An Interview with Director Roland Emmerich
Roland Emmerich, known for action-packed blockbusters such as Independence Day, might not be the first name that comes to mind to direct a movie about the Stonewall riots, which marked the launch of the modern day LGBT rights movement as we know it. However, that didn’t prevent the openly gay filmmaker from trying his hand at making such a film. Featuring a screenplay by gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz, Stonewall (Roadside Attractions), tells the story of corn-fed Midwestern boy Danny (Jeremy Irvine), arriving in New York in June of 1969. Befriended by trans hustler Ray (Jonny Beauchamp), a.k.a. Ramona, Danny undergoes a personal transformation to become not only an openly gay man, but one who takes part in the famous Stonewall uprising. I spoke with Roland Emmerich about Stonewall shortly before it opened in theaters.
Josh Groban was born to sing show-tunes, something he does with grace and reverence on his new album Stages (Reprise). Groban’s respectful interpretations of songs from Les Miserables (“Bring Him Home”), Sunday In The Park With George (“Finishing The Hat”), Chess (“Anthem”) and Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd (the “Children Will Listen/Not While I’m Around” medley), among others, are beautifully rendered. A pair of duets, one with Kelly Clarkson on “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera and one with Audra McDonald on “If I Loved You” from Carousel, are also marvelous. Groban is embarking on a multi-city tour in the fall at which he will perform songs from Stages as well as favorites from his other recordings.
Meet Me Halfway (University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), the fiction debut by Jennifer Morales is subtitled “Milwaukee Stories.” Because of that, Milwaukee is as much a character in the book as high school students Johnquell and Taquan, Johnquell’s mother Gloria and his aunt Bee-Bee, elderly Frances and Mrs. Czernicki, dedicated teacher Mrs. Charles, or any of the people who populate Morales’ stories. Most of the stories are set in present-day Milwaukee, although “Prelude to a Revolution” takes us back to the late 1960s, setting the tone for the racially divided city of today. I spoke with Jennifer in April 2014 before she embarked on a book tour for Meet Me Halfway.
Coming in at number eight on Out Magazine’s Most Eligible Bachelors of 2015, gay singer/songwriter Steve Grand may be single but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of men (and probably some women) who are in love with him. In return, Grand, who made his name singing about unrequited love in his hit single / YouTube video “All American Boy,” has unleashed a bounty of love on his fans (who helped him raise funds via a Kickstarter campaign) with the release of his long-awaited full-length album All American Boy (Stevegrand.com).
Y-Love (aka Yitz Jordan)’s claim to fame is being the first gay, black, Hasidic Jewish rapper in the industry. In the first grade, California-born, Baltimore-bred Yitz developed a fascination with Judaism, converting formally at the age of twenty-two. That same year, he studied at an Israeli yeshiva and began rapping at the local club. His unique blend of English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, Arabic and Latin words made him practically an overnight sensation in Jerusalem. A year later, he and his fellow emcee (who granted him his stage name) moved to Brooklyn, where he remains to this day, although he returns home to Maryland as often as he can.
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