Hollywood Inside and Out

“Benedict Cumberbatch – it’s not only the most awesome name in show business, it’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to announce Ben Affleck.” – Neil Patrick Harris’ callback to last year’s Oscars, and part of his introduction of Idina Menzel and John Travolta.

How can I start an Oscars column without talking about Lady Gaga? Even I, who knew she was HI-3009_Gagaclassically trained, was taken aback by her singing of the medley from “The Sound of Music”. If you thought you were knocked out of your seat at home, you can only imagine what it was like in the Dolby Theatre. And once Julie Andrews came out, the theatre actually shook with excitement.

Until that point, it was a rather pedestrian production. Sure, Neil Patrick Harris was a charming and affable host, but also somewhat unmemorable – save for re-enacting the underwear walk from “Birdman” (albeit in stuffed undies). Speaking of his ensembles, I liked NPH’s first tux (except for the lapels), loved the second one, thought the third one was ill-fitting, and liked the fourth, but hated the flower.

Best speech of the night – Graham Moore, who wrote “The Imitation Game”. He started with aHI-3009_Graham laugh by thanking Oprah, who presented the award. He then brought it home by comparing his struggles and suicide attempt at 16 with the struggles and suicide of Alan Turing, the subject of the film. He spoke directly to everyone out there who is weird, different, and doesn’t fit in. “Stay weird, stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.” Bravo. By the way, contrary to what you may think, Graham Moore is not gay. Double bravo!

How fortuitous that on the eve of new Oscar winners being announced, a former recipient went public with her complaints. Mo’Nique gave an interview to “The HI-3009_MoniqueHollywood Reporter” claiming that winning the 2010 Best Supporting Actress Oscar wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. “It should come with more respect, more choices, and more money. It should and it normally does. I thought, once you won the award, that’s the top prize – and so you’re supposed to be treated as if you got the top prize.” Let us not forget – one role (even an Oscar-winning one) does not a career make. And, if we know anything about Hollywood, it gives you what it wants, not what you think you deserve. According to sources, Mo’Nique was less than pleasant to work with and uninterested in campaigning for the Oscar (a win would mean more money for the studio). A few months ago, Lee Daniels called her to say, “Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.” I was blackballed once…didn’t really care for it.

It’s not every Valentine’s Day one gets to spend with Cheyenne Jackson, but I was lucky to escape Boston and be in Fort Lauderdale when he appeared in concert with Seth Rudetsky at the Parker Playhouse. Over the years, I’ve seen Cheyenne many times – in “Aida”, “All Shook Up”, and “Xanadu” on Broadway; “Altar Boyz” off-Broadway; and “It’s a Bird….It’s a Plane….It’s Superman” in Los Angeles. Each time, I left frustrated. Obviously he’s gorgeous. He has a marvelous singing voice. One can’t quibble about his acting ability. But, inexplicably, the sum didn’t equal the parts; he never seemed to have “it”.

But my opinion of him has changed. I’ve noticed how he really connects with concert audiences. Perhaps it’s because he’s being himself rather than playing a character. Or perhaps he’s simply grown as an artist over the past decade. But the difference is extraordinary. In the past, we’ve run into each other socially but, given my criticism (to say nothing of my endlessly directing people to to see his infamous jerk-off video), I suspect I’m not his favorite person. But never let it be said that Billy Masters doesn’t have balls of steel – perhaps all the firmer due to the wearisome winter in Boston. After last week’s concert, I found myself being ushered over to Cheyenne and Seth for a photo-op. Seth greeted me with a kiss, I complimented Cheyenne, shook his hand, and we posed for the photo – with Jackson looking at me quizzically. Another bullet dodged.

By the way, Cheyenne has a new single out. “Find The Best of Me” is available on iTunes and the proceeds will be donated to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. He better be careful or I’m gonna turn into a fan!

Lastly, did you see Miss Cicely Tyson on “How To Get Away With Murder?” Why don’t they just give her the Emmy now, because you ain’t gonna see anything top that all year. And the writing? Wow! In case you missed it, I’ll share every second of her performance on It was truly something to behold.

When I’m predicting the Emmys while reporting from the Oscars, it’s time to end yet another column. I do have one last observation about the Oscars…or, rather, ABC’s pre-show: whose bright idea was it to get Michael Strahan to say the name Reese Witherspoon? The only worse thing would have been Sissy Spacek. You can find more insights on – the site that never pulls a punch. While I didn’t have space to squeeze in a question, I am always available whenever you need me. Just dash off a note to and I promise to get back to you before I am able to work Sissy Spacek’s name into another column. So, until next time, remember one man’s filth is another man’s bible.