If anyone can really turn back time, Cher can | Rebecca Nicholson

Even an authorised film of the singer’s life is bound to eclipse the rest of the crop of musical biopics

Cher is the latest music star to get the biopic treatment. “Ok Universal is Doing Biopic” she tweeted, in her inimitable style, adding that the producers of both Mamma Mia!s are involved (and I hope that whoever plays Cher gets to re-enact that helicopter arrival).

It will be written by her friend Eric Roth, of Forrest Gump and A Star Is Born fame. Naturally, she included her favourite emoji, the ghost, in this announcement. A fan told her that she had been waiting for this for 50 years. “I Had More Life to Live,” Cher replied, which sounds like a potential title to me.

After the success of the Freddie Mercury and Elton John biopics, it was a given that more music flicks would follow, but the dial has moved towards the divas. Madonna is working on her own biopic. Andra Day elevated the tawdry The United States Vs Billie Holiday, Gemma Arterton will play a Dusty in Memphis-era Dusty Springfield and the trailer has just been released for Jennifer Hudson’s turn as Aretha Franklin in Respect.

There is a curious appetite for true-ish stories, for real lives remodelled into a semi-fictional state. They used to be low-end entertainment, the preserve of budget TV films in a world of bad scripts and Vaseline-lensed close-ups. Who can forget 2011’s William & Kate: The Movie, which saw the future Duchess of Cambridge jumping off a boat to swim towards her royal romantic destiny?

Now we have eschewed such silliness in favour of prestigious Proper Telly such as The Crown – and, as it has shown, people are not always happy to have the lives of the those they know and love dressed up and shoved on stage. Fact and fiction begin to blur. Courtney Love has objected to the making of Pam & Tommy, the series about her friend Pamela Anderson’s marriage to Tommy Lee and the theft of the sex tape the couple made, calling it “outrageous”. The family of the fashion designer Halston recently criticised Netflix’s eponymous series about his rise and fall, saying they were not consulted.

The producers of Cher’s story said they were working with her on this biopic. In this case, that does not dent my enthusiasm one bit. There is so much to choose from, so much life lived. She was one of the first female rock stars, has a back catalogue stuffed with hit after hit, and her most recent achievement was rescuing an elephant from captivity in Pakistan. Never mind a film, I want seven seasons and a Christmas special.

Demi Lovato: why such a rumpus about a pronoun?

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato: ‘I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression.’ Photograph: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

The pop star Demi Lovato has revealed that they now identify as non-binary and will be changing their pronouns to “they/them”. “I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression,” they said, in a video posted to Twitter, which was met with the predictable wave of derision and seemingly opened the floor to anyone who wished to speculate about their motives behind this announcement.

On the last season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, two of the competitors, Ginny Lemon and Bimini Bon Boulash, had a quiet conversation about being non-binary. I realise that to some extent they were preaching to the converted, but it was also illuminating because it lacked debate. It was two people discussing who they were. People fear what they don’t understand and I think that conversation did a lot to explain it, without fuss and with heart.

Even if you have decided that Lovato is attention-seeking or silly, one of the most ridiculous reactions to anyone coming out as non-binary is to pretend that they/them pronouns are in some way difficult to use. It is easy to refer to someone using the words they would like. It isn’t hard to use “they” in place of “he” or “she”, because we do it all the time.

I am currently having a long administrative chat by email with a person whose name is used by men and women, and we haven’t met in real life, so I don’t know what their gender is. I call them “they” in conversation. So far, societal and linguistic norms have yet to collapse.

Saoirse Ronan: now is her hour upon the stage

Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Ronan: treading London’s boards for the first time.
Photograph: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Saoirse Ronan will make her British stage debut this coming September, at the Almeida in London, where she will play Lady Macbeth in a new version of every bookish, black-lipstick-wearing teenage girl’s favourite Shakespeare play. In 2016, Ronan appeared on Broadway in The Crucible, every bookish, black-lipstick-wearing teenage girl’s favourite play not by Shakespeare, but this will be her first time on the London stage. She is joined by James McArdle as Macbeth, while the production, directed by Yaël Farber, promises a “feminist” version that will show a “more equivalent relationship” between the couple.Literary nerds assemble to argue that their relationship is pretty equivalent already – it’s her idea to give Duncan a little dagger-shaped push into the great beyond, after all – but it is always nice to see a woman leading the casting announcements. Ronan has been nominated for an Oscar four times and, as excellent an actor as McArdle is (he’s currently playing the creepy deacon in Mare of Easttown and is Olivier-nominated himself), it is likely that she will be the main draw. I’m already digging out the black lipstick. Is this, ahem, a “book now” button I see before me?

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

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