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Gospel singer Kim Burrell makes no apology for calling gays ‘perverted’

Gospel singer Kim Burrell says she makes “no excuses or apologies” for a sermon at a Houston church where she referred to gays and lesbians as perverted.

A tape of Burrell preaching at the Love & Liberty Fellowship Church began circulating online.

She said that “the perverted homosexual spirit, and the spirit of delusion and confusion, it has deceived many men and women.” She referred to specific homosexual acts as perverted.

Burrell was scheduled to sing a duet this week with Pharrell on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. The singers were to perform “I See Victory” from the soundtrack of the new movie “Hidden Figures.”

DeGeneres’ said Burrell would not be making an appearance on the show. DeGeneres tweeted this week: “For those asking, Kim Burrell will not be appearing on my show.”

Pharrell posted on Instagram that “I condemn hate speech of any kind.”

It wasn’t immediately clear when Burrell gave the sermon.

She spoke on Facebook Live late last week about the tape that had circulated, referring to unspecified “enemies” for spreading only a portion of her speech.

She said that she has never discriminated against gays and lesbians. “I love you and God loves you,” she said. “But God hates the sin.”

Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21

Continue reading Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21

Obama names 21 for Medal of Freedom — Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan, De Niro and DeGeneres, Tyson and Hanks

President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The awards will be presented at the White House on Nov. 22.

In a press statement, the president said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Here’s what the White House says regarding the recipients:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All-Star.

Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

Elouise Cobell (posthumous)

Elouise Cobell was a Blackfeet Tribal community leader and an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence. She used her expertise in accounting to champion a lawsuit that resulted in a historic settlement, restoring tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other tribes, and in so doing, inspired a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others.

Cobell helped found the Native American Bank, served as director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, and inspired Native American women to seek leadership roles in their communities.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is an award-winning comedian who has hosted her popular daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 with her trademarked humor, humility and optimism. In 2003, DeGeneres lent her voice to a forgetful but unforgettable little fish named Dory in Finding Nemo. She reprised her role again in 2016 with the hugely successful Finding Dory. DeGeneres also hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014. In 1997, after coming out herself, DeGeneres made TV history when her character on Ellen revealed she was a lesbian.

In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro has brought to life some of the most memorable roles in American film during a career that spans five decades. His first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly and Martin Scorsese’s crime film Mean Streets.

He is a seven-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Oscar winner, and is also a Kennedy Center honoree.

Richard Garwin

Richard Garwin is a polymath physicist who earned a Ph.D. under Enrico Fermi at age 21 and subsequently made pioneering contributions to U.S. defense and intelligence technologies, low-temperature and nuclear physics, detection of gravitational radiation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer systems, laser printing, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

He directed Applied Research at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Harvard University. The author of 500 technical papers and a winner of the National Medal of Science, Garwin holds 47 U.S. patents, and has advised numerous administrations.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the mission is to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.

The Gates Foundation has provided more than $36 billion in grants since its inception.

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the world’s leading architects, whose works have helped define contemporary architecture. His best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Margaret H. Hamilton

Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules. A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton co-created the concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of the Nation’s finest actors and filmmakers. He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role five times, and received the award for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Those roles and countless others, including in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away, have left an indelible mark on American film.

Off screen, as an advocate, Hanks has advocated for social and environmental justice, and for our veterans and their families.

Grace Hopper (posthumous)

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another.

She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards; he is currently a principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. During his career, he won six championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and appeared in 14 All-Star games.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an artist and designer who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. and since then has pursued a celebrated career in both art and architecture. A committed environmentalist, Lin is currently working on a multi-sited artwork/memorial, What is Missing? bringing awareness to the planet’s loss of habitat and biodiversity.

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels is a producer and screenwriter, best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live, which has run continuously for more than 40 years. In addition, Michaels has also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and 30 Rock, among other popular, award-winning shows. He has won 13 Emmy Awards over the course of his lengthy career.

Newt Minow

Newt Minow is an attorney with a long and distinguished career in public life. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Minow served as a Supreme Court clerk and counsel to the governor of Illinois. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy selected Minow, then 34, to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Committee, where he helped shape the future of American television and was a vigorous advocate for broadcasting that promoted the public interest. In the five decades since leaving the FCC, Minow has maintained a prominent private law practice while devoting himself to numerous public and charitable causes.

Eduardo Padrón

Eduardo Padrón is the president of Miami Dade College , one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States

During his more than four decade career, Padrón has been a national voice for access and inclusion. He has worked to ensure all students have access to high quality, affordable education. He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies making MDC a national model of excellence.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford is an actor, director, producer, businessman, and environmentalist. In 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute to advance the work of independent filmmakers and storytellers throughout the world, including through its annual Sundance Film Festival. He has received an Academy Award for Best Director and for Lifetime Achievement. Redford has directed or starred in numerous motion pictures, including The Candidate, All the President’s Men, Quiz Show, and A River Runs Through It.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years within the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater, and fashion. Diana Ross is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Grammy Awards highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors. Diana Ross’s greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is a broadcaster who, for 67 seasons, was the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. In Southern California, where generations of fans have grown up listening to Dodger baseball, Scully’s voice is known as the “soundtrack to summer.” In 1988, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Scully’s signature voice brought to life key moments in baseball history, including perfect games by Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen, Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series, and Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader. More than five decades ago, he bought a guitar and learned how to make it talk. Since then, the stories he has told, in lyrics and epic live concert performances, have helped shape American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream. Springsteen is a Kennedy Center honoree and he and the E Street Band he leads have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, on television, and on the silver screen. She has won two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and is known for her performances in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Help. In 2013, she returned to the stage with The Trip to the Bountiful, and was awarded the Tony Award for best leading actress. Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.

Ellen says Finding Dory looks at disabilities in positive way

Ever since Finding Nemo became a global box-office phenomenon 13 years ago, Ellen DeGeneres has tirelessly campaigned for a sequel. Imagining in her wildest dreams that Pixar would create Finding Dory, a sequel all about her character, Dory.

Dory, DeGeneres’ fishy alter ego, suffers from short-term memory loss, which became a creative challenge for filmmaker Andrew Stanton. But then he hit on the idea of giving Dory a new partner in her quest to find her long-lost parents: With the aid of a grumpy octopus named Hank, voiced by Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill, the forgetful fish discovers a mate to help navigate the waters of her forgetfulness.

One of the world’s most successful out businesswomen, DeGeneres, 58, didn’t need this role for the money. In addition to her hit daytime talk show, she hasa new lifestyle apparel brand — ED by Ellen — and a contract with Covergirl. She’s also a successful house-flipper, known for buying and renovating high-end properties around Los Angeles, then selling them for a profit.

None of this would be possible without her wife and the love of her life, Australian actress Portia de Rossi, whom she wed 8 years ago.

Unburdened by children, the couple are happy to share their lives with their beloved dogs.

We spoke with Ellen about her inner fish.

Q: Dory suffers from short-term memory loss. We all get forgetful as we age. Has this been your experience?

Ellen: I’m always surprised when people are prescribed medicine to help with forgetfulness, because how are you going to remember to take your medicine? I do have that problem with memory, not as bad as she does, but I don’t plan to do anything about it because its just who I am. And I’m just going to live in the moment and hold on to those few moments that I have.

Q: It’s rumoured there’s a gay couple in Finding Dory?

Ellen: Are you asking if Elsa from Frozen is gay? Is that what you’re saying?

Q: No! But is there a gay couple in Finding Dory?

Ellen: I don’t know if there is, and I didn’t know anything about it until I read this rumour. … I was watching it last night and was looking for that particular scene, and it appears that there are two women and (of them) has a very bad short hair-cut, and I find it offensive that people would deduce she’s gay. How dare you? Just because a woman has a short bad haircut doesn’t mean she’s gay, so I don’t know if that’s the case. But I think if you see the movie several times, which I recommend, if you see the movie four or five times, there are some gay fish in the background, a lot of them look very gay to me.

Q: Are you proud to see so much more diversity out there?

Ellen: I personally think it’s a great thing. I think that everything that we see in the media, whether it’s television or film, should represent everything that’s happening in the world. I think everybody that is in the world should be seen and represented so, yes, it’s a great conversation. And whether they intended it to be a woman with a bad short hair-cut being gay or not, I think it’s great.

Q: Finding Neo director Andrew Stanton felt bad that he’d left Dory hanging on for so long. Did you privately wonder what had happened to her?

Ellen: No I really didn’t, and had I thought about it and done actually what Andrew did and think about: Where is Dory from? Who is her family? I would have called him sooner and said: Here’s the sequel, here’s the idea and then I wouldn’t have (had) to wait so long.

Q: Do you think Dory’s story is sad? Being parted from her parents all this time?

Ellen: When you think about it, I actually don’t think it is tragic. I think you can look at it that way, but as we see in this film, what appears to be a disability is her strength and it turns into: What would Dory do? So maybe what appears to be a disability is actually something that everybody else can look at in another way and say: Actually that’s a different way of thinking, and it’s a good way of thinking, so I love that message in it that something that seems to be a handicap is something you can use as a strength.

Q: You’ve always hoped there’d be a sequel to Finding Nemo. Did you help Pixar come up with this storyline for Dory?

Ellen: I am responsible for every penny that this film makes because this movie would not have happened had I not campaigned as hard as I did. Thank God I have a talk show to talk about it. I just seemed like it was obvious. The film was an iconic film and it won an Academy award. I was a small part of it. I wasn’t campaigning for a sequel to Dory — I was just campaigning for a sequel to a great movie, and then when it didn’t happen for the first five or six years, I just decided to make a joke of it. It just seemed like it was never going to happen, so I would just continue to joke about it, and then the joke became a reality and it became about Dory’s journey. So I’m responsible for every single thing that happens from now on.

Q: Which of Dory’s adorable traits do you share?

Ellen: I would love to have every trait of Dory’s, and I try to have as many traits as she has — optimism, perseverance, non-judgment and not having any resentment or holding on to anger. She doesn’t feel like she’s a victim. I think that’s why she’s such a loveable character. She just thinks everything is possible and she never for a second thinks that anything is wrong with anybody else or herself. She just keeps swimming, and I think that’s a great thing. I’d like to have all of those traits.

Q: Why do you think that Finding Nemo and now Finding Dory have been so relatable on a human level?

Ellen: I think it’s so much more than a cartoon movie. It’s much more complex and layered than any of us thought it would be. And it’s much more complex and layered than Nemo, and Nemo is a great movie but there’s so many layers to this. It is a very personal story for Dory and it is emotional.

Q: Did you cry when you first saw it?

Ellen: It was very easy for me to cry — and it was very sad seeing everything Dory is going through and feeling. These are all human feelings, they’re all the same feelings that we all have. And it does show the power of these animators, because they make it so beautiful and so realistic. And the characters they create are so complex, because you do get emotional and you do cry at a fish. And we all cried. It’s a beautiful story.

Q: And Dory is just searching for her home, a family, a place to belong?

Ellen: I think everybody is searching for their home, whatever that is. I think home is different for everybody. I understand what a sense of belonging is, and I understand when you are saying: Why am I who I am? Where did I come from and how did I end up where I am? I can relate to that. I think everybody can.

Q: In real life, are you analytical and cautious like Marlin or more like Dory in her take-every-moment as it comes attitude?

Ellen: It just depends on the situation. I think that I analyse. I look around and analyze and observe all kinds of things. And I try to not do anything irresponsible, but I also do like to be spontaneous.

Q: Do you plan or just go with the flow like Dory?

Ellen: I’m definitely a planner.

Q: So many women are in love with you, even though they are straight?

Ellen: Yeah, I’ve dated them before.

Q: Did you spend hours at the aquarium in preparation for voicing Dory?

Ellen: I didn’t really stare at any fish in an aquarium. I’ve seen them. The honest answer is I didn’t really do any research. But I really care about, and always have cared about, nature and our planet and the environment. And I think it’s important to protect our oceans and our fish and the coral reef and everything because it’s a beautiful world that we know very little world about. And I think there’s probably all kinds of answers and all kinds of cures and all kind of things that we can learn, so I think it’s really important to protect our oceans.

Q: Hank, the grumpy octopus, almost takes on the same role that Dory did with Marlin in Finding Nemo — helping him search for his missing son. Do you see a sequel in the future starring Hank?

Ellen: I said to Ed just a few minutes ago: I bet this movie will have a sequel with you as young Hank, all angry and grumpy.

Q: A lot of Pixar’s animated characters take on the likenesses of the actors who voice them. Do you feel like your share any physical characteristics with Dory?

Ellen: People have said that Dory does look like me, but I don’t see it personally

Q: What would you tell your six-year-old self?

Ellen: I think as you get older you get wiser and you start looking at life in a completely different way. And Iife is a very interesting journey, and it is filled with surprises and sometimes they’re good surprises and sometimes they’re bad surprises. And they’re all good, because even the bad ones get you ready for something else and they build another part of you that you wouldn’t have (had). I think we’re made up of all kinds of different things. If we were just made up of love and joy and all good things — and nothing bad happened to us — we’d just be a little less layered. Embrace the bad with the good and just keep swimming. 

Q: Plot spoiler here! But Dory has a beautiful reunion with her parents, voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy. Did you all record that scene together?

Ellen: I was alone for the reunion scene. It was a beautiful thing to read, and it was sad and it touched me and I could imagine what it was going to be like. And it was very emotional for me to record that day.

 Q: Did you meet with the young actress who voices Dory as a child?

Ellen: That was a precious little girl who was behind me at the movie theatre at the premiere. She felt a special connection with me. It was so adorable because she was: You’re me! And that was precious. I don’t want to reveal her identity, unless someone asks me. That was the first time I had met her.

Q: Is there a message to Finding Dory?

Ellen: I think the message is that we can all get along, even though we’re different species and look different and have different traits.

ABC family gets top marks for LGBT inclusiveness

The television network that gets the most praise from an advocacy group that monitors content featuring gays, lesbians and transgender people has “family” in its name and targets an audience of teenage girls and young women.

GLAAD said in a report issued last week that 74 percent of the programming hours on ABC Family included at least one LGBT character – the highest percentage any network has recorded since the group began issuing content reports in 2007. GLAAD studied the networks for a one-year period that ended May 31.

“We feel it is our responsibility to our viewers to reflect the world that they live in and it’s a diverse world,” said Karey Burke, executive vice president of programming at the Disney-owned network.

ABC Family’s numbers were boosted by the drama “Pretty Little Liars,” where one of the lead characters Emily Fields is a lesbian. “The Fosters” follows the story of a lesbian couple. “Chasing Life” featured a bisexual woman and a gay man, although the latter character died of cancer. “Young & Hungry” and “Mystery Girls” both featured gay men, and there were a number of gays and lesbians in the supporting cast of “Switched at Birth.”

Network viewers are also anticipating the January debut of “Shadow Hunters,” a show based on the book series “The Mortal Instrument” that prominently features a gay couple.

Three-quarters of ABC Family’s typical audience is female, with a median age of 29, according to the Nielsen company.

The network is likely to be more inclusive partly because it seeks a younger audience, an age group that is more accepting of gays and lesbians, said Matt Kane, GLAAD programming director.

Seamlessly including these characters in the stories sends a strong message of acceptance that is likely to help young people dealing with their own identity issues, he said.

“I hope that it is something that other networks are taking notice of,” Kane said.

GLAAD has consulted with ABC Family on its programming, although Kane wouldn’t divulge the group’s specific role. The network and its actors have helped GLAAD with some of its activities, including an annual “Spirit Day” that encourages people to wear purple for a day.

Burke said the status as GLAAD’s top-rated network “makes us deeply proud.

“We were hugging each other in the halls here,” she said. “It’s an honor to be recognized.”

GLAAD’s grade did not reflect “Becoming Us,” a nonfiction series about two transgender people in an Illinois community that aired on ABC Family this summer.

That series, which averaged 452,000 viewers per episode, was a ratings disappointment for ABC Family and it has not been decided whether it will come back for another season. Executives aren’t sure why it didn’t do well, whether the subject matter made viewers feel uncomfortable or whether the attention paid to Caitlyn Jenner’s E! docuseries “I Am Cait” drowned “Becoming Us” out.

“We hope it’s not a reflection of the subject matter,” Burke said.

Despite the inclusive hours, GLAAD said one story line on “Pretty Little Liars” was a disappointment. The series had a mentally ill transgender woman who, in the season finale, attempted to murder both her family and the main cast of the show. GLAAD said it was “the latest in a long series of transgender women portrayed as psychotic killers in mainstream media.”

Part of acceptance for LGBT characters in entertainment is having them portray villains as well as heroes, Burke said.

“We don’t feel the show has anything to apologize for,” she said.

Neil Patrick Harris to host Oscars

Neil Patrick Harris will host the 87th Oscar show live on ABC TV on Feb. 22, 2015.

Harris will follow in the footsteps of Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted the 2014 event on March 2, drawing the biggest Oscar viewership in 14 years, according to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. An average audience of 45.4 million tuned in to watch DeGeneres, despite calls for boycotts from Republican evangelicals due to DeGeneres’ sexual orientation.

Harris, who has a supporting role in the current hit film Gone Girl, has previously appeared on the Academy Awards show, but February will mark his first time as host. Better known for his work on TV and Broadway, Harris has hosted both the Tony Awards and the Emmys. He’s won five Emmys, and earlier this year he took home a Tony for best lead in a musical for his role in ”Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” 

Harris is the first out gay man ever selected to host the industry’s most watched celebration of itself. With his strong background in musical theater, industry insiders expect his style to reflect that of Hugh Jackman, complete with a song-and-dance number mocking the year’s cinematic blockbusters and nominees.

Harris married his longtime other half David Burtka early this fall in Italy. The two are parents to twins Gideon and Harper.

PBS’ ‘Shelter Me’ puts at-risk pets in limelight

Any animal can end up at a public shelter, but most of them won’t stay long. There, millions of dogs and cats face euthanasia, driving one filmmaker to turn his camera into a lifesaver.

Workers at several of the shelters, where no animal is turned away, say pets have a champion in Steven Latham, who directs and produces a PBS series called “Shelter Me,” featuring animals that are running out of time. Seeing the urgency, he took his efforts a step further, starting a website, helping set up adoption events and coordinating flights full of pooches to cities able to get them adopted.

“The pets at open admission shelters need our help the most,” said Latham, who has made other documentary films and series for PBS and Netflix.

With thousands of public shelters nationwide and just as many no-kill rescues and other animal welfare groups, finding loving homes for pets has become a battleground. Latham believes pets at public shelters should get priority, underscoring the intense competition that exists between the no-kill movement and shelters that euthanize.

Latham’s “Shelter Me” series, presented by Ellen DeGeneres’ natural pet food company — Halo, Purely for Pets — has filmed several shelter animals that became service, therapy and search-and-rescue dogs, or just good pets. Each documentary episode tells two or three stories.

Episode 4, “Shelter Me: New Beginnings,” is scheduled to premiere in Los Angeles on Oct. 8 and features volunteers in Idaho welcoming a plane packed with shelter dogs from Southern California. It also shows a trainer teaching shelters how to hold play groups for pooches. The next episode is tentatively set for February 2015 and will highlight how East Coast police departments turn shelter dogs into K-9s.

Before the first episode of the series aired in March 2012, Latham spent a year visiting shelters around the country. Last year, he started ShelterMe.com, where people can find pets facing euthanasia.

Twenty-five shelters in California, Idaho, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina post photos, videos and stories about animals that need homes. Thousands of pets have been featured on the site, and most of them were adopted or taken in by a rescue, Latham said.

He has given a leg up to Animal Care Services of Long Beach, California, which was nearly full last week with 112 dogs, 138 cats, and some rabbits and turtles, said Kelly Miott, the shelter’s outreach coordinator.

“We have really limited space here,” she said. “That’s why Steven supports us. Euthanasia is a fact of life. We are what the no-kill people are trying to get rid of.”

Miott said she tried for years to get dogs from Long Beach on airlifts to other cities without success, but Latham made it possible. He also connected her to a store where she could hold weekend adoption fairs.

Members of the no-kill movement are “scaring volunteers away because they are making it very clear that animals are dying at our shelter. We don’t try to hide that,” Miott said.

Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, a leading no-kill organization based in Utah, said finger-pointing won’t help animals.

“The no-kill movement seeks to collaborate with and support open admission shelters that are committed to do whatever it takes to end the killing of healthy, treatable shelter pets,” Battista said.

Latham’s website helped Alexandra Spinner of Los Angeles find a perfect feline companion last year.

“It wasn’t just a one-sided picture of a cat, but an interactive opportunity to know the animal more intimately,” she said. “I wanted a lap cat, and she was sitting there in a bright room, being petted. Had I not seen that video, I might have passed her by.”

On the Web…

http://shelterme.tv

Diversity wins big at the Oscars

Diversity was perhaps the biggest winner at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

For the first time, a film directed by a black filmmaker – Steve McQueen of “12 Years a Slave” – won best picture and a Latino – Alfonso Cuaron of “Gravity” – took home best director in a ceremony presided over by a lesbian host and overseen by the academy’s first black president.

McQueen’s grimly historical drama “12 Years a Slave” took best picture, leading the usually sedate filmmaker to jump up and down in celebration after his acceptance speech.

The British director dedicated his award to “all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

Cuaron’s lost-in-space thriller “Gravity” led the Oscars with seven awards, including cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. Some in his native Mexico have been critical that since the attention came for a Hollywood release and not a Mexican-themed film, his win didn’t have the same kind of importance.

“I’m Mexican so I hope some Mexicans were rooting for me,” he told reporters backstage.

The entire Oscar ceremony had the feel of a make-over for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – an institution that has sometimes seemed stuck in the past. After a Los Angeles Times report revealed the academy was overwhelming older white men, new president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has pushed for a more varied membership.

The movie industry that the Oscars reflect has also been reluctant to tell a wider range of stories.

“Dallas Buyers Club,” the best picture-nominated drama about AIDS in 1980s Texas, took two decades to get made after countless executives balked at financing such a tale. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won best actor and best supporting actor for their roles in the film as a heterosexual rodeo rat (McConaughey) and a transgender drug addict (Leto) united by HIV.

“Thirty-six million people who have lost the battle to AIDS and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you,” said Leto is his acceptance speech.

Cate Blanchett, best-actress winner for her bitter, ruined socialite in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” used her acceptance speech to trumpet the need to make films with female leads – films like her own and like “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock. A study by analyst Kevin B. Lee found that last year’s lead actors averaged 100 minutes on screen, but lead actresses averaged only 49 minutes.

“To the audiences who went to see the film and perhaps those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films, with women at the center, are niche experiences, they are not,” said Blanchett. “Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money.”

“12 Years a Slave” also won awards in the writing and acting categories. John Ridley picked up the trophy for best adapted screenplay, which was based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. The screenwriter is only the second black writer (Geoffrey Fletcher won for “Precious” in 2009) to win in the category. Backstage, the “12 Years” team mentioned their efforts to include Solomon Northup’s memoir as part of high school study. The National School Boards Association announced in February that the book is now mandatory reading.

“It’s important that we understand our history so we can understand who we were and who we are now and most importantly who we’re going to be,” said Brad Pitt, who produced “12 Years.” “We hope that this film remains a gentle reminder that we’re all equal. We all want the same: Dignity and opportunity.”

Lupita Nyong’o was a first-time Oscar winner for her supporting role as field slave Patsey in “12 Years.” “I’m a little dazed,” said Nyong’o backstage of winning the Oscar. “I can’t believe this is real life.”

Nyong’o is the sixth black actress to win in the supporting actress category, following Hattie McDaniel (“Gone with the Wind”), Whoopi Goldberg (“Ghost”), Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”), Mo’Nique (“Precious”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”).

In her second time hosting, openly gay Ellen DeGeneres sought to make celebrities more like plain folk. She passed out slices of pizza to the front rows at the Dolby Theatre, then passed the hat to pay for it. She also tweeted a “selfie” with such stars as Meryl Streep, Julie Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Pitt and Nyong’o. The shot “made history,” DeGeneres told the audience later. It’s since been retweeted more than 2 million times.

Expect an Oscars filled with music, heroes, Ellen

With less than a week to go before the Academy Awards, the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood is on lockdown. Guards stand at every door, and handlers with walkie-talkies keep a close eye on any visitors.

Neil Meron, who is producing the Oscar show for the second time with partner Craig Zadan, hopes a careful blend of secrecy and teasing — topped with some of the tightest races in recent Oscar memory — makes the 86th Academy Awards a lure that viewers can’t resist.

“The Oscars is like sports,” he said, sitting in host Ellen DeGeneres’ empty dressing room, a Starbucks cup in hand. “It is sports to lots and lots of people, because you don’t know who’s going to win. You have rooting interest. And then we have halftime entertainment throughout.”

Some of that entertainment has been announced, and some only hinted at. DeGeneres is returning as host after making her Oscar debut in 2007 and she’s had a close hand in the writing process, Meron said.

“Like us coming back for the second time, she comes back also with confidence in knowing what the job entails,” he said. “And she will be a host in the best sense of the word, in terms of being very present for the entire show.”

U2, Pharrell Williams, Karen O and Idina Menzel are slated to perform the nominated original songs. Bette Midler and Pink are also set to perform, though producers haven’t said exactly what.

“That’s part of the tease,” Meron said. “Why give it away? We want people to see what (they’re) going to do.”

He and Zadan were both lauded and lambasted for their first Oscar show in 2013. The ratings jumped by more than a million viewers from the previous year, many in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, but so many found host Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” shtick sexist and distasteful.

“We examined everything that we did last year, which was a very big show that we were very proud of,” Meron said. “I think this year we are less daunted by the size of it and … by how much the show means, how big the audience is, how much people care about it. So what you learn is to just focus on trying to do the best show, and try to shut all of that out.”

The production duo’s concept for this year’s telecast includes a multi-part tribute to movie heroes.

Special presentations will honor animated heroes, those from real life (such as Nelson Mandela) and popular heroes, “like the superheroes: the Supermans, the Avengers and the Indiana Joneses and the Harry Potters,” Meron said. “People have an emotional connection to those characters that have moved them, so that’s something that we want to celebrate.”

Adding to the show’s intrigue this year are tighter-than-usual races, including those for best picture and supporting actress. Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) have each won honors in the latter category. “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” are also up for best picture — a prize each claimed at the Golden Globes — along with “Gravity,” which won top awards from the directors and producers guilds. Other contenders in the category are “Dallas Buyers Club,” featuring actor and supporting actor front-runners Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Captain Phillips,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “Her.”

With so many secrets and teases and moving parts, Meron said he and Zadan are subsisting on caffeine. “Thank God for the little green mermaid,” said Meron, adding that putting on the Oscar show is like mounting a Broadway production.

“This is out-of-town previews, opening and closing night, all at the same time,” he said. “It is an enormous responsibility. It really is. And actually, it’s an enormous honor, especially to be asked back again … It was not something that we had planned on, but when we were offered the opportunity to come back, we discussed it and said, ‘Yeah!’ Just for the reason it’s good to see what a second time would be like.”

Anyone who wants to find out has to tune in March 2.

Ellen DeGeneres’ show now available in China

Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show is getting a new audience — viewers in China.

The lighthearted, celebrity-focused show is now available in China on video site Sohu within 48 hours of its original U.S. broadcast.

It is the first U.S. daily talk show to be carried in China, according to a statement Tuesday by distributor Warner Brothers and Sohu.com Inc.

Sohu Video, like other Chinese online video sites, licenses many hit American TV shows. Earlier this month it unveiled the late-night U.S. comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live” as an addition to its lineup.