Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe will celebrate the achievements of a leading Ugandan gay rights activist at an upcoming prizegiving for America's Logo TV network. The bisexual rocker will salute John Abdallah Wambere, the head of the Spectrum Uganda Initiatives campaign group, at the New York bash next Monday (23Jun14), when pioneers in the gay rights movement will be honoured at the first-ever Trailblazers event.
The efforts of Wambere and his fellow equal rights activists were dealt a big blow last year (13) when Ugandan government officials passed the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, which makes same-sex relations in the country illegal. The crime carries a sentence of life imprisonment.
Meanwhile, Orange Is the New Black stars Laverne Cox and Lea DeLaria will also be feted at the ceremony, alongside Brooklyn Nets basketball star Jason Collins, who became the first openly gay man to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) when he was signed last year (13).
The event will feature a performance from Australian singer/songwriter Sia, who will hit the stage with the New York City Gay Men's Chorus.
Rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have teamed up with producers of Broadway play Mothers And Sons for a special HIV/AIDS fundraiser. Producer Lewis launched his own charity, the 30/30 Project, in April (14), after revealing his mother, Julie, has been HIV positive for 30 years.
After smashing a crowdfunding campaign goal to raise $100,000 (£62,500) to help build a health centre in Africa, the Same Love hitmakers are now working with bosses of the Tony-nominated play to bring in more money for the cause.
Mothers and Sons, which features veteran actress Tyne Daly, centres on a mother who returns to New York City years after her son died from AIDS, to visit his former partner who is now married with a son.
Macklemore and Lewis praise the play in a statement, which reads: "This vital play keeps the message going strong, and we are proud to lend our voices to help this cause."
On 11 June (14), post-show donations will be collected, and all the money received from merchandise sold will go towards 30/30. In addition, Lewis' mother Julie will join the cast for a post-show talk to discuss the work of her son's charity.
The aim of The 30/30 Project is to open at least four health centres in Kenya and Uganda in the coming years in a bid to provide support and treatment to sufferers of the disease over the next three decades.
The centres will be built in partnership with officials at Construction for Change, a non-profit organisation based in the duo's hometown of Seattle, Washington.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have smashed their crowdfunding goal to raise $100,000 (£62,500) to help build a health centre in Africa. Producer Lewis recruited his bandmate to front the 30/30 Project last month (Apr14), when he launched the charity effort in conjunction with his family after revealing his mother, Julie, is HIV positive.
The Same Love hitmakers have so far won the support of more than 1,200 backers, who have donated over $137,600 (£86,043). The campaign draws to a close on Wednesday (21May14).
The success of the first phase of the project will enable organisers to cover the costs of building the first medical facility in Nsambe, Malawi, where one in 10 people are infected with HIV.
The aim of The 30/30 Project is to open at least four other health centres in Kenya and Uganda in the coming years in a bid to provide support and treatment to sufferers of the disease for the next three decades.
The centres will be built in partnership with officials at Construction for Change, a non-profit organisation based in the duo's home of Seattle, Washington.
Grammy Award-winning producer Ryan Lewis is spearheading a new fundraising campaign to build health centres around the world after opening up about his mother's health battle with HIV. The Same Love hitmaker is fronting a new promotional video for the 30/30 Project, which he has launched with his family and his rap collaborator Macklemore.
In the six-minute promo, Lewis introduces fans to "the strongest woman that I know", his mother Julie, and his older sisters Teresa and Laura, as they go public with their story.
Opening the clip, the star explains that Julie contracted the disease unknowingly after receiving a blood transfusion following the birth of her first child, Teresa, in 1984, but she wasn't diagnosed with the illness until the summer of 1990, two years after welcoming Lewis.
Luckily, she did not pass on the virus to her two youngest children and, despite being told her chances of survival were slim, Lewis says, "Thanks to advanced medicine and healthcare available here in the U.S., my mum has lived despite her odds."
He adds, "To honour the 30 years my mum has been a survivor, our family is raising funds to build health centres worldwide that will stand strong for at least 30 years. We're calling it the 30/30 Project."
Lewis is now calling on fans to follow his lead and dig deep to help them reach their first goal of $100,000 (£62,500), which will cover the costs to open a health centre in Nsambe, Malawi, where one in 10 people are infected with HIV.
He hopes supporters will continue to keep giving to fund at least four other medical facilities in Kenya and Uganda, which will be built in partnership with Construction for Change, a non-profit organisation based in his home of Seattle, Washington.
In exchange for donations, Lewis is offering up a variety of gifts, including T-shirts, tote bags, signed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis posters and VIP concert tickets to an upcoming gig.
The first phase of the Indiegogo.com campaign was launched on 22 April (14) and will run until 21 May (14).
As WENN went to press, more than $8,500 (£5,313) of the $100,000 target had been raised.
Lewis first revealed his mother was HIV positive in a Rolling Stone interview last summer (13), during which he revealed the lawsuit over the transfusion put him through college.
Actress Mary-Louise Parker and some of her former Weeds co-stars are reuniting to bake brownies with a lucky fan for charity. The Emmy winner has launched a campaign raffle on fundraising website Omaze.com, and for just $10 (£6), fans will be entered into a contest to win the grand prize of spending a day in Los Angeles with Parker, Kevin Nealon and Hunter Parrish, while baking the decadent dessert and enjoying a best-of-Weeds marathon.
The money raised from the contest will go towards Hope North Uganda, an organisation which helps support the young victims of the African country's civil war.
Parker tells Us Weekly, "The raffle benefits escaped child soldiers in Uganda, a school I'm working with there. It's in a really tenuous place financially and I'm trying to turn it around and give the kids a chance. Kids' whole villages have been wiped out. It's harrowing and heartbreaking. They have been left with nothing and we just want to help. This is their only chance. I want to help kids everywhere."
For fans of the popular series who are hoping to incorporate the much-talked about special ingredient used on Weeds into the brownie batter, Parker jokes, "Whatever helps raise money for the kids, I'm down to do. I'd probably make oxycontin brownies if they asked - whatever! Just kidding."
The contest ends on 20 April (14).
Statements by Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharaoh ushered in public outcries against the lack of black women on Saturday Night Live. The series made some swift changes and brought Kerry Washington to host, then added Sasheer Zamata to the cast. And yet, the show is still lacking in people of color and LGBTQ cast members and opts for stereotypes over cultural commentary. For a series based on finding the humor in contemporary culture and politics, the show is vastly unrepresentative of America.
To respond to the scandal, Kerry Washington hosted an episode and played Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Beyonce in one sketch. However, the sketch was more cocky and mocking than apologetic. Washington went on to play the stereotypical roles of a gum-chewing assistant with an attitude, a bawdy dating show contestant, and a confused Miss Uganda in a sketch (below) that crossed a lot of lines and had nothing to say.
The characters in the sketch were Miss Universe contestants who represented “fringe countries” like Bolivia, Moldova, and Uganda. Washington walked around aimlessly asking questions in a convincing African accent. But what did the sketch have to say other than to mock people from underdeveloped nations?
Since she joined the cast this season, the lion's share of Zamata's roles have involved dancing in music videos. She is relegated to dancing in the background in sketches like "Resolution Revolution," "28 Reasons," and "Before They Were Stars," and is little more than a Lil Kim lookalike in "What's Poppin'." The sketch below has a lot to say about race and Black History Month, but doesn't offer Zamata any lines or material.
Saturday Night Live isn't much closer at all to embracing "diversity." Finally deeming themselves able to do a Scandal sketch with an Olivia Pope, they further exemplify their monochromatic lineup with the questionable choice of having a white actor play Huck, a character portrayed by Latino actor Guillermo Diaz.
While the Scandal sketch falls admittedly in a gray area of the issue, a separate sketch from the same episode is outright racist. Cecily Strong starred in "Jewelry Party" as a Venezuelan bride who doesn’t realize her husband is part of the Men’s Rights Movement and a character of questionable morality. With no Latino cast members, and the majority of its Latino characters taking this form (igorant or unintelligent), Saturday Night Live is painting a terribly negative image of the group. See for yourself:
As SNL's ratings slip, we have to wonder if Americans are getting tired of laughing at jokes that shoot for uninspired, ignorant jabs. The show is long overdue for a return to sketches that lampoon popular culture and politics, not just shoot for easy stereotypes.
Gwyneth Paltrow turned the tables on her pal Chelsea Handler and interviewed her as part of the L.A. Live Talks series in Glendale, California on Thursday night (13Mar14). At the top of the chat, the comedienne, who was promoting her new book Uganda Be Kidding Me, revealed she asked Paltrow to interview her because she wanted someone "more interesting than myself", adding, "I needed a friend who was able to speak, and a lot of people in this industry can't." Paltrow joked, "And I'm here to prove you long".
Smash-hit Mormon musical The Book Of Mormon is to debut in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the faith's headquarters is based. The show, which pokes fun at Mormon missionaries in Uganda, will run for a month at The Capitol Theatre next summer (15).
The venue is less than half a mile from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' flagship temple.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker's irreverent production debuted on Broadway in 2011. The show's West End production received six Olivier Awards nominations on Monday (10Mar14).
Chelsea Handler, best-selling author and highly successful comedian and television personality, took to the stage of the 92nd Street Y to discuss her new book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, with journalist and humanitarian Ronan Farrow. The release of her fifth book has been highly anticipated, since four years have passed since Handler published her last title, Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me. As the proud owner of her four books, you could imagine my excitement when it was announced there would be a signing after the discussion at the Y for anyone in attendance. To no one's surprise, the theater sold out of every copy of Uganda Be Kidding Me.
Handler talked about everything from her brother's passing when she was 10 (and how she tried to get attention in all the wrong ways thereafter) to the current events in pop culture. “There’s only so many years you can talk about Justin Bieber,” she said. “I mean, I don’t care about him.” Believe it or not, this funny lady has quite the serious side. In fact, she admitted that she actually prefers to play it grounded. She went on to talk to the audience about the fine line between light-hearted comedy and just being plain old mean. “If you care too much about what people think, you won’t succeed in what you want,” she said while confessing how she never reads what people post about her online.
For anyone who has read one of Handler's books before, you would be lying through your teeth if you say you didn’t burst out laughing frequently throughout. “I just love that feeling,” she said of the joys of writing. "It’s like being a little kid again, I’m having fun alone.” When asked how she accomplished being such a successful author, “I just did it, it’s complete luck. It’s not like I’m a literary genius.” Handler did credit author Dave Sedaris with being her inspiration to begin writing books.
Uganda Be Kidding Me is a collection of stories from various trips that Handler, along with some friends and family, has gone on. She admits to giving her traveling companions no other option but to go on these all expense paid vacations with her. “It’s a free for all,” she said to Farrow, “but you have to know you’ll probably be in my book.” Along with all her other publications, it’s almost impossible to put it down once you start. In fact, I had to force myself to stop reading so I could enjoy it in more than one sitting. If you love hilariously uncensored stories (and lets be honest, who doesn’t?), I highly recommend you go out and pick up a copy of Uganda Be Kidding Me, in stores today.
I like puns. If they are done well. The problem is that they are often done badly. Chelsea Handler's new book, "Uganda Be Kidding Me" falls squarely in that category. What's it supposed to mean? Some dumb version of "You Gotta Be Kidding Me?" It also just made me wish that she would go away. Yes, bad puns offend me that much.
I have never been a big fan of Handler's — yes, I've watched her show. It's not a blind dislike here. But I never understood why her doomed network sitcom, Are You There, Chelsea? starring Laura Prepon, even got greenlit. It's a good thing Prepon, who I have been a big fan of since her days on That 70's Show, moved on to the far superior Orange Is the New Black.
She's far from the only person that I wish would see their Fame Clock expire: Carrot Top, pretty much all of the talking heads on Fox News, Kim Kardashian... Handler first really got on my bad side with her very tasteless turn as the host of the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010 (though I still think they should just have been called the MTV Reality Show Awards by that time). It's probably a telling point that she wasn't deemed fit to return by an awards show that once had Madonna writhe around on stage in a wedding dress while singing, "Like A Virgin."
Of course, many may point out a big reason that she got her show in the first place was because she was dating Ted Haubert, the head of the E! Entertainment Network at the time before he went to NBC. (Where her Prepon-led show landed. Hmm.) While romantic relationships between actors and their producers are not terribly uncommon, we're not brought to consider nepotism in regards to Katey Sagal on Sons of Anarchy (she is Kurt Sutter's wife) or Christa Miller on Scrubs and Cougar Town (she's married to Bill Lawrence). Because they actually have talent, and we couldn't imagine anyone else playing their respective characters, regardless of off-screen connections.
So, maybe the clock will strike on Handler's Fame Clock. Then someone equally undeserving will step in.