News Archive: January 2002 - June 2002

So it looks like Alfonso Cuarón has got the nod for directing the third Harry Potter film... sort of a bummer since KB apparently would have quite liked the job, but not entirely a bummer for the fans since he won't be tied up behind the camera for ages - hence more chance of us seeing him on camera. Which I won't complain about.

You can see a snippet of KB (essentially the "moving" version of the image on the front of the Compendium) in the trailer at

Here is a sound-bite that came through the ABC channel:

Rupert Grint (about Kenneth Branagh joining cast): "He is just so funny and really down to earth and easy to talk to."
Emma Watson: "I think he puts Gilderoy across perfectly because he is such a strutting character and he really fits the part."
Giggle... what exactly is young Emma saying?

And here's a quote from KB, which you can find at the Harry Potter site, under "About the Production":

"Multi-talented actor, writer and director Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Dead Again, Shackleton) plays the flamboyantly self-obsessed Gilderoy Lockhart, who joins Hogwarts as the new Professor of the Defense Against the Dark Arts. 'Gilderoy Lockhart is a fascinating creation of J.K. Rowling's,' Kenneth Branagh says. 'I'm having great fun immersing myself in the magical world of Hogwarts and working with this phenomenal cast and crew.'"
That's all the 'written' news, but there are a bunch of new magazine covers to ogle:
Mesmerizing each other in 1991 | With Gielgud in 1992 | Thoughtful in 1992 | Rugged in 1992 | Suave in 1992 | Surrounded by friends in 1992 | Mesmerizing each other in 1993 | Spying a monster in 1995 | Scheming in 1995 | As Hamlet in 1996 | And again in 1997 | A Celebrity in 1999 | 'It's a wrap' in 2000 | Shackleton in black & white in 2001 | Shackleton in colour in 2002.

Coming up next... book covers.
(22 June, thanks Auriette, Kristen, Jude, Marci)

No news except a reminder that Shackleton is airing this weekend in Australia - don't miss it! But we do have additions to the Covery Gallery: Plays International 1992; Sunday Times Culture 1993; Modern Review 1993; Moviestar 1995; Kino News 1995; Just English 1998.

Also, most of the photos from the news (i.e. here) have moved into the Photo Gallery (with its quick and dirty subdivision: newpics).
(13 June, thanks Carole, Jude)

A thousand apologies for being AWOL for a while (houseguests, parents needing a hand - it seems I don't need to get a life - would anyone like some?).   Well, Ken-keeners - guess what everyone is talking about... Yes, you'll find short articles on the subject of who might direct the third Harry Potter film on the Harry Potter page. There are also neat new photos of Gilderoy/Ken in his finery, looking, as a someone suggested, like a glam Mr. Darcy. You'll have seen the first (be still my beating heart!) photo on the entry to the site, and here is one of Lockhart being intimidated by a couple of kids. Both photos come from an article in Entertainment Weekly. This is the blurb accompanying the second photo:

The most notable addition to the franchise's troupe of British thespians is Kenneth Branagh, who plays Hogwarts' newest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Though Hugh Grant, star of Columbus' "Nine Months," was considered for the role, the director believed Branagh would mesh better with the other professors. "Ken seems to disappear into any role," says Columbus. "I didn't want people to see Gilderoy and say, 'Oh my God! That's Hugh Grant!'".
The first trailer for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will arrive in theatres June 14th (presumably attached to Scooby Doo in the US), and will be available at starting June 11th.

Richard III is still creating ripples as reviews surface. You can read two new ones, from the Times Literary Supplement and from Shakespeare at the Centre on the Richard III reviews page.

There was also this bit about Kenneth in the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust's Annual Report:

Adopt a Treasure: Kenneth Branagh became the first Patron of 'Adopt a Trust' and guardian of one of the Trust's First Folios in the a new fundraising initiative launched by the Trust in September. The scheme intends to make accessible to more people the rare items that are in the Trust's care, and at the same time raise funds to look after them. A whole range of treasures from the archives, the library, and the museum collections within the Shakespeare Houses is available for adoption. In return for a donation, adopters have the opportunity of choosing a treasure of particular interest to themselves and seeing their treasure in a behind-the-scenes visit. The initial response to the scheme has been enthusiastic and funds raised will go into a special Conservation Fund set up to ensure that the Trust's collections are safeguarded for the future.
Here's an article from the Belfast News Letter, 20 May 2002:
BYLINE: Ian Hill

The excellent Kenneth Branagh, one of the few truly Renaissance men with real links to Belfast suffered horribly amongst the cliquish English when he, then with Emma Thomson, seemed to be able to turn his hand to everything, acting a magical Shakespeare, directing more magical Shakespeares and then turning Shakespeare into a brace of ace and popular movies.

It was as if because Ken, not part of an Oxbridge arts elite which controlled stage, big screen and small screen, as well at the critical and columnists pages of the broadsheets, had first to be mocked and then resented, someone who had all that ability and all that success and was not "one of theirs".

But even that arts mafia has had agree that his return to Shakespeare on the stage, in Leeds, still delivers the real McCoy. Just as importantly for aspirant thesps here, Branagh has never abandoned his Belfast roots. His The Renaissance Award and his Ken-Friends Bursary Scheme - the former taking its name from his own theatre company - are keystones to many a career on and off the boards.

The Renaissance Award, set up in his position as Patron of the Ulster Association of Youth Drama (UAYD), is designed to assist young people under 25 who are studying full time at drama school.

Applicants for the year 2002 award should contact UAYD to take out the membership which makes them eligible and then pick up the application forms, all before Friday June 28, 2002.

The Ken-Friends Bursary is designed to help youth drama leaders and youth drama students pay for one-off drama training courses, at home or abroad.

And note that last phrase "or abroad". The world's your oyster.

Read more about UAYD and the Ken-Friends Bursary by clicking these links.

Lots of little news bits:

The "Filmfest Emden" ( is having a "Special Kenneth Branagh" section, showing Henry V (how? must be projected DVD or video, which I can't seem to warm to), Shackleton, Theory of Flight, Love's Labour's Lost, and Much Ado About Nothing. Cool.

The Magician's Nephew won an award. Here is a blurb from Audiofile, which gave it:

Written in 1955 as a prequel to the 1950 fantasy novel THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, this title is the story of two children in Victorian England who unwittingly take part in the (re)birth of the magical land of Narnia. Kenneth Branagh's precise and enchanting reading takes the listener from the rooftops of London to the fields of Narnia, and then back to London as mad Uncle Andrew ushers an evil sorceress named Jadis to wreak havoc in our world. Lewis's storytelling is magnificent, and Branagh's performance completely and utterly engaging. S.E.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2002 Audie Award Finalist (c) AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine [Published: JUN/JUL 02]
The movie High Season (1987) comes out on DVD 17 September 2002. You'll remember this as the classic where KB shows off his legs to full advantage (as well as a few other bits  :-) ).

The Periwig-Maker is scheduled to be released on DVD in Japan as part of a collection of 6 shorts, named "short6". DVD details:
Includes: Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers(2001 Sweden 10min)
Member (Starring Josh Hartnett 2001 USA 15min)
The Periwig-Maker (Narrated by Ken 1999 Germany 15min)
Camera (Directed by David Cronenberg 2000 Canada 6min)
Killer Bean 2 (2000 USA 8min)
Wave Twisters (2001 USA 45min)
Release date: June 5,2002
Price: JPY4000
Region 2 DVD NTSC format

The Hollywood Reporter (4-10 June 2002) ran a promotional Emmy ad for Shackleton'

Further to Schneider's Second Stage being shown at the film festival in Japan (see news, 22 May, below) you can see a clip at the following address (you may have to install the Japanese font, though "ignoring" and "cancelling" tends to work for me): Broadband: - Narrowband:

And that fabuloso Rex Features site (where you can wallow in Richard III images (see news, 15 May, below) has put up three new images, from the RSC Hamlet: one - two - three.

We have photos, too! From Sheffield: Calculating how much security should be put into place for an over-enthusiastic web-person | Signing, signing, signing - Ken-fans all have shiny hair, like the man himself :-) | Two for the price of one - Ben Elton in the Long Bar, KB in the background | Leaving the theatre after the last performance | Stopping for a photo with Kristy as he leaves.

For Ken-worshippers - three panels for a triptych: close - closer - is this close enough? :-).

Memory lane: bunch of photos from Hamlet from a Kodak advertising brochure... booklet cover | warming up... | the play's the thing... | the architects' favourite view... | the crew doing their thing... | the crew posing with the director.... And speaking of Hamlet, congratulations to Rufus (Fortinbras) and Amy on the birth of little Billy! (I worked that in quite discreetly, non?)

That's all for today, but we know that The Kenergizer is making new news as we speak - stay tuned.
(9 June, thanks Ngoc, Gale, Nadine, Catherine, bunches of Potter-heads, Jude, Sandra Fr., Juliane, Marilyn C., Misato, Sondra)

Not a lot of news, but mucho, mucho fabuloso fotos today.

Starting from 14 June in Tokyo, Schneider's 2nd Stage will be screening as a part of 4th annual Short Shorts Film Festival 2002. Here are the other venues:
6/14 to 6/19 Tokyo
6/24 to 6/27 Osaka
7/4 to 7/7 Okinawa
7/13 to 7/14 Miyako-jima
7/6 to 7/19 Nagoya
7/10 to 7/14 Sapporo
7/20 to 7/22 Matsumoto
You can get more details from the web site. Schneider's 2nd Stage is listed as "Star Short Shorts", which despite the imminent arrival of summer, has nothing to do with KB's attire.  :-) There is a scary-ish picture, which you can see here.

Put on your glasses, mama - picture time! Another pack from all that loitering near the stage door of the Crucible: "Les Boys", without the hockey gear(it's a Québec thing, pardon!) || "I haven't quite mastered the Queen's way with this" || "Thanks for the offer of the tooth-picks - they've got a triple espresso waiting for me inside" || "I can't believe you're all still hanging around" || Golden Boy || "My hair's darker at night" || Patient, despite the letters waiting to be read.

I have a few more but my eyes are closing (used the last toothpicks with the I-must-survive-this-day martinis - visiting friends with bartending skills are a definite plus!  :-) ).
(22 May, thanks Misato, Ilaria)

Hi Branaghans! Fighting off the day job (and daily life) to provide you with the latest KB news. I promised some snippets from the Royal Shakespeare Company turmoil - it's only going to be two mentions, because in the end they all say the same, purely speculative, thing. The French paper Libération had a headline about the RSC being "en plein vaudeville", LOL! So here they are, with a link so you can read the whole thing if you desire:

From: "The RSC: what next?
Time for a radical Shake-up: Adrian Noble's untimely exit threatens the RSC's survival. Meanwhile, the shows go on..."
by Susannah Clapp
The Observer, 28 April 2002

...The most exciting person to preside over this would be Jonathan Kent, who at the Almeida never needed to know the meaning of the word 'access': he put on plays that people wanted to see. Kent at the RSC would often be infuriating but never dull. There are others: Kenneth Branagh (a charismatic producer whose film-directing career appears to be dwindling and who has recently returned to the theatre); Jude Kelly (good at managing, less good at directing); Gregory Doran (discussed below). I doubt - even though I'd want to argue with his versificatory techniques - that any would have the edge of Kent. ....

From: "Exit Noble, After a Season of Discontent: Artistic Director Who Shook up RSC Denies He Was Forced Out"
by Angelique Chrisafis
The Guardian, 25 April 2002

Figures in the theatre world suggested reforms would continue at the RSC and a successor may face the same flak as Noble. The baton has previously passed from insider to insider and those tipped from within include the associate director Gregory Doran, and the son of Peter Hall, Edward Hall, who walked out on the eve of rehearsals for the new five-play Jacobean season at Stratford.
Those who suggest the need for a "strong character from outside" have mentioned Kenneth Branagh, who recently returned to the British stage to play Richard III in Sheffield.

The Play What I Wrote has just vacated Wyndham's Theatre (Madonna is presumably soaking up the genius talent vibes Foley, McColl, Jones and Branagh left behind), but it will be back! From 30 October 2002 to 4 January 2003 - tickets on sale now through Ticketmaster now. Here is a small article from the Sunday Times, 12 May:
The veteran pop star Sting has finally made his West End stage debut, appearing as the special guest star in 'The Play What I Wrote', the comedy inspired by the routines of Morecambe and Wise. Its final performance was last Saturday, with an extra gallery of grotesques - Richard Wilson, David Suchet, Miranda Richardson, Sue Johnson, Charles Dance and the lovely Ioan Gruffudd - all tramping on stage to join Sting in the tale.

Hope yet remains, however, for all those anguished B-listers who prayed to be invited onto the show after Desert Island Discs and This Is Your Life passed them by. I am told that the show is closing only temporarily, because its two performers "need a f****ing holiday" after nine months of rewrites and rehearsals for the five celebs a fortnight who have trodden the boards alongside them.

Oddly - though nobody has yet had a heart attack in the wings - they are booked to reopen at Wyndhams Theatre on November 5, a year to the day after they first opened there. In the meantime, Wyndhams will be occupied by Madonna, who has yet to make her West End stage debut, never having made into 'The Play What I Wrote'.

The article has it starting a week later than the ticket sellers - must be the heart attack factor (I have to admit worried about Sean and Hamish all the way through the two times I saw it - though I guess by now they are in good enough shape to film 'Shackleton' playing all the parts, including the Endurance and the Caird,  :-) ).

Meanwhile, our Oz friends send the news (with many exclamation marks) that Shackleton will finally be screened on ABC on Sunday, 16 June. Yay!!

The North American poster for Rabbit Proof Fence is on view at Dark Horizons. The release date for the USA still seems to be 21 June.

There is an interesting review of The Peri-wig Maker from The New Republic, which you can read here.

Harry Potter news: you could win a role inHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - the small print says it's a walk-on part, but hey, convert that to a run and tackling Gilderoy in order to have a heart-to-heart (literally) is totally feasible. Another prize is tickets to the premiere, and admiring the stars in their finery is a sure thing there. You can participate at:

And the mixed nuts bit of this cocktail party:

Ananova published an article entitled "Poll names top celebrity break-ups". According to a poll run by, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson are the celebrity couple who handled their divorce the best. Coming in at # 9 we have Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, just before Mick and Jerry (giggle). You can read who the other classy ones are, and who messed up, here.

This is London (i.e. The Evening Standard online) had this amusing bit:

A luvvy affair with Spurs

Now that Sean Bean has joined the board of Sheffield United maybe other clubs will be queuing up to sign on celebrity showbiz fans.

Tottenham may be the worst team in London but they can still boast the best celeb fans. They could have Lord David Puttman as a director and Kenneth Branagh and Pierce Brosnan to join him. Ballerina Darcy Bussell would also be a good signing for a bit of gender balance.

Sean Bean is in a TV advert for contact lenses here, it took me ages before I finally got round to noticing the product he was promoting, heh heh! We did not get Rufus purring about the ecological aspects of BP on the radio, though - dang!

Two nice photos: Getting writer's cramp in Sheffield, and Kenneth with Ruthie, who travelled from Israel to see Richard III.

Click here for an amazing trove of KB photos! There are a BUNCH of fantabulous ones from Richard III and lots of others, 88 in all. Depending on your modem speed it could be up to 88 minutes of eyeballing pleasure. They all have a watermark which means "don't you dare put them on the Compendium, you shameless webmastering git". Sigh. But - do not miss these!!!
(15 May, thanks Misato, Celia, Catherine W., Marina, Marianne, Ruthie & Sandra, Ngoc)

For once I have nothing to say (cue general cheering) - we're sticking to visuals this time.

A cartoon of Kenneth as Richard,(LOL!) from the Times Literary Supplement (the review will follow in future). And while we're in Sheffield: KB with a fan; KB hanging about outside the Crucible...where he encounters Isabel (and friends), who insists on a proper picture and then another one of the Anglo(1)-Spanish(5) gang: Marie, Isabel, Estela, Conchita, Eva and Patricia. While they're at it they take a picture of KB with Patricia, and - since he spent lots of time loitering near the stage door - we are also pleased to post the following: Kenneth and Beth (no it's not pouring - the film had a little encounter we won't talk about); Kenneth with Nadine and Sandra; Kenneth about to donate his last copy of Beginning to Jan; Melanie (left) and friend demonstrate The Big Squeeze.

And from Shackleton: Posing in the snow; Dressed up for business; Moving Day (these are actually the guys from my ISP and that's the server they're carrying in the middle)(and if you don't read the news [and my whining] regularly you won't know what I'm talking about  :-) ); Not entirely happy as a cover boy.

The photos from the last few months of news have been moved onto the New Pics page. The plan is to place them in the Gallery and New Pics concurrent with the news... one should always have a dream.  :-)  Next time some Branagh-related snippets from the RSC tempest.
(30 April, thanks Jude, Ai, Isabel, Beth, Sandra; Jan, Melanie, Jann)

Further to 'Kenny had a little lamb' (see last news update below), we have another article and photo from the same outing. More warm fuzzies, which you can prolong by checking out the nifty website of Whirlow Hall Farm (they have a Branaghcam virtual tour - up down, all around - nifty).

The page about the special Ken-Friends event in Sheffield is finally up. Check out the happy gang (and how cute is Michael Grandage sitting dead-centre... the photos don't show it, but he won the Renata-award for fabulous lanky elegance, folding and unfolding himself on the chair during the Q&A).

Here's a bit from the Daily Mail, which was probably planned for printing earlier than it actually appeared...

Baz Bamigboye, 19 April 2002

Ken Can Crown A Towering Career

"Kenneth Branagh completes a triumphant reutrn to Shakespeare on stage at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield tomorrow when his run as 'Richard III' ends. The talk is of whether he will take Michael Grandage's production to London, New York or any of the other theatrical hot spots around the globe that want him. However, he also has to stage the comic hit 'The Play What I Wrote' on Broadway later in the year for producers David Pugh and Mike Nichols. And there are some who are putting his name forward (without his knowledge) as a candidate to run the Royal Shakespeare Company when, and if, artistic director Adrian Noble should ever step down. Noble, who has a hit on his hands with 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', could be in so much demand that he would need to leave the RSC.

"Let's just see what happens..."

Uhm, yes, let's.... Still with Richard III, a new review (a fun one from an appreciative lady) has been added to the reviews page. Click on Mail on Sunday, 24 March in the top listing.

It seems that the DVD (region 1, North America) of Swing Kids will be released in September; you can find it listed on

I stumbled across an older article, from Now magazine in Toronto, this week. It has a nice interview with KB about Love's Labour's Lost and love and labours lost. You can read it here. And see KB in a Now magazine t-shirt here.

Fabulous photos for today's update. "Oh baby, I mean, Sir Ernest... let me write you a cheque for many hundreds of pounds!".

Kenneth meeting Marilyn, FAQ-mistress extraordinaire. I'm sorry you can't see her sweet face, but look at him! We can each imagine that little smile directed at us...

And "Where's the party?" Mates Kenneth, Jimmy and Gerard.
(22 April, thanks Marie, Tanya, Catherine, Jane, Jude, Douglass, Isabel)

Okay, we're having an unscheduled update of only one item, because I can't keep this guaranteed warm and fuzzy pleasure from you until a proper update.

So here is an article from the Sheffield Telegraph (the Ken-Friends made the front page of the paper - at least it wasn't under a "Most Wanted" headline!   :-) ) - this isn't the warm and fuzzy part - and .... this is it: a Lamb's tale of Shakespeare... Awwww! They're both really cute.

Till soon...
(16 April, thanks Marie)

It's ohhhhhhhhvvvver! Perhaps he who had to declaim from a slightly more civilised version of the rack would say this with a touch of relief, but those of us who got a warm buzz thinking about how people were continuing to be wowed by the production, are in mourning for the end of the run of Richard III.   Sigh.

Just to keep the sun shining there is this:

Extract from The New York Times, 12 April 2002

Slapstick Is Their Shtick
By Jesse McKinley

Two major names, Mike Nichols and Kenneth Branagh, are coming to Broadway next year in behind-the-scenes capacities for a play about a famed comedy team that most Americans have never heard of.

The show is "The Play What I Wrote," a runaway hit in the West End of London starring Hamish McColl and Sean Foley as none other than Morecambe and Wise.


Those who think the Blitz has more to do with football than aerial assault probably won't recognize the names, but for more than 40 years, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were a staple of British comedy, from their early days in wartime Britain through the early 1980's. (Morecambe died in 1984, Wise in 1999.)

Sun-never-sets nostalgia may partly explain the phenomenal popularity of "The Play What I Wrote," which is directed by Mr. Branagh and centers on the team's attempts to book a celebrity to perform in a terrible play written by Wise. That conceit leads to the show's biggest selling point: every night, a different star is brought onstage for the play's second act and asked to help enact a playlet titled "A Tight Squeeze for a Scarlet Pimple." Among those who have recently appeared in London are Ralph Fiennes, Jerry Hall and Ian McKellen.

Despite Americans' limited knowledge of Morecambe and what's-his-name, the show's British producer, David Pugh, is confident enough that the comedy translates to say that he will bring "Play" to a midsized Shubert house next spring. He is to be joined above the title by Mr. Nichols, who saw the show late last month in London.

"Nichols is the driving force," Mr. Pugh said. "He knows more about double acts than any other person in the world, having been in Nichols and May for 30 years."

The show would be tweaked to make it "slightly more universal," Mr. Pugh said. (Read: less British.)

The Broadway run is contingent on approval by Actors' Equity, which will be asked to allow Mr. McColl and Mr. Foley, who also perform as the comedy group the Right Size, to repeat their roles in New York. "I can't imagine doing it with anybody else," Mr. Pugh said.

There article discusses other plays but I'm being narrow-minded and sticking to our KB theme.

A review has been added to the Richard III reviews page. I agonised a bit about this because it disses the lovely Jude Law, while praising you-know-who, and it may not stay up... but it's there for now. Read it quickly. :-)

An interview with KB relating to Shackleton has been added, as well as a review (see the Shackleton page). There are many others, I'll add a few in the next while.

À propos the "I-cannot-believe-the-cuts" A&E version of Shackleton it appears that the region 1 (North America) DVD has the series intact, with the 40 minutes missing from the TV version included.

There are new venues for seeing How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog in the theatre:

Hartford, CT - April 21-23- Cinestudio

Cleveland, OH - May 26 and 28 - Cleveland Cinemateque

You'll also find another review from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

Hold your breath for three Sheffield photo specials..... "At the stage door - one" and "At the stage door - two" thanks to Bertilla! And finally there are photos with fans again: first up - Ken with Sam Roseaman at the Crucible. More to come...
(14 April, thanks Jane, Susan K., Bertilla, Sam)

Just one link today, to a review of the 'How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog' DVD.

The North American Shackleton reviews are snowing down, but I'm behind in the updates (I think maybe most of me is still in Sheffield)... more to come.

Early reports (from distraught and irate viewers) indicate that Shackelton, splendidly promoted by A&E, has been unsplendidly cut (maybe to allow for adverts to pay for the promotion? or are we just talking philistines? or isn't that the same thing?). Hmmm. Anyway, here are two photos which will make you smile: Ernie and Ken.

More soon!
(7 April, thanks Film Lover)

Moi again. The rest of the Richard III reviews - the ones in electronic format - are up. I may be able to do an OCR with the others (which are not many).

There is a fantastic interview with Kenneth up on the BBC Yorkshire site. It's over 15 minutes long and very interesting. You get two guesses who the "room-mates" are....

I'm slowly starting to focus (though I refuse to remove the rose-tinted glasses). Another amazing thing I forgot to mention last time was that a pack of us Ken-Friends got to see the short film Schneider's Second Stage. You can refresh your memory on this oeuvre by checking the last news archive (do a word search with 'schneider'). If you'll pardon the expression (I'm listening to a "classic rock" station, targetted specifically at my demographic): what a trip! Beautifully filmed, wonderful colouring, neat story with a twist and actors with a big future... :-)  Watch out for it - any venues we hear of will be posted here.

Shackleton is at the North American door. You can get all sorts of info and see photos at the A&E website. The two parts will air on April 7th and 8th. This is from the April 5th issue of Entertainment Weekly:

Sir Ernest Shackleton, the suddenly hot British explorer whose arduous 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition has recently incited an unlikely media craze, gets the two-part-TV-movie treatment. Kenneth Branagh plays Sir Ernie as a crossbreed of bulldog (tenaciously leading his crew across miles of icy terrain after their ship, the Endurance, sinks) and publicity hound (cannily financing the voyage by peddling print and film rights to his story). Stodgily written and directed by Charles Sturridge (Brideshead Revisited), Shackleton suffers from a platitudinous script ("The only true failure would be not to explore at all!") and washed-out visuals. But it's still a hell of a story - and it inspires Branagh's most stirring turn since 1989's Oscar-nominated Henry V. B - Bruce Fretts
The April A&E magazine Biography has an article on Shackleton, as well. Good news is that the DVD of Shackelton will be in the widescreen version (the VHS version will be pan and scan) - this news comes from Charles Sturridge himself, who "fought" for the widescreen edition.

While we're in home entertainment: new news is that Amazon UK lists How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog as available on DVD in the UK from 20th May. I'm still hoping it might find its way into the arthouse chain in Canada...

And.... the Director of Naxos Audiobooks has written a feature called "A month in the life of..." (he's one of those lucky dogs who gets around :-)) and here is a quote:

That evening, it was off to see a new play, a Morecambe and Wise tribute directed by Kenneth Branagh. Branagh is reading Chekhov short stories for us (for release next year) so I suppose this hilarious evening in the theatre must count as work...though I am not sure I understand the meaning of the word. Play, I call it.
The "recording features the novella "In The Ravine" by Anton Chekhov, a minutely observed look at life in a village through the eyes of one family. It also features 10 short stories by Chekhov, including "Oh! The Public", "The Chorus Girl" and "Misery". CD ISBN 9626342617, release date July 2002.

I will put up more photos from Richard III in the next two days.
(30 March, thanks Ngoc, Virginia L., Paula V., Jude)

Kenthusiasts - this one among you is back! And now in the winter of my content(ment)... which is a really bad way of saying that despite the 15 cm of wet snow which the native land threw on me in an effort to wipe out the sunshine that the daffodils (and a certain golden person) in England had put into my heart, I am still floating above the ground.

I don't think I can say anything coherent about Richard III, it was too amazing and took me places from which I haven't returned. I also can't say all the stuff about Mr. B. that I'm feeling, except that I think I've moved from being a kind of iron Branagh fan into a stainless steel one: no chance of future rusting or diminished strength. (But big chances of really bad writing! :-)) Anyway - if you EVER get the remotest chance of seeing KB on stage, pawn your family, pets and/or belongings and GO. You won't regret it.

You can apply that to any production by Michael Grandage, too.

Ben Elton was at one of the performances I attended. You go to see one god and another shows up, like the icing on the cake. No wonder I haven't recovered.

I also met a lot of the wonderful people who contribute to the Compendium... more about that in the Ken-Friends section in the near future.

There have been a lot of reviews - I have started to put them up here; there will be others added in the next few days. I've only just been reading them (wanted to see the play "unsullied", and had no time afterwards) but they seem to be universally good (some a titch more grudgingly since some people are determined not to embrace brilliance). Rather like a certain English political figure, stolidly clinging to outdated assertions (which held no water even when they were fresh), the Times rolled out a hack article about KB, with all the boring old 'bashings' (too badly written and unoriginal to take up byte-space here). The political figure may have a medical excuse, but what is the Times's excuse?

There have also been two 'profile' type articles: Lost for Words on Richard III, from the Yorkshire Post and Branagh Is Back from Wilderness (where's Wilderness? :-) ), from the Evening Standard.

There are some photos of Richard - one is on the front page of the Compendium. If you are going to see the play and don't want early visuals, skip this part. The rest of you will find Richard, Buckingham and Lady Anne here.

There actually is other news: How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog is out on video in the United States today.

The Guardian published an article saying Rabbit Proof Fence will be released in the UK in June.

Multi-task-(K)en seems to have done another audiorecording:

In the Ravine by Anton Chekhov, Kenneth Branagh (Narrator)
Our Price: £13.99 Audio CD (July 2002)
Naxos AudioBooks; ISBN: 9626342617
When, where, how... who knows? Who cares - more Ken audiorecordings are a guarantee that I will continue to do the ironing, which I seem not to be able to do without listening to one. :-)

Check back for more reviews and photos, she says, falling into bed.
(27 March, thanks Ngoc, Anna, Sal, Toni)

Kenites... there will be a little hiatus in the Compendium news while lucky, lucky me gets to see Richard III, with that guy who's returning to the stage in Shakespeare after a whole lot of years. Apparently the press stuff is only going to appear while I am over in Blighty, so I don't think I will be able to post it until my return - eeek! Y'all will just have to read the UK papers online. And they better be nice because let me tell you, there will be a posse of Ken-Friends loose in GB who'll chuck the sightseeing if any journalists need 'illumination' (and no, I'm not talking about seeing stars  :-) )  (and not *that* kind of stars!).

Apparently there are many mugshots of Richard/Ken already on display in Sheffield, but alas, I haven't got any to show you. However, there was a mention of the opening of the play today, in the Guardian (sharpening their pencils...) - you can find it on the Richard III page.

The news is a bit thin on the ground altogether, though there was another nice review of How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog in the Boston Globe. There was also a review of Rabbit Proof Fence.

The Boston Globe also had an interview with Alicia Silverstone and one of her acting teachers. Here are the KB-related bits:

Alicia: It's funny because I had to leave [the workshop] early and I was so upset about it. The studio hated me, because the film was opening that month. So I left two days early and went to do this project somewhere. ... I kinda left the Shakespeare and Company with this idea that Shakespeare was not to be put ... on film, that was the worst idea possible, I thought it was really just for theater.

Tina: I'm sure we taught the high road.

Alicia: But then, I saw "Henry V," which was this beautiful job and I was like ... oh! It can be done on film! And then all of a sudden out of nowhere, my manager said to me `You know, here's the script (for Kenneth Branagh's musical version of "Love's Labor's Lost"). But you have to audition this weekend.' And I said `What?!?! I can't audition this weekend, there is no way I can audition this weekend! I need weeks to prepare!'

On working with two master teachers

Alicia: What was so similar between Kenneth's way of doing Shakespeare and Tina's way was the fact that you're living it, not that you're just performing. The most clear memory I have (of the workshop) was when we were working on a scene in that stage area...

Tina: That theater in the barn.

Alicia: Exactly. And we would rotate teachers and this day was your day. It was just the most exciting feeling I've ever had, it was really really like ... almost outside of the body -

Tina: Ecstasy.

Alicia: Yeah. There is so much energy, the vitality of it all. You're a living breathing person saying these things now, and they are what they are. So that's how I connected my experience with you and my experience with Kenneth - he just wants to let people in, he wants people to get it and he wants people to feel and he wants it to be everything that is supposed to be.

Oh goody - Sheffield, here I come!

Awards news: "The HBO drama, Conspiracy, about a secret meeting between Nazi leaders during World War II, won the Writers Guild of America award for best original longform movie in the TV category Saturday night."

Random notes:
The A&E produced magazine Biography will have a Shackleton story in the April 2002 issue. Also look for ads for Shackleton in sports magazines.

A&E's DVD of its Kenneth Branagh TV movie Shackleton, to be released April 9 after its premiere on U.S. television April 7-8, will include a two-hour documentary about the Antarctic and the explorer's harrowing 1914 voyage and rescue. The documentary comes from The History Channel, an A&E corporate sibling, showing how television is well-positioned for DVD features.

If you're looking to create your own version of Elsinore (generic 19th century, please) you can drop a bundle for some items from Hamlet at Sotheby's, part of a sale of items from the London 'Ken Paul' prop shop. You can read an article about the sale here.

I think that's it - if any reviews come in before Friday I will try to put them up, packing and stress levels permitting. :-)
(Thanks, Film Lover, Paula X, Marci, Misato)

Hello Branaghiacs... Still wringing my hands over ISP woes, but the FTP is back - one step at a time (I tell myself).

We have How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog viewing news:

This weekend (like at this minute) HTKYND is showing in San Francisco at the United Artists 'Galaxy' and in Berkeley at U.A. It will also be showing in New Jersey at the Screening Zone, 544 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair. It will open in Boston at Coolidge Corner on March 8th.

Be there or be square! There are two new articles: a Film Force interview with Michael Kalesniko and a review from the San Francisco Examiner.

There are also updates on Rabbit Proof Fence. Two reviews: from Dark Horizons and from There is also a link from the Rabbit Proof Fence page to an interview with Philip Noyce, from which comes this snippet:

English star Kenneth Branagh was cast on the suggestion of casting consultant Christine King, after Noyce had approached a number of actors in Australia, all of whom were unavailable, including Russell Crowe, amongst others. "Then we said, well, he’s English so let’s see who might be right among English actors, and Kenneth was first on the list." (His usual fee has been ‘invested’ in the film, so he’s working for a relative pittance against an appropriate share in the returns.)
There's also this from the Canberra Sunday Times, in the section "Capital Time", by Robert Macklin:
True Brit

Extraordinary response to last Friday evening's screening of 'Rabbit Proof Fence' attended by director Phil Noyce. Canberrans not only packed the 8 pm session at Electric Shadows, they filled a second session which he also addressed.

Noyce said they wanted a high profile actor to play the "protector" of Aborigines, A.E. Neville, to boost the confidence of the backers. All the big Aussie names Geoffrey Rush, Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman were busy. In any case, Neville was British so they approached Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh read the script and rang Noyce immediately: "I'm in make-up!" There was no argument about money because, as Noyce said, "there is none".

Isn't it lucky that Oz actors are so busy.... :-)

After the Australian cricket team's viewing of Shackleton I caught a snippet on the radio about the Shackleton motivational shtick being used in management training. And now from no, actually, comes this announcement (only the first bit of which is reproduced here):

Network Announces Inaugural "Shackleton Award"

A&E Network today announced a partnership with the 2002 Acura Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC), one of the premier participatory race weeks in sailing, as the kick-off of a wide-ranging promotional campaign in support of its four hour original miniseries, SHACKLETON, starring Emmy Award-winner Kenneth Branagh. The Acura SORC, featuring approximately 100 racing sailboats and more than 1,500 participants from around the country in a week-long lifestyle festival, will be held off Miami Beach, March 6-10, 2002, and once again features racing on ocean courses with all shore-side activities headquartered at the Miami Beach Marina.

"The sponsorship of the Acura SORC provides us with a unique platform to enhance the awareness of this wonderful movie within a specific target demographic," said Michael Mohamad, Senior Vice President of Marketing, A&E.

As an official sponsor of the Acura SORC A&E will receive extensive signage at the event venue and will host a special private screening of the "Making of Shackleton," a behind-the-scenes documentary, as well as present The Shackleton Award. The Shackleton Award will recognize one crew member, across all classes, who best exemplifies the leadership and selflessness exhibited by the late Sir Ernest Shackleton who led his crew of 21 men to safety after a 20 month odyssey attempting to reach the South Pole. Sailors will be nominated by their skippers and the award winner will be determined by the race committee, umpires and event organizers.

The second phase of the marketing campaign behind SHACKLETON will commence following the Acura SORC and include a promotion with five National Hockey League (NHL) teams. Developed in conjunction with Strategic Sports Group, the A&E SHACKLETON On-Ice Challenge will take place at the arenas of five NHL teams, including the New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. The partnership will entail in-arena clips of the SHACKLETON movie, ad placement in team game programs, public address announcements, in-market radio promotions and exposure on the team web sites.

Additionally, as part of the Network's extensive consumer advertising campaign for SHACKLETON, A&E has bought space in sports publications as such Sports Illustrated and Sailing World Magazine, among others.

Now the only thing missing is a Shackleton/footie tie-in and we know someone will be happy. :-)

You can hear a most interesting and excellent interview with Michael Grandage, who is directing Richard III in Sheffield, available here on the BBC site. If you've got a soundcard and speakers/headphones don't miss it!

Here's a neat bit from an article entitled "Critic's Choice: Pépé le Moko - Before 'Casablanca,' There Was 'Pépé'" in The New York Times:

Julien Duvivier's lithe and rakish 1937 French gangster drama "Pépé le Moko" — which begins a run today at Film Forum — is far less well known than "Algiers," the slick American remake starring Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr. "Pépé," one of the most purely enjoyable films ever made, is a doomed modernist romance. It stars the matchless Jean Gabin, whose expressive and sorrowful pudding of a face immediately gave a picture a soul. (Kenneth Branagh resembles him slightly — physically and spiritually.) Gabin was the tropical opposite to waxy screen idols whose sleek good looks often suggested the hood ornament of a Hispano-Suiza.
To see more of the Compendium's own "tropical opposite to waxy screen idols", check out these Cover Gallery additions: Barbican 1993; and from the Dead Again days: Flicks and Drama-logue. And, as a special blast-from-the-past treat: our very own Virginia saluting the video store owner with the good taste to do a Dead Again window display. :-)

There has been an update to the Photo Gallery. The photos from the last 4 months of News & Notes have moved in (you can see them separately in The Latest Photos...). That's it for today, but, of course, this is all far from over...
(3 March, thanks Jude, Catherine W., Marina, Virginia W.)

The news today is all about How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (this will also take my mind of the continuing saga of the "unter-geeks" and I(non)SP's... which is reaching operatic tragedy proportions).

I trust that all of you within one or two day's traveling distance to a theatre showing How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog have got it on the agenda for the weekend. If the gang you have strong-armed into going with you are giving you a hard time have them read this review from the New York Times, then this one from Film Force, then this one from Newsday.

You can also read an good article about the "road to release", which was long and rocky for this film... (while an amazing amount of awful stuff seems to slide effortlessly into my local theatres).

If you are in New York you can listen to:

1010 WINS
where Ralph Howard will run portions of his interview with Michael Kalesniko over the 2/22 weekend
on WESTWOOD ONE RADIO, Bill Bregoli's interview will start running on 2/22

on BBC AMERICA, interviews conducted by Laura Metzger with Michael Kalesniko, Jared Harris and Peter Riegert will run starting 2/22

You'll also find another mention in this week's Entertainment Weekly, in Jim Mullen's Hot Sheet.

One last thing - the review of Paul Scofield's King Lear:

Saturday Review: Audio
The Guardian, 16 February 2002 By Peter Kingston

King Lear, by William Shakespeare (Naxos, pounds 9.99, 185min)

If you buy only one spoken-word recording this year, make it this. Forty years after first playing Lear at Stratford, Paul Scofield repeated the role just months short of his 80th birthday. He is breathtakingly, stingingly brilliant. The range and control of that wonderful voice remain awesome, and like an organ virtuoso he switches registration seamlessly, from blazing diapason rage down to dulciana pathos, exploiting the studio's opportunities for intimacy never offered by the stage. Taken right down, the small mad ensemble pieces with Edgar, the Fool and Kent yield so much more. The studio also spares an actor of Lear's actual four score years the near-impossibility of carrying in the dead Cordelia (Emilia Fox). David Burke gives a bravura performance as Kent, and Kenneth Branagh a nippy yet restrained counterpoint as the Fool. But this is Scofield's show.

Till soon I hope.
(23 February, thanks FilmLover)

I'm still in the world of workarounds, thanks to Communications IN-Accessibles Montréal (it is a sad state of affairs when you know more than the guys in "technical support" - though the absurd stories they attempt to fob you off with are amusing).

But... I am making good on my endless promises and you can finally see the Rabbit Proof Fence information pulled together on an RPF page.

Two Olivier Awards for The Play What I Wrote! "Best New Comedy" for the play itself, and "Best Supporting Actor" for Toby Jones. Wooo hoooo!

Also updated is the Birthday Projects page... results of the 2001 fundraising efforts are posted, along with a message from you-know-who.

And from our one of our Ken-spotters:

"A treat for those of us in the New York City area! Driving north on the West Side Highway, around 125th Street, there's a great big billboard advertising Shackleton, with Ken's face about two stories high - a pleasant sight indeed!
Miss Wants-to-Keep-Ken-Fans-Alive reminds you that you should keep your eyes on the road... just a quick glance, with the smelling salts or nitroglycerin handy.

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog opens this week - so a) get yourself and all your friends, enemies, relatives, neighbours and any members of the general public you can schlepp along into the cinema if you live anywhere near the theatres it opens in (check at! A first national review is available at Entertainment Weekly. It will be on the site soon.

I had a review of the audio King Lear, but have temporarily lost it (it's amazing how much computer files can resemble a jumbled desk - you shuffle through and shuffle through and don't see the one you want, though you *know* it's going to hit you right between the eyes when you look casually the next day... ). I'll be back... probably quicker than my ISP service (bitter laugh).
(17 February, thanks Celia, Paula B., Jane, FilmLover)

Eeeek - I am on an email desert island (with not even a message in bottle) while the ISP geeks continue their endless "move of the premises". It seems they had no trouble with the swivel chairs, dart boards and beaten up desks... but when they actually got to the hardware and software they had sapped their energies and it's all gone into the black hole of "encountering a few problems which we are working assiduously to fix". Since Saturday a.m. Ha!

So a lot of the nifty KB news is sitting in my email (coz it comes from lovely people who send info along) and I can't get at it. However, here are a few new things (and we'll catch up on the older snippets later... if I'm not in the looney bin due to email deprivation or in jail for spray-painting nasty remarks on the new office door of the ISP).

First of all.... how about this!

Belfast Telegraph; Feb 11, 2002

Special Ulster role for Branagh
by Ben Lowry

Kenneth Branagh has been appointed honorary president of the Northern Ireland Film Commission, it was revealed today. Ulster's best known film actor and director said that he was delighted to have taken on the role.

"I relish the opportunity to make a contribution to the development of the film and television industry in Northern Ireland and to help promote Northern Ireland on the international stage," he said.

Colin Anderson, chairman of the NIFC, described Branagh as one of the leading actors in the world and said the organisation was "honoured" to have him act as an ambassador at the highest levels in the international world of film and television. "Kenneth has a special place in the hearts of Northern Ireland people who still talk about his earlier screen role in BBC Northern Ireland's The Billy Plays (1982) by Graham Reid," he said.

"The Commission is preparing for a major expansion of its remit and activity during 2002. "Its work in film, television and new media is at the heart of the development of the creative industries in Northern Ireland," Mr Anderson added.

Branagh has had a string of recent successes, including the West End production, The Play What I Wrote, which he directed to high critical acclaim.

Branagh is playing Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter movie Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, due for release November 2002. He also recently received praise for his leading roles in the television dramas Conspiracy, as General Reinhard Heydrich SS, for which he won an Emmy and as the hero of the Antarctic, Shackleton.

I get the chance to see a pack of Eire and Northern Ireland films every year, thanks to a fabulous local film series ( and it is always an exceptional experience. I guess "act[ing] as an ambassador at the highest levels in the international world of film and television" means he won't sit in the local pub with us denizens like Stephen Rea did a couple of years ago, but it sounds like he'll have fun anyway. :-)

The broadcast, on the A&E channel, of Breaking the Ice - the Making of Shackleton is currently scheduled for Sunday, February 24th at 2pm EST.

When Love Speaks was launched the other evening with a concert at the Old Vic, Waterloo. You can read about it at the BBC Online, but here is a short article announcing the event:

Rada Stars Coming Out at Night to Benefit Next Generation of Actors

The Independent - United Kingdom; Feb 9, 2002
by Louise Jury

Alan Rickman will head an unprecedented line-up of British acting talent tomorrow to raise money for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. From Lord Attenborough, who was there during the Second World War, to more recent alumni, actors who got their break at Rada are turning out to help the next generation of stars.

Richard Briers, Fiona Shaw and Janet McTeer are among those who volunteered to make a recording of verse by Shakespeare and will appear tomorrow night in a concert at the Old Vic in London to launch it. Musicians as diverse as Annie Lennox (reunited with former Eurythmics partner Dave Stewart) and Des'ree also contributed to the album and will perform in the concert. Only a few tickets remain.

The idea came from Rickman, a member of Rada's governing council. "It occurred to me that we weren't making as much use as we could of past students," he said. He decided a CD would maximise income and readings of Shakespearean sonnets would be excellent, because they would not take hours to record but would highlight Rada's excellence in teaching verse-speaking.

Lord Attenborough joined him in encouraging other alumni to contribute. "It was a pushover. They're doing what they are proud to do, using their professional ability to pay tribute to Rada," he said. The result was When Love Speaks, featuring the biggest and most illustrious array of theatrical talent assembled for one recording. More than 40 stars, including Kenneth Branagh, Ralph Fiennes and Diana Rigg, took part. John Gielgud, a supporter of the project before his death, is represented by an archive recording.

By coincidence, Rickman discovered that Michael Kamen, the American composer of film scores including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, also had a desire to make a Shakespearean recording. Kamen persuaded musicians from Ladysmith Black Mambazo to the opera singer Barbara Bonney to join in and add variety.

The CD looks likely to become Shakespeare's first entry in the album chart top 20. Proceeds from the concert and pounds 1.20 from every CD sold will go to Rada, which has to find pounds 300,000 a year to supplement its official grants to train young actors. It is also still paying off its pounds 8m contribution towards the pounds 32m refurbishment of its school and theatres. Lord Attenborough hopes the CD will have a secondary benefit of encouraging interest in the Bard. "I think this wonderful galaxy of stars will bring in a young generation who might otherwise be rather put off by the word Shakespeare."

You are encouraged to buy the CD directly from RADA - this is from their press release:
"The CD itself is packaged within a beautifully designed hardback book containing the featured sonnets - you can buy this from RADA (from 4 February) - please call 020 7928 6010 to place an order by phone - to maximise revenue on RADA's behalf please do order the CD through us rather than buying it in high street retail outlets."

The street address is:
62 - 64 Gower St
London WC1E 6ED
United Kingdom

For more information about the CD itself, visit

I have added a couple of American reviews of The Play What I Wrote to the TPWIW page.

And I've added a couple of the many new covers which will be going into the Cover Gallery. You can see them here: looking into your soul and listening to John, both from 1993.

That's it for today... more soon when the mailbox is liberated.
(13 February, thanks Paula B., Jude)

Hi beans - more promises, but scant delivery, again today - apologies. However, I should have a bit more free time from tomorrow on, so we'll be catching up with the news. What you need to know today, though, is that the How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog website is up! The film will be opening in theatres in New York and Los Angeles on 22 February and then moving into other cinemas. Don't miss it! Here are a few theatres (from the Lonsdale Productions website):

Los Angeles
Laemmle Music Hall
9036 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills CA 90211
(310) 274 6869
New York
CC Village East Cinemas
187 2nd Avenue at 12th Street
CC Murray Hill
34th Street at 3rd Avenue
UA 64th and 2nd
1210 Second Avenue

Regent Highland Park Village
32 Highland Park Village
at Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane

Coming up - new covers (bet you don't believe this any more...but if it is not now, it WILL be!) And stuff on Rabbit Proof Fence. Soon.

And the photo finish: young Henry (could Ernest be far behind?)
(5 February, thanks Jude, Jolande)

Of course I knew it - no sooner would I make a comment about how long it might take to see a picture of KB as Gilderoy and it would appear. And it did, the very next day... this is not because the Compendium has connections or supernatural powers. No - it's simply the The Minute You Update The Compendium It Is Sure To Be Out-of-Date Law. Sigh.

But anyway, here he is: Gilderoy Lockhart -can I sign up as a 'mature student' in that school? There is an article that goes with the photo, which is on the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets section of the Compendium.

You'll find a very nice photo of Kenneth during the Shackleton trip on this site, belonging to one Rick Warden.

That's all there is for today (I have a very high-maintenance relative with me just now, cramping my style no end  :-) ) but there are many new covers to come, a section on Rabbit Proof Fence when I get round to it, and two American reviews of The Play What I Wrote.
(27 January, thanks Ngoc, Selene)

I found this while digging around in the News archive, written by our very own Ngoc (hi kiddo!): "I'm up to my ears in Ken stuff, so to preserve what's left of my sanity, I'm gonna try to take out 15 minutes every day to do a little bitty teensy weensy update and unleash all of it on you in small doses." Cue hysterical laughter... so how did that work out for you, darlin'? Nah, not for me either... but today is catch-up day!

The Shackleton page has finally been updated with reviews (and some older articles I had stashed - I'm feeling a bit like the crew myself after floundering about in all those words and html codes all afternoon). There is also a "gallery" of some of the photos we have seen so far. Here are two reviews from 'regular' people as opposed to the guys who get paid to make up clever puns and not like too many things.

Radio Times, 19 January 2002

Letter of the Week - Drama with an Ice-like Grip

"What a way to start 2002! Shackleton will be the yardstick against which all other dramas are judged this year. True, the film-makers had a compelling story to work with, but their treatment of it was nothing short of magnificent.

"We sat at home shivering as the crew of the Endurance embarked on their trek across the pack ice in search of safety. We grimaced at the amputation scene, marvelled at the courage of the men and cheered when those left nehind were finally rescued from their makeshift shelter on Elephant Island.

"Of course, Ernest Shackleton was the real star, but Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of him was quite brilliant, mixing brutal arrogance with humour and compassion. When the BAFTA panel meet to consider their shortlist for 2002, Branagh and Shackleton should unquestionably be there."

Susan Roberts, Brighton

"I feel compelled to write in praise of Shackleton. This thirtysomething married mum-of-two usually only gets to see snippets of programmes, due either to family demands or falling asleep, but this time I was wide awake. Brilliant, magnificent - repeat, please, so I can take it all in again."

Sally Bailey, Cheltenham

And.... the statistics back these opinions up:
From The Independent, 15 January 2002

'Shackleton' Drama is Hit for Channel 4
By Louise Jury, Media Correspondent

Channel 4's polar epic 'Shackleton', starring Kenneth Branagh, was its most watched drama of the past 12 months, figures revealed. At £10m, the two-part film, which was the dream of Charles Sturridge, the man behind 'Longitude' and 'Brideshead Revisited', was the most expensive drama the channel has ever made. But its audience appeal appeared to vindicate the judgement of Mark Thompson, whose first statement as Channel 4's new chief executive was that the channel should aim for "really big projects".

Shackleton pulled in 3.6 million viewers for its first episode on 2 January, even though it was scheduled against the Brad Pitt film Meet Joe Black on BBC2. The following evening it won the same share of viewing – 16 per cent – and beat BBC2's show 'The Joy of Gardening'.

Channel 4's other dramas, 'Longitude', the story of the clockmaker John Harrison, which was also screened just after new year two years ago, won 2.9 million viewers and 'Sword of Honour', the channel's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's war trilogy last January, averaged 2.3 million viewers.

I know it's England... but unless 'The Joy of Gardening' has snatched Clive Owen from his 'Greenfingers' stint I can't imagine the shack at the bottom of the garden having that much of a chance against our hero Shack. (No hate mail please.)

When Love Speaks, the audiorecording of sonnets performed by a whole bunch of people, will be released on 4 February, just in time for you to present it to your Valentine (or yourself!), according to Amazon UK. The list of participants is so varied and entertaining that I can't resist posting it. You'll find Kenneth at number 20.

When Love Speaks track Listings

1. Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises - Joseph Fiennes
2. Live with me and be my love - Annie Lennox
3. As an unperfect actor on the stage - John Gielgud
4. My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun - Alan Rickman
5. Why is my verse so barren of new pride - Diana Rigg
6. Who will believe my verse is time to come - Richard Attenborough
7. That you were once unkind befriends me now - Paul Rhys
8. How oft, when thou, my music - Juliet Stevenson
9. When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes - Rufus Wainwright
10. Being your slave, what should I do but tend - Janet McTeer
11. Tired with all these, for restful death I cry - Alan Bates
12. When I consider everything that grows - Marianne Jean-Baptiste
13. Let those who are in favour with their stars - David Warner
14. They that have powere to hurt and will do none - Sian Phillips
15. Those lips that Love's own hand did make - John Hurt
16. Come again sweet love (John Dowland) - John Potter
17. Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame - Ralph Fiennes
18. Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me - Matthew Rhys
19. I never saw that you did painting need - Imelda Staunton
20. When to the sessions of sweet silent thought - Kenneth Branagh
21. It is thy will thy image should keep open - Fiona Shaw
22. Mine eye and heart are at mortal war - Henry Goodman
23. No more be grieved at that which thou hast done - Keb' Mo'
24. O never say that I was false of heart - Susannah York
25. Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest - Timothy Spall
26. Some glory in their birth, some in their skill - Peter Barkworth
27. How heavy do I journey on the way - Gemma Jones
28. Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea - Jonathan Pryce
29. Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore - Richard Wilson
30. The quality of mercy is not strained - Des'Ree
31. Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said - Tom Courtnay
32. Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind - Zoe Waites
33. Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press - Edward Fox
34. It is for fear to wet a widow's eye - Trevor Eve
35. So it is not with me as with that Muse - Imogen Stubbs
36. Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws - David Harewood
37. The Willow Song - Barbara Bonney
38. When my love swears that she is made of truth - Richard Johnson
39. When I do count the clock that tells the time - Martin Jarvis
40. What potions have I drunk of siren tears - Roger Hammond
41. Not marble nor the gilded monuments - Richard Briers
42. Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye - John Sessions
43. Let me not to the marriage of true minds - Thelma Holt
44. Music to hear, why hearst thou music sadly - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
45. When forty winters shall besiege they brow - Caroline Blakiston
46. No longer mourn for me when I am dead - Peter Bowles
47. Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate - Sylvia Syms
48. Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day - Robert Lindsay
49. Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck - Ioan Gruffud
50. My love is as a fever, longing still - John Hurt
51. The little Love-God lying once asleep - Bohdan Poraj
52. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day - Bryan Ferry
53. Our revels are now ended - Joseph Fiennes

I only know Thelma Holt as the producer of Rufus Sewell's 'Macbeth', which obviously is a huge injustice. There are various articles in the music press about this CD, partly because a local (to me) boy, Rufus Wainwright, is doing a stint (and lovely he is). Here's one:
New Musical Express, 17 January 2002

Rufus Wainwright, Annie Lennox, Bryan Ferry and Des'Ree are amongst the artists to feature on a forthcoming new album which sees SHAKESPEARE's sonnets set to music.

'When Love Speaks' sees over 40 of the Sonnets interspersed with eight musical tracks set to Shakespeare's verse. The role-call of performers reading the works includes Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Kenneth Branagh, John Hurt, Diana Rigg, the late Sir John Gielgud and Richard Briers.

The record, due for release on February 4, was launched today (January 17) at RADA in London's Piccadilly by Lord Attenborough and the man behind the project, leading contemporary composer Michael Kamen. Kamen put the album together with actor Alan Rickman. Profits from the sale will go to RADA.

A live concert to showcase the album will take place at The Old Vic in London on February 10. The 'luvvie-fest' will be hosted by Attenborough and Rickman and will see Des'Ree and Eurythmics perform.

I assume they are smart enough to subsequently sell the video of the concert. :-)

Here is a quote from an article in The Guardian (17 January) by Michael Billington about the closure of 'Starlight Express' and 'Cats':

What the West End needs right now is more producers with guts, flair and showmanship. The importance of showmanship, for example, has been proved by bustling young impresario David Pugh, who has kept Art artistically alive by the simple device of changing the cast every three months. Pugh is also the man who had the bright idea of bringing together The Right Size, Eddie Braben and Kenneth Branagh in order to create 'The Play What I Wrote'. Although the show is packing out, Pugh tells me that he plans to give it a break in May and then bring it back again in the autumn. One of his trump cards is that every few nights the show has an unannounced mystery guest. Star names, including the likes of Anthony Hopkins, are queuing up to take part, and Pugh is currently negotiating for John Major to do a one-night appearance in March. And if that goes ahead, will Tony Blair demand the right to reply?
Yikes! Anyhow, I feel a bit better knowing that The Right Size will get a chance to rest a bit - I feel tired just thinking about what they do 8 times a week. They also will hopefully be celebrating winning some Olivier Awards for the show: nominations for Best Actor: Sean Foley and Hamish McColl; Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Toby Jones; Best New Comedy: The Play What I Wrote; Best Theatre Choreographer: Irving Davies. Woo hoo!

And the grand finale in this category: Kenneth as the "French Comte(sse)"... pretty in pink and as Eric Morecambe.

This comes from the current issue of Entertainment Weekly regarding Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

"Returning cast members Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Richard Harris will greet a new professor, Kenneth Branagh, as the self-impressed Gilderoy Lockhart. (To rumors that the filmmakers courted Hugh Grant for the role, Columbus [Chris Columbus the director] says: "Hugh's a terrific actor, but for me it was always Branagh.")
This is an old clip from Ananova, 27th December 2001:
Maggie Smith says McGonagall will be in all Harry Potter books

Maggie Smith says she's looking to Harry Potter to be her "sort of pension." Smith plays Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone.' She says the character will be in all seven of JK Rowling's books.

Smith told she has already been involved in the filming of the second movie, 'Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets'. "It was as if one had never been away. The kids are there, all a bit bigger."

"I think the film will be great fun. Ken Branagh plays this rather glamorous teacher who comes in. I love the idea that the detention the children have to do after school if they've misbehaved is to answer all his fan mail."

Tee hee... Lockhart's fan mail or Ken's? The film opens on 15 November 2002. I have 9 more months to remind you. Sheesh. Wonder how long we'll have to wait for a picture of Goldilocks.

And then there's Richard III (remember him?). The Scotsman had a wee article entitled 50 things you must do in 2002, and this was one:

Get stage fright
Generations of actors have strapped on the old hunchback and had a go at playing Richard III, one of Shakespeare's nastiest villains, but Kenneth Branagh's probably the right man for the role in 2002. After the unforgettable Olivier film version, it's difficult to imagine the epic final scene battle reduced to the stage again, but if anyone can pull it off, Branagh will, with his stint at the Crucible, Sheffield, from 13 March to 6 April.
The tickets, alas for those who have none, sold out (including the added performances) on 7 January.

You didn't think Kenneth was just filming Shackleton and Harry Potter, directing The Play What I Wrote, recording Walking with the Beasts, C.S. Lewis and a sonnet... and you were right (I mean, a guy could get bored!)...from the Daily Telegraph:

'The Tramp and the Dictator', a co-production between Brownlow's Photoplay Productions and Germany's Spiegel Television and narrated by Kenneth Branagh, will be shown at the Berlin Film Festival this year along with a restored version of 'The Great Dictator'.

If you didn't catch KB narrating Walking With The Beasts on the box you can watch video clips of the program online. Go to, click on Fact Files, then click drawings of the beasts to see - and hear - video clips.

And finally a snippet from a longer article about Richard Briers in The Scotsman:

At the age of 55, Kenneth Branagh cast him as Malvolio in Twelfth Night at London’s Riverside Theatre. This was followed by an appearance on stage as King Lear (with Emma Thompson as the Fool) and in the Branagh-directed film Much Ado About Nothing.

Briers says: "Thanks to him the whole thing opened up. People realised that I could act and it changed my whole career. "He told me comedy actors were always good Shakespearean actors and suddenly I was off on a world tour as King Lear."

I have some Rabbit Proof Fence things, hopefully for next time.
(20 January, thanks Catherine, Misato, Celia, Jude)

Second try here... the computer just rebooted itself without warning (or reason) and stupid me, who had not saved the big update I was doing, pretty near booted it in a different sense. So this will be a small update since it's late and I'm using my last energy resisting suicide. Sigh.

Conspiracy will be shown in the UK on Friday, 25 January 2002, 9.00 pm on BBC 2. As a result Kenneth is all over the place again - which luckily makes life worth living (see above). :-)

He is on the cover of the Radio Times in a most fascinating venue, looking like the whatever-million bucks it took to make the mini-series. It's almost a fantasy come true: KB in an architectural installation (it's probably some mundane corridor, jazzed up, but we all have our thing   :-) ). A couple of early reviews and an editorial have been added to the Conspiracy press page.

I had added a bunch of new Shackleton reviews, but like the Endurance they disappeared into the void (or the cold sea of unsaved data). They will come soon... but in the meantime here's a quote from Ernest Shackleton's grand-daughter, lifted from a longer article which you can read here in The Mirror Online.

Shackleton cost £10.5million, making it Britain's most expensive TV drama. Alexandra, a consultant on the project, believes the team has done a fantastic job. "Kenneth Branagh is brilliant and exudes the kind of charisma my grandfather possessed. He also looks like him, with his square jaw and powerful shoulders."
And that killer part in his hair. :-)

The Sunday Times magazine had a long article on Paul Scofield and the new recording of King Lear, which Amazon UK lists as coming out on 21 January (when Paul Scofield turns 80). Here are the bits which touch on KB:

Paul Scofield Was the Best Ever Lear. Now, 40 Years on, He Returns to the Rile with Alec McCowen and Kenneth Branagh in Support. Nicholas Soames Was There to See History Being Remade

"The read-through, in a down-at-heel north London recording studio, is more like a gathering of family and friends than a formal company. Alec McCowen sits to Paul Scofield's right, his script on his knee. Forty years ago, he played the Fool to Scofield's legendary Lear; both smile at the passing of the time. On Scofield's left is another friend, Kenneth Branagh, for whom he played the King of France in the film of Henry V. And in the director's chair is John Tydeman, for 30 years the driving force in BBC radio drama, where he worked with Scofield on productions ranging from Macbeth to Billy Budd.

"Scofield has always been a man of immense yet quiet charisma, an actor's actor, so the opportunity to join him in a sound recording of King Lear, exactly 40 years on from his appearances in the famous Peter Brook production at Stratford, was not one that any actor wanted to miss. McCowen, this time, is playing Gloucester, with Branagh as the Fool, Harriet Walter as Goneril, Sara Kestelman as Regan, Emilia Fox as Cordelia and David Burke reprising Kent, the role he played recently at the National to Ian Holm's Lear. Certainly, it is a rather special occasion: our senior Brtish classical actor, nearing his 80th birthday, on January 21, in the role he has made his own.

[very large snip]

"The studio where King Lear is being recorded is, frankly, run-down, with threadbare carpet and old acoustic padding. Technically, however, it is sound, and it needs to be - there are just three days to put Lear down on tape (or in digits, these days). From the opening scene, the recroding goes well; by 1 pm, Lear has rejected Cordelia and gone to Goneril, and there is time for lunch. The sun is out and the cast loll about in the garden. Branagh is ahead on anecdotes, though Burke is not far behind.


Scofield is nowhere to be seen. He has wandered off with his lunch to sit on a bench in a nearby park, by himself. It has all seemed quite effortless, but you never really know what goes on inside. He is an actor. On his return, he explains: "Once having played this role, it never leaves you. It becomes a part of you that grows and develops alongside one's own passage of years. Of course, I restudied the play, but it was all there - it needed no resuscitation." He breaks into a beam: "And after 40 years, you don't have to act so much!"

[another very large snip]

"It is the last day of the recording, and the final act approaches. Mad Lear comes and hears a voice he recognises: "You are a spirit that I know," he says to Cordelia. Fox replies, and, for her, King lear and Paul Scofield seem to merge. She can't quite help herself, and tears start to flow. Lear/Scofield notices, and, without breaking his speech, silently adjusts his script and draws her towards him. On the dot of 6 pm, Tydman proclaims it is finished. In the garden, champagne starts pouring - into mugs, mostly. Scofield is allotted the one flute. He drinks two glasses. Branagh had squeezed in the recording between two films, but wouldn't have missed it. "Paul is still vocally so powerful," he said. "There is such a rich expanse of humanity in the play, and he has now brought another 40 years of living to inform his performance." Are Scofield's theatre days over? "I shall continue to work in the theatre whenever a script tells me I must," he declares directly. He packs his bag with his script, turns to say goodbye to his colleagues, and leaves for home."

The ISBNs for the audiorecording, from Naxos Audiobooks, are: 9626342447 for the CD; 9626347449 for the audiocassette edition.

And that is all for now... but by far not all - come back!
(16 January, thanks Catherine, Judith, Ngoc, Jude)

Stop the world - I need to get off and update the Compendium (a world unto itself)! Yeah...well, it's not going to happen, so here is a teeny update, just so I don't feel that Protestant guilt you-know-who talks about.

YAY! YAHOO! AND HOORAY! How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog will finally be killing your neighbour (with laughter!) in the theatre! It will be released starting 22 February in NYC and L.A. and move to wider release thereafter. For those of us who have been waiting patiently for too long to see KB looking skeptically at Jared Harris with his head as big as our living room wall, payback time has arrived! You can go - for the news.

You think you're already happy? Think again. According to Canoe a special edition of Hamlet will be released on DVD in 2002, on the Warner label. No details yet, but what would be a special edition to me - besides a director's commentary, which no one has had wind of KB recording - is one with about 3 hours of additional footage. AND unedited versions of "The Readiness is All: the Making of Hamlet" and "To Be Hamlet" (not the correct name, I think) AND uncut and uncensored footage of all the jokes off and on set.

There are Shackleton reviews which I will post on the weekend (along with the other promised articles - lashings of apologies). They were almost all good, though one über-kool lady managed to be bored, someone else was surprised that Ken looked older (I guess they left off at Henry V or thought he was Joan Collins..."you mean he wasn't in "In the Bleak Midwinter"?), and the ubiquitous 'I never liked Kenneth Branagh because he thought he was Olivier' refrain got aired yet again (will there never be an original idea?). According to the website, Shackleton is scheduled to be released on both DVD and VHS on 21 January. It will be airing in North America on A&E in April. On the light side, Oz radio reported that the Australian cricket team were shown Skackleton this week for team bonding and inspiration! LOL!

Henry V will be available on DVD in Japan as of 22 February.

Conspiracy did not clean up at the American Film Awards, and Kenneth did not win the award for Best Actor in a Television Mini-series (that was Jeffrey Wright for his role as Martin Luther King)... but the Golden Globes are still to come.

King Lear recorded by Paul Scofield, with Kenneth playing the Fool, has been released by Naxos. There was an article about Scofield in the Sunday Times and excerpts will appear here in the next update.

Two new Shackleton photos: before he left and before he came back. And a schoolboy special: Rupert Ear-verett and Fuzzy Branagh, from Another Country.

Continuing with the promises (minus delivery) I have a bunch of photos from KB's theatre days (thanks to Jolande, who must wondering why I am such a deadbeat) which will be up in the near future. More covers coming, too.
(10 January, thanks Judith, Virginia L., Misato, Pam, Catherine, Bertilla, Jolande)

Happy New Year, Kenites! I have a 72KB text file of stuff to add to the Compendium - one can easily become shackled to Shackleton... I won't be able to put it all up today, but the first nouveauté de l'année is a new Gallery of Magazine Covers, all featuring KB. Some of these were in the Photo Gallery, but they have migrated and been added to, thanks to Marci Card, who also compiled contact information for each cover - some of them can still be purchased. Feast your eyes!

Tomorrow and Thursday Shackleton airs in the UK... there have been LOTS of articles and early reviews. I will stick the reviews onto the Shackleton page over the next dew days, but two in particular must be read immediately: Luvvie in a Cold Climate (giggle) from The Independent and Hell on Ice from The Reader's Digest. One of these days I will get the Shackleton photos organised in a rational fashion, but for the moment here's a fabuloso advert for the A&E showing in April 2002, and another screen capture of Shackleton.

There have been a few tweaks to some of the Compendium pages - if you notice anything that doesn't work please let me know. The rest of the news will come soon!
(1 January 2002, thanks Marci, Catherine, Jane, Bertilla)