Bill Condon Hub




News: Anderson Cooper, Dreamgirls Feud, a Killers Christmas

road.jpg "New York, New York, it's a helluva town": Broadway songwriter and actress Betty Comden dies at 89. "Comden and [Adolph] Green wrote for nine films including the musicals 'Singin' in the Rain' (1952), 'The Band Wagon' (1953), 'It's Always Fair Weather' (1955) and 'Bells are Ringing' (1960)...Among the songs written by the Comden and Green team were 'Just in Time,' 'The Party's Over' and 'Make Someone Happy.'"

Knowles_hudsonroad.jpg All About Effie: Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls feud. (My review)

road.jpg The Killers set to release Christmas tune "A Great Big Sleigh" on December 5. Flowers: "There are some great Christmas tunes that have been recorded over the years from the likes of George Michael and John Lennon. Sometime you forget. You get so caught up in business and being an adult that you forget to have fun and enjoy things and be nice to people."

road.jpg Time offers up their list of the top 100 most influential albums of all time.

road.jpg Princes William and Harry to hold Diana concert at new Wembley stadium next year to mark tenth anniversary of their mother's death: "It is understood that the Princes hope that by celebrating their mother's life on what would have been her 46th birthday, the sting will be taken out of August 31 - the date on which she died in Paris. Because next year is the tenth anniversary of her death, they are aware that the date is bound to resonate publicly more than ever."

Zarfroad.jpg All My Children to introduce transgender character who will make the transition from man to woman: "The character, a flamboyant rock star known as Zarf, kisses the lesbian character Bianca and much drama ensues. The storyline begins with Thursday's episode of the daytime drama."

road.jpg Big week for gay rights in Brazil: Discrimination law passed, gay adoption allowed, a campaign against homophobia funded, and a big step toward civil unions in Sao Paolo.

road.jpg Page Six reports on the CNN anchor and the boy from Ipanema: "Anderson Cooper was friendly at a Brazilian airport on Friday. 'Hi, I'm Anderson,' he said to the 'attractive' man standing next to him at the flight connection monitors in the Salvador terminal, a spy told The Post's Braden Keil. The 25ish fellow was wearing a tight T-shirt, cut-off shorts and an earring. According to our witness, the unshaven, solo-traveling CNN star chatted for 20 minutes with the stranger before the fellow had to say goodbye and board his flight to Rio."


Dreamgirls: A Review
In a Dazzling Adaptation, Jennifer Hudson Rockets to Fame

**WARNING SPOILERS**

Last night I had the opportunity to see one of the first screenings of Dreamgirls, the Bill Condon film adaptation of the Broadway musical, and Condon has pulled off an inspiring and transcendent new classic. The musical production comes alive in its cinematic form so fluidly that at times you almost forget you're not watching a live production. I can't remember the last time I saw an audience provide such physical and vocal responses to onscreen performances. It's a great feeling to come to a film with high expectations and have them exceeded as that's so often not the case.

Dreamgirls1_1You might think that with star power like Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Danny Glover that the jockeying for the spotlight would be intense, but there is really no competition here. This is Jennifer Hudson's movie and she is astonishing.

Dreamgirls will make Jennifer Hudson a superstar. Her vocal performances are epic. No less than four times did the audience erupt into spontaneous ovations as she finished her numbers.

The pivotal scene on which the plot of the movie spins, when Effie is told that she's been forced out of the Dreamettes, is delivered in a dazzling musical one-two punch. As the number "It's All Over," a tour-de-force in its deft boxing match-like staging between Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Foxx), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles), Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), and Effie (Hudson) winds up we are left with Effie realizing, defiantly, that she's having her dream snatched from her. The movie takes a beautifully-choreographed deep breath before Hudson slides into her solitary and powerful rendition of "And I'm Telling You". This is the moment in the film everyone will be talking about. Hudson's chill-inducing performance made every hair on my scalp stand on end.

Dg2As an audience member there's no way to avoid looking at Hudson's performance against Beyoncé's, or to avoid noticing the way in which the show's plot mirrors the offscreen trajectory of these singers. At one point, Taylor points out to Deena Jones that she's being put up as lead singer because her voice is bland and has no character. Effie is the one with the voice, but she's being relegated to the back row because she is the 'ugly duckling'.

And you root for Hudson because of this. She does not have Beyoncé's model looks (which undergo their own stunning metamorphosis during the film) or her figure, and the filmmakers make no attempt to hide Hudson's heft in the film. But the differences only make you root for Effie even more. Hudson owns this film. It is all hers, and it is beautiful to watch, at the same time realizing that Hudson's real-life story (from American Idol contestant to what should and will be an Oscar-nominated star vehicle) bears an uncanny resemblance to the one unfolding before you.

Jenniferhudson_2Make no mistake. Beyoncé turns in a rock-solid performance which in a world without Hudson would garner acclaim. "Listen," one of the new and welcome additions to the show's set of stand-out tracks, wakes you up to the fact that there is another great singer in this movie, but in the end it's like holding a candle to Hudson, who has shot into Hollywood like a brilliant comet.

Fortunately for Sharon Leal and Anika Noni Rose (the other two members of the Dreams), the strength of the other singers offers them some deserved coattails to ride into the public's awareness, but they're essentially bit players here. Jamie Foxx gives a polished performance as the show's villain, but the return of Eddie Murphy makes it difficult for him to get in the spotlight. Murphy is as entertaining as ever as James 'Thunder' Early, the womanizing soul singer who offers the Dreamettes their first opportunity. Keith Robinson, as Effie's brother CC White, delivers a standout performance as well.

The wardrobe and sets in Dreamgirls bring back the slick, glistening environments of the late 60's and early 70's, and in the production is an obvious love for the glitz and excitement of live performance. This is not Evita whose characters were given little or no chance to breathe between numbers. And it is more three-dimensional and ebullient than Chicago. Dreamgirls is on its way to the Oscars.

Related
Dreamgirls Underway [tr]
Dreamgirls: A Featurette [tr]


News: Outgames, Jennifer Hudson, Tom Ford, Milk & HIV

road.jpg Montreal's Outgames deep in the red. $3.5 million owed to the city of Montreal.

Jenniferhudsonroad.jpg Jennifer Hudson glams it up in Dreamgirls.

road.jpg Arizona recently became the first state to vote down a bigoted amendment banning gay marriage. Pam over at Pam's House Blend has a demographic breakdown of how the voting went. According to exit polls, moderates, college grads, white men, white women, voters earning over $50K, younger voters, and city dwellers voted against it. Hispanics were split. And the majority of blacks, seniors, conservative Republicans, folks in rural areas voted for it.

road.jpg Six airlines — Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to allow passengers to charge iPods in flight and watch iPod content on seat back displays.

road.jpg Drag queen stalking Michael Jackson: "This person is plaguing his life and has sent some seriously dodgy letters. They are from a man who works as a drag queen in the seedy Kings Cross area of Sydney, Australia. The content is eerie to say the least and this person is seemingly obsessed with Michael."

road.jpg Page Six hears that Tom Ford told execs at Estee Lauder that he wanted his new Black Orchid fragrance to smell like a man's crotch...

road.jpg Gays.com domain name sells for $500K.

road.jpg Study: Protein found in milk may hinder HIV.

Ozzyroad.jpg Ozzy from Survivor: Cook Islands has a porn (straight porn, that is...) past. OMG Blog has the NSFW goods.

road.jpg It's not a nice day for a wax wedding. After complaints from Brad Pitt, Madame Tussaud's has decided to hold off on holding a wedding for its wax figures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Said Pitt's publicist: "I personally found it a little odd that they were re-creating a wedding that never really happened. As Brad's representative, I found it disturbing." Besides, Pitt has said, "Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able."


News: Fountain of Youth, Bear Kiss, and Jennifer Hudson

road.jpg Wireless iPods, soon?

Stathamgownroad.jpg In the latest addition to Jason Statham's body of work, Crank, he hits the road on a motorcycle in a hospital gown and lets it all hang out...

road.jpg David Copperfield says he has found the Fountain of Youth on an island he owns in the Southern Bahamas: "I've discovered a true phenomenon. You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting."

Marc_jacobs_1road.jpg Watch out for bears. New Marc Jacobs campaign features bearded men macking in the woods.

road.jpg The Pet Shop Boys have announced that they'll be touring the United States this fall.

road.jpg People having too much fun? Chairman of Public Safety Committee: NYC nightclubs a "modern day Sodom and Gomorrah."

road.jpg MO: The three-step rule to street cruising.

road.jpg According to Tom O'Neil at The Envelope, Jennifer Hudson is already being tipped for an Oscar nom in the Dreamgirls role that will turn her into a major superstar: "A test-screening audience not only went crazy for the pic recently in San Diego, but viewers went utterly bonkers over Hudson. Now she can laugh off her loss on 'American Idol.'...Already, she's the frontrunner for the supporting-actress Oscar. Actually, it's surprising she's not a frontrunner for best actress considering Holliday beat her costar Sheryl Lee Ralph (who portrayed Deena) for the top acting honor at the Tonys, but studio chiefs plan to separate the film Dreamdivas at the Oscars, demoting Hudson to supporting because Beyonce has more screen time. And, well, probably just because she's Beyonce."

road.jpg Joe Scarborough asks, is Bush an idiot?


On the Shortbus: Gay Filmmakers at Cannes

Shortbus_1

road.jpg John Cameron Mitchell's steamy exploration of character through sexual behavior, Shortbus, is long on buzz. Mitchell: "I actually like pornography, but I don't consider this film pornographic. I define — and most people do — pornography as devoid of artistic intent. The purpose of pornography is to arouse. I don't think anyone got [sexually aroused] watching this film. There is a certain provocation we had in mind with this film, but more important than that, we wanted to use sex as a metaphor for things that were, perhaps, universal, themes like connection and love and fear. We just thought the language of sex could be used the way the language of music could be used in a musical."

Dreamgirls_2road.jpg Dreamgirls cast glams it up on the terrace of the Martinez hotel...

road.jpg As Elton John was presenting the Chopard Trophy to Transamerica's Kevin Zegers, a photographer interrupted and touched off Elton's short fuse: "If you saw 'Transamerica' ... I'm talking ... you fuckwit, fucking photographers you should be shot, you should be all shot. Thank you."

road.jpg Ian McKellen says the Catholic church should welcome The Da Vinci Code: "I am only too happy to believe that Jesus was married. I know that the Catholic Church has problems with gay people and I thought this would be absolute proof that Jesus was not gay."

Almodovarroad.jpg Pedro Almodóvar's Volver "has captured the hearts of everyone at Cannes": "I went into a light and very agreeable trance watching this movie, which Almodóvar unfolds with a master's confidence: its ingenuities and contrivances float out of the screen. The cinematography and art direction by José Luis Alcaine and Salvador Parra give everything a gorgeous intensity that has the look of a Douglas Sirk film - and Almodóvar has something of Sirk's passionate empathy with women, mixed with a playful, gay sensibility."


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