Monday, October 28, 2013

BEHIND THE EMBASSY DOORS WITH JULIAN ASSANGE

On guard outside the Embassy
  For the past 500 days Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy, a stone's throw from Harrod's in London's Knightsbridge. From there he continues to direct operations for WikiLeaks, of which he is the editor-in-chief, talking via Skype with his staff and followers around the world.
Julian Assaange
 The 42-year-old Assange has been living in the Embassy since June 2012 when he was granted diplomatic asylum. The British government wants to extradite him to Sweden under a European Arrest Warrant for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation. Metropolitan police officers have been stationed outside the embassy since Assange entered the building and have been ordered to arrest him if he attempts to leave.
  Only a few people have been allowed in to the Embassy to talk with him in person and last week while we were in London photographer Theo Kingma and I joined that exclusive group.
   After passing armed Metropolitan police on the door and undergoing strict security checks from Embassy officials, we were allowed inside with the bags of goodies we had bought from Harrods' Food Hall for Assange and the staff. After a short wait in the waiting area Assange came out to greet us and took us into an office where we spent an hour talking with him about a variety of subjects. At his insistence, our conversation was off the record so I cannot divulge what was said.
  But contrary to beliefs, the 42-year-old Australian is cheerful, affable, humourous and appears to be, if not contented, then certainly at ease in his surroundings.
  Earlier, via Skype, he told us: “Of course it’s difficult to wake up for 500 days and see the same walls but on the other hand I am doing good work and I have no time for anything else so it’s a bit counter-productive to trap me here, because what else can I do but work?
 
“I have my heart and soul in this work. I have a very capable and loyal staff and we have a lot of supporters around the world and people who believe in what we do and want to see if it continues. So although I am trapped in these walls, intellectually I am outside with our people today and that to me is important."

Monday, October 21, 2013

WAITING FOR 'DISGRACE OF MONACO?' DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH

Kidman as Princess Grace
  Anyone anxiously awaiting the release of the movie Princess Grace of Monaco (anyone at all?) which stars Nicole Kidman as the former Grace Kelly, will have to wait a bit longer until a row between the temperamental French director Olivier Dahan and the hard headed American distributor Harvey Weinstein is resolved.

  The problem is that Dahan believes his film is a masterpiece and a work of art which he says Weistein has butchered and dumbed down to make more commercial.

  He claims Weinstein's company got hold of early, unedited copies of the film---dubbed Disgrace of Monaco by some---and cut out all the "artistic" scenes.

  "There are two versions of the film at present, mine and his, which I find catastrophic," wails the Frenchman. "He has removed anything that has to do with cinema, anything to do with life.

  "They made a trailer that did not correspond to the film and then tried to make the film resemble the trailer. It's absurd. It's a problem of misplaced egos, a story of manipulation and power."

   Harvey Weinstein, who is not known for his patience, has declined to answer Dahan's complaints but has merely announced he is delaying the release of the movie.

   The film, which also stars Tim Roth and Derek Jacobi, has already stirred controversy. Prince Albert, Prince Rainier's son with Kelly, issued a joint statement with Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie denouncing it as "pointlessly glamourised and full of important historical inaccuracies."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

PREPARATION FOR CHRISTIAN GREY? DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!


  He's got to be joking! Charlie Hunnam has abruptly dropped out of starring as kinky billionaire Christian Grey in the erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey because, he says, he doesn't have enough time to "adequately prepare for the role."
 Just how much "preparation" does he need? Maybe a wild weekend or two of S and M bondage and a bit of whipping practice, but not much else.
  As someone said, it's not like it is Matthew McConaughey starving himself for Dallas Buyers Club or Daniel Day-Lewis spending months developing Abraham Lincoln’s voice and mannerisms for Spielberg’s Lincoln.
   The word around Hollywood is that 33-year-old Newcastle-born Hunnam has a case of "performance anxiety" and didn't fancy the sex scenes with co-star Dakota Johnson who has been cast as Anastasia. Another reason is that he may simply have had a better offer.
  Either way, the loss of Hunnam poses a serious problem for one of Universal’s most high profile projects, based on the hit trilogy of novels, which had been expected to lead to a series of films.
  Now with filming due to begin on October 21, the producers are looking for another handsome hunk who actually wants the challenge of playing Grey. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

HERO OR VILLAIN? JULIAN ASSANGE GIVES HIS SIDE OF THE STORY

  Hero or traitor? Love him or loathe him, Julian Assange is one of the most controversial figures of this century and has been responsible for publishing many documents and videos that governments would prefer to have kept secret. 
  He has been a refugee in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for nearly 500 days and consequently doesn't give many interviews. But I was one of a handful of journalists who took part in a 90-minute, wide-ranging interview with him via Skype during which he slammed The Fifth Estate, the movie about him which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, spoke of the dangers of the U.S. security complex and gave a revealing insight into his daily life in the Embassy. 


    The WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief said the Embassy staff were "like family" and added:  “We’ve gone through a lot together and we understand we are all in this together. Some staff have been here nearly 20 years. We have lunch together, celebrate people’s birthdays and other details I don’t want to go into because of the security situation.

  “Of course the working environment has changed a lot because there are still police surrounding the embassy and it’s a difficult situation for the staff.”
 investigative journalism it is always best, if you have any language skills, not to admit them.”

  He lives in a small office room converted into living quarters equipped with a bed, telephone, sun lamp, computer with internet connections, shower, treadmill and a small kitchenette.

  He receives frequent visits from celebrity supporters including musician Graham Nash ---“an unexpected supporter but a good one” ---who, he said, stopped by on Friday and who wrote a song about Bradley Manning; Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, actors Peters Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal and John Cusack and the rapper MIA. “There’s been a wide range,” he said. “It’s interesting to go through this experience and see who walks the walk and who just talks the talk.” 

   For relaxation he watches the Australian television series Rake about a brilliant but self-destructive Sydney barrister and, he said, he also enjoyed the movie There Will Be Blood. He watches U.S movies such as Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, he said, mainly to see how they affect WikiLeaks.

   Looking thin and pale and wearing a blue tracksuit with a Wikileaks logo, he said:
“Of course it’s difficult to wake up for 500 days and see the same walls but on the other hand I am doing good work and I have no time for anything else so it’s a bit counter-productive to trap me here, because what else can I do but work?” he asked.

“I have my heart and soul in this work. I have a very capable and loyal staff and we have a lot of supporters around the world and people who believe in what we do and want to see if it continues. So although I am trapped in these walls, intellectually I am outside with our people today and that to me is important.

  “While I am imprisoned here there is a developing prison where you are living as well. It would be pretty bad if when I finally get out of here I find it’s actually better here than outside.  At least in here there are no sudden raids by police, there is a rule of law and not an arbitrary breakdown as there is in many countries now.”

  While he appears relatively untroubled by his current situation he admitted he was concerned for the safety of his family.
 
  “I have a family and that situation is difficult,” he said. “My family has had to move and change their name and have been subject to threats from right wing blogs calling for my son, for example, to be killed to get at me. We take security precautions to deal with it and it is dealt with. I’m not scared about it.”

  The 42-year-old Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge since June 2012 when he was granted diplomatic asylum. The British government wants to extradite him to Sweden under a European Arrest Warrant for questioning in relation to a sexual assault investigation. Metropolitan police officers have been stationed outside the embassy since Assange entered the building and have been ordered to arrest him if he attempts to leave.

   The statute of limitations on the sexual case in Sweden expires in August 2020 but Assange is more concerned about the problems he faces in the U.S.

   “My focus of attention is on the U.S. case---the continuing grand jury investigation,” he said. “That is what I have received full political asylum in relation to. I assume the Swedish case will disappear of its own accord in due course.”

   The Australian-born Assange burst into public consciousness in 2010 with WikiLeaks’ release of the video of the July 12 2007 Apache helicopter attack on Baghdad which showed U.S. military killing Iraqi civilians.

  Since then it has been involved in the publication of material documenting extrajudicial killings in Kenya, the Afghan war diaries, a report on toxic waste dumping on the Ivory Coast, Church of Scientology manuals, Guantanamo Bay detention camp procedures and material involving large banks such as Kaupthing and Julius Baer, among other documents.

  Hollywood has been intrigued by the saga and at one time there were five major films about Assange in development with only the documentary We Steal Secrets and the feature film The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange, eventually being produced.

   Assange, who arranged the release through WikiLeaks at the weekend of the organisation’s own documentary, Mediastan, described The Fifth Estate as “opportunistic and hostile….a geriatric snooze fest doomed for failure.”

   And as for We Steal Secrets, directed by Alex Gibney, he said: “The bias is right there in the title because no one claims in the entire documentary that we steal secrets, not even our critics.  Fortunately it is not being taken seriously as a historical or intellectual work.

  “Underground, a feature film that was produced in Australia about me as a teenager is extremely positive and similarly, documentaries out of Germany and France have been overwhelmingly positive. It appears that there is an aspect coming out of the United States that reflects the wounded feelings---for want of better words---of the security establishment in the U.S.”

  Assange insists he has no regrets about the actions which led to his present situation.

  “Small tactical decisions go one way or another but I wouldn’t have done any of the major decisions differently,” he said.

  “All the major decisions I believe were correct and I cannot see any way I could have done things differently.”


Thursday, October 10, 2013

SOPHIA VARGARA: I HAVE HUGE BOOBS AND A GREAT ASS!

  One of the funniest---and sexiest---ladies in Hollywood has to be Sophia Vargara. A regular on the TV series Modern Family, the curvy Colombian has a much more outrageous role in Machete Kills as a female assassin whose breasts fire bullets through a machine gun-like device strapped to them.
 "When I read the script I thought, bullets from my boobs? That's the last thing I need from them," she says. "But okay, I can do it, but the thing they strapped on was very heavy. For some reason people who haven't met me before think I am taller and bigger and wider but they don't realise that what makes me look big is my boobs and they are huge. The rest of my body is not that big because I have small bones. But the bra they gave me was like a tank so they had to send it to a welder to get it cut down."
  Sophia is refreshingly candid about the role her breasts have played in her career. 
  "From the beginning I knew I had something that I had to take advantage of and I've made a career out of them," she says. Then she pauses and adds with a laugh: "Of course, I know that I have more things to offer---I have a great ass too."

Monday, October 7, 2013

MOST PREFER HEAD LICE TO KARDASHIANS

Kardashians: People prefer head lice
  I don't usually pay much attention to polls or surveys but one caught my attention and is worth repeating.
 A Public Policy Polling survey has found that most people polled consider Congress less favorably than: head lice, root canals, Canadian rock band Nickleback, colonoscopies, France, used-car salesmen, traffic jams and Brussels sprouts.
 But it’s not all bad news for Congress. Americans surveyed do prefer Congress to telemarketers, lobbyists, gonorrhea and the Kardashians.

Friday, October 4, 2013

PENELOPE CRUZ LOSES HER COOL AND TALKS ABOUT HER FEARS

  Penelope Cruz is usually totally calm and cool during interviews,
answering questions about her movies and career but diverting anything
personal, rarely giving any insight into her inner feelings.
  But surprisingly she opened up in an interview in London's
Dorchester Hotel, confessing: "I have so many fears. I have become an
expert at hiding them but I am so full of them."
  She added with a laugh: "I'm not giving you examples because they
are all so crazy. Everybody thinks I'm so centred and relaxed but it's
so opposite to what goes on inside me. But I've been working on it all
my life, so it gets better."
   And she hinted at temptations from the dark side when she said:
"You can go left or right and you know if you go in one direction it
might be better for you but sometimes you need to try the other to
realise it's not for you.But I know darkness enough to know that I'm
not going to feed that monster. It is not the path that I want for
me...I'm not interested in exploring that part."
   The revelations came when she was talking about her role in Ridley
Scott's new movie The Counsellor, based on an original screenplay by
author Cormac McCarthy and also starring Cruz's husband of three
years, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt. She portrays Laura,
the fiancee of The Counsellor (Michael Fassbender) who finds herself
way out of her depth when an unplanned series of events lead to tragic
consequences for them both.

COREY FELDMAN WANTS $10 MILLION FOR CHILD MOLESTATION MOVIE

  It's not going away! There could be more revelations of child molestation if Corey Feldman has his way.  The Goonies actor, who cl...