Tuesday, January 29, 2013


   While most of the stars of this year's Oscar-nominated films are doing the rounds of Hollywood's red carpets, parties and "swag rooms", one, 14-year-old Fawad Mohammadi, spends his time on a street corner in Kabul, hawking chewing gum and tourist maps to passersby.   
Fawad (right) and Jawa

 Fawad, who stars in the Oscar-nominated film Buzkashi Boys, has his ticket to the Oscars ceremony on February 24 but no means of getting to Los Angeles.

  So a fund-raising effort has been launched to raise enough money to bring Fawad and hopefully his young co-star Jawanmard Paiz to the award ceremony. Any money left over will go into a college fund for Fawad so that he can one day leave Kabul's Chicken Street behind.   

   Fawad was discovered on the street corner where he spends his days and chosen to star in Buzkashi Boys, a film set against the background of contemporary Afghanistan and the national sport of Buzkashi---a brutal game of horse polo played with a dead goat. The film follows two best friends, a defiant blacksmith's son (Fawad) and a charismatic street urchin (Jawa) as they struggle to survive in one of the most war-torn countries on Earth. 

   Filmed entirely on location in Kabul, by an alliance of Afghan and international filmmakers, Buzkashi Boys has been nominated in the best live action short film category.  

You can read more on the website   www.buzkashiboys.com/

Saturday, January 26, 2013


  Dropped in on a Colbie Caillat press conference and listened to a brief performance she gave of We Both Know, a song she and Gavin DeGraw wrote and recorded for the soundtrack of the movie  Safe Haven.
   Even if the movie, based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, is sappy and sentimental, the song is well worth a listen, as is nearly everything Colbie Caillat does. 
   Colbie, 27, grew up just outside Ventura, a town where a lot of the bars and clubs are familiar to me, so we chatted about her early days as a singer-songwriter there.
   "I played accoustic guitar in Zooeys and some of the bars when I was 20, but I was always very nervous," she told me. "Then I was signed to a recording contract and things took off."
    They certainly did.  She won a Grammy for her duet with Jason Mraz on Lucky, her Bubbly stormed to the top of the charts and she has written songs for several Hollywood movies including Baby Mama and Letters to Juliet.
   Her summer tour with Gavin DeGraw was a huge success and whatever she does next it's a safe bet we won't be seeing her around any Ventura bars again.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The first production shots of Wikileaks movie The Fifth Estate show Benedict Cumberbatch playing Julian Assange.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. Photo: DreamWorks
   The screenplay has been written by West Wing screenwriter Josh Singer and is being directed by Bill Condon, who was also responsible for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. 
  Condon says of the film, "It may be decades before we understand the full impact of Wikileaks and how it's revolutionised the spread of information. So this film won't claim any long-view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations Wikileaks has already provoked.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


 Michael Winner, the film director-turned restaurant critic and bon viveur who has died aged 77, was a cantankerous egomaniac who was always outspoken and never afraid to offend.
  His films, particularly the brutally violent Death Wish series, which he described as "an entertaining romp," stirred major controversies on both sides of the Atlantic
  In Who’s Who, Winner listed his hobbies and interests as “eating, being difficult, making table mats, washing silk shirts” and “doing Pilates badly”. He might have added “turning down honours”. He was offered an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2006 but rejected it, saying: “An OBE is what you get for cleaning the toilets well at King’s Cross Station.”

Monday, January 21, 2013


  Harry Potter fans are in for a shock when they see Daniel Radcliffe as the gay American poet Allen Ginsberg in the movie Kill Your Darlings, which had its premiere at Sundance this week.
 With an American accent and tousled dark hair, Radcliffe is receiving praise for his portrayal as a younger version of the beatnik icon.
Radcliffe (left) embraces Jack Keroac
  Based on a true story, “Kill Your Darlings” is set in 1944, when Ginsberg is attending Columbia University and meets the sophisticated and eccentric Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who introduces him to the New York City bohemian lifestyle, along with future authors William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston).
   Radcliffe's Ginsberg takes drugs, masturbates on screen and has sex with an older man he picks up at a bar.
   The actor, who is a vocal supporter of gay rights, said he had been bemused after walking the red carpet at the Eccles Theatre in Utah at the weekend, as the majority of the questions put to him focused on the film's gay scenes.
  "I don't know why a gay sex scene should be any more shocking than a straight sex scene," he said. "Both of them are equally un-shocking."
 Radcliffe was particuarly surprised that some people seemed more alarmed by the gay sex scenes than his previous role in the play Equus, in which he played a character who was sexually attracted to horses.
  "What weirded me out the most was people were asking me all these questions about the gay sex scenes. I was like: 'You know I did Equus?'. Some people are asking me questions like this is a more shocking subject, which is so strange."
 Describing the experience of filming the intimate scenes, he said: "It was something new. But you know what, we shot that whole scene in maybe an hour-and-a-half so it was incredibly fast-paced. I didn't really have time to stop to think and worry about it."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


   She bedded James Bond in Quantum of Solace, wore the shortest of shorts in Tamara Drewe and had graphic nude scenes in The Disappearance of Alice Creed. 
   But in her latest film, Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters, 27-year-old Gemma Arterton gets to keep her clothes on.
Gemma---fully dressed
  "One of the biggest draws for me to do this movie was there's no sex in it," she told me. “Gretel’s a sexual creature but she’s not having sex with anybody which is a change for me because usually in my films I’m sleeping with somebody. But in this one I could just be a chick.”
   Gemma, who was brought up on a council estate in Gravesend, Kent,  does, however, get to wear tight leather pants which were sometimes more revealing than they should have been.

   “The leather pants were great but not the most flexible things to fight in so there were moments of split-pantage," she said. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


Ben Affleck...winner
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association raised the bar in its rivalry with the Oscars by springing several surprises, notably an appearance by Bill Clinton, at its Golden Globe awards ceremony last night.
     The former U.S. President came on stage to a standing ovation to introduce a clip for the movie Lincoln.
     His appearance was the result of his friendship with Lincoln director Steven Spielberg who persuaded him to make the trip to Los Angeles. But it did not bring in an award for best picture for Lincoln, even though the movie was the favourite in most critics' lists. Instead the Golden Globe for the best dramatic picture went to Argo.
  Another surprise was the appearance of Tony Mendez, the real-life CIA agent who was portrayed by Ben Affleck in Argo, the true story of how Mendez rescued six U.S. hostages who were hiding in the Canadian ambassador's house in Teheran after Iranian insurgents had stormed the U.S Embassy there.
   But perhaps the biggest surprise---and the sharpest jab to the Oscars---was the best director Golden Globe award to Ben Affleck, who was not even nominated by Oscar voters.   

   The Oscars, hosted this year by Seth McFarlane, will have to go a long way to top the Globes. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Steven Spielberg at the Polo Lounge
Daniel Day-Lewis (left) with Jeffrey Katzenberg
Roger Corman
  It’s the weekend of the Golden Globes so that means parties, parties and more parties. Like the movies nominated for awards, some are better than others. So while everyone else is ranking the movies, lets rank some of the parties.
Friday night was DreamWorks’s night and the studio took over the Polo Lounge for the first party of the party-heavy weekend. While the food and drink were excellent the Polo Lounge, despite its reputation, is not the ideal place for hundreds of milling people to move around and mingle. The celebrity quotient was quite high, though with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Spielberg all putting appearances. Scarcely noticed among the crowd was one of my Hollywood heroes, the veteran writer-director-producer Roger Corman, the king of the B-movies, who launched the careers of so many directors and actors who went on to be Oscar winners (Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese etc. etc.)
 “But it’s tougher nowadays than it used to be,” the 86-year-old icon told me.
  Saturday saw the nominees and guests lining up on the red carpet at the Four Seasons Hotel for the annual BAFTA tea-and-alcohol party. Among those nibbling on cucumbers sandwiches were  Daniel Day-Lewis, Sienna Miller, Sally Field, Jennifer Lawrence, Frieda Pinto and Dev Patel. A relatively sedate and social afternoon.
   It was followed by Harvey Weinstein’s bash at the restaurant at Mr. Cs, a one-room venue packed with guests trying to get drink and/or food. Harvey served only champagne and vodka with hors d’oeuvres and it wasn’t long before guests moved on to the next party---the highspot of the evening at Spago,Wolfgang Puck’s trendy Beverly Hills eaterie.  
   Hosted by Universal who have high hopes of Globe and Oscar wins for Les Miserables, the party was a raucous success with plenty of party-spirited people, excellent food and unlimited drink served at two bars. Anne Hathaway put in an appearance along with other cast members from the movie and an assortment of other familiar faces.
   Kudos to Universal for the best party so far.
  But there are plenty more to come: Universal, Warner Bros, Fox, HBO and Weinstein are vying to outdo each other at their post-Globe parties. 
   Constitution permitting, I’ll be there to report on them all.

Friday, January 11, 2013


The Rev. Thomas Donovan
   A kinky priest who liked to don a bondage mask and handcuffs had to call police when he found himself trapped and couldn't get the cuffs off. 
   Police in Springfield Illinois say the Rev Thomas Donovan called them to the church rectory saying he needed help "before this becomes a medical emergency."
   When officers arrived at St. Aloysius church at 5am they found the priest wearing an orange jumpsuit, a leather bondage mask with a bar in his mouth and he was handcuffed behind his back. 
    The cops uncuffed him and he declined medical assistance. He said he was alone in the rectory and he "does this from time to time."
   But this time, he explained, he put the handcuffs on with the keyhole facing up instead of down which kept him from freeing himself. 
    The Rev.Donovan is now on leave from the Diocese of Springfield.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


  What does Kate Winslet's new husband have to hide?
   Ned RocknRoll (he changed his name from Ned Smith) has won his high court bid to prevent the Sun newspaper from publishing "embarrassing" pictures of him partly naked at a fancy dress party.
Lawyers for Rocknroll argued that his privacy would be grossly invaded if the pictures of him taken at a private family party in July 2010 were printed.
David Sherborne, the lawyer for Rocknroll, said Winslet's children would be taunted and bullied if the Sun was allowed to publish the pictures.
Rocknroll, who is the nephew of Sir Richard Branson, married Kate Winslet in a low key ceremony in New York last month.
  Sherborne said that Rocknroll was "horrified" at the prospect of the pictures being published because they would cause  "considerable embarrassment and humiliation" for Winslet and her children..
He argued that there was no public interest in allowing the pictures to be printed and that Rocknroll was a "relative nobody" with no public standing in life.
The Sun's publisher had asked the court to overturn the injunction, arguing that the pictures, which it discovered on a Facebook profile, were already publicly available and that Rocknroll had "propelled himself into the public eye" with his marriage to Winslet.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


  He said he'd be back.....and he is. 
  But Arnold Schwarzenegger admits that while he was away from the screen for seven years governing California he had his doubts as to whether he would ever make back into movies. 
 "The fear in me was that there would be a new breed of action heroes coming up while I was away. Well, that didn't happen," he told me when we chatted at the Four Seasons Hotel. "So when I did my cameo on The Expendables which only took me four hours to film and the audience applauded when I came on the screen I knew I'd be accepted and when I finished being governor I could go back into the movie business."
Pictures: Theo Kingma
   On his next movie, Expendables 2, he worked for four days and again got an audience ovation. 
   So now he is back in his first starring role for ten years in The Last Stand, as a sheriff who has to stop a wanted drug kingpin and his band of mercenaries making it to the Mexican border. 
   "I felt I was ready for it after having worked for a few days on the Expendables movies, shot the guns, done the action, thrown myself on the ground, been in a harness, been pulled up and done all that stuff.....I was ready to be the lead in this movie."   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Hollywood insiders are having a good New Year laugh at the plight of Kristen Stewart. 
   Apparently the sullen Twilight star was greatly looking forward to working with Ben Affleck in their upcoming con-man comedy movie Focus. He was due to play her love interest and the script called for some passionate kissing and plenty of hot and heavy bed scenes. But Ben suddenly dumped her and pulled out, blaming prior commitments, leaving  Stewart co-starless and even sulkier than usual.  
  One of the producers then told her that Brad would be Ben's replacement. So Kristen became excited once more, thinking she would be doing her love scenes with Brad Pitt.  
  Then she meets Brad and it turns out that he's Brad Womack, formerly of The Bachelor TV series.
 Stewart is reportedly begging her agent to get her out of the project as quickly as possible. 


  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...