Fran Drescher, Billy Dee Williams, Terry McMillan to join season 5 of Palm Springs Speaks

The Palm Springs Speaks lecture series released its season five lineup on Monday, which incudes an Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress, a bestselling author and a legendary entertainer.

Animal scientist and autism self-advocate Temple Grandin kicked off the fifth season with a presentation on Friday. The series is presented by The Friends of the Palm Springs Library, and proceeds go back to the nonprofit, which supports and raises funds for the Palm Springs Public Library.

Who is on the lineup?

The lineup boasts a mix of well-known talents.

Actress and SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher will hold a talk at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School, located at 2401 E. Baristo Road.

Drescher has received two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal as the lovable Miss Fine on the television series “The Nanny,” which she both created and executive produced. She also created, executive produced and starred in the sitcom “Happily Divorced,” which was inspired by her real-life relationship with her gay ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson.

She is also a 20-year uterine cancer survivor, which led her to found the nonprofit Cancer Schmancer Movement, which advocates for cancer prevention, early detection and policy change. Drescher was recently leading the charge with the actors’ SAF-AFTRA union, which concluded its 118-day strike earlier this month.

Also on the Palm Springs Speaks lineup is author Terry McMillan, who is scheduled to visit the desert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, located at 2300 E. Baristo Road.

McMillan became the empowering voice of a generation of women with her New York Times No. 1 bestsellers, “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” The author’s seven bestsellers are rich in fearless wisdom, heart-touching characters and unforgettable stories of friendships, healing, intergenerational bonds and women saving their own lives.

Her latest novel, “It’s Not All Downhill From Here,” will be given to VIP attendees at Palm Springs Speaks.

Finally, entertainer Billy Dee Williams will round out the series at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

Williams has starred in more than 40 television shows and movies and seven Broadway plays. He became a true pop culture icon when he joined the “Star Wars” universe as smooth-talker Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back,” a role he reprised in the final film of the original trilogy, “The Return of the Jedi,” and in the recent sequel, “The Rise of Skywalker.”

His memoir, “What Have We Here?” will be published in February and will be given to VIP attendees and available for sale at his talk.

How much are tickets?

Tickets for each event start at $35 for rear-reserved seats. For McMillan and Williams’ talks, other prices are $50 for general admission, $75 for premium reserved and $125 for VIP. VIP tickets include a meet-and-greet reception ahead of the speaker’s presentation and free book.

For Drescher’s event, additional prices include $65 for general admission, $95 for premium reserved and $175 for VIP, which includes a meet-and-greet and professional photo.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting

Ema Sasic covers entertainment and health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at or on Twitter @ema_sasic.

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