News Archive: July 2002 - December 2002

'Tis the season to be harried... and eat too much... and catch colds from kissing lots of people at lots of social events. But I've managed to pull myself together to, hopefully, bring you all the news.

If your New Year's Resolution was going to be to marry Kenneth Branagh it appears he's still available... a somewhat peculiar article, which you can read here, appeared in the Daily Mail, announcing that KB and Lindsay Brunnock have broken up. I guess the essential information (i.e. splitsville) is correct, but there's some of that embroidery which is so useful when writing about things you don't really know much about. He needs to share the secret of vaulting the value of one's house from 2 million to 12 million in a few years - maybe that's what it's worth with him in it. :-)

There are lots of reviews of Rabbit-Proof Fence out, with the broader North American release of the film. I've added one from the Washington Times, which gives Kenneth a whole lot of credit for the success of the film. So what's Phillip Noyce, chopped liver? But hey, it's an angle, and the Compendium won't complain.

Another review had a nice line: "Branagh, an actor often subtler than his critics, brings Neville the worn-out fervor of an idealistic bureaucrat desperately seeking money and power to back up his (bad) ideas." (Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun).

Nomination news: from Ananova, 16 December 2002.

Big Names Up for London Film Critics Awards

Hugh Grant, Kenneth Branagh, Samantha Morton and Sam Mendes are among the nominees for the London Film Critics Circle Awards.

Halle Berry, Jude Law, Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson and Peter Jackson are also among the nominees. 'All Or Nothing', 'About A Boy' and 'Sweet Sixteen' will compete for the British Film Of The Year award while 'The Road to Perdition', 'Lantana', 'About Schmidt', 'Donnie Darko' and 'Bowling for Columbine' are nominated for Film Of TheYear.

Ruth Sheen, Emily Watson and Shirley Henderson are the contenders for British Actress in Supporting Role while Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh and Paul Bettany will fight it out for the male version.

Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville and Miranda Richardson are nominated for Best British Actress while Halle Berry, Kerry Armstrong and Stockard Channing are up for Best Actress.

In the Best British Actor category the nominees are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hugh Grant and Ralph Fiennes. The Best Actor nominees are Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.

The Best British Director category sees Sam Mendes take on Christopher Nolan and Mike Leigh. Best Director is between Pedro Almodovar, Phillip Noyce and Peter Jackson.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on February 12.

And also in nomination news: up for a Golden Globe for Miniseries or Movie Made for Television: "The Gathering Storm," HBO; "Live From Baghdad," HBO; "Path to War," HBO; "Shackleton," A&E; "Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken," Sci Fi.   And Peter Gabriel's score for Rabbit-Proof Fence has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the Original Score category.

More compliments: a nice article about Kenneth by Barry Norman, from the Radio Times.

'Tis also the time of end-of-the-year lists, best of's, etc.:
The Daily Express published its list of top arts for 2002 and in the Top 10 Movies of 2002 listed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with the comment: "Kenneth Branagh caps an exceptional year as the matinee idol fraud and Richard Harris ends his career with a poignant swansong."

The first of Robert Gore-Langton's Top Shows of 2002 is Richard III, with this commentary: "Just when you thought Kenneth Branagh had retired and gone to live in Florida, up he pops in Sheffield as Dick Dastardly, slashing and killing his way to the throne. The show is packed with horror, history and comedy in spades, and Branagh - who has been off the stage for 10 years - reminded us just what a first-class Shakespearean actor he is - the best Richard III since Anthony Sher got the hump."

Michael Billington, in a long article on theatre in the Guardian makes this comment: ""But, for all these caveats, it has not been a bad year. Best of all has been the sense of renewed purpose in the regions. Michael Grandage has been doing fine work at the Sheffield Crucible: I especially admired the Kenneth Branagh Richard III and an illuminating Peter Gill season in the Studio."

Other list snippets: The Sunday Express TV critic David Stephenson listed 'Shackleton' at No. 3 and 'Conspiracy at no. 9, with the comment: "Another larger-than-life figure, Ernest Shackleton, brought channel 4 a hit in a lean year. There was a compelling performance from Kenneth Branagh, who also turned up in The Conspiracy, a powerful film about the Nazis."

In the Mail on Sunday theatre critic Georgina Brown wrote: "At the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, Kenneth Branagh, as Richard III, deserved the crown for best Shakespearean verse-speaker."

And, again from the Radio Times, this paragraph about Conspiracy, which will be shown again in the UK:

Saturday 4 January - Today's Choices - 'Conspiracy'

This was the finest, most intelligent drama of last year, so who knows - though it's early days, it could be the finest, most intelligent drama of this year too. All right, so this is a repeat, but with quality this high 'Conspiracy' bears multiple viewings.

There is just so much to admire here, including a thoroughly compelling script and an outstanding cast, including Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth. But it's a mesmerising performance of subtlety and complexity from Kenneth Branagh that dominates Conspiracy.

Branagh, who manages to be monstrous and charismatic at the same time, is SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of Hitler's Final Solution. He calls a meeting of senior Nazi Party and military officials at the sumptuous Wannsee villa on the outskirts of Berlin. The men don't know why they have been summoned, and at first it seems that this might simply be for a glorious dinner party.

But amid the fine wines and splendid food, there is a deadly, hideous purpose. The brusque, businesslike Heydrich sets out plans to kill millions of people. No one ever actually describes this abomination against humanity in such terms. There are many elegant euphemisms, such as "the co-ordination of the Jewish question", which is designed to deal with "a storage problem in Germany with these Jews".

The scenario depicted by Conspiracy defies the imagination, although it is based on the sole surviving record of this most secret of summits. And you may feel physically sick at the end when the beast Heydrich looks at Eichmann's (the brilliant Stanley Tucci) record collection and gets sentimental: "The Schubert Quintet in C major. The adagio will tear your heart out."

Alison Graham, TV editor, Radio Times 4-10 January 2003

Other random notes:
Two Branagh-related books with announced publishing dates of January 2003:
    Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies, by Mary Maher, with a foreward by John Andrews. This is revised from the 1992 edition and includes an interview with Kenneth Branagh.
    Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era, by Samuel Crowl. This has been expected for several years.

Previews of The Play What I Wrote begin in New York on 7 March 2003. Opening night is March 30. Tickets are on sale.

Even though Christmas is officially over you might still want to send someone a Gilderoy Lockhart greeting card... you'll find them here:

The Compendium continues to be punished for Gilderoy's popularity by being unavailable for numerous hours a day. The "responsive" (ha!) support staff at the hosting service have not bothered to answer my enquiries - public dissing is in the cards quite soon.

Today's visuals are a bunch of new additions to the Cover Gallery: thoughtful on a Tower Video freebie; a Victor-Elizabeth clinch, with a naughty title (giggle); and yet another Victor-Elizabeth pose; Shackleton in black & white; and in colour; looking inviting before Richard III; and posing with Harry Potter.

That's all for today... coming soon: more book covers.
(29 December, thanks Celia, Catherine, Jude, Sue, Sandra)

Okay - maybe it's us and not them.... the Compendium continues to be unconscious for 4-6 hours a day (and yours truly is getting pretty tired of trying to find the smelling salts). The hosting service made vague suggestions about excessive bandwidth use, but no specific charges (probably because they claim it is "unmetered", ha ha). I await a communication from techie Gus (hellooooo??? are you there???). In the meantime, against all my principles, but in a move Gilderoy Lockhart would see as the natural result of his golden attraction, I have had to block the right click/save feature on the Gilderoy pages. So far it has not made a difference (I'm still thinking it's them, not us) and will be put back as soon I know what the heck is going on. Grumble, grumble.

In the news: [corks popping]  Happy Birthday Kenneth! Keep following your nose (find the quote here) and we'll look forward to lots more viewing, listening, reading pleasure!

Phillip Noyce has been named Director of the Year by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures for Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Quiet American. Bravo!

More Gilderoy stuff: here's a new action figure. I think Gilderoy has been shopping in a certain area of my city (right near Foufounes, for you natives). LOL! How can one resist!

Just to remind you that plastic icons (and blow-up ones :-) ) don't quite replace 'the real thing', here's another photo taken at the Harry Potter 2 premiere.

You will find a nice article from a Greek magazine (and you won't be able to say it's Greek to me because our Ken-Friend Joanne has kindly translated it). It comes with a photo which you can see here and a cover, which you'll see whem I get my act together and update the Cover Gallery.

Finally, referring back to the auction (you can see the result) for, you can see the image by Jason Bell for his book called Hats Off, which is also being sold to support the charity, here. A penny for his thoughts!

I know there is more, but my brain is on strike (it must have the same server as the Compendium  :-) ). Or it could be the calculations going on to see if I can afford to buy Rufus Sewell's house in Kentish Town (900,000)...he's not included in the price, which does make one think twice.   :-)  But the vibes, dahlin'.... hey! this is the Branagh Compendium, get back on topic! The topic is: when are we going to see these two in the same frame or on the same stage? I'm not ten, you know... the mortal coil is loosening.

No, I have not already cracked open the bubbly to toast KB's birthday...  :-)
(8 December, thanks Marina, Jude, Joanne)

Yeesh - I've just noticed a bunch of half-finished sentences, misplaced italics and missing words in the last news updates. Alas, I'm usually just tired when doing them, rather than inebriated. There is some magnetic attraction between updating and the midnight hour...

Speaking of the midnight and early morning hours the Compendium host server has been acting up and making the site unavailable most mornings. It's them, not me... the thought of moving this honkin' huge site is daunting so I hope they get their act together. Sigh.

Woooo hooooo!!! We have had a little hint of what Mr. B has been doing during the "a recluse, moi?" phase the journalists are all going on about. Making a short film, Listening, which he plans to take to the festivals. He can get the list of venues from Phil Stoole. Or the Compendium.

You can read about this, and other vague references to creative activities, and (attention Rickmaniacs) a comment about working with the uber-cool Mr. Rickman, in three articles: Making Light of the Dark Arts, Roles That Are Poles Apart, and In the Company of Ken.

You can find a neat selection of seemingly non-plastic and attractive Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets/Gilderoy items available in Japan here. (Thanks to Ai for letting me steal her images and HTML.)

There are some new Gilderoy photos: a pretty one on the Gilderoy page (scroll down, it's on the right). And three more here. There is also a new photo on the Harry Potter premiere page.

Snippet: Daniel Radcliffe was a mystery guest in The Play What I Wrote. He looked great in that dress. Kylie Minogue was the mystery guest during the performance for the Prince's Charity. I have photos of KB and Prince Charles appreciating her performance somewhere - will dig them out.

I have a Greek article (translated) for you, and lots of other stuff - next time. For Christmas I want an extra set of hours in the day - would that be from Father Time? Does he take Visa?
(3 December, thanks Ai, Olga, Isabel, Nadine)

Another quickie - a toothy newish Gilderoy photo is on the Gilderoy page, along with a new review snippet. The main new thing is a lovely article, which was picked up by lots of papers. It explains a bit why we have perhaps seen less of KB than we might have expected to, given how diligent he always is in promoting the projects he has been involved in. All the best wishes to Mrs. Branagh! [It has occurred to me that anyone not reading the article might draw the wrong conclusions from this last comment - no, he is not married! Mrs. Baranagh is KB's mother who has not been well, and we wish her a speedy recovery. Read the article! :-)]

There is more Harry Potter 'stuff' coming - as soon as I can get to it!
(24 November, thanks Ai, Alexandra G.)

Quickissimo update...
There is currently an auction being held on eBay for Mentality, a mental health organisation. Kenneth Branagh has donated a signed Oscar nominee hat that he was given for Hamlet at the 1997 Acadmemy Awards. You can see the hat - and bid! - here: There are only 4 more days left, so don't wait. Kenneth was also photographed for a book called Hats Off by Jason Bell. Prints of the photos are available to buy for 300 plus VAT. You can get information at Jason Bell turns out to have taken one of my favourite photos - you can see a variation of it on Jason Bell's web site.

As promised, just in time for Christmas (actually in plenty of time!) you can build your book wish list from Kenneth's suggestions. Read what he's read here. This is an introductory paragraph:

"Travel writing is one of actor and director Kenneth Branagh's favorite genres. But don't expect to see his own adventure diaries anytime soon. "It's a great gift to evoke other places, one that I don't have," he says. "I was on holiday, and read a review, that said, 'if I read another book that begins, 'The heat hits you as soon as you step off the airplane...'. And I had been telling people, 'the heat hits you as soon as you step off the airplane'." Look for Branagh in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Some new bits of reviews have been added to the Gilderoy page, and there is a nice new article here.

That's all for today - more to come!
(19 November, thanks Angela, Karen)

Kenites... no real news today, except to say that the Harry Potter-Gilderoy page, and the Rabbit-Proof Fence page have been updated with excerpts from reviews, and a link to the Rex Features premiere photos is on the Play What I Wrote page. The Rex site also has photos of the latest "mystery guest": Bob Geldof.

I keep forgetting about the "reading list" in O magazine... I'm writing it here so that I'll remember to include it next time. What's this about? Come back soon and see. :-)
(14 November, thanks Catherine)

Gilderoy rules! Well, at least in this update...

There was word that Kenneth would be appearing on the Today show on Friday, 15 November, the day that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets opens in North America, but for the moment only Rupert Grint is listed on the show's web site. Updates will be posted here, if there are any.

The Leaky Cauldron has tons of stuff about HP2 and you can see the "Cornish Pixies" scene in 'shot-by-shot' mode, with lots of views of the pearly whites. :-).

The Leaky Cauldron also has complete transcripts of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets press junket on 22 October 2002. Here are the Ken-bits:

Q: Have the Harry Potter books become beloved in a way that, people like Kenneth Branagh want to join in, it's not hard to attract feature actors to parts in the film?
DH (David Heyman): We've been really lucky, the books from the very beginning have attracted people. We've got everyone we wanted on film one and everyone we wanted on film two. So I guess the answer to that is yes. The books are wonderful and kids of all ages, six to 106 seem to want to be a part of them.
Q: Your negotiations with Kenneth Branagh. It got out that he was considered for the next director.
DH: Yes, absolutely true.
Q: There were negotiations?
DH: No negotiations. That may have been created by someone, it's fantastic the way that works. Kenneth Branagh was not, we were not in negotiations with Kenneth Branagh. Maybe the word 'discussions' became misinterpreted as negotiations. We discussed with several directors their approaches to the film and ultimately decided to go with, I think, the hugely talented Alfonso Cuaron.


Q: Which scene from this movie were you most excited to shoot, dramatically speaking as opposed to the special effects sequences?
DR (Daniel Radcliffe): I think in this film I loved the dueling scene because there's this huge crowd there and I like filming scenes with loads of people, plus Kenneth Branagh and Alan Rickman together was just fantastic to watch.
Q: In this film you have two great actors, Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh, who are amazing in it. Talk a little bit about working with them. Also, did you do anything to initiate them into the group, being the new guys on the set?
DR: It was amazing working with Jason and Kenneth Branagh. Not only are they two of the most fantastic actors in Britain, but they're also two of the nicest people. As far as initiation goes, not that I know of.
EW (Emma Watson): Yeah, exactly. They're two of the most fantastic actors on the set, and off two of the nicest guys ever. And also the funniest.
RG (Rupert Grint): Yeah, I was a bit nervous at meeting them at first but they're just really nice people and down to earth and funny.

The Japanese movie magazine ROADSHOW features an image of HP2 original playing cards. All the hearts are Lockhart-related designs. Giggle.

You can see a new picture of the Professor Lockhart Magical Features Action Figure here.

You can see a pack of clips from the film here, including ones with Gildelocks.

Snippets from the BBC Harry Potter Interviews page:

What was it like working with Kenneth Branagh?

Emma Watson: When I first met him I thought he'd be really intimidating, but he's such an amazing person. He's really, really down to earth and is a really nice guy. I think he portrayed the character of Gilderoy Lockhart perfectly - really cheesy and really funny.

Daniel Radcliffe: It's intimidating when you're first about to meet him, because he's this unbelievable Shakespearean actor. But then you actually meet him and he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. It's an honour to work with him.

Rupert Grint: I was a bit nervous at first working with him, but once I got talking to him, he was just so easy to talk to, really funny.

You can also see, as well as hear, Daniel Radcliffe talk about working with Kenneth at the ET Online site.

Meanwhile, here's what Kenneth had to say about the late Richard Harris:

From The Age, 5 Novmber 2002, by Hugh Davies

Tributes were paid at the premiere to Richard Harris, who died last week after having again played Albus Dumbledore. Kenneth Branagh recalled "a magic week" filming with the actor in Gloucester.

"He had a reputation as a hell-raiser but, in fact, he was just the finest of companions. He kept us up all evening with marvellous stories."

It seems Gilderoy's head has swelled to nearly the size of a bus - it has been spotted on the side of the same in Scarborough and Sheffield. :-)

The lucky people attending the last event of the Tokyo International Film Festival had a pleasant surprise: an unidentified "sneak preview", scheduled for after the last screening, turned out to be Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - only the second screening after the London premiere! Apparently the audience went nuts. :-)

At you can watch a clip which talks about the new characters, Lucius Malfoy and Gilderoy Lockhart. You click on the photo of Jason Isaacs (I'm obviously warped because it took me ages to figure that out, expecting to click on a photo of you-know-who)... and first you get a "commercial", for a tooth whitener, which, given Lockhart's smiley reputation, could be taken as 'in context', but is mostly a really depressing sign of things to come.

A bunch of KB snippets from reviews and articles have been strung on the Harry Potter - Gilderoy page. You can find an article titled Top of the Fops here, another, Harry Potter's Chamber of Hormones, here and another, Kenneth Branagh Revels in Playing Conceited Fop, here.

There are lots of fabuloso new photos of Kenneth, at the Harry Potter premiere (and at the premiere of The Play What I Wrote), at my favourite Rex Features site. A few others are gathered together here.

There are also new photos of Gilderoy: The Look and How to Get It; He Wands to Duel with Them (sorry!); and 'I've got one of these in my garden!; "Thank you, thank you very much"; "They told me I could take this outfit home!". There is another photo (without enlargement, alas) on the Harry/Gilderoy page which might put some of you (in the right demographic) in mind of Helmut Berger doing Marlene Dietrich. LOL! heady stuff!

A glance backwards: here is a review of Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre in 1992.

And that is it for today. Rabbit Proof Fence is wowing them in the UK and The Play What I Wrote is knockin' em dead once again. There's an amusing photo of KB with a teddy bear on his shoulder at the Rex site. More snippets to be added the pertinent pages on this site. Soon, I hope.
(9 November, thanks Jude, Gale, Ai, Judy, Kirsty, Jules, Misato, Marilyn, Catherine, Deborah, Amy, Isabel, Zero, Nadine, Christine)

Hello at last - now that the blisters I got raking together this year's olives have healed (we all have our own idea of a vacation, ha ha) I'm back at the keyboard. The Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets live premiere webcast is jumping about in the background (tip: even if you only have a 56k connection log on as ASDL - better sound, same jerky image, but bigger). Waiting for God... erm, Gilderoy.

There is a lot of Harry Potter stuff starting to roll in. Since there will be a kajillion reviews the The Compendium will only be putting up the Kenneth Branagh bits - y'all understand, I know.

Rabbit Proof Fence has been shown at Chicago Film Festival and at the Purbeck Film Festival. It opens soon in the cinemas.

It has been nominated for 10 Australian Film Institute Awards: Emirates AFI Award For Film (Phillip Noyce, Christine Olsen, John Winter), Empire AFI Award For Direction (Philip Noyce), Beyond AFI Award For Actor In A Supporting Role (David Gulpilil), Cinematography (Christopher Doyle), Original Music Score (Peter Gabriel), Screenplay Adapted From Another Source (Christine Olsen), Sound (Bronwyn Murphy, Craig Carter, Ricky Edwards, John Penders), Editing (Veronika Jenet, John Scott), Production Design (Roger Ford), Costume Design (Roger Ford). The awards ceremony will be held on December 7 and telecast on Network Ten.

There is a new review here, and a link to a very interesting article here And finally, there will be a radio programme in the UK on Monday 4th November just after midnight (12.45 to 1.45) called Following The Rabbit-Proof Fence ("Kenneth Branagh narrates a look behind Philip Noyce's new film") - don't know which station but I'm sure UKers can track it down.

Oh - yay! "Gilderoy" - in elegant dark tones rather than crimson and gold (he could have rerun his nifty green shirt, come to think of it) - has arrived at the premiere. Hmmmm.... he's mentioned The Play What I Wrote, so perhaps we will see him on Broadway. Speaking of The Play What I Wrote, the mystery guests in Belfast were Jerry Hall and (yes, Eddie McIllwain did have an ear to the ground) Roger Moore.

Kenneth has contributed the forward to a book which is just out: Finding Your Voice by Barbara Houseman. Barbara Houseman was the voice coach on The Play What I Wrote and Richard III at The Crucible.

And for you DVD collectors: The hard-to-find DVD version of Much Ado About Nothing is to be re-released in Region 1 format early next year. It should include "Chasing the Light", the documentary about the making of MAAN - you can find info here at Amazon.

The student is breathing down my neck (I hate mid-term!) so I will have to leave the Harry Potter stuff till later. I will post this update just to prove I am still alive and have not abandoned the 'Kendeavour'.  :-)
(3 November, thanks FilmLover, Catherine, Celia, Jude, Toni)

Hello Kennoisseurs! A short update before I escape briefly (to dine and quaff in Apulian splendour). Hopefully KB won't go and get married or anything else exciting while I am away (and utterly computerless - yeesh, I can hardly remember what that's like).

Ahem... back to business. There's a brief interview with Kenneth in Total Film, November 2002. The article includes some of the recently released photos.

There is also an image of the Lockhart "action figure". There's nothing like an action figure to make you appreciate the action of the heart and blood coursing through the real guy's veins.   :-)

The premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will be held in London on November 3. All the news items say Kenneth will be there. General release in North America and the UK is November 15.

Rabbit Proof Fence will be getting showings at film festivals:
Mill Valley Film Festival - October 5 and 10
Leeds International Film Festival - October 13 (Closing Gala)
Hamptons International Film Festival - October 16 (Opening Night film)
Viennale Film Festival - October 20 and 21 (Opening Night film)
15th annual Tokyo International Film Festival - October 27, Special Screening
12. Welt Film Tage Thusis (Switzerland) - November 3

You can view a US trailer for Rabbit Proof Fence at Yahoo. The US release date is still November 29. You can find out about the (fabuloso) soundtrack on the Peter Gabriel site.

Shackleton won the UK Radio Times (5-11 October 2002) Readers Poll as best Single Drama. The article included these comments:

KB: "Shackleton was such an experience to make. During preparation for it I had the spine-tingling sensation of sitting in the real James Caird, the 22-foot boat that eventually saved the lives of Shackleton's men during the greatest sea voyage ever completed in an open boat. Months later I found myself in a replica craft in the middle of the Arctic ocean, surrounded by terrifyingly large ice floes and bergs. We were 11 actors utterly alone, waiting for a much delayed helicopter to swoop over us with a camera. That nervous wait in a freezing empty landscape of deadly beauty gave us a small but unforgettable insight into the awful bravery of 'the boss' and his crew."

Rupert Smith: After the triumph of Longitude at the end of 1999, writer/director Charles Sturridge returned with four hours of slow-burning tragedy that made new year viewers happy to be tucked up in their warm living rooms. Kenneth Branagh was suitably thin-lipped as the repressed, driven Antartic explorer, dragging his team to a chilly fate in the southern snows. There were moments of heartbreaking visual poetry, pitching tiny human beings against the vast, indifferent beauty of the frozen landscape - and the climax, when the scouting party pitched up in a whaling station ("I'm afraid we smell a bit"), would have squeezed tears out of a snowman.

You can look at the overall list here. In the "100 Best Shows of 2001-02" Shackleton came in at #35, and Walking with Beasts at #36. Conspiracy was #76. By the way, there is a new link to the James Caird Society from the Shackleton page. You'll find lots of info there.

Here's a fun item from Baz Bamigboye in the Daily Mail:

"One Cannot see the Join, Camilla"

The Prince Of Wales is about to become the Prince of Laughs. There are plans for Charles to make a right royal fool of himself in a West End comedy that pays tribute to comic greats Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. Charles will attend a Prince's Trust charity performance of 'The Play What I Wrote' at Wyndhams Theatre on November 21. It's his second visit to the production which features dynamic duo Sean Foley and Hamish McColl (aka double act The Right Size). The first time he went, his companion, Camilla Parker Bowles had to ask the Prince to control himself. 'Would you stop laughing so loudly - people are looking at you!' she was heard to remark.

Anyway, within 'The Play What I Wrote' there's a hilarious section, in the second act, where an ever-changing rota of special guest stars offer themselves up for ritual humiliation. Ralph Fiennes, Jerry Hall and Ewan McGregor have already appeared - David Seaman is tipped to star later. The guests have to take part in Hamish's spoof play A Tight Squeeze For The Scarlet Pimple.

What's not certain is whether Charles will be the evening's surpise celebrity, turning up on stage dressed in a dressing gown (the scene requires a lot of rehearsal and Charles may not have time for that), or whether the Prince and the show's director, Kenneth Branagh, will concoct some other jolly japes for the heir to perform. At one point in the show, Foley and McColl - two of the funniest men on the London stage - don top hats and tails and replicate Eric and Ernie's famous Bring Me Sunshine number. Charles, being a staunch fan of Eric and Ernie, could find himself doing the duo's famous 'arm behind the back' dance routine.

'The Play What I Wrote' closed earlier this year so McColl and Foley could have a break. It re-opens on October 30 after it has toured the country. In March, it opens on Broadway".

Meanwhile Eddie McIllwain of the Belfast Telegraph taps Roger Moore as the mystery guest for the October 26 Belfast performance of the play. Loose lips sink ships... or maybe they bring in thousands of Ivanhoe/Saint/Bond fans?

There was a brief article about the Broadway opening of the play. 'Revised' has an ominous sound... there go the best bits.   :-)

The photo finish consists of new covers - a magazine: Hamlet, once more; and two books: the tie-in book for Much Ado About Nothing, and a player of Shakespeare. I'll be back before the month is out!
(12 October, thanks Catherine, Judy, Misato, Fran, Heidi, Eva, Sally, Jacqui, Celia, Susn)

Sorry about the AWOL... real life can sometimes take over in an overwhelming way. Back to the good stuff! So, we have three guys: the hero, the bureaucrat and the wizard. Here's what's been in the news on each...

Alas, there wasn't an Emmy for Kenneth as Shackleton, but since he won for his performance in Conspiracy and the always brilliant Albert Finney won this year, I don't think anyone can yell "he was robbed" (like one often can at the Oscars). Everyone who has seen Shackleton has enjoyed an exceptional performance and that's what counts. Shackleton did win two creative arts Emmys: Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie: "Shackleton" (Part 2), Henry Braham, Director of Photography; and Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or Special (Dramatic Underscore) "Shackleton" (Part 2), Adrian Johnson, composer.

Moving on to the bureaucrat, Rabbit Proof Fence is scheduled for release in late November. This article ran in the Sydney Herald:

Studio times Noyce for date with Oscar
September 19 2002

The powerful Hollywood studio Miramax is backing Australian director Phillip Noyce to bring it Oscar glory. Miramax has announced that two of Noyce's films - 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' and 'The Quiet American' - will open in US cinemas in late November and December.

The Hollywood studios traditionally reserve this section of the calendar for their best Academy Award chances. With two of his films opening deep into the Oscar season, Noyce becomes a strong contender for the best director Oscar.

Miramax slotted Noyce's films in after both received strong feedback at the recent Toronto Film Festival, a major launching pad for Oscar campaigns. 'The Quiet American', a complex love story which also explores America's early involvement in Vietnam, in particular, generated a lot of buzz. "What Toronto proved is that the movie has critical support, not only for [lead] Michael Caine's performance but also for the film itself," Miramax's Los Angeles president, Mark Gill, told the Hollywood trade magazine Variety. "That's given us confidence to go into the most competitive time of the year." To be eligible for the Oscars, to be held on March 23, the film must be released in the US this year.

Miramax is not shy in promoting its Academy Award hopefuls and has poured tens of millions of dollars into previous campaigns. Between 1992 and last year Miramax received 10 successive best picture nominations and two Oscars, for 'Shakespeare in Love' and 'The English Patient'. 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' tells the real-life tale of three young Aboriginal girls removed from their parents by government authorities. The film company angered some Australians earlier this year when early billboards for Rabbit-Proof Fence included the question: "What if the government kidnapped your daughter?"

And this most excellent quote from a Roger Ebert column:
"MOST EMOTIONAL ENDING: The final shots of Phillip Noyce's powerful "Rabbit-Proof Fence," which I will not breathe a word about, because they blindside the audience and leave many in tears."
November will also bring us the wizard - and he's starting to pop up all here and there. First of all you can spy him in the new trailer, at the Warner Brothers site.

There is a new photo of Gilderoy Lockhart - you can see the real thing in this month's Vanity Fair. It looks like someone made the (reddish-haired) golden boy crack up just as this photo was taken - very amusing. There are also two other new photos: Gilderoy en garde and Harry framing Lockhart with his arm.

There is also an entertaining Gilderoy fan site where you can see photos of KB adorned with sparkling stars. :-)

And there is a new interview with KB about his role in the second Harry Potter film.

If that isn't enough, you can stock up on Gilderoy in Lego format: Floored but still elegant and A dashing dueler in green.

Random notes: Rupert Everett gave an interview the Express (5 September). Talking about being reunited with Colin Firth for 'The Importance of Being Earnest' the article said:

"[Everett would] also like to work again with Kenneth Branagh, his co-star in the original stage (Another Country). 'Ken is a great bloke and I'd love to act with him again. Give me a call, Ken - maybe he could be my Juliet and I could be his Romeo!'"
Hmmm.... Rupert must be mellowing. Or he just really wants to see Kenneth as Juliet (maybe he spied him in the pink dress in The Play What I Wrote  :-) ).

Speaking of The Play What I Wrote, it is touring around - the schedule will be up on the Play What I Wrote page soon. Apparently KB is "not involved" with this return (not sure what that means - probably that he isn't the hands-on director at this point) but according to Eddie McIlwaine in the Belfast Telegraph he will be there when the production opens:

Ulster Diary: Who'll be the star turn?
By Eddie McIlwaine

Expect an overdue visit home from Ken Branagh. 'The Play What I Wrote', a comedy celebration the Morecambe and Wise double act, directed by our Ken, opens at the Opera House on Monday, October 21, for a week.

He wouldn't dare let the piece open in his home town without freshening it up a bit on its long tour. Ken will be here alright. Sean Foley, Hamish McColl and Toby Jones star in the play which was a success in the West End.

In the storyline, Hamish has written an epic, set in the French Revolution. It's called A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple. Sean, on the other hand, wants them to continue with their double act. He believes that, if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Hamish's confidence will be restored and the duo will go on to dizzy new heights. But first they need a guest star. And so far the guests have included Roger Moore, Ewan McGregor, Ioan Gruffudd, Joanna Lumley, Dawn French, Richard Wilson, Nigel Havers, Ralph Fiennes and Sting.

So who will be the celebrity in town the night you turn up in the stalls or the circle at the Opera House? You never know, it might be Branagh himself. Now there would be a first - a director taking a guest spot in his own drama. But shouldn't it be 'The Play Wot I Wrote?' That's how Ernie Wise would have spelt it. Did you know that when they were a down-the-bill act, Eric and Ernie, whose join was never seen, used to play the lamented Empire Theatre where Ken Dodd also was a Belfast regular in the early days of his career?

Mr. McIlwaine always has snippets about 'our Ken', so he's in my good books... I guess he didn't catch Kenneth's pink dress appearance in London (just as well - he'd be wanting him to star as Juliet, too   :-) ).

And finally, a few links for Schneider's 2nd Stage from the Short Shorts Film Festival 2002 site. You can read an interview with Phil Stoole (and see his picture) and you can hear a snippet of the same interview. You can also see the trailer for the film. The Short Shorts Film Festival is fabulously long long on information!

Coverboy finale: two Czech covers from the Frankenstein period: Cinema and Kinorevue. More covers to come, and photos. Without such a long wait!
(27 September, thanks Marina, Pam, Jude, HALFBAKEDZ, Jane, Catherine, Ai, Olga)

Boy, there's nothing like a little bitchin' and moanin' to bring out some new news, or more precisely in this case, some new photos. Okay... I would have smiled upon a "public appearance with significant other" photo, but I will certainly not say no to new Golden Gilderoy pics... and golden seems to be the order of the day (with a ray shining on the pearly whites). Here is Gilderoy happy with exam results and Gilderoy 'vogueing' (who remembers that concept!) before the most extraordinary portrait of a portrait...if King Charles I had looked like that he wouldn't have lost his head.   :-)
You can see all the Gilderoy Lockhart stuff pulled together here.
(4 September, thanks Karen, Lena)

Dear Kenians, unfortunately this news update starts on a sad note. Kenneth Branagh's mentor, collaborator and friend, Hugh Cruttwell has passed away. Mr. Cruttwell was the principal of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) for many years and was well-known to Branagh fans for his role as a consultant on many of Kenneth's films. His participation in Hamlet in this capacity is memorably captured on film in the BBC documentary The Readiness is All: the Filming of Hamlet. You can read obituaries for Hugh Cruttwell and learn more about him and RADA at The Daily Telegiraffe. Here is Kenneth's statement, excerpted from the obituary in The Guardian, 29 August 2002:

Kenneth Branagh writes: Hugh Cruttwell was the greatest teacher and student of acting I have ever known. He was a cherished friend and mentor, an inspiration to a generation of British actors - and a modest, shy man who would have been the last to recognise himself thus.

The evidence was clear at that surprise party for his 80th birthday. A cast that would have been the envy of Hollywood was assembled, a roll-call of many of the world's finest actors, and a distinguished group of directors, designers, stage-managers and teachers.

They were there because Hugh was simply unforgettable. First there was the voice. His crisp, clarion tones evoked the sound of a distinguished and kindly character actor from a 1930s British film. Thinning, vivid white hair, and the inscrutable demeanour of a wise old eagle completed the impression of a creature from an older, gentler world. Underneath however, was a tough, dedicated man of the theatre.

His commitment to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and its students was absolute. He expected the same in return. He watched the first and the last performance of every single production, showered acting notes after the former and expected to see them enacted in the latter. He had the gift of unerring constructive criticism, tailored in its severity or mildness to his understanding of each student's character. If he respected and loved you, the shorthand could be brutal.

During the 10 years after his retirement from the academy, when we worked together on countless plays and films, he provided one of my favourite Hugh remarks. When I railed at him during the film of Hamlet, asking why after umpteen takes he required me to perform the "To be or not to be" soliloquy yet one more time, he replied, "because I simply don't believe a word you say".

I was just one of the many former students with whom he maintained friendships long after their training. He had a vast network of friends who shared his inex haustible love of theatre, cinema, music, politics, and the Guardian crossword. His kindness, wit and curiosity about life made him a wonderful conversationalist. In a passionate debate on a Faustian theme, we once discussed what we might give up in our own lives to have achieved what he called the "miracle" of having produced a great work of art, say Hamlet or The Magic Flute. After a lively and humorous exchange he paused for a moment and said, touchingly bemused:

"Actually you know, I have achieved a miracle."

"What's that, Hugh?"

"My wife and children".

They are a legacy of which he was inordinately proud. To the rest of us who had the privilege to know him he leaves a profound influence and the example of a ceaseless quest to find the truth in acting and in life.

He will be remembered by everyone who met him. He was adored by most, revered by many. He will be missed by all.

Hugh Percival Cruttwell, teacher, born October 31 1918; died August 24 2002

Happy news: Rabbit Proof Fence has won the 'Audience Award' at the Edinburgh film festival. From Ananova, 25 August 2002:
Branagh film wins Edinburgh audience prize

Kenneth Branagh's new film has won the Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Rabbit Proof Fence won the prize which is voted for by audiences. It's based on the true story of three young aboriginal girls who were taken from their family and forced to assimilate into white society.

Last year's winner was Amelie and in the past it's also been won by The Full Monty and Billy Elliot.

The full top 10 for 2002 was:
1 Rabbit Proof Fence
2 Out Of Control
3 Buffalo Soldiers
4 Tadpole / The Last Great Wilderness
6 The Guru
7 All Or Nothing
8 This Is Not A Love Song
9 Heartlands
10 Morvern Callar

Having been lucky enough to see the film I can attest that this award is merited. It's an excellent film - beautifully done in every sense. Needless to say KB does a brilliant job with the role of A.O. Neville, making his zeal as compelling as his sincere but misguided ideas are appalling. According to a BBC clip the film goes on general release in the UK on 8 November. My local rag has also pegged it as "opening in the fall"... so everyone is in for a treat.

Hmmmm....I've been digging around in/on my virtual desk and that seems to be it for news at this point. Personally, I'm thinking you-know-who needs to get a more 'Hello/OK/People/Bunte/Hola/Gala/Gente-and-other-such-edifying-publications' social life going - at least once in every 6 months or so. Plebes like me need a few paparazzi shots to liven up the slow times.   :-)

So, given the dearth of grainy telephoto shots from holidays in some cove in Greece (watch High Season for those, heh heh) here are some more coverboy photos: fittingly, as we approach the Emmy Awards on 22 September, VB (very butch) Shackleton I and VB Shackleton II. Also, Theatre Record with Richard III.

Also, the photos from the News, 13 June to today, have moved into the New Pics (as well as into the Photo Gallery and Cover Galleries).

Till soon I hope!
(2 September, thanks Carol, Renie, Catherine, Jude)

Hi Kenites. We have not been AWOL (alas, the holiday "let's exploit friends and relatives who live in lovely places" moment has not yet happened this summer) - just inefficient in the heat while gathering bits of news here and there.

It seems KB is "taking a break". In the past this has translated into narrations and audiobooks... but, as I have said before, the world is a place of endless maybe he is lying in a hammock.   :-)

Meanwhile, Gilderoy Lockhart has been immortalised in one of a series of posters from a book of the same. You can see it here.

And... the first unofficial "review" of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has appeared on Ain't It Cool News. "Walkabouter" says nice things about Kenneth, which you can read right here - but go and read the whole review at the link above.

"Hermione is as prissy as ever, but I found Emma Watson quite sincere and adorable this time 'round, especially in her swooning reactions to the new dark arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart.

Oh yeah...Lockhart. He's played by some guy named Kenneth Branagh -- you know, the bloke once married to Emma Thompson?

Seriously, now, for those of us old enough to recall a time called 1989, remember the young, fair-haired prince who burst onto the screen at a ripe old age of 27? The one who redefined a Shakespearean role, out Olivier-ing even Olivier? Branagh's triumphant HENRY V was not just a smashing performance, but a work of a master director full of energy, of vigor. Then his comic turn in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING made him seem unstoppable. Everyone seems to have forgotten those days once FRANKENSTEIN hit theaters. It was so eagerly anticipated (featuring one hell of a movie trailer) that when the handsome, ambitious project failed, Ken seemed to fail with least in the eyes of the public.

[Web site note: the web-ster apologises for putting this next bit in bold, but hey... plus, I held back from converting it all to capital letters.  :-) ]

Well, dammit, I for one still think Ken Branagh rocks. I can forgive him for FRANKENSTEIN...I can admire his 4 hour HAMLET (even if I didn't always connect with it)...

I still think he has genius within him.

I still want him to go back into directing a major, epic studio film someday.

And if he had more screen time in CHAMBER OF SECRETS, I think Ken Branagh could get another Oscar nomination.

He's smug, vain, pompous and charming. He's foolish and clever, witty and bumbling. This is not just Branagh doing Lockhart...It's Branagh spoofing Branagh.

CHAMBER OF SECRETS is at its best during these lighter moments. The silliness Branagh shows seems contagious with his actors. (There is a CLASSIC scene at the end with Harry and company challenging Lockhart -- the terrified look on Branagh's face, and the playfully sinister look on Radcliffe's are priceless.) It also works as it gets a little darker. There are some chilling moments throughout the film, and there's more mystery and tension."

"Well, dammit," [let me quote this again] "I for one still think Ken Branagh rocks."

The Leaky Cauldron site also has this quote from an article in Premiere magazine:

After directing the $318 million-grossing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Columbus received thousands of letters thanking him for staying true to J.K. Rowling's magical best-seller. Critics, however, complained that the film held few surprises. "We got a lot of heat for being so faithful," Columbus says. "But you can't do it any better than it's written on the page." Potter-heads should be equally pleased by his sequel. Like the novel, Columbus says, the film is "darker and edgier" than Sorcerer's Stone. This year at school, Harry discovers that an unknown descendant of the Slytherin dynasty has petrified many of the students, literally. "There's a lot more adventure. You have bigger set pieces, like the spider's lair and the Chamber of Secrets," says Columbus, who compensated for less postproduction time by shooting most of the special-effects scenes up front. Branagh provides comic relief as egocentric Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Gilderoy Lockhart. (Hugh Grant was originally considered for the role, but it was decided that even with his hair dyed blond his A-list persona would be too distracting.) Working with extravagant sets and special effects was a new experience for Branagh, but nothing compared to acting with teenagers. "The kids completely suspend disbelief," he says. "When Alan Rickman and I are dueling with wands, that's exactly what we're doing. They get rather surprised when someone says, 'Cut'." Radcliffe "has become a professional actor," Columbus says. "He gets his performance on take two or three, where it used to take five or six." The Secret of His Successor: Columbus will not direct the next installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. "I haven't had dinner with my kids in two years," he says. But as executive producer, he will have a big say in who takes his place. One candidate is Branagh, who admits that he would find the opportunity "irresistible."
We know now that it's Cuaròn who won't be having dinner with his kids or companion or friends or enemies for the next little while. Meanwhile, it's irresistable to wonder what KB will be doing. A more up-to-date snippet from Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview:
"And who did Cuaron beat out for the job? None other than 'Chamber of Secrets' star Kenneth Branagh. (According to producer Heyman, 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood' director Callie Khouri was also briefly considered.) "I think any director would think twice about directing something like this. It's not going to happen and that's fine by me," says Branagh, who plays the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the perpetually self-impressed Gilderoy Lockhart. "But I do really like the kids. They remain the way you would expect them to be at this age. They have not remotely grown into monsters."

With regard to what Kenneth has already done, this bunny here is hopping all over the place because she has a ticket (Sunday, 9 a.m. - who said Branaghaticissim isn't a religion  :-) ) to see Rabbit Proof Fence at the Festival des films du monde here in Montréal. There are two other showings, chers Quécois, so don't miss it! The film is also being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and, naturellement, the press is acting like that's the only venue (humph). So be there or be square.

The UK release date for the film has been put back to November 8th... meanwhile has been shown at the 56th Edinburgh International Film Festival and has been confirmed as showing on Sunday, 25 August in the Best of the Fest. As reported by Ananova below (and confirmed when I checked the site just now), it might garner other significant recognition:

New Leader in Race for Edinburgh Audience Award

'Rabbit Proof Fence' is now the leading film for the Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film stars Kenneth Branagh and is based on a true story.
'The Guru' is in second place, with 'This Is Not A Love Song' in third. Mike Leigh's 'All Or Nothing' is in fourth, followed by 'Morvern Callar'.
The award is voted for by the audience, from films in the Gala and British Gala sections. Previous winners have included 'The Full Monty' and 'Billy Elliot'. Last year's winner was 'Amelie'.

The photo finish is a few more bookcovers. You can see the whole set in the book section of the Cover Gallery, but here are direct links: A Month in the Country; Much Ado About Nothing screenplay; Oxford University Press edition of Henry V; Oxford University Press edition of Hamlet; A Companion to the Shakespearean Films of Kenneth Branagh; The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film.

'Tis all for today... but it grows cooler and we'll be back soon with some more magazine covers (now close is KB to topping Claudia Schiffer et al. in the cover-person (ahem) category?).
(22 August, thanks Jude, Paula V., Marlene, Jane)

Summertime... and the news is thin (and it's way too hot - I should be in Australia now). So here are a bunch of miscellaneous things.

Quote from an interview with Barry (Wild Wild West) Sonnenfeld from the September issue of Empire:

Sonnenfeld: I think Kevin always felt he was slumming it. Kevin feels, I think, that he's the greatest living Shakespearean actor. Cut to me hiring Kenneth Branagh, who may well be the greatest living Shakespearean actor. Whenever Ken was on set, Kevin would start quoting Shakespeare - "Ah, comes a rose." He (Kline) was never willing to go where I wanted him to, which was to play it straight. He always wanted to be funny. I think Kevin was very insecure in the role. Also, the audience couldn't accept the idea of a science-fiction Western. They were almost with me until the appearance of the 80-foot mechanical tarantula, but at that point they went, "I thought I was seeing one movie but I'm actaully seeing something else, and I don't get it."
The article/interview from the Italian magazine Amica has been translated and you can read it here. I'm hoping that, at the least, Emily Stefania was pretty because she was weak on chronology and fact-checking and I suspect she padded out of the things KB supposedly said a bit (there are some decidedly peculiar bits).   :-)

Rabbit Proof Fence snippets:

The Rabbit Proof Fence soundtrack has been released in the UK - it is by Peter Gabriel and has been released under the title "The Long Walk Home".

The dates for the showings of Rabbit Proof Fence at the Edinburgh Film Festival have been posted: click here to check the site. There will also be a showing of a documentary about the film: click here for details.

RSC director choice follow-up - an article from the BBC web site:

Stars 'want to direct' at RSC

Kenneth Branagh and Sam Mendes have said they want to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, according to its new artistic director.

Michael Boyd, who takes over the RSC's directorship from Adrian Noble in March 2003, told The Stage newspaper that both had indicated they would consider directing productions in the future. Boyd said that both Branagh and Mendes had been consulted by the selection panel during the search for a replacement for Noble. RSC chairman Bob Alexander spoke to the pair about their interest in directing productions for the company.

"I know Bob had conversations with both Kenneth Branagh and Sam Mendes, and I would bite their arms off, no problem," Boyd told 'The Stage'. "I think it's great. I think it is sincere on both their parts and I think its is about an expression of care, although I am sure couched up in 'let's see what you get up to'."

Theatre darling

Mendes has a strong reputation for directing interesting yet popular plays and has previously directed 'Troilus and Cressida' and 'Richard III' for the RSC. During his spell as artistic director at London's Donmar Warehouse he became the darling of theatreland, attracting Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman to appear. Mendes also has a best director Oscar under his belt for the critically acclaimed 'American Beauty'.

Kenneth Branagh is one of the most recognisable faces to emerge from the RSC, having joined for a short period in 1984. During his distinguished career he has directed plays and films from diverse genres including 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'Peter's Friends'. His latest production, 'The Play What I Wrote', has received rave reviews during its London run.

Boyd has been an associate director of the RSC since 1996, winning an Olivier Award for his production of Henry VI. One of his plans once he takes over is to reintroduce the idea of an ensemble cast, which he believes lies in the roots of the RSC.

Controversial reforms

He sees it as the foundation for bringing through new talent as well as attracting big names. He is reluctant to share his views on pushing through the controversial reforms of his predecessor Noble. Among those was quitting the RSC's London home at the Barbican in favour of touring productions. There are also plans to demolish its Stratford-upon-Avon site to build a Shakespeare village. Amid the changes 100 staff were made redundant and others were put on temporary contracts. Boyd said: "In principle I am in favour of big changes as will be evident with me but I had a different view of how those changes might be brought about."

A quote from a New York Times article about a rap version of 'As You Like It':
.... Of all the methods used to make Shakespeare's work relevant to contemporary audiences, the best have limited their contemporizing to costumes and settings, keeping the language intact. Roughly 99.9 percent of contemporary actors can't make his words sing with meaning (which is why God gave the world Kenneth Branagh), but the beauty always comes through to some degree. The Worth Street company has chosen this route.
They will be showing How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog at the Nickelodeon Theater in Columbia South Carolina August 13-15. From a cursory glance at the program it looks to be in good company - most of the others made it to my city, what a shame that HTKYND didn't get the same chance.

Here's a cooling photo for fellow swelterers: from the 'A&E Summer Catalog', Shackleton and Hurley (Shackleton's mitts look like they could double as pets :-) ). And a few more covers: The front cover of the first edition of the Henry V screenplay, and the back cover. Also, the cover of the second edition of the same screenplay. You can find the bibliographic information on the Cover Gallery - Books page.

More covers to come... I'm giving in to humidity exhaustion just now... drip, drip.
(4 August, thanks Catherine, Jude, Joan, Carolyn, Marilyn C., Kristen)

A&E is going to air Shackleton next week (8/5-8/8) at 7:00am during A&E Classroom. It's scheduled as four 1 hour episodes for use in schools.

Oh yes, those Emmy nominators are seriously smart people, and as a result they have nominated Kenneth for an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie" for his potrayal of Ernest Shackleton. Yay! The awards are given out on 22 September and the event will be shown on NBC. It was fun dancing round the TV last year when KB won - I could use the exercise again.  :-)

Shackleton also bagged nominations in the following categories:
Outstanding MiniSeries
Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Outstanding Music Composition For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special (Dramatic Underscore)
Outstanding Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special
Outstanding Sound Editing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

You can check out all the details (and see who the competition is) at the official Emmy web site.

And hot off the Entertainment Weekly online site... words from a favourite horse's mouth:

Entertainment Weekly Online, Sunday, July 21, 2002:

Great Expectations
by Gary Susman

"Harry Potter" gets a new director. With "Sorcerer's Stone" director Chris Columbus bowing out after he finishes shooting the second film, Warner Bros. settles on a filmmaker to shoot the third movie

For the past two months in Harry Potter-ville, the name of the director who would take over the franchise from Chris Columbus was a bigger mystery than the whereabouts of Lord Vol-- that is, He Who Must Not Be Named. Columbus, who directed the franchise's blockbuster first installment ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") and is currently shooting the second ("Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets") announced at the end of May that he would not direct the third movie, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." Warner Bros. came up with a short list of three candidates for the director's chair, but it was unclear whose name would come out of the sorting hat -- until now.

One candidate was Callie Khouri ("Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.") Another was Kenneth Branagh, who is playing Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in "Chamber of Secrets." But Branagh tells Entertainment Weekly he is now out of the running. "There was a little talk about it, but now it's definitely not going to happen," he said on Friday. "I don't know what I can say, but I think a candidate has been chosen. It is a person who I know and like and will make everyone happy," Branagh said. "He is an exciting choice."

That "he" seems to indicate the third candidate, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron. Cuaron may be best known for his current Spanish-language indie hit, the brazenly sexual "Y Tu Mama Tambien," but he also directed the acclaimed children's fantasy film "A Little Princess" for Warner Bros., a movie based on a British novel and set in a boarding school. He also directed the Ethan Hawke-Gwyneth Paltrow update of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations."

While "Chamber of Secrets" is set to open this November, "Azkaban" isn't expected to be ready until 2004. Although Columbus cited a desire to return with his family to the U.S. as the reason he was stepping down, he is expected to remain in England and serve as a producer on the third film.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman)

No wailing and moaning here ('Y Tu Mama Tambien' was as sensitive as it was "brazen") - we all know Kenneth will not be lolling around bored because he's not directing this. Course a few rumours would be nice... hmmm, maybe "holiday time" has entered the KB vocabulary. The world is a place of endless wonder.   :-)

A couple of nice photos from Coming Through, with thanks to the kind webmaster at the The Helen Mirren Appreciation Society.

Looking - dare we say it - really cool (oh, throw in sexy, too) in Studio magazine from 1991.

And we have more covers: Dirigido celebrates Much Ado About Nothing, Dirigido celebrates Hamlet, Grand Angle celebrates Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Shackleton graces yet another TV guide. There are more covers lurking... tune in soon.
(21 July [Happy Birthday Angelica!], thanks, Eddie, Jane, Karen, Ann, Nadine, Marci)

So, you'll have noticed how fast this page loaded... it's archiving time and you'll now find the January to June 2002 news here, and access to the archive of all the previous years of news (and smushie, snarky, squidgy and scintillating commentary) here.

Snippets first:
As part of a Woody Allen film series, the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY (north of NYC) will be showing Celebrity on Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion. For info go to

From an article in the July issue of Empire:

Beware Branagh

Not content with a starring part in 'Chamber of Secrets', Kenneth Branagh may also nab the role of director of the third film...

Chris Columbus has announced that, post 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', he'll be throwing in the towel with the Potter franchise - at least for now. Although he originally told Empire he'd be happy to direct all seven films, now he says he wants to take his family back to the States for a while. Although he's not ruled out returning for future sequels, he leaves an imminent vacancy for the director's chair on the next film, 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban'. An announcement as to who will take over is expected in the next month, but those in the running include 'Y Tu Mama Tambien's' Alfonso Cuaron and Gilderoy Lockhart himself, Kenneth Branagh. The mention of the latter has led to speculation that Branagh was involved behind the camera during the shooting of 'Chamber of Secrets' - certainly there's nothing in his back catalogue to suggest tha he is an obvious choice for the chair. However, given that he spent a substantial amount of the eight month shoot on stage at The Crucible in Sheffield, starring in a sell out run of 'Richard III', it seems unlikely..

There has been no further confirmation about Cuarón being the chosen one, so perhaps the last word has not been said.

Dead Again has been released as a Region 4 (Australia) DVD.

Rabbit Proof Fence will be shown at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The web site, with dates and times, will be up July 10. Tickets go on sale from July 13.

The Play What I Wrote returns to the West End from 30 October 2002 until 4 January 2003 (a fabulous way to end the old year or begin the new!). You can check out the official web site (and see who the mystery guest stars were) or get somewhat more detailed information on dates, times and prices, from The play will also have a run on Broadway in the spring.

There is a new review of Richard III from Theatre Review on the Richard III Reviews page.

Here's an excerpt from a longer article, in turn excerpted from the book "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People", by a conflicted individual, one Toby Young, about crashing the 1994 Vanity Fair Oscar party. You can read the whole article in the National Post (6 July 2002, Saturday post, title: Oscar Wiener).

...I picked up my drink and surveyed the crowd, searching for a bigger target. My eyes immediately lighted on Kenneth Branagh. I gulped down some Scotch and made my way across the room.
"Toby Young, The Daily Telegraph," I said, planting myself squarely in front of him.
He nodded and looked at me expectantly. I desperately tried to think of something funny to break the ice.
"So, how many unlettered Hollywood executives have come up to you this evening and said" -- I put on my thickest American accent -- " 'I jes lurved you in that Shakespeare thang?' "
He tilted his head quizzically.
"Which Shakespeare thing?"
I could feel a wave of panic rising up from my abdomen. I couldn't remember a single one of the half-dozen or so adaptations he'd starred in. I slipped back into my normal voice.
"Er, Hamlet?"
"That wasn't me. That was Mel Gibson."
"God, what am I on about?" -- I slapped my forehead -- "I mean Prospero's Books."
"That was John Gielgud."
I took a slug of Scotch.
"This isn't going very well, is it?"
"No, it's not."
"Can we start again?"
"Only if you can tell me the name of my most recent Shakespeare thang."
He spat out the last word as if it was a cyanide pill. I racked my brains. It was no good. The only film of his I'd ever seen was Dead Again. When it became obvious that I wasn't going to come up with anything he dismissed me with a little shrug. Reluctantly, I turned round, tucked my tail between my legs and crawled back to the bar.
I may have been standing only a few feet away from some of the biggest names in show business, but the distance between us had never been greater.  ...

Young Toby probably had a rather unique experience, eliciting a dismissive shrug from KB... I don't think it's a usual part of his repertoire. So the evening wasn't that much of a loss (even though he eventually got booted out of the party - amusing story, read the article).

And the latest word from Naxos Audiobooks on the new collaboration with Kenneth. The details and the blurb:

Short Stories by Anton Chekhov
Read by: Kenneth Branagh
Music: Russian music
Running Time: c. 5 hours
Produced by Nicolas Soames
3 CDs: 13.99 ISBN: 962634261 7 Cat no: NA326112
3 TAPEs: 9.99 ISBN: 962634761 9 Cat no: NA326114

Here are the eleven short stories by Anton Chekhov, one of the finest masters of what is acknowledged a difficult genre. There is the richly comic 'Oh! The Public' about a hassled ticket inspector, a wry look at morals and manners in 'The Chorus Girl', and the melancholic tale of a cab driver in 'Misery'. Perhaps the finest of all is the novella 'In The Ravine', a minutely observed look at life in a village through the eyes of one family.

All the characters come to life with their foibles, their strengths and their hopes. Kenneth Branagh uses his natural talent for characterisation to bring this village to life.

Amazon UK and North America are listing this and it will be out in the UK soon.

A fellow (Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society) named Glen Shaw has a web site with a nice photo and caption about a meeting he had with KB. Check it out: click on "The latest press release" for a larger image and more about Glen Shaw.

Photo finish: Still standing...Henry V; a few scenes from How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog; a great profile shot from the June edition of Amica (Italy).

And, our cover boy makes more appearances - this time on books: see them in a new wing of the Cover Gallery.

It's been way too quiet on the [not-supposed-to-talk-about-it-but-heck] personal life front - may an appearance à deux be in our future!   :-)
(7 July, thanks, Jane, Marie, Sandra P., Suzanne, Catherine, Marilyn, Nadine, Jude)