News Archive: January 2005 - June 2005

Just a quick update. There was a new article related to the beginning of filming As You Like It published last month which I had originally included in the last update... but I got word that it was riddled with inaccuracies and the paper which published it would print corrections. These have come through, so now you can read the article and the corrections below.

That's all for now - more soon I hope.
(15 June, thanks Renie, Catherine)

Greetings Kenners (which in German means 'connaisseur', something Branagh-fans definitely are :-))....

Random notes:

The book "Theatre History Explained" by Neal Fraser, published November 2004 includes a foreword by Kenneth Branagh. The book is described as "a sweeping illustrated history of the art of Western dramatic performance, covering more than 300 playwrights and 2,000 plays. Neal Fraser is Director of Technical Training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where he has taught for over ten years." Crowood Press (UK), ISBN 1861266596

From an article about a masterclass Patrick Doyle gave at the Cannes Film Festival this year:

Born in 1953 outside Glasgow, Patrick Doyle recalls being surrounded by music from infancy onward, as his parents were quite fond of melody. It was logical for him to attend Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, from which he graduated in 1974. On leaving school, he began to live out his dual passions for music and play-acting. He gave piano lessons, composed for the stage and television, and even did some acting (a bit part in Chariots of Fire). Patrick Doyle was torn between music and acting, until he met Kenneth Branagh.

On Kenneth Branagh: "I owe him everything! Thanks to him, I decided to devote myself entirely to music. He showed me the path to follow... Kenneth, who really is a great director, can be an incredible inspiration. He gives me ideas and opportunities. For me, composing the music for Henry V was like the Holy Grail!"

On the way he works with Kenneth Branagh : "For the opening scene of Much Ado About Nothing, Kenneth had a specific idea in mind: he wanted testosterone and a woman's perfume. He wanted the music to exude love, lust, and the pleasure of being alive. To achieve that effect, he set challenges for me. On the set, he'd give me an hour or two to compose the score for a scene. And I had to get it right. It was very stimulating, excellent training."

There are two new articles on Warm Springs, about learning how to show FDR's physical disability and more about Ken's preparation. And there are three new phtotos: on setin the schoolroomwith Eleanor.

Blast from the past: a nice photo from the German press book for Theory of Flight.

And, a coverboy finish: The Shakespeare Bulletin from 1994; The Herald Magazine from 2004; Body & Soul from the Times from this year. Hope this keeps you for a while!
(8 June, thanks Jude, Nancy)

Hi 2beans - just a quick update (I'm getting a longer-than-one-evening visitor, which means nabbing the cobwebs and chasing the dust elephants, etc.). Warm Springs articles: one and two.

And in botanical news... from the Guardian, 10 May, by Tim Radford, Science Editor:

Jurassic tree thought extinct for 2m years to be planted at Kew

British botanists are about to toast the tree that came back from the dead. The Wollemi pine flourished in the Jurassic era 200m years ago, and faded with the changing world, to be found only in fossil formations. It was thought extinct for at least the last 2m years.

Today, the actor Kenneth Branagh will plant a Wollemi pine at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex. Sir David Attenborough will unveil another Wollemi pine at Kew Gardens. One of the world's rarest trees is about to start recolonising the globe.

The Wollemi pine -up to 40 metres high and in fact, a conifer, not a pine - was discovered by accident by David Noble, a National Parks officer, in a gorge in the Blue Mountains of Australia in 1994. Later, astonished experts confirmed that he had stumbled across a new genus with a very ancient lineage: a sample of Jurassic bark. They named it after him, and went looking for more specimens.

Fewer than 100 mature trees had survived the breakup of ancient continents, the disappearance of the dinosaurs, and dramatic changes in climate, to cling to survival in one tiny, secret corner of the world.

"This is a very unusual tree," said Sir Peter Crane, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. "In that family, the Auraucariaceae, the monkey puzzle family, there are only two different genera, and this one is a third. So it is is quite different, and at quite a high level. It really does appear to be a characteristic Australian living fossil, which is fantastic."

The tree flourished in Jurassic conditions, long before the appearance of modern mammals. Dinosaurs must have foraged in its leaves, pterosaurs taken flight from its branches. Its home would have been part of a vast supercontinent called Gondwana, that later splintered into Africa, Australia, South America, India and Antarctica. It survived a complete reshuffle of the world's landscape and 17 ice ages.

"It would have survived huge changes in climate, first the Cretaceous warmth. There were no glaciers at the poles in those days. And then, a gradually deteriorating climate," said Sir Peter. "It is the ultimate survivor."

Wollemia nobilis wasn't the only tree to escape oblivion. The ginkgo or maidenhair tree - now a popular ornamental specimen - was a contemporary of Wollemia: it too survived almost by chance, in one region of China. "The principle of evolution is change and diversity and to some extent extinction," Sir Peter said. "The puzzle is how things like ginkgo and Wollemia negotiate their way through this changing landscape over huge periods of time, to persist up to today.

"It came within a whisker of being completely extinct - as indeed did the ginkgo. The difference in whether it made it through to be seen by us, or whether it went extinct, was probably just luck."

And further to this, apparently KB & Co. (the As You Like It gang) were spotted doing a reading on the croquet lawn at Wakehurst Place, preparatory to filming.

And a new cover (which I will add to the Gallery soon).   Back to the dust-busting safari!
(15 May, thanks Jude, Jane, Pennie, Nancy)

Ciao Kenites! You will find a pack of reviews/articles about Warm Springs on the Warm Springs page. I have tried to weed out the repetituous ones (there are tons out there). As I write this a lot of people are sharpening their eyeballs for the film on HBO. :-) You can also see a new photo from the shoot.

Believe it or not, there is other news... here's a fun one, from the Sunday Express, 17 April:

Jane Clinton's Showbiz Secrets

British thesp Kenneth Branagh has talked himself out of having plastic surgery. The 44-year-old star has revealed that for years he has been bothered by two spots on his chin.

He says: "The first reaction when you watch a film you've done is vanity related. In my case it's, 'Oh God, look at those chins!' I have two spots on my chin and sometimes when I see those in close-ups I think 'Oh, get rid of those, would you?'

But they will never go as I'm hardly likely to go under the knife. Anyway, it's more important when I'm watching a scene I've done to concentrate on how the scene is playing and whether you believe the truth is being told."

Spotty Ken's latest role is as Franklin Roosevelt in the American TV movie "Warm Springs". He shortly starts filming his latest Shakespeare movie, "As You Like It".

Hey, these lend character...just like my lignes d'expression (a pox on those who might call them wrinkles :-) )!

The IMDB has updated the As You Like It cast and crew list, so here it is for you:

Brian Blessed .... Duke Frederick/Duke Senior
Romola Garai .... Celia
Bryce Dallas Howard .... Rosalind/Ganymede
Kevin Kline .... Jaques
Adrian Lester .... Oliver De Boys
Alfred Molina .... Touchstone
David Oyelowo .... Orlando De Boys
Jimmy Yuill .... Corin

Costume Design... Susannah Buxton
Makeup Designer .... Jenny Shircore
Production Manager .... Angus More

You can find more crew listings at IMDB.

Filming of As You Like It has begun but looks like Kenneth may take some time to contribute to something very important (I'm fresh from seeing a hilarious French film [Podium, for eternally curious/nosy types like me] and want to keep them coming!). From Agence France Presse, 28 April:

Europe Seeks to Forge Cultural Identity in Paris Pow-wow

Artists and intellectuals will next week rub shoulders with politicians in two days of Paris talks aimed at forging and supporting Europe's cultural identity in face of US dominance. Some 800 celebrities and VIPs from across the European Union will gather for the "Meetings for Europe and culture" which open on Monday.

The aim is to "let the artists talk for themselves," French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres told journalists, adding he hoped the platform would become a sort of "Davos for Europe and culture", referring to the annual economic forum in the Swiss ski resort. "We urgently need to assert Europe's cultural dimension," he said, hailing the "culture world's seizing of the initiative during these times of uncertain identity."

Film-makers, writers, architects, actors, musicians, painters as well as intellectuals will put forward their views on where European culture is headed today and what measures are needed to strengthen and define its role. Stars such as British singer Marianne Faithfull, British actor Kenneth Branagh, Polish director Andrzej Wajda, French directors Jean-Jacques Annaud and Luc Besson, German singer Herbert Groenemeyer and Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf are all due to attend.

These meetings, already prepared in Berlin, Paris and Budapest, are set to continue next spring in Spain, and will be officially inaugurated on Monday by French President Jacques Chirac. Chirac is also set to seize the occasion to discuss proposals for a European counter-offensive to plans by Internet search engine giant Google to create a virtual library using collections from four US libraries and the Bodleian in Oxford.

Most of the EU's 25 culture ministers are also be present in Paris for the occasion alongside European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. Organisers have stressed that 4.2 million people are employed in the culture and entertainment industries around Europe, representing some 2.5 percent of the active population. Ministers are due to sign a document at the end of the talks on Tuesday, setting out national measures to support artistic endeavours across the continent.

There is also some Magic Flute news, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 20 April:
Conlon Will Score 'The Magic Flute'

May Festival maestro James Conlon is the music director for an upcoming movie of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," to be sung in English. Kenneth Branagh, the acclaimed actor and director who brought Shakespeare to the big screen in "Henry V," "Hamlet" and the star-studded "Much Ado About Nothing," will direct (and possibly star in) his first opera for the movies.

Conlon, leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, will record the soundtrack in London in September. Filming will take place next spring in England, he said.

Mozart's last opera, composed in 1791, is steeped in Masonic symbolism. The most famous movie version is by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (sung in Swedish) from the 1970s.

The cast members will be all "young faces," says Conlon, who was in Cincinnati on Tuesday. "We're all sworn to secrecy, but (Branagh) has got a concept that's unbelievable."

In 1995, Conlon conducted the movie score to Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" directed by Frederic Mitterand.

You can see an amusing photo of Mr. Conlon looking amused as a large portrait of him is unveiled (at the link above).

Aaaaaaannnnd... a photo finish: a great photo from the Warm Springs press promotions in LA. Hellllooooo handsome!

More soon!
(30 April, thanks Lena, Deborah, Catherine, Jude, Jane)
[And today, a special extra... a plug for a special Italian holiday, run by a good pal, in a gorgeous place I used to live.]

Hi 2beans or not 2beans, just a quick update. You will find a couple of new articles related to Warm Springs, one about the premiere and another short one from the New York Times television section. I have gathered together the links to the various premiere photos as well, on the Warm Springs page. You'll find a new photo, as well.

And, given that filming of As You Like It has begun, a press blurb has been released to that effect, you'll find it on the press releases page. Each new article has revealed one more cast member, so we've added Romola Garai, Alfred Molina (yay) and Janet McTeer (yay). (If he adds Françoise Hardy I can say yeh yeh. :-) ) (Okay, okay, I'm leaving now!)
(24 April, thanks Jude, Jane, Lena, Sal)

Branagholics, greetings! I'm high on the exhilirating mix of discussing web applications for museums in the most-gorgeous-even-when-it-rains-all-four-days city of Vancouver (hey, whatever turns you/me on, right?). But I'll reel in my brain cells to bring you a few bits of news.

First up, a wee photo of Kenneth and Lindsay on their way into the Chapel for the second part of Prince Charles' and Duchess (hope I'm getting this right) Camilla's nuptials. If you were eyeballing CNN or the BBC you'll have seen quite a few views of this happy couple (K & L) during the television coverage (of course, the wretched CBC [whom I normally champion, harumph] did not show them - what's the point of being in the Commonwealth if they can't get stuff like this right?!).

A few days previously you might have had the pleasure of watching KB shake his booty (very fetchingly, I must say - all that dancing in Love's Labour's Lost has left its mark) on the Ellen show, which is actually much more widely available than her website seems to indicate (course, I do not understand all the levels and tentacles of television in its many forms, so I proabably just didn't understand what I was reading on the site).

Warm Springs will be on HBO in just under two weeks. The the world premiere of the movie was held on April 12 at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. My favourite Ledger-Enquirer has an early review. There is another early review from the Baltimore Sun, and one from the Portland Phoenix. There is also a background article on the film. Meanwhile here's a snippet about the premiere in Los Angeles:

L.A. DAILY NEWS/By Elizabeth Snead and Joel Stratte-McClure --Actresses Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis attend the after party for the HBO Films screening of "Warm Springs" at the Egyptian Theatre on April 4, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images) Talk about a turnaround. From sexy supermom to tabloid fodder for her much-publicized same-sex relationship, "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon has had her share of attention lately, but none like on Monday night. Nixon celebrated her astonishing transformation into plain, bucktoothed Eleanor Roosevelt in the new HBO film "Warm Springs" by looking ravishing at the film's premiere in a black-and-white Derek Lam dress and diamond-crusted Fred Leighton bangle. Joined by "Sex" gal pal Kristin Davis, also in black and white (Prada and Dries Van Noten), the two giggled while revealing that their coordinated ensembles were (surprise!) planned, that Davis had "checked with her to see what she was going to wear, so we'd go together perfectly." But no, those two are not dating! It was easier for "Warm Springs" star Kenneth Branagh to chose his clothes (a simple dark suit and blue shirt), as he came to the party alone and under his own steam, no mean feat considering that he looked like he was a real invalid while playing polio-stricken Franklin Roosevelt in the compelling film. The magic of movies withered away his lower legs on screen, but the British actor looked hardy and fit as he reminded us that Roosevelt was a hero of the world, not just America. "He saved us in the war, he's the reason we have a country to live in," Branagh explained, shouting above the din of the posh after-party tent set up across from the Egyptian Theater. Joining the "Warm Springs" stars were co-stars Tim Blake Nelson, David Paymer and hottie Andrew Davoli, along with Jason Alexander, Bryce Dallas Howard and Ricky Jay. The film airs at 8 p.m. April 30.
To go with that, another pair of photos from the premiere. And a bunch of lively thumbnails from the press conference.

But for tons of fun, an interview with Kenneth and happy photo and video viewing you should head right to the official Warm Springs website at HBO. Just to convince you that it's worth it (ha, like that's necessary!) here are a couple of most attractive photos.

As You Like It is about to begin or has begun filming at Shepperton Studios - read an article here.

Bits and bobs:
There is now a release date for the elusive Alien Love Triangle: 16 September 2005. You can read this at a site called Box Office Prophets. Hmmmm, we'll see how tuned in they are... :-)

From Garrison Keillor's site:

Dear Mr. GK, I'm looking forward to your upcoming movie with Robert Altman. Yet, I was disappointed not to see Tim, Tom, Fred, Rich, Pat and Sue listed in the update. Sure, we all like watching Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin. But we'll get to see the APHC regulars, won't we?
Ehrick Long

I hope so, Ehrick, but who am I? Just the writer of the screenplay, an ink-stained wretch, and if Altman needs my advice, he hasn't asked for it yet. He's a hard-charging, cigar chomping, phones a-ringing, Take-A-Memo-Miss-Arthur type of movie tycoon who paces in his Manhattan aerie and snaps at subordinates and bends powerful men to do his bidding. Think of Jason Robards as played by Broderick Crawford and that's Altman. I met with him Thursday and he did the talking and I did the listening. I still have a bruise on my chest where he poked me with his right index finger as he said, "The whole second act is wrong, wrong, wrong. We're not paying you by the word, you know. Too much English major stuff. Kill the limpid small talk and the introspective anguish and give me a sleek man in a beautiful tan suit who pets a cat on his lap as he issues orders for dastardly deeds. And a scene where a blonde opens a door and yells, 'Where's the chow, baby? Mama needs a roast beef sandwich.'" And then he's taking a call from George Clooney who wants to play Buddy in a remake of "Intruder in the Dust". I'm standing there in my pink shirt and chinos and black dress shoes and Sears sportcoat, a little self-conscious about my socks (pink with seahorses) and my hair (should I have used the aloe gel?) and more than a little aware of the fact that I'm from Anoka, Minnesota, and the graduate of a land-grant university. So when exactly should I pluck up my courage and say, "Um, what would you think about maybe using some friends of mine in your movie?" — I'm waiting for the right moment. I am only the writer, I am not David O. Selznick. I do know for a fact that Kenneth Branagh will be playing me, so there's one PHC regular you won't be seeing on the silver screen.

A leg-pull I assume... but clearly GK aims for the best when he transfers to the silver screen. :-)

Here are the good bits from an interview with Alicia Silverstone:

"It's not the size of the role I take or the success of the box-office success of a movie that excites me but the experience of making it," says Silverstone.

"When I made Love's Labour's Lost, I was in heaven. It was an incredible experience. "Everywhere I went to promote the film in Europe, people stood up and applauded. People left the theatres singing and dancing. I don't think anyone saw it in America. "It was barely released, but I still consider it the best work I've done on film."

In DVD news: World War I in Color, narrated by Kenneth Branagh will have its Region 1 (North America) release on 10 May.

Till soon!
(20 April, thanks Catherine, Deborah, Nadine, Jude, Lyn, Mercedes)

A couple of quick updates... The Los Angeles premiere of Warm Springs took place the other day. You can see two photos from the event here. And a pack of thumbnails from the same evening. The ladies in the photos (besides Ms. Nixon) are upper-management types from HBO and clearly He Bowled them Over. :-)

Casting news: A good-looking lad named Benjamin Day Davis announces on his website that he will play Papageno in The Magic Flute. Add a few pretty girls and nifty costumes and they're off to a good start, heh heh.

They'll be baaaaaack! Foley and McColl, backed by that clever David Pugh and directed by that genius Kenneth Branagh will open in Newcastle on 2 September in Ducktastic. There will be 15 performances (until 17 September) before the play transfers to the Albery in London. You can see an amusing poster and book tickets at the Theatre Royal Newcastle website. I'm sure we can look forward to another side-splitter like The Play What I Wrote.

More soon I hope.
(6 April, thanks Nadine, Kelly, Leanna, Pat, Catherine)

Keen Kenians - the Warm Springs promos have begun. If you are subscribed to HBO (which pretty much means you need to be in the USA) you can see trailers for the film. Otherwise you can see two new photos here. As well, and it's been ages since I could give this kind of news, Kenneth will appear on a talk show - specifically, the Ellen Degeneres Show on Tuesday, 5 April. You can visit the website of the show to see when it is on in your area, if it is (there is actually some spotty coverage in Canada, if you live in Barrie, Ontario you're a lucky winner :-)). The show repeats on the Oxygen Network a week later (Tuesday, 12 April). Watchers, remember we need details on the deep stuff like hair and wardrobe, not just the lite content crap. :-)

Further to Warm Springs, in its March 25 edition Entertainment Weekly announces that that you can win passes to free advance screenings to be held in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. You can visit to participate.

Moving slowly backwards in time, the release of the latest Woody Allen movie has sparked an article in the New York Post (13 March 2005) by Sara Stewart, with some nice words about Kenneth's turn in Celebrity:

But Ferrell's Allen-esque antics pale in comparison to Kenneth Branagh in 1998's "Celebrity," in the role of an insecure Hollywood journalist with a screenplay to pitch. "It's such an under-appreciated performance," raves Foster Hirsch, author of "Love, Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life: The Films of Woody Allen." "It's brilliant. He goes beyond stunt and impersonation - it has such a depth and texture. He's one of the great actors in the world, after all." With the strapping, blond Branagh, Allen could hardly have chosen a physical type farther removed from himself. "He and Woody would seem to have nothing in common," says Hirsch. "He doesn't look like him, he comes from a different country - and he transformed himself into a complete New York neurotic!"
Strapping, eh, Sara. She's a fan, heh heh.

Continuing the journey back to Ken's early career, click here to read an article which appeared in The Melbourne Age, looking back at one of KB's earliest film roles in The Boy in the Bush. You can see the photo here.

And finally, New Yawkers (and anyone able to travel to the Big Apple) will be able to see Five Children and It as part of the Tribeca Film Festival. These are the times and locations (tickets are $10):

Sunday, April 24 at 3:15 p.m., Regal Battery Park 1
Friday, April 29 at 1 p.m., Regal Battery Park 5
Sunday, May 1 at 3:45 p.m., Regal Battery Park 9
That's all folks - for now!
(30 March, thanks Nadine, Jude, Paula V., Jane, Marina, Carole)

As promised, a few photos. As Laertes in the 1984 RSC Hamlet. And, three photos from a 1997 showing of (a later) Hamlet, an event organised by the Marin Shakespeare Company. Visit their website and see the photos in context here. More soon!
(17 March, thanks Nadine)

Yikes, Kenites, I cannot believe a month has passed since the last update! Yeah, all the real news has come out in the last few days, but where does the time go? It went... to seeing (twice) the absolutely genius short animation film Ryan which won the Oscar but has local roots, to the 181st St. Patrick's Day parade (pretty good considering Canada is officially only 138 years old, heh heh) during which, as ever, the bagpipers always "took a break" just as they were passing where I was standing (aaargh! I live for the pipers!), to still plowing through snow and freezing my face off walking to work each day, to seeing a hilarious short Irish film in which Stephen Rea wakes up from a boozy night only able to speak and understand Irish, finds out it's because he hit his head falling, gets his daughter to bean him with the frying pan so he'll recover his English and comes to saying "where am I?", in French.... and other stuff, but I won't drone on. Meanwhile...

...things were turning out as we like them - because Kenneth Branagh will be making a film of As You Like It for HBO, to be shown in cinemas and then on the small screen. !!!! Okay, after you stop cheering and running around the house in a state of undress (hi Renie!) you can click here to read three short articles (including an amusing one from Empire) about this news. It's happening soon, with shooting starting April 21st. Yay!!!!!

And while we're into the Shakespeare films, you will surely have noticed from the front page that Mark Casello's campaign to get Hamlet released on DVD has succeeded (thanks also to your participation in the Valentine's Day email blast). Read all about it here.

Short promos for Warm Springs have begun showing on HBO. And there are new photos of KB in FDR mode, with Cynthia Nixon as Eleanor.

So there's going to be a Charles and Camilla stamp... big deal... Wait till you see this first day cover from Tadjikistan (look that up in your CIA World Factbook, or better still on the Republic's own site). Note the date of issue (cough, cough).

You can download the ad that Kenneth has done for the One Small Step campaign in Northern Ireland here at the NICVA site; you can view it in broadband or save it to view locally.

The Telegraph had a slide show online in honour of the Bafta Awards (it has since disappeared), which included a photo and a quote:

Greatest influence: "Hugh Cruttwell, my principal at Rada. He saw me before there was any actor in me. I worked with him across 20 years. He saw and oversaw my entire development as an actor."

Favourite films: Black Narcissus, Les Enfants du paradis, Manhattan

Five Children and It is scheduled for release on region 2 DVD on March 21. Here is a description of the additional goodies:
Written by E.Nesbit, author of 'The Railway Children', this is the movie of five childrens' chance encounter with 'The Psammead' - an ancient, extremely irritable, sand fairy who has the ability to make wishes come. The only problem is that the wishes only last till sunset and the children also find it hard to think of sensible wishes!
* Outtakes
* Audio outtakes
* Storyboards
* Photo gallery
* 'Making Of' featurette
* 'The Kids' featurette
* 'The Adults' featurette
* 'Eddie And The Sand Fairy' featurette
* 'Kenneth's Make Up' featurette
* 'It And The Creature Workshop' featurette
* 'The Kids Fly!' featurette
* 'The Lab' featurette
* Design gallery
* TV spots
* Trailers
Think that's enough stuff? Our insiders tell us that Kenneth is captured going on about the word cool (Again? Man, he's got to cool it, it's just not cool to malign that cool word cool. Who wants to bet the DVD comments are less colourful than the ones on this site?) (Apologies for never being able to resist the chance to link to one of my most favourite KB moments, right up there with the football story.)

You'll remember that a new biography of Kenneth by Mark White will be coming out this autumn. You can see the proposed cover and get some info about Professor White on his publisher's site.

Click here to read an article about the Glyn Watkins' resuscitation of A Month in the Country which mentions that influential but approachable gang, Ken-Friends. :-)

Sporting News I : there have been a number of articles in the German press about Kenneth directing a short film for the 2006 World Cup (of soccer). Here is an English snippet from an article in the Mail & Guardian, mentioning a number of films about football, already made and in the works:

"Another factor in the spate of football films is the proximity of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

It was announced this month that the Berlin film festival and the German Football Association will produce a portmanteau film about football, including vignettes directed by Kenneth Branagh, Emir Kusturica, Jean-Jacques Beneix and Werner Herzog, to be shown as part of the World Cup celebrations next year."

Sporting News II : You can check out an early Branagh big screen appearance by hauling out your copy of or rushing to the video store to get Chariots of Fire. Young Mr. B makes his first appearance about 11 minutes into the film (do we have helpful collaborators or what!) standing by the wall in a gathering of students, and then, about 17 minutes in, during a race in the quad. No frame unturned and no appearance untimed!

I do have photos - but I don't have time (the frigid trek awaits), so I'll add them tonight.
(17 March (Happy St. Pat's!), thanks Deborah, Kate, Jane, Isabel, Jude, Anna, Ralphe, Paula, Karen)

Just one quick item today: Mark Casello (whom you may remember mentioned in a previous news update) has has planned a Valentine's Day "campaign" to get the attention of the people at Time-Warner and let them know just how popular the idea of the Hamlet DVD is. Here is the information from his site:

"Valentine's Day Email Blast On Monday February 14th, you will be able to click the "email blast" link above to tell Warner Brothers how much you "love" Branagh's Hamlet. The link will take you to a prewritten letter with room for your own comments. Click submit and it automatically sends your email to eight of Warner Home Video's highest ranking officials!"
So if you would like to participate (is there anyone out there who isn't dying for Hamlet to come out on DVD?) click here on Monday 14 February!
(11 February, thanks Mark)

Branagholics, greetings! Having just spent some time with my own personal Guy Pringle and having managed to recover (Guy Pringles are best enjoyed fresh and in small doses, when you can balance the undivided attention they require, and their über-popularity - which means lunches and dinners with every mutual friend you ever had, with exploitation of their DIY gifts and sense of humour), it is fitting that the first item of news is that BBC Video will be releasing Fortunes of War on region 1 DVD on May 17th 2005. You can see the cover here.

Starting with the snippets...From "Stella's Column" in the Chicago Sun-Times:

THE SIGHTS: Mayor Daley and director Robert Altman were in the audience for the final performance of William Bolcom's "A Wedding" at the Lyric Opera last Friday. Actor Kenneth Branagh caught an earlier show.
From a press release for the Berlinale (Film Festival):
"Lutz Hachmeister’s 'Das Goebbels Experiment' (The Goebbels Experiment, Germany) uses archive footage and journal entries to give a telling picture of this Nazi leader’s extremely oscillating conception of himself. The texts are spoken by Udo Samel (English: Kenneth Branagh)."
From the "Rich List" in OK Magazine, 1 Feb 2005:
Entry 77: Kenneth Branagh
£2.2 million Re-entry
Age: 44
He's had a bit of a stop-start movie career, but things are definitely going well for him right now. We saw him last year 'In Five Children and It'. He's been filming 'Warm Springs', an American television movie made by HBO in which he plays Franklin Roosevelt. A large part of his earnings come from his signing-on fee for 'Mission: Impossible III' which is due to be released in 2006.
And the notice from the Times about the Auschwitz documentary which KB waived his fee for in order to to ensure the series could be completed:
From the Auschwitz Chronicle
The History Channel, 10pm, Monday 24 January 2005

Scheduled to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (which falls on Thursday, also the fifth annual Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK), this five-part series is being shown nightly this week. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh and Miriam Margolyes, each programme looks at a different aspect of life in the camp, from the banal horror of morning roll call to the seemingly impossible story of the Auschwitz Orchestra. Preceding Thursday's episode is an hour-long documentary, 'Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence', which argues that the Allies knew much more about the Nazi death camps that was admitted at the time.

Apparently Kenneth was in Los Angeles talking about Warm Springs during a sort of television convention in the second week of January (you can read the article here). Meanwhile a screening is planned in April, according to my favourite Ledger-Enquirer, 25 Janaury 2005:
'Warm Springs' Screening Planned for April 12

HBO Eyes Anniversary of FDR's Death for Invitation-only Screening

Home Box Office is almost certain a screening of its movie "Warm Springs" will be held April 12 at Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, an HBO spokeswoman said Monday. That's the 60th anniversary of the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at his Little White House cottage.

"I'm leaving it up to the institute to invite whoever they want," said Pat Conner, director of corporate affairs and public relations for HBO's southern region. "We'll do a real nice cocktail buffet and bring someone in from the film." Attendance will be by invitation only, she said.

The Roosevelt Hall Auditorium, where the screening would take place, seats 350 people, said Roosevelt Institute public relations director Martin Harmon.

The Roosevelt Warm Springs Development Fund also plans to unveil a campaign in conjunction with the release of "Warm Springs." "The release of this movie is a great opportunity for us, and we plan to take advantage of it on a regional and even national scale," said Ken Harris, the fund's development director. Details of the campaign were not disclosed.

Movie Makers 'Charmed'

HBO, which developed the made-for-TV movie about how FDR dealt with the effects of polio before his presidency, also is holding April 19 and 21 open for a possible screening at The Carter Center in Atlanta. "We have a good shot of getting President Carter there," said Conner. The film is tentatively scheduled to be shown on HBO April 30.

"Warm Springs," which she said was in development for several years, was shot in Warm Springs, Atlanta and other Georgia locations last fall. It features British actor Kenneth Branagh as FDR. "We were so charmed by everyone in Warm Springs," said Conner. "It was just a delightful place. Not all film sets are that way. The people who work there are absolutely the most dedicated, committed and enthusiastic people I have seen. Definitely, we want to do this for the people at the institute." Several institute employees were extras in the movie. The institute's brace shop handmade leg braces nearly identical to those FDR wore for Branagh. Conner said she is pleased the film can focus on the needs of people with disabilities and on the place where FDR turned for help in his efforts to recover use of his limbs. "We know this film touched a lot of hearts," she said.

The film also features Jane Alexander, Kathy Bates and Cynthia Nixon, who plays Eleanor Roosevelt. It was written by Margaret Nagle and directed by Emmy Award winner Joe Sargent. On its Web site, HBO promotes the film as a bio drama, as Roosevelt "struggles against the crippling effects of polio in Warm Springs, a Southern resort that has fallen on hard times, and through the process finds his political soul."

And finally, an article from the Belfast telegraph, 20 January 2005, about Kenneth Branagh's participation in the "One Samll Step" campaign in Northern Ireland:
Branagh Steps Forward for New Peace Campaign
Ulster-born star of stage and screen Kenneth Branagh has lent his voice to a new advertisement promoting peace. JUDITH COLE finds out more about his latest 'role'

When asked if he would lend his distinguished voice to a peace-promoting television advertisement being screened here later this month, Kenneth Branagh did not hesitate. The award-winning actor, originally from north Belfast, made time in his hectic film schedule - he is soon to star in 'Mission Impossible Three' with Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johansson - to narrate the ad.

It is to be launched on January 31 and is the brainchild of the One Small Step campaign, which was established in October 2003 to encourage people to do more for peace. Trevor Ringland, One Small Step Chairman, is delighted that one of Ulster's most famous citizens has given such public backing to the campaign's efforts. "Kenneth Branagh has always maintained an interest in Northern Ireland, and has always been supportive of things going on here," he says. "He was very keen to take part when we approached him. It's great that someone of whom we're all very proud was so willing to give up his time to take part."

One Small Step Director Lesley Macaulay reveals that, as Branagh serves as President of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), he was contacted through its director, Seamus McAleavey, who sits on the One Small Step committee. "Kenneth Branagh accepted right away and has been extremely supportive of the campaign and especially so now considering the political situation," she says. "He was in London between films and we were able to use a studio there to record his voiceover for the ad. It only took half an hour."

The One Small Step committee worked with Belfast marketing and communications company Fire IMC to decide on the script, and funding was donated by a range of sources including trusts, businesses and organisations. "Kenneth Branagh gave his time for free," Lesley smiles. "We'd love to get him over for the launch on January 31 but we'll have to see if that's possible."

Lesley explains that One Small Step was established to encourage people to take small steps towards a peaceful society. This is the basis of the advert, which depicts people from different sections of the community, such as youth, skilled workers and ethnic groups, facing up to their prejudices. "We are showing them preparing to go through their own barrier," Lesley says. "It's about breaking out of your own comfort zone and it's up to everyone to decide what that is. "We want to keep the campaign positive and encourage political leaders to move forward. Standing still is not an option.

"Everyone remembers the Northern Ireland Office ad from 10 years ago featuring the two boys from opposite sides of the divide who became friends. "In the ad they were seen exchanging a gaelic medal and a football medal. This is a good example of a step."

Trevor, a solicitor and former Ireland rugby international, adds that 'barriers' may not be as big as perceived, if only people make an effort to confront them. "What we're saying to people is that we've come out of 30 years of tearing ourselves apart and there is a responsibility on all of us to try and do something to get us out of that," he says. "We can't leave it to the political leaders - we all have to take small steps. "At interfaces, the people on either side of the wall could find they share more in common than not, and it will be better for all if they find this relationship." He commends the work going on behind the scenes in the name of peace by schools, community groups and organisations. "Without the efforts of an awful lot of people we would be a lot worse off," he remarks.

"The true Northern Ireland character was shown off recently at St Anne's Cathedral where people were donating money before Christmas to the Black Santa appeal, and then after the tsunami tragedy they were putting even more in. "Here, they came together to help others and we should be able to do the same for ourselves."

Trevor believes that the ever- increasing diversity in Northern Ireland should be celebrated, not destroyed through hatred and fighting. "The media campaign is saying that people can make a difference - it's your responsibility. "Don't underestimate the importance of doing small things, which will in turn help the politicians," he says. "Politics of today is sad but it means we should redouble our efforts. "Diversity is something to be enjoyed and we have representatives in One Small Step from industry, education, trade unions, NICVA, the Arts Council and Sports Council, among others, so I hope it will be positive. "There are people in the community who are held back by the past, but there are also people who are driving forward, such as Alan McBride, who lost his wife in the Shankill bomb - he is a great inspiration. "We have achieved a lot in the last 10 years, but there's something which everyone can be doing. Apathy is the worst thing."

Trevor suggests that accepting other cultures and backgrounds would be a wonderful memorial to those who have died during the long years of conflict. "When people are given the opportunity to do something positive they grasp it," he says. "We can share our country and can help shape its character. "If we are going to make any tribute to the people who died over the last 40 years then surely it is a society which can work together."

Photos! Another one for the "when we were twelve" category... looking very young in Public Enemy in 1987. And 'Rhapsody in Blue' - one and two. And, last but not least, hey, this is easy, and fun!

Ciao for now!
(6 February, thanks Jane, Catherine, Nadine, Jude)

Hi gang! Before we get to the new News, where's all the old News? In the News & Notes Archive... just in case you want to review before the test. :-)

SO... polish your glasses, put down the beer while you can still see straight, send the kids off for their nap (yeah right, rephrase: hand out the milk and cookies and turn on the electronic babysitter) - you've got reading to do!

But before we get to that... Had enough of those false alarms about the release of the Hamlet DVD? Tired of waiting and hoping? Well, Mark Cassello (bless his heart) is, too, and he's set up a website to document the Hamlet DVD saga and his ongoing campaign to wake up those sleeping philistines in Hollywood. Please visit the site here!

Release notes of a happier sort. Thanks to a campaign by Glyn Watkins A Month in the Country has been released on DVD (Region 2), and, very exciting if you can make it, the film will be shown 'on the big screen' at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead in London at 3 pm on 26 February 2005. Check out Glyn's website for details, to see the poster, read a note from KB (and an amusing comment from "Kenneth Branagh's secretary"), and see the neat knits his mum crafts.

And, from a eagle-eared Ken-friend, words from Stephen Fry on BBC Radio 3, talking about writing the libretto for The Magic Flute, to be directed by Kenneth Branagh:

"The reason I am talking about this with some passion is that I am currently struggling with a translation of it into English from the German for a film that Kenneth Branagh is doing next year of The Magic Flute; trying to work out if I am allowed to change Isis and Osiris, for example because the production is not going to be a freemasonry sort of production like that. The protagonist [ ] does undergo this sort of rite of passage and that sort of thing but actually Ken Branagh is setting it in the First World War so it's rather hard to drag in Isis and Isarius. I'm not sure I'm going to do that."
I hope his German to English is better than the German bits in his novels (ahem)(apologies for harping on this, those who remember earlier harangues).

And now, heading to the library, here, first, are the snippets...

From a longer article about a young actor, Andrew Davoli, in the Syracuse Post-Standard:

So Davoli decided Hollywood was a better place to ply his talents. At last, the actor has broken through. He's appearing with Kenneth Branagh in "Warm Springs," an HBO movie focusing on the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The polio-paralyzed Roosevelt was at a clinical Georgia resort when fatally stricken. As a fellow paralyzed man, he plays a major scene with the British star.

Branagh, Davoli says, was "incredible" as the president. "He even did the off-camera coverage." That meant he would read his dialogue off camera to the other actors, which, as a matter of course, stars usually leave to assistant directors. Davoli also is enthusiastic about Cynthia Nixon, of "Sex and the City," as Eleanor Roosevelt, and gives a "wow" to another Academy Award recipient, Kathy Bates as the head nurse.

HBO says the film is due in theaters in April.

From the Times, early January 2005:
Domingo Stalls Over Big Night at the Opera

Placido Domingo was spotted in the stalls at the first night of Das Rheingold at Covent Garden, which was the musical director Antonio Pappano's first Ring cycle. Domingo is scheduled to sing Siegmund in the second leg, Die Walküre in the summer. In the audience were Joanna Lumley, Kenneth Branagh and Nicholas Payne, the former artistic director of the English National Opera. Before the show, one bold fellow asked Domingo: "Here to check it out first?" Domingo waved, smiled and did not answer. A diplomat and a tenor.

From a longer article about film-maker Neris Thomas at ICWales, 14 January 2005:
While completing an art foundation course, Neris - whose father Arthur is from Cefn Coed y Cymmer and mother Mair from Edwardsville, near Merthyr Tydfil - took an evening course in English literature.

She ended up on a theatre trip to Birmingham where she saw Kenneth Branagh in Much Ado About Nothing, which was directed by Dame Judi Dench. "I was totally blown away by it. Emma Thompson was in the audience. I knew they had just appeared in Fortunes of War together," she says. "I hung around and followed Emma Thompson to the bar and they were all in there drinking. "I just went up to Kenneth Branagh and asked him if I could have a job! He was brilliant. He gave me his address and phone number and told me to ring him."

Neris ended up spending her gap year working for Branagh in London. At the time he was preparing for his first film Henry V. "It was incredible timing really. I was able to see what it was really like to do a film. "We worked from his house and people like Richard Briars and Judi Dench were around all the time."

Neris went on to Bristol University to study politics and sociology but continued doing work experience with Branagh at weekends and during holidays. After graduating - and following a stint as researcher for the BBC chat show Pebble Mill - Neris went to work for Branagh and was a production assistant on his 1993 film Much Ado About Nothing, starring Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington.
Followed by three full articles: a blast from the past, an article from 1984, accompanying the the airing of The Boy in the Bush in Britain; an article from September just past; and the latest, a fitness article which you have to read in your track suit, and which the Compendium can provide background to, in the form of our inimitable Ngoc's description of the many shapes of Ken, from Random stuff you should know about the deity that is Ken Branagh...: "His chameleon-like looks shift from chubby-bunny cuteness (Peter's Friends) to suave handsomeness (Roman in Dead Again) to adorable geekiness (The Fortunes of War) to hot-blooded--and hot-bodied--sexiness (Frankenstein) to dashing Dane-ness (Hamlet)." Heh heh.

An older photo accompanies the September article, (scroll down) clearly KB was already channelling Mozart quite a while back... and the fitness piece is accompanied by a photo which does little to promote fitness, and less to promote the photographer.   :-)

There are a few more photos floating around the virtual desk - I'll find them for the next time.
(16 January, thanks Mark, Nadine, Hester, Jude, Jane, Karen)