Thursday, July 08, 2010

Stormy Weather?

The BBC has opted to renew its long-running weather services contract with the Met Office, despite criticism of the forecaster. From ... some people. The new five-year agreement, announced this week, will see the Met Office continue to supply weather forecasts and on-air weather presenters across the BBC's TV, radio, online and mobile platforms. The deal follows a 'competitive tender process' launched last September by the BBC to ensure that it was getting 'value for money for our licence fee payers.' Despite its relationship with the BBC stretching back eighty seven years, the Met Office has attracted criticism for failing to accurately predict the last three wet summers or the spate of wintry weather which hit Britain at the start of the year. In January, the BBC entered talks with Metra - the national forecaster of New Zealand - about it taking over the weather services contract. However, the corporation has now opted to retain the Met Office as its sole supplier of weather services. In a statement, the BBC said that the organisation has demonstrated an 'ability and commitment to deliver a high quality service - through accuracy, consistency of data and flexibility.' The new contract will involve the Met Office providing more data for a wider variety of locations in the UK and around the world, while also ensuring that weather forecasts are 'consistent and accurate. Weather is a key part of the BBC's news and information services, and, of course, is of endless fascination to us all across the UK,' said BBC deputy director general Mark Byford. 'Not only do our audiences come to us in huge numbers for regular weather updates each day across all our platforms but they also turn to the BBC for accurate information and forecasts when big weather stories happen anywhere across the country. This announcement follows a very thorough and competitive tender process and we are confident the new contract with the Met Office will deliver strong value for licence fee payers and will enable, through this partnership, BBC Weather to produce authoritative, reliable, accurate and innovative forecasts on which our audiences rely.' Met Office chief executive John Hirst added: 'The Met Office leads the world in broadcast meteorology and we are delighted to renew our weather broadcasting partnership with the BBC. This contract ensures that the BBC's UK and global audiences will continue to receive trusted forecasts and critical warnings from the Met Office.'

Marg Helgenberger will reportedly return to CSI next season. The actress, who plays Catherine Willows on the CBS series, had previously admitted that she was unsure if she would return to the popular crime drama show. However, Entertainment Weekly reports that Helgenberger has now signed a new deal with the series. Cast members George Eads, Eric Szmanda and Paul Guilfoyle are allegedly still in negotiations about their own contracts for the forthcoming eleventh season.

Tonight's The Night is returning to BBC1 on 17 July at 8pm. Unfortunately.

Neighbours star Kym Valentine has been rushed to hospital. The thirty three-year-old actress, who plays Libby Kennedy in the Australian soap, was on a two week break from filming when she was taken to a Melbourne hospital and found to have a serious blood clot on her lung. Executive producer of the show Susan Bower told the Daily Telegraph: 'Unfortunately it is that time of year when people are prone to illness. We wish Kym a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her next week when we return from a production break.' In 2008, Valentine was temporarily replaced on the show by actress Michala Banas when she suffered a collapsed lung on a flight from the US to Australia.

Christine Bleakley could be told not to return to her ONE Show hosting duties if a replacement for her is confirmed this week. The presenter, who will join ITV later this year, is due to return from a break on Monday to host the show with Adrian Chiles' replacement Jason Manford, reports the Sun. 'Christine being due back has focused people's minds. It might look a bit odd having Jason and Christine on the sofa together when she's leaving in September,' a source said. Bosses are reported to be currently screen-testing potential replacements for the thirty one-year-old. Esther Rantzen's daughter Rebecca Willcox, who already works on shows such as Watchdog, is thought to be among the list of hopefuls, alongside Gabby Logan, Melanie Sykes and Kate Silverton. At least, this is what the Sun reckon. So, take that with a couple of extra large Morrison's family packs of salt. Probably.

ITV's decision to sign up Jonathan Ross for a prime-time chat show appears to be a magnanimous one. After all, in January, the presenter announced Hayley Mills, the actress, as a guest on his Radio 2 show by saying: 'She's now on ITV, which, I think, must be some sort of punishment.' Not all of his new colleagues at ITV may greet him with open arms. 'Viewers have been put off watching Ross because he is beyond a joke,' Lizzie Cundy, the presenter of ITV At The Movies, told Mandrake in 2008, after his suspension from the BBC. 'On our show, we're not rude or condescending to anyone. We do nice interviews and don't make any crude comments. Angelina [Jolie] was meant to be on the Ross show, but she's coming over to us.' Whether big-gobbed Lizzie will be keeping her job doing her nice interviews once Jonny arrives at ITV is, of course, another matter entirely. And, speaking of Wossy, there's a very good piece on the BBC News website by The Media Show's Steve Hewlett on why the BBC keeps losing their talent?

Alistair McGowan has revealed that he was forced to drop the word 'tits' from a Christmas Day edition of his very unfunny sketch show. The forty five-year-old admitted the script change for the 2002 The Big Impression Show special on BBC2's Peter And Dud: The Lost Sketches, which broadcast on Sunday night. 'We had a sketch with Trinny and Susannah - they were always saying, "Your tits look great, your tits look fantastic,"' he said. 'We had to change it to tuts.' Well mate, I'd walk out in protest if I were you. And, never work for them - or, indeed, anyone else - ever again. That'll show 'em.

Fans of the late comic Chris Sievey are celebrating his memory by trying to get his alter ego Frank Sidebottom's single to number one. Sievey died at his home in Greater Manchester, on 22 June at the age of fifty four, having suffered from cancer. He performed as Frank for more than twenty five years. His fans have started a campaign to get the single, which features two Sidebottom songs, 'Guess Who's Been On Match Of The Day?' and 'The Robins Aren't Bobbins', to number one. They are campaigning on Frank's website - Radio Timperley - and social networking sites Twitter and Facebook. The single has been released on iTunes. Frank released many singles - lots of them collected on the beautifully daft compilation A,B,C&D - often giving his own twist to well-known songs and playing them on an electronic keyboard, but he failed to reach the top forty. In his earlier career with the band The Freshies Sievey's 'I'm In Love With The Girl On The Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk' was a minor hit for three weeks in 1981, reached number fifty four in the charts. A public celebration of the comic's life called Frank's Fantastic Farewell takes place at Castlefield Arena in Manchester later this week.

Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss has signed to recur on Showtime drama Weeds. According to Deadline, the veteran actor will play 'an unexpected character from Nancy Botwin's (Mary-Louise Parker) past.' Peter Stormare, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Jason Leigh are also lined-up to guest star on the show's upcoming season.

Hawaii Five-O star Grace Park has revealed that the upcoming CBS drama reminds her of a Hollywood film. The actress told IGN that the show succeeds where some big budget blockbusters have failed. 'I'd read the script, but then watching the pilot really blew me away,' she said. 'To me, it looks filmic. I recently saw another huge budget movie, and it just lacked that pop, and Hawaii Five-O delivered.' Park also revealed details of her character Detective Kono Kalakaua. 'I play cousins with Daniel [Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly],' she continued. 'His name has kind of been dragged through the mud, and he's been set up. So his character thinks that mine doesn't have a hope in hell because of the family name. Kona's fresh out of the academy, and she has quite a few skills under her belt which would make her an asset to the team. She's right at the beginning of the formulation of this elite task force which is developing in Hawaii.' She added that a stunt double replaced her in scenes requiring the character to surf. 'I'd never surfed before!' she admitted. '[It's] actually not me! That's another chick. She's got a great body, thankfully, because that's supposedly me!'

Watchdog editor Jeff Anderson and BBC executive producers Lisa Edwards and Alison Kirkham are thought to be in the running to succeed Jo Ball as commissioning editor for features for BBC1 and BBC2.

Bruce Forsyth's wife Wilnelia has revealed that she would like to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. The former Miss World claimed that she would love to take part in the BBC talent show, but admitted that her husband may get upset if the judges criticised her. 'Being Latin, dancing is in my blood, so I'd love it,' she told the Mirror. 'I'd have to give Bruce earplugs in case the judges say something horrible, though.' Meanwhile, Forsyth has confirmed that negotiations about him returning to host the eighth run of the ballroom dance contest have begun. 'They are going very well and things are looking good,' he said.

Veteran tattyfalarious comedian Ken Dodd has had a plane named after him by regional airline Eastern Airways. A special caricature of the famous son of Knotty Ash has been painted on the fuselage of the Jetstream Forty One aircraft as tribute to the star. Dodd, eight two, was present at the unveiling at Liverpool John Lennon Airport - the only airport in the world named after an alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie. He said he was 'delighted' the airline was naming a plane after him. 'I'm also feeling very plumptious about it,' he said. His famous welcoming line - 'How tickled I am!' - is written below the caricature.

ITV's senior managers will be subjected to psychometric testing as its new chairman and chief executive exert stronger controls over the broadcaster at the beginning of a five-year turnround plan. Archie Norman, chairman, has described the company he found when he took over in January as 'a shambles,' according to two people who had conversations with him in the past fortnight. And, on Wednesday, at a meeting of the top one hundred and fifty staff at ITV, Adam Crozier, who joined as chief executive in May, said he would expect them all to undergo 'testing' as part of 'a leadership development programme.' Which, sounds a bit Stalinist to me. A 'person close to ITV' told the Financial Times: 'This is not about people having to reapply for their own jobs, it is about identifying the strengths and weaknesses in people so that they can improve their performance as members of the team.' Nice to see it's not just the Daily Star who use unattributed quotes.

The British firm which created the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has won a multi-million pound legal battle against Disney over unpaid profits. A Los Angeles jury awarded Celador two hundred and sixty nine million dollars after ruling it failed to get a fair share of profits from screenings of the show in the US. Celador chairman Paul Smith described the verdict as 'justice' after an eight-year 'David and Goliath' fight. What, you mean, you resorted to throwing stones at them? Blimey. The Walt Disney Company said it would 'aggressively' seek to reverse the verdict. The jury agreed that Disney's Buena Vista Television and ABC had breached an agreement that entitled Celador to half of the profits. The quiz was a huge success when it first aired in the US in 1999, boosting audience ratings. But Celador, a production company, went to court claiming it had been cut out of profits agreed in its contract. Smith said the case came down to competing interpretations of that contract. 'It's been eight years - two years of trying to settle it out of court and then six years in court,' he said. 'It's a very daunting prospect. Disney is an absolute giant and we are a tiny little minnow. I don't think they believed a small, independent producer would go after them and indeed be so determined. We were determined and we were not going to give up.'

A couple caught cheating almost ten grand in benefits after appearing on the reality TV show Wife Swap have avoided jail. Kelly Jones, from Bristol, claimed she was a single parent with no income for nearly eighteen months. Jones also claimed she was living alone with her child, after her partner Steven Jones who works as a bus driver for First, had moved in. The couple were given suspended jail sentences by city magistrates. Jane Bramhall, chairman of the bench, sentenced Mrs Jones to three months in prison, suspended for one year, and Mr Jones to six weeks in prison, suspended for one year. She ordered the couple to complete one hundred and fifty hours of unpaid work each and to repay the money for the housing benefits and council tax, as well as one thousand two hundred and sixty three pounds in costs. She said: 'You committed these offences deliberately, you were motivated by greed. You had the opportunity to put things right and admit it and you did not take it.'

BT and TalkTalk are seeking a judicial review of the controversial Digital Economy Act, BBC News reports. The two Internet service providers want the High Court to clarify the legality of the act before it is implemented. The act was 'rushed through' parliament before the general election, they say. Both think it had 'insufficient scrutiny' and question whether its proposals to curb illegal file-sharing harm 'basic rights and freedoms.' The act became law shortly before parliament was dissolved in the so-called wash-up period. It meant it was subject to a shorter debate than other acts. MPs from all parties, including deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, protested at the time that the complex bill should have been debated for longer. Among its most controversial measures were proposals to disconnect persistent illegal file-sharers from the web and give copyright holders the power to block access to websites hosting illegal content. Regulator Ofcom, charged with drawing up detailed plans of how the legislation will work, has recently said that plans to remove peoples' Internet connections would not come into force until at least 2011. A caveat added to the act at the last minute stipulates that new legislation would be required before such measures are implemented. In May Ofcom drew up the policy to deal with illegal file-sharers. It requires ISPs to send warning letters to customers who illegally download films, music and TV programs. Persistent pirates will be put on a blacklist and their details can be passed to relevant copyright owners to pursue the case through the courts should they wish to. The code of practice currently only applies to larger ISPs with more than four hundred thousand subscribers. This puts BT, TalkTalk and the other large ISPs at a business disadvantage, said Andrew Heaney, executive director of TalkTalk. 'It means we could have huge swathes of customers moving to smaller ISPs to avoid detection.' In particular TalkTalk and BT are seeking clarity as to whether the act conflicts with EU legislation. It could conflict with Europe's e-commerce directive which states that ISPs are 'mere conduits' of content and should not be held responsible for the traffic on their networks. It may also be in contravention of the privacy and electronic communciations directive, said Heaney.

The producers of a BBC programme about a housing estate in Bristol have said footage shot in a neighbouring area should not have been included. The Estate We're In is being broadcast on BBC1 and looks at social issues in Lawrence Weston. Spokesman for independent production company Twofour said it was never its intention to mislead the audience. PC Shaun Underwood, who featured in the show, said crews knew they had been filming in a different area. He said: 'They came out with me in Lawrence Weston for a couple of hours. I think in their words they "got a bit bored" and weren't getting any footage. They were looking for anti-social behaviour to film but there wasn't many people about in Lawrence Weston that night. I then dropped them off at Southmead police station. They knew they weren't in Lawrence Weston because I told them on the night I was going to drop them off with another unit. They said they "weren't getting what they wanted" in Lawrence Weston so they wanted to go outside [the area],' PC Underwood added. In the film troubleshooter Silla Carron, who is credited with turning around her London council estate from one of the worst in the city, takes up the challenge of transforming a Bristol estate that has lost its sense of community. Twofour spokesman, Tim Jackman, added: 'It was never our intention to mislead the audience and we apologise that it appears we have done so. It has now been brought to our attention that some of the shots filmed for the programme that evening while on patrol were from a neighbouring area and we accept that the footage should not have been included in the programme.'

Kimberley Walsh has signed up to host new celebrity and music show Suck My Pop. The programme, which will air on Viva, is said to include showbiz news, interviews and performances. The Friday evening series will also broadcast the Official Chart Update, a 'Top Five' feature and a segment on what celebrities have been saying online. Walsh, who will host the show alongside Will Best, said: 'I'm so excited to be hosting Suck My Pop on Viva! It's going to be such a fun show, jam-packed with all the latest music and entertainment news. If I wasn't presenting the show, I'd definitely be watching it!' On Viva!? If you did watch it, sweetheart, you'd be the only one!

Christina Hendricks has revealed that the costumes she has to wear on Mad Men are uncomfortable. The actress, who plays Joan, told the LA Times that the 1960s outfits have hurt her in the past. 'We're so used to it now, but those undergarments really aren't made for relaxing,' she explained. 'If I get my entire costume on, and I have to wait a few hours for my next scene, I have to learn how to position myself, otherwise the boning presses into my guts.' She added: 'It can really hurt those internal organs. I have this little war wound - a blister from wearing a garter the other day for seventeen hours.'

A jury has awarded the actor Don Johnson over twenty three million dollars in profits he said he was owed from US TV police drama Nash Bridges. The Miami Vice actor claimed in legal papers filed in 2009 he owned fifty per cent copyright and was owed money for the CBS series, which ran from 1996 until 2001. Producers Rysher Entertainment said it had lost money so he had not been paid. Mr Johnson said in a statement he was 'so pleased' the jury agreed with him. 'It was my idea and I owned the rights in the first place,' he added. 'I have waited for more than ten years for Rysher to recognise me as the co-owner of the Nash Bridges series.' He added: 'From the beginning, I have asked only that Rysher honour our contract and I am so pleased that the jury agreed with me,' Johnson said in a statement. Rysher had contended during the two-week trial that the show had lost money overall and that shooting in San Francisco had contributed to high costs. It said Johnson had made about forty million dollars from fees as an actor and producer on the show and was not owed any more. Rysher's lawyer, Bart H Williams, said: 'We're disappointed in the verdict and we'll appeal.' Johnson played the eponymous police inspector in Nash Bridges, which aired for one hundred and twenty two episodes.

Alan Carr has reportedly slammed Lily Allen after she cancelled her appearance on his chatshow. The Chatty Man host branded the singer 'a fucking bitch' after she pulled out two hours before recording, reports the Sun. Allen cancelled two appearances yesterday due to illness. An unhappy Carr told the Channel 4 show audience, that it was not the first time she had cancelled with short notice. 'I heard at four o'clock this afternoon that Lily Allen's pulled out. That's the second time she's pulled out on the day with two hours to go,' he said. 'So I don't know what's wrong with that fucking bitch. I don't know if it's a vendetta. I don't know whether she hates me or it's because I'm gay, but the way I'm buzzing now I could fucking slap her.' In a message to the presenter on Twitter, Allen apologised for her absence.

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