Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yesterdays Shatter, Tomorrows Don't Matter

Benidorm returned to record-breaking overnight ratings on Friday as the sitcom reversed ITV's Friday night fortunes. The fourth series opener of the popular comedy drama - guest starring Cilla Black and Denise Welch - averaged a highly impressive 7.31m from 9pm, adding a further two hundred and sixty thousand viewers on ITV+1. BBC1's New Tricks repeat was second in the hour with 2.97m, followed by Channel Four's Embarrassing Bodies with 2.56m and almost seven hundred thousand on timeshift, while BBC2's Hidden Treasures of Australian Art was watched by 1.04m and The Mentalist got 1.07m on Channel Five. The comedy Friday Night Dinner, starring Simon Bird and Tamsin Greig, launched on Channel Four with a respectable 1.86m at 10pm and a further three hundred thousand an hour later on timeshift, ahead of BBC Two's last Fast and Loose, which could only muster a disappointing seven hundred and eighty five thousand, and Law & Order's 1.03m for Channel Five. The Graham Norton Show easily won its slot with 3.29m from 10.35pm. Earlier, Mastermind and Britain From Above achieved 2.3m and 1.29m for BBC2 in the 8pm hour, while Relocation: Phil Down Under managed 1.43m for Channel Four, and Ice Road Truckers was watched by 1.27m on Channel Five.

Simon Cowell has reportedly entered talks to take Big Fat Gypsy Weddings to America. According to the Sun so, you know, treat all this with extreme caution. Cowell, the alleged newspaper claims, has already met with 'bosses' from the documentary series' production firm Firecracker to discuss a US launch. Company boss Mark Soldinger is said to have 'boasted' to friends about his meeting with the TV talent judge. A 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'Simon knows all the TV execs in America. He is the man to make it happen. Everyone at Firecracker is very excited about it.' Despite controversy, allegations of racism, threats of boycotts and legal action from certain members of the travelling community and a new story appearing in just about every national newspaper every day concerning some aspect of it, the show has been an extraordinary ratings hit in the UK, attracting up to eight million viewers in its Tuesday night slot. A Christmas special has also been commissioned. A spokesperson for Cowell refused to comment on the story.

Jerry Seinfeld has won a legal battle described as 'a victory for the right of comedians to tell jokes.' The comic had been sued for defamation after calling an author 'wacko' and 'a nut job' on David Letterman's talk show – but a New York state judge has now thrown out the case. Missy Chase Lapine had previously tried to sue Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, claiming that she had stolen ideas for her cookbook from Lapine's title The Sneaky Chef. Talking about the plagiarism case on Letterman's show, Seinfeld called Lapine 'angry and hysterical' and likened her to a stalker – comments which Lapine claimed constituted 'a malicious, premeditated and knowingly false and defamatory attack.' However, in her ruling judge Marcy Friedman said: 'As statements of opinion they are not actionable. The court finds it inconceivable that a reasonable viewer would have believed that Seinfeld's statements were conveying facts about Lapine.' Orin Snyder, from Seinfeld's legal team, told the Bloomberg press agency: 'Today's decision is a complete victory for Jerry - and also a victory for the First Amendment and the right of comedians to tell jokes.' Lapine's claims of plagiarism were dismissed by a federal judge in 2009.

Glynis Barber has confirmed that her EastEnders character Glenda Mitchell will be leaving Albert Square next month. Writing on her official website, the actress revealed that Glenda is about to find herself increasingly isolated in Walford - prompting her to leave the area behind. Glenda first appeared on screens in January 2010 and has been at the centre of many dramas in the past year, as her schemes and secrets have caused a stir among the various Mitchells. Speaking of her EastEnders departure, Barber told her online fans: '2010 was a busy and exciting year for me playing Glenda Mitchell in EastEnders. After Glenda manages to alienate practically everyone on Albert Square, she makes her exit in March 2011. But will she be back in the future to wreak more havoc? Well "she ain't dead" so anything is possible. Watch this space!' Barber added that she is currently 'working on a yoga-based project with a view to bringing out a DVD later this year.' The actress's screen daughter Samantha Womack (Ronnie Branning) is also due to depart EastEnders in the months ahead.

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking case, has been ordered by the high court to reveal the names of the executives who commissioned him. The court ruled that Mulcaire, whose contract with the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid was worth one hundred thousand pounds per year, could not refuse to answer questions about his work on the grounds of self-incrimination. In legal actions brought by the comedian Steve Coogan and the former Sky Sports presenter Andy Gray, Mulcaire must now respond to inquiries about the names of News of the World journalists who ordered his services and the identity of celebrities whose phones were hacked. Coogan is suing Mulcaire and the News International subsidiary News Group for breach of privacy for allegedly hacking into voicemail messages left on his mobile phone. Mulcaire has already admitted passing phone intercept information to several individuals working on the News of the World news desk. Delivering judgment, Mr Justice Vos accepted that there was now 'abundant evidence that Mr Gray's voicemails were intercepted and a strong inference that some misuse will have been made of the confidential information thereby obtained.' He added: 'The twelve calls that have already been proved may well not be the whole story.' In terms of revealing the identities of the News of the World journalists who instructed them and the extent of Mulcaire's target list, the judge ruled that the convicted private investigator must answer virtually all the questions submitted by Coogan's and Gray's lawyers. 'These requests are relevant,' Vos said. 'It is alleged that [the News of the World and Mulcaire] were intercepting telephone voicemail on an industrial scale. It will be important to the claimant's case to establish the pattern of the interception activities. The general practice that Mr Mulcaire adopted in taking instructions from and reporting to journalists in admitted cases will be relevant to the existence of the conspiracy alleged. The identity of the other targeted names and the people who helped identify those names and the manner in which it was done will be relevant to the conspiracy between News Group Newspapers and Mr Mulcaire.' Mulcaire, he said, could not rely on 'the privilege against self-incrimination' to refuse to respond to the questions. Only one request put by the claimants was disallowed on the grounds that it constituted 'a fishing expedition.' Vos granted Mulcaire's lawyers leave to challenge the ruling on self-incrimination in the appeal court. The judge, however, refused permission to appeal over the issue of identifying Mulcaire's other victims. Mulcaire was jailed in 2007, along with the News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, for hacking into phones belonging to staff at Buckingham Palace. Mulcaire received a six-month sentence, while Goodman was sentenced to four months. Lawyers for the Metropolitan police have claimed that so many messages are being examined by the force's phone-hacking inquiry it is difficult to identify every mention of a celebrity's name among 'hundreds of intercepts.' The proliferation of legal actions generated by complaints against the News of the World is also in danger of congesting the courts with 'parallel claims,' the judge hearing applications for disclosure in three other cases has suggested.

Charlie Sheen has revealed that he is writing a tell-all book about his time on Two And A Half Men. The actor is said to want at least ten million dollars for publishing rights to the book, which, he claims, will 'lift the lid' on 'what really happened' behind the scenes of the hit sitcom, TMZ reports. The book will chart the comedy's eight-year run and the lead up to Sheen's radio rant against creator Chuck Lorre. Sheen apparently wants to name the book When the Laughter Stopped, and expects the volume to incite a bidding war between publishers. Sheen is rumoured to have quit the show after production on the remainder of the current season was shut down following his on-air rant. Sheen also hit out at those who have criticised him in the wake of his recent outbursts, and claimed that reports suggesting that he is anti-Semitic are ludicrous. 'They have awoken a sleeping giant,' Sheen reportedly told People this week. 'If I'm misunderstood after yesterday then people are worse off than I thought. This is warming me up,' Sheen threatened.

An Islamic extremist who made online threats against the South Park creators for depicting Mohammed in a bear suit has been jailed for twenty one years. Zachary Adam Chesser admitted the charges in October and said in court: 'I accept full responsibility for all of my actions, and I would like to take the opportunity to express remorse.' He made inflammatory posts on several websites in April last year warning South Park writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone they risked violent retribution for their actions, and included their home addresses. In one post he evoked the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh saying: 'We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show.' US Attorney Neil MacBride said: 'His actions caused people throughout the country to fear speaking out - even in jest - to avoid being labeled as enemies who deserved to be killed.' Chesser, who was born in America, admitted providing material support to terrorists, communicating threats and soliciting others to threaten violence. He was arrested in July last year after attempting to board a flight to Uganda with his baby son. He said he was trying to reach Somalia to join the militant Al-Shabaab group.

Denise Welch has credited Twatting About On Ice with helping her weather an ongoing battle with clinical depression. The Loose Women panellist expressed satisfaction with her success in the skating show, claiming that it had given her a new-found confidence in her ability to endure incredible amounts of pressure. She confessed to the Daily Mirra: 'When I agreed to take part friends asked me "Are you fucking mental? With all your problems? Why would you put yourself in a situation when you are being criticised and judged by ten million people every week?" But I've already been to the darkest place possible and although my depression can creep up on me at any time - even with the medication I take - I didn't want it to be an excuse not to challenge myself. I'm proud that I'm doing the show and coping with the nerves and stress in the same way as all the other contestants.' Welch also thanked her fanbase for helping her progress in the competition and stated that she was 'thrilled' to be seen as an inspirational figure for older women. 'What a lovely thought that me at fifty two - twenty years older than some of the other girls on the show - could even have lasted this long. I know it's the public that have kept me in and that's been amazing. I'll never be the best on the show but I'm giving it my all and am thrilled to be waving the banner for older women.'

Hugh Dennis's ex-wife says that she divorced him because he was 'too boring.' Miranda Carroll, who divorced Hugh in 1993 told the Daily Scum Mail: 'It's strange to see Pete [Hugh's real first name] being so spontaneous and exuberant on television, because those weren't qualities that were in great evidence in our day-to-day lives. I had to live with the Pete who was restrained, serious and unexciting.' The couple met while at school and dated at university, but Miranda said: 'He wasn't a funny guy. He could do some funny voices and impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury, but there wasn't a lot of call for that. I was quite surprised when he got into Cambridge Footlights.'

Actress Rose McGowan has won a temporary restraining order against a man she accused of harassing her. The Charmed star requested the order against Luis Santo III, after he allegedly phoned the actress' office, 'insisting he is in love with me, demanding to talk to me even though I have never met him or spoken to him.' McGowan filed legal documents in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming Santo threatened her employees when they refused to let him contact her. Twitter messages he sent to McGowan were also added to the legal request, with one post reading, 'Rose don't hurt me! I will not kidding [sic]. u [sic] will be gone.' Santo has been ordered to stay two hundred yards away from McGowan until a scheduled hearing on 11 March, when the actress will request a permanent restraining order.

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings regular Paddy Doherty has reportedly been challenged to a boxing match with a one hundred thousand pound prize. According to the Mirra, the fifty one-year-old has been offered a fight by fellow Irish traveller Johnny Joyce, who was in court last week accused of grievous bodily harm against Doherty. The fight could take place in June at the annual Appleby Fair in Cumbria, with an audience of around four thousand people. And, an equal number of tabloid journalists, probably. Boxing promoter Wayne Barker is putting up half of the prize money and wants Doherty to find a backer to offer the other half of the winnings. Barker said: 'We don't want war-mongering in the community. Let's do it the proper way - the way these people have done it for years - and settle it in the ring. This is Paddy Doherty's chance to redeem himself in his own culture. If he had taken his beating like a man that would have been an end to the story.' Joyce was cleared of all charges by a jury at Manchester crown court after insisting that he had acted in self-defence.

Katie Price is reportedly hoping to land a role on the US version of The X Factor. The model and reality TV regular who recently split from her husband, is currently in Los Angeles and has arranged meetings with a number of contacts, including FOX TV executives, the Daily Lies reports. She will, apparently, also use her invites to Elton John's pre-Oscars party and the Vanity Fair Oscars event to discuss opportunities with Simon Cowell, who will be present at both. A 'source' allegedly said: 'Kate and Simon have been pals for a long time. He thinks she's feisty, fun and likes the fact she doesn't take any rubbish from him or anyone else. She admires his business brain and how he has become a global success. They're a match made in ambition heaven and make a perfect couple.' Do real people actually talk like that? I'm thinking not. Price allegedly told the paper: 'Everyone will be pretty shocked. I've got a big grin on my face because I know what's happening. I know people will say, "How does she do it?"' Price has allegedly hired a major American celebrity agent in her ongoing bid to break America. If that means we see a damn sight less of her in this country, then I'm sure many dear blog readers will join yer actual Keith Telly Topping in wishing Katie and her people all the very best in this endeavour.

And, speaking of people we'd rather see over there than over here, the vile and odious Piers Morgan has claimed that his 'coverage' of this year's royal wedding will help to cement his status as the top new anchor in the US. Morgan, who has received criticism for his show Piers Morgan Tonight since taking over from Larry King, said that his knowledge of both London and the Royal Family itself will ensure that he gets 'the best news' leading up to the event.
'The advantage that I have is that it's obviously my home town and I lived and worked in London for twenty five years,' Morgan told EW. 'I've also met and know quite well most of the royal family. I think it might be a home run for CNN,' the anchor added. 'I have connections that most American anchors can only dream of.' Yeah, of course you have, mate. I mean, let's remember, you are - after all - a disgraced former tabloid editor who once published faked photographs proporting to be of members of one of the Queen's regiments ill-treating prisoners of war, I'm sure they'll all be flocking to your door with their tongues hanging out begging you to interview them. Morgan also suggested that the royal wedding will be 'the event of the year' both in England and in the US due to the 'star potential' of the couple. 'This will be the biggest superstar event of the year because the two biggest stars in the world right now are Prince William and Kate Middleton,' Morgan explained. 'You can just assess that by the sheer oxygen of publicity that they're now beginning to get on American television, magazines, newspapers. And the same is happening all over the world.'

An elephant in a South African game reserve attempted to have sex with a car after mistaking it for another elephant, it has been suggested. John Somer and Carina Lowers were driving a particularly good looking Volkswagen Passat through the Pilanesberg Game Reserve when Amarula - a five-ton bull elephant - approached the car and began mating with it, before flipping the vehicle over. Somer told the Sun: 'I never thought I would be killed by an elephant. When I turned the corner there was another vehicle in the road in front of us. The driver started reversing and stopped next to us. I'm Irish and he was speaking Afrikaans, but I could make out the word "elephant."' However, he was unable to reverse out of a ditch and so turned off the engine to avoid attracting the animal's attention. 'It really did seem to regard the car as a female elephant and was making advances on "her." When the bull started flipping the car over my life literally started flashing before my eyes. The car landed on its roof and we were lying inside it. Carina was very scared and wanted to crawl out but first I wanted to see where the elephant was. When we saw it was walking away we crawled out through the window.' The elephant then turned its attention to a nearby car, but driver Riaan van Wyk managed to get rid of him after a fifteen-minute chase. Ah, playing hard to get, was it?

And, lastly, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Quite possibly the best 'break-up song' ever written. Ah, Clare. Lovely Clare. I would've walked into a withering hail of gunfire for Clare Grogan once upon a time. Actually, truth be told, I still would! No doubt for 'guys of a certain age', this'll bring back some fond memories: There's also a Top of the Pops appearance that you can find, which is okay although the dreadfully forced 'jolly' atmosphere and people throwing streamers about in a very Thatcherite 80s stylee is somewhat incongruous for song with such sad sentiments. Some nice Rickenbacker work on display, though. Produced by The Sweet and Blondie guru Mike Chapman, a deserved top ten hit in 1983 (the band's last) and featuring a painting of Big Joe Turner on the sleeve. Class all the way.