Sunday, February 25, 2007

Oscar Watch: Link to all the winners

If you really weren't keeping track, here's a link to a list of the winners:

Oscar Watch: the show is over... til' next year

Well, it's all over but the drinking. I expect that Eddie Murphy will want to throw a few back. Despite all of the rumors I had already heard, Alan Arkin's win was a big surprise. The "upset" came early on, making me think there would be more. Alas, the big categories went pretty much as expected.

Highlight: Melissa Etheridge thanking her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels when she accepted her Oscar for best song ("I Need to Wake Up" from An Incovenient Truth).

Lowlight: Melissa's sad girl-tux.

Highlight: Accepting his honorary Oscar, Ennio Morricone's moving, emotional speech in Italian.

Lowlight: Celine Dion's performance of the new Ennio Morricone song, "I Knew I Loved You."

Highlight: Ellen Degeneres. You want details? I loved it when she consoled 8-time nominee Peter O'Toole: "You know what they say. Third time's a charm."

Lowlight: The winner of Best Costume Design accepting in yet another sad girl-tux.

Highlights: A coherent Forest Whitaker and a standing ovation for Martin Scorsese.

Lowlight: The dancers were kind of hit-and-miss.

Highlight: The mini-Dreamgirls production featuring J-Hud as an Oscar winner. Surprising that she joined in on "Listen," which was Beyonce's song in the movie.

Lowlight: My prediction score of 11 right - out of 24 categories. That's horrendous!

If you weren't keeping track, the big winners of the night were The Departed (4 wins), Pan's Labyrinth (3 wins), Little Miss Sunshine (2 wins), An Inconvenient Truth (2 wins), and Dreamgirls (2 wins). Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Queen, The Last King of Scotland, Marie Antoinette, The Lives of Others and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest all took home 1 Oscar.

Well, we've got 10 months of movies until the 2007 nominees are announced. I've already started my Geeky spreadsheet to track the great performances. Here's hoping that this year's films are happier all-around!

Oscar Watch: They're he-ee-ee-re!

They're covering the red carpet on E!, so I guess the Oscars have officially begun. I'm not sure the tele-strater (tellustrator? tellestrater? the play-by-play doohickey) is a great idea, as they seem to be consumed with Ryan Seacrest's water bottle, but we'll see how it goes as the carpet gets more crowded.

By now you've reviewed my predictions from Friday's print edition of the SGN ( I'm at home with a cold, courtesy of my 19-month-old niece, so I get to watch the carpet in my pajamas, instead of at my usual Oscars party. Where are you watching from? What do you think about Maggie Gyllenhaal's dress? What are your predictions? Ooh! Gael Garcia Bernal is so pretty! Post your comments here as it goes, and I'll be back as the evening progresses. And I'll eat crow when my predictions fall apart.

Oscars Party at Purr, today at 4pm!

Grab a raincoat and join us to watch the awards at Purr!

What: 2007 Academy Award Party

Where: Purr Cocktail Lounge, 1518 11th Avenue

Date and Time: Tonight, February 25 – 4pm start

The scene: Glittery cocktails, four-star nibbles, starry setting, A-list crowd, rolled-out red carpet, mounted TV screens to watch celebrity arrivals and Oscars ceremony.

Prizes: Cash, DVDs, CDs, gift certificates, film goodies.

Charge: No cover. 21 and over admitted free.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Seattle Center cancels SOAP contract, releases Pride dates

In a second exclusive about Seattle Pride 2007, the SGN reports that the Seattle Center has voided Seattle Out and Proud's contract, released the dates of the Pride Festival and referred SOAP to the City of Seattle Law Department for collection (see letter below).

SOAP has requested a meeting with senior staff of the Seattle Center on March 1st. "A SOAP representative contacted Seattle Center on Tuesday and requested a meeting. We actually aren’t clear what the purpose is," Seattle Center spokesperson Kari Shaw told the SGN on Thursday.

As a thank you to our blog readers, I have posted our story below. However, the story is printed in today's edition of the SGN and will be available on our website,, shortly.

Seattle Center cancels site contract
SOAP admits $30,000 more debt

In a certified letter dated Friday, February 16, the Seattle Center declared Seattle Out And Proud, organizers of Seattle Pride in 2006, as being in “Default and Breach” of their three-year contract. The letter also stated that the Seattle Center would be releasing the dates for Seattle Pride 2007 and forwarding SOAP’s account to the City of Seattle Law Department for collection.

The letter was issued because SOAP failed to pay its $100,026.33 debt from 2006 or arrange a payment plan by the February 15, 2007, deadline the Seattle Center had established last fall. The letter was sent in response to the proposed budget that SOAP had submitted via e-mail to the Seattle Center hours before the deadline.

SOAP’s proposed 2007 budget provides for a debt service payment of $40,000 on their 2006 debt from potential revenue earned as a result of the 2007 event. It also provided for $65,000 towards 2007 expenses incurred by the Seattle Center, which is $40,000 below the actual cost in 2006.

SOAP signed the contract with the Seattle Center last year to host the Seattle Pride Festival, which followed the Pride Parade along 4th Avenue. According to the contract, the Seattle Center buildings and grounds were provided at “no cost” to SOAP. However, the nonprofit was required to reimburse the Seattle Center for its operational costs for each day of the festivities. The Seattle City Council later signed off on the deal.


“...[O]n February 15, 2007 I am in receipt of a one-page e-mail from you, with no payment plan, simply a budget with a $40,000.00 payment to Seattle Center at some point after your 2007 festival and a vague commitment to resolve your debt to Seattle Center by the end of 2009,” wrote John Merner, Seattle Center Director of Productions. “It is in this context that I tell you that I no longer have any faith in your ability to resolve this issue and inform you that we are declaring you in Default and Breach of the contract and are terminating the contract for cause under ... our agreement. We will be releasing your 2007 dates and forwarding your account to the City of Seattle Law Department for collections.”

Merner’s letter also details the Seattle Center’s interactions with SOAP.

On October 26, 2005, the Seattle Center met with SOAP and provided an 11-page detailed estimate of the costs associated with producing the Pride Festival.

“I think we have been very clear with SOAP from the beginning,” Seattle Center spokesperson Kari Shaw told the Seattle Gay News. “From the beginning, I mean 2005 when we started contract negotiations where we gave them an estimate of what we thought this event would cost. That estimate was very accurate. I think the actual cost came within $500 less than what that initial estimate was.”

Merner wrote that he and Seattle Center’s Event Service Representative Katie Plymale had “repeatedly advised” SOAP on ways that it could reduce costs through better organization during the development of the festival. “We were regularly told that you had produced this festival for years and that the incremental costs were not a problem,” he said about those discussions.

Following the festival, in July of 2006, Seattle Center tried on “numerous occasions” to meet with SOAP to discuss its bill, prior to it being issued, according to Merner. “Seattle Out and Proud leadership was unavailable to meet with us,” he added.

The bill was issued to SOAP on August 28, 2006. On October 2, SOAP was notified that the bill had begun to accrue interest and penalties.

“We heard nothing from you until we called to set up meetings in October. Meetings set for October 4 and 18 were cancelled by your organization,” wrote Merner, who had sent the first of three demand letters seeking payment on October 27, 2006. “When we finally met on November 2, 2006, Seattle Out and Proud agreed to submit a payment plan within 10 days. No payment plan arrived.”

On November 16, 2006, Merner wrote the second demand letter. In the letter, Merner asked for a payment plan by November 22 and stated that payment would need to be received by February 15, before planning for Seattle Pride 2007 could begin.

Five days later, Merner received an e-mail from SOAP Vice President Weston Sprigg, who said that a payment plan would arrive by the second week of December. “In that e-mail you acknowledged that you couldn’t move forward until your 2006 obligation was resolved,” wrote Merner about their exchange.

Sprigg again acknowledged the February 15 deadline in an e-mail to Merner on December 27, 2006. Sprigg said he had not yet discussed a payment plan with the Board, but SOAP would make public a plan to resolve the issue shortly. “I responded by e-mail reiterating that all outstanding balances must be paid by February 15, 2007 or we would not be able to move forward with the 2007 festival,” Merner wrote.

On January 26, 2007, Merner sent his third and final demand letter but said he “heard nothing” in response until the February 15 e-mail from SOAP.

“The determination from the executive staff is that we couldn’t go forward until we had some plan in place to deal with the 2006 debt,” said Shaw. “We have done the best that we can up until this point. We will continue to work with SOAP, but – at this point – we don’t have a lot of hope that the bill is going to be paid. ... There is no demonstrated ability to make good on the payment and no established revenue source with those numbers.

Shaw said the February 15 deadline represented a point when “some serious planning would be taking place,” because it was nearly four months before the 2007 Seattle Pride Festival was to take place at the Seattle Center. “The deadline was established last fall and we established at that time why we had to have a deadline and what the consequences of the deadline would be,” she said.

On Tuesday, February 20, SOAP called Seattle Center senior staff to schedule a meeting with the Seattle Center. Shaw said the Seattle Center was unclear about the purpose of the meeting. She also said the she understood that SOAP had received the February 15 letter this week.

According to Shaw, members of the Seattle City Council’s Parks, Education, Libraries and Labor Committee – the committee charged with oversight of the Seattle Center -- and openly Gay Councilmember’s Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark had been notified of the Seattle Center’s termination of SOAP’s contract.


SOAP President Eric Albert-Gauthier responded to questions from the SGN shortly before press time on Thursday. He said the March 1 meeting with the Seattle Center will “will determine which direction SOAP will proceed.”

“SOAP hopes that the City and SOAP will be able to work out details regarding past and future events so that orderly progress can be made on producing the 2007 event,” he said. “The Seattle Pride 2006 event at the Center was a huge success and we would like to see the event continue on in that fashion.”

When asked about the February 15 letter from Merner and how it would affect SOAP's plans, either for the 2007 event or in the long term direction of the organization, Albert-Gauthier said only that it “is to be determined in part as a result of the upcoming meeting on March 1.”

He said SOAP had made mistakes, but that the organization has learned from the experience. “The Board has been working diligently to prepare for this year's event fiscally and logistically,” said Albert-Gauthier. “Many of the lessons learned last year have been incorporated into planning for this year, along with asking the Center to assist us with this. We are looking at ways we can cut costs while putting an event on at the Center.”

Albert-Gauthier said that the potential cuts could include the cancellation of events on Friday night during Pride weekend and a significant curtailment of entertainment costs and a shift toward local talent.

In an interview published Thursday in the Seattle Times, SOAP’s attorney said the group was weighing several options, including a parade route change to Myrtle Edwards Park, becoming a for-profit corporation, and charging for admission. However, Albert-Gauthier said “no official plans have been made.”

“Those are brainstorming ideas. We are doing our due diligence to think of ways to make Seattle Pride a reality for the community,” said Albert-Gauthier. “The organization is examining all of its options but needs to have the scheduled consultation with the City on March 1 before we can discuss how to proceed.”


SOAP’s governing body was well represented at a regularly scheduled Board meeting on Sunday, February 17, which included an audience of 20 people. In response to stern and pointed questions from members of the region’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, SOAP Vice President Weston Sprigg and the organization’s attorney, Dave Coffman, detailed the long saga that has lead to a debt that could now exceed $130,000.

In addition to the Seattle Center debt, SOAP owes other creditors at least $30,000. Coffman acknowledged the group faces a lawsuit from a $3,200 debt it owes to a provider of portable toilets since 2004.

SOAP brought in $116,000 in revenue in 2006 and had about $249,000 in expenses. SOAP’s single largest expense in 2006, according to Sprigg, was the $73,000 the organization spent on entertainment. However, he cautioned, that the cost for entertainment would be higher if you include expenses incurred by the Seattle Center for labor, lighting and the four stages.

According to Sprigg, the committee spent approximately $121,000 in 2005, while the event was held on Capitol Hill. This year their costs ballooned to a quarter of a million dollars after moving the parade to 4th Avenue and the festival to the Seattle Center.

The problems began early for the organization. Poor record keeping and lost digital data have long plagued the organization, they said. “When I joined the organization in ‘04, there were debts from the 2000 and 2001 years that were still being dealt with. And, by and large ... I think all the debts have been cured except one debt from the ‘04 year ... for the rental of the portable toilets,” said Coffman. “So, I think that significant progress has been made in order to right that ship. The records, to be quite honest ... are non-existent for anything prior to the ‘04 year. ... I don’t know what happened in the prior years before I came on board, but I do know that records are gone or non-existent.”

Coffman said that policies and procedures had been established in recent years to provide greater accountability. “We have spent just part of the time trying to get polices in place, procedures in place – from a Board perspective – to say, ‘Okay, we need to have a budget. We need to have an audit trail. We need to be able to do these things’,” he said.

They also characterized past Pride events as financial black holes. “If you look at it from a [profit and loss] perspective, the organization has never been in a positive position,” said Coffman. “However, there has been a decrease of the negative position in prior years.”

Johan Lysne IV, co-chair of the Freedom Day Committee, the predecessor to SOAP, in 2002, 2003 and 2004, challenged Coffman on his assertion. At the end of the 2003 event, he claimed, there was a $30,000 surplus. Jim Coburn, a co-chair for the Freedom Day Committee in 2000, 2001, and 2002 and a volunteer coordinator for SOAP in 2003 and 2005, said Johan’s number is probably a conservative estimate of the surplus.

“We are unsure if there has been a surplus in the past as records are incomplete,” Albert-Gauthier told the SGN on Thursday. “The organization, for a long time, has run on very narrow margins and increasing costs and attendance have made it more difficult to put on an event of the magnitude we are now dealing with.”

The blame for this year’s deficit was three-fold they say. First, they pointed the finger at the Seattle Center.

“In discussions prior to the event at Seattle Center, it was known that there would be a deficit run at the Center for the costs at that time. The information that we had from the Center was that there would be a significant period of time to cure that deficit. That had been the case with nearly every event that had ever been established at the Center, including Bumpershoot; the Folklife Festival,” said Coffman. “All of these entities had run deficits and a few continue to run deficits at this time with a plan to pay them off. There have been some discussions with the Seattle Center along the way about that.

“In the [bill] summary we have and in the conversations we have had with John Merner and others was that within a three year timeline, we would get the entire bill squared up with the Center. That’s the position from which this organization has been operating all along. That was the general idea put forth from the Center in the discussions that were had.

“The final bill with the Center hasn’t even been discussed yet. When you have a bill that large you sit down and you talk about things that don’t make sense and so on; whether there are overages and so on. That discussion has not been had yet with the Center by Seattle Out And Proud.”

Coffman also pointed to a member of the board who did not follow the proper procedures when signing contracts; however, he would not “name names” or “go down that path.”

“The Board had a whole bunch of signed contracts by individuals that did not follow Board policies, did not clear it with the board treasurer and did not include all the costs as to what happened,” said Coffman. “The contracts are legal because the contracts were signed by the representative of the organization. They have the power and the authority to do so. Now, we haven’t had the full discussion with the Board yet about what we are going to do about that from a corporate standpoint.”

Sprigg also pointed to a poor level of corporate sponsorships of last year’s event as another reason for SOAP’s financial troubles. The group brought in $27,000 from sponsorships in 2006. “The biggest sponsorship before was Budweiser; a lack of money from K & L Distributors. ... That money was not available to us last year. That money went to other events on the Hill, I think,” he said. “So, we had to replace that. If we had that money, we would have been closer to where we had been. We had to replace that with small sponsorships.”

“There were a couple people who were working on sponsorships making big promises and didn’t follow through. That is one aspect of what happened,” added Coffman.


This year, SOAP commissioned Cindy Baccetti to solicit sponsorships on their behalf. Baccetti will receive a commission consistent with industry standards when working with nonprofits, according to Coffman. She told the SGN on Thursday, she has successfully secured corporate sponsorships events such as Taste of the Nation, Washington Wine Highway, Chef's Night Out, Art Rocks @ EMP Opening Gala "DoubleTake: From Monet to Lichtenstein", Vulcan, Inc's "STARTUP: Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution" Opening Gala, Seattle Ad Federation's "Ad Bash" 05, and Port of Seattle's "Cruise a thon" 05.

“Per my agreement with SOAP, and all subsequent agreements with our sponsors, details of such sponsorships are to remain confidential until formally announced by SOAP,” she said. “Countless sponsorship meetings are on-going and we have several new sponsors confirmed for the 2007 event. Again, all sponsorship announcements will be made by the Seattle Pride leadership.

“Additionally, I am not able to comment about issues regarding Seattle Pride.”
Sprigg said on Sunday that SOAPs 2007 budget was available online. He also stated that a 2006 financial statement would soon follow. A review of SOAP’s website failed to reveal any statements from previous years.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

SGN invites you to an Oscar Party

What: 2007 Academy Award Party

Where: Purr Cocktail Lounge, 1518 11th Avenue

Date and Time: Sunday, February 25 – 4pm start

The scene: Glittery cocktails, four-star nibbles, starry setting, A-list crowd, rolled-out red carpet, mounted TV screens to watch celebrity arrivals and Oscars ceremony.

Prizes: Cash, DVDs, CDs, gift certificates, film goodies.

Charge: No cover. 21 and over admitted free.

Your hosts: Seattle Gay News and Purr Cocktail Lounge

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oscar Watch: On Screen and On DVD

O M G! The Oscars are Sunday, and there is still so much to do! Have you completed your ballot? Check out my picks for the major categories in this Friday's Seattle Gay News, where I'll give you the lowdown on best pic, director, actors and screenplays.

Still haven't seen the major nominees? A lot of them are still in theaters (and will be through the weekend): Babel, Blood Diamond, Borat..., Children of Men, The Departed, Dreamgirls, The Last King of Scotland, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, Pan's Labyrinth, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Queen, Venus, and Volver. The German entry for Foreign Language flick, The Lives of Others, is at the Varsity through tomorrow (Thursday), and the Live Action Short Films are at the Varsity through the weekend. A couple of movies - Babel and The Departed - are already on DVD, but if you have to catch them on the big screen head over to the Admiral for a surreal double feature.

Here's a complete list of nominated films already out on DVD: Babel, The Black Dahlia, Cars, Click, The Departed, The Devil Wears Prada, Flags of Our Fathers, Half Nelson, The Illusionist, An Inconvenient Truth, Jesus Camp, Little Miss Sunshine, Marie Antoinette, Monster House, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Poseidon, The Prestige, Superman Returns, United 93, and Water.

"Oh no!" I hear you cry; "I've seen all of those already, and I'm going through Oscars withdrawal!" "Well bully," I say, "for you." Even I, your intrepid Oscars watcher, haven't seen all of the films nominated. (You couldn't pay me to see Apocalypto, for instance. I shudder to think that Dreamgirls or Flags of Our Fathers could lose an Oscar to Apocalypto. 'Nuff said.) Oh yeah, and I also say "Tough noogies." Unless you're an AMPAS voter, that's all that's out there before Sunday's telecast. Here's a list of when the remaining features will be released on DVD:
  • March 6: Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
  • March 20: Blood Diamond
  • March 27: Children of Men, Curse of the Golden Flower, Happy Feet, and The Pursuit of Happyness
  • April 3: The Good Shepherd and Volver
  • April 17: The Last King of Scotland and Notes on a Scandal
  • April (no date set): Apocalypto and The Queen
  • May 1: Dreamgirls and Little Children
  • May 15: Pan's Labyrinth
  • May 22: The Good German
  • May (no date set): Letters from Iwo Jima and Venus
  • June (no date set): The Lives of Others
Unfortunately I was not able to find DVD dates for After the Wedding (Denmark) or Days of Glory (Algeria). Days of Glory is in limited theatrical release right now, and After the Wedding will be released in the US on March 30th. Hopefull they'll be in Seattle soon.

So after you've hit the DVD store and the theaters, head over to Purr Cocktail Lounge - 1518 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill - for the SGN Oscar Party! The red carpet review begins at 4:00 pm, and the show starts at 5:00 pm.

Ken Watanabe in Letters from Iwo Jima, photo courtesy of Warner Bros.; Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt in Babel, photo coutesy of Paramount Classics; Eddie Murphy, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose in Dreamgirls, photo courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution LLC.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bjork to perform at Sasquatch Music Festival

The lineup for this year's Sasquatch Music Festival won't be officially announced until February 20, but Seattle Gay News has learned from a reliable source that Bjork is among the performers for the event, taking place Memorial Day weekend at The Gorge Amphitheatre - two hours from Seattle. The appearance by the Icelandic diva at the festival confirms a rumor first mentioned in the Seattle Gay News on February 2, in "The Music Lounge" column (

At this time, Seattle Gay News has also learned that the Beastie Boys and Arcade Fire will be announced in this Tuesday's festival announcement as well. (Photo of Bjork, courtesy of artist management; "Vespertine" promotional photo package).

Seattle Out and Proud's $100,026.33 debt

I have received a couple emails from readers who are outraged with Seattle Out and Proud (SOAP)because they have not paid their $100,026.33 bill for last year's Seattle Pride event. One reader said: "Its like going to a restaurant, ordering a bunch of food and drinks and walking out without paying the bill. A person doing so would certainly be charged with a crime. Whether legal or not, Seattle Pride has committed a crime a against the [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender] community."

The Seattle Gay News had been sitting on this news for several weeks while we developed our story. We held out hope that SOAP would step forward and pay their bill or, at the very least, negotiate a payment plan by February 15, the deadline the Seattle Center had established. However, that deadline has come and gone.

According to the Seattle Center, planning Seattle Pride 2007, which is a little more than four months away, would have had to have started by that date. Also, the Seattle Center executive staff concluded last November that last years debt must be addressed before a new event can be staged. For these reasons alone, the SGN felt compelled to move forward with the story this week.

As Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has said, "The Gay Pride Parade is a lot bigger than this organization." The decisions of SOAP not only effect the few people on its board or among its membership, but the entire region's GLBT population and its allies. According to SOAP's sponsorship materials, nearly 200,000 people lined up to watch the parade and another 50,000 joined in the festivities at the Seattle Center.

SOAP had signed a three year contract with the Seattle Center last year. Under the terms of the contract, which were later approved by the Seattle City Council, the Seattle Center would provide the buildings and the grounds at "no cost" if SOAP reimbursed the city for its operational costs. "You always hope that when you sign a contract with somebody that they understand their obligations and that they will make good on it," Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark told the SGN this week.

Writing this weeks article about SOAP's 2006 debt was a difficult process, not only due to all the components of the article, but because I knew the potential consequences of such an article. SOAP has been hurriedly asking for sponsorships from major corporations, especially in these last few weeks. I believe few corporations will want to sponsor an event, when the money they donate could conceivable be applied to last years debt. There is no assurance SOAP will have the financial capability to mount a 2007 event.

However, the only people who can be blamed for SOAP's current situation is SOAP itself, more specifically, its leadership. At no point did SOAP approach the community or its sponsors to explain the situation. They had six and half months to solicit donations and support. SOAP President Albert-Gauthier also confirmed that the organization owes money to other creditors from last year's event, in addition to the Seattle Center. Clearly, SOAP knew it did not have sufficient funds to pay its debts.

Time has run out for SOAP. They have not paid off its debts or sincerely attempted to dialogue with the Seattle Center about a payment plan. The region's GLBT community cannot wait another month, if SOAP cannot quickly lay out a workable plan for addressing its past obligations while organizing for Seattle Pride 2007. As Clark concluded, "This is one organization that is clearly in financial trouble, but that should not cast a shadow on the whole community."

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Police reunion tour coming to Seattle in June

Seattle Gay News has learned that the much-anticipated reunion tour by The Police will land at Key Arena on June 6, in one of a dozen (or so) just-announced dates for the trio's comeback road outing.

The threesome, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers, will kick the tour off in Vancouver, BC on May 28.

More news, including on sale ticket date and prices, will be in this week's issue of the Seattle Gay News.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Grammy Watch: Best wishes to SGN's nominated friends

Several artists nominated for Grammy Awards this year have either interviewed with Seattle Gay News, invited us to VIP performances or welcomed us backstage for in-person hellos. On behalf of our staff, I'd like to wish our musical friends the very best at Sunday's pre and main Grammy ceremonies. We heart you! (Pictured: Wolfmother, image courtesy of Interscope Records).

Brendan Benson, of The Raconteurs
Chris Thile
Death Cab for Cutie
Dierks Bentley
James Blunt
Karrin Allyson
Sarah McLachlan
Snow Patrol

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Grammy Watch: Blunt and T.I. to perform, Best Pop Vocal Collaboration

As expected, James Blunt was officially added to the list of performers for Sunday night's Grammy Awards telecast, as was nominated rapper T.I. and country trio Rascal Flatts, who kick off a big tour tonight in West Virginia. I was on the phone this morning with Jason Aldean, who is opening tonight's show for Rascal Flatts and for most of their tour, and he said the Rascals are dashing to LA over the weekend, then rejoining the tour after the Grammys.

Tomorrow's issue of the Seattle Gay News has predictions and picks for 10 key categories, including Album, Record and Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.

Here are the nominees for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration.

For Once in My Life - Tony Bennett & Stevie Wonder
One - Mary J. Blige & U2
Always on Your Side - Sheryl Crow & Sting
Promiscuous - Nelly Furtado & Timbaland
Hips Don't Lie - Shakira & Wyclef Jean

Will win: One

You take this year's most nominated artist, Ms. Blige, and a multi-winning Grammy act, U2, and you have an irresistable combo that voters will gladly checkmark on their ballots.

Should win: Hips Don't Lie

The only collaboration that doesn't seem forced in this lineup, with the possible exception of Furtado and Timbaland's groovy duet, is the Latin-tinged sizzler offered by Colombian diva Shakira and ex Fugee Wyclef Jean. I could easily snore through anything Bennett does, the Crow-Sting pairing is interesting at best, and U2 and Blige over-work a great rock classic.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Grammy Watch: more performers added, Best Electronic/Dance Album

Someone wrote into the Seattle Gay News today asking if Christina Aguilera and James Blunt were indeed performing on Sunday night's telecast. Aguilera is confirmed, but Blunt is not. But I do believe he's unofficially on the program. He's nominated five times, and that usually earns you a performing slot on the awards show.

Added to the lineup, though, are Shakira and Wyclef Jean dueting on "Hips Don't Lie", Lionel Richie and Best New Artist nominee Chris Brown. Grammy predictions and picks for 10 key categories are featured in this Friday's issue of the Seattle Gay News. In the next few days, we'll send out "best wishes" to various nominees via management, including Dierks Bentley, Snow Patrol, Goldfrapp, Arctic Monkeys, and The Raconteurs. A viewing party for Seattle-area members of The Recording Academy will be at The Triple Door.

Here are the nominees for Best Electronic/Dance Album.

Supernature - Goldfrapp
Confessions on a Dance Floor - Madonna
A Lively Mind - Oakenfold
Fundamental - Pet Shop Boys
The Garden - Zero 7

Will win: Confessions on a Dance Floor

The Material Girl was out-diva'd at the Grammys years ago by Kylie Minogue for Best Dance Recording - awarded to a single/track. She faces another catfight, this time with blonde bombshell Alison Goldfrapp. But, Madonna hasn't won a Grammy since her Ray of Light album and The Recording Academy simply can't ignore a superstar in a category she pretty much defines. Plus, she opened last year's awards show - and paybacks are in order.

Should win: Confessions on a Dance Floor

Goldfrapp impressed, Pet Shop Boys surprised - but Madonna re-introduced disco balls and roller skates to dance clubs with her hugely successful pop-tronica album, and it'd be a sin to deny her a much-deserved glittery moment.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Draft Taylor for bishop

The Very Rev. Robert Taylor is a humble person, a devout man of God, and cherished local treasure. We cannot afford to lose him to another diocese, which I feel is bound to happen, probably at a far distant point (once the Episcopal Church, as a whole, decides to look at the qualifications of bishop candidates and not their sexual orientation).

Since 1999, Taylor has served as the Dean of the 75-year-old Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Originally from South Africa, he came to the U.S. in 1980 after suffering harassment and threats of violence for his anti-apartheid activities.

In addition to his duties as dean, he is a member of the board of trustees for the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He also serves on an advisory board for the Seattle Art Museum and was the original Chair of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County.

Last year, the Episcopal Church voted to place a moratorium on candidates for bishop whose “manner of life” would further strain its relationship with the Anglican Communion of which it is a member.

If Taylor wasn’t Gay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the list of bishop candidates of a half dozen diocese around the country. Fortunately, the Diocese of California had the fortitude last May to include him among their top list of seven finalists for bishop.

Currently, the Diocese of Olympia, which includes an area of Western Washington from Vancouver, Washington, to Blaine, has nominated their finalists. Two Washingtonians, a Texan, an Ohioan, and a Marylander have been nominated as finalists.

I do not wish to question the qualifications of the candidates, nor compare their backgrounds. Nor do I believe I am at all qualified – being a Lutheran – to suggest Taylor be added to that list of finalists. However, this is an opportunity for the Episcopalians of our state to – at least – nominate a man who has walked his talk, loved with his whole heart and has a record of proven leadership that spans the globe.

At its convention last fall, the Diocese of Olympia adopted a resolution saying that no persons should be denied consideration for ecclesiastical office due to his or her sexual orientation. None of the candidates are openly Gay or Lesbian, so the addition of Taylor would be a good opportunity to show their sincerity.

Additional candidates can be nominated by petition until February 26th.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Grammy Watch: Best Female R & B Vocal

Look for a nice Grammy spread in this Friday's issue, on February 9. At this time, I want to wish Seattle-based Death Cab for Cutie, who interviewed with Seattle Gay News back in December 2005, the very best at next weekend's Grammy Awards. They are nominated twice this year.

Here are the nominees for Best Female R & B Vocal Performance.

Ring the Alarm - Beyonce

Be Without You - Mary J. Blige

Don't Forget About Us - Mariah Carey

Day Dreaming - Natalie Cole

I Am Not My Hair - India.Arie

Will win: Be Without You

The only competition Blige has in this category is from Beyonce, and even that isn't anything to write about.

Should win: Be Without You

Blige has a string of great singles, but none has ever sounded this good.

Photo of Mary J. Blige, courtesy of the artist's official website.