Tuesday, May 31, 2011


From Alice in Wonderland
  Glad to see the exhibition of Tim Burton's movie memorabilia---and particularly his drawings and photos---is attracting plenty of attention from critics and would-be buyers.
  The exhibition, which made its debut in New York and then went on to Toronto and Melbourne, has just opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and brings together more than 700 of his works, costumes and film-related props.  
  Burton, 52, who flew in for the opening from London, where he is directing Johnny Depp in the vampire movie Dark Shadows, created seven new pieces for the L.A show. "I just like making things," he says. "When I stop making movies I can imagine myself living in a trailer out in the desert making weird things." 
  I have a limited edition signed lithograph of one of Burton's Alice in Wonderland drawings, so the more popular and in demand he becomes, the happier I'll be.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Bill Gold is not impressed by today's posters advertising the latest movies. "They just show the actors, so every movie looks like the next one," he says.

Bill, 90, should know because he has spent six decades creating posters for such films as Casablanca, My Fair Lady, Woodstock and every Clint Eastwood picture from Dirty Harry (1971) to Mystic River (2003).

He did it his way, beginning in 1942 as an employee of Warner Bros and then from 1959 onwards with his own design company.
Now his prodigious output has been collected in the limited-edition art book Bill Gold Posterworks.

Here are just a few of his iconic posters:

Monday, May 23, 2011


Die Hard 4 (2007) "The cars are going to be dropped in a semi-computer-controlled manner, timed to appear that they are falling from the freeway. It took two days to set up and the first take completely failed. I left at that point. I didn't need to see the director have an aneurysm, and wait another nine hours for the next set up." Photo: David Strick
"There’s a definition of fishing,” says photographer David Strick, “as long periods of boredom punctuated by brief periods of cruelty to animals. That’s kind of what making films is like.”
   The 60-year-old New York-born, LA-based photographer has for many years been capturing pictures from behind the scenes on film sets, giving the public a peek at what really goes on when the cameras aren't rolling. 
  His photographs have been made into a book titled Our Hollywood, they also appear regularly in Los Angeles Times and in a column for the Hollywood Reporter. "When you visit a set, the performances can be magical but for every actor there are 30, 40, 50 people, a vast industrial process, making the shot happen," he tells the London Daily Telegraph.. "That’s crucial to what I do, trying to show all that stuff rather than just what we see on screen.”
   His equipment is lightweight and small. No snazzy lights, no tripods, just your everyday, hand-held 35mm digital camera. “The only difference is I wear knee pads. They allow me to be small and inconspicuous, and squeeze into unlikely areas. Knee pads are the one innovation I’ve brought to the history of photography. The rest of my effort involves standing around for long periods of time without falling asleep.”

Saturday, May 21, 2011


 Elizabeth Taylor's Bel-Air, Calif., estate, where the actress lived from 1981 until her death in March, is up for sale. The 7,000-square-foot ranch-style home is filled with 18th-century antiques, Aubusson carpets and Impressionist paintings.
Her bedroom---one of five-- takes up the entire second floor of the house and its walls are upholstered in violet fabric, Taylor's favorite color. Also on the 1.2-acre property are a pool, a hothouse for orchids, and a koi pond. 
The asking price? $8.6 million. 

Friday, May 20, 2011


     Even before he was famous as a movie star and later as a politician Arnold Schwarzenegger had no trouble attracting women. Here he is seen in 1977 posing at the Cannes Film Festival where his film Pumping Iron was being screened. 
  The photograph, along with hundreds of other pictures from Cannes through the years appears in the new book Cannes Cinema: A Visual History of the World's Greatest Film Festival, featuring photographs by the Traverso family who have been taking their cameras to Cannes since the first official festival in 1946.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper has printed a ‘not wanted’ poster for actor Hugh Grant, banning him reading the newspaper and branding him a “full-time whinger”.
It comes after Grant’s repeated attacks on the tabloid press over the last week. He said in a Radio 5 phone-in “we don’t want them and the sooner they go out of business the better”.
The Mirror hit back  by declaring: “He is henceforth banned from reading the Daily Mirror”, and it described Grant as an “ex-prostitute user, part-time actor and full-time whinger”.
If Grant is found with a copy of the paper, readers are instructed to tell him: “You are Hugh Grant. This is a family newspaper. Sleazy low-lifes who believe they should keep the sordid exploitation of a woman prostitute private (just because they are rich and famous) are banned from reading the Daily Mirror.”
Readers are then told to “confiscate the paper and disinfect immediately”.
The posters, which feature Grant’s police mugshot after being caught with prostitute Divine Brown in 1995 – have been put up near Grant’s London home.
Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan said on Twitter that he had banned Grant from appearing on his CNN chat show “in perpetuity” and he described him as a “tedious little man”.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Remember Queen? Whether you do or you don't you'll soon be hearing plenty of them now the band's 40th anniversary is upon us. "2011 is an important year for Queen," says Brian May, "and there will be a lot of activity." The yearlong event will be marked by a series of releases, re-releases, special limited-edition items etc. etc. etc.... .
Cohen as Mercury (left) and Borat
In addition there is a film biography of Queen singer Freddie Mercury in the works, with Sacha Baron Cohen playing the flamboyant and outrageous Mercury. 
Queen officially began in March 1971 when bassist John Deacon joined Brian May and Roger Taylor's London band, which had changed its name from Smile to Queen nine months earlier, following the addition of Freddie Mercury to the lineup.
Queen has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide and in the U.K. Queen's Greatest Hits 1 holds the record of being the biggest selling album of all time.
 So, get ready for Queen....and more Queen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


After years of trying to re-position itself as a destination for all the family, Las Vegas is finally reverting to its Sin City image and embracing its mobster past.
Site of Mob Museum
The city that owes its origins and notoriety to such notorious Mafia mobsters as Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Anthony "Ant" Spilotro and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, is about to open the Las Vegas Museum of Organised Crime and Law Enforcement, known locally as The Mob Museum---a $42 million project in the downtown area that looks at how the mob built Las Vegas and the efforts of law enforcement to wrest control of the city.  

But Las Vegas officials have been beaten to the punch by the Las Vegas Mob Experience, a similar but privately-run museum which opened two months ago at the Tropicana Hotel. 
Bugsy Siegel
The Mob Experience has assembled a vast array of mob-related artifacts and memorabilia, including a pair of creepy clown-motif bookends that belonged to Mickey Cohen and a note sent by Frank Sinatra to Vincent "Jimmy Blue Eyes" thanking him for sending flowers to his father's funeral. One of Meyer Lansky's love letters to his wife on display ends with the exhortation: "Keep your legs crossed and go to sleep."

Mayor Oscar Goodman

The city-backed Museum of Organised Crime and Law Enforcement is not due to open until December but Mayor Oscar Goodman, who was himself a mob defence lawyer, dismisses the rival Mob Experience with the comment: "It's not a museum and it's not competition for us."

Monday, May 16, 2011


George Hamilton
Daredevil stuntman Evel Knievel pulled a gun on actor George Hamilton, who was to portray him in a movie about his life, and forced him to read the script aloud to him so he could make sure the movie would depict him in a flattering light.

The story is told by sportswriter and author Leigh Montville in his new book Evel, a biography of the showman who broke 37 major bones and underwent 14 operations during his career of jumping his motorcycle over cars, buses and anything else that would attract an audience.

Knievel, who died aged 69 in 2007, was by various accounts a hard-drinking, abusive lout, reports Montville, who quotes promoter Bob Arum as saying: "He was a creation of network television. It was totally non-purposeful...totally crap. That was what he was." 

Knievel had summoned Hamilton to his Hollywood motel because he had been told the movie in which Hamilton was due to star would be a critical portrayal of him.  
He ordered the actor to read the script at gunpoint and when he did, Knievel was satisfied to hear that it was an unbiased look at his life. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


 The U.S. Navy Seals are not the only ones who can boast of shooting Osama bin Laden in the head.
  Toronto artist Viktor Mitic, who specialises in painting with bullets, has put this portrait of a bullet-ridden Osama bin Laden up for auction on E-Bay, with half the proceeds going to a 9/11 victims' fund. 
  Mitic, who has also immortalised John F. Kennedy, Ghandi and John Lennon with his gunshot art, paints the portraits in his Toronto studio and then heads across the border to Buffalo, New York, to a firing range and fills them full of bullets. 
  "I just want people to know it's meant as art," he says.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


One of the most popular lunch spots in Manhattan isn't a trendy restaurant in Soho, an upmarket Eastside eatery or a dining room in one of the leading hotels. Instead, it's Luke's Lobsters, a rickety food truck parked in the gutter of a midtown sidestreet where aficionados spend the whole of their lunch hour lining up for an $8 roll served in a brown bag.
The line begins to form at mid-morning and by 12.30pm it stretches down 52nd Street and around the corner onto Lexington Avenue. "It's always like this," said a man dressed in a business suit who estimates he will have to wait half an hour before he reaches the truck's serving hatch. "But the food's well worth waiting for."  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


  Guests at the Doubletree Hotel on New York's Lexington Avenue must be a little worried by the giant inflatable bedbug which has been planted on the sidewalk outside the hotel's front door.
   A notice attached to it states that hotel guests in the past had complained of sleeping with bed bugs and warns: "Bed bugs are extremely itchy. You can take bed bugs home with you in your luggage or clothes. Bed bugs are very difficult to eradicate if you take them home."
  Other New York hotels have experienced bed bug problms in the past but the Doubetree is the first to have a giant bedbug outside its door. 
  Asked about it, a hotel doorman shrugged. "Nothing to do with me. I didn't put it there," he said.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Unlawful Killing, a controversial documentary which explores the death of Princess Diana and an alleged cover up by the British Establishment, will be unveiled at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

  Three years in the making, the film, by British actor and filmmaker Keith Allen, mixes candid interviews with recreations of some of the key moments from the inquest, which was not held until a decade after Diana's death.

  It is expected to shake the public's perception of what exactly happened when Diana and Dodi Fayed died in the car crash in the Paris tunnel and questions whether "dark forces" were behind the deaths. 


Sunday, May 8, 2011


For most people, reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain once would be achievement enough.
But Kenton Cool, the Briton with the most ascents of Mount Everest to his name, has now broken another record – by becoming the first person to send a tweet from the summit.
Tweet on a high: Mountaineer Kenton Cool has become the first person to send a tweet from the summit of Everest
The 37-year-old, from Fairford, Gloucestershire, marked his ninth ascent of Everest by posting his message on social networking site Twitter.
The feat became possible after the Nepalese mobile network operator Ncell installed a 3G station at the mountain’s base camp last October.
Cool wrote: ‘Everest summit no 9! 1st tweet from the top of the world!’
He also told technology website mashable.com: ‘I’ve climbed Everest before but have never been able to share the exhilaration I experience when I reach the top with those back home.’

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Jay Silverheels as Tonto
with Johnny Depp
The familiar cry of "Hi-Yo Silver" will soon be echoing around cinemas once again as the Western crime-fighting duo of the Lone Ranger and Tonto set out on a new adventure.
  But this time it will be Tonto who will be the hero and the Lone Ranger will be reduced to the role of his sidekick if Johnny Depp has his way. 
   The actor, who has a Native American tattooed on his right bicep,  tells me he is waiting to approve the script of the new Lone Ranger film in which he will play Tonto. 
  "I want to try and pay homage to the umpteen thousands of films that have been made about Native Americans over the past hundred years or so in which they never got their due or were treated as some sort of cliche," he says. 
  "Tonto won't be the Lone Ranger's sidekick in this one. Tonto is going to step up to the plate a little more---that's my aim." 
Although there have been twenty films about the Lone Ranger and Tonto, dating back to 1920, it is the television series which ran from 1949-1957 and starred Clayton Moore with Jay Silverheels as Tonto which most Western fans remember. Silverheels, the son of a Mohawk chief, died in 1980 aged 67 after a stroke.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Ever since he made his first appearance in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman has stood for Truth, Justice and the American Way. 
  But now the Man of Steel has stirred up a firestorm of controversy by declaring he intends to renounce his American citizenship.   
  "I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy," he says in the latest issue of Action Comics. The superhero, who immigrated to Earth as a child from Krypton and was adopted by the Kents in Smallville, Kansas, says he has come to the conclusion that he would be better off serving the world at large rather than just the U.S.
 Conservative commentators in newspapers, blogs and online forums have have reacted with disgust to the new storyline. "If Superman doesn't believe in America, then he doesn't believe in anything," snorts The Weekly Standard.
The publishers of DC comics have tried to calm the storm by saying the Man of Steel is still as American as apple pie. "He remains, as always, committed to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smallville," they say in a statement. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Linda Lovelace
The most intriguing Hollywood casting calls and auditions in a long time must have been those for two rival film biographies about the porn pioneer Linda Lovelace which are currently going into production.
The two films, Inferno and Lovelace, will both tell the story of the colourful and conflicted Deep Throat actress who revolutionised the porn industry and became a '70s icon through her on-screen abilities, although she later regretted it and became an anti-porn crusader.  
Malin Akerman
Lindsay Lohan was originally set to take the Lovelace role in Inferno, but she has now been replaced by the Canadian actress Malin Akerman, who starred in Watchman and is no stranger to graphic on-screen sex scenes.
No one has yet been cast in the rival Lovelace movie although Kate Hudson has been widely rumoured for the lead role.
So far neither of the productions have the financing they need and it is not surprising that a movie about Lovelace would have trouble getting made. Apart from the obvious problem of how to depict the talent which made her famous, she continually changed her stories about her life in the porn industry, making her a difficult personality to decipher. 

Lovelace, who claimed she had been forced into pornography by a brutal and abusive husband, died in April 2002 aged 53 from car crash injuries. 


  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...