Saturday, January 30, 2016


On the patio at the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood
.  Strange but true---since the phenomenal success of the bondage-heavy S and M saga Fifty Shades of Grey its young star Dakota Johnson has had difficulty meeting men.  For some reason, she tells me when we chat at the trendy Redbury Hotel in Hollywood, they are scared to approach her  or talk to her.  "I don't know why. You tell me," she says with a smile. 

 Then there are the other kind who think she is into the same kinky sex her character Anastasia Steele goes in for. "Some people think this is something I'm interested in in my private life which is not the case," she says firmly. "I'm an actor--I pretend. But I guess it's something that happens with a lot of actors: people think that in real life they are like the characters they play." 

  The 26-year-old, doe-eyed actress, whose latest movie is the sex comedy How To Be Single, admits: "I definitely get lonely sometimes, for sure, but luckily I have such a distraction in my job at the moment that I don't think about men very often."

   Dakota, who is the daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith is soon to start filming the Fifty Shades sequel, Fifty Shades Darker wiht co-star Jamie Dornan. And, she says: "It’s going to be interesting. It's kind of more of a thriller and there are new characters,which will be nice."

Sunday, January 17, 2016


 Talked football with Oxford United supporter Hugh Laurie when we met up at the W Hotel in West Hollywood.
  Oxford-born Hugh, who went to school there but attended university at Cambridge, was naturally naturally delighted with League Two Oxford United's 3-2 upset of Premier League club Swansea City in the FA Cup's third round.
  Hugh, who for eight years starred in House and will soon be seen in the mini-series The Night Manager, had faith that Oxford, who face  Blackburn in the next round, could go all the way.
  "It's such a crazy season that anything can happen," he says. "It's so unpredictable and I'm looking forward to seeing Oxford at Wembley."
 Sadly for Hugh, they lost 3-0 to Blackburn. 

Monday, January 11, 2016


Thank heavens for Ricky Gervais! Hosting the Golden Globes for the fourth time the English funnyman's often raunchy jibes livened up what was otherwise a tame and boring Globes sho
  As Ricky said: "It goes on far too long."
  He took potshots at everyone from Sean Penn to Caitlyn Jenner to Mel Gibson during the boozy, three-hour show. Of Gibson, he said: ":I'd
rather have a drink with Mel in his hotel room than with Bill Cosby." And Caitlyn Jenner, he said, had done a lot for transgender people but nothing for women drivers.
   And some of the  awards were as cringe-inducing as Ricky's jokes.
  First timer Lady Gaga as best actress in a limited series for American Horror Story, beating out  such serious and seasoned actresses as Kirsten Dunst and Felicity Huffman??
Partying with Globe winner Brie Larson
   And the Martian as best comedy with its star Matt Damon as best actor in a comedy?? Still, if The Big Short and Joy, neither or which are the slightest bit funny, qualify as comedies, then why not the Martian?
on the red carpet
on the red carpet
   The voters got it right, however, with the Globe for best actress going to Brie Larson, whom I first met at a party in Toronto in September and who turned in a stunning performance in the drama Room. Also good to see Sylvester Stallone finally getting a Globe for Creed as best supporting actor, 40 years after he missed out on one for Rocky.
  But while the show was yawn-inducing, driving many of the audience to the bar, the after-show parties were as good if not better than ever, with both Universal and Fox building lavish pavilions for their bashes while once again HBO covered the pool for their party and Warner Bros/InStyle transformed the hotel's Oasis courtyard into party central. Netflix and the Weinstein group shared their party at a specially-erected pavilion at the top of the red carpet. 
  This was one year when the parties were definitely more  fun than the show itself.

Thursday, January 7, 2016


  Partygoers are dazzled by choice this week as the build up to Sunday's Golden Globes gets into high gear. Studios, TV shows, entertainment executives and individual movies are all throwing bashes to celebrate their nominations or in some cases just to garner publicity for their next projects.
   I will be going to a dinner with the cast of Spotlight in Beverly Hills, to the party at the home of Netflix boss Ted Sarandos and possibly to Paramount's annual party at the Chateau Marmont, and on Saturday afternoon BAFTA will be playing host to most of the British nominees at the Four Seasons.   
  While most of those who will be attending the Globes show at the Beverly Hilton are looking forward  to the event, some are nervously wondering what jibes host Ricky Gervais is planning.
 He has already indicated that Donald Trump and  Mel Gibson, who will be presenting an award, will be among his targets, gleefully tweeting:"Mel Gibson is presenting an award at The Golden Globes. Thank you Jesus."
 And he said: "Trump might get a mention. He's put his head in a basket."
  It is Ricky's fourth time hosting the show and each time he has caused controversy and in some cases, anger for his jokes.He previously poked fun at Gibson, joking in 2010: "I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson."
 In 2011 Charlie Sheen was a target following reports he was struggling with substance abuse: "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie calls it: breakfast."
 He was criticised for what some viewed as a homophobic attack on actress Jodie Foster when in 2012 he said "Jodie Foster's Beaver … I haven't seen it myself", referring to her film The Beaver in which she starred alongside Gibson.
 Bruce Willis was a victim when he was introduced as Ashton Kutcher's dad. Kutcher was dating Willis' ex-wife at the time, Demi Moore.
And playboy chief Hugh Hefner was not off-limits: "Talking of the walking dead, congratulations to Hugh Hefner, who is getting married at age 84 to 24-year-old beauty Crystal Harris.
"When asked why she was marrying him, she said: 'He lied about his age. He told me he was 94.' Just don't look at it when you touch it."
  Anticipating more criticism and controversy, Ricky says now: "Because I can see the future, I'd like to apologise now for the things I said at next week's Golden Globes. I was drunk & didn't give a f****."

Thursday, December 17, 2015


  There are two new faces in the Star Wars saga now. Two Brits, John Boyega as Finn and Daisy Ridley as Rey are clearly destined to take over the starring roles in future movies---and Disney intends to turn out a new one every two years.
  But in the current, just-released blockbuster The Force Awakens it is veteran Harrison Ford, returning as Han Solo, who steals the show. While his fellow Star Wars alumni Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill have cameo roles, Ford is the fully-fledged star, back in the Millennium Falcon and at the center of the action. 
  Although after Return of the Jedi he said he never wanted to come back again as Han Solo, he told me when we chatted before the premiere why he had changed his mind. 
 "I did it as usual for myself," he says."And because it was a very good script it seemed like  really good idea.
  "And besides that I didn't have a job. So it was easy and I slotted in and I was delighted to do it. You might not think I'd want to because of statements I made years ago that I was tired of putting on that costume. But 25 years later there it is in the back of the closet and it's got a nice look to it so I thought I'd try it on again.  
   "It's true that I said I wanted Han Solo to die in the original but that wasn't because I didn't want to play the character but because I didn't anticipate there would ever be another film. 
 "So I thought ti would be great if he sacrificed himself and lent some gravitas to the enterprise.
  "But George Lucas said  'no'"

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


  Had a cuddle the other day with veteran Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, who endeared herself to generations of obsessive fans as Princess Leia.
  Carrie, who in the past has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction as well as bipolar disorder, is back in the new Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, and winning new fans as General Leia.
   Carrie and I had a mutual friend in the wonderful screenwriter Charles Bennett, her next-door neighbour for many years in Coldwater Canyon.
Carrie as Princess Leia
  Charles, who died in 1995 aged 95, wrote several of Alfred Hitchock's films and was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for Foreign Correspondent.
   I used to visit him regularly and sit at his bar for the "cocktail hour" he observed every day at 5pm.
   When I reminded Carrie of this she nodded knowingly. "Yes," she said. "Charles used to drink a lot."
   Serendipitously, Carrie's mother Debbie Reynolds now lives in Charles's old house and when I went to interview her there before she embarked on a concert tour of England, I was glad to see Charles's battered bar, where he enjoyed so many cocktail hours, was still there..   


Fans in the bleachers
Bitterly cold winds, unprecedented security checks, long lines at metal detectors and thousands of screaming
fans all combined to make the Star Wars The Force Awakens world premiere the biggest and most costly ever held.
  I booked into the venerable Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to avoid battling the traffic and navigating around the streets that had been shut down, but even getting across Hollywood Boulevard to the famed Chinese Theatre proved something of a problem.
  But I can't review the film yet or say what I thought of it because Disney has imposed a strict embargo until Wednesday.
  It took three cinemas showing the movie simultaneously and a quarter-of-a-mile-long red carpet and party held in a massive tent-turned Star Wars museum to launch the latest episode of the Star Wars saga.

  Thousands of fans---many in costume and some who had waited for more than a week --- lined the barricades and jammed the bleachers along the blocked-off Hollywood Boulevard to cheer and scream as the stars arrived at the foot of the longest red carpet in the world.
The Star Wars cast on stage
   All the stars of the movie, along with many other celebrities were there to walk through the tented tunnel lined with stormtroopers, screens showing scenes from previous Star War movies and models of the Star Wars characters.
  The movie was nearly 90 minutes late starting but no one seemed to mind and the audience roared and cheered with applause as the words "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" scrolled across the screen.
    The Force Awakens marks the beginning of a whole new and vibrant life for the Star Wars franchise as Disney plans to churn out a new film every two or three years indefinitely. It plans to use Star Wars on its TV networks and Star Wars attractions exist in four Disney parks and more are planned, especially in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
   George Lucas, who sold his Lucasfilm, which includes the Star Wars franchise, to Disney for four billion dollars, said: “I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me. I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”
Harrison Ford does  a selfie and (top right) John Boyega and Daisy Ridley