Friday, April 27, 2012


Michael Winner...outrageous

   Glad to know that age hasn't calmed that outrageously incorrigible drinker, diner and carouser Michael Winner.   
Sophia Loren...topless
 I hear that the 76-year-old movie director, who made six films with his fellow drinking buddy Oliver Reed and went on to direct the Death Wish series with Charles Bronson, was in rare form at a lunch for the Lady Taverners in Kensington the other day.  Recounting anecdotes from his days in Hollywood he gave full vent to his favourite four-letter words and sexual references, much to the blushes of the assembled lady diners.
   One of his stories involved Sophia Loren, whom he directed in Firepower. He said she called him, upset that paparazzi had taken pictures of her topless. With typical Winner panache he asked:"Did your tits look good, dear?" "Well, yes," she conceded.
   "No problem, then!" said Winner.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


 Thanks to my Russian friend Sergei Rakhlin I was invited to a lunch heralding the U.S. launch of the newly-formed Russian Film Commission, of which Sergei has been appointed director.       The Moscow-funded organisation will, I was told, initiate screening programmes, panel discussions, cultural exchanges and eventually a Russian Film Week, to present artistic and commercial achievements of Russian cinema.
 So, envisioning a Moscow-provided feast of caviar, shashlyk and blinis, washed down by lashings of vodka, I went along to the launch lunch at Enotoca Drago restaurant in Beverly Hills. But it quickly transpired I had got it all wrong.
Eleonara Granata-Jenkinson
  The new Russian Film Commissioner is a very pleasant Italian lady named Eleanora Granata- Jenkinson who doesn't speak a word of Russian; the restaurant was Italian so the food provided was mainly pasta and pizza and the drink of choice was, of course, pinot grigio. All very delicious but decidedly un-Russian. 
  I did, however, meet and chat with Stephanie Allain, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, who tells me the festival will open with the new Woody Allen film To Rome With Love...... filmed, of course, in Italy.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012


 Met up with a couple of intergalactic alien beauties at a wild party at Coco Bongo, Cancun's premier nightclub and disco the other night. Unfortunately it was early in the evening and the three of us were sober at the time. The serious-looking space babes were on hand as part of a promotional bash for Men In Black 3, the sequel to the sequel, which again stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones but this time also features Josh Brolin, Alice Eve and Emma Thompson.
Pitbull. Picture: Theo Kingma
 As guests tucked into lashings of drink and food, singer/rapper Pitbull and his band cranked up the party spirit with a live performance of  Back in Time, the theme for the movie. Pitbull looked like a Man In Black himself, rocking a black suit and some shades as he performed to a cheering, mostly inebriated crowd. Shrewdly, he releases his seventh studio album, Global Warming this summer at the same time Men In Black 3 hits the theaters.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


  Now all the recollections, recreations and commemorations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic are over for another century it's timely to recall the life of W.T Stead, Britain’s first investigative journalist, who died on board RMS Titanic.
 Although some 1,500 people lost their lives on the liner, Stead has been described as the most famous Englishman on board.
 A small group of people attended a wreath-laying ceremony arranged by the Chartered Institute of Journalists at the memorial to W.T Stead on Victoria Embankment in London before a service at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, commemorating the “journalist of the century.”
 William Thomas Stead used journalism to campaign for social justice and against corruption and wrote: “I felt the sacredness of the power placed in my hands to be used on behalf of the poor, the outcast and the oppressed.”
 He launched his journalistic career in 1870 at the Northern Daily Echo in Darlington, where – as editor from 1871 - he committed the Echo to advocating compulsory primary and secondary school education, denounced the Turks for putting down a Bulgarian rebellion in 1876 and derided Prime Minister Disraeli and his “whole tribe of eunuchs” for their inaction.
 In 1880 Stead moved to London where in 1883 he became editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. There, he introduced banner headlines, short, readable paragraphs with considerable use of illustrations and was the first to employ women journalists on equal pay.
 Arguably Stead’s most notable achievement came in 1885 when he exposed London’s child sex trade with a story headlined  “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”. The story uncovered London's “vice, stinking brothels, fiendish procures, drugs and padded rooms, where upper-class rakes could enjoy to the full the exclusive luxury of revelling in the cries of an immature child.”
The ensuing public outcry led to the enactment of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill which, among other things, raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.
 As part of Stead’s expose he staged the purchase of Eliza Armstrong – a 13-year-old chimney sweep’s daughter – to demonstrate how easily a child could be acquired. However, after failing to tell the child’s father it was a stunt, Stead was arrested and sentenced to three months in Holloway for kidnapping but  continued to edit the Pall Mall Gazette from his cell.
 In 1912 Stead was invited to attend a peace congress at Carnegie Hall in New York by US President William Howard Taft so with Titanic about to make its maiden voyage, Stead opted for a first-class ticket for cabin C87 and set sail from Southampton on 10 April.
When the boat struck the iceberg late on the night of 14 April he and John Jacob Astor are said to have returned to their cabins, dressed and gone up on deck. They jumped into the sea and were last seen clinging to a raft. Stead’s body was never recovered.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


     The British actress Emily Blunt has lived in Los Angeles for three years, is married to an American and appears in mainly American-produced movies. Yet, she confessed when we met up recently, she still misses London a lot.
   “I miss afternoons in the pub and the sense of humour and irreverence,” she told me. “There’s a spirit to Londoners and Brits that I love, so I have a few British friends in L.A that I cling to.”
   Emily, 30, gets back to London whenever she can but she hasn’t had much time recently because work has been keeping her busy. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, in which she stars with Ewan MacGregor, was released two months ago, she has a new film, The Five Year Engagement, coming out next month and two others, Looper and Your Sister’s Sister awaiting release.
    Although she has frequently played Americans in movies, she finds that off-screen the American pronunciations of certain words                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     sometimes still trip her up. “In a restaurant if I ask for water they never understand me and I have to say ‘warder,’ she giggles. “Then if they ask me would I like some ‘warder’ and I say ‘go on, then,” they think I’m being rude and want them to go away.”


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


  Maybe it's because it's spring, but some celebrities seem to be suddenly impelled to speak out about their love lives ---or lack of them. First we had Scarlett Johansson pouring her heart out to Vogue about how, despite having since dated Sean Penn and currently advertising executive Nate Taylor, she is still not over ex-husband Ryan Reynolds.      Then there is Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman who has something to say about his step-granddaughter. And Jada Pinkett Smith speaks out to address rampant rumours about her marriage to Scientology-supporting Will Smith.  


Freeman with E'Dena
Morgan Freeman is not, and never has been, romantically involved with his step-granddaughter, the actor has finally explained.
After years of whispers, the 74-year-old actor has finally responded to reports that he is in love with and planning to marry 27-year-old E'Dena Hines, the granddaughter of his first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw, with whom he split in 1979. While Freeman and Hines are not related by blood, Freeman had adopted Hines' mother. Freeman and Hines formed a close bond over the years, with Freeman often bringing his step-granddaughter as his plus one to premieres and award shows.
Morgan Freeman explains that he has never been romantically involved with step-granddaughter E'Dena Hines.
"The recent reports of any pending marriage or romantic relationship of me to anyone are defamatory fabrications from the tabloid media designed to sell papers," Morgan says, shooting down the widely circulated rumor that his second marriage to costume designer Myrna Colley-Lee crumbled in 2008 because of a romance with his step-granddaughter. "What is even more alarming is that these fabrications are now being picked up by the legitimate press as well."
At the same time, Hines is also setting things straight.
"These stories about me and my grandfather are not only untrue, they are also hurtful to me and my family," she said in a statement.
Reports about Freeman and Hines first appeared in the summer of 2009, when The National Enquirer published an "incest shocker" alleging that Freeman had been having a decade-long affair with Hines, starting when she was a teenager.
Freeman's rep explained to TMZ that Freeman had originally chosen to ignore the rumor so as not to "dignify these stories by commenting." However, with the rumor picking up as much steam as it had, Freeman felt now was time to set the record straight.


Jada Pinkett Smith has spoken out on reports that she and her husband of 15 years, Will Smith, are living in separate homes and heading toward a divorce.
"These rumors are completely untrue," the actress told the French magazine Gala. "We're waiting peacefully for the storm to blow over ... Will and I know the truth."

Will and Jada (Getty Images)
When asked why the rumors about the couple just won't subside, Pinkett Smith exclaimed, "I have no idea! Every year, one celebrity couple is under the microscope. This year, unluckily, it's us."
 In January, In Touch Weekly reported that Pinkett Smith had moved out of the couple's home and was living with her brother.
"That's ridiculous," Pinkett Smith now says of the rumor. "We've always lived together."
She does however confess that she does spend a lot of time apart from her husband due to work, which could be contributing to appearances that they are no longer a united front.
"I travel a lot because of my work, just like Will does. But our lifestyle hasn't changed," she said. "Before we had the kids, we were already far away from each other quite often because of separate projects."
Pinkett Smith reveals that the family is split in half at the moment, thanks to their work schedules. While Will Smith and son Jaden Smith are currently filming "After Earth" with M. Night Shyamalan, Pinkett Smith will accompany daughter, singer Willow Smith when she goes on tour this summer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


with Alice
  Met up again with the lovely English actress Alice Eve, whom I last saw when we lunched together at the Sunset Marquis a few weeks ago. This time we were at the Four Seasons where Alice was promoting her new movie The Raven.
  The daughter of English TV star Trevor Eve (remember Shoestring?), Alice is a girl who is heading for the A-list with roles in the soon-to-be-released blockbusters Men in Black 3 and Star Trek.
Alice in The Raven
  The requirements of neither of those roles, however, compare with what she had to go through in The Raven, a horror tale loosely based on the last days of Edgar Allan Poe. Kidnapped by a serial killer, her character is buried alive which entailed Alice, too, being confined in a coffin.  
  "I'm claustrophobic so being buried alive in a stinking wet box made me panic," she recalled. "I took a breath and all the oxygen went out of the coffin and I had to get out. I had to get back in again but this time I just took little breaths and it was a bit better."

Thursday, April 12, 2012


  The stage is set for the world's unlikeliest pop battle, pitting the septuagenarian crooner Engelbert Humperdinck against a troupe of Russian grandmothers and a rapper on a very small donkey.
  Engelbert has been picked to sing the UK's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, Love Will Set Your Free, a traditional ballad that showcases the artist on a simple stage, accompanied by a Spanish guitar player.
Russian grannies
  But insiders are tipping Russia's entry, Buranovskiye Babushki, to win the contest. The band, with a combined age of 403 years, is made up of six grandmothers. They will perform Party for Everybody in traditional dress, and one member, 76 year-old Natalya Pugacheva, will become the oldest Eurovision contestant, beating Humperdinck by one year.
  The British singer, best known for his 1967 hit Release Me, will face competition from another 42 acts, including Montenegro's Rambo Amadeus, who will perform a part-song, part-rap on a ludicrously small donkey.
 The contestants will perform in a semi-final before the final in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 26. 
 Oddsmakers have Engelbert, whose last hit record was almost 40 years ago, an outsider at 14-1 while the grannies are second favourite at 13-2. 
  But Enge is confident because, he says, women still throw their knickers at him when he is performing.  "I have my eyes on the prize and with the nation behind me, I feel ready and look forward to the roller-coaster ride that is Eurovision," he says.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Victoria Beckham...'not interested'
Sporty Spice.'can't agree'
   Viva Forever, a planned Mamma Mia!-style musical inspired by the tunes of the Spice Girls, is taking forever to develop because members of the ’90s pop group still can’t get along.       Jennifer Saunders, who starred in cult TV hit Absolutely Fabulous, is writing the show, which follows a mother who takes her daughter to a talent competition, all set to Spice Girls tunes. 
  But sources say the five original Wannabe singers are holding things up. Even though they won’t be in the show, they’re supposed to be giving Saunders feedback and ideas but Melanie Brown (Scary Spice) and Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) apparently can’t agree on anything. “It’s driving Jennifer crazy,” says a source. 
   Meanwhile, the former Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham, is busy with her fashion line, and just isn’t as enthusiastic as the rest.
   The show, which has been scheduled to debut in London by the end of the year, has reportedly been delayed before because of the  former pop stars’ scheduling issues and is likely to be delayed once more.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Monster bunny, Darius, being held by proud owner Annette Edwards. The pair will celebrate their birthdays on Easter Sunday   As it's Easter, it seems fitting to introduce Darius, the world's biggest Easter bunny, who weighs a whopping 49 lbs and is 4ft 4 ins. tall. He munches through 12 carrots a day to keep up his strength and fuel his amazing growth spurt.
  He already held the title of world's biggest rabbit but has now smashed his own record after vets measured him a month ago and realised he had grown another inch.
  His owner, Annette Edwards from Worcester, has bred big bunnies before but Darius is the largest in the history of rabbit-kind.
Darius enjoys two daily meals which includes rabbit mix, three apples and a cabbage. 
And if that is not enough, he gorges himself on hay throughout the day.

Friday, April 6, 2012


  A survey has come up with a list of detailed attributes which women say make the perfect man. 

Hot wheels: Driving an Audi was said to contribute to women's notion that a man was 'perfect', according to the study
Audi driver
  According to the list, the perfect man eats meat, drives an Audi and phones his mother twice a week.
He also drinks lager or beer, not wine or spirits, will be 6ft tall, have short dark hair and a smart dress sense.
  Vegetarians were revealed to be a turn off, while being clean shaven and in possession of a smooth, hair-free chest were said to be a bonus.
 The findings surfaced in a poll of 2,000 women carried out by clothing brand Austin Reed.
 Fifteen per cent said they would insist on a suitor having at least a master’s degree or a PHD but 70 per cent said they would prefer to date a man who earned more than them.


Six feet tall
Muscly, toned and athletic     
Brown eyes
Short dark hair
Smart dress sense
A beer / lager drinker
Non smoker
Wears smart jeans, shirt and a
V-neck jumper
Gets ready in 17 minutes
Wants a family
Loves shopping
Eats meat
Clean shaven
Smooth chest
Watches soaps
Enjoys watching football
Drives an Audi
Educated to degree level
Earns more than you
Jokes around and has a laugh
Sensitive when you are upset
Tells you he loves you only when he means it
Admits it when he looks at other women
Holds a driving licence
Can swim
Can ride a bike
Can change a tyre
Rings mum regularly
The poll also revealed girls don’t like their other half to be too ‘deep’ with 43 per cent preferring their chap to joke around and have a laugh rather than enjoy in-depth conversations.
Although 86 per cent of girls want a man who is sensitive, 64 per cent only want him to say ‘I love you’ when he really means it.
The poll found 39 per cent of women would want her man to love shopping, but a third said they would like a man to leave the shopping side of things to her.
 Surprisingly, women would rather her ideal man enjoy watching sport at the pub than watch soap operas and reality TV shows with them and two-thirds would rather Mr Perfect admitted it when he is eyeing up other girls, rather than trying to cover it up.
 Other ‘must haves’ were that the ideal man should hold a driving license, must be able to swim and be able to ride a bike.
  And girls like a handy man - the poll found that he should be able to change a car tyre, be able to knock down a door in an emergency and competently rewire a plug.
  But it’s not all about being a macho man - Mr Right also has to phone his mother regularly and cry during films.
 A spokesman for Austin Reed added: 'Women certainly know what they want when it comes to that dream man.
 "Some of the criteria in the list is pretty superficial and it doesn’t really matter if every man doesn’t tick all the boxes."
  Me? As a 6ft-plus, Audi-driving, non-smoking, football-watching, beer drinker who can ride a bike I suppose I tick a few of the boxes. But perfection? That's a long way off!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Craig.....with Martini
 Some James Bond aficionados are offended and outraged that 007 will no longer be ordering his signature Martini, "shaken, not stirred," because he is switching to beer..
  Daniel Craig will reach for a Heineken rather than his trademark cocktail in a scene from the upcoming Bond movie Skyfall, thanks to a deal Heineken USA has struck with the spy film franchise, Ad Age magazine reports. 
  Craig will additionally star in a commercial for the brew to run globally, with Skyfall director Sam Mendes serving as a consultant. Craig will also appear as Bond on special packaging for the beer.
Ring o' Bells...Craig's dad's pub

  But those who find it hard to imagine suave Bond as a beer swiller probably don't know that Daniel Craig was brought up among beer drinkers.---his dad Tim ran a pub, the Ring o'Bells, outside Liverpool. Craig himself is an ardent Liverpool supporter and it's a safe bet there aren't many of those who are Martini drinkers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


  Hollywood is rolling back the clock in the questionable hope that stars who meant something in the 1980s will bring new, young audiences flocking to the theaters.
  Aging actors like Bruce Willis, Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Sylvester Stallone and even Arnold Schwarzenegger are being dusted off and given starring roles in updated versions of past hits. 
Bruce Willis then....
  Willis, 57, who made his first Die Hard movie 25 years ago is preparing for Die Hard 5 while Chevy Chase, 68, is returning as the bumbling traveler Clark Griswold in an updated version of 1983's Vacation. 
  Billy Crystal, 64, has been given his first leading man role in a decade opposite 66-year-old Bette Midler in Parental Guidance, due for release in November. 

......and now
Chevy Chase
  Schwarzenegger, 64, whose comeback hit a snag when his marriage to Maria Shriver broke up amid revelations about a long-running affair with a housekeeper, is now set for a cameo appearance with Stallone in The Expendables 2 and has more substantial roles in The Last Stand, Unknown Soldier and (again with Stallone) in The Tomb, which are all set for release next year. 
Billy Crystal
  Tom Pollock, who was chairman of Universal Pictures in 1987, got it right when, asked for his thoughts, he trotted out the old cliche, "There's nothing new under the sun."  

Sunday, April 1, 2012


O.J. is Innocent and I Can Prove It: The Shocking Truth about the Murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman  A Texas private investigator claims he knows who really killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in 1994. And it wasn't OJ Simpson.
 In a new book, 'OJ is Innocent and I Can Prove It,' William C. Dear alleges Simpson went on trial, and was acquitted of murder, in an effort to deflect attention from the true killer: His son Jason.
 Dear says Simpson was at the crime scene -- but not until after his ex-wife and her friend had been stabbed to death.
 After a six-year investigation, Dear says he has found circumstantial evidence that links Jason Simpson, 41, to the murders.
 The private eye claims he dug through Jason Simpson's garbage and his abandoned storage locker in search of new evidence, the New York Post reported.
 In the search, Dear says he found a hunting knife that forensic experts say is the murder weapon that was never recovered during the police investigation.
 He also found photographs of Jason Simpson wearing a knit cap, similar to one that was discovered at the crime scene. Prosecutors were unable to link the hat to OJ Simpson.
 Despite these alleged findings, Jason Simpson's DNA and fingerprints were never compared to those found at the crime scene. He was never interviewed by police, either, the Post reports.
OJ Simpson was the prime suspect for the murders because he helped to cover up his son's crimes and, in effect, allowed himself to take the fall, the book claims. 
  Jason Simpson, who is working as a chef in Miami, has not commented on the claims...probably because it's the first he's heard of them.  
 Having sat through and reported on the O.J Simpson criminal trial and the subsequent civil lawsuit I had no doubt that O.J. was guilty. Neither did the civil jury in Santa Monica which ordered him to pay $46 million to the relatives of the two murder victims. 


  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...