News Archive: June 2001 - December 2001

Happy Chrisbus (as John L. said) to all who are celebrating. Between the 'stollen' (German Christmas cake) and the 'pannetone' (Italian Christmas cake) I should enter the New Year in a *big* way.   :-)  

Turning to the Mystery Guest list for The Play What I Wrote... So I missed Fiennes (dealt with that, after all I did see Richard II and Coriolanus), then I missed Richard E. Grant (dealt with that, kind of), then I missed Ewan McGregor (dealt with that, sort of)... but now I've missed KB Himself - can't deal with that. Well, only by turning an icky shade of green thinking about the lucky ones who caught his three-day appearance. Here's what the Evening Standard, 21 December 2001, said:

Branagh Dresses Up for Night on the Boards

by Martin McGlown

Kenneth Branagh went back on the stage for the first time in 10 years last night as a surprise guest in the West End play he directed. The audience at Wyndham's greeted his appearance with delight.

Branagh, 41, is the latest of a string of guest actors to play comic roles in the Morecambe and Wise tribute The Play What I Wrote.

Better known in recent years for film versions of Hamlet and Frankenstein, Branagh donned a dress and wig for his performance which was watched by fellow thespians Richard Wilson and Richard E Grant. He will also appear tonight and tomorrow.

Other celebrities who have joined the cast for brief spells include Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes, Jerry Hall and Sue Johnston. The male guests have all ended up dressed as Marie Antoinette in the show.

Branagh has always decided which special guests should be featured in the play which is written by Eric and Ernie's scriptwriter Eddie Braben.

A theatre spokesman said: "He just decided it was about time he put his money where his mouth is and suffered the same fate he has inflicted on many of his theatrical friends. "He was marvellous and you would never have guessed that he has stayed away from the stage for so long. He brought the house down."

A lucky audience member said that KB was referred to as "Branaghooligan", which is, of course, what those of us who read these pages avidly (yes, and write them!) are.

You can also read a great article about what a hit the play is from The Guardian.

UK-ers will be able to see Shackleton in one week, but you can read all about it everyday and then some, it seems. You'll find three new articles (from The Belfast telegraph, The Scotsman and Time Out) and a review (from The Evening Standard) on the Shackleton press page. The article titles continue to be entertaining: 'Branagh Ice Pick' and 'Going with the Floe' are in this latest crop.

When we said "keep those awards coming" we meant it, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association listened and nominated Kenneth for a Golden Globe for Best Actor In a Leading Role: Mini-Series or Television Movie. These are the nominees in the category:

Kenneth Branagh in 'Conspiracy'
James Franco in 'James Dean'
Ben Kingsley in 'Anne Frank'
Damien Lewis in 'Band Of Brothers'
Barry Pepper in '61*'
It took waaaay too many clicks on way too many related-sites to find out that the awards will be given out on 20 January 2002 (you can watch if you get NBC). We're hoping KB will need to build a special shelf for his trophies, of course.

And now, a fish story. Really. Remember those poor fishies who (which?) supposedly died like a lot of other people (except the fish were not acting) in Hamlet? There was an amusing article in The Independent, 22 December (for some reason it is not on their website) about "Dave Crownshaw, the movie magician who makes it snow all year round". Here is the pertinent part: (you can read the whole article, at least for a while, here).

"So far, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet has been the company's biggest assignment: a team of 45 snowmen and snowomen used 200 tons of artificial snow to cover a total of 180 acres of Oxfordshire countryside. For the biggest single shot, snow was laid over 20 acres of Blenheim. The clear-up operation took three weeks. Which brings us, inevitably, to the environmental consequences of bringing on a premature winter. During the shooting of Hamlet, the Oxfordshire press alleged that the snow used in the movie had killed hundreds of fish in the estate's lakes. The real cause of these deaths was eventually revealed to be an unrelated disease, but I suspect it is this experience that makes Dave so eager to discourse upon the eco-friendliness of his products. His cellulose and starch varieties, for instance, which dissolve harmlessly in the rain, are a great improvement upon traditional forms of movie snow."
There are a few new Shackleton pictures: I knew Aunty's balaclava would come in handy!, and three screen captures, perhaps from the promo. I hope to fix things on the site in the next few days - there should be new pics then.
(26 December, thanks Catherine, Celia, Gill, Ngoc, Bertilla)

As promised, the cast list from Shackleton:

Ernest Shackleton   -   Kenneth Branagh
Wild   -   Lorcan Cranitch
Crean   -   Mark McGann
Emily   -   Phoebe Nicholls
Worsley   -   Kevin McNally
Curzon   -   Corin Redgrave
Janet Stancombe Wills   -   Elizabeth Spriggs
Sir James Caird   -   Robert Hardy
Hurley   -   Matt Day
Franks   -   John Grillo
Eleanor   -   Eve Best
Frank   -   Mark Tandy
Cecily   -   Cicely Delaney
Raymond   -   Christian Young
Rosalind   -   Embeth Davidtz
Perris   -   Danny Webb
Jack Morgan   -   Michael Culkin
Marcie   -   Abby Ford
Sir John Scott Keltie   -   Ron Donachie
Freshfield   -   Robert Swann
Marston   -   Chris Larkin
Hudson   -   Shaun Dooley
Orde-Lees   -   Nicholas Rowe
Harbour   -   Bruce Byron
Oddenino   -   Joseph Long
It looks like Shackleton has been picked up by A&E cable channel in the U.S. Early word has it that The Making of Shackleton, a behind-the-scenes look at the series, will be shown on A&E on January 25 at 11:30 pm and 3:30 am.

And, in casting news for another project... according to Baz Bamigboye in the Daily Mail Barbara Jefford will play Queen Margaret in Richard III. Wooo hooo! She gave Ralph Fiennes a run for his money as Volumnia in Coriolanus last year. As predicted, Sheffield will be over-run with mad Ken fans next March (hope they're printing the Rick 3 t-shirts and mugs):

From Ananova, 17 December 2001

Kenneth Branagh in Big Demand in Sheffield

A forthcoming production of Richard III at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield is breaking box office records. The play will star Kenneth Branagh. It is the fastest-selling production in the Crucible's 30-year history. The run next March has already been extended by four performances. An extra 4000 tickets are on sale now from the Crucible's box office.

The run of Richard III opens on March 13, and now finishes on April 10.

If you go to the Sheffield Theatres website you'll find a picture of KB looking at you in a challenging fashion ("have you got your ticket yet?"   :-) )

Keep those awards coming! On Monday (17 December) The American Film Institute announced the nominations for the first annual AFI Awards in 19 film and television categories. I won't list them all, 'cause they're everywhere on the Internet, but here's the one that counts  :-) :

Kenneth Branagh ("Conspiracy")
Ben Kingsley ("Anne Frank")
Giovanni Ribisi ("Shot in the Heart")
Jeffrey Wright ("Boycott")
The awards ceremony will be broadcast on Saturday, 5 January at 8 p.m. on CBS. Since KB is filming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets I don't think he will be attending, but hopefully he will be winning.

Big photo finish: a very captivating Shackleton, and Shackleton and Rosalind Chetwynd (Embeth Davidtz).

And as an earlier hero: the battle-worn Henry

And last, but not least, a couple of new photos have been added to the Dr. Branagh photo collection... this doctor should always wear a blue shirt.
(18 December, thanks Catherine, Virginia, Lida, Misato, Marilyn, Gillian, Jolande)

Let it snow, let it snow, etc. etc. - it's a blizzard of Shackleton promos! There are a few more short promo articles, which I'll add over the next few days. But here are the photos: Subzero Hero (LOL, almost as good - but not quite - as The Iceman Kenneth), in which KB wears what looks like a less water-resistant pair of my childhood 'snowsuit pants'  :-) ); a couple of scene-setting photos; the guys in the 'James Caird'; KB and Matt Day (who plays Frank Hurley)-(hey, is there room for me on your ice floe, boys?); preparing KB for a take (this is what I do to my apple cake with powdered sugar - the imagination runs wild, heh heh); 'Shackleton' with the 'Endurance'.

On top of all this bounty there is also a video clip - you can access it at the Film Four site - click on Drama and then choose 'Shackleton'. It did not work with Netscape (but I think mine has lost a Java limb) but it was fine with Explorer. Very exciting (KB shouts a fair bit   :-) )! You UKers will be able to see Shackleton 2 and 3 January on Channel 4 at 9 pm. Talk about a good start to the New Year... There is also a complete cast list, which I will post in the next few days.

And speaking of cast is the first cast one (besides you-know-who) for Richard III:

Gerard Horan - Clarence
Jimmy Yuill - Hastings
Robert Demeger - Derby
Richard Durden - Edward IV
Danny Webb - Buckingham
Claire Price - Lady Anne
Michael Jenn - Catesby
Mark Bonnar - Tyrrel
Looks like three old friends at least will be having fun in the dressing room.

The TV Times has listed 27 January as the transmission date for Conspiracy in the UK.

And...there is a somewhat longer trailer on the very Flash but very beautiful official Rabbit Proof Fence site. Also, the 'Today' program on channel 9 in Australia is showing an 8-minute segment each day of the making of Rabbit Proof Fence.

I think that's it for now - but there will be more soon. Oh, oh! One last thing - a snippet from an article about Cliff Richard (don't rub your eyes, you read it right) in the Sun Herald (an Australian newspaper), from Sunday 9th December:

"Richard wouldn't rush into an album of covers again, but said 'Wanted' was his way of easing back into public view after his dope-smoking, woman-bashing lead role in the controversial musical 'Heathcliff' attracted predictably scathing coverage in sections of the media.

"I talked to Kenneth Branagh when he was filming Hamlet. I went to watch one day and he asked how Heathcliff was coming along and I said, 'Oh, it's such a pain, I haven't started yet and the press have been really violent towards me'.

"I wished I could be impervious to these things and he said, 'Don't ever wish that upon yourself. The reason you and all of us are artists is that we have a vulnerability, a sensitivity and we find things painful'. I don't even know if he remembers saying it, but it made all the difference to me.""

Till soon!
(11 December, thanks Catherine, Misato, Karen, Jude, Judith, Elise)

Just before the day ends (and I turn into a pumpkin): HAPPY BIRTHDAY KENNETH!! A hundred of these days!

The brain is gone, so the news will have to wait... but there are a pack of new articles relating to Shackleton. You can find them linked from the articles page or the Shackleton page. There are also pictures, but they will only be here tomorrow (that life that I actually have keeps interfering with this 'opera di amore', dang!). Apologies - please come back tomorrow (very late   :-) ).
(10 December, thanks Catherine, Paula B., Gill, Judith, Kelly)

To begin with an update on Schneider's Second Stage... it has had a quite a few outings, the latest in New York at the 5th Annual Shorts International Film Festival, on November 12. Around the same time it was shown at the XII Semana de Cine Fantástico y de Terror de San Sebastian (freaky poster for this festival, viewable here) and KB won an acting prize (yay!). It was also shown at the 10th Brisbane International Film Festival in August, and, back in February, as part of a "A Touring Screening of Recent British Shorts", in Bologna and Padova.

Maybe two journalists were quaffing their last orders, moaning about having to review The Play What I Wrote along with the rest of the Fleet Street gang, when they came up with "an angle". The first piece (mostly written while wearing those 'everything he did sucked' blinders which are popular in England) is called King Ken the Comeback Kid (guffaw), and the second, somewhat more gallant, appeared a few days later, titled Is Nothing Beyond Our Ken? (not more than is beyond a journalist, I'll bet   :-) ). Or maybe Journalist 1 came up with the angle alone, and Journalist 2 nicked it. Heh, heh. Whatever. So, in case you hadn't noticed he was gone (given the list of films in cited in the articles, and adding the long list of audiorecordings and film and television narration, plus other artistic efforts, e.g. drawing of squirrel, decorated clock face, Zen photo of dock   :-) ) - he's "back" (which I assume means the press can say nice things with impunity, ha ha).

There is a new photo of KB as Heydrich. It's quite a photo, sort of scary in its rakishness (attracts and repells - all that stuff). To balance: a return to the 'early-days-of-training-with-Brian-Blessed' (the man who not only brought you KB pulling stone-weighted tires up the hill doing training for Shackleton, but also put him through "press-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups and definitely no let-ups" (from Beginning, p. 153) while preparing for The Golden Girls). Not looking happy - one and Not looking happy - two.

A few more reviews of The Play What I Wrote have been added to the page (and there are a couple more, when I get the chance). Woo hoo - last minute addition - if you go to the link to the 'official site' from the The Play What I Wrote page you'll find a list of the guests so far. I'll be off now to hang myself since I missed Ewan McGregor - actually, I would have sold my soul to be at the rehearsals, never mind the play.   :-)

Also, the Express, says that Shackleton will be shown on January 2 and 3 - I assume in the UK and I assume on the BBC.

I have a bunch of neat new photos for future updates (generous people out there!), so stay tuned!
(2 December, thanks Jude, Catherine, Jane, Jolande)

Just a wee update....

There are more The Play What I Wrote reviews; they'll be added to the TPWIW page over the next few days.

The Japanese magazine, CREA (a ladies mag) has published a special film issue this month, which included a special report called 'The most shocking film I've ever seen'. They asked 40 movie stars, including Ken, this question. Ken's choice was SHOAH, which he saw prior to making Conspiracy. He mentioned that it had given him nightmares which woke him up at night quite a few times.

Pictures! Some new photos from the RSC Love's Labour's Lost. One; two; three; four.

Time for the defibrillators.... check out the cover of Shakespeare at the Centre, the publication of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust! Kenneth is the first patron of Adopt a Treasure, and you can read his message here. He has given his name to one of the Trust's two First Folios, and you can do the same (if you have some disposable cash, of course). You can read about Adopt a Treasure here. That cover is just about enough to make me sell my kid and adopt a different treasure! (I jest, of course, don't go phoning Family Services!  :-)  ).
(17 November, thanks Misato, Jolande, Virginia L.)

It's about time, part deux! She is revealed... KB attended the world premiere of Robert Altman's new film Gosford Park at the 45th Regus London Film Festival and was accompanied by Lindsay (sey? The papers are mixed up and so are we...) Brunnock, previously pegged by the '3 a.m. Girls' as his new lady love. You can see photos a number of places on the web, but we've gathered them all together for your ogling convenience.  :-) had this comment:

Top of the happy tree was Kenneth Branagh, out again - could Ken be our latest party poster boy? - and accompanied by his new love Lindsay Brunnock. They met on the set of the Channel 4 drama Shackleton and are inseparable. Aaaah.
Aaaah indeed. Good for them.   :-)

There have been a bunch of most excellent reviews of The Play What I Wrote. They are all linked from The Play What I Wrote page. You can see photos from the opening night revelries at the site, and a cropped version with just the stars is here. There is also a small photo of Ken and Ralph - it falls into the 'how bad a picture can two good-looking guys take?' category. Yeesh.

There was an article in the Belfast Telegraph with a few more quotes than usual from our Kenneth, and it can be found here. You'll see that, as usual, he's spending his days lying around eating chocolates and relaxing....

Or digging in his ear, which you can observe in this Hello article.   :-)

The Belfast Telegraph also had this snippet in its Ulster Diary for 9 November (you can read the whole thing from the linked title):

Writer gives fans a maths lesson

What is playwright Graham Reid up to? He calls a series of four TV films he is writing 'Six into 26 Won't Go'.

"In England they think I'm some kind of mathematician," chuckles the man from the Donegall Road in Belfast. In fact, Donegall Road is the clue to what the title really means. "It's a piece of political grafitti I saw scrawled there on the wall of Coolbeg Street," he explains. "It was next to Coolderry Street where I was born in the front room of No 67."

The four 90-minute films for the BBC will be about the life and times of three Protestants through their teens into their 50s, growing up in the Belfast of the troubles. "It's not about the traditional Prod-Catholic thing," says Reid. "It's more about internal Prod positions which are still being decided to this day."

Reid became a household name with his Billy plays which launched Ken Branagh as a major star. Now, 19 years on, he is considering another series with Billy, still played by Branagh and still living in working class Belfast, in middle age.

Be still my beating heart...

Another screen capture from the Harry Potter premiere has been added here.

There are brief mentions of the Shackleton TV film all over the place, the latest in a story in The Times, titled "Cold Is the New Hot - It's Fashionable to Be Freezing, Even at Minus 40c in Antarctica". Finally! Freezing our butts off up here, north of the 49th parallel, is in fashion. I feel warmer already.

And just to underline that cold can be attractive, here is a fab photo of the Shackleton men. Can you pick out the fearless leader?
(11 November, thanks Jude, Judith, Ngoc, Isabel, Eli, Bertilla)

What better way to deal with an uncomfortable role that keeps you from sleeping at night than to play it so well that you get an award for it (and then maybe can't sleep 'coz you're out celebrating!   :-) ). That's our Kenneth, recipient of the Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Movie or Miniseries for his performance as Reinhard Heydrich in Conspiracy. Bravo! (You can read the articles about this role here.

KB was indeed at the Harry Potter UK premiere, and was interviewed during the webcast event. Supposedly the highlights from the premiere will be available online at some point (haven't found them yet, will post the addy when I do) but a brilliant person has sent us a screen capture. (The Greek-god golden curls seem to be no more... maybe I have to stop making comments, sheesh, I jinx everything. They were NICE!)

You can also see a pic of Ken (and many rich and priveleged children) attending the premiere at (A little version of just KB is posted with the web capture, above.)

The first 'review' of The Play What I Wrote has appeared in The Independent. Crikey! The first nighters got Ralph Fiennes - I'm sure it was a riot (the more so because I'm having trouble imagining it)   (Ngoc, snaggle-tooth heaven, I'm sure!  :-) ). You can read the review here, along with another article which appeared in the Sunday Times, the day before the opening. (Bottom of the page, linked from the top.) As I write this (late for work!) the Ken-list is buzzing with reviews... eeek! stay tuned during the next few days.

I'm almost afraid to report this (I want it so badly) but there may be a theatre release for How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog in January 2002. Now that would be a great way to start the year off!
(6 November, thanks Alex, Judith, Gill, Rai)

So... they say that KB will attend the Harry Potter UK premiere tomorrow evening, and that it will be webcast. If t'is true perhaps someone will capture shots of you-know-who. (There's a nice new snippet from Empire on the Ken as Gilderoy page.)

The Play What I Wrote opens the day after! The Emmy Awards show is finally being held tomorrow as well, but what with the play opening it was postponed too many times to hope for KB to attend. It would be nice if he won an Emmy, though. The Belfast Telegraph thinks so, too:

Ken's Eyes on an Emmy

Belfast Telegraph, 3 November 2001
By Eddie McIlwaine

DISTINGUISHED Ulster actor Kenneth Branagh is on the brink of moving out of the shadow of his former wife Emma Thompson at last.

For Ken, who became a household name after his role in the BBC Northern Ireland drama series of Billy plays 20 years ago, has been nominated for an Emmy Award.

The Yanks have fallen in love with Ken, from north Belfast, in the new television movie Conspiracy which has still to be seen in the UK.

If he wins the coveted prize at the ceremony in LA tomorrow night, it will give Ken his first major recognition at international level in spite of his glittering career.

And Branagh will be back on television this winter playing polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in the Channel 4 drama series Shackleton's Antarctic which is tipped to win him more prizes.

Not too sure about that "shadow" comment... "enough i' the sun" he has always seemed to me...

Hello magazine (30 October 2001) had a snippet about The Play What I Wrote:

Is Kenneth Branagh’s new project art imitating life, or life imitating art? The Northern Irish actor-director, once touted as the new Olivier, has enlisted a whole raft of celebrities to appear as themselves in the West End production The Play Wot I Wrote.

Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham have already been pencilled in to tread the boards of the Wyndham Theatre in the Branagh-directed play, which is a homage to seminal British comedy duo Morecambe & Wise.

Starting Bonfire Night November 5, the pop singers will appear as "surprise" star guests who are humiliated by the two funnymen, played by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley.

A source close to the Spice Girl is quoted as saying: "Victoria has always dreamed of appearing in the West End. Now it seems her wish is to come true." Although she has acted before – albeit playing herself in the celluloid pastiche Spice World - Mrs Beckham spent almost a decade at theatre school in Hertfordshire, where she won the Shakespeare award for most promising actress. The establishment’s owner, Joy Spriggs, said of her: "I knew Victoria was special. She had natural talent and you just had to watch her."

Other famous people who have been approached to appear include Victoria’s Spice World co-star Richard E Grant, fellow actors Keanu Reeves, Jude Law, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, John Sessions and supermodel Naomi Campbell. During previews in the provinces, the celebrity guest role has been taken by Richard Wilson, the star of "One Foot In The Grave". (Read the original, with photo of KB, here.)

You'll find a nice article written by The Right Size here.

As it turns out, after playing in Tokyo on 17 November 2001, The Periwig-Maker will be touring Japan as a part of a collection of six short films. It will be screened in Osaka from 22 December, followed by screenings in Sapporo, Nagoya and Hiroshima in spring 2002.

More news regarding the audiobook of C.S. Lewis's "The Magician's Nephew". Oh goody goody!! You can close your eyes and listen to a 17:43 minutes preview of Ken's reading at It's streaming media so you can hear it tout suite. And a real plaisir it is. (This is slightly non-sequitor but no one, absolutely no-one, can do a wheedling voice quite like Kenneth. I'd probably pledge myself to serfdom without batting an eye if he used it on me.   :-) )

With lots of Kenites in heaven after finally seeing How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (but far too many who have yet to see it - what is wrong with you people who could make money by distributing a funny, warm film? Heeelloooo [hear Alan Tudyk's voice in A Knight's Tale], it's definitely 2001 and definitely time for a film like this - or have you not been listening to the soul-searching in Hollywood?) - ahem.... since a few, a happy few, have seen the film, I have two nifty photos to make those who have not feel better (or more frustrated - can the photo of Ken and Suzie be any cuter? - for which I apologise).
(3 November, thanks Isabel, Catherine, Rai, Misato, Paula B., Jude)

Hi gang! I'm back from an amazing week in London. I got religion from Rufus (oh yeah!) and a laughing cramp from The Play What I Wrote. Fast, energetic, hilarious - this is a hit. You will be blown away by Hamish, Sean and Toby. See it if you possibly can! My mystery guest was Sue Johnston, but there is a jaw-dropping list in a new press snippet from Ananova, check the Play What I Wrote page.

Multitudes of thanks to the multitudes who sent on the info about KB's upcoming role as Goldilocks...oops, I mean Gilderoy Lockhart, in the second Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I spied Mr. B at TPWIW, with very golden 'Greek-god' locks and spent the next few days wondering what he was up to - surely not an "if I have only one life to live, let me live it as a blonde" shtick? (Tee hee, anyone else care to date themselves by remembering that advertisment?) You can read the various press releases about this new role here. This casting has met with universal cheering.  :-)

How to Kill Your Neighbour's Dog premiered on television (Starz) last night. There were a couple of snippets in the press:

From TV Guide:

Kenneth Branagh, who resembles Albert Finney more every day, dominates this unreleased feature film. He's a dyspeptic British writer living in L.A. and making life miserable for his saintly wife (Robin Wright Penn). She wants a baby, but he hates kids, until a 10-year old moves next door and redeems him. Dog is slight, but it has bite. Bright dialogue and subtle performances give it an edge lacking in most TV fare. My score (0-10) 6--- Susan Steware, TV Guide.

Can't get with the idea of KB resembling Albert Finney (yeesh - this woman needs glasses) and her score is way too low given her positive comments...
From Movieline, November 2001

It's called "How to Steal Your Neighbor's Dog", and, no, it's not really, literally instructions on how to do that. Rather, this original film starring the estimable trio of Kenneth Branagh, Robin Penn Wright (pictured with Branagh) and Lynn Redgrave involves the tumultuous home life of a down-on-his-luck playwright, his neurotic wife and his Alzheimer's-stricken mother-in-law. Celebrated at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000, it premieres on Starz! 10/27.

Geez - it would be ever so much more effective if the actually used the correct name for the film!

A snippet relating to Shackleton:

Daily Express, 22 October 2001
John McEntee

Branagh Was Blessed By Brian

If Kenneth Branagh scoops any awards for his portrayal of Sir Ernest Shackleton, fellow thespian Brian Blessed certainly deserves a share of the glory. Blessed, best knows for his roles in 'Flash Gordon' and 'Star Wars', evidently convinced Branagh to take the lead in the forthcoming Channel 4 series about the polar explorer.

At last week's Royal Premiere of 'Shackleton's Antartic Adventure' at Waterloo's BFI IMAX cinema, attended by Princess Anne and Commodore Tim Laurence, man mountain Blessed, 64, boomingly boasted:

"Kenneth wasn't sure about taking the part. I literally had to take him by the scruff of the neck and say 'Mel Gibson would be terrible! Brad Pitt would be absolutely dreadful! You are Shackleton. you have the same psyche, the same patience, the same obsessiveness - you even look like him'." As to why he declined to even consider the role himself, Blessed - who sets off on his own Antartic expedition in a month - explained:

"I'm not really an actor at all. Life is not, as the Government would have you believe, about PEPs and ISAs. Life is for living, acting is not reality. Actors don't really see that." No offence intended Ken.

LOL! "man mountain Blessed...boomingly boasted" goes onto my 'favourite phrases of the year' list.

In audio news (KB does cover the media territory!)... since Richard III was selected for "Critics Pick for 2001" it has been restocked all over the place - so you can easily get your copy if you haven't already.

The expected release date ofthe new unabridged audiobook of "The Magician's Nephew" (C.S. Lewis) read by Kenneth Branagh is 6 November 2001. It comes in both cassette (ISBN 0694526193) and CD (0694526207). You can find it by doing an ISBN search at your favourite distributor. You can also check out the "The Magician's Nephew' audiobook section on the Harper Collins web site.

On the DVD front, Digital Bits mentions a possible Hamlet DVD release in 2002, in their 'rumour mill' section. Cross your fingers... Since the recording of the director's commentary for the UK Henry V DVD keeps getting pushed back due to work commitments, a Hamlet DVD might well be without a commentary. Maybe the commentaries will be KB's retirement project, when he's 95 and less mobile. (I fear I shan't be around to report on them, alas. :-))

You'll have seen a little collage addition to the intro page - the fabulous four from The Play What I Wrote. This image is on the billboard in front of the theatre - very cool. Inside the program is an amazing 'official portrait'. Talk about presence (and it's not just about being the 'man in black'). Phwoarsome!
(28 October, thanks 'the multitudes', Sandra Fr., Virginia, Catherine, Jude, Misato, Felix)

Another too quick update - but I have an excuse this time. I'm off to two-time our Ken with our Rufus (Sewell), bringing religion to the masses (of fans) in Luther at the National Theatre. However, the ever-clever Kenneth must have sensed something was up, because he brilliantly chose to have the previews for The Play Wot I Wrote during my stay - so guess who gets to see that, too! It's all very exciting, far too much so in terms of air travel having lost what little appeal it had. (In other words I will be pale and silent and clutching the armrests   :-) ).

Rabbit-Proof Fence is coming... February 2002 says the trailer, which you can see (if you are ready to download for ages) on a number of sites:

Dark Horizons - which has a couple of pics, links to the trailer and official web site, which has an evocative 'flash-y' thing, which is very much like the trailer, but otherwise is "coming soon"
and at (though I haven't actually been able to pull it up there yet, lots of cookies and ads sucking up the ether)
The trailer is very effective (having half-died while it downloaded - who named "Quick"time? - probably increases acceptance level... no, I'm just kidding). There is only one 'fade-in/out' of A.O. Neville's very serious face - but we'll take anything, right? :-)

The Periwig-Maker will be screening at Cine Quinto, Tokyo, from November 17, as a part of a collection of six short films. Perhaps it's the kind of package which will travel to other art cinemas.

You'll find KB listed as one of the Governors of the The Over the Wall Gang Camp charity, on their web site. The proceeds of from the auctioning off of two 'Shakesperian' hours with Kenneth (the Chivas Regal organised charity auction) will go the The Over the Wall Gang Camp.

And this snippet from

Singer Victoria Beckham is set for the comedy treatment - Kenneth Branagh wants to cast her in a tribute to comedians Morecambe and Wise.

Titled 'The Play Wot I Wrote', the TV tribute shows to famed comedy double act Eric and Ernie will feature a different star name each night with Spice Girl Victoria hotly tipped to be one of them.

Actor Branagh's tribute returns to the tradition of the Morecambe and Wise shows where celebrity guests including Glenda Jackson, Sir Cliff Richard, Vanessa Redgrave and composer Andre Previn were invited on to be ridiculed by the famous twosome.

I can't think of a comment... :-)

The photo finish. Thanks to my amazing friend Grace, from whom a packet of clippings arrived this very day, I have two new photos for you (if not new [my brain is gone] they are certainly a different size  :-) ). They're a bit grainy, the photoshop skills fail around midnight... from Rabbit-Proof Fence, a man taking (scarey) notes, and a dance back to LLL days, Alicia and Kenneth-in-stripes.

Back in a week!
(16 October, thanks Kim, Chizuko, Judith, Mercedes, Misato, Jude, Marina, Grace)

Hi Kenians...just a quick update:
A new article and a review have been added to The Play Wot I Wrote page. The article includes two fabuloso pics of KB (one of them with friends). If he continues to wear that blue pea-jacket (I think that's what they're called) I may have to put in a special order for smelling salts. Or a pacemaker.   :-)

While we're on a "marine" topic - we now have a pic of 'Shackleton' in full uniform - looking a bit like he knows what's in store for him. Quick but not dirty - that's all for today.
(7 October, thanks Catherine, Gillian, Film Lover)

Our roving reporters have been to the opening of The Play Wot I Wrote in Liverpool and the verdict is: they laughed and they are looking forward to seeing it again in London. The surprise guest is/was Michael Starke, a well-known local star. It seems there will only be official reviews when the play opens in London. If you're a Morecambe and Wise fan this is a case of 'be there or be square'! A couple of new articles have been added to the Play Wot I Wrote page.

According to the Australian press, Rabbit-Proof Fence is being screen-tested in the U.S. This is a snippet of a longer article which you can read here:

Rabbit-Proof Fence, a drama about three Aboriginal girls who are chased 2,000 kilometres across the desert in the 1930s, was tested in Los Angeles last week.

Noyce was buoyed by the approval figures for the 12-year-old lead actress. Her performance was rated excellent by 71 per cent of the audience. In comparison, Denzel Washington rated 65 per cent in The Bone Collector and Harrison Ford rated 60 per cent in Clear and Present Danger.

Screen tests remind me of all those polls - neither I nor anyone I know has ever been polled. I wonder who the thumbs-up-or-downers are... Anyway, let's hope we get to see this film. (Harumph!)

We have a great new photo today: Iago and Othello, face to face.
(30 September, thanks Catherine, Celia, Marina, Paula X)

Hi Kenites! KB is not a techno-geek (he says) (we believe), but byte by byte he's making his way into the world of those who like their ambient lighting to come from a glowing screen. You were able to download a Kenneth Branagh 'skin' to use in the computer game The, this is not an online version of The Pillow Book, it's "family entertainment". About building houses and even cities, I think. Anyway, 'skins' are characters you can use to people the game and there was a Ken one. I say was because it has disappeared - tee hee, I think after the 400 members of the Ken-Friends mailing list checked it out, and maybe even downloaded it, maybe the creator pulled it ("eek - a cult! for some guy who doesn't like the word cool! what's the world coming to?"). You can check if it comes back at Sim Skins. The model was KB in Hamlet mode.

Moving on.... somebody won the 'Shakespeare with Kenneth Branagh' charity auction lot for 2,100 British pounds (to turn that into Canuck dollars you have to add zeros :-) ). He's worth every penny. Though if the lucky winner would like to send us confirmation after they've had their 2 hours we'd love to hear from them.   :-)

A bit of press is appearing for The Play Wot I Wrote. You can read an article from the Electronic Telegraph, and a short articlet from The Independent has been added to the Play Wot I Wrote page.

It looks like How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog will be on some TV screens in October, according to a STARZ (cable channel) press release. You can see it on October 27, 2001 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. I keep hearing that Hollywood is looking for 'human interest', possibly funny, films these days (a break from Bruckheimer 'block - bank? - busters') we may not be relegated to pan and scan serfdom just yet. Oh helllllooooowwww! Distribution types! Over here!

I have no pix... except the one which came with the Telegraph article. And I'm falling asleep... so that's all folks.
(25 September, thanks Sarah, Marc)

Just a few bits of news - I think we are all still in shock, no matter where in the world we are.

News on the Emmy Awards:

TV's Emmy Awards Canceled in L.A. Due to Attack
September 11, 2001 2:07 pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Emmy Awards, television's highest honors scheduled for Sunday, have been postponed indefinitely due to the apparent terrorist airplane attacks on the East Coast, organizers said on Tuesday.

The 53rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards show, which was to have been broadcast on CBS from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, has been put off "out of respect for the victims, their families and all fellow citizens," said Jim Chabin, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Also postponed by the academy was nearly a week of celebrity receptions and other events leading up to the awards show, television's equivalent of the Oscars.

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were presented on 8 September and Sir Derek Jacobi won the Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance on Frazier.

If you have disposable pounds (cash, don't think they take the other kind) you can bid for two hours with Kenneth. Below is what you can do with him... they don't talk about a private reading of the sonnets - be still my beating heart - but that might be an option   ;-). The address for the web site of the auction organizer is This is what it says on the site:

Kenneth Branagh;
Shakespearian Masterclass

Bidding Window:
13/09/01 - 23/09/01

The successful bidder will have the unique opportunity of spending two hours with Kenneth Branagh, totally dedicated to Shakespeare. You might choose to have Kenneth assist you in polishing your delivery of a famous monologue or you might choose to act with him. Alternatively you may prefer to discuss the works of the great bard or one particular play. One thing’s for sure, you could not choose a better mentor than Branagh who has directed and acted in several films of Shakespeare’s plays; ‘Hamlet’, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, ‘Henry V’, and ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’.

‘All the world’s a stage’, so now you can prepare to play your part!

Beneficiary : Over The Wall Gang Camp
Donor : Kenneth Branagh

You can do the actual bidding here at The minimum bid is for one thousand pounds. They offer a bunch of nifty information under "terms and conditions":
"This lot includes a two hour session with Kenneth Branagh. The session is most likely to take place in the UK. A mutually convenient time and date will be arranged between the lot buyer and Kenneth Branagh. He will be in the UK from 3rd September to 15th October; also 1st February to 16th April 2002 (in Sheffield, England – where he will be performing Richard 111.) "Apart from that there are a few film projects up in the air where the locations could be New York, St Petersburg, Florence or Shepperton Studios (UK)." The lot does not include travel, accommodation, meals, insurance or other incidental expenses."
Who would sleep? Who could eat? Who wouldn't have enough energy to swim to England for this (admittedly a bit easier if you live in Belgium or Holland   :-) ).

Does St. Petersburg mean that Tsar Alexander in 'Napoleon' is still on the books? ... I digress...

This is the coverage of the auction from the press:

LONDON (Reuters) - Fancy an audience with the Pope, or tea with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev? A few clicks and a bit of cash may be all it takes.

A slew of adventures, trips and celebrity encounters are up for grabs as part of a charity online auction organised by Scottish whisky makers Chivas Regal. A company spokesman said the auction -- held to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding of the brand's creators, Chivas Brothers -- included 450 lots "representing some of the most wanted and unobtainable items in the world".

"This auction event will be like no other. It is the centrepiece of ourcelebration and we expect to raise millions of dollars for outstanding charities around the world," said Bob Dubin, commercial director for Chivas Regal.

The auction, which was launched on Thursday, is being hosted by online auctioneers eBay. Bidders can vie to take a balloon ride with Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson, have dinner with actor Jeremy Irons or discuss Shakespeare with British director Kenneth Branagh. Or they can bid for the chance to join the Moscow Circus, play elephant polo in Nepal, visit the Amazon or see a diamond mine in Africa.

The proceeds will be distributed between dozens of charities worldwide, including The Rainforest Foundation,Make-A-Wish Foundation, Variety Clubs and the United Foundation for Aids.

The auction is accessible through

There is wonderful news about the audio Richard III - it has won an award! (I'm posting the whole article for audiotape keeners, lots of suggestions.)
Books: A Word in your ear
The Independent - United Kingdom; 8 September 2001
By Christina Hardyment

Here's a list that is well worth tucking away and keeping so that you know just what to buy next time you're hankering after a good listen: the best of the audiobooks published in the year ending May 2001. They were celebrated at the Dorchester on Thursday night in the grandest ceremony yet laid on for presenting awards in the spoken word industry, itself a reflection of the booming popularity of the medium as our lives get so busy that we have no time to curl up with a book any more. Or is it just the HP effect? Stephen Fry's reading of the unabridged Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (BBC Cover to Cover, pounds 26.99), which won the award for children over seven, has boosted the industry by 12 per cent - it now earns over pounds 90 million a year. The audiobook of the year award was won by Felicity Kendal's reading of her own memoir, and tribute to her father, White Cargo (Penguin, pounds 9.99). The performers of the year were Lorelei King, whose reading of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin (Harper Collins, pounds 12.99) won the best abridgement award, and Simon Callow, whose reading of P G Wodehouse's Thank You Jeeves (Penguin, pounds 9.99) won abridged classic fiction. He also read Peter Ackroyd's London: the biography (Random House, set, cpounds 50), runner-up in the non-fiction category. The highly original History of the Theatre (Naxos, pounds 12.99), presented by Derek Jacobi, won best non- fiction; Naxos also captured the best drama award with their Richard III (pounds 12.99), starring Kenneth Branagh, and Geraldine McEwan. So immediate and powerful that if you close your eyes you can't believe you aren't in a theatre, it was put together in just two weeks. Radio 4's Dead Ringers (BBC, pounds 9.99) won best comedy. Abridged modern fiction was won by Samuel West's reading of Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong (Random House, pounds 9.99). Unabridged modern fiction: Sean Barrett reading Robert Wilson's gripping thriller, A Small Death in Lisbon (Isis, pounds 19.80). Unabridged classic fiction: Jim Norton reading James Joyce's Dubliners (Naxos, pounds 9.99). Puffin's Fantastic Book of First Poems (pounds 6.99) won the poetry award, and Bill Naughton's story of a Fifties ladykiller Alfie (CSA Telltapes, pounds 9.99), read by Jason Flemyng, won best TV/film adaptation. Best production was won by Sheridan Morley's audio biography of Noel Coward, narrated by Morley and knitted around archive performances by Coward and his contemporaries. The winners were chosen from dozens of entries in each of the award categories. Among the runners-up were some titles that I personally rate very highly: Willy Russell reading his bittersweet novel The Wrong Boy (HarperCollins, pounds 9.99), Samuel West reading Kevin Crossley-Holland's Arthurian story for children The Seeing Stone (Orion, pounds 8.99), Martin Jarvis reading actual transcripts from the original cases in The Trials of Oscar Wilde (CSA Telltapes, pounds 9.99) and John le Carre reading his own thriller, The Constant Gardener (Hodder, pounds 12.99).

The actors' sabers are rattling in the UK. You can read the whole article from the Independent, but here's the first snippet:
Lights, camera, industrial action (scene 1, take 1)

Star wars - Ewan McGregor rattles his sabre for a bigger slice of the profits as British actors threaten to bring film-making to a standstill

By James Morrison, 9 September 2001

Hundreds of Britain's leading actors are threatening to bring the UK film industry to a halt over demands for bigger shares in the profits of their movies.

Helena Bonham Carter, Ewan McGregor and Kenneth Branagh are among the household names vowing to walk out on British productions unless generous new royalties are introduced to put them on a par with their American counterparts.....

And finally, an amusing take on KB's honorary degree from Empire Online
It's Dr Branagh To You

Shakespeare supremo Kenneth Branagh was today reaping the rewards of having taken the bard so often to the big screen. The actor/director was awarded an honourary doctorate of letters by Birmingham University, in recognition of his many cinematic ventures into the work of the Avon bard.

A university spokesperson ventured to explain why they had honoured Branagh, inadvertently causing no small amount of offence in the process; 'Shakespeare was always intended to be performed in the vulgar market place,' she told reporters. 'Nowadays, that would be film.' That'll please the great unwashed masses that flock to the cinemas every week - vulgar indeed!

No pix this time, I'm afraid (though the soul could use some). I wish us all strength and wisdom.
(13 September, thanks Deborah, Jude, Ngoc)

Hi beans, a quick update before I'm off for a few days to worship the Master Mies (van der Rohe).

There is a article about How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, from the Hollywood Reporter. Kirk Honeycutt asks the question we all have asked for the last year: "How many festivals does a film have to win to land distribution?". Will there be answer? Keep your fingers crossed!

There is also an interview (new on this site)with Kenneth from the time of the Conspiracy shoot - look for "'Conspiracy' Theory" on the Conspiracy page.

Last news item: Love's Labour's Lost will be released on DVD in Japan on 23 November - it will be the first DVD release of a Ken film in that country.
(4 September, thanks Film Lover, Ngoc, Misato)

Dr. Branagh, I presume? A new and handy phrase for when you next meet KB. Actually, we could have been saying this for the last ten years: he got one of these from Queens University, Belfast in 1990 - BUT, there were no pictures - and that makes all the difference. A natural in the cap and gown: check out the news snippets and really cute (the only possible way to define them) photos here. (The comments of the "university spokesman" quoted in the BBC article, had me in stitches - she certainly didn't mean to say that KB was being honoured for being a cheap low-brow in the vulgar marketplace.  :-)

If you haven't seen the 'Billy Trilogy' and happen to be in Belfast at the end of the month you can see Too Late for Billy at the Belfast Film Festival, Saturday 29 September at 6:45 pm, Queen's Film Theatre.

This comes from a nifty Guardian online chat with Brian "I love adventure" Blessed, which is really worth the read.

crystaltips: What's next on your travel wish list?

BrianBlessed: Going to the Antarctic and following in the footsteps of [legendary explorer Sir Ernest] Shackleton.

Recently, I helped train Kenneth Branagh for the role of Shackleton. He's a great actor, and a man of great physical courage. After six weeks' training, pulling great tyres on ropes around his waist, I put a colossal weight onto the tyres on the final day and said, "Pull it up that hill yonder!" He pulled it up four inches at a time, with his face contorted in pain. When he'd finished, I said "That's what Shackleton pulled across the ice every day." I've seen a trailer of the forthcoming television series, and Branagh is perfectly cast - stupendous. As I'd put him through hell, I thought I'd better go and try to do Shackleton's journey myself. Of course, when people say you're mad, you know you're on the right road...
So I'm looking forward to the Antarctic.

There is a new site devoted to the career of Sir Derek Jacobi that you should check out - there are numerous quotes and photos of our Ken (including a close-up of "the destruction of the styrofoam cup", one of my favourite documentary film moments - Kenutters will know what I am talking about, check the Discovering Hamlet section). There is also an excellent information page on The Shakespeare Guild.

The big finale is a new (at least to me) picture of Kenneth as A.O. Neville in Rabbit-Proof Fence... which I hope we will see in the cinemas some day!
(2 September, thanks Catherine, Ngoc, Deb)

Kenites... it's been quiet (though some of us have been distracted by photos of Rufus S. and his new amour - when is KB going to hold hands at a premiere? Hmmmm? Hmmmm?), but there are a few rumblings of the tempest of goodies to come:

From an account of the Australian International Film Convention the Dark Horizons site, 24 August 2001:

Rabbit Proof Fence: 'Darque' also heard "Clear and Present Danger" Director Phillip Noyce speak about the new Australian period piece flick about three Aboriginal sisters currently aiming for release at the end of the year:
"Phillip Noyce was interviewed on stage by David Stratton and talked mainly about his new film Rabbit Proof Fence. A rough cut test reel was shown and it looked truly beautiful. It tells the true story of 3 aboriginal girls removed from there family, who escape and walk 3000km to get home following the Rabbit Proof Fence. It stars Kenneth Branagh. The trailer for this should be out soon. They want to make a big deal about this, as Noyce said the general consensus is that uninformed Australian audiences won't want to go see this film, so they want to really promote the film showing the remarkable story it tells. Noyce mentioned he really truly loved this story. He was having difficulties getting Harrision Ford to sign on for Sum of all Fears, and had no real intention of returning to Australia but with all the problems he said in the back of his mind this script just kept calling to him. He realised there was no reason to fight it and came straight here to make it. The casting of the aboriginal girls was difficult, mainly because they are quite young. Once he found the girls they were sent to Adelaide to learn to act. From the footage screened he made a damn fine choice as the older girl (who in the footage does most of the talking of the 3) is very believable. Its currently being edited along with his other project, The Quiet American starring Brendan Fraser, here in Australia."
And, there was also a small article about Rabbit-Proof Fence in the Oz issue of Empire. Read it here.

There are also a couple of new blurbs about the Morecambe and Wise theatre piece on the The Play Wot I Wrote page.

For those of us partial to "the line in the cheek" (vertical dimple?), here is a little screen capture which is probably from Ken's appearance on Parkinson. 'Tis all for now....
(28 August, thanks Bonnie, Fiona)

A quickie  -  you can read a bit more about The Play Wot I Wrote and see a caricature of KB, courtesy of the Daily Mail here.

The smiling blond on the left in the pic from last week has been definitively identified as Stephen Evans. (So you can all sleep more soundly   :-) )
(19 August, thanks Catherine, Paula B.)

Ha! Remember I had to lie down after reading Kinetic Ken's fall schedule....? Well, I had to get up again to add something to the list - this is off the AP wire:


10 August 2001

By Will Batchelor, PA News

Kenneth Branagh is to direct a play which pays tribute to comedy legends Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. The Play What I Wrote will feature original Morecambe and Wise scripts, but will not be a straightforward copy of their work.

Branagh is said to have jumped at the chance to work with the play's creators, Sean Foley and Hamish McColl, of The Right Size theatre company.

It will premiere at Liverpool's Playhouse theatre on September 27 for a two-week run before transferring to the West End.

A Playhouse spokesman said: "This is a very exciting project. The Right Size have already got a great track record for producing comedy and people are queuing up to work with them.

"Having someone like Kenneth Branagh on board makes it all the more likely to be a big success."

Heading back to the couch to recover.... :-)      (16 August, thanks Ngoc)

YAY!!! Guess what? Guess what?!! Schneider's Second Stage won the second prize (next time they need to call it Schneider's First Stage, ha ha)(sorry, just ignore me) in the Non-Student: Live Action - Over 15 Minutes category at the Palm Springs Festival (guess they're alive out there after all). Way to go!! You can read what the prize is here.

While we're on the subject of 'wunderkinder' (of all ages  :-) ), the Kenergizer had better be on that cruise *right now* or it's going to have to be revamped into a row on his lake - when he gets a minute.... The grape-vine has yielded this heady potion of upcoming projects:

Kenneth will play 'The Fool' opposite Paul Scofield's 'King Lear' for Naxos Audio. Other cast are Alec McCowen - Gloucester, Harriet Walter - Goneril, David Burke - Kent and Michael Maloney - Edgar.

On 2 September he will recieve an honorary degree from The University of Birmingham to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Shakespeare Institute - a prestigious award.

He will record the narration for the next  Walking with Dinosaurs series, the director's commentary for the Henry V DVD, read C.S. Lewis's book The Magician's Nephew, narrate a documentary about the making of Charlie Chaplin's film The Great Dictator, attend auditions for Richard III and write a screenplay for HBO.

You think this is all? Think again....
He will attend the Emmy Awards and start promoting Shackleton which will be screening in the UK on Channel 4 on the 5th and 6th of January 2002.
I need to lie down.  :-)  This is all very exciting stuff! Stay tuned!

With regard to the photo of Ken and two men from the last update, the gentleman on the right has been identified as John Nichol (thanks, Susan!), one of two RAF pilots who were shot down, captured, and tortured during the Gulf War. Perhaps the other man is the other pilot, John Peters (ha, try putting that unusual name into an image search engine...the stuff people put up on the Internet - she says, typing her gibberish) - but I'm not sure. He looks very familiar, but maybe he just has that sort of face.

So... (it's a day later than the date below) I've had two suggestions that the friendly guy on the left is Stephen Evans (that was one of my guesses, but I haven't been able to find any other pic to confirm it), and there is also a suggestion that the gentleman on the right may be a person from L.A. who was involved with the Renaissance Theatre tour in America. Should we be promising prizes for the correct answer? :-)

Today's photo is our Kenneth with two eminent actress ladies: Caroline Langrishe and Frances Barber (thanks, Virginia). Note the loosened tie... the better to drag him off with.   :-)
(14 August, thanks Film Lover, Jude, Ashleigh, Susan, Virginia, Sandra)

Melting person with melting brain writing this (translation: no air-conditioning, no cross-ventilation). Seriously considering moving to Iceland or the Hebrides.

Okay, enough moaning. HEY, hey, hey! Bob Hope and anyone else who can get to Palm Springs can see Schneider's Second Stage! It's being shown as part of the Palm Springs International Festivals of Short Films. The date is August 10, the time 10 p.m., the place the "Festival of Arts Cinemas", 2300 E. Baristo. The film is part of Program 24, called "Into the Dark Corners". Just in case you're too lazy to spend time reading the scintillating news archive to know what we are talking about here's the skinny on the short:

Film Six: Schneider's 2nd Stage
Synopsis: In the middle of nowhere, Joe's mobile rings, a voice tells him to look in the back of his car. It's just the beginning of a nightmare of no escape, and what he discovers in the forest across the dark waters of the lake will change his life forever.
Run Time: 16 Min.
Competition Category: Live Action (over 15 minutes)
Screening Format: 35mm
Director: Phil Stoole
Producer: Phil Stoole
Screenwriter: Phil Stoole
Photography Director: Roger Lanser
Editor: Geraint Reynolds
Music: John Ross
Cast Members: Kenneth Branagh
Gerard Horan
Jimmy Yuill
Phil Stoole is one of those under-achievers like Ken, it seems.   :-)

Other random stuff:

From an article about the most powerful figures in British film in Hot Dog, a British film magazine:

"Kenneth Branagh was once described as the "new" Laurence Olivier, but having directed 11 films, written five and produced four (doing all three and starring in last year's Love's Labour's Lost), he has emerged as more than that - he is British film's only true auteur. Branagh is in training to play explorer Ernest Shackleton in a Channel 4 mini-series filming in the Arctic, and says he aims to be "fit as a butcher's dog." Such small-screen dalliances aside, Branagh's true genius is to stand astride both high and popular culture, a sort of link-man for the disparate worlds of Hollywood, where he is a recognized name, and the London theatre that supplies Hollywood with top-shelf talent."

Enlightened authors in Hot Dog.
From the "I-loved-that-bit-in-Beginning" collection... (actually it's from the Daily Telegraph, 26 July 2001):

The scene of Kenneth Branagh's stage debut - Meadway Comprehensive School near Reading - has closed down. "It's a great shame," says Ken. "It was in a production of OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR there that I was encouraged to think for the first time about becoming a professional actor."

There is a pack of news about the Ulster Association of Youth Drama - check out the UAYD page for details of this year's bursary winners. You can also see these young actors if you happen to be in the right place at the right time:
"Following the success of UAYD's mammoth Millennium event YEEHAR! held last year at the Waterfront Hall Belfast, this year's summer project takes us outside Belfast to the exciting new theatres that have just been completed in Armagh, Lisburn and L/Derry. UAYD has assembled a superb young company of actors, musicians and technicians from all over Ulster to take part in the project and an award-winning team of professional theatre practiioners.

A SCENE FROM THE BRIDGE explores the world of a theatre company intent on commemorating the sacrifice of a local community hero, who has died in the creation of a Peace Bridge which was being built sumbolically over a Peace Wall. The play is working well until the young people who actually witnessed the incident are invited to the dress rehearsal. The reaction to how they have been portrayed on stage raises questions that lead the actors to question their assumptions about the story they have been telling and the very nature of theatre itself. Full of humour, music and memorable characters. A SCENE FROM THE BRIDGE also offers a thoughtful reflection on many of the most perplexing issues facing Northern Ireland since the ceasefire."

Performance dates:

The Market Place Armagh Theatre & Arts Center
August 16 - 18 at 8pm
Matinee August 19 at 2pm
box office: 028 3752 1821

The Island Hall Lisburn, Island Arts Center
August 20 - 22 at 8pm
box office: 028 9250 9509

The Millennium Forum, Derry/Londonderry
August 24 & 25 at 8pm
Matinee August 25 at 3pm
box office: 028 7126 0516

There are two new photos. One of Kenneth and two friends (and I blush to admit I don't know who they are, though I have seen them both before - but I'm counting on some kind soul to illuminate me), and another photo of Guy and Harriet (a particularly nice one).
(8 August, thanks Film Lover, Jennie, Jane, Jude, Sandra)

It's about time! I was beginning to despair in the powers of sleuthing reporters or worry that discretion was reaching unheard of heights (or depths, depending on your point of view, tee hee) - but the Compendium News has been saved by The Mirror. The "3 a.m. girls" say:

The Mirror, Tuesday 31st July 2001


He hasn't had the smoothest of love lives and has endured some very public break-ups.

But now, at long last, it looks like Kenneth Branagh has found love again.

For the award-winning actor and director is dating art director Lindsey Brunnock and pals say the pair are "besotted" with each other.

The couple, who have been together for just over a month, met on the set of Channel 4's pounds 40million drama Shackleton, which finished filming a few weeks ago.

Friends say Ken is so enamoured with Lindsey that he has practically moved her into his pounds 12million Windsor mansion.

Romantic Branagh, 40, famed for his reworkings of Shakespearean classics including Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing, is also planning to take her on a six week, round-the-world cruise... first class all the way, of course. A source close to the couple says: "They haven't been together for long but they've fallen head over heels in love. They are like a pair of teenagers.

"He's practically given her the keys to his Windsor mansion and he's taking her on a cruise.

"They feel so at ease in each other's company and have such a laugh together. They have so much in common. It's just so nice to see him this happy."

Lindsey, who worked on the biopic based on the life of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, is the actor's first serious girlfriend since he split from actress Helena Bonham Carter in September 1999 after five years.

The two had become close when they worked together on the 1994 movie Frankenstein, when Kenneth was married to Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson.

They later separated and were divorced in 1996.

Last night Branagh was unavailable for comment but his personal assistant said: "I cannot confirm nor deny this story. "Anyway, I don't comment on his personal life."

So.... take that with the grain or mountain of salt that you will. I'll take the romantic view myself.   Yeesh, it's hard to imagine the Energizer-bunny on a long cruise (maybe he'll write 7 scripts, swim behind the ship for a few hours each day, and visit every monument in every city - oh, and film a remake of The Love Boat while he's at it). This must be love. Or a lie.   :-)

Digging around the 'net I turned up this scary(ish) shot from Frankenstein, and these two pics from a Love's Labour's Lost press conference.

That's it, folks... stay tuned!
(31 July, thanks Grace)

Neigh, neigh, I speak not in jest - Kenneth was spied the other day at the Ascot races... in pleasant company (in a group, fans - yeah, I'm wondering when the heck he'll be caught tête à tête, too - but this wasn't the time!) and hopefully backing a winner (I assume he was eating the strawberries and cream and not getting tipsy on mint juleps like he said he did with his dad at the Kentucky Derby some years back [it's a bit sad that I retain this nugget of information but forget my phone number :-) ]).

The first really hot in the Antarctic photo has surfaced. It shows Kevin McNally and Mark McGann with Ken and is from The Radio Times, 21-27 July. This is the blurb:

Sneak Preview - Kenneth Branagh in Shackleton

The prospect of a polar adventure would have many actors praying for polystyrene snow and a big studio. Not so Kenneth Branagh. Along with 90 cast and crew, he is just back from Greenland, after five weeks on an ice-breaker, re-creating Ernest Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition, for a Channel 4 drama later this year. He stars as Shackleton, who led his 28-man crew to safety after their ship Endurance was crushed in an ice pack.

"Usually when you make a film about dangerous events you are only pretending to be in the thick of it," said writer/director Charles Sturridge (who directed C4's Longitude). "We were living a not totally dissimilar life to that depicted in the film."

But Shackleton is not all Boy's Own stuff. The two-parter also follows the tangled private life of the adventurer.

Oh, goody - "tangled private life" is promising. Maybe it's just as well they didn't film in my snow-bound backyard last winter - this ruddy "fit as a butcher's dog" look would have had me passing out, arms askew, making snow angels, every time 'Shackleton' asked for a cup of tea.  :-)

The dark locks are still around in this photo of Ken, looking about 16, at the memorial service for Michael Williams.

The Compendium will be with you for another year (I figure if you are reading this you won't groan too loudly) thanks to its mahvellous co-patrons, Virginia and Douglass. A round of applause, please!

And that is all the news there is, alas... (BTW, the audio Richard III really rocks - there is no better word... A Ken and company fix etraordinaire).
(19 July, thanks Judith, Karen, Catherine, Marina)

So Conspiracy got 10 Emmy nominations, including "OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE" for Kenneth Branagh. Yay!! You can get a quick and dirty listing of all the nominations on Karen's Conspiracy site. You'll be able to see the Emmy Awards ceremony live on CBS (and probably a local channel in Canada) on September 16.

A memorial service was held for Michael Williams:

From The Times, Tuesday, July 10 2001

Packed House Bids Fond Farewell to 'Loved and Admired' Williams

THERE was a last full house for Michael Williams, the actor, co-star and husband of Dame Judi Dench at St Paul’s in Covent Garden yesterday. The actors’ church was filled to capacity for the memorial service for one of Britain’s best loved character actors, who died in January from cancer.

Many of his fans could find no room in the church and had to stand outside. The Rev Mark Oakley, the parish priest who took the service, agreed that he had never seen his church fuller. The reason, according to the theatre critic and historian Sheridan Morley, was that in a notoriously bitchy profession Michael Williams was a man everyone loved and admired. “He was truly nice, and I never heard anyone breathe a word against him,” Mr Morley said.

Ned Sherrin, the playwright, broadcaster and impresario who is a connoisseur of memorial services, writing a regular review column about them in The Oldie, said: “I would rate this one absolutely ten out of ten. It was first class.” Sherrin contributed to its success with a number of anecdotes about his late friend, including a reminiscence of the relish and vigour with which Williams ripped six pages out of the script for the play Mr and Mrs Nobody, in which he starred with his wife, when it was agreed to dispense with them, to the dismay of the playwright Keith Waterhouse.

Richard Henders read Shakespeare’s sonnet number 116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments. Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds. . .”

Musical interludes came from the score for Henry V by Patrick Doyle. Kenneth Branagh, the film’s star and producer, recited from memory Williams’s favourite poem, The Mournes by Helen Waddell.

Sir Trevor Nunn, a friend of both Williams and Dame Judi before their marriage, repeated at Dame Judi’s request the address he gave at the actor’s funeral in January. He prefaced the reprise with an imitation of how Williams, master of doubt and hesitation, might have reacted to the suggestion of running through the same lines twice. His memories included one from the days of the television sit-com series A Fine Romance, in which Williams and Judi Dench starred in the 1980s. Dame Judi hated having to appear to warm up the audience before the episodes were recorded, and agonised: “Why do we have to do this? Why?” To which her husband responded gently: “The money, Jude. The money.”

Leaving the church after the service, Branagh said: “It was a beautiful service, very funny and very moving, and wholly fitting.” Among others in the congregation were the actors Richard E. Grant, Kevin Spacey, June Whitfield, Maureen Lipman, Samantha Bond and Sir Donald Sinden and the playwright Alan Bennett.

And proof that Rabbit-Proof Fence is still floating around (if I remember correctly, it is to be shown at the Venice Film Festival in September?) - a photo of Gary McDonald (actor), Philip Noyce (director) and Kenneth Branagh (demi-god...oops... actor) from the Australian edition of Empire magazine.

Two more great photos from the Love's Labour's Lost press conference in Berlin to finish off today's news... smiley and a bit puzzled .
(12 July, thanks Marina, Jude)

Still eating chocolates (British Airways is going to need to use another 747 to cart me back... irrelevant aside: I flew over on the evening after the Montreal Grand Prix with the McLaren and Williams race team mechanic-types; sitting in the upper deck with the highly entertaining UK sports journalists, who were very lively and then suddenly all popped pills and fell into a deep sleep; I passed up my chance to enquire whether they had covered that charity football game and what they had thought of KB's skill  :-) ).

So, How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog knocked 'em out at the Newport Film Festival, picking up two prizes:

"Inugami," "Dog" and "Dawg" Win in Newport

(indieWIRE/06.11.01) -- The 4th edition of the Newport International Film Festival came to a close Sunday night in Rhode Island. A handful of awards were doled out during the fest, with Harata Marada's Berlin 2001 entry, "Inugami," having its U.S. premiere at the festival, winning for Best Feature and French documentary "Avant de Partir" by Paul De Laubier, nabbing the prize for Best Doc.

Other big winners included Michael Kalesniko's "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog," which won the Audience Award and a youth jury prize in the narrative competition, and Gillian Grisman's Jerry Garcia/David Grisman portrait "Grateful Dawg," which world premiered at the fest, taking home the Audience Award for documentary.

Special Jury Prizes went to Lukas Moodysson's "Together" and Matthew Testa's documentary "The Buffalo War," and a Best Director award went to partners Billie Eltringham and Simon Beaufoy for their work on the UK feature "The Darkest Light." Montieth McCollum's "Hybrid" continued its festival winning streak with a special award for Original Vision and Anne-Sophie Birot's French entry, "Girls Can't Swim," garnered an Honorable Mention in the narrative category. Short film prizes went to Don Hertzfeldt for "Rejected," Barry Dingham for "Chicken," and Phil Bertelsen for "The Sunshine." [Anthony Kaufman]

[indieWIRE was ON THE SCENE at the Newport International Film Festival and will publish a report from the event in an upcoming edition.]

Do I even need to tell you that How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog also scooped up a prize at the Avignon Film Festival? Considering that the organizers made the keen audience come to the theatre three times on two days before they actually got to see the film (which would certainly have tested their enthusiasm) it underlines once again what a piece of (good) work this is. The winning films were shown again at the Cinemathèque française in Paris on 2 July. Here's the official word:
"Neighbor" Tapped Top Dog at Avignon Fest
By Lisa Nesselson, 1 July 2001

AVIGNON, France (Variety) - "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog", a comedy written and directed by Michael Kalesniko, has won the Avignon Film Festival's competition devoted to American films. The award was one of the Prix Tournage (best picture) winners announced in three geographical categories on June 27.

In the all-French lineup, "Stand-By", Roch Stephanik's tale of a woman who takes up residence at the airport when her husband dumps her before a flight, emerged the winner. The European Prix Tournage went to "El Bola" (Pellet), by Achero Manas of Spain.

A crossroads for indie-minded cultural exchange, the 18th event, previously known as the French-American Film Workshop, ran June 22-27. It's the counterpart of the Avignon/New York fest that unspools each April in Manhattan.

"How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog", starring Kenneth Branagh, had its world premiere last September at the Toronto Film Festival. It is not scheduled for U.S. release.

Doesn't that last line f***ing kill you? Course - spitting three times, throwing salt over my shoulder, making "le corne", touching wood - it might be that magical sentence that causes the God of Cinema to say "oh yeah? I'll show you! Get the distribution guys in here NOW!". (I've clearly overdosed on the chocolate. Sorry.)

Getting back to what Himself is up to now, a new article about the Antarctic epic has been added to the Shackleton page.

And it seems that someone has been conducting interviews with a number of actors - Sam West, Derek Jacobi, Michael Maloney, Simon Russell Beale, Kenneth and others - about playing Hamlet. More details as they become available.

Thanks to the nifty Internet and a lovely Ken pal I even have a photo for you today: Ken with Hiroyuki Sanada, a Japanese Hamlet actor. This is the information from Yu-ri: "When Ken visited Japan to promote Hamlet, he had a talk with Sanada who would play Hamlet at Barbican Centre. Sanada is the first Japanese member of RSC, last year he played the Fool in Sir Nigel Hawthorn's King Lear. Michael Maloney played Edgar." The picture is from the pamphlet of Sanada's Hamlet Japanese tour in 1998.
(3 July, thanks Film Lover, Becky, Jude, Linda, Yu-ri)

2beans and not 2beans, hello! Reaching for a beer to wash down the chocolate, here in Brussels (I'm kidding...I'd have the chocolate to wash down the beer, ha ha...) - actually, a large amount of beer might make using this French keyboard a lot easier (my question is, why does the French from France keyboard have to be different from the French from Québec one, what is the point of la francophonie? Grumble, grumble.)

I will try to do a quick update over these next few days - time and 'politesse' permitting (I am ignoring my hosts in favour of their "ordi" [computer] and feeling a bit guilty). Vacation is really only a word, rather than a true concept or activity in the world o' Ken, so, of course, no moss gathered on the Branagh stone while I ate olives on the beach.   :-)

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog is brilliantly killing them all over the place - yahooo! Yurpeans (the George Dubya spelling, they tell me) can see the film very, very soon: at the 18th Avignon Film Festival in Avignon, France. The festival runs from June 22 to 27, so not much longer... however, the screening schedule is still "under construction" (I guess the webmaster got busy watching the films   :-) ) so I can't tell you more.

After that, you can see HTKYND at the Filmfestival München in Munich. It will be shown at the cinema "Sendlinger Tor" (Sendlinger Tor Platz 11) on Wednesday 4th of July at 8 pm and Thursday 5th of July at 10:30 pm.

There is more - but it be not now, so it will be ready and come back soon.
(26 June, thanks Jude, Heidi)

Keen Kenians! A brief hiatus in the Ken news looms. Not because you-know-who is not doing the energizer bunny thing (speaking of which, all this "fit as a butcher's dog" stuff has chased the chubby bunny - hi Nockie! - clean away). No, yours truly is off on the annual 'mooch off the friends and relatives on the continent' summer holiday (okay, I cheated last year and also forced them to feed me during a fall trip, but it was an exception and they say I am forgiven...). So, the usual refrain: KB better not get hitched in the next 2-3 weeks.  :-)

The BBC and a few newspapers ran the story about KB and company leaving for Greenland to film the Shackleton epic. This is the third time they have "left" in the last three months - one starts to wonder if they keep falling into some time warp and getting hauled back, only to "leave" again. Maybe it's a Monty Python skit.

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog may be shown in Munich at the end of June... unfortunately I won't be here to confirm this news, but you can join the Ken-Friends to get the latest scoop on everything.

We have two new additions to the Links page:
Lélia's French Kenneth Branagh site and SusanK's new

In the "gosh!" category, these lines from Doug Camilli of the Montreal Gazette (who rumour has it, is actually a virtual columnist, created to let a bunch of flesh and blood journalists make cynical and sometimes curmudgeonly comments on showbiz, and retell jokes they heard at their favourite watering holes): "Last Saturday's ("Then sigh not so but let them go ...") is from the 1993 Ken Branagh-Emma Thompson version of Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favourite movies."   Gosh!
You can read a sample of Camilli (and this quote) here.

Now to the good stuff... a nice, though somewhat mysterious, article from My Weekly. Mysterious in that, as people with good memories inform me, KB's trip to this camp happened quite a while ago, and also because after reading the article (many times) one is none the wiser about whether Kenneth is actually doing what Paul asked him to. Enquiring minds (and nosey parkers) want to know!

The skinny   :-)  on this week's photos: the "cubist cherub" with "gaunt Lawrentian cheeks" - Coming Through I and Coming Through II. And a heart-melter.

See you all towards the end of the month!
(10 June, thanks FilmLover, Catherine, Sandra)