Wednesday, July 11, 2012

If You're Not In The Mood To Dance, Step Back Grab Yourself A Seat

Two journalists were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday morning by Scotland Yard officers investigating allegations of inappropriate and naughty payments to police and public officials. A thirty seven-year-old man was arrested at his home in Kent and a thirty four-year-old was arrested in South-East London in dawn raids conducted by the Met police. According to the Gruniad Morning Star one of the two journalists arrested is Sunday Mirra crime correspondent Justin Penrose. The arrests represent a widening of the Operation Elveden investigation beyond News International which has confirmed - with some obvious relief - neither of the two arrested men works for any of its title. Both were arrested on suspicion to corrupt and of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. Scotland Yard confirmed both were journalists and they were being questioned at police stations in Kent and London. 'Today's arrests relate to suspected payments to a public official and are not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately,' it said. Last week Trinity Mirra, Britain's second-biggest newspaper group, was drawn into the newspaper corruption scandal with the arrest of a former Daily Mirra reporter Greig Box Turnbull. Previously, Trinity Mirra had always insisted that none of its journalists had been involved in any of that dodgy business going on over at News International (allegedly). No siree, Bob. Nothing whatsoever to do with us, guv'nor. Whether they're still sticking to that limpet-like defence is, at the present time, unknown. Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden investigation into corrupt payments has so far seen forty one arrests of journalists and public officials.

Jaime Winstone and Lennie James have joined the cast of upcoming Channel Four drama Run. The pair join the previously announced cast members Olivia Colman and Katie Leung. The 'gritty' four-part series follows the stories of four unconnected people whose lives intertwine in a story of modern-day survival. Winstone will play nightclub stripper Tara, whose boyfriend is murdered. She discovers the news from his secret partner. Lennie James will star as a recovering heroin addict, who his trying to rebuild his life in order to reconnect with his daughter. Commissioning editor Sophie Gardiner said of the series: 'Channel Four has a proud history of developing new drama talent both on and off screen and we are delighted to be continuing in that tradition with Run, a beautifully authored and original series about a strand of British life rarely seen on our screens.' Each episode will focus on a different character, and will be directed by BAFTA-nominated Skins and Being Human director Chris Martin.

Schwarzkopf has 'refused to rule out' dropping its two million smackers headline sponsorship of Big Brother, admitting that it is 'closely monitoring' the outcome of Ofcom's ongoing investigation into more than twelve hundred complaints about instances of abuse and racism on the Channel Five reality TV show. The media regulator is investigating three incidents, which have attracted a total of one thousand two hundred and twenty five complaints, including abusive behaviour, a black contestant being called 'a gorilla' and housemates labelled as 'retards.' The official sponsor of Big Brother, the celebrity edition that will air on the Richard Desmond-owned broadcaster later this summer and the spin-off show Big Brother's Bit on the Side is the hair colour giant Schwarzkopf. The brand – which has used presenter and former singer Louise Redknapp in its advertising, although she does not appear in the TV idents made to support the Big Brother sponsorship – signed a two million wonga tie-up with the Channel Five franchise earlier this year. A Schwarzkopf spokeswoman was keen to point out that the brand has 'no control' over what the housemates do or what it chooses to air. 'We are prevented by law from influencing editorial content or policy as this responsibility rests firmly with the makers of the show,' she said, in a quite marvellous example of buck-passing and 'not our problem, mate' malarkey. She refused to be drawn when asked whether Schwarzkopf was 'definitely' standing by its sponsorship, or whether it is reconsidering its relationship with the show. 'We will continue to closely monitor the situation, but it would not be appropriate to comment any further at this stage of Ofcom's investigation,' she said. The media regulator is expected to take at least several weeks to decide whether the incidents were in breach of the broadcasting code. Schwarzkopf's deal, struck by parent company Henkel, included product placement for sister brands such as Right Guard deodorant and Theramed toothpaste. The main focus of the two million notes deal is the Schwarzkopf brand – as well as TV idents, stunts have included the housemates and presenter Emma Willis dying their hair the brand's distinctive red colour. One senior media buying executive said that there is, as yet, 'no sign' of TV advertisers pulling back their campaigns in light of the investigation. 'It is a case of innocent until proven guilty,' he said. 'There are no rumours of anyone set to pull a campaign. However even though there were only a few complaints about racism if that turned out to be upheld by Ofcom then I would expect there to be a definite advertiser reaction.' The incident which prompted the most complaints from viewers, eleven hundred and eight, involved housemate Conor McIntyre being - allegedly - abusive to Miss India UK title holder Deana Uppal. McIntyre was warned about his behaviour by the production, in which he used a string of expletives and called Uppal 'a piece of shit.' Which, whilst it really isn't very nice, does not appear to be specifically racist in nature. The incident occurred at 9.40pm on 25 June on Channel Five show. The second incident involved housemate Caroline Wharram calling Adam Kelly, a black contestant, 'a ridiculous gorilla with no sanitation.' Ofcom received one hundred and fourteen complaints from viewers about this perceived racial slur which occurred on 28 June at 10.25pm. On 4 July, a former Big Brother housemate, Victor Ebuwa, appeared on spin-off show Big Brother's Bit on the Side. In his interview, Ebuwa referred to the housemates as 'functioning retards,' which prompted three complaints to Ofcom. The incident occurred at 11.20pm. 'Channel Five is committed to complying with Ofcom's broadcasting code and will help to facilitate a speedy investigation into this particular episode of Big Brother and Big Brother's Bit on the Side,' said a spokesman for the broadcaster.

The life of variety show entertainer Danny La Rue is to be dramatised in a new film. The BFI-funded screenplay has been written by Martyn Hesford, who created the BBC4 biopic Fantabulosa, about Carry On actor Kenneth Williams. It will examine La Rue's 'complex web of relationships' with his manager and partner Jack Hanson and close companion and costume designer Annie Galbraith. Renowned as a female impersonator, La Rue died of cancer in 2009, aged eighty one. Born Daniel Patrick Carroll, the performer was once described by Bob Hope as 'the most glamorous woman in the world.' La Rue was hailed as a ground-breaking star as he took his drag act into the mainstream and was the first female impersonator to perform for the Queen at The Royal Variety Performance. 'Danny was a ground-breaking entertainer and a vital part of contemporary British popular history, which until now has been overlooked,' executive producer for Leopardrama Joey Attawia said. 'He had a huge cultural and social impact in making the unacceptable acceptable and blazed the trail for the likes of David Bowie and Boy George. He is an important figure who broke the mould and we're thrilled to have signed agreements with Annie Galbraith and other key intimates of Danny to bring this funny, moving and complex story to life.' La Rue made his name as a cabaret star before opening his own nightclub in 1964. He went on to star in a string of hit West End shows and was a regular on TV shows such as the BBC's The Good Old Day.

Coronation Street producers are reported to have edited scenes after they were deemed too similar to the death of a Stone Roses fan, the Digital Spy website has claimed. Christopher Brahney was reported missing after seeing the band play at Manchester's Heaton Park before, sadly, being found dead at Salford Quays on Monday. The soap's executives have decided to remove specific details of a body being found in a canal out of respect for the late twenty two-year-old's family and friends. An ITV spokesperson announced: 'The producers of Coronation Street have taken the decision to remove references in this Friday's show, which although scripted and filmed weeks ago, bore some similarities to the manner in which Christopher Brahney's body was found. Like many others, we were extremely saddened by the news of his death, and our thoughts and condolences are with his family.' The statement added: 'What we have removed is multiple references to a body being found in a canal. We have made the change so the finding referenced by a policeman is now broader, simply a body being found, no reference to where.' Troubled alcoholic Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) disappeared in the plot, culminating in his father, Ken, and estranged wife Leanne being told that a body found nearby matches Peter's description. However, after identifying the body at the police morgue, an emotional Ken and Leanne are relieved that the corpse does not belong to Peter.

The Food Network, the cookery channel owned by Scripps Networks interactive, is to celebrate completing its first year on Freeview by expanding its broadcast hours. From 20 July, Freeview homes will be able to watch the Food Network all day, rather than the previous four-hour programming block in the evenings. The channel is available at forty nine on the Freeview electronic programme guide. The Food Network UK launched on digital terrestrial television in July last year, joining its existing carriage arrangements on Sky and Freesat. Owned by Scripps Networks, which also holds a fifty per cent shareholding in pay-TV operator UKTV with BBC Worldwide, the channel offers a range of food entertainment shows, such as US programmes Drive-Ins and Dives, Man vs Food Nation and Barefoot Contessa. The UK network has also commissioned a range of more locally orientated content, such as Andy Bates Street Feasts and Reza, Spice Prince of India. According to Scripps, the channel was sampled by more than eleven million viewers on Freeview over the course of last year, with 3.3m tuning in each month. Although not, necessary, at the same time. 'By expanding Food Network's on-air presence, we are not only providing viewers with round-the-clock food and lifestyle programmes, but we also enrich and strengthen the overall value of our subscription-free offer,' said Guy North, the marketing communications director at Freeview. Food Network Europe managing director Nick Thorogood added: 'Today's news is a testament to the quality of our programming and Food Network UK's popularity and reputation amongst viewers. By extending our hours on this platform, all Freeview households will now be able to enjoy our great food entertainment all day, every day.'

Charisma Carpenter is to return to ABC Family drama The Lying Game as part of the regular cast. The actress recurred in the first season of the drama as Rebecca Sewell and for the second season is being promoted to the regular cast. The divine Charisma, of course, is still best remembered for her role of Cordelia Chase in the first three seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer a role which she continued to play for a further four years in the spin-off series Angel alongside David Boreanaz and Alexis Denisof.
Digital TV channel Dave has commissioned a fourth series of its stand-up show One Night Stand. The very excellent Milton Jones and Al Murray are among the acts taking part in the new series, which takes star stand-ups back to their home towns for theatre gigs, supported by acts taken from the stand-up circuit. Murray is recording his episode in London's Shepherds Bush Empire on Monday, just a couple of miles from his Hammersmith home. Jones - who previously supported Jason Byrne on his One Night Stand – is also recording his episode in London. Dublin-born Andrew Maxwell recorded a set at the Hackney Empire on Friday of last week slightly against the 'home town' ethos of the show. The other headliners taking part are Paddy Kielty in Belfast and Angelos Epithemiou in Derby while support acts include Wor Chris Ramsey and Benny Boot.

The Federation of Entertainment Unions will say that the BBC licence fee settlement of 2010 should be scrapped in a public meeting in Westminster this week. Nice idea, guys, but it's a bit impractical since the government's likely response will be two words the second of which is 'off.' The meeting, hosted by the Labour MP John McDonnell, will launch the federation's pamphlet directed at the new Director General George Entwistle. The federation represents one hundred and thirty thousand members from BECTU, Equity, the Musicians' Union, the NUJ, Unite the Union and The Writers' Guild. So, technically, that includes this blogger. Interesting. In the proposals the group of unions ask Entwistle, who takes over from Mark Thompson as director general in September, to 'rip up' the agreement from 2010 where Thompson agreed to freeze the licence fee until 2017. The subsequent Delivering Quality First plan devised how the BBC can save seven hundred million quid a year. The federation asks for the reversal of the decision that income from the licence fee should pay for World Service, BBC Monitoring, S4C, parts of local TV and the super-fast broadband roll out. Criticising the licence fee being used for what it calls the government's 'pet projects' it says 'the BBC should not be used as a piggy bank which the government can dip into whenever the money runs low.' It proposes that the underspend from digital switchover should not be returned to government or used for the broadband roll-out but should be used to 'offset some of the worst excesses of the cuts.' It also urges any increase in licence fee revenue - from an increase in the amount of households paying - to be ring fenced for programme making. Charging viewers to access archive footage is also seen as a potential income which the federation suggests should be ring fenced. Senior managers' pay is highlighted as a key area for savings. The federation proposes 'fair and transparent salary ratios between those who produce programmes and managers.' It asks for a staff representative to be present on the BBC's remuneration committee. The federation suggests further potential savings can be made if the charges BskyB make for carrying BBC programmes are scrapped. Moving staff from Birmingham also gets criticism from the federation. It says that by the end of 2012 almost no television or radio will be made for the national networks from Birmingham, something it suggests could 'cause lasting damage to the local economy and especially the creative industries in the West Midlands.' It urges 'proper use' of offices in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. McDonnell told Ariel that, as secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group, he is 'deeply worried that the cuts are threatening to undermine the quality of the BBC's services and in the long term this undermine the BBC itself.' When the BBC was asked if there was a possibility the 2010 licence fee agreement could be overturned a spokesman said: 'As we said in 2010 the licence fee settlement was tough but it delivered certainty and security and was in the best interests of licence fee payers. The BBC must live within its means and our plans to make seven hundred million pounds savings annually until 2016-17 will ensure that we continue to deliver the services audiences love, create a more efficient BBC and provide funds for re-investment in key areas.'

The age rating for Black Swan generated the most complaints to the British Board of Film Classification in 2011, the ratings body has revealed. The erotically charged thriller, rated fifteen in the UK, generated forty complaints from audiences. Or, as normal people call them, glakes. According to the BBFC's annual report, 'some complainants had expected to see a film about ballet.' Instead, it continued, the Natalie Portman film depicted 'the story of a young woman's mental disintegration.' The BBFC announced it had commissioned a major research project - the first for ten years - into public attitudes over sexual violence in films. The report is due to be published later this year. Presenting the annual report in London on Wednesday, BBFC director David Cooke said the forty complaints for Black Swan constituted a 'very small number.' Yes. A very small number of glakes. By contrast, 2012 release The Woman in Black has received around one hundred and twenty objections - also from glakes - to its 12A rating. Portman won the best actress Oscar in 2011 for her portrayal of a ballerina who loses her grip on reality while dancing Swan Lake. What ruffled the feathers of most complainants, according to the BBFC, was a sex scene between two female characters. 'While the scene is visually discreet, narratively justified and within the fifteen guidelines criteria, some correspondents felt it was pornographic in nature,' the report reads. 'That it was a sex scene between two women was an aggravating factor for some who argued that portrayals of homosexual activity should either be restricted to the eighteen category, or not shown at all. The high number of complaints for Black Swan demonstrates the disconnect that sometimes occurs between a viewer's expectations of a film and its actual content.' And the fact that some cinemagoers - or glakes, anyway - are also homophobic bigots, apparently. The BBFC said a trio of films classified at 12A featuring young heroines had also dominated its postbag in 2011. Hanna, featuring Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin, generated twenty nine complaints, with some viewers finding the film's violence 'sadistic and gratuitous.' Next with sixteen complaints was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One, in which heroine Bella and her vampire boyfriend Edward marry and consummate their relationship. A 'few' complaints concerned the wedding sex scene, which had already been reduced in strength to secure a 12A rating, the BBFC said. 'The majority of complaints focused on the sequence in which an emergency Caesarean section is performed on Bella, which some viewers found gory and distressing,' the report states. The film Sucker Punch received fifteen complaints for its perceived 'sexual suggestiveness' and the level of threat aimed at the female characters. The BBFC's decision to refuse to issue a certificate to The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) in 2011 provoked 'a fierce debate,' it said. The film was later rated eighteen after several cuts. Another film, The Bunny Game - in which a truck driver abducts and sexually abuses and tortures a prostitute - was refused a certificate. 'The BBFC intervened with both of these works on account of their depictions of extreme violence against women,' the BBFC said. Partly as a result of these and other films, the BBFC said it had commissioned 'a major new piece of original research into depictions of sadistic, sexual and sexualised violence' to determine public attitudes. The last piece of research in this area was carried out in 2002. Among the films being viewed by focus groups are Lars von Trier's Antichrist (which yer actual Keith Telly Topping watched and found to be ... unwatchable, frankly!), Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me, French-Canadian horror film Martyrs and uncut versions of A Serbian Film and The Human Centipede II. 'I have no doubt we are one of the more conservative classification bodies in Europe,' said Cooke. 'These things always vary when you get into the fine detail, but you only have to look across the Channel to France to see a classification regime which is way less conservative.' The US censor, by comparison, was 'more squeamish about sex than we are than but prepared to tolerate stronger violence,' he went on. Cooke also said that the BBFC was supporting proposals for an adjustment to the Video Recordings Act which would no longer exempt from classification some music videos and documentaries containing material 'potentially harmful to children.' The BBFC is celebrating its centenary in 2012, with a book charting one hundred years of classification scheduled for the autumn.

England strolled to a seven-wicket win over Australia at Old Trafford to complete a four-nil ODI series victory on Tuesday evening. Set a revised target of one hundred and thirty eight runs from twenty nine overs, England romped home with eleven balls to spare thanks to a stand of ninety two between captain Alastair Cook (fifty eight) and Ravi Bopara (fifty two not out). Australia had earlier been restricted to one hundred and forty five for seven from their thirty two overs - the game originally shortened after rain delayed play until 17:30. The whipping completes a miserable tour for the visitors, who were spared the threat of a five-nil whitewash only when the third one-day international, at Edgbaston, was abandoned due to torrential rain. That denied England the chance to claim the clean sweep that would have taken them to the top of the world ODI rankings, but Cook's men have the comfort of having now racked up ten successive wins - a team record. Given England's poor one-day record both overseas and in World Cups, any potential climb to the top of the rankings would have come with questionable credibility, but their dominance over the current world leaders in this series has been total and absolute. And, apart from a trio of dropped catches in the opening stages in Manchester, Cook's side were again far superior to their disappointingly lightweight tourists. Bowling first in helpful conditions, England - in the shape of James Anderson and the recalled spinner James Tredwell - dropped Matthew Wade twice, before Samit Patel spilled an easy chance from David Warner on the third man boundary. Tredwell, in the side as Tim Bresnan rested a sore elbow, made amends by pinning Warner LBW, as Australia capitulated in thigh-slappingly funny fashion. In the space of ten balls, Australia saw Peter Forrest run out diving to make his ground, Wade stumped running past one that turned from Tredwell and captain Michael Clarke run out by an Eoin Morgan direct hit. On a pitch which offered carry and bounce to the pace bowlers, it was the off-spin of Tredwell and the medium pace of Bopara that then put the squeeze on Australia in the middle overs. Bopara, whose bowling has often yielded bonus wickets for England throughout the series, had Steve Smith caught down the leg side from his first ball then enticed David Hussey to feather a catch through to Craig Kieswetter. It was left to George Bailey to try and carry the Aussies to a respectable total. With James Pattinson for support, he lifted Tredwell for six over long-on then repeated the dose to Anderson in the final over of the innings but, despite Bailey's forty one-ball forty six, the tourists looked well short of a competitive score. Their hopes would have been raised when Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott gifted early wickets - Bell chipping Clint McKay to mid-wicket and Trott, after a rain delay, playing across one that turned from Clarke - but, from there, Cook and Bopara took control. Both of the Essex men were strong through the off side, Cook driving and cutting, while Bopara's accumulation was punctuated by some eye-catching driving off the front and back foot. For Cook, it was a continuation of the form he has shown since taking over the captaincy last summer, while Bopara's displays could now leave him in line for a recall for the first Test against South Africa later this month. Such was England's comfortable progress, it came as a surprise when Cook edged Ben Hilfenhaus to slip but, by then, a deflated Australia had already long since been defeated by an England team that continues to improve in one-day cricket.

A play written by a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl is to be performed in the Parliamentary setting of Westminster Hall. Londoner Tosin Omosebi won the National Theatre's New Views playwriting competition for her thirty-minute one act play, Re-Write. It will be the first time that a play has ever been staged in the nine hundred-year-old building. The drama will also be performed at the National Theatre on 12 and 13 July. Performed by professional actors, Re-Write is 'an absurdist dark comedy' set in a psychiatric hospital. The A-level student from Southall told the BBC that she was 'in shock' when she found out she had won the contest, beating more than one hundred and seventy other entries. 'I didn't believe my teacher at first,' she told the BBC. 'I kept thinking that maybe they were going to call back or send her an e-mail and say, "sorry we've made a mistake."' The play is being staged as part of the three-month Arts in Parliament festival which brings art, music, dance and poetry to Westminster Hall. Built in 1097, the venue has been the scene of numerous historic moments in British history including coronations, the trials of Sir Thomas More and King Charles I and the lying in state of the Queen Mother. New Views is the National Theatre's annual playwriting competition for fifteen to nineteen year olds, inviting students to write a thirty minute play exploring challenging issues from contemporary society. National Theatre director and judge Nicholas Hytner called Omosebi 'a real writer. Her play crackles with excitement and is wonderfully ambitious,' he said. 'She is confident enough to play with theatrical form and she has something to say. I'm sure she has a future as a playwright.'

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a fifth moon circling the dwarf planet Pluto. The new moon, visible as a speck of light in Hubble images, is estimated to be irregular in shape and between ten and twenty five kilometres across. Scientists are intrigued that such a small world can have such a complex collection of satellites. The moon - known only as P5 - could help shed light on how the Pluto system formed and evolved. According to one idea, all of the moons are relics of a collision between Pluto and another large icy object billions of years ago. 'The moons form a series of neatly nested orbits, a bit like Russian dolls,' said Mark Showalter from the Seti Institute in Mountain View, the leader of the steam that discovered the new moon. Pluto's largest moon, Charon, was discovered in 1978. Hubble observations in 2006 uncovered two additional small moons, Nix and Hydra. In 2011, another moon, known as P4, was found by Hubble. Provisionally named S-2012 (134340), or P5, the latest moon was detected in nine separate sets of images taken by Hubble's Wide Field Camera three taken during June and July. New Horizons, an unmanned NASA spacecraft, is currently en-route to Pluto, with a flyby of the object scheduled for 2015. It will return the first ever detailed images of the Pluto system, which is so small and distant that even Hubble can barely see the largest features on its surface. Discovered in 1930 by the American Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto was regarded as the ninth planet in the Solar System until its demotion in 2006. The decision to recategorise Pluto as a 'dwarf planet' was driven by a recognition that it is one of several large, icy objects that reside in the Kuiper Belt, a region just beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Former FIFA president Joao Havelange was paid 'huge sums in bribes' by collapsed marketing company ISL, court documents have revealed. Havelange received at least 1.5m Swiss francs and executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira at least 12.74m SFr. The Swiss prosecutor's report, published by FIFA, reveals the pair may have received up to 21.9m SFr. They are the only two FIFA officials named in the report. Switzerland's supreme court ordered the release of the documents identifying which senior officials took millions of dollars in payments from ISL, FIFA's marketing partner until it collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001. The papers were released to five media organisations, one of which is the BBC, and detail the court settlement which closed a criminal probe of the ISL case in May 2010. In November that year, the BBC's Panorama programme alleged that three senior FIFA officials, including Teixeira, took bribes from Swiss-based ISL in the 1990s, though commercial bribery was not a crime in Switzerland at the time. A statement issued by the BBC said: 'A year-long legal battle by BBC Panorama to force publication of documents related to a confidential police investigation into bribery and corruption at FIFA was vindicated today. In Panorama - FIFA's Dirty Secrets in November 2010, reporter Andrew Jennings named the two officials as recipients of bribes from the Swiss ISL sports marketing company, which was repeatedly given lucrative World Cup marketing rights by FIFA.' The documents concerning Havelange also revealed that officials repaid 5.5m Swiss francs To end the prosecution office's investigation on condition their identities 'remain secret.' FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in October 2011 that he wanted to release the ISL dossier, despite his organisation seeking to deny access to its contents at the same time. 'FIFA is pleased that the ISL non-prosecution order can now be made public,' football's world governing body said in a statement. Havelange was FIFA president for twenty four years before being succeeded by Blatter in 1998. The ninety six-year-old Brazilian, who remains FIFA's honorary president, has been treated extensively in a Rio de Janeiro hospital this year for septic arthritis. He resigned his forty eight-year International Olympic Commitee membership, citing health reasons, in December, days before the Olympic body was due to sanction him following its own investigation into wrongdoing connected to ISL. Teixeira, Havelange's former son-in-law, this year resigned as head of Brazil's football federation and the 2014 World Cup organising committee, and gave up his FIFA executive committee seat, citing unspecified health and personal reasons.

Today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is a regal classic from yer actual Prince Buster his very self. And earthquake is erupting, cha!

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