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Ann Reinking, Tony-Winning Choreographer And Actress, Dead At 71

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NEW YORK (AP) — Ann Reinking, the Tony Award-winning choreographer, actress and Bob Fosse collaborator who helped spread a cool, muscular hybrid of jazz and burlesque movement to Broadway and beyond, has died. She was 71.

Reinking died Saturday while visiting family in Seattle, said her manager, Lee Gross. No cause of death was disclosed.

Tributes poured in from the Broadway community, including from Tony Yazbeck, who called her “an absolute inspiration” and Leslie Odom, Jr., who thanked Reinking for being a mentor: “She honored the calling for real. RIP to a legend.” Bernadette Peters took to Twitter to say her heart was broken and Billy Eichner said she was “one of the most mesmerizing people I’ve ever seen on stage. A singular genius. RIP.”



Ann Reinking poses backstage with her award in the Best Choreography catagory for the musical “Chicago” at the American Theatre Wing’s 1997 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Trained as a ballet dancer, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the revival of the Kander and Ebb musical “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts.

Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Bebe Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them.

“I’m beyond words to hear of the sudden and untimely passing of my dear friend Ann Reinking. The world has lost such a beautiful soul and talent,” said Chita Rivera. “I loved sharing the stage with her whenever we could. Her spirit and razzle-dazzle will be with me forever.”

Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world — England, Australia, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands and elsewhere. She was portrayed by Margaret Qualley in the recent FX series “Fosse/Verdon.”

The musical’s revival was first done in a concert version at City Center’s “Encores” series in 1996 and then moved to Broadway, where in 2011 it became the second longest-running show in Broadway history.

“You know how you hear sometimes a woman goes into labor and 10 minutes later she’s got this beautiful baby? You couldn’t believe that it was materializing in such a beautiful way,” she told The Associated Press in 2011 about the early days of the revival.

In 1998, she co-directed “Fosse,” a salute to the man who had the largest influence, both professionally and personally, on her life. He once called her “one of the finest dancers in the jazz-modern idiom.”

Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids.

Reinking’s career began in Seattle, where she grew up. In the beginning, she wanted to be a ballet dancer, “like all girls,” she said. As a student, she won a scholarship in San Francisco with the Joffrey Ballet, but at many of the students’ after-hours improvisations, she would just sing and not dance.

Robert Joffrey said that with her outgoing personality and other abilities, she should pursue musical theater. “I waited tables to save up enough money to get here,” she said of New York City, where she arrived with a round-trip ticket back to Seattle and $500. She didn’t need the return trip.

“You wouldn’t get into this if you had a guarantee. People who get into this have a certain sense of the high stakes,” she said. “You need the break and when you get it, you’d better be ready for it.”

Reinking’s break was strung out over several shows. She was in the ensemble for Broadway’s “Coco,” which starred Katharine Hepburn as Coco Chanel, in 1969, and was in the chorus of “Pippin” in 1972, picked by its director and choreographer, Fosse. The ensemble was so small — there were only eight — that the dancers were really seen.

Choreographer Pat Birch was one who noticed, and in 1974 put her in “Over Here,” a World War II musical starring two of the three Andrews Sisters and featuring another unknown, John Travolta.

It led to a starring role in “Goodtime Charley,” a musical about Joan of Arc opposite Joel Grey. The musical was not a success, but it did make theatergoers look at Reinking as a principal performer and not just a member of the chorus.

Her other big break, she said, was in “Dancin’” in 1978, “because I realized you had to be in an original part and that show has to be a hit.” The music-and-dance revue directed and choreographed by Fosse was, running more than three years and earned her a 1978 Tony nomination.

But it was her work on the revival of “Chicago” where Reinking basked in the most attention. The original, a dark indictment of celebrity and hucksterism, opened in the summer of 1975 and ran for about 900 performances. Though not in the opening night cast, Reinking eventually slipped into the role of Roxie Hart, taking over the part from Gwen Verdon, Fosse’s third wife and dancing alter ego. In the 1996 revival, which is still on Broadway, Reinking kept the part of Hart opposite Gray and Neuwirth.

Lin-Manuel Miranda was among those praising her talent. “A singular talent has left us,” he wrote on Twitter. Jason Alexander added: “She was a pure joy — fun and funny and endlessly kind and talented. Heaven’s chorus line just got a star.”

Reinking also gained experience — and stayed in shape — by replacing stars in hit shows: Donna McKechnie in “A Chorus Line”; Gwen Verdon in Fosse’s original “Chicago”; and Debbie Allen in the 1986 revival of “Sweet Charity.”

And she embarked on an eclectic film career — from playing Roy Scheider’s lover in Fosse’s 1979 semi-autobiographical film “All That Jazz,” to the screen version of “Annie” to Blake Edwards’ “Micki and Maude.”

She also created dances for a revival of “Pal Joey” at Chicago’s Goodman Theater and a musical about first lady Eleanor Roosevelt called “Eleanor.” She was on the national tour of “Bye Bye Birdie” opposite Tommy Tune.

After “Eleanor,” offers to choreograph “kept falling in my lap,” Reinking said. She created dances for a pre-Encores “Chicago” in Long Beach, California, with Neuwirth and Juliet Prowse.

In one of the more cringe-worthy moments in her career, Reinking was asked to sing and perform the Oscar nominated song “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins at the 1985 telecast. Reinking lip-synched as she danced a bombastic, cheesy rendition marred by fog.

In recent years, she choreographed “The Look of Love” on Broadway and the Roger Rees-directed off-Broadway “Here Lies Jenny” (2004), starring Neuwirth. In 2011, she helped choreograph “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” on Broadway.

Reinking also produced a documentary called “In My Hands,” about working with children of Marfan’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder of the connective tissues that often leaves its victims with limbs that are disproportionately long. She also produced the film “Two Worlds, One Planet,” about “high-functioning” autism.

Reinking’s first three marriages ended in divorce. Since 1994, she had been married to Peter Talbert. She also is survived by a son, Christopher, who has been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome and autism.

“If there is a heaven, I think Bob can look down and be satisfied. He really did have an exponential effect on the next generation of choreographers and dancers,” Reinking once said.

“He demanded the best from you and you wanted to give it. So you got better. All great directors — however, they do it — make you want to be good. I hope I do it. It’s like being a parent, a psychiatrist, a disciplinarian and a friend. You really have to know when to hold them and when to show them.”





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Olivia Wilde Wears See-Through Dress To 2022 People’s Choice Awards

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Olivia Wilde appeared to be taking a page from the style books of both Florence Pugh and Princess Diana at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards on Tuesday.

The “Don’t Worry Darling” director attended the Los Angeles ceremony in a plunging black Christian Dior gown featuring a completely see-through lace bodice. She completed the look with a pair of Bebe platform shoes.

Wilde attended the 2022 People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in a plunging black Christian Dior gown featuring a lace see-through bodice.

Amy Sussman via Getty Images

Wilde’s daring ensemble drew comparisons to Pugh, who starred in “Don’t Worry Darling” and wore a similarly sheer gown at Valentino’s haute couture show in Rome this summer.

Others, however, likened it to the black “revenge dress” worn by Princess Diana in 1994 just hours after King Charles III, who was then a prince, and her husband, admitted on television that he’d been unfaithful during their marriage.

Wilde wearing a gown many likened to Princess Diana's "revenge dress" at the People's Choice Award on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, California.
Wilde wearing a gown many likened to Princess Diana’s “revenge dress” at the People’s Choice Award on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, California.

Chris Polk/E! Entertainment/NBC via Getty Images

It was a victorious night for Wilde, who took home the award for drama movie of 2022 for “Don’t Worry Darling.”

“We made this movie in 2020 when many people were not confident that audiences would ever return to theaters if they ever reopened,” she told the starry crowd in her acceptance speech. “And yet more than 190 brilliant crew members showed up every single day during a pandemic to make something that they hoped that you guys would show up for. And you did show up. And we’re so, so grateful.”

Wilde took home the award for drama movie of 2022 for “Don’t Worry Darling” at the People's Choice Awards on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, California.
Wilde took home the award for drama movie of 2022 for “Don’t Worry Darling” at the People’s Choice Awards on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Los Angeles, California.

Chris Polk/E! Entertainment/NBC via Getty Images

Wilde’s triumph comes less than a month after it was reported that she and Harry Styles, who stars in “Don’t Worry Darling,” had broken up after about two years of dating.

The former couple’s relationship was just one component in the media firestorm that preceded the release of “Don’t Worry Darling” in September. Among other subjects of intrigue pertaining to the movie include allegations of a behind-the-scenes feud between Wilde and Pugh as well as the director’s seemingly contentious split from Jason Sudeikis, with whom she shares two children.





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Idina Menzel Offers Deeply Personal Look At IVF Journey In New Documentary

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When Idina Menzel agreed to let a camera crew follow her across the U.S. for a new documentary, she hoped to chronicle the fulfillment of her lifelong dream of taking the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Due out on Disney+ Friday, “Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?” captures the excitement of that 2018 concert for posterity. True to form, the Tony winner delivers goosebump-inducing showstoppers from Broadway’s “Rent” and “Wicked,” as well as a selection of pop-rock tracks from her two solo albums. A behind-the-scenes glimpse at her evolution into a Disney princess, by way of 2013’s animated smash “Frozen” and its 2019 sequel, is also a highlight.

But “Which Way to the Stage?” also looks beyond theatrics to offer a moving portrait of a working mother who at a relatable crossroads. Amid the chaos of her tour, Menzel attempts ― to varying degrees of success ― to prioritize moments with her 13-year-old son, Walker, whom she shares with ex-husband Taye Diggs. At the same time, she and her current husband, Aaron Lohr, are hoping to expand their family.

The Disney+ documentary “Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?” premieres Friday, Dec. 9.

Eric Maldin/Walkman Productions for Disney

“We’re all performing. We’re all trying to get through the day, do what we love in our work and also be present in our lives, for the people we love,” Menzel told HuffPost. “As much as I want to be in the spotlight, wear sequined outfits, get the accolades and have a crowd cheering for me, it’s just as important for me to be at my son’s basketball game, and go trick-or-treating with him.”

Working with director Anne McCabe, Menzel looks back at her own childhood on New York’s Long Island through home videos and archival photos, and revisits the reception hall where she spent her young adult years as a wedding singer with big dreams. (The 1980s and ’90s hairstyles that mark each of those life chapters are worthy of their own retrospective.)

As Menzel made a name for herself, private tribulations emerged. Her parents divorced when she was 15, leaving her with “a lot of neuroses and distrust.” The film’s biggest revelation, however, is her experience undergoing fertility treatment while on tour as she tries to have a baby with Lohr. Ultimately, she must contend with the fact that becoming a mom for the second time “wasn’t meant to be.”

Aaron Lohr (left) and Idina Menzel have been married since 2017.
Aaron Lohr (left) and Idina Menzel have been married since 2017.

Dominik Bindl via Getty Images

“I felt it was important for people, especially women, to understand that there’s no shame in the failure of that process,” said Menzel, who hadn’t spoken publicly about her attempt to have a second child until now. “It was helpful for me to not stay the victim. I compartmentalized a lot, but having an outlet to make music with my band every night was healing. It helped me to stay true to why I do what I do, and that’s to make other people feel good.”

These days, Menzel is busier than ever, turning in well-received performances in 2019’s “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler, and this fall’s “Disenchanted,” the long-awaited sequel to Disney’s “Enchanted.” She also unveiled a clothing line, Encore by Idina, this year and made her children’s publishing debut this year with the picture book “Loud Mouse,” co-written with her sister Cara Mentzel.

Watch the trailer for “Idina Menzel: Which Way to the Stage?” below.

But the actor and singer isn’t one to dwell on the past, or focus too much on a recent success. Fittingly, “Which Way To The Stage?” climaxes with a chilling rendition of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked,” and like Elphaba, her character in that musical, she’s eager to embrace the future with enthusiasm.

“I want to keep developing original roles. But I also want to travel and take my family to see the world. I want to keep showing up at my kid’s games and sitting on the couch with my husband and binge-watching TV,” she said. “At this point in my life, I’m willing to take a little credit for being a good messenger.”





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Matt Lucas Quits As ‘Great British Bake Off’ Host: ‘It’s Been A Delicious Experience’

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Matt Lucas has quit as co-host of “The Great British Bake Off” (which airs in the U.S. on Netflix as “The Great British Baking Show”).

The comedian, who has presented the show alongside Noel Fielding for the past three seasons, explained he was leaving due to a schedule clash.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday evening, Lucas wrote: “Farewell Bake Off! It’s been a delicious experience and I can’t imagine a more fun way of spending my summers.

“But it’s become clear to me that I can’t present both ‘Fantasy Football League’ and Bake Off alongside all my other projects.

“So, after three series and 51 episodes, I am cheerfully passing the baguette on to someone else.”

He continued: “I would like to give my warmest thanks and gratitude to everyone at Love Productions and Channel 4 and to Noelipops, Paul, Dame Prue, the crew and, of course, the wonderful bakers for welcoming me into the tent.

“I wish whoever takes over the very best and I can’t wait to tune into the next series without already knowing who won!”

The U.K.’s Channel 4 is yet to announce who will replace Lucas.

However, the former “Little Britain” star will still be seen on screen in forthcoming “Bake Off” Christmas specials, which are set to air on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day in the U.K.

Lucas joined the “Bake Off” team in 2020, taking over from Fielding’s previous co-host Sandi Toksvig.

Following Lucas’ announcement, judge Prue Leith posted on Twitter: “I have absolutely loved working with you @RealMattLucas. Thank you for bringing so much laughter and fun to the tent.”





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Stephen Colbert Clocks Rudy Giuliani’s Weirdest Wardrobe Malfunction

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Stephen Colbert spotted a bizarre moment in Rudy Giuliani’s D.C. Bar hearing to determine whether his law license should be suspended for his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election on behalf of former President Donald Trump.

After a lunch break was announced on Monday’s hearing, former Trump attorney Giuliani looked at his arm and appeared to only just realize he was wearing two watches.

“Do you know I have 2 watches on?” the ex-New York Mayor asked.

“The Late Show” host Colbert suggested a reason.

“It may seem weird, but of course he wears two watches. That way it’s twice as likely to be 5 o’clock somewhere,” he cracked.





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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Rule Red Carpet Just Days Before Netflix Series Drops

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NEW YORK CITY ― Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ruled the red carpet at the annual Ripple of Hope Gala on Tuesday night, just two days before the official Netflix premiere of their highly anticipated docuseries, “Harry & Meghan.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are the recipients of the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope award.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Midtown Hilton for the Ripple Awards on December 06, 2022 in New York City.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit organization that is named after her late father and is honoring the couple, spoke about why the Sussexes are being awarded in a press release sent out prior to the event.

“The couple has always stood out for their willingness to speak up and change the narrative on racial justice and mental health around the world,” Kennedy said in an emailed statement. “They embody the type of moral courage that my father once called the ‘one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.’”

The awards, which are being emceed by Alec Baldwin, will also honor the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, with the Ripple of Hope award. NBA player and civil rights activist Bill Russell, who died in 2022, will also be recognized with a posthumous award.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 06, 2022 in New York City.

Mike Coppola via Getty Images

Last month, Kennedy shed more light on the couple’s honor in an exclusive interview with the Spanish website El Confidencial.

She told the magazine, via a translated version of the article, that Meghan and Harry “went to the oldest institution in UK history and told them what they were doing wrong, that they couldn’t have structural racism within the institution; that they could not maintain a misunderstanding about mental health,” referencing the couple’s claim of racism within the royal family and a lack of help when the Duchess of Sussex said she was experiencing suicidal ideation.

“They knew that if they did this there would be consequences, that they would be ostracized, they would lose their family, their position within this structure, and that people would blame them for it,” Kennedy continued.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left, and Prince Harry, center, attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in New York.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, left, and Prince Harry, center, attend the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in New York.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

She said that the two did it anyway “because they believed they couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t question this authority,” and ended by calling the two “heroic.”

Harry and Meghan have dominated headlines even more than usual recently, as Netflix released the controversial official trailer for the couple’s six-part series on Monday. The streaming giant also made waves when the teaser for the show was released last week, on the second day of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal visit to Boston.

The first three episodes of the series will be released on Thursday at 3 a.m. ET, while the second batch will drop next Thursday, Dec. 15.





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Kirstie Alley Said More Than Once That John Travolta Was The Love Of Her Life

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It seems one of Kirstie Alley’s biggest regrets was that she never dated John Travolta.

Alley — who died Monday at the age of 71, from what her children said was cancer she’d “only recently discovered” — expressed her feelings for Travolta numerous times throughout the years.

“It took me years to not look at John as a romantic interest,” Alley said while speaking to Howard Stern in 2013.

In 2012, she told ABC’s Barbara Walters that Travolta was “the greatest love of my life.”

The two met when they starred together in the first “Look Who’s Talking” film in 1989. At the time, Alley was married to actor Parker Stevenson, whom she would divorce in 1997.

Travolta and Alley in a promotional image for “Look Who’s Talking.”

Archive Photos via Getty Images

“We were fun and funny together,” Alley said of Travolta during an appearance on the “Dan Wootton Interview” podcast in 2018. “It wasn’t a sexual relationship, because I’m not going to cheat on my husband.”

But she said in the same interview that not sleeping with Travolta was “the hardest decision I’ve ever made, because I was madly in love with him.”

That same year, while appearing on “Celebrity Big Brother,” Alley was asked by other cast members if she had ever fallen in love with any of her leading men. She said she’d kissed and had strong feelings for two of her co-stars: Travolta and Patrick Swayze.

“I almost ran off and married John. I did love him, I still love him,” Alley said on the reality show. “If I hadn’t been married, I would have gone and married him ― and I would’ve been in an airplane, because he has his own.”

During her 2013 conversation with Stern, Alley said that Travolta reciprocated her romantic feelings when they first met. But he married Kelly Preston in 1991, while Alley was still married to Stevenson.

Alley told Stern that Preston ― who died in 2020 ― was well aware of her feelings toward Travolta, and that she shut them down pretty quickly.

“In the beginning, she would bust me,” Alley said. “She would be like, ‘Are you flirting with my husband?’ And the answer was ‘Yes.’”

Although Travolta has never publicly expressed as much romantic ardor for Alley, he did seem to cherish their bond.

Alley and Travolta attend the premiere of Quiver Distribution's "The Fanatic" in 2019.
Alley and Travolta attend the premiere of Quiver Distribution’s “The Fanatic” in 2019.

Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images

In the wake of Alley’s sudden death, Travolta led a wave of online celebrity remembrances by posting a photo of the two of them on Instagram.

“Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had,” Travolta wrote alongside the photo. “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”





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King Charles Dodges Second Supposed Egging Incident In Less Than A Month

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King Charles was almost egged (again) during a royal engagement on Tuesday, according to police.

The monarch was visiting Luton town centre and taking part in a walkabout when the incident occurred, the PA agency reported.

Bedfordshire Police have said that a man in his 20s has now been arrested on suspicion of common assault and was in custody for questioning.

The eggs were thought to have been thrown towards Charles, and he was temporarily steered away from the crowds outside Luton Town Hall by his security staff shortly after arriving in the area.

But he soon returned to shake hands with the public before moving on to the next part of his visit.

The King was also looking around a new Sikh temple and shuttle at the local airport in Luton.

He met with council officials at the town hall too along with volunteers, taking to the balcony to wave to the public below.

The incident came after a 23-year-old man was arrested for also throwing eggs at Charles (and his wife, the Queen Consort) in Leeds on November 9.

None of the eggs struck either of the royals.

Police officers restrained the man on the ground behind temporary fencing at the time, and was heard reportedly saying, “This country was build on the blood of slaves,” and “not my king”.

Others in the crowd shouted over him, “God save the king” and “shame on you” at the demonstrator.

He was later released on bail. Charles and his wife seemed unperturbed by the interruption and continued greeting the well-wishers.





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