Monday, February 08, 2010

Something Goes Wrong Again: The Who Sell Out!

The Who - or, at least, Pete, Roge, Kid Ringo and ... some other blokes - took to a huge circular stage to perform during The Super Bowl's Half-Time Show in Miami on Sunday. And, they were pretty damn good. As usual. The popular beat combo played a twelve-minute set, which featured 'Pinball Wizard', 'Baba O'Riley', 'Who Are You?', 'See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me' and 'Won't Get Fooled Again' (for all the discombobulated CSI: Miami fans who'd turned up by accident). The New Orleans Saints went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts by thirty one points to seventeen in the actual game itself. But, fewer people were bothered about that so much.

Daniel Dae Kim has reportedly joined the cast of CBS's Hawaii Five-O remake. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the popular forty one-year-old Korean-born actor, who has played Jin-Soo Kwon on Lost since the cult series began in 2004, has landed a leading role on the project. Before Lost, Daniel had previous stints on numerous other TV series including 24, Crusade, The Shield and Angel. In the updated police series - set on the Hawaiian islands - Kim will take on the role of native detective Chin Ho Kelly, who was played in the original series by the legendary Kam Fong. Alex O'Loughlin, who recently starred in the ill-fated Three Rivers, is rumoured to be in talks with producers to take the part of Steve McGarrett. There's no word yet, however, on who they've got lined-up to play Danno. Or, indeed, whether Arthur Two-Stroke and The Chart Commandos incendiary version of the theme tune will feature at all. Yer Keith Telly Topping wouldn't bet on it, personally. But then, stranger things have happened.

A short segment from BBC4's Newswipe - a hilarious parody of lazily-edited news reports from Series Two, Episode Two of Charlie Brooker's topical show - has become YouTube's highest-rated clip of all time, apparently. The two-minute item, How To Report The News, has had almost seven hundred and thirty thousand views on the video-sharing site and has become the highest-rated video in any genre with over seven thousand positive ratings since it was posted last Wednesday. The video, which was broadcast on last Tuesday evening's episode, features King Charlie dissecting the various elements that go to make up many standard TV news items - from inclusive graphics to pointless vox-pops and jarring pieces to camera ('ignoring all the pricks milling around him like he's gliding through the fucking Matrix!') And, the daft thing is, it's so funny because it's true! Overall, it was the forty fifth most viewed global video on the site in the past week. 'And this is a lighthouse keeper being beheaded by a laser beam!' Shine on, you crazy diamond!

Benjamin Zephaniah has claimed that celebrities only get involved with charity work to boost their careers. The Daily Telegraph reports that the Mighty and Righteous ranking dub poet, and ting, is pure dead cynical about recent efforts to help those involved in the earthquake in Haiti, including Simon Cowell's charity single 'Everybody Hurts.' And, to be fair, he's not the only one either. Speaking at the Concert For Haiti at Congress House in London, Zephaniah said: 'I know a lot of these people. They talk to their managers and say, "Is it worthwhile? Is it a good career move for me?" They obviously raise money and so one can say that it is a bit of good, and you can't ignore a bit of good, but why didn't they do one for China?' He added: 'I come from a time in the Eighties where lots of artists were political and they didn't mind standing up and being counted. Now that kind of activity is being replaced by charities and Red Nose Days.' Zephaniah also explained that many celebrities are unable to explain why they are helping out charities. 'They call you a militant for being political and they think they are going to change the world by doing Comedy Relief,' he said. 'I have nothing against those people - well, I have, but I don't think we should get rid of them, they do something - but when I talk about stopping the problem in the first place, then I'm called a militant. To talk to journalists and stand in front of people and articulate what we are doing there and why you think it is important or whatever can be very difficult for some pop stars who can hardly string a sentence together, to mention no names.' Ah, you let yourself down at the end there, Ben. The fearless raging yout' who wrote Fight Dem, Not Me - the most powerful poem in the English language of the last century - would've named-names. But, maximum credit for at least bringing the debate to wider public attention.

Steve Coogan expects a decision to be made this month on a big screen outing for his comic creation Alan Partridge. 'This is kind of make or break,' Coogan told the BBC. 'In a month it'll be very clear whether we're going to do it or not.' Coogan said that he and comedian Rob Brydon were also about to start work on a film directed by Michael Winterbottom. Coogan, forty four, appears in the big-budget fantasy adventure Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, out this week. Coogan's buffoonish local radio presenter Alan Partridge began life as a spoof sports reporter on BBC Radio 4's On The Hour before moving to television on BBC2's The Day Today. He then took on a life of his own via the mock chat show Knowing Me, Knowing You ... With Alan Partridge first on radio, then on TV. But Coogan said that he did not want to go ahead with a movie version without the involvement of writers Armando Iannucci and Peter Baynham who helped to co-create the character along with Richard Herring and Stewart Lee. 'You have to get all the right elements,' he said. 'We're not going to do it unless we think we can do something really good.'

ITV has been fined one thousand six hundred pounds for animal cruelty over the I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! 'rat row.' Celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo and actor Stuart Manning sparked the controversy last year by killing and eating a rat while taking part in the Australian-based reality series. A court in Sydney has now imposed the three thousand Australian dollar fine after hearing that the rat in question took ninety seconds to die and suffered unnecessary pain after being stabbed with a knife. Although animal cruelty charges were originally filed against D'Acampo and Manning themselves, these were dropped after ITV admitted that the programme's production staff had given permission for the pair to kill the animal. The court heard that producers only considered whether eating the rat would make contestants ill and did not research local laws regarding whether it was legal. ITV has also been ordered to pay thirteen hundred pounds in costs. A spokesman for the broadcaster commented: 'ITV has apologised for the mistake which led to the incident. The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise, in New South Wales, and accepts that further enquiries should have been made. This was an oversight, and we have since thoroughly reviewed our procedures, and are putting in place a comprehensive training programme to ensure that this does not happen in future series.' Although, as previously noted, that's all very well but it's a bit late to apologise to the rat.

Jason Gardiner has described the Dancing On Ice audience members who boo him as 'idiots.' Yeah, that's a really good idea, pal. Piss off a decent sized proportion of your audience. Strictly Come Dancing tried that this year and it didn't work for them either. The Australian choreographer claimed that the crowd reaction on Sunday night's show irritated him because they were jeering before he even commented on the celebrity skaters. Well, you know, that's perhaps what you get if you develop (and, some might say, cultivate) a reputation for being a harsh and blunt critic. Just something to pop into your toaster there, Craig, to see if it pops up brown. Writing on Twitter, he said: 'The booing was OTT and rude tonight. Normally it doesn't bother me but the idiots in the audience made it impossible for me to critique. Booing after I've commented is fine but before I've said anything is just ignorant and boring.' Oh, 'ignorant and boring idiots,' is it? This just gets better and better. Before the show, the reality TV judge accepted that he would be in for a frosty reception after the controversy surrounding the previous week's show, joking: 'It could be worse I could be John Terry!' Tasteful. Viewers, Sharron Davies and Tana Ramsay had all criticised Gardiner last week, complaining that his judging remarks were 'too personal.'

The chairman of the BBC Trust has ruled out 'excessive salaries' for BBC talent and senior executives, as the governing body attempts to tighten its financial and editorial hold over the corporation. In an interview with Media Guardian, Sir Michael Lyons said: 'The BBC relaxed both its editorial grip and its grip on value for money. And to some extent the challenge of recent years has been to reassert that grip and that focus on value for money, particularly in how much you pay to top managers and onscreen talent.' Future pay deals would be much tougher, he warned. 'We are simply not going to see what the public regard as excessive salaries, so [the BBC] must be harder in negotiations and much more willing to walk away. The BBC needs to be more confident that people will accept the most extraordinary discount to come and work for it.' There had been - mostly manufactured - public anger over pay deals awarded to performers such as Jonathan Ross, who is to leave in June at the end of a three-year contract, and to BBC executives, forty seven of whom earn more than the Prime Minister. Mind you, it has be to noted than none of them - so far as I know - have managed to drag the country down the sewer of financial insolvency like good old Gordon. So, I suppose a decent argument could be made for reducing his salary before we get around to reducing theirs. Fair's fair and all that. A strategic review to be published by the director general, Mark Thompson, as early as next month is expected to reassess the BBC's size and shape two years ahead of the next licence fee settlement. The timing of the review has raised suspicions that it is designed to head off political interference in the run-up to a general election – a suspicion hotly denied by Lyons. The former local government chief was embroiled in a row with the Conservative party last week amid reports that the Trust would be one of the first casualties of a Tory administration. Lyons, who gave up his membership of the Labour party to lead the Trust, took issue with any government interfering in the governance of the BBC midway through a ten-year charter agreement that ends in 2016. 'It may have had a short life but the Trust is not going to be bullied,' he said. Lyons also took aim at James Murdoch, the head of News Corporation Europe and Asia, a role that includes oversight of the Sky satellite platform and The Times newspaper, which led on the Tory attack on the Trust last week. The review, he said, was 'starting from the point of what the BBC's mission is rather than the interests of a very successful satellite broadcaster wanting to get us off its turf.' Lyons blamed a more relaxed culture at the BBC in the early noughties for some of today's troubles. Greg Dyke, the Director General during that period who is now leading a creative review for the Conservatives, denied that 'controls had been thrown out of the window' during his tenure. He joined those who attack the Trust as neither an effective regulator nor a champion of the BBC. 'We all said when the system was proposed that it wouldn't work and it doesn't. In all the work we've done, I cannot find anyone who supports the Trust other than members of the Trust themselves,' he said. And nation shall speak peace unto nation ...

The producer of Dragons' Den has received a total of seventy thousand pounds in damages after news reports wrongly alleged that he was guilty of downloading child pornography. Identifying him as the creator of the BBC2 show, a Press Association new agency report inaccurately named Martyn Smith as a defendant at Southwark Crown Court accused of downloading 'quite unspeakable' child porn images. The defendant was in fact a completely different Martyn Smith, a former BBC producer. The Press Association today grovellingly agreed to pay the Dragon's Den Mr Smith fifty thousand pounds in damages, adding to the twenty thousand smackers he has already collected from other news groups, his lawyer, Mark Thomson of Atkins Thomson, said. The Daily Mirror, which published the allegation in its Ulster edition, paid out ten grand. The Times, which released the story to news databases, and the Daily Telegraph, which published it online, both paid five thousand quid each. At the high court in London today, the Press Association offered its 'sincere apologies' to Mr Smith, a BAFTA-nominated TV director, producer and writer, whose credits include Mary Queen of Shops and The Apprentice and who continues to work for the BBC. The Martyn Smith involved in the criminal court case had 'no professional or personal relationship' with the Martyn Smith of Dragons' Den, Thomson told the court.

The recently departed Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson has criticised the BBC's lobbying muscle, likening the corporation and its defenders to 'Doctor Who and the Daleks joining forces to destroy the ultimate enemy.' Writing in today's Media Guardian just a week after leaving the broadcaster, Johnson said he regretted the effort Channel 4 had expended trying to persuade the BBC to give up some of its licence fee money to other public service broadcasters. 'I failed to properly understand that the BBC is the single most influential lobbying organisation in Britain,' he said. 'Whether it is backbench MPs on BBC local radio, print journalists on its payroll, ministers on the Today programme, tickets to the Proms or Wimbledon or Glastonbury, when its three and a half billion pound "jacuzzi of cash" is threatened, the entire machine dedicates itself to seeing off any rival – rather like Doctor Who and the Daleks joining forces to destroy the ultimate enemy.' Nice attempt at a cool pop culture reference there, Luke. The irony of the fact that it's related to one of the BBC's most-loved drama series will, I'm sure, not be lost on anyone. Only trouble is, the character is called The Doctor. It's the show that's called Doctor Who. 'The favours are gently called in, the army of public affairs staff get to work, and self-preservation on steroids kicks in.' Has yer Keith Telly Topping ever mentioned before that he used to work for the Job Centre many years ago and that, during the course of his work, he grew to easily recognise the bitterness of language used by the recently unemployed when he sees it. Johnson added the BBC had lost its nerve – unlike Channel 4 – was now being 'asphyxiated' by bureaucracy and political correctness. Unlike Channel 4, of course, which is rapidly drowning in the sheer volume of prime time that it devotes to banal 'personality'-fronted lifestyle drivel that pretty much no one actually wishes to watch: Gordon Ramsay, Kirstie and Phil, Gok Wan, Hugh Fearnley-Whatshisface, that wretched Jamie Oliver fellow, Kevin McCloud, Sarah Beeny. Etcetera. Etcetera. Not over-much innovation and creativity going down there, pal. It bears repeating something which this blog highlighted some months ago - this is an illustration of what Channel 4 stands for today: Half-inching Ruth Watson from Five, and then half-inching her old format as well. They're really not in any position to start dishing out lectures on originality and bravery - particularly when it comes to areas like drama. Please do remember all of these whinges, dear blog reader, next time that you're settling down to an episode of Deal or No Deal or Big Brother. Thank you for your contribution to the debate, Luke. And good luck with your next project, whichever employment office that may be coming out of.

Trevor Eve is to star as an international hostage negotiator in new ITV drama Kidnap and Ransom. The three-part thriller will feature Eve along with John Hannah, Helen Baxendale, Natasha Little, Emma Fielding and Amara Karan. Kidnap and Ransom will see Eve's character, Dominic King, negotiating the release of a businesswoman, played by Fielding, who is kidnapped in South Africa. But the release is botched and the kidnapper, Willard (played by Hannah), strikes again in the UK. The drama is currently in pre-production, with location filming due to begin in South Africa in the spring. Kidnap and Ransom is the first drama commission for Eve's production company, Projector Pictures, and is being made as a co-production with Talkback Thames. Eve's most high-profile TV role in recent years has been playing the grumpy but brilliant murder detective Peter Boyd in the award-winning BBC1 crime drama Waking the Dead, which has been on air since 2000 and will return for its next series in 2011. Kidnap and Ransom has been commissioned by the ITV director of drama commissioning, Laura Mackie, and the controller of drama commissioning, Sally Haynes.

Doctor Who's costume designer has claimed that David Tennant was a nightmare to work with. Louise Page, who has worked on the show for the past four years, told Doctor Who Magazine that Tennant would deliberately wind her up. 'He was a nightmare,' she said. 'He walked around at lunch time with a knife and fork in his top pocket, which was convenient for him, but I'm sure he only did it when I was watching, to wind me up. The more I'd say, "Don't do it," the more he would, for my benefit.' Page added that the Tenth Doctor's costume is the one which she is most proud of designing. 'It's the iconic look that will forever be linked to the Tenth Doctor. It's unusual for a costume designer's work to be exposed to so many different mediums other than on-screen,' she said. 'It makes me smile when I pass the children's birthday cake counter and see my work staring back at me. That's surreal. To have created a look that's been so well-received, and will remain in the Doctor Who history books forever, is a great honour.'

In an unusual move, LG has introduced a retro-styled TV set with a cathode ray tube in the form of the fourteen-inch Serie 1 Retro Classic TV. The set sports detachable chrome legs, an extendable antenna and knobs for changing channels and adjust volume. Despite its old display, it holds a modern digital tuner and composite video inputs, along with a wireless remote control. In-keeping with the retro theme of the design, the set can be switched to show black and white colours or a sepia tone in addition to standard colour. LG thus far only has plans to sell the TV in Korea in either orange or dark brown but you can bet that techoheads and revivalists everywhere are salavating at the prospect of importing one.

The BBC and Arquiva have both been given the green light to auction off two new Freeview slot thanks a major spectrum reshuffle. Ofcom has give the corporation and Arqiva permission to jointly sell the DTT capacity, which has been created by a combination of digital switchover and the reallocation of the spectrum caused by the launch of various HD channels on DTT. In each region, when digital switchover happens, unused capacity on the BBC's multiplex B will be used to broadcast HD channels, while new capacity on Arqiva's multiplexes C/D will become available due to technical upgrades. The result is that by pairing the BBC's diminishing spare capacity with Arqiva's growing spare capacity, two additional national TV channels could begin airing 'in the near term,' according to an Ofcom spokesperson. Freeview slots are highly valued and Discovery's free-to-air debut, Quest, has been the most recent significant launch.

Michelle Keegan has admitted that she is currently dressing down at work for her new emotional Coronation Street storyline. The actresses character, Tina McIntyre, is about to suffer the loss of her father Joe (Reece Dinsdale) when an insurance scam he is planning tragically backfires. Recent reports have claimed that Keegan had been ordered to tone down her tan for the plot and she has now confirmed that viewers will see a less fashion-conscious Tina in the weeks ahead. She told the Sun: 'When you're wearing a lot of black and have no make-up on you get into that role more.' The star also spoke about the challenge of filming the sad scenes, explaining: 'I've done nothing but cry over the past few weeks, or get depressed. Tina is just in shock and can't believe what's happening. She'll have a void in her life now. I had a friend whose parents both passed away. I knew how hurt she was and for Tina this is the worst thing in the world.'

The Scottish culture minister, Fiona Hyslop, will set out the need for competition to the BBC in a speech to a Broadcasting Summit later today. Ms Hyslop will urge UK MPs to address the 'deficit of public broadcasting in Scotland' at the summit in Glasgow. She said: 'There remains an urgent need for a source of public service broadcasting to provide strong competition to the BBC in Scotland. This is something viewers in Scotland want and expect a real choice.' A recent survey revealed that seventy five per cent of Scots were interested in a new Scottish digital television channel and eighty per cent believe that Scotland football games should be shown on free-to-air television channels. Scotland's home games are currently shown live on subscription channels. The survey also found fifty eight per cent of people were either very or fairly satisfied with BBC1. Responsibility for broadcasting is reserved to Westminster, not to the devolved Scottish Government. Hyslop said Westminster had not yet responded to questions about how it planned to address 'the need for plurality of public service broadcasting in Scotland.' She said: 'I want the UK Government to realise the urgency of this issue. I am happy to discuss the future of broadcasting in Scotland with the current and any future UK Government to look constructively at how best to address the ongoing shortfall in public service broadcasting in Scotland, and specifically about how we can work together to secure the digital network.'

Cheryl Cole has been caught up in a row with a former X Factor contestant. Rowetta Satchell, who was a competitor on the first season of the reality show, has refused to let Cole use a sample from her song 'Be' as part of her performance of 'Fight For This Love' at the Brit Awards ceremony. Satchell told the Sun: 'Her record company asked to use my sample but wanted an "anonymous face." I said I'm be happy to perform but they don't want that. Imagine if I wanted to sample Cheryl and got someone to mime to her voice. That would never be allowed.' Aye. Pity, really.

Heather Mills has become the fifth celebrity to be voted off the current series of Dancing On Ice. After the judges' scores and viewers' votes had been added together, the model and former wife of Paul McCartney and her professional partner Matt Evers found themselves in the skate-off alongside Kieron Richardson and Brianne Delcourt. Both couples then had to repeat their earlier routines in an attempt to impress the judges - Karen Barber, Nicky Slater, Jason Gardiner, Emma Bunton and Robin Cousins - and persuade them to keep them in the competition. After their performances, Mills admitted that she had expected to be voted off the programme. Although Slater voted to keep her, the four other judges all opted to save Richardson instead, meaning that Mills had to leave the show. 'I'm just so excited that kids who have lost limbs are going out and trying to skate,' Mills said after hearing the decision. 'If anyone wants to get in contact and ask how it is to skate, me and Matt will be happy to help. Just get out there - it's the nearest thing to flying. Thank you to everybody for helping me.'

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