News Archive: January 2000 - May 2000

Let me first start out by saying my computer is about 18 months old - no reason for it to bite the dust so quickly, especially at such a momentous, epoch-defining time as the U.S. opening of Love's Labour's Lost. WHAT THE #$&#*$&#?!?!?! Ah well. Ok, tons of stuff to catch up on, and a tentative TV talk show appearance schedule for our Ken and other LLL cast members to report...

Ken in the bay area: On Tuesday Ken attended a reception and introduced an LLL screening hosted by the Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, California (across the bay from San Francisco). I'm told he was his usual sweet and kind self at the reception (which I didn't attend. I think travelling beyond a 20-mile radius to meet a celebrity more than once a year qualifies as stalking under California law.). I did attend the screening, which Ken introduced in his typical charming and amusing way, with some lovely anecdotes about the late Sir John Gielgud ("...I shall not look upon his like again."). Then the sold-out audience was treated to the brilliant, joyful bit of magic that is Love's Labour's Lost. I LOVE THIS FRICKIN' MOVIE. Everyone went nuts for the film, of course, and I left the theater happy about life and the world in general. (Though I'm still unsure what the "Stanley Donen and Martin Scorsese Present" credit that's been tacked on to the beginning of the U.S. prints - not to mention the poster - is supposed to signify. And where's the "A Kenneth Branagh Film" credit? Sheesh.) BTW, the LLL trailer is available in Quicktime format over at the Mr.Showbiz site...

Ken elsewhere in the U.S: Ken is scheduled to be in Dallas (May 25), Boston (June 2), and New York in the coming weeks to promote LLL, which opens in New York and LA on June 9th and wider on June 16. Tentatively scheduled TV appearances include The Rosie O'Donnell Show (June 6), The Conan O'Brien Show (June 7), Live with Regis and Kathie Lee (June 7), and the Charlie Rose Show (to be determined). Alicia Silverstone and Nathan Lane will also be doing interviews, check out the complete listings at the LLL News page. LLL will also open the Newbury International Film Festival in Boston on June 6, and the fabulous Shakespeare Guild will host a screening in Washington DC with a special guest panel including Richard Clifford (Boyet in LLL). Again, all the details on the LLL News page.

Ken in Cannes and new LLL pics: Ken and James Caan got into a bidding war for the massage services of supermodel Heidi Klum at AmFAR's charity auction. Both stripped to the waist for a test rubdown (though neither one won) - here're pics of Ken and Heidi and all three guys at the event. Other new pics include Ken and Natascha and just Ken from a German LLL article.

Good night, sweet prince: The immortal Sir John Gielgud passed away peacefully last Sunday at the age of 96. Ken, who first met Sir John as a student at RADA and went on to direct him in Swan Song and Hamlet, and also played Edgar to Sir John's Lear in the Renaissance radio production, said, "I'm deeply saddened to hear of Sir John's death. He was witty, generous, humble and sublimely talented. His unique and effortless command of poetry made Shakespeare vivid, passionate and real for millions of people across the world. In person he was unfailingly courteous, kind and an inspiring and encouraging example to all who followed. His influence is enormous and his absence will be deeply felt." The London Times ran a recent article on Sir John and referred to Ken as a Gielgud protege with the following comments:

"Branagh's Hamlet is said to be comparable to Gielgud's, if anyone alive can have heard both. I recall the former as a performance close to perfection. The actor used words as masters of action, not its mere accompaniment. There was hardly a movement on stage throughout, only Branagh's steady, immaculate rendering of five hours of Shakespeare's verse.

"This was Gielgud, living. Ours may be claimed as the age of digitised sound and synthesised voice. I do not believe it. The theatre, like the romantic novel, is vigorous as ever. The magic of Gielgud's performances, the music of spoken English, continues in the acting, staging and honouring of Shakespeare's work." -London Times, 5/25/00 (May 27, thanks to Sandra, Paula B, Carolyn, Isabel)

Ken will be on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight . . . Pics from Cannes: Ken and some supermodels #1, #2, and #3, Ken arriving at the LLL screening with an unidentified chick #1 and #2, and just Ken. (May 22, thanks to Marie-Dominique, Paula V, Catherine, Estela. Short update, my piece-of-crap IBM Aptiva is currently in its death throes -- so if you don't see any updates for a while, you'll know why)

The Dallas interview has been cancelled; word from Merge is that since Ken will be town for only 4 hours, his PR folk contacted them to change plans - they've only been granted permission to take part in a roundtable press interview with other journalists. Sucks. (Geez, maybe I should stop noting future Ken interviews/appearances, they all seem to get cancelled). Ah well, it's a good thing Miramax is getting the Love's Labour's Lost publicity ball rolling, starting with a spiffy website...*koff koff*...oh wait, I'm sorry, I mean the German distributor of the film - they've put up a flash-heavy but great site for LLL, check it out here. Here's a look at the German film poster (my favorite so far) . . . How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog had a nice screening in Cannes yesterday. The movie was met with lotsa laughter and applause; hopefully this means it'll get picked up for distribution soon . . . The Belfast Telegraph reports: "Kenneth Branagh has signed up to play Tsar Alexander I in the $35m major mini-series, Napoleon. Also in the series will be Gerard Depardieu, John Malkovich and Isabella Rossellini." Hmmm . . . Finally, here's the pic o' the day (Jimmy Porter from Look Back in Anger) and a recent snippet from WENN:

Campbell Admires Branagh (World Entertainment News Network)

(May 10) Christian Campbell is full of admiration for British actor Kenneth Branagh - because he's so socially relevant. Neve Campbell's older brother is finding fame in America with new movie Trick, and as well as acting, he also directs and produces - much like Branagh. He says, "I envy his career. He's always done things where he's had a large part in the producing or writing and they're usually very quirky, alternative types of films. They're also socially relevant - that's the kind of career I would like to have." (May 18, thanks to Penote, Marie-Dominique, Heidi, Sandra)

Ken is scheduled to be interviewed on Dallas radio station Merge 93.3 this Thursday morning at around 9am EST. You can listen in by going to the Merge website and clicking the audio 'on' button on the left . . . Most sites have both Dead Again (release date: 6/27) and Henry V (7/23) available for pre-order (I went to DVD Express 'cause they had both links up the earliest). You can check out the makeover they've given to Hal's costume and the new title design at this Amazon link, which features the first glimpse at the cover of the Henry V DVD . . . Here's a shot of Ken with Judi Dench and another lady from Coriolanus ...(May 17, thanks to Penote, Sandra, Mikken)

Ken comes to the San Francisco bay area for a Love's Labour's Lost screening and pre-show reception next Tueday - WOO HOO!!!! I'm probably gonna bail on the reception, but am totally jazzed about seeing the movie again. I'm also excited about finding out his hotel info and camping outside his room. (Heheh! Ahem. Just, um, kidding.) He'll also be doing a local talk show...all the groovy details can be found here. In other LLL news, check out Sony Classical's page for the movie's soundtrack, which also features the U.S. poster on the cover. Here's a look from an eBay site at the full poster, which I prefer to the European version. On the general Shakespeare front, here's a nice Ken excerpt from a book by Robert F. Willson, Jr. called Shakespeare in Hollywood 1929-1956. E! Online also does a Top Ten Countdown of the greatest Shakespeare film adapatations of all time, and the Kenster weighs in at #9 with Much Ado About Nothing and #2 with Henry V. (Hello! Where's Hamlet?) On the movies-in-which-Ken-plays-a-guy-married-to-a-male-alien front, the Daily Telegraph recently did a brief write-up on what's holding up Alien Love Triangle's release . . . Finally, here's a photo of a shirtless Ken with Richard Briers playing Edgar and King Lear, respectively, in the 1988 Renaissance stage production. (May 15, thanks to Fran, Isabel, Virginia W, Gale, Sandra)

Quick note to let you know that Miramax has flaked and the previously mentioned Washington DC events are not on Ken's LLL promo itinerary. Argh! I'm so irritated I'm not gonna add a Ken photo today...(May 12)

Love's Labour's Lost will screen on May 18th in Cannes at AmFAR's Cinema Against AIDS event, with Ken in attendance - more details here. [**DC events CANCELLED**] On May 30th, the Shakespeare Guild will host an advance screening of LLL in Washington DC; on May 31st, Ken will be interviewed by NPR's Susan Stamberg at the National Press Club Ballroom. Preceding this event will be an intimate luncheon where fans can share beer and pretzels with the Kenster (er, or maybe something more upscale) - who wants to go? (I do, but Ken seems to have this policy of keeping at least 2000 miles between us. I wonder why...) Here's the pic o' the day: Ken and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice in the 1988 Renaissance stage production of Much Ado About Nothing. On a personal note, I just heard about an ultra-kewl and fantastic charity organization called PROJECT LINUS, whose members knit and donate "security blankets" (like the one Linus in the Peanuts gang carries around :-) to seriously ill or traumatized children. Check out this site to learn more about it, and if you're in the Austin/Williamson County, Texas area, drop Stephanie an email to see how you can help...(May 11, thanks to John, Sandra)

Ngoc sucks! Yeah, I know. And while I'm accepting responsibility, I've just had a look at my mailbox and realized I haven't answered dozens of emails from some of ya - for this, mucho apologies. I don't mean to ignore your questions/comments/kudos, it's just that I get a billion emails and some of them slip through the cracks (but you'll be happy to know I put emails from close friends and relatives at the very bottom of my priority list). Also wanna note that Berkeley has informed me that since I've graduated and they can no longer put me into further debt (which currently stands at five figures. I asked Ken to pay it off for me, but he passed and opted to buy a $40,000 big pink ceramic flamingo for his front lawn instead. Ingrate.), they're kicking me off their email server. Anyhoo, on to the good stuff. Or the not-so-good stuff, if you were hoping Ken is a kick-ass soccer player. The World Entertainment News Network quotes an onlooker at the charity soccer match in which Ken played last week in Belfast: "If Branagh played HAMLET the way he plays football, he wouldn't last the first act." (If he hadn't stopped for a smoke every 5 minutes, I'm sure he woulda played better.) Heheh! Ahem. Anyway, at least he looked cozy and happy in his soccer jersey. . . Love's Labour's Lost publicity should kick into high gear in the next couple of weeks, but don't expect Ken at the Seattle Film Fest, which will open with LLL on May 18th. I've set up a little LLL site to put a bit of organization into the lunacy that is this news/photo page, so you can find most of the Compendium LLL info there . . . How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog will screen for distributors at the Cannes Film Festival on May 13th and 17th; check out the new poster for the movie and a shot of Ken and Robin Wright Penn. (May 9, thanks to Ag)

Today's photos: Ken atop a pyramid in Fortunes of War and the Love's Labour's Lost gang face the music and dance. The Italian distributor of LLL has put up a nifty little site for the film, with a few video clips - check it out here. And as we await news of Ken's next project, Empire reports on one of the possibilities:

Branagh's Scouse Shocker (Empire)

Hard on the heels of his roles in the oh-so-jolly Love's Labour's Lost and Disney's Road to El Dorado, Kenneth Branagh is turning his back on wholesome roles. According to the Daily Telegraph the actor/director is in talks with Alex Cox to star in The Revenger's Tragedy - an Elizabethan tale of rape, adultery, incest and murder.First performed at the Globe Theatre in 1607 the play's main character is Vindice - a man consumed with anger and rage against a Duke who killed Vindice's wife in a fit of pique when Vindice's wife refused to sleep with the nobleman. Could this be Branagh's part? Either way, it's said that Branagh is so keen to be in on the production, which begins filming in Liverpool in the near future, that he's willing to fit it in before he takes on his next Shakespeare project. (April 26, thanks to Isabel, Sandra, Renata, Kim)

Today's photos: Ken makes a bloody good Coriolanus on stage in 1992 and chats with mum Judi Dench in the same production. Have I mentioned how much I'm anticipating Ken's return to the stage? That'd be so unbelievably awesome; I think I'm gonna put aside a dollar every day to save up for the big event. On the Love's Labour's Lost front, San Jose's little local arthouse theater website's (this is Silicon Valley; dogs have their own websites) LLL preview shows the movie's release bumped up a week to June 16th. And y'all will be relieved to know I'm gonna attempt to bring some method to the madness that is this news section, starting with a separate page for LLL which will be launched within the next couple of weeks...(April 25, thanks to Sandra)

Today's photo: Ken and Alicia in Love's Labour's Lost from Italian mag Ciak. From the Seattle Times:

Much ado about something: SIFF kicks off with Branagh and Shakespeare

Shakespeare. Branagh. Opening night at the Seattle International Film Festival. It clicked seven years ago when Kenneth Branagh brought his crowd-pleasing movie of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" to open the festival. It happens again May 18 at the Paramount Theatre, when Branagh's 93-minute condensation of the Bard's "Love's Labour's Lost" will be the opening attraction. According to Variety's critic, Derek Elley, we're in for a treat. He called the movie "a luscious labor of love ... one of the most audacious adaptations of Will's works ... the overall effect is knowing and joyful at the same time." Branagh has updated the story to the late 1930s, thrown in a number of songs drawn from the Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers musicals of that period ("Cheek to Cheek," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "Let's Face the Music and Dance"), and cast the picture with a mixture of veterans (Nathan Lane, Timothy Spall) and teen-movie faces (Alicia Silverstone, Matthew Lillard). Branagh, who directed, adapted and stars in the movie, will be here to present it...Individual tickets for the festival go on sale May 9, though they will be available to Cinema Seattle members May 7. Full-series passes can be purchased now. Tickets: 206-324-9996. Information: 206-324-9997. (April 24, thanks to Meg, Isabel)

Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview: Love's Labour's Lost (June 9 / NY and LA)

'What's the big deal?: Branagh goes back to the Bard. With Batgirl.

Branagh has handled Henry V, Othello, and Hamlet on screen -- so why this relatively minor Shakespeare comedy? "It's a silly play that is little performed," says the director, who, inspired by old Hollywood musicals, added tunes he handpicked himself. One of Shakespeare's screwiest plots -- the story follows a king (Nivola) and his chaste compadres, who are beguiled by a princess (Silverstone) and her attendants -- the play lends itself to musical treatment. But with an unusual vision and minimal rehearsal time there was a risk of missing the mark -- and drawing the wrath of purists. "The REAL purists love it," says Silverstone, citing the warm reception Love received from the faculty of London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. "It's only arrogant journalists, who think [Shakespeare] is supposed to be boring, long, and spoken with an English accent, who have a problem." Well, that's telling us.'

Pics of the day: With the spider-beard in '98 and striking a pose a couple of months ago in Spain. (April 23, thanks to Caren, Isabel, Marta. Happy Easter and Shakespeare's Birthday!)

Liz Smith column:

'Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost is a quirky blend of Shakespeare and 1930s-style musical comedy. Some will love it, some won't. But you can't fault Branagh for slacking off. He produced, directed, adapted and stars in the movie. Nathan Lane - who nearly walks off with the show - says, "It was like working with Orson Welles, he did everything but the catering!"'

Pics o' the day: Ken and the gang recording the songs for Love's Labour's Lost, pic #1 and pic #2 from a recent photo shoot in Spain. (April 21, thanks to Isabel, Marta, Jane)

How badly do you want to see Love's Labour's Lost? asks Mr Showbiz. Check out their LLL summer movie preview page and participate in their poll . . .the out-of-video-print-but-soon-to-be-on-DVD Henry V airs on Canadian Bravo this Friday at 8:30pm; Much Ado About Nothing is on Canadian TVO at 8pm this Saturday; Hamlet airs on Spanish TV3 this Thursday . . . photos of the day: Ken and Helena doing the typical brother-sister thing in Frankenstein; Ken doing the big blue smurf thing and the "I'm-so-cute-and-I-know-it" thing. (April 19, thanks to Katrina, Isabel, Jason. Oooh, and I can't leave without saying GO SHARKS! :)

I'm up to my ears in Ken stuff, so to preserve what's left of my sanity, I'm gonna try to take out 15 minutes every day to do a little bitty teensy weensy update and unleash all of it on you in small doses. So today's Ken fix: screen caps of Ken and Alicia in Love's Labour's Lost rehearsals (and no, I have no idea why he appears to be grabbing his own ass in the first shot) and Ken at the UK premiere of LLL. (April 18, thanks to Isabel)

Apparently my medication works better when I concentrate on one thing so, to that end - this week's update consists of lotsa new stuff in the Articles section. (Photos next time. You do realize this weekly hour-long work is part of my community service for knocking over a fire hydrant.) Most of the new articles are Love's Labour's Lost-related; all good info, but can't-miss highlights include the massive transcript of the Golden Quill Award ceremony (Ken-gushing like you've never seen), the Hello! LLL article (Alicia Silverstone Ken-gushing. We've seen that before, but nice anyway), and the Empire piece with the reader questions (did yours get picked?).

Love's Labour's Lost is getting lots of great coverage and lots of raves in Spain. Check out the updated Spanish LLL site - they've added tons of new goodies, including photos and a new trailer.

Dead Again on DVD! Woo hoo!! Paramount releases Dead Again on DVD on June 27th with - wait for it - the first ever Ken commentary track. (Wonder what he says..."Oooh, there's me as Roman, - crikey, hadn't realized what a debonaire studmuffin I was! And there's me again as that charming little bugger Mike Church. You know, if I'd known how terribly attractive I was, I'd have played 3 or 4 characters, never mind two...") Read the press release here.

The latest Ken action figure: Burger King should be handing out Ken action figures (Miguel from Road to El Dorado) this week. (Or was that last week? Oops. :) It rather resembles Ken, except that it's rather cut and very good-looking. The flyer that comes with the toy says, "Push Miguel's legs together to make his sword move." No joke.

Alicia Gushes About Ken, Part XXXXXIV: According to the Belfast Telegraph, Alicia's been invited to the soccer game in Belfast Ken is playing in on May 1st. (I kinda hope she goes. Having an extra person to call paramedics after he goes into cardiac arrest 10 minutes into the game won't hurt.) Here's the Ken-related bit, and the latest in other Alicia quotes:

  • Alicia and Branagh struck up a friendship since they sang and danced together in Love's Labour's Lost. Today she described him as "a genius", although she insisted there is no romantic attachment between them. "Ken is the most together director I've worked with," she claimed. "He goes into such great detail and really makes it clear what he wants from you in his films." (Belfast Telegraph)

  • Observer interview snippet: How's your Shakespeare these days?

Pretty good, since you ask. Shakespeare is so rich with life and love and passion and I like all those things. I was so excited - and I'm still so excited - to work with Kenneth Branagh [on Love's Labour's Lost]. I want to work with him again and again. Kenneth can do whatever he wants - I didn't question his judgement for a second. I could go on and on about him.

No kidding. How did you find the singing and dancing?

It was pretty scary actually. We recorded the songs in about three days and had about three weeks of dance rehearsal. The process was really fun. It's remarkable how much we did in so little time. When you see the "No Business Like Showbusiness" number - it was pretty magnificent that all these people came together.

Drat, there's more but my contacts are drying up. Ah well, I'll save those bits for next time...(April 10, thanks to Isabel, Catherine, Carol, Gale Dagsmom)

Just a quick note to report that Ken has cancelled this weekend's Love's Labour's Lost press junket/appearance in Italy, including his scheduled visit to the Verona Film Festival - the word from Italy is that the poor munchkin is bedridden with a severe case of the flu. Hope he's being looked after properly (and I only say this because I remember being sick once when I was little and my mom was out of the country and all my dad did was feed me artificially-flavored popsicles and jelly beans) and enjoys a speedy recovery. I recommend lots of water, some extra-strength aspirin, really warm peaches, and a couple of gerbil hairs...(um, or is that my friend's cure for a hangover? Hmmm.) On the bright side, LLL is getting raves all around both in Italy and Spain, where it opens today. The latest dates I have for the American release are June 9th in New York and Los Angeles and wider on June 23rd (including my hometown, San Jose, Calif). On the dark non-Ken-related side: those skanks at NBC have cancelled Freaks and Geeks! The horror, the horror....(April 7, thanks to Cyn and Isabel) (eh, I can't do an update without giving you something nice to look at: here's the Kenster - by rows: doing interviews for LLL, nuzzling Alicia in LLL, and looking scrummy in LLL, respectively) (And sheesh, why do I use so many frickin' parentheses?)

Well, Love's Labour's Lost opened in the UK over the weekend and - I won't try to put a spin on this - the major London critics (ie the newspaper critics) didn't care for it, the exceptions being the Telegraph and the Observer. On the bright side: (1) this was somewhat expected, see the perceptive review from Variety warning of "high-minded critics"; this was also expected because of the steel pipes lodged up their asses, which must make sitting at screenings of any sort uncomfortable...(heheh! Ahem, um, love them British critics, absolutely ADORE them, really. So I was, er, just kidding about the steel pipes thing. They were probably aluminum); (2) for every bad review from the aforementioned newspaper guys, there were twice as many good reviews/raves from weeklies and monthlies such as Empire, TimeOut London, the Press Assocation, Saintsbury Magazine, Teletext, etc (3) reports from all corners are that reactions from normal people - ie, the audiences seeing the movie - are very positive; (4) the majority of American and Spanish reviews so far have been raves. I have every expectation that Miramax will figure out a way to successfully market this anomaly/sweet gem of a film. I encourage y'all to visit the Miramax LLL page and to email 'em to ask for a confirmed release date and more goodies to download (like the U.S. trailer, which is different from the one over at the official UK site.). All rightey, tons of new stuff to catch up on:

The Road to El Dorado: Saw this over the weekend (I went to a 9pm show and it was full of adults AND tots - good grief, I remember being able to stay awake for only 3 or 4 hours a day at the most when I was 7 years old), very entertaining flick. Ken and Kevin Kline have terrific chemistry and are hilarious. Elton John's songs leave a bit to be desired, but the score from Hans Zimmer is fantastic and the one song that Ken and Kev get to sing themselves ("It's Tough to be a God") rocks. Ken's character slightly resembles him in look and even moves like him a bit, there's a sly Hamlet in-joke moment, and from a Parade blurb on the movie: "animators integrated aspects of the actors' appearances and personalities: Kline is manic; Branagh, romantic." Highly recommended. Oh, and definitely check out a really hysterical Ken and Kevin interview over at the Cranky Critic site.

Paramedics are Standing By...the Manchester United (English soccer team) website reports that Ken will participate in a celebrity charity soccer game at Danny Blanchflower ground in Belfast on May 1st, the day of the premiere of a George Best biopic. Tickets are on sale from the United superstore in Ann Street, Belfast. You know, I'd give my right arm to see Ken play soccer. (Actually, I'm right-handed, better make it my left arm. On second thought, the most I'd give up is a small pinkie toe.) In other stalking alerts, Ken will be in Italy from April 7 to April 10; national press conference in Rome on the 7th, a local Verona film fest screening next, press conference and LLL screening on the 8th. For statesiders who read this site early in the morn and will get this in time, Ken and Kevin Kline are on the Today show this morning promoting El Dorado. For UKers, Sky Premiere next Wednesday at 7.30pm is doing a thing called 'Face to Face with Kenneth Branagh'.

The Hamster with the Flat-top look: Ken's hair is doing the short and spikey thing again, and while some have likened this butch new look to a "startled hedgehog", I think it's quite cool (then again, I think hedgehogs are kinda cute). Judge for yerself: here are shots of Ken from the Big Breakfast show from a couple weeks ago: Ken with Lisa and with Jon. You can also see a great 7-minute webcast report on the LLL premiere at the Virgin LLL site - Ken speaks briefly at the end. Other new photos: Ken and Alicia and Helena with her mother, brother, and sister-in-law from the Love's Labour's Lost premiere, Ken from Madrid press conference, and the new LLL pics from Hello!: Berowne, another shot of Berowne looking at the princess, Alicia at the desk, Alicia dancing with Alessandro, and the girls masked. And here's a shot of cute Richard from Theory of Flight...

Stuff to read: Added some new LLL-related articles, you can check 'em out here. (April 3, thanks to Beth, Cyn, Isabel, Marion, Renata)

Very brief update as I try to catch up on stuff (spent the last week on a mini-vacation - er, business trip - in lovely Massachussetts). The March 28th issue of Britain's Hello! glossy (hate to call it a magazine, since that would imply it contains actual textual content) has a 5-page spread on Love's Labour's Lost. Here's Ken and Helena and Ken and the girls at the premiere, and Ken and Alicia from the film. The rest of the photos and a bigger update hopefully by midweek. LLL opens in the UK this Friday (can't you just hear the British critics sharpening their knives?) and we statesiders get Road to El Dorado (good advance word all around on this one as well) the same day, so lotsa stuff happening....(not at the Oscars though. Good grief, just listening to it from the other room was almost coma-inducing. Happy to see Sam Mendes win, though--there's another talented, cute little British munchkin....) (March 27, thanks to Isabel)

Two new photos from the Love's Labour's Lost UK premiere: Ken and Helena Bonham Carter and Ken with his leading ladies. Also check out a very cool report from a pal who attended the premiere, and a few press things covering the event - most of 'em took the "I'm depressed" quote from the Times article and just ran with it. Sigh. (You'll be relieved to know that a pal wrote to let me know that during the Parkinson interview, Ken "looked like he was on speed and kept grinning like a maniac." Phew! That's mah boy.) Here's a photo of Ken from the London Film Critics Awards from a couple weeks ago. I've been ignoring The Road to El Dorado - the movie opens March 31st stateside, here's a shot of Ken/his cartoon character (I think Miguel's his name.), and the soundtrack's out in U.S. stores, featuring songs from Elton John and Tim Rice. Speaking of soundtracks, Sony has announced that the LLL soundtrack will be out in the U.S. on May 16th. Though ya really oughtta just order it from UK Amazon or one of those other online stores right now, it totally rocks. Ken sounds so good you'll think there's something wrong with your speakers (I had mine professionally inspected just to be sure). Um, I think I have more stuff to say but I can't see straight - my contacts have been on for around 15 hours, are completely dried out, and now I gotta go scrape 'em off my eyeballs with a tweezer (cross yer fingers that I don't accidently take a chunk of cornea with 'em)...(March 19, thanks to Catherine, Jude, Estela, Nicky)

Last night saw the UK premiere of Love's Labour's Lost - read the Press Association article on the event and check out photos of Ken with Alicia Silverstone and with Hollywood screen legend Esther Williams. Yesterday's London Times ran a rather blah article on Ken entitled I try not to let the depression torture me. In addition to the Parkinson interview Friday night, our oompa-loompa is scheduled to appear on a BBC show called Live and Kicking this Saturday, and Alicia guests on the Big Breakfast Friday morning. On the How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog front, the reports coming in from the second test screening on Tuesday in Westwood are terrific. I hear the producers are awaiting word on a possible Cannes screening (wow, and wouldn't that just kick all kinds of heinie) before making a deal with a distributor. Anyway, you can read a test screening report from someone who attended Tuesday's screening...(March 16, thanks to Marie G)

The Love's Labour's Lost soundtrack is out in British stores as of today - you can also order it from Amazon. I'm told there's gonna be another test screening of How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog - a title that'll surely be changed before release, especially in light of the recent road rage incident - 5 miles from my house - which involved a sick and twisted sadist throwing someone else's beloved, fluffy little dog into 3 lanes of oncoming traffic on the, where was I? Oh yeah, another test screening of HTKYND in L.A. tomorrow, March 14th, at the Westwood UA. Speaking of beloved fluffy things, s'more new pics of our Ken (one of these days - though not anytime soon, sadly - I'm gonna clean this site up and put all the new photos where they belong): our young pup during a Renaissance Theatre tour, smiling close-up, blond shots number one and number two, another blond shot, a close-up taken last year, photos one and two from the recent Sunday Times article, Ken and Em in Italy, another shot of the couple in Italy, a cute shot of Ken and Kate Winslet at the '98 Evening Standard Film Awards, and a series of pics taken at the airport: scruffy Ken, dorky Ken, and clean-shaven Ken one and two (taken during the Theory of Flight press junket). Back to LLL: UKers, remember to catch Ken's interview with Parkinson this Friday, and the London premiere of the movie happens this Wednesday. LLL was featured in Miramax's reel at ShoWest recently, here's what the guys at Ain't It Cool News had to say about the trailer:

'You want to get my attention? "Stanley Donen and Martin Scorsese present" is a damn fine way to start. This is Kenneth Branagh's musical version of the Shakespeare original, and it's a bright, engaging trailer full of classic Hollywood iconography. The cast looks like they're having incredible fun. I would love for this to just be an energetic little lark like his MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Let's hope for the best. It would truly suck to have the last musical with Donen's name attached be anything less than triumphant.

HARRY NOTE: Magical and whimsical.. the film has the right texture and look of a classic musical. We'll have to wait and see, but man.. this has Astaire and Rogers style numbers... Busby Berekley numbers... Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly styled numbers. The secret art direction of technicolor musicals.. which was to have a drab world spotted with technicolor beauties dressed in magical dresses and clothes that lept from the screen. That is the case here! Very much looking forward to it.' (March 13, thanks to Isabel, Jude, Jane, Agatha)

The official Love's Labour's Lost site is up - it's got some nifty things there, including lotsa new photos, the trailer, and other stuff. The Spanish distributor of the film has also put up an official site for the movie - check it out here. You can also bypass the postcard route and get tickets for the free sneak preview of LLL all over the UK on March 19th by filling out the form on the Classic FM site. Also on the UK front, the London premiere of the movie is scheduled for March 15th, and Ken makes an appearance on Michael Parkinson's chat show on Friday, March 17th on BBC1. And here's a snippet that appeared in yesterday's Evening Standard:

"Love's labour wasn't lost on the actor Kenneth Branagh who owes a debt of gratitude to former girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter. In his new film Love's Labour's Lost he stands at the top of a flight of stairs and delivers a speech before breaking into a song and dance routine. 'The difficult thing was to slowly blend from the one into the other,' Branagh tells me. 'And it was Helena who came up with the idea of tapping out the iambic pentameters with the feet, just as Astaire used to tap out Jerome Kern's rhythms. Clever girl. It worked. She also came up with another nifty dance idea but I've been a bit naughty. I don't give her due acknowledgement anywhere'." Wow, our Ken is such the gentleman...;) (March 8, thanks to Lucy, Estela, Catherine)

Crapload of Photos, Part Deux: A couple of major news items first - UKers not only get Love's Labour's Lost first when it opens on March 24th, they've also got a shot at FREE passes for early screenings of the movie on March 19th in theaters all around the country. Word-of-mouth buzz on LLL should be terrific--in some ways, the movie's more accessible and fun than even Much Ado About Nothing. Anyway, check out all the details, and get your postcards in early...In major DVD news, Digital Bits reports that Henry V will be released by MGM on DVD in July (hallejujah, praise the Lord, yippee yo kai yay, etc).

All right, time for the photofest. Berlin Film Festival press conference (Feb 15): Ken looking at the camera, Ken in profile, Alessandro Nivola and Ken, another shot of Alessandro and Ken, Ken answering a question, another shot of Ken, Ken with Nathan Lane and Tim Spall, an amused Ken, and 5 shots with Alicia Silverstone and Natascha McElhone: pic #1, pic #2, pic #3, pic #4, and pic #5. Madrid press conference (Feb 23): Ken and Alicia, Ken and Alicia with the director of the film's Spanish distributor, Ken and Alicia in front of the film poster, just Ken in front of the poster, Ken and Alicia getting ready to answer questions, Ken looking at the camera, looking at the camera #2, Ken answering a question, answering a question #2, another shot of the press table, and Ken with two of his biggest fans, Isabel and Leticia. And finally (have ya overdosed on Ken pics yet?), here's another shot of Ken and Alicia arriving at the Empire Awards. (March 6, thanks to Sandra, Isabel, Catherine, Estela, Tanya)

Crapload of Photos, Part I: Yeah, I know I should be putting these (and the other billion photos I added last month) into the New Photos section, but somewhere along the way I've forgotten about all the other sections of this site and this News thing is the only thing I can manage to update. Hmm. Anyhoo, Empire Online has new photos from last week's awards show: Ken and Alicia Silverstone, Ken holding his award, and a nice shot of the Love's Labour's Lost posse (and no, I did not doctor that photo to make Ken and Alicia look like they have matching dark green outfits. BTW, I'm told that lime green shirt that Ken has on glows in the dark.) On the press circuit front, here's a shot of Ken signing a Much Ado poster at the Berlin Film Festival, and a bunch of Ken video captures from Spanish TV (that's 12 Ken pics for one click). Tired of Ken? Here are some non-Ken (but still way groovy) photos from LLL: Alicia cuddling with Alessandro Nivola (yes, he is very hot in the movie), the girls minus Natascha, Nathan Lane as Costard, Nathan and Stephania Rocca, Adrian Lester and Emily Mortimer doing the Casablanca thing, and the girls doing the sleepover thing (the teddy bear in that photo is possessed by the devil, I kid you not). Okey dokey, the Madrid press conference pics of Ken and Alicia are next....In the meantime, go over to Empire's site and check out the video clips, they've got an amusing one of Matthew Lillard giving us the Ken quote of the day:

"[mangling Ken's name]...that's the way we say it in America. Kenneth Bronough. Hopefully to be Sir Kenneth Bronough soon. But [making Love's Labour's Lost] was good, it was like playing basketball with Michael Jordan. I mean he's the greatest of the great. He's a legend. So it was nice, it didn't suck." (March 1, thanks to Isabel, Sandra)

Buncha cool (ya know, Ken's little tirade against this word has made me a bit self-conscious about using it. ;) Punk. Sorry, I'm Californian, that word's permanently ingrained into my vocabulary - I even used it in college term papers :) new shots from the latest flicks - Love's Labour's Lost: the autographed Spanish program cover, Ken behind the camera, the boys making a new pact, Rosaline and Berowne at the dinner table, R & B doing the cheek-to-cheek thing, the boys ankle-deep in water, the girls smoking cigs, just Berowne in water, the gang in front of the gates of Navarre, Rosaline on the plane, and Ken and Alicia getting comfy in a scene that was apparently cut (or maybe this was shot during rehearsals?); How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog: Ken and Robin Wright Penn play hubbie and wife in this comedy, and here's a bigger version of just Ken ('cause he's such a frickin' cute little oompa loompa). Tons more new pics to put up, I'll try to get the ones from the Madrid press conference up in a day or two. Finally, the Mail on Sunday had an interview with Natascha McElhone, check out the LLL-related bits. But a rather nice quote from Natascha deserves to be highlighted here:

"...How can you criticise Kenneth Branagh? He is brilliant. He is so intelligent, so enthusiastic, so entrepreneurial. He is the most loved person I have ever worked with. The way he keeps everyone feeling light-hearted and individually quite special is truly amazing."

Oh, and I liked this quote from the journalist too:

"Lovely film. Although I did think tubby old Ken was panting a bit in some of his numbers." (February 28, thanks to Isabel, Sandra, Agatha, Catherine)

Lars was kind enough to send a very enjoyable account of the Norwegian screening of Love's Labour's Lost - the audience loved the movie (and Ken and Alicia :-), check it out! Also new is this photo of a casual Ken from Norway. He and Alicia Silverstone were in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday, where they hung out in the piano bar of the Palace Hotel, "playing and singing." Ken was also heard to say he wanted to go singing in a karaoke Wednesday night. (In a related story, all the karaoke bars in Madrid announced shortly thereafter that they were closing early that night). There was also a press conference for the movie, check out the following photos of Ken and Alicia: nice color shot, black and white shot #1, black and white shot #2, and Alicia looking at Ken. Ken-Friend Isabel attended the conference, snagged a groovy film program, took a bunch of snaps, and typical of her super-cool self, has sent some great scans of Ken and LLL - which will all go up sometime this weekend. :-) In the meantime, here's the first of the LLL pics, a shot of the 4 boys during the "I'd Rather Charleston" scene. (Gawsh, Matthew Lillard is awfully cute). You can also check out the latest enthusiastiac screening review of the movie over at Dark Horizons, from somebody who also attended the Norway screening. Are ya excited yet?!? Well, frickin' GET EXCITED, this movie's gonna rock the film world, it's gonna blow your mind, it's gonna change your life!!! Eh, actually, you'll probably just have a jolly good time. :-) (February 25, thanks to Lars, Isabel, George, Estela, Lida)

Ken and Alicia Silverstone were in Norway on Monday night for a screening of Love's Labour's Lost at the film festival "Årets filmdager i Oslo". The movie - the Norwegian title of which is "Danser med Shakespeare" ("Dancing with Shakespeare") - had a very enthusiastic reception, I'm happy to report. You can check out a pic of Ken and Alicia entering the theater in Oslo. The dynamic duo takes their LLL promo act to Madrid, Spain today for a press screening and conference. Also new on the photo front is a shot of Ken and Helena Bonham Carter from the Evening Standard Awards a couple of weeks ago. UKers, note that the Empire Awards (at which Ken received the Inspiration Award after the showing of an LLL clip) will be broadcast this Sunday at 11:50pm on channel 4. And this amusing bit appeared in the Brutus column of the Express yesterday (amusing because of the "virtually no press" bit, hmmm)

'Smarting at his treatment by British newspapers, Kenneth Branagh is doing virtually no press for the forthcoming release of his film Love's Labour's Lost, I am assured. The lucky exception to this is Times writer Noreen Taylor, mother of actress Natascha McElhone, who has a role in the film and whose idea it was that her mother should interview Branagh: "I said: 'You have to put the public right on Ken because I'm sick of reading articles about him that have nothing to do with the person he is. He is truly the most lovely bloke you could ever wish to meet. At the same time, he's a genius.' " Brutus trusts Taylor will be suitably deferential.' (February 23, thanks to Lars, Isabel, Catherine)

More stuff from the Empire Awards: cool photos of Ken holding his award and a smaller shot of him arriving with Alicia Silverstone, along with accompanying article blurbs on the event. The February 14-20 weekly edition of Variety has a cool full-page ad for the Berlin Film Fest screening of Love's Labour's Lost. Yesterday's London Sunday papers brought a couple of super-cool goodies: Alicia on the cover of the Mail on Sunday with an article entitled Me, Myself and Kenneth and a cool full-page photo of Ken and Alicia from the movie; in the Sunday Times Magazine was a very long, very interesting, and very cool 6-page article spread (with this photo of Berowne) on Le Branster entitled In the Company of Ken. Be warned, the writer seems to quote Ken verbatim (although he doesn't use any quotation marks at all), in all his foul-mouthed glory. If you can handle the following paragraph (on Ken's thoughts on the word "cool") then you've passed Conversing with Ken 101 (kids under the age of 18, please get your parent's permission before proceeding):

"Fucking cool, what the fuck does cool mean, fuck off to that word, fuck off (his voice gets louder and louder), let's take 5000 fucking words in the language and put 'em into this four-letter fucking blandishment, just fuck right off, find a fucking word, would you, find a fucking word that says what you mean... fucking cool... it means fuck all to me, ah Christ, but, as you know (he splutters with laughter) because you want to be cool, you think, oh, I'd better use that word then."

Ahem. Glad I hardly ever use that word. ;) Um, what news else....oh, here's another black and white pic of Ken, Alicia, and Natascha McElhone from the Berlin press conference, from the Boston Herald comes this tres amusing article on Alicia's animal speech at the post-premiere LLL Berlin party, and Ain't It Cool News has a nice review from last week's test screening of How To Kill Your Your Neighbor's Dog. (February 21, thanks to Catherine, Sandra F, Ellen, Jude)

Ken received the Inspiration Award at last night's Empire Movie Awards, accompanied by Alicia Silverstone. Empire's site will probably have some photos of all the festivities soon, but for now you can check out an AP wire photo of Ken and another shot of our multi-award winner. Speaking of Britain's biggest movie magazine, its March issue has a cool Love's Labour's Lost spread, including photos of Berowne twirling Rosaline around, the girls masked, the girls doing the sychronized swimming thing, and the girls by the pond (hmm, we need more boy pics). Also new on this site is a photo of Ken with Jessica Lange from last week's Evening Standard Awards. Oh, almost forgot, Ann Miner over at the Nathan Lane Page has alerted me to the fact that is NOT going to be the address of the official film site. While we're back on LLL, it's been confirmed that Spain is in the fact the next stop on Ken and Alicia's Winnebago tour of Europe. They'll be there at the end of February; the movie will open in Spain on April 7th. Finally, there was indeed a test screening of How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog in Westwood on Wednesday night, and based on the reports I've gotten so far, the response appears to have been awesome. There will probably be another test screening in a month or two. More on HTKYND, things are looking awfully smurfy in Branagh-land these days (except for the fact that Ken got nominated for a Razzie--the Oscar opposite; ie, "Worst" movie nominations--for his performance in Wild Wild West, but I won't mention that. Besides, that bell-bottomed Jar Jar Binks definitely has that one in the bag. WWW led all entries, BTW, surprise surprise) (February 18, thanks to Estela, Isabel, Bonnie)

The first review of Love's Labour's Lost is out, and it's an unqualified rave. You can read the review from industry paper Variety here - woo hoo! Please note the usual minor spoiler warning that's inherent with reviews. (Not that there's much to spoil - basically it's Shakespeare, singing, dancing, and general silliness all mixed together in a kick-ass package). Also new is a photo of Ken with Alicia Silverstone and Natascha McElhone from yesterday's Berlin Film Festival press conference (hmm, he kinda looks like a bit of a dork there). And I just heard an unconfirmed rumor that Ken will be heading to Spain next on this whirlwind LLL publicity tour (um, not that this is a stalker site or anything ;)...There's supposed to be a test screening of How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog in LA this week; they've been handing out passes on Bruin Walk over at UCLA - hopefully not near any animal rights activists....(February 17, thanks to Sandra, Ellen, Isabel)

Love's Labour's Lost had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last night. There was also a well-attended press conference for the film; joining Ken were co-stars Alicia Silverstone, Natascha McElhone, Nathan Lane, Alessandro Nivola, Tim Spall, Richard Clifford, Carmen Ejogo, Stefania Rocca, and producer David Barron. Check out a pic of the Ken from the conference and a few articles covering the film's screening. The press conference is also available for viewing here (scroll down a bit to find the link on the site), albeit with a German voiceover. (Although you can hear the most important bits in English: at the beginning when the moderator is telling the jostling photographers, "Sit down please. Sit down please. Sit down PLEASE"). The movie's official site is also off to a rollicking start--okay, no it isn't, but at least they've reserved the domain name. :) Finally, a couple of the more fun quotes from the Berlin articles:

"Sometimes in cinema you wonder why you're doing what you're doing, as an actor. But with him you know exactly what you're doing. ... I want to work with him again and again and again." -Alicia Silverstone

"I tried not to let them drag me down." -Nathan Lane, the only cast member with musical theatre experience. (February 16, thanks to Isabel)

Apologies for neglecting e-mail queries the last few weeks, I've yet to pass my time management class (er, actually, I've yet to sign up for a time management class). And Ken, being the cooperative guy he is, is just starting to kick into mega-high publicity gear as we speak. Grrrreeat. ;) But here are a few answers that should take care of a good chunk of the questions: (1) Writing to Ken: use the Shepperton address posted over at the Addresses section of this site (2) Getting scripts to Ken: use the aforementioned Shepperton address. Please don't send stuff to me, I've got zip zero zilch connection - be it official, casual, or imaginary - to the Kenster (read the site disclaimer if you haven't yet) (3) When Love's Labour's Lost will open: Check the front page for updates on release dates as I get 'em. In general, Europe will get it in March/April and the rest of the world probably sometime during the summer. Rest assured, it'll be worth the wait. All righty then, on to the news (oooh, big fat juicy update with tons of kick-ass goodies here. Always big fat juicies after a few weeks of site neglect):

In honor of Ken's 39th birthday, the Ken-Friends gang continued our support of the Ulster Association of Youth Drama with a $4,507.00 donation, which will be used to provide student scholarships for budding young Ulster talent. Funds were raised through exclusive Ken-Friends auctions of Branagh items and through sales of hundreds of gorgeous 10th anniversary Henry V t-shirts/sweatshirts designed by Renata, and once again Jude Tessel did an incredible job coordinating the project. Check out the sweet note of thanks from Ken (it's so special I put it in a different font :). Congrats to the entire gang - we rock!

"To everyone who contributed to the Ken-Friends birthday gift to the U.A.Y.D. - a huge thank-you.
What a fantastically generous way to enter the new millennium. My friends in Northern Ireland are delighted and amazed by your repeated kindness and support. I was so glad to be able to thank some of the Ken-Friends in person at the Gielgud Award event. To my absolute delight, there seemed to be great enthusiasm for Love's Labour's Lost which many of them saw on the same day. If it gives as much pleasure as they seemed to indicate then I'm delighted to be repaying, in part, some of the great debt I owe you all for your support.You are a major reason these films get financed. Film companies know of our tremendous, loyal support. It makes a difference. So for everything, once again, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

Kenneth Branagh."

Gielgud Award update: There's so much groovy Golden Quill stuff that I've started a special separate page where you can find photos of all of the participants and the reception (including those of Ken and the Ken-Friends gang), the transcript of the ceremony (er, part of it anyway :), and a link to articles on the great event.

Ken-spotting: Our favorite oompa-loompa is due to arrive in Berlin today, along with Alicia Silverstone, for the Berlinale screening of Love's Labour's Lost. Natascha McElhone, Alessandro Nivola, and Timothy Spall are also scheduled to make an appearance in support of the movie. Last week at the Evening Standard Film Awards, Ken presented the Best Screenplay gong to Tom Stoppard. Introduced as a "one-man, one-stop movie industry," he likened the winner to "a cross between Einstein and Eric Morecambe" and described Stoppard's screenplay for Shakespeare In Love as "intellectually brilliant, passionate and seriously funny." He also attended a charity screening of Theory of Flight, read more about it here. Ken and Alicia S are due to show up at the Empire Magazine Movie Awards on February 17th, and both will also be on the UK's TFI Friday (Channel 4) the following day on the 18th. (Hey, don't forget to send Ken a question at the Empire site). He's also been nominated for - wait for it - an ultra-presitigious Blockbuster Award for Best Villain (Wild Wild West's Dr Loveless). You can vote for Ken here...speaking of awards, congrats go out to Helena Bonham Carter for her London Film Critics Circle Best Actress nomination for her performance in Theory of Flight.

Love's Labour's Lost: Let there be hype After a four-year absence from the director's chair, Ken returns with his latest Shakespeare adaptation - which means there's gonna be a lots and lots of Ken here in the next 6 months (er, as opposed to what I, um, usually write about in this space). And as I said to him at the Golden Quill Award last month, "I loved the movie, it's AWESOME. It totally ROCKED!!!" (Crikey, can I get impressively articulate when I put my mind to it) Don't believe me? Reviews over at the IMDB are starting to pop up, and so far they're all positive. You can also read Catherine's terrific review at her homepage. Still don't believe me? Pre-order the soundtrack from Amazon UK - it's not available yet, but you'll get it in a few weeks when it's released. One listen and you'll be sold, trust me. I've heard it a few billion times during the last week, and the film is actually even better than I'd remembered (and I thought it was super-fantastic the first time 'round). I also suggest you hop over to ScoreLogue and check out a terrific interview with the brilliant Patrick Doyle. On this site, you can read interview snippets from articles on LLL hotties Matthew Lillard and Alessandro Nivola. New on the photo front are great shots of the dancing couples, Rosaline (Natascha McElhone), Berowne, the French Princess (Alicia Silverstone), Don Armado (Tim Spall), Longaville (Matthew Lillard), and of course the fab Berowne and Rosaline pic. Tons more to come on this front...

Er, the other flicks: Check out the first publicity photo from How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, which finished shooting a couple months ago and is currently in post-production. He's awfully sweet-looking there, doesn't look like much of a pet-murderer. Hmm. The animated Road to El Dorado opens stateside on March 31st. Ken attended a screening of the movie last weekend in L.A., read the report from USA Today and take a look at a photo of Ken and his co-stars from the screening. Things don't look so great on the Alien Love Triangle front, as the short film still needs 2 more counterparts in order to be released as part of an anthology (as was originally planned). Miramax liked what was supposed to be the second short ("Impostor") so much that they're making it into a full-lenth movie. Heck, the studio should just tack Alien on at the end of LLL...(February 14, thanks to Isabel, Jude, Auriette, Catherine K, Estela, Agatha, Robin, Karen. Okay, that was frickin' tiring! From now on no more big fat juicies, let's go with short updates every couple days from now on :)

Quick note: you can send a question to Ken over at Empire's special feature site. If they pick your question they'll print it and Ken's answer in their May issue. Ah, and Love's Labour's Lost will screen out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival on February 15th. (January 31, thanks to Catherine, Gale, Isabel)

I'm back from the Gielgud Award festivities in London which, simply put, were utterly phenomenal. I'll make this brief, with links to official press stuff and photos; next week you'll be able to check out more in-depth reports of what took place, photos, and hopefully a transcript of the ceremony itself.

THE FILM: Love's Labour's Lost: See this flick as soon as humanly possible - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder what kind of crack Ken was smoking when he shot some of those scenes. (It was the good kind.) Honestly, I wouldn't recommend too much beverage intake before watching this movie. My spleen was actually sore after the screening, I was laughing so hard. I initially had some tiny worries about the coda the movie ends on, as well as the excising of some bits that I felt were kinda important passages, but the plot takes a back seat to the silly (and ultimately, poignant and moving) meditation on love through the perfectly staged and expertly executed musical scenes. The cast is uniformly terrific, with Nathan Lane, Alessandro Nivola, Geraldine McEwan, Richard Briers, and a cartoonish Tim Spall standing out. Alicia Silverstone is also very good, and although I heard some minor rumblings about Matthew Lillard's performance, I thought he was manic GenX fun. Ken is his usual brilliant self, and we also get to see a bit of the goofy streak that runs through him. Anyway, the movie is 95 minutes of good old-fashioned rollicking fun and tremendously silly entertainment, and I don't think I'll have a better time at the movies this year. Important dates: Feb 28th - UK release of soundtrack (unconfirmed); March 24th - UK release; April 14th - Italy release (under the title Pene d'Amor Perduto); June 2nd - U.S. release (tentative)

THE GIELGUD AWARD: Man oh man. Words (especially mine) cannot describe the two-hour Ken-lovefest that was the Golden Quill ceremony. It was incredibly moving and gut-bustingly hysterical, and I sat right in front of the lectern in the first row the entire time! Mind-boggling. There were tributes to Ken by Derek Jacobi, Stephen Fry ("Ken is the only man who's been able to make me vomit with laughter"), Ben Elton, Samantha Bond, Patrick Doyle (who played a lovely, lovely piano rendition of the St. Crispin's day music), Bob Hoskins, Tim Spall, Richard Briers, Geraldine McEwan, John Sessions, Helena Bonham Carter, and Judi Dench. Letters from Brian Blessed ("Don't let Dickie Briers make fun of your Popeye forearms"), Robin Williams, Billy Crystal ("Ken is to Shakespeare what Viagra has been to me"), Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Ian McKellan, Robert DeNiro, and a bunch of other folks were read. Ken got up at the end and made a wonderful acceptance speech, which also included a thanks to Ken-Friends for our support of the UAYD (gobsmacking!).

THE RECEPTION: Following the ceremony was a reception during which everyone and their pet turtle seemingly wanted to get a piece of Ken. He generously (and quite bravely) hung out with the Ken-Friends gang (there were about 25 of us there) for 10-15 minutes, and I finally got to meet him (with the near-misses I've had in the past, I'd resigned myself to the fact that the only time I'd get to see him in person would be 50 years from now, when he'd be 90 and I was 70 and we'd bump into each other shopping for Depends and trying out the latest dentures at the local market). He was incredibly kind and sweet, especially considering the near-hysteria that followed him everywhere that night. (Right after his talk with us he was swarmed by other admirers.) The only disappointing thing about the meeting was that he apparently didn't recognize the psychic connection that so palpably exists between us (I'll have to have a stern talk with my phone psychic about this; she predicted - in no uncertain terms - that he'd invite me to have tea and lunch with him in Holland Park. Hmmph.) Anyway, nice chap. :) Small hands, smell like cabbage. (Or am I thinking of carnies, as described by Austin Powers? Hmmm.)

LINKS AND THANKS: All right, we'll ease our way into Golden Quill coverage, starting off with some articles from various press sources. The Guardian also ran a terrific article entitled Method in his Movies that you might wanna check out. Pics available for viewing now (thanks to Isabel!) include a shot of the golden boy with the Golden Quill, one of Ken and Judi, and a shot of Ken hanging out with our little list (ignore the hangers-on in the background ;).

Last, but not least, the experience of a lifetime that I had last weekend would not have been possible without the kindness and generosity of Jane and Stephen Land, who took such good care of me. Thanks also go out to John Andrews, president of the Shakespeare Guild, who very kindly included some lines about this site and Ken-Friends in the 'Acknowledgments' section of the program, the first of many thrills I had that night :); and finally, to Tamar Thomas, for delivering Ken into the clutches of a horde of manic females (I actually feared for his safety at various times ;). -Ngoc, January 24, 2000

Just a quick note to reassure everyone that I haven't forgotten about this site (Ken who?) and to let ya know that Warner Brothers will re-release Hamlet on April 18th on video in widescreen format. Yee-haw! Now if only we could get it on DVD...Also, the official site for Ken-Friends is up. Well, half of it, anyway; expect the complete version in a few weeks. Hope everyone had a great New Year's, mine was relatively low-key and quiet (just sat on my front porch with a shotgun guarding my family's water supply). I'm gearing up for next weekend's huge London event (screening of Love's Labour's Lost and the Gielgud Award; attendees include Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir John Gielgud, Dame Judi Dench, Samantha Bond, Richard Briers, Helena Bonham Carter, Patrick Doyle, Bob Hoskins, David Parfitt, John Sessions, and that Branagh bloke, of course), which I'll give a full report on when I get back. So hang on to yer hats, kids, Y2Ken is around the corner...(did I really just say "Y2Ken"? Good grief, I'm getting corny in my old age....) (January 9)