Monday, October 29, 2007

You Can't Take It With You

Money that is. It seems to be a subconscious theme of my chosen entertainment recently. Into The Woods was about escaping the norms of society and a similar thread runs through this Pulitzer prize American comedy.

Southwark Playhouse is the venue, under the arches of London Bridge train station, and 17 talented actors took to the stage in full 1930s costume to bring this classic to life.

The production team are to be commended for the bravery of dusting off a play not seen in a major production for 20 years. Their casting is also superb and each actor brings something fresh to each character. The comical ballet dancer had performed with the Royal Ballet, the Russian is an actor from Ukraine and the elderly father who was not only grey and balding, but fit enough to be thrown over the Russians back in an hilarious scene.

There were numerous moments where it was clear why the play was awarded the Pulitzer. Most of the comedy still works today. Among them was the drunk actress who says that she doesn't drink alcohol when on stage. She waits for the interval to do that. Or the girlfriend who liked the back of her boyfriends head when they first met, and got used to his face afterwards. The comedy timing and delivery was seamless and effortless.

I was pleasantly surprised with the play, the venue, the direction, the costumes, the set, and a talented cast. They fully deserved the 3 curtain calls.

BAFTA Birthday line up

Michael Parkinson (left) and Joanna Lumley were the hosts at a variety gala to celebrate Bafta's 60th Birthday. They were joined on stage by a wide range of performers from both the small and silver screens, many of them previous Bafta winners.

Legendary comedian Stanley Baxter and Full Monty and Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle represented the Scots.

Hollywood star Halle Berry took to the stage looking fantastic and legendary diva Celine Dion sounded great singing her infamous Titanic theme. Operatic star Andrea Bocelli sang Maria from West Side story and stunned the audience with his incredible vocal talents.

The boys from Billy Elliot The Musical were excellent and, as ever, the older boys were upstaged by the smallest kid who somersaulted across the stage before stopping, smiling and stretching his hands out like a true professional.

The Kumars interview of Ben Kingsley was dull to watch, but may be edited better for TV and other mildly amusing moments included a revival of a Morecambe and Wise sketch and a Miss Piggy sketch with Sharon Osbourne. Victoria Wood started to raise the laughter levels, though introducing her as "the best comedy talent in Britain", may have been setting her up for a fall.

Finally, no British TV award programme could go without a lineup of soap stars. Some of the cast from Coronation Street were on stage and, for those that remember, Upstairs Downstairs, shared some of the "good old days" with the audience.

Make sure you catch Happy Birthday Bafta on ITV1, Wednesday 7th November at 9pm.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy birthday Bafta

The fantastic looking set for the televised Bafta 60th birthday party. It will be on your screens in November.

Michael Parkinson and Joanna Lumley host the show and I just passed Sir Richard Attenborough.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sean Penn's journey Into The Wild

Hi there

I'm just back from a BAFTA screening of INTO THE WILD with the screenwriter and director Sean Penn in attendance along with the star of the film, Emile Hirsch. The film comes out on November 9th and you must go and see it. It's based on a true story and it's best if you don't read any reviews, nor read the book. Just get yourself along and enjoy the journey. You'll laugh, cry and be entertained, and will look at the world in a new way.

In the Q&A at the end Sean Penn told the BAFTA audience that after reading the book he instantly wanted to make the film, but had to wait 10 years for permission. When he finally got the permission and without reading the book again, he picked up a typewriter and started the first 10 pages. He says he's a 10 page guy. If a script doesn't grip him in 10 pages, it goes in the bin so he wanted to make sure his own first 10 pages were the best. A lot of good scripts might not get the greenlight this way, he says, but at least he won't have wasted a lot of his life reading poor scripts.

After writing the first 10 pages himself, he then got an assistant to write, while he dictated what was going on in his mind. He describes the process as pacing up and down and smoking cigarettes for 28 days straight and the first draft was available. He showed the draft to Paramount Vantage producers and they gave comments back like "hate that bit". Sean laughed as he said they offered no suggestions or alternatives, just "hate that bit".

He thought he was going to have a hard sell as his movies had all lost money and here he was with double the budget, an unknown actor and an ending that wasn't normal for Hollywood. The producers fortunately had also read the book and it had the same impact on them, so within 24 hours, they said YES.

For me, the acting was incredible, not just from the very talented and hard-working Emile Hirsch, but from every character he meets in his travels. You'll see what I mean when you see it. Soon.

In the meantime, here's the website which will get you into the mood with some great music and images.

I think Sean Penn could well pick up a screenplay award for this one. He's got my BAFTA vote so far this year.

It's screening time over the next two months, so I'll bring you more snippets from other MUST SEE movies.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Cruise missiles into London

Tom's in town with Robert Redford. Lions for Lambs has a Bafta screening tonight and has the infamous duo in a question and answer session.

These sessions normally coincide with a premiere in Leicester Square so keep an eye on the webcam at Whats On - London West End at

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Every little thing they did was magic

Wembley Arena is the last night of the European tour for The Police and it was magic.

Walking On The Moon, Roxanne, Dont Stand So Close To Me and many other classics were on the playlist tonight. The light show added the sparkle but there was no need as these veteran rockers have still got what it takes to delight an audience who we-ay-ood and sue-lawley'd along as if they were back in the 80s. Great night.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Its all gone foggy

The Film London debrief has just finished. The fog has lifted. We now know the reasons behind not getting the green light.

Two key reasons were that the core thread of the story was confusing and it was felt that it needed a bigger budget.
So with the fog lifting, its over to Dishad to do some re-writes to bring cohesion to the script and to consider a reduction in characters and locations to reduce the cost.

Will it get off the ground next year ? Time will tell but in the meantime I've got Making It In Hollywood to complete and the prominent politician documentary to be getting on with.

Show business. There is no business like it. Hope you're enjoying the journey.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Back to the drawing board

Right. Flat move over. I can hardly believe that's a year in London. And what a year!

Partnering with Bebo. Going to the Oscars and filming Clint Eastwood and Kate Winslet. Then off to Cannes and capturing Jude, Jake and Jessica. Then down to the last stages with BBC and Film London.

Where to next ? Well I have just received agreement from a prominent politician to do a documentary about his world. Sundance and Hollywood planning has started for January and February for Making It In Hollywood. No plans for Little India yet until the debrief this week. If some top filmmakers think its not possible to make for 100k, then making it for less than that may not be a wise move.

No broadband for a week, so apologies if I have not replied to your email. Click on 'Whats on' at the top of this page to read about the best in stage and screen where you are.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Neon Bird at Royal Albert

Instant picture direct from the Royal Albert Hall where Darren Hayes is performing his last show of the UK tour. I was lucky enough to be in a box with free wine and beer.

The crowd loved every minute and were on their feet cheering a great entertainer. Robbie Williams' tour manager sat next to me taking notes. This is a refreshing production which has a concept, a story and a performance.

Darren is off to Australia on Tuesday for 3 weeks, then off to promote his album in the US over Xmas.