagerly await the top courts decision, they also recognize that the opinion could severely complicate things in Olympia for the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill. The bill has the best chance for passage this year; better than in all of it's 30 year existence.

From the PI:
Alexander, 69, is the longest-serving chief justice since voters approved a constitutional amendment that allows the nine justices to pick their own leader. He is in the fifth year of that tenure...

Alexander, who describes himself as a judicial centrist who guards against legislating from the bench, said he's hale and hearty and wants to continue serving on the high court...

Alexander... said he hopes the court will issue its opinion on Washington's gay marriage ban during the current legislative session...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Grammy Central: Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

Albert here from the SGN, and not enjoying the many, many days of rain. But we do need the stuff to make flowers turn green I suppose. Anyway, let's wrap up our look at the Rock categories and then later this week we'll peek into the R & B field.

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

Revolution - Eric Clapton
Shine It All Around - Robert Plant
Devils & Dust - Bruce Springstein
This Is How a Heart Breaks - Rob Thomas
The Painter - Neil Young

This is where Grammy voters show their age. This category traditionally features a Geritol crowd of nominees, and this year isn't any different. No one can deny the importance of Clapton, Plant, Springstein and Young to rock music, but voters overlooked the newer talents of Beck, James Blunt, Brendan Benson, Sufjan Stevens, Howie Day, Devendra Banhart and Stephen Malkmus, to name a few.

My prediction is that Springstein will win, although winless Young could surprise.

My personal pick is Rob Thomas, the underclassman here for a terrific song and for representing freshness in an otherwise boring lineup.

Photo of Rob Thomas, courtesy of Atlantic-Elektra Records

Monday, January 9, 2006

Oscars Central: Critics choose Brokeback Mountain best picture, best director

The 11th annual Critics' Choice Awards - voted on by the 200 members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association - are over, officially inaugurating the awards season and officially recognizing Brokeback Mountain as the film to beat this year. It was looking grim after losses in the best actor and best writing categories (Brokeback won only three of the seven awards for which it was eligible), but the critics came through: Brokeback ended up taking top honors in the two most important categories of Best Director and Best Film. Here's a synopsis:

Best Film: Brokeback Mountain
Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Best Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Junebug, and Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain (tie)
Best Comedy: The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Best Writer: Paul Haggis, Crash
Best Ensemble: Crash
Best Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Best Documentary Feature: March of the Penguins
Best Foreign Language Feature: Kung-Fu Hustle

The Critics Choice for Best Film has also won the Best Picture Oscar five out of the last six years, so I'm hoping this win is a terrific indicator of things to come.

This is a tough year to pick, and the first awards of the year are extra hard. I knew it would be a tough choice in the acting categories, and other critics awards had split between Heath Ledger (for Brokeback) and the BFCA's winner, Hoffman. Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled with Hoffman's win, and would have been ecstatic for Ledger, but I was kind of pulling for David Strathairn's brilliant performance in Good Night, and Good Luck. It's looking like these three actors are a lock for Oscar nominations, and that this might be the toughest race. I was a little surprised that Paul Haggis beat out Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (Brokeback) and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) in the writing category, but not at all surprised that Haggis' Crash won the best ensemble award.

To me the biggest surprises came from the Documentary and Foregin Language Feature categories. Going in, it looked like Warner Herzog's Grizzly Man was the fave in the documentary category; most critics are aghast that this film hasn't made the Oscars short-list, so it seemed like a natural that those same critics would give it top honors. Instead, the feel-good doc with legs, March of the Penguins, took home the crystal trophy. Expect to see more birds in tuxes at the Oscars. And Stephen Chow's comedy Kung-Fu Hustle won over the critically acclaimed Cache and 2046, both of which look like front-runners for a golden statuette in March.

Coming soon: A look at next Monday's Golden Globes

Friday, January 6, 2006

Grammy Central: Best Rock Album

Hey, it's Albert from the SGN again. In continuing our "Grammy Central" feature, here's a look at the nominees in the Best Rock Album category along with my prediction and personal pick to win the award. I neglected to mention in previous postings that the 48th Annual Grammy Awards take place February 8 in Los Angeles.

Best Rock Album nominees

X & Y - Coldplay
In Your Honor - Foo Fighters
A Bigger Bang - The Rolling Stones
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2
Prairie Wind - Neil Young

This is a solid race, featuring a veteran lineup and Grammy darlings all around, with the exception of rock pioneer Neil Young who has never won before.

My prediction is that U2 will add another Grammy to their trophy case for an album considered to be one of the best of their career. Coldplay or The Rolling Stones could pull off an upset, but don't count on it. Grammy voters love U2 and lead singer Bono is highly respected for his humanitarian efforts as much as he is for his musical contributions.

My personal pick is U2, just slightly over Coldplay. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb came out in late 2004, making it difficult for music critics to warm up to it before filling out their top ten lists for the year. But it's one of the best written albums in U2's catalog, and song-per-song outmatches Coldplay's latest effort.

Photo of Coldplay, courtesy of Capitol Records.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Oscars Central: SAG and DGA nominees, Jon Stewart hosting Academy Awards

This just in: The Directors Guild of America just announced it's shortlist of films for best director, and Brokeback Mountain is still the clear darling of the film circuit. The five directors vying to take home a DGA award on January 28th are: George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck), Paul Haggis (Crash), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Bennett Miller (Capote), and Steven Spielberg (Munich). This officially breaks the Munich curse - the drama received a measley single nod from the Globes, and was snubbed by the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and the Screen Actors Guild.

Speaking of the SAGs: Brokeback Mountain leads the Screen Actors Guild Awards with 4 nominations, including best ensemble cast. The SAG Awards, which will be given out to - as the name implies - actors on January 29, were announced earlier this morning, while the DGA's list was released at 10:00 am. Here's how the SAG nominations break down:

Lead actor nominees: Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; and David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.

Lead actress nominess: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Charlize Theron, North Country; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line; and Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Supporting actor nominees: Don Cheadle, Crash; George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; and Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain.

Supporting actress nominees: Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; and Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain.

Ensemble nominees: Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Crash; Good Night, and Good Luck; and Hustle and Flow.

That's right - 4 nominations for Brokeback Mountain, and 3 each for Capote and Crash. Cinderella Man, Walk the Line, North Country, and Good Night, and Good Luck each received 2 nods, while all of the remaining films were recognized once. Weird that Hustle and Flow made the ensemble list but didn't receive a nomination in any of the other categories. Hooray for Crash, although it will be hard to see Cheadle and Dillon up against each other - both were great performances. Yea! for Ledger, Gyllenhaal and Williams. And it's a great day for George Clooney, with a best director nod and a SAG nom.

More on the SAG awards here.
Read more about the DGA award here - but wait a while until web traffic slows down.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed this morning that Jon Stewart (Comedy Central's The Daily Show) will host the 78th annual Oscars on March 5th. Read how they gush about - and see a hot photo of - Stewart here.

Sweet justice: Homophobic minister arrested for soliciting a male officer

First former Spokane Mayor Jim West... Now, Lonnie Latham, an executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention and vehement homophobe. Latham was arrested on Tuesday night for propositioning a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel and offering to perform oral sex on the him, police said. Does justice get any sweeter than this? More.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

SGN's Oscars Central recaps the race so far

Lorelei Quenzer here, your Reel Spin DVD reviewer and avowed film FANatic. It's only the first week of January and the awards season is already upon us! So much to see and so little time left to see it in. As m'colleague Albert blogged earlier, I've volunteered to be your "host" for the SGN's Oscars countdown.

Let's start the ball rolling by recapping what's happened so far:

  • Dec 6 - 12: Film Critics Awards - Most of the film critics' associations announced their picks for the best movies and performances in early or mid December, with one major one still to be announced (the Broadcast Film Critics, awarded next Monday). Both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded best film and director honors to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain; the National Board of Review selected George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck as best pic but chose Lee as best director.
  • Dec 13: Golden Globes nominations - After the critics made their choices, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the Golden Globes nominees. The greatest thing about the Globes - other than the gowns - is that they split the films into two categories: best drama and best musical or comedy. It's a little frustrating if you're counting on the Globes as a Oscars precursor, since the Academy Awards generally focus on the dramas, but one comedy generally squeaks in. We'll be taking a more in-depth look at the Globes next week.
  • Today & tomorrow: Guild nominations - It's the time for the various guilds to announce their nominees. Today: The Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. Tomorrow: the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
Here are the Producers Guild's nominees for best picture:
    • Brokeback Mountain
    • Capote
    • Crash
    • Good Night, and Good Luck
    • Walk the Line
Here are the Writers Guild's nominees for best original screenplay:
    • Cinderella Man
    • Crash
    • The 40-Year-Old Virgin
    • Good Night, and Good Luck
    • The Squid and the Whale
And here are the Writers Guild's nominees for best adapted screenplay:
    • Brokeback Mountain
    • Capote
    • The Constant Gardener
    • A History of Violence
    • Syriana
So what's next? Well, the Golden Globes are awarded Monday, January 16. Most of the guilds will have presented their awards by the end of the month, just in time for the announcement of the Academy Award nominess on Tuesday, January 31st. Then we'll have to practically sit on our hands - do you follow the Independent Spirit Awards? I do, and they're given out the day before the Oscars - until the golden statuettes are given out Sunday, March 5th.

Keep watching this space! Tomorrow I'll blog with a recap of the DGA and SAG nominees, then next week I'll hash out the Globes race. I also hope to occasionally post topics for discussion . . . so check back frequently!


Tuesday, January 3, 2006

OK couple sues Disney over their 'swap' with a Gay Seattle couple

An Oklahoma couple is suing ABC's parent company Walt Disney for $10 million claiming breach of contract, intentional infliction of mental distress, fraud and the violation of the husband's civil rights, according to The Oklahoman. The "crime," you ask? The producers of the show "Wife Swap" swapped the couple with a Gay Seattle couple.

While the husband spent a week with Howard Leonard, a counselor, at the couples Haileyville, Oklahoma, double-wide trailer, the wife was here in Seattle with Leonard's long-time partner Darry and their two daughters.

ABC Spokeswoman Mosel Miley said the show is "meant to challenge a family's norms and, moreover, the agreement between the plaintiff and RDF specifically stated that the swapped spouse could be either male or female."

The article continues:

[The wife] said her time in Seattle, other than the gay bar visit, was "a good time. We did lots of fun things."

Back in Haileyville, [the husband] was miserable. Badgering by producers caused so much stress, attorney [Mark] Edwards said, his client became "physically and mentally ill." Yet producers denied Bedford his right under the contract to contact his wife, he said. Bedford said that despite his beliefs, he didn't object to the not-quite-wife spending nights in the home with him and his three sons, then ages 12, 10 and 5.

Leonard didn't stay there, however, Bedford said, because "he threw a walleyed fit" and producers decided to put him up in a hotel for each night.

Monday, January 2, 2006

SGN's Grammy Central: Alternative Music Album

Hi, it's Albert from the SGN. Hope you all had a fun, safe New Year! Welcome to 2006!

As mentioned, the Seattle Gay News is kicking off our blog feature called "Grammy Central" this week with a look at the nominees in the Rock field, starting with Best Alternative Music Album. Feel free to post any comments regarding this category or any of the nominees. My colleague, the fabulous Lorelei Quenzer, will begin an "Oscar Central" blog feature in the coming weeks too.

Here are the Grammy nominees for Best Alternative Music Album with my prediction and personal pick for the award.

Funeral - The Arcade Fire
Guero - Beck
Plans - Death Cab for Cutie
You Could Have It So Much Better - Franz Ferdinand
Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes

Personally, I'm thrilled with this lineup. They're all terrific choices and I won't be disappointed with whomever walks away with the award. It's great to see a Seattle act, Death Cab for Cutie, in the mix and I'm very excited that Franz Ferdinand made the cut. Beck and The White Stripes didn't release their best work in 05, but they were still good enough to make the list and both artists have consistently put out solid recordings in previous years. The Arcade Fire is the greatest thing to come from Canada in a long, long time.

My prediction is that The Arcade Fire will win because veteran acts Beck and The White Stripes will cancel each other out and rising stars Death Cab for Cutie and Franz Ferdinand will do the same. Plus, The Arcade Fire go into the Grammys as a heavy critical favorite. But honestly, any of these nominees could get it.

My personal pick is a split between Death Cab for Cutie and Franz Ferdinand, two bands with incredible staying power and the ability to substantiate all the hype surrounding them. Death Cab's "Plans" and Franz's "You're the Reason..." both landed inside my top ten album picks of the year and I'll be bouncing up and down for hours if one of them wins their first Grammy.

Pictured: Beck, photo courtesy of Interscope Records

Sunday, January 1, 2006

SGN invites you to "Alternative Tuesdays" at Manray

The Seattle Gay News is pleased to present "Alternative Tuesdays" each week at Manray Video Bar (514 E. Pine) for music listeners who prefer something a little different. DJ Tommy Love plays music videos by the coolest alternative artists, past and present, including Coldplay, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Gorillaz, Radiohead, Bjork, The Strokes, Weezer, Beck, Snow Patrol, We Are Scientists, Kate Bush, Travis, Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie and Nine Inch Nails.

If you dig alt pop or alt rock music and want to hang out on Capitol Hill with other gay folks that love this type of music, then swing by Manray on Tuesday night. There is no cover charge. Starting time is 9:30 pm. "Alternative Tuesdays" is presented by the Seattle Gay News and Manray Video Bar. Weekly drink specials and original cocktails by Stoli.

Pictured: We Are Scientists, photo courtesy of Virgin Records.