Tag Archives: Ellen DeGeneres

10 Years Later, Jane Lynch Hosting Emmys in Different TV Landscape than Ellen DeGeneres

Jane Lynch and her minions Fox photo

Soon-to-be Emmy host Jane Lynch didn’t hesitate a moment this week when asked by a member of the press whether she felt any responsibility to make sure there were gay-centric elements to this year’s show.

“No,” she replied.  And, when pressed further on the matter — did she think there  should be gay moments, gay humor on the Emmys? — she made her feelings even more clear:  “I’m a person, not just a gay person, so I don’t focus on things like that.  I just focus on good shows and being funny.”

The hugely-funny lady, who won Emmy honors for her unforgettable work as Coach Sue Sylvester on “Glee” last year, was fielding questions about the Sept. 18 Emmys.  She’s already a couple of weeks into show prep.  And by the way, yes, she’ll be changing costumes at each break.

It’s been a decade since the first Emmy hosting by an openly gay person — Ellen DeGeneres, who received standing ovations several times at the event, which was delayed twice due to the Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftermath.  At that time, openly gay characters were still a novelty on TV.  Now, going into the 2011-2012 season, the TV landscape has never been more highly populated by gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters — plus transgendered Chaz Bono and gay Carson Kressley competing on the forthcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars.”  Gay couples are featured on shows from “Modern Family” to the upcoming animated “Allen Gregory,” gay comics inhabit late night (e.g. Fortune Feimster on “Chelsea Lately”) and gay characters and storylines are featured on “Gossip Girl,” “90210,” “Glee,” “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and on and on.

All of which just might make it easier for Lynch to focus on the funny stuff she does so well, rather than being weighted down by a burden of cultural responsibility.

Madonna the Donut Girl? A Labor Day Look at Stars’ Pre-Fame Jobs

Madonna photo by David Shankbone

By Emily-Fortune Feimster

They may be making the big bucks now — but it wasn’t that long ago that these super stars were at the bottom of the barrel.

P.  Diddy, one of the most well-known money makers of his time, started his career working for free. That’s right!  He was an intern for the now-defunct Uptown Records and did everything from washing cars to fetching coffee. This bad boy worked his way up to being a dancer in Father MC’s video “Treat Them Like They Want to be Treated” while attending the prestigious Howard University, majoring in Business.  He now owns his own record label and is worth over $300 million.   Guess working for free really pays off!

The Material Girl Madonna worked at a Dunkin Donuts in New York City’s Times Square before becoming an international pop icon.  Donuts anyone? Having a whopping IQ of 140, Madonna also won a scholarship to the University of Michigan for excellent grades and studied modern dance and drama for 3 semesters.

Singer Elvis Costello was another closet smarty pants and wears his trademark glasses because in a former incarnation he strained his eyes working as a computer programmer.

But no lowly beginner is as surprising as Tom Cruise, who at the age of 14 attended a Franciscan seminary for one year  while thinking of becoming a priest.  Katie Holmes must be glad that didn’t work out.   In high school, he also had a brief stint as a paper boy for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Funny lady Ellen DeGeneres had a variety of jobs as a house painter, an oyster shucker in New Orleans, a vacuum cleaner saleswoman, and a paralegal.

Whoopi Goldberg also worked hard for the money. Before her stardom, she applied makeup to corpses in a funeral parlor, and worked as a bricklayer and a bank teller.

Suave secret agent 007 Sean Connery can relate — having earned a living polishing coffins.  Kind of creepy!

Danny DeVito preferred to work with the living and was a qualified hairdresser (or stylist as they like to say).  He was trained at the Wilfred Academy of Hair and Beauty in NYC before snagging a role in “Taxi.”

Mariah Carey tried her hand at beauty school but didn’t make the cut and dropped out after only one day on the job.  She claims to have held several waitressing jobs and said she got fired from them all. Is anyone surprised? I didn’t think so.

Another actor claiming to have been let go is former “Cheers” star Woody Harrelson who said he had 17 odd jobs in one year and was fired from all of them.  Maybe legalizing pot is not as good of an idea as he thought?

Hottie tottie Brad Pitt has no doubt had his fair share of odd jobs — his most infamous being a limousine driver in which he chauffeured strippers between bachelor parties, but only when he wasn’t delivering refrigerators.  He also dressed up as a chicken on the street corner to advertise for the fast food chain “El Pollo Loco.”

His former wife Jennifer Aniston worked as a waitress in New York but that’s not as exciting.

“Titanic” megastar Kate Winslet used to work in a north London deli.

Ok, that’s not exciting either, but off-the-wall Rob Schneider washed dishes in an ice cream parlor before making it onto “Saturday Night Live.”

And get this — before getting his own TV show, comedian Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs over the telephone. Kind of crazy, huh?

That’s not all.   Esteemed actress Helen Mirren worked at an amusement park in Southend as a “blagger” – employed to attract punters to the rides — and Sylvester Stallone earned his rent by tending the lion cages at the Central Park Zoo.

Calista Flockhart and Lucy Liu made some extra dough by getting physical as aerobics instructors while director Steven Spielberg earned some money whitewashing fruit trees.

Hawaii native Bette Midler is all too familiar with fruit as well having once worked at a pineapple processing plant.

So don’t feel bad about your day job.  You never know where life will lead you!

Hollywood’s putting anti-Prop. 8 feelings on display

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin

Their state may have voted against same-sex marriages, and their state supreme court may have ruled to uphold California’s Prop. 8 ban, but Hollywood very clearly does not agree — and you can expect to be seeing many more illustrations of that fact.

Kathy Griffin‘s “My Life on the D List,” which begins its fifth season on Bravo June 8, has already filmed “a Prop. 8 episode,” Griffin recently told us. “We went to Iraq a couple of years ago. We went to Walter Reed (Army Hospital) last season. This is our serious episode for this season. We’re really proud of it.” Besides filming at an anti-Prop 8 rally, “D List” has “Rev. Al Sharpton, who “laid out the greatest civil rights argument for gay marriage,” according to Griffin.

Griffin wasted no time responding to the court’s decision, issuing a statement that she would not only be protesting, but that “My 89-year-old mother has asked me to get her a wheelchair to take her to a protest … She is neither gay, nor the parent of a gay person, but she is as passionate about this decision as I am.”

The cast and creative team on Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘ “New Adventures of Old Christine” have been anxiously awaiting this week’s decision by the California Supreme Court — “a decision that’s an issue to us both behind the scenes and in front of the camera on our show,” as costar Clark Gregg pointed out.

Wanda Sykes, who came out as a lesbian and got married to her partner last year, is among the 18,000 gay Californians whose same-sex unions have been ruled valid (along with such show business notables as Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and George Takei and Brad Altman.)

The state Supreme Court also just handed the “New Adventures of Old Christine” writers a twist to the ongoing storyline that has Louis-Dreyfus’s and Sykes’ characters on the show in a green card marriage. Since the characters are both straight, this can’t help but underscore the farcical aspect of the court’s decision — a subtlety that fits the series’ style. Clark stressed that “Old Christine” has never gone the rout of “becoming a public service announcement,” and added, “What I admire about (creator) Kari Lizer and the writing staff is that they wade into uncomfortable waters — going back to Julia’s effort to get a black family into her son’s school, only to have the father turn out to be a raging homophobe.”

And you can be sure that lines and scenes dealing with Prop. 8, if not full story lines, are being scripted even as you read this. “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris, who is not married to the man with whom he shares his life, David Burtka, but is an outspoken proponent of gay marriage, summed up the feelings of many when he told this column, “It’s wrong to try and squelch love. It’s pure and simple discrimination.”

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: “It was great the way Season 4 ended because there are a lot of things we’re going to have to sort out and clarify,” says Mexican actor Demián Bichir, who will return June 8 in the fifth season of “Weeds” as the corrupt mayor of Tijuana. He is also the onscreen love interest of the show’s star Mary-Louise Parker, and when things ended last season, Parker’s character Nancy had informed him that she is pregnant with his child.

“Whatever is in Nancy’s mind, that’s going to have to be proven first,” says Bichir of the story line, but before we know for sure if she’s having his baby, he tells us we will definitely see a change in his ruthless character. “Now that there’s a possibility of a child on the way, that’s going to change a lot of things and maybe bring Esteban to a different state of mind. Hopefully he will be able to show not only his more sensitive side, but also many other sides without killing anyone.” Hopefully.

One good part of the pending pregnancy is that music superstar Alanis Morissette has signed on for seven episodes to play Nancy’s obstetrician, and Bichir admits the cast couldn’t be more excited. “I haven’t had a chance to meet her, but I think it’s fantastic to have her on board. I’m not sure if there will be some interaction with our two characters, but, regardless, it will be interesting to meet someone whose music you admire so much.”

TOGETHER AGAIN: A July 6 production start has been set for “Going the Distance,” which might just end up being an appropriate description of stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. You may recall the couple were quite into each other while making “He’s Just Not That Into You,” then split up last summer after a year, then seemed to be on again (hand-holding, acting affectionate and telling reporters they adored each other at the “Grey Gardens” premiere in April, for instance).

In “Going the Distance” they play a couple who decide to try making a go of a long-distance relationship, with both their characters having dream careers at stake on opposite coasts of the country — a familiar show business situation. It’s a comedy. Drew says that Justin makes her laugh.

JUMPING IN: Sarah Chalke, who stars in Lifetime’s two-night adaptation of Gigi Levangie Grazer‘s “Maneater” this Saturday and Sunday (5/30 and 5/31), says that the biggest challenge in making the miniseries was “how dense it was in terms of production and just being in every scene. It was a really fast turn-around.” The tale of a gold digger determined to marry a rich and successful Hollywood power player before she hits Botox age has the “Scrubs” actress in scenes ranging from zany physical humor (as in a dance sequence in which her very pregnant character is onstage with a group of seniors) to drama (when her character gives birth).

What helped was that the production — which also stars Gregory Harrison, Maria Conchita Alonso, Judy Greer, Philip Winchester, Marla Sokoloff and Paul Leyden — shot on location. “It was so intense, hours-wise, it was nice to be somewhere else and not have to deal with everyday stuff in your life,” she says.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster