News Archive: January 2004 - June 2004


Greetings keen Kenians... she says, heading out the door for a wee stay in Liverpool, yeah, yeah, yeah. My pal tells me I'm missing Sir Paul doing a Q&A at the Liverpool Institute of the Performing Arts by a week. There was a time (way too long ago) when I would have been distraught about this, but I'm all grown up now - I only get suicidal if I miss a Branagh Q&A. Heh heh.

Feeling guilty about all this travelling (believe me, it's just happy chance and 'carpe diem', the lottery ticket was not a winner), I made the effort to make the Newpics section somewhat newer, by moving into it all the photos from the News below. The photo galleries need tons of work, but that will be later...

Newsbits:

The film museum in Bradford has a web page up for A Month in the Country. The website is here. you can purchase tickets for the event which is on 27 June at 2 p.m.

There's an article about MI3 getting permission to film around the Reichstag after all (you can read the whole article here and it has this interesting line:

"Mission: Impossible 3, released in 2005, begins shooting this summer in Berlin, Los Angeles, Toronto and the Belgian city of Antwerp."
So, you know where to plan your holidays.   :-)

And, photo finish: from Rabbit-Proof Fence; from How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog; and from Shackleton.

See you in the third week of June! (Oh yeah, some loser keeps hacking the Guestbook, so it has gone bye-bye for a while...)
(8 June, thanks Jude)


So... you will remember that Kenneth Branagh was "up for auction" (so to speak) in the Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation charity auction... you probably won't remember my throw-away comment that "the last bid shown on the website stood at £2,200, but there was a live auction ending and who knows what might have happened". Indeed. We're not talking £3,500 or even £6,750... but a whopping £10,600! My goodness...that's about £88 a minute, which, actually, as anyone who has seen lots of KB chat interviews knows, is not disproportionate with how quickly and entertainingly Kenneth talks.  :-)

But if you're impressed by that... there's more. The chance to talk Shakespeare with the "reincarnation of Shakespeare" (a quote from my kiddie's secondary school English teacher, who had Eastern roots and didn't say this lightly) was hotly contested, with two aspirants 'pounding' it out together to the £10,000 mark. But there were no tears of disappointment for the next highest bidder, thanks to the very generous Mr. Branagh, who offered to donate a second masterclass - coincidentally bringing his contribution to the auction total to 50%!  I think he should be quite popular at the Foundation.  :-)

And here's an article from icBerkshire.co.uk, 13 May 2004... a bit focused on Robin Gibb, but we'll forgive that.   :-)

Bee Gee Tea Under Hammer

Exclusive By Francis Batt

Legendary Bee Gee Robin Gibb made a sentimental journey back to the days of his youth on Friday and raised nearly £4,000 to help cancer patients. The pop superstar made a special appearance at an auction held at Englemere in Ascot for the Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation. He had agreed to have tea with a successful bidder and this lot alone raised £3,900. Robin mingled with excited bidders and said: "It is great to be back in Ascot, this really was my stamping ground in earlier days. My children Spencer and Melissa were born in Heatherwood Hospital." Robin said he was delighted so many people wanted to have tea with him, but admitted: "If I was able to choose who I would like to have tea with it would be Sir Bob Geldof. At least I would not have to dress up."

Robin was not the only star to give something to the auction. Actor Kenneth Branagh donated the chance of a one to one acting masterclass. There was also a rugby ball signed by the England 2003 World Cup-winning squad, a chance for a round of golf with former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher or a visit to GMTV as a guest of Lorraine Kelly. The Branagh master-class attracted bids of up to £10,600 and the whole auction raised £30,275.

David Knights, General Manager of the Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation, said: "This is the first time we have used an auction of this size to fund-raise and we have been amazed by the results. We have been taking bids online, by post and phone since March and have been staggered by the reach our auction has had. "We have received bids from as far afield as Russia and Los Angeles. But nothing prepared us for the amazing generosity that was shown on the night. We had telephone bidding for Robin's lot from Canada and two bidders who were prepared to pay more than £10,000 for Mr Branagh's lot. "Robin's lot was hotly contested and we are so grateful to him for giving his time."

The Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation runs a hospice in the grounds of Ascot's Heatherwood Hospital only five minute's walk from where the auction was held. It provides 3,750 places a year for patients. It is independent and relies on fund-raising, needing to make more than three quarters of a million pounds a year. More than half comes from its charity shops in the community.

Meanwhile, wearing another hat, that of Honorary President of the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, Kenneth apparently was in Cannes, to publicise a cartload of money which will finance films made in NI over the next few years. Of course, the banausig (I never knew there was an English version of this word until I read Stephen Fry...on the other hand, Stephen Fry really needs to get the German bits in his books edited for grammar and spelling, not to mention that he should try to get the name of Hitler's birthplace correct when it's repeated a million times in his book - been wanting to get that off my chest for ages - oh, and it's Zapruder, not Zapruda... his publisher needs new editors) - where were we? ah, yes, the banausig (aka philistine) photographers didn't take any photos, or didn't manage to get them noticed beside those of Charlize Theron, heh heh. As a poor substitute, here's an article from the BBC with the details:

Boost for NI film industry

Northern Ireland's future as a film making centre is getting a major boost with the announcement at the Cannes film festival of a cash injection of £2m for six new movies. The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission (NIFC) is revealing its plans in France for the films which are expected to be shot in the province within the next year. The money is provided by Invest Northern Ireland to develop the industry, and £5.5m is to be spent over the next three years. It is anticipated that the production fund will attract more film makers to use Northern Ireland locations as well as skilled local workers.

One recent movie partly filmed in the province was Blind Flight, the story of the Beirut hostages Brian Keenan and John McCarthy.

One of the main beneficiaries is 'Closing the Ring', which is being directed and co-produced by Lord Attenborough. Although the £500,000 grant is a mere fraction of the film's expected £13.5m cost, it is enough to ensure some of the filming is done in Northern Ireland.

Another £500,000 is going to a film version of the hit play 'Stones in his Pockets'. Four smaller films will each receive £250,000.

NIFC Chief Executive Richard Williams said five of the six films featured Northern Ireland in their storylines. "We're in the business of encouraging people to shoot here, to exploit our locations, to use our crews and spend money in our towns and cities," he said.

The film commission has virtually decamped to Cannes for the festival. Its honorary president, the Belfast-born actor and director, Kenneth Branagh, has travelled with them.

"The important thing is that it allows Northern Ireland to form partnerships with all sorts of international production companies," he said. "One of the main things it's trying to do is get international co-productions into the province. "For the price of what the Northern Ireland Film Commission has invested, the potential for those films to spend much more in Ireland is huge."

International marketplace

Although £2m is a pittance in film making budget terms, it can still be a big attraction, and another £3.5m will be made available over the next few years. The commission's chairman, Colin Anderson, says they are expecting to find themselves popular in Cannes with film makers desperate for funding. "This is the first time that Northern Ireland has had the opportunity of going to the Cannes film festival and say something really positive," he said. "We are going to say 'we've got money and we want to give it to you'. "We want to give it in a way which will make them want to invest in Northern Ireland, as we are out to compete on the international marketplace."

As well as celebrating the production funding, Northern Ireland film makers are in France to try to sell locally-made movies. These include 'Freeze Frame', which was filmed in Crumlin Road jail, and 'Mickeybo and Me', filmed around Belfast.

FILMS BEING FUNDED
'Closing the Ring' directed by Lord Attenborough - £500,000
Film version of the Marie Jones play 'Stones in his Pockets' - £500,000
'Valhalla' by Pearse Elliot, about a Belfast greyhound owner - £250,000
'Baby Baby' by Scott Morgan, about 3 Belfast women in a girl band - £250,000
'Middletown' by Michael Casey, about a preacher who returns to Mid Ulster - £250,000
'Next Stop Paradise' from Lars Von Trier's production company about an old people's home - £250,000

And another quote from Ken:
"NIFTC Honorary President Kenneth Branagh praised the financial boost. He said 'It's fantastic that film production in Northern Ireland is becoming a reality. These films have a rich value for Northern Ireland culturally and economically and show that we have much to offer the world of film.'"
In one of those weird 'let's take old news and make it new and see if anyone notices' things this story ran in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago:
Clifford's Chance

Mallory Clifford, the sharp-suited, perma-tanned developer best known for attempting to demolish the Mermaid Theatre in the City, has discovered an artistic bent. Despite promising to donate £6m to the arts, his scheme to redevelop Puddle Dock, which contains the Mermaid, was rejected after the thesps became hysterical. We learn, however that - via an introduction from his enterprising hairdresser - Clifford has cuddled up to Ken Branagh and is bankrolling the renaissance man's new short film. Bravo Clifford, and we pray you discovered your cinematic enthusiasm before the chancellor squeezed those lucrative tax breaks.

The 'new' short film is (was?) Listening, which was shown at a number of festivals in 2003.

And over in Max Factor's corner... photos of a patient-looking Kenneth during make-up tests for The Proposition. The photos were sold when Transformations FX Studio in North Carolina was "de-accessioning" prior to a move. The photos are a bit wavy so there are some reflections from the scanning, but here they are: 1) The cassock, and the glasses, fit...; 2) I know what's coming... ; 3) Who was it that said it isn't easy being green?; and 4) one with a real caption: "Aged 25 years by makeup artist Jeff Goodwin, 1998". Let's remember to compare in 2023.  :-)

And just as we go to press...(press the save text key), a note to let us know that

"Kenneth Branagh has very kindly donated a signed hand drawing and Harry Potter promo picture to auction in aid of the National Autistic Society. All hand drawings received are being put up for auction at Tolworth in Surrey on the 20th June."
Details are available on the website at www.essentiallydarrenhayes.co.uk. Prices may not spiral quite as high as for the masterclass, but go for it!
(29 May, thanks Jude, Jane, Karen, Isabel, Rose and Jill)


Hi gang - mostly bits and pieces today... here goes...

From The Daily Mail, 16 April 2004:

"Kenneth Branagh is among the stars who want to appear in the second series of ITV's brilliant new sketch show, The All Star Comedy Show. The actor is an admirer of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, who star in and and make the show with Steve Coogan. Others who want to appear include Friends star Matthew Perry and James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan. The cast of the first series, which starts at the end of the month, reads like a Who's Who of comedy. Look out for hilarious performances by Coogan, Ronnie Ancona and Ronnie Corbet, plus an appearance by Patsy Kensit."
There will be an event centred around J.L. Carr and his novel A Month in the Country. It will be held in Bradford, West Yorkshire on 27 June. The film of the novel, with Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh, will be shown at National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford (a rare treat and recommended to anyone who can get there). The great news is that there will also be a DVD release of the film through CinemaClub (which distributes through Amazon). We'll keep you posted on this.

A gentleman called Glyn Watkins has been working hard to organise this event. He will be launching a book of poetry and pictures, Walburgas, which was inspired by J.L. Carr. Click to view draft poster for the event (with an amusing comment about Walburgas).

How to pique ambition (forget that "what a genius you are now that you've graduated from pre-school" stuff :-))...

From Contact Music via Wizard News, 7 May 2004:

Drama teacher Rold Kenneth Branagh He Didn't Have It

British actor Kenneth Branagh found his head teacher at drama school was not as confident in his acting ability as he was.

Branagh, who plays Gilderoy Lockhart in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', recalls his blunt teacher felt he lacked all the necessary "ingredients" needed to become a great actor.

Branagh explains, "Early on he told me, 'There are three ingredients of great acting, Kenneth - there's passion, there's poetry and there's humour. You've got the passion, you've got a little bit of the humour but you haven't got any poetry.'

"I found that terribly wounding. But he said it with a laugh, adding, 'You might find it, I don't know - but that's why you are here, isn't it?'"

This story might come from a forthcoming radio broadcast entitled "RADA - One Hundred Years On", which will be aired on BBC 4 on 20 May at 11:30 a.m. in celebration of the 100th anniversary of The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Here is the blurb:
First of three programmes in which Adrian Lester follows two students as they train in the country's foremost drama school and compares their lives with those of their illustrious predecessors including Lord Attenborough, Kenneth Branagh, Glenda Jackson, Richard Briers and Richard Wilson.
And this is a blurb from this week's Radio Times:
"Take three Dickies (Attenborough, Briers and Wilson), throw in a Ken and a Glen (Branagh and Jackson), mix with a teacher imploring his class to touch their partner's heart with their eyes and you'd think you'd have a cocktail for Private Eye's Luvvies column. In fact, this is the start of a fascinating series on the history of Rada. So put aside the desire to cringe when today's students mix animal impersonations with nonsense words and, instead, let Adrian Lester (of Hustle fame) help illustrate this venerable institution's history in a much more palatable fashion."
Hey, I'm already hooked... and it might even come over the Internet before I have to head out to the salt mine (I need to get clued into what you can hear live - there are bits of my 'Grundkultur' that haven't made it into the 21st century).

The BBC Online has an article about illustrious RADA alumni here. This is the bit about Kenneth:

Kenneth Branagh was born in Belfast in 1960, but his family moved to Reading in Berkshire in 1969.
He was accepted at Rada in 1979 and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company when he graduated three years later.
Branagh went on to direct and star in film adaptations of the Bard's work, including Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) and Love's Labour's Lost (2000).
He returned to the London stage last year - after an 11-year absence - in David Mamet's play Edmond at the National Theatre.
He is well-known to younger fans as Gilderoy Lockhart in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
If you weren't able to repeat all that from memory then you need to visit this site more often. Visit the BBC article for some nice photos of the actors, you'll love Joan Collins! (KB is pictured topless-in-a-jacket as Edmond.)

Kenneth is featured in a new website devoted to British Cinema Greats - check it out at www.britishcinemagreats.com.

If you happen to be the person who managed to grab two hours of Shakesperian frolic (only of the highbrow sort!) with KB in the Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation auction please feel free to give us a blow-by-blow account of what you learnt (along with details of wardrobe, length of hair, turns of phrase, pearls of wisdom, etc. etc.) after the great day. The last bid shown on the website stood at £2,200.00, but there was a live auction ending and who knows what might have happened. :-)

I won't even begin to apologise for the dismal state of the photo updates on this site - my offense is rank. But I optimistically continue to think I will be able to get things done in a timely fashion... one day. In the (endless) meantime, here is a snap of the general with the ladies from Wild, Wild West and Hamlet with the sword, from the Barbican in 1992.
(11 May, thanks Jude, Meluchie, Beck, Catherine, Peter, Giovanna)

Naturally, the "no news" desert gets rained on just when I have to be a horribly impolite guest and hog das Komputer to keep y'all informed... but not a mission impossible, heh heh. Terrible intro to let you know that the multiplex is about to offer enriched fare, with KB joining the cast of Mission Impossible III (3 or Three). Let the punning begin:

From the Hollywood Reporter, 27 April 2004

'Impossible' assignment for Branagh

By Liza Foreman

Kenneth Branagh is joining Tom Cruise and Carrie-Anne Moss in "Mission: Impossible 3" for C/W Prods. and Paramount Pictures.

Branagh, who recently appeared in a London production of David Mamet's play "Edmund" and the feature film "Five Children and It," has signed on for the spy action-adventure. Although there is an expectation that he will be unmasked as one of the villains, few details were available on the character Branagh will play.

Further casting is under way on the sequel, which is due to go into production in late summer. Although there has been speculation that Philip Seymour Hoffman would be joining the cast, that possibility has apparently ended because of a scheduling conflict.

Frank Darabont is penning the script for the third installment of the blockbuster, which Joe Carnahan will direct.

In the feature, Cruise will reprise his role as agent Ethan Hunt.

Branagh's other recent credits include "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Conspiracy" and "Rabbit-Proof Fence."

He is repped by Judy Hofflund of managers Hofflund/Polone.

And another article.....

From Variety, 27 April 2004

Branagh on 'Mission'

Par taps thesp for third 'Impossible' outing
By Dave McNary

Paramount Pictures has tapped Kenneth Branagh to star opposite Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible 3."

British thesp joins Carrie-Anne Moss and Ving Rhames in the cast of the action franchise sequel, expected to start lensing this summer for a May 2005 release.

"Narc" director Joe Carnahan will helm "M:I 3," to be produced by Cruise and Paula Wagner via their Par-based C/W Prods. Cruise will again portray agent Ethan Hunt.

Branagh recently starred in Capitol Films' "Five Children and It," an adaptation of the Edith Nesbit novel, with Zoe Wanamaker and Freddie Highmore. He was nominated for actor and director Oscars for "Henry V" and for adapted screenplay for "Hamlet."

Writers on "Mission: Impossible 3" have included Dean Georgaris, Robert Towne, Dan Gilroy and Frank Darabont. Paramount grossed $1 billion worldwide from the first two "Mission: Impossible" films.

Cool. Big bucks, I hope... always useful for the pet projects we can't wait to see realised. In other news, the Guestbook has disappeared again - but this time it has to be lost in its own home, and genius here can't remember the password (and no, I have not been having my own vacation Oktoberfest), so apologies for now, in case you were dying to write fulsome praise for The Golden One.
(28 April, thanks Mercedes, FilmLover)


Okay..doing a news update while packing: bad idea. Yuou get things wrong. Important things... like the fact that yuou can vote for Kenneth as "Britain's finest actor" until April 30!!  But don't delay - vote now. (Meanwhile, I'll try not to let yet another keyboard format send me round the bend. Québécois at work, English at home, and now a German one... is this kind of brain-hand coordination thing good for warding off Alzheimer's, at least?).
(24 April, thanks Jane)


Hi Kenites - once more it's time to get the vote out! The Radio Times is having a kind of survey with a prize. You get to vote for things like "What is Britain's finest natural wonder?" or "What is Britain's finest national treasure?", and most importantly "Who is Britain's finest actor?"... a fab list which includes Kenneth Branagh (who might well have also been listed in the Finest Natural Wonder or Finest National Treasure category, heh heh). You can visit here: www.radiotimes.com/content/competitions/britainsfinest/ and vote (and possibly win an "all-expenses-paid family weekend for four in London"). The closing date is - alas - 23 April, which might be when you are reading this, so click on the link immediately and vote. I've been away without computer access and am about to go away again, so this is very late notice - sorry!

Here is an article about the competition:

Hunt to Find Nation's Favourite Thespian
By Tom Whitehead, PA News

The hunt is on to find Britain's greatest actor and actress as the public are urged to name their favourite star. Legendary names Lord Olivier, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Dame Elizabeth Taylor are among an elite list of 20 thespians drawn up by a panel of experts.

And now the public must choose the best in a poll, after which the winners will be announced on a TV special in the summer. The vote is being run by Radio Times as part of the channel Five's Britain's Finest programmes to be broadcast in August.

Film critic Barry Norman, who was a member of the panel, said: "We were looking for people who have proved themselves not just once or twice but time and time again. "We are talking about strength and talent and ability and I think most of those on the list answer that criteria." Mr Norman said enduring appeal was the key and not Oscar winning ability or film stardom. "You do not have to be a good actor to win an Oscar," he said. He said he was also not surprised that the majority of the list are "oldies" with few contemporary stars because those being shortlisted had to have proved their ability over time.

A spokesman for Radio Times said: "It is rare to have such an eclectic mix of golden age stars and contemporary stars and it will be interesting to see who people pip for." The list appears in this week's Radio Times and on the website www.radiotimes.com/britainsfinest

The shortlist is:

Men
Lord Laurence Olivier, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Alec Guinness, Charles Laughton, Sir John Gielgud, Peter Sellers, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cary Grant, Sir Ian McKellen and Kenneth Branagh.

Women
Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Vanessa Redgrave, Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Dame Helen Mirren, Deborah Kerr, Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn.

The description for Kenneth is: "Incredibly versatile, he's led the new generation of British actors at home and abroad".

Yup.

While we're on the subject of leading... here's an amusing piece which is accompanied by a pugnaciously amusing cartoon.

The Guardian, 5 April 2004
By Frederique Roussel

The New Battle of Agincourt

The english attack at Agincourt on October 25 1415, was unrelenting. In this little Pas-de-Calais village of 290 souls, the English archers, led by Henry V, rained arrows upon the French knights and won a decisive victory in the Hundred Years War. Nearly six centuries after the scenes that inspired Shakespeare, a new battle is being joined in the village of present-day Azincourt. A plan to install four 80m-high wind turbines within sight of the battlefield is causing something of a stir.

"The english were on the left, towards Maisoncelles, and were heading for Calais when they came face to face with the French. Although exhausted and hungry, they still won through, by firing off 10 to 12 arrows a minute." Patrick Fenet has lived a stone's throw from the battlefield for 30 years. he has soaked up the history of the area and quotes Shakespeare in the original. A youth worker, he even gives lessons in the longbow, the legendary weapon of the Welsh archers. He is also one of the most passionate opponents of the project. He points an accusing finger at the virtual masts, then the high-voltage pylons that have already been spoiling the scenery since 1983. "One transgression doesn't justify another," he blurts out. Fenet indicates, behind him, the last resting place of 6,000 combatants who might also be up in arms about it.

The bulk of the resistance to the wind farm, however, comes from Monmouth, the Welsh town where Henry V was born. A petition, which considers that "it would be tragic if today's planners were allowed to desecrate the area, destroy history and ruin a key part of Anglo/Welsh/French heritage", has to date collected 600 signatures, 500 of them British. It is hoped that Kenneth Branagh, an unforgettable performer of Henry V, may be enlisted in the crusade.

It was a landowner from Azincourt who, off his own bat, decided to offer one of his fields to SIIF Energie. A subsidiary of Electricite de France, specialising in renewable energy, SIIF offers ?5,000 (£3,2000) per wind turbine per year, over 15 years. It plans to put four wind turbines on this site, the closest of which is more than a kilometre from the battlefield. The town council has recommended the planning application and the process is now taking its course.

The battlefield itself, about 5 square kilometres, has no protection or conservation designation; just a sign saying, "You are on the battlefield of Agincourt." Eighty percent of its 32,000 annual visitors are British tourists, tramping across and trying to imagine the clash of two armies that rainy day in 1415. "They come to breathe the air breathed by their ancestors," says Claude Delcusse, director of the medieval centre. "They come to see by what mircale a ragged band of English crushed the French nobility." When it comes to the English opinion on the Azincourt wind farm, his tone is less affable. "What's it got to do with them?"

And... while we're talking about fighting the good fight, another random mention of our Ken:
Byrd Unfazed by Golota Flap
By Tim Smith New York Daily News, 27 March 2004

After he won the IBF heavyweight title, Chris Byrd thought his boxing career would accelerate. He figured there would be no lack of opponents who would want to meet him for a shot at the title.

It hasn't turned out that way. It has become harder for Byrd to get matches. So, pardon Byrd if he doesn't share the same righteous indignation that many have about his bout against Andrew Golota on April 17 at Madison Square Garden. Byrd, Don King and the IBF have been castigated for allowing Golota to fight for a world championship.

"I don't care what people think. I don't care what they say," Byrd said last week. "I was getting ready to fight Derrick Jefferson. Before that, I was going to fight Gerald Nobles. Are they any more worthy than Andrew Golota?' "If I was to fight George Foreman coming out of retirement they wouldn't say anything. There have been lawyers for boxers coming forward to say I shouldn't be fighting Golota. Where were they three or four months ago (with their clients) when I needed a fight? Why didn't they step up then?"

Byrd has decided to take a positive approach to a promotion that has become a public firestorm. The behind-the-scenes bickering that went on to make the match is more bitter than anything that's been said about the match itself. "I have promoted between 500 and 600 championship fights in my career, and this is the most difficult promotion I've ever been involved in," King said. King added that he can deal with the outcry from those outside of the promotion, but charged that Byrd's lawyer, John Hornewer, has worked to undermine the bout. King cast Byrd in the role of Othello, and painted Hornewer as the treacherous Iago.

"As long as I can play it as well as (British actor) Kenneth Branagh, I'm happy," Hornewer said.

"He has worked against the promotion from day one," King said. "Not only that, but he went about poisoning the well by getting (the media) to go against the fight."

Can you tell we're dragging the lakes looking for news?  :-)

Random notes: The Region 2 (UK and Europe) DVD of Look Back in Anger, directed by Dame Judi Dench and starring Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Gerard Horan and Siobhan Redmond, was released on 19 April.

And the Hamlet saga has another new twist...there appears to be a Russian edition DVD available (how did that happen?). You can read about it (if your Cyrillic is up to it) here. According to a Ken-Friend (whose Cyrillic is up to it) the DVD features subtitles in Russian and Estonian. Clearly the Russians are far smarter than Warner Brothers... maybe not more legal, but they know a market when they see one.   :-)

Good news for Spanish fans: a new site with news and more at El Rincòn de Kenneth!

Photo finish: Hand on Chin and Chin on Hand.

I'm off to beautiful Bavaria and beloved Bergamo for a quickie visit to amenable (i.e. they'll feed and house me) relatives and friends. Hoping there will be lots of news to post when I get back.
(22 April, thanks Catherine, Anna, Jacqueline, Giulia, Isabel, Jude)


Very quick update... the site for The Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation charity auction is A-okay again and now you can click to see all the lots up for bidding (and the one that stands out, of course). To make this even easier, you'll find a link straight to the lots from this page. Ken is now going for £330.00... how much is 'barding with Branagh' worth to you?
(5 April, thanks Marcus)


Hi Kenians - just a quick news item for those of you with deep pockets and to stoke the imaginations of those without... :-)

Kenneth will once again be up for auction. No, you won't be able to take him home to meet your mum, but you could potentially blow him away with your acting prowess and pick up tips from the master. Or just make him recite sonnets for two hours... uhm, actually, I don't think this would fly, but it's fun to think about. The charity auction is being held for The Paul Bevan Cancer Foundation, and here's what the blurb says:

to be or not to be (lot number 33)
2 hour Shakespeare Acting Masterclass with Kenneth Branagh

A unique opportunity to meet and work with one of Britain's most respected actors and directors, Kenneth Branagh. In this two hour masterclass you will have the opportunity to discuss and act a scene from Shakespeare either as a soliloquy or a two hander with Mr Branagh. You will get to find out what makes the scene work and how to get the most out of the writing. In addition you will receive a Complete Works of Shakespeare which Mr Branagh will sign.

It says that the current bid is £300.00, but it said that last week, and the links to the auction from within the site are not working, so perhaps they need to auction off the webmaster (for free) and get a new one. For this same reason I can't tell you what other goodies might be there, not that anything could top two Shakesperian hours with Mr. B! Kenneth has done this kind of auction before, in 2002 he offered a masterclass in a Chivas Regal-organised event, with the proceeds going to the UK 'Over the Wall Gang' (and, one hopes, at least a bottle of Chivas going to him :-) ).

So this is the link to the blurb and the bidding: http://www.paulbevan.org/Auction/ItemView.aspx?ID=46. Go for it (you can always remortgage the house). :-)

I think there are a couple other small items (messy desk!), so I'll be back soon.
(1 April, thanks Jude)


Back again... I cannot believe I forgot to post this very amusing news item from a month ago! (I hope there are no subliminal censorship vibes being radiated my way!)  Anyway, this is probably as close as we'll get to "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll" in Ken news (except for the odd, and always unsubstantiated [sigh], rumour), so enjoy!

Daily Mail, 23 February 2004
by Richard Kay

Much Ado About Speeding

While Emma Thompson has been setting London's transformation from matron to sex kitten, what of her ex-husband Kenneth Branagh? The actor and director - who starred in his own film version of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' - caused sinners at a workshop for speeders to do a double-take when he strode in and took a seat. The 43-year-old Belfast-born trouper - who married his girlfriend, art director Lindsay Brunnock, last year - paid £65 for the three-hour session run by Thames Valley Police in Crowthorne, Berkshire, near his parents' home in Reading.

A source tells me: 'The police offer you the course if you are just a bit over the limit, say 35mph in a 30mph limit, as an alternative to getting three points on your licence.'You have to sit in front of a computer screen clicking a mouse, reacting to dangerous situations on a simulation.'

Branagh's spokesman says with a huff: 'He did attend the course. And, no, he hasn't lost his licence.'

In 'eat your heart out' news: Last weekend there was a film festival in Bradford, England and Hamlet was shown in all its 70mm glory in the curved-screen Pictureville cinema. Cinematographer Alex Thomson gave a talk after the screening.

A couple of new photos: singing with Peter and friends and taking a break in the Wild, Wild West.
(23 March, thanks Catherine, Michael, Lida, Jude)


Good show for Kenneth for 'doing the right thing'. All that computer stuff sounds like good training for future speeding rather than a deterrent - but maybe you get a shock off the mouse if you get too cocky, heh heh.

Greetings Ken-kids! It is snowing here in the True North Strong and Free - winter will never end.... course, I'm sure there are Ken fans somewhere who are wilting in the heat, so I won't complain (more than I already have).

Has he switched to 'Gitanes'? Apparently Kenneth Branagh is recording Albert Camus's L'Étranger for BBC Audio - en anglais, though ('The Outsider'). We can all brush up our Existentialism. :-)

On the occasion of St. Patrick's Day (which I always take advantage of to get a fix of men in skirts with bagpipes - how sweet it is - we have a parade here that has taken place continuously for the last 180 years) there was an article in various papers of the Courrier Press. The article seems to have disappeared from the web, but here is the pertinent bit for this site:

Greenspeak: The Irish talk about their best qualities
By LUAINE LEE
March 10, 2004

Changes "Henry" Potter to Harry throughout

It's the wearin' of the green, spilling out the blarney and telling fanciful stories that makes everybody Irish on St. Patrick's Day.

But what is it about the Irish that makes them so beguiling? Why are they the great poets, actors, authors? If you ask some of the most famous folk of Eire, they're eager to tell you:
[snip]
- Kenneth Branagh, ("Henry V," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,") was born in Belfast. He says, "There's an ultimate certainty about not taking yourself too seriously which is not to say that one can't employ seriousness of purpose about all sorts of things, but there are just times when it's (better to laugh). . . .The Vikings came in, then Cromwell came in and walked all over us. The British tried to mangle our culture like they did many other cultures globally. Somehow the Irish had a sort of lyricism about it - 'Oh, don't worry about it, let's go have a drink or sing a song. . . .' You feel it in the people. They are great survivors."

Social (action) notes:
Press Release-Issued by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE)
23rd/February/2004

Hands Up for Integrated Education
Barry McGuigan and Pat Jennings are flying into Northern Ireland on Friday 27th February, specially to lend their support to a campaign being run by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), to celebrate Integrated Education Week 2004, Monday March 1st- Friday March 5th The campaign, themed Learning to be Friends, is built around NICIEs handprint logo, which is synonymous with friendship.

The two sporting legends will be at Forge Integrated Primary School, Belfast on Friday 27th February 2004 at 10.30am to kick-start the week. In a style reminiscent of celebrity handprints, on LAs Hollywood Boulevard, the former boxer and goalie will make plaster of paris casts of their famous sporting hands. In addition, hand drawn handprints from celebrities, such as Joanna Lumley, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Irvine, Gloria Hunniford, Daniel ODonnell, Nick Ross, Sinead Cusack and Lawrie Sanchez, which have been sent in support of the campaign, will be on display.

And the epic saga continues... here's the latest information on the Hamlet DVD: Warner Home Video did an online chat recently and this was one of the questions:
Q: [cosimotorello] hello, i was asking about the Kenneth Brannah (sic) version of Hamlet? Will it have any SE?

A: Legal issues preclude our releasing the Branagh HAMLET at the moment.

At the end of the transcript (available here) there are various lists of releases and wannabe-releases, and the depressing news is that Hamlet is listed under "No plans for release at this time". SIGH. Course, this might not be really bad news (I'm a glass half-full type)... maybe when the legal issues get worked out the DVD will include a director's commentary. Cross everything - except your eyes ("they'll stay like that").  :-)

But here is a photo which will give some consolation (wink,wink): Thanks for the directions, but you'll catch your death!.

(21 March, thanks Jude, Beck, Michael)


Greetings Kenthusiasts! There hasn't been a whole lot of KB news, which is a perfect fit with my life, which has been less than dull lately (one needs to be kept on one's toes, they say). However, my trusty gang of eagle-eyed newshounds have found a few little things to tell you about.

Unfortunately Kenneth did not win the Olivier Award for Best Actor, but the nomination was nice and those of us lucky enough to see Edmond were actually the ones who got the prize. :-)

There has been a great new article about Kenneth from The Student Newspaper, which as far as I can tell is out of Edinburgh. You'll find out what KB does on a Friday night...  :-)

There is now an Edmond postcard available in the Bookshop at the National Theatre. You can get more information (but not an image of the postcard) from the National Theatre website.

Here's the end paragraph of an article on Edward Hall and his all-male cast staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream, from The New York Times Magazine , 7 March 2004:

Still, Hall isn't doctrinaire; as he demonstrated in his recent London production of David Mamet's "Edmond," starring Kenneth Branagh, he is as adept in other styles. What he seems to do in any genre is slide below the skin of received opinion and work at the cellular level, cracking the DNA code of the text and replicating it onstage. So don't expect to see any pointy hats (or other cliches of 1950's medievalism) when he directs the Broadway revival of "Camelot" planned for fall. And don't expect Propeller-style casting, either. Which may be a shame: after all, Branagh as Guinevere is a concept that might be worth the hundred bucks.
Heh, heh... for a soupçon of what Kenneth as Guinivere might look like here's a rerun of Pretty in Pink from The Play What I Wrote.  :-)

And finally, the region 2 (Europe) DVD of LOOK BACK IN ANGER (starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, directed by Judi Dench in 1989) will be released on 19 April 2004.

Just one photo today, but a lovely one...

That's it for now - doing the 'let there be news' dance till next time. :-)
(7 March, thanks Beck, Nadine, Jude)


Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to all who voted! Kenneth Branagh has won the Theatregoers' Choice Awards at What'sonstage.com. Yay! You can go here to read all about it, see percentages, etc. Here is Kenneth's "Acceptance":

"I'm absolutely delighted to receive this award. The audiences at the National through the whole of the £10 season were quite remarkable. To have their vote is truly rewarding. On behalf of my fellow cast members, who know they share this recognition, thank you to theatregoers all over!"
Those who saw the play will be glad to hear that Nicola Walker also won, as Best Supporting Actress in a Play... and Edmond won the award for Best Play Revival. Congrats to all.

Other good news: the transcript from the Question & Answer session held after the showing of Listening in Bristol is available on the Bristol Silents website. Warning: if you haven't seen the film there are spoilers in this transcript!

So, he hasn't made the cover of Rolling Stone yet (those Fishmongers have got to open the garage door when they practice!) but our Kenneth has 100 covers to his name on this site! Here is one from 1989: Henry V holding a knife the way you shouldn't. The publication had another photo of Kenneth and Paul Scofield. And the latest cover, from a supplement of the Radio Times. The accompanying article is here, or in the news below.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!
(14 February, thanks Yvonne, Catherine, Jude)


Apologies for not providing the "weekly fix" that is my ideal for this site - too much cavorting with friends and relatives and the Day Job... mea culpa. But I will try to make amends!

First of all, the news from July to December 2003 has moved to the News & Notes Archive.

The big news is that Kenneth has been nominated for a 2004 Laurence Olivier Award as Best Actor for "Edmond". The other nominations are Roger Allam for "Democracy", Greg Hicks for "Coriolanus", Matthew Kelly for "Of Mice and Men" and Michael Sheen for "Caligula". The ceremony will take place on 22 February at the Hilton, Park Lane. Apparently the BBC has "reevaluated its arts programming" and will not be showing the awards. Harrumph! I'll have to take back the favourable comments about the Beeb made here a few weeks ago.

In random news: considering there was (is) at least one website somewhere (I saw it eons ago) that had a picture of Richard Branson with the caption "Kenneth Branagh" under it, here is a relevant snippet (this comes from news.ninemsn.com.au, but the story has been on all the wires):

Crowe May Play Virgin Chief

Russell Crowe and Jude Law are being tipped to play Sir Richard Branson in a multi-million dollar blockbuster about the business tycoon, it has emerged. Other actors' names under speculation include Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Kenneth Branagh and Paul Bettany.

Top-level talks took place in Los Angeles between the Virgin boss, Hollywood producers and the head of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Rights to Sir Richard's autobiography Losing My Virginity were snapped up by film company Crystal Sky last year. It is not yet known whether the $US50 million ($A64.63 million) film - likely to copy the name of the book - will track Sir Richard's entire life or focus on major events.

Sir Richard, in LA on business, enthused about the film but refused to comment on specific actors. With a smile, he said: "I saw a list of names and some of them were quite impressive. "I would be happy for any of them to play me - as long as they were good looking of course."

I'd have to say, bleached hair notwithstanding, Colin Farrell seems a bit of a stretch. It seems hard to imagine anyone breaking down the door to get this part (unless the bucks are big)... not dissing Sir Richard here, I kind of think he could play it best himself. :-)

Meanwhile, regarding a film which has already been made:

"The Kids Stay in the Picture"
Sunday Times, 11 January 2004
James Mottram

Finally, a year from now, an adaptation of E Nesbit's 'Five Children and It' arrives. The 1902 story of a group of children who discover a sand fairy (voiced by Eddie Izzard) that grants them wishes. It features the Potter alumni Kenneth Branagh and Zoe Wanamaker, and is the first movie of its kind to be funded, to the tune of £11m, without Hollywood assistance.

Its producer, Nick Hirsckorn, knows that competing in a market sewn up by the Americans (albeit often with British source material) is a risky venture. 'If you make a family film, you have one option - release it wide, across the whole of North America,' he says. 'Kids' films are based on a lot of marketing. And it need it - you've got to get families taking their children. You're talking about four tickets for every one you would normally get. It has to be an event. I can't think of a family film that has opened like an art-house movie.'

Hirschkorn is reluctant to admit that 'Five Children and It' will attract legions of Rowling fans. 'It's not an immediate leap. Nebsit might be regarded as old-fashioned: it's not a new franchise. And that's what the studios get excited about.' But at least it's a break from the Potter juggernaut - and further proof that children's cinema is heading for a golden age.

And at this address http://www.capitolfilms.com/cgi-bin/buildpage.pl?page='239' you will find the first photos of the children, of 'It' (I think - it has lovely eyes :-) ), and "Uncle" Ken, looking not entirely unlike Captain Kangaroo...

In the yummy department... from the "Urban Fox" column in the Evening Standard Magazine, 9 January:

"The Top Ten...Marmites

"You either love them or you hate them - just like Marmite. We look at the characters who divide the nation"

[snipped list of other celebrities]

"Audiences recently jam-packed the National to see Kenneth Branagh flash his willy in Edmond. It hasn't always been thus: his lack of top lip meant that crowds stayed away in droves from Frankenstein, Wild Wild West and his musical version of Love's Labour's Lost."

Yeah, yeah, yeah...heard all that before. :-)

Moving into my territory (so to speak, warped by the job and all) Kenneth has written an article about architecture... from the Radio Times Travel Supplement, 23-30 January 2004

LLOYD WRIGHT'S MASTERPIECE
The Architectural Marvel, Fallingwater

About 90 minutes' drive south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a remarkable country house [writes Kenneth Branagh]. It was commissioned by Edgar Kaufmann, a successful businessman, and was intended as a place to spend quiet weekends and holidays with his family. But even before construction finished, the house began to take on a life of its own.

Shortly after completion, the design appeared on the cover of Time magazine. When it eventually opened to the public, it drew around 70,000 visitors a year. Readers of the American Institute of Architects voted it the best American building of the last 125 years. For many, it is the crowning glory of the 20th century's most renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who not only designed it, but gave it its name: Fallingwater.

About 15 years ago, I saw a photograph of this house and fell in love. Last spring, I made the pilgrimage.

I arrived at its remote mountainside location expecting the ravages of modern tourism to have placed the house in some architectural theme park. Not so. Everything for the visitor, from the car park onwards, is discreet. The dense, mysterious woods seem to lull you into a calm that you leaves you unprepared for the magnificent shock that is Fallingwater.

A collection of concrete rectangular terraces, at irregular angles, seems to float into the woodland before you. The red ironwork of a narrow castellated window tower shoots up into the trees. As you try to process the momentarily incongruous modernity and massivity of the place, you hear the noise. For there, apparently running through the house itself, is the waterfall from which the house takes its name.

Senses reeling, you enter the house by its modest, almost hidden front door, and are immediately enveloped by a sense of human warmth. It's as if the Kaufmann family have only just popped out and left the tangible atmosphere of their country life: space, light, wonder. You marvel at the hearth, the top piece of the enormous boulder on which the house sits, and around which Wright designed everything; the house seems to "grow" out of the site.

Open steps under an exquisite interior lead from the centre of the living area down into the waterfall itself. All through the house, simplicity of design is produced by boldness of idea, material and construction. Yet it exists on a scale that is both human and in perfect balance with its magnificent setting.

The Western Pennsylvanian Conservancy has done a superb job in allowing vast numbers of people to experience the house, with exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly guides, and yet maintaining the sense of space and quiet that the house conjures. It is a temple to Wright's notion of "organic architecture", which continues through every fabric, stone and view, to produce what the great man himself described as a "sense of the marvellous".

I spent just three magical hours at Fallingwater, but for me it was worth travelling across the Altantic to experience. I returned to my hotel, the excellent Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, half an hour away, and reflected on having witnessed the most extraordinary meeting of man and nature.

From one who spends most of her days dealing with writing on architecture: bravo! In case you are not familiar with the amazing Fallingwater (which was falling itself but has been saved, thank goodness) you can visit the official site here.

The Warner Brothers release of the Hamlet DVD seems to be pushed back to the autumn of 2004. Sigh. There will be numerous new generations of viewers by the time this baby finally gets to the shelves.

And finally, from the Sunday Express, 25 January 2004, by Tim Shipman:

OSCARS FOR WHIZZKIDS
All-star Judging Panel Will Root Out the Film Talent of Tomorrow

Steven Spielbergs and Richard Curtises of the future are to hit the jackpot thanks to a kids Oscar ceremony sponsored by the National Lottery.

An all-star judging panel, including Joely richardson, star of the new hit series Nip/Tuck, and actor Kenneth Branagh will pick the winners in the First Light Young Filmmakers Awards.

The UK Film Council hopes that the awards will enable budding actors and directors as young as seven to take their first steps on the road to Hollywood.

They want the young film buffs to emulate the success of Jamie Bell, the star of Billy Elliott, who will also be on this year's judging panel. They think that the rising stars will one day be responsible for hit British films such as Love Actually, Bend It Like Beckham or 28 Days Later - all of which have been enjoying international success.

Cold Mountain star Ray Winstone will also be on the panel, along with Minority Report's Samantha Morton, John Hannah from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Rufus Sewell and Christopher Eccleston.

The winners will be announced on February 23. Subjects of the nominated films include a tale of triumph over sherbet-making Martians and a film about teenagers on the hunt for a werewolf.

The nominated films also address issues of concern to young people including bullying, theft and revenge. [snipped rest of article]

Subsequent articles state that the awards ceremony will take place at the Odeon West End in Londonís Leicester Square on February 25. If you want to know about the films in the running you can visit the website at: www.firstlightmovies.com. (They need to get a grip on how to properly size web images over there. :-) )  I see my Rufus is once more teamed with our Ken - yee haw!

The Cover Gallery is just short of 100 magazine covers - here is Number 98 (which happens to be from 1998 :-)).

Till soon!
(1 February, thanks Yvonne, Beck, Chizuko, Catherine)


Greetings Kenites! Happy New Year! (I'm definitely over-the-hill because I am only too aware that a chunk of 2004 is already behind us - yikes! Call back insousciance!)

We're off to a bit of slow start, so I won't move the last six months' news to the archive until there's more to fill this page. However, I have (finally) pulled all the photos from the News, from June to December, and gathered them here. They are not yet in the Photo Gallery because it is the object of a massive "re-do" (thumbnails coming) which I don't want to slow down (not that it would be possible for it to be any slower: the tortoise may have the same profile as Tom Cruise, but he is my cousin  :-) ).

What's the news? Not a whole heck of a lot... but, if you haven't done so already, don't forget to vote for Kenneth as Best Actor in the 2004 Theatregoers' Choice Awards at Whatsonstage.com here. He's doing well in the standings but (throwing salt over my shoulder, spitting three times and making Italian hand gestures) one should not leave too much to chance, heh heh.

The main news is that 2004 will see a new biography of Kenneth Branagh entitled Forces of Nature, A Life of Kenneth Branagh, written by Dr. Mark White from the History of America Department at the University of London. It will be published by Faber in September 2004. You may remember (if you do, you can write your own book about Branagh!) that Stephen Fry described KB as a "force of nature" during his Golden Quill contribution (read it here). And we cleverly segue to a couple of new photos of the sleek and stylish Ken at the Golden Quill Award.

With reference to the Branagh oeuvre, if you are in New York City you can go to see a stage production of A Midwinter's Tale (aka In the Bleak Midwinter), being put on from 26 February to 14 March by Point of You Productions. Click here for their website.

Random notes:

The Dead Ringers UK comedy show South Park skit was an animation (fancy that!) and in synopsis: "The various South Park characters are substituted for leading British arts experts: specifically Melvyn Bragg, Alan Yentob and Mark Lawson. In the skit the Bragg/South Park character is about to interview Ken when the Yentob/Lawson characters muscle in on the act and in the ensuing tussle, Kenny gets killed." Yuk, yuk.

To The Lighthouse (1983 television film in which Ken had a role) and the documentary Anne Frank Remembered(narrated by Ken) will be released on DVD in the USA and Canada on 9 March 2004.

From the The Biography Channel website:

Lucky Breaks: Stage to Screen
Next Airing: Wednesday, Jan 14 @ 8pm ET/PT
"Due South" star Paul Gross and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" star Colin Mochrie interact with comedy hopefuls Kenneth Branagh and Colm Feore during a "Second City" opening night in this half-hour series devoted to those incredibly lucky moments that make all the difference in the careers of celebrities. From comedy to fashion, theater to film, publishing to news, our featured celebs have one thing in common--that moment when the stars aligned, their Lucky Break!
Not sure the exciting possibilities of Colm and Ken together will be realised, but check it out if you get the channel.

Two photos: Hamlet in profile and Hamlet making a musical point. And that's all for now folks!
(11 January, thanks Jude, Pennie, Catherine, Nadine, Bonnie, JP)