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March 19, 2002
[war] He wants War. And he thinks he’s ready for it — profile of Saddam Hussein‘…he had two sons, Uday and Qusay, who today are his chief lieutenants. In official Iraqi paintings they are usually portrayed as young Arab horsemen loyally riding behind their father, the Sheikh. Family solidarity has been repeatedly shaken by Uday’s murderous rages. In 1988 he killed his father’s bodyguard and confidante during a drunken row at a party on an island in the Tigris river. For many years his power base, bizarrely, has been the Iraqi Olympic Committee which has a large, fortified headquarters in Baghdad with its own prison cells.’
March 18, 2002
[tv] At home with Orville (and Keith) — interview with Keith Harris… the latest subject of Louis Theroux‘Certainly, I think Keith thinks he should still be on telly, as he was with his own show between 1982 and 1990. “Once you are off TV, people think you’re dead, think your talent’s disappeared. And you do lose status. You’re asked to be fourth on the bill to someone from Gladiators, and that does annoy me. Why? Because they are not as good as me. They can’t be. They don’t have my experience. Do I sound bitter?” Um. Yes?’
March 17, 2002
[celebs] Is Pete stalking Danny La Rue? ‘If you walk down Malett St and look up there’s a balcony of sorts with shrubs and trees. That’s where he lives. His front door is the one with the arm holding a hammer. I know this because someone told me.’
March 16, 2002
[tv] Keepin’ it Real, for Real — profile of Ali G … ‘His school reports also contain an intriguing hint about Ali’s secret life. Despite his often repeated boasts about his enormous membrum virile, his PE teacher confides that “he has, to my knowledge, only once been prepared to take a shower with the rest of the boys. Admittedly, certain cruel remarks from a few of them are probably a factor here…”‘
March 5, 2002
[tv] The Truth about me and Louis Theroux — a profile of Ann Widdecombe ‘One thing does, however, leave the viewer still utterly dumbfounded by the end of the show. Widdecombe actually believed that Theroux would stick to his promise of not bringing up her alleged virginity, which, predictably, he does within the first five minutes. (Widdecombe famously threatened to sue a reporter who suggested to her that she wasn’t still a maiden.) “As you probably realised, there was a huge row off-screen,” she says. (There’s a pretty enjoyable on-screen humdinger, too.)’
March 4, 2002
[tv] This is a Setup — yet another interview with Louis Theroux‘Would he happily pull out a pack of condoms from Jimmy Savile’s bag in real life? “Oh, no,” he says, shocked. “I’d never do that if the camera weren’t there. I’d worry that he’d get offended.” So the camera offers protection? “Well, it’s a licence to behave in a certain way.” He says that on television he is in character, even though that character is just a heightened version of his true self.’
March 2, 2002
[people] Various celeb profiles I’ve looked at recently …

  • Oh Brother — What happened to Brian after Big Brother … ‘Comparisons with Graham Norton and Julian Clary don’t do Brian any favours, however. He is every bit as original, but he has a beatific charm that allows you to forgive his bitchiness. When Narinder asked, “I wonder which celebrity guy is watching now thinking, ‘Ooh, I’d love to shag that Narinder’,” Brian didn’t hesitate: “Er, Stevie Wonder?”‘
  • Singer. Songwriter. Messiah? — profile of Bono … ‘Political gestures have been a part of Bono’s pop persona. Sometimes they have been inspiring, sometimes they have been inappropriate, even tacky. At the MTV awards in Paris in 1995, after French nuclear tests in the Pacific, he received the award for best group then attacked Jacques Chirac, saying: “What a city, what a night. What a bomb, what a mistake. What a wanker you have for president.” Perhaps that sort of outburst goes with the territory of being a rock star. Largely, though, Bono has succeeded in transcending this. It’s enough of a feat to remain musically and politically correct for 22 years.’
  • No Pain, No Gain — more on Elizabeth Wurtzel … ‘She is one of those spectacularly neurotic New Yorkers who have to have their coffee a certain way. You know, this much coffee, this much water, this much milk, at this temperature, then stirred anti-clockwise for three turns and then clockwise for two. “Shall we chance it?” she asks the waiter. He is up for it, but when the coffee arrives she takes a tiny sip then abandons it. Perhaps he foolishly skipped the anti-clockwise bit.’

February 26, 2002
[news] Still hungry after all these Years — profile of Watergate journalist Bob Woodward … ‘The movie of Woodward and Bernstein’s book — in which they are portrayed by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman — reveals their efforts to reveal that the break-in, and a range of other nefarious incidents, was ordered by Nixon. What it does not make clear is that from the very beginning — when they discovered on the first day that the five burglars kitted out with Playtex rubber gloves were former employees of the CIA — the pair had stumbled unknowingly on to an obviously massive story.’
February 19, 2002
[buffy] Oh, you slay me — interview with Anthony Head‘There are few things cooler than having Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as your dad.’
February 16, 2002
[film] Look, Dad, Top of the World — William Leith interviews Kevin Spacey‘I can’t help looking closely at Spacey’s eyes, and his mouth, and his hands, just as I have not failed to notice the camp touches he often gives his characters – the fluttering eyelashes, the snootily tilted head, the catty remarks delivered out of the side of the mouth. Spacey’s characters, mostly highly intelligent weirdos and losers, all come from left field, and he renders these people, these creeps and oddities, with more sensitivity and feeling than any actor I can think of. Could anybody else raise a glimmer of sympathy after cutting off Gwyneth Paltrow’s head and putting it in a box?’
February 11, 2002
[web] Workers of the world, Reunite — profile of the creators of Friends Reunited‘it makes fascinating reading for anybody remotely curious about people’s lives. “We had no idea how much appetite there would be for it. We had underestimated people’s interest in the past. People are nosey. They just can’t help being interested in what people get up to,” said Mr Pankhurst. The idea for the site was Julie’s. When she became pregnant, she wondered how many of her school friends had had children. She tried to find out via the internet, but discovered little to help her, so the couple decided to set up their own website dedicated to school friends. That was in October 2000 when they thought it would be little more than a diversion, an amusing hobby…’
February 7, 2002
[tv] Rock the vote — the Guardian’s Political Editor meets Will and Gareth from Pop Idol‘Gareth is 17 and was in his second year, doing his A-levels in Bradford when the Pop Idol opportunity interrupted. He has a painful stammer which he masters with difficulty and the help of his voice coach, Mike, who now travels with him. Gareth ought to be the underdog, except the bookies have him as the favourite to win – out of the original 10,000 wannabes who entered the competition last autumn. Meaning to be helpful, I tell him that Winston Churchill had a lisp and Nye Bevan a stammer. But he appears to have heard of neither of these recording artists. And why should he, I suppose. They are both very dead.’
February 2, 2002
[music] The unsinkable Ian Brown‘He orders lunch carefully – no cheese, no pork, no wine (he hasn’t touched alcohol for years: “I can’t get with the taste of liquor”) – and lights a cigarette. “There were about three weeks in 1989 when everyone loved us and no one slagged us,” he recalls with a smile. “I wasn’t on stage to be worshipped or for people to look up to me. I was with the crowd. We started out to finish groups like U2 – that was what it was all about. And they’re still the biggest band in the world, so we failed. We didn’t really do anything, people wore flares for a year or two, d’you know what I mean?” he laughs. “That’s all we did.”‘ [Related: Tanya Headon on Fools Gold / Stone Roses]
January 29, 2002
[people] A couple of interesting articles from The Independent:

  • Don’t mess with the man in the leather skirt — profile of Russell Crowe … ‘I’d move to Los Angeles if Australia and New Zealand were swallowed up in a huge tidal wave. If there were a bubonic plague in England, and if the continent of Africa disappeared from some Martian attack. In Australia, they treat you like a piece of furniture. Your mates are your mates and the folks who hate your dark and bloody guts, they don’t change their minds. That’s why I love it, I suppose.”‘
  • Interview with Tony Benn‘Today, he is wearing House of Commons braces and an old shirt with little burn holes in it. “I burn holes in all my shirts and cardigans all the time. This is the trouble with being a pipe-smoker.” Overall, he has the look of a homely, crumpled, go-ahead vicar. I ask him if the Labour Party ever tried to tart him up, encouraged him to seek advice from a Colour Me Beautiful consultant. “No. And I think that they wouldn’t have succeeded. I’ve still got the coat I was given when I was demobilised in 1946.”‘

January 28, 2002
[books] Dæmon Geezer — Robert McCrum profiles Philip Pullman … ‘Pullman himself makes an unlikely demon. In person, he is thoughtful, good-natured and passionately interested in what the world has to tell him. Like his admired predecessors, he is only giving back to his audience the stories it has already vouchsafed in a thousand unguarded moments. First and foremost a teller of tales, he acknowledges “the absolute preciousness” of reality in all its chaos and discomfort. “Here is where we are,” he told The Observer, “and now is where we live.”‘
January 22, 2002
[911] A Dream in Ruins — interview with Leslie Robertson – one of the designers of the World Trade Center‘He had agreed 18 months earlier to speak at a meeting of the National Council of Structural Engineers in New Hampshire in early October and went ahead with the engagement. He was astonished later to see a report of the meeting in the Wall Street Journal. Robertson was asked: “Is there anything you wish you had done differently in the design of the building?” Instead of answering, he wept. “I guess I thought I was a sturdier person than I am,” he says now. “The thing that keeps you awake at night is the people in the building. Pretty much every night.”‘
January 21, 2002
[tv] Go on, Take a Pop — interview with Pop Idol’s Simon Cowell … ‘He seems much more vulnerable than when we first met. I tell him that he surprised me when he said not much in life has made him happy. “I am quite miserable because I’m never satisfied with what I’ve got. You’re always looking for that next high, and that is what I would define as happiness. I go through mood swings and the highs don’t last very long.” He says he gets bored and dissatisfied easily – with women, with work, with life.’
January 18, 2002
[movies] Are you having a good war, Ewen? … profile of Ewen Bremner. ‘In moments of panic, of which Black Hawk Down has plenty, Ewen Bremner’s brow folds into a deep and spectacular crease, which raises his eyebrows into his hairline, lifts his chin into his mouth, and seems to hollow out his already emaciated face. No, since you asked, he doesn’t look like a movie star. He is the first to admit it. Of his role in Pearl Harbor, in which he played a goofball with a speech impediment, he has remarked: “I’m just making Ben Affleck look good.”‘
January 11, 2002
[reviews] There were a few interesting articles in today’s Guardian…

  • You can’t diddle with the truth — another interview with Ridley Scott on his film Black Hawk Down. ‘The teams on the ground get lost under fire in Mogadishu’s narrow streets, as directions are relayed to them by the helicopters. “The Black Hawks are orbiting in a pattern, clockwise or anti-clockwise, and they can’t diverge from this or they will fly into each other.” This, in his view, “was the real juice of the film”, the place where plot enacted theme – theme being the complexities of intervention in a country like Somalia. “It was like a three-layer chess game.”‘
  • So lonely I could cry — Cameron Crowe writes about his film Vanilla Sky‘Within weeks of finishing this screenplay, there we were on Times Square, an early Sunday morning in November. Tom Cruise as David Aames was racing through the most famous geography on the globe. Utterly alone. Watching the shot as it happened on a video monitor, the whole world of Vanilla Sky was still ahead of us. Lonely. Scary. Promising. Inevitable.’
  • Interview with Adam Ant‘Anyone over 30 belongs to me. Bisexual, male, female, gay, whatever.’
  • Ageless, peerless, Douglas — update on Kirk Douglas‘I see Kirk Douglas still isn’t dead. Remarkably, he’s preparing his next movie, Smack in the Puss, a family affair starring his son Michael, with whom his relationship has always been fiercely competitive, and the next sprig on the dynastic tree, grandson Cameron. The man will never stop, it seems. These days, at 86, bowed and speech-impaired by strokes, and having collapsed again recently on the golf course, he still radiates that fanatical, spartacist determination to live life right into the last ditch, or at least the last water hazard.’

[thanks to whoever left their entire copy of the Guardian on the tube for me today]
[royalty] Will he, won’t he? … Does Prince William want to be King? ‘It’s a good question: why won’t we let him be a normal person? We certainly could: constitutionally, the throne could pass, after his father, to his younger brother, Harry, who seems much happier in the limelight. Yet William’s pre-emptive abdication would deliver a clear blow to the monarchy. If he accompanied his resignation with a damning public statement making it clear that raising another child in the uniquely cruel goldfish bowl of the British monarchy would be intolerable, he could bankrupt the entire “Royal Firm” for ever.’ [via Wherever You Are]
January 9, 2002
[interview] You Ask the Questions… With Nigel Planer. ‘Q: What was your most memorable Young Ones moment? A: The final episode, when we were on the bus just before it goes over the cliff. Rick says, “We are wide-bottomed anarchists”, and Neil is playing an electric guitar at last and wearing cool shades. It was that moment of elation, just before disaster.’
December 14, 2001
[tv] Dom Joly talks about his Home Entertainment‘We used to look at all those CCTV cameras and wonder who watched them, so we did things in front of them like mock executions of dogs. It wasn’t very funny so we slo-mo’d it, to give it pathos, then we put Passengers by U2 and Pavarotti on it and it worked. The music gives Trigger Happy totally undeserved depth – we can even drag a tear out of someone occasionally.’
December 13, 2001
[tv] When Louis met Granny — the Guardian on Louis Theroux and Christine Hamilton’s Mum … ‘”I don’t like it. You want to make money from the media, but not in this sleazy manner,” said Christine’s mother to her daughter (she barely spoke to Neil at all, except to denigrate his spoken English). “It might be good for them,” interjected Theroux. “It’s good for you, it’s not good for them,” she flashed back.’ [Related: www.neil-hamilton-is-innocent.com]
December 11, 2001
[tv] Something weird about Louis — Gyles Brandreth interviews Louis Theroux … ‘Why did Louis decide to make a film about the Hamiltons? “For a start, I thought they’d agree, which is quite important. And I’m interested in people who invent or reinvent themselves through the media. The Hamiltons have gone from being a serious politician and his wife to being media caricatures. Also, I thought there was something more, something going on under the surface.” As he says this, Louis is pulling a strange face, making saucer eyes at me. I raise an enquiring eyebrow. He hesitates. “Possibly,” he mutters, “some mysterious dimension to their relationship . . .possibly sexual in nature.”‘
December 10, 2001
[celeb] Happy Camper — Independent profile of Julian Clary‘He’s done quite a few lengthy profiles over the years and I wonder how it feels, picking up a newspaper or magazine and reading all about yourself. “I always get bored halfway through. It’s a formula, isn’t it. You start with: ‘Julian turns up wearing an expensive-looking jumper and too much jewellery.’ Then it’s the potted history, which is when I glaze over, and then there might be an interesting bit at the end.” “That does sound slightly familiar,” I concede. “Change the formula,” he says. “How?” “I dunno.” “Ho-hum. That’s a nice jumper you’re wearing, Julian. Expensive?” “Yes. And rather hot.”‘
December 8, 2001
[profiles] First Among Gonzos — yet another Louis Theroux profile… ‘There have been moments when the Theroux charm hasn’t worked. “I’ve been surprised at some of the animosity,” says Clifford. “I had to take Westlife to a hospital which Louis was supposed to film. But the hospital said, ‘We don’t like the programme. We don’t want him to be there’. I suppose it’s because people think he’s taking the piss.” Although Theroux is friendly to his subjects to the point of deference, he does put some backs up. He was once found to be on a Combat 18 hit-list, proving in the nasty post-Dando world that anything is possible for a high-profile personality.’
December 6, 2001
[comics] Passnotes #1,967: Bobby Fischer‘[Q] Why does he hate the US? [A] Fischer, who was born in Brooklyn, believes it is part of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to destroy him. He is being pursued for back taxes; the FBI issued an arrest warrant for playing a match against Boris Spassky in outlawed Serbia in 1992; and, worst of all, the government raided a storage depot in Pasadena and confiscated his possessions, including a large collection of comics and a signed photograph of President Nixon.’
[columbine] I’m Full of Hate and I Love It — The Secret Diary of Eric Harris… ‘Right now I’m trying to get fucked and trying to finish off these time bombs. Why the fuck can’t I get any? I mean, I’m nice and considerate and all that shit, but nooooo… […] I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things. And no, don’t fucking say, ‘Well, that’s your fault’ because it isn’t, you people had my phone #, and I asked and all, but no no no no no don’t let the weird looking Eric kid come along, oooh fucking nooo.” That is how the journal ends — not with the howl of the wolf-god, but the whine of the pathetic geek who can’t land a prom date. And decides everybody deserves to die.’ [via Metafilter]
December 5, 2001
[celebs] Cruise speaks out on Cruz — Tom Cruise on Penelope Cruz and Scientology… ‘The actor vigorously defended his religion, Scientology, which he said had kept him on the straight and narrow since he was 24 years old. “I started reading books on it and I thought “God, this makes sense’,” he said.’

Who is Xenu? …described as the core belief of Scientology by Operation Clambake. ‘Once upon a time (75 million years ago to be more precise) there was an alien galactic ruler named Xenu. Xenu was in charge of all the planets in this part of the galaxy including our own planet Earth, except in those days it was called Teegeeack.’
December 2, 2001
[evil] Honestly, you haven’t Changed a Bit … an Observer Journalist meets her first love and profiles Friends Reunited‘…others take a darker view [of Friends Reunited]. ‘The majority of people leave school feeling like a failure,’ says Oliver James, clinical psychologist and author of Britain on the Couch . ‘They’ve failed academically, or on the sports field, or sexually. That’s why so many people have recurring dreams about school examinations – it’s a way of managing anxiety. These people may desire to return to the past, but this time they want it to be a different experience, a more positive one. To be given the opportunity to do that is obviously very attractive.’ Hence all the biographies on the FriendsReunited site in which people refer to the fact that they are no longer fat or spotty, and boast that they are happily married with two gorgeous children. These people are bolstering their self-esteem, something that school – and especially the horrid little beasts in the playground – singularly failed to do.’
December 1, 2001
[king] The Fall of a Pop Impresario [Part 1 | Part 2] … Jon Ronson takes a break from the secret rulers of the world and spends a while with Jonathan King. ‘In mid-October 2001, I have coffee with Jonathan King’s brother, Andy. He’s just visited Jonathan in Belmarsh for the first time. “How is Jonathan doing?” I ask. “Great,” says Andy. “He seems really cheerful. Talking 10 to a dozen.” “Really?” I ask. “He’s wearing pink pyjamas as a silent protest,” Andy tells me. “He says it’s aesthetically reminiscent of the way gays were treated under the Nazis.”‘
November 30, 2001
[film] My life as a scumbag … Iranian-British comedian Omid Djalili on what it’s like to be cast as a middle-eastern villian all the time. ‘And thus it all started, taking in all manner of Arab scumbag roles, the highlight of course having my genitalia manhandled by the late, great Ollie Reed in Gladiator in my favourite scene: “You sold me queer giraffes.” Of course, type-casting will always be a concern, but I did pop up in the last Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, in a ground-breaking role as an Azerbaijani oilpipe foreman – a major departure.’
November 26, 2001
[film] The Cold Shoulder — great interview with Thora Birch. ‘I fit in one more question before she signals it is time for me to go. I ask if movie acting feeds her soul. Somewhat chillingly, she answers, “They feed off each other.” I never get to meet her dad (‘He’s too busy’), nor do I get to use her lavatory (‘No, um. . . No. . . Our plumbing isn’t. . . it’s not good’). The urgency with which she wants me to go actually frightens me a little.’
November 25, 2001
[tv] Richard and Judy: The Golden Couple — The Indepedent profiles Richard Madeley and Judy Finnegan… ‘When Richard Madeley ejaculates he prefers to rest his “equipment” for 25 minutes before attempting to make love with Judy Finnegan again. Or so he told the world in 1995. He has had a vasectomy, and her painful, irregular periods were the cause of a hysterectomy three years ago. This may be much more information than you need, but it represents only the tiniest sample of the personal details Richard and Judy have disclosed to the viewing public since they began presenting a live television programme called This Morning in 1988. There is nothing they won’t talk about on air, except her weight and the eight-year age gap between them. Richard is sleek, fastidious, endowed with long, shiny hair, and 45. His wife is 53, and frankly she looks it alongside her clean-cut, mane-tossing husband. She is also by far the sexier of the two.’
November 17, 2001
[war] John Simpson: The first man of KabulMartin Bell profiles the “liberator of Kabul”. ‘As for John Simpson’s politics, I have no idea (and should not have) what they are. I’d guess they are ever-so-slightly right of center. Unlike so many war zone wanderers, he is not a natural-born rebel and iconoclast. Indeed, I once shared a platform with him at the Cheltenham literary festival, where he described himself as an “establishment creep”. That’s another of his qualities: an ability to disarm his critics with self-deprecation. It’s quite common among the big beasts of TV news, and an excellent defence mechanism. I used to use it. “Dad”, asked my daughter Catherine one day, “Why do you put yourself down so much?” “Quite simple,” I answered. “I do it myself, because if I don’t there are plenty of others who will do it for me”.’
November 14, 2001
[war] Simpson of Kabul — the Guardian profiles at John Simpson and does a brief history of war correpondants such as Max Hastings… ‘Hastings, then a 38-year-old reporter for the Evening Standard, single-handedly “took” Port Stanley when he walked alone through the British lines on the last day of the Falklands war. Hastings, son of the war correspondent Macdonald Hastings, said: “I thought, if I can walk up that road and get there first and survive and not get shot, I can bore everybody to death for the next 20 years talking about it.” Other correspondents called him “an insufferably pompous, bumptious egotist”.’ [Related: Steve Bell on John Simpson]
November 13, 2001
[profile] Leader of the pack — brief profile of American journalist Seymour Hersh‘Why aren’t there more reports like Hersh’s? “I don’t know,” he says. “You know, after September 11 Washington is a very unhappy and increasingly anxious town. We’ve got a very acute strategic problem. When they took out the World Trade Centre we had to get the response right and we didn’t get it right. The word for Washington now is ‘scary’ – it’s impossible not to get something for a story here.”‘ [Related: Escape and Evasion by Hersh]
November 9, 2001
[film] Go Ahead, Pinko Liberals, Make My Day … Guardian interview with John Milius. ‘The second world war has replaced the western as a morality play, as a venue where these things exist. The western is no longer the western; we’ve changed our attitude towards the Indians, the frontier, the open spaces. So the second world war is a much better place to say, “Here’s what you should measure up to be.” It’s no longer Shane. It’s Sergeant Rock.’
November 8, 2001
[tv] A Taxi Ride to Success — interview with Rob Brydon from Marion and Geoff … ‘Marion and Geoff was a series of exquisite ten-minute monologues delivered by Brydon in the character of Keith Barrat, a Welsh minicab driver. Keith spoke to us via a video camera mounted on the passenger side of his dashboard – mostly about his wife, Marion, his two children, Alun and Rhys (‘little smashers’), and his wife’s new partner, Geoff, the pharmaceutical salesman of the year. In the face of dreadful domestic and professional disappointment, Keith was endlessly optimistic – which only seemed to confirm the depths of his despair. “Beautiful day,” he would announce brightly, before looking up through the windscreen at the sky and adding, “Bit overcast. But Mr Bluebird’s on my shoulder.”‘
November 7, 2001
[tv] You ask the questions: Louis Theroux‘[Q] Who was more scary to interview, Eugene Terreblanche (of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement) or Paul Daniels? [A] The company of Terreblanche is the scariest. He smelt of booze and he did seem a bit volatile, switching between being overly friendly to angry and crazed from moment to moment. With Paul the terror is that he’s going to tell you another endless Frank Sinatra anecdote.’
November 5, 2001
[tv] Don’t stop me now — an interview with Jonathan Ross … ‘Ross owes his success to his unembarrassability. Much of his humour is at his own expense. Hence the interminable bad-taste jokes, and the celebrated occasion on which he exposed himself on They Think It’s All Over last year. (He protests: “The BBC loved it! They thumbed it with something like “Wossie whips it out”. They used my cock as a selling point. Well, I didn’t show my cock anyway, not to the audience or to the cameras. I showed it to Nick [Hancock], and I showed it to Ian Wright, who looked suitably horrified. There was a great photograph of him recoiling in absolute disgust that I was thinking of having it made into a T-shirt.”‘
November 4, 2001
[cheggers] The show must go on [Part 1 | Part 2] … Louis Theroux meets Keith Chegwin. ‘I look up and there’s a man standing there, with short legs and receding grey hair, he looks like Keith Allen, the actor. Then I realise it’s Keith Chegwin. I must be tired. He changes into his stage gear: blue shorts and an orange Hawaiian shirt. We head for the stage. As we’re puffing up the stairs, past the pipes with bubbles in them, Keith says: “Do you do gigs? You should!… Coronary classic, these stairs! I want somebody from St John’s, now!” I part ways with Keith as we approach the main dance floor, where Keith will be performing. The club is loud and packed with drunk students. The energy is great – despite being tired, I’m caught up in the swell of excitement. Keith hits the stage, and screams through his microphone, so loud the sound is distorted and barely comprehensible. “Have we got anyone here who can’t stand the effing sight of me?” There’s a huge roar.’
November 2, 2001
[profile] The prime of Ms Julie Burchill — quite an intriguing interview … ‘From reading her columns, it is hard to gauge what her values are, if indeed she has any. “Well, I wouldn’t take money from a poor box and I always give to beggars. Can’t go out in Brighton without giving away at least 50 quid. When you look into their eyes, it’s like looking in to the eyes of Jesus. That sounds corny, but I just love that moment of connection.”‘
October 31, 2001
[questions] You ask the Questions: Larry Hagman‘[Q] JR had many classic lines, but which one of them is your own favourite? [A] “Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake”.’
October 19, 2001
[film] Terry Zwigoff: ‘Every guy wants a teenage girlfriend’ — facinating interview with the director of Ghost World. ‘…Ghost World’s Seymour has a horrid mom. What’s Zwigoff’s like? Until now, Zwigoff’s sails have been full of wind. Now they collapse. Mrs Zwigoff, it turns out, was “very critical, very negative, everything I was wildly passionate about she had no interest in whatsoever”. She didn’t get to see Ghost World (“she died, luckily”). She did, however, get to see Crumb, at its world premiere at the New York Film Festival. When the lights came up, she turned to Zwigoff’s cousin, Sherwin, and said, “So, are you still awake?” I tell him she sounds hilarious. He shakes his head morosely. “She was a very depressed person.”‘
October 17, 2001
[tv] Edie Does It — William Leith interviews Edie Falco (Carmela from the Sopranos). ‘If you haven’t seen The Sopranos yet, you should. Filming is about to begin on the fourth series and the third will air on Channel 4 in November. How good is it? Well, the New Yorker magazine recently reported a conversation between two real-life mobsters who were being bugged in just the sort of police operation you see in The Sopranos. One mobster says, ‘What’s this Sopranos? Is that supposed to be us?’ The other replies, ‘What characters. Great acting.’ ‘
October 8, 2001
[profile] Saint or Skinner? — interview with Frank Skinner. ‘…the smile of a ubiquitous, tousle-haired, 44-year-old who tells jokes about anal sex and oral sex, but mostly anal sex, and still manages to be something of a housewives’ and grannies’ favourite. Frank Skinner is the chat show host who famously balanced a mentally precarious Tara Palmer-Tomkinson on his knee, creating the catalyst TV moment that sent her packing to rehab. He is a smutty, talented, slovenly, porn-video-watching, teetotal, divorced practising Catholic with an undying passion for West Bromwich Albion football team and Elvis Presley.’
October 5, 2001
[profile] Big Mouth Strikes Again — profile / interview with Bob Geldof … ‘Of wise words and passionate topical convictions, he’s got a tidal wave. “…this ferocious death cult called the Taliban, who have no real theology, whose every action is anti-life, including a denial of life to all women, and a shadowed half-life to all men, who can’t display their faces. These people are like having the Ku-Klux-Klan running the country. And I don’t want them in this world…” It’s nice to have the Any Questions? Bob back ? arguing with Ann Widdecombe, haranguing governments about Third World debt and starving refugees (“It’s an intellectual absurdity that people die of want in a world of surplus”), always looking to stir things up.’
September 30, 2001
[film] McQueen’s Race with the Devil — extract from a new biography of Steve McQueen … On filming Le Mans: ‘[The Paparazzi] could gauge the film’s mood by the film-makers’ own physical disintegration. Relyea’s co-producer Jack Reddish was on his way to losing 20lb and breaking out in sores. John Sturges’s remaining hair went white. Then the studio stepped in. “They took the view that we, Solar [McQueen’s production company], were now fighting among ourselves and obviously needed disciplining.” Then Sturges threw in the towel. Neile remembers his actual and classic words were: “I’m too old and too rich to put up with this shit.”‘
September 26, 2001
[profile] The Best of all Worlds — A Telegraph profile-interview on George Best … ‘In 1997 Best set up a business importing bottles of wine with his name and picture on the labels. As one of his partners noted, “It was like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”‘

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