Monday, July 19, 2010

Expensive Claims & More Tabloid Lies

Jorja Fox has reportedly signed a new deal to return to CSI for the show's upcoming eleventh season. However, according to Entertainment Weekly, it is currently unclear whether the actress - who plays Sara Sidle in the crime drama - will appear in a recurring role as she did last year or as a series regular. Fox's co-stars Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows), George Eads (Nick Stokes), Eric Szmanda (Greg Sanders) and Paul Guilfoyle (Jim Brass) have also recently agreed to return for the new season, while Laurence Fishburne (Ray Langston) signed up in April.

MasterChef presenter John Torode has admitted that he would 'love' to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. The Australian chef and restaurateur said that if he could find the time in his schedule, he would be interested in taking part in the BBC ballroom dancing competition. 'The idea of dancing would be brilliant. You learn a skill. It's just whether you've got the time to do it. I'd love to do it,' he told the Digital Spy website. 'John dances like a five-year-old child. I've seen him,' joked his MasterChef co-star Gregg Wallace, who also claimed that he had been offered a slot in the reality series. 'I was offered Strictly and I really like dancing, but I can't commit to the time because we do a lot of MasterChef stuff.'

Sunday night ratings. It was back-to-business after last week's World Cup clash for Top Gear last night. Over six million viewers made the BBC2 and BBC HD motoring show the night's most watched programme beating ITV's Heartbeat (six million) and Coronation Street (5.9m). Yes, ladies and gentleman, you heard that correctly last night Corrie was beaten in the ratings by Top Gear and by a drama series that's just been cancelled! Meanwhile, BBC2 had a great night elsewhere with it's premiere of the Brian Clough biopic The Damned United being watched by 3.3m, a hundred thousand more viewers than watched BBC1's big Sunday night movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Over on BBC4, Andrew Graham-Dixon's fascinating documentary Who Killed Caravaggio? - which yer Keith Telly Topping was watching his very self - had an audience of three hundred and thirty thousand. If you missed it, keep you eye open for a repeat, it was well worth an hour of any dear blog reader's time.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith engaged in a furious on-air row over a broadcaster’s investigation into his general election campaign spending which are being examined by a Westminster elections watchdog. Goldsmith repeated denials he did anything wrong - insisting he followed exactly the same practices in declaring campaign funds as every other MP. But he only agreed to address the issue after a heated ten-minute spat with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow over whether the programme previously refused him a right to reply. A definite case of Smug versus Smugger, there. The Electoral Commission this week began assessing information about Goldsmith’s successful campaign in Richmond Park to determine whether there is any case for an inquiry to be launched. A dossier prepared by C4N and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism suggested that sums on invoices for campaign materials did not match the figures submitted in Goldsmith's spending returns. Goldsmith and the Conservative Party vehemently denied breaching the strict rules limiting spending during the election period after the story was aired by the programme on Sunday night. But interviewed by Snow, the MP angrily refused to talk about the spending claims unless the presenter first apologised for what he said were 'lies' about him declining to appear on Thursday night. 'I won't talk about the specifics until I get this point across,' he said, accusing Snow of deliberately 'misleading' viewers by saying he had turned down interview requests in favour of another channel. 'You knew that was not true at the time, you know it's not true now,' he told him. Each time the presenter attempted to pose questions about the spending, Goldsmith instead insisted on pressing him about the non-interview - at one point calling the veteran 'a charlatan.' The argument only ended when the MP accepted an invite from Snow - who accused him of 'a travesty of the truth' and said he had been asked to appear for a week - to complain to media regulator Ofcom. Complicated rules govern the amount which any candidate can spend during the campaign for a general election, in order to ensure a level playing field between would-be MPs. Democracy watchdog the Electoral Commission set a eleven thousand and three pounds limit on spending by candidates in Richmond Park in the twenty three days between the dissolution of Parliament and the 6 May election - known as the short campaign. Goldsmith - whose fortune was estimated at two hundred million pounds - filed a detailed declaration of his spending in June, putting the total two hundred and twenty pounds below the cap. But after a detailed analysis of his returns, C4N and the BIJ queried whether he in fact kept his spending below the limit. Invoices submitted with his returns indicated that Goldsmith spent significantly more on signs, jackets and leaflets than the amounts declared in his spending returns, C4N claimed. Goldsmith told the programme that if he was found guilty of wrongdoing by the Commission there would have to be a re-run of the whole election as all MPs used the same techniques. And he warned Snow he should 'watch it' if the Commission rejected the need for a formal probe or cleared him of any rule breaches. 'Either they will decide not to look at it - in which case you want to watch it. Or they will decide to look at it and give me a green light - in which case you want to watch it,' he said. 'Or they will look at it and find there was something wrong, in which case we will need another general election because the rules I adhered to are the same as the rules for every other MP. The formula that we used is exactly the same formula, exactly to the decimal point, used by MPs and candidates throughout the country. Every decision we took was approved by election experts in Central Office Conservative Party, every single one of them,' he said. Goldsmith said it was wholly legitimate that he only registered the cost of I Back Zak stickers and not the more significant cost of the jackets bought to display them on. And he insisted posters featuring his picture were rightly considered part of the Tory campaign in the local elections which also took place on 6 May. 'We did not want to do two posters, local elections and national elections because people aren't going to have two posters in their gardens. We wanted one poster for both campaigns,' he said. 'It has my name, my picture and Vote Conservative. That is absolutely standard across the country. We did not have the jackets customised. We stuck the stickers on the back to customise them. These jackets will be used in the local elections, the GLA elections, the Boris elections, my next election if I contest another election. These are the generic property of the (Conservative) Association. Those were the things that were relevant to the election campaign,' he said, accusing the programme of 'exploiting the fact that the laws are incredibly complicated to create a smoke and mirrors story.'

And so we move on to three stories that Zac would, one imagines, be absolutely outraged at in which tabloid newspapers may, or may not, have indulged in outright mendacity. That's 'lying' if you're not familiar with the term. Coronation Street actor Graeme Hawley has strongly denied a tabloid claim that he was attacked by an angry soap fan. A report in today's Mirror claimed that the actor, who plays John Stape in the soap, had been confronted by an obsessive fan over a storyline which saw his character kidnap Rosie Webster. The article contains quotes from Hawley and from someone described as 'a show source' which suggests that 'Sometimes fans can't separate fact from fiction and many of the cast have been subjected to verbal abuse over controversial storylines.' However, Hawley this afternoon dismissed the article in a statement on the Weatherfield soap's official website, saying: 'I suddenly started getting calls this morning from friends and family asking if I was okay - I had no idea what they were talking about until someone pointed out the story. I have never been grabbed in a headlock by anyone. Occasionally people will make jokey comments about John - particularly throughout the Rosie storyline - but it is always in good humour and I have never felt threatened.' He added: 'It is true that I tend to avoid crowded bars but that is as much to do with the fact that I am thirty six and a dad as the fact that I am a famous face! I am happy to say that I have never found myself in a situation where I felt threatened. The fans are passionate about the show but that is what makes working on Corrie so great.' So, it would seem that either Graeme is lying, or the Mirror is. And, I know which one I'd trust as far as I could spit.

Which brings us to the former EastEnders actor Mohammed George who has accepted libel damages over another tabloid report which claimed that he had to be 'removed' from the soap's Twenty Fifth anniversary party. George, who played Gus Smith in the BBC show, took legal action against Express Newspapers after the allegation was printed in the Daily Star Sunday earlier this year. The article in question - if you can call a back of blatant lies that - suggested that the actor was 'turfed out' from the birthday bash by security guards after he arrived drunk and was aggressive towards BBC staff. However, George's counsel Lucy Moorman told the High Court today that the newspaper now accepted the claims were 'entirely untrue.' The Press Association quotes Moorman as saying: 'In particular, the defendant accepts that Mr George had not been drinking alcohol when he arrived at the party so he was not drunk, that he was not aggressive or threatening to anyone and that, although he left the party early, he did not have to be forcibly ejected.' Express Newspapers has apologised over the matter and agreed to pay George's legal costs along with undisclosed damages. Good. it's always nice to see liars forced to account for their actions.

And, speaking of 'any old crap that gets published by a red-top,' dear blog readers may remember this little gem from the Sun last week. However, Karen Gillan has insisted that Matt Smith has no plans to leave Doctor Who. So, again, it would appear that the 'pal' quoted by the Sun in their story was telling little fibs. That is, of course, if this 'pal' ever even existed. The article suggested that Smith was planning to quit his role as the Doctor to pursue a film career. However, the Daily Telegraph reports that Gillan has dismissed the claims. 'Matt will be sticking around,' she said. 'I think those rumours were made up.' Yes, Karen love. By the Sun. They're very good at it. Although not quite as good as the Daily Star, admittedly. Gillan, who plays the Doctor's companion Amy, also revealed that filming for the Doctor Who Christmas special is well under way and that the atmosphere on set has been as 'great.'

A Facebook page has been set up with a view to persuading Steve Moffat to give Frazer Hines a part in Doctor Who. Emmerdale veteran Hines played the much loved, longest-running companion to the Doctor Jamie McCrimmon in the show during the late 1960s opposite Patrick Troughton. So far, the campaign has attracted one hundred and thirty two followers.

Lost star Michael Emerson has revealed that the bonus scene included on the upcoming sixth season DVD release will provide closure to some of the show's unresolved mysteries. The actor - who played Ben Linus - confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the twelve-minute sequence 'does answer questions.' Emerson also provided some plot details for the instalment, which is titled The New Man In Charge. 'Ben is going around to Dharma installations and closing some down,' he explained. 'There are some good surprises.' It was previously reported that the scene would tell 'the unseen story of Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben,' while Emerson explained in May that it would cover 'a period in the show's mythology that's never been explored.'

Jermain Defoe is reportedly being lined-up to star on a reality dating show. The News of the World claims that Defoe's mother, Sandra, is keen for the footballer - a member of the England team which had such a disgracefully poor 2010 World Cup - to appear on television in an attempt to find love. 'His mum's been asked to take part in this Blind Date-style show and is keen to do it,' a 'source' allegedly told the newspaper. 'I think she's just fed up with him playing the field.' Or, in the case of the West Germany game, not playing the field. The news comes after Defoe reportedly broke up with his latest girlfriend, the model Roxy Townsend. A spokesperson for Defoe and his family confirmed that they are in talks with the BBC about a project. Which sounds pitiful.

Melvyn Bragg is to revive the South Bank Show Awards with Sky Arts next year. Renamed as The South Bank Sky Arts Awards, they will return in early 2011. Lord Bragg, who left ITV after almost thirty two years of presenting The South Bank Show, will front the ceremony and a series of documentaries profiling the winner of each category. He said: 'At a crucial time for contemporary arts in Britain, it is essential to continue to celebrate and examine them on television and Sky Arts has provided a magnificent opportunity for us to make a difference.' Like the original awards, the Sky Arts version will celebrate a wide range of arts and artists - as Lord Bragg put it, 'from Billy Connolly to Tom Stoppard.' But he said there would be more focus on contemporary artists, which he stressed was now 'very very important' given the 'hammer' of funding cuts many arts organisations were facing. Despite a growing reputation, Sky Arts is a tiny channel compared to ITV. Indeed, with about 1.8 million viewers watching every month, it's a tiny channel compare to ITV3. Or Dave for that matter. Some media commentators believe arts programmes - which are costly and pull in relatively small audiences - will continue to migrate from the main television channels to niche channels like Sky Arts and BBC4. But Lord Bragg insisted: 'I will be very disappointed if it's the only way. I think it will be a step back. I think art has got to be kept on the mainstream channels as well.' The broadcaster, seventy, is also involved with projects for BBC television. John Cassy, director of Sky Arts, said: 'Melvyn is the most passionate, enthusiastic and effective champion of the arts in the UK, so to have him on board is a tremendous honour. He's bursting with ideas about how he can work with Sky to make these amazing awards an even bigger and better celebration of all that's great in British culture. We can't wait to get started.'

Veteran newsreader Peter Sissons waded into the BBC sexism row today by claiming the corporation treats men just as badly as older women. Responding to Selina Scott's claims of 'casual maiming which leaves women with their confidence and career in tatters,' Sissons said the treatment 'goes from top to bottom of the organisation, regardless of age or gender.' Scott challenged the BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, to address 'blatant and sometimes malign sexism and ageism against women.' But in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Sissons, sixty eight, wrote: 'What Selina seems to have missed is that this is the BBC way, and has been for many years. It was a bitter complaint that I heard regularly during the twenty years I worked in the newsroom. Not just highly paid women presenters get the treatment, but it goes from top to bottom of the organisation, regardless of age or gender. Hundreds of demoralised people at Television Centre will testify to this.' Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC Trust, offered to meet Scott after she sent a dossier which she predicted will 'trigger nothing short of a revolution within Television Centre.' The fifty nine-year-old, once known as the BBC's 'Golden Girl,' said: 'The dossier contains an exhaustive account of blatant and sometimes malign sexism and ageism against women within what is probably the major tastemaker and social arbiter in Britain.' She said the corporation had done nothing to combat the under-representation of older women on television, and the 'obsession' with youth had increased. What a pity she wasn't saying all this twenty five years ago when she was getting presenting jobs in preference to older women like Angela Rippon and Valerie Singleton and when her voice might have carried a bit more punch but, rather, waited until she was old and with a face like a prune that no one in their right minds would want to look at over their beans on toast before she started whinging like a victim. No sympathy.

'Livid' BBC staff are flocking to join unions over plans to overhaul their pension scheme, with parallels being drawn with 2005, the last time corporation employees went on strike. The NUJ and Bectu held packed meetings for members and non-members this week and last, with some being run twice as people spilled out into corridors. The NUJ has had hundreds of new membership applications and Bectu said fifty BBC employees had joined the union after the first meeting alone. Both predicted that 'hundreds more' would join in the run-up to a meeting with the BBC on 21 July. That showdown had been organised to discuss the proposed BBC pay offer, but pensions will now be on the agenda despite the BBC's ninety-day consultation having only just begun. Bectu assistant general secretary Luke Crawley predicted 'another huge leap' in members if the meeting was unsuccessful, and drew comparisons to the surge in membership ahead of the May 2005 strike. He said he could easily envisage industrial action: 'People are livid. The BBC proposal will erode the value of people's well-earned pensions, and while we're happy to negotiate a solution, we must first protect what they've already earned.'

Sarah Harding has revealed that she loves chocolate. The Girls Aloud singer, who has been in a relationship with DJ Tom Crane for about three years, said that she has a 'naughty cupboard' at home full of sweet treats. Yes, I've got one of them as well. It's called the fridge. Harding told Bang Showbiz: 'I still have a naughty cupboard, which Tommy hates me having. It's got all my chocolates in it. I tend to eat healthily during the day and eat quite a big meal in the evening. Then me and Tommy will be watching movies or TV while nibbling something from the naughty cupboard. I love a good Italian and can't resist a good spaghetti Bolognese. I'm a sucker for pasta but carbs are like the enemy. Tommy and I have pictures stuck up on the naughty cupboard at the moment. There's a bad one of the pair of us and it's a papped picture and I've stuck it on the cupboard and Tommy's like, "No, don't do it!" So that's our thinspiration!' This, ladies and gentlemen, is what constitues 'news' on a quiet Monday at Stately Top Telly Topping Manor. Somebody just shoot me.

Katie Price reportedly had to be protected by security after performing her new single at a night club. The glamour model appeared at Mayhem in Essex to promote her song, 'Free To Love Again', but apparently angered the crowd with a mimed performance and an X-rated routine, reports the Daily Star. Quite why either would have 'angered' anyone, they don't say. Price is said to have simulated obscene sex acts with her husband, Alex Reid, in the crowded club. Security had to step in as the crowd began chanting her ex-husband Peter Andre's name and shouting 'slut' at Price. The thirty two-year-old, who was joined by 'friends' Gary Cockerill and Andrew Goul, hit back screaming: 'I don't give a fuck. I love the boos.' A clubber allegedly commented: 'It was a complete shambles. She couldn’t even get the miming right and things were made worse as the CD kept jumping. Talk about feeling short-changed. We expected her to sing, not mime badly.' Do you not think that if she'd tried, you might have had something to properly complain about, pal? Price and Reid reportedly continued to shock onlookers as they partied. 'I have never seen anything like it. They were all over each other doing really obscene stuff,' one told the paper. 'They were both totally hammered and seemed to be loving the attention - but I think they took it a bit too far, especially when she was grabbing him by the throat. A couple of times their friends had to step in and tell them to tone it down a bit.' Price continued to respond to the boos as she took to the club's karaoke machine. 'Shut your whining. I admit I mimed my song earlier. So fucking what?' she said. 'I love miming, it's great. But I'm singing live now. I don't give a fuck. All those people who booed me earlier, keep booing me. I love the boos. Come on, let’s boo. I don't care if I'm number one or not. I do it because I love it.' Price's spokesperson added: 'Kate gets incredibly nervous before having to perform on stage. She was out with her husband and friends and letting her hair down.' Price's single 'Free To Love Again' charted at number sixty in the UK singles chart yesterday after reportedly selling a mere three thousand downloads during its first week of release.

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