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Written in the stars

It's once again the time when astrologers "predict" events for the new year and then hope we all forget to keep track of how right or wrong they are. I suggest you print out this fairly vague set of predictions from Dadhichi Toth and we'll chat about it around this time next year. I may weigh in with some predictions of my own before the end of the year.

Story of the week

The Daily Mail asks: Did Kenneth Williams poison his father? Apparently, the camp Carry On star was the police's only suspect in the death of his homophobic father.

What's in a name?

The decision to name a Perth theatre complex after the late Dark Knight star Heath Legder may be overturned. It never made sense to me in the first place, as Ledger was primarily known as a film actor not a stage performer. It's a bit like naming a rugby league ground after an AFL player.

Beginning on The Bill

It seems everybody who is anybody in the UK acting community has been on The Bill. Now the Daily Mail has highlighted some of the more famous faces, including David Walliams, Sean Bean, Paul O'Grady, Spice Girl Emma Bunton, James McAvoy and a very young Keira Kightley. Read about it here.

Brand, Ross pay the price

Comedian Russell Brand and talk show host Jonathan Ross have been suspended by the BBC for their offensive prank call to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. There have been calls for them to be sacked. Whatever the outcome of this case, I hope broadcasters everywhere take note. There is a line that can be - and in this case has been - crossed in the name of "entertainment". Prank and gotcha calls often come at a cost to somebody's dignity and privacy. In the UK, there's also the mitigating factor that the BBC is funded by licence-fee payers (me included). Ross, who hosts a late-night chat and variety show, is on a 6 million-pounds-a-year contract, and Brand reportedly earns 400,000 pounds and was regarded as a "star signing" for the BBC. The average annual pay packet is about 25,000 pounds. The duo repeatedly rang Sachs's answering machine telling him Brand had slept with the actor's granddaughter. They later suggested that Sachs might kill himself after hearing the news, and they joked about breaking into his house and sexually abusing him. The pre-recorded program went to air after being approved by a senior BBC executive. One can only imagine the personal embarrassment to the woman in question, 23-year-old Georgina Baillie, who has a right to expect such matters to remain private. However, her thoughts are with her grandfather, who has no need nor, I would imagine, any desire to hear about her sex life. "What's funny about humiliating a lovely old man who has never harmed anyone in his life," she says. "My grandfather is really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end. It has been awful for him." Moreover, it's been a dark episode in the history the BBC and broadcasting in general.
Update:Brand has quit his BBC Radio 2 program and taken full responsibility for the incident. Presumably, this will take some heat off the highly paid Ross - who, let's not forget, was the first the make the offensive remark to Sachs.

Not so fancy free

Question: What is the decent minimum interval between an original film and its remake?
Answer: I don't know; but is the world really ready for another version of 1984's Footloose? It will star Zac Efron of High School Musical fame, who will reportedly earn a "close to mid-seven figures" pay packet (eek!), and there's more about it here.

Ready, set swear!

It's getting increasingly hard to tell all these TV chefs apart. Swearing, which used to be Gordon Ramsay's forte, is no longer a distinguishing factor. Even Jamie Oliver is doing it now. In fact, Oliver tops a list of the most F-words used after the UK's 9pm TV "watershed", which basically gives the green light to adult content (on the increasingly erroneous assumption that all children are in bed). The Daily Mail notes that his new Ministry of Food program featured 23 F-words among a total of 27 "serious expletives". Other offenders were the shows Traffic Cops, Natural Born Sellers and Friday Nights with Jonathan Ross.

With friends like these ...

"He’s a friend of mine and that’s pretty much it. I’m not going to get into details, but it’s a small world."

So, enigmatically, says 19-year-old American fashion student Andrea Feick, who has been pictured in a bikini cosying up to U2 frontman Bono, 48, but denies having a romantic relationship with him.

Tabloid titillation

Three little words I thought I'd never see in a British tabloid ... "put them away". The Daily Mail, admittedly not known for full-on topless pictures, has said it's suffering "cleavage fatigue" - at least when it comes to Liz Hurley, Victoria Beckham (a.k.a. Posh), Katie "Jordan" Price and Christina Aguilera. They are accussed of being too obvious in pushing their assets. But the paper also notes:

And then think of Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kylie Minogue and Kate Winslet: top talent, paparazzi favourites also, not averse to a pretty dress and the odd plunging neckline, but far less obvious in manner, less needy of attention.

Party people

The guest list was impressive: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Tobey Maguire, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller and Jack Black. The bash had a farm theme, no expense was spared and there was even an after-party at the Cox-Arquette residence. The sparkling occasion? It was the first birthday party for Olive, daughter of Sacha Baron Cohen and his wife Isla Fisher. As Borat might say, only in America ...
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