Friday, May 18, 2012

What You Do

The vile and odious rascal Hunt's political problems have meant that the planned publication of a communications green paper has been put on hold until the lack of culture secretary has given evidence to the Leveson inquiry and dealt with accusations that he favoured News Corporation in its negotiations to buy all of BSkyB. And then, presumably, got the tin-tack. Those close to the vile and odious rascal Hunt's Department for Culture, Media and Sport say that the communications green paper – which will set out government's initial policy thinking in areas as diverse as Internet piracy, public service broadcasting and spectrum allocation – has been largely written but is now unlikely to be published until autumn at the earliest. This is according to the Gruniad, anyway. The vile and odious rascal Hunt and his deputy Ed Vaizey, the lack of culture minister, had hoped to publish the document in the spring. However, after initial delays in drafting, the vile and odious rascal Hunt's attention has been concentrated on the need to give a full account to Lord Justice Leveson of his relationship with Rupert Murdoch's company and see off Labour calls for him to resign. One alleged 'source' allegedly told the newspaper that the vile and odious rascal Hunt and the DCMS were 'distracted' by the Murdoch controversy and it would be 'impossible' for the document to be published 'until September at the earliest', assuming the lack of culture secretary gives a successful performance before the judge in the coming weeks. There are also suggestions that the green paper could be shelved completely, with ministers instead moving to publish a white paper which by then would incorporate any relevant recommendations arising from the Leveson inquiry about the future of press regulation. Leveson is due to report in October, and if his document appears before the green paper, the latter may have to be redrafted to include the government's initial response to the findings of the former. Meanwhile, if the vile and odious rascal Hunt were to be replaced, a new lack of culture secretary would want to review the contents of the document before agreeing to release it. The lack of culture secretary has been under fire after one hundred and sixty three pages of hugely damaging e-mails written by News Corp lobbyist Frédéric Michel were released by the company to the Leveson inquiry. Those e-mails, written over several months, appeared to show that the vile and odious rascal Hunt's office was freely passing information about the minister's BSkyB bid approval process to the company during 2010 and 2011. Michel repeatedly described information which he had obtained to his boss, James Murdoch the small, as emerging from the vile and odious rascal Hunt himself. The lack of culture secretary denied that there was an 'inappropriate' relationship between himself and News Corp. But his - single 'rogue' - special adviser, Adam Smith, did resign when it emerged that the bulk of Michel's contact was with Smith rather than the vile and odious rascal Hunt directly. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said that the 'volume and tone' of the Smith/Michel communication 'could not be justified', but insisted that he, personally, oversaw the Sky bid 'correctly' in a 'quasi-judicial' manner. Ministers are still, officially at least, insisting that the green paper will emerge 'in the spring.' But, according to the Gruniad piece, the joke understood to be circulating in at the DCMS is that spring in Whitehall 'can run from anywhere from February to November.' Blimey, that's a good'un. That should have them rolling in the aisles at The Stand. The green paper marks the start of a legislative process that will culminate in a communications bill scheduled for the 2014-15 session of parliament.
Peter Oborne, the Daily Torygraph columnist, has told the Leveson inquiry that 'political lying' should be made a criminal offence for both politicians and journalists reporting on Westminster. Oborne, the Torygraph's chief political commentator, said during his witness appearance at the inquiry on Thursday that it had become 'far too easy' for politicians to lie or make misleading statements to parliament and a severe sanction might 'restore some integrity' to Westminster. He said that directors of publicly listed companies could go to jail if they make false or misleading statements on shares and assets. 'Whereas politicians I have noticed, freely make entirely false statements about how they are conducting themselves and why one should vote for them,' Oborne added. He said it would very healthy if such a criminal sanction could be applied to politicians and journalists. Lord Justice Leveson put it to Pbprne that such a draconian penalty would have 'a chilling effect upon journalism.' Oborne said it could be a workable system if the standard of proof was high enough. 'A lie, is a deliberate untruth, something you write or something which is not true, which you say or right down in the full knowledge that it is not true.' Earlier, Oborne told Leveson that journalism was 'a noble profession,' but many in the lobby system in Westminster did not seek out the truth but merely 'suck up to powerful people.' He decried the cosiness between successive governments and News International, which he said was 'regularly brought into' the 'inner sanctum' with privileged seats at Labour and Tory party conferences. The News International annual party in the conference season had 'an extraordinary power', attended by the 'entire cabinet' and 'influence brokers and the senior members of the media class,' he said. 'Our democracy was starting to become a private conversation between elite groups,' Oborne added. 'Political reporting, as I observed it, had become a matter of private deals, arrangements invisible to voters.' He blamed New Labour for creating this system where favours would be traded with pet journalists, while those who remained fastidiously outside the system, such as the Torygraph's former political editor George Jones, would be 'frozen out.' He claimed Labour had created a 'narrative that there was a hostile press' when, 'on the contrary,' they had 'manipulated a particular kind of acceptable public truth.' In a sustained attack on Labour and its policy of spin, he said 'they were interested in truth if it served their political purpose.' He called for a new 'apartheid' to be introduced which would put some distance between politicians and journalists. '[We are at] a moment in British history where a political system is coming to an end, based on media dominance. Parliament has an opportunity to re-assert its traditional function,' Oborne said. He added that he was 'pleasantly surprised' when he heard from a 'relevant' figure that when David Cameron first became Conservative leader he decided to keep some distance from Rupert Murdoch. Oborne said a News International 'source' had told him that they had 'coached' Cameron on what to say when he first met Murdoch, but he had 'not played ball' and the meeting went 'badly.' The inquiry has heard that Cameron became close to the former News International chief executive well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, attending her wedding in June 2009 and signing off texts 'LOL.' Oborne was also critical of the Sun's coverage of the Iraq and Afghan wars. He claimed the Sun's 'one dimensional' coverage of 'our boys' had failed to engage on the serious and legitimate questions of Britain's complicity in rendition, illegal killings, use of drones and human rights abuses. He added that there was 'an unethical silence' on this across Fleet Street with some notable exceptions, such as the reporting by the Gruniad's Ian Cobain. Oborne said the press had also operated an 'omerta' when it came to phone hacking but urged Leveson not to conclude that this was because any alleged illegal activities were going on at rival papers. He put it to Leveson that there should not be more press regulation because of the phone-hacking scandal because this was a failure of the police to enforce an already existing law. Leveson said this would be like a motorist caught speeding protesting that the police had not enforced the law.

His BBC television career famously came to an end when he thrust a lump of cheese in his commissioning editor's face. Now Steve Coogan's most famous creation, hapless Norfolk local radio DJ Alan Partridge, is changing channels to Sky. Coogan will star as Partridge in two new one-hour specials as well as a TV adaptation of his online series, Mid Morning Matters. The shows will appear on Sky Atlantic as part of an output deal with Coogan's production company, Baby Cow. The BBC has been the home of Partridge since he started out reading - incompetently - the sports news on BBC Radio 4's On The Hour. The last series of I'm Alan Partridge was broadcast on BBC2 in 2002. Coogan's Sky Atlantic deal also includes Welcome to the Places of my Life, which will see Partridge take viewers on a tour of his beloved home county, Norfolk. A second Partridge special will feature the character being interviewed for a local book club by author Chris Beal, played by Robert Popper. The specials will be executive produced by Coogan with his Baby Cow business partner Henry Normal and The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci, who is also involved in bringing Partridge to the big screen in a long-awaited film version next year. Coogan said: 'Alan has been off the TV for too long but he is even more excited than me about his chance to have a second bite of the cherry. Alan feels the second decade of the millennium is the right time.' Mid Morning Matters, which was broadcast online last year in an initiative funded by beer brand Foster's, will be re-edited for TV in a six-part 'special edition' with a second series next year. Partridge published his 'autobiography' last year. The Baby Cow deal also includes an animated children's tale, Uncle Wormsley's Christmas, narrated by Coogan, and a two-part look at Coogan's 2009 stand-up tour in Australia and New Zealand. A high-profile victim of phone-hacking, Coogan's more recent television appearances have been connected to his legal action against News International, publisher of the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, which he settled earlier this year for mucho wonga. Sky, not previously known for its homegrown comedy output, has been investing heavily in the genre of late with shows such as Stella with former Gavin & Stacey star Ruth Jones, and the appalling Trollied starring Jane Horrocks. Other new projects will star Kathy Burke, Julia Davis and Jack Dee. Sky's head of comedy Lucy Lumsden said Sky Atlantic was 'providing our best writer performers the space to feel creatively free.' Launched last year, Sky Atlantic is home to the satellite broadcaster's high profile US dramas including Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, for which it bought the rights after four series on BBC4. The pay channel will also show The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin's latest drama, The Newsroom, as well as Iannucci's US comedy, Veep. Normal, who is chief executive of Baby Cow, said the company was 'at the beginning of a great adventure.'

Donna Summer, The Queen of Disco has died. Famous for classics including 'I Feel Love' and 'Love To Love You Baby', the singer died at the age of sixty three. Summer was one of disco's biggest stars and her records also had a huge influence on the synth-pop, dance music and techno scenes, and way beyond. Her family said that they were 'at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.' Many musicians including Kylie Minogue, Sir Elton John and Mary J Blige have paid tribute. At least, those were some of the ones who commented on Twitter and a bunch of lazy fucking journalists who couldn't be bothered to get off their arses and do some real reporting, quoted. Blige said that Summer was 'truly a game changer,' whilst producer Quincy Jones who worked with Donna in the 1980s said that Summers' voice 'was the heartbeat and soundtrack of a decade.' Minogue described Summer as 'one of my earliest musical inspirations', while Dionne Warwick said she was sad to lose 'a great performer and dear friend.' Summer, who was reported to have had cancer for some time, had been living in Florida with her second husband Bruce Sudano. A statement from her family said: 'Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith. While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time.' Sir Elt said that Summer was 'more than the "queen of disco"', adding: 'Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted.' Though he didn't name any of the second-rate talent in question, sadly. Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes said: 'It's extremely rare that you hear one song that completely changes the way you perceive music. 'I Feel Love' achieved that.' Marc Almond recalled how Summer's work with Italian synthesiser pioneer Giorgio Moroder had 'changed the face of music and changed my life. 'I Feel Love' was a truly original and barrier-breaking record, and 'Now I Need You' and 'Working The Midnight Shift' are simply some of the best euphoric electronic tracks ever,' he said. BBC Radio 2 presenter Paul Gambaccini said 'I Feel Love' was 'one of the key records in the history of electronic dance music and will always be recognised as such.' Donna was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston in December 1948. She was one of seven children raised by devout Christian parents. Influenced by Mahalia Jackson, Donna began singing in the church choir at a young age. In her teens, she formed several groups including one with her sister and a cousin, imitating Motown girl groups such as The Supremes and Martha & The Vandellas. In the late 1960s, Summer was influenced by Janis Joplin after listening to her LPs as a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and dropped out of school. She was convinced that music was her way out of Boston, where she had always felt herself to be an outsider, even among her own family whom, it was sometimes claimed, ridiculed her for her voice and her looks. She joined the psychedelic rock group the Crow as lead singer, but the group was short-lived as they split upon their arrival in New York. In 1968, she auditioned for a role in the Broadway musical, Hair, but she lost the part of Sheila to Melba Moore. When the musical moved to Europe, Summer was offered the role. She took it and moved to Germany for several years. While singing background for the hit-making 1970s trio Three Dog Night, Summer met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. She eventually signed a deal with the European label Groovy Records and issued her first LP, Lady of the Night, in 1974. The LP was not released in America, but found some limited European success on the strength of the song 'The Hostage', which reached number one in Belgium and was also a big hit in the Netherlands. It was her work with the Moroder and Bellotte that led to her pop breakthrough with the sexually provocative 'Love To Love You Baby' in 1975 - the first of twenty nine UK top forty singles. Her expressive vocal style, coupled with Moroder's pulsating synthesiser rhythms, made the song a big club and chart hit - as well as leading it to be banned by several radio stations for its suggestive overtones. Between 1978 and 1981, her career hit its commercial peak with a string of massive worldwide hit singles including 'Love's Unkind', 'Last Dance', 'MacArthur Park', 'Bad Girls' and 'Hot Stuff'. But it was 'I Feel Love' that really made an impact, a Transatlantic hit, it was a record that changed the way people thought about the synthesiser. Working from the unlikely location of Munich, the trio managed to fuse soul with the surgical precision of Kraftwerk, creating a record so far ahead of its time that pop took a good twenty years to catch up. Like The Beach Boys' 'Good Vibrations', 'I Feel Love' is a studio recording so perfect that covering it – or even playing it live – would be pointless, though many have tried. The sparsest ingredients – lyrics that could be written on the back of a matchbox with room to spare, a bassline that, in theory, a three-year-old could play – are turned, in Summer and Moroder's hands, into an entire world of futuristic wonder. Moroder took a Moog Modulator and put a delay on the bassline, creating the legendary 'dugga-dugga-dugga' sound that has galvanised dancefloors ever since. Summer's vocal is no less wonderful – ethereal and otherworldly, like a voice coming through a crack in the sky. According to David Bowie, then in the middle of recording of his Berlin Trilogy with Tony Visconti and Brian Eno, the song's impact on the genre's direction was recognised early on: 'One day Eno came running in and said, "I have heard the sound of the future." He puts on 'I Feel Love', by Donna Summer. He said, "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years." Which was more or less right.' If that was all Summer had ever done, her place in pop would be assured, but she made a number of outstanding records which have influenced musicians right across the spectrum, from rock to R&B. The drum break on her 1979 'Our Love' was sampled for the beginning of New Order's 'Blue Monday', who also put the epic Patrick Cowley mix of 'I Feel Love' on their Back to Mine compilation. Summer made her film acting debut essentially playing herself in Thank God It's Friday (1978). A song from the soundtrack, 'Last Dance', was another huge hit and won the singer her first Grammy. She won five Grammy Awards and had a further twelve nominations, becoming the first black artist to win a Grammy in a rock category - taking best rock vocal performance for 'Hot Stuff' in 1979. Part of Summer's strength was her versatility. The high concept of her LP I Remember Yesterday was that each song would pastiche the sounds of a different decade, from the magnificent 'Love's Unkind', her take on Phil Spector's wall of sound, to 'I Feel Love' (which represented The Future). She also worked with some surprising collaborators including Barbra Streisand - on 'No More Tears (Enough is Enough)', Jon Anderson and Vangelis - on the towering 'State of Independence' and Musical Youth. Her influence stretched across musical boundaries, with Madonna, Whitney Houston and David Guetta among the artists who sampled her, while Bruce Springsteen wrote songs for her. Producer Pete Waterman, who worked with the singer on songs including 'This Time I Know It's for Real' in the 1980s, told BBC News: 'She was the icing on the cake. We were at the top of our game when we worked with her. She was just fantastic. Donna was unique,' he added. 'Donna did things Donna's way. One of the first things she said to me was, when you work with me, you work on Donna time. She wasn't a diva, she was inspirational. Her talent came from God, she knew she couldn't just turn it on.' Every time someone demolishes Summer's 'On the Radio' on a TV talent show, remembering the original – surely one of the greatest ever songs about that particular medium – only reaffirms Summer's technical and emotional mastery. Her career hit some turbulence in the mid-80s after she was alleged to have made a series of anti-gay remarks about AIDs and its victims, which Summer (by then a born-again Christian) denied, though she later apologised for any pain she had caused. She embraced her Christian faith with the gospel-flavoured Christmas Spirit (1994), and accepted a role in the TV sitcom Family Matters. In 1999 she made a television special, Donna Summer – Live and More Encore, which achieved impressive ratings. The new millennium brought more dance hits. Crayons (2008) was her first studio CD of new material for seventeen years, and reached the US top twenty. As recently as 2010 she was still topping the US dance charts with 'To Paris With Love'. She is survived by her second husband, Bruce Sudano; their daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda, her daughter, Mimi, from her previous marriage, which ended in divorce in 1975 and four grandchildren.

Which, of course, means what else but this could be yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day?