Metallica back on tour

Will I or won’t I…again?  Eh…I think I’ll skip it this year.

Metallica on Tour

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Who you gonna call…again? Ghostbusters! 3!

The news we were all waiting for – Harold Ramis has confirmed that there will be a second sequel to Ghostbusters with the original cast

 

These guys ruled!
These guys ruled!

If you grew up with the comic, ghost-slaying antics of these guys you are SO in for a treat!  Can you imagine these guys donning their proton packs and firing their proton guns today just like they did 25 years ago???? 

 

 

Better call them loud - hearing can't be the best these days.
Better call them loud - hearing can't be the best these days.

Oh.

Sexy Sixties: Would ya?

There is so much ageism in Hollywood these days with plenty of top notch actresses unable to get a suitable role once they turn 40.  Well I’m here to address the balance.

I present to you the Sexiest Sixties XI – women who are old enough to be my mother!

11 Barbara Streisand

Age: 66

From: Brooklyn, NY

Known for: Singing, acting and that nose.

Most awesome thing: Being a woman in love.

The Lowdown: I know a lot of people might prefer to poke themselves in the eye with a stiletto than get down to it with Barbara but that position needs serious review.  Streisand is one of the most celebrated singers of our time and her list of classic performances such as “A Woman in Love”, “The Way We Were” and “Guilty” will see her ranked as one of the greats of all time.

But of course this blog is about how sexy she is and I think she comes off pretty well for a woman of her vintage.  The nose is character building and she rebounded wonderfully from that awful early-80s perm that made her look like a bustier Kevin Keegan.  She carries herself as a lady of class but of course the paps will always catch these ageing, made-up stars at their worst.  But I’d still re-enact some of those hot scenes from “The Prince of Tides” with her.

Ageing: MM

Sexuality:MMM

Talent: MMMMM

Overall: MMM

10 Karen Black

Age: 69

From: Park Ridge, IL

Known for: Getting an Oscar nomination in the 70s before retiring to “straight-to-video” fare for 30 years.

Most awesome thing: The Rollerblade Seven.

The Lowdown: Karen must have known the gig was up when she agreed to star in David G Jackson’s cult movie “The Rollerblade Seven”, a film that kick-started the obscure cult “Zen” film making style in 1991.  From Wikipedia: “This film follows a non-linear storyline and is riddled with strange and unexpected edits and dialogue. Several scenes, for example, are repeated over ten times in a row, seemingly without rhyme or reason.”  It is quite mental.  I watched it (mainly on fast forward). It also stars JOE Estevez and FRANK Stallone if that’s any indication as to its level.

Anyway Black picked up an Oscar nomination in 1970 for “Five Easy Pieces” and has other top credits to her name such as “Easy Rider”, “The Great Gatsby” and “Airport 1975” – but she became more associated with b-movie horrors like “Children of the Corn IV”, “Mirror Mirror”, “House of 1000 Corpses”, “Evil Spirits”, “It’s Alive III” – you can see where this is going.  She most recently received an award for her performance in the critically-acclaimed movie “Firecracker” which critic Roger Ebert hailed as one of the best of 2005.

She is brilliant though – voluptuous, oozing sexuality and a fine actress to boot. Her career was summed up by her appearance as a character in “Family Guy” which was followed by newscaster Tom Tucker saying “Karen Black, what an obscure reference”.

She has written and performed her own music and has also turned to play-writing now.

Ageing: MMM

Sexuality:MMMM

Talent: MMM

Overall: MMM

9 Tina Turner

Age: 68

From: Nutbush, TN

Known for: Leaving her violent husband and re-inventing herself.

Most awesome thing: We Don’t Need Another Hero from Mad Max III.

The Lowdown: The first thing any artist should plan is to write a hit single that will allow them to retire on the royalties.  Robbie Williams did it with “Millennium”, Queen with “We Are the Champions” and Tina Turner with “The Best”.

TIna was a looker in the sixties and seventies but was left black-and-blue by her violent husband Ike, with whom she had a successful musical career.  It looked like her solo career would never take off, her two late seventies albums “Rough” and “Love Explosion” both flops.  But she went on to become the most successful solo female artist of all time, all the time managing to maintain incredible legs even as she inches towards 70.  Wonderful talent, wonderful figure, wonderful wigs…

Ageing: MMMM

Sexuality:MMMM

Talent: MMMMM

Overall: MMM 1/2

8 Carly Simon

Age: 63

From: The Bronx, NY

Known for: Very sexy lips.

Most awesome thing: The song about me.

The Lowdown: It’s been an up-and-down career for the pop-rocker who arguably peaked with 1972’s “You’re So Vain” and rebounded occasionally with the likes of “Nobody Does It Better”, 1987’s “Coming Around Again” and 2005 surprise hit album “Moonlight Serenade”.

Carly has come across as sexy, cute and bohemian over the years.  Her current look is very sexy, reminiscent of a female Steven Tyler (prominent mouth included).  And if you needed some evidence

Ageing: MMMM

Sexuality:MMMM

Talent: MMM

Overall: MMM 1/2

7 Anne Archer

Age: 61

From: Los Angeles, CA

Known for: Being a bit under-appreciated.

Most awesome thing: Being naked in London’s West End.

The Lowdown: Her breakthrough role was as Michael Douglas’ wife in “Fatal Attraction” for which she was Oscar nominated.  But since then her success has been limited on the big screen, her most high-profile being the unexciting role as Harrison Ford’s wife in the dull political thrillers “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”.  Unfortunately I was unable to catch her performance in the London’s West End stage production of “The Graduate”.  And, yes, she got her kit off.

From her glamorous fur coat look of the late 80s to her graceful, understated look of today, Archer is one cool chick – with the exception of her affiliation with Scientology.  I guess I could just fake interest.

Ageing: MMMM

Sexuality:MMM

Talent: MMM

Overall: MMM 1/2

6 Helen Mirren

Age: 63

From: London, UK

Known for: Winning awards all the time.

Most awesome thing: Could be this?

The Lowdown: Where does one start when it comes to Helen Mirren?  “Cal”, “Excalibur”, “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”, “The Long Good Friday”, “Caligula”, “The Madness of King George”, “Gosford Park”, “The Queen” and “Prime Suspect”.

So her talent is not in dispute.  But how did Helen Mirren become a sex symbol in her fifties?  Her nineties role as Detective Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect” brought her to mainstream television and she followed this with Academy Award nominations for “The Madness of King George”, “Gosford Park” and – eventually – an Oscar for “The Queen”.

Described as the thinking man’s sex symbol, Mirren dresses well, speaks well, looks great, probably smells great and hasn’t spoilt herself with plastic surgery.  But she’d probably look even better if she did.

Ageing: MMMM

Sexuality:MMM

Talent: MMMMM

Overall: MMMM

5 Cher

Age: 62

From: El Centro, CA

Known for: Outrageous dominatrix-style wear of the 80s.

Most awesome thing: The Groundhog Day song.

The Lowdown: Even as a pubescent teen in the mid 80s I thought the near-naked Cher (left) was about as sexy as this.  Whether it was she, or her agent, someone got a clue.  Her future videos were way classier and the music was just as good (“Heart of Stone”, “Just Like Jesse James”, “Love and Understanding”). But she found renown as an actress too, her turns in “Mask”, “Moonstruck”, “The Witches of Eastwick” and “Suspect” well regarded.

Her face and body may be mainly cosmetically created but that’s neither here nor there.  She has a killer body, a pretty face, a great voice, charisma and a steely determination.  Frankly, she’s hot as hell.

Ageing: MMMM

Sexuality:MMMMM

Talent: MMMM

Overall: MMMM

4 Raquel Welch

Age: 68

From: Chicago, IL

Known for: It should be for her brilliant “Seinfeld” appearance in “The Summer of George”: (“If you bring it up again I will feed your genitals to a wolf”).

Most awesome thing: Are you kidding me?

The Lowdown: If Welch retired in 1966 she would be forever remembered for much-talked about roles in “One Million Years BC” and “Fantastic Voyage”.  As it was her movie career became a footnote as numerous seventies outings bombed.  She gave up trying to break the box office and ended up in TV movies like “Torch Song” and “Right to Die”.

She kept the coffers filled up by suing MGM for $15m after she was fired suddenly on the set of “Cannery Row” in 1982 but found her niche by promoting beauty products and fitness videos.

But, more relevantly, she is absolutely stunning even in her late 60s.

Ageing: MMMMM

Sexuality:MMMM

Talent: MM

Overall: MMMM 1/2

3 Goldie Hawn

Age: 62

From: Washington DC

Known for: Living with Kurt Russell for 25 years and not getting married – good for them!

Most awesome thing: It might have been a flop – and it might be a body double but “Criss Cross” gave us this.

The Lowdown: Goldie was never a consistent box-office performer.  Her first Academy recognition was in 1970 for “Cactus Flower” and she received a further nomination nine years later for “Private Benjamin”.  But around those two landmark moments were panned movies like “Lovers and Liars”, “Wildcats”, “The Out-Of-Towners” and “Housesitter”.  She found huge success in commercial hits like “Overboard”, “Bird on a Wire”, “The First Wives Club” and “The Banger Sister”.

All the while Goldie was adored in the media; sweet, approachable and charming.  She jogs with Russell and keeps herself in great shape as you can see above.  My childhood crush remains intact 25 years on.

Ageing: MMMMM

Sexuality:MMM

Talent: MMMM

Overall: MMMM

2 Suzanne Somers

Age: 61

From: San Bruno, CA

Known for: Looking like this at 61.  Phew.

Most awesome thing: Her underwear?  Maybe?

The Lowdown: I know it probably looks like I’m all about the ditzy blonde – and maybe I am.  But look at Suzanne Somers … yowza!

She made me feel all funny when playing Chrissy Snow in flare-heavy seventies sitcom “Three’s Company” (I was REALLY bummed when they replaced her with Cindy and then Terri).  And then she disappeared.

If you looked carefully you could find her advertising the thighmaster for a while in the eighties, doing some nude shots for “Playboy” and starring in early-nineties TV movie “Keeping Secrets” where she, rather easily, played herself.  Her TV comeback was in the sitcom “Step By Step” with Patrick Duffy (interestingly Duffy’s former “Dallas” co-star Ken Kercheval had starred in “Keeping Secrets” with Somers).

Anyway, I’m rambling.  Somers has made her millions peddling fashion, diet, beauty and exercise products on the Home Shopping Network and has also beaten breast cancer, choosing to be treated with mistletoe injections rather than chemotherapy.

While she has a very healthy lifestyle, she has the money to keep herself looking great.  I tell you, it’s money well spent.

Ageing: MMMMM

Sexuality:MMMMM

Talent: MMM

Overall: MMMM 1/2

1 Faye Dunaway

Age: 67

From: Bascom, FL

Known for: The female half of “Bonnie and Clyde”

Most awesome thing: An Oscar for this performance.

The Lowdown: Dunaway has suffered in Hollywood recently like many of her age (see Karen Black, above).  But the celebrated actress has made her mark with a Best Actress “gong” (??) for “Network” and nominations for “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Chinatown” (all three movies have average ratings on IMDB in excess of 8.00.

Talented and beautiful, Faye has maintained a dignified presence over all the years she has been in the public eye.  Today she comes across as bright and classy, with a confident and smouldering sexuality as you can see in this interview with Jonathan Ross.

How much do I love her?  Well I bought the film “Drunks” because she was in it.  That’s the ultimate sacrifice.

Ageing: MMMMM

Sexuality:MMMMM

Talent: MMMMM

Overall: MMMMM

Those who are just too old…

Jane Fonda, Dyan Cannon and Sophia Loren
Jane Fonda, Dyan Cannon and Sophia Loren

And the ones that will be in my list in ten years time…

Katey Sagal, Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Lena Olin, Mary McDonnell, Madonna
Katey Sagal, Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Lena Olin, Mary McDonnell, Madonna

Phwoar, eh lads??

The greatest celebrity comebacks – ever!

Huey Lewis said it best:
“Good morning little schoolgirl/Can I come home with you?”

No, sorry. That’s something else entirely. Coincidentally it’s a Huey Lewis lyric too.

No, what i meant was this:
“Hip to be a square”

When I was about 13 I actually thought he meant that it was quite trendy to be a shape that was equal on all four sides. He was of course referring to an outlook that could be construed as being both conventional or conservative in style.

To move this one step further – I’m getting there, cool it at the back – there are many people in the world of entertainment who are just not cool. They have had their moment in the sun, were popular for a while but time has moved on and they have been left looking a little, well, “square” (conventional or conservative in style rather than equal on all four yada yada yada).

But then the wheel turns full circle – and it’s cool to be those people again. It’s hip to be a square!

So just who are the top five most unlikely comeback squares of all time!?

5. Noel Edmonds
I grew up watching Noel Edmonds on childrens TV in the early 80s on “The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop”. I don’t think I actually liked the show much but Edmonds was a recognisable face who had just come off a number of years presenting Top of the Pops. He moved to an evening slot with his light-entertinment fest, “The Late, Late Breakfast Show”. It was eventually cancelled in 1986 following the accidental death of a man bungee jumping in one of the shows regular features.

He also presented the mildly-entertaining and long-running “Telly Addicts” for 13 years but his biggest success was “The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow” – which later became “Noel’s House Party” and ran from 1991 to 1998. Although remembered, perhaps unfairly for giving birth to the atrocious Mr Blobby, the show was hugely successful and surprisingly entertaining. Regular features like Wait Till I Get You Home, Gotcha and NTV were compelling viewing for several seasons. But the joke did wear thin and while the ratings did decline, Noel pulled the plug primarily because he felt it just wasn’t any good anymore.

Edmonds left the limelight and re-appeared as the subject of a 2005 TV documentary called “The Curse of Noel Edmonds” that charted his rise and fall. Edmonds had become something of a punchline for the media and people in general.

But, lo and behold, he made his incredible TV comeback in 2005 with the surprise hit, “Deal or No Deal”. He is now one of the highest-paid celebrities in television, was nominated for a BAFTA and is to return to the BBC to host “The National Lottery” show.

Comeback rating: ***
Verdict: A worthy and charismatic TV personality who deserves his second chance.
4. a-ha
It had to be. They thrilled millions of girls – and me – in the 80s before collapsing in a haze of creative struggles, declining sales and seeming apathy for their own music. After notching up four hit albums in five years the band split after a tepid response to the darker “Memorial Beach” in 1993. Morten went off to record the excellent “Wild Seed” – largely ignored outside of Norway although it did sell 500,000 copies worldwide – while Magne (the artist formely known as Mags) forged a career in painting and sculpture. The off-beat guitarist Paul (the one that no one fancied) formed an indie-rock band with his wife called Savoy and released five albums.

The band re-formed in 1998 and released “Minor Earth | Major Sky” in 2000 – selling around 2 million copies of the critically-acclaimed album. Unfortunately the UK still largely laughed at the band – memories of their embarrassing late 80s videos still fresh in their mind, no doubt with their modern-day classic track, “Summer Moved On”, charting at #33 and getting little airplay. Their second “comeback” album, “Lifelines”, was ignored in 2002 despite containing several excellent potential singles.

But something strange happened in 2006. The media, who long enjoyed turning the knife in the band, suddenly realised that they were hot property again. Established acts like Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Oasis, Keane and U2 had spent the last couple of years name-dropping a-ha as an influence and the man in the street started to become aware again.

With a flood of promotion and a loyal fanbase egging them on, a-ha made an astonishing return to the UK Top 10 for the first time since 1988 with the title track of their eighth album, “Analogue”. Since then a second single broke the top 40 (the first time they have managed two top 40 hits from the same album since recording five of them from 1988’s “Stay on These Roads”) and they have completed a successful tour of the UK. Welcome back guys!

Comeback rating: ***1/2
Verdict: Very underrated band who will some day be recognised properly as one of the pop’s most important acts.
3. Chris Tarrant
Chris Tarrant is another TV star who was rescued from oblivion by a surprise TV quiz show hit. He achieved national fame in the 70s and early 80s on the wacky kids show, “Tiswas”. I hated Tiswas. He left the show in 1981 to present an adult version of it called “O.T.T.” but it was cancelled after one series.

Tarrant then moved in to radio, presenting the Capital Radio breakfast show for 17 years while banging out some low-brow TV shows like “Tarrant on TV”, “Man O Man” and various one-off broadcasts.

But he struck gold in 1998 when he was chosen to present “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. The show was a sensation and Tarrant became the most watched man in British television. Tarrant’s pitch-perfect performances won him plaudits from every corner. His ability to come across as affable while subtly building tension for the viewers at home must rank amognst some of the most compelling viewing of recent years. After watching him present dumbed-down shows for years, it was a pleasant surprise to see him in this role. Effectively he went from being Jim Carrey to Patrick Stewart overnight.

Comeback rating: ***1/2
Verdict: Although never out of the limelight like Edmonds was, there is no British TV presenter who can boast success like he can.
2. John Travolta
“Perfect”, “The Experts”, “Chains of Gold”, “Shout”, “Eyes of an Angel”. Ever heard of those films? Not surprised. For John Travolta the 80s and early 90s consisted of light dramas and TV movies – a real come down from the glory days of “Carrie”, “Grease” “Saturday Night Fever” and, uh, “Staying Alive”. While his string of flops was punctuated by the surprise hit, “Look Who’s Talking” ($7.5m budget – $297m worldwide gross), he went and spoiled it all by starring in two unnecessary and dismal sequels.

So once again Travolta was damaged goods – a bit of joke – some might say, uncool?

Enter Quentin Tarantino, a young director who had scored an underground hit with “Reservoir Dogs”. His second movie, the ambitious “Pulp Fiction”, featured big names in Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis, rising stars like Samuel L Jackson, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth, and young credible Hollywood actors like Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz and Frank Whaley. So who does Tarantino bring in as one of the main characters?

I remember seeing the trailers for “Pulp Fiction” and shaking my head – Travolta? John “Straight to Video” Travolta? In a cool film about gangsters? But Travolta pulled off an extremely well-measured performance as the calm, stoned hitman who is having the strangest day of his life and it was onwards and upwards from there. Studios queued around the block to offer him work and he decided the best approach was to take on all comers and count the money.

He has moved around genres with different levels of success. He struck comedy gold in “Get Shorty” and political satire “Primary Colours”. When he went to the action genre, he found turkeys in “Swordfish” and “Broken Arrow” but was a guilty pleasure in the likes of the excellent “Face/Off” and “The Punisher”, and he starred in one of 1998’s most highly regarded movies, “The Thin Red Line”.

But really most of his films fall somewhere in to the “not bad” category and the likes of “Domestic Disturbance”, “She’s So Lovely”, “The General’s Daughter”, “Lucky Numbers” and “Basic” entertaining audiences, if not the critics. But Travolta is popular with audiences and he is able to wash off a flop as easily as any actor can.

If someone had said to you at the beginning of 1994 that Travolta would be one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood 12 months later, they would have quite possibly hit you very hard with an ashtray. But he was – and still is. And I’m bloody delighted about it.

Comeback rating: ****
Verdict: Can do what he likes and still be loved. As long as it’s not a sequel to “Battlefield Earth”
1. David Hasselhoff
If you were to run a brand recognition test on David Hasselhoff you would probably find that few people between the ages of 16 and 60 wouldn’t know who he is. But everyone knew him for the wrong reasons. His campy performances as Michael Knight in 1980s action series “Knight Rider” was followed by his, uh, campy performance in 1990s action series “Baywatch”.

Hasselhoff always took himself a lot more seriously than anyone else ever did and so it was not a great shock when he decided to move in to music in the mid 80s. While we looked on in amusement central Europe was lapping up the likes of “Looking For Freedom”. As the Berlin Wall came down, the track became a German anthem, reaching #1 for eight weeks. His album was #1 for three months.

Since those great moments in 1989, he has since released six platinum albums in Europe and a string of cheesy videos like “Secret Agent Man”, “Song of the Night” and “Wings of Tenderness”. Looking and listening to the videos it is hard to work out whether Hasselhoff is taking himself seriously or not. Surely he cannot be that self-unaware?

While he built a $100m fortune from his acting and singing successes his personal life has suffered. He filed for divorce from his wife of 16 years and she has levelled accusations of violent behaviour at his door while alcohol abuse allegations have followed him around recently.

But Hasselhoff has the Internet to thank for his re-invention as cult figure, “The Hoff”. He is now the focus of many fan websites that play up his campy image and he has been embraced with a loving respect by the online community. His recent pop video “Jump In My Car”, his stint as a judge on Simon Cowell’s “America’s Got Talent” TV show and his Pipex Internet adverts, have solidified his popularity. In fact Pipex have announced that their broadband connections and brand awareness have increased 50% since they hired Hasselhoff.

Key to his comeback is the fundamental change in attitude towards his own career. Where previously he tried to convince the world that he was a serious performer (he once told Brigitte Nielsen in an interview that his music made him feel like he was an “emotional doctor”) self-parodic appearances in movies like “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”, “Dodgeball” and “Eurotrip” showed that he had eased up on that vision.

Now he’s set for a brand new level of popularity with his first ever UK single, “Jump In My Car”, due out on October 2nd. A campaign from Radio 1, The Sun and the “Get Hoff To Number One” website should ensure that he’s in with a fighting chance.

And I think we should all rejoice at that.

Comeback rating: *****
Verdict: Spectacular comeback but let’s just hope that negative headlines about his personal life don’t erase all the great work.

Anyone else think of a great comeback from someone who wasn’t considered cool anymore??

I miss the comfort in being sad

Picture 10.jpgSeeing as how I accidentally went all Kurt Cobain recently I thought I’d share a few thoughts about the great man himself.

As was the case for many of us – well those of us lucky enough to be old/young enough to experience his music first hand – I first heard Kurt screaming his way through “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I flicked on MTV one day in 1991 (back when it played music) and I saw the last thirty seconds of a rather raucous music video.

It was probably a few days later when I bought “Nevermind” without hearing anything about it. The fact that I had just bought one of the most defining albums of my lifetime was unknown to me at the time.

“Nevermind” might have been about Kurt’s tortured soul but since so little was known about him the messages in the music flew over a lot of fans heads. “Lithium” was a catchy sing-a-long – nothing to do with a drug treatment for depressives. “Polly” was obviously not about a parrot but only on closer inspection could you work out the disturbing nature of the subject matter. Only when stories of Kurt’s depression and drug addiction started to hit the papers did the likes of me begin to interpret his lyrics a different way.

Nirvana’s third studio album, “In Utero”, was more alternative and disturbing again. The lyrical obtuseness of songs like “Scentless Apprentice” (“I lie in the soil and fertilize mushrooms/Leaking out gas fumes are made into perfume”) and “Pennyroyal Tea” (“Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/So I can sigh eternally”) still split fans to this day on exactly what Kurt was writing about. Regardless of who is debating you will find that the same topics come up – self-loathing, abortion, depression, suicide. As perverse as it is, Kurt’s ticking time-bomb lifestyle led him to write some absolutely incredible music and lyrics.

To me Kurt Cobain was a genius. I’m not fortunate enough to have experienced Presley, Lennon or Hendrix first hand but for me Kurt deserves to be put on a pedestal with those greats. From the rabid punk of (brilliant) debut record “Bleach” to the intimate acoustic set from “Unplugged in New York”, he succeeded at everything he tried. Except being happy, of course. And just like any other human, Kurt desperately wanted to be happy.

If you want a great read about Kurt, try this book from Charles Cross.

I also wrote a piece on him for a radio broadcast journalism assignment. It’s written in the form of a radio script and I eventually recorded it and aired it on college radio.

And for a bit of a laugh, how about Weird Al Yankovic’s “Smells Like Nirvana” parody – a version that Kurt gave the thumbs up to himself.