Sunday, June 30, 2013


   A lot of people, myself included, wondered how Paris Hilton's house was broken into and robbed SIX times by the teenage burglars of the Bling Ring.before she noticed anything was wrong. 
   I got a chance to ask her when we talked in a West Hollywood office the other day and she had what seemed like a semi-plausible explanation. She travels a lot, she said, and her staff makes sure the house is neat, tidy and in perfect condition when she returns.
  "I didn't notice until the last time because that's when they did the big hit and took millions of dollars of jewellery," she said.    
  “Before that they were just taking little things from everywhere so I didn’t notice. But the final time they wanted to get as much as they could.”

   The 32-year-old socialite-entrepreneur has a cameo role playing herself in The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s film of the crimes and also loaned her house for the filming. For the cast and filmmakers, the house, stocked full of clothes, jewellery and ornaments, was something of a wonder.
  Emma Watson, who stars as the leader of the Bling Ring, commented later: "It's almost like consumerism as a form of kleptomania. She could never wear all of those clothes and half of them were brand new and still had the price tag on. But I suppose she just bought them to have them. We've all bought things on impulse but that's an entirely different thing."
   But Paris, who says she has "probably a couple of hundred pairs of shoes," had an explanation:  "Well, I'm a designer and I have 17 product lines so a lot of the things in my house are my products---my handbag line, my sunglasses, my shoes...."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


A gallery of female drinkers who have been barred from pubs has been unveiled, more than 100 years after it was first published.

The black and white mugshots show a series of women banned from their local pubs for anti-social behaviour during the early 1900s.
Authorities in Birmingham drew up a Black List of 83 'habitual drunkards' which included 37 women.
The local council teamed up with the city's Holt Brewery to circulate its list to local landlords who were forbidden from serving known drunks across the city under Edwardian Law.
Each notice bore a mugshot of the women and a physical description, including references to 'stout' builds, 'oval' faces and 'ordinary' noses.
The historical find was unearthed by teams from family tree website

A spokeswoman said: "In order to enforce the 1902 Sale of Liquor to Habitual Drunkard's Licensing Act, the Watch Committee of the City of Birmingham provided licensed liquor sellers and clubs with photos and descriptions of people deemed "habitual drunkards," who were not to be sold liquor.
"The 82 persons in the book were convicted of drunkenness between 1903 and 1906, typically at the Birmingham City Police Court.
"If you find a member of your family here, you'll discover a marvellous snapshot of an individual at a moment in time - albeit a difficult moment."
Many of the women on the Black List had scars, missing teeth or other deformities, including Kate Kibble, 50, who had an eyepatch and crooked fingers.
Most of the women on the list had jobs working as charwomen (cleaners), woodchoppers, polishers or grease merchants.
One street performer 'played tin whistle outside licensed premises' while some also worked as prostitutes and sported tattoos.
Alice Tatlow, 25, had four tattoos, including a 'Prince of Wales Feathers' inking on the back of her right hand.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station
  Just seen what I consider to be the best movie of the year so far, a little gem called Fruitvale Station from a first-time director with a cast of relative unknowns.
 Packing a powerful emotional punch, it is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old black man who was shot to death by a police officer on the platform of a Metro station in Oakland, California, early on New Year's Day 2009.
 Writer-director Ryan Coogler, a former USC film school student, traces Grant's last 24 hours on earth, leading up to the ill-fated trip he and his friends made to celebrate New Year's Eve in San Francisco. It was on the return journey that a fight broke out, the train was halted and officers pulled half a dozen blacks off the train. Grant was shot as he lay handcuffed on the platform. The shooting was photographed and videoed by several passengers and onlookers on their cell phones.
  Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who plays Grant, had the cooperation of Grant's family in researching the story. 
   I have a particular interest in the case as I was selected to serve on the jury for the trial of the police officer, Johannes Mehserle, which was moved to Los Angeles because of the passions and protests surrounding the case in Oakland. Because the trial was expected to last several weeks and I could not afford the time I was excused from serving.  
  In a verdict that still provokes protests and an annual New Year's Day rally at Fruitvale Station, Mehserle was eventually acquitted of murder and served just 11 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Activists took issue with the judge's decision to allow the defence attorney to introduce Grant's criminal record in evidence while preventing the prosecutor from bringing up previous misconduct allegations made against Mehserle by a black man.  

Friday, June 14, 2013


Meeting Terence Stamp
   When they were both struggling young actors Terence Stamp and Michael Caine were the best of pals. They shared a flat together, went to pubs and parties together and auditioned for a lot of the same roles together.
Terence Stamp
But they haven't spoken for the past 30 years Terence told me when we met in Beverly Hills the other day. "It's very strange," he said. "We just took totally divergent paths."
     Now 74 and living in Ojai, Terence told me how their once-close friendship came to an abrupt end.
Michael Caine
    "Michael Caine was my first showbiz guru," he recalled. "He was very hip about showbiz. He'd never had a break and had never really done anything but he'd been around for a long time and he gave me a lot of wisdom and a lot of my values which have lasted until today.  
   "He was very keen on a good address so we tried to find places we could afford. Sometimes it involved another actor coming in too because the two of us couldn't pay the 20 quid a week rent. 
   "But as soon as he got his break, which was in Zulu, he wanted to be on his own. It was kind of a big shock for me because I'd imagined us in harness, taking on showbiz together, but it was his choice. I'm not so sure he would agree with that publicly but I'm telling you that's how it happened. 
   "Then we became so different. It's not that we avoid each other, it's just that nothing brings us together any longer. It's very strange because I still spend a lot of time in London and he's a Londoner.
  "I sometimes see his work and he always makes me smile because he was the first guy who taught me about comic timing. He taught me that timing is magic and you either have it or you haven't---you can't learn it. So I owe Michael and I  always will, but I don't get to see or talk with him any more."
  Terence, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1962 for Billy Budd and whose last movie was the Adjustment Bureau two years ago, is currently starring with fellow Brits Gemma Arterton and Christopher Ecclestone in Unfinished Song, playing a grumpy pensioner who joins the local choir .
. .  

Friday, June 7, 2013


Will and Jaden Smith
 Can't say I'm sorry that After Earth, the movie conceived by Will Smith for his precocious son Jaden to star in, has crashed and burned. 
  I recently had to listen to the unctuous Smiths, who fly around in a private jet,  holding forth at great lengths on the evils of pollution and the need to care for the environment. The same evening, at an outdoor pool party, the guests were subjected to Jaden Smith's noisy and grating attempts at rapping when he hogged the microphone for most of the night. 
 Smith senior insists he is not a Scientologist but gives money to groups affiliated with Scientology and set up a private elementary school that uses teaching methods formulated by L. Ron Hubbard. He claims not to be religious, explaining in a bizarre interview with The Guardian that his real worldview is all about "patterns"
  He said, talking a form of gibberish: "I'm a student of patterns. At heart, I'm a physicist. I look at everything in my life as trying to find the single equation, the theory of everything."
   Not surprisingly, he claims that not everyone understands him. "You know, the forum of media that we're in can't really handle the complexity of things that we say all the time," he says.
  Jaden Smith deserves some tolerance  since he's only 14 and has been raised by Will Smith. But it ought to be noted that his contributions to the emerging Smith theory of everything are in many ways more mindwarping than his father's.
    Jaden: I think that there is that special equation for everything, but I don't think our mathematics have evolved enough for us to even – I think there's, like, a whole new mathematics that we'd have to learn to get that equation.
   Will: I agree with that.
    Jaden: It's beyond mathematical. It's, like, multidimensional mathematical, if you can sort of understand what I'm saying.
    I don't think anybody can. And That's enough nonsense for this blog.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Patrick Stewart posted this photo with the caption: My first ever pizza ‘slice.’ It duped the world over into believing he had never before tried pizza.
  It seems that Sir Patrick Stewart, that dignified knight of the stage and screen, was somewhat economical with the truth when he posted a picture of himself on Twitter enjoying a cheesy slice of pizza in Brooklyn with the caption, "My first ever pizza 'slice,' Please note: the authentic fold."

   In fact, the 72-year-old actor had eaten pizza many times before but this, he said, was the first time he had eaten it by the slice. Really?

 Yes, it was Stewart's first corner store slice, but "People misunderstood," Stewart explained to New York Magazine.  "There was a school of thought that I had eaten my first pizza, but of course how could that possibly be true? I would have had to have stayed locked up in a cellar

"I would go in and order a pizza and eat a whole pizza. It was the concept of the slice that I had never encountered before," he said.

 "I was only eating the slice because my fiancĂ©e and I were a little hung-over and she said what we need is pizza and a soothing drink — and she was right," Stewart added. "It solved the problem. But, in fact, it was my first slice, and when it was brought over to me, my first comment was 'There's no knife and fork.' Of course, I was mocked for thinking that I could eat a pizza slice with a knife and fork."

Luckily, Ozell, 38 years his junior, was on-hand to show Stewart the proper, hands-on method to tackle the slab of carbohydrates.

 "I was instructed — because I was getting myself into a real mess — to do the fold, the classic New York fold technique, which we illustrated in the photograph," he continued.


  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...