News Archive: January 2006 - June 2006

Hi Branagholics! Sorry you've been without a drop so long! Mea culpa! I was away for a week (there is nothing, but nothing, like a real in-Italy-Italian wedding!) and then had a nice visitor and am now getting ready for another little sojourn. It's not always like this, so I am revelling while I can.

I think Mr. Branagh is deep into the editing etc. of The Magic Flute. Course the World Cup starts at the end of this week, so concentration might be diluted.  :-)

There have been a few new articles about The Magic Flute - you can read them and see the gorgeous photos on the Magic Flute page.

Hamlet DVD news! This is from the indefatigable Mark Casello's website:

"May 20, 2006 Update! After months of patient waiting, I finally have something to report! The new transfer of the film is nearing completion, but it has taken a very long time both because of its length and the fact that it comes from a 65mm negative. My Warner sources report that the initial transfer was completed last week. The next phase of the project, the removal of dust and scratches during the digital remastering process, should be completed in about 30 days. Once the master is ready for disc authoring, they will schedule a release date. Things are looking good so far! Unfortunately, I don't have any definite news to report on the supplementary materials to be included with the DVD, but Warner did make it a point to tell me that this remastering has been extraordinarily expensive, but worth it."
Darn tooting it's worth it! I am sure they will gain their 'extraordinary expenses' back multiple times, both in money and in contribution to culture and the human good.

Good works department, from icBerkshire, 16 May 2006:

Star Ken Supports Sponsored Sleep-Out

The Reading Single Homeless Project (RSHP) is holding its annual Sponsored Sleep Out at the Madejski Stadium on Friday, June 9.

Last year's event attracted 123 participants and raised 25,000, and this year people are travelling from across the country to take part. The sleep out starts at 7.30 pm and runs through until 7 am on the Saturday morning. It is being supported by actor Kenneth Branagh, who was brought up in Reading.

He said: "I was shocked and surprised by the size of the problem of homelessness in my old home town, Reading. I can only recommend RSHP's Sleep Out to others as this money can help support people and change lives."

The Sponsored Sleep Out was launched in 2004 with 70 people helping to raise 11,000. It proved so popular it has become a firm fixture in the charity's fundraising calendar.

For more information on the event and details of how you can take part, call 0118 950 7656.

So does this mean a sleeping bag with Ken in it? Probably not, but it's a nice image.

Promoting Your City 101:

Flights of Fancy
Belfast Telegraph, 3 May 2006

The International Airport at Belfast is the least impressive airport terminal I have ever passed through. New arrivals stumble across a dizzy carpet full of irrelevant local adverts - where there should be impressive mosaics of our beautiful countryside and its people ... the Mournes, the fishing ports of Co Down, St Patrick at Slemish and Saul, Antrim Coast waterfalls; the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Giant's Causeway, Goliath, our wonderful golf courses.

And where are the images of musicians such as Van Morrison and James Galway, actors Kenneth Branagh, Jimmy Nesbitt and Liam Neeson; writers C.S. Lewis and Brian Moore; international sports stars such as Mary Peters, George Best and Darren Clarke?

We do not do ourselves justice. It's sad to see such lack of imagination.

It is still not possible to buy a coffee along with a whiskey or brandy at the Aldergrove Bar in the departure lounge. One must decide whether to bring one's whiskey to the very basic restaurant - 86 yards away - or risk leaving one's drink on the counter and make a double journey to bring a coffee to the bar.

Belfast International Airport?   Ballygobackwards Provincial Aerodrome!


I'll drink to that! (At the Aldergrove Bar, minus coffee.)

Pictures! You can see a lovely poster for As You Like It here. I'm not sure it's the official one, but it is certainly lovely.

And a series of photographs from articles in Japanese magazines: from Flix in June 1990, Marie Claire in March 1995, Brutus in April 1997, Flix in February 1998, and from Soiree in July 1998.

That's all for now. I'll be away for a bit, but back before the end of the month with any news that comes up.
(4 June 2006, thanks Catherine, Lyne, Mark, Jude, Renie, Ai)

Greetings 2 B-eans or not 2 B-eans! It's been a while... not my fault, the busy B. has been busy, but not spilling any Beans, so there was nada to write about. But, now, finalemente, after this adagio interlude, we have a positively lyrical (well, I really liked it) article on The Magic Flute. It comes with photos, which I don't have right now (yet they will come), but in the meantime you can see two rather entrancing first photos on the Magic Flute page.

From an article on Shakespeare in Time magazine, 21 March 2006:

If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd probably be writing movies. And Kenneth Branagh would probably direct them. "The stories that Shakespeare writes, about kings and queens, the fates of nations and very intense domestic dramas, are written at a pitch, an extremity, that can be presented in a bold and heightened way through film," Branagh told TIME. "In the theater, the words and the performances are the same, but film does it in a language people are more familiar with." In As You Like It, due out in the summer, Branagh transfers the action to 19th century Japan, where romance blossoms against the country's tranquil landscapes. This new setting speaks to modern audiences because, Branagh says, the play is partly about "the idea of the simple life, that feeling of getting out of the rat race, being somewhere quiet, meditative and transformative."

Shakespeare's work, with its complex characters and universal themes, can mean anything to anyone at any time. The possibilities are endless. "When you're working on a Shakespeare play, you know you're never finished," Branagh told TIME. "With Shakespeare films, you don't complete them, you abandon them." It's exactly this freedom to rethink, refresh and rediscover that keeps the industry alive: as long as people find new ways to pay tribute to Shakespeare, others will pay good money to join in. But it's his words that keep them coming back for more, reports TIME.

DVD news: The Goebbels Experiment, the documentary about Joseph Goebbels narrated by Kenneth Branagh, will be available on Region 1 DVD in 23 May. If you are in the US or Canada you can watch it, or a related program, also narrated by Kenneth by the same producers, the day before, 22 May, as part of the American Experience program on your local PBS channel; it's being shown under the name The Man Behind Hitler.

Only one photo today, a colour version of KB on the set of As You Like It.

More soon, we hope!
(30 April, thanks Catherine, Lena, Jude, Nancy)

Hey keen Kenners! The grass is reappearing here in the true north strong and free - can spring be on its way? No. We don't actually have spring in the classic sense, ours is "a couple of warm days melt away the dirty snow, exposing brown and grey surfaces covered with garbage and canine souvenirs, which all freezes again for weeks until the temps suddenly shoot up over a couple of days and it's already summer". Canuck spring is a lot of really pale people running around half-dressed in any rays of sunshine when the temperatures are anywhere above 5 C./41 F. - while in parts of Europe (and I know this from experience) people are still debating whether to leave off wearing their woolen undies.

As you can tell from my droning on above, there is not all that much KB news. But a little. Catherine writes:

"In London, the Evening Standard is running a campaign to save our independent stores and the village atmosphere of many of the suburbs from the supermarkets, chain stores and greedy landlords. So this week, they've been running articles on various good shopping locales and the threat they're facing. Included in the article are the celebrity champions. Yesterday was Hampstead (championed by Emma Thompson) and today was Charing Cross Road and its bookstores - championed by Kenneth Branagh."
There is no indication that Kenneth Branagh was actually asked to be the celebrity champion for this area (shall we take bets as to whether he was? :-)), but I'm sure it's not a cause he would object to (trained bookworm eyes having identified at least one of the bags he is carrying in this photo).

In the "wouldn't it be loverly but there's that thing about a snowball's chance in Hades" news, from the Whatsonstage site, 8 February 2006:

Two previous artistic directors Trevor Nunn and founder Peter Hall are taking part in the Royal Shakespeare Company's year-long Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon. Does current boss Michael Boyd feel threatened having them around? Not at all, "it keeps you on your toes", he said today at a press lunch to discuss further festival programming details. And besides which, "I don't think you ever really leave the RSC." So then, will Adrian Noble also one day be welcomed back? Boyd replied that he'd recently spoken to his immediate predecessor, who plunged the RSC into financial crisis before his departure three years ago, and assured him he would be willing to have Noble helm another RSC production as soon as he was ready to do so. "He's a very very gifted director," attested Boyd, "we would be lucky to have him." As for former RSC actors, he said they were continuing to chase Kenneth Branagh about treading the boards. Branagh is keen but apparently too busy - "fear not, though," said Boyd, "we'll get him".
May that decisive statement have legs!

You can read the very interesting results of the Ken-Friends "Exclusive Q & A with Samuel Crowl" by clicking here. This book is now available for purchase.

A note for Oz fans, particularly those in Melbourne - the Astor Theatre shows the 70 mm version of Hamlet several times a year. The next screening is at 7:15 PM on Thursday 6 April 2006. Not to be missed if you are anywhere near!

A couple of old-but-new photos to round things out: a casual Guy from Fortunes of War, and "not happy with the photographer's concept!" and damp but divine Shackleton (there's lots of towels at my house, cough cough).

More soon, I hope!
(24 March, thanks Catherine, Jude, Ukelelehip, Lyn)

Yay - a bit more press for As You Like It. You can read an article and see photos here.

While we're talking about creative Ken, you can see a doodle he has done here, or better still, you can go to Ebay and bid on the doodle (before Monday, 13 March) to help raise funds on National Doodle Day for both Epilepsy Action and the Neurofibromatosis Association.

I should pull together the artwork our KB has produced for various charities (who could forget the squirrel and the clock face) and make a small gallery... or maybe not, heh heh. Let's feast our eyes on the big and small screens instead.

And a snippet (which has that "don't believe everything you read in the papers" echo) from the Telegraph, 25 February 2006:

A Good Night at the Office?
Where once we worked, now we rest and play. Christopher Middleton reports.

Once upon a time, the Shell Centre in Waterloo was just a big, tall, chalky-coloured office block, with mean little windows and legions of Shell workers toiling away inside.

Today the Shell Centre - or at least a part of it - has become The White House, a swanky, 12-storey apartment block with built-in gym and swimming pool. And, although the windows are as small as ever, the people behind them are no longer oil company admin and accounts clerks, but cosmopolitan flat-dwellers who are prepared to pay up to 2,000 a week to live there, including Kenneth Branagh, David Hasselhoff and Des O'Connor.

For that money, you get strictly boardroom-level accommodation - that is, a penthouse duplex with views of the London Eye and the Thames. At the other end of the pay scale, 275 a week will get you a humbler studio flat at the back, overlooking the IMAX cinema roundabout and rail lines into Waterloo East station.

Hey! The IMAX cinema is a good building - I'll take that view.

So, that's it for now - hopefully more soon.
(11 March, thanks Jude, Jana)

Hey Branagholics, you can read an update on the Hamlet DVD situation at Mark Cassello's site. Thanks to all who participated in the Valentine's Day Email Blast. Keep those fingers crossed.

To tide you over - if you happen to be in Stratford-upon-Avon on the evening of Saturday August 12th this year you can watch Hamlet at an outdoor cinema at the Stratford Recreation Ground on the banks of the River Avon from 9 pm onwards - it is being shown for free as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Celebrations.

Apparently there was a nice article about As You Like It, with photos, in last Saturday's Telegraph. I have not yet got my hands on it, but I hope to bring it to you someday.

There is a small blurb (and a photo of Himself) on the HBO site. Distributor (I hope I've got his job right) Bob Berney is quoted:

HBO:   And then there's Kenneth Brannagh's production of William Shakespeare's "As You Like It."
Bob Berney: Yes. I think Kenneth Branagh can really deliver on the Shakespeare front. He's doing an adaptation that sets "As You Like It" in Japan. And so it's a really unusual adaptation. That too is an HBO Films production. So, we're looking forward to that.
So are we!!

Bits and bobs...
There is talk about Margaret Nagle writing a sequel to Warm Springs - "The White House Years" or "FDR & Churchill". From talk to God's ear... :-)

Good Works Department... Another great project which Kenneth Branagh supports has turned up - read about it (and see a cute photo) at Project Shakespeare.

Culinary notes... Apparently this year Kenneth is a co-chair, with Margo Lion and Saveur magazine Editor-In-Chief Colman Andrews, of Cabaret Gourmet, a gala benefit. Here is the news story from Broadway

Cabaret Gourmet Features Ferguson, Craig, Felciano, Morton and More, March 6

February 17, 2006 - by BWW News Desk The third annual Cabaret Gourmet gala benefit, presented by The Play Company, will be held Monday, March 6 at The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St.).

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Deborah S. Craig (both of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd) and Euan Morton (Brundibar, Taboo) will be among the stars taking part in the event, with more to be announced.

"Cabaret Gourmet returns bigger and better than ever in celebration of the shared spirit of the culinary and theater arts. Both offer delightful food for the soul -- but dinner theater, this is not. The evening will feature samplings from New York City's top chefs and restaurants while surprise guests from stage and screen serve up some savory selections of their own," according to press notes. This year's Cabaret Gourmet is co-chaired by Kenneth Branagh, Margo Lion and Saveur magazine Editor-In-Chief Colman Andrews. The benefit committee includes Blair Brown, Madhur Jaffrey and Carson Kressley.

Act I will feature delicacies prepared by top New York chefs paired with specialty cocktails and classic wines to complement the dishes. In act II, cabaret will meet gourmet with songs, skits, readings and surprises from stars of the New York stage. "A distinguished cast of actors, writers and chefs serve up an eclectic array of food-inspired acts directed by Trip Cullman." The event will last from 7 PM through 9:30 PM.

The evening will feature silent and live auctions with exciting prizes such as prime seats to hot shows, travel and dining packages, autographed theater memorabilia, celebrity dinners and more. Proceeds will benefit The Play Company's artistic programs.

Participating Chefs / Restaurants include: Chef Gray Kunz of Cafe Gray, Chefs Cedric Tovar & Nancy Olson of Peacock Alley, Chefs Patricia Yeo & Jehangir Mehta of Sapa, Chef Kerry Heffernan of Hudson Yards, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter, Chef Josh DeChellis of Jovia, Chef Michael Cressotti of Barbounia and Angus McIndoe of Angus McIndoe.

The Play Company (Kate Loewald--Founding Producer / Lauren Weigel--Managing Producer), a not-for-profit Off-Broadway company, is an international theater for new writing developing and producing adventurous new plays from the U.S. and around the world. Recent productions include the New York premiere of Leslie Ayvazian's Lovely Day (US), directed by Blair Brown, and the American premieres of The Presnyakov Brothers' Terrorism (Russia), directed by Will Frears (co-production, The New Group) and Vijay Tendulkar's Sakharam Binder (India), directed by Maria Mileaf. Later this season, The Play Company will present the New York premiere of Arabian Night by Roland Schimmelpfennig (Germany), directed by Trip Cullman. The company was launched in 1999 by Kate Loewald, Jack Temchin and Mike Ockrent.

Tickets are $200, and $2,500 - $5,000 for VIP tables. For reservations, call The Play Company at (212) 398-2977 or email Gala Coordinator Phillip Guttmann at For more information, visit

I'm not sure that KB will actually get to eat any of the goodies, since he is filming The Magic Flute and so who knows whether he can attend... but perhaps he got to do some "testing" while this was being planned. :-)

You can test your ken of Ken at where Kenneth Branagh quiz has been posted.

You can read a nice new review of Mark White's biography of Kenneth Branagh here.

And while we're in literary land, a complement to this recent biographical work, will be Dr. Samuel Crowl's study of Kenneth Branagh's cinematic oeuvre, The Films of Kenneth Branagh, which will arrive in bookstores at the end of March. You can read about the genesis of this book here. Stay tuned for Questions & Answers from an email exchange between Dr. Crowl and members of the Ken-Friends mailing list.

Photos: Another nice photo of Kenneth and Lindsay at the Ducktastic opening. A photo of KB humming Paul Simon's Kodachrome ("I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph"), and photo of a somewhat weary-looking Kenneth, as tree planter, presumably after planting the "Jurassic tree" at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex (click on the link for the original story). Who knows how big a hole they made him dig! Heh heh.

Ciao for now!
(26 February, thanks Karen, Jude, Renie, Jana, Paula, Samuel Crowl, Ursula)

Hi Branaghians! You'll have noticed (I hope) that there has finally been a bit of a make-up job on the site (we're not getting any younger, cough cough). It's still very simple, but that makes it easier for me to update (not to mention that I'm a Mies (van der Rohe) kind of gal), so you'll have to get your Flashy twirly fixes on the side.  :-)

There hasn't been a whole lot of news but the virtual desk is a mess, so if I miss anything I'll put it in the next update.

In oh poo! news Kenneth did not pick up the Golden Globe or Screen Actors Guild awards, but the nominations were nice anyway. And in oh bloody hell! news it looks like the chimera of the Hamlet DVD may remain just that. The heroic Mark Casello is organising another Valentine's Day mail-a-thon to help Warner Bros. find the plot again. You can read about it here. Please participate if you can!

Some nice news: the 2006 Olivier Awards nominations were announced this week and Ducktastic has been nominated for Best Entertainment. The awards will be given out on 26 February.

The Fuji film company has put up an article about As You Like It on its website. You can read the article here.

Also, you can read about The Magic Flute on the Ideale Audience International website. There is a cute photo that acompanies the article. At the site you can "zoom" to get a full-screen image.

That's it for today!
(5 February, thanks Mark, Jude, Lyn)

Ha! Never thought I'd be back this quickly - but (just quickly) all the photos from the 2005 News & Notes have been gathered on the New Photos page. You can do the year-end review from there.  :-)   At some point they will also end up in the Photo Gallery... really...!
(8 January)

Happy New Year, Branagholics! If you are wondering where the news from 2005 is, it has moved to the News & Notes Archive. My New Year's Resolution is to get with the program updating the Photo Gallery, but we all know what happens to most New Year's resolutions, so don't go making bets with your friends (or do, but on the right side).

What would look nice on the mantlepiece beside the Golden Globe Award? Why the Screen Actors Guild Award, of course! Kenneth Branagh has been nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for his turn as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Warm Springs. Co-star Cynthia Nixon has been nominated for the Female Actor award in the same category. Fingers crossed for both of them!

Click here to read Kenneth Branagh's lovely thank-you for the Ken-Friends donation to UAYD. You, too, can be part of this fundraising effort in 2006 - stay tuned here (until next summer, ha ha) for details.

Here's a news item which has been all over all the papers, but has not been confirmed by any of the interested parties....

It's 'Harry Potter and the Naked Rider'
by BAZ BAMIGBOYE, Daily Mail, 16 December 2005

Daniel Radcliffe, one of the biggest names in movies thanks to his role as the boy-wizard Harry Potter, is in talks to appear in a classic stage play about a young man who blinds six horses in a torrid ritual.

The 16-year-old star, I can reveal, is in the early stage of discussions about starring in Peter Shaffer's powerful drama 'Equus'. I understand Kenneth Branagh will direct the play in the West End in 13 months' time - around January 2007 - when he completes his film of the opera 'The Magic Flute'. The play is one of three productions of Shaffer's works being staged as part of the playwright's 80th birthday celebrations next year.

The role for Radcliffe is a major one and at one point he will be required to reach the height of sexual pleasure - simulated, of course - while riding naked on his horse. It's a clear signal that Radcliffe wants challenging roles and will not settle for frivolous exploitation of his name.

The play, which caused a sensation when it was first staged at the National Theatre more than three decades ago, explores what happens when the 17-year-old youth is sent to a psychiatrist. He uncovers the extraordinary forces that drove the young man to harm the horses and there follows a fascinating discourse on Greek mythology, religion, sexual awakening - and arguments about whether psychological healing will do the groomsman more harm than good.

Radcliffe had worked with Branagh before, when he made a guest appearance in the comedy show 'The Play What I Wrote', which Branagh directed. He is now in Australia shooting a movie called 'The December Boys', and then early in the New Year he will start work on the fifth Harry Potter picture, 'The Order Of The Phoenix'. The current Potter movie on release - 'The Goblet Of Fire' - has become a mammoth box office hit and I seriously thought it might get some year-end awards consideration.

A spokesman for 'Equus' producer David Pugh said it was too early to comment on the production, while the response from Mr Radcliffe's representatives was that there were always rumours about their client.

Trevor Nunn directs Shaffer's 'The Royal Hunt Of The Sun' at the National Theatre, with the possible participation of David Suchet (so good in 'Once In A Lifetime', which opened last night, also at the National), while director John Doyle will bring a novel interpretation to the third Shaffer piece, 'Amadeus'.

We will see... or not, as the case may be. I would much rather see Kenneth on the stage than in the wings or scribbling notes sitting in the back, but he doesn't listen to me, heh heh. ("But what I really want to do is direct.")

And speaking of directing, you can read about The Magic Flute, on the website of the M+R company which handles publicity campaigns for films, including this one.  And so we have publicity: a short article from Variety, which you can read on the Magic Flute page.

There have been some reviews of Mark White's book, and, in one case, a reply from him. You'll find them here.

And, following upon the biography, The Films of Kenneth Branagh, a book by Samuel Crowl, who has already written about Kenneth's work, will be appearing in March 2006. You can read a short description on

Let's start the year off on a romantic note, with a photo of the happy couple, from the Ducktastic premiere. We'll probably have to wait for the premiere of As You Like It for another glimpse of these two together!

And here are five photos from the 1993 RSC production of Hamlet. Feast your eyes!

I think that's it for now (though Murphy's Law dictates that everytime I finally do an update there is fresh news the day after). Hope 2006 has got off to a good start for you all!
(6 January, thanks Jude, Jane, Lyn, Virginia, Sandra and Nadine)