Wednesday, August 29, 2012


 Not that I need it but Isla Fisher gave me a good tip on how to act as if I'm drunk. (I didn't tell her my problem is trying to act as if I'm sober).
 Isla, the Australian-born actress wife of Sacha Baron Cohen, said she learned it from Kirsten Dunst, with whom she stars in the movie Bachelorette. She used it to good effect in the movie to play a pot-smoking, cocaine-snorting, heavy drinking party girl.
  "You stand on the spot like this," she said, standing on the spot. "Then you spin. Like this." And she spun around. "And then you do it for as long as you can until they say 'action' by which time you're completely disoriented. Then all you have to do is work on your impaired speech.
  "It's a good tip."
   Don't think I'll ever have to use it, but I thanked her anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2012


  Everyone with an act, an aspiration for show business fame and a hat to pass round heads to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade on a weekend night to show off their talents--- or lack of them.    Bulldogs on skateboards, out-of-tune singers, jittery jugglers, dodgy dancers....all get their 15 minutes of fame along the crowded pedestrian street.
   Everyone, that is, except Christophe, who is better known to his fans and followers as the Giant Robot.  
Christophe's talent is to pose for photographs dressed as a Transformer in exchange for a donation. Or he did until he ran afoul of the law.
  The Santa Monica police officer on patrol took exception to Christophe's elaborate costume which the performer made, he proudly told me, out of recycled materials.
  So what was the problem? "He said I was too tall," said Christophe. "Apparently no one over nine feet tall is allowed to perform in the Promenade."
   So when he returns for a repeat performance Christophe will be a somewhat stunted Transformer, having removed a few inches from his elaborately constructed helmet.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


  With most of this year's top 25 grossing films either sequels or remakes I suppose it was inevitable that Hollywood would pull out the creepy 1962 thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? for an updated remake. 
   The new version will be directed by veteran filmmaker Walter Hill but no casting has yet been announced, leading to a tsunami of speculation and guesswork among Hollywood observers over the two actresses who could best fill the shoes of those feuding queen bees Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
  Davis earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for camping it up as Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star-turned-abusive nurse while Joan Crawford played her invalid sister Blanche, a one-time star crippled years earlier in a car wreck.
  The runaway favourites to take over the roles are Meryl Streep and Glenn Close, while others mentioned have included Sigourney Weaver and Bette Midler or Faye Dunaway and Shirley MacLaine. 
   But the most scary suggestion by far is those oddball twins Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, with sister Elizabeth playing the nosy next-door neighbour.
   Now that would be REALLY creepy.

Monday, August 20, 2012


  Tony Scott, the British-born director and producer who committed suicide by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, had inoperable brain cancer according to sources but his family have denied the reports.
The 68-year-old had been in hospital earlier this summer and told friends it was for a hip operation. But they knew he had previously kicked cancer and suspected it had come back.
Despite his success in Hollywood, consistently turning out hits such as Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop 2, he once confessed to me that he was haunted by a fear of failure.
   Denzel Washington, who appeared in five of his movies, once described him as fearless, but when we talked just before the release of his last movie, Unstoppable, Scott told me: “My fearlessness comes from fear. Fear of failure. And my energy comes from fear of failing creatively.”
    Perhaps that was why he liked to challenge himself by rock climbing and risk-taking. Every year he returned to Europe to climb the Dolomites.
    “At the end of every movie I’ll go and climb some big wall or rock,” he told me. “I’ll do a multi-day ascent because all I can do after finishing a movie is concentrate on ‘Where’s my next fingerhold? Where’s my next foothold?
    “Shooting a movie is a lot more frightening than climbing El Capitan.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Ker-ching! Katrina Darling in one of her poses for the magazine  The Duchess of Cambridge is not likely to be amused but her cousin, a stripper and dancer in Sunderland nightclubs, is cashing in on their relationship by posing for Playboy. 
   Katrina Darling, 22, appears on the front cover of the September issue with eight pages of pictures inside. In one spread, she strikes a sultry pose as she lies topless on a sheepskin rug.
  The magazine calls her "a royal beauty" and "Britain's new burlesque queen." 
 She and the Duchess are second cousins, once removed, with Kat's grandmother being sister to the duchess’s great grandfather Thomas Harrison.
The provocative performer has never met her cousin, who one day will be Queen, and has never made any attempt to contact the Middletons.
  But that didn't stop her choreographing a burlesque routine to mark the Jubilee, titled God Save the Queen, which she performed wearing a figure hugging red corset teamed with a union jack skirt and small crown perched on her head. But as the anthem got going she stripped off completely, revealing bright red nipple tassels and a thong.

 The dancer has now decided to take her act to New York to cash in on her newfound fame and the royal connection.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


 The world is full of movie lists and worst, most suitable for children, raunchiest, most violent ..etc etc. 
  But I came across a bizarrely interesting one from Napa State Mental Hospital in California. It is a list of movies that mental patients can and cannot watch. And some of the choices are puzzling to say the least.
  For instance, movies such as Mad Max, Thumbsucker, Heinrich Himmler: Anatomy of a Mass Murderer and The Rowdy Girls are somewhat understandably on the banned list. But why are seemingly innocent enough movies like The Cotton Club, The Astronaut's Wife and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid also deemed to be no-nos?. 

  And why is it fine for the mentally troubled to watch Doomsday, Raging Bull, Bloodworth and Earth Dies Screaming? 
   But not Woodstock and Being John Malkovich?

   Tellingly, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest isn't on either list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Legacy: The Olympic Park, which is to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will re-open to the public in July next year
  Two million visitors poured through the gates of the Olympic Stadium to watch the world's top athletes perform during the London 2012 Olympics. 
   And now the athletes have gone home and the massive clean-up operation is almost finished in readiness for the Paralympics, the future of the Olympic Park is in the planning stages.
   Although there are several major issues still to be decided, what is known is that it will reopen to the public on July 27 next year as the new-look Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will be the national home for athletics as well as a "visitor destination and community park."  
A conference centre and a pedestrian square for broadcasting major sporting events, along with cafes, restaurants and bars, are among the plans and it is hoped that the 560-acre site will also become a leading centre for technology, design and research with almost one million square feet of office and commercial space which could generate more than 4,000 jobs. 
   Estimates suggest 800,000 visitors a year will use the Aquatics Centre when the Park reopens.
  But whether or not it will host a Football League team is still undecided as bids from West Ham and Leyton Orient, along with offers from other, non-football organisations, have yet to be decided upon. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


  The thousands of weekend tourists who descend on Santa Monica Pier and the surrounding beaches are confronted with a sobering and emotional scene. 
   Every Sunday the organisation Veterans for Peace takes over part of the beach immediately north of the pier to put up a massive graveyard of crosses---one for each of the almost 8,000  troops killed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
  Many of the crosses contain photographs of the dead and personal notes and memorabilia. Called Arlington West, the memorial is in place from sunrise to sunset and its mission, according to Veterans for Peace, is 
  to remember the fallen and wounded to provide a place to grieve to acknowledge the human cost of war to encourage dialogue among people with varied points of view to educate the public about the needs of those returning from war.
  Photographer Theo Kingma captured some poignant moments at the memorial. 

Friday, August 10, 2012


 He was the Master of Suspense, knighted by the Queen and revered by film critics everywhere. 
 But to Tippi Hedren, who starred in two of his best-known movies, Sir Alfred Hitchcock was a creepy pervert. 
 "He was evil and deviant, almost to the point of being dangerous," the 82-year-old actress told me when we talked in Los Angeles.
 Tippi was an elegant, ice-cool blonde model who had never acted before when Hitchcock saw her in a TV commercial and cast her in The Birds and Marnie.
  But when she rejected his crude sexual advances he made her life a living hell, she says. 
   “To be the object of someone’s obsession is horrible,” she said. “It was a form of stalking. He had my handwriting analysed, he had me followed and it was as if I was being engulfed by him.”
    He was particularly fond of reciting dirty limericks and telling crude jokes on the set. “Some of them were terribly filthy and I didn’t want them in my head,” she said.    
   After Marnie wrapped he kept her under contract, paying her $600 a week but refused to let her work. "He said he'd ruin my career and he did," she told me. 
  Her ordeal is now the subject of a 90-minute BBC2 television drama, The Girl, starring Sienna Miller as Hedren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock, with Imelda Staunton as Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, and Penelope Wilton as his loyal assistant, Peggy Robertson.
  Tippi, still cooly elegant, now runs Shambala, the wild game preserve she founded on the edge of the Mojave Desert. 
   “I got over Hitchcock a long time ago because I wasn’t going to allow my life to be ruined because of it,” she said. “It was like I was in a mental prison but now it has no effect on me. I did what I had to do to deal with it.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


There are strange sights to be seen around Santa Monica Pier on a busy summer weekend as photographer Theo Kingma was quick to notice.

                      HANGING AROUND 

....and HANGING OUT 

Friday, August 3, 2012


  My favourite New York bar has long been Fanelli's, a gritty, beer-and-burger joint on Soho's Prince Street. Said to be the second-oldest continuously operating bar in the city, it's a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. 
Scrappy and unaffected, Fanelli's Cafe has served whiskey since 1848, and was a speakeasy during Prohibition.
Bartender Bob
  Apart from a warm, cheerful atmosphere, one of the joint's attractions is Serbian-born bartender Bob Bozic, a garrulous, opera-loving former heavyweight boxer who has held court there for the past 22 years.  
 .Bob, 62, doesn't need an excuse to tell parts of his life story to anyone who will listen.
  And it's quite a story. It moves from Belgrade to Afghanistan, where he smuggled auto parts in from Turkey, to Nicaragua, to the streets of Toronto, where he was homeless for a while. He appeared in court on a bank robbery charge for which he was put on probation and he fought future world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes at Madison Square Garden. He lost on points and Holmes punched out three of his teeth and broke his nose but couldn't knock him down. 
   Bob retired from professional boxing with a record of 14-3 and married Alex McNear, a lawyer who was Barack Obama's first girlfriend, whom he met while he was working as a bouncer at a New York transvestite club.They were divorced after seven years but have a daughter Vesna, now 20, to whom they are both very close.......  
  There's more----plenty more. But it sounds much better coming from Bob. So it's worth a visit to Fanelli's to hear him tell it.   

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


  Who knew? Comedian Will Ferrell is a man who takes his football seriously---even though, like all Americans, he calls it soccer.
  When we met in New York to talk about his latest movie, the political comedy The Campaign, he told me about a recent Soccer Aid charity match organised by Robbie Williams in which he played in for the Rest of the World against England in Manchester.

  "The English team were an average of ten years younger than us and all their celebrities had played in professional youth soccer programmes, but we were leading 1-0 at halftime," he told me proudly. Ferrell's team, which also included Roy Keane, Freddie Lumberg, Hernan Crespo Gerard Butler, James McAvoy, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson and Mike Myers, went on to lose 3-1 but the game raised more than $6 million for UNICEF.

With the Champions League trophy
 Ferrell insisted to me he is not a supporter of any particular EPL team although when Chelsea were in Seattle recently he went to meet them and was allowed to hold the European Champions League Cup. It was swiftly taken away from him when he tried to sign it with a marker pen.


  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...