TCA Day One: Sir Ian rocks and Idina defies gravity


Sir Ian McKellen (Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown)

Okay, all you gay boys, try not to hate me because I just finished watching Broadway star Idina Menzel perform a selection of songs including "Defying Gravity" for 100 or so of us television critics here at the TCA in Los Angeles. Okay, you can hate me a little! At least Idina’s adorable hubby Taye Diggs wasn’t here, so you don’t have to be jealous of that. 

Aside from enjoying Menzel’s talents, we had some one-on-one time with the one and only Sir Ian McKellen. Read all about it after the jump!

Menzel, who has a stunning voice, is also beautiful and very very funny. She shared an anecdote about recently meeting her two favorite icons — Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin — who apparently weren’t exactly overwhelming with their praise of Menzel (but methinks Menzel was just being modest). 

Menzel performs at Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s birthday (Getty)
  

Menzel was here to promote the revival of the 1986 musical Chess, the Broadway version of which flopped and which, lyricist Tim Rice told us, was never quite right. This new and corrected version was filmed at Royal Albert Hall and will air later this spring on PBS. We were shown a clip featuring Menzel, Josh Groban and Adam Pascal which included a nice little touch of same-sex attraction!

Earlier in the day, Sir Ian McKellen entertained the critics with anecdotes about doing Shakespeare and naturally he offered up a few great quotes. Asked about the fact that the version of King Lear scheduled to appear on PBS’ Great Performances on March 25th wouldn’t include his famous nude scene, McKellen said:  

It doesn’t matter. Every night, when I take my clothes off, you know what I used to do? Pull in my stomach. That’s pathetic. I was playing an old man. I should have let it all hang out, and I couldn’t do that. You know, I’m in two minds about it and I think it’s perfectly all right. After all, there were some places — I think Singapore was one — where it was not allowed for me to take my clothes off completely. It was all right to have a blinding on the stage, someone’s eyes removed, but it was inappropriate to show a penis. Well, I think it’s a bit ridiculous myself.

Sir Ian also addressed the fact he is often confused with Michael Gambon who played Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies: 

They often say, “Hi, Dumbledore,” and I say, “No, no, that’s Mike Gambon. I play the real wizard” — “the best wizard.” Of course, there’s a confusion because Ms. Rowling has announced that Dumbledore is gay, hasn’t she? So maybe that’s the confusion. Whether Gandalf was gay is another matter. His wife is never mentioned, and he’s 7,000 years old. He must have had some experience with sex.

After the TCA panel, our own Daniel Leary chatted with Sir Ian about a wide variety of topics including bullying in schools, Barack Obama, gay rights, plus Sir Ian’s classic performance as a vampire in a long-forgotten music video. We’ll have those vlog interviews over the following weeks!

In the meantime, check back here for any breaking scoop on your favorite shows and if you’d like to get Twitter updates from the TCA, sign up to follow AfterElton (for more general site updates) or my own account (for my more frequent and chatty take on what’s going down).

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