Entertainment behind the scenes
It is just over 12 hours until kickoff for the world’s press in Cannes covering this year’s film festival. Looking out from a swanky Wifi cafe at the Palais des Festivals, the view is the picture of tranquility — gleaming yachts bob up and down in the marina, couples stroll along the Croisette seafront as the sun sets, and glamorous girls serve coffee to reporters still tapping away at their laptops.
The calm won’t last. Reporters are advised to start limbering up for their first scrum. That is likely to be a “media event”, otherwise known as a chaotic stunt, to publicise “Kung Fu Panda“, a Hollywood animation comedy coming to town. Minutes later, there is the press screening of the opening film “Blindness”, which officially gets the 2008 edition of the festival underway.
The list of potential “flashpoints”, when sleep-deprived, highly-strung hacks attempt to get into venues more often than not too small to accommodate them, is endless.
But, as the old saying goes, someone’s got to do it, and few, if any, here in Cannes, would want to give up their place.
It may seem a little premature to be discussing who may win this year’s coveted Palme d’Or, the top prize at the Cannes film festival. The festival doesn’t start until Wednesday, there are 22 movies in competition and only a handful of them has actually been screened to critics and reporters.
That does not stop the speculation. France’s Le Monde newspaper has an interesting point — that Steven Soderbergh’s four-and-a-half-hour epic “Che”, only just completed in time to qualify for the main competition, would not be the first “last-minute” entry to walk away with the main award.
Showbiz hacks the world over will be sharpening their pencils (and fingernails), pouring over screening schedules, brushing up on blogging banter and taking plenty of deep breaths before heading for the Riviera resort of Cannes to cover the film festival which kicks off on Wednesday. Someone’s got to do it, I guess.
The first scheduling crunch comes on the first morning, no doubt a sign of things to come. “Kung Fu Panda”, a martial arts animation movie from DreamWorks, plans a stunt outside the swanky Carlton hotel on Wednesday morning at exactly the same time that the festival screens the opening competition film “Blindness”, by Fernando Meirelles of “City of God” fame. One promises to be fun yet silly, the other harrowing yet rewarding, summing up life in Cannes during the 12-day festival perfectly.
Madonna is at it again. At a gig this week in Paris to promote her latest album “Hard Candy”, the 49-year-old lip-kissed an unidentified woman on stage, drawing comparisons with her infamous snog with Britney Spears five years ago at the MTV Video Awards.
Some in the media were less than impressed. Britain’s Sun tabloid, the country’s top-selling daily, called the stunt “a bit old hat”. Rival newspaper the Daily Mirror ran the story under the headline “Desperately seeking attention” and opened its piece with the words: “Move on Madge!” Having said that, it should be pointed out that the publication nonetheless saw it fit to feature a large picture of the embrace on page 3.
Decisions, decisions. In a bizarre admission, British socialite Jemima Khan has revealed how she decided once and for all to dump a boyfriend only when the watch he bought her stopped. In a recent article in Vogue magazine, the 34-year-old described her indecision as a “chronic affliction” that had got steadily worse over the last decade.
While no names were mentioned, the British press wasted little time in naming the jilted lover in this case as actor Hugh Grant, who the Daily Mail reported bought then-girlfriend Khan a 3,000-pound watch to match his own in 2004. The couple split in 2007.
OK, there are some artists out there who are considered to be pretty special. Michelangelo could carve a mean nude and Picasso was quite good at painting in blue. But visiting a new exhibition this week made me wonder whether the most important factor in an artist’s success or otherwise is none other than Lady Luck?
Mat Collishaw was part of the “Young British Artists” brat pack in the 1990s, and had a relationship with one of its leading lights Tracey Emin. Like his contemporaries, his art had the power to shock and disturb. His ideas, it seems to me, were no less interesting than his peers’, and his technical ability on a par. And yet, while Hirst, and to a lesser extent, Emin rose to superstardom and considerable wealth, others like Collishaw did not.
In one of the more bizarre Internet phenomena to sweep the music world, 80s crooner Rick Astley has shot back into the headlines after years in obscurity thanks to millions of Web surfers being “rick-rolled”. For weeks now unsuspecting Internet users have clicked on enticing-looking links related to celebrities and instead been directed to a video of Astley performing his huge hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
It appears Youtube decided to get in on the joke, featuring a similar link on its main page on Tuesday, which just happened to be April Fools’ Day. (The image on this blog is a rather arbitrary snap of Youtube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Sorry, but our pictures archive did not feature Mr. Astley, although that may be about to change).