Monday, March 15, 2010

Age & Experience (With Apologist Overtones)

Lady GaGa will reportedly make a guest appearance in the second season of Glee. The singer is said to have signed up for a cameo role in the FOX drama series following a request from show's producers. WENN quotes the show creator, Ryan Murphy, as saying: 'We reached out to Lady GaGa and she said, "Yes, I'd love to be a part of it." So we will be doing Lady GaGa this season.' You might want to think about rephrasing that, Ryan, m'luv. Murphy also praised Madonna for '[cooperating] in every way possible' in allowing the programme to use ten of her songs in a recent special 'tribute' episode.

Larry David has revealed that he is working on new episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The award-winning HBO comedy series, which features the Seinfeld creator as himself, is reportedly returning for an eighth season next year. However, there has not yet been a formal announcement from the network confirming that the new run will definitely go ahead. The sixty two-year-old writer/performer told Reuters: 'I think there's a pretty good chance [that the show will return]. Not definite yet, but we're working on some stuff.' David was tight-lipped on new plots, but ruled out an encore with the rest of the Seinfeld cast.

In other US TV news, Mary Steenburgen is set to star in ABC's comedy pilot Southern Discomfort, Carly Pope and David Ramsey are reported to have been lined up to co-star opposite Jimmy Smits in NBC's untitled John Eisendrath drama pilot, Ian Reed Kessler has landed a leading role on the NBC comedy pilot Friends with Benefits and Lindsey Broad has been cast on ABC's comedy pilot Who Gets the Parents? Elsewhere, Reno 911 co-star Kerri Kenney has joined FOX's comedy pilot Tax Man, 24's Xander Berkeley has been added to the CW's drama pilot Nikita, and Odette Yustman is set to be the female lead on FOX's untitled Adam Goldberg comedy pilot. Southern Discomfort reportedly centres on a father whose life is turned upside down when his grown kids move back in with him. Steenburgen will play the mother of the family. She was recently seen in The Proposal. The Eisendrath's project is said to focus on a by-the-book Supreme Court Justice (played by Smits) who excuses himself from the bench to go into private practice and fight constitutional injustices.

ITV has insisted that it is 'pleased' with the ratings performance of Ant and Dec's new show Push The Button. The game show made a strong debut by attracting 6.57m viewers on 27 February, but its audience had fallen to under five million when episode three aired at the weekend. As well as shedding viewers since its launch, Ant and Dec's new project has received a very mixed response from TV critics and from fans in recent weeks. However, defending Push The Button's performance, an ITV spokesman told the Daily Star: 'Saturday's show steadily grew and peaked at five and a half million. The first series of Saturday Night Takeaway averaged at 4.7m viewers and that turned into a big show. Push The Button is above average for its first series and we are pleased with its progress.'

Dhruv triumphed in the latest MasterChef quarter-final on Friday night. He impressed the judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, with his pan-roasted duck breast, pickled carrot purée, pilau rice and spiced plum sauce. 'I taste hundreds of plates of food. Rarely do I taste something as complex, yet as elegant,' said Wallace of the final dish. Speaking about his future career plans, Dhruv said: 'I've got a dream of owning a small restaurant, with a bit of land growing my own herbs, veg and fruit where possible. MasterChef is the next step towards achieving that dream of mine.' Dhruv joins former factor worker Terry, ex-music industry executive Matt, children's doctor Tim and Fanny Craddock fan Sunderland Stacey in the semi-finals.

BBC4 has announced a drama biopic about the late comedian Kenny Everett. The ninety-minute film, titled Number One in Heaven, is to focus on the life of the star, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1995 aged fifty. Tim Whitnall, playwright of the upcoming programme, told the Gruniad: 'He was so small it is hard to think of finding an actor who can play him. It is possible he could be played by a woman in fact, which is something he may have appreciated. I knew him and I loved him - in fact the title refers to the moment I first saw him when he was dancing in Heaven nightclub.' The BBC confirmed that it is working on the film but declined to comment on the subject of any potential cast members or an expected transmission date.

George Clooney's girlfriend will be making a guest appearance on the next series of Leverage. According to People magazine, Elisabetta Canalis is to appear in a five-episode arch of the Timothy Hutton-led thriller. She will play a mysterious woman simply known as 'The Italian.' Isn't that ... somethingism? The TNT drama features a gang of con artists who exact revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimise people. Canalis is a popular TV host and actress in Italy, making her professional debut ten years ago on satirical daily news show Striscia la Notizia.

Neighbours actor James Sorensen has quit the soap in favour of a new career in the army, it has been revealed. The twenty three-year-old's decision to leave the role of single dad Declan Napier was confirmed in January, and he later explained that he has 'other interests aside from acting' that he wishes to pursue. Sorensen's colleague Jordan Smith, who plays Andrew Robinson, has now said that Sorensen is to sign up as a new army recruit. Smith told TV Week: 'He's really serious about it. It's just something he really wants to do.' He added: 'He's been training really hard, but I wish he'd stay. He's become a really good mate. I've told him he's going to get shot on his first day, but he's adamant he wants to go.' Despite Sorensen's departure, Declan is not being written out of the show as actor Erin Mullally is taking over the part.

BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson has said that he is 'very pessimistic' about the corporation's future due to the 'endless attacks' over its funding. Simpson said that critics of the BBC, including the culture secretary Ben Bradshaw and Conservative Jeremy Hunt, are like 'mechanics going into a Rolls-Royce garage with a spanner and starting to lay about the bodywork.' Speaking in an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, Simpson said that the future viability of the corporation could be diminished if its funding is cut. 'I'm very pessimistic about the future of the BBC. This is something I really disagree about with [BBC director general] Mark Thompson. When I saw him recently we argued it out,' he said. 'He's very upbeat about the future of the BBC, not just for public consumption but also in private, but I'm not because I think it's an anomaly in today's world and the licence fee is under such an intense amount of pressure.' Simpson expressed his belief that licence fee payers do not understand what a 'huge voice' the BBC gives Britain around the world, which leads to misunderstandings about its value. 'That lays it open to endless attacks, usually on this ideological basis that it's a tax, plus all the usual nonsense about how it's left-wing, or indeed right-wing if you listen to other voices,' he said. 'It all seems quite childish to me, but nevertheless those voices are louder than they've ever been in my life, and I've watched these things for forty four years.' Thompson has continually defended the corporation's need to derive its core funding from the licence fee, which will increase by two per cent on 1 April to £142.50. However, he recently laid out planned changes to reduce the corporation's size and reach into the commercial market.

David Beckham is likely to be snapped up as a TV pundit for the forthcoming World Cup, a report has claimed. Yesterday, it was confirmed that the footballer will be unable to play for England at the tournament after suffering a nasty Achilles tendon injury. Sources have now suggested that Beckham is already at the centre of a bidding war between rival broadcasters who want him to give expert opinions on the team's progress once the competition kicks off. A TV insider told the Daily Star: 'Both the BBC and ITV are desperate to lure him. He will more or less be able to name his price. Becks is a dream pundit because he's not only a current England player who knows what's going on, but he also appeals to women. Girls might not be interested in what Alan Hansen or Alan Shearer has to say. But they'll tune in just to see David Beckham.'

Chris Fountain has said that Dancing On Ice judge Emma Bunton 'doesn't know what she's talking about.' She's a former Spice Girl, mate. Of course she doesn't. The former Hollyoaks star, who finished runner-up in the 2008 series, claimed that the singer's lack of skating experience makes her inappropriate for the panel. 'I'm not a massive fan of Emma Bunton,' he told Closer magazine. 'She's a great personality, but she says all this stuff about skating and she doesn't know what she's talking about.' He added: 'I'd love to be a judge, and I'd like to think I know a bit more about skating than Emma does!'

BBC1 controller Jay Hunt has claimed that allegations she has an ageist attitude are 'ridiculous.' The broadcasting boss was criticised last year - chiefly in a wholly manufactured hate-campaign started by a couple of scum newspapers - after Arlene Phillips was dropped from the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel in favour of former winner Alesha Dixon. Meanwhile, the debate was reignited last month when former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly claimed to have been another victim of this alleged ageism after being axed from the programme and replaced by Julia Bradbury, twenty years her junior. And twenty times a better presenter, just as a minor side-point. However, speaking to the Gruniad Morning Star, Hunt insisted: 'The simple fact is I am a forty three-year-old woman. I feel passionate about how BBC1 reflects the audience back to itself. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that I would want to alienate older female viewers by taking older female presenters off the television. That would be completely illogical. The facts are the opposite. Anne Robinson is back on BBC1 presenting Watchdog, and Sheila Hancock will be part of the panel on Over the Rainbow. Sue Johnston stars in A Passionate Woman. I don't recognise the charge.' On the subject of Phillips, Hunt added: 'Yes, a lot of people were upset about Arlene but the flip-side is, in Alesha, we have a young black woman presenter at the heart of the Saturday night BBC1 schedule. Anyway, Arlene is part of the latest returning hit, So You Think You Can Dance?' However, Tory politician Philip Davies - who sits on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee - has now claimed that Hunt's description of Dixon proves the decision was made for the wrong reasons. He told the Daily Mail: 'The BBC still don't get it. They are so obsessed with political correctness they have still got the blinkers on. People want the best person for the job, irrespective of age or colour.' And, of course, the brown-tongued scum at the Mail would've just loved that. Perhaps, though, they'd've be better employed in asking Mr Davies if he's yet paid back the two hundred odd quid which he claimed in, shall we be charitable and call it, 'overly enthusiastic' expense claims last year and then got away with on appeal. Because, if you think the general public has forgotten - or ever will forget - that little malarkey, chum, you've got another thing coming. See me, right. I'm a tax payer - you know, one of them annoying 'little people' who pay your bloody wages. And I'd very much like - before you get yourself too carried away with telling other people what they're doing wrong in life - for you to, please, give me my money back. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Or, actually, even if it is. Thanks. This, incidentally, would appear to be the same Philip Davies (MP for Shipley) who was called 'a troglodyte' by then Conservative MP and current Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow for his opposition to debating the Equalities Bill, the effect of the recession on women and International Women's Day. The same Philip Davies who, on 7 October 2006, after a particular act of vandalism was initially alleged to have been perpetrated by Muslims, was quoted by the Sun saying 'if there's anybody who should fuck off it's the Muslims who do this sort of thing.' It was later exposed by, among others, the Independent that the incident did not involve any Muslims at all and the Sun was forced to issue a - rather grovelling - apology four months later. Davies, however, has never apologised for his comments. And, the same Philip Davies criticised by the press and religious organisations for using Parliamentary rules to 'wreck' the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill designed to stop 'Vulture funds' from buying up the debt of third-word countries in order to aggressively pursue repayments through the international courts. That Philip Davies. And he doesn't like the BBC, seemingly? If I was the BBC, I'd be bloody delighted by this revelation since I'd hate to have a friend like that.

Bruce Forsyth has again defended Strictly Come Dancing's Anton Du Beke over the race row which surrounded the show last year. During the most recent series of the BBC ballroom show, Du Beke apologised for describing dance partner Laila Rouass as a 'Paki' when she turned up for training with a spray tan. While the controversy was ongoing, Forsyth claimed that Du Beke's critics needed a 'sense of humour,' though he later insisted that he does not condone offensive language. According to the Daily Mail, the Strictly host mentioned the scandal once again in his recent Piers Morgan's Life Stories interview, which is due to air on ITV this Saturday. Forsyth is quoted as saying: 'Anton is one of nicest guys I've ever met and wouldn't say anything malicious to anyone. It was a ridiculous situation and all I said was that I think at times political correctness does go over the top and I think it does.' Yer Keith Telly Topping said just about all he needed to on this subject last October here and here. Except to note, again, that if Bruce Forsyth really does believe that anyone casually using the word 'Paki' is in any way shape or form acceptable, in any context, then he needs to be pensioned off by the BBC as soon as possible. Finding racist (or, at best, racially negative) language completely abhorrent is not 'political correctness' or anything even remotely like it and it doesn't matter if you're eighty plus and a broadcasting legend, it is still wrong to use it and wrong to, in any way, excuse the use of it. It was wrong fifty years ago and it's wrong now. The fact that fifty years ago you'd've probably gotten away with it doesn't mean it was any less wrong. I'll defend Anton Du Beke for the simple reason that we've all said stupid things in our lives, regretted them and then tried to put them right. Good on the bloke for at least not attempting to stall but just coming clean and saying sorry. And, good on Laila for being a big enough person to overlook someone's flaws. What Forsyth is attempting to do, however, is - for the second time - to shift the blame for this onto the people who were offended by it. So, it's our fault, seemingly. As far as I'm concerned that's far worse. To do it once is bad enough but to do it twice is an sodding disgrace. Bollocks to that, Brucie. You've lost one viewer at least for next season.

BBC1 has commissioned a real-time drama in the style of 24. Siege, a new four-part series, is about a botched kidnap plot at a London secondary school. Holding one hundred civilians hostage, the kidnappers demand the release of a notorious war criminal from a British jail. When the Government stands firm, the siege takes hold. 'After developing the original Five Days and seeing the viewers' appetite for contemporary television events, the logical next step seemed to play out a drama in real time on consecutive nights and Kate Brooke is the perfect writer to take on such a challenge,' said executive producer Simon Curtis. Jay Hunt added: 'This compelling thriller will build on BBC1's reputation for unmissable drama events.'

Johnny Cash's daughter, Rosanne, is reportedly writing a memoir about her childhood and relationship with her father. The iconic country singer split from Rosanne's mother, his first wife Vivian Liberto, during the early 1960s, before divorcing in 1966 when Rosanne was eleven years old. Rosanne later left school and toured with her father's road show, working as a wardrobe assistant and graduating to a background vocalist, prior to embarking on her own - moderately successful - music career in the 1970s. The book, titled Composed, is to focus on her early life as well as her own rise to fame, Contactmusic reports. A statement from the publishers said that Rosanne 'writes candidly about her upbringing, her development as an artist and her current life.'

Anthea Turner's spokesperson has denied that the former TV presenter's postponement of her Perfect Housewife theatre tour is due to poor ticket sales. According to the Daily Mail, the forty nine-year-old's show at the Preston Charter Theatre, which was scheduled for April, was suffering from a lack of interest from the general public. The newspaper alleges that only two tickets were sold at the seven hundred and eighty-seat theatre. It also claims that only fifty two seats had been booked for a show at the two hundred-capacity Guildhall Theatre in Grantham. The production was billed as a 'fascinating and entertaining evening with TV's Anthea Turner,' which promised to reveal 'the secrets of being the perfect housewife.' However, Turner's manager Michael Joyce rubbished allegations that a lack of ticket sales was behind the postponement. 'The show has been postponed because Anthea has got involved with a North American TV show and had to fly out at short notice. It was not because of poor ticket sales,' he said. The show's producers, Clive Conway Celebrity Productions, added: 'Unfortunately Anthea had to cancel this live show due to other commitments. I don't have any information regarding rescheduling the event at the moment.'

And, also in the 'didn't you used to be famous?' category but this time, the fall from dizzy heights has been far more rapid: X Factor contestants John and Edward have been dropped by their record company, Sony, after the disappointing performance of their debut single. The pair's first release 'Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)' - a collaboration with rapper Vanilla Ice - only managed to enter the UK chart at number two last month before dropping to number twelve a week later. A Sony source told the Sun: 'We tried our best to make the lads credible recording artists but punters just weren't that bothered. They are great lads but haven't got the greatest voices, so they're something to see rather than listen to. Record companies are going through major upheaval so we have to be very careful what we throw our weight behind. I'm sure Jedward will be able to make a buck touring as a novelty act.' John and Edward's manager Louis Walsh confirmed the news last night but insisted that he remains 'completely committed' to the twins. He added: 'The boys have a sell-out tour in Ireland straight after The X Factor tour in April and I'm in talks with a major record label about a new deal for them.'

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