Monday, April 24, 2017


 On the few cruises I have been on I've never been impressed with the entertainment. Lounge singers, second rate comedians and even the occasional magician have all left me cold.
  But on a Mediterranean cruise on the maiden voyage of the new Silversea ship Silver Muse this spring I saw a show that turns the accepted norm of cruise ship entertainment on its head with a vibrancy, joie de vivre and originality rarely seen in a show designed to cater for all tastes.
with Marisa (left) and Kate
   Las Vegas could learn from The Voices of Silversea, a team of three guys and three girls who were chosen Monkees-style and put together after answering advertisements and auditioning in London. Multi-talented singers, dancers and entertainers from a variety of backgrounds, their sheer enthusiasm and obvious love of what they do make for memorable evenings, even for jaded veteran cruisers. 
   Amazingly, they only had a month to rehearse all their routines for a series of different shows which feature costume changes, imaginative set designs and special visual effects,
   With the exception of Mary McElree and Johnny Lee, who are both from Dallas, none of the others--Marisa Nelson from Minneapolis, Josh Eflin from Washington DC, Kevin Fagan from Dublin and Kate Rotheroe--- knew each other and, says Kate: "We got to know each other very quickly and we all get along so well."
   Kate, from the Isle of Man, is a trained opera singer and has performed throughout Europe. She was in Belgium when she got the call to audition for the Voices of Silversea and although her singing talent instantly ensured her a place in the team---"only the most musically insensitive or cloth-eared could find her coloratura anything less than stunning" wrote one critic---her dancing was not of such high quality.
  "I couldn't dance when I joined and I had to learn as I went along,." she laughs. One would never know now as all the routines gell seamlessly.
   The six performers are all on six month contracts. And after that?
   "Who knows? Anything could happen," says Kate.   
   It's a safe bet the world will be hearing more of them.

Friday, March 31, 2017


  Many of the movies we can expect to see in theaters later this year have been unveiled for the first time in Las Vegas over five dizzying days. 
  I came back from the CinemaCon convention reeling from the onslaught of movies, star appearances, presentations, parties and non-stop hype as studio executives talk up their forthcoming movies. 
  Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Cara Delevigne, Anthony Hopkins, Mila Kunis, Matt Damon, Tom Holland, Jessica Chastain and many more were on hand to help push their movies. 
   Although I didn't see every studios' reels---that would be too much for any sane person---I got a good idea of what to expect
Matt Damon and George Clooney at CinemaCon
from this summer and autumn's upcoming movies, many of which are sequels (such as Transformers 5!). Very few of the movie clips I saw, apart from animations, didn't have guns, car chases, action, violence and, of course, NOISE. One of the few exceptions was Molly's Game starring Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom, who ran the nation's most celebrated----and celebrity-filled-undergrad poker game.

   Some of the most promising footage belonged to Matt Damon, who stars in Suburbicon, which was directed by George Clooney and in which he portrays the widower of a woman at the centre of a life-insurance fraud investigation, and in Downsizing, about people who volunteer to be shrunk to miniature size in order to afford a more luxurious lifestyle--- a mansion the size of a doll's house can be had on the cheap. 
  Dwayne Johnson was there, entering through the crowd accompanied by swimsuit-clad beauties to introduce the stars of the new Baywatch movie, whom he dubbed "The Avengers of the beach---Team Baywatch."

  So....plenty of action, plenty of science-fiction and more than a few sequels. Happy cinemagoing!

Friday, March 10, 2017


   One of my favourite actresses, Brie Larson made a telling silent protest when she refused to applaud or congratulate Casey Affleck for his Best Actor win at this year's Oscars.
Brie at Kong premiere
   It was a deliberate non-reaction because of the sexual harassment allegations brought against him in 2010 and was in sharp contrast with her behaviour at last year's Oscars when she greeted and hugged sexual assault survivors who came on stage for Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens To You. She is a vocal supporter of sexual abuse survivors and has been using her status as one of America's leading actresses to raise awareness.
   At the premiere of her latest film, Kong: Skull Island, she wore red in honor of International Women’s Day.
   Brie, who won her Oscar last year for playing a viictim of sexual abuse in Room,
says her non-reaction to Affleck "kind of spoke for itself."
   Affleck has repeatedly denied the claims against him and the two harassment suits brought against him were settled in 2010.
   Affleck said after his win: “I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


What a difference 15 years makes!
 Back in 2002 when the picture was taken Rupert Grint (right) was 13 years old and he, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe were awaiting the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
 I met up with him again the other day in Los Angeles to talk about his starring role in the new TV series Snatch, loosely based on the Guy Ritchie film.

 Now 28, like the Ron Weasley character he played for 12 years he is a laid back, happy-go-lucky guy who laughs a lot and has no regrets about spending his childhood on a film set although he admits he was glad when the Potter films finished.
   "I think we ended it at completely the right time," he says. "I was ready to move on and live a bit and just kind of catch up on stuff I missed out on. 

  "I did a lot of things for fun and I could relax a little bit. Being in that kind of bubble for such a long time was a little bit
suffocating at times and we worked so hard. It was about 12 years non-stop so it was nice to just have a break and do things that I couldn't do before.
  "I actually cut my hair because I never had any control of my hair during those years. It always what was right for Ron so yeah, it was really fun to just live a little bit."

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Luke Evans and Josh Gad..."a gay moment"
  So there's a "gay moment" in the new Disney live action movie Beauty and the Beast.
  So what?
  It certainly doesn't warrant all the ridiculous fuss being made about it.
 Religious groups are up in arms, an Alabama movie theatre has banned it and the Russian government is considering doing the same following revelations that the character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, is gay.  
 LeFou is the unctuous manservant to the film's hyper-macho villain Gaston, played by Luke Evans and, says director Bill Condon: "LeFou is somebody who one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He's confused about what he wants. It's somebody who's just realising that he has these feelings.'s a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
  Hardly surprising considering both Condon and co-star Luke Evans are openly gay.
  And it's by no means the first time animated Disney movies have hinted at some of their characters being gay.
  Consider: There was the companionship of Timon and Pumbaa and their adoption of baby Simba in the Lion King, along with the foppish villainy of the same film's Scar, an alpha lion who has never found a mate.
Same goes for Baloo, the carefree single bear of The Jungle Book, or the coy, eyelash-batting male skunk who introduces himself to young fawn Bambi with the immortal words, “You can call me Flower if you want to."
  And Ursula, the vampy, tentacled sea witch of The Little Mermaid was famously modelled on superstar drag queen Divine.
  So a gay moment in Beauty and the Beast shouldn't be the cause for all this homophobic backlash.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


   If it seems that film stars have an easy life, swanning between movie sets and red carpets, Brie Larson, who was juggling work on Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam with doing the rounds of awards shows in Los Angeles, has something to say about it. 
"The craziest time in my life was around this time last year," she tells me when we talk at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live.  "During the week I was in Vietnam on the set of Kong, getting dirt shoved under my fingernails and two hours of goop put in my hair to make me look like I had been trapped on an island for two days and then running around all day getting fake cuts and bruises and I would be so sore from climbing up mountains all day that I felt like I couldn’t move the next morning.
Last year

 "Then on Friday night when the sun went down, I would go back to my apartment, grab my roller suitcase, get on a plane and fly overnight and show up at some random hotel room in Los Angeles where another team of people would try really hard to scrub off all  the dirt from under my fingernails and get the bits of fake blood off my body and wash my hair like seventeen times to get all the goop out of it. 

  "And then I would arrive at wherever I had to be, be a princess for a couple of hours and then get back on a plane and start the process all over again. It was a really hard, crazy time."
All the inter-continental commuting paid off because 27-year-old Brie won not only the Golden Globe and Oscar but a stack of other awards for her stunning performance in Room.   


Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Sea bass and champagne: Dinner with Joanne in London
  Met up again with Joanne Froggatt in London where she is currently filming the new TV series Liar in a role that could not be further removed from her portrayal of Anna Bates in Downton Abbey.
 We had dinner at Mosimann's in Belgravia after spending the day at Tollesbury Marina in Essex where Joanne was filming some scenes for the twisty thriller, which was written by the two brothers who wrote Missing, and looks like being another winner.
    The last time Joanne and I talked was 18 months ago after Downton Abbey finished and she told me she was moving to Los Angeles.
   Over a dinner of sea bass, champagne and chardonnay the other night she tells me she now has a home in Los Angeles as well as in London and she divides her time between the two, depending on where she is filming.
  "It's the best of both worlds," she says. "I've been renting a house in the hills in Los Angeles but now I'm looking to buy somewhere when I get back."
Joanne looking shocked and dishevelled in Liar
   Yorkshire-born Joanne, 36, who won the hearts of Downton Abbey fans around the world as Anna, has three movies awaiting release and Liar is sure to win her hordes of new fans.
  In it she plays Laura, who ventures back on to the dating scene after a failed relationship and meets up with Andrew, a renowned surgeon, played by Ioan Gryffyd. Their date has far-reaching consequences on each other and their families. Truth and consequences go hand in hand in a thriller that examines both sides of a relationship and both sides of the truth.