Tuesday, June 14, 2016

GOODBYE JIMMY NICK, THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS AND A FLEET STREET LEGEND

   Sad news from England where Jimmy Nicholson, one of Fleet Street's great crime reporters, known as the Prince of Darkness, has died.  
   I worked with Jimmy on the long-defunct Daily Sketch in the late 1960s and I still have fond memories of the laughs and drinks we shared, although he rarely bought a drink himself: there was always someone willing to pay to keep him drinking to hear his stories.   
  Jimmy, who was 89 when he died, was a character who could have been created by Damon Runyan. Some of his sayings are now part of journalistic legend---"I've been at every siege since Troy," he liked to boast. And, "I've been on more doorsteps than a milk bottle."  
  He earned his Prince of Darkness nickname because of the Dracula-style black cape he always wore. 
  Of all the crime reporters of his era he had probably the best contacts with both the police and the villains. Freddie Foreman, Frankie Fraser, Charlie Kray, Charles Richardson, the Great Train Robbers ---he knew them all and when they eventually ended up behind bars he would visit them in jail and they would repay him with exclusive stories.
  Current head of the Crime Reporters Association, John Twomey of the Daily Express, said: “Jim was one of the best connected journalists I’ve ever met.
“Everyone knew him from chief constables and commissioners, judges, leading barristers, senior detectives right down to rookie officers and the security staff at the Old Bailey.
“And everyone talked to him and knew they could trust him – for him that was the key to getting stories. He didn’t have much time for press releases and police communications officers with their media strategies.
“He was an old-fashioned reporter who got his exclusives in the old-fashioned way – going out and meeting people and making contacts.
“Although he never tired of talking about his past successes, the Moors Murders, the Krays, the hunt for the Brink’s-Mat robbery gold and many more, it was a track record that any crime reporter would give his right arm for.
“And what’s more, he had enormous fun along the way. It’s sad to think that he’s gone.  Legend is a word bandied about too often.  But Jimmy Nick really was one.”
  Simon Finlay, now editor of Downs Mail, told Press Gazette: “Jimmy Nick was a legend and an inspiration to young reporters like myself who would meet him at the Old Bailey back in the early 1990s.
“He was hugely respected and admired. His one-liners and gangster movie patois were hilarious.
“I was with a hack from the Daily Star in the Wine Press one night when Jimmy greeted us with the immortal words: ‘Look, it’s the hitmen from Mothercare.’
“Fair play to him – he cadged our fags and never bought a drink. We’ll miss him.”
  All of us who knew him will miss him. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

KATE MIDDLETON IS MY COUSIN SAYS ELLEN DEGENERES


Ellen

   Ellen DeGeneres will be at Wimbledon this year but not merely to watch the tennis. Her aim, she says with a face so straight it's impossible to tell if she's serious or not, is to confront the Duchess of Cambridge, whom, she says, is a distant cousin.

   "She refuses to admit  it and I don't know why," she tells me, "but I am going to be at Wimbledon and if my cousin Kate is there I'm going to bring the DNA chart with me. Kate Middleton and I are distant cousins and I don't know if she thinks I'm joking, but I'm going to confront her."

   According to the New England genealogical society she and the Duchess of Cambridge are 15th cousins, related through
a man named Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife, Agnes Gascoigne, who lived in the early 1500s.

  "It wasn't my idea but someone brought me the chart and surprised me," says Ellen, who is 58 but looks a good ten years younger.  
    
 "I think sometimes people grow up feeling you are supposed to fit some kind of pattern and are supposed to look how society says a 58-year-old woman is supposed to look and dress and act," she says. "A lot of us just fall into that and become what we think we are supposed to become.

  "I never did and I never want to and I dont care that people know that I am 58 because I think it’s just a number and your spirit and your energy level is what your real age is."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

SPLASHY BEACH PARTY LAUNCHES NEW CRIME DRAMA ANIMAL KINGDOM

 Picking which of the new TV shows will still be around at the end of the year is always a hit and miss affair. But judging by the rapturous reception at the premiere screening and the splashy beach party that followed, TNT's Animal Kingdom looks like a good bet.
  Hundreds of people crammed into the open air launch party, held in a security-guarded area adjoining the Venice Boardwalk at the foot of Rose Avenue. The street was blocked off to allow the army of valet parkers to do their work while a live band, photo booths, stunt cyclists and skateboarders soaring up and down a giant curved ramp and a busy bar all added to the freewheeling fun.
Animal Kingdom is a gritty crime drama about a working class family who run a criminal empire in the sleepy California beach town of Oceanside. Ellen Barkin stars as Janine "Smurf" Cody, the head of the family and the mastermind behind its illegal activities. Her sons do her bidding while indulging in booze, drugs and women. 
  "I just love being one of those rare women who get to play a part where she doesn't have to apologise for being a bad person," says Barkin.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

FINDING DORY WILL BE A HUGE HIT---BUT TROPICAL FISH LOVERS FEAR IT COULD ENDANGER BLUE TANG FISH

   Disney unveiled it's highly-anticipated animated summer movie Finding Dory at a screening and lavish dinner reception in Beverly Hills among predictions that  it could bring in a massive $115 million on its opening weekend. 

  But tropical fish lovers are not happy. They fear that Finding Dory, the sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo, could lead to a run on blue tang fish in pet stores and endanger the fish in the wild. 
 
The success of  Finding Nemo led to a huge demand for orange clown fish at pet stores. In fact, some kids even flushed their Nemos down the toilet to set them free---as depicted in the movie.

  In the same vein, but back in 1961, many doting but stupid parents succumbed to their children's demands for Dalmatian puppies because of the movie 101 Dalmatians, leading to hundreds of puppies being abandoned when they grew older and the kids became bored with them. 

In the new film, Dory is a blue tang but unlike orange clown fish, blue tangs cannot be bred in captivity, and the movie could actually endanger the population of blue tangs in the wild.

An online petition with more than 100,000 signatures asks Disney to run a warning before "Finding Dory", urging people not to buy blue tangs as pets.

  In Finding Nemo, Dory helped anxious clown fish Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his son Nemo after a school field trip goes awry. Marlin reappears in Finding Dory and helps the forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) on her quest to be reunited with her mother (Diane Keaton) and father (Eugene Levy)

  Finding Dory hits theaters in 3D on June 17,

Saturday, June 4, 2016

FUN ZONE CROWD SEES U.S. STRUGGLE IN COPA AMERICA OPENER



  The heavy damp mist that blew in from the sea and engulfed the fun zone on Santa Monica Pier where hundreds of fans were watching the opening game of the Copa America on a giant open air screen brought with it a haze of concern about the USA's future in the tournament.
 
 Only 90 minutes into the 23 day tournament the USA has its back against the wall after losing 2-0 to a far superior Colombia side and now needs at least a win and a draw against Costa Rica and Paraguay to have any chance of advancing out of its group. 

   But neither the score nor the mist that hung like a thick blanket over the Pier could dampen the spirits of the crowd who, judging by the cheers and groans, seemed evenly divided between U.S and Colombia supporters. 

    The event was sponsored by Budweiser, who ensured there was a festive atmosphere by providing stands selling beer and burgers---although there were long lines at them throughout the evening---and plenty of plastic footballs bobbing about among the spectators.

  Now the US needs a win against Costa Rica on Tuesday to give them confidence and also a realistic chance of progressing through the group. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WHAT'S NEXT FOR JOHNNY DEPP?

Amber Heard
   Where does Johnny Depp go from here?
   The allegations of domestic abuse from his estranged wife Amber Heard have raised further questions about his career and reputation.
   Already dogged by a series of movie flops---his latest movie, the just-released Alice Through the Looking Glass is also tanking at the box-office--he is now the subject of a restraining order requiring him to stay 100 yards away from Amber Heard who claims in a sworn declaration that "he has been verbally and physically abusive to her" throughout their relationship. She said he "has a long-held and widely acknowledged public and private history of drug and alcohol abuse" and he was high and drunk when they got into a fight on May 21 and he threw a cellphone at her, hitting her in the cheek and eye.

with Depp a couple of years ago
   Plenty of celebrities have endured scandal with little evidence that it has hurt their careers but Depp is in a different category because much of his success has been in movies aimed at families. He has been immortalised as a Disneyland Audio-Animatronic figure for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, and the next installment of the long-running saga, Dead Men Tell No Tales, is set to come out next year.
  Last year Forbes magazine named him the top "overpaid" actor in Hollywood following a string of flops which have included Mordecai, The Lone Ranger, Tusk and Transcendence.
  Mark Young, professor at the USC Marshall School of Business tells Variety that Depp "is beloved by many. Thus a lot of this depends on public perception of Amber Heard and her credibility."
  He says, "Given that the public has strong affection for him, I don't think his career will suffer in the long run."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

STAN LEE, KING OF THE COMICS, IS PLANNING MORE SUPERHEROES.


    Stan Lee is unquestionably the King of the Comics. He created the iconic superheroes Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, X-Men and the Fantastic Four among literally hundreds of others for Marvel Comics.
    Nearly all of them have become the central characters in movies and there are more on the way. 
   "They haven't done Dr. Strange as a movie yet although they are working on him and they haven't done The Inhumans but when they do it's going to be incredible. Wait until you see it," says the 93-year-old writer-publisher-movie producer when we talk in a West Hollywood office. "They're doing the Black Panther and I think they have done all the others so I'd better come up with some new ones otherwise I won't have anything to talk about."
    And that's exactly what he is doing. New superhero movies he has in the works include The Annihilator, The Realm of the Tiger and a movie about the Greek Gods which he says he cannot yet talk about. 
    With his trademark tinted glasses, a rollicking sense of humour and a fund of stories, Stan Lee has a personality as colourful as his characters. Anyone paying close attention can catch him in a cameo role in all his movies.
     "When I created these characters for Marvel I never in a million years thought they would become the movies that they have," he says. "The only thing on my mind--and the minds of the other artists and writers---was that we hoped the books would sell well enough so that we would keep our jobs and be able to pay the rent."
  He doesn't have a favourite among the movies although he says: "I think Iron Man really caught it. They were lucky to have Robert Downey Jr. play the role. I think the first Spiderman was very good. I don't even remember all of them--there are so many now."
   What he does remember, however, is the reaction from his publisher when he first came up with the idea of Spiderman.     
     "When you do a superhero the first thing you have to think about is what is his super power? So I saw a fly crawling on the wall and I said, 'Boy, wouldn’t it be cool to have a hero who could stick to walls?' So then I needed a name.I thought Fly Man? No.Insect Man? Nah. Mosquito Man? And then I thought of Spiderman, and it sounded dramatic.
  " And then I thought I would make him a teenager, because there were no teenage superheroes, so that would make him different. And finally, I thought I would give him a lot of personal problems, because again, the other superheroes I knew didn’t have personal problems. I got so excited, I ran into my publisher and told him and he said, 'Stan, that is the worst idea that I have ever heard.
    "'First of all, people hate spiders; you can’t make him a teenager, because teenagers can only be sidekicks; and superheroes don’t have personal problems, that’s why they are superheroes!'
  But a comic called Amazing Fantasy was about to be killed off so, because nobody cared about it, Stan put Spiderman on the cover. 
  "A month later the sales figures came in and my publisher came running over to me and said, 'Stan, do you remember that Spiderman character of yours that we both liked so much? Let’s do it as a series.'".
  Here's hoping that Stan is around for many more years to keep inventing new superheroes.