“Come on there and sing ‘Tainted Love.’ I think you’re fantastic. And I think you’re a bold and brave and beautiful young man. And I admire you, Danny Noriega.” – Rosie O’Donnell reaches out and invites the “American Idol” cast-off to join her “R Family Vacations” cruise to the Mexican Riviera. Of course, there’s a catch – she wants to sing with him!
We open this week’s column with “American Idol” drama. According to reports, season one second runner-up Nikki McKibbin called a friend and threatened to kill herself. The friend called the police, who went to McKibbin’s house. Nikki battled the cops, who allegedly took her away and locked her up in a nut house. Since I’m close to Nikki, I immediately contacted her to see if she was OK. She told me that she broke her foot and had a bad reaction to some pain medication. When she refused to go to the hospital in an ambulance, she was held for 48 hours of observation. End of story.
Nikki had some advice for contestant David Hernandez. “You know, I stripped before ‘Idol.’ Who cares? It was no big deal. By not talking about it, it seems like he’s ashamed of it. I say just go out and own it.” Of course, Hernandez had a perfect opportunity this week when he was asked on the air to talk about his previous jobs. Instead, he talked about being a waiter and a student. America collectively yawned, the gays turned on him, and now he’s history.
This past week, I was with another “AI” alum, Justin Guarini, at the annual Southland Theatre Artists Group Event. For the past 24 years, the STAGE benefit has raised money for HIV/AIDS organizations throughout Southern California. Each year, the show features stars of stage and screen singing the work of a single composer. This year, the composer was Burt Bacharach. The first act consisted of an abbreviated version of “Promises, Promises,” while the second act was a traditional concert. The leads in “Promises” (Daniel Gurwin and Vicki Lewis) were marvelous, but the highlight was having original Broadway cast member Donna McKechnie effortlessly reprise her version of “Turkey Lurkey Time” with original choreography (alongside Valarie Pettiford, Sandahl Bergman and Jane Lanier). The second act opened with the legendary Marilyn Maye singing “What The World Needs Now.” A promising start which was followed by such people as Justin, Valarie, Donna, Stefanie Powers, Betty Garrett, Nancy Dussault, Catte Adams and Jai Rodriguez. However, the stand outs were Deneice Williams and Melissa Manchester. These two ladies were worth the price of admission. And the piece de resistance was Carol Cooke, who routinely steals the show. This year, she got us laughing, but also had many in the audience audibly sobbing as she remembered those she has lost to AIDS. A great lady and a fabulous event – which, incidentally, raised over $350,000 for AIDS Project LA.
I didn’t get to tell you, but I recently went with Jenifer Lewis to LA’s Gay and Lesbian Center to see “Stay Forever: The Life and Music of Dusty Springfield,” which was co-produced by Jorja Fox. Due to the limitations of this presentation, certain aspects of the show couldn’t be fleshed out <> making it somewhat unclear whether this was an actual play or a very good lounge act. What is undeniable is that Kristen Holly Smith is a goldmine of talent and knowledge (she co-wrote the piece). She does an amazing job recreating every era of Springfield’s life – in appearance, body language and, most impressively, vocal style. Obviously this is a labor of love for everyone involved, and Jorja tells me this is only the beginning. You can follow the progress of the show at http://www.StayForeverDusty.com.
BTW, Jorja also revealed that she won’t be returning to “CSI” – at least not this season.
In other exciting LA theater news, it’s been announced that the Hollywood Bowl will be presenting a semi-staged version of “Les Miserables” August 8-10. The production will be directed by Richard Jay-Alexander (he was associate director of the original Broadway production) and conducted by Kevin Stites. J. Mark McVey will play “Valjean,” Brian Stokes Mitchell as “Jarvet,” Melora Hardin as “Fantine,” Lea Michele as “Cosette,” and fulfilling a lifelong goal, Rosie O’ Donnell as “Madame Thenardier.”
Rosie’s gonna be awfully busy. Next month, she takes part in semi-staged performances of “No, No, Nanette” for Encores! in NYC. And before “Les Miz,” she’ll once again join Cyndi Lauper for the “True Colors” tour, which kicks off on May 31 at Boston’s Bank of America Pavilion. Carson Kressley will be hosting the shows, which will feature such acts as The B-52s, Joan Jett, Deborah Cox, The Indigo Girls, Wanda Sykes and Nona Hendryx. The 24-date tour is sponsored by Logo and will benefit the Stonewall Community Foundation. Bravo!
Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp are once again reprising their roles in “Rent” for a national tour – optimistically titled “The Final Rent Tour” (tell that to Carol Channing, who probably has another “Hello, Dolly” tour in her!). Since there is currently a non-final tour on the road till June, the boys won’t hit the road until January, and may not end until the Apocalypse! And, once again, no one invited that Rubin-Vega chick.
It’s only a matter of time before everyone jumps on the bandwagon and wants to be gay. The latest to come out of the closet is Jaason Simmons, one of the least memorable cast members of “Baywatch.” No offense to the now-brunette Jaason, but I think he looked better back in the day, when the bronzed Aussie regularly flicked his long blond tresses and sported bigger tits than Alexandra Paul (which, admittedly, wasn’t very difficult). He currently lives in California with his boyfriend of eight months, Irish actor John O’Callaghan. O’Callaghan adopted a now 6-year-old Ugandan orphan, Odin, in 2006. The couple plans to go to Canada, legally marry, and then Jaason will take steps to legally become Odin’s second father. After eight months? Are they lesbians? One hitch in these plans might be Jaason’s wife. Oh, yes, Simmons married a woman when he was 20, and they’ve been known to turn up at various gay watering holes in West Hollywood. Was he straight? Bi? Perhaps a Green Card situation? And aren’t they still married? Inquiring minds want to know…
Speaking of lesbians, this week’s “Parade” magazine features an interview with Jodie Foster, who opens up about why she’s never fallen in love. This will surely come as news to her live-in partner of 15 years, Cydney Bernard. Cydney not only shares Jodie’s life, but is also second mom to Foster’s two boys (who, conveniently, each have “Bernard” as a middle name).
This week’s “Ask Billy” question comes from Rob in San Francisco: “What can you tell us about Robert Buckley, the incredibly sexy guy on ‘Lipstick Jungle’ who spends more time with his clothes off than on? Any nude shots?”
Sadly, I don’t know a thing. As for nudes, alas, nothing full-frontal has turned up. But with a torso like that, I’m willing to overlook his penis…for now. I’ll happily post an assortment of skin shots on BillyMasters.com.
Could it be that Margaret Cho is returning to television? Yup. VH-1 will air seven episodes of “The Cho Show” this summer which will chronicle the comedienne’s interactions with family, fans, and fame. Hmmm, sounds like a summer series on Bravo.
When Margaret Cho is turning into an Asian version of Kathy Griffin, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. And, I beg of you, don’t send me e-mails saying that offended you. But feel free to check out http://www.BillyMasters.com. If that tickles your fancy, you’re welcomed to write me at Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before David Hernandez is hired to be Danny Noriega’s opening act on Rosie’s cruise – or would Danny be the opener? Either way, until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.