Dark Knight to rise for next James Bond? Christopher Nolan approached to direct next 007 film

Wanted: Christopher Nolan has been approached to direct the next 007 movie

Christopher Nolan has been approached to direct the next 007 movie.

It’s early days, but informal talks have begun between Nolan, his representatives and the powers behind the James Bond pictures, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G .Wilson.

Nolan, who made the Batman trilogy Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises — and had time for Inception in between — would be a cool choice after Sam Mendes decided not to shoot Bond 24.

Following the amazing box-office and critical success of Skyfall, Mendes was close to saying ‘yes’ to the next instalment, but had to withdraw because of his theatre commitments Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear with Simon Russell Beale at the National Theatre.

Also, a lot of unconfirmed chatter has started about Mendes running the National Theatre once Sir Nicholas Hytner steps down in March 2015 after a glorious decade at the helm of the theatrical powerhouse on the South Bank.

There are all sorts of reasons why Nolan might not want to do the next Bond film, though he is known to be an admirer of Bond star Daniel Craig.

For starters, he’s in pre-production of his own next big film, Interstellar, with Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, and he might prefer not to go straight from one huge production into another.

But as one of my Bond experts commented: ‘It does no harm for Broccoli and Wilson to talk with Nolan, even if nothing happens this time round.’

Mendes told me that there would be at least a year to 18 months of pre-production preparation and then six months of filming involved in Bond 24, and the producers want to shoot the follow-up soon after.

Star: Daniel Craig is pictured as James Bond in Skyfall

That would be a heavy workload for anyone. 

But it would be fascinating to see a film-maker of Nolan’s standing build on what Mendes and the 007 gang has already done with Bond.

 Carey on Screening! Carey Mulligan shines at Cannes

Happy: Carey Mulligan attends The Great Gatsby photocall during the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Carey Mulligan is the belle of the Cannes Film Festival.

She has two movies here: she plays Daisy in Baz Luhrmann’s controversial The Great Gatsby and she’s a folk singer in Ethan and Joel Coen’s sublime picture Inside Llewyn Davis, which has its official world premiere in Cannes on Sunday night.

The Coen movie stars Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman.

Also, celebrated director Thomas Vinterberg confirmed to me that Carey will play Bathsheba Everdene in a new screen version of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The  Madding Crowd, which will start filming mid-September in Britain.

‘She’s my Bathsheba,’ Vinterberg said, as he pointed out Carey who was seated with her husband Marcus Mumford at the Electrolux Diner d’Ouverture, which followed the gala screening of The Great Gatsby.

Vinterberg, president of the jury for the Un Certain Regard section of the film festival, said he was ‘fascinated’ by Hardy’s complex heroine. He is also aware that some people are a little wary of British costume dramas and added: ‘I’m hoping to avoid my film being perceived as dusty.’

Casting for the film, being produced by a consortium that includes DNA Films, Fox Searchlight and BBC Films, continues, though Vinterberg let slip that Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts has been cast as Gabriel Oak, one of Bathsheba’s three suitors.

Every leading lady wants Schoenaerts to hold her in his strong arms. When we were in New York recently, Carey told me she couldn’t wait to work with him. ‘He’s the real deal, so charismatic,’ she said.

The 35-year-old actor is working opposite Kate Winslet in Alan Rickman’s film A Little Chaos.

He then goes directly to the set of Saul Dibbs’s film of Suite Francaise.

For Carey, working on Far From The Madding Crowd will mark the first time in more than a year that she has stepped in front of a feature film camera. The last time was for The Great Gatsby (which I like a lot third time round) in Sydney.

‘I got married and took a little time off which was really strange,’ said Carey.

‘When I first started acting I used to get so nervous. If I didn’t know what my next job was, I’d call my agent every day and ask why I wasn’t working. I must have been a complete nightmare.

‘It wasn’t about the money because I could live just fine on what I made from TV work, but it was about the experience.

‘I just wanted to learn and felt that if I wasn’t working then I wasn’t learning.

‘I’m not so manic about it now — but I’m still learning.’

 

Director Philip Saville has come up with an intriguing way to spice up marriages.

He has developed a feature film called Ideal Wife in which an estranged husband, played by Andrew Lee-Potts, orders a gift for himself — and it comes packaged in the shape of Shee (Camilla Arfwedson below right).

His wife, played by Jeany Spark, isn’t too happy about it when she returns to the marital home and finds Shee.

I can tell you no more than that because Saville, who worked extensively in TV and made the feature film Metroland, has so far completed just one-third of Ideal Wife.

He and his wife Nina, who produced it, are hoping to interest investors to help them complete the project as a film or a three-part TV series.

It’s a fascinating drama and I can’t wait to see the complete version.

 

Tom Hanks is in discussions about transferring the hit Broadway play Lucky Guy to London. If it does go ahead — and it’s a big if — it won’t happen until late spring 2014, for a limited season.

The play, written by the late Nora Ephron, has just turned a profit in New York. Hanks, without vanity, portrays newspaper columnist Mike McAlary, who was a big byline in the Eighties.

As directed by George C. Wolfe, the play probes the murky side of U.S. tabloid journalism, a topic that resonates here, too.

If Hanks agrees to go to the West End, it will be one of the major theatrical events of next year.

&

Idaho man sentenced to seven years for killing zoo monkey

An Idaho man who admitted to breaking into a Boise zoo last year and killing a monkey was sentenced to seven years in prison on Thursday, court records show.

Michael Watkins, 22, of Weiser, Idaho, in March pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft, a felony, and misdemeanor animal cruelty stemming from the break-in and beating death of the monkey at Zoo Boise in November.

 

The primate was one of the zoo's two Patas monkeys, ground-dwelling animals from Africa that stand more than 2 feet tall and weigh about 35 pounds. They are rare in zoos but not endangered in the wild.

The case shook officials at the zoo and triggered an outpouring of sympathy and donations from animal lovers worldwide.

Watkins scaled the security fence at Zoo Boise in the pre-dawn hours of November 17 and attempted to steal the monkey, which bit him, police said. Watkins then kicked and hit the animal, severely wounding it, according to police. The monkey later died of blunt force trauma, zoo officials said.

Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns said on Thursday the sentencing of Watkins closed a particularly devastating chapter for the facility.

"We're moving on," he said. "The court has done its job and we're continuing to do our job."

In the days after the death, zoo staff sought to boost the spirits of the companion-less Patas monkey and considered shipping it to another zoo with primates since they are exceedingly social, Burns said.

Instead, Zoo Boise in December gained two female Patas monkeys donated by the Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York.

News about the monkey's death brought donations from across the United States and overseas, allowing the zoo to begin construction on Monday of a $250,000 exhibit for the three Patas monkeys, Burns said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bill Trott)

Dancer says showgirls dressed as Obama, nuns at Berlusconi party

The nightclub dancer at the center of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's "bunga bunga" sex trial told a court on Friday that guests at the media tycoon's parties dressed as nuns, nurses and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer", spoke as a witness in a trial at which talent scout Lele Mora, television anchor Emilio Fede and former showgirl and regional councilor Nicole Minetti are accused of inducing and aiding prostitution.

Berlusconi is being tried separately for paying for sex with El Mahroug when she was a minor and then abusing office by having her freed from police custody after her arrest for theft.

Her appearance is nevertheless an embarrassment for the 76-year-old billionaire, serving as a reminder of the legal threats the leader of the center-right and key partner in the governing coalition faces.

A verdict in the sex trial is expected in June, and a conviction for tax fraud is moving to a final appeal. Berlusconi says he has never paid for sex, denies any wrongdoing and says judges are politically motivated against him.

 

El Mahroug failed to appear as a witness at Berlusconi's trial in December because she was on holiday in Mexico. In her Friday testimony, she challenged Berlusconi's assertion that events at his villa were elegant dinner parties.

DRESSING AS OBAMA

Glamour model Marysthelle Polanco, one of 14 women who became notorious after they were discovered to be housed at a Milan address at Berlusconi's expense, dressed up as Obama and Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho, El Mahroug said.

On one occasion Minetti, Berlusconi's former dental hygienist who graduated to a career in showbusiness and politics, "dressed up as a nun ... and as she danced, she took off her clothes and was left in her underwear," El Mahroug told the court.

Wearing a large grey scarf and her hair tied back in a sleek ponytail, she entered the Milan courtroom flanked by police, walking quickly past waiting journalists. It was the first time she has testified about the parties.

El Mahroug said she received envelopes containing thousands of euros in cash from the then-prime minister and spent the night at the villa on one occasion, after which she and several other women who had slept there shared breakfast with him.

She denied ever having sexual relations with Berlusconi, and said she did not see him engaged in physical contact with other women at the parties, repeating statements she has made to the media in the past.

The Moroccan-born El Mahroug was 17 when she attended the parties at Berlusconi's villa outside Milan. She said she lied about her age and that she had told guests that she was a relative of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Berlusconi's defense against the abuse of office charge is that he acted under the belief that El Mahroug was related to Mubarak, and that he needed to free her from police custody to prevent a diplomatic upset.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi, writing by Naomi O'Leary; editing by Mike Collett-White)

Robin Gibb's son pays tribute to his inspirational father a year after his death

Just Us Three: Robin Gibb with wife Dwina and son RJ in 1986. RJ said his father would have wanted nothing more than to become a grandad

The dark clouds that have hung over Bee Gee Robin Gibb’s magnificent 12th-century Oxfordshire home since his death after a long struggle against cancer almost exactly a year ago have finally lifted.

Today, there is light and joy where all too recently there were tears and heartbreak.

For had Robin lived, he would have been anticipating one of his dearest wishes: to be a grandfather. His son Robin-John, known as RJ, and his pretty blonde Polish-born girlfriend Megan, are expecting a baby in July.

They know the child’s a boy, and have decided Robin’s name will be among those he will be given.‘Now that I’m about to become a dad myself, my sadness has been overtaken by sheer happiness,’ RJ tells me over tea in the family’s timbered sitting room, his father’s Irish wolfhound, Ollie, at his side. 

‘Losing Dad was devastating and I could never have imagined feeling like this during the months after he died.

We were not just father and son, but best friends. Dad loved children, and would have been thrilled at having a grandchild, and it’s such a shame that he won’t be there to hold the baby.

‘Of course, when the baby arrives we will still miss Dad as much as we do now, but the wonderful thing is that his presence is still here.

He will never leave me, because I know wherever I go I’ll always hear his voice.

‘His music is always being played when I’m out and about, as it was when he was alive. So I’ll always be constantly reminded of him. And, of course, proud of him.’

He adds: ‘A lot of people regret not having many mementoes of their loved ones, but we are more fortunate.

His catalogue of songs will always be in demand, which means his legacy will always be there.

That’s not only a great comfort to me, but to my mother and everyone else in his life who knew and loved him.’

Robin died of pneumonia and kidney failure in the London Clinic on May 20 last year. Ironically, the cancer that he had fought for two years was in remission.

Thirty-year-old RJ, a musician and composer himself, and his mother Dwina were at his side when the end came.

‘I cradled his head and held his right hand. My mother held his left. I gave him a kiss and we told him we loved him as we watched him go.’

At the funeral, RJ fought off tears as he addressed his late father, saying: ‘I will love you always and will take comfort that you are always only a song away, as I will surely hear your voice wherever I go.

‘I will never be able to thank you enough for my upbringing and I will never forget the time we spent together. I love you so much. You were a brilliant light and a true inspiration to myself and to us all.’

Family portrait: The couple were married in 1985. Both Dwina and RJ were by Robin's side during his final hours

Sunny side: Robin, Dwina and RJ colour co-ordinate in 2010. Robin Gibb was diagnosed with cancer the next year

Not long before Robin’s death, RJ and his father had co-written the Titanic Requiem to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking, which premiered in concert last year and was released as an album recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Although that period was emotional and worrying because Robin had to break off at times to have chemotherapy and various treatments to fight the cancer, RJ said he always tried to remain optimistic.

‘He had always bounced back, so it was very hard to tell where things were going to go. He went through some really hard times,’ says RJ. ‘But we tried not to rush things because we knew that would affect the integrity of the piece.

‘So we tried just to do it really steady and have fun making the music, and not thinking about death or trying to hurry, because he might not have that much time.

Of course, I was always afraid of losing him, but we always tried to stay optimistic and positive.

After Robin had died, there was a point when RJ wasn’t entirely happy about the treatment his father was receiving.

‘I felt that more could have been done. The fact is he didn’t die of the cancer really, it was kidney failure, because they were using certain medications that his liver and his kidneys couldn’t handle.

‘Dad was always a fighter, though — a very determined man — and it is a tribute to his tenacity that he fought so hard to survive his illness.’

One of Robin’s big disappointments was that he couldn’t attend the first performance of the Requiem last year.  He was actually in a coma at the London Clinic on that night.

‘It was one of the big songs from the Requiem called Distress which we later played him — we put earphones on him — that led to him waking up and coming out of the coma,’ says RJ.

‘So we were able to tell him about the night and show him clips from the performance.

‘It was something he was so looking forward to. In the last year and a half, it was the one place he wanted to be. So it was quite distressing for him not to be able to attend. But I think he was quite proud of the reception it got and which he saw on the screen that we showed him. And he smiled.’

RJ can also console himself with the fact that his father had met, and approved of, his girlfriend, who has a young daughter from a previous relationship.

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‘He liked her,’ says RJ. ‘And I think he would have been happy with our situation. Our baby was planned.’

But there are no imminent plans to marry. ‘For now we’re just going to live together and wait for the baby,’ says RJ.

He and Megan met at a party on January 1, 2011. She had been working in PR after moving to the UK from Poland more than a decade ago. 

‘We found we had a lot in common,’ says RJ. ‘We covered everything from quantum physics to medicine and politics, and then swapped phone numbers.’

A month later Megan visited the studio where she listened to Robin and RJ putting the final touches to the Titanic Requiem.

Now RJ and 34-year-old Megan live with Dwina at the historic Gibb mansion, set in 100 acres. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and centuries later hosted Henry VIII and his young bride, Anne Boleyn.

As Dwina, a novelist and writer of children’s books, joins us in the sitting room, she recalls: ‘Last Christmas and New Year, the first since Robin died, was the hardest.

It was the worst time because I have my birthday on the same day as Robin.’ She was 60 on December 22, and Robin would have been 63.

‘I felt sad again at New Year, as Big Ben chimed midnight and fireworks lit up the sky, I heard the skirl of the bagpipes and felt tearful.

I’d spent every New Year’s Eve of our 32 years together with Robin and missed him desperately,’ she adds.

‘We had this ritual of kissing each other at midnight, then RJ would do the first footing by bringing in a piece of coal.

Heyday: The family pop act of brothers Maurice, Barry and Robin Gibb (pictured left to right) had worldwide success with their tight harmonies

Two brothers: Robin (left) and Barry (right) Gibb received CBE's in 2004. Their brother, Maurice, had died the year before

Robin would put it in a special place for the following year and I would light the old coal from the previous one.

To welcome in 2013, we all went outside and wrote Robin’s name in the darkness with sparklers.’A wide smile lights up Dwina’s face as she talks about the baby. ‘It would have meant so much to Robin to have his first grandchild.

He had a wonderful way with children and would have relished his role as a grandfather.

‘Grandchildren would have found him hilarious because he had such a great sense of humour and made everything fun.

When RJ was little, Robin would dress up as Father Christmas, with pillows stuffed into his red tunic to disguise himself and fatten himself up.

He’d make up strange names for the reindeer and transform himself into imaginary characters while enacting little sketches.

‘One day, he and RJ turned the sitting room into a Civil War battlefield. He was passionate about history and would have made an excellent teacher.

Once he recognised RJ’s musical talent, Robin worked hard to develop it.

‘I remember one day when he was so overcome by one song that RJ had played him, that he ran out of the room. RJ was worried that in some way he had upset him.

But after a few minutes, Robin returned and told him, “RJ that is the most beautiful piece of music you have written”.’

She adds: ‘The baby will almost be like a gift that has come to smooth everything over. It’s a great joy and a relief from the sadness we’ve been through. And I’m now very much really looking forward to becoming a grandmother!’

RJ has also completed enough songs for three albums and is working on the completion of his first solo pop album, 50 St Catherine’s Drive, after a Gibb family address on the Isle of Man.

And he’s helping Dwina prepare for Robin’s memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral later this year.

Then there’s a classical piece called The Memoriam to commemorate World War I, with its l00th anniversary coming up next year.

‘I’m writing it from scratch,’ says RJ. ‘But there are some pieces my father had done in the past themed for that time, and I’m going to include those. I’m trying to continue carrying the torch for what my father started.’

RJ never knew his father as anything other than famous. ‘From the age of four, I would go around on tour with my parents through Europe, into East Berlin, Asia, and the United States with the Bee Gees,’ he says.

‘I used to stand in the wings watching their performances. I always had a great respect for him and I understood how much he had to achieve to get where he was. Of course, that fuelled my own aspirations.’

Fighter: RJ said his father battled with cancer but retained his characteristic sense of humour throughout his illnesses. In happy times with wife Dwina (pictured left) and during treatment (right)

RJ was born in Miami — where the Gibb brothers were neighbours — and went to school in the U.S. and in Britain.

Robin and Dwina also had a house in Barnes, South-West London, and another on New York’s Long Island. 

Robin bought the mansion in Oxfordshire when RJ was two. Apart from his own musical talent — he took lessons in violin, trumpet, saxophone, guitar, keyboards and music theory and formed a rhythm and blues band aged 12 — RJ went to Oxford’s New College before studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

He says the most comforting memory of his father is his sense of humour. ‘We laughed at similar things and I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone else who shares our sense of fun.

‘He was an absolute inspiration to me. A beautiful human being. I don’t think I felt any animosity towards him ever. He wasn’t a weak man. That’s what I’ve gleaned from him as well. That’s something I’ve tried to instil in my own life as well.’

Following his father so purposely into a music career, RJ is very much aware that people will be looking at him closely and judging him.

So does he think that is going to make it harder for him because some sons of famous talented parents haven’t always been able to make it on their own?

‘It doesn’t intimidate me. It’s a fuel that gives you that drive. I just hope they will give me the time to listen to my work.

‘That’s what you want really. That they will just listen and make up their own minds about your contribution. I would never create a piece of music that I wouldn’t love myself.’







Nicole's back-row rendezvous with her singer husband

Nicole Kidman was happy to talk about her children, husband Keith Urban and how she'd 'walk over hot coals' to be in a movie directed by fellow juror Ang Lee

Nicole Kidman was choosing her every word extremely carefully.

‘Look, Steven’s been very clear about us not commenting on the films that are in competition,’ she told me as we chatted about her jury duty and Steven Spielberg’s rule as president of the Cannes Film Festival jury.

‘He said: “Just say ‘No comment’ when people start asking you.” He was very strict about it and I’m not going to get into trouble with Steven!’ she giggled, as we sat between courses at the Electrolux Diner d’Ouverture.

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She was happy to talk about her children, husband Keith Urban and how she’d ‘walk over hot coals’ to be in a movie directed by fellow juror Ang Lee, but absolutely nothing about the 20 films in the official Cannes line-up.

‘I think Steven’s right: it’s not fair to the competition film-makers. I have to say I’m looking forward to the debate we will all have when we have  to decide on the Palm D’Or,’ she told me.

We had just come from the screening of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and it reminded Nicole of her own experiences working with Luhrmann as the courtesan Satine in Moulin Rouge (he’s Baz 1 this year, I’m Baz 2).

‘Baz sent me red roses when I was at the Donmar in The Blue Room,’ she said, recalling her performance in the 1998 London production of David Hare’s play. ‘They were exquisite, and the note read: “You’re my Satine.”

‘I was very excited, but I still had to audition for him. I think it had to do with the singing. He wanted to be sure I could sing the part!’ she laughed.

‘The Blue Room was very good for me because I got to work with Baz on Moulin Rouge and Stephen Daldry cast me in The Hours after seeing me in the play and I won the Oscar for that.’

Her singer husband, she told me, should be arriving some time today from Los Angeles to join her for a few days.

‘We’ll be in the dark, watching films. Maybe we’ll sit in the back row!’

  Emma's Bling has a ring of truth

Emma Watson had Cannes eating out of her hand yesterday.

The 23-year-old expertly answered questions about her part in Sofia Coppola’s sublime new movie The Bling Ring, which opened the Un Certain Regard section of the festival.

I was impressed by how Emma was able to link our obsession with celebrity culture to social media and how that feeds a desire for so many to emulate the stars they see on TV, Facebook, Kardashian-style reality shows and magazines.

Emma Watson had Cannes eating out of her hand yesterday

Inspired by a true story, Emma’s character is part of a gang that in real life robbed the homes of people such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. 

The film is a great commentary on the sickness that pervades our society with more and more people desperate to emulate the rich and famous.

And Watson’s performance is brilliant at pinpointing desire and stupidity.

It’s awesome to see the Potter alumni — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Watson — move onwards and upwards with film and stage roles of substance.

  Watch out for...

George MacKAY, who gives  an extraordinary performance in Paul Wright’s film For Those In Peril, which is being shown in the Critics’ Week section of the festival. MacKay, just 21, started making films when he was ten.

His pictures include Peter Pan, The Boys Are Back, Private Peaceful and the forthcoming Sunshine On Leith, but nothing prepares you for the sheer level of acting brilliance in the Film 4, Warp Films, BFI and Protagonist production about a young man from a Scottish fishing village who is the only survivor of a fishing boat accident.

This sends him into a schizophrenic spiral that threatens his relationship with his mother (Kate Dickie) and his brother’s girlfriend (Nichola Burley).  We’re going to be hearing a lot more about George MacKay.

Mia Wasikowska, who will star as Gustave Flaubert’s heroine Madame Bovary in a new screen version being directed on locations in Normandy in the summer. Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans and Ezra Miller also star in the adaptation directed by Sophie Barthes.

Bernardo Bertolucci, who will be the guest of honour at Charles Finch’s annual Finch’s Quarterly Review-Chopard dinner tonight at the Eden Roc restaurant at the Hotel Du Cap.

Finch’s bash has become the must-go-to party during the festival. Liv Tyler, Christoph Waltz, Alicia Vikander, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, Olga Kurylenko and Christian Louboutin are just a few of the names who will be rocking at the Roc.

Iain DE CAESTECKER, who stars in new U.S. TV series Agents Of Shield and has been cast to appear with Matt Smith in Ryan Gosling’s new movie drama How To Catch A Monster.

 

Football legend Pele is embarking on a search to find a youthful version of himself. 

He wants a 15-year-old who can replicate his teenage soccer  skills for a big-screen movie  about his life.

‘It’s not the Pele who scored goals or the Pele who was a champion. This is a young Pele,’ the sporting giant told me.

Let the search begin: Pele is undertaking a search for someone to play a young version of himself in a film of his life

‘He has to know good ball control and I have to travel to find him.’

He thinks it will be difficult to track down such a player because young sportsmen are so influenced by what Pele termed ‘communications’.

He explained: ‘The young people in Brazil and South America have TV and the internet,’ and these influence the way they play today. But he and producers Brian Grazer and Guy East are confident there is a player out there who can portray a teenage Pele (real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento), who first played for his country at the 1958 World Cup at the age of 17.

It’s hoped that filming will start this summer with directors Michael and Jeff Zimbalist shooting in Brazilian locations.

Pele was scathing about the current state of the game and said few play simply for the love of football. ‘It’s all business now,’ he told me. He cited Argentinian Lionel Messi as the player he most admires, but asked: ‘Where are the Franz Beckenbauers and players such as George Best?’

As he made his way from the suite at the Carlton Hotel, he beckoned me closer and whispered: ‘Brazil for the final of the World Cup.’

That would be perfect, as he wants the film to have its world premiere during the World Cup next year.

&

Canadian astronaut wrestles with gravity after spaceflight

Back on Earth, Canadian astronaut and cyberspace tweeter Chris Hadfield is getting a rough re-introduction to gravity after a five-month stint aboard the International Space Station, the former commander told reporters during a video webcast from Houston.

Hadfield became a social media rock star with his zero-gravity version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and a continuous stream of commentary on Twitter about his life in orbit. But living without gravity for five months has left him feeling dizzy, weak and prematurely aged. A veteran of three space flights, he is wearing a pressure suit under his clothes to help his circulation as his body re-adapts to getting blood back to his brain.

"Without the constant pull-down of gravity, your body gets a whole new normal, and my body was quite happy living in space without gravity," Hadfield, 53, said in a video conference call with Canadian reporters on Thursday, three days after returning to Earth.

 

The video conference was posted on the Canadian Space Agency's UStream channel.

"Right after I landed I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue ... I hadn't realized that I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue," he said.

He is suffering overall body soreness, particularly in his neck and back which are again having to support his head after months in weightlessness.

"It feels like I played full-contact hockey, but it's getting better by the hour," Hadfield said. "The subtle things and the big things are taking some re-adaptation to get used to and they are coming back one by one."

Hadfield, who is the first from Canada to command a space station crew, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in Kazakhstan on Monday. He and Marshburn were then flown to Houston to begin rehabilitation.

As a departing finale Hadfield created a music video rendering of Bowie's classic "Space Oddity," which as of Friday had 13 million hits on YouTube.

Hadfield, who is the lead singer and bass guitarist in the all-astronaut rock band Max Q, said it is too early to think about what he will do next.

"For now, I'm still trying to stand up straight. I have to sit down in the shower so I don't faint and fall down, and I don't have calluses on the bottom of my feet yet, so I'm walking around like I walked on hot coals," he said.

It usually takes about three weeks until a returning astronaut can return to driving, according to the Canadian Space Agency.

"We're sort of tottering around like two old duffers in an old folks home," Hadfield said, referring to his crew mate Marshburn.

Hadfield's orbital odyssey ended with a parachute descent of their Soyuz space capsule onto the steppes of Kazakhstan.

"We hit the Earth just like a car crash, like we expected," Hadfield said. "There was enough wind so that we rolled up on our side. I was the guy hanging from the ceiling."

"Our first true sense of being home was a window full of the dirt of the Earth and the smell of spring and the growing grasses in Kazakhstan wafting in through the open hatch," he said.

(Editing by David Adams and Jackie Frank)

EastEnders' long-lost relatives and disastrous dinners keep on coming. Jim Shelley on the week in Walford

It's one of the golden rules of EastEnders.

Any sighting of a stranger - no matter how fleeting, even in the background in the market or the Queen Vic - can only mean one thing. Another long lost relative storyline is on the way.

Dexter's father Sam (centre) pops round to see his son (right) and his ex Ava (left) after walking out 20 years earlier. As you do

This week the scriptwriters didn't bother with any preamble as they usually do.

Ava's ex-/Dexter's Dad, Sam, simply turned up at their front door ­ even though he had been out of their lives for 20 years and they had only recently moved.

When Ava asked how he'd found them, it was noticeable he didn't say - ­ as if even the writers thought he wasn't up to it.

Ava and the rest of us should have known something calamitous was going to happen when she decided to make a special meal (for Dexter and Billy).

Important meals are the kiss of death in Walford.

Dexter (left) realises he's been trying to set up his muvver on a date with his dad

The only surprise was Sam's arrival happened so soon - ­ Ava (Cora's lost-long daughter & Tanya's long-lost sister) and Dexter (Cora's lost-long grandson and the Branning girls' long-lost cousin) being so new too.

Confronted with this situation, Ava did the obvious thing - dispatching Dexter to buy some ice-cream and letting Sam come in. This was on Tuesday.

He was still stood there on Thursday, listening to Ava read him the riot act.

Asking 'how can I put into words what I did ?' was probably a mistake on his part.

'Shall I try ?' Ava screamed. 'You walked out on me and our three-month old baby !'

She reminded him of his poetic farewell: 'I'm just nipping out for a pint of milk.'

He didn't even have it when he turned up.

Dexter's long-lost father, Sam, aka Jacob

She duly listed all the things that she'd done for Dexter in his absence. (Any men reading will know how these arguments go.)

The concluding statement of her case was a good one though.

He doesn't NEEEEEEEEEED a dad any more !'

When Dexter turned up, his mother who had raised him all that time and his father who had just showed up after twenty years did the obvious thing. They lied to him.

They told told him they were old friends.

Sam introduced himself to Dexter as 'Jacob' and ended up staying for some beef stew.

Dexter immediately/inexplicably wanted this total stranger to be his new best friend.

'Why would you want to hang out with an old bredah like me ?' Sam/Jacob asked, resorting to the sort of slang usually saved for Patrick.

Dexter's view was he wanted him to be mum's new best friend too -  more than Billy, which was only natural. Who wouldn't ?

Dexter liked Sam/Jacob so much he spent most of Friday's episode virtually pimping his mother out on a date with him/them.

(Bianca had also had the idea of a secret blind date with her muvver - ­ not with Sam/Jacob but with Masood. It's a ploy that is a monthly occurrence in Albert Square.)

'They get on like a house on fire,' Dex told Jay and Abi. 'The trouble is, I don't know how to get it to the next level. If I start suggesting candlelit dinners, mum's gonna know something's up.'

Well sort of, yes - considering she'd spent 20 years hating his guts.

'And where's my pint of milk ?!' Ava welcomes back Sam, twenty years after he just nipped down to the shops

Luckily, he had Abi to help out and prove she was almost as bright as he was.

'You've got to keep it simple,' she said.

You could see the cogs visibly turning in her head before she plumped for the inevitable idea (altogether now): 'how about a drink in The Vic ?'

As if the sight of poor Dexter being nice to the father he had never known wasn't cruel enough, the writers couldn't resist adding insult to injury.

'Mum hated my dad for walking out on us,' he told his friends, justifying wanting to set her up with a man he had only just met.

'But she loved him once. I just want that for her again. But with a good man this time.'

That's irony you see. From the mouths of babes and so on.

Ava stops Dexter's father Sam from starting to look through the twenty years' worth of photos he's missed of his son's life

When Sam/Jacob's ingenious name change plan was exposed, Dexter was perplexed and then devastated.

'Your name's Sam ?! You're him ?!'

He then did the obvious thing and blamed his mum.

The rest of the week was quite moderate, by EastEnders' standards.

It started with Michael kicking off when he saw a young woman he didn't know looking after his daughter.

'This is Scarlett's new nanny,' explained Janine. 'Idiot.'

Alice wins her job back looking after Scarlett, the totally well-adjusted spawn of Michael and Juneeeeeeeeeen

A funny name for a nanny but there you go.

Michael was furious about not being able to see her. (Scarlett that is, not 'Idiot'.)

Alice reassured him that Janine - or 'Juneeeeeeeeeen' as her dad had her christened, would change her mind.

'That's a rubbish idea !' he carped in that weird way he has (about everything). 'It's... vague.'

By the end of the week, Alice was Scarlett's nanny again.

'You have to think of Janine as a predator,' Michael advised. 'The perfect killing machine.'

Somewhat paranoid but still.

Meanwhile Kirsty's masterplan to pretend to Max that she's pregnant was coming along nicely.

She told him she had been for a scan.

'Did you get one of them picture things ?' he asked sensitively.

Presumably she will end up giving birth to a large cushion.

Max is made up that Kirsty has had 'one of them picture things' (a scan) taken of the cushion she plans to give birth to

Denise's massively unlikely (not to say unfair) 'romance' with Ian continued ­ with an increasingly alarming amount of Innuendo.

'What are you doing here ?' Kim asked finding Denise at home, having lunch.

'I thought I'd come home for a change. I hate sitting in that back room at work, smelling damp,' Denise said happily.

You could always have a shower.

'It it hot in here ?' No, not really. Denise's improbable, frankly unwatchable 'romance' with Ian reaches the building site of his new restaurant

Inevitably, Sam/Jacob was staying at the B&B.

'I told him we generally don't serve lunches but whatever the guests require you'd be happy to bend over backwards to provide,' Denise told Kim to wind her up. Mind you, she probably would.

Meals and eating featured heavily in the rest of the week's EastEnders' 'action.'

Jean wows Ian with her audition to be the sous chef at his new restaurant with her speciality - raw asparagus, uncooked potatoes and bacon

Jean auditioned for and secured the prestigious job of 'sous chef at The Square' by making Ian and his kids her 'Chicken Surprise' - ­ the surprise being that it was actually edible.

Jean had stressed her 'creative' side.

'I think Ian thinks I'm John Lennon to his McCartney,' she explained, ­ her sanity clearly totally restored.

Sharon also had one of those big 'faaaaaaamily' meals that are only a recipe for disaster (ho-ho).

You'd think she would have learned her lesson from Peggy.

Sharon (fourth on the left) risks everything by having a dinner party and serving fish

What the occasion was exactly eluded me, although I do know that a) Sharon isn't really renowned for her cooking and b) she was cooking fish.

I know this because Alfie and the other guests commented on it, as if it represented a potentially fatal threat to their usual diet of cigarettes, alcohol, and fry-ups at the caff.

'Would YOU give your fella fish ?!' Shirley sneered to Kirsty.

Shirley had been in good form all week.

'Do you think I stink ?' Billy asked her.

'No more than usual,' Shirley said.

Happy days.

  More... Ronnie Mitchell's out of prison and back in Walford... but will Jack ever forgive her? Samantha Womack's controversial return to EastEnders SOAP WATCH: Jaci Stephens gives us the ultimate insight into the week's soaps

Shirley duly turned up like a really scary scarecrow.

'Look at you,' she carped at Sharon. 'Not a hair out of place.'

'I got a blow dry earlier,' Sharon said.

'Yeah I bet you did.'

Come again ?!

'There must be a crack in such a perfect surface,' Shirley continued to bait her. Yes, talking ­ about Sharon.

I guess that's what alcohol can do to the brain. Or the eyesight.

Shirley turns up at Sharon's dinner thinking it was 'bring a bottle' only to realise to her horror that it's fish

Lola had gone to the dinner to prove Sharon was 'off her 'ead' on pills, and had her suspicions confirmed when Sharon nearly fell over.

'It's the heels,' Shar' claimed. 'These are four inches. I was kidding myself in the shop that I could handle them.'

That the heels could handle the weight more like.

As soon as Sharon insisted she had given the pills up and pleaded: 'do you believe me ?' and Lola sobbed that she did and they hugged, then we knew that she was still taking the drugs.

Either that, or we should be for watching it.

I don't know if they were diet pills, or pills to help her be less orange, but sure enough, by the end of the episode, she was reaching for the secret stash in her coat.

Sharon reaches for the pills she needs to help her cope with living with Phil

As for Sam/Jacob, in the two episodes since his arrival, he's already stepped in to help Ian and fix his plaster work for him.

Whether he could the same for Sharon though must remain doubtful.

He is also halfway to copping off with Kim ­ although, the latter is not admittedly that difficult.

No doubt in the weeks ahead he will follow the inevitable trajectory of all nasty Long Lost Relatives.

Namely, gradual redemption followed by sainthood followed by snogging his ex-, just before the dramatic 'dum-dums' at the end of the episode.

After all, what's 20 years between friends ? Or, in EastEnders' case, between enemies ?












EU finds time to tell restaurants how to serve olive oil

Critics ridiculed European Union bureaucrats on Saturday for taking time off fighting the euro zone's debt crisis to impose strict new rules on how restaurants serve olive oil.

From January 1, 2014, eateries will be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls, and forced instead to use pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty.

The European Commission said the move is designed to improve hygiene and reassure consumers the olive oil in restaurants has not been diluted with an inferior product.

But critics say the rules are a sop to Europe's olive oil producers, and will only add to the frustration felt by many towards a bloated EU bureaucracy regarded as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Europeans.

 

"If the European Union was logical and properly run, people wouldn't be so anti-Europe. But when it comes up with crazy things like this, it quite rightly calls into question their legitimacy and judgment," said Marina Yannakoudakis, a British Conservative member of the European Parliament.

The Commission said its proposal was supported by 15 out of 27 EU member governments, including the continent's main olive oil producers - Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal - which are among the countries worst affected by the euro crisis.

"The fact that the EU is the world's major producer of olive oil - for up to 70 percent of the olive oil globally - perhaps this is even more than just a good consumer story for European citizens," commission spokesman Oliver Drewes told reporters.

Yannakoudakis said the Commission's defense of the plans highlighted how out of touch their priorities were.

"The economic crisis in these countries isn't because of olive oil, it's because of the euro, and they should be concentrating on solving that problem," she told Reuters by telephone.

Germany opposed the plans in a vote by EU government officials behind closed doors, while Britain - which regularly cites perceived meddling from Brussels as the reason for its strained relationship with Europe - abstained.

German newspaper Sueddetsche Zeitung described the plan as "the weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation", referring to now-defunct EU rules on the shape of fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

The regulations are based on rules in force in Portugal since 2005, and are part of an EU initiative to help olive oil producers hit by rising operating costs and falling profits in recent years.

But Enzo Sica, owner of Italian restaurant Creche des Artistes close to the EU quarter of Brussels, said the rules would prevent him from buying his extra virgin olive oil direct from a traditional supplier in Italy.

"They say they're thinking about consumers, but this will increase costs for us and our customers as well. In this time of crisis, surely they should be worrying about other things rather than stupid stuff like this."

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

Katie Waissel opens up about her marriage breakdown in heartbreaking song I'm Fine... as she admits she feels 'conned and stupid' after divorce

Katie Waissel has opened up about her divorce in a heartbreaking new song, after revealing her short-lived marriage to male model Brad Alphonso has left her feeling 'tricked, conned and stupid'.

The 27-year-old singer, who first found fame on The X Factor back in 2010, wed Brad in an intimate ceremony in New Orleans in September 2012 - just 16 weeks after the couple first met.

However, the marriage ended just two months later following a series of 'horrific rows', and Katie has been licking her wounds in Los Angeles ever since.

Scroll down for video Opening up: Katie Waissel has spoken about her heartbreaking divorce from male model Brad Alphonso

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Powerball jackpot could go higher than $600 million

The Powerball jackpot Saturday night could exceed the $600 million figure being advertised, possibly rivaling the largest lottery payoff in U.S. history, a Texas Lottery official said on Saturday.

"Oftentimes, the advertised amount is lower than what the actual jackpot ends up being," said Kelly Cripe, a spokeswoman for the Texas Lottery. "It's entirely possible this $600 million jackpot will end up being a bigger jackpot."

 

Chances of winning the Powerball on Saturday were one in 175 million, Cripe said, but that did not deter people from buying up tickets at staggering rates. California was selling $1 million in tickets every hour on Saturday, said Donna Cordova, a spokeswoman for the California Lottery, which has only been selling Powerball tickets since April 8.

Texas Lottery officials reported $1.2 million in hourly sales between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time, with ticket sales for the Saturday draw topping $18.4 million.

The ticket sale rate on Saturday was nearly double Friday's rate, Cripe said, and a jump of some 686 percent over last Saturday.

The Powerball lottery, which has not had a winner in two months, is offered in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A Powerball lottery record was set in November with a $587.5 million jackpot that topped the $550 million figure that was advertised, thanks to last-minute sales.

The largest jackpot in U.S. history was the $656 million in the Mega Millions lottery in March 2012. That prize was split between winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

If Saturday's Powerball drawing yields no winner, all records will be shattered as the jackpot for Wednesday's drawing would go to $925 million.

Many Americans were playing the "if I win" game ahead of Saturday's drawing.

"If I win, I'm going to spend a lot of it on liquor, women and gambling," said Austin lawyer Donald Dickson. "I'll likely squander the rest of it."

In New York City, talent acquisition agent Michelle Amici was more philanthropic.

"Not sure that I'd buy anything," she said. "Rather, I'd attempt to quench my wanderlust by traveling the world. I'd also donate a large portion to education reform."

Lottery players such as Austin marketing professional Becky Arreaga was not discouraged by the long odds.

"As long as the odds are 1 in anything, I'm in," said Arreaga, a partner at Mercury Mambo marketing firm. "I truly believe I could be the one."

"It's only a couple bucks for a small daydream," said Russell Williams, 35, a salesman in Austin, Texas.

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Bonnie Carreno of El Paso, Texas, rarely plays but was taking a chance on this one. "I only ever buy a ticket when I see the amazing numbers in the headlines," she said.

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The $2 tickets allow players pick five numbers from 1 to 59, and a Powerball number from 1 to 35. The numbers will be drawn Saturday at 10:59 p.m. EDT (0259 GMT on Sunday) in Tallahassee, Florida.

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(Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune, Doina Chiacu and Bill Trott)

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Danielle O'Hara reveals she isn't happy with her blossoming pregnancy figure

She has had several breast augmentations as well as an operation to remove her implants after they ruptured but now Danielle O'Hara has revealed that she isn't happy with bigger breasts.

The 29-year-old WAG is currently pregnant with her third child with her footballer husband Jamie and her changing shape has made her realise she prefers it when her chest is smaller. 

Speaking to Closer magazine Danielle said she hates her bust: 'They've gotten bigger and feel massive now. After having smaller boobs last year, I've realised I prefer them that way.'

Chest depressed: Danielle O'Hara has revealed that she is struggling with her blossoming pregnancy shape, particularly the size of her breasts

The model also explained that she is struggling to feel good and finding it hard to come to terms with  her mother-to-be shape.

She said: 'When I'm naked in a bikini, I'm not confident. Everyone says I look great but my body is getting me down. I feel like I'm getting a lot more cellulite, which I didn't with my previous pregnancies.'

Danielle explained how she doesn't want to exercise because she doesn't want to risk suffering a premature arrival, after her second son Harry was born 10 weeks early.

Bump on board: Despite the WAG's body woes she looked lovely in a bikini while on holiday in Tenerife last week

Bumping along: During a day by the pool Danielle was seen smiling at her bump

While Danielle might not be happy with her shape she appeared to be blossoming during a trip to Tenerife last week.

Danielle showed off her changing shape in a series of pretty bikinis by spottedonceleb.com and she appeared to be glowing.

She had her hair piled into an oversized bun with a Beauty Works Beehive Messy bun extension.

The brunette estimates she has put on one and a half stone during her pregnancy taking her just over 10st 7lbs.

Tassel-tastic: As well as a purple and green bikini Danielle was also seen sporting a mismatched two piece with tassel detail

Cool customer: Danielle has said that no matter what she feels about her figure her husband Jamie loves her shape

While Danielle might not be comfortable with her shape her husband Jamie certainly is.

She said: 'I feel bigger all over and not at all sexy, but I know I'm lucky to have Jamie who loves me regardless. He's always complimenting my bump.'

Earlier this month Danielle enjoyed a baby shower with a group of pals including TOWIE stars Lydia Bright and her mother Debbie.

Danielle announced her pregnancy in February and is expecting her third son later this year.

Another baby boy on the way: Danielle is expecting her third child later this year






Germans blame euro zone crisis for Eurovision debacle

Germans lamented their unexpectedly poor showing at the Eurovision Song Contest, blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel's tough stance in the euro zone crisis for their failure to win any points from 34 of the 39 countries voting.

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Denmark's Emmelie de Forest won the event, watched by around 125 million people across Europe, with 281 points while German act Cascada was 21st out of 26 countries, getting just 18 points from Austria, Israel, Spain, Albania and Switzerland.

 

"There's obviously a political situation to keep in mind - I don't want to say 'this was 18 points for Angela Merkel'," said Germany's ARD TV network coordinator Thomas Schreiber. "But we all have to be aware that it wasn't just Cascada up there on stage (being judged) but all of Germany."

Merkel is popular in Germany for her firm position during the euro zone crisis. But she is loathed in parts of Europe for her insisting on painful austerity measures in countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy in exchange for rescue packages.

"It's unexplainable," said ARD expert commentator Peter Urban on Sunday after Cascada singer Natalie Horler was 21st even though German media had touted her as a favorite. More than 8 million Germans watched, a 44 percent market share.

"Is it that people just don't like us?" Urban was asked on ZDF TV. "There's some truth to that," he said.

"There will be two German soccer teams in the Champions League final next week and maybe people didn't want Germany to win Eurovision too."

(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Alison Williams)

Lady Gaga staggers out in her signature high heels after recovering from hip operation

It must have been agony - months of wearing flat shoes for the flamboyant, platform heel loving star.

But Lady Gaga, 27, has been reunited with her favourite heels as she hit the town in New York in her trademark super high boots.

Gaga's re-emergence comes after she was seen wheeling around the Big Apple in a gold wheelchair, and then kitten heels.

Reunited and it feels so good: Lady GaGa was back in her platform heels in New York as she attended a fashion party last week

A brief appearance at the premiere of The Great Gatsby revealed a severe short crop, but it seems that was a side show for the main event as she attended the Versace Versus party back to her usual self complete with long blonde hair and Frankenstein height boots.

The singer wore an asymmetric babydoll style minidress, presumably by Versace, which she accessorised with a yellow fur clutch.

However she didn't look completely confident, as she reached out to a pole for balance.

Need a hand? Gaga holds onto some scaffolding as she makes her to her waiting car

Gaga clearly can't wait to get back into the mix after being out of action for almost four months, as she reportedly played partygoers at the fashion event snippets of her new album.

The singer has been lying low since undergoing an operation on her hip to deal with a labral tear in February. She was forced to cancel her Born This Way Ball tour and doctors told her to take six months off.

She revealed on Twitter that she dealt with chronic pain for several months prior to seeking medical help, but chose to ignore its effects rather than disappoint her fans.

Gaga has kept a low profile throughout her recovery, but was photographed in Chicago, Illinois, for her birthday last month.

Making strides: Gaga couldn't wait to get back in her heels, and she is supposed to take six months off for her recovery for the hip operation

Riding around: Lady Gaga, shown in April, was confined to a wheelchair during her recovery

She was seen in a wheelchair while visiting boyfriend Taylor Kinney, who works on location in the city filming the NBC drama Chicago Fire.

But clearly she couldn't wait to dig out her boots as she enjoyed a night out.

However Gaga's re-emergence in heels may be somewhat premature - as doctors have banned the singer from performing until September.

Friends said the decision had left her crushed. A source told The Mirror: 'She has a bunch of projects she wants to roll on but she needs ­clearance from doctors. It’s really frustrating for her. She won’t be back in action until September.'

New do: Gaga showed off a blonde crop at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood back in April

Feeling the pain? Gaga has been suffering pain since her operation in February

In another of her infrequent appearances, the singer - whose real name is Stephani Germanotta -  showed off a platinum blonde bob in April as she enjoyed a night at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood.

The Born This Way hitmaker was wearing white power, heavy blush and winged eyeliner and a white top with plunging back.

Accompanied by a blonde friend, Gaga looked rather sleepy as she rode home in the white convertible.

Sleepy: The singer looked weary as she was driven home from the Chateau

As she is taking time out of the spotlight to recuperate from her injury, Gaga was probably enjoying the rest from her dramatic hairstyles or wigs we often see her sporting.

She previously admitted in an interview that she has to get her hair cut short quite regularly because her locks are in such bad condition from all the chemicals and dye she uses.

The natural brunette told People magazine two years ago: 'I have to get a chemical haircut because my blonde hair is falling out.'

Nice car: Gaga's outfit complemented the white sports car driven by her friend