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Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone skip out on Outfest

Hollywood couple Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone have decided to axe plans to attend Outfest amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. They were poised to accept the James Schamus Ally Award for their support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.

As reported by Variety, Outfest executive director Damien Navarro expressed disappointment in the couple axing plans to attend, but ultimately understood that it was because of the strike, which has some pretty strict rules on conventions, festivals, and award ceremonies. Actress Amandla Stenberg had previously won the Platinum Maverick Award, but due to the walkout, had to sit the award festivities out. Jacqueline Castel accepted the award on her behalf.

On top of Stenberg, the opening night was filled with even more solidarity to the strike, with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe stars Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales, refusing the opportunity to stand on stage beside the director to introduce the film.

Navarro told Deadline that he expected this lack of mega-stars when the strike kicked off on July 14. The even started just before on July 13, and the union reminded people they can support Outfest and that the picket lines haven’t been laid out yet.

Circling back to the ally couple McCarthy and Falcone, they were named executive producers on the coming out journey, Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story, which premiered during Outfest. The documentary focuses on Tim Sullivan, an 82-year-old candlemaker in West Hollywood, who’s been sober for the last 40 years. The film also highlights he hiring habits of enlisting newly sober and unhoused people.

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