Thursday, September 03, 2009

Danger - And Cancelling Third-World Debt - Is His Reward.

Welcome, dear blog reader, to yet another merry batch of all the Top Telly News that's vaguely fit to be broadcast ... Or to be laughed at, whichever is more applicable in this particular case. Keith Telly Topping has always been - and remains - committed to equal-opportunity abuse. U2 front-man and Christ-like saviour of all the peoples of the Third World, Mr Bonio, has reportedly rescued the cash-strapped Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical by arranging financing to keep the show afloat. Mr Bonio (pictured - left - with two, ahem, acquaintances) and the band's guitarist, Mr The Edge, penned the music to accompany the Broadway performance, which was announced to much fanfare last year. Development of the production is believed to have cost around forty five million dollars so far, but work on the musical was put on hold last month amid rumours of financial troubles. Cor blimey, is there anything that Mr Bonio can't save, his wonders to perform? First the Third World, now this. Care to take on my beloved Newcastle United next, Mr Bonio? They could do with the touch of your healing hands (and wallet).

A word of warning to slimy daddy's-boy James Murdoch and to all of those wretched brown-tongued lice at the Daily Mail who have given their utterly worthless applause to his crass, alarmist, reactionary, self-aggrandising views on the future of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Fans of the much-criticised, state-sponsored, land-grabbing, loony-leftie-Communist-infiltrated Beeb are on the march. Or, rather, they're on the computer. Which is the Twenty First Century equivalent of 'on the march', apparently. On Twitter, in fact, using the somewhat self-explanatory #welovetheBBC. It's a rather fun little site actually - check it out if you've got a few minutes to spare. Keith Telly Topping particularly enjoyed the comments of one correspondent: '#welovethebbc ... for keeping John Barrowman safely off our streets!' It's a goddamn dirty job, dear blog reader, but someone has to do it.

ITV is said to be planning to launch a one-hour timeshifted digital channel, ITV1+1, in the hope that competition regulators will relax rules governing TV advertising on its flagship channel. The broadcaster has laid the groundwork for a new catch-up channel to launch in October on Freeview, Freesat and Virgin Media. However, ITV will not give the greenlight to ITV1+1 until after the results of the Competition Commission's review of the contract rights renewal system, due later this month. CRR was introduced in 2003, when Carlton and Granada merged to create ITV plc, as a mechanism to protect advertisers from ITV abusing its dominant position in the UK TV advertising market. Since that time, ITV has - amusingly - suffered huge advertising losses and it claims that CRR is an outdated mechanism that prevents ITV from competing effectively. The Office of Fair Trading has recommended to the competition regulator that CRR should be relaxed and that a so-called 'son of CRR' be found, with a final conclusion expected this month. 'We continue to explore options with regard to launching ITV1+1,' said a spokesman for ITV. '[We have] begun preliminary planning in order that, should the launch of a timeshifted channel be an economically viable option, we would be ready to do so.'

The divine and luscious Katherine Heigl is taking a leave of absence from Grey's Anatomy, according to Entertainment Weekly. The thirty-year-old actress, who stars as Izzie on the ABC medical series, is reportedly taking a five-episode break from the show to shoot the romantic comedy Life As We Know It. Reports suggest that Heigl's absence will be explained on-screen, although the story surrounding her departure has not yet emerged. Heigl's future with the show has come under question in recent months. Rumours have been rife surrounding her potential departure from the series and she recently criticised the filming schedule on the show as 'cruel and mean.' She was later reportedly spanked by her ABC bosses for her outburst. Metaphorically, of course. Although, actually, you never know with ABC.

Glenn Close has denied suggestions that she moved into television because of a lack of film offers. The award-winning actress made her name in movies including Fatal Attraction and 101 Dalmatians but has more recently starred in TV shows The Shield and Damages as well as guest appearances in the likes of The West Wing. Close told London Lite: 'I bristle when it's intimated I'm doing television because I can't get any other work. It's just not true. I've always gone to where the best writing is and when I was given the Damages script I thought, "This is as good as the very best movie scripts." I'm always seduced by what I think is good writing and in this case it just happened to be a television series.' Regarding the differences between filming TV series and movies, she added: 'Sometimes there are so many revisions before the day of shooting and even on that day you're given rewrites. I like what my brain does when it has to learn lines so fast. It's thrilling to just go with the flow.'

Paul Burrell has decided to avoid the media throughout his current stint in the UK, according to a tabloid report. The former royal butler and I'm A Celebrity... contestant recently returned from his home in Florida to visit relatives in Farndon, Cheshire. It is believed that Burrell has since been helping out at a flower shop owned by his family and is determined to 'stay under the radar.' A source told the Daily Express: 'Paul feels it is sensible for him to keep a low profile while in England. He fears a hostile response if he speaks out any more.' Burrell was criticised last year after reportedly admitting that he did not tell 'the whole truth' when he gave evidence at an inquest into the death of his former employer, the Princess of Wales.

Cate Blanchett was reportedly injured in a fight scene during a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire by the Sydney Theatre Company. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the actress, who is playing Blanche DuBois, began bleeding from the head after she was hit by a prop, leading to the show being cancelled. An onlooker revealed that Joel Edgerton, acting as Stanley Kowalski in the play, accidentally struck Blanchett with a radio. She said: 'He was supposed to throw [the radio] out the window, but it sort of slipped and hit her in the head… she was so good, she just went straight on.' The witness added that Edgerton's performance continued after Blanchett made her exit until an announcement was made. 'They just kind of went, "Joel can you leave the stage please,"' she said.

The TV industry is said to be on a collision course with the NSPCC, psychologists and local authorities as the debate around duty of care toward children on TV hots up, according to Broadcast magazine. The children's charity is lobbying for legislation to be tightened. Policy adviser Vijay Patel told Broadcast it was not convinced producers always had children's best interests at heart. You do surprise us. TV Industry body PACT believes that the upcoming review of children on television, conducted by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, could pose some very significant challenges for producers in future. It is preparing to rally the sector in a defence of TV working practices. The NSPCC's Patel said: 'When they agree to be in a programme, children don't necessarily understand how they are going to be portrayed, or that they may be edited. The changes that we will be proposing are about making sure children are respected, and that programmes show the whole story, not just the parts that make for good TV. Of course, we work with some very good production companies that use psychologists. This isn't about stopping kids from being in shows such as Blue Peter - this is about what is best for the child.' The NSPCC wants all programmes, including documentaries and factual entertainment, to require a licence before children are allowed to participate, not just entertainment and scripted shows as at present. Patel picked out Channel 4's notorious Boys And Girls Alone and BBC3's The Baby Borrowers as recent shows that should, in his opinion, have required a licence.

Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton are said to be locked in a battle for A-list chat-show guests. Norton's programme will move from BBC2 to BBC1 in October as part of a plan to increase the channel's appeal to viewers in the twenty five to forty four age group. The shift puts him on an equal footing with Friday Night host Ross. According to the Daily Express, competition between the pair's respective teams is already becoming 'fierce' as they scour Hollywood for potential guests. A source told the newspaper: 'In the past it's been Jonathan who has had the most prestigious guests, such as Tom Cruise, because his show was on the main channel. But that's gone out of the window as he and Graham are suddenly on a level playing field and things are getting tense.'

ITV and the BBC have accused Sky News of potentially scuppering a televised debate between the three main party leaders ahead of next year's general election after the satellite channel broke cover today by saying it would hold one even if Gordon Brown did not take part. The rival broadcasters are understood to be angry that the head of Sky News, John Ryley, made the declaration yesterday in an article in The Times ahead of a meeting between all three networks on Friday, where they were due to discuss a mutual strategy for televised leader debates. It is understood ITV wants its own exclusive debate, while the BBC would be happy for each broadcaster to hold their own and make it available to others. Sky News said it would host a debate and also allow others to take the feed, as well as hosting separate debates in Scotland and Wales. One senior executive from a rival broadcaster described Sky's move as 'childish' and a 'marketing stunt', which had the ability to derail sensitive negotiations with the government to get the prime minister to take part. 'We are all pretty disappointed. This is no more than a stand that might jeopardise the debate rather than make it happen,' the source said.

Gerard Butler has revealed in a magazine interview that he enjoys fried foods from his home country Scotland. According to OK, the 330, Games Of Their Lives and Ugly Truth actor struggles to diet as a result of his constant cravings for Scottish junk food. He said: 'I used to live right above a fish and chip shop and I lived on those fish and chips and the king rib supper.' Keith Telly Topping would like readers to know that he is hungry now. 'I diet when I have to, but I have big problems, depending on my motivation,' Butler continued. 'That's the part of Scotland that haunts me - wanting to eat as many carbohydrates and as much sugar as possible.' Well, that all stands to reason. You a need a decent bit of lard inside you if you're going to take on all of them big hard Persians at Thermopylae, don't you? Butler, however, added that he had never tried a deep-fried Mars bar, a dish popularly associated with many chippies in Scotchland. I've never had one of them myself but Keith Telly Topping is always keen on trying new things, particularly if they're deep fried. So, if anybody would like to send me a couple, I'll make sure that one gets forwarded to Gerard before he goes off to war for Sparta again.

NBC has handed a pilot commitment to a US adaptation of ITV's Prime Suspect. According to reports, ITV has sold the format for Lynda La Plante's crime drama to the US network, which will develop the project with Without A Trace creator Hank Steinberg. 'We want to carefully choose a couple of iconic titles this year to reinvent, and our intention is to create another classic television show from this brilliant original format,' said NBC's Angela Bromsta. 'Hank Steinberg was key in helping us secure this project, and we are incredibly excited about his modern vision for the show.' Dame Helen Mirren, who played DCI Jane Tennison in the UK series, will not be involved in the US version. Which is one rather good reason not to watch it, frankly.

Lily Loveless and Kathryn Prescott have revealed that many gay girls have gained the courage to admit their sexual orientation as a result of watching storylines involving the two actresses on Skins. Loveless and Prescott play the lesbian couple Naomi and Emily on the Channel 4 show. Loveless told the Sun: 'People come up to me in clubs and say, "You made me come out." It's really cool. It's odd because you live in a bubble when you're filming and you forget it's going to go out on TV.' Prescott also commented: 'There are young people who are male and coming out, that's really prevalent. But it's not for girls. There are a few shows [with lesbians] and they paint it as if it's male-written, like young fantasy lesbians, but this is not like that.'

One of the most notable of those 'few shows with lesbians', The L Word, will reportedly be turned into a reality show. Cable network Showtime has rebooted its scripted programme for a new nine-episode run of The Real L Word: Los Angeles, which will follow six lesbians going about their day-to-day lives, according to Variety. 'Even though we concluded our sixth season of The L Word on Showtime this past March, I believe we are not nearly finished telling our L Word stories,' series creator Ilene Chaiken said. 'Showtime has yet again come forward to continue with us this mission to entertain and enlighten and bring more L to the world.' The project is said to be akin to Bravo's Real Housewives franchise. The show is expected to debut next year, depending on the casting process. The L Word ran from 2004 to 2009 on the network, while executives recently passed on spin-off series The Farm.

BBC2 has commissioned two new spin-off shows from The Restaurant, it has been announced. Raymond Blanc: Step By Step, a cookery series featuring the famous chef, will accompany the main show, while Plate Expectations will follow series two runners-up Alasdair and James as they go it alone as event caterers. BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow said of the new series: 'The Restaurant is a popular, well-established programme with lots of potential for expansion and I think these two new series will complement and enhance the brand.'

Thousands of music videos which were pulled from YouTube in a royalties dispute will go back online soon after peace broke out between the website and the music industry. A new licensing deal with PRS for Music, the trade body which collects music royalties, has brought the six-month dispute to an end. It began when YouTube accused the PRS of proposing exorbitant new payment terms and led to the website fending off criticism from the PRS, which felt it was punishing British music fans by removing videos in the quest for greater profits. Thousands of music videos are now being reinstated after being blocked from the site by YouTube's parent company Google during the licensing wrangle. But while this conflict has been resolved, another dispute is rumours to have erupted over the digital future of the music industry. A rift has opened between music's creators and its record labels, with a broad alliance of musicians, songwriters and producers fiercely criticising the business secretary Lord Mandelson's plans to cut off the broadband connections of Internet users who illegally download music. In a statement, reported on by the Guardian, a coalition of bodies representing a range of stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and 'that knonhead out of Blur who gets himself everywhere' attacks the proposals as expensive, illogical and 'extraordinarily negative.'

Robert Webb has claimed that Peep Show has maintained its quality because of the amount of time dedicated to its script. The actor, who plays Jeremy in the sitcom, told thelondonpaper that the sixth series will air this month while the seventh is currently being written. Webb said: 'Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain work deeply on the script. It takes them six months a series, which is why the quality has stayed so high. I think it gets better every time. If I had to say which are my favourite series in order, I'd say one, two, three, four, five, six. We'll do it for as long as they want us to, but they may want a break at some point.' Of the upcoming episodes, he added: 'I can't say too much. I mustn't say who the father of Sophie's baby is, and one other big development. But a new woman enters Jeremy's life. He falls hopelessly in love with an eastern European called Elena, which doesn't run smoothly at all. All the regulars are there and lots of the usual mishaps and disasters, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.'

UKTV reportedly wants to pick up the rights to make Taggart for its crime channel Alibi if ITV drops the long-running Scottish drama. Controller Matthew Littleford said he would 'absolutely' look to buy the programme and would help tp find an international co-production partner if UKTV could not pay for the show in full itself. 'We have proven that we can take the right brand onto our channels and turn it into a huge success,' he said. 'Look at Red Dwarf - it was an opportunity that came our way and it was a huge success for us. Taggart is a project we are interested in - we already show a lot of episodes on Alibi and it completely fits with our demographic. If we were to go for it, we would probably look for a co-production deal, but given that the series has a huge international following, I can't imagine finding another partner would be too hard.' Littleford's remarks followed the weekend's Edinburgh International Television Festival where Elizabeth Partyka, STV's deputy director of content and head of daytime was rumoured to have approached the controller about taking a stake in the franchise. She told Littleford: 'I'm interested in Alibi and I wondered if you have any ambitions for commissioning or co-producing any drama in the future, say if a big crime franchise became available?'

Sky1 is to restart the hunt for the only Moors Murders victim whose grave has yet to be found in a two-part series fronted by Martina Cole. The Search, With Martina Cole is a two part series in which Cole looks for clues as to the whereabouts of Keith Bennett's remains by revisiting existing evidence and interviewing new witnesses and those who were involved in the case. There will be no excavation of the moors and the show's aim is to help Bennett's mother, Winnie Johnson, move forward with her search while putting together a strong argument for reopening the case, which Greater Manchester Police officially closed on 1 July 2009. Although Sky1's original productions are more usually associated with light entertainment, director of programmes Stuart Murphy denied it was a brave commission or a significant departure. 'When I joined Sky, I looked at what the channel was all about and part of that was challenging hardcore factual,' he said. 'We did that with Ross Kemp in Kenya and Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, Martina Cole: Girls In Gangs and Ben: Diary Of A Heroin Addict. Our brand needs that.' Bennett was raped and murdered aged twelve on Saddleworth Moor in 1964 - one of five children killed by Ian Brady and the late Myra Hindley. His body has never been found. Cole met Mrs Johnson last year while making Ladykillers for ITV3, a documentary series profiling female murderers including Hindley. They have kept in contact since.

Real Housewives Of Atlanta star Kim Zolciak has posed topless, according to reports. The Bravo reality personality stripped off for a series of snaps for campaign NoH8 - which promotes awareness for the overturning of California's ban on same-sex marriages, Proposition 8 - according to FOX News. '[The noH8 campaign] shoot was hot. And I am topless! Just to cause a stir to make people pay attention! [sic]' Zolciak wrote on her Twitter account. She later added that the pictures were not edited 'that much.'

Meanwhile, the Californian Governor (and well-known cyborg) Arnold Schwarzenegger has reportedly asked David Beckham to appear the latest TV advert in a series promoting that haven of tolerence and soppy-liberal-loveliness, California. Except, if you're gay and you want to get married there, of course. Then it's not so much. The California Travel and Tourism Commission commercial would see the LA Galaxy star (or 'Mr Posh out of the Spice Girls' as he's more widely known in the area) kicking several footballs into the ocean, OK reports. And then, presumably, he'd mistime a late-tackle on Pamela Anderson. Rob Lowe and Vanessa Williams are among the celebrities who have already featured in the advertising campaign.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the product placement sprectrum, the manager of Cumberland's Pencil Museum has expressed her delight over Coronation Street's namecheck of the establishment. Monday night's episode of the Weatherfield soap saw Claire Peacock (Julie Haworth) attempting to sell raffle tickets for a draw with one of the top prizes being a pair of tickets to the museum - an attraction which houses the world's longest pencil. Ryan Connor (Ben Thompson) immediately mocked the prize, prompting Claire to defend the museum's appeal by proclaiming: 'It's more interesting than it sounds!' Museum curator Alex Spencer said: 'We think it's fantastic that we were mentioned on Coronation Street - it's a great programme! We're going to send them some personalised pencils.' She added: 'People come in to get out of the rain and think they are going to be here for just twenty minutes. But they end up staying for two hours instead. There's lots to see.' The museum, which was established twenty eight years ago, explores the history of pencil making. Attached to the museum is the Derwent factory, which began manufacturing pencils in 1832.

Sir Terry Wogan has taken aim at 'self-important' newsreaders, who he says have 'the easiest job in the media.' The Radio2 breakfast show host made the comments in his forthcoming book, Where Was I?! The World According To Terry Wogan. 'Newsreading is not something to get self-important about,' he said. The star was referring to an unnamed journalist who refused to sit in the same studio as his co-presenter. 'Why your man left in such a huff is a mystery. It's a piece of cake, the easiest job in the media,' Sir Terry said. 'Get your good suit and tie on, a quick dab in make-up (in Fiona Bruce's case, the lippy is going to take a tad longer), make yourself comfy and here comes the Six O'Clock News, all written nicely and clearly before your very eyes. Read it clearly and distinctly, ask the reporter the questions you have written down in front of you.' Sir Terry, who attracts more than eight million listeners to his radio show, said he knows exactly what the job entails because he has done it himself. 'And before you start with the "fair play old boy, there's more to it than that," I was a radio and TV newsreader and there isn't.'

BBC4 is to examine how fatherhood has evolved over the past hundred years, in a three part series made by Testimony Films. A Century Of Fatherhood is likely to feature in a wider Fatherhood season in 2010, and will interview men of different generations about their roles in their children's lives. 'The Victorians thought that being a father was one of the most important things in life and this will show how that idealistic tradition has waxed and waned through history,' said executive producer Stephen Humphries. The series was ordered by BBC4 controller Richard Klein and history commissioning editor Martin Davidson.

Five has struck a deal with Sony that will see shows including its two Australian sopa imports, Neighbours and Home and Away, broadcast on a new video-on-demand service available via the electronics giant's Bravia television sets launching next year. Five is the first UK broadcaster to sign a content deal with Sony for its planned Bravia Internet Video service. The service will allow customers who buy Bravia TVs, Sony Blu-ray Disc Players and Blu-ray home cinema systems to plug in their broadband connection to receive video-on-demand programming. This partnership, which will initially operate on a trial basis, will see Five shows such as Neighbours, Home and Away, The Hotel Inspector and Extraordinary People made available free to view on the service. 'It's vital for broadcasters and other industry stakeholders to explore such initiatives if they are to gain a solid footing in the digital world,' said Charles Constable, director of strategy at Five.

A Nottingham businessman who featured in the acclaimed series Secret Millionaire has been declared bankrupt, lawyers say. Property developer Chek Whyte is believed to owe thirty million pounds and had attempted to make arrangements to continue trading while paying off his debts. The self-made millionaire appeared on the Channel 4 TV series in 2007 and gave money to deserving causes in Salford, Greater Manchester in one of the most genuinely moving episodes of the show. His bankruptcy is thought to be one of the biggest cases of its kind. Mr Whyte made his fortune from construction and development, renovating dilapidated listed buildings such as Colwick Hall and Clifton Hall in Nottingham.

Production is due to begin this month on Stephen Frears' big-screen adaptation of the comic strip Tamara Drewe, starring Gemma Arterton. The story is adapted from Posy Simmonds' modern-day take on Far From The Madding Crowd - the classic novel by Thomas Hardy. Arterton will play Tamara, once a shy, ugly teenager, she reinvents herself as a smouldering femme fatale. The film also stars Mamma Mia's Dominic Cooper and Tamsin Grieg. Shooting is scheduled to begin on 21 September at locations in the UK and at Pinewood Studios. 'I've loved Posy Simmonds' work for a long time,' Frears said in a statement. 'I've got a tremendous cast and crew. Tamara Drewe is a terrific story. Fingers crossed, we can do it justice.' Arterton is currently finishing her work on a remake of the swords and sorcery classic, Clash of the Titans, which is due in cinemas on boxing day.

A woman who had liposuction and facial surgery to impress Simon Cowell has claimed that the music mogul nearly ruined her life. Only 'nearly'? I'm sure Simon will be devastated about that - he's used to total success in everything he sets out to achieve, isn't he? Katrina Lee, twenty three, decided to splash out on an image overhaul after Cowell said that she didn't have the right look for X Factor success. The show's judge made the remarks when Lee attended auditions for the ITV contest five years ago. She finally returned to face him this year after the surgery gave her a new-found confidence. Reflecting on her experience, Lee told the Sun: 'I had to go back and re-write history. What happened to me the last time nearly tipped me over the edge. It was terrible. I came face-to-face with Simon Cowell and told him that his comments had nearly wrecked my life. He told me, "That's not a nice thing that I said." He seemed really shocked about how his comments had affected me.' Lee added that she battled an eating disorder during her years away from the show and shied away from men until she was twenty one. She commented: 'Even though it was Simon who knocked me down, he's also the one who brought me back up again by telling me I was a good-looking girl when I returned this year. He took all my insecurity away.' Aw, Keith Telly Topping does love a good happy ending.

Pouty, vastly annoying and over-rated faux-middle class-pretend-punkette Avril Lavigne will sit behind the judges' table during American Idol's season nine audition tour. Lavigne will join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi at the Los Angeles auditions later this week, FOX announced. Lavigne will judge the first day of auditions, the second will be handled by Katy Perry, whose appearance was previously announced but never scheduled. Lavigne and Perry join a growing list of celebrity judges that also includes Victoria Beckham, Mary J Blige, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Kristin Chenoweth.

ESPN has been widely applauded for its choice of pundits for its new Premier League football channel, noted Charlie Sale in the Daily Mail. So what was it doing blotting its copybook with the unlikely choice of Alastair Campbell alongside Alan Curbishley as one of its football experts on Monday night? 'Campbell constantly promoting himself as a big Burnley fan hardly makes him an authority on football,' sniffed Charlie. Insert your own punchline here.

And, Katie Price has revealed that she believes Kerry Katona needs professional help. There's, literally, no punchline needed for that one.