New York, Sep 2 (AP/UNB) — Neil Patrick Harris and his husband, chef and actor David Burtka, fired up what they call New York's "last summer blowout" — a six-hour, 50-act drag-queen spectacle staged Saturday on a glitzy Manhattan pier.
It was the revival of a 1980s festival called Wigstock — an impromptu creation of unruly patrons in drag who stumbled out of an East Village club at about 2 a.m. to improvise for homeless people in garbage-strewn, rat-infested Tompkins Square Park. It was, of course, free of charge.
Saturday's lower Manhattan show featured drag stars Lady Bunny, Bianca Del Rio and Latrice Royale. There were food, drinks and dancing on Pier 17 by the Brooklyn Bridge, with the audience wearing over-the-top attire for a shindig that kicked off with a cannon shooting out blue, orange and red wigs. Members of the crowd swarmed like bridesmaids angling for a bouquet.
Backstage, performers powdered their noses and ran through costume changes.
Tickets started at $95 and topped at $1,000 for the well-heeled at a VIP after-party with performers. A limited number of passes sold for $18.95.
The last time Robert Nieves was at Wigstock was in 1995, when he was 18. On Saturday, at 41, he came with his husband, Ramon Nieves, whom he dubbed a "Wigstock virgin."
"I wanted him to be able to experience it because this is such a monumental event for the community," said Robert Nieves, wearing a short red wig. "You know, last time I was here I didn't wear a wig."
With Tony, Emmy and Oscar award winners involved in the production, the drag culture has gone mainstream. And Wigstock has come a long way from the wee hours one night in 1984 when Lady Bunny led the inebriated charge into the park.
"In those days, drag used to be very gritty and dirty, with real shock value and people saying, 'I can't believe I'm laughing at this sick club comedy,'" says Burtka. "The first Wigstock ended up being a party — the last summer blowout."
The annual celebration eventually moved to a pier on Manhattan's West Side until it was rained out two years in a row, dampening ticket revenue and bankrupting the event by 2001. A much smaller Wigstock popped up sporadically in the park and on New York Harbor cruises but, short of money, it pretty much vanished until now.
"David and I are rabid fans of any kind of live spectacle, and we go to drag shows," says Harris. "So one day, I said to David, 'Why don't we revive Wigstock?'"
Though he didn't know her well, says Burtka, "I ended up calling Bunny and saying, 'Hey, would you be into doing this?'"
The Wigstock founder sure was, starting Saturday at 3 p.m., rain or shine, on the rooftop of Manhattan's freshly renovated Pier 17.
Working on the revival with her as executive producer were Harris, Burtka, Jack Turner, Jason Weinberg and Oscar award-winner Bruce Cohen, along with production company Matador Content and Pride Media, which publishes Out and Advocate magazines. Broadway's Tony Award-winner Michael Mayer was director.
The main creative credit goes to Lady Bunny, whose legal name is Jon Ingle, a 56-year-old DJ and promoter with a Tennessee drawl in a foot-high wig. "Everything runs through her. Bunny's the backbone, she's the driving force, she's our almanac," says Burtka.
Performers included Harris, who won a Tony for the 2014 Broadway revival of the cult musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," about a transgender, East European rock singer. He re-created part of that glam-rock performance on Saturday.
Harris and Burtka noted that drag culture has gone from an underground fringe phenomenon to front-and-center pop culture, with RuPaul hosting the Emmy award-winning "RuPaul's Drag Race" competition featuring musical challengers in wigs and heels.
Turning drag into performance art wasn't the main aim of the new Wigstock.
"You know, some people ask me, has it become commercialized now that it's here?" Lady Bunny told the crowd. "Well, I say, look at me, hear my foul mouth; do I look like I'm ever going to go mainstream or commercial?"
Dhaka, Sept 2 (UNB) – The third screening of the 10th International Inter University Short Film Festival (IIUSFF)- 2018 at Dhaka University kicked off on Sunday.
Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS) organized the festival with the slogan "Take Your Camera, Frame Your Dream" Society in association with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
During the three-day event, a total of 100 short films will be screened from 11am to 9pm.
On the second day, there will be special screening of the short films on Refugees, a new category introduced in the festival this year for the first time.
Speaking about the new category, DUFS President Mir Rezwan Mahmud said, DUFS has included the section titled “Short Film on Refugee” to speak about the forced displaced people through films with the intiative of UNHCR.
In the closing ceremony of the event on September 4, winning short films will be awarded.
State Minister of Information Tarana Halim is expected to address the closing ceremony as the Chief Guest.
The screenings are free for all.
The inaugural session of 10th IIUSFF was held at the Goethe Institute Bangladesh on 19th August, 2018 and the second screening session was held at the Alliance Française de Dhaka on 29 to 30th August last.
A special screening session of this festival is also scheduled on 18th September 2018 at Star Cineplex of Bashundhara City in Dhaka.
In 2007, IIUSFF started its journey with the goal to provide a platform for the young and talented student filmmakers in Bangladesh and abroad to showcase their talent.
Detroit, Sep 1 (AP/UNB) — The bishop who officiated Aretha Franklin's funeral apologized Friday to Ariana Grande for how he touched her onstage and a joke he made about her name.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin's funeral and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." Images of the moment showed Ellis' hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
The preacher apologized in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday.
"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast. ... I don't know I guess I put my arm around her," Ellis said. "Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize."
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday's eight-hour service.
"I hug all the female artists and the male artists," Ellis said. "Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That's what we are all about in the church. We are all about love."
He added: "The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin."
Many people posted close-up images of the moment on Twitter, tagging it #RespectAriana.
Ellis also apologized to Grande, her fans and Hispanic community for making a joke about seeing her name on the program and thinking it was a new item on the Taco Bell menu.
"I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community," Ellis said. "When you're doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there."
Ellis' touching of Grande overshadowed some criticism earlier in the ceremony the short dress Grande wore for her performance. Numerous people posted criticisms online that the dress was too short for church.
"#ArianaGrande don't know the below the knee rule for the pulpit in the black church. Somebody hand her a lap hanky and a choir robe. Bless her heart," tweeted one, Tenisha Taylor Bell.
Grande's representative did not return an email message seeking comment Friday.
Manchester, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Alec Baldwin will be the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's annual fall fundraising dinner.
The actor, who won an Emmy last year for his portrayal of President Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live," will speak at the Oct. 14 Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner in Manchester.
Baldwin says he is working to help Democrats win elections across the country. He recently appeared in a video calling for citizens to support and for Congress to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the 2016 election.
The New Hampshire dinner is an annual event with a new name. In 2016, the party switched the name from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner to the Kennedy-Clinton dinner.
Los Angeles, Aug 31 (AP/UNB) — Emmy Rossum is saying goodbye to "Shameless" after the show's upcoming ninth season.
In an emotional Facebook post Thursday, Rossum said playing her complex character was a "gift" and called the past eight years the best of her life.
Showtime Networks programming chief Gary Levine said the network was saddened by Rossum's decision to leave and praised her work as Fiona, daughter to William H. Macy's dysfunctional patriarch, Frank.
In 2016, Rossum reportedly sought pay parity with fellow series star Macy.
Executive producer John Wells said work is underway on a season finale aimed at giving Rossum and her character a worthy send-off.
As the series continues, Wells said, the door will remain open for Rossum's Fiona to visit or return home.
The ninth season of "Shameless" debuts Sept. 9.