Chaz Bono returns to OWN, blasts "penguin" jibes

Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:32pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Chaz Bono may have been booted off "Dancing With the Stars" this week, but he will be back on television next month in a second documentary on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) about his life as a transgender man.

Bono, the only child of singer Cher and her late husband Sonny Bono, is the subject of a one-hour special called "Being Chaz", which looks at his life with girlfriend Jennifer Elia following his female-to-male sex change, OWN said on Wednesday.

The November 27 documentary, a follow-up to the 2011 film "Becoming Chaz", will also chronicle Bono's preparation for his controversial debut as the first transgender celebrity on the TV ballroom contest "Dancing with the Stars".

Viewers voted Bono off the TV show on Tuesday after six weeks following a bashing by judges of his "Phantom of the Opera" tango. Judge Bruno Tonioli called Bono "a cute penguin."

Bono, 42, whose inclusion on the dance show triggered a call for a boycott by a conservative Christian group, fired back on Wednesday.

"I got a lot of references from him (Tonioli) about things that would indicate the fact that I'm overweight, you know, a roundness. I was called a basketball, a penguin, an Ewok, and I just didn't appreciate it," Bono said on TV talk show "Good Morning America."

"If you want to critique my dancing and give me some constructive advice so I can try to improve the next time that I'm there, that would be great. But I don't really know how to be less penguinish, and so I kind of took offense to that," he said.

Gay and lesbian rights group GLAAD said in a statement that Bono "has helped countless people better understand what it means to be transgender. He should be commended for both his courage and determination."

When "Becoming Chaz" was first broadcast on OWN in May, it was watched by more than 705,000 viewers, giving the fledgling cable channel one of its biggest audiences since its January launch.   Continued...

<p>Chaz Bono (R) and Jennifer Elia arrive at the 2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>