Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rumours Of My Survival Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

The massive escalation in Internet speculation over the potential recovery of numerous Doctor Who episodes missing-presumed-wiped from the BBC's shamefully incomplete archive mentioned on this blog yesterday has, finally, led the corporation to issue a statement. Albeit, a rather long-winded and waffly one. But, I guess, it's the thought that counts. Philip Fleming, the Head of Communications, Brands, Content & Digital at BBC Worldwide, said: 'There are always rumours and speculation about Doctor Who missing episodes being discovered. However, we cannot confirm any new finds.' Was a simple 'no, it's all, sadly, a load of wishful thinking and some Chinese whispers put about by people with too much time on their hands' too much to ask, Phil? He was responding to claims that a large number of 1960s Doctor Who episodes had been found in Africa - either Nigeria or Uganda, sources seemed to vary on this point - made, by one Rich Johnston, on the Bleeding Cool website (and, subsequently, just about everywhere else on the Internet). Sensing a bit of wiggle-room in Fleming's statement, someone at the Radio Times subsequently queried what, exactly, Fleming had meant by saying that he 'could not confirm' any new finds. To which a BBC spokeswoman replied: 'We can't confirm because it's not true as far as I'm aware.' Okay, that's a bit more unequivocal (albeit, still with a tiny qualifier in there regarding personal knowledge). Pressed further by this - very determined - Radio Times blokey (one, Ben Dowell) about whether or not the BBC was 'in talks' with 'people' about any hypothetical episodes which may or may not exist, the spokeswoman - by now probably thoroughly pissed-off - said: 'I don't think so', while to the subsequent question 'So there are no episodes?' she responded: 'Not as far as we know.' Presumably through gritted teeth. So, there you go, dear blog reader. Clear as mud, isn't it? Meanwhile, the chap who was supposed to have discovered all these hypothetical missing episodes (in either Nigeria or Uganda) according to Bleeding Cool - one Philip Morris, a TV archivist - has now issued a far straighter and much more definitive denial that all of this malarkey has anything to do with him. So, that would appear to be the end of that, then. With a, sadly, predictable outcome. How very (genuinely) sad - although it always sounded like a fairy story the fan part in all of us wanted it to be true, or partially true, or a fraction of it to be true. Although, it must be that said seeing lots of Doctor Who fans getting really excited and enthusiastic about the show over the last few days has, undeniably, been something of a novel experience. And, now, watching Bleeding Cool themselves furiously backtracking ('Bleeding Cool has reported in the last week on rumours circulating at the highest levels that such a cache has been located and is being prepared for release during the fiftieth anniversary year of Doctor Who. A shipping docket associated with Philip Morris indicated a smoking gun, but that seems to have been holstered') from their previous statements ('the Doctor Who Missing Episodes Rumour Gains A Little More Weight. Three Tons Worth') is, quite a sight to see. Still, bright side, at least this toot has, momentarily, pushed lots of 'so-and-so to be the next Doctor ... oh, no, he (or she) isn't' rubbish temporarily off the agenda. Oh, hang on, I spoke too soon again. Jesus, how much money do these people think the BBC has?

Dear blog readers with a long memory may possibly recall a story this blog covered in December 2009 about a mouthy Conservative MP whinging about David Tennant appearing 'too much' on the BBC. Nothing too unusual in such a scenario, of course - Tory MPs often seem to really get The Horn seeing their comments published in a politically like-minded newspaper whinging about some or other aspect of the BBC of which they disapprove. Some might even wonder if there wasn't some sort of sick anti-BBC agenda going down in such cases. No, surely not. - that can't be true. Anyway, events this week brought that - rather trivial and, frankly, silly - story to mind again as the MP in question was none other than Ribble Valley representative Nigel Evans. Yes, the self-same Nigel Evans who is now Deptuy Speaker of the House and who was this week arrested on suspicion of three counts of indecent assault against young men. The fifty five-year-old answered bail following his previous arrest in May on suspicion of rape and sexual assault, and was told that he faces the additional allegations. Allegations which, it is very important to note, Evans strenuously denies. He will not resume his Speaker duties whilst inquiries continue. He has previously denied any wrongdoing. The original rape and sexual assault allegations are said to have happened in Pendleton between July 2009 and March 2013. The new indecent assault allegations are claimed to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.

And, following that, to change the subject completely, here's a picture of that big yellow duck in Hong Kong harbour. And, indeed, why not?
Some very sad news, now. James Gandolfini, the America actor best known for his role as a therapy-seeking mob boss in The Sopranos, has died at the age of fifty one. Gandolfini suffered a suspectedheart attack while on holiday in Rome, the HBO network told the BBC. According to TMZ website, New Jersey-born Gandolfini went to Italy to attend a film festival in Sicily. He won three EMMY awards for his role as Tony Soprano, a mafia boss juggling his criminal career and family life. 'It is with immense sorrow that we report our client James Gandolfini passed away today while on holiday in Rome,' said his managers, Mark Armstrong and Nancy Sanders, in a statement on Wednesday night. 'Our hearts are shattered and we will miss him deeply.' HBO also said THAT the star of The Sopranos, which ran for six series on the cable channel from 1999 TO 2007, would be 'deeply missed. He was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect,' said its statement. 'He touched so many of us over the years with his humour, his warmth and his humility.' Gandolfini was born in 1961 in Westwood, New Jersey, to a school dinner lady and a bricklayer-turned-school caretaker, both of Italian-American background. He graduated with a degree in communications from New Jersey's Rutgers University. Then he moved to New York, finding work as a bartender and a club manager. Gandolfini's acting career took off in 1992 when he landed a part in a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. His breakthrough role came a year later playing a mobster in the movie True Romance. Gandolfini's more recent film credits included In The Loop, Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly. He was nominated for a Tony theatre award in 2009 for his role in the Broadway hit God of Carnage. Gandolfini is survived by his second wife, Deborah Lin, a former model, whom he married in 2008, and their daughter, Liliana, born last year. He also leaves a teenage son, Michael, from his first marriage to Marcy Wudarski, his former personal assistant. They married in 1999 and split three years later. The Sopranos creator David Chase said Gandolfini was 'a genius. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time,' he said. 'A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.' Lorraine Bracco, who played Tony Soprano's psychiatrist, Jennifer Melfi, in the drama, said: 'We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken.' Jeff Daniels, who starred with Gandolfini in God of Carnage, said: 'If Broadway has a version of a guy you want in your foxhole, Jim Gandolfini was mine.' In a December 2012 interview with the Associated Press news agency, Gandolfini said he had become an actor to overcome his anger. 'I don't know what exactly I was angry about,' he said. 'I try to avoid certain things and certain kinds of violence at this point,' he added. 'I'm getting older, too. I don't want to be beating people up as much.'

And finally today, dear blog reader, a rather heart-warming story especially for anyone who loathes bullies, or lawyers. Or, indeed, both. Yer actual Jake Freivald runs The Internet domain hosts a - somewhat bare-bones - website dedicated to providing a bit of basic information to dear blog readers about the town of West Orange in New Jersey. It's got a small map of New Jersey with West Orange highlighted on and also features a list of links to other local blogs and news sites and a few recommendations about places of interest to visit should you happen to be in the neighbourhood. To be honest, it hardly qualifies as a functioning website, or at least it didn't until a few weeks ago. That was when an attorney claiming to represent the West Orange Township decided to, as it were, get proactive. One Richard D Trenk, Township Attorney - and a right good laugh by the sound of him - fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Jake, full of long-winded legalese and lots of big scary words claiming that Jake's website was an 'effort by [Freivald] to confuse and conflate the Township's official domain name and Web site with the Info Domain that [Freivald] maintain[s].' This is the sort of thing that film and TV production companies and record companies often have their lawyers send out in order to shut down unofficial websites about their properties citing copyright infringements over image rights, et cetera. It's a rather mean conceit and is, frankly, tantamount to boasting about who's got the biggest willy. But, instead of just shutting up shop and calling it a day as most of us would probably have done when faced with The Man, Jake hired himself an attorney, Stephen B Kaplitt, who seems to have taken great pleasure in responding to the township's cease-and-desist letter. Yer man Stephen fired back a response brimming with quite superb sarcasm, satire and wit (you know, those things American's 'don't understand'), calling the township's order an 'impulsive, ham-fisted attempt to bully a local resident.' It's a hugely entertaining read and, best of all, it was a pro-bono case so Jake didn't even have to pay for it. You can read Stephen's comedy masterpiece here. That is what's commonly know, in legal circles, as 'a right good and proper bee-a'tch slapping' and/or 'one lawyer completely owning another lawyer's sorry ass.' Hope that wasn't too technical for you, dear blog reader.