Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Droogie Don't Crash Here

Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) has talked - briefly - about River Song's role in series seven. The showrunner told MTV Geek that River (Alex Kingston) will appear in the popular family SF drama's next run. Which we all knew, anyway, so that's not really 'news' per se. However, Moffat added that series six of Who - which revealed the character to be the daughter of Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) - already covered the 'big River Song story.' Discussing River's return in episode five of the new series, executive producer Caroline Skinner said: 'She's so the queen of mischief in this episode.' Moffat also commented on the departure of both Amy and Rory, which will also occur in the New York-set episode five, and the later introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman's new companion. 'When you start that story [of the companion] again, you've got a fresh take on it,' he said. 'You've got someone who's bemused by him, who doesn't know he has two hearts, and you meet him again through their eyes.' The writer previously claimed that the departure of Gillan and Darvill does 'not necessarily' rule out further adventures with the River Song character.

The fifty victims of alleged phone-hacking and other media intrusion represented at the Leveson inquiry are opposing the newspaper industry's proposals for reform of press regulation. David Sherborne, counsel for the victims, which include the Dowler and McCann families, described the proposals put forward by Lord Hunt (no relation), chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, as 'hopeless.' The new regulator being backed by newspapers to replace the PCC would involve a continuation of self-regulation but with new powers to investigate systemic wrongdoing and the power to fine errant papers up to one million smackers. 'The simple fact is that Lord Hunt's proposal is not, as the inquiry has heard, what the victims would require. Its starting point, its whole premise is what is acceptable to the industry. But forgive me, we're not here solely to decide what is acceptable to the industry,' Sherborne told the inquiry on Tuesday in his closing statement. 'We're here because the industry is not acceptable to the public, with whom there seems to have been no consultation by Lord Hunt's team.' Quite right. He added that the proposals which have come out of the 'still surviving, but only just breathing PCC' would 'not wash' with the public, who want an independent statute-backed regulator 'which is created for the public and is not run by service editors.' Well, thanks for telling yer actual Keith Telly Topping what he wants, pal. Because if nothing else, this blogger does count himself as a fully paid up member of the general public. Personally, I'd like to sell all newspapers and those who work for them flushed into the gutter along with all the other shite and then spat on. 'However well intentioned it may be, as a proposal to deal with the practice, culture and ethics we've witnessed, it is hopeless,' Sherborne added. Sherborne said that the public 'wanted a clean break' with the past and deserved a new press regulator that was 'independent and had teeth.' Not to mention claws and really powerful jaws. He said that arguments put forward by newspapers that statutory regulation would lead to interference by politicians or have a 'chilling effect' on investigative journalism - as opined by rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant and George Formby lookalike Michael Gove - were specious. 'We say there should be an entirely new regime, a clean break not just in name but in substance from everything that has come before and failed,' said Sherborne. He added that the new press regulator should not involve working editors adjudicating on complaints. 'There should be separate mechanisms for rule-making, for investigations, including investigations of the regulator's own motion, and most importantly for adjudications. A body of independent adjudicators should rule upon complaints as to media conduct and serving editors should have no role in that,' Sherborne said. 'The public wants more objective standards and the starting point for that is an independent statute-backed regulator, which is created for the public and is not run by serving editors and one which can hold this enormously influential body to account, as they hold us to account in turn.' He said that unless someone gets a 'very firm grip' of the tabloid press, newspapers will 'continue to behave badly.' Sherborne told Lord Justice Leveson he feared that tabloids would be back to their old ways as soon as the 'ink dried on your report,' which is expected to be published in the autumn. 'To some extent over the last eight months, what has been lost is the voice of the victims,' he said, referring to the fact that the victims of press intrusion he represents gave evidence early on during the Leveson witness hearings, in late 2011. Sherborne went on to list some of what he described as 'a catalogue of wrongs, systemic, flagrant and deeply entrenched". We are not here to focus on the good journalists. We don't need an inquiry for them. We are here to consider the bad ones,' he said. 'The press is on trial here, and not simply in this room but also out there in the court of public opinion. And they know it. That is why they are so scared of what evidence has been heard here. Unless someone takes a grip, a very firm grip, of the tabloid press, we will be back to the same position as soon as the spotlight is turned off and the ink is dry on your report. And we are all concerned it may be payback time – payback for those who have sought to stand up. Hopefully the press will resist the temptation once this is over.'

Eight people have been charged with phone hacking, seven of them journalists, including a former Downing Street aide and a media company boss. You might have noticed, dear blog reader. That's a very significant story you'd think. In the history of newspapers, going back to the Seventeenth Century, no such case has ever been launched before. 'Unprecedented' may well have been the most over-used word throughout the hacking scandal, but it is entirely justified now to describe this turn of events. The formal charging of the eight led the BBC's TV and radio news bulletins throughout yesterday - the BBC really sticking the knife in by noting, in relation to those charged, 'we hear their denials' - as it did most of the ITV and Sky News bulletins. It was also the splash in the Evening Standard. That was hardly surprising. After all, Andy Coulson was the communications director for the coalition government. Well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks was chief executive of News International. These used to be effing powerful people, movers and shakers who moves in effing powerful circles. They were charged along with five of the most senior former staff at the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World and the paper's former contracted investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. All deny the charges. So, how did Wednesday's national dailies cover that big story? It was the - not unreasonably, given their history in investigating the case, gloating - splash in the Gruniad Morning Star, with four pages inside, and a related leading article about the Leveson inquiry, A free and plural press. A sort of 'we told you so but you wouldn't listen and now it's come to this,' piece of boastful breast-beating that, momentarily gave the odious Communists something else to write about other than Jeremy Clarkson. The story also dominated the front page of the Independent, Murdoch's finest brought to trial, with mug-shot-style pictures of the eight accused. There was a single inside page plus a lengthy leader, At last, hacking charges will be tested in court. By contrast, it was merely a blurb on i's front page, which relegated the story to page six. You remember the i, surely dear blog reader? The newspaper which, in its thoroughly self-important and odious advertisements, claims to be full of 'intelligent stuff I want to read.' Not much evidence of that today, you odious middle-class tossers. The Financial Times, however, thought the story merited top billing: Murdoch lieutenants charged over hacking. And, to be fair, one Murdoch-owned newspaper, The Times, also gave it front page treatment, with a splash - albeit admittedly beneath a biggish picture of Boris Johnson at the London Olympics - Eight face hacking charges. The Daily Torygraph chose to publish only a double-column story at the foot of page one, Coulson and Brooks are charged with conspiracy. There was also a half-a-news page inside plus a business section story, Phone-hacking: News Corp risks corporate charges which poured more cold milk on Uncle Rupert's cornflakes this morning. Proving a point about there being, effectively, two presses in Britain - informed also by a continuing element of embarrassment about journalistic misbehaviour - however, the story got short shrift in most of the tabloids. The Daily Mirra gave it something of a show - given that its a story which causes maximum embarrassment for its main rival, the Sun - in a spread across pages twelve and thirteen, choosing to highlight its political ramifications for prime minister David Cameron, Cam pals 'in plot to hack Milly's phone'. Note the use of the word 'pals' instead of 'friends' or 'colleagues', presumably because the Mirra doesn't believe its readers can manage words of more than one syllable. And, seriously, does anybody still use the word 'pal' in anything other than an ironic sense these days. as in, you know, 'you lookin' at me, pal?' The story was the page eight lead in the Daily Scum Mail, which also accentuated the political point, Blow for Cameron as Brooks and Coulson face hacking charges. Remarkably, they didn't mention house prices, asylum seekers or the perceived inadequacies of the BBC once. Which might, just, be unique for a Scum Mail story. Metro kept it to page seven while the Daily Scum Express buried it on page four. And it was even harder to find in the Scum Express's sister paper, the Daily Lies, making only a single column on page two. Well, they've obviously got far more important things to worry about concerning the goings on in the Big Brother house over at soft-core Pornographer Richard Desmond's newspapers. The Sun, meanwhile, which led page fourteen with a story that their former editor was going to up in court a'fore the berk facing, if found guilty, a possible jail term - charges which, of course, she (and, indeed, all of the accused) deny - amounting to just eight paragraphs, appeared to side with the paper's former editor in its choice of angle and headline, Brooks: I will fight Milly hacking case. We all recall billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch referring to Brooks as his 'priority' in that amazing week in July last year when she was struggling (and, ultimately, failing) to hold on to her job. And the Sun does tend to echo his views after all. As Murdoch memorably told the Leveson inquiry: 'If you want to judge my thinking, look at the Sun.' The story was covered widely around the world, making big headlines in major titles on every continent and with the political aspect of it well to the fore. Phone-hacking charges seen as chill on British journalism (the New York Times); Hack charges hit British PM's ex-aide, former Murdoch protege; trials could embarrass Cameron (the Washington Post); Phone hack charges may add to fallout for British PM (Canada's Globe & Mail); Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and six others charged over UK phone hacking (The Australian) and Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks, UK PM's ex-aide charged (the Times of India). European papers and news websites also gave the story big billing, for examples it was covered by the Irish Times, France's Le Monde - Rebekah Brooks Après le caniveau, le cachot? - and France 24, Germany's Der Spiegel - Camerons Ex-Pressesprecher wird angeklagt - and Deutsche Welle and Sweden's Dagbladet. It's nice, is it not, when we can share our political embarrassments with the rest of the world.

On a somewhat related note, on Monday, one of Britain's most senior police chiefs told the Leveson inquiry that its probe into 'inappropriate' payments to public officials had widened beyond the Scum of the World and News International to other news groups included Trinity Mirra, owner of the Daily and Sunday Mirra and the People, and Scum Express Newspapers, owner of the Daily Scum Express, Sunday Scum Express, the Daily Lies and its Sunday stablemate. At last News International had got its wish that some of the pressure was taken off them by having other newspapers implicated in at least some of the dodgy goings on NI is currently up to its neck in. So, take a guess as to how many column inches the Mirra and Scum Express titles devoted to this very significant story? None whatsoever. Not a sausage. Bugger all.

Lloyd Embley, editor-in-chief of the Mirra titles, has been 'invited' - for which read 'ordered' - to comment on evidence given to the Leveson inquiry by a photographic agency boss that touched on the ethics of the People newspaper during Embley's editorship. Matt Sprake, was compelled to appear before the inquiry after a report about his agency's activities by investigative journalist David Hencke. Sprake's written evidence revealed that his NewsPics photographers had carried out surveillance on more than three hundred and thirty people in a two-year period and covertly photographed them. The vast majority of those assignments - more than two hundred and fifty - had been at the request of the People during Embley's editorship of that paper. Sprake also told of following Gerry and Kate McCann to Canada in July 2008 with a People reporter, Daniel Jones, in order to publish exclusive pictures of the couple, who were grieving for their vanished daughter. The Sprake evidence appeared to contradict assurances given to Leveson by Embley. In his written evidence to the inquiry, he said: 'I seek to ensure that my team and I act in accordance with the editors' code of practice. I owe an ethical responsibility to the readers of the newspaper. Our staff are expected to behave with respect, common sense and common decency. When dealing with members of the public our staff should identify themselves as reporters and the newspaper for which they work - unless they are dealing with criminals or putting themselves at risk in an undercover investigation.' Sprake's evidence to Leveson last Wednesday came so late in the inquiry process that there is no time left for Embley to be called to discuss the apparent contradictions. So Lord Justice Leveson suggested on Tuesday that Embley might 'like to respond' on his own initiative. He said: 'The inquiry only learnt [sic] of the existence of Matthew Sprake very recently, but I am conscious that his evidence last week concerned, in large part, the work which he had been employed to carry out for the People. Further, it raised issues relating to the responsibilities for the ethical decisions in connection with its commissioning. Although I recognise that it is now too late to serve a notice under Section Twenty One of the act on the editor, Mr Lloyd Embley should he wish to provide his account of that relationship, dealing with what Mr Sprake has said, I will, of course, consider it.' Embley was editor of the People from November 2007 until May this year when he was promoted to be editor-in-chief of the Daily and Sunday Mirra.

And, lastly on the subject of Leveson, here's something which might amuse.
Odious horrorshow (and drag) Noel Edmonds has reportedly dropped out of an upcoming BBC1 entertainment series. Which is, frankly, fine news. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping greatly likes this news. The Beard of Despair had allegedly been 'lined-up' to make a return to Saturday night television on the BBC for new game show The Bodyguard. Which, frankly, sounds shite. However, Edmonds is said to have 'exited the project' after filming the initial pilot, reports the Sun. The show would see contestants becoming 'celebrity bodyguards' while 'taking part in challenges and obstacle courses.' The presenter, allegedly, did not find the show 'exciting' enough, and would only decide to take on another series if it met his standards. An alleged 'insider' allegedly said: 'The BBC and producers Endemol were really keen for Noel to do the show. But he filmed the pilot on the basis that he would only do a full series if he thought it was amazing, different and exciting — and he didn't feel that.' The alleged 'source' allegedly added: 'To take on another big show it would need to really blow him away. Endemol were disappointed by his decision, but understand his feelings - it is all amicable. Noel thinks The Bodyguard will be a success, but just with somebody else at the helm.' An alleged BBC 'insider' allegedly added that a decision on the future of the show will be made in the near future. Allegedly.

Cheeky funsters Paddy Power is seeking a court order against the organisers of the London 2012 Olympic Games in a bid to stop a billboard advertising campaign from being taken down. The Irish bookmaker has instructed London law firm Charles Russell to seek an order at the High Court to try to stop the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games from having the billboard adverts removed for breaching strict rules on ambush marketing of the event by brands that are not official sponsors. The campaign was rolled out across the capital on Monday through a deal with outdoor advertising company JCDecaux. Adverts have also appeared in newspapers including Metro, City AM and the Evening Standard. The adverts proclaim Paddy Power as the: 'Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year! There you go, we said it.' yes, you certainly did. Whether it's true or not, is a different matter entirely. They then go on to reveal that it is of an egg and spoon race to be held in the French town of London. None of the Olympic sponsors are betting companies and LOCOG and the International Olympic Committee have strict rules on betting being linked to the games. LOCOG contacted JCDecaux, the French advertising firm which owns the billboard sites the campaign is running across London, on Tuesday to ask for the campaign's removal. Paddy Power has instructed the lawyers to seek a court order to stop LOCOG, arguing that the campaign is not in breach of official sponsor rights or Olympic regulations. Just for sheer cheek, I hope they win frankly. Article Five of the IOC Code of Ethics says that all forms of participation in, or support for betting related to the Olympic Games, and all forms of promotion of betting related to the Olympic Games are prohibited.

An actor who was shot in the face and blinded in one eye when a replica revolver misfired on stage is suing the Donmar Warehouse over the accident. David Birrell said that he was left with an 'unsightly' disfigurement when the gun backfired during the production of Passion in October 2010. Birrell is suing for two hundred and fifty thousand smackers, claiming the disability he suffered has affected his career. The theatre company has admitted liability for the accident. However Donmar Warehouse denies negligence and is seeking a contribution to the damages from the prop specialists who they say supplied the gun, History in the Making Ltd. According to papers filed at the High Court, the actor suffered 'total and permanent blindness in the right eye' after a blank cartridge in the gun he was firing 'ejected rearwards and at high velocity through the breach cut into the revolver and into his right eye.' It added the accident left Birrell's eye 'shrunken and unsightly,' which has forced him to now wear 'a cosmetic shell' to disguise its appearance. The prosthetic eye 'looks as if it is staring [and] looks sunken in appearance' which, coupled with 'scarring and distortion,' means 'the overall effect is of marked asymmetry to the upper half of Mr Birrell's face.' Birrell's barrister said the actor had 'undergone counselling' due to his condition and is 'at a disadvantage on the labour market as a result of both his functional and cosmetic disability.' It is also claimed the actor has 'lost the facility of binocular vision, has difficulty judging distances and with hand-eye coordination, tends to collide with objects on his right hand side.' In their defence to the action, the Donmar Warehouse admits that the theatre company are liable under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. However it said it was reserving the right to claim against History in the Making Ltd, stating they never had the chance to examine the gun as it was taken as part of a criminal investigation and not returned. Lawyers for History in the Making said the guns supplied had been 'competently serviced and cleaned prior to supply to the theatre. It is currently unknown whether the gun used by Mr Birrell in the accident was one of those supplied by History in the Making and Donmar Warehouse are required to prove that it was,' the documents said. It claimed the main cause of the accident was due to the theatre company using 'defective ammunition' which History in the Making did not supply. Birrell is currently appearing in two productions for the Open Air theatre company in London's Regents Park. Last year he won the Critics' Award for Theatre in Scotland, for best male performance for his portrayal in Sweeney Todd.

Actor Sherman Hemsley, who starred in the hit 1970s US sitcom The Jeffersons, has died at the age of seventy four. Police in El Paso said late on Tuesday that Hemsley had been found dead at his home, although the cause of death was unknown. He played black Harlem businessman George Jefferson on CBS's All in the Family (the US adaptation of the BBC's Till Death Us Do Part) before his character was spun off into The Jeffersons. The sitcom, with a mostly black cast, ran for eleven seasons from 1975 until 1985. The show made fun of America's racial and class-based faultlines. Hemsley's character, a mean-spirited bigot who owned a dry-cleaning business, proved to be hugely popular with US audiences. Born in Philadelphia in February 1938, Hemsley's first big break came when he was cast for a Broadway show, Purlie, where he caught the eye of All in the Family's creator, Norman Lear. Sherman subsequently joined the cast of NBC's Amen in 1986 as Ernest Frye, an unscrupulous church deacon much like his George Jefferson character. The show enjoyed a run of five seasons, ending in 1991. He then was a voice actor in the ABC live-action puppet series Dinosaurs, where he played Bradley P Richfield, main character Earl's sadistic boss. A talented jazz pianist, Hemsley, released a single entitled 'Ain't That A Kick in the Head' in 1989, followed three years later by Dance, an LP of rhythm and blues music.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, features this little cracker from yer actual Bowie his very self.