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    by Jenny Stewart, Entertainment Editor

    Willie's second gay love song?

    As if his heartbreaking rendition of "He Was a Friend of Mine" on the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack wasn't enough, country legend Willie Nelson has further elevated his cred in the gay community.

    Nelson's new gay song, "Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" made its national debut on the Feb. 14 edition of Howard Stern's satellite radio show.

    "The song's been in the closet for 20 years," the Dallas Morning News quoted Nelson as saying. "The timing's right for it to come out. I'm just opening the door."

    More gay mainstream films?

    People have been talking about the film version of "The Dreyfus Affair" for close to 15 years, but unfortunately, nothing's happened. Until now. Producer Andrew Lang has acquired the film rights to Peter Lefcourt's best-selling 1992 novel and the film will probably see the light of day. The novel tells the story of Randy Dreyfus, a handsome and talented shortstop for the Los Angeles Valley Vikings. Married with children to his high school sweetheart, Randy is shocked to discover that he's attracted to -- and then falls in love with -- his second baseman.

    With the recent Oscar nominations for both Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger for "Brokeback Mountain," it's likely that some of the biggest names in Hollywood will be clamoring to play the lead characters (who are roughly 28 years old) in the gay baseball film. Ashton Kutcher, are you listening?

    Speaking of "Brokeback," the groundbreaking film came in eighth at the box office this weekend, bringing the grand total of the film's gross to an estimated $66.6 million.

    In other film news, it's being reported that Adam Sandler and Kevin James are in negotiations to play firefighters who pretend to be a gay couple (so they can receive domestic partner benefits) in the film "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."

    And last but not least, fans of "Strangers With Candy" may finally get to actually see the long-awaited film version of the hit Comedy Central series. According to the Hollywood Reporter, ThinkFilm has acquired all worldwide rights to "Strangers With Candy: The Movie," and will roll out the film into theaters this summer.

    Kudos to VH1

    With openly gay comic Ant serving as host and Chastity Bono and Bruce Vilanch as contestants, the Loop has already reported that VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" was one of the gayest reality shows out on television. But now they've topped themselves.

    For the past few weeks, Chastity's real-life girlfriend, Jennifer, has been included in many episodes, featuring touching footage of the couple together. Jennifer is featured on the show on an almost-regular basis, talking candidly about her support for Chastity's weight loss and her health in general so that Chas "can be around for a long" time. The footage of the lesbian couple is definitely one of the highlights of the already-entertaining show, and the producers -- as well as VH1 -- should be commended for airing it. (For those keeping track, Chastity has lost a total of 19 pounds, and this week Bruce Vilanch got his weight below the 300-pound mark for "the first time since Eisenhower was in office." His words, natch.)

    Casting news

    Is Catherine Zeta-Jones-ing for another Oscar? It's being reported that the actress is in negotiations to star as transsexual cabaret performer April Ashley in an upcoming biopic. And that's not the only gay project for the Oscar-winning actress. Zeta-Jones is about to start filming "Coming Out," which stars Alan Cumming as a gay cabaret performer forced to lead a struggling Welsh rugby team to victory after his father, who coached the team, dies.

    "Coming Out" is being produced Zeta-Jones and David A. Jones, Catherine's gay brother.

    Lesbians suffering from Lucy Lawless withdrawal since the demise of "Xena" now have a reason to get up every day. Lawless will become a recurring cast member in season three of Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" series. The lesbian icon will play the role of D'Anna Biers, an investigative journalist who isn't exactly who she appears to be.

    She's still signed on to at least one more season of "The L Word," but Jennifer Beals is heading back to the big screen. It's being reported that Beals has signed on to appear in "The Grudge 2," the sequel to the 2004 thriller that starred Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    Angelina's lesbian godmother?

    Britain's Daily Star newspaper is reporting that Angelina Jolie has asked her former lesbian lover, Jenny Shimizu, to be the godmother of her children. No word yet from Shimizu about the truth of the rumor, but if it is true, it will certainly put Angelina Jolie at the top of the Coolest Woman on the Planet list.

    Madonna, Manilow and Ellen

    The day after her truly stunning opening performance of "Hung Up" at last week's Grammy Awards, Madonna showed up on Ellen DeGeneres' TV couch and let go of a secret -- she's touring this summer. "Confessions on a Dance Floor" hit the No. 1 spot in several countries -- including the United States -- and was a huge comeback record for the Material Girl both critically and commercially. The Loop will have full tour details as soon as they're announced.

    Speaking of comebacks, Barry Manilow is back at the top! In a first since 1977, Manilow's latest CD, "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. All this and he's aging well, too . . .

    Celebs galore at Dinah Shore

    If you're even remotely on the fence about whether to attend this year's Dinah Shore weekend, here's some news to sway your opinion. The Loop has learned that this year's event promises to be the most star-studded ever, with Margaret Cho, Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, the Pussycat Dolls, Amber and En Vogue all scheduled to perform and
    celebrity guests that include Jane Lynch, Honey Labrador, Guinevere Turner of "The L Word" and many more.

    The Mega-Dinah kicks off Friday, March 31 and runs until Sunday, April 2, but space is limited. The Loop has learned that the 480 room Riviera Hotel has only fifty rooms left, so you better get on the horn now (800-444-8311). Get full details at

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