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Musical mystery

Posted February 16th, 2009 by debritz

Gerry Rafferty, the Scottish singer-songwriter who hit the top of the charts with Baker Street, has reportedly gone missing from a London hospital after treatment for liver failure and has not been seen for six months. That followed an incident at London's Westbury Hotel, where he was asked to leave and his room had to be redecorated. His former Stealers Wheel bandmate Tony Williams said Rafferty's behaviour suggested he was on a "suicide trip". Let's hope that's not the case and he is, as others have suggested, living abroad or at a B&B in Bournemouth (as awful as that option might seem).
PS: Here's a reminder of Rafferty's genius:

Charity show

Posted February 10th, 2009 by debritz

In Brisbane, the cast and crew of StageDoor Dinner Theatre's Hunch will put on a special performance to raise funds for the Victorian bush fire victims. It will be on Monday, February 16 at 7.30pm. Phone 3216 1115 to book and your full $25 ticket price will go to the Red Cross Appeal. The musical comedy is described as “Young Frankenstein meets Rocky Horror” and it features hit songs from the 1980s.

Off with a song

Posted January 28th, 2009 by debritz

Top "alternative" funeral songs, according to the UK Daily Telegraph:
1. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life - Eric Idle (Monty Python)
2. Cabaret - Liza Minnelli
3. Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye - Gracie Fields
4. My Way - Sid Vicious
5. They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa - Napoleon
6. Fame! I Want To Live Forever - The cast of Fame
7. We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place - The Animals
8. Going Underground - The Jam
9. Spirit In The Sky - Dr and The Medics
10. Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think - The Specials

Red Dwarf: Dave does it

Posted January 28th, 2009 by debritz

The Red Dwarf cast is getting back together. Sadly not for a feature film, which was once touted to be made on Queensland's Gold Coast, but for some shows on UK Freeview TV channel Dave. According to The Guardian, original stars Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn will feature in story written and directed by Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor which will see their characters return to Earth. Unsurprisingly, it will be called Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. Also to screen on Dave will be an improvised show, Red Dwarf: Unplugged, "which will feature the cast dealing with no sets, effects or autocue", and a making-of special. Filming will begin next month and the show will screen in the UK over Easter. Already I hear the sounds of opinions divided between fans who want more and those who think the show jumped the shark before its last season and we should be left alone with our memories and DVDs.

It's our party ...

Posted January 27th, 2009 by debritz

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is suing a company that is offering Oscar packages that allegedly include "black market" tickets to the big awards ceremony. Oscar's lawyers fear tickets may be sold to celebrity stalkers or terrorists or, God forbid, fans. It would be unthinkable that the poor suckers who pay at the box office ever get the chance to party with the stars.

Expertise in action

Posted January 27th, 2009 by debritz

After extensive research, experts have determined that The Colossus, a painting previously attributed to the Spanish master Francisco de Goya was in fact painted by his apprentice Asensio Julia. Many exhaustive tests were carried out but apparently the clincher was the presence of the initials "AJ" in the bottom left-hand corner!

Ross: the numbers don't add up

Posted January 26th, 2009 by debritz

The Jonathan Ross show last Friday attracted 5.1 million viewers. It's not a bad figure, but it pales in comparison to the great TV shows of yore. In the 1970s, when Britain's population was much smaller, The Two Ronnies regularly pulled 20 million viewers, and the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special was watched by 25 million. I don't think those great performers saw anything like the money Ross is now getting at the British public's expense.
PS: But what would know? I'm just a journalist and Ross famously said he was "worth 1000 BBC journalists". Hopefully the Beeb will still be renowned for its quality journalism long after he is forgotten.
* For a current comparison, Eastenders often draws around 10 million viewers and in the week ending January 11 at least six other shows netted more than 5.1 million.

Jonathan Ross: monkey business

Posted January 25th, 2009 by debritz

Some parts of the British media may be baying for Jonathan Ross's blood but, let's be honest, he's making it easy for them. The latest "outrage" involves him advising his producer to "give one" to an elderly woman. The News of the World has the story here. In isolation it's not a sackable offence, but
1) Ross has form; and
2) Along with other BBC licence-fee holders, I'm paying his wages.
The NOTW story also says that Ross's TV comeback show was heavily edited before it went to air. It surprises me that, after two decades on television and radio, Ross can't produce a "clean" TV show - by which, I mean he can't do what he's paid six million pounds a year to do in just one take. he apparently just mucks about and leaves it up to an editor to knock it into shape. It's the "infinite number of monkeys" theory of broadcasting.
I don't especially want to see him sacked, but I think it's fair enough to question the size of his pay packet and the level of his expertise. I don't know what his ratings are like but, with the BBC, like the rest of us, feeling the pinch, I'm sure he's not delivering enough bangs for his bucks.

Bill goes for broke

Posted January 23rd, 2009 by debritz

The Bill sure ain't what it used to be. It went from police procedural to soap - and now it's about the change again. According to this report, the show will become a once-a-week drama that's "grittier and more action-packed". It will screen after the 9pm "watershed" here in the UK, meaning it can have more sex, violence and strong language than it now does. A new lease of life, or the death knell? Bring back Burnside, Hollis, Carver, Cryer, Conway and all the rest of the old Bill, I say.


Posted January 22nd, 2009 by debritz

On the eve of Jonathan Ross's return to BBC TV, readers of the online version of The Daily Mail have been asked if they are ready to forgive Ross and comedian Russell Brand for their prank call to Andrew Sachs - in which they informed the 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor that Brand had had sex with his granddaughter. Here's the result when I checked it out:

Dunn his dash?

Posted January 21st, 2009 by debritz

Is Jamie Dunn doing well or not at 4BC in Brisbane? Comments on my old blog seem to indicate that he's bringing nothing new to the breakfast shift and not keeping the BC demographic happy. I guess the ratings will tell...

Weller in a jam

Posted January 1st, 2009 by debritz

My timing is terrible. I arrived in Prague one day too late to see Woody Allen play with his New Orleans jazz band, and I left too early to see Paul Weller lying drunk in the gutter with his new girlfriend.

The Doctor is in

Posted October 31st, 2008 by debritz

For more on the next Doctor Who, the Jonathan Ross-Russell Brand-Andrew Sachs imbroglio and more entertainment stories, visit my Showbritz blog.

Something completely different

Posted August 30th, 2008 by debritz

This headline got me all confused: "McCain names Palin as running mate". As I'd never heard of Sarah Palin, I thought the Republican presidential contender had teamed up with Monty Python star and obsessive traveller Michael Palin.

Back where it belongs

Posted August 24th, 2008 by debritz

The Showbritz blog is now back here. This blog will continue as an outlet for my musings on other matters.

Those wacky Germans

Posted August 24th, 2008 by debritz

From a BBC story about German comedy duo Otto Kuehnle and Henning Wehn, who are performing in Edinburgh:

And when the pair spend a minute chatting away in German in front of a bemused Edinburgh audience, they say they are just copying British behaviour abroad by talking in their own language.
"But we do it without shouting," Wehn says. "You should try that."

and (especially for my bagpipe-playing friend in Shanghai):

"The Scots and the Germans have a lot in common," Kuehnle explains.
"Yes, we all hate the English," replies Wehn, quick as a flash.

BB rules UK

Posted August 23rd, 2008 by debritz

Big Brother may have finally tanked in Australia, but not so in the United Kingsom. The programming chief of Channel 4 in Britain says the "reality" show has become the station's equivalent of soap operas such as EastEnders and Coronation Street. It's not longer a huge ratings performer, but it has settled into a comfortable position on the TV schedule. So, what went "right" in the UK and "wrong" in Australia? As much as I'd like to blame failed host Kyle Sandilands, the reasons are most likely deeper, and touch on the difference between lifestyles and viewing habits in the two countries.

Beeb boobs

Posted August 22nd, 2008 by debritz

Who said the BBC had gone downmarket? I blame the audience. As I write, the most emailed story on news.bbc.co.uk is titled "Clouds that look like breasts". It's actually quite a dry, informative yarn about weather phenomena, but I bet that's not what the folks who found the story on Google were looknig for.

Turn ons and turn offs

Posted August 22nd, 2008 by debritz

Quite a few English language TV series and movies are screened here in Belarus, but I can't understand a word of them. Rather than using subtitles, they are dubbed. I've become quite a fan of the Russian-dubbed Nip/Tuck, but I'm sure I'm missing some of the subtelties of the script. At least the local TV chiefs have put some effort into the translation of that show, using actors with distinctive voices for each character. An American made-for-TV film I began to watch the other night featured the voice of just one man, who narrated the action and didn't even attempt to change his voice to represent the different characters.

Opera's pretty fly

Posted August 21st, 2008 by debritz

The Fly, an opera based on the David Cronenberg film, directed by Cronenberg and conducted by Placido Domingo, opens in LA next month. Purists may be outraged, but if it puts bums on seats then it's good for the artform. Film adaptations today, Puccini, Mozart and Verdi tomorrow, then Wagner. Maybe.

Jolly good show

Posted August 19th, 2008 by debritz

She's been (unfairly*, in my opinion) branded sexist and racist, but the late Enid Blyton still sells 10 million books a year. And she's just been voted Britain's beat-loved author - ahead of Roald Dahl, J.K Rowling, Jane Austen and a bloke called William Shakespeare. It's interesting that Rowling is the only living writer in the top five. I wonder if she'll still make the list in 50 years time - or 400 for that matter.
* Because she was a product of her times and should not be judged by the standards of today.

Farewell, Charlie Barry

Posted August 19th, 2008 by debritz

I was saddened to hear of the death of Brisbane actor Charles (Charlie) Barry, who died on August 14 and whose funeral will be held today (Wednesday). Barry was a popular performer at the old La Boite theatre in Hale St, and will be remembered with a smile by his colleagues and theatre patrons. His family and friends are encouraging donations to the Queensland Aids Council in lieu of flowers.

Faded Glitter

Posted August 19th, 2008 by debritz

Gary Glitter, the former glam pop star who is nearing an end to his jail term in Vietnam for child sexual molestation, reportedly wants to make music again. And who, exactly, does he think will purchase it?

Porridge served on stage

Posted August 19th, 2008 by debritz

One of the theatre managers told us it was the first time they had seen a queue at the gents in the interval.

So says British theatre producers producer Ed O'Driscoll about his recent stage version of Britcom Dad's Army. He hopes to equal or better the success of the show, which drew the "elusive male audience" to the theatre, with a stage version of Porridge. The big question, of course, is whether anybody could do on stage what the genius Ronnie Barker did on television.
PS: O'Driscoll's Dad's Army was not the version seen in Brisbane a year or two ago; it was a compilation of two favourite episodes and two "lost" scripts that never made it to the small screen.

Skippy lives in Svetlogorsk

Posted August 17th, 2008 by debritz

How bizarre. Just two days after writing about Tony Bonner's bid for royalties on Skippy, I sat down in front of the TV in Belarus and heard a familiar tune while the end-credits to a show were running over a picture of a kangaroo. No, it was not the original Skippy but the remake of about a decade ago, filmed on the Gold Coast. I bet those actors are getting payments.

Hey, hey here's a spray

Posted August 16th, 2008 by debritz

"The Monkees haven't split up, they're just going under the name of the Kaiser Chiefs. I did drugs for 18 years and I never got that bad as to say, 'You know what? I think the Kaiser Chiefs are brilliant'. Anybody whose drummer writes the songs are not to be trusted."

So said Noel Gallagher, the talented Oasis brother, in a celebrity-filled spray on Britain's BBC Radio One. Gallagher, who was drunk and very tired, also called Amy Winehouse a "destitute horse" and said just-married-in-Vegas Peaches Geldof should be "stamped on". Where would rock'n'roll be without such characters?

Tony Bonner's bold move

Posted August 16th, 2008 by debritz

Actor Tony Bonner wants a financial cut from the remarkable success story that was/is the TV series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Good luck to him. but I don't fancy his chances. Given very few, perhaps no, Australian television actors ever received royalties until relatively recently, the defendants in the case are sure to get support from other producers who don't want to pay reisduals to their former talent.

Harry Potter and the pragmatic business decision

Posted August 16th, 2008 by debritz

The sixth Harry Potter film is "fabulous" and ready to go - except it won't be released until July next year because the distributors, Warner Bros, want a surefire hit for next northern summer. But what about the loyal, addicted fans who were expecting to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in November? Well, they just don't count. Neither, apparently, do the members of the royal family who were due to see the film at their annual freeloading cinema outing (sorry, royal premiere) this year.

Play it again

Posted August 15th, 2008 by debritz

Let's do the time warp ... a popular Minsk radio station is making me feel home sick and nostalgic for the 70s and 80s. Not only have I heard the Suzi Quatro-Chris Norman duet Stumblin' In* for the first time in more than a decade, Savage Garden are still apparently on high rotation here in Belarus.
* I also heard Smokey's Living Next Door to Alice in a cafe.

Rocky road for new film

Posted August 14th, 2008 by debritz

"The first I heard about it was when people sent me cuttings from US papers ... I have no view on whether it should be remade but it doesn't have my blessing." That's Richard O'Brien speaking to the BBC about plans to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Should the cult classic be remade? Could lightning strike twice in terms of casting and pure schlock value? Two things are for sure: a new generation will embrace a new film, and the already well-off O'Brien will make even more money from his 30-year-old rock musical, which remains a staple of the stage and the late-night screen.

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