Tuesday, June 14, 2016


   Sad news from England where Jimmy Nicholson, one of Fleet Street's great crime reporters, known as the Prince of Darkness, has died.  
   I worked with Jimmy on the long-defunct Daily Sketch in the late 1960s and I still have fond memories of the laughs and drinks we shared, although he rarely bought a drink himself: there was always someone willing to pay to keep him drinking to hear his stories.   
  Jimmy, who was 89 when he died, was a character who could have been created by Damon Runyan. Some of his sayings are now part of journalistic legend---"I've been at every siege since Troy," he liked to boast. And, "I've been on more doorsteps than a milk bottle."  
  He earned his Prince of Darkness nickname because of the Dracula-style black cape he always wore. 
  Of all the crime reporters of his era he had probably the best contacts with both the police and the villains. Freddie Foreman, Frankie Fraser, Charlie Kray, Charles Richardson, the Great Train Robbers ---he knew them all and when they eventually ended up behind bars he would visit them in jail and they would repay him with exclusive stories.
  Current head of the Crime Reporters Association, John Twomey of the Daily Express, said: “Jim was one of the best connected journalists I’ve ever met.
“Everyone knew him from chief constables and commissioners, judges, leading barristers, senior detectives right down to rookie officers and the security staff at the Old Bailey.
“And everyone talked to him and knew they could trust him – for him that was the key to getting stories. He didn’t have much time for press releases and police communications officers with their media strategies.
“He was an old-fashioned reporter who got his exclusives in the old-fashioned way – going out and meeting people and making contacts.
“Although he never tired of talking about his past successes, the Moors Murders, the Krays, the hunt for the Brink’s-Mat robbery gold and many more, it was a track record that any crime reporter would give his right arm for.
“And what’s more, he had enormous fun along the way. It’s sad to think that he’s gone.  Legend is a word bandied about too often.  But Jimmy Nick really was one.”
  Simon Finlay, now editor of Downs Mail, told Press Gazette: “Jimmy Nick was a legend and an inspiration to young reporters like myself who would meet him at the Old Bailey back in the early 1990s.
“He was hugely respected and admired. His one-liners and gangster movie patois were hilarious.
“I was with a hack from the Daily Star in the Wine Press one night when Jimmy greeted us with the immortal words: ‘Look, it’s the hitmen from Mothercare.’
“Fair play to him – he cadged our fags and never bought a drink. We’ll miss him.”
  All of us who knew him will miss him. 

Monday, June 13, 2016



   Ellen DeGeneres will be at Wimbledon this year but not merely to watch the tennis. Her aim, she says with a face so straight it's impossible to tell if she's serious or not, is to confront the Duchess of Cambridge, whom, she says, is a distant cousin.

   "She refuses to admit  it and I don't know why," she tells me, "but I am going to be at Wimbledon and if my cousin Kate is there I'm going to bring the DNA chart with me. Kate Middleton and I are distant cousins and I don't know if she thinks I'm joking, but I'm going to confront her."

   According to the New England genealogical society she and the Duchess of Cambridge are 15th cousins, related through
a man named Sir Thomas Fairfax and his wife, Agnes Gascoigne, who lived in the early 1500s.

  "It wasn't my idea but someone brought me the chart and surprised me," says Ellen, who is 58 but looks a good ten years younger.  
 "I think sometimes people grow up feeling you are supposed to fit some kind of pattern and are supposed to look how society says a 58-year-old woman is supposed to look and dress and act," she says. "A lot of us just fall into that and become what we think we are supposed to become.

  "I never did and I never want to and I dont care that people know that I am 58 because I think it’s just a number and your spirit and your energy level is what your real age is."

Thursday, June 9, 2016


 Picking which of the new TV shows will still be around at the end of the year is always a hit and miss affair. But judging by the rapturous reception at the premiere screening and the splashy beach party that followed, TNT's Animal Kingdom looks like a good bet.
  Hundreds of people crammed into the open air launch party, held in a security-guarded area adjoining the Venice Boardwalk at the foot of Rose Avenue. The street was blocked off to allow the army of valet parkers to do their work while a live band, photo booths, stunt cyclists and skateboarders soaring up and down a giant curved ramp and a busy bar all added to the freewheeling fun.
Animal Kingdom is a gritty crime drama about a working class family who run a criminal empire in the sleepy California beach town of Oceanside. Ellen Barkin stars as Janine "Smurf" Cody, the head of the family and the mastermind behind its illegal activities. Her sons do her bidding while indulging in booze, drugs and women. 
  "I just love being one of those rare women who get to play a part where she doesn't have to apologise for being a bad person," says Barkin.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


   Disney unveiled it's highly-anticipated animated summer movie Finding Dory at a screening and lavish dinner reception in Beverly Hills among predictions that  it could bring in a massive $115 million on its opening weekend. 

  But tropical fish lovers are not happy. They fear that Finding Dory, the sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo, could lead to a run on blue tang fish in pet stores and endanger the fish in the wild. 
The success of  Finding Nemo led to a huge demand for orange clown fish at pet stores. In fact, some kids even flushed their Nemos down the toilet to set them free---as depicted in the movie.

  In the same vein, but back in 1961, many doting but stupid parents succumbed to their children's demands for Dalmatian puppies because of the movie 101 Dalmatians, leading to hundreds of puppies being abandoned when they grew older and the kids became bored with them. 

In the new film, Dory is a blue tang but unlike orange clown fish, blue tangs cannot be bred in captivity, and the movie could actually endanger the population of blue tangs in the wild.

An online petition with more than 100,000 signatures asks Disney to run a warning before "Finding Dory", urging people not to buy blue tangs as pets.

  In Finding Nemo, Dory helped anxious clown fish Marlin (Albert Brooks) find his son Nemo after a school field trip goes awry. Marlin reappears in Finding Dory and helps the forgetful Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) on her quest to be reunited with her mother (Diane Keaton) and father (Eugene Levy)

  Finding Dory hits theaters in 3D on June 17,

Saturday, June 4, 2016


  The heavy damp mist that blew in from the sea and engulfed the fun zone on Santa Monica Pier where hundreds of fans were watching the opening game of the Copa America on a giant open air screen brought with it a haze of concern about the USA's future in the tournament.
 Only 90 minutes into the 23 day tournament the USA has its back against the wall after losing 2-0 to a far superior Colombia side and now needs at least a win and a draw against Costa Rica and Paraguay to have any chance of advancing out of its group. 

   But neither the score nor the mist that hung like a thick blanket over the Pier could dampen the spirits of the crowd who, judging by the cheers and groans, seemed evenly divided between U.S and Colombia supporters. 

    The event was sponsored by Budweiser, who ensured there was a festive atmosphere by providing stands selling beer and burgers---although there were long lines at them throughout the evening---and plenty of plastic footballs bobbing about among the spectators.

  Now the US needs a win against Costa Rica on Tuesday to give them confidence and also a realistic chance of progressing through the group. 


  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...