Saturday, February 25, 2012


Harry Potter actress Fiona Shaw, the Rt Hon, Jeremy Hunt, Kenneth Branagh, Victoria Beckham, Gary Oldman and Dame Barbara Hay.

 It's Oscar weekend party time in Los Angeles and the Brits showed they can roll out the red carpet with the best of them. 
  British Consul General Dame Barbara Hay's annual party for the British nominees,
GREAT BRITISH OSCAR EVENT 2 24 12 - Kenneth Branagh, Victoria Beckham 2.jpg
Ken and Posh
held in the garden of her Hancock Park home, was a fun, celebrity-filled bash at which the drink flowed freely from two bars and guests dined on such British delicacies as Yorkshire puddings, bacon rolls, pickled onions and Cheshire cheeses.  
  And a very mixed and lively crowd it was! Among the guests I spotted on the lawn were Gary Oldman and his wife, singer Alexandra Edenborough, Ken Branagh, Victoria Beckham, Christopher Plummer, Janet McTeer, Simon Fuller and a host of Oscar nominees---21 from Britain in all.
GREAT BRITISH OSCAR EVENT 2 24 12 - Victoria Beckham & Simon Fuller.jpg
Posh and Simon Fuller
GREAT BRITISH OSCAR EVENT 2 24 12 - Dame Barbara Hay, Christopher Plummer.jpg
Dame Barbara Hay and Christopher Plummer
  An added celebrity guest was the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt, U.K. Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, who was dressed in a Hollywood-style white suit for the occasion and found plenty to talk about with Victoria Beckham, whose husband was unable to attend because of football commitments. 
  Mr. Hunt also unveiled a never-before-seen work by David Hockney, which the artist produced specially for the 2012 Olympics.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Sacha Baron Cohen's Dictator sits in a gold chair and delivers video threat after apparent Oscars ban
 Sacha Baron Cohen claims he has been being banned from the Oscars because the organisers were scared of what craziness he’d bring along.
  Past incarnations of the Cohen kind have included a very camp Austrian presenter with a passion for talking about sex (Bruno) and a homophobic, racist, sexist, wearer of luminous green mankinis (Borat).
  The Academy, which doesn’t allow any film promotion on the red carpet, were apparently less than impressed with Sacha’s plan to arrive dressed as his latest character The Dictactor, who looks like a cross between Saddam Hussein and Col Gaddafi.
 "We would hope that every studio knows that this is a bad idea. The Red Carpet is not about stunting,” said a spokesman for the Oscars.
 Sacha, who appears in Martin Scorsese's movie Hugo, has released a video broadcast in which he threatens the Academy  with “unimaginable consequences” if they don’t let him in.
 Sitting on a gilded chair with two security guards standing behind him, he says: “On behalf of the nation of Wadiya, I am outraged at being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Zionists.
“While I applaud the academy for taking away my right to free speech, I warn you that if you do not lift your sanctions and give me my tickets back by 12pm on Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012


 These never-before-seen pictures of the construction of London 's Tower Bridge were found in a rubbish bin by a caretaker at a building being turned into flats. He wrapped them in brown paper and put them in a carrier bag under his bed where they remained for five years until he took them to Tower Bridge Museum last year. 
The unique pictures, dating back to 1892, document the construction of the iconic bridge, which at the time was a landmark feat of engineering nicknamed ‘The Wonder Bridge’.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Dead boring: Ghost Rider fails to impress
Dead boring: Ghost Rider fails to impress
  If  a movie rises or falls on its reviews then there's little hope for Nicolas Cage's latest epic, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance which London's Daily Mirror thinks is probably the worst superhero film ever made. 
  The paper's reviewer writes: "If you’ve been wondering why Nicolas Cage has been pumping out so many terrible films of late, blame the IRS. After sending him a bill for $6.2m, the actor has been signing up for one burn and churn after the next.
 "Think Justice, Season Of The Witch and Trespass, the last of which broke US box-office records by taking less than $25,000.
 "Having watched – or rather witnessed – his latest pile-up, the slide is growing ever more precipitous with what may be the worst superhero film ever made."
IIn a sequel to 2007’s Ghost Rider, Cage gets back on his bike as Johnny Blaze who, having sold his soul to the devil, is able to turn himself into a flaming avenger when the need arises.
  The review continues: "The first film wasn’t much cop, but at least it boasted some fine special effects. Second time around, they look pedestrian while Cage’s performance is... well, pretty much what we’ve come to expect.
  "But the biggest problem is a story as flat as Lincolnshire. Despite mass explosions, a flaming bike, a hero who can turn into a burning skeleton, and all of it in above-average 3D, the film fails to excite thanks to stock characters, a lack of peril and a plot done a million times in the past few years (see Babylon AD, Machete and even Cage’s Drive Angry)."
 Daily Variety, Hollywood's trade newspaper isn't any kinder: It describes the movie as "rickety, slapdash and surprisingly dull."

Saturday, February 18, 2012


 Way back in 1912, before he created Tarzan, the American author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the first of 11 books featuring John Carter, a Civil War soldier who is transported to Mars where the change in gravity endows him with extraordinary abilities.
with Lynn Collins
 Now, 100 years later, the Disney studios and Pixar have produced a big-budget, special effects-filled extravaganza based on the books. 
  All in the cause of research I joined a group of international journalists at a pre-screening promotional party and round of interviews at the luxurious Boulders resort and spa in the appropriately named Carefree,  Arizona, although there was no tangible reason for Disney to choose this particular venue apart from its stunning scenery ---the movie was filmed mainly at Shepperton Studios and in the English countryside with location shots in Utah and is set primarily on Mars.
sunset on the rocks
 Still, it was a good spot for plenty of sunset party-drinking and interviews with the cast, including the movie's female star, Lynn Collins, who sounds very English in her role as Dejah Thoris, the beautiful, raven-haired  Martian princess. I asked her where in England she was from, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It turns out she is part-Irish and part-Cherokee Indian from Texas although, she told me, "I think English accents are gorgeous."
  A good party, interesting crowd and a spectacular venue. The movie? No comment.    

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


 For the perky blonde Amanda Seyfried it's a long stretch from the star-struck Sophie of Mamma Mia! to the dark and troubled Deep Throat porn queen Linda Lovelace. And when I talked with 26-year-old Amanda the other day she was still, as she put it, "detoxing" just a few days after finishing work on the biopic Lovelace. She plays the woman who became the world's first erotic superstar from the age of 17 to 32 and, she told me,
“It was a really challenging role and I don’t know how it’s going to go for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to play a real life character and I took the experience home with me every night. It’s a really troubled story and I’m still getting over it.”
 Her next role is sure to take her mind off it: she is due to go to New Orleans shortly to meet up with Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman to co-star in the movie version of Les Miserables.


Monday, February 13, 2012


The only reason for publishing this picture is a reminder of how lucky those of us are who live near the California coast. While Europe was suffering in sub-zero temperatures Harry the little white mongrel headed for Hollywood Beach, some 50 miles north of Los Angeles. There, in the early morning sun on the two-mile stretch of almost deserted sands he got down to the business of digging as many holes as he possibly could.
Grammy Awards? Eurozone? Republican caucuses? Not worth a woof----there are lot more holes to be dug.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Heavy: Keith Martin weighs in at 58-stone and is believed to be the world's fattest man  Meet Keith Martin, who weighs in at 812 lbs and is believed to be the world's fattest man. 
 With eight men and an extra large stretcher needed to move him, he hasn't been able to leave his house in ten years. . 
The 42-year-old heavyweight, from Harlesden, north-west London, is believed to have taken the fattest man title from a 1,260 Mexican called Manuel Urbe, who has gone on a diet and is now a lighter 450 lbs. 
 Keith, who has not had a girlfriend for 20 years, began binge eating after his mother died when he was a teenager. Now he cannot find clothes to fit him and is so fat he is forced to lie in bed every day.
  'I blame myself. It was my fault, I hate what I have done to myself', the former warehouseman told an English newspaper. 
'My mother died when I was 16 and I didn't care about anything after that and couldn't care less what happened to me, I ate anything and everything.'

Monday, February 6, 2012


   I'm not surprised that Uggie the Jack Russell who has become a Hollywood star thanks to his antics in the silent movie The Artist, is ending his career.
The ten-year-old, who stole the show at the Golden Globes, has been revealed to have "a mystery illness" which means he is to be retired after an appearance at the Oscars later this month. He is expected to open the show alongside host Billy Crystal.
   When I saw him going through his paces on the red carpet at the Golden Globes last month I noticed him shaking and told his trainer, Omar Von Muller that he appeared to be suffering from what I call "white dog shake." It's something I am familiar with because my own little white dog has the same problem. 
 Von Muller  denied there was anything wrong but now he says: 'He is suffering from a shaking syndrome. We’ve spent thousands trying to figure out what is causing it but the experts don’t really know. All the vets can tell us, after all the scans and tests, is that it is neurological and he is not suffering.
‘He started shaking shortly before The Artist began filming in November 2010. It comes and goes and, ironically, it is worse when he’s relaxed. When we were filming you could hardly notice it.’
   Uggie could well be retiring with a trophy to keep in his kennel as he has been nominated twice for a Golden Collar Award, which honours acting achievements by dogs in films and television. 
   Uggie's two nominations are for his performances in Water for Elephants and The Artist. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Century City Hyatt Regency on Monday February 13.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Maracana football stadium in Rio de Janeiro
  Fifa, that much-reviled body that rules world football and has been subject in the past to allegations of corruption, is at it again. 
   It is insisting that beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, despite the fact that alcohol is banned at Brazilian stadiums.
"Alcoholic drinks are part of the Fifa World Cup, so we're going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate,"  says.Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke.
"The fact that we have the right to sell beer has to be a part of the law."
Alcohol was banned at Brazilian football matches in 2003 as part of attempts to tackle violence between rival football fans.
  Could Fifa's insistence have something to do with the fact that brewer Budweiser is a big Fifa sponsor?
  Surely not!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


A Los Angeles woman was arrested on suspicion of prostitution after she allegedly offered sexual favors in exchange for Chicken McNuggets, police said.
The woman was seen opening customers’ car doors in a McDonald's drive-through in Burbank,according to Officer Joshua Kendrick..
A customer told police that the woman asked for free Chicken McNuggets in exchange for sexual favors.
The man said he declined the offer.
It is reliably reported that as a result, he lost the respect of all his male friends - while sales of Chicken McNuggets have skyrocketed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Photo: Theo Kingma

 Larry Hagman is back in a new Dallas TV series as J.R., the Ewing family's greedy and scheming oil baron. 
  But in real life he couldn't be more different. A longtime renewable-energy advocate who installed one of the country's largest residential solar systems at his eco-estate in Ojai, he is an outspoken spokesman for solar energy. He's served on the board of SELF, a nonprofit that brings sun-powered projects to developing countries and is also the face of a new ad campaign for Solar World,  the German company that is the largest manufacturers of solar panels in America.
   The company has supplied him with a 1984 Airstream trailer in which he travels the U.S promoting solar power.
  "There are solar panels on the top so the whole thing is solar and green and gorgeous," he told me during a break from filming on the Dallas set. "It's fun to go around in. I want to go to the Ozarks. I've never been there before."
 He paused, a twinkle in his blue eyes. "Where the hell are they?"


  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...