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Entertainment briefs: American Idol, Bollywood, First Stage, more

Indian actress Kapoor ready for gay Bollywood film: One of the biggest stars in Bollywood, Sonam Kapoor, said in a recent interview that it’s time for her industry to explore the possibility of a gay love story, especially in the wake of India’s criminalization of homosexuality. Last year, the nation’s Supreme Court upheld a ban on gay sex, which she says is contrary to India’s current culture, in which “it’s completely all right, it’s completely OK to be gay.” Kapoor said she believes depicting gay characters on film could help bring change in her country, simply by exposing Indians to “amazing human beings … who aren’t necessarily only straight.” 

‘American Idol,’ ‘The Voice’ finale ratings drop: The sharp decline in viewers for the season finales of The Voice and American Idol raises the question of whether music competition shows on television are fading out. The year’s final American Idol episode, which aired May 21 on Fox, was seen by fewer people than any Idol-crowning moment since the series began in 2002. The Nielsen Co. also said that viewership for NBC’s The Voice was down 25 percent from its 2013 finale. Since 2011, the audience for the American Idol season finale has sunk by a staggering 66 percent. Fox has already announced cutbacks on Idol hours next season, likely by eliminating the poorly rated results show. NBC says it’s too early to consider that for The Voice.

First Stage expands summer programming to West Bend: First Stage Theater Academy will expand its acclaimed theater training program for young people to West Bend for the first time this summer. A one-week class for students entering grades 8–12 in the fall will be offered at West Bend High School July 14–18, giving students the opportunity to work with professional theater artists on acting theory, voice and movement, improvisation and musical theater. First Stage’s program, the largest of its kind in the nation, teaches “life skills through stage skills.” It’s already offered during the summer at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, Oconomowoc Arts Center and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. Students can enroll for the program at firststage.org.

Logo network to honor gay rights leaders: This June, the Logo TV network will air Trailblazers, a show honoring pioneers in the gay rights movement, such as Edie Windsor, who challenged the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The show will air June 26, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the act for denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The show will also honor Windsor’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan and more honorees that have not yet been announced.

Trailblazers will be filmed at Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of the first churches in New York to offer same-sex weddings. Featured performers include A Great Big World, Kylie Minogue, Mary Lambert and Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees. Logo president Stephen Friedman, who’s also president of sister network MTV, said he hopes the new telecast can become a signature moment for Logo in the vein of the MTV Video Music Awards. He’s also looking to revamp Logo’s NewNowNext Awards, an annual celebration of up-and-coming entertainers that airs in the fall.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin helps Pro Arte Quartettravel to Belgium: UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet returned to its Belgian roots last week, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of Sen. Tammy Baldwin. The ensemble, the world’s oldest continually performing string quartet, was seeking to celebrate its centennial year in Brussels, the place where it was born in the early 1910s. The group was exiled on May 10, 1940, when a stroke of luck found them performing at the Wisconsin Union Theatre in Madison on the day Belgium was overrun and occupied by Nazi forces, turning three of its original four musicians into war orphans. The group’s recent trip was stalled by a set of government restrictions that prohibit traveling across international borders with anything containing elephant ivory, which is a component of three of the current artists’ bows and the other’s viola. While permits can be issued as exemptions, it looked unlikely they would be processed in time. But with Baldwin’s help, the UW chancellor’s office was able to to expedite the process and get the four musicians on their way.

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