Monday, 31 August 2009

The drugs do work

Once upon a time, a celebrity's drug habit was considered a secret shame. Publicists were regularly dispatched to explain away their slurred speech, event no-shows and crusty detritus clogging their nostrils. But something changed recently, and now it seems that rampant class A consumption is another route to enhanced celebrity status.

Fresh from his mother's funeral, 'troubled' Redmond O'Neal announced that he wanted to honour Farrah Fawcett's memory by having his ongoing struggle with addiction televised in a new reality show. Sadly, anyone keen to watch the adventures of this brattish Hollywood dropout, who looks like Prince Harry reimagined as a hoodie, will have to wait. Well, for four months at least, until Redmond is released from the Californian detention centre where he's currently battling to clean up his act. Cynical journalists have suggested that Redmond's slate-wiping exercise is motivated less by the idea of paying his respects to Farrah, and more by the fact that he won't get his inheritance until he gets 'clean and sober'.

Meanwhile, over in Utah, the Cirque Lodge rehab facility is rolling out its vomit-stained red carpet for regular guest Melanie Griffith - another child of famous parents who suffers from a notoriously addictive personality. The 52-year old actress (and cautionary tale for anyone considering plastic surgery - Demi, I mean you) is currently undergoing her third stint in rehab, although this trip has been described as part of her "commitment to stay healthy". Presumably going for a jog and drinking some mineral water just wasn't dramatic enough.

Interestingly, drug use can embellish careers even beyond the grave. Just look at DJ AM, who died this week from a presumed crack overdose. As a 'celebrity DJ' he worked the Hollywood party circuit and counted such high-class luminaries as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian as close friends, but didn't exactly trouble the 'who's who' lists. However, the eulogies posted on Twitter by his tabloid-friendly mates have managed to raise his profile far higher than anything he ever accomplished himself.

However, there's always an exception to prove the rule. And here in the UK it's Kerry Katona. Her over-worked septum has seen her dumped by Iceland after a painfully long-running ad campaign. And let's face it, when Iceland worries about the effect you're having on its brand, you really have hit rock-bottom. But Kerry's unwilling to give up snorting, so much so that even her husband Mark Croft is worried enough to tell the News of the World about it (for a fee of course).

It's clear that all of these people have substance abuse issues, but it's not the drugs that seem to be the problem. When it comes to maters of addiction, fame seems to be the real trigger.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

More more Moore

You've got to hand it to Demi Moore, the woman is looking good for her age. And although she seems to get fewer bookings than Anne Widdecombe's stylist, her age-defying looks have at least managed to snag her a hot boy-toy in the form of gormless prankster Ashton Kutcher.

However, it's not all happy sailing on planet perfect. Demi is distressed about the constant speculation concerning her Dorian Gray-like refusal to age. Despite the fact there are whole websites devoted to the fact that she seems to regenerate herself more often than Doctor Who, Demi insists that she's never been under the knife.

In a new interview with French Marie Claire, Demi maintains that she has never had 'it' done, responding to the ongoing rumours that she underwent a full body overhaul in 2004. Anyone who saw her in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle will have an idea as to how this rumour started, as well as my sympathies for losing almost two hours of their life to that staggeringly awful eye-piss of a movie. In one notable scene, she emerged from the ocean in a bikini like a taut-skinned cross between Ursula Andress and the T1000.

Of course, you'd be forgiven for raising a botoxed eyebrow at the idea that Demi is as yet untouched by the surgeon's scalpel. When she appeared in GI Jane after a rumoured boob-job, viewers had trouble trying to figure out which of the three spheres was supposed to be her shaven head (it was the one in the middle).

Thankfully, the ever truthful Hollywood housewife hasn't ruled out a little cosmetic collusion later in life. Speaking from the silicon-shielded heart, she says "...the day when I start crying when I look at myself in the mirror might be the day when I'm less adamant about not having it done. But for the moment I prefer to be a beautiful woman of my age than try desperately to look 30." So it's good that she's retained her humility throughout all this.

The good news is that she's working again, and her sinister, inflexible visage has nothing to do with her success. Her new role in forthcoming TV show The Beautiful Life was won on talent alone - I'm sure that exec-producer Ashton Kutcher had absolutely no say in the casting. However, a word of caution to the fresh-faced forty-something. Relying on nature for your youthful good looks is all well and good, but when your husband (15 years your junior) casts you as an 'ex-model obsessed with plastic surgery' you need to start reading between the laughter lines.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Acceptable in the '80s (part 2)

I wrote a few months ago about Pete Hammond, one of the lead proponents of the Stock-Aitken-Waterman sound. He's been busy remixing songs for gay-friendly artists using his signature cowbells-and-handclaps style that perfectly recaptures the long-lost sound of the eighties. But this desire to revisit the era of the Rubiks Cube, microwave cookery and Roland Rat isn't limited to pop music - movies are also getting in on the act.

Perhaps the best example of this fun-filled flashbackery is the new movie The House of the Devil. Not only is this old-school horror set in the early 1980s, it's been filmed, lit, scored and edited to look as though it was made nearly thirty years ago. Creaky camera-work, scratchy typography, and a charity shop's worth of bad knitwear - they're all here. Even its poster looks more like a pricey piece of memorabilia from eBay, rather than a contemporary promotional piece.

Movie theatres are constantly clogged with horror movies trying to resurrect decades-old franchises with up-to-date reimaginings. But they usually miss the point that the original movies had a sense of their own time and space that gave them context and meaning. The recent Friday 13th remake is a case in point - trying to make a lumpen-faced psychopath in a hockey mask feel relevant and current. The producers were as doomed to failure as the film's hopeless characters who venture into the woodshed with just a torch and a cry of "I'll be right back."

The House of the Devil might turn out to be unwatchable crud, although early reports suggest it's something of a quirky gem. It's just a shame that, when Mad Men (deservedly) wins shedloads of awards for its astonishing attention to detail in recreating a key period in twentieth century popular culture, little films like this are destined to go unrecognised and unrewarded for similar dedication and vision.

See for yourself...

Finger-licking good

Feeling a little peckish? If so, you might want to take a trip down to your local KFC to stock up on the new 'double down' sandwich, which manages to redefine food as we know it.

No stranger to controversy, KFC's relentless assault on the concept of the nutritious balanced diet came under attack several years ago with one of the most compellingly believable urban legends in living memory.

According to the widely spread hoax, 'Kentucky Fried Chicken' was rebranded KFC, but not because they wanted to move away from unhealthy associations with fried food. In fact (or not as the case may be), the name change came about because the food KFC was serving could not be legally defined as 'chicken'. Instead, the story alleged that Colonel Sanders was chopping up genetically modified organisms (refully bred with no beaks, no feathers, and no feet) to maximise the meat-to-animal ratio.

Thankfully, good sense prevailed, and after an initial flurry of emails people realised that this was utter nonsense. Especially since no-one has ever complained about an over-abundance of meat in their bargain bucket. Still, nothing sells quite like scandal, so the poultry-plundering empire must be delighted to have scored so much PR off the back of its latest food innovation.

The 'Double Down' sandwich is a truly revolutionary concept in colon-clogging catastrophe. This is is a sandwich with a rich bacon, cheese and special sauce filling that has cunningly replaced bread with two deep-fried chicken pieces.

Advocates of the carbohydrate-dodging Atkins diet can therefore stuff themselves silly with a bread-free tower of processed protein and deep-fried fats. Now, doesn't that sound like just what the Colonel ordered?

If nothing else, this bizarre menu item makes me respect the almost paranormal insight displayed by the good people at The Onion. Three years ago, they ran a spoof report entitled "Meat Now America's No. 2 Condiment". According to a made-up quote by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns:

"In the past several years, meat's use as a way to enhance the flavor of foods has increased exponentially. Ketchup is still number one, but at the rate people are putting meat on top of other meats and foods, it may very well surpass it by 2010."

Funny how life has a habit of imitating art...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Who's watching Big Brother?

After a decade spent dominating the tabloids and gossip magazines, it seems like the sun is finally setting on Endemol's most popular show. It was announced today that next year's Big Brother will be the last to appear on Channel 4. Surprisingly, Five, Sky and ITV2 have already come forward to announce they won't be picking up the contract for the fly-on-the-wall reality institution.

With ratings at an all-time low, Channel 4 director of television Kevin Lygo has said that '... the programme has reached a natural end point on Channel 4 and it's time to move on.' It seems that watercoolers up and down the country are playing host to a new set of conversations that don't involve a houseful of fame-seeking wannabes.

The rot began to set in back in 2007, when Celebrity Big Brother was marred by the race row around Shilpa Shetty. Although the ratings shot up, with people unable to look away from the drama imploding on-screen, it was clear that the format was not infallible. Attempts to refresh the concept saw Channel 4 create Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack - which proved about as appealing as John Craven's bukake Newsround.

This latest series has been notable only for the number of housemates who've given up and walked out early. Some of the more recent additions spent so little time in the house it seemed as though they'd left before their introductory VT had even finished playing.

Big Brother himself has taken the news particularly hard, taking his anger out on the unwitting (and witless) housemates. Having been told that they were boring and needed to spice things up, the remaining inmates decided to break into the camera runs, only to then find out that they had forfeited the £100,000 prize as a result.

Despite the fact that TV audiences have already moved on, the summer will no doubt feel very different without Marcus Bentley's tongue-in-cheek Geordie narration, or Davina stomping around in a black dress, bellowing like an insane bag lady. So let's be thankful for ten years of drunken fights, flirtations and fumblings. Not to mention one ex-housemate's impressive impersonation of a bottlebank.

Sadly Big Brother, you have been evicted.

Monday, 24 August 2009

She's one of us

It's time to break out the world's smallest violin for Cindy Crawford. It turns out that cellulite, that scourge of the ordinary woman, has finally infiltrated Olympus. You can just picture the scene - Athena, Aphrodite and Cindy C, taking time off from interfering in the lives of mortal men to look for cottage cheese dimples in the mirror.

It wasn't always this way. For over a decade Cindy represented the peak of physical perfection, as she strutted the world's catwalks, and seemed to appear on every other page of the fashion magazines in unattainably expensive clothes. In the words of fashion designer, Michael Kors: "Cindy changed the perception of the ‘sexy American girl’ from classic blue eyed blonde to a more sultry brunette with brains, charm, and professionalism to spare."

In the process, she also managed to snag one of the world's most desirable men in the form of husband Richard Gere. But a bitter world, enraged with jealousy at the sight of such absolute zero of gorgeousness, conspired to divide the super pair.

Lazy speculation about their sex life led the terrific twosome to take the unprecedented step of taking out a full page ad in The Times, declaring their heterosexuality and love for each other:
"We are heterosexual and monogamous and take our commitment to each other very seriously. Reports of a divorce are totally false. We remain very married." And they lived happily ever after... for almost a year. When they did eventually split in 1996, no same-sex partners or rodents were rumoured to be involved.

As well as creating a best-selling series of exercise videos aimed predominantly at young, male multi-taskers, Cindy also took Hollywood by storm in the Joel Silver-produced Fair Game. Sadly, the film was not a big hit, denying audiences the chance to marvel as heroic District Attorney Kate McQuean successfully outran a car doing sixty miles-an-hour, and took far more showers than could possibly be considered dermatologically beneficial.

Now happily married to business mogul (and acquitted harasser) Rande Gerber, Cindy is content to be a wife and mother. But in choosing the life of a mortal, she finds herself susceptible to the cruel vicissitudes of ageing.

Which is why she's featured on the cover of Redbook this month, talking about getting older. "I have cellulite, I admit it. But sometimes I just say, 'Screw it, I am going to wear a bikini.'" It's that kind of selfless bravery that must inspire other plain, frumpy, middle-aged women to cast off their kaftans and let the sunshine in.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

Kiss your Saturdays goodbye, The X-Factor is back and this time it means business. Still flush with the success of Boyle-ageddon, Simon has tweaked his other talent show to introduce the live audience element. Presumably this is to help with the YouTubeification of the best auditions, since the crowds' reactions are part of the appeal.

Last night's premiere episode was a fairly inconsequential affair, with few breakout stars and even fewer psychoses and delusions. We were however treated to the return of Emma Chawner, who obviously decided that the third time was the charm, having unsuccessfully auditioned twice before. This time, she brought her older sister Samantha, announcing "I’ve learnt I can sing better with my sister than on my own." Sadly, this wasn't quite the case.

Taking to the stage looking freakishly like Coleen Nolan and Kerry Katona wrapped in a kingsize duvet, the spherical duo butchered a Mariah Carey song to hoots of derision from the baying crowd.

Thankfully, there was also some talent on offer, thanks to a single mum from Dagenham and a permagrinning teen from Cheryl's home town of South Shields. However, the producers smartly saved the best for last, in the form of eye-wateringly hot teacher Danyl Johnston.

Delivering a barnstorming performance of Joe Cocker's take on 'With a Little Help From My Friends' he was winking, grinning and leaping all over the stage, marking himself out as the early favourite. Not only did he win a standing ovation from all four judges, Simon declared it the best first audition he's ever seen, clearly sensing another viral hit in the making.

Danyl aside, this was still a frustrating show, thanks largely to the producers' insistence on recycling and repeating filler footage, rather than showing us the actual auditions. Last night's show boasted more endless crowd scenes that The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This series we can also expect to see thousands more shots of beefy sound technicians at the mixing desk, and anonymous nobodies screaming at the camera that they have the X-Factor.

The relative cheapness of the concept and changes to the format don't seem to have put anyone off, with the show pulling in 9.9 million viewers. And as the series gains momentum, it's likely that those numbers are only going to increase. I guess resistance is futile.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Seeing is believing

Spare a thought for one-time global monarch James Cameron, who's probably nursing a sore head this weekend. Having stayed out of the limelight for the last 12 years, since Titanic swept the boards at the Oscars, he's gearing up to reveal his long-awaited follow-up to the big boat movie, and expectations for Avatar couldn't be higher.

As part of the pre-release campaign, he and Twentieth Century Fox decided to declare August 21 'Avatar Day'. Building on the buzz from this year's Comic-Con, where preview footage was revealed to a breathlessly salivating press, the plan was to share an advanced preview with Joe Public to create advocacy and drive word-of-mouth.

So the publicity campaign went into overdrive, a two-minute teaser was launched and the public was invited to attend an exclusive presentation of 15 minutes of the movie that promises to redefine the very concept of film-making (Cameron is no stranger to hyperbole). Pre-fans (what else can you call someone who's a supporter of something that doesn't yet exist?) simply had to register with the website for free tickets so that they could attend one of these special screenings.

It's a great idea in theory, giving audiences a chance to see just what James Cameron's been talking about with a high-def, 3D presentation of his photo-real CGI characters and their other-worldly environments, rather than squinting at a heavily pixelated and compressed YouTube snippet.

Unfortunately, the concept seems to have fallen at the first hurdle. In the US, the ticket allocation server crashed due to 'over-subscription', with some conspiracy theorists even suggesting that Fox did this deliberately to sustain the perception of massive interest. But irrespective of any ticketing issues, the bigger problem seems to be that audience numbers were decidedly underwhelming. The question many bloggers are asking this weekend - if Cameron can't sell out a free screening, what hope does the movie have of recouping its rumoured $200 million budget?

Those who did attend the 3-D Imax screenings have responded with a shrug of their collective shoulders - sure the film looks great, but it won't change your life. The bigger problem seems to be the fact that, by selecting six or seven unconnected scenes to screen in their entirety, these exclusive previews felt more like a DVD presentation of deleted footage. Audiences that were supposed to be spending the weekend raving to their friends about Cameron's blue period are instead attempting to fill in the gaps between the out-of-context footage, to try and guess what the hell is going on.

The real mistake made by Fox was its attempt to 'manufacture buzz'. The kind of audience advocacy they were looking for can't be willed into life through a heavy-handed marketing campaign. It has to find its own way, starting small and growing virally. Fox tried to go too big too soon, in the process alienating the hard-core fanatics and confusing the masses. Fox needs to stop trying so hard and should just trust in its A-list director.

When Titanic originally opened in 1997, it did so with an unspectacular $28 million (considered a major flop). But it went on to find its audience thanks to uncontrived word-of-mouth recommendation, and spent a record-breaking 15 weeks in the top spot. If the studio believes in the film, it just needs to be patient - the film will find ultimately find the audience it deserves. After all, given that Avatar has been 14 years in the making, what's a few more months? In the meantime, here's the trailer if you haven't already seen it.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Growing pains

She may only be sixteen but Miley Cyrus certainly knows how to get people talking. After three years as Hannah Montana, where she basically plays herself with two different hairstyles, she's been groomed by Disney into a world-conquering multi-media monster. In the process, Billy Ray Cyrus' little girl has grown into a woman, and not everyone's comfortable with that.

In June, young Miley caused a stir by posing with her GBF Adam Shankman (director of Hairspray) for a bunch of cheesily sultry photos that people criticised as being unsuitably Lolita-esque. Despite the fact that worst she did was sit backwards in a chair showing off a shoulder, the press reacted as though she was appearing in a 'Barely Legal' video.

So no-one was too surprised when the preeminent pop tart rocked up at the Teen Choice Awards and showcased her new song 'Party In The USA' with a performance that included a pole dance on top of an ice cream cart. Ordinarily, people would be more interested in the fact that, unlike many of her contemporaries, Miley was able to nail a pretty decent vocal performance. Instead, the combination of cloyingly juvenile props and a sexy dance routine confused the hell out of the audience. See for yourself (just ignore the first 100 seconds of blah):

People have jumped to Miley's defence, not least her own father, who took time out from promoting mayonnaise to defend his daughter's burgeoning sexuality and passion for performance. Given that he started out with a beefy body and a mullet that could trap small animals, he knows from first-hand experience what it's like to arouse and nauseate people at the same time.

This week, the gossip pages have been full of pictures of Miley enjoying a family holiday in the Bahamas. Shockingly, Miley took to the beach in a bikini, and the world sat up and took notice (hastily rearranging its trousers at the same time). A number of blogs went to great lengths to acknowledge the fact that the pictures were worryingly hot, even going so far as to pre-emptively prepare their defence in case the kiddie-porn police descended and seized their hard drives. As for Miley, she was more concerned that people were calling her fat on Twitter.

As Miley continues to blossom (and maybe considers a more grown up name for herself) she's likely to encounter more troublesome brushes with issues of sexuality, so it's good that she's got a supportive family behind her. After all, the world is unfortunately littered with nutjobs like 53 year-old Mark McLeod, who was charged this week with attempting to stalk the pubescent popstrel. Next up for Miley? A rumored role in the forthcoming Sex and the City 2. Guess she'd better stock up on those restraining orders now.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Fame can be murder

In his best-selling book Downsize This, Michael Moore argued that OJ Simpson was innocent, because he was too stupid, pampered and priviledged to risk it all on a crime of passion. Taking his idea further, he suggested that the vast majority of Hollywood's finest would never commit violent crime because they simply have too much to lose.

It's an interesting thought, even if it never popped up on Perry Mason as a viable defence option. But Michael's book was published in 1996, before the world of celebrity opened itself up to anyone with a willingness to surrender their privacy, integrity and soul in exchange for a few front covers and a house with a pool. Thanks to the explosion of reality TV, the majority of Hollywood's population is neither great nor good. So when it comes to propensity for violent crime, it seems like all bets are off.

Today's entertainment bulletins are leading with a story about a new VH1 show called Megan Wants A Millionaire. In this tasteful sounding 'game show', an avaricious tart called Megan Hauserman screens 17 single millionaires to find herself a husband.

The whole series is already in the can, but now it sounds as though it's also in the pan. Unfortunately, one of the eligible, 'stable' bachelors, Ryan Alexander Jenkins, is wanted by California police, since the naked body of his wife was found strangled and stuffed in a suitcase inside a dumpster.

Don't worry, there was no typo. When the show wrapped in late March, Ryan went to Las Vegas and met Jasmine in a strip club where she was working. They married two days later. Despite these inauspicious beginnings, it's still shocking to think that the marriage could end with such grim abruptness. The police would like to question Ryan about the murder, but he's on the lam, presumably hiding out in Canada where he's exempt from extradition for a capital crime.

Meanwhile, over on So You Think You Can Dance, producers will be reeling from the news that the show's one-time choreographer, Alex Da Silva, has been charged with eight cases of sexual assault. His alleged crimes include four seperate rapes, plus four other assaults which took place between 2002 and 2009. The victims were all aspiring dancers who met Da Silva through the dance classes he taught.

Although Megan Wants A Millionaire has been pulled from the schedules, and producers of SYTYCD will no doubt be a little skittish for a while, the long term effects of these shocking crimes will be minimal at best. After all, the old cliche about 'no such thing as bad publicity' seems to get truer with every passing day. And as long as people are willing to debase and devalue themselves in pursuit of a career in media, front page news will never be seen as anything but a triumph.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Katie has a Price on her head

Desperation is an ugly thing. And no-one does ugly quite like PopVulture regular Katie Price. Incapable of just concentrating on the many pies she currently has her acrylic nails in, Katie is waging a one-woman war on worthwhile journalism by ensuring that her every appearance, utterance and ablution is covered in forensic detail.

The latest fictional update from the imaginary world of Jordan is probably the most disturbing yet. The Daily Star has reported today that Katie has been 'informed' that she is being targeted for kidnapping by Russian gangsters. It seems these nefarious nogoodniks are planning to snatch the luminescent strumpet when she travels to Marbella to promote her gaudy range of equestrian accessories.

The remarkably well-informed source even knows that the gangsters have been studying photos of Katie's last trip to Ibiza and have smartly concluded that Price spends most of her time in 'easy-to-reach' locations, which could also describe any point on the ex-glamour girl's over-exposed body.

Having accidentally revealed herself as a preying mantis in semi-human form, she's keen to portray herself as a victim. And since Peter Andre is about as threatening as a blind orphan wrapped in damp toilet paper, she needs a more viable threat, hence the introduction of these make-believe mobsters.

The good news is that Katie plans to bring her cage fighter boyfriend Alex Reid along to protect her, and no doubt appear in all manner of spontaneously conceived make-out photo opportunities. It's likely that the UK's magazine reading public will breathe a sigh of relief at that. Meanwhile, her estranged husband Peter is busy spending time with his kids and quietly getting to number four in the charts, despite most record-buyers having fully functioning ears.

Since parting ways with her long-term managers about the same time that she and Pete split, Katie's attempts at generating publicity have become increasingly outlandish. This latest dramatic announcement (after her brush with swine-flu) smacks of another poorly conceived press release - the clue was the carefully worded mention of the KP Equestrian range. And although the avid readers of celebrity magazines will happily swallow any old garbage, let's just hope that they're smart enough to recognise the girl who cried wolf one too many times.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Iceland hates snow

With her money-making opportunities continuing to dwindle, Kerry Katona must be kicking herself with a turkey drummer tonight, as it emerges that Iceland has finally said 'enough is enough' and dropped her as its official spokesmess.

This latest disappointment comes off the back of News Of The World's shocking revelations about Kerry's continued drug use, and I'm not referring to her bi-polar medication. It emerged this weekend that Kerry's appetite for kebabs and £1 pizzas is rivaled only by her appetite for cocaine. She was filmed in her bathroom snorting a big fat line, as her kids were playing downstairs with the nanny.

As a result, Iceland has decided to cut its losses and ditch the drug-addled dosser from its depressing ad campaign. In a statement, the frozen-food pushing supermarket chain said "We have always stood by her, as an example of a normal person and mum who has experienced some of the modern day culture of fame, and how difficult it can be to deal with. However, following the most recent allegations, we feel it is impossible for Kerry to continue to work with us as one of the faces of Iceland advertising."

Somehow, Kerry has finally managed to piss off her employers, after years of trying to prove what an unsuitable role model she was for anyone with a functioning brainstem. The alcohol abuse, the rehab, the plastic surgery and the marriage to a man who made Kevin Federline look like a catch, were all excusable indiscretions. But this was clearly a snort too far for the powers that be at Iceland's head office.

So what will Kerry do now? Having just put on two stones in weight purely so she could sell the story to the glossy magazines, Warrington's finest is clearly running out of ideas, and unwilling to help herself. According to friends who don't know the first thing about inappropriately chosen words, Kerry is convinced "that this will all blow over."

But this is nothing new, since even Kerry's own mother has expressed concern (in exchange for payment) that her daughter's self-esteem is non-existent. Criticising her no-good son-in-law, Sue Katona said "He [Mark] told her he was just messing about, but anyone with half a brain can see that if those girls were up for sleeping with him, he would have done it." Sadly, it seems that when it comes to her daughter, Sue isn't particularly good with fractions.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Not just a pretty face

Winner of the genetic jackpot and one half of the world's most lusted-after couple, Brad Pitt has been busy winning over the good people of New Orleans recently. Having set up the 'Make it Right' foundation in 2007 to build environmentally sustainable housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Brad has become something of a folk hero in his adopted home town. As a consequence, they're looking to repay the favour by campaigning for him to run as the next mayor of New Orleans.

It all started with an art professor called Thomas Bayer who set the ball rolling with a list called '13 Reasons Brad Pitt Should be the Next Mayor of New Orleans'. This inspired a local clothes retailer to print T-shirts emblazoned with 'Brad Pitt For Mayor'. And a grassroots campaign was born.

As with most stories invented by the media off the back of some sporadic viral activity, it's now got to the point where Brad has been expected to set the record straight, and he's done so in typically self-deprecating fashion. Speaking to Parade Magazine, he said "Yeah, I'm running on the gay marriage, no religion, legalisation and taxation of marijuana platform! No, I don't have a chance! It's not what I do best."

Last week, appearing on Bill Maher's Real Time, Brad further elaborated on his non-existent platform by talking through his problem with organised religion, "I never wanted to stop anyone else's religion and their beliefs until I started seeing it defining policy.... Like gay marriage. You have a group of people telling other people how to live their lives, and you can't do that."

In fact, the issue of gay marriage has long been a hot topic for Brad and Angie, since they have always claimed that they will not marry until it's made legal for everyone else. Clearly, Brad knows who buys his calendars.

Of course, not everyone likes Brad's opinions. For instance, Cam Cannon (writing on is indignant about what he calls 'atheist anti-religionistas'. He worries that atheists like Brad never mention the great work that religions do in the name of charity, and that they spend all their time trying to convert people to their way of thinking. Thankfully though, before the irony-meter implodes, he acknowledges the fact that people of faith are just as guilty, rendering his whole article somewhat pointless.

It's highly unlikely that Brad will ever change his mind and run for public office, which is a real shame. As well as denying us the chance to see an elected official in People Magazine's 'World's sexiest' list, there's always the risk that, as long as he refuses to turn his back on acting, he could make another film like Seven Years in Tibet or The Devil's Own. And that's a future that doesn't bear thinking about.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Note to Self...

Self, the fitness, nutrition and health & beauty magazine, has run an exclusive interview with original American Idol Kelly Clarkson, detailing her struggle with self-esteem and body issues.

Kelly, who always gives good interview thanks to her earthy, take-no-prisoners approach, talks at length about how she's finally comfortable with her body. Rather than obsessing about her calorie intake, she eats what she likes and exercises when she can.

But despite having a cover that shouts about 'Total Body Confidence', the magazine has inadvertently shown just how little faith it has in its own editorial approach. The cover picture of Kelly has been so heavily photoshopped that the singer looks almost unrecognisable. Which leaves one wondering, what's the point?

Magazines retouching their cover stars is really nothing new, but it does seem bizarre for them to be so heavy handed when dealing with a story specifically about perceptions of weight. Editor Lucy Danziger took to her blog to claim "Did we alter her appearance? Only to make her look her personal best...But in the sense that Kelly is the picture of confidence, and she truly is, then I think this photo is the truest we have ever put out there on the newsstand." Someone give this woman a BA in bullshit.

If you're looking for truth though, consider the words of Self's entertainment assistant Ashley Mateo, another regular blogger: "Why do we get bent out of shape when a magazine alters an image to portray a celebrity in their best light? No one wants to see a giant picture of some star's cellulite on the cover of a monthly mag." Perhaps someone should point out to her that readers of a magazine about weight and self-esteem might...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Living the dream?

"What happened to the dreams of a girl president
She's dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
They travel in packs of two or three
With their itsy bitsy doggies and their teeny-weeny tees..."
Stupid Girl, by P!nk

Call it the Paris Effect. Apparently, tired of seeing pictures of Britney, Lindsay, Paris et al falling out of limousines and their dresses, the public is turning its back on the 'stupid girls' who clog up the pages of celebrity magazines. Instead, we're facing a new dawn of good, old-fashioned etiquette.

According to an article by Reuters journalist Michelle Nichols, the combination of public bad behaviour and a tough economy are encouraging women to improve their morals and manners, in the process giving them a better chance in their chosen careers.

The proof of this dramatic shift in conduct is summed up in a new lifestyle book called "How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World." Written by 24-year old Jordan Christy from Nashville, Tennessee, the book has rather archaic-sounding chapters like 'Keep Your Chin Up and Your Skirt Down', 'Dress to Impress' and 'Let Him Come Calling'. Christy maintains that "there are a lot of people out there who want to see a return to our feminine values" and so she's waging a war on those with an absence of morals, class and functioning underwear.

Given the popularity of shows such as VH1's "Charm School" and Britain's "Ladette to Lady," this latest development shouldn't really come as any surprise. Although I suspect that audiences choose to watch these shows because they relish the element of culture clash, rather than because they secretly dream of walking with half a bookcase balancing on their heads.

So what does this mean in an era of tit-tape and Brazilian waxes? The world of celebrity is full of young women who think finishing school is where you go to learn how to end a massage. And there are still millions who devour their every misdeed and misadventure.

We may aspire to their wealth and lifestyle, but deep down we have the self-respect to conduct ourselves with a little more deportment. We see their nude photos, sex videos and nightclub rampages, and feel a little better about ourselves. The self-respect that Christy is concerned with, is actually hardwired into most ordinary people. People who'd actually know if one of their breasts was hanging out the side of their dress in a crowded room. Rather than wishing we were them, I think deep down, we're rather glad that we're not.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Don't shoot the MSN Messenger

Never happier than when it's blaming a youth trend for all the ills of society (and deftly removing all culpability from parents), the Daily Mail has given a name to its pain. And its name is Facebook.

For over two years now, the Mail has regularly used the popular social networking site as a handy target for everything wrong with modern society, in much the same way that it used to blame hip hop in the nineties, or video nasties a decade earlier.

The latest story to namecheck Facebook, features the sad story of Law graduate Lowri Ryland, a 21-year old beauty queen who resorted to plastic surgery after one of her friends poked fun at the size of her nose. Apparently, Lowri had always hated her nose, but only realised that something needed to be done when considerate friends suggested she wear a mask to distract from her prominent proboscis. Despite the story's happy ending (girl looks prettier, competes in beauty contest, updates Facebook status), the inference is clear - that she was driven to drastic action by malicious users of the website.

A week earlier, the Mail was ranting about 'cyber bullies' driving innocent teens to suicide, because 15-year-old Megan Gillan took a fatal overdose of painkillers after being picked-on via Bebo. Once again, the delivery method seemed a much easier target than the culture in which bullying is allowed to proliferate.

Not to be outdone in the 'out-of-touch' stakes, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, spoke out against networking sites, warning that they could cause a rise in suicides. Following a line of logic about as tangible as real fruit juice in Sunny D, he argued that the websites promote the development of 'transient relationships' which, when they collapse or expire, can leave young people feeling desolate and isolated. So, much like high school then.

Not convinced by the spiritual justification for banning this sick filth(TM)? Try science instead. In a wonderfully surreal piece in February, the Mail piggybacked on an article posted in the journal of the Institute of Biology, to suggest that networking sites reduce face-to-face contact, increase isolation, alter genes, upset immune systems, inhibit hormones, impair mental performance, and therefore increase the risk of cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. No word as yet as to whether similar conditions can be attributed to the exclusive consumption of the Daily Mail.

So what's their problem, and why have Facebook and its ilk become the easy target for all that middle-aged, middle-class indignation? The answer is quite simple really - it's because young people have fun on Facebook. And that can only be a bad thing. From the moment social networking became a hot-button media issue, the Mail has regularly attacked it for encouraging 'ladette behaviour', drunken partying and the sharing of nude photos.

All these attacks haven't gone unnoticed, and loyal Facebook fans are fighting back the only way they know how - by forming new communities and networks to counteract their natural enemy. So if anyone's interested, you'll find 10,343 like minds here.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Don't blame me...

It's not easy being a shapely, photogenic soap star. Take Amy Nuttall for instance - she's the attractive young redhead who made her name on shagging and sheep-dip soap Emmerdale, playing troublesome man-eater Chloe Atkinson. Despite being a talented singer and live performer, Amy decided that the best way to keep her profile high was to appear in a string of revealing photo-shoots.

Since the character of Chloe was cast out of the village at Easter in 2005, Nuttall has forged a successful career as a recording artist, and recently joined the cast of BBC trash-fest Hotel Babylon. But speaking to the People newspaper recently, Nuttall has revealed that she was 'pressured' to strip for lads mags in order to drive interest in her Emmerdale persona.

"I was kind of told that if you do this you will get bigger and better storylines. They said that the more attention you got, the bigger the character would grow, therefore there would be more to do. And so I kind of thought, 'Oh that case'. I wouldn't say there was pressure to do it but I certainly was young and naïve because I was just 18 when I started in Emmerdale."

On the surface, this story offers a disturbing insight into the way young women's sexuality is commoditised by unscrupulous TV producers. But where does free will come into play? By her own admission, Nuttall admits that she was enticed by the idea of bigger and better storylines, and thought 'oh well... in that case'. Hardly the perspective of someone doing something against their will.

Like any Faustian pact, it's too late to regret your decisions after the fact. The time to think about the ramifications of your actions is before you make them. Everyone's soul has a price, it just helps to know what yours is before you start bartering.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

What's the problem (as if you need to ask)?

Something lighter now, after yesterday's rather po-faced installment. It's been reported today that MTV has finally admitted what we've known all along, no-one really cares about Kerry Katona anymore. Despite her best attempts to lead a compellingly chaotic life, the viewers have been switching off in droves.

Having singlehandedly created the reality TV sub-genre of carcrash-o-vision, where she could regularly command audiences of 500,000 stoned rubberneckers, it seems she's fallen on hard times with viewing figures dropping to a paltry 19,000. 'What's The Problem?' has been following Katona's life with bipolar disorder and a husband who, if he was a dog, would have been neutered long ago. But with audiences lower than Kerry's self-esteem, the show has finally been axed.

According to a show insider, "People already knew half the stuff in the show as it had been in the papers. So when you were watching her split from Mark, you knew they were going to get back together."

Poor, stupid, human airbag Kerry. She was so keen to sell her stories to the papers, that she forgot she was effectively creating spoilers for the show. Even the most tedious, idiotic soap operas understand the need to keep their plot twists under wraps, but not Kerry. As a consequence, it was a little like giving away free MP3s and then asking people to buy the album.

At least she's still got those classy Iceland ads to keep her and the kids in E-numbers, not to mention a life partner who makes Fred West look like husband-of-the-year material.

But just in case anyone starts feeling withdrawal symptoms when Kerry finally vacates the airwaves, I can highly recommend ICT celebrity news. Seemingly using some kind of automated translation software to covert stories into foreign languages, and then back to English again, the website's coverage inadvertantly manages to capture the inane surrealism of Kerry's life. Here's how they reported Kerry and Mark's third split this year (weirdly listed under 'politics'):

"...But Katona, who mated Croft on Valentine’s Day digit eld past and has digit kids with him, was trusty she would be splitting up with him again. The stylish rift comes after the grapheme claimed her bi-polar drug had undone her figure.
“I’ve place on digit stone, I’m so fat. It’s the drug that puts coefficient on, so there’s not a aggregation I crapper do,” the Sun quoted her as saying.
Despite hiring a individualized simulator to support her drop weight, Katona said that Croft likeable her figure.

Is Stanley Unwin working the news desk these days?

Friday, 7 August 2009

This story is free of charge (for now)

Spare a thought for poor, evil, union-smashing billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who's feeling the pinch of a struggling economy. Licking his wounds this week, he announced that his media empire News Corp was reporting a $3.4-billion net loss for the last year. Blaming this astonishing lack of success on falling advertising revenue and a weak economic environment, he was characteristically pragmatic about the whole thing.

But you don't get to be Mr. Burns' mentor without having a few despicable plots up your Armani sleeve, and Murdoch is no exception. His big idea? To charge visitors to his vast network of news sites (including The Times, The Sun and News of the World) for access to content. Murdoch said "The digital revolution has opened many new and inexpensive distribution channels but it has not made content free."

Opinions are divided as to whether or not this revenue generation idea is a good thing or not. Tim Luckhurst, a journalism professor at the University of Kent, thinks that Murdoch is very clever and "striking a blow for journalistic integrity" by charging for content. According to Luckhurst, Murdoch's stroke of genius was to recognise that 1,000 paying readers are worth more than five million people reading for free, but that has little to do with protecting the reputation of the discipline. In fact, the real impact of the internet was to democratise the dissemination of news by aggregating existing content, aided in no small part by the growth of the blogosphere. And limiting 'news' access to paying subscribers achieves the exact opposite.

Murdoch's viewpoint is that "Quality journalism is not cheap," despite the fact the he has waged a war on the cost of journalism for several decades. In doing so, he has driven the industry's increasing reliance on the Associated Press and Thomson Reuters for most of their news sources. Those stories that don't come from the two surviving news agencies are little more than glorified press releases, with a clear commercial agenda. Look at it this way, it's like asking cable subscribers to pay for the ad breaks between the shows they actually want to watch.

As for Murdoch's comment about quality journalism, it's a little like Ronald McDonald striking a blow for gourmet cuisine. Only this week, the News of the World was causing a fuss yet again with a deliberately misleading story based on half-baked information and insinuation. Wilfully overlooking the historical context of Robert Downey Jr's comments about the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Watson, they suggested that Guy Ritchie's forthcoming film will imply a gay relationship between the two protagonists.

Within 24 hours Murdoch's New York Post was running the same story, even inviting conservative critic Michael Medved to weigh in on the subject: "Making Holmes and Watson homosexual will take away two-thirds of their box office. Who is going to want to see Downey Jr. and Law make out?" But why let truth get in the way of a good story, especially when you can make money out of it?

Still, I'll be interested to see whether News Corp will be willing to pay all the gossip sites, blogs and other news sources that they regularly cannibalise in the interest of posting a quick and dirty 'exclusive'. After all, good journalism costs money, right?

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Singing a different tune

It's a sad time for fans of American Idol this week. Paula Abdul lowered her dosage long enough to construct a complete sentence or two, and took to Twitter to announce that after eight years of rambling incoherence, she was leaving the blockbuster talent show.

Despite the fact that her feedback to performers was often cryptic enough to headfuck Dan Brown, she was an instrumental part of the programme's unique appeal. While the other judges quietly contemplated their appraisals, Paula could always be relied upon to dance like a drunken secretary behind the table, and then disguise the inevitable bad news with a compliment about the artist's outfit. But alas, those days are gone.

The producers are remaining tight-lipped about their long-term plans for the show, except to say that they liked the dynamic of four judges and will be looking to recapture the magic. However, fans can at least take solace in the fact that bright orange, vocoder-dependent 'fashion designers' are ten-a-penny in Hollywood. Perhaps that's why Fox has already lined up pouting coat-stand Victoria Beckham to show up as a guest judge for one episode.

Once again the Daily Mail has set any sense of journalistic responsibility aside in order to trot out any old press release in the name of news. They've covered the story of Beckham's temporary signing in a way that implies she was begged to help fill the chair vacated by ex-choreographer and jewellery designer. According to the UK's most dubious news source "Simon Cowell has called [Victoria] to join him on the judging panel... for a rumoured £155,000." Strangely enough, no mention is made of the fact that the creator and executive producer of American Idol, Simon Fuller, is also the Beckhams' manager. This one-off opportunity may indeed be a 'favour', but I'd hazard a guess that it's Victoria who's the one to benefit from it.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

You shall go to stage school...

With the remake of Fame limbering up and practicing its demi-pliés in the wings, a whole new generation of unexploded talent bombs are all set to have their fuses lit. So thank goodness for Jonathan Wilkes, who's prepared to guide them through the fickle world of fame.

Don't worry, you're forgiven for not instantly recognising Wilkes. After all, his own contribution to the world of entertainment is equivalent to the contribution of old magazines to dentistry. In fact, do a Google image search for Jonathan and the first thing you'll be struck by how many of the results are actually about his best friend, Robbie Williams. The two lived together for a while, and it didn't take long for the benefits of Robbie's superstar lifestyle to rub off on his less fortunate comrade.

Bonding like a pair of boarding school brethen, the inseparable twosome shared studio time with songwriter Guy Chambers, duetted on stage while Robbie was on tour, and played in a number of high profile celebrity football games, although I'd like to think that they stopped short of decorating digestive biscuits together.

All the while Jonathan built on his formative years' experience, headlining his own end-of-the-pier style show at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, by plugging away as a modern day 'variety' entertainer. In the process he enjoyed such towering highlights as a number 24 'hit' single, guest appearances on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, and three years filling the Matterhorn-sized hole left by Lisa Riley as the host of You've Been Framed.

So if anyone can teach impressionable kids how to scale the giddy heights of celebrity, it's Jonathan (available for pantomime) Wilkes. Opening their performing arts school in the notorious epicentre of talent that is Swindon, Jonathan and his wife Nikki hope to "instill good values into the kids who come along." As Jonathan rightly says, "Whenever you ask kids what they want to do when they grow up they all say they want to be famous - they want to be a celebrity. They want to put in as little work as possible but make as much money as they can and that's not the way to achieve longevity in the business." He's right, you also need to be friends with the right people.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Sex sells

Leave it to the Australians to show our primped, preening, pumped-up sports stars how it's done. Over here, the end of one's illustrious sporting career can be spent contributing to the impending obesity timebomb, or mixing metaphors in the commentators' box. Not so in the land Down Under, when men are men, and sportmen are man-whores.

Warwick Capper (now there's a name that cries out for a lifetime in sports) is a former Australian rules football full-forward who played for the Australian Football League's Sydney Swans. During his heyday in the 1980s, he was as famous for his white boots and ridiculously tight shorts as he was for his prowess on the pitch. Since retiring from AFL in the late eighties, 'Wazza' has forged a curious and varied career. Amongst other things he's been an Amway spokesman, a stripper, a lollipop man and even campaigned in the Queensland elections.

However, following his recent $10,000 plastic surgery binge, Wazza is keen to capitalise on his hey day as a sex symbol. Only now, the symbol is a dollar sign.

In an unprecedented move he's announced that he is about to embark on a new career as a $1,500-per-night male escort. Speaking to Woman's Day in Australia, Wazza claimed "Usually it's groups who hire me. But if it's one woman for a dinner, why not? I'll make sure she has a good time. I think it's a good use of my talents." Ever the realist, he also pointed out that he'd have to charge extra for the sex. Well, no-one likes surprises.

This isn't Capper's first brush with the sex industry either. In 2007 he hit the headlines when a homemade sex-tape featuring him and his 25-year old girlfriend surfaced. The difference was, this amateur video was made intentionally for commercial release and was bought by a distributor for a six-figure sum.

Speaking to the press at the time, Capper confidently boasted that he was the Australian equivalent of Paris Hilton, before then claiming (unironically) "Someone also said I am like David Beckham. I'm a good-looking footballer with the same quick wit." Rumours that the LA Galaxy midfielder will be replacing Stephen Fry as the host of QI remain unconfirmed at the time of writing.

Despite all this, I have to applaud Capper for his honesty, commitment and lack of pretense. In the ego-driven world of professional sports, it makes a refreshing change. Now, who wants to go halves on Freddie Ljundberg?

Monday, 3 August 2009

Telling porkies about swine flu

Much as it pains me to be writing about Katie Price yet again, I felt it was necessary to acknowledge her latest brave battle.

This weekend the tabloids were beside themselves with worry about Katie's health as it was revealed that she was battling H1N1 (better known as Swine Flu). As it happens, anyone who bothered to read the story accompanying the library images of the orange goddess would have found a less than convincing case.

It turns out that the expert medical opinion responsible for diagnosing Katie with the life-threatening disease was actually Katie's spokeswoman. And the only symptom she could muster was some inflamation caused by treatment for a broken veneer.

This 'dental emergency' was the reason for Katie pulling a no-show at a book signing in Bournemouth to promote her new novel (sometimes it actually hurts to type this shit). Presumably a dodgy tooth would not have appeased the ravenous fans waiting for their latest literary treasure, and so the publicist resorted to the best excuse she could muster - the tabloids' favourite new virus. She told papers "I am a little worried that she may have swine flu. She has been feeling ill over the past couple of days and she is spending some time in bed today." It's remarkable, this woman is like Marie Curie with a BlackBerry.

At least Katie should be applauded for staying on brand, since she's managed to make a second career out of illness and misfortune. When she wasn't making regular mercy dashes to hospital every time Harvey fell in a bath or pulled a mirror off the wall, she was talking to the press about her cancer scare or Peter's viral meningitis.

Hopefully, her angry fans will forgive her for not bothering to show, given her latest brush with mortality. According to a bookshop employee, "There were loads of people who had turned up with some queueing inside the building and some outside in the rain. People were all disappointed." Just imagine how much worse their disappointment would have been if they'd actually got around to reading the book.

Do you believe in life after fame?

Jade Goody's ubiquity seems to know no bounds, not even astral ones. Because even though she shuffled off this mingin' mortal coil, she's still collecting column inches.

Maybe there's a great papershop in Heaven, because apparently Jade's ghost knows all about Jack Tweed's post-mourning dalliances. Turns out Jack wasn't the only one disgusted by his actions, Jade's non-corporeal self was similarly incensed and chose to share her fury through a televised seance with medium Jayne Wallace. Perhaps she sensed there were cameras present - once a reality star, always a reality star.

Ex-Jade also communicated (through the totally legit Jayne of course) with her mother Jackiey, saying "Sorry, mum, for not listening to you."

Jackiey must be pleased that she and her daughter are in agreement, having already blasted Jack for his tarting around. She told The Sun "Most of the men Jade has ever been with have sold her out." Weirdly though, she doesn't seem to consider signing up for a two-hour psychic exclusive with a cable channel to be 'selling out'.

During the recording of the show, Jackiey claimed she could "smell Jade like she was standing there next to me..." Although it's not clear whether the scent she was referring to was one of Jade's Superdrug-clogging fragrances.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Pots and kettles

Russell Brand must be feeling on top of the world right now. Not only is he busy filming a spin-off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (reprising his break-out movie role), he's also been been booked to revisit another highlight of his career. MTV recently announced that Russell was going to be asked back to host the Video Music Awards in September.

Despite raising some eyebrows last year by joking about the Jonas Brothers' chastity pledge and tearing into the outgoing president, he was sufficiently popular to be worth a second go. But not everyone's pleased about it.

Piers Morgan, the ex-editor and media whore has told OK! magazine that he thinks Brand is vile and disgusting. Without a trace of irony, the braying talent show judge admitted that he couldn't understand the comedian's appeal or his ambitions for success in the States: "That whole Russell Brand thing, I don't get it. The idea that he is some huge international acting star is ridiculous! He's just a long-haired ex-junkie and shagging addict."

Despite having a face like a shoe box full of broken capillaries, Piers star has enjoyed a similarly perplexing upwards trajectory across the pond simply by tolerating a bunch of unimpressive variety acts. So it's funny that he'd attack a target so close to home. You know what they say about people in glass houses...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A Law unto himself

With Guy Richie's forthcoming 'Sherlock Holmes' dominating the covers of this month's film magazines, it's nice to see that one of its stars is pulling his weight in terms of ensuring some extra press coverage. Best of all, Jude's done it the only way he knows how - by using 'Little Jude'.

It was announced by the shag-happy actor's people this week that "Jude Law can confirm that, following a relationship last year, he has been advised that he is to be the father of a child due in the fall of this year." Which doesn't really come as any kind of surprise to anyone who's been following Jude's patchy career.

Having successfully squandered all the industry buzz and goodwill that surrounded him at the start of the decade, Jude is now known primarily for his below-the-belt behaviour.

First there was the affair with Sienna Miller that saw him leave wife Sadie Frost for the alleged 'actress'. Then, once they were happily engaged, Jude decided to sleep with the nanny that Sadie had hired for their kids, which saw dictionary editors around the world frantically rewriting the entries for 'poetic justice'.

Sensing that perhaps this wasn't going to enamour him to an already cool public, Jude chose to apologise to Sienna via a statement to the Press Association. And she bought it, for a while at least. Eventually Sienna and Jude split at the end of 2006, a parting of ways which I'm quite sure had nothing to do with Sienna having finally scored some half-decent reviews of her own for her role in Factory Girl.

Displaying all the brash confidence of Dickie Greenleaf, the self-absorbed playboy he portrayed in The Talented Mr Ripley, Jude spoke to the Telegraph in 2007 and announced that he was happy that his past mistakes had been aired so publicly: "I learnt my lesson and I ain't going to f***ing do it again."

So the announcement of this surprise pregnancy must have had the gods of Irony and Fate rubbing their hands together with glee that they have such a willing pawn to play with.

Still, after so much bad luck with the wrong type of women, it's nice that he's been able to focus his energies on a budding bromance instead, with co-star Robert Downey Jr, no stranger to public mistakes himself. Playing Watson to Downey's Holmes, Jude may finally have found his ideal partner. So you see - happy endings do happen, even in Hollywood.