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How World Of Wonder Created A Phenomenon – Deadline

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EXCLUSIVE: From humble beginnings showcasing drag artists on New York’s anarchic Manhattan Cable, to creating a stiletto-striding global phenomenon in the shape of RuPaul’s Drag Race, World of Wonder has been bringing its punkish, colorful spirit to our screens for 30 years.

The production company, founded by Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey in 1991, is preparing to launch Drag Race in Spain this weekend and expects the format to sashay its way into 10 different territories before too long. In doing so, they have created a brand that celebrates talent in many forms and given rise to a new bread of television star, all while delivering a message of hope and acceptance.

“Randy and I have always felt that drag is pure inspiration and incredible artistry. It combines painting, fashion, style, music, dancing, and above all, the ability to make something out of nothing,” says Bailey, speaking to Deadline over Zoom.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ Moves From VH1 To Paramount+; Lineup Of Returning Queens Unveiled

Not everyone has shared this view. Barbato and Bailey recall being told “no more drag queens” by the Manhattan Cable commissioner after showcasing the likes of Madonna superfan Queerdonna (see video below) and proving one of the first platforms for RuPaul himself. Since then, the word “no” has been a familiar refrain from network executives during Drag Race pitch meetings.

Even with several U.S. seasons under their belt on ViacomCBS’s Logo TV and VH1 (Season 14 is currently casting), they were rejected more than once by nearly every major UK broadcaster. “Everybody’s afraid,” says Barbato. “It’s not the audience or the fans, it’s the gatekeepers. It’s the executives, no shade [intended]. They need to discover the show first, it’s often because their kids tell them about it.”

That’s exactly what happened at the BBC, where an executive came round to the idea on the recommendation of their children. The show launched on BBC Three in 2019 and has been regularly credited by the British broadcaster for helping lift iPlayer viewing to record highs. It has also created wildly viral moments, including the disarmingly catchy U K Hun song (an earworm that will last for days if you look it up). A third season is now on the way, while UK queens are popping up on all sorts of other reality shows. None of this has gone unnoticed by Barbato and Bailey.

“I hope they kick themselves really hard,” Bailey says when asked if the BBC’s commercial rivals look on enviously at Drag Race. With a mischievous glance into his camera, he adds: “If they don’t kick themselves, next time I see them, I’ll kick them myself.” Barbato adds: “They kick themselves but then they also do whatever they can to book the queens from previous seasons. We’re quite happy to introduce other networks to TV stars.”

Drag Race UK

‘Drag Race UK’
BBC

Drag Race has been so successful for the BBC that it has acquired the Canadian and the Drag Race Down Under versions of the show, with the latter causing a stir in Britain after the BBC snipped out jokes about Prince Andrew. (Bailey is relaxed about this, by the way, saying he respects the “sensitivities in different cultures.”) And there’s likely more to come, as Deadline understands that a second season of Canada’s Drag Race is currently filming.

Drag Race España premieres on Spanish streamer ATRESplayer on Sunday. Bailey says it is laced with the filmmaking spirit of Bad Education director Pedro Almodóvar and is “indescribably hot,” not least because there is romance on the judging panel between Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo, the creators behind HBO Max’s transgender series Veneno. Bailey explains: “It’s got a very baroque aesthetic. That’s the thing about Drag Race, in every country it’s its own animal. It’s the same show but completely different.”

He expects Drag Race to “pop” in other territories soon, though deals are not yet ready to be announced. With each launch, the show’s joyful message of acceptance for the trans and queer community takes another step forward. “I think it saves lives,” Bailey says. “I just remember growing up, the only time there was a gay person on the screen, they were lonely, they were sad, they were persecuted, and they often ended up dying, being killed, or killing themselves. It was just dismal.”

“This is part of our legacy to our children… It does feel like we are making a contribution,” Barbato chimes in. But with a typical wink to the show’s community, he adds: “Of course, it is also drag, so we don’t want to ever take it too seriously.”

Drag Race is just one part of the World of Wonder empire. The company has moved into live events through the Dragcon convention and Drag Race Las Vegas show, while it also has a long pedigree in features and documentaries, launching WOW Docs last October under unscripted executive Jim Fraenkel. Both slates boast what Barbato describes as “Drag Race adjacent content.”

On the features side, Bailey’s 2000 documentary on televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker is being adapted into The Eyes of Tammy Faye with Searchlight Pictures. Michael Showalter directs, with Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield starring. It premieres on September 24. Meanwhile, one of WOW Docs’ first projects will be Explant, a documentary following Drag Race star Michelle Visage as she removes her breast implants and spotlights women who have been poisoned by the plastic surgery. Directed by Emmy-winning Jeremy Simmons, it screens at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.

Then there is WOW Presents Plus, World of Wonder’s very own streaming service. Launched in 2017, it hosts different international editions of Drag Race and various spin-off content; treasures from World of Wonder’s archive, such as British comedy The Adam and Joe Show; and originals, including the upcoming Painted With Raven, a makeup competition series hosted by Drag Race fan favorite and Emmy-winning makeup artist Raven.

WOW Presents Plus will double down on originals in the future. Barbato says it has obvious advantages.”We’re cutting out the resources and the personnel that it takes to develop and then to potentially pilot. Why not just make it and put it on the platform? We already know there’s going to be interest, we know how to produce it, we know that our audience would rather have the content and would be quite happy for it to be rough around the edges,” he explains. “It’s fresh and it’s got joie de vivre. We’re just doing it rather than it being noted to death.”

The streamer has been an “extraordinary rocket ride of growth,” says Bailey, though the duo won’t discuss subscriber numbers. He can’t resist noting, however, that the platform is bigger than Quibi, the doomed streamer that reportedly had 500,000 subscribers when it closed last year. “We’re not out to beat Netflix, it’s a specialty channel,” he adds.

So with 30 years under their belt and a diversified business, are they thinking about selling? “We’re happy to be independent and no one has ever understood our value. When we talked about creating our own streaming platform, it was as if we were talking to aliens,” Barbato says. Instead, Bailey says the company’s ethos is very much driven by the world they have spotlighted so successfully: “That very punk idea of just doing it has always been what gets us out of bed. And that is aligned with drag.”

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Woman passenger from UK tests Covid positive at Hyderabad airport

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Hyderabad: A 35-year-old international passenger who reached the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here on Wednesday has tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing an RT-PCR test at the airport itself. The woman passenger had traveled from the United Kingdom, which has been categorised as an ‘At Risk Country’. 

The passenger has been admitted to the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) and samples were collected and sent for genetic sequencing. Officials said she did not have any symptoms and that her health condition was being monitored closely. 

According to officials, the woman hails from Rangareddy district and was on a visit to UK from Hyderabad. Though her close relatives tested negative, their health condition is also being monitored. 


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Revealed: how Sidney Powell could be disbarred for lying in court for Trump | US elections 2020

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Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Donald Trump who filed lawsuits across America for the former president, hoping to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has on several occasions represented to federal courts that people were co-counsel or plaintiffs in her cases without seeking their permission to do so, the Guardian has learned.

Some of these individuals say that they only found out that Powell had named them once the cases were already filed.

During this same period of time, Powell also named several other lawyers – with their permission in those instances – as co-counsel in her election-related cases, despite the fact that they played virtually no role whatsoever in bringing or litigating those cases.

Both Powell’s naming of other people as plaintiffs or co-counsel without their consent and representing that other attorneys were central to her cases when, in fact, their roles were nominal or nonexistent, constitute serious potential violations of the American Bar Association model rules for professional conduct, top legal ethicists told the Guardian.

Powell’s misrepresentations to the courts in those particular instances often aided fundraising for her nonprofit, Defending the Republic. Powell had told prospective donors that the attorneys were integral members of an “elite strike force” who had played outsized roles in her cases – when in fact they were barely involved if at all.

A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020.
A couple poses for a photo in front of a Trump campaign bus at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, on 2 December 2020. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Powell did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone, email, and over social media.

The State Bar of Texas is already investigating Powell for making other allegedly false and misleading statements to federal courts by propagating increasingly implausible conspiracy theories to federal courts that Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States was illegitimate.

The Texas bar held its first closed-door hearing regarding the allegations about Powell on 4 November. Investigations by state bar associations are ordinarily conducted behind closed doors and thus largely opaque to the public.

A federal grand jury has also been separately investigating Powell, Defending the Republic, as well as a political action committee that goes by the same name, for fundraising fraud, according to records reviewed by the Guardian.

Among those who have alleged that Powell falsely named them as co-counsel is attorney Linn Wood, who brought and litigated with Powell many of her lawsuits attempting to overturn the results of the election with her, including in the hotly contested state of Michigan.

The Michigan case was a futile attempt by Powell to erase Joe Biden’s victory in that state and name Trump as the winner. On 25 August, federal district court Judge Linda Parker, of Michigan, sanctioned Powell and nine other attorneys who worked with her for having engaged in “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in bringing the case in the first place. Powell’s claims of election fraud, Parker asserted, had no basis in law and were solely based on “speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion”.

Parker further concluded that the conduct of Powell, Wood, and the eight other attorneys who they worked with, warranted a “referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for each state … in which each attorney is admitted”.

Wood told the court in the Michigan case that Powell had wrongly named him as one of her co-counsel in the Michigan case. During a hearing in the case to determine whether to sanction Wood, his defense largely rested on his claim that he had not been involved in the case at all. Powell, Wood told the court, had put his name on the lawsuit without her even telling him.

A man holds a sign reading "The dead cannot vote" at a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Trump supporters attend a rally in Alpharetta, Georgia, where Sidney Powell spoke on efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Photograph: Nathan Posner/REX/Shutterstock

Wood said: “I do not specifically recall being asked about the Michigan complaint … In this case obviously my name was included. My experience or my skills apparently were never needed, so I didn’t have any involvement with it.”

Wood’s attorney, Paul Stablein, was also categorical in asserting that his client had nothing to do with the case, telling the Guardian in an interview: “He didn’t draft the complaint. He didn’t sign it. He did not authorize anyone to put his name on it.”

Powell has denied she would have ever named Wood as a co-counsel without Wood’s permission.

But other people have since come forward to say that Powell has said that they were named as plaintiffs or lawyers in her election-related cases without their permission.

In a Wisconsin voting case, a former Republican candidate for Congress, Derrick Van Orden, said he only learned after the fact that he had been named as a plaintiff in one of Powell’s cases.

“I learned through social media today that my name was included in a lawsuit without my permission,” Van Orden said in a statement he posted on Twitter, “To be clear, I am not involved in the lawsuit seeking to overturn the election in Wisconsin.”

Jason Shepherd, the Republican chairman of Georgia’s Cobb county, was similarly listed as a plaintiff in a Georgia election case without his approval.

In a 26 November 2020 statement, Shepherd said he had been talking to an associate of Powell’s prior to the case’s filing about the “Cobb GOP being a plaintiff” but said he first “needed more information to at least make sure the executive officers were in agreeing to us being a party in the suit”. The Cobb County Republican party later agreed to remain plaintiffs in the case instead of withdrawing.

Leslie Levin, a professor at the University of Connecticut Law School, said in an interview: “Misrepresentations to the court are very serious because lawyers are officers of the court. Bringing a lawsuit in someone’s name when they haven’t consented to being a party is a very serious misrepresentation and one for which a lawyer should expect to face serious discipline.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a law professor at Stanford University, says that Powell’s actions appear to violate Rule 3.3 of the ABA’s model rules of professional misconduct which hold that “a lawyer shall not knowingly … make a false statement of fact of law to a tribunal”.

Since election day last year, federal and state courts have dismissed more than 60 lawsuits alleging electoral fraud and irregularities by Powell, and other Trump allies.

Shortly after the election, Trump named Powell as a senior member of an “elite strike force” who would prove that Joe Biden only won the 2020 presidential race because the election was stolen from him. But Trump refused to pay her for her services. To remedy this, Powell set up a new nonprofit called Defending the Republic; its stated purpose is to “protect the integrity of elections in the United States”.

As a nonprofit, the group is allowed to raise unlimited amounts of “dark money” and donors are legally protected from the ordinary requirements to disclose their identities to the public. Powell warned supporters that for her to succeed, “millions of dollars must be raised”.

Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, Powell told prospective donors that Defending the Republic had a vast team of experienced litigators.

Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Sidney Powell speaks at a press conference on election results in Alpharetta, Georgia. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Among the attorneys who Powell said made up this “taskforce” were Emily Newman, who had served Trump as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security. Newman had been a founding board member of Defending the Republic.

But facing sanctions in the Michigan case, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from having played much of a meaningful role in her litigation.

Newman’s attorney told Parker, the judge, that Newman had “not played a role in the drafting of the complaint … My client was a contract lawyer working from home who spent maybe five hours on this matter. She really wasn’t involved … Her role was de minimis.”

To have standing to file her Michigan case, Powell was initially unable to find a local attorney to be co-counsel on her case but eventually attorney Gregory Rohl agreed to help out.

But when Rohl was sanctioned by Parker and referred to the Michigan attorney disciplinary board for further investigation, his defense was that he, too, was barely involved in the case. He claimed that he only received a copy of “the already prepared” 830-page initial complaint at the last minute, reviewed it for “well over an hour”, while then “making no additions, decisions or corrections” to the original.

As with Newman, Parker, found that Rohl violated ethics rules by making little, if any, effort to verify the facts of the claims in Powell’s filings.

In sanctioning Rohl, the judge wrote that “the court finds it exceedingly difficult to believe that Rohl read an 830-page complaint in just ‘well over an hour’ on the day he filed it. So, Rohl’s argument in and of itself reveals sanctionable conduct.”

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Govt to introduce important Bill, Covid situation likely to be discussed

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The government on Thursday will table ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. A discussion on Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and its various related aspects is also likely to take place in the lower House.


Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will move the ‘The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill’ in the Lok Sabha to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998.





Under rule 193, a discussion on Covid-19 pandemic and various aspects related to it will likely take place. According to sources, the members may also raise their concern and ask for the government’s preparedness for the new Omicron variant. Under Rule 193, members can seek details about the new Covid variant. “Short duration discussion is likely to be held in the Lok Sabha on the Covid and its various aspects, including new Omicron variant,” sources said.


Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Prahlad Singh Patel, General V.K. Singh, Krishan Pal, Bhanu Pratap Verma, Rameshwar Teli and Kaushal Kishore will lay papers on the table. Reports and action reports of different standing committees will also be laid in the day.


The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Amendment) Bill 2021 (ART) by voice vote as the amendments moved by the DMK MP N.K. Prem Chandran, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut were negated. The ART Bill seeks to regulate fertility clinics. All such clinics will have to be registered under the National Registry of Banks and Clinics of India.


The opposition is likely to continue to raise its voices on price rise, unemployment and extended jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) in some states. The opposition parties are also demanding a law guaranteeing the minimum support price (MSP).

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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