Thursday, July 01, 2010

Silly Season Stories

Jude Law and Sir Christopher Lee are among a number of British actors confirmed in the cast of Martin Scorsese's latest movie, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone, Sir Ben Kingsley and Richard Griffiths will also appear in the film, which has started production in London this week. The movie, which is the Oscar-winning film maker's first move into 3D, is due for release in December 2011. It is about boy who secretly lives in the walls of a Paris railway station. Hugo becomes caught up in a mysterious adventure involving an eccentric girl, his late father and a robot. Frances de la Tour will also join the cast which also includes thirteen-year-old American actress Chloe Moretz, who was so good in the controversial movie Kick-Ass. Asa Butterfield, who recently featured in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, has already been confirmed in the role of twelve-year-old orphan Hugo. The film is based on a 2007 novel by Brian Selznick which topped the New York Times best seller list. It has been adapted for the screen by John Logan, screenwriter of Scorsese's 2004 film The Aviator. Scorsese, yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite movie director since Hitchcock, won his first best director Oscar in 2007 for The Departed following six unsuccessful nominations.

Hugh Dennis said on 5Live yesterday that series four of Outnumbered will be filmed next March for a probable Autumn 2011 transmission. Meanwhile, Miranda Hart has stated that she expects series two of her titular sitcom, Miranda, to broadcast on BBC2 from mid-November 2010. And Qi's H series will start on BBC1 from Friday 17 September.

The 'Jamie Oliver-approach' will not work in tackling public health problems like obesity and smoking, the health secretary has said. And about bloody time, too. Andrew Lansley told the British Medical Association conference in Brighton there must be an evidence-based approach to dealing with public health. Lansley said that people needed to take responsibility for their own health. He warned that celebrities lecturing people often ended up being counter-productive. It certainly does with me. I have a very low tolerance threshold for lisping overpaid prats wagging their finger and telling me how I should be living my life. Sod 'em, I'd sooner be fat! 'If we are constantly lecturing people and trying to tell them what to do, we will actually find that we undermine and are counterproductive in the results that we achieve,' said the health secretary, who has pledged to change the name of the Department of Health to the Department of Public Health. He said the TV chef's approach to school food had not had the desired effect - the number of children eating school meals had actually gone down instead of up. 'Jamie Oliver, quite rightly, was talking about trying to improve the diet of children in schools and improving school meals, but the net effect was the number of children eating school meals in many of these places didn't go up, it went down. So then the schools said "It's okay to bring packed lunches but we've got to determine what's in the packed lunches, we've got to decide what's in the packed lunches." To which the parents' response was that they gave children money and children are actually spending more money outside school, buying snacks in local shops, instead of on school lunches.' Unfortunately, Andrew, your predecessors in the job were so busy giving Oliver's scrotum a good rough-tongued slurping in the hope that it would get them some votes that they failed to realise most people in this country, actually, can't stand the blithering idiot. Lansley added that people had said shops near schools should be also 'banned,' adding: 'Where do we end up with this?' We end, hopefully, with nobody taking a blind bit of notice of anything that Jamie Oliver has to say. on any subject under the sun. Which would be terrific, if you could manage to sort that out for us? Lansley said that the consumption of salty foods could be reduced but none of this would work unless people's behaviour changed.

Fern Britton is reportedly planning to return to television. 'Everybody in the house say "Disco!"' Sorry, it's just when I read the original press piece which announced this world-shattering bit of news, that seemed to be the sort of response the journalist who'd written it expected from readers. I just didn't want to disappoint him, that's all. Britton previously worked on This Morning but decided to leave last year. Since then, she has presented a four-part series for the BBC and will host Channel 4's The Five O'Clock Show next month. According to the Mirror, both the BBC and Channel 4 are now hoping to persuade Britton to sign up with them. 'Fern has been out of the spotlight but not forgotten,' a 'source' allegedly said. 'She is back in demand.' Would this 'source' happen to have blonde hair and have recently shed a lot of weight, by any chance?

Keeley Hawes has criticised the story lines on Ashes To Ashes, calling them 'a little bit weak.' Bet that'll go down well with the fanbase! The thirty three-year-old actress, who played detective Alex Drake on the BBC drama, said that her new show Identity has more 'clever' plotlines. 'The story of the week [in Ashes] was always a little bit weak and you could normally guess who did it in the first five minutes,' she told Stylist magazine. 'Identity is much cleverer in that way.' Why the hell do actors always do this? You don't need to diss your previous show to big-up your new one! A few months ago Richard Armitage was doing the same thing suggesting that Strike Back was considerably more testosterone-snorting than [Spooks]. Course, now he's back filming the new series of [Spooks], he's shut up about that all of a sudden. But that's a great way to get people to watch your new show, isn't it? Suggest that anybody who enjoyed the last thing you were in was easily satisfied. Meanwhile Keeley's former castmate, Dean Andrews has been a lot more respectful of the show's fans and claimed that Ashes To Ashes ended at the right time. Andrews, who played Ray, told the Daily Record that the show's conclusion was a 'double-edged sword. I loved being part of a great show and had a fantastic time making it so will be sad now it's not around,' he said. 'But I also think it was the perfect time to finish. It had a great conclusion and hopefully it'll be talked about for a long time, so I'm happy to walk away from a brilliant show with my head held high.' Spot on, Deano. Andrews praised the programme's ending, saying: 'It had answers to all the questions, a great story to tie it all up, a logical explanation as to why we were there and an emotional send-off for well loved characters. Winner! The creators seemed definite that it was the end, and I think it would be the right thing to leave it alone now. It's iconic TV and I wouldn't want anything to dilute that.' However, Andrews admitted that he would consider reprising his role as Ray if someone created a good concept. 'If somebody came up with a great twist and a great script,' he said. 'I find it best to never say never in this job.' Would that all actors had that sort of strength of mind!

The BBC's new comedy series Rev debuted with almost 2.2 million viewers on Monday evening, according to overnight viewing figures. A very respectable figure for that particular slot, just in case any stringer from the Daily Scum Mail is trawling around these parts wondering what is, and isn't, a good ratings figure in this day and age. Drop me an e-mail, I'll explain it to you. The sitcom, which stars In The Loop actor Tom Hollander as a newly promoted Anglican vicar, and Hot Fuzz's Olivia Coleman, averaged 2.19m for BBC2 between 10pm and 10.30pm. Personally, I didn't think much of it - closer to Derek Nimmo than Father Ted - but it seems to have found itself an initial audience. The question now is, can it keep it.

Some sad news, now. One of yer Keith Telly Topping's particular favourites, Amanda Mealing, has announced that she will leave Holby City this year. The forty three-year-old actress, who has played consultant Connie Beauchamp in the BBC medical drama since 2004, revealed her decision on Twitter. She said: 'I've said too much already but yes, this will be my last year in Holby. Let's enjoy it while we can.' Mealing told the Digital Spy website in April that she wanted her character to bow out when the time was right. She said: 'I love Connie but I think that I love her enough to want to leave her on a high. I'd never want to over-saturate her. If we ever get to a point where we've told her story, that's the time to stop.'

Dave has commissioned a new chat show starring Robert Llewellyn. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the programme will be based on Llewellyn's web series Carpool. The format sees the Red Dwarf actor interviewing people while driving them around in his car. Previous guests have included Ruby Wax, Stephen Fry, David Baddiel, Jonathan Ross, David Mitchell and Sir Patrick Stewart. Dave has now ordered ten thirty-minute episodes and has described the programme as television's 'most intimate and off-the-wall chat show.' Meanwhile, Llewellyn said: 'I started Carpool eighteen months ago as an experiment. A sort of talk show recorded in a car as I drive busy people to meetings, events, gigs or just down the shop. The real joy is that people talk openly and intimately and it's not only funny but a real insight into the interviewees.'

Ben Shephard has brought the date of his GMTV departure forward by two months, according to a report. I wonder if it's the smell of the place that's behind his decision? The presenter will bow out from the breakfast show in July rather than September as originally planned, the Mirror claims. It is thought that the father-of-two wishes to 'spend time with his family' over the summer and also concentrate on his plan to run across Britain for charity. Shephard announced his decision to depart GMTV in April following weeks of speculation surrounding the future of the morning programme. A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper: 'Ben thought it would be better to go out on a high.' This is a high? Okay.

The BBC Trust has called for the publication of star salaries, marking a policy shift for the corporation's governing body. Chairman Sir Michael Lyons made the call in a speech to the Voice of the Listener and Viewer in London. 'This is one of a small number of areas where we need to recapture public confidence,' he said. Sir Michael also announced that a programme to cut senior managers' pay at the BBC would be accelerated. Sir Michael stressed that it was 'not a simple process' to disclose star salaries, not least because some contracts contain confidentiality clauses, but challenged director general Mark Thompson to work 'urgently' on a plan. In addition, senior managers' salaries will be published 'without exception,' and also set out in bands with details of the corporation's pay structure.

Simon Cowell didn't want to hold X Factor auditions in Dublin, according to Louis Walsh. The music mogul said that his fellow judge was not convinced about the standard of talent in Ireland following twins John and Edward's performances last year. 'Simon didn't want to come over,' Walsh told the Sun. 'I said "Give me one more chance. I will prove to you we have the talent here."' When asked what he wanted from Dublin, Cowell joked: 'The opposite of Jedward - someone I can sell records with.' The Irish auditions are rumoured to have been filled with many Jedward copycat acts, who are attempting to imitate the success of the twin brothers.

Al Jazeera English will begin broadcasting on the Freeview DTT platform on 1 July. In doing so, it will become available to eighty per cent of homes in the UK. AJE made its debut in November 2006 and has from the onset been available on Sky in the UK. It has also been offered by Freesat since 2008 though is not as yet distributed by Virgin Media. AJE will broadcast live from 18.00 to 23.00 each day on Freeview, providing live news and programmes from AJE's studios in London, Washington and Doha. Speaking to Broadband TV News, Al Anstey, Al Jazeera Network's director of media development, said that the sheer scale of Freeview's reach makes AJE's launch on the platform exciting. He added that it has also 'healthy distribution across Europe' and is building on its presence in the US. Al Jazeera's strategy is very much one of 'wanting to be available everywhere' and to this effect it is placing considerable emphasis on new media.

David Beckham is to feature among the guests on the final edition of Jonathan Ross's BBC1 chat show. Blimey, that'll be a meeting on minds.

Emmerdale actress Alice Coulthard, who plays barmaid Maisie Wylde, is leaving the ITV soap, it has been announced. The actress, who joined the cast two years ago, will leave later this year when her contract comes to an end. In a statement, Coulthard said she has had a 'wonderful time' and will 'miss working with such a hard-working and talented team of people.' Soap bosses have refused to reveal how she will exit the show. Producer Gavin Blyth said: 'Maisie Wylde's compelling story will take more twists and turns in the coming months as she delves into darker territory which will culminate in her exit from the show. Alice has been a real asset to Emmerdale and we'll be sad to see her go later this year. We wish her all the very best for the future.' Since Maisie made her debut in the village in a pink Cadillac, she has been involved in several dramatic storylines. She suffered a breakdown after falling in love with Ryan Lamb (James Sutton), and finding out he was actually her half-brother. She is currently unaware that her mother, Natasha (Amanda Donohoe), has murdered her father, Mark (Maxwell Caulfield).

CSI producer Carol Mendelsohn and CSI: Miami showrunner Ann Donahue have both signed new four-year contracts with CBS. According to Reuters, a contract of such a length 'is considered a longer-than-usual agreement for a showrunner deal, but CSI and its spin-off are considered staples of the network's lineup.' Mendelsohn's contract with CBS will also see her produce upcoming legal drama The Defenders, starring Jerry O'Connell and Jim Belushi. CSI is due to return in its usual Thursday night slot later this year, while CSI: Miami will move from Monday to Sunday night.

Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed that he is a big fan of BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey. Which proves he's as rubbish at recognising what's funny and what isn't as he is at picking culture secretaries.

BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid is to front a new Sunday morning 'religion and ethics' show for BBC1. Starting next month, Sunday Morning Live will feature short films and discussions between the hosts and studio guests as well as interaction with a wider audience through phone-calls, videos and e-mails. The series will have an initial run of twenty episodes and will launch on 11 July. The programme will be made in Belfast and promises 'topicality and accessibility.' There have been recent calls for more religious programming from various outlets, most significantly from the Church of England. Speaking out against the lack of religious broadcasting on British television, a motion was passed last February calling for mainstream broadcasters 'to nurture and develop the expertise to create and commission high-quality religious content across the full range of their output, particularly material that imaginatively marks major festivals and portrays acts if worship.' BBC Radio 4 presenter Roger Bolton, who also chairs the Flame Group, condemned BBC bosses for the lack religious output at an award ceremony last month. He said that BBC television commissioners 'view religious coverage as a rather tiresome obligation to be minimised rather than a rich and promising area to explore.'

A film based on the Kinks LP Schoolboys in Disgrace has been announced. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bobcat Goldthwait - that's never a real name, surely?! - is writing and directing the picture, based on the band's 1975 concept LP. Kinks frontman Ray Davies is executive producing the movie, which centres on a student who vows to fight back against 'the Establishment' and later becomes Mr Flash, the villain of the Kinks' previous LPs Preservation Act 1 (1973) and Preservation Act 2 (1974). 'Schoolboys in Disgrace is a story that any kid who has felt that they are not being treated fairly can relate to, all set to some of the greatest rock songs you'll ever hear,' Goldthwait said. Well, I wouldn't go that far, and I'm a big fan of the band. Although it has got 'Jack The Idiot Dunce' on it. He added: 'It's the genesis story of a supervillain set to music. It's the story of the world's most charming criminal and a realistic high school musical for all the kids who hate sugary, sweet, unrealistic high school musicals.' Yeah, but you're called Bobcat, mate, so what the hell do you know? The announcement was made days after the death of original Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, who had left the band before the recording of Schoolboys.

Seriously? Bobcat? H-okay...

Anyway, Geri Halliwell is allegedly to be feeling 'disappointed' over the backlash she allegedly received during her stint as an X Factor guest judge, a report has claimed. The former Spice Girl stood in for Dannii Minogue at the Glasgow auditions earlier this month, but she was reportedly booed and heckled throughout the day. According to Now magazine, the setback has 'hit Halliwell hard' as she had hoped to land a permanent place on the panel or a position on the forthcoming US version of X Factor. A 'source' allegedly told the publication: 'She was really excited when Simon Cowell asked her to guest judge. She'd expressed interest in this role ages ago and seemed to be pinning everything on it. But her appearance turned into a disaster and she's gutted.' The magazine claim that the 'insider' added: 'She tried playing the baddie judge, but only Simon Cowell has the charisma to get away with that. She made too many ill-thought out comments and failed to gauge the audience's mood.'

Camp auld darlin', Gok Wan has admitted that he struggled to help the first male participant on How To Look Good Naked. Speaking to the Mirror, Wan explained that Simon Wainwright had resisted his advice. He added that having a male guest made a big difference to the show, saying: 'Simon's a lovely guy but he wanted to keep control of what was happening to him, while women tend to lay themselves bare and allow me to sort out what is going on.' Wan also confessed that he had worried that the episode featuring Wainwright would never be completed. '[He] wouldn't do what I was telling him to do,' he said. 'So despite lots of tickings off from me, I had to get his mum involved and ask her to persuade him to listen to me. When I couldn't make him do what I wanted, I did start to question my abilities and there was a real chance that we couldn't have gone on with the programme.'

Posters for the Diesel fashion chain showing young women 'flashing' have been banned as indecent and for promoting anti-social behaviour. In one advertisement for the edgy fashion label, a young woman was shown climbing a ladder and lifting her top to flash her breasts at a security camera. In another, a model wearing very little was seen taking a photograph down the front of her bikini bottom, while a lion is seen in prowling in the background. However, both have now been banned from being used as posters following an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority. The posters carried a cryptic headline apparently celebrating outlandish and anti-social behaviour. It said: Smart May Have The Brains, But Stupid Has The Balls. Be Stupid, Diesel. The campaign suggests that Diesel has tried to adopt the 'shock advertising' policy previously deployed by rival fashion chains such as French Connection and Benetton. The theme of the posters 'tapped into the ladette culture that sees aggressive and drunken women flashing various parts of their bodies in town centres most weekends.' This is from the Daily Scum Mail, just in case you were wondering. The Italian fashion brand claimed the posters were an effort to give femininity a different, more confident and masculine feel. While it said the image of the woman on the ladder was 'non exploitative' and the message 'tackled society's preoccupation with camera surveillance, in a light and non-threatening way.' The company told the watchdog the theme of the advertising campaign was 'a rallying call to do things differently from the accepted wisdom and to live a life less ordinary.'

Charges against the England fan who walked into the players' dressing room after the World Cup match against Algeria have been dropped. Cape Town Magistrates' Court heard that Pavlos Joseph, thirty two, from Crystal Palace, south London, paid a seven hundred and fifty rand admission of guilt fine on Tuesday. He was accused of trespassing, but said he was only looking for a toilet. The case against the Sunday Mirror's Simon Wright, who denies harbouring Joseph, has been delayed until 7 July. The forty four-year-old journalist is accused of sheltering Joseph from police and will appear charged with 'defeating the ends of justice.' He has been granted three thousand rand bail and has had his passport confiscated. Joseph's defence lawyer Craig Webster said an agreement had been reached that the charge of breaching the FIFA Special Regulations Act should be withdrawn. Webster said: 'The director of public prosecution has decided to withdraw the charges on the basis that an admission of guilt fine is paid. A seven hundred and fifty rand fine was paid by the accused yesterday.' Joseph, who was accused of being in an area without being in possession of the necessary accreditation, was not in court. Joseph entered the England dressing room at Cape Town's Green Point stadium after the team's 0-0 draw with Algeria on 18 June. He claims he exchanged words with David Beckham before being escorted out. National police commissioner Bheki Cele said Mr Wright had 'admitted to harbouring and interviewing Mr Pavlos Joseph at a time when the police were searching for the latter in order to effect an arrest.' The journalist is also accused of providing false information when he booked a hotel room for Joseph. Cele said police believed the incident was 'orchestrated' in order 'to put the World Cup security in a bad light.' The Sunday Mirror said this was 'entirely false' and their reporter had no dealings with Joseph before he entered the England changing room. But then, they're a tabloid newspaper so how much trust can anyone put in pretty much anything they say?

The BBC's coverage of England's calamitous defeat by Germany received an Audience Appreciation Index score of, wait for it, sixty six, from viewers. Oh, the irony.

Ashley Cole reportedly launched 'a foul-mouthed rant' about England and its 'people' days before flying out to the World Cup to play football for his country. Again, according to the Daily Scum Mail. The message - which they claim read 'I hate England and the fucking people' - was sent to friends from the Chelsea defender's Blackberry shortly before he boarded a flight to England's pre-World Cup training camp in Austria. I didn't think he had any friends after he split up with the nation's sweetheart? Anyway, the over-rated twenty nine-year-old footballer, well known for his cheating antics of feigning injury to get opponents sent off, is said to have posted this as his status message - alongside a picture of him sunbathing topless - allowing all those designated as his 'friends' to see it. So, that'll be four of them, then? Quite how the Daily Scum Mail discovered this unless one of those 'friends' grassed him up is, at this time, unknown. Although, we can probably guess. And, actually, it's quite funny. The newspaper claim that Cole said: 'I always try my hardest for England and Chelsea but the intrusion and pressure I feel is making my life hell.' Oh dear. How sad. never mind. Disappointed fans, particularly those who paid thousands of pounds to fly to South Africa to watch England's matches, are unlikely to agree.

Perhaps, he should trying signing for a Nigerian club, they sound more like his cup of cocoa. Because the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan (no, really) has suspended the national football team from international competition for two years following their poor performance in the World Cup. 'Mr President has directed that Nigeria will withdraw from all international football competition for the next two years to enable Nigeria to reorganise its football,' Ima Niboro, Jonathan's senior communications adviser, said. 'This directive became necessary following Nigeria's poor performance in the ongoing FIFA World Cup,' he said. Nigeria were knocked out in the first round. After meeting the country's World Cup organising committee, Jonathan also said the accounts of the committee should be audited. 'If any financial misappropriation is discovered, all officials responsible will be held accountable,' Niboro said. Jonathan's decision came a day after the executive committee of the Nigerian Football Federation met to review the team's first round exit, in which they picked up a single point and finished bottom of their group also containing South Korea, Greece and Argentina. Niboro said the sports minister would be writing to FIFA shortly to inform them of the decision. He said the minister for the federal capital territory, Abuja, had been instructed to build a 'Football House' where the team could be based. 'The problem of Nigerian football is structural. We need to reorganise the structures and there is need to withdraw from all international football competition so that we can put our house in order,' Niboro said. A statement said the federation apologised to the 'federal government and all football-loving Nigerians for the early ouster of the Super Eagles from the World Cup' and added Nigeria would seek to play more friendly matches to get more experience. 'It's the right decision. President Jonathan has made a bold step to clean up the rot. We need to move the country in football,' John Fashanu, the former Wimbledon and (briefly) England footballer partly of Nigerian descent, told local sports radio. 'We cannot be held to ransom by anybody.' Some Super Eagles, however, fans were shocked by the decision. 'Sounds to me like the president is trying to score cheap political points. The next major international competition is two years away anyway,' said one irate fan in Lagos, asking not to be named. The NFF said it wanted Swedish coach Lars Lagerback, appointed on the eve of the finals, to stay and put together a wide-ranging programme to harness young talent. The statement also said the federation disagreed with those claiming Nigerian soccer was in a dwindling state. 'No previous board has qualified Nigeria for all major tournaments internationally,' the statement said. The government instruction to withdraw could prompt sanctions from FIFA, who have taken a strong stand against political interference in the sport. A FIFA spokesman said: 'We have had no official information from the Nigerian FA about this case specifically but in general FIFA's policy towards political interference is well known. Our statutes do not allow for any political interference.' Nigerian sporting administrators have often been accused of corruption and incompetence and the federation was roundly criticised after sacking coach Shaibu Amodu in February, just four months before the World Cup finals. Amodu was dismissed because Nigeria only managed to finish third at the Nations Cup finals in Angola in January. Nigeria were banned by the Confederation of African Football in 1996 when then President Sani Abacha withdrew the team from the African Nations Cup finals in South Africa because he had been criticised by Nelson Mandela over the judicial execution of political opponents. They could not compete in African competition for two years but were able to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France.

And finally in today's 'people will believe any old shit' story - and for once, amazingly, it hasn't come from the pages of the Daily Scum Mail or the Daily Star - Johnny Depp has been linked to a movie version of Doctor Who. Allegedly. Yes, I laughed as well. According to website Tor - no, me neither - and quoted by Digital Spy, an article appeared on PubArticles which allegedly quoted former showrunner Russell Davies saying that he was in the process of developing a Doctor Who movie and promised that the Daleks would be involved. So this is, what, a fourth-hand source? However, the article later appeared to have been removed. Because it was bollocks, probably. The Tor website itself is sceptical, noting 'The grain-of-salt quotient on this idea is MASSIVE.' However it then goes on to suggest that 'movie studio sources' - nameless, of course. So maybe this is a Daily Star story after all - 'confirmed with today that, while it can't comment on possible story elements, the casting of Johnny Depp as the Doctor for a 2012 film is confirmed.' Okay. I'm game. I have, in my hand, a tenner. If, by 31 December 2012 a film version of Doctor Who isn't, at least, in production I shall be keeping it! (Actually, even if the story turns out to have any truth in it, I'll still be keeping it. What do you think I am, made of money?)

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