Ask (Jan. 27, 2009)

Question: Do you have any details as to if/when [the television series] Ally McBeal will be released on DVD in the United States?

— Beverly, Fresno, CA

Answer: Unless copyright laws undergo some drastic changes, we may not be seeing Ally McBeal released on DVD in the U.S. anytime soon.

The cast of Ally McBeal

The show, starring Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, and a not-yet-out Portia De Rossi,
was known for its memorable soundtrack, but the rights to those great
songs were only purchased for the original broadcast of the show, not
its subsequent release on DVD. Television shows created today purchase
the rights for both broadcast and DVD, but the creators of McBeal obviously didn’t count on the enormous popularity of binge-viewing entire seasons of television series on DVD.

So until someone comes up with the money (paging Ellen DeGeneres!) to buy those rights, you’ll have to get a region-free DVD player and purchase the series from international distributors.

Question: Whatever happened to singer/songwriter Tanita Tikaram, and is she gay?

— Estrella, New York, NY

Tanita Tikaram (circa 1995)

photo by Jean Baptiste Mondino

Answer: Wow, just hearing her name takes me back to the good old days of having just come out of the closet and arguing with all of my straight friends (most of whom later turned out to be gay themselves) about which of our favorite celebrities were lesbians. Along with Tracy Chapman and Melissa Etheridge, Tanita Tikaram was a hot topic in those conversations.

Tikaram is a German-born singer/songwriter of Malaysian/Indo-Fijian lineage who found fame with her first album, Ancient Heart (1988), at the tender age of 19. Remember her gorgeously arty video for "Twist In My Sobriety?"

Since then, Tikaram has released an additional seven CDs (one of which is a Best Of compilation), and her most recent release was Sentimental in 2005.

Tanita Tikaram today

photo by Sylvie Bardet

She also had a cameo in the film Taboo Parlor (1994) directed by German lesbian filmmaker Monica Treut, and in 2005 produced the film Solace (or Everyday is New) by filmmaker Jared Katsiane.

As to her sexuality, in a 1995 interview with British lesbian magazine Diva, the reporter wrote:

Tanita refuses to be boxed into a single identity, place, or community. When I ask her about her attitudes towards the gay community in particular, she just looks at me shyly and laughs, asking "what is this?" Her sense of belonging is complex and multi-layered, one that draws heavily on her friends and family.

So maybe no news is good news.

For more info about Tikaram, you can check out her official website or her recently launched blog.

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