Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tell Me When The Spaceship Lands Cos All This Has Just Got To Mean Something

We start the latest splurge of media news with a glorious sighting from BBC Scotland - brought to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's attention via Facebook. Who said it was good for nothing except poking? Anyway, here's Catriona Shearer and Cat Cubie having a few problems with a news report about Rudolf Hess.
Still, when all is said and done, not quite as funny as this, from BBC Word News's Jonathan Charles showing why punctuation is necessary even in oration.

BBC News has tabled proposals for a widespread cuts to its eight thousand news staff in the UK and abroad, as part of a plan to make annual savings of eighty nine million smackers according to the Gruniad Morning Star. The newspaper claims that senior members were informed of the plans put forward by Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News, to make the savings by 2016-7 - with the bulk coming from cutting reporting jobs. The cuts amount to a twenty per cent saving from a total budget of close to four hundred and fifty million. The BBC will also, the Gruniad claim, merge the previously separately funded World Service into the main News division, as it contends with the consequences of a licence fee freeze agreed with the coalition government last autumn. Exact numbers of staff to be cut were not disclosed, but more detail is expected to be revealed next week when the proposals are fleshed out. However, if job losses were to match the twenty per cent saving sought, it is expected that as many as a thousand journalists may be forced to go. It is expected that job losses will affect reporters on regional and domestic news as well as international field correspondents, who are most likely to be affected by the merger. The plan, the Gruniad claim, is that some World Service journalists will take over BBC News jobs. BBC News employs about three thousand staff in London and overseas and a further three thousand around the UK providing coverage in the nations and regions. The World Service employs an additional two thousand staff. 'It should be remembered these are just proposals. They have not yet been taken to the BBC Trust and anything could happen,' said one 'source.' Allegedly. 'There may not be a viable argument that, just because a World Service person is somewhere, they can automatically step into a BBC News role.' BBC News and the World Service - for which the corporation is officially taking over funding from the Foreign Office in 2013 - are set to be brought together in the redeveloped Broadcasting House in central London. A large number of regional editors from the World Service are also thought likely to go. The channel is also planning to broadcast fewer features and outside broadcasts that use a lot of resource, such as truck-based broadcasting. Martin Bell, the former BBC foreign correspondent, said in an article for the British Journalism Review that the BBC needed to reduce the 'expensive and wasteful practice' of sending news anchors such as Huw Edwards 'somewhere near the scene of a news event and pretending that this adds value and authenticity.' Other savings suggested include cutting specific business and sports segments in bulletins and programmes such as Today and using specialist reporters instead - such as Robert Peston, the business editor, or David Bond, the sports editor, to fill in as required. The BBC Trust is thought to be 'informally aware' of the proposals although it will not officially receive a full detailed plan until next month. 'We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary, no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation,' said a spokesman for BBC News. 'Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust.' In April the Gruniad Morning Star revealed what they claimed to be 'internal documents' which outlined a range of ideas for cost-saving including a 'slimmed-down' BBC News channel concentrating on 'developing news and headlines' and increasing commercial income from its journalism. Other proposals being discussed include making the BBC Parliament channel, the most expensive the BBC operates in terms of the number of viewers that it obtains, 'more cost effective and accessible' and making more money from selling BBC News output to overseas broadcasters 'without damaging our brand and reputation.'

Meanwhile, Lord Patten has said his 'love' of the BBC World Service made protecting it a 'priority' - particularly the 'core' Arabic, Somali and Hindi services. The new BBC Trust chairman told the Sunday Torygraph he would fight for it as a twenty per cent budget cut across the corporation takes effect this year. The paper claimed he signalled in the interview that digital TV channels BBC3 or BBC4 may be axed to help secure it. Bet that proposal will go down well with the Director General who is known to be wholly opposed to the idea. The BBC Trust denied this claim and said - again - that nothing had been decided. Patten told the paper: 'If you want to know how good the BBC is, just spend time somewhere else. If you took anyone from any other country who comes here or listens to the World Service or looks at some of the BBC services, they think it's a fantastic organisation.' Yes, indeed they do. How ironic it is, therefore, that your scum mates in parliament and their scum supporters in the right-wing press (including the Torygraph) seem to be the only people in the world - apart from knobcheese dictatorships like Iran and China - who don't actually realise that. Wouldn't you say? Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.

And, on the subject of be careful what you wish for, I urge you all dear blog readers to check out The Sarah Palin History Channel sketch on Conan O'Brien's US show.

Producer Gary Goetzman has revealed some of the first details about HBO's proposed adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Hugo Award-winning novel American Gods. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series is being planned as spanning six seasons, each consisting of between ten and twelve episodes annually. Goetzman has claimed that the show will have an expected budget of thirty five to forty million dollars for each season, and has suggested that most of the budget will be spent on visual effects. 'There are some crazy things in there,' Goetzman said of plans for the show. 'We'll probably be doing more effects in there than it's been done on a television series.' Despite Gaiman's previous claims that American Gods had been optioned as a film, it was confirmed in April that HBO were planning to adapt the novel into a new series. American Gods tells the story of an ex-con called Shadow, who finds himself caught in a war between the old classic Gods of mythology and the new Gods of the world.

Cheryl Cole - shortly before attending her appointment at Byker Job Centre on Monday - has, allegedly, told 'friends' that she is 'glad' not to be a part of The X Factor anymore. And, according to Louis Walsh last week, the feeling's entirely mutual. So, there you go, everybody's happy. Isn't it nice when it all works out right for everyone in the end? 'I'm actually really happy not to be on the show now. It was definitely the right decision for me,' the News of the World quotes The Heaton Horror as saying. 'I was so badly mucked around by Simon and everyone involved. I don't want that in my life any more. I'm better off without it.' Cole, the newspaper claims, will use the saga as 'inspiration for her new album.' Oh, that'll be worth listening to then, a whole CD of songs about what a drag it is getting the sack. Radiohead with tunes, in other words. One imagines that there'll be a couple of duets with Dannii and Joe McElderry on there as well? Anyway, I hear Morrison's on Shields Road are looking for check out staff if you're interested, Cher?

Matt Flint was crowned the winner of the second - and, probably last - So You Think You Can Dance series. Not that many people were particularly interested in this startling revelation. The series final was split into two shows, with a truly woeful 3.4m tuning into the first part, according to overnight figures, and a not-much-better three and a half million for the results. Explain that, well-known faceache (and drag) Arlene Phillips. Down to the scheduling, was it?

Sky are broadcasting a new 3D documentary giving a birds-eye view of Britain and Ireland. The eight-part series, titled Britain & Ireland From The Sky, takes viewers on an aerial tour of the landscapes and cities across both islands, flying between five and five thousand feet above the ground. Produced by Bigger Pictures for Sky 3D, each thirty-minute episode features narration and personal stories from well-known British and Irish personalities, including Jimmy Nesbitt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Sheen, Alison Steadman, Frank Carson, Roger McGough and Stuart Hall. The show was shot across the four seasons and captures London and other major cities, along with unique parts of Britain and Ireland, such as Cornwall, Ben Bulben in Ireland, Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland, the historic Welsh town of Portmeirion and Scotland's Loch Alsh. John Cassy, the channel director of Sky 3D, said: 'From the moment Britain & Ireland From The Sky starts, the breathtaking birds-eye views capture your attention. For the first time 3D viewers can see the landscapes of these beautiful islands from a unique aerial perspective, and learn of previously-untold personal stories from stars such as James Nesbitt and Alison Steadman in this brand new eight-part series.'

Episode fourteen of the I series of Qi features the theme of illness with guests Jo Brand, Andy Hamilton and first timer Ben Goldacre. The final two episodes of the season will be filmed this week.

Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie are to host this year's Radio Festival, with guest speakers including Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne. The Radio Academy's three-day festival will run from 31 October to 2 November at The Lowry arts and entertainment centre at Salford Quays, adjacent to the BBC's new MediaCityUK broadcast facilities. The event will be fronted by Radcliffe and Marconie, who recently started presenting a new show on 6Music from Manchester. Radcliffe said: 'We are delighted to be involved, especially as its in Manchester and, as widely acknowledged radio beefcakes, we look forward to delivering some much needed glamour to proceedings.' Millionaire entrepreneur Bannatyne will deliver a special session at the festival on how to motivate talent at a time when star salaries are under increasing scrutiny. Radio Academy chief executive John Myers said that a 'brilliant line-up' of other speakers for the festival will be revealed over the coming weeks. 'Speakers this year are coming from all over the world and with the programme of sessions in the pipeline I expect this to be the best yet,' he said. 'In addition, I am thrilled the festival will be hosted by two award-winning presenters with a unique style all of their own [who] will ensure the festival is both informative and entertaining.'

Leading US playwright David Mamet has launched an attack on the British literary establishment over what he claims are inherently anti-semitic attitudes. Many contemporary British authors who write in the liberal tradition, Mamet said, produce plays, books and essays that are full of anti-Jewish 'filth.' Speaking to the Financial Times, the Chicago-born writer expanded on the reasons behind a political conversion that was first announced in a piece for the New York journal Village Voice, headlined Why I am no longer a Brain-Dead Liberal, in 2008. Asked whether he felt Europe was more sceptical about Israel than the US, the writer said: 'There is a profound and ineradicable taint of anti-semitisim in the British.' Yes, of course there is: Simon Scharma, Stephen Fry, Neil Gaiman, Zoë Wanamaker, Sir Martin Gilbert, Warren Mitchell, David Suchet, Miriam Margolyes, Jean Gottmann, Andrew Sachs, Ron Moody, Alexei Sayle, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tony Robinson, Danny Cohen, Mick Jones, Michael Grade, David Baddiel, Nigella Lawson, Alan Sugar, Bernard Levin, Claire Rayner, Maurice and Charles Saatchi, Claudia Winkleman, David Pleat, Claire Bloom, Ben Elton, David Warner, Felicity Kendal, Robert Peston, Mike Leigh, Anthony Sher, Jonathan Miller, Clement Freud, Marc Bolan, George Michael, Harold Pinter, Muriel Spark, Jack Rosenthal, Tom Stoppard, Ed and David Milliband, we can't stand any of them. Don't tell anyone, for God's sake. Although Mamet admits to owing a great educational debt to English literature, he accuses classic novelists such as Shakespeare, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens and George Eliot of using 'stock Jew' characterisations. 'And the authors of today,' Mamet adds, 'I'm not going to mention names because of your horrendous libel laws, but there are famous dramatists and novelists over there whose works are full of anti-semitic filth.' Oh, I really think you should 'name names' mate. I think you should back out your outrageous assertion with a bit of hard evidence. The creator of Glengarry Glenn Ross and American Buffalo has just published a non-fiction account of his journey from the political left towards right-wing views. His new book, The Secret Knowledge, is a polemic that targets fundamental tenets of left-wing thinking, from the value of a liberal arts-based education to the importance of environmentalism. 'My revelation came upon reading Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom,' Mamet says in the book. 'He wrote that there are no solutions; there are only trade-offs – money spent on more crossing guards cannot be spent on books. Both are necessary, a choice must be made, and that this is the tragic view of life.' Mamet said that for him the 'paradigmatic Brit as far as the Middle East goes' is TE Lawrence, author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom and remembered for his portrayal in the film Lawrence of Arabia. 'Even before the oil was there, you loved the desert,' Mamet told the FT. 'But there is a Jewish state there ratified by the United Nations and you want to give it away to some people whose claim is rather dubious.' Mamet's new book praises Sarah Palin's political approach and calls the decision to build an Islamic centre in the vicinity of Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Centre, 'a cultural obscenity.'

John Terry has had his car bugged by members of the press, his lawyer has alleged. Solicitor Nick Freeman made the claim during the Chelsea footballer's speeding case at Staines Magistrates' court on Friday, arguing that the thirty-year-old had been fleeing the paparazzi when he was clocked travelling at seventy seven mph in a fifty zone last December. Freeman further stated that Terry had made an official complaint to police in March this year after officers discovered an electronic tracking device attached to his vehicle. Despite Freeman's claims, Terry was banned from driving for twenty eight days and ordered to pay a seven hundred and fifty quid fine after admitting to the speeding offence. He was not in court to hear the sentencing. Freeman later told reporters that Terry had become concerned about the behaviour of the press after the revelation of his alleged affair with ex-team mate Wayne Bridge's girlfriend. 'He was the number one target for paparazzi,' Freeman said. 'He accepts he is a target and they have a job to do, but because of the level of attention he had been receiving for several months, he made a complaint to police. Police swept his vehicle and found an electronic device that would have assisted whoever planted it there in knowing his whereabouts.' Freeman also dismissed suggestions that the sportsman's wife Toni could have placed the bug during the scandal.

Police in London were shocked to discover four rare crocodiles in the spare room of a suburban house. Officers had been called to the house in Croydon on an unrelated matter when they discovered the reptiles and quickly called in wildlife officials. Rumours that they were told to 'make it snappy' cannot be confirmed or denied at this time. 'We were very surprised to get the phone call and to discover there were West African dwarf crocodiles,' London Animal Health Service manager Rob Quest told the Croydon Guardian. 'I wouldn't even begin to guess how they got into the country. Because of their size they will not kill a man but they are capable of a nasty bite,' he added. The animals discovered were all female, three of which were three feet long, while the largest measured over four feet. Because of the conditions that the reptiles were being kept in, the large crocodile died shortly after being rescued. The owner of the crocodiles could not produce a licence for them and is now expected to be charged.

US writer and producer Leonard Stern, who was behind hit shows including Get Smart and The Honeymooners, has died aged eighty seven. The Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner died of heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital, his spokesman said. Stern found early success in the 1950s writing for sitcoms like The Phil Silvers Show. He also created and directed 1970s crime drama McMillan and Wife starring Rock Hudson and Susan St James. Stern wrote two Abbott & Costello films before his stint on The Jackie Gleason Show, where he wrote The Honeymooners sketches - which later spawned a hugely successful spin-off series. During his career, he worked as a writer and producer on more than twenty sitcoms. In the 1960s, he created I'm Dickens, He's Fenster, fugitive satire Run Buddy Run and He & She, starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. The writer's film credits include screenplays for 1952 film The Jazz Singer, 1979's Just You and Me, Kid starring George Burns and Brooke Shields - which he also directed - and the 1985 film Target starring Gene Hackman. Aside from his Hollywood career, Stern also co-created with Roger Price a popular word game, Mad Libs - in which people fill in blank spaces with random nouns, adjectives and adverbs to form funny stories. He is survived by his wife of fifty five years, actress Gloria Stroock - who played Hudson's secretary on McMillan & Wife - and two children.

In the week that they played their first UK gig for nine years at the Isle of Wight festival, it's only fitting that today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day should be a brief (and fictional) history of Pulp. Starting with the first flowering of Jarvis Cocker's real genius (after the band had only been going for eleven years!)
All of Pulp's best songs were about sex - in one form or another. The previous single is a good example and so is the next one.
And then, after His N' Hers had got them noticed, it all came together in 1995 with their fanfare for the common people.
And that performance on Saturday night at Glastonbury, premiering three quarters of Different Class
And still managing to put out a third classic of the year just before Christmas.
Inevitably, it all went a bit pear-shaped after that - the odd good single aside.
But, it's great to have them back.

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