Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

UK comedies tackle Jews, Muslims, suicide bombers

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Infidel.jpgAs in all walks of life, where to draw the line is one of the big questions that faces the world of the arts.

In a field where shock value is a particularly prized commodity, artists — be they painters, film makers, musicians or authors – are constantly being criticised for going too far in what they paint/direct/sing/write.

The debate is back in the headlines in Britain with the new comedy “Four Lions“, a movie due out on May 7 that follows four hapless suicide bombers who plan to blow themselves, and many others, up at the London Marathon. The storyline from writer/director Chris Morris bears several similarities to the real-life suicide attacks on London commuters in 2005 that killed 52 people, and so to describe Four Lions as “controversial” might be an understatement. Making fun out of tragedy? Risking the ire of the Muslim community?

Publicity-shy Morris has a reputation for upsetting people. In 2001 he was behind a mock documentary on the subject of paedophilia which prompted hundreds of complaints from television viewers. Now the man the Times called “the most hated man in Britain” is bracing for another backlash, although he believes that the only controversy surrounding his work is that created by the media.

What no Subo? BRITs under fire

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SuBo1She wowed the world last year, was Britain’s top recording artist of 2009 and has also conquered the United States. Yet Susan Boyle was overlooked completely by the BRITs voters when the nominations were announced late on Monday.

The theme of the night was girls and young women, with Lady Gaga, Lily Allen, Florence & the Machine and Pixie Lott all picking up three nominations apiece. Only one male act won so many – boyband JLS.

Celebrity Big Brother – will you miss it?

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VinnieCelebrity Big Brother is back in Britain for the last time, and the now familiar lineup of obscure and very obscure “stars” is back in the house for more tears, tantrums, bust ups and challenges. While many will not miss it when it goes — Big Brother has fallen victim to falling viewer ratings –  the tabloids must be wondering how they will fill their pages come the end. The Daily Mirror this morning was relatively subdued with front page coverage and a two-page spread inside. The Sun dedicated no less than four pages to the programme, which launched on Sunday night.

The most famous housemate? Depending on who you listen to, it is either Vinnie Jones, ex-soccer hard man and now movie hard man, or Stephen Baldwin, brother of the better-known actor Alec, or Ekaterina Ivanova, the former girlfriend of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood. And you can almost hear the Big Brother producers praying for some fireworks between cross-dressing cage fighter Alex Reid and Dane Bowers, who have at least one thing in common — they both dated celebrity model Katie Price.

Simon Cowell FiXing it for X Factor’s Joe?

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Yes, that word “fix” has come back to haunt the X Factor in Britain, where Lloyd Daniels, the teenager who appeared to struggle with the basic skill of singing in tune, got booted off at the weekend.

Attention has now switched to who will win this year’s competition, with four contestants still in with a shout — Olly Murs, Danyl Johnson, Stacey Solomon acherylnd Joe McElderry. The smart money is on Joe, with Simon Cowell, the dominant figure on the judging panel and powerhouse in televised singing shows, naming him as the act to beat.

McCartney “in contact” with Lennon, Linda

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Paul McCartney says he is “kind of imccartneyn contact” with his late collaborator John Lennon and late wife Linda when he sings.

The 67-year-old spoke of what he felt when he performed at a Q and A session in London late on Wednesday. “If I’m doing something like ‘Something’ — the song — obviously I’m thinking of George (Harrison),” he said in comments quoted in the British press. He was promoting his new live CD and DVD “Good Evening New York City”.

It’s X Factor “Deadlock” … again

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cowell2Another week, another contestant down, another ratings triumph for ITV … oh, and another Deadlock.

The weekend’s X Factor shenanigans did not come close to the previous vote’s controversy, but there were still plenty of harsh words for the four-member judging panel for once again taking the final decision on who gets the boot to a Deadlock. When the judges are split 2-2, the result is decided by which of the two nominated acts got the fewest public votes.

Sting calls X Factor “appalling”

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stingBritish singer Sting has waded into the X Factor debate. In a week where the show’s most famous judge Simon Cowell came in for some fierce criticism for what British viewers saw as a cynical ploy to fix the results, Sting has called the popular television show “preposterous” and “appalling”.

In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, ostensibly to promote his new CD “If On a Winter’s Night”, the Police frontman-turned-solo star launched into the music talent contest which regularly attracts peak audiences of more than 15 million in the UK.

The X Factor or “The Fix Factor”?

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cowell1X Factor judge Simon Cowell faced accusations of rigging the result of last night’s X Factor vote as the tabloid newspapers, so often the champions of the hugely popular show, began to turn on the man they like to call “Mr. Nasty”.

Twin act John and Edward Grimes (aka Jedward) survived a popular vote while singer Lucie Jones was shown the door. The two acts ended up at the bottom of the heap in a phone vote, and it was up to the judges to decide which one to throw out. But if the judges are split 2-2, the results of the public vote come back into play. Cowell had the deciding vote with the panel split 2-1 in Lucie’s favour, and he decided for the twins.

X Factor dictates UK charts … again

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coleThere appears to be one factor and one factor only in dictating chart success in Britain at the moment, and that factor is X.

Alexandra Burke, last year’s winner of the talent TV contest, performed her new song “Bad Boys” recently on the popular show and stormed to the top of the UK charts with the fastest-selling single so far this year. The 185,000 copies sold was more than twice the total shifted by Robbie Williams, who is making his long-awaited comeback.

Tom Ford brands gay marriage ban “disgusting”

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fordTom Ford has branded as “disgusting” the ban on gay marriage in parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world.

The designer, who is openly gay, used a Venice press conference for his feature film debut “A Single Man” starring Colin Firth to criticize decisions like that in California in November banning same-sex marriage. He did, however, add that his movie, which is in competition at the Venice film festival was not about being gay at all, but about the human condition in general.

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