Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Public Appearance of Bitter Ex-Soap Stars Who Thought They Could Do Other Things As Well!

The names of several Scum of the World journalists who ordered a private detective to hack into mobile phones belonging to six public figures will not be publicly disclosed after Scotland Yard allegedly intervened to prevent their publication. The names were passed to Steve Coogan on Friday by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the paper, in compliance with a high court order the actor obtained earlier this year. The names are critical to the phone-hacking investigation because they could show how far the practice was widespread at the paper, which was closed down by Rupert Murdoch last month, despite consistent denials from its owner News Group Newspapers. Coogan is one of several celebrities suing the paper for breach of privacy. The high court order instructed Mulcaire to reveal who at the paper asked him to illegally intercept messages left on mobile belonging to former model Elle Macpherson, publicist Max Clifford and four others. Mulcaire, who was employed exclusively by the Scum of the World, was also told to reveal who at the paper ordered him to target Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, his colleague Jo Armstrong and football agent Sky Andrew. He was refused leave to appeal against the order earlier this month and handed over the names on Friday, the deadline set by the high court for making the information available. Law firm Schillings was contacted by Mulcaire's solicitor Sarah Webb of Payne Hicks Beach on Friday and asked not to make the names public. Webb said: 'The issues of confidentiality are of concern to the Metropolitan police and we asked Coogan's solicitors not to disclose the information until the Met could consider the matter.' She added: 'The issue is not that my client requires to keep matters confidential but rather that the police require him to. We were concerned that our [client] did not breach orders of the court in this respect. The Met are now dealing [with this] and there is nothing more I can add.' Similar high court orders have contained restrictions on publishing the names of Scum of the World journalists on the grounds that doing so could compromise Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's ongoing investigation into phone hacking, by tipping off potential suspects. There appears to be some confusion over whether the order obtained by Coogan allows the names to be released, however. Sources 'close to the actor' allegedly insisted they can be identified. Mulcaire himself is also taking legal action against News International after it stopped paying his legal fees in July, claiming the company is contractually obliged to do so. Meanwhile, Coogan has also won a separate high court order to force Mulcaire to name the Scum of the World executives who ordered Mulcaire to hack into his own phone. Mulcaire is appealing against that order on the grounds that he would incriminate himself by complying with it because he would be confessing to a crime he has not been charged with or admitted to. Crucially, that defence is not available to him as regards Max Clifford, Elle Macpherson and the others, because Mulcaire already pleaded guilty to illegally intercepting messages left on their mobiles in the original 2007 phone-hacking court case, which resulted in his imprisonment. Mulcaire was jailed in January of that year along with the Scum of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman.

Channel Four has dropped Ortis Deley as main presenter of its coverage of the world athletics championships following 'hundreds of complaints from viewers.' Deley, previously best known as one of the hosts of Channel Five's The Gadget Show, has struggled in the live presenting role and was described by Giles Smith, a critic at The Times, as wearing an 'expression that brings to mind furry creatures and headlamps.' Channel Four is broadcasting the championships for the first time – after twenty seven years with the BBC – and had promised a showcase for the broadcaster's 'innovative approach to live sport.' But the coverage has not gone down well with some viewers, the number of complaints said to be in the 'low hundreds' since the championships began on 27 August. Not all of the complaints related specifically to Deley, with viewers also unhappy that the coverage is interrupted by advertising having previously been on the commercial-free BBC, a fact that the broadcaster is unable to do anything about. Deley will remain with Channel Four's presenting team in Daegu, but will no longer be the main presenter. He has been replaced by Rick Edwards, who presented the channel's world athletics highlights programmes. Channel Four will be keen to get the tone of its athletics coverage right as it prepares to broadcast next year's Paralympics. It is due to broadcast around one hundred and fifty hours of live coverage from the games which, along with the Olympics, have been the domain of the BBC. Edwards, like Deley, does not have a background steeped in athletics. A former presenter of Channel Four's teen strand, T4, he hosted a show on London radio station Xfm. He also presents Channel Four's Paralympics preview show, That Paralympic Show. A Channel Four spokeswoman confirmed that Deley would 'no longer be lead presenter of its coverage' but said that he would remain part of the broadcaster's presenting team. 'Channel Four is committed to developing new presenting talent and this extends to our coverage of sporting events,' said the spokeswoman. 'Ortis Deley's role in Korea covering the world athletics has been scaled back but he will continue to be on air for the duration of the competition. In total we have a team of ten commentators covering this event from Michael Johnson and well-loved British athletes Dean Macey, Katharine Merry and Iwan Thomas to new presenters.'

ITV's controller Peter Fincham has insisted there will be no hosting changes on flop breakfast format Daybreak and that Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley's 'jobs are safe.' The former ONE Show duo have been at the centre of constant speculation about their roles on the show as the GMTV replacement has suffered in the ratings since its launch. However, when asked at the Edinburgh TV Festival if Chiles and Bleakley's jobs are safe, Fincham said: 'Yes, yes, yes. No ifs, no buts.' He commented: 'I'm not sitting here and saying from programme one Daybreak hasn't got anything wrong or has been the full and finished article.' No, indeed, because that would be ludicrous. 'It is a lot better in a sense than it is sometimes characterised.' No it isn't. 'It has improved and will continue to improve.' No it hasn't, and no it won't. 'Would I like Daybreak to evolve and broaden its audience? Yes, but a lot has gone on and a lot of work has gone on.' And, none of it has worked. So ... Commenting on Chiles's criticism of the breakfast flop's production, Fincham insisted that he respected the presenter's honesty and the fact that he 'speaks his mind.'

House's Peter Jacobson has dropped some hints about the future of his character Taub. In the medical drama's seventh season finale, Taub discovered that his ex-wife and his girlfriend were both pregnant with his offspring. Jacobson told TV Guide: 'They're not shying away from where we left off. I've got two kids running around, [and] I'm going to be involved with two women to some extent.' The actor also hinted that Taub could be appointed the new Dean of Medicine, taking over from the departed Cuddy. 'Taub is obviously a candidate,' he said. 'He knows his stuff and he certainly has the ego to pull it off. I think he would like it.' New House cast member Odette Annable recently insisted that her character Dr Adams is not intended as a replacement for Cuddy. House will return to FOX on 3 October.

Graham Linehan, the creator of The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books, has said that the microblogging website Twitter has 'put television back in the crowd.' What a right load of old, utter cum - and from somebody whose opinions this blogger usually greatly respects an'all. Out of the five years that Twitter has been in operation, 2011 has possibly been its most newsworthy. From the Ryan Giggs superinjunction malarkey, to the Arab Spring and the clean-up operation after the UK riots, those one hundred and forty-character tweets have reflected - yet also genuinely shaped - global society, Linehan claims. More often, however, they've reflected the utter banal trivial that is most people's lives and made journalists astonishingly lazy when collecting running stories about 'the public's' reaction to TV shows or the death of well -known people. Why bother to ring people up for a quote, the reasoning seems to go, when you can just take the thoughts of some worthless glake with a screen-name like 'Sex Machine 843' to prove whatever point it is that you want to make? Hateful. Anyway, there were previously fears that social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook would eat into demand for television programmes, but all indications show that they are actually supporting the small screen in a number of allegedly 'interesting ways.' This is, of course, according to the Gruniad so it's probably some completely new use of the word 'interesting' that only applies to people in Islington to work in advertising. Speaking in a session titled The Only Way Is Twitter at this weekend's Edinburgh International Television Festival, Linehan said that the microblogging site has 'put TV back among its consumers.' He pointed to comments made by fellow comedy writer Richard Curtis about his experience in 1983 after the first series of The Black Adder aired on BBC1. As there was no way of knowing how popular the programme was, as TV ratings were not widely available at that time, Curtis admitted to wandering the streets of Shepherd's Bush peeking in people's windows to see if they were watching the Rowan Atkinson sitcom. Linehan, who describes Twitter as 'a party going on in the other room with the door just slightly ajar,' said that the site and other social networks have created more ways than ever for TV shows to get 'back in the crowd' with their viewers and truly engage with them. Among the social networks, Twitter is growing at the most aggressive rate, with twelve per cent of its users new to the service, compared to just one per cent for Facebook - although Twitter is growing from a much smaller user base compared with Facebook's around seven hundred million members worldwide. Many of Twitter's biggest users now have the reach and influence that marketing and PR agencies pay millions of pounds to secure. Stephen Fry has to contact companies in advance to warn them that he is going to link their website on Twitter so that they can back up their servers, as previous linking has led to websites collapsing in the digital stampede. Linehan, himself, who has one hundred and twenty five thousand Twitter followers, confesses to being 'a bit of a slut' on the site, shifting between issues ranging from UK politics, to comedy, to planets made of diamonds. However, he prefers not to talk too much about his own work, or use Twitter for the purposes of marketing, as he wants to keep it a 'pure' platform for him to reach 'likeminded people.' A video played at the session featured a range of other high profile figures discussing Twitter, including Lord John Prescott describing the site as 'the voice of the people - sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong.' The Only Way Is Essex's Mark Wright says that it is important not to make tweets too personal, adding, somewhat ironically, that 'you don't want everyone to know details of your private life.' Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that 'too many tweets might make a twat.' Bradford-born magician Dynamo joined Twitter around one and a half years ago, before he found fame via a hit magic series on pay-TV channel Watch. Dynamo has cleverly used the site to create a groundswell of support for his close-up magic, firstly to direct traffic to a range of videos on YouTube and then to point people to TV show, Dynamo: Magician Impossible. For Dynamo, the beauty of Twitter is the opportunity to engage with his fans so as to make them more committed to his magic, meaning when he suggests they should watch a video or an episode of the show, they are more likely to do so. He also said that Twitter can ensure fan support 'constantly builds' and doesn't 'fluctuate' as with more traditional promotion methods. During the session, Dynamo did a staggering card trick which involved the selection of a Twitter name at random provided by people in the auditorium, asking them to pick a card and then retrieving the very card from a sealed pack in his pocket. Magic? No. But certainly an immensely impressive union of entertainment and social media. However, Linehan warned those wishing to jump on the Twitter bandwagon that this particular social networking site is for life, not just when it suits you. The writer criticised TV stars, celebrities and politicians who amass lots of followers but hardly follow anyone else, saying: 'Twitter is a magic mirror, but some people use it just as a mirror.' He criticised the 'arrogance' of users who have no desire to even attempt to follow anyone else or show an interest in the lives of others, as this runs counter to what Twitter is supposed to be all about. Linehan has hired extras through Twitter for The IT Crowd and other shows, as well as scouted locations with help from his followers. He also follows doctors, police and other people working in public services, because he feels that their lives are incredibly fascinating and provide golden insights for a writer. But he also noted the unique possibilities of Twitter to spread misinformation. US comedy legend Steve Martin once likened the site to radio as it is 'so easy to create false reality.' With an Orson Welles-esque flourish, Linehan embarked on an ambitious spoof in May by claiming that when Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy SEALs in his one million pound compound in Pakistan, he was actually watching an episode of The IT Crowd. So, Linehan posed the question to his followers: 'Well, he was a monster, but was he all bad?' He kept the hoax going for three days, eventually admitting that Bin Laden had actually been watching The Big Bang Theory at his time of death, and so Linehan had 'returned to hating him.'

ITV has moved to play down speculation that it is to team up with Italian broadcaster Mediaset to purchase Endemol, the debt-ridden production company behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. In early trading on Wednesday, ITV's share price rose by around five per cent due to excitement on the markets about the prospects of the deal, which would involve the two firms creating a joint venture to buy Endemol. However, the share price slipped back to just above its previous closing level of 57.85p by lunchtime, after the commercial broadcaster failed to make an announcement to the stock market of its rumoured bid with Mediaset, as stipulated under the regulatory framework. Asked about the takeover reports, an ITV spokesman said: 'We do not comment on speculation.' Except if it involves who going to be on the judging panel on The X Factor, of course. Endemol, which is said to have a two billion Euro debt pile, helped score a moderate ratings success recently for noted soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond's Channel Five with the relaunch of Celebrity Big Brother. The company is jointly owned by Mediaset, Dutch investment group Cyrte, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Talks are ongoing about a 'debt-for-equity' scheme for Endemol involving the three shareholders handing over some of their equity to lenders in exchange for reducing Endemol's loans. The Gruniad quoted an 'unnamed City source' (Manchester, Coventry or Norwich, they didn't say) with 'knowledge of the negotiations' as allegedly saying: 'Mediaset are thinking about all options, all of the players involved with Endemol are, but at this point any story about any deals are completely speculative as no agreement has been reached between any debt owners or equity structure. There may have been some contact, but there is no way it would be anything at all advanced. As I understand it the creditors are far from agreement.' Separately, Endemol co-founder John De Mol, who has links to shareholder Cryte Investments, could return as chief executive or executive chairman of the firm as part of a new link with his Talpa Media. Endemol is currently searching for a new chief executive to replace Ynon Kreiz, who left the company in June.

Daryl Hannah has been arrested outside the White House following a sit-in protest about the construction of gas pipelines. The Kill Bill actress was participating in the protest in Washington DC against the pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. She initially refused to move, but later became much more cooperative after she was handcuffed and taken away, a police spokesperson told The Wrap. Hannah was released from custody after paying a one hundred dollar fine.

David Hasselhoff has allegedly been dropped from the Britain's Got Talent panel. The US actor joined the judging line-up this year, alongside Michael McIntyre and Amanda Holden. Although ratings remained strong for the ITV reality show, Hasselhoff's role came under scrutiny from the tabloids as they criticised the new-look panel for 'lacking chemistry.' Simon Cowell and ITV have apparently now decided to axe the Baywatch star because he 'lacked a connection with the acts,' reports the Sun. McIntyre and Holden are expected to remain for the 2012 series. Louis Walsh has previously been tipped to take over the Britain's Got Talent spot full-time after guest stints on the show in 2010 and earlier this year.

Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Otehr Gods But He) has insisted that he has 'no immediate plans' to leave the show. Moffat replaced Russell Davies as the show's head writer and executive producer in 2010 and also co-created the BBC's award-winning drama Sherlock. 'I haven't got any kind of plans to leave,' he told AOL TV. 'I take it one [season] at a time.' He described his role on Doctor Who as 'astonishing' and 'an incredible workload. To have that and to have Sherlock, yeah, it's savage,' he admitted. 'I'd like to get out before it kills me. But it's not killing me at the moment. I'm loving doing it, so I have no immediate plans to leave.' Moffat added that he wants to ensure Doctor Who is 'looked after' once he eventually departs. 'You don't want to be the last one [who works on it],' he said. 'I want it to go on and triumph long after I stop.'

A host of actors have been linked to the BBC's new series Titanic: Blood & Steel. These include Kevin Zegers and Chris Noth who are both said to be currently 'in talks' to appear in the drama, Deadline reports. The project focuses on the process of building the Titanic in Belfast. Zegers, who played Damian in Gossip Girl, is claimed to be in talks for the role of Mark Muir. Mark was a metallurgist who discovered that there may be problems in the metal being used to make the ship. Noth, whose credits include The Good Wife and Sex and the City, is expected to play the financier JP Morgan. Other stars linked to the project include Scream's Neve Campbell, who will play a reporter covering the Titanic and veteran actor Derek Jacobi, who will appear as the chairman of the company that built the vessel. ITV is also currently developing a drama about the Titanic, which is being penned by Downton Abbey scribe Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes and will star Linus Roache and Geraldine Somerville.

The Emperor penguin that ended up on a New Zealand beach is returning back to his native Antarctica. Named Happy Feet, the penguin was first found in June on the Kapiti Coast, located on the North Island of New Zealand. Happy Feet successfully underwent surgery on his stomach after he ate three kilograms of sand, apparently mistaking it for snow, reports the BBC. His recovery was complicated after falling ill, but he was eventually nursed back to health. The penguin had been staying at the Wellington Zoo, and a vet there said: 'Everyone's been really curious to see what happens. It was touch-and-go there for a while but he's doing really well now.' Happy Feet departed from New Zealand on Monday and is being carried on Tangaroa, a fisheries survey vessel, for four days. A tracking device has also been fitted on him.

The original recordings for The Beach Boys' legendary 'lost' LP SMiLE are to be released this autumn, forty four years after it was first due to come out. The SMiLE sessions were recorded over five months in 1966 and 1967, but the work was left unfinished after the group's co-founder Brian Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown. It would have been the follow-up to the group's 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds, widely regarded as one of the greatest LPs ever made. The SMiLE sessions will be available from 31 October. The sessions were recorded in the autumn pf 1966 and early 1967. 'Cousin Brian was at his creative peak during those sessions,' said singer Mike Love, reversing decades of previous pronouncements that SMiLE was nothing but 'marijuana music' and criticised the 'meaningless' lyrics of co-writer Van Dyke Parks. 'I'm unaware of anything that comes close in pop music,' he continued. Brian Wilson's eccentricity during the recording sessions have gone down in music folklore. Four of the song were written inside an eighty-square foot sandbox in Wilson's living room, installed to 'recreate the feeling of being at the beach and the ocean.' For the song 'Vega-Tables' musicians harmonised on various foods, including a carrot munched on by - according to legend - by a visiting Paul McCartney (although Macca himself claims to have no memory of doing so). During 'Mrs O'Leary's Cow' - the 'Fire' part of a planned 'Elements' suite - Wilson set a studio bucket alight and sent out to a toy store for fire helmets for the orchestra to wear. The project was subsequently shelved amid Wilson's punishing work schedule and drug intake, inter-band bickering and friction between the group and their label. Some of the SMiLE songs - 'Good Vibrations', 'Wind Chimes', 'Cabinessence', 'Heroes and Villains', 'Surf's Up' - subsequently appeared in different forms on a variety of singles, later LPs and on bootleg recordings. In the 1990s a Beach Boys CD box-set contained approximately thirty minutes worth of SMiLE recordings and in 2004 Wilson with his backing band re-recorded the CD for a solo release and a following tour to great acclaim, but the original sessions in their entirety remained - tantalisingly - in the Capitol vaults. The forthcoming release will be 'an approximation of what was intended to be the completed SMiLE album,' EMI said. A box set will also include alternative takes, song drafts and studio snapshots.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33(s) - and one 45 - of the Day we have a short - but vital - tribute to the greatest living English poet, Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit. In any sort of ordered world, the bloke should be a household name - and probably Poet Laurette - instead of merely a cult legend to a few thousand dedicated fans, a name to be occasionally dropped by a few Gruniad journos or good old 'mega-fan' David Lloyd on Sky Sports. A band whose output has appeared on just one independent record label - Probe Plus - for over twenty five years and who, though they've never sold in anything even approaching great numbers, continue to be eagerly awaited by the cognoscenti. Here's five of their best (and trust me when I tell you dear blog reader, it could have been fifty of their best if I'd had all day!), Starting with Prag Vec at The Melkweg. yer actual Keith Telly Topping once passed through Dawlish on a train, dear blog reader. But if Nigel has asked me to go, I'd've gone.
My choice for favourite HMHB CD would probably be 1993's This Leaden Pall and, if I had to pick one desert island song from it, then it would be the stunning closer, 'Footprints.' Unfortunately, nobody's bothered to put that one up on You Tube it would seem, so we'll have to make do with Running Order Squabble Fest instead! 'You're goin' on after Crispy Ambulance!'
Actually you know, thinking about it, that desert island CD thing might be a bit more tricky when you consider the glories of Four Lads Who Shook the Wirrel - You're Hard, Turn a Blind Eye and, of course, A Country Practice.
And then, of course, there's Irk the Purists on Trouble over Bridgewater. Enough faffing, let's have Vatican Broadside!
And, we'll finish with what I think is still their only TV appearance, on Whistle Test in 1986. And, what remains their best known song. Not undeservedly either. Masterpiece.
Ah, bugger it, let's have another one! Mate of the Bloke off Achtung Bono should do.