Friday, July 23, 2010

Claim & Counter-Claim

The Britain's Got Talent contestant who is attempting to sue the show for two and a half million pounds criticised the production for broadcasting her terrible singing — saying that producers knew ill-health affected her voice. Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai, as reported in yesterday's blog, was given three chances to sing 'You Raise Me Up' in front of judges Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden in May last year. Each time, she failed to reach the chorus before being buzzed out. At Central London Employment Tribunal, Czikai claimed it was only because of her poor health and the show's 'bad sound quality.' Czikai is suing Cowell, Holden, producer Fremantle Media and Cowell's firm Simco under disability laws, claiming that they denied her a fair audition which, she reasons, amounted to a job interview. She says after her audition she wrote to tell producers that she was suffering from fibromyalgia, that she'd had surgery to remove excess skin on her arms. And, also, was mourning the death of her dog, Harry. The letter arrived before the performance went on air — but producers decided to broadcast her woeful massacre of the Westlife tune anyway. It is alleged. Cross-examining producer Andrew Llinares, Czikai said: 'Despite the fact you knew I was ill, you still felt that the humiliating and degrading footage was worthwhile going ahead with.' Llinares replied: 'Those [humiliating and degrading] aren't the words I would use.' Czikai, from Sutton Coldfield, asked: 'I sent letters to Simon Cowell, did you get them to him?' Llinares replied: 'I can't say whether he has seen the letters. He had seen the show and was happy with the show.' All the respondents deny wrongdoing. Between giggles. The hearing continues.

A parody of Alicia Keys' 'Empire State Of Mind' which celebrates the beauty of the South Wales city of Newport has become an Internet sensation after celebrity endorsement. More than one hundred thousand people have rushed to view the video tribute, less than forty eight hours after it debuted online. Tweets of support - from the likes of Rob Brydon and Claudia Winkelman - have also helped to fire it to the top of YouTube's UK comedy chart. And it is pretty funny, actually. I'm not normally a big fan of that sort of thing but this is good. MJ Delaney told Sky News Online she was 'overwhelmed' by the success of the video, which began as an in-joke with her boyfriend. 'We were singing all different place names over the song and eventually decided Newport was the funniest,' the twenty four-year-old, who works for a London production company, explained.

Pictures showing Billie Piper enjoying a cigarette with smoke blowing close to her son have sent the more scummy end of the media into a frenzy. Piper has been photographed smoking a cigarette in front of her toddler, prompting disapproving reports from newspapers such as the Scum Mail and Sun. The Mirror took a more balanced approach, giving smokers' rights group Forest the space to argue that if Billie was smoking in the open air (not a small enclosed space), the risks for her child were minimal. Is the reaction to Billie Piper's actions too judgmental? Who gives a toss, frankly? Jesus, the shite some people chose to care about. It's befuddling, so it is.

UK digital terrestrial net Fiver has commissioned a new dating show from Carbon Media in which a double-decker bus tours the UK, picking up people who are 'looking for lurv.' Love Bus will be presented by Zoe Salmon and will broadcast this autumn. The executive producer for Carbon is Steven D Wright and the series producer is Ben Rigden. The news comes as sister network Five has confirmed it will not be renewing Justin Lee Collins-front game show Heads or Tails, with a Five spokeswoman adding that a decision has yet to be reached about Good Times, the chat show that Lee Collins also fronts. The axing and possible axing of the two shows indicate Five is cooling on the comedian, having previously made much noise last year about signing him up for a one million pounds, two-year exclusivity deal and describing him as 'Britain's funniest man.' Soon to be Britain's funniest unemployed man by the look of things.

Benedict Cumberbatch has hinted that he will appear in future episodes of Doctor Who. The actor recently worked with showrunner Steven Moffat on the new BBC drama Sherlock. Speaking to the Digital Spy website, Cumberbatch teased that he wouldn't appear in just one episode of Doctor Who. He also praised the show, saying: 'I'm a huge fan of the series and amazing people do amazing work in it in all parts of the episodes.' All right, Benny, you've got the part!

The man who sent death threats to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone has reportedly been detained by the FBI on unrelated charges. Zachary Chesser was allegedly held after confessing his links to a terror group believed to be affiliated with al-Quaeda. He admitted that he had attempted to fly to Kenya and Somalia in order to join Al-Shabaab, taking his young son with him on the trip as cover. Chesser, a convert to Islam, has operated websites and a YouTube channel centred on militant propaganda. He had previously posted a message online warning Parker and Stone that they could 'end up dead' after an episode of South Park depicted the Muslim prophet Muhammed wearing a bear costume. 'It's not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,' he later told FOX News. 'They're going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It's just the reality.' The new charges against Chesser are unrelated to the South Park controversy.

Luther looks set for a recommission, with discussions currently under way between the BBC and lead actor Idris Elba’s agent in the US.

The mystery surrounding an impostor claiming to be Top Gear's The Stig has reportedly been solved. The fraud was previously reported to be posing for photographs with fans of the show and travelling in a convoy of cars labelled with the Top Gear logo. The BBC announced that they would be launching an inquiry into the fake Stig's true identity. However, the Sun is now reporting that the impostor was actually a young man enjoying his stag party. Friends of the groom-to-be reportedly bought him the Stig outfit on Internet auction site eBay for fifty smackers.

Olympian James Cracknell has been admitted to hospital with a head fracture after being involved in an accident in the US. The gold medallist-turned-TV star was knocked off his bike while filming in Arizona for the Discovery Channel, reports BBC News. 'He is conscious and his condition is stable. Doctors have said he is making very good progress,' his spokeswoman said. The thirty seven-year-old's wife, TV presenter Beverley Turner, is with him in hospital. Ben Fogle, who was due to start a now-postponed bike race from Canada to Mexico with Cracknell, posted the news on Twitter. 'James has been in a cycling accident in the US. My thoughts are with James and his family. Flying out to Phoenix hospital tomorrow,' he wrote. 'Thanks for all your messages. I will keep you all posted on his condition.'

Oily twat Piers Morgan has refused to reveal whether he will take over from Larry King on CNN. To be honest, Piers, the only reason that most people are interested is that, if you do get the gig it'll mean you'll be out of the country for most of the year. Which will be, you know, brilliant. Other than that, we, collectively, couldn't give monkey's chuff.

Lord Melvyn Bragg has criticised his former employer ITV, claiming that the broadcaster has been 'taken over by slide rules and suits.' Well, yeah but that didn't just happen last month, matey, it's been going down for a good few years now. What a pity you never said anything sooner. Last week, the veteran presenter confirmed plans to revive The South Bank Show on Sky Arts - not without a fair few slide rules and suits themselves - after ITV cancelled the programme in December 2009. Speaking yesterday to Radio 4's Media Show, Bragg said that ITV is now being managed according to 'stupid consultancy scheduling. People who don't know how to design a boat are being asked to design a boat and then other people have to sail in it. I think they are wrong, wrong and wrong,' he said. 'They look at these statistics and they think that's what it adds up to. They are so wrong and they will find out that they are wrong and I hope it's not too late.' It is. Sorry. Sky has agreed to broadcast The South Bank Show Awards in January next year on the Sky Arts channel, with Bragg also making a series of special documentaries about the winners. Bragg said that ITV has abandoned its old schedule of cultural output in favour of commercial and populist programming. 'I think they thought, wrongly, that they'd run out of road with the sort of portfolio that had made them ITV,' he said. 'That they'd got to concentrate their fire on a more strictly commercial outfit and that that would do the trick. I hope it does because I've got some friends there. I fear it won't.' Bragg said that television used to be run by people who believed in the medium, but is now operated on entirely different terms. 'It was taken over by slide rules and suits and on the whole a lot of the programmes that they used to be proud of they dropped and they're finding it hard to make a living. Now you draw what conclusions you want from that,' he said. Later, he added: 'I think that a terrestrial broadcaster of [ITV's] size needs to cover the waterfront more than they're doing. It's the triumph of stupid consultancy scheduling that we're seeing.' Bragg praised his new home at Sky Arts, which he claimed is geared up to invest and support arts programming. 'They feel like an arts-making outfit. They're putting their money and their programmes where their mouth is,' he said. In April, Bragg said that the way the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have covered politics in recent times has been 'an absolute disgrace.' So, to sum up, then - Melvyn Bragg, not a happy bunny.

Channel 4 has ordered a new cookery show from that clown Jamie Oliver. Thirty Minute Meals will see the chef produce 'exciting, varied and seasonal' dishes in half an hour. According to the Press Association, the channel has ordered forty episodes of the programme. Thanks for the warning - that'll definitely be one to avoid.

An actress is reportedly suing David Boreanaz for sexual harassment. According to Radar Online, attorney Gloria Allred planned to file the lawsuit for her, as yet nameless, client this week in Los Angeles. It has been alleged that Boreanaz had an affair with Tiger Woods' mistress Rachel Uchitel, and the Bones star confessed to a different affair earlier this year. The forty-year-old actor said that he was forced to admit his infidelity after a former mistress threatened to contact media outlets. Boreanaz and wife Jaime Bergman are reportedly currently undergoing marriage counseling.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has welcomed the government's move to delay a decision on whether to protect the Ashes for free-to-air television. Sports minister Hugh Robertson confirmed that there will be no change to the list of sporting events that are protected for free-to-air TV until after completion of the digital switchover in late 2012. Last year, a review panel led by former Football Association chief executive David Davies recommended that the FTA protected list should be expanded to include all home Ashes tests, the rugby union World Cup, the whole of Wimbledon and all home nation international football qualifiers. Led by the ECB, various sporting bodies criticised the proposal, mostly in regards to the money that would be taken away from UK grassroots sport development. In a statement, Robertson said: 'With digital switchover concluding in 2012, this will result in the widespread availability of a significantly increased number of television channels, many of which will be free-to-air and reach the majority of viewers.' He added: 'In the current economic climate I am also concerned not to take action which could adversely impact on sport, in particular at grassroots level. I have therefore decided to defer any review until 2013, when we will look at this again.' Speaking to the BBC's Test Match Special programme, ECB chairman Giles Clarke broadly welcomed Robertson's decision. 'The digital switchover will have a significant impact on broadcasting in this country, so quite rightly the department and the minister want to see what the impact is before making decisions about matters as important as this,' he said. 'I think we should take it that for a number of years there will be various events that will remain where they are.' The ECB recently started a new three hundred million pound broadcast rights deal with Sky, which covers all England test matches, including the next home Ashes in 2013. Clarke believes that protecting the Ashes for FTA television would take vital broadcast income away from grassroots cricket development. 'David Davies's review actually proposed a wide variety of changes. It's worth noting there was significant opposition to his proposal from many sports,' he said. 'The thing that surprised the politicians was the huge response from those cricket clubs who have benefited from the donations, the support, the equipment - whatever we've been able to do for them. That is what's important for us, to keep increasing participation in the sport [and] the number of coaches.'

An Islamic cleric in Malaysia has banned Muslims from wearing Manchester United football shirts. Nooh Gadot of the southern Johor state said that wearing the garment boasting a devil emblem is a sin, as is wearing the shirts of countries that feature a cross, Agence France-Presse reports. Gadot said: 'This is very dangerous. As a Muslim, we should not worship the symbols of other religions or the devils. It will erode our belief in Islam. There is no reason why we as Muslims should wear such jerseys, either for sports or fashion reasons. Even if it is a gift, we should decline it. It is even more sinful when people realise this is wrong and still buy these jerseys to wear.' Good on ya, mate. Anything that stops The Scum from selling more replica shirts is, surely, a good thing! He added that no fatwa (a non-binding religious opinion) was needed on the shirts as such garments were clearly not allowed for Muslims. Harussani Zakaria, a cleric from northern Perak state, agreed: 'Yes of course in Islam we don't allow people to wear this sort of thing. Devils are our enemies, why would you put their picture on you and wear it? You are only promoting the devil.' Earlier this month, clerics in the UAE issued a fatwa on the vuvuzela, the plastic trumpets played by football fans in South Africa. So, they're not all bad, then, clearly.

A twenty six-year-old mechanic from West Bromwich has officially changed his name to Buzz Lightyear.

The ashes of the Coronation Street cat, Frisky have been sold at auction for almost six times the expected price. Furious bidding by soap fans meant the wooden casket carrying the cat's remains fetched eight hundred and forty four pounds at an auction in Gloucestershire. The tabby cat starred in the title sequence of more than one thousand episodes of the Manchester soap. The ashes had been predicted to fetch no more than one hundred and fifty quid. The lot, which was sold to a private bidder, also included a cremation certificate and postcards of Frisky with other Weatherfield stars. His owner John Rimington, from Leeds, said before the auction he hoped the ashes would go to an 'avid Corrie fan.' Chris Albury, of Dominic Winter Auctioneers, in South Cerney, said: 'Not only was Frisky one of the most recognised cats in the country for over a decade, but he also became synonymous with one of the nation's favourite soaps.'

Adam Hills is set to front a new Northern Ireland comedy show based around disability. The Australian stand-up, a particular favourite of this blogger from his several excellent appearances on Mock The Week, who was born without a right foot, is shooting a pilot next week about people of restricted growth. He will talk to fellow comedian Tanya Lee Davis, who is three foot six inches tall, as well as spending a couple of days with someone from Northern Ireland with a similar condition, finding out about their life and whether they feel that there is humour to be found in their experience. The half-hour series, which has not been titled, will also feature stand-up from the Abnormally Funny People troupe of disabled comedians, which includes Davis. It is being made by Dublin-based Mind The Gap Films for BBC Northern Ireland.

A Taiwanese news presenter was hospitalised last week after being attacked by a mosquito during a live TV broadcast. According to Agence France-Presse, the insect flew into the mouth of Huang Ching and became stuck in her windpipe, sparking an asthma attack. A four-minute advertisement was then aired whilst a replacement newsreader was found and poked into shot, China Times reports. Huang said: 'I never expected a mosquito to have such a great power. It really gave me a bad day.' She spent a day in hospital recovering from the incident.

Katie Price has reportedly decided to quit pop music. This will, presuambly, come as something of a surprise to everyone who was wondering when she was going to start. According to the Sun, the former glamour model and reality TV regular has chosen to 'focus on other aspects of her career' after solo debut single 'Free To Love Again' spectacularly failed to make the Top Forty. A 'source' told the newspaper: 'Katie wants to concentrate on what she does best.' As to what that might be, answer on a postcard to Ms Price c/o the newspaper, dear blog reader.

No comments: