Thursday, January 28, 2010

Silly Season Stories

Producers of The Thick Of It are reported to have shelved plans for an election-night special. According to the Sun, executives are worried that they may get the outcome wrong and, as a consequence, have delayed writing the next series until after the election. James Smith - Glenn Cullen on the political series - said: 'Armando [Iannucci] wanted to do an election special but we thought that it would look foolish if we got the wrong party. We thought we could do different endings and end it on that night but that wouldn't work logistically. Then we thought, what's the point of doing that and missing the point that the show is so politically astute?' Smith added that the next series of the popular satirical sitcom will be written later in the year.

Alexandra Burke has become the latest of several pop singers to claim that she would like to play 'a hands-on role' in the Haiti relief efforts. Good. So what, exactly, is stopping you, Alexandra? Planes are leaving for Haiti every few hours. Get yourself down to Brize Norton, I'm sure that the aid relief agencies would welcome an extra pair of hands on the ground.

Chris Barrie has hinted that the cult SF sitcom Red Dwarf may return for a full series. The comedian, who played the legend that is Arnold Rimmer in the BBC comedy, claimed that he is keen for the show to continue, admitting that he loved working on three part mini-series Back To Earth last year. 'There is talk of more Red Dwarf this year and while Back To Earth was a good one-off, from the rumours I hear, we may be doing a more standard sort of series,' he told the Daily Record. 'But any new Red Dwarf is fine by me. I was surprised at just how quickly I slipped back into it. It took a couple of scenes to loosen up a bit but once you get the outfit on, you're there.' He added: 'I don't know what made the series work so well, I think the answer must be Doug Naylor. He's a genius. He is well-versed in the sci-fi world and he and Rob Grant were great comedy writers, so I think Red Dwarf is the dream marriage of those two things.'

ITV has announced that Royal Mail boss Adam Crozier is to become the broadcaster's new chief executive. The announcement marks the end of ITV's year-long search for a replacement for the departing Michael Grade, who said last April that he wished to give up the role. Prior to joining the Royal Mail, Crozier was, of course, the chief executive of the Football Association. Crozier returned the Royal Mail to profitability, but the postal service has also been hit by strike action. ITV said he is due to take up the chief executive position 'later this year.' So, having successfully screwed up football and the post industry, Adam - seen left, doing his world famous Tommy Cooper impression - is clearly going for a hat-trick. Just like that.

Pouty Avril Lavigne has claimed that she was 'really impressed' by Simon Cowell during her stint on American Idol, according to OK magazine. The singer joined Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson as a guest judge during the Los Angeles round of auditions this week. 'I was really impressed with Simon, because he would wrap it up so perfectly. I didn't think he was mean, I think he is smart. It was fun to be there and I was hoping I could give good advice,' she told Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show. 'I was actually really blown away by the talent of the majority of the contestants that I saw. I thought there was a lot of really great people who auditioned. It takes a lot of guts to go up there.' She added: 'I'm definitely a very shy person and introverted. Some people are a little over the top, and then sometimes when they were dismissed their behaviour was so bizarre and strange and they didn't want to leave and I found it awkward.'

NBC has picked up a pilot from Conan O'Brien's production company Conaco, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter. The network, which parted ways with O'Brien last week over a scheduling disagreement, has reportedly ordered the hour-long project, currently being referred to under the working-title as Justice. The show is thought to revolve around a former Supreme Court law justice who quits his job to start his own practice.

Calista Flockhart has reportedly cut her role on ABC's Brothers & Sisters. According to Entertainment Weekly, Flockhart - Kitty McCallister on the hit series - will be working a reduced schedule next season. Last week, it emerged that her co-star, the great Rob Lowe, had quit the series as Senator Robert McCallister and will leave at the end of the current fourth season. Reports are now suggesting that Lowe made the decision after hearing that Flockhart wished to cut her screen-time, fearing that his role on the show would become even smaller.

Emilie De Ravin has revealed that she believes her character, Claire, is still alive on Lost. Her alter-ego was last seen during the show's fourth season when she mysteriously disappeared into the jungle, leaving her baby, Aaron, behind. She has since been referenced and has been confirmed as a series regular on season six. Speaking to TV Guide, De Ravin said that she has filmed lots of scenes with Evangeline Lilly and added: 'I think I'm alive, as far as I know.' The twenty eight-year-old actress has previously teased that she will make a return in 'an unexpected way.'

Carlton Cuse has admitted that he is worried about Lost being pitted against House in the schedules when it returns for its final season next month. The show's executive producer compared his Twitter followers to those of Greg Yaitanes, who is the executive producer of House and joked that he feels threatened by the competition. 'Greg Yaitanes, director [sic] of House, has two hundred and fifty thousand followers,' he wrote. Is that all? Stephen Fry's got a million. So it could be worse, pal. You could be up against Bones instead! Anyway ... 'If that is any show measure, I hope they don't put House opposite Lost.' As a major fan of both shows, yer Keith Telly Topping would rather that eventuality was avoided too. But, you can't have everything. Where would you keep it?

Heroes star Hayden Panettiere has spoken about her new red hair colour. The actress, who plays Claire Bennet in the NBC drama, told Us Weekly that she was 'tired of being blonde' when she decided to swap her signature golden locks for dark red. 'You get stuck in one thing and known for one thing and as a cheerleader or whatever that image,' she explained. Yes. And very nice that image was too. 'It's fun to change things up, and I feel I don't have to overcompensate as much personality-wise when I have red hair as I do with blonde hair.' She added: 'I'm typically a very fiery person anyway, but I just feel like cute and blonde and little is just so one category and one thing and changing my hair colour, I feel like I don't have to overcompensate so much for the fact that I don't like being called cute or anything like that - especially being all five foot two of me.'

Nightmare on Elm Street actor Robert Englund will appear as a guest in an upcoming episode of Bones. Englund has been tapped to play a janitor at a high school where a murder takes place, according to TV Guide. The episode, set to air later this season, finds Seeley (David Boreanaz) and Temperance (Emily Deschanel) heading to Booth's old high school to investigate the death. Englund recently starred in the web series Fear Clinic. His next project is reported to be a feature film thriller called Good Day For It.

Former Cheers actress Kirstie Alley appears to have launched a heated Twitter campaign against The View's co-host Joy Behar. According to Fancast website, the actress seems to disapprove of Behar's coverage of the Tiger Woods scandal on her Headline News Channel chat show The Joy Behar Show. 'And WHY has Joy Behar turned into such a self righteous cooz head? OOOOoooo that's right. FOREVER!!![sic]' Alley wrote on her Twitter page. The Fat Actress leading lady's follow-up Tweet was even more pointed: 'CHEATING is between a husband and a wife. Not TMZ and Joy Bewhore & God. I want to bash her in the vagina with her microphone.' Ow. Behar ignored Alley's Twitter tirade for several days, but last Friday, she is said to responded: 'Kirstie Alley calls me Joy Bewhore. Compliments! Compliments!' I'm tempted to say 'Big fight, little people' but, have you seen the size of Kirstie Alley these days? When she sits around the house she sits around the house.

Ugly Betty has been cancelled in the US after four series, ABC has announced. The show, starring America Ferrera as a style-challenged woman working at a New York fashion magazine, was a critical success when it began in 2006. But it has struggled recently, with ratings in the US falling from an average eight million viewers to under five and a half million between the third and fourth series. ABC said the show will conclude its run in April. 'We've mutually come to the difficult decision to make this Ugly Betty's final season,' executive producer Silvio Horta and ABC president Steve McPherson said in a joint statement. That's executive-speak for 'it's been cancelled, go away.' 'We are announcing now as we want to allow the show ample time to write a satisfying conclusion.' Based on the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, La Fea the show was adapted to a US setting by Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek, who also guest-starred in the series. Ferrera became an overnight sensation when the show launched and went on to win a Golden Globe, for best TV comedy actress, and an Emmy, for best actress in a comedy series, in 2007.

Just about every single gay guy in the UK woke up this morning to read a story that appeared to see all of their dreams come true. Liza Minnelli was being hotly tipped to join the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel for the next series. All of yer Keith Telly Topping's - many - gay mates were e-mailing this blogger in a state of some considerable squee! Bless 'em. It was quite a sight, so it was. According to the ever-reliable and truth-hungry Mirror, the show's 'bosses' (I think they mean 'producers') were said to be considering recruiting the Cabaret star and musical theatre icon as a replacement for Alesha Dixon. The Mirror went on to claim that producers believe Dixon did not appeal to 'the younger viewers she was brought in to attract.' A source told the paper: 'Alesha got off to a very shaky start but did improve. Despite this, her future is believed to be hanging by a thread. Liza has international appeal and real star billing. She is a singer and dancer, and Hollywood through and through. Her experience in the showbiz industry would be a real coup - plus she has the personality to match.' Producers were also said to be considering a five-person panel which would allow both Dixon and Minnelli to judge the dances. However, within a few hours this all proved to be nothing more than a thoroughly dodgy rumour as the BBC moved quickly to flatly deny the report. A spokesperson said 'There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in this story - Liza Minnelli is not being lined up as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.' So, that's fairly unequivocal. It only remains, therefore, for the Mirror to either produce their 'source' and confirm there was a story here in the first place, or admit that they've been had. The next few days should be interesting.

Doctor Who scriptwriter Phil Ford has penned a new SF game show for the BBC, it has been announced. The thirteen-episode series, titled Mission: 2110, is set in a post-apocalyptic landscape and sees contestants span time and space to travel to the futuristic setting of our planet to try to restore peace and stability. Executive producer Sue Morgan said of the show: 'Mission: 2110 is an exciting ambitious and challenging new fast-paced game show where the contestants will need to use all their cunning and guile to avoid elimination.' Production is due to continue until early March, which the series being eyed for a spring broadcast on CBBC.

Liam Gallagher has revealed that he would be interested in taking part in Total Wipeout or I'm A Celebrity... The Oasis frontman said that he was a big fan of reality TV, admitting that the only thing putting him off appearing on the shows was having to spend time with the other contestants. 'Big Brother, I've been watching that. The missus likes it. All that Strictly, Come Dance nonsense, I watch all of that. I like Coronation Street,' he told XFM. Speaking about the possibility of going into the jungle, the singer said: 'I'd like to do all that shit, but I would want to do it on my own. I wouldn't want to be with all those other idiots in a house or whatever.' That's, sort of, the point of the show, Liam mate. Tell you what, stick to getting the first Oasis LP without Noel into shape, I think that should be your priority. Gallagher added that his favourite TV show at the moment was BBC1 game show Total Wipeout. 'They do it in Argentina. I'd love to do it on my jaxy, with no one about,' he said.

Mel Gibson has said that he is a fan of British television. The actor returns to the big screen this month after a seven-year gap in a movie adaptation of Troy Kennedy Martin's 1985 UK masterpiece Edge Of Darkness. Gibson told Metro concerning the original show: 'I watched it religiously in the 1980s. The musical score was amazing with Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen. That was really high quality TV. It was very edgy. British television is great.'

Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc are rumoured to be about to re-team for their first series together in more than a decade in a BBC2 quest to find the UK's best amateur bakers. More news when it's announced.

It has been reported that the Jobcentre has recently advertised an unusual position - the 'semi-nude' host of a pornographic TV channel. The advert apparently said that the job 'may cause embarrassment to some people' but paid two hundred and twenty smackers per shift. The winning applicant would work three days a week from 9pm until 5am but there would be no pension entitlement. The advert for the position of 'Adult TV Channel Presenter' on the Jobcentre Plus website stated: 'The successful applicant (will be) required to be semi-nude. Must have good spoken communication skills as will be taking calls from the general public live on air.' The advert for the London-based job also stated that applicants had to be aged over eighteen and added: 'There is no obligation to consider making an application for this vacancy.' A spokesman for Revolver Models, which placed the advert, said: 'We are looking for a male or a female to take this role.' The strangest job yer Keith Telly Topping ever sent somebody after when he work in job broking a decade ago was for a four day temporary job as a 'President de Gaulle impersonator.' True story.

Sky has announced that its UK-first dedicated 3D TV channel will begin rolling out in pubs from April to broadcast live Premier League games in 3D. Ahead of the launch, the firm will publicly preview the 3D TV service on 31 January for Arsenal's game against The Scum. The match will be captured and broadcast in 3D by Sky, with a group of nine selected pubs able to show live football on 3D TV for the first time ever. The unnamed venues in London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin have all been fitted with 3D-ready TV sets and will supply customers with special glasses to watch the match. From April, Sky will then expand the service to 'hundreds' of pubs around the UK and Ireland in a phased launch for the 3D channel, which will carry a new 3D Premier League game every week. As 3D TV models become more 'widely available' in the consumer market, Sky+ HD customers will also get access to the channel. By then, Sky 3D will offer a wider range of content, including movies, sport, documentaries, entertainment, and the arts. Sky 3D will 'initially' be made available at no extra cost to all existing Sky+ HD customers who also subscribe to the top tier TV package and HD pack. However, they will need to purchase a 3D-ready TV set to watch the service.

Two children's TV presenters were reportedly stopped by the police under anti-terrorism powers while filming a stunt using hairdryers as weapons. Anna Williamson and Jamie Rickers, who host the ITV show Toonattik, were approached by four policemen whilst filming on London's Southbank. The officers said that they were suspicious after seeing the pair running around wearing flak jackets and utility belts, reports the Daily Telegraph. The pair told officers that all they were carrying were hairbrushes, plastic walkie-talkies and blue 'spangly' hairdryers. Williamson, twenty eight, said: 'We were filming a strand called Dork Hunters, which is to do with one of the animations we have on the show. Jamie and I were kitted out in fake utility belts, we had the whole bulletproof flakjacket thing, we've got hairdryers in our belt, a kids' one pound ninety nine walkie-talkie and all that kind of stuff, and we were being followed by a camera crew and a boom mike and we get literally pulled over by four policemen and we were issued with a warning under the act of terrorism.' Mr Rickers, thirty two, who is a martial arts enthusiast, added that it was one of the most memorable moments from his time on the show in the past five years. 'We were stopped, not arrested, but they had to say "we are holding you under the Anti-Terrorism Act because you're running around in flak jackets and a utility belt," and I said "... and please put spangly blue hairdryer" and he was, like, "all right."' A - highly embarrassed, probably - spokesman for the Metropolitan Police was unable to confirm details of the incident. Come on, be honest, if you were one of the law involved when you got back to the station would you admit you'd just stopped somebody for carrying an offensive hairdryer?

Frank Skinner has claimed that fans often call him 'a fucking legend' in the street. The comedian, who was named Loaded Legend at last night's Loaded Lafta Awards, joked that he has got used to the title. 'I found out about the award about two weeks ago. And I said "yes, okay." I suppose I do feel a bit like a legend at times. Although it sounds like a very grand title, it is probably the most common thing that people like cab drivers shout at me in the street, "Oi! Skinner, you fucking legend," so I've kind of got used to it to be honest.' He added: 'I think it has a certain ambiguity to it though, it's not like being Beowulf.'

Horse & Country TV - no, me neither - has secured a global rights deal to highlights from The Badminton Horse Trials, breaking a long-running BBC exclusive on coverage from the snotty, posh-persons equestrian event. The digital channel, run by former ITV non-executive board director Heather Killen, has agreed a deal for international media distribution which runs until 2012, reports the Guardian. The BBC has previously enjoyed exclusive rights to action from Badminton, but now coverage from the event could be seen on various broadcasters around the world. H&C plans to put together a package of highlights from the trials, which this year run from 30 April to 3 May, for sale to international clients. The firm will run more extensive coverage on its own subscriber channel on Sky.

Susan Boyle's brother has expressed his ears that the singer could be assassinated. 'Like John Lennon.' And there, any similarities between the two would appear to end. Meanwhile, Boyle's music idol Elaine Paige has 'attacked' the singer, apparently calling her 'a virus' who she doesn't have any 'pride' for. At least, this is according to the Daily Mail. Personally, if they told me black was darker than white I'd want a second opinion.

Katie Price has been voted 'the most hated woman' in Britain in a new Internet poll. Price pulled in more votes than Kerry Katona and Peaches Geldof in a survey carried out by OnePoll. Price's acrimonious split from her ex-husband Peter Andre has been blamed for the backlash against her. A OnePoll spokesman said: 'Jordan put her foot in it time and again. She tried her best to discredit Peter but he has a loyal female following and is seen as one of the good guys.'

And finally, what has to be today's oddest story. It has been widely reported recently in various media outlets that a man has been arrested after obscene images were found on his computer which included unidentified individuals involved in sexual acts with a squid and cats. Which is truly, disturbingly horrible. Although, it has to be said, there's definitely an Octopussy joke in there somewhere. But, I think I'll let that one pass.