You'd be right in guessing that back-up singers often get overlooked, so it's doubly sad that we missed getting the release of this documentary film about back-up singers into this week's paper.
Morgan Neville's new doc, 20 Feet From Stardom, opens Fri., July 5, at the Manor, in Squirrel Hill. He interviews back-up singers — Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer (works currently with Sting and the Rolling Stones) and Merry Clayton (that unforgettable voice on the Stones' "Gimme Shelter") — as well as those stars who rely on them, and the occasional singer who walks that very long 20 feet from back-up performer to headliner.
A new documentary, Free Angela and All the Politcal Prisoners, directed by Shola Lynch screens in Pittsburgh on Thu., June 13.
"Angela" is, of course, Angela Davis, an iconic crusader for civil rights in the late 1960s and early '70s, particularly for politcal prisoners. In time, she herself was jailed — and freed.
The local premiere, at AMC Loews in Homestead, is hosted by New Voices Pittsburgh. The film begins at 7 p.m., and Dr. Joyce M. Bell, assistant professor of sociology at Pitt, will lead a post-screening discussion. For more information, see www.freeangelafilm.com.
Will Pittsburgh be home to a double-dose of drag royalty? Will history be made as the crown goes to Pittsburgh's own Alaska, boyfriend of last season's winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, Pittsburgh's own Sharon Needles?
If so, will Sharon have to give her crown to Alaska? Or will it be a two-crown household — and which will be more fabulous?
Find out tonight on RuPaul's Drag Race, in a special two-hour episode starting at 9 p.m., on Logo, in which the three finalists, including Alaska, will be paraded on the runway one last time.
City of champions! Bring it home, girl!
If you're one of those folks who loves to see new movies before everybody else, there's a new opportunity in town.
Pittsburgh is one of 20 markets nationwide selected by distributor Gathr Films to hold sneak previews of new independent films; screenings are weekly on Thursday nights at the Hollywood Theater, in Dormont.
These aren't free previews — you have to sign up in advance and pay a membership fee ($19 for one month; $49 for 3 months). But that's less than $5 a film, comparable to renting a movie for home consumption. Membership guarantees a seat.
Upcoming films include releases from established indie-film distributors such as Millennium, Kino Lorber, Film Movement and Music Box Films. The programming covers dramas, comedies, music films, international films and documentaries.
May offers: The Iceman, with Michael Shannon; The Deep, an Icelandic doc/thriller; Ain't in It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm; What Maisie Knew, starring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan; and 100 Bloody Acres, an Australian horror-comedy.
Full schedule details and how to sign up are here.
Some of Alaska's runway work has been shaky this season, but last night she was the big winner, wowing the judges in not one, not two, but THREE runway challenges.
She nailed the Beverley Hills brat in the "Sweet 16" look; gave up some "Executive Realness" in a tailored power-pantsuit and razor-sharp pixie wig; and was all kooky sweetness for the big "Candy Extravaganza" challenge, sporting a pink mini-dress (and matching topper) that screamed "cotton candy."
Guest judge — and fab-tacky fashion-designer legend — Bob Mackie LOVED Alaska's look, seemingly swooning over our girl's skinny bow-legs, and declaring her "a star from the crotch down."
All of this put Alaska snugly in the final three, with the winner to be decided next week. Could TV do the unthinkable — award the top prize to Alaska, whose boyfriend Sharon Needles won it last season? Certainly, Pittsburgh would love having such a Power Drag Couple.
At worst, Alaska's going to come in third, and that's nothing to shed drippy mascara tears over.
Carnegie Mellon has trained its share of actors, and next week, some of those alums return to campus with a preview of a new indie film.
The romantic comedy Breakup at a Wedding is just that: When the bride gets cold feet at the last minute, she suggests that she and groom playact the wedding rather than face the embarassment of calling off the ceremony. What could go wrong?!
The film, directed by CMU alum Victor Quinaz, was produced by several other CMU School of Drama alums, including Pittsburgher and Star Trek star Zachary Quinto.
The screening is 4:30 p.m. Tue., April 16, at McConomy Auditorium on CMU's campus, and will be followed by a Q&A with members of the cast and production team. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited and advance ticket purchase is recommended.
Tickets are $10 ($5 with CMU ID), and can be purchased at Purnell Center box office (412-268-2407). Proceeds go toward the School of Drama's Senior Showcase.
The season is winding down — after last night's show, there are just four queens left to vie for the title (and $100,000).
One of my fave repeat challenges is the Make-Over episode, where the girls have to take non-drag queens (gay, straight, old or whatever) and make them fierce and fabulous. It's a good challenge to see how well the ladies work their magic on someone who isn't them, and the stumbling, awkward newly hatched drag-for-day dudes are usually good for laughs.
Last night, the made-over were all military vets — who had served before Don't Ask Don't Tell Don't Drag. It gave Ru a chance to wax patriotic for a moment about how such brave men were making the world safe for all the ladyboys on stage, and to stage a quite dreadful flag-waving routine, which nearly everybody bungled.
Especially Pittsburgh's own Alaska, who seem to be coasting through most of this challenge. Her flag routine was vulgar without being funny (I would have supported vulgar AND funny), and her runway look wasn't very inspired (big hair, tight dress). My money was on Alaska getting called down to the Bottom Two, but she ducked it — mostly, I reckon, because Ru had already decided to send home the tiresome Coco.
But with only four queens left, there's not much wiggle room for coasting, Miss Alaska.
Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Brian Holton is premiering his debut film, Ahab, on Thu., April 4.
The venue — Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille, in the Strip District — may seem an unlikely one, but Holton's film is a re-telling of Moby Dick, set in "a run-down fishing community of Pittsburgh" and featuring gangsters, including the one-legged Captain Ahab.
Tickets are available here for $40, and include the screening and Q&A, appetizer buffet, two cocktails and a souvenir print of the ticket illustration (also by Holton). The event is 9-11:30 p.m..
Pittsburgh's own Alaska continues to persevere on RuPaul's Drag Race, in the last three weeks surviving the break-up of Ro-Laska-Tox, the "RuPaul Roast," a perfume challenge, the re-forming of Ro-Laska-Tox and the telenovela challenge. Whew!
And she finally won a challenge, nailing the fake perfume ad for "Red ... for Filth."
The long-awaited showdown between Alyssa and Coco finally cleared the dance floor of one of these increasingly tiresome queens, leaving our girl standing tall in the Final Five.
The Sundance Channel is getting in the top-shelf-cable-drama game with Rectify, a new series debuting April 22. In it, the release of a prisoner re-opens a mystery in a small town.
On April 16, a handful of arthouse theaters nationwide will be running free sneak previews of the two-hour premiere — and Pittsburgh's Regent Square was among those chosen.
You can pick up your free tickets (up to 4) starting today at two locations: Pittsburgh Filmmakers' offices (477 Melwood Ave., in North Oakland), from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) or Regent Square Theater (1035 S. Braddock Ave., Edgewood), when the theater is open.
The screening is 8 p.m. Tue., April 16. Ticket-holders will be admitted first, and any empty seats will go to those in line.
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