Saturday, July 30, 2016


England's greatest day in football came on July 30, 1966 when Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Ben Foster and Chris Pine as bank robbing brothers
The modern-day Western Hell Or High Water is without a doubt the best movie I've seen so far this year. A multi-layered story about two bank robbers which questions the fine line between right and wrong, it is set in Texas, so it was only fitting that the premiere, parties and cast interviews should be in Austin. 
Bridges and Foster on the red carpet
  The movie's stars, Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster had a great time, hitting the bars after walking the premiere red carpet and, late that evening making a surprise appearance at one of the city's hot music clubs, the Continental Club. It was there that Bridges joined the band, Dale Watson and the Lone Stars, on stage, borrowed Watson's guitar and sang and played three numbers, much to the enjoyment of the crowd.  
Bridges as Texas Ranger
    "My young cohort Chris Pine said, 'You've got to get up there, man, come one!'" Bridges told me the next day. "And I'd had enough liquor to make me get up there and do it. But I'd never played with those guys and I think the last song worked out all right but the middle song was too tricky and too many chord changes. A stupid choice for me."
When in Texas...
     While he played Pine danced up a storm with some of the local ladies. "I was very, very inebriated," he said the following day, looking a bit red-eyed. "I don't remember all of it but I think the alcohol helped my dance skills. So much fun. Tequila straight. It's probably the smarter way to go because I wasn't hungover this morning which was weird because I was very drunk."
with Bridges
  The movie depicts the clash between the Old and New West where the distinction between honest men and outlaws has blurred beyond recognition.
  Pine and Foster play bank robbing brothers trying to stop the bank foreclosing on their family land while Bridges is the relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger hunting them down. 
  "The script really rang true," says Bridges. "I liked the ambiguity of who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and who am I rooting for?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Matt as Jason Bourne

    Matt Damon feels like a winner. The U.S. premiere of Jason Bourne at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas the previous evening had been greeted with cheers and wild applause and afterwards he had headed for the casino's poker tables.   
    "I don’t think I’m a good gambler but that doesn’t keep me from trying," he tells me the next morning as we talk at the nearby Cosmopolitan Hotel.  "Last night I was out to the wee hours and got ahead and I was playing with the casino’s money and went crazy for a couple hours. And then I gave it all back and went home even. So, to me, when you go home even in Vegas, it’s a big win."

   He has, he says, spent too much time in Las Vegas to get carried away with the temptations of the nightlife.

  "The crazy nights in Las Vegas happen to people who come in for just one or two nights and go absolutely crazy and flame out and leave," he says with a grin. "You look at these people and its like going to the zoo.

the morning after
  "But I've shot so many movies here and lived here and when you actually work here you fall into the real rhythm of the city, which is much slower and calmer. I feel more like a resident than a tourist."
  Matt was at the premiere with his wife, Argentine-born Lucy Barroso whom he met in Miami Beach in 2002 while he was filming the comedy Stuck on You and she was working as a waitress. They have three daughters aged from six to ten and Lucy has a daughter who has just turned 18.

Matt at the premiere with wife Lucy

  "I got lucky meeting her," says Damon. "I think marriage is incredibly difficult because it’s so hard to have that one partner who is everything. Looking at it objectively it seems  an insane idea. So it’s not that I love marriage in general, it’s that I love being married to her. And that’s the difference. And  I just got lucky. I sure did."


Thursday, July 21, 2016


1966....and now
  August 5 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Caesars Palace, the ancient Rome-themed hotel and casino that has been the red-hot center of Las Vegas's biggest sports and entertainment events.

  Originally it was going to be called the Cabana Palace, then it was the Desert Palace but when it opened its doors for the first time, the greeters dressed as gladiators and waitresses in Cleopatra outfits made it clear it was Caesars Palace.

as it was in 1966
  It holds so many memories for me: I interviewed Sammy Davis Jr in his sumptuous suite there; talked and shared a pizza with Cher in her dressing room after her show there; I watched from backstage as Willie Nelson performed and later went to his suite where an assistant called Snake supplied the marijuana.

   And I was ringside at some of the most memorable fights ever staged in the outdoors ring---Sugar Ray Leonard vs Tommy Hearns; Roberto Duran vs. Hearns; Marvin Hagler vs Hearns and vs Leonard; Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield, when Fan Man stopped the fight by parachuting into the ring....etc. etc.   
 room key card from ten years ago

  The anniversary celebrations started in June so while I was there it seemed only right to drink a toast in Gordon Ramsay's Pub and Grill, a lively pub-restaurant opposite the hotel's Colosseum

 theatre, which recently hosted the US premiere of Jason Bourne.

  Some of the movies that have been made there include Ocean's Eleven,The Electric Horseman, The Hangover, Rain Man, Iron Man, The Big Short and many more.

  So here's to another 50 years!

Saturday, July 9, 2016


   Of all the bad ideas Hollywood has come up with over the years, rebooting the classic 1984 movie  Ghostbusters with an all-female cast has to rank as one of the worst ever.
    Fans of the original movie, a unique mixture of supernatural horror and irreverent comedy,  have taken to the internet to vent their fury and rage, calling the new movie racist and unfunny and berating the filmmakers as greedy and unoriginal. 
     The trailer has officially become the most-disliked movie trailer in YouTube history, beating out jihadi recruitment videos for the title. 
  The original, which starred Bill Murray, shattered box office records for a comedy, nabbed two Oscar nominations and sparked a global phenomenon. The new movie stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as four female Busters who are battling their own neuroses while combating a phantom menace that threatens New York City.
  It has been condemned as racist because the black actress Leslie Jones portrays a blue collar New York city municipal worker while the other three are scientists.
Poster for the original Ghostbusters
  And while the original theme song is ranked as one of the best movie themes of all time the new song, by Fall Out Boy has been roundly panned.
  I saw a 15-minute clip of the movie at a Cinemacon screening in Las Vegas and it seemed neither funny nor scary...just pointless.
   Now the director, Paul Feig, has hit back. "Haters, attack me all you want but when you attack and insult my cast, you’ve crossed the line," he says. "Grow up and leave my cast alone.”
   During an interview in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Melissa McCarthy says she tries to ignore the cirticism, much of which was launched as soon as the movie was announced. "If someone wants to spew hate and tear down women I prefer to keep it out of my life,"
   Leslie Jones says:"When people started asking me about the gender stuff  I would say 'It's not a man thing, it's not a woman thing, it's a Ghostbuster thing.'"
  Time---and box-office results---will tell. With a reported budget of $150 million the movie has to gross an estimated $400 million worldwide to break even.

Friday, July 1, 2016


 What a tumultuous ten days in London!

 With the Brexit referendum, the disastrous performance by the English football team, the beginning of Wimbledon tennis, 100,000 people at the gay pride parade and lunches, dinners and drinks with friends, there wasn't a dull moment.

  Oh, and the East End film festival, too.

  The fact it rained for part of every day did nothing to dampen the  lively atmosphere in the pubs or prevent drinkers standing outside on the pavements.

  But first, Brexit. And it's a total mess---nothing but chaos and confusion.   
  Not only is Britain now bitterly divided but the Conservative party is split into factions following the announcement by David Cameron of his resignation while the Labour party is still headed (at the time of writing) by Jeremy Corbyn, who is so unpopular that scores of frontbenchers have quit in recent days, leaving him with a seemingly impossible task in filling the vacancies after 172 of his MPs backed a no confidence motion in his leadership

Gay Pride in Trafalgar Square
   To further muddy the already bemired political waters Boris Johnson, whom everybody thought was the favourite to replace Cameron, has announced he will not now be running for the leadership of the Conservative Party and consequently the job of Prime Minister: he has been stabbed in the back by the charisma-lacking Michael Gove, who had previously been his strong supporter and is now contesting the leadership with Home Secretary Theresa May, which is ironic considering that Boris has now received the same treatment he meted out to Cameron. 
   But as always with any crisis in Britain, while the newspapers, radio and television are full of news, analysis and predictions it is in the pubs where the true debate is carried out and the voice of the ubiquitous Man in the Street is heard.

Leadenhall Market
In a pub in rainy Leadenhall Market, a lunchtime favourite with City businessmen, a well-dressed, clearly well-educated drinker told me he had voted Leave to "keep the migrants out." Someone else said he had voted Remain because Britain needed migrant workers and Europeans working in the City of London finance houses. One said it's all about trade deals. No, it's the economy. Cynics believe that, the Leave vote not withstanding, nothing will really change.

In despair: England manager Roy Hodgson
    It has been a turbulent ten days and while Brexit remains a contentious topic for discussion, every male in every pub is agreed on one thing----the England soccer team, which was dumped out of the European Championships after losing to lowly Iceland, are a useless bunch of overpaid, arrogant, incompetents who all should be replaced immediately. 

  Finally something everyone agrees on!


  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...