Thursday, August 22, 2013


Naomi Watts as Diana
 They will never admit it but the financiers and producers responsible for Diana, the movie about the last two years of the Princess of Wales' life, must be delighted at the news that detectives are investigating fresh information about the August 1997 deaths of the Princess and Dodi Fayed.
  "It's given the movie a huge boost and it's great publicity," said a source. "It's come at just the right time."
   Diana, starring Naomi Watts as the Princess and based on the book Diana: Her Last Love by Kate Snell, focuses on Diana's love affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnet Khan but also depicts her affair with Dodi Fayed and shows them leaving the Ritz hotel in Paris just before the black Mercedes in which they were passengers crashed in the Pont de l'Alma Tunnel. 
  The new information centres on an allegation that they were killed by a member of the British SAS.
Dodi Fayed's father, Mohammed Al-Fayed, has always claimed that they were murdered by the British establishment. 
   When we talked at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills Naomi Watts told me:  “It was very sad that it just ended up in such tragedy. My heart goes out to the Fayed family as well. From the research I did, although they knew each other and met in the early ’80s, their relationship—and it was definitely a romance—was very short-lived.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013


   I was surprised to discover that Michelle Dockery, the actress who plays the plummy-voiced Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey is an East London girl who grew up with a pronounced East End
  There was no evidence of it at all when we talked at the Four Seasons hotel of haunts we both knew in the East End, and she told me with a laugh:  "It was beaten out of me in drama school otherwise I don't think I'd ever have got the part of Lady Mary."   
 Since landing the role three years ago, the 31-year-old actress's career has taken off in a big way. She recently finished a film with Liam Neeson and is soon to start a romantic drama with Kate Winslet and Kenneth Branagh.  
  But for Michelle, one of the downsides of the success of Downton Abbey is that she has had to put her singing career aside temporarily. A jazz singer, she sang at the 50th anniversary of the famed Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho and until recently sung with Sadie and the Hotheads, a band formed by Elizabeth McGovern, who plays her mother in Downton Abbey.
 "Elizabeth is managing to juggle both the show and her music career, but I haven't been able to," she said. "I sang on the album and we've performed together a few times but I need time to pursue it because I can't just do it on the side, with a few gigs here and there. If I do it, I want to do it properly."
  For Downton Abbey fans, here's a hint of what she told me to expect in the fourth season, which has just finished shooting: As everyone who watches it knows, Matthew was killed off in a car crash because the actor Dan Stevens wanted to leave the series to move on.  "It was strange not having him around," said Michelle. "When you spend three years with someone you become very close and good friends and I felt Mary was very isolated without Matthew and I felt the same way because from the beginning, most of my scenes were with Dan. We all miss him.
  "But now it's a tricky situation for the Crawleys. The family is in a dilemma because Matthew was the heir and now the baby George is, but he's only six months old so Mary takes responsibility for the things that need doing and the debts that need paying and she becomes much more involved in the estate." 
  And will Lady Mary remain a grieving widow?
  "There are suitors who come along but you'll just have to wait and see what happens," said Michelle firmly.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


  If Walt Disney Studios ever decides to make another Thor sequel the chances are they will think twice before inviting Anthony Hopkins to help promote it, following his remarks about Thor 11: The Dark World.
  The 75-year-old Oscar-winner, who plays the God Odin in the movies based on the Marvel comics, told journalists at D23 Expo, Disney's version  of Comic-Con: "I haven't seen the movie and I've forgotten it. It's hard to follow the story in the script. This is not really my world. I've come to Marvel at a late stage in my life and I'm used to doing more conventional films. But it's interesting.
  "All I was concerned about sometimes was to turn the dialogue that I had into something that was more human instead of too overwritten. Mock Shakespeare."
   Hopkins, who received a standing ovation from the fans at the Expo, held at Anaheim Convention Centre, said: "I think they applaud me because I'm old and I suppose they saw a poor old guy so they all stood up for me."
   He said he took the role because Kenneth Branagh, who directed the first Thor, asked him to. "I knew Ken and he said 'Would you like to play Odin?' I said, 'Yeah, okay.' At my age if they offer me the phone book to read, I'll read it, as long as they pay me."
    Hopkins, who stopped drinking and smoking many years ago, works out five days a week and watches his diet carefully. "I feel good," he says. "Mentally, emotionally and physically I feel the best I've felt in years. That's why I go on working because I think I would surely die if I didn't." 
   He is currently filming a serial killer thriller, Solace, and has several more film roles lined up although he is not sure what they are. "I've got one coming up soon with a great visionary director," he said.I don't know the guy's name but apparently he's very famous and very good. And I've been offered to play a vampire hanging upside down. I don't know if I'll do it but I'm game for anything."

Friday, August 9, 2013


Leah Remini
   More weird stuff leaking out from Scientology's Hollywood HQ where Tom Cruise remains the outfit's leading star and most ardent supporter. 
   But not everyone feels the same as he does. Leah Remini,the 43-year-old co-star of the comedy TV series King of Queens who recently left the organisation after 37 years, has filed a missing persons report for the wife of the controversial cult's leader David Miscavige.
   Shelly Miscavige has reportedly not been seen in public for six years and Remini claims her own disillusionment with Scientology began at the 2006 wedding of Cruise and Katie Holmes in Italy when she asked why Shelly Miscavige was not in attendance.
   According to writer Tony Ortega's website The Underground Bunker, Shelly Miscavige allegedly was transferred from Scientology's headquarters near Hemet, Calif., to a secret compound near Lake Arrowhead in late 2005 or early 2006. The compound, known as the Church of Spiritual Technology, reportedly houses about a dozen Scientologists who are said to be completely cut off from the outside world.
    Remini questions whether Shelly has freedom of movement or is being "punished for her own shortcomings."
  The church has issued a statement calling Remini's action in filing a missing person's report an act of "ill-advised, ludicrous self-promotion."
  But you can bet this isn't the end of the matter.  Stay tuned.


Thursday, August 8, 2013


Willis and Stallone in friendlier days
  Maybe Bruce Willis is finally getting to realise he is not only surly and unpleasant, which those of us who have interviewed him have known for a long time, but, according to his former pal and business partner Sylvester Stallone, he is also greedy and lazy. 
    It seems things came to a head when the not-very-talented Willis, who appeared in the first two Expendables movies, was offered $3 million for four days' work in Bulgaria on Expendables 3, but turned it down and demanded $4 million.
     Stallone, who was once partners with Willis in the Planet Hollywood chain, retaliated by immediately giving him the boot and hiring Harrison Ford for the role. Then, to make sure everyone knew, he tweeted:  "WILLIS OUT . . . HARRISON FORD IN!!!! GREAT NEWS!!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!," then following up with a second tweet reading "GREEDY AND LAZY . . . A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE."
  A source told Variety: "I think Willis was pretty surprised he was replaced in 72 hours by Harrison Ford — a better actor, a much nicer person and a more interesting direction for the film."
 The rejection of Willis comes not long after he gave an embarrassing interview to an Australian televsion station for Red 2, which has grossed a disappointing $80 million worldwide. During the interview he yawned repeatedly, seemed to have difficulty staying awake and answered questions in monosyllables. 
     During the same promotional tour he was reportedly rude and sarcastic to a London radio interviewer. 

  The next installment of The Expendables, with a budget of more than $90 million, is set for release next August and in addition to Stallone and Ford, the cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke and Wesley Snipes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


 OK, so now we know.  The Lone Ranger was a disaster----one of the biggest Hollywood trainwrecks of the year----because critics decided in advance not to like it because it cost so much. 
At least that's the opinions of stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.
  Not because it was a boring, overlong mish-mash of previous and much better Westerns? Or that nobody under the age of 40 even know who the Lone Ranger was? Or that Depp's portrayal of Tonto as a Native American Buster Keaton was a bad joke?
  No. It never had a chance of succeeding and could lose as much as $150 million because of negative press, according to Depp.  "I think the reviews were written seven to eight months before we released the film,” Depp told interviewers.
  Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who made millions off the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with Depp, and is doubtless now worried about the next one which is due to begin filming shortly,
agreed: "I think they were reviewing the budget, not reviewing the movie. ” 
  Hammer, who played the title character in the $250 million film says:  “This is the deal with American critics: they’ve been gunning for our movie since it was shut down the first time. They decided to slit the jugular of our movie."
  Oh yeah? Let's face it, if bad reviews could sink a movie, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Steven Seagal and countless others would have been out of work long ago. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Cruise and Suri
    Tom Cruise protects his and daughter Suri's privacy with relentless zeal. All his staff and advisers have to sign strict confidentiality agreements before they are allowed to work for him.
    But just occasionally snippets leak out from the Cruise household and the latest regards the weird life of seven-year-old Suri. As befits a little girl who has spent her short life hanging around her parents' film sets, Suri has a different way of expressing herself.
   Apparently when she doesn't want to listen to someone anymore she'll shout "Cut!" like a director. And when she gets bored she stands up, cries, "It's a wrap!" and walks away.



  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...