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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ ‘Versace’ win big for LGBT TV at Emmys

‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ rack up the most awards

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RuPaul accepts the award for Outstanding Reality Competition Series (Screen capture by Joey DiGuglielmo)

The 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards honored the best in television on Monday night including a few wins for LGBT TV.

The biggest night in television kicked off with an opening dance number led by “Saturday Night Live” cast members Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson. The bit jokingly celebrated Hollywood finally finding a solution to its diversity problem. McKinnon and Thompson were later joined on stage by other TV stars such as “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Tituss Burgess and RuPaul.

“Saturday Night Live” continued to represent itself as the show passed on to its hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” made herstory with its win for Outstanding Reality Competition Series rounding out five total wins for the show. RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews and Carson Kressley all were on stage to accept the award.

“Thank you to the Academy. This is so lovely. We are so happy to present this show. I would like to thank, on behalf of the 140 drag queens we have released into the wild, I’d love to thank Dick Richards for introducing me to Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey,” RuPaul said in his speech.  “All of the dreamers out there, listen,” he said. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen up in here? Now let the music play.”

RuPaul also won his third consecutive award for Outstanding Host at the Creative Arts Emmys.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace” also was honored with Ryan Murphy winning Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special and Darren Criss winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie. The show also won Outstanding Limited Series. Murphy used his speech to spotlight hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.

“‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’ is about a lot of things, it’s about homophobia, internalized and externalized,” Murphy said in his acceptance speech. “One of out of every four LGBTQ people in this country will be the victim of a hate crime. We dedicate this award to them, to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws, and mostly, this is for the memory of Jeff and David and Gianni and for all of those taken too soon. Thank you very much.”

LGBT representation continued throughout the night with lesbian comedian Hannah Gadbys, known for her critically acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette,” who presented Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. The cast of “Queer Eye” also took the stage to present as well as RuPaul and Leslie Jones, who recently became close after Jones’ “Drag Race” binge.

“Game of Thrones” was the big winner of the night taking home nine awards including Outstanding Drama Series. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” followed close behind with eight awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, and “Saturday Night Live” also won eight awards.

Other notable moments of the night were Henry Winkler’s first Emmy win in his decades-long career for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “Barry;” an appearance from Betty White and Glenn Weiss who used his win for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special to propose to his girlfriend on stage.

The complete list of winners is below.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Brian Tyree Henry – “Atlanta” (FX)
Louie Anderson – “Baskets” (FX)
Kenan Thompson – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Tituss Burgess – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
Henry Winkler – “Barry” (HBO) 
Alec Baldwin – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Tony Shalhoub – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Zazie Beetz – “Atlanta” (FX)
Laurie Metcalf – “Roseanne” (ABC)
Leslie Jones – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Alex Borstein – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) 
Betty Gilpin – “GLOW” (Netflix)
Aidy Bryant – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Kate McKinnon – “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Megan Mullally – “Will & Grace” (NBC)

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (FX)
Stefani Robinson – “Atlanta” (FX)
Alec Berg, Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO
Liz Sarnoff – “Barry” (HBO)
Alec Berg – “Silicon Valley” (HBO)
Amy Sherman-Palladino – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (FX)
Hiro Murai – “Atlanta” (FX)
Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO)
Mark Cendrowski – “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Jesse Peretz – “GLOW” (Netflix)
Mike Judge – “Silicon Valley” (HBO)
Amy Sherman-Palladino – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon) 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Pamela Adlon – “Better Things” (FX)
Lily Tomlin – “Grace & Frankie” (Netflix)
Allison Janney – “Mom” (CBS)
Tracee Ellis Ross – “Black-ish” (ABC)
Issa Rae – “Insecure” (HBO)
Rachel Brosnahan – “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson – “Black-ish”(ABC)
Ted Danson – “The Good Place” (NBC)
Larry David – “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (FX)
Bill Hader – “Barry” (HBO)
William H. Macy – “Shameless” (Showtime)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Adina Porter – “American Horror Story: Cult” (FX)
Merritt Wever – “Godless” (Netflix)
Penelope Cruz – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
Letitia Wright – “Black Museum” (“Black Mirror”) (Netflix)
Sara Bareilles – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)
Judith Light – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Jeff Daniels – “Godless” (Netflix)
Ricky Martin – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
Finn Wittrock – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
John Leguizamo – “Waco” (Paramount Network)
Brandon Victor Dixon – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)
Edgar Ramirez – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
Michael Stuhlbarg – “The Looming Tower” (Hulu)

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus – “American Vandal” (Netflix)
Scott Frank – “Godless” (Netflix)
David Nicholls – “Patrick Melrose” (Showtime)
Tom Rob Smith – “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
David Lynch, Mark Frost – “Twin Peaks” (Showtime)
William Bridges, Charlie Brooker – “USS Callister” (“Black Mirror”) (Netflix) 

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special
Scott Frank – “Godless” (Netflix)
David Leveaux, Alex Rudzinski – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” (NBC)
Barry Levinson – “Paterno” (HBO)
Edward Berger – “Patrick Melrose” (Showtime)
Ryan Murphy – “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX) 
Craig Zisk – “The Looming Tower” (Hulu)
David Lynch – “Twin Peaks” (Showtime)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Jessica Biel – “The Sinner” (USA Network)
Laura Dern – “The Tale” (HBO)
Michelle Dockery – “Godless” (Netflix)
Edie Falco – “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” (NBC)
Regina King – “Seven Seconds” (Netflix)
Sarah Paulson – “American Horror Story: Cult” (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Antonio Banderas – “Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
Darren Criss – “Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX) 
Benedict Cumberbatch – “Patrick Melrose” (Showtime)
Jeff Daniels – “The Looming Tower” (Hulu)
John Legend – “Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert” (NBC)
Jesse Plemons – “USS Callister”/”Black Mirror” (Netflix)

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special
Melinda Taub, Samantha Bee – “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Presents: The Great American* Puerto Rico (*It’s Complicated)” (TBS)
John Mulaney – “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous At Radio City” (Netflix)
Michelle Wolf – “Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady” (HBO)
Patton Oswalt – “Patton Oswalt: Annihilation” (Netflix)
Steve Martin, Martin Short – “Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life” (Netflix)

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special
Stan Lathan – “Dave Chappelle: Equanimity” (Netflix)
Michael Bonfiglio – “Jerry Seinfeld: Jerry Before Seinfeld” (Netflix)
Marcus Raboy – “Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life” (Netflix)
Hamish Hamilton – “Super Bowl LII Halftime Show Starring Justin Timberlake” (NBC)
Glenn Weiss – “The Oscars” (ABC) 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Mandy Patinkin – “Homeland” (Showtime)
Matt Smith – “The Crown” (Netflix)
Peter Dinklage – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
David Harbour – “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
Joseph Fiennes – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Lena Headey – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Vanessa Kirby – “The Crown” (Netflix)
Ann Dowd – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Thandie Newton – “Westworld” (HBO) 
Millie Bobby Brown – “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
Alexis Bledel – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Yvonne Strahovski – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
David Benioff, D.B. Weiss – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
The Duffer Brothers – “Stranger Things” (Netfix)
Joe Fields, Joe Weisberg – “The Americans” (FX) 
Peter Morgan – “The Crown” (Neflix)
Bruce Miller – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Alan Taylor – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Jeremy Podeswa – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
Jason Bateman – “Ozark” (Netflix)
Daniel Sackheim – “Ozark” (Netflix)
The Duffer Brothers – “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
Stephen Daldry – “The Crown” (Netflix) 
Kari Skogland – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman – “Ozark” (Netflix)
Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us” (NBC)
Ed Harris – “Westworld” (HBO)
Matthew Rhys – “The Americans” (FX)
Milo Ventimiglia – “This Is Us” (NBC)
Jeffrey Wright – “Westworld” (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Foy – “The Crown” (Netflix) 

Tatiana Maslany – “Orphan Black” (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Sandra Oh – “Killing Eve” (BBC America)
Keri Russell – “The Americans” (FX)
Evan Rachel Wood – “Westworld” (HBO)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
“American Ninja Warrior” (NBC)
“Project Runway” (Lifetime)
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1) 
“The Amazing Race” (CBS)
“The Voice” (NBC)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
“At Home with Amy Sedaris” (TruTV)
“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman” (Hulu)
“Portlandia” (IFC)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
“The Tracey Ullman Show” (HBO)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (ABC)
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO)
“The Late Late Show With James Corden” (CBS)
“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (CBS)

Outstanding Limited Series
“Genius: Picasso” (National Geographic)
“Godless” (Netflix)
“Patrick Melrose” (Showtime)
“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)

Outstanding Comedy Series
“Atlanta” (FX)
“Barry” (HBO)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“GLOW” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Ms. Maisel” (Amazon)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Outstanding Drama Series
“The Americans” (FX)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“Game of Thrones” (HBO) 
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
“Westworld” (HBO)

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Photos

PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott

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Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast

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Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner with pugs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron.

The Christmas Angel
Dec. 9-19
Creative Cauldron
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets:  $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required
creativecauldron.org

“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.” 

A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax. 

A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program. 

Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.

Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.

While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”

Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner. 

A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence. 

He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”

The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together. 

Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better. 

Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”

Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring. 

Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”

Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place. 

More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at connersmithmusicals.com.   

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Books

‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(Book cover courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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