Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

May one moan about the royal wedding?

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Royals1.jpgI may be in Berlin covering the film festival, but I’m keeping half an eye on the press coverage of the royal wedding. Needless to say there is an awful lot of it, and some of the stories appear to be as much fiction as fact, if not more so. The tone is almost entirely positive, with commentators glowing about the young royal couple, her style, his grace, how good it all is for the country, economy, morale, soul — oh you get the gist.

Now there is not necessarily anything wrong with being positive — after all, we are talking about a couple of 20-somethings about to embark on a big adventure (marriage) and we should wish them well.

As to what it all means for the rest of us is a little more complicated, however. Lots and lots of people will welcome the fact that with the wedding falling on a Friday (April 29), the population has been granted a right royal day off, making it a four-day break over the May Day weekend. The weekend before is Easter, so many loyal subjects look set to take the whole week in between off work. Now this is all very nice for many of us, but a real pain the neck for others. One TV director said he was fed up with the wedding, as he was supposed to be shooting during the period and now doesn’t believe he can. As a self-employed film maker, he’s set to lose out. There will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions more like him.

And for all the talk of a boost to tourism and the economy, a lot of my friends plan to get out of London, and even the country during the nuptials, rather than get stuck in a gridlocked city. The Guardian newspaper had an interesting article recently about how previous royal weddings of this scale actually had a negative impact on tourism.

Laden in Red – Chris de Burgh sells fine wines

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Chris de Burgh“The Lady in Red” singer Chris de Burgh has decided to cash in on surging prices for fine wines, offering 320 bottles and 84 magnums of mainly red varieties at Christie’s in March which are expected to fetch in the region of 200,000 pounds ($320,000).

“Looking at the economics of the wine trade and how the business of selling wine fluctuates, I decided now was the right time,” he said in a statement. Not surprising — Asian buyers, particularly from China, have piled into the wine market in the last two years sending prices soaring. Christie’s sold wine worth $71.2 million in 2010, a whopping 70 percent increase over 2009, and fellow musician Andrew Lloyd Webber made a cool 3.5 million pounds from a much larger wine sale in Hong Kong last month.

“X Factor” hits wrong note

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Cheryl1Britain’s “The X Factor” has struck a bum chord, even before the main knock-out phase of the hugely popular TV show begins. Judge Cheryl Cole has incensed thousands of viewers with her selection of three finalists from a shortlist of eight contestants. Hopeful Gamu Nhengu, 18, was rejected by Cole, despite impressing with her audition and being among the early favourites to win the show.

One reason for the strength of the reaction — nearly 90,000 people have already leant their support to a Facebook page supporting Zimbabwe-born Nhengu — is that Cher Lloyd went through to the finals, despite being able to sing barely a note due to a sore throat. Katie Waissel also succeeded, despite failing to impress many who watched the show at the weekend. Only Cole’s choice of the accomplished Rebecca Ferguson was universally popular.

Who is greatest stage actor of all?

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McKellenSo who is the greatest stage actor of them all?

Britain’s “The Stage” theatrical publication is holding a poll to ask visitors to its website to choose who is the best stage actor of all time. Six of the 10 shortlisted artists are still alive, and include legends not only of the stage, but also the screen, including Judi Dench and Ian McKellen (pictured at right). The Stage will keep the voting lines open for the next 10 weeks and publish the winner in a special Christmas edition.

Here is the full list. How about giving us your opinion as well? And if you think the best ever to walk the boards is not on the list, let us know.

UK’s X Factor gets off to rocky start

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cowell3The X Factor, one of Britain’s most-watched television programmes, has got off to a rocky start this year with its integrity called into question after it came to light that some contestants’ performances had been enhanced using computer software. A spokesman for the show, a pillar of ITV1′s annual scheduling, admitted that post-production work was sometimes necessary due to the number of microphones used during filming. But he also told British media that judges make their decisions during the audition stages based on what they hear live, and that later shows are all genuinely live.

The revelations have prompted negative media comment and online complaints from some fans, although few people expect them to have too much of an impact on viewing figures. The first episode of this year’s series was watched by 11.1 million people, up from last year’s figure of 9.9 million.

Elle Macpherson in rhino horn row

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ElleAustralian supermodel Elle Macpherson has got herself into a spot of bother by implying in a recent interview that she used powdered rhino horn as a beauty therapy, even though the animal is endangered. Animal welfare groups have reportedly reacted angrily, prompting her to issue a statement clarifying that her remarks, made in the shortened Twitter format, were tongue-in-cheek.

“While I’m happy that the critical issue of protecting endangered species is back in the headlines, I am a but surprised that it is based on my use of herbal and homeopathic medicine,” she said in a statement given to Reuters.

from Photographers' Blog:

Ten minutes or less with Taylor Lautner

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Actor Taylor Lautner, who stars in the upcoming movie 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse', poses for a portrait in Los Angeles June 12, 2010. Picture taken June 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Reuters had been approved for a ten-minute portrait session with Taylor Lautner, the heartthrob of millions of teenagers, my editor Sam Mircovich informed me the day before the shoot.

Reporter Alex Dobuzinskis had a one-on-one interview with Taylor scheduled ahead of the premier of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." Before the release of a film, the production company organizes press junkets in which the cast is available for media interviews and occasionally for a quick photo session. Photo access is rare so whenever it's granted to us, it's welcomed.

Does Glastonbury live up to hype?

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Glasto3As a first-time Glastonbury-goer, I travelled to this year’s event with some trepidation. After all, I had to pitch my own tent, find my way around a massive site with hundreds of bands playing on dozens of stages, get enough food and water to live, and face the infamous portable toilet facilities that have a habit of overflowing as 150,000-plus revellers relieve themselves.

As the event reaches its conclusion tonight, with Stevie Wonder the headline act, I can safely say I would do it all again. Joining 100,000 or so people jumping up and down to the likes of Shakira, Scissor Sisters and Muse at the main Pyramid stage is something to remember, as is the infectious feel-good vibe that seems to fill the air despite the concentration of so many people in relatively small spaces. Of course, the smiling faces may have as much to do with alcohol and illegal substances as good music, but it doesn’t seem to matter as people enter an alternative universe for four days.

from Photographers' Blog:

One minute with Justin Bieber

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Singer Justin Bieber poses for a portrait in New York, June 3, 2010.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

This portrait session came about because our entertainment reporter, Christine Kearney, noticed that one of the several PR pitches that came across her desk was a small event where Justin Bieber was going to give the winner of a contest a bouquet of flowers. Normally this isn't a story that we would be interested in because it doesn't have anything to do with any "larger picture" type of story. However, because it was Bieber, Christine decided she would ask for a few minutes to interview him. One of the hardest things for us to do is gain access because a lot of musicians, actors, or television personalities have very specific images that they want to project so access can be incredibly tight. This restriction to access can make my job difficult because as a photographer I would love the opportunity to document what these public figures lives are like on a day to day basis. The next best thing for me to get is a little one on one time with whoever allows it. Luckily, the PR officer said yes to both the request for a private interview and a quick portrait session, as long as I was low key and quick.

PEOPLE-BIEBER/It was a hot day and hauling a large rolling suitcase around with a single set of strobes, along with my backpack full of camera equipment, was enough to make sure that I was panting by the time Christine and I arrived at a small non-descript flower shop in Lower Manhattan. As we walked in I was surprised to see only about a dozen people inside, a couple of television cameras, and one other still photographer. At most events where a celebrity as popular as Justin Bieber is attending there are dozens of photographers and television cameras. I was heartened to see that it would be a much smaller crowd for this. The woman organizing the event told me I could set up my lights in the back while a television station interviewed Justin. Once that was finished Christine could interview him while I moved my lights to the front of the shop where Bieber had to remain seated. I have to admit, I wish all of my portrait shoots could take place in flower shops because it was a welcome break from the usual portrait venue of a hotel room. Not only was the air conditioning on high but it smelled nice and flowery. I think this put everyone at ease as I didn't have any issues whatsoever setting up my lights, moving them to the front room through a small crowd, or shooting a quick portrait.

Shah Rukh Khan braves freezing Berlin

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ShahNo thermal underwear for Shah Rukh Khan.

The 44-year-old Bollywood megastar is used to warmer climes, but has had to brave snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures during his visit to Berlin where his latest movie “My Name Is Khan” had its premiere on Friday.

Oozing charm, and making some in the audience at the movie’s press conference practically swoon, Khan bluntly stated: “Death before long johns. I am too macho for this.”

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