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Monday, October 31, 2011

Swiss bank announces job losses

 Credit Suisse is cutting jobs after poor trading figures (AP)

Credit Suisse Group has announced a 3% cut in its staff across the board after reporting weak third-quarter net profits of 683 million Swiss francs (?484 million).

Credit Suisse Group has announced a 3% cut in its staff across the board after reporting weak third-quarter net profits of 683 million Swiss francs (?484 million).

The bank's earnings follow weak reports across the banking industry this season due to low trading activity.

Analysts had predicted Switzerland's second-biggest bank might report earnings of almost 900 million francs (?637 million) this quarter.

A year ago, Credit Suisse reported exceptionally weak net profits of 609 million francs (now ?431 million).

In July, the bank reported it would cut more than 2,000 jobs after its profits dropped by half, more than expected, due to a strong Swiss franc and a plunge in trading and investment banking earnings.

Nicole Scherzinger's Lady Gaga-style shoes fail to distract from her post-split weight loss

She's had a difficult few weeks following her split from Lewis Hamilton.

And it seems the stress has taken its toll on Nicole Scherzinger, who displayed her tiny waist and skinny legs as she arrived at London's BBC studios today.

The 33-year-old singer donned a wild patterned dress as she paid a visit to Radio 1, coupled with a pair of Lady Gaga-style heel-less shoes.

Well heeled: Nicole Scherzinger is pictured outside the BBC Radio studios in central London

Footloose and fancy free: The singer wore a pair of shoes likely to have been the handiwork of Lady Gaga's shoe designer, Noritaka Tatehana Footloose and fancy free: The singer wore a pair of shoes likely to have been the handiwork of Lady Gaga's shoe designer, Noritaka Tatehana

While Nicole has never been on the larger side, the former Pussycat Dolls star was noticeably slimmer as she smiled and waved to photographers, signing autographs as she made her way into the BBC building.

Nicole's garish dress comprised various materials, including netting around her collarbone area and bits of string keeping the sides together.

Meanwhile on her feet she wore a pair of beige shoes, most likely the work of Lady Gaga's shoe designer, Noritaka Tatehana, with a black angular pattern on them.

Getting on with it: Nicole appeared chirpier while posing with fans and signing autographs Getting on with it: Nicole appeared chirpier while posing with fans and signing autographs

Nicole has been touted as Kelly Rowland's replacement this weekend, after it was announced that the Destiny's Child star will be staying in Los Angeles where she is laid up with a throat infection.

The singer has been scheduled to perform on the show, but observers believe she may also use her experience as a judge on the U.S. X Factor to stand in for Kelly this weekend.

She also appeared on This Morning, arriving at ITV's studios appearing to be in much better spirits than she had yesterday, when she appeared upset and subdued as she walked through Heathrow airport.

Weight loss: A source says Nicole is going through a tough time, clearly evident in her skinny frame

Again her skinny frame was clearly visible, accentuated by her figure-hugging green and black leopard-print minidress.

A source told The Sun yesterday: 'Nicole has been going through a tough time.

'She's juggling work and trying to get over the split with the man she thought she would end up with.'

Been on the heartbreak diet? Nicole Scherzinger displayed her tiny waist in a skintight dress as she arrived at the ITV studios today

Slender: Nicole's form-fitting dress highlighted her slimmed-down figure

Transformation: Nicole looked significantly slimmer than she did this time last year

Shady lady: Nicole teamed her dress with sky-high heels and huge sunglasses

Nicole and Lewis broke up earlier this month, and it was claimed today that the pair split because of the 26-year-old F1 driver's reluctance to settle down and have children, according to the Daily Mirror.

Sombre: Nicole yesterday looked subdued as she arrived in London

'I'm not ready for a family,' Hamilton reportedly told friends.

A source told the paper: 'Lewis decided they had to part. She wanted more than he could offer at this stage in his life.'

X Factor USA judge Nicole allegedly wanted to take things to the 'next level' with her boyfriend of four years.

Back in 2009 she told the Mirror: 'I am the happiest I have ever been. Lewis is such an amazing, humble and chivalrous guy. We would love to have beautiful angel babies together one day.'

Lewis spoke to the paper about the split but confirmed the pair are still friends.

He said: 'Yeah, we're friends at least and we can move forward. It's never easy going through tough times.

'It's these kind of times that are sent to try you, and it's about how you pull through them.

'I've my family who are helping, so I feel pretty good. And I've many more days coming up with my family over Christmas and all that, so I'm really looking forward to it.'

Happier times: Nicole split from racing driver Lewis Hamilton earlier this month

Patrick Duffy: Who drank shots with JR? I did - and I feared I'd wreck my health

When a crew was assembled to film a ‘TV commercial’ for Irish Spring soap back in 1986, it seemed straightforward.

The advert starred Patrick Duffy — who as Bobby Ewing in the hit series Dallas had been killed off in a car crash the previous year — and featured him stepping out of the shower with a smiling ‘Good morning’ and describing the benefits of the soap.

It was only months later when the final episode of that season’s Dallas aired that the purpose of the fake commercial — filmed without the knowledge of the rest of the Dallas cast and crew — became clear.

Back on the ranch: Patrick Duffy (right) with Larry Hagman and Linda Gray Back on the ranch: Patrick Duffy (right) with Larry Hagman and Linda Gray

Bobby’s wife Pamela (Victoria Principal), who had spent most of the series mourning her dead husband, wakes up and goes to the shower?.?.?. and footage from the decoy advert was then used to show her being greeted by Bobby, dripping wet and very much alive.

And so one of the most talked-about — and pilloried — TV resurrections of all time began. Bobby Ewing’s death was his wife’s bad dream.

Duffy says: ‘It was the only way to bring Bobby back. I couldn’t come back as his twin or as a person who’d had surgery to look like him, because Bobby had to stay true to his character.’

And now, Bobby’s back again — but it’s not a dream this time. Dallas returns to our screens next year, following the fortunes of the oil-rich, moral-poor Ewing family 20 years on.

Larry Hagman also returns as Bobby’s dastardly brother JR, as does Linda Gray playing Sue Ellen, for years JR’s long-suffering, often-inebriated wife.

In the new series, JR is depressed, Sue Ellen is all-powerful, and Bobby, as ever, the peacemaker between the new warring factions of the clan — JR’s son John Ross Ewing III and Bobby’s adopted son Christopher (Desperate Housewives’ stars Josh Henderson and Jesse Metcalfe respectively).

Duffy declares: ‘This isn’t the Dallas of old, it’s Dallas almost a generation later, though Bobby’s still the good guy and JR still thinks he’s the good guy!’

He and Linda Gray hardly seem to have aged in the intervening 20 years. Gray looks incredible at 70 and Duffy, 62, may have grey hair, but he still has the all-American good looks which gained him a legion of fans. As Bobby, he gets a gorgeous new wife in the shape of  yet another Desperate Housewife star, Brenda Strong.

‘I spent two days of the shoot in bed with Brenda,’ says Duffy. ‘But that’s the job. My wife Carlyn understands now, but there was one time during the first year of Dallas when there was a love scene between Victoria Principal and me. Carlyn and I were at home watching the show and she was almost crying. She said that she saw a look on my face that she claimed as hers.’

  Welcome back: Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing in the famous shower scene where he came back from the dead, and right, with his wife Pamela, played by Victoria Principal

Duffy may have bedded a series of beauties in Dallas (including Jenna Wade, played by Priscilla Presley), but his marriage to Carlyn has been a study of longevity in Hollywood.

‘We’ve been together 39 years and it’s impossible to do anything special for our 40th anniversary next year, because it’s special to us all day long,’ he says.

At the beginning, however, things were far from simple. Duffy met Carlyn, a ballerina, on a bus and it was ‘lust at first sight’.

‘I was an immature college graduate,’ he says. ‘She was ten years older than me and just this gorgeous, classical artist with a great body and I looked at her and thought: “I’ve got to have me some of that!” and so we started this mad affair.

‘She was married to another dancer, but had no children, and it got to the point where we thought: “We can’t stop this.”?’

The moment lust turned to love is still etched in Duffy’s mind. ‘We were in Seattle and she had to go back to her husband in New York,’ he recalls. ‘She wasn’t considering divorce and we weren’t sure we’d ever see each other again.

‘We were in the street when a rubbish truck came past and I thought the best way to end the pain would be to just step in front of it.

‘Much later, when her divorce came through, we were talking about that day and she said: “You know, at that moment I thought maybe I should just step in front of the truck.” We had both thought the exact same thing.’

Early years: The original cast at Southfork ranch. Dallas returns to our screen with a new series next year - nearly a generation later

The ten-year age gap has never been an issue for Duffy, ‘but it might rest more heavily on my wife’, he admits. ‘Ninety per cent of my roles are married men, and the women I’m married to are usually younger, which you could understand would make it difficult for her.

‘But she’s the most intelligent person I know and she doesn’t have to worry about me at all. The best part of any day for me is when I see her.’

The couple have a ranch  in Oregon, two sons, Padraic, 37, and Conor, 31, and three grandchildren.

Before meeting his wife, however, Duffy was, he concedes, something of a ladies’ man. ‘It was the Sixties and love and sex and friendship were all one and the same,’ he recalls. ‘But I was never a rake.

'It was a shock to me when I fell in love with Carlyn and the relationship became monogamous. The age difference and my emerging from college and then starting to practise Buddhism all got me to that point.’ Duffy has been a Buddhist for 40 years and his faith helped him through the darkest period of his life — the murder of his parents in 1986.

Marie and Terrence Duffy were shot dead by two teenagers who had been barred from the tavern the Duffys ran in Montana. The calmness with which their son dealt with it troubled some who felt he wasn’t displaying enough grief.

But when asked if the criticism hurt, he replies: ‘No, it actually encouraged me because it gave me an opportunity to show people an alternative point of view.’

He says of the two boys involved: ‘I never had the desire for them to have capital punishment. They were captured, they confessed, they went on trial and went to jail.’

In 2001, one of the assailants claimed to be the sole gunman. The other was released on parole four years ago.

‘I don’t think of him any more now that he’s out than I did when he was in jail,’ says Duffy. ‘It never occurred to me to forgive them or to blame them and I had closure the minute it happened. But I do my Buddhist practice twice a day and chant for my parents.’

Patrick grew up in Montana planning to be an architect, but after a discussion with a school drama teacher, decided to take up acting instead. He was 28 before he landed his first major role as the webbed-footed Mark Harris in the TV series Man From Atlantis.

Duffy, Gray and Hagman became firm friends from the start, with Hagman and Duffy getting up to particular mischief. Hagman admitted he could get through five bottles of champagne a day on set, but Duffy says it didn’t affect his acting.

‘There was only one time Larry might have been a little drunk while working,’ he says. ‘We’d already done a full day, but then they scheduled another scene, but he was still in control of his faculties.

‘We’d have a little drink in the morning, then at lunch, and again after work. But the work was sacred. I saw Larry put away a lot of stuff, but he had this capacity to function, though eventually, it made his liver give up, and he had a transplant.

‘I did worry I’d follow that path. Both my parents drank and although it wasn’t out of control, it was borderline. I couldn’t do it all day, and eventually I just stopped doing it.’

Now, Duffy, Hagman and Gray are curtailing any high-jinks in order to set an example for the new young cast. The door is open for other Dallas alumni to return, including Ken Kercheval as JR’s perennial punchbag Cliff Barnes and Victoria Principal as his sister, Pamela.

‘Linda, Larry and I got on so well,’ says Duffy. ‘But Victoria Principal will tell you that when she joined Dallas the character she played was the outsider of the Ewing household — “that Barnes woman” — so she made an actor’s choice to be, in essence, the outsider among us too.

‘Neither Cliff nor Pamela are back yet, but who knows? In TV, anything’s possible.’

As the man who came back from the dead in a soap commercial, Patrick Duffy certainly knows all about that.

The new series of Dallas will premiere on Channel 5 next year.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn review

Steven Spielberg’s affection for the comic-strip universe created by Herge shines through his latest offering.

The visuals are often spectacular, from the cartoon opening titles through to complex action sequences that are as inventive as anything Spielberg attempted in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

The film makes the most sophisticated use yet of motion capture — the same technique used in Beowulf and The Polar Express — to create a world that’s somewhere between live action and cartoon.

Crucial elements missing (L-R): Inspectors Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and Tintin (Jamie Bell) Crucial elements missing (L-R): Inspectors Thompson and Thomson (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and Tintin (Jamie Bell)

Sad and ghostly: Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock in the film

There’s a breathtaking chase through a Moroccan market-place, a powerful duel between dockyard cranes and an imaginative fantasy sequence in which a galleon seems to sail through the Sahara desert.

So why do I reckon it’s worth only three stars? That’s partly down to the script.

Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish have done a merely workmanlike job of amalgamating three Tintin stories — The Crab With The Golden Claws, The Secret Of The Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure.

They have left out elements crucial to a first-rate adventure.
Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a personality-free hero who never develops during the film. His only memorable characteristic is his quiff. It’s like watching an entire movie built around Jedward.

Void characters: There's something spooky about these not-quite-humans' blank, Botoxed features, their not fully-focused gaze

Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) comes out with his much-loved ejaculations — ‘Billions of blue blistering barnacles!’ — but there’s something sad, almost ghostly, about him.

He never seems fully alive, or comes up with anything to make us love him. His only character traits are alcoholism and love of the sea. They’re never enough.

For all its technical brilliance, Tintin is a disappointment. Spielberg has captured the look of Herge, but not the zest and emotion.

The characters are voids and the motion capture technique still hasn’t been perfected.

There’s something spooky about these not-quite-humans’ blank, Botoxed features, their not fully-focused gaze.

I was hoping to be thrilled, and I wasn’t. All the film delivers is a somewhat inhuman pastiche.

The Bachelor: Gavin Henson chooses Carianne Harrow to be his girlfriend

Gavin Henson is now spoken for after choosing Carianne Barrow to be his girlfriend in The Bachelor final.
The rugby player, 29, left singer-songwriter Layla Manoochehri, 25, heartbroken after opting for the Middlesex model, 24.
After turning down Layla, who famously used to date Blue singer Simon Webbe, Henson declared his love for bubbly blonde Carianne.
 You're The One! Gavin Henson presents Carianne Barrow with the final red rose after choosing her to be his girlfriend on The Bachelor
  I love you: The rugby player and model both declared their love for each other
He told her: 'I've been looking for a long-term relationship. Someone I can give 100 per cent to and will get that back...
'Carianne, you're The One. I feel so lucky. I feel so lucky to have found you. you're so unique.
'Please give me the opportunity to make you feel special, Let me be your best friend and give me the opportunity to make you happy for the rest of you life.'
 A rose for my rose: The couple embrace after deciding to be official
As she beamed with happiness, he then uttered those three little words - despite his sexy hot tub kissing session with Layla the night before.

He declared: 'I love you Carianne. Will you please accept this rose and make me the happiest man alive by being my girlfriend.'
As the new couple embraced, an emotional Carianne replied that she loved him too: 'I want to be with you forever.'
 It's not you: Henson told runner-up Layla Manoochehri he had stronger feelings for Carianne
Over the past two months, the Welsh athlete has whittled down 25 women to just two for the grand final in St Lucia.
At the beginning of the show, he admitted he'd had some tricky moments with both finalists.
He said: 'They've stood out from the beginning. There has been a few hiccups with Carieanne and a bit of blip with Layla.'
 Beautiful location: Henson told Layla it was over against the stunning background of St Lucia
He was helped on his way to his decision by his parents Alan and Audrey and younger sister Sarah, who had private conversations with each girls without Gavin present.
Layla assured his family she could cope with life in the public eye, alluding to her six-year relationship with Blue boy band singer Simon Webbe, which ended this year.
His father Alan wanted to know if Layla would give him some more grandchildren in addition to Dexter and Ruby - Gavin's two kids with ex-fianc?e Charlotte Church.
 Your loss: Layla looked disappointed as she walked away from the rugyb player
He asked her: 'Do you have children...? Can you have children? Would you mind out if they turned out to be Welsh? Wales needs some more boys...'
However, Carianne admitted she didn't have much experience with children so would have to learn how to look after Gavin's son and daughter.
She said: 'I'm rubbish with kids... Once I get used to the idea, I should be alright.'
Reporting back to Gavin, his mother Audrey said: 'Carianne seems more naive than Layla. Layla is more like you, she's seen the world a little bit.'
 Charming the family: Layla met Gavin's parents Alan and Audrey and younger sister Sarah before he made his big decision
After Gavin informed his family that Carianne had a degree so wasn't as dizzy as she came across, his mum replied: 'So she wouldn't be hanging on your coat-tails, then?'
Turning back to Layla, Audrey said: 'She reminded me a little of you. She's a confident girl. She's comfortable in her own self.'
However, Sarah said she would Layla a bit predicable: 'She's got a maturity for her age. But I felt like every question I asked, I knew what she was going to say.'
 Getting on side: Carianne told Gavin's family they were a 'good-looking bunch'
Alan told Gavin Layla reminded him of Stacey Branning from EastEnders.
Before making his decision, he took each contestant on one last date to help him make their decision.
After a stroll in the Botanical Gardens and dinner, Gavin and Carianne took turns in massaging each other.
Following their pamper session, Carianne admitted she was struggling to control her lust: 'I did enjoy massaging him, I like touching his body but I don't think I got him lovestruck from my massage.
 Romantic: The couple enjoyed a dip in the sea for their last date
 Pampering: Gavin and Carianne ended their date by giving each other massages
'When Gavin was massaging me I felt a bit frisky. I feel like what's going on between me and Gavin is the beginning of something great.'
On his day with Layla, the pair enjoyed dinner in his private suite, before moving on to the hot tub.
Layla decided to make her move and the pair enjoyed a passionate kissing session in their swimwear.
Later, Layla hinted there had been more than kissing: 'What happened under the bubbles I couldn't possibly tell you.'

Passionate: After a romantic dinner for their last date, Layla and Gavin headed into the hot tub
But before asking Carianne to be his girlfriend, Gavin told Layla he simply had stronger feelings for Carianne.
He said: 'From the first moment I saw you I was attracted to you. I felt the connection straight away. I can be myself around you. I feel so comfortable around you. I'm always so excited to see you. You have the qualities that I value and are so important to me.

'You're such a beautiful person. But I'm so sorry I have stronger feelings for someone else. I have stronger feelings for someone else. It does hurt.'
 Making her move: Despite his 'love' for Carianne, Gavin was quite willing for a kissing session in the jacuzzi with Layla

The Deep Blue Sea review: Rachel Weisz is all at sea in this dreary drama

From the BFI Film Festival
This was a bafflingly downbeat film with which to end the BFI London Film Festival. It’s well acted and beautiful to look at — but as drama, it’s dreary.
Director Terence Davies’s take on Terence Rattigan’s play involves a romantic triangle circa 1950, with Lady Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) walking out of a respectable but sexless marriage to judge Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale).
 'Gorgeous, privileged woman's whingeing': Rachel Weisz's character was hard to empathise with
 Tragedy not that deep: You feel these agonies belong on a magazine's problem page rather than the big screen
She shacks up with former RAF pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston). Freddie’s dashing, but nowhere near as much in love with Hester as she is with him. Therein lies the tragedy.
The trouble is, the tragedy really isn’t that deep. You feel these agonies belong on a magazine’s problem page rather than the big screen.
Davis sets a snail’s pace. Russell Beale turns Sir William into a decent enough cove, but he’s a bore, under the thumb of his mother (a delightfully poisonous Barbara Jefford).
Hiddlestone fails to make Freddie even slightly likeable, which makes Weisz’s performance — though her most luminous since The Constant Gardener — hard to empathise with. By the end, I was fed up with this gorgeous, privileged woman’s whingeing.
 A bafflingly downbeat film with which to end the BFI London Film Festival: The Deep Blue Sea is well acted and beautiful to look at - but as drama, it's dreary

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Help review: The story of racism that could clean up at the Oscars

White author Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel about racism in the American Deep South was turned down by 60 publishers in the U.S. before it sold well over three million copies.
This movie shows both why the book became a hit and why publishers turned it down. I admired aspects of the film a great deal, but there were still moments when, had it been a book, I might have launched it across the room.

The film’s heroine is Caucasian college graduate Skeeter (Emma Stone), who returns to her roots in 1962 after four years away, and sees Southern society with newly judgmental eyes.
 Hells belles: Maid Aibleen (Viola Davis) is invisible to the white women in The Help
She notices that the privileged white women of Mississippi are happy to allow their children to be brought up by black maids, but don’t regard the ‘help’ as fit to use an indoor bathroom.
Skeeter decides to write a book about racism, but there’s a catch: she’ll need the help of the maids, who will have to become whistle-blowers, and they’re reluctant to step out of line — especially with racist employers such as Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard).
Stockett’s novel was written from three perspectives: Skeeter’s and two maids, the stoical Aibileen (Viola Davis) and the sharp-tongued Minny (Octavia Spencer).
In the film, Aibileen’s viewpoint carries the biggest emotional punch, thanks to fine acting by Davis as the middle-aged maid who first spills the beans, at a risk to her livelihood and, indeed, her life.
It is Davis’s performance that gives this movie a chance of winning an Oscar.
For her part, the talented Stone gracefully allows the black characters to take over the movie, as they should. It’s not her fault her romantic sub-plot is insultingly perfunctory, or that she isn’t even allowed a climactic show-down with the villainess. By that time, we’re more interested in the black characters.
However, it’s a major flaw in a film supposedly giving a voice to black maids that so much of it is seen from the perspective of a white woman with little to lose.
The picture comes across as a too simplified, sanitised study of the civil rights movement. The Help is hobbled by a dogged reluctance to address the grimmer realities of life for black people in the South.
Writer-director Tate Taylor, who is white, allows his affection for old civilities to give the film a nostalgic glow, a cosiness, that takes alarming precedence over the black characters’ stories.
Far too much of The Help resembles a po-faced version of Hairspray, a comedy that parodied the self-congratulatory smugness of movies like this, in which white people ‘discover’ racism and decide to cure everyone of it.
Still, a lot of people are going to like The Help enough to ignore its crudities and unfulfilled potential. The proof of that is that it has already made over $150?million at the box office.

We Need To Talk About Kevin: Film doesn't do Tilda Swinton's supreme performance justice

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN                                  
 Strong: Tilda Swinton gives a powerful performance as mother Eva in the film We Need To Talk About Kevin
We Need To Talk About Kevin is an ultra-solemn attempt to graft the style of an expressionist art-house film on to the sensational content of a horror movie.

As readers of Lionel Shriver’s best-seller will know, it’s the story of former travel writer Eva (Tilda Swinton) living alone in a small-town U.S. community that’s made her a pariah. Once, she was married to a pleasant and prosperous husband (John C. Reilly) and gave birth to two children.

From the outset, Kevin — the elder of the two — is the baby from hell who won’t stop screaming. At eight years old (and played by Jasper Newell), he can’t be potty-trained, won’t play and regards Eva with resentment — which leads her to harm him physically.

In his teens, Kevin (now played by a better young actor, Ezra Miller) commits a series of vicious acts, culminating in one so heinous that, right from the start of the movie, we see other people regard his mother with unconcealed hatred.

The best thing about the film is Tilda Swinton, who gives a cleverly nuanced performance that reveals the vulnerability behind Eva’s cold, gaunt exterior. It would be no surprise if she were nominated for an Academy Award.

Scottish director Lynne Ramsay brings the same leisurely pace, remorseless intensity and obsession with colour that marked her first two films, Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar.

But in ditching the novel’s structure — which took the form of Eva’s letters to her absent husband after the climactic event — Ramsay sacrifices the shock value of the twist at the end of the book.

Most fatally for the film’s chances of attracting an audience, the cinema exposes faults in the original novel that a reader could easily overlook.

There is a huge element of unbelievability to Kevin’s character and development.

 Trouble ahead: Eva has her work cut out bringing up wild child Kevin
His father and mother don’t need to talk about this blatant sociopath; they need to get him professional help — yet that idea never occurs to them.

Though Eva does make an initial inquiry about possible autism, it is incredible that his behavioural problems don’t involve him seeing at least one child psychiatrist.

It’s amazing, too, his teachers don’t view him with concern. And his climactic act makes little sense without some record of violence or bullying by his peers.

Nor is there the slightest explanation for Kevin’s evil personality. He is easily the most fascinating presence in the movie, but the film-makers are interested in him only insofar as he affects his mother.

 Rocky path: Eva was married and had a calm life - but that all changes
This turns it into a hard-line feminist parable. Ms Shriver poses the question: what are successful career-women to do when they give birth to the kind of insensitive, aggressive male they have loathed since their own childhood?

It is a query that will strike most people — mothers of boys especially — as more than faintly ridiculous.

Kevin is a fantastical creation who bears little or no relation to the vast majority of real boys. It is no surprise to learn Ms Shriver is childless.

You have only to compare this with other ‘bad seed’ films, such as The Omen and Orphan, to appreciate the movie’s shortcomings as regards pace, storytelling and ability to suspend the audience’s disbelief.

This is cheap grand guignol posing as a valuable insight into the male psyche.

Tilda Swinton’s performance is towering, but the story around her doesn’t convince.

X Factor 2011: Ashley quits The Risk... and is replaced by Nu Vibe's Ashford

The Risk have been one of the bookies favourites after their strong performances during the live X Factor shows.
However, the group has been dealt a huge blow after bandmember Ashley J Baptiste has decided to quit.
Rather than continue as a three-piece in tonight's show, the remaining members Charlie Healy, Andrew Merry and Derry Mensah have asked Nu Vibe singer Ashford Campbell to join.
All change: Nu Vibe singer Ashford Campbell (left) has joined The Risk after Ashley J Baptiste quits
Ashley's decision to leave just 48 hours before tonight's live show means the group don't have long to rehearse with their new member.

Ashley, 22, broke the news to The Risk bandmates and their mentor Tulisa Contostavlos on Thursday night.

He said: 'It's been a really tough decision but I have decided to leave The Risk. I don't believe my future lies in a boyband and it's not fair on Charlie, Derry and Andy to remain in the band when I am not truly committed to it for the long term.
'I believe The Risk can win The X Factor and I'm backing them all the way.
I count them as my friends so I know we'll stay in touch.'
 So long fellas: Ashley (far left) with his former bandmates (L-R) Derry Mensah, Andrew Merry and Charlie Healy
The group said in a statement: 'We're gutted to be losing Ashley but we back him all the way in his decision. We're going to miss him but The Risk are going to carry on in the competition and hope we can do our mate and all our supporters proud.
'We're devastated that Ashley has decided to leave but we respect his decision.
'After taking in the news we decided that we didn't want to be a trio, we really wanted another member. We have always liked Ashford, right from bootcamp, and always had a strong bond with him.

'He's mega talented and will bring so many qualities to group. We're so glad he said yes and we can't wait to get rehearsing.'
Ashford, 16, enthused: 'I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I got the call. I had to speak to the nu vibe boys first and once they gave me their blessing I was straight back on the phone to grab the offer. Its unbelievable and now I've got to work even harder after my break.'
It was only two weeks ago that 16-year-old Ashford - who auditioned as a solo singer and formed Nu Vibe during boot camp - was voted off the show.
 The way they were: Ashford (second from right) with his former Nu Vibe bandmates Jordan Higo, Stefan Romer, Bradley Johnson and Richard Milford
But with The Risk themselves only being put together in judges' houses a month ago, the change of members shouldn't be too big an adjustment.
The original The Risk was formed during boot camp comprising of Derry, Ashley, Andrew, Mitchell McPike and Marlon MecKenzie

However, Tulisa then changed the line-up again at judges' houses and asked Charlie to leave his band The Keys, while Marlon and Mitchell didn't make it further.

Tulisa told The Sun about the new development: 'I am devastated by Ashley leaving. Basically, he couldn't hack the pressure and this wasn't what he wanted to do. The boys were like, "You absolute d***".
'They think it has ruined their chances. They are very upset.'

An X Factor spokesperson added: 'We're disappointed to be losing Ashley from the competition but we fully support his decision and wish him well for the future.'

ANONYMOUS review: Pretentious, preposterous - it's a Tudor turkey!

Historians and experts in English literature will hate the film Anonymous — and they won’t be alone.
For it offers a ludicrously reductionist view of England’s greatest writer, William Shakespeare, and a grotesquely offensive portrait of its most celebrated monarch, Elizabeth I.

The film is German director Roland Emmerich’s first non-action movie and he never lets the facts get in the way of a good story nor, indeed, a bad one.

 Royal ruse: German director Roland Emmerich's new project attempts to show that Shakespeare did not write the plays credited to him
 Controversial: The plot centres on the fact that it would have been a disgrace for an earl to be associated with writing or the stage
In his earlier film The Patriot, he depicted the British during the American War of Independence as sneering psychotics.
His new project attempts to show that Shakespeare (played by Rafe Spall as an illiterate buffoon) did not write the plays credited to him and that they were the work of Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, played by two actors (one of whom is Rhys Ifans, who has a remarkable lack of aristocratic finesse).
The plot centres on the fact that it would have been a disgrace for an earl to be associated with writing or the stage and so he used Shakespeare as his stooge.
However, this hardly holds water, for the real Earl of Oxford, in fact, held the lease of the Blackfriars Theatre in the mid-1580s, sponsored various theatrical companies and produced entertainments at court.
He also published mediocre poems under his own name, which bear little similarity  to Shakespeare’s.
 Star: Actress Joely Richardson attends the after party for Anonymous, in which she plays Elizabeth I
In Anonymous, it is claimed that De Vere wrote the part of busybody Polonius in Hamlet as an insult to his former guardian, Sir William Cecil, and Richard III was a satire on the ambitions of Sir William’s son, Robert. Yet there is no historical evidence for this.
There are too many inaccuracies to name them all. It is horribly apparent that the film-makers have less knowledge of Shakespeare’s verse and Elizabethan history than many literate 13-year-olds.
Far-fetched conspiracy theories come thick and fast, all based on the notion that Elizabeth I (played first by Joely Richardson and in her senility by her real-life mother Vanessa Redgrave) was an incestuous slut who bore the first of many illegitimate children at the age of 15. So much for the Virgin Queen!
Here is a classic example of propaganda being paraded as truth. Heaven knows if there are any more sinister intentions behind it than to make money out of the gullible.
You don’t need A-levels in history and English to recognise that Anonymous is preposterous.

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: For their eyes only... Sam Mendes shakes up his Bond cast with a top secret

Sam Mendes wanted to spring a surprise on his high-calibre cast gathered at Pinewood studios for a script reading of the latest 007 adventure.
As the likes of Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes sat leafing through their scripts, each stamped ‘Highly  Confidential’, with every page watermarked and coded, they must all have been wondering: who on earth could the Oscar-winning director be bringing in who might leave them shaken and (pleasantly) stirred?
Try Albert Finney, a legendary actor, revered by his peers and about to make his Bond debut at the age  of 75.
  Highly confidential: Sam Mendes (left) brought in actor Albert Finney (right) for the script reading

An executive close to the production told me: ‘It was one of those fabulous “This can’t get any better!” moments because Mendes has upped the game by bringing in  Bardem and Fiennes — and they’ve already got Dame Judi Dench.
‘So you think, well, who else can they get to make this any classier?’
Finney, who has been in remission from cancer of the prostate for  several years, will play a Foreign Office mandarin with powers over the Secret Intelligence Service, described to me as a reasonably big role and full of class.
The part probably makes him M’s boss, though she — as played by Judi — might not see it that way.
Interestingly, I thought Judi and Albert must surely have worked together before, because they were at the Old Vic in the late Fifties and early Sixties, but I could find no record of them ever having trodden the boards on the same stage or appearing in the same movie.
(If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll be set straight!) The thespians were joined at the studio by Naomie Harris who, as revealed here, will play Miss Moneypenny; Berenice Marlohe as the requisite femme fatale (are we past using the term ‘Bond girl’ in the 21st century?) and Rory Kinnear, who will play M’s chief of staff,  Bill Tanner.
He will have more to do in this movie than when he played Tanner in Quantum Of Solace.
Ben Whishaw and Helen McCrory have as yet unspecified roles.
John LOGAN, who wrote Gladiator and who has been winning acclaim for his sublime script for the forthcoming film Coriolanus, has long toiled over the Bond 23 script.
And now Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, keepers of the Bond movie flame, have asked him to be involved in writing other screenplays based on Ian Fleming’s famous espionage officer.
Rehearsals and camera tests continue this week, and next week shooting will begin on Bond 23, which will be released next autumn on the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr No.
 Simply sublime: Freida Pinto
Freida Pinto plays a young woman from rural Rajasthan in Michael Winterbottom’s film Trishna, which was shown at the BFI London Film Festival.
It’s a simply sublime adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The d’Urbervilles. I went in with no expectations whatsoever, and found myself hooked.
Freida, who was in Slumdog Millionaire and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, plays Trishna and gives a performance that will break your heart as she’s taken away from her simple life and hurled into the big city by Riz Ahmed.
‘A lot of women like Trishna have accepted  that they will just do what the men tell them.  It’s down to tradition in certain places and  a lot of women accept it. I’m lucky because my parents allowed me to study and to  work,’ the actress told me.

HAYLEY ATWELL, who will play a detective who mixes it up with Flying Squad officers Jack Regan and George Carter, played by the great Ray Winstone and Ben Drew (aka rapper Plan B). Director Nick Love’s big-screen version of The Sweeney is based on the TV classic that starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman.
Love co-wrote the script with John Hodge and they have set the story in present-day London, where there are still Jack-the-lad cops and fast cars. Shooting starts next week, with Damian Lewis, Steven Mackintosh and Paul Anderson also starring.
The film will be released next autumn through Entertainment One.
Canny Rupert Preston of Vertigo Films is one of the film’s producers.
KEN STOTT, who will play the title role in Uncle Vanya, which will be directed in the West End next autumn by Lindsay Posner.
The production will use the  adaptation of Chekhov’s drama  that Christopher Hampton wrote for the Royal Court in 1970, with Paul Scofield.
Kim Poster, who is producing with Nica Burns, told me Hampton will be on hand at rehearsals to amend the script as needed, but the version used by director Anthony Page at the Royal Court will be the foundation.
Ms Poster told me she has spent some time securing all the various rights, and that the play will open at one of the West End theatres controlled by the Nimax group.
PETER FIRTH, who barked out ‘Harry Pearce’ as he answered his phone for the final time in Spooks, which ended its long run last Sunday after ten series.
The way it was left, made me wonder if Kudos and the BBC are planning to do occasional two-hour Spooks specials. I can’t deny I will miss Harry and his gang. I liked gutsy Lara Pulver in the final run, and all the men and women who were in Spooks before her.
EZRA MILLER, who is certainly one of the faces to watch at the movies this year — and next — thanks to his scorching performances in Lynne Ramsay’s incendiary movie We Need To Talk About Kevin, which stars Tilda Swinton, giving one of the year’s best performances.
Miller was in a crazy little film called Another Happy Day and stole it.
We Need To Talk About Kevin has become a smash at the box office and the BFI London Film Festival named it best picture at a ceremony on Wednesday.
The film festival has become one of the most important celebrations of cinema in the world, and I put that down to the efforts over the years of LFF’s artistic chief Sandra Hebron — one of the unsung stars of the movie world.
Last night, Sandra stepped down from that role and is planning on leaving the movie business. Sad news, indeed.

Billie Piper pregnant with baby number 2

 Tears of joy: Billie Piper with her husband Laurence Fox
Actress Billie Piper is expecting her second child — and a play she’s about to star in has been judiciously rewritten to accommodate her pregnancy.
Billie, who is married to actor Laurence Fox, is 15 weeks pregnant. She is due to perform the first preview of Neil LaBute’s play Reasons To Be Pretty at the Almeida Theatre on November 10, with an official first night on November 17.
Michael Attenborough, the Almeida’s artistic chief, who is also directing the  production, said the actress was visibly  distressed after the first night of My City — the Almeida’s current production.
‘She was upset and told me she was pregnant,’ Attenborough said.
He added she ‘very generously offered to withdraw’ from the show.
‘However, she was Neil LaBute’s and my first choice for the part — and fortunately the character is pregnant — so with a bit of judicious re-writing we’re all delighted she’ll be with us.
‘I told her that I’d love her to do it and  she just wept on my shoulder,’ Attenborough told me. ‘She thought that was it. She was thrilled.’
When I saw the play performed in New York, it’s not immediately apparent that Carly, the character Billie will play, is  pregnant — though you are made aware of it later. Now that LaBute has re-jigged his text, it will become very clear that Carly is expecting, which is good because by the end of the run in January,  the one-time Doctor Who  star will be more than six months pregnant.
It’s not unheard of for actresses to continue performing on stage when they are expecting — witness Amanda Holden in the musical Shrek recently — but it’s rare that a playwright, particularly one as renowned as LaBute, would amend a published script.

The playwright attended rehearsals and was impressed by Billie’s acting, as he was with her fellow cast members  Sian Brooke, Kieran Bew and Tom Burke.
Billie and husband Laurence already have a son, Winston, who is three. She has not missed any rehearsals — and even managed to fit in a scan two weeks ago around her Almeida schedule. Reasons  To Be Pretty is about the notion of beauty and how  it has the power to bring joy or to destroy.
Billie’s role is that of a security guard whose partner has a bit of a wandering eye, though I’m not now sure if being a guard will still be the character’s profession.
The play is part of the  Almeida’s new season. Following the LaBute drama will be The House Of Bernarda Alba with Shohreh Aghdashloo and Sarah Solemani — who stars with Russell Tovey in BBC3’s comedy success Him & Her.
Samantha Spiro follows that with Filumena, and later next year Jonathan Pryce will  give us his King Lear, directed by Attenborough.
 Love and war: Jack O'Connell with Alexandra Roach
There’s some corner of a field — not foreign, in this particular case, but near Ipswich, actually — that is for ever England.
I could not stop thinking about Rupert Brooke’s famous poem as I stood, breathing English air, while director Pat O’Connor directed his (mostly) young cast in the film Private Peaceful.
The actors moved about in trenches that are supposed to be in Flanders, but are actually recreated, using original specifications, in Akenham, outside Ipswich.
The trenches are well established  and have been used before. In fact, I recognised them from recent episodes of Downton Abbey.
Private Peaceful is based on Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling novel, which has become a classroom staple. It’s about two brothers — Charlie and Tommo Peaceful, played by Jack O’Connell and George Mackay — who leave the peace of their West Country home for the hell of World War I France.
One of the siblings is court-martialled for cowardice, and Morpurgo’s book questions why lads barely out of their teens were shot on the flimsiest of evidence.
Guy De Beaujeu, who’s producing the film with Simon Reade (who penned the screenplay), noted that Morpurgo’s story is ‘about the folly of war and what a crazy, inhuman thing it is’.
Reade joined forces with Morpurgo  several years ago and then enticed O’Connor to direct. Along with De Beaujeu, they sold shares in the film to cover some of the budget. They were keen not to be bossed about by any studio, here or abroad, on how to make their picture.
That said, they’re much obliged to Steven Spielberg for his interest in  Morpurgo’s other best-seller, War Horse, which went from the printed page to the stage and, by January, will be on the big screen. (Private Peaceful has also been performed on stage and the radio.)
‘Simon got the idea of doing Private Peaceful as a film years before Spielberg had seen the National Theatre’s War Horse in London. However, our poster is going to say “From the writer of War Horse” — and why shouldn’t it?’ says De Beaujeu.
 'From the writer of War Horse': Simon got the idea of doing Private Peaceful as a film years before Spielberg had seen the National Theatre's War Horse in London
Let’s be clear here: the catering budget for the human and equine cast of  Spielberg’s much-anticipated film (I’m straining at the bit to see it) would have more than covered the total cost of shooting Private Peaceful.
But as Reade observed, Peaceful is  different from War Horse: shot on modest terms, but rich in detail. The main leads are all up-and-coming actors.
O’Connell, 21, who portrayed Bobby Charlton in the TV film United and made his debut in Shane Meadows’s classic This Is England, was in the cadets in his early teens and briefly flirted with the idea of going into the Army.
‘You don’t know the reality of such things when you’re a boy,’ he says. He studied World War I at school, but it’s only now, because he’s had to research the full  horror of it all, that he understands what lads of his age went through.
McKay played Clive Owen’s son in the under-rated The Boys Are Back and appears in Working Title’s TV version of Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong, also set against the backdrop of World War I.
Alexandra Roach, who plays Molly — the girl both brothers love — will soon be seen as the young Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and is filming Anna Karenina, opposite Keira Knightley and Jude Law, for director Joe Wright.

Britney Spears humiliating new tour: She's miming, lethargic, hundreds of unsold tickets - and her parents get all the cash

 Come back: Britney Spears, pop's princess, wants everyone to know she's back on track
The scene is London’s Sanctum Hotel in Soho; the revellers a mixture of D-list celebrities, journalists and money men. All eyes are on the surprisingly diminutive Britney Spears, who has a smile so tight it looks painful.
Glued to her side is her agent-turned-boyfriend Jason Trawick. They are surrounded by a phalanx of PR people, bodyguards, lawyers, management and record executives. No one else can get near. She is there to be looked at, like a rare animal in a cage.
With a new (far from sold out) tour, which arrived in the UK this week, the singer, who had a very public breakdown three years ago, is keen to spread the message that she is back. So she has been popping up on breakfast television and chatting away to the magazines.
‘I’m finding my whole click with life,’ is one bizarre phrase she keeps on trotting out.
After her excruciatingly public breakdown — shaving her head, being carted off to hospital and losing custody of her children (from her marriage to dancer Kevin Federline) — it is good to see her looking well again.
She is certainly back to earning millions. Her latest album went straight to the top of the Billboard charts in America. Last year alone she made ?30?million.
But all is still not well. When her life spiralled out of control in 2008 — drug and alcohol problems, bizarre affairs with photographers, and social services investigating claims she neglected her two young sons — Britney’s father, Jamie Spears, was awarded ‘conservatorship’ of her. This gave him full control of her affairs; conservatorships are normally handed out when an elderly person develops dementia or someone suffers from a brain injury.
The conservatorship was meant to be temporary, but her parents got a judge to agree to extend it indefinitely. And this year they made the case that the star — who has several lawsuits pending — is ‘mentally incapable’ of testifying.
One lawsuit involves a former bodyguard claiming $10?million (?7?million) for sexual harassment. Another involves her ex-manager Sam Lufti, who is suing the singer’s mother, Lynne, for defamation.
 Back to earning millions: Britney's latest album went straight to the top of the Billboard charts in America
Unpleasant stuff, certainly. But then so are the rigours of going on tour. What Britney’s parents are saying is that while on the surface all is well with the former child star — certainly well enough for her to get back on the money-making treadmill — mentally she is still extremely fragile.
And while there have been rumours Britney is about to marry her boyfriend Jason, the truth is very different. Even if she wanted to marry, she can’t until she is mentally stable enough to not need a guardian — and who knows when that will be?
‘I can’t see them completely releasing her. I don’t think she’s capable of managing herself,’ says showbusiness writer George Rush. ‘Also they probably don’t want to lose control of the purse strings.’
It would be unfair to suggest the conservatorship is purely about money. Any parent will understand why Britney’s mother and father would want to step in to save her from herself. But the money factor is there — in staggering quantities.
 In darker times: Britney with her ex-husband Kevin Federline in 2006
Earlier this month a claim for $900,000 (around ?500,000) in legal fees was put in front of the judge in charge of her case — just for sorting out the conservatorship.

That money will all come from Britney’s funds. No wonder she is still working so hard despite her troubles. ‘She does love performing,’ says one source close to the Britney camp, ‘but left to her own devices it’s highly unlikely she’d undertake the sort of commitments that her conservatorship has signed her on to.’
And there are signs she no longer enjoys the touring as she once did. It is almost a given she mimes throughout most of her performances — something she used to put down to her energetic dance routines. But even they have fallen by  the wayside.
One fan who saw her perform in Dublin this week wrote on her blog: ‘The once sultry singer has somehow lost her rhythm — so much so that she was mostly wheeled around the stage on various items to cover this up.’ Others have written about an emptiness behind her eyes. No wonder there are still hundreds of tickets unsold for most of her gigs.
Britney herself does not have access to all the money she earns; she gets an allowance and has to ask her father for anything more. Indeed, every element of Britney’s life is tightly controlled.
‘Anyone she wants to socialise with has to be vetted by her dad,’ adds the source. ‘When she’s out she can’t even use the lavatory alone because her dad has hired a minder to follow her at all times. Even her boyfriend was essentially chosen by her parents.’
Jason was Britney’s agent just as her life started falling apart. A talented money man, he has been at the forefront of steering her back on to the straight and narrow. ‘He is showing Britney how to be a responsible adult and parent,’ says one friend. ‘And he has helped her get back on the road where she can make nearly $2?million a day if she’s healthy and on her A-game’.
Britney has admitted she would love to have another child and marry Jason, ‘when the time is right’. The problem is that time will not be down to her — but the people who run her life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Catherine Tate 'made first move with Jason Orange' reveals John Bishop

It's the romance no-one saw coming, and now John Bishop- of all people- has revealed how it all started.
The comedian has described how Catherine Tate asked out her Take That lookalike Jason Orange.

The confident actress apparently approached Orange and said to him: 'maybe we should have a coffee, can I get your number?'- while filming a spoof of the manband for Comic Relief.
 Telling all: Comedian John Bishop, pictured with James McAvoy and Joanna Lumley on The Graham Norton Show, to be aired tonight, has revealed how Catherine Tate asked out Take That's Jason Orange
Hit it off: Catherine asked Jason out for coffee while filming a Take That skit- called Fake That- for Comic Relief
Bishop, who was starring alongside the comedienne for the skit, has told all on BBC1's Graham Norton Show.

'Yeah.' Now they are supposedly seeing each other,' he revealed.

'It must be odd fancying someone that looks like you, but I think, good luck to them. They are both lovely people.'
The singer and the comedienne - who also starred as The Doctor's sidekick Donna Noble in Doctor Who - are reported to be dating.
Caught by fans! The first picture of Catherine Tate and Take That singer Jason Orange spending time together away from work
She played Orange for the Fake That send-up earlier this year, which also featured the real members of the chart-topping act.

Bishop - who played Robbie's lookalike - said: 'I was there when Catherine Tate - who was playing Jason Orange and looked like Jason Orange - was talking to Jason Orange'

Fans were quick to spot the budding romance however- which was revealed just over a week ago.
Catherine, 43, has been pictured posing happily in a park with nine fans during a day out with Jason, 41, in a photo posted on Twitter.
No escape! Though Jason avoided being pictured with Catherine he was all smiles when three eager fans descended
Her new beau is seen in the background on a park bench, avoiding being snapped with the funny-woman.
But three of the fans then descend on the aviator-clad singer who beams at the camera.
The couple were also pictured together in David Walliams' hotel room last month as they supported the comedian during his River Thames charity swim.
According to The Mirror Jason was taken with Catherine immediately, and told friends: 'She's got great legs.'
 Time together: Jason and Catherine watched in David Walliams' hotel room during his River Thames swim for Sport Relief
A source told the paper: 'Jason seemed very taken by Catherine during filming. She was great fun and really got into the spirit of it. They obviously hit it off.'
The Sun said by the final takes, the smitten pair were hugging and larking around the stage together.

Ides Of March review: The most persuasive account yet of working inside politics

For my money, The Ides Of March — with its dark view of human nature and satisfyingly twisty plot — is one of the most entertaining films ever made about the political process.
George Clooney has directed four films so far, and The Ides Of March is by far his best. That’s not to say it will be his most critically acclaimed or commercially successful.
Most reviewers admired his Good Night, And Good Luck more than I did, and took at face value his reverential portrait of liberal broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.
 'Splendid': George Clooney (pictured) is terrific at keeping his emotions hidden behind a friendly facade
The Ides Of March is a more world-weary, fearlessly realistic film, and the most persuasive account yet of working inside politics.
The anti-hero is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), idealistic 30-year-old press secretary to an attractive, Left-wing Democrat Presidential hopeful, Pennysylvania governor Mike Morris (Clooney).
Stephen is second-in-command in the campaign to likeable, paunchy, chain-smoking veteran Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
Stephen’s on the way up, and that attracts a beautiful young intern (Evan Rachel Wood), for whom power is evidently an aphrodisiac.
A different kind of temptation arrives in the seedy form of rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), who offers Stephen a job in the team of the other Democrat candidate, Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell). Pullman’s more conservative politics don’t appeal to Stephen, and he tells his boss, Paul, about the approach.
Somehow news of the offer reaches a New York Times journalist (Marisa Tomei). Suddenly, Stephen’s future doesn’t look so bright. Paul lectures him on disloyalty and fires him. The job offer that seemed so certain fails to materialise. Has this na?ve young man been outwitted?
It would be unfair to reveal the bargaining card that could save Stephen’s career, though anyone familiar with the history of Democrat candidates Bill Clinton and John Edwards could hazard a guess.
The film is based on a stage play, Farragut North by Beau Willimon, but you’d never know it. Clooney and his co-writers Grant Heslov and Willimon (who spent part of his 20s working for Hillary Clinton) have cleverly opened it up and made flesh a character who was offstage in the play but here plays a pivotal role: the candidate, played by Clooney himself.
Clooney, like Gosling, is terrific at keeping his emotions hidden behind a friendly facade. Their confrontation at the end is more effective for being understated. Both are splendid.
The showiest performance is Hoffman’s — though Giamatti’s memorable demonstration of ratlike cunning means he steals every scene he’s in.
The film has plenty to say about the dirty compromises of politics, and it’s applicable to any political party on either side of the Atlantic. Every aspiring politician should see it, if only as a warning.

Johnny Depp on the moment he fell in love Vanessa Paradis

My saviour: Johnny Depp with his wife Vanessa Paradis, the woman who saved him from drunken self-destruction My saviour: Johnny Depp with his wife Vanessa Paradis, the woman who saved him from drunken self-destruction

Johnny Depp is firmly at the top of Hollywood’s A-list. After surviving what he calls his ‘dumb’ years — filled with public fights, trashed hotel rooms and failed relationships with Winona Ryder, Jennifer Grey and Kate Moss — at the age of 48 he has transformed his image from bad boy into one of devoted family man, with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis and their two children, and his reputation as offbeat arthouse maverick into bona fide movie star.     

In 2003, mega-blockbusting film producer Jerry Bruckheimer took a wild gamble and cast Johnny (he says he ‘had made a grand total of $3.75 at the box office’ at that stage) in the role of flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow, swaggering anti-hero of the Pirates Of The Caribbean.

And so a cinema icon was born and Johnny ascended from nicely-rubbing-along actor to multi-millionaire Hollywood player.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies changed his life, turning him from someone known for edgy roles to one beloved of children. Never more so than when his daughter Lily-Rose was hospitalised during a visit to London in February 2007 and the family kept vigil at her bedside for nine days.

Depp later returned to Great Ormond Street Hospital to thank the staff in person and, dressed as Captain Jack, read stories to the children.

Today, he is dressed in his trademark hippie-gipsy jumble of blue striped waistcoat over a short-sleeved white shirt, jeans and silver jewellery.

He is slightly built, softly spoken and, endearingly, still retains about him something of the questioning air of  the student.

Star: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean Star: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

He clearly enjoys using the wealth engendered by the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to fund his pet projects, such as his latest film, The Rum Diary, based on the book by notorious U.S. journalist and hellraiser Hunter S. Thompson.

You sense his attraction to wild characters stems from his own difficult upbringing when he struggled to make it as a musician. He never set out to be an actor at all.

Born in Kentucky and brought up all over the U.S., he is one of four children of John Christopher Depp Sr, an itinerant civil engineer, and his wife Betty Sue. The Depp marriage was not a happy one.

‘I recall hearing my parents argue and thinking: “Come on, this is torture. Just split!” They stuck it out until I was 15, but I’d seen it coming for years. When they finally did divorce, I thought: “OK, this is the right thing.”  

‘My mum got ill after my father left, so my attention was taken up in making sure she was OK. I didn’t have the time until later to mourn that loss of a sense of family, however unhappy.’

Family man: Johnny, Vanessa and their children split their time between LA and France

Increasingly, he disappeared into a world of his own. ‘I was 12 when I discovered the guitar, and I don’t remember anything else for years afterwards,’ he says.

‘I talked my mum into buying me a Decca electric guitar for $25, I stole a chord book from a store — I slipped it down my trousers — and then I locked myself in my room, played the guitar and didn’t come out for years. I don’t recall puberty or anything else. Just playing the guitar.’

When he was 16 and living in Florida, he dropped out of school to join a local band, with whom he moved to LA.

He then went into acting — on the advice of Nicolas Cage, who introduced him to his agent. Johnny later returned the favour when he offered to bail out the cash-strapped actor when he was having tax problems.

Fame came quickly when, in 1987, he was cast as a baby-faced police officer posing as a teenager to investigate crimes in high schools and colleges in the TV crime series 21 Jump Street.  

The series was a smash hit and, at 24, Johnny found himself a teen idol. But this was not a happy state of affairs for him. ‘If the choice is to be gawked at constantly or to sit in a dark room, I’d choose the dark room,’ he  once said.  

‘I felt as if I had been turned into a novelty, and it was mortifying.  

‘When I was in a social situation, I was nervous and uncomfortable. The only way I could get through it was to drink my guts out! I wasted a lot of years.’

He got the wild days out of his system by 1998 when he accepted an invitation to go to France to make a film with Roman Polanski, The Ninth Gate.  The film was less than memorable, but the effect on Johnny was profound.

‘It was the Hotel Costes,’ he says, going all dreamy at the memory.  ‘She was wearing a dress with an exposed back and I saw that back and that neck, and then she turned around and I saw those eyes, and — boom!’  He claps his hands dramatically.  ‘My life as a single man was done.  

‘You have this feeling — I can’t really explain what it was, but I had it when I met her. I saw her across a room and thought: “What’s happening to me?” ’

Tribute: Depp has already played a character based on his late friend Hunter S. Thompson in the 1998 movie Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. In The Rum Diary (pictured), the part he takes is based on Thompson's younger days

The woman was Vanessa Paradis, a French singer, model and actress, and a friend of a friend he had arranged to meet for a drink.

For 13 years she has been Johnny’s beloved ‘girl’ and mother to their two adored ‘kiddies’, Lily-Rose, 12, and Jack, nine.

It was Vanessa who insisted he clean up his act, cutting down on the drinking and smoking, taking up exercise and healthy eating. The arrival of children put his life into perspective and required him, at last, to grow up.

‘Though growing up doesn’t mean you have to get serious,’ he says. ‘I’ve known quite a few guys who were in their 70s or 80s, who had an amazing sense of humour and were like children in that way.  

‘Marlon Brando was like a teenager, we’d laugh like infants. Vincent Price, too, was like a little kid, one of the funniest people I’ve known.’

His life as a family man is split between homes in Los Angeles, two houses in France, a yacht and a private island in the Caribbean.

He says his home life is filled with  joy. ‘I don’t know how it works, but it does all work beautifully.  Our family is not conventional — it’s sort of symmetrical and asymmetrical and poetic and funny.

‘I see that the children are happy, healthy and seem to be on the right path in life. And then I look at Vanessa, who’s incredibly supportive, loving and talented in all sorts of ways.

‘She and I have been together for nearly 14 years, and, well, I can hardly believe it. It only seems like yesterday that we met.

‘A glass or two of wine before dinner is my favourite thing, watching the sunset and the kiddies playing nearby.  It’s perfection.’

Depp is a much more relaxed character now, enjoying his life and refusing to take himself too seriously.

He can be seen sending himself up next month in an episode of Life’s Too Short with Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis, the 3ft 6in actor from the Harry Potter films,  who he holds upside down over a loo.

Depp was one of the targets of Gervais’s merciless wit when he presented this year’s Golden Globe Awards, joking that some judges were bribed to nominate The Tourist, the film set in Venice in which Depp starred with Angelina Jolie.

‘I thought the joke he made about The Tourist was funny. I thought it was the only joke he made that was funny that night,’ says Depp.

‘I won’t say it was my favourite Golden Globes moment ever. I like the guy and I had a lot of fun appearing on his show.’       

Depp has already played a character based on his late friend Hunter S. Thompson in the 1998 movie Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. In The Rum Diary, the part he takes is based on Thompson’s younger days, a reporter chasing women, rum and mischief under the Puerto Rican sun.

Depp is a loyal friend. After Thompson shot himself dead in 2005, Depp funded a suitably over-the-top funeral. He admits this film is his personal tribute to someone he considers ‘a great artist’.

It is said with more than a little sadness. Thompson was a controversial figure. His fans claimed he invented a new form of journalism called Gonzo, where the writer became part of the story, in his case a drug-fuelled, drunken womaniser.

‘What Hunter was doing in the early Seventies was inventing a whole new style of journalism, a whole new voice, and that’s a big, big thing.’  

But it’s for the Pirates Of The Caribbean that Depp will be most remembered. He makes no bones about the fact he has the time of his life playing Captain Jack, whom he based on another louche hero, Rolling Stone Keith Richards.

‘It’s fun to have people such as Keith Richards come to the set to play my father,’ he says. ‘On the last film, Stranger Tides, he and I shared a trailer. We just hung around for a few days and talked and had a blast.  

‘I actually got up the nerve to ask him about a chord in a song of his that I could never work out.  I have a pretty good ear and in the song Make No Mistake there’s one chord I just could not find for years and years.  

‘At last I built up the courage to say to Keith: “Let me ask you about that chord in Make No Mistake.”  He said: “The fourth chord?”  I said: “Yep, exactly.” And he picked up his guitar and showed me the chord.

‘It was one of those moments that will be seared on to my brain for the rest of my life. Keith Richards, you know, showing me a chord. It’ll be a dying image for me.’

Adele forced to cancel all 2011 gigs as she prepares to undergo throat surgery

Earlier this month Adele was 'devastated' when she had to cancel her U.S. tour.

But it appears her throat problems have taken a turn for the worse as the singer has now pulled all remaining live dates in the UK and promotional appearances for the rest of the year.

The 23-year-old singer will undergo surgery on her throat and will have to spend weeks resting her voice after the operation.

Recovering: Singer Adele see leaving her London home for the first time since throat problems have left her housebound Recovering: Singer Adele see leaving her London home for the first time since throat problems have left her housebound

Doctors expect the Someone Like You star will make a full recovery, but will need to fully recuperate before she can resuming her singing career.

A statement from her spokesperson said: 'It is with deep regret that Adele has been forced to cancel her remaining live dates and promotional appearances in 2011.

'She is to undergo surgery to alleviate the current issues with her throat and a full recovery is expected.

'As a result, doctors have ordered her to rest her voice and completely recuperate before looking to schedule any work commitments.

Hope you're getting better: A vocal cord hemorrhage saw the 23-year-old axe a ten-date US tour just days before it was due to start

'Ticket holders for all cancelled live dates will receive a refund from the point of purchase.  We apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment caused, and appreciate your understanding during this time.'

Adele's ongoing illness means she has cancelled six concerts in Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Cardiff and Plymouth.

Her announcement comes after the ailing singer was photographed wrapped up near her London home yesterday.

Worried: Adele wrote on her blog after the cancellations that she was heartbroken and didn't want to let her fans down

She smartly wrapped up against the cool autumn weather in a tartan poncho and covered her face with a hat and dark sunglasses, still looking pale and drawn.

She clutched a much-needed bottle of water to keep her hydrated and a bag of nuts.

The star was still too sick to attend the Q Awards on Tuesday, but was still awarded two gongs in her absence.

Nancy Dell'Olio to rise from the dead... or at least up the leaderboard in Strictly Halloween special

She's alive! Anton Du Beke lifts the lid off a coffin to find his partner Nancy Dell'Olio very much alive as they rehearse for tonight's Strictly Come DancingNancy Dell'Olio has been bottom of the leaderboard every week since Strictly Come Dancing began.

But it looks like the Italian lawyer is preparing to rise from the dead... or at least up the scoreboard as she rehearses for tonight's Halloween special.

The 50-year-old star showed her funny side as she lay in a coffin as she practised her rumba with professional partner Anton Du Beke yesterday.

She's alive! Anton Du Beke lifts the lid off a coffin to find his partner Nancy Dell'Olio very much alive as they rehearse for tonight's Strictly Come Dancing

  Spooky stuff: The Italian lawyer didn't appear too freaked out by lying in the wooden box

The pair are hoping their take on the passionate Cuban dance to Dusty Springfield's Spooky will sway the judges.

Her highest score to date has been 20 for her Argentine tango two weeks ago.

Speaking on last night's Graham Norton Show about her time on Strictly, she said: 'I really enjoy it but think I was wise to say no to it in past years. It's a very intense, full-on experience, but I love it.'

Maybe I should close it... Anton looks like he's changed his mind about releasing his 'vampire' partner

But she was honest about her dancing skills: 'I probably am not a great dancer... My public says whether I win or not.'

And she insisted she had a great relationship with Du Beke.

She enthused: 'He has great style and manners and we have a great relationship. We make great TV.'

Meanwhile, also getting the Halloween spirit was ex-footballer Robbie Savage and his partner Ola Jordan.

Where's your long blonde locks? Robbie Savage wears a bald cap and crooked teeth as he practises with Ola Jordan

Savage covers up his famous blonde locks with a bald cap and wears crooked teeth in preparation for their Paso Doble to Michael Jackson's Bad.

And Jason Donovan looks positively devilish as he dons horns

His partner Kristina Rihanoff looks equally evil in a black witches hat after they've spent all week rehearsing the Quickstep to Steve Lawrence's Bewitched.

Strictly Come Dancing airs tonight from 6.30pm on BBC One.

  Feeling evil: Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff get into character for their Quickstep to Bewitched

Lucy Davis and Owain Yeoman divorce: The Office and Mentalist star end marriage

The Office star Lucy Davis has divorced her husband of five years, The Mentalist heartthrob Owain Yeoman.
The couple separated in January, and filed divorce papers in L.A. County Superior Court earlier this month, citing irreconcilable differences.

Lucy and Owain married in 2006 following a whirlwind six month romance, and have no children.
 Winter wedding: Lucy Davis married The Mentalist star Owain Yeoman in St Paul's Cathedral on 9 December 2006
The couple were able to marry in St Paul's cathedral as Lucy's father, Jasper Carrott, was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours in 2002.
The lavish event was attended by 300 guests, fellow The Office stars, Mackenzie Crook, Martin Freeman, Ewen MacIntosh, Joel Beckett and co-writer and co-director Stephen Merchant.

There have been reports of the marriage being on the rocks since 2008 however, as Lucy was spotted out without her wedding ring

In February the pair released a statement saying: ‘We have separated but are on good terms and would kindly ask for our privacy to be respected during this time.’
 Difficult times: The couple, pictured in 2008 at the launch party for BritWeek in LA, endured a few rocky patches that year
A source then revealed: ‘They have had troubles in their marriage before but this split looks like the end. Owain won’t talk about it and Lucy is devastated.
Owain has already moved out of the marital home and he appears to have moved on.  He has been seen out and about in Hollywood with other girls.’

The actors met each other in Los Angeles after both moving to the US to pursue their acting careers and shared a two-bedroom cottage in the city’s trendy Larchmont Village area.

38-year-old Lucy is still best known for her role in Ricky Gervais’s comedy The Office, in which she played lovelorn secretary Dawn, whose long flirtation with sales rep Tim – played by Martin Freeman – eventually resulted in them kissing during the final series.
Her latest film, Some Guy Who Kills People, has garnered positive reviews.

Amy Childs: I’m hiring a couple of bouncers

But after she appeared in the hit ITV2 show The Only Way Is Essex, the beautician's career has gone stellar — so much so that she is now hiring her own SECURITY team.

This week The Sun reported how TOWIE sisters Sam and Billie Faiers were attacked by a girl gang on a night out in London.

Sam, 20, needed a brain scan and was left with two black eyes and a split nose after being kicked and punched unconscious and Billie was left with cuts and bruises.

Amy, 21, told The Sun: "I spoke to Billie and Sam and told them I was always there for them if they needed anything at all. They're fine, just a bit bruised at the moment.

"But it does make me worry for my own safety. Everyone sees us as celebrities now, even though we don't see ourselves like that. Billie and Sam certainly don't "We are in the public eye and even going out now I'm careful. I went to the Sugar Hut nightclub the other night and I did actually need security. I was with my mum and people were pulling at me and crowding round.
"You also have to be careful about the possibility of people spiking your drink. I don't put my drink down but with everyone calling you and pulling you it would be so easy for someone to put something in there.

"And you get girls who are like, 'Oh my God, look at the state of her, who does she think she is?' You get such jealous girls out there.

"It's so terrible that it's happened to Sam and Billie but for all of us it's a real wake-up call."

With her Bambi eyes and a figure to die for, it's no surprise Amy has been snapped up for a string of lucrative telly and modelling jobs.
She has just landed a deal to be the face and body of new lingerie range Bra Queen — designed for Tesco by Michelle Mone — and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

After quitting TOWIE in August, Amy went into the Celebrity Big Brother house, then landed her own reality show following her life.

She also has a calendar in the shops and her own clothing range — Amy Childs Collection — which was unveiled to the public for the first time yesterday and will be available on her website,, from Monday.
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