Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pro-Celebrity Punching

X Factor winner Leona Lewis was reportedly 'slapped' at a Waterstones book signing in London yesterday. The singer was at the store signing copies of her new autobiography Dreams. A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that officers were called to the store in Piccadilly. 'The female did not require hospital treatment - we are at the scene,' he stated. Lewis's own spokesman said the singer had been signing autographs for around ninety minutes when 'a guy came up and punched her to the side of the head.' The spokesman added that Lewis was 'understandably badly shaken.' In a further statement, Waterstones said: 'There was an incident at our Leona Lewis signing this afternoon and the event was immediately stopped.' One fan at the scene told the BBC: 'My brother saw the whole incident. [The attacker] walked up there with the book, she signed it and, as she looked up, he just punched her.' Another eyewitness added: 'She was running out with her hand over her eye and I just saw a man on the floor. Suddenly the security all jumped on him and they were trying to pull him out and he was just laughing, he thought it was funny.' Lewis had been scheduled to appear on the BBC's The ONE Show on Wednesday evening, however after the incident BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan was brought in to replace her at the last moment.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly rubbished claims that she is planning to mime on The X Factor this weekend. The judge, who is scheduled to perform her debut solo single 'Fight For This Love' on Sunday night, confirmed that she will pre-record her performance with a live vocal earlier in the day. 'I really don't see the problem. I will be singing live,' the Evening Standard quotes her as saying. 'I just won't have time to get changed and get prepared for the performance and be a judge on the show. It would be too hectic.' Cole, who performed 'The Promise' with Girls Aloud last year on the show, admitted that she feels 'absolutely terrified' about singing by herself. 'I love performing but I've sat for weeks judging people and now I'm putting myself out there to be judged,' she said. However, an 'insider' was quoted as telling newspapers: 'Cheryl is the breakout star of Girls Aloud and there are big plans for her. Nobody - neither on The X Factor nor her record label Polydor - wants to see her fail, which is why we thought it was better for Cheryl to mime her performance.'

Coronation Street's Maggie Jones has been taken off life support following an improvement in her condition, a report claims. Yesterday, it was announced that the seventy five-year-old actress had turned 'a bit of a corner' as she recovered from an emergency operation. According to the Sun, the latest development occurred last night as the star continued to 'show progress.' It is thought that she remains in intensive care at Hope Hospital in Manchester. Sources have indicated that the next forty eight hours will be 'crucial' for Jones, who plays Weatherfield legend Blanche Hunt.

Meanwhile, veteran actor Nigel Havers has joined the cast of Coronation Street. The fifty nine-year-old, who is best known for his role as Lord Andrew Lindsay in the 1981 movie Chariots Of Fire, is to appear as a possible new love interest for hair salon owner Audrey Roberts (Sue Nicholls). Audrey first meets Havers's character, Lewis, when she attends a ball with Norris Cole (Malcolm Hebden) in the run-up to Christmas. She is immediately bowled over by his charming ways, but feels frustrated because he is accompanying her old friend Claudia, played by one-off guest Rula Lenska. However, the night out takes a twist when Claudia reveals that Lewis is a gentleman escort who charges women for his company at social events. There is no suggestion that the show newcomer is anything more than a party companion for his clients. Instantly interested in the idea, Audrey hires Lewis to be on her arm at her next engagement, but ends up developing stronger feelings for him than she anticipated. As well as Chariots Of Fire, Havers has appeared in movies A Passage To India and Empire Of The Sun. His most noted TV roles include the 1980s sitcom Don't Wait Up and, more recently, the US drama Brothers & Sisters.

Consumers who wish to avoid having a satellite dish stuck to their house will be able to receive Sky programming, from drama and movies to Premiership football, through a Freeview set-top box under a deal to be announced yesterday. BSkyB's partnership with London-based IP Vision forms part of a gathering land-grab in the world of online television as broadcasters, content producers and movie studios react to changing viewing habits. People are now watching what they want, when they want and increasingly downloading shows from the web in order to play them on their television rather than on a computer screen. Michael Grade, ITV executive chairman, yesterday hinted that his company is considering a tie-up with an American online heavyweight such as Google's YouTube or Hulu, the online TV venture backed by News Corporation, NBC Universal and Disney, as it looks to build its business in this new hybrid television world. ITV had initially teamed up with the BBC and Channel 4 to create a one-stop shop for catch-up British TV, codenamed Kangaroo, but it was blocked by the Competition Commission in February. Grade yesterday told a House of Lords committee that the decision means that rivals broadcasters from the other side of the Atlantic will invade the UK market.

Emmerdale star Lyndon Ogbourne has revealed that he dreams of working with his ex-girlfriend Billie Piper. The actor, who joined the Yorkshire-based drama as Nathan Wylde this year, told the Press Association that he dated Piper for a while after they attended a drama group together in Swindon. Ogbourne continued: 'We were close friends up until we were sixteen or seventeen, then as soon as she got together with Chris Evans everything completely changed for her. I'd really like the opportunity to work with her. I think she wants to do a play back in London. Obviously she's doing amazing film work and really taking off. But I always thought it would be quite funny to bump into her.' Commenting on how the star's life has turned out, he said: 'She completely blossomed, not only into an amazingly successful girl, but I love the fact she's a mum now. I think it's amazing. I'm the broodiest boy in the world!'

Len Goodman has insisted that he made the right decision in voting Lynda Bellingham off Strictly Come Dancing. The head judge was responding to professional dancer Darren Bennett's remarks that he was 'gobsmacked' about the dance-off result on Saturday. '[Darren] dances with Lynda and of course he wants to go back and he wants to defend his position,' Goodman told It Take Two. 'Lynda is a lovely person, she's got a great personality, I loved her attitude on Strictly, whereas Craig is maybe not such a smiley character - so I can understand people's attitude, "Oh, why didn't Lynda win?" I'll tell you why. Because the key to the foxtrot is the slow. You have to drive off it and without it the foxtrot loses it's character. Now, Lynda's foxtrot was nearly all quick - I'm not blaming Darren for this, I think all the pros do a great job - but if you look at it back and speak to anyone like Karen Hardy, they will tell you that it's virtually all quick throughout the dance.' He added: 'I've often said it, but the boy celebrities have a far harder task in the ballroom dances. Apart from all the feet, they've got to look after that hold.' Speaking about the public's response to Bellingham's departure, he said: 'A woman at the airport said to me, "I'm very disappointed Lynda was kicked off." I said, "Did you vote?" and she said, "Oh, no." Don't moan if you don't phone!'

Amy Winehouse has revealed that Bruce Forsyth used to give her nightmares when she was young. The singer told Forsyth about her old fears when she was a guest performer on Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday. 'Amy Winehouse confessed to Bruce that she had seven years of nightmares about him after he played a villainous rascal in Bedknobs And Broomsticks,' said the official BBC Strictly Twitter feed yesterday.

The BBC has been praised in a report for making 'significant improvements' in the way it covers news from across the nations and regions of the UK and Northern Ireland. It is a step in the right direction for the public service broadcaster after the 'range and precision' of its local news coverage was criticised in a review by the BBC Trust, the channel's governing body, in June last year. However, the findings from the the BBC Executive's report were not all positive and while it found that progress had been made in terms of increasing the coverage of stories from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on BBC network programmes there were still 'important areas for improvement.' This included the 'adequate' coverage of local issues and stories and accurately 'labelling' stories with the part of the UK where they originated. The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, said the report was 'encouraging.' He added: 'The trust is determined that the BBC should serve all audiences and licence fee payers themselves tell us they want to know more about what is going on in the nations and regions of the UK.'

Eliza Dushku has said that playing Wonder Woman in a film adaptation would be 'a challenge.' The Dollhouse actress called the project an 'Internet fantasy' and revealed that her name has often been linked to the comic book heroine. She told MTV: 'People always talk about Wonder Woman, and as far as I've ever lived or been conscious of, there's been no project to be up for. So that's sort of an Internet fantasy. They throw people's names into it all the time and I'm always getting asked. But it wouldn't disturb me if it became a reality.' She added: 'At this point, it's been so hyped up it that it would be a challenge. But like I said, I'm not one to take the easy road. I like a challenge.' Lynda Carter, who played the superheroine in the eponymous 1970s TV show, previously said that she thought Dushku would be a perfect choice for the role.

Phill Jupitus and Flight of the Conchords' Eugene Mirman are to star in a pilot for a new TV show that will see the duo trade lives in a sort of comedians' version of Wife Swap for Dave. UKTV, which owns Dave, has commissioned a one-hour pilot of the show, Comedy Exchange, which will be made by independent producer Tiger Aspect. The show features Never Mind the Buzzcocks star Jupitus trading places with Mirman, who plays Eugene, the landlord of lead characters Bret and Jermaine in HBO comedy Flight of the Conchords, to see how they handle each other's lives. In the show the two will swap lives for a week in order to prepare for a final stand-up performance. It is currently being filmed in both New York and London.

Singer Al Martino has died in Philadelphia, aged eighty two. The American, who was born Alfred Cini, famously scored the first UK Number One when the charts were introduced by New Musical Express in 1952. 'Here In My Heart' spent nine weeks at the top, a record which has only been beaten four times since. Despite falling out of commercial favour during the rise of rock 'n' roll, he continued to score Billboard chart success in the sixties and seventies and his most recent CD, Style, was released in 2000. Martino's other hits included 'Spanish Eyes', 'Volare' and 'Can't Help Falling In Love'. He also recorded the title song for the 1972 movie The Godfather, in which he played Johnny Fontane, a character heavily based on Frank Sinatra. He appeared in all three parts of the trilogy, as the godson of Marlon Brando's character Don Vito Corleone. TV personality Jerry Blavat met Martino earlier this week and admitted that he was shocked to hear of the singer's death. 'He was the last of the show-business legends,' he told the Philadelphia Daily News. 'There's nobody else. The last of the performers. A magnificent voice.'

Outgoing executive chairman Michael Grade has launched a stinging attack on media coverage of ITV's failure to find his replacement, saying the press has painted a picture of a company in crisis that has left him feeling 'as though I am inhabiting a parallel universe.' Grade launched his attack while appearing before the House of Lords communications committee, which is investigating the state of the UK's TV and film industries. The ITV boss has become more and more cantankerous in his dealings with the media over the past few months as the broadcaster has struggled in the advertising recession and then seen its search for a chief executive or chairman to replace him hit by a series of setbacks.

Sarah Chalke has revealed that her real-life pregnancy will be written into Scrubs as part of an upcoming storyline. The thirty two-year-old actress, who is engaged to entertainment lawyer Jamie Afifi, confirmed her pregnancy earlier this year. Speaking to TV Guide, she said: 'It's kind of a time cut into the future, so JD and I are already married and pregnant with our first kid. Bill [Lawrence] was very generous to write it in so I'm not, like, carrying a giant chart or something in front of my belly all the time.' She added: 'I'm going to do a bunch [of episodes] until this baby gets too big for me to go to work anymore.'

Channel 4 is to explore the relationship between science and race in a controversial season of documentaries. The season, titled Race: Science’s Last Taboo, will seek to use science to debunk the myth of racial superiority with programmes featuring Channel 4 presenters such as Rageh Omaar and Krishnan Guru-Murthy alongside new face for the channel, Aarathi Prasad. It kicks off with Windfall Films’ documentary Race and Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo, in which Omaar meets scientists at odds with claims laid out by Nobel Prize-winning US scientist James Watson that black people are inherently less intelligent than other races. In two-part documentary Plastic Surgery and Race, Wildcard will look at Michael Jackson’s radical facial transformation and will meet six people who want to 'westernise' their bodies and faces. Dragonfly is making the provocatively-titled The Event: How Racist Are You?, in which former US schoolteacher Jane Elliott recreates a controversial exercise she devised forty years ago to teach nine-year-olds about prejudice. The experiment will ask thirty British adults to experience discrimination based on their eye colour. Diverse Production’s The Human Zoo: Science's Dirty Secret explores the influence of human zoos featuring 'uncivilised savages' at the turn of the Twentieth Century to the subsequent rise of Nazi Germany. The season rounds off with geneticist Aarathi Prasad, who examines whether there could be biological advantages to being mixed race. Is It Better To Be Mixed Race? will be produced by Remarkable Pictures. The season was commissioned by Channel 4's science commissioning editor David Glover and specialist factual commissioner Julia Harrington and will broadcast over a fortnight from the end of this month.

All three CSI shows will be involved in a crossover storyline later this year, their executive producers have confirmed. The plot, which sees Horatio Crane call Ray Langston for help on a case, launches on CSI: Miami, moves to CSI: New York and finishes up in Las Vegas on the regular CSI show. New York producer Pam Veasey told ET Online of the story arc: 'Everyone stays true to their writing style. What you fundamentally do is tell a CSI story, which is what we all have in common. Once it gets to your show, you will see each of the show's take a different approach to a story that starts in Miami. We did all get together and talk about what the through-line would be.' She added: 'Obviously, Ray Langston travels through all of the shows. You have to find the consistencies with his character, how he would flow into each story.' The crossover begins on CSI: Miami 9 November, moves to CSI: New York two days later and concludes on CSI on Thursday 12 November.

Former EastEnders star Rob Kazinsky has admitted that he is struggling to find work on British television. The actor, who left his role as Sean Slater last year, confirmed that he has been focusing on job offers from abroad in recent months. He told the Sun: 'I've only been offered reality and celebrity-based TV here and that's not what I'm interested in doing. I think it's the market at the moment. There doesn't seem to be any work around. None of my actor friends are working, it's almost impossible. The work I've been doing has been more in other countries.' Kazinsky added that he is still willing to make a return to Walford in the future, but does not expect to be back in Albert Square any time soon because his current commitments are keeping him busy. '[Sean's] still out there, he hasn't died, but he's probably in a mental home somewhere,' he explained. 'Maybe one day he'll come back with someone else playing him.'

Channel 4’s feature length, 'real life CSI' documntary The Force was a surprise hit on Tuesday night, as ITV's Joan Collins makeover show floundered. The Force attracted just over two million viewers between 9pm and 10.40pm and averaged a 9.8 per cent audience share, well above slot average. It was the first part of the three-part series about how the police construct cases and outperformed BBC2's Horizon (1.8m) at 9pm and Later with Jules Holland (730,000) at 10pm. On Five, the real CSI franchise continued its strong showing, attracting 2.6m for CSI: Miami at 9pm, 1.5m for CSI: NY and 800,000 at 11pm for a repeated CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But ITV really struggled as Joan Does Glamour brought just 2.5m viewers in the crucial 9pm slot. It was well almost a third short of the slot's average audience of 3.8m. On BBC1 at 9pm, the first part of the Children in Need travelogue event Around the World in 80 Days got off to a solid start. It won the slot with 4.2m viewers.

A series of horror movie trailers shown during ITV's hit variety talent show Britain's Got Talent were screened far too early in the evening, according to the Advertising Standards Authority. Nineteen viewers complained that the trailers, broadcast between 7.30pm and 9.45pm, were too violent and inappropriate to be shown when children might be watching. The film being trailered, Last House On The Left, is a remake of a 1972 horror classic in which parents take revenge on a group of strangers who have attacked their daughter. The ASA said: 'We considered that a later timing restriction such as post 11pm would have been more appropriate to reduce the risk of children of that age group from being exposed to the ads.' And, speaking of horrorshows - it's Octobeard Day 14. Looks up its face-swallowing beardy works, ye mighty, and be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

And finally, some more statistics for you: Since Keith Telly Topping started keeping records about such things - on 29 August - From The North has received 7,875 visits from blog readers in eighty six different countries. There have been 12,638 individual page hits (meaning that most vistiors read an averge of 1.6 pages per visit) and the average time spent on the blog is two minutes and thirty one seconds. Brilliant. Nice to know I'm reaching people. However, yer Keith Telly Topping is still somewhat narked that he hasn't had a single visit yet from anybody in the Federated States of Micronesia. Come on, guys, I know you've got computers over there!

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