News Archive: 1 June 2000 - 31 December 2000

Beans - just a very, very quick update to let you know that How to Kill Your Neighbour's Dog will be showing at the Brussels International Film Festival on January 20 at 8:15 p.m. and January 21 at 5:15 p.m. The web site still shows last year's schedule but is due to be updated soon.

I'm working on 'freshening up' parts of the Compendium, which is why this is so brief. Happy holidays for whatever you are celebrating!
(27 December, thanks Film Lover)

Some snippets:

From The Times (London) website, 15 December:

Buckingham Palace

The Queen gave a lunch party at Buckingham Palace yesterday at which the Duke of York was present. The guests were: Ms Rosalynde Lowe, chief executive of Hounslow & Spelthorne NHS Trust; Professor Ursula Martin, Professor of Computer Science at St Andrew's University; Professor Dame Jill Macleod Clark, Head of School and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton; Mr Kenneth Branagh, actor and director; Mr Julian Hatt, Project Manager at the Inland Revenue; Dr Hermann Hauser, Co-Founder of Amadeus Capital Partners Limited; Mr David Hemery, President of UK Athletics; Dr Natubhai Shah, chairman of Jain Academy.

Hmmmm... maybe not as much fun as a blow-out birthday bash, but prestigious. I don't suppose one really gets to feast freely at these lunches, all that remembering to start with the fork and knife on the outside and work your way inwards would be clouding the brain. If I were the queen I would definitely have sat beside you-know-who, leaving Andrew to chat up the rest of them. Have we got an insider who will reveal the seating plan?   :-)

There is a long article about the tribulations of education in Northern Ireland in the Belfast Telegraph. The pertinent part for KBers is here:

Northern Ireland's integrated schools have hit the right note with the launch of a new CD.

The CD celebrates integrated education in song, music and verse and features special contributions from actor Kenneth Branagh and flautist Gary Arbuthnot.

It commemorates the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education's millennium event at the Waterfront Hall in April of this year where over 750 children from integrated schools took part in a musical and theatrical extravaganza. Musicians, soloists and choirs from schools feature on all the tracks, from traditional pieces to haunting melodies and poetry.

Copies of the CD, priced £5, are available by calling (028) 9072 5770.

In Ken-Friends news, our friend Ken received his birthday present and has sent a thank-you message. Click here to know more.

The picture finale: KB reading up on which fork to use before his Buckingham Palace lunch and, staying in royal territory, a nice promotional shot for Renaissance, by a well-connected photographer.
(21 December, thanks Anna, Jana, Jude)

Well... *my* hangover's gone... and we assume KB has entered his forties unscathed. Rumour (but a solid one) has it that the director for Macbeth has been selected (let the speculation begin!) - when filming will actually start still has to be decided.

An inside source confirms: "The Shackleton Project is definitely a BBC/A&E production and it is scheduled to run on A&E sometime in 2001." There have been snippets saying it would be filmed in the summer, so presumably it will run in the fall... but summer here is winter there, yikes! Ken as popsicle...

Another nice article about How to Kill your Neighbor's Dog and its director, with mention about what a hilarious guy KB is. In my next life I'm going to be a fly on the wall and finally listen in on all the jokes - course, Ken will be in his next life, too, and will probably be an unamusing sloth or something, a counterpoint to the laugh-a-minute over-achiever he is now. Sigh.

The Japanese web site for Love's Labour's Lost is up - even if you can't read Japanese you will appreciate the pictures of KB in director mode. There has been a curmudgeonly review by a curmudgeon who is not Japanese (I'm typecasting on the basis of name   :-) ) hired by a Japanese paper... it's not getting an airing here.

The photos for today:
We know Kenneth chipped in to save the squirrels, here he is doing his bit for the owls (dang, he's cute, though!). With Colin Firth, from A Month in the Country. And, in honour of all of you about to travel for the holidays another couple of photos of Kenneth at an airport (how come I never see him? I saw Willy Nelson at Heathrow once, big whoop - nothing against Willy, but him you expect to see in Nashville...). With a slight Christmas touch, one and two.

Coming - an update on the receipt of the birthday gift.
(18 December, thanks Pamela, Paula V., Yu-ri, Jane)

It may be KB's birthday tomorrow (or today, depending on your time zone   :-) ), but all the rest of us are getting a great "un-birthday" present, thanks to the really nice Mr. Peter Rooney, who sent this photograph. I feel like we should do one of those 'provide a bubble with what you think he was saying' contests...(but y'all might not stick to 'family programming'   :-) ). Thanks for the photo!

No other news.... Happy Birthday to Ken! Life begins at forty, yadda yadda...  :-)   He'll be getting another reminder that "Walking with Dinosaurs" will soon be autobiographical [thanks to Alexandra G. for this one, LOL!] when he receives the Ken-Friends stuff. Updates on that in a few weeks, perhaps.
(9 December, thanks Peter Rooney)

To start with a really nice photo of Kenneth holding a football cup (and looking kind of like he might have won it himself... like his stories of people spending ages in the loo where they kept Emma's Oscar, looking at themselves in the mirror while holding the award, seeing how it suited them   :-)). If you want to know more about why he was posing so happily you can check out the The Official UK Five-A-Side Championships web site.

Here is a link to a somewhat depressing article about the problems of getting How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog distributed... nice bits about KB. The narrow-brained (or, as Ngoc would say, 'crack-smoking') loonies who have a say in these things never fail to astound me... you'd think the expression "cutting off your nose to spite your face" would have made some sort of impression by now (The Gingerbread Man springs to mind). You have the stellar acting universe in a film and you can't get it together. [Insert a long, long string of expletives.]

To cheer us up - Isabel, by way of Adela, has sent a bunch of this-will-melt-the-hardest-heart pics from Fortunes of War. Talk about 'the way we were'... (which I hope der Kenster has finally watched if he doesn't want to get belted by Rosie O' - course, I've held out however many years it has been without seeing 'The Sound of Music' - everyone needs a goal.   :-)) So... here they are: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

The boy has only one more week to truthfully say he's 39!   :-)
(3 December, thanks to Deborah, Corky, Isabel)

Finally, something besides that cold Arctic draught! If it's true that blondes have more fun then KB should be having a blast on the upcoming b-day.... even if he has dark roots by then (gawd! cool without even knowing what that means   :-)). I'm not up on the Nazi visuals, but from his appearance in Reading on October 19 it appears Heydrich was an Aryan-type (ha ha). This conjures up that marvellous Dane and I'm reaching for the smelling salts... Luckily Kate Woodward, from the O-Reading web site, stayed conscious and wrote up this interview/review...

The link to a fantabulous audiofile of Kenneth reading Lawrence (D.H., dahling) has turned up again (I'm probably the only one who lost it). You'll never think of violets in quite the same way...

Here's the first bit of a news article available on the BBC website, 16 Ocotber 2000:

Stars Back Integrated Schools Campaign

Integrated schools bring both communities together More than 1,100 children in Northern Ireland were turned away from integrated schools this year because of a lack of places.

This was revealed at the launch of a celebrity-backed campaign on Thursday, calling for more places in schools where Catholic and Protestants are educated together.

In total, the province has 45 integrated schools providing places for 14,000 pupils, or 4% of all schoolchildren.

But the Integrated Education Charter for Choice Campaign believes provision of school places must meet an ever-increasing demand.

Campaign chairman, former Mirror Group boss David Montgomery said that generations of children had been "deprived of the basic right to share each other's company because of rigidly segregated education".

He added: "In later life more and more of us from Northern Ireland have grown to deeply resent this system that robbed us of friendships and the chance to experience and understand the other side's culture and community."

The campaign has been backed by celebrities such as Emmerdale actor Stephen McGann as well as Hamlet star Kenneth Branagh and Joanna Lumley, famed for her role in Absolutely Fabulous.

There are nifty photos to be seen (including a hilarious animated one of KB doing the hand thing over and over) at Jim Maginn's web site. Scroll down past the traditional musicians until you reach the pic of Ken, click on "Other Images" and then click on KB's name on the next page. The rest of the site is fun to look at as well.

I know this is old, and probably everyone has memorised the site, but it bears reminding anyone who has forgotten: there is a lovely In the Bleak Midwinter/Midwinter's Tale site from Sony. great pics, interview, etc.

And, as promised: another Australian Branagh Bash photo (for the uninitiated this is 'bash' in the rocking and reeling, having a really fun time sense).

There's more... but it will have to be in a day or two (shameless ploy to bring you back).
(30 November, thanks Corky, Julia, Isabel, Carole)

Kids! A few KB things in the news.... first up an article about RADA, Kenneth's alma mater, from the Evening Standard, 23 November.

The New £25m Star of Rada
by Bill Hagerty

It is the biggest theatrical hit in London's West End, with 96 unbroken years of success behind it. At various times it has starred some of the great acting names of the 20th century, from Gielgud to Attenborough, from Albert Finney and Glenda Jackson to Tom Courtenay and John Hurt, from Diana Rigg and Alan Rickman to Robert Lindsay and Kenneth Branagh. And now, with a £24.7 million relaunch about to be unveiled, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is set to run and run forever.

The National Lottery is the "angel" that came to the aid of this long-running but flagging institution, the most famous drama school in the world but one that by the middle of the last decade was beginning to look distinctly in need of a revitalising injection. Rada's buildings, in Gower Street and Malet Street - linked by an open-to-the-elements iron staircase - were creaking like ancient scenery.

The Arts Council received the school's plea for a grant on the second acceptance day of Lottery applications in 1995. "And we not only got the go-ahead, but were told to think bigger," says Nicholas Barter, principal since 1993.

Just how big will be seen next Wednesday by royalty and a gathering of theatre luminaries when the Queen opens the rebuilt Rada, a stunning transformation in which Gower Street has been extensively redeveloped, Malet Street rebuilt and the two buildings properly connected to become one.

But the project almost suffered an indignity similar to those cash-strapped shows that close "on the road" long before reaching the bright lights. Required by the Lottery to find in all £8 million of "matching funding" to complement its £22.7 million award, Rada struggled, despite the brilliant fundraising history and techniques of its chairman, Lord Attenborough. "There were times, I have to confess, when I doubted we would be able to fulfil our partnership funding obligation," admits Attenborough, a student at the school at the beginning of the 1940s. Then, last spring, still considerably short of target and only months away from the Arts Council deadline, he decided to reapproach the Jerwood Foundation, a powerhouse philanthropic trust that had contributed significantly to the rebuilding of the Royal Court, in Sloane Square.

The foundation coughed up £1.2 million (£2 million of the matching funding ensured completion of the project; much of the remaining £6 million is to be used for student bursaries). The "new" Rada would open - courses had continued in buildings the school owns in Chenies Street and in leased premises in Kennington Park during the three years of rebuilding - on time.

The three properties in Chenies Street, two of which were bought courtesy of the Lottery, will also be refurbished. The academy was able to buy its first house there because of the generosity of George Bernard Shaw, a member of Rada's managing council from 1911. The following year, Shaw donated all royalties from Pygmalion and when he died, in 1950, bequeathed a third of all his royalties to the school. "Some people think Rada must be very rich," says Barter, "and the Shaw legacy has provided a massive amount of money in the past. It was My Fair Lady that made the difference - Pygmalion didn't actually bring in very much - and the academy was able to build up its reserves. "Today the Shaw money is certainly very useful. We get between £150,000 and £200,000 a year, depending on whether Shaw happens to be in fashion. Trevor Nunn's revival of My Fair Lady at the National next spring will certainly do us no harm."

Barter, who first became involved in the theatre with such fellow students as Trevor Nunn, Tim Brooke-Taylor and John Cleese when at Cambridge University, has been involved with the rebirth of Rada from almost the beginning. "There was a plan to move the entire Academy to a site in Hoxton," he says, "but that fell through. With the acquisition of 18 Chenies Street and the advent of the Lottery, we had the space and the means to make staying here feasible. And then, just after we received Arts Council approval, numbers 20 and 22 Chenies Street, which were in the hands of the receiver, came on the market at a knockdown price. It was a miracle."

As well as excavation to provide woodwork, metal and paint shops in a basement and the provision of a state-of-the-art sound studio, a smart café-bar and extra rehearsal spaces, the refurbishment has brought a new splendour to Rada's greatest assets, its three in-house theatres. The 60-seat John Gielgud Studio, 80-seat GBS studio and the understandably renamed Jerwood Vanbrugh 204-seat theatre make the academy unique among drama schools. The Jerwood Vanbrugh auditorium even has hydraulically operated raking, which enables the theatre floor to be flattened and used for other activities.

When the fledgling academy moved into the Gower Street premises in 1905, the fees were six guineas a term. Now they amount to a hefty £3,145 each for the 34 students - increased from the 28 accepted pre-rebuilding - admitted each year for the nine-term core acting course. "Vocational training courses are expensive," agrees Barter, "but not as expensive as those for doctors and engineers. And financial hardship is not a reason that students cannot come to Rada. We don't even ask their financial circumstances when we audition the 11- or 12,000 people who apply each year. Once we have given them a place, our commitment is total - we will fight tooth and nail to find the money to keep them."

Those lucky enough to pass through the door of the new Rada as students - the Academy also runs two-year diploma courses, summer schools and various short courses, and trains groups from both New York and Tokyo - are getting the very best start in a precarious profession, insists Barter. "Our boast is that 85 per cent of our students are at work within two months of graduating. Of course, often it is one job and they have to get another, but, for example, on television one recent Tuesday there were three major series in each of which a major part was played by someone who left here only last July. "Of course, when it comes to what the public regards as stars, there are probably only two or three in a generation - Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson, Fiona Shaw and, from recent years and now coming through to play leading parts in movies and the West End, Matthew Rhys, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Sheen."

But the greatest star of them all is Rada itself, where the three rejuvenated theatres all went "live" for public performance during one recent week. "The project had been in our heads for five years," says Barter. "We dreamed it, we thought about it, we worked on it, and suddenly we opened the doors and there were people walking in, the public, and it was as if they were walking into our heads. "It was a very strange experience, having people trampling around in your imagination. That was the moment it came home to me. I thought, 'This is real. We've done it'."

The article comes with two pics, one of Ken as Hamlet and the RADA theatre.

And two new bits about the Shackleton project:

The Independent 21 November 2000

Branagh of the Antarctic Plans to Retrace Explorer's Journey

KENNETH BRANAGH is to submit himself to one of the world's most arduous journeys: a trek to the Antarctic, in the name of method acting.

By retracing some of the steps taken by the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the acclaimed Shakespearean actor and director hopes to experience some of the hardships so that he can better portray the explorer's life on film.

Although Branagh is unlikely to confine himself to a 10-month diet of polar expedition dogs, seals and penguins or drift on ice floes for five months, as Shackleton's men did during their heroic failure to reach the South Pole aboard Endurance in 1914, the actor conceded that he will need to be "as fit as a butcher's dog and put in an order for some thermals" before spending six weeks in Antarctica.

Shackleton tried - and failed - four times to reach the South Pole but his fame was assured after Endurance was trapped and slowly crushed in pack ice 1,200 miles from land. After five months camping on ice floes, Shackleton's men then travelled 800 miles to safety in an open lifeboat.

Branagh's portrayal of Shackleton will be seen in a four-hour Channel 4 film to be directed by Charles Sturridge, who won international praise for his Granada adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Branagh said yesterday the task would be "a real challenge for all concerned". If the audience was to "get a feel" of what Shackleton and his crew went through, "then we have at least got to give them some idea of the real environment of the place", he said. Branagh's pursuit of authenticity has already led him to wear a hump hroughout a radio recording of Richard III. The actor has more in common with Shackleton than many may think - including an Irish birthright and cinemagraphic interests. Shackleton, widely considered to have been more of a canny fortune-hunter than an explorer, pursued the commercial potential of his 1914 expedition long before he left England, by registering the Imperial Trans Antarctic Film Syndicate to milk the film rights and hiring the Australian Frank Hurley as official cameraman and photographer to the project. His near-death experiences did not quell his commercial endeavour. The footage of icebergs and suffocating snowstorms, accompanied only by subtitles and a piano score, was eerily natural but deemed uncommercial because it lacked scenes of animal life. Hurley was ordered to add birds, penguins and seals and the subsequent film, South, since preserved by the National Film and Television Archive, is teeming with them.

America has recently been in the grip of what has been called Shackmania: Caroline Alexander's account of the doomed exploration has sold 200,000 copies and, for all the explorer's failures, Harvard fetes his man-management techniques at its Shackleton School. The enterprising Branagh may need quick delivery of his thermals, before Shackleton's appeal wears off.


Robert De Niro put on 50lb for his Oscar-winning performance as the boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. In Taxi Driver, he took pep pills to help him portray the paranoid psychopath Travis Bickel. In Rainmaker, John Grisham's tale of two lawyers, Claire Danes got the film crew to encircle and hurl abuse at her in preparation for a scene in which she recovers after being verbally abused. Dustin Hoffman, for Marathon Man, often went without food or sleep and smoked to give the sense of post-Holocaust existence. The torture scenes were prepared for with trips to dentists. To play a cold killer in Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen indulged heavily in drugs that Vietnam soldiers took. He suffered so much that he actually incurred a mild heart attack while shooting.

The Scotsman, 20 November 2000

Branagh in Pole Position to Play Antarctic Explorer Shackleton

The acclaimed Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh is set to visit the Edinburgh home of Sir Ernest Shackleton as he prepares to recreate the Antarctic explorer's life story on film.

Details of Branagh's plan to visit the city emerged as a group of modern adventurers, led by Scot Jock Wishart, set off to follow in Shackleton's footsteps. Branagh is due to make a similar trip to the Antarctic to prepare for his role. "I am going to have to be as fit as a butcher's dog and put in an order for some thermals," said Branagh. "The film is going to be a real challenge for all concerned. If the audience is to get a feel of what Shackleton and his crew went through, then we have at least got to give them some idea of the real environment of the place. That means filming in the area where their adventures took place." And, revealing he felt a certain kinship with Shackleton, Branagh added: "His story is one of unbelievable heroics in the face of impossible adversity. I would like to think that perhaps a certain adventurousness of spirit is something I can share with him."

In an attempt to understand the man as well as his adventures, Branagh will visit the Edinburgh home of Shackleton, which is now part of a Georgian hotel in the city's South Learmouth Gardens. Shackleton lived there with his wife, Emily, between 1906 and 1910, when he was secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. In 1990, the property was re-opened as Channings, an Edwardian town house hotel, which merged the homes of 12 to 16 Learmouth Gardens. Shackleton's home is now part of the private library and drawing room.

Peter Taylor, founder and managing director of Town House Hotels, said: "When I first discovered that Shackleton had lived in the Channings building as a private resident, I was amazed and delighted. "Having researched a little more into his life, I have discovered his remarkable bravery and I think he is one of the most heroic explorers in history. "I would like his memory to live on in Channings and I am very interested to hear from anyone who may have family memorabilia which they would like to have placed on display at the hotel."

Mr Taylor wrote to Branagh, inviting him to stay at the hotel to familiarise himself with Shackleton. Branagh replied by letter, stating he was "fascinated to hear of the connection with Shackleton" and intended to stay at the hotel on his next visit to Edinburgh.

Born in 1874, Shackleton was a renowned Antarctic explorer, making several expeditions to the region. In 1914, he attempted to be the first to cross the Southern Ocean but 17-and-a-half months into the expedition, his ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice 1,200 miles from land. As the vessel was slowly crushed by ice, Shackleton's crew abandoned the ship and camped on the iceflows. They survived for the ten months on a diet of the expedition dogs, seals and penguins. As the ice thawed, the explorers drifted on ice floes for another five months, until they finally escaped in lifeboats to Elephant Island. Shackleton and five others then travelled another 800 miles in an open 22ft lifeboat, the James Caird, to seek help. He led four relief expeditions before succeeding in rescuing his 28 men and was hailed a national hero.

Meanwhile, Wishart's three-man crew, who will leave Britain today will document their expedition on film. The explorers are wearing replicas of the clothes that Shackleton wore.

Well, all I can say is that it is -10 centigrade here in Montréal (-17 C. with the windchill factor) - so I think KB could easily begin his preparations right here (much shorter plane trip). I'm seeing a tent in the garden, with the occasional hot toddy handed out through the patio door, when he really can't take the cold any more....

More Oz BB pics coming up soon...
(23 November 2000, thanks Catherine)

Ken has donated a photograph to Life's Ups and Downs, a book published by Big Issue in the North Trust. Proceeds from the sale of the book "will go to help place homeless people into good homes, good jobs, good health and good life." So this is the Zen side of KB (Zen Ken   :-))... how much do I love this photo (a lot, a lot). And he actually stood still for at least a minute to take it.   :-)

Here's a blurb from Ananova about Conspiracy:

Kenneth Branagh to play Hitler Henchman (September 14, 2000)

The 3 million HBO production, directed by Frank Pierson and written by Loring Mandel, will begin filming shortly in France and Germany. The story chronicles the secret 1942 meeting of senior Third Reich officials at which chronicles the secret 1942 meeting of senior Third Reich officials at which Hitler authorised the drawing up of the Final Solution extermination plan to murder Europe's Jews.

Branagh has agreed to play Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's favourite before he was assassinated by Czech patriots in Prague, while Adolf Eichmann, who was snatched and executed after the Second World War, will be played by American star Stanley Tucci.

An associate of Branagh said: "This may seem a little off the wall for Ken but it is a fascinating period in history and outside the scope of his normal work. He liked the challenge."

The jungle drums (more specifically the information given to someone who called HBO) say that the special is scheduled to air in the U.S. in April 2001. Apparently HBO is producing this along with BBC Films, so it should get an airing in the UK, too.

No other news at this time. I have to do photo fix-ups, etc. etc. - soon, soon. (I did fix a lot of the broken links in the Gallery.) To tide you over, here is Ken in Venice, 1998, and another shot from the same series. And... a curiosity: a Gingerbread Man telephone card, from Japan, it seems. Honeybunch, you can call me anytime!   :-)
(16 November, thanks Toni, Jude, Rai, Sandra)

Great news! How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog will be presented at the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee on Thursday, 7 December, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre in Westport. Apparently the writer and producer will be in attendance. So.... can a distributor be far behind? (She says hopefully.)

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 24 October 2000

'Ferocious Intensity' of Chaney - by Bob Longino

When he's not adapting Shakespeare for the big screen, Kenneth Branagh has often worked with Kevin Brownlow, the man behind Photoplay Productions' documentaries on Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and now Turner Classic Movies' "Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces".

Branagh narrates "Lon Chaney" and recently spoke by phone about the silent-screen star.

Q. Could you talk some about what you learned watching Lon Chaney's acting style?

A. My first experience of Chaney was vicariously through the James Cagney picture, "Man of a Thousand Faces"...I think just generally in regard to actors there always has been a sort of fascination with how they do it. With how they do it physically...For instance, in a part like "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", where the sort of harness he wore and the way he moved, you know, was extremely painful...why actors put themselves through that, why they believe it is important to the part was something that Chaney was exploring through his career...And as an actor myself, I found that a very admirable thing to do. So there's this grisly fascination with it, but fascinating it undoubtedly is.

Q. Would you have cast him as Dogberry (in "Much Ado About Nothing")?

A. You know, he had such a strong and distinctive face, Chaney. Obviously, we saw it in a million different guises. But as it were, when he was straight, when he was not covered in the various sort of prototype versions of prosthetics, it was a very strong face. And it's clear in Kevin's documentary that he had a lightness of touch...There is some remarkable footage in the documentary which just show how athletic he could be. Also with anecdotes from friends who clearly understood that he could be a funny guy. I think the combination of somebody who looked so often forbidding with physical grace and physical dexterity and a twinkle in his eye, I think might've been very funny in Shakespeare.

Q. And do you think he had the chops to be Richard III?

A. Well, God knows he'd have looked wonderful, wouldn't he? He'd have come up with something amazing there. It doesn't bear thinking about what he might've put his body through to do that, but what he did have always across any of the parts was ferocious intensity. I mean, there was a lightness of touch, but there is this sort of terrific zeal about acting...So if it was Richard III or something just as challenging, then I think he could've. The very least we could've expected was an absolutely and fully committed performance. It would've been quite something to see.

LOL! No one can accuse KB of offering curt answers - this man delivers! Alas, that's all the news... but kind souls have sent along new pictures: Fruit of the Loom adverts, one, two, three (screen captures of (ahem) a popular scene in LLL). Then we have Ken with 'the little prince' and Ken with young admirers (maybe UAYD participants?). And last but not least, Peter and his friends.

For a limited time only: pictures from the Australian Branagh Bash! Sarah, Carole and Elise, and Sarah and Elise. With Fred imitating Ken in the background.   :-)
(11 November, thanks Deborah, Jude, Isabel, Heidi, Jane)

Hi all - the holiday, as they say, is over - so I'll be back to updating whenever I can (or whenever there is news  ;-) ). The Japanese distributor of Love's Labour's Lost has put up a web page - click here to check out the poster (and practise your Japanese  :-) ).

From the Sydney Daily Telegraph's SYDNEY CONFIDENTIAL

'Rabbit Proof Fence' Wraps Up
There was a real Irish flavour during the recent wrap party in the Flinders Ranges on Australian director Phil Noyce's latest film, Rabbit Proof Fence. Celtic-flavoured band The Borderers performed for Hollywood-based Noyce, his cast and crew. Also dancing a merry jig was Belfast-born Kenneth Branagh.

Set in 1931, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true story of an epic journey home on foot by three young Aboriginal girls who, because of their mixed parentage, are removed by police from their homes. The $10m budget film is Noyce's first Australian project since the internationally acclaimed Dead Calm, starring Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman.

At this point KB should be in Berlin, filming Conspiracy, which is scheduled to wrap (at least as far as his participation is concerned) on December 8. Just in time for him to buy the chips (erm, crisps) and liquid refreshment for the chandelier-swinging birthday bash.

And to close this really teensy update, two lovely Mike & Grace pics: strolling and gazing (sigh). And... (this one won't be heading to the Photo Gallery, so view it now) - KB's 'auditioning for the Rockettes' photo. Tee hee.
(5 November, thanks Yu-ri, Corky, Sandra F.)

Branaghians... there will be a three week hiatus in the news, not because KB has suddenly become a do-nothing bore (impossible!), but because I will be darkening the doors, but hopefully not the hearts, of friends and relatives in north Italy and south Germany. I'm not sure I will have Internet access (not wishing to mooch online time on top of food and drink   :-)). But stay tuned, we'll be back in early November.

So... 'out and about' continues, to say the least:

From the Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October:
"EVENT: "The Dish" Australian premiere
SITE: Hoyts Cinemas, Fox Studios
GUESTS: Baz Lurhmann, Kenneth Branagh, Rob Sitch, Jane Kennedy, Rachel Griffiths, Genevieve Mooy, Tom Long, Carl Snell, Michael Caton, Pia Miranda
GOSS: One of the film's stars, Sam Neill, was unavailable to attend as he is overseas filming "Jurassic Park 3". But in his absence English actor Kenneth Branagh made a tremendous impression. Branagh boogied all night with an ever-changing parade of dance partners at the after-party in the Frank Suttor Stand. It was, by all accounts, his night."
I have this vision of a long line of ladies patiently waiting to be twirled about... but there is more:
"Great music invariably makes or breaks a party. At "The Dish" premiere on Tuesday night, the DJ threw together enough modern and retro material to appeal to everyone. Most impressed was visiting English film star Kenneth Branagh, who was on leave from the Adelaide set of Phillip Noyce's new film "Rabbit Proof Fence".

Perhaps the title of the film has something to do with Branagh's state of mind. He was clearly thrilled to be in Sydney. Perhaps the night-life in Adelaide has been a little staid. No-one would be surprised to learn a London boy struggles for kicks in Adelaide.....

LOL! I guess the novelty of propping up the Adelaide bars did wear off quickly... and there is still more, this from an unrelated article - the word obviously got round  :-) :
Memo to the Channel 10 party organisers: next time nominate a team of staff dancers to get your guests up on their feet. Once half a dozen are up, half a dozen more usually follow. Or better still, invite Kenneth."
Sounds like he's training for a Big Birthday Bash in December (perhaps as we speak the chandelier from Hamlet is being installed in his house, for use as the evening wears on). There is a photo (a titch grainy, newspaper pics are problematic) from the first snippet.

Tracking Love's Labour's Lost... it continues to skip and hop through the U.S., due to indifferent marketing, not an indifferent public. Here's a venue:

The Cleveland Cinematheque will screen Love's Labour's Lost three times: Friday, November 3rd at 7:30 p.m., Saturday the 4th at 7 p.m., and Sunday the 5th at 4 p.m.

Please come out to support the film, and the Cinematheque, which is a non-profit organization (which we are highlighting here in the place of the many hundreds like it who struggle to bring us quality films). For many, these venues were/are the only places to show films like In the Bleak Midwinter/Midwinter's Tale, Theory of Flight, Love's Labour's Lost, and even an extended run of Hamlet. If we don't go the films won't come. (Stepping off soapbox...)

Pics of the day - guaranteed to tide you over these three weeks - the 'green pullover' series. This much cherished on-the-set-of-Hamlet look has been captured in The Readiness is All BBC documentary and here are some screen captures (one, two,three) from another interview (unfortunately the übercool very long sleeves do not show). Note to Kenneth: cool is you in the green pullover.
(17 October, thanks Elise, Rebecca, Sandra F.)

If you were worried that they had tied Ken down with that kangaroo, somewhere in the outback, do not fret! He's been out and about:

From the Sydney Daily Telegraph, 6 October

Visiting British actor Kenneth Branagh is keen to sample Adelaide's trendier watering holes during his stay there to work on director Phillip Noyce's new movie Rabbit Proof Fence. After visits to North Adelaide's restaurant strip and at Rundle St's Universal Wine Bar the previous week, the star was spotted propping up the bar at Waymouth St's Grace Emily hotel, a favourite haunt of Adelaide's arts and alternative crowd, on Saturday night. As the place became more packed amid increasing mutters of some guy who "looks like Kenneth Branagh", he exited stage left.

From the Daily Telegraph's SYDNEY CONFIDENTIAL, 12 October

The Dish Premieres at Fox Studios

BRITISH actor Kenneth Branagh arrived at the Sydney premiere of 'The Dish' at Fox Studios last night to support friends Sam Neill and Roy Billing.

Branagh has been in Adelaide filming Phillip Noyce's latest movie 'Rabbit Proof Fence', which is about three Aboriginal girls. Prior to filming his scenes in Adelaide, Branagh spent a week in Sydney where he watched judo and wrestling at the Olympics.

"I felt amazingly privileged to be here during the Games and especially privileged to be making a film with a very subtle message about indigenous Australians, especially in the light of how current the topic with Cathy Freeman lighting the flame," he said.

Branagh, who has been to Australia four times, co-stars with Billing in the Australian movie. Billing is also in 'The Dish', the long-awaited follow-up to Working Dog's successful 'The Castle'. The film stars Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington, Tom Long and Patrick Warburton, who is best known for his role as Puddy in the Seinfeld series. The film follows the emotion, drama and laughter behind the four-day Apollo XI mission in 1969 and the extraordinary role Australia played. 'The Dish' premiered at the Toronto Film Festival a month ago where it won a silver medal for the People's Choice Awards and garnered favourable reviews.

The photo that accompanies the article.

Here are some photos Simona took in Venice in 1998: telling a story  |  still telling a story :-)  |  speaking into the mike  |  with Melanie Griffith  |  another with Melanie (there's some weird suntan or make-up line thing going on at the hairline :-))  |  sitting around  |  not inhaling  |  with Simona.

A few more photos: a heart-stopper from Henry V  |  "Maybe we should turn this into a conga line!", and finally with Britpop hair .

And so that you can honestly say you come to this site for the articles (ahem), here's one from way back when.
(12 October, thanks Marina, Corky, Simona, Jane, Katie P., Jude)

After swelling the fundraising coffers with his unique and nifty squirrel drawing, KB has made a contribution to another cause. This time he has 'donated' words of wisdom from his mum, Frances, written on a square of white cotton, which will become part of a "quilt of hope", to be auctioned on the Internet by "the magazine Pink Ribbon, published annually to raise awareness of, and funds for, breast cancer." Mrs. Branagh's advice: "Always carry a torch in the elevator."   -   a.k.a.   'Always carry a flashlight in the lift'? Between this and the variants of what mum said after Kenneth was found drunk in the dog basket, I'm wondering if her words of wisdom are receiving an entirely accurate airing...   :-)

Here is a link to a short animated film, which is "narrated" by KB, in that it uses bits of narration from the audio version of The Diaries of Samuel Pepys (which I will forever wish had been made into a television series). The Pepys readings are real knee-bucklers, so if you haven't had the pleasure rush right to this site.

The latest on the US release of the Love's Labour's Lost indicates it includes "Scene Access, Behind-the-scenes Footage, Deleted Scenes, Interactive Menus, Outtakes".... and the director's commentary??

Those rather neat photos (long coat, bare feet) from the issue of Madison featuring KB, are now available for viewing on the Madison site.

And on this site you can now see: a photo of KB used to illustrate a snippet about who might be the next James Bond (yeesh... is there anyone, beside Sylvester Stallone and Al Gore, who hasn't been suggested for that part? Even my Rufus Sewell was trotted out - grin.) And, in parts he did get: Kenneth as Edgar, in King Lear, Rick Lamb and wife (aren't they cute?) in High Season, and an ebullient ('My boots are waterproof!') Benedick in Much Ado.

And finally, one more round of the 'I'm not gay but I'll let you know if I change' chorus, coupled with what has to be the definitive nixing of the Ken & Alicia rumours - in this article from the Seattle Gay News.
(4 October, thanks Catherine, Douglass, Robbie, Lena, Jude, Jane, Kim)

Schneider's 2nd Stage - the flyer! And a wee photo of KB with his Schneider look (in more senses than just the physical, perhaps). This might be as much as most of us get to see of this film, alas. However, we'll keep you posted if the jungle drums turn up news of any other showings.

Speaking of showings.... Love's Labour's Lost will be shown on 2 November at the Tokyo International Film Festival, at a special screening. At this point there is no word on possible cast attendance.

Over on this side of the world, the DVD release of Love's Labour's Lost in the U.S. is announced for 19 December. So far they are talking about "anamorphic widescreen and trailers", but not the other goodies available on the UK version. Presumably they won't be ditching the other good stuff, right? Right?
(30 September, thanks Catherine, Misato, Tanya)

Beans, I probably won't be able to update the site for the rest of this week, due to tearing up the town (and not just any town - NYC) with pals... so KB had better not do anything too exciting (at least nothing that would be fit for us to know about  ;-)). I think that the new photo links are all working (after I messed them all up yesterday): the photos from these news bits (with the exception of any dodgy ones - you have to read the news to see those  :-)) have migrated into "new pics", and into the Gallery with 'new' flags. I leave you with the latest photo from How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, from Entertainment Weekly.

Lots of nice photos from the Toronto Film Festival at this site: - click on 09-16-00.
You have to look at them through a big watermark, but it's worth it. The same photographer is in cahoots with the IMDB and you can see more photos there (,+Kenneth)
(26 September, thanks Jude)

Yippee! We have a "witness" account extolling the virtues of Schneider's 2nd Stage:

"I hope it's not too late to pass the word around, but a spectacular short film starring Ken is going to be shown at the Empire, Leicester Square in London. It's called Schneider's 2nd Stage and is a psychological thriller unlike anything he's ever done before. Trust me, I've seen it and it's great.

It will be shown on Monday 25th of September at 9.00pm. It really is a brilliant short. I was blown away by the twists and turns in the plot. I thoroughly recommend it."

(23 September, thanks Geraint)

Remember Chubby Bunny? Wail! I want my Ngoc back! I want my Ngoc back! I want my Ngoc back! I want my Ngoc back!....ahem. So do you, I know - especially since you're stuck with this poor-substitute prose. Sigh.... Where were we? Right, forget Chubby Bunny - it's Energizer Bunny all the way. So what has KB done, while we blinked? Recorded The Little Prince and Richard III, narrated a documentary on Lon Chaney (more below), filmed Schneider's 2nd Stage (more below), quaffed at Bistro 990 (more below), taken in the judo competitions at the Sydney Olympics, and got a tan. What has he got stacked up for the immediate future? Rabbit Proof Fence, in Australia, Conspiracy, the Wannsee Conference HBO series, in Europe, the Shackleton series, in Antarctica... and probably a bunch of other things still to be announced (no one's fooling me anymore - "a holiday", pshaw!). So here are snippets:

From the Toronto Star:
"TOP DOGS: Kenneth Branagh and Robin Wright Penn, co-stars of the closing gala film 'How To Kill Your Neighbour's Dog', made the scene at Bistro 990 on Friday night. Penn, who is now a brunette, sat at the bar for 15 minutes unrecognized."
...while Branagh was mobbed by hordes of unruly Torontonians (an oxymoron, giggle).

From the Port Townsend Film Festival web site:

#19 Lon Chaney: Man of a Thousand Faces
USA, 2000 84 min.
Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, this documentary examines the film career and techniques of this diverse actor who brought us; Phantom Of The Opera as well as the The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The film also details his childhood with deaf parents and the circumstances that lead to his chameleon persona.

From the Evening Standard, 21 September, by Syrie Johnson:

Schneider's 2nd Stage was made by a 27-year-old called Phil Stoole, with nothing but a credit card and a contact book, and stars Kenneth Branagh. Stoole has been involved in all Branagh's movies since Othello, was his personal assistant on Love's Labour's Lost, and is regarded as his protege. "He said to me, 'You can have me for a day's filming,' " recalls Stoole. " 'You have 12 days to come up with a script.'"

"I had no time, no set and no funding. In the end it cost me only £3,000 - because I went with cap in hand to all the people I had worked with, who are the top bods in the business. I gave Branagh the script on Thursday, while he was making Walking With Dinosaurs, we had a read-through in his lunch-hour, and then filmed on Saturday."

"He's done shorts before," Stoole adds. "I think stars appear in shorts because for a bit of effort they're giving someone an enormous break. But also, it's for the part. I wrote the most juicy part for him, like no other he's ever done."

If you want to know exactly how juicy that part was, the film is being screened as part of the BBC's British Short Film Festival which is currently running at the UCI cinema in Leicester Square. It's included in a programme called Dread Deeds which is running next Monday at 9 pm. Soliciting reviews and descriptions (and bootleg copies...nah, not really) now!

Here's some more information on the recording of Richard III:

Richard III for Naxos Audio Shakespeare to be released on CD and audio tape early next year.
Other castings:
Buckingham  Nicholas Farrell
Hastings  John Shrapnel
Clarence  Michael Maloney
Queen Elizabeth  Celia Imrie
Lady Anne  Stella Gonet
Stanley  John Woodvine
Edward IV  Bruce Alexander
Queen Margaret  Geraldine McEwan
Duchess of York  Auriol Smith
Richmond  Jamie Glover
I bet the lunches and breaks were fun while they were recording this! Getting back to How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, another (SPOILER ALERT) review is out, a nice one from The Hollywood Reporter. There is also a mention in the September 29 issue of Entertainment Weekly, in a report on the Toronto festival (pp. 100-101.) A quote:
"Beyond that, Kenneth Branagh has his best non-Shakespeare role ever in 'How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog', the tale of an acidly clever British playwright going through a new kind of mid-life crisis."

Channelling my Nockie again I'm thinking this film is 'gonna kick ass!". When it gets distributed...

The Branagh charm worked bigtime with the nice reporter who followed up on little Suzi from Pittsburgh, and he's written another nice article.

Casting back a bit, I've added the "back of the book" comments to the Companion to the Shakespearean Films of Kenneth Branagh page.   Thoroughly exhausted by the turbo-charged life o' Ken, I end today's news. More soon no doubt.   :-)
(22 September, thanks Jennifer, Catherine, Jude, FilmLover, Jane)

A veritable gallery of drop-dead fabuloso photos from the Toronto Film Festival, available here. And one, which didn't make it into the gallery, of Kenneth looking like he's just removed an eyeball... or maybe I've watched MS's Frankenstein one too many times.   :-)   You can see a video with snippets of the press conference and gala, and of the film (SPOILER ALERT #1) at the Toronto International Film Festival site.   SPOILER ALERT #2: The first review for How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog is out.   Here's KB's squirrel from the fundraising auction. His disclaimer aside it shows a deft hand and bears a resemblance to a little *%$%#! that keeps digging up my tulips. (Not brown or in need of saving...   :-)  ).
(19 September, thanks Paula V.)

A cute follow-up to the article on KB's co-star Suzi is here. This snippet below comes from the National Post (18 September 2000):

The beautiful table in SkyDome's VIP area consisted of Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright Penn, and others drinking "Silver Lining" martinis. "I think what makes a person beautiful is twinkly eyes," said Branagh. "All a person needs to be sexy are twinkly eyes." (I pinched my thigh viciously, but got only watery eyes, not twinkly.)

Next to him sat Donna Grobman, a super-sexy long-haired young woman wearing a low-cut green knit halter top. Her lips were shiny. What does she do? ''I'm a friend.'' Of who? ''All of these people,'' she answered, sweeping her hand across the VIP table.

Penn has a perfect jawline, big eyes, and a tiny body. ''Soulful eyes,'' was her answer, strange, since although she is Branagh's co-star in How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, they weren't sitting together when I asked each the question.

I'm not sure what deep connection this journalist saw between 'soulful' and 'twinkling', but I haven't had a Silver Lining martini.   :-)

Today's pics: Tom Black in Public Enemy one and two.
(18 September, thanks Jude)

I cain't hardly keep up with it all! A whole passle of stuff (light-headedness and the fact that I'm only seeing images of KB in front of my eyes attest to that... or maybe not, since that seems to be my usual state, woe is me) is sort of up on the Compendium - 'sort of' because I can't be sure it all looks too great: I'm cross-eyed from trying to check, so if you see any f-ups, I'd appreciate it if you let me know.

Where to begin? The How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog page has been updated with articles relating to the press conference and photos from the same. Someone's looking mighty good. Here's a photo of Kenneth signing autographs in Toronto yesterday.

They wrote the script and got the financing in record time it seems (see TV Times snippet from August, cited below) because the Shackleton film is now a go, according to this article in the Sunday Telegraph. He's going to be "fit as a butcher's dog" - woooo hooo! But it'll all be covered up (unless global warming really speeds up and they have to lounge around in bathing suits between scenes   ;-) ).

Finally (for the moment), the British Wildlife Federation is having a fundraising campaign to support its oefforts to save the red squirrel. KB has contributed a drawing (I'll put up a copy after I get it shrunk to viewable size), and so have a lot of other interesting people. It's a hoot - go to and do a search under "Good Causes - General". They only accept credit card pledges, and then only UK credit cards. Hmmmm....
(17 September, thanks Corky, Susan S.)

There's nothing like saying 'not much news' to bring out the news. So it seems that Ken has figured out how to be beamed from place to place (or he's really keen to rack up frequent flyer points), since, besides his supposed appearance on September 16 at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the beginning of the filming of Rabbit-Proof Fence in Oz on September 18, he is also going to be attending the British Short Film festival:

From Film net


The Other Days of Ruby Rae has just been given official selection into the British Short Film Festival and invited to screen at the prestigious Opening Night Gala. The film has been nominated for two of the biggest awards - Best International Short Film and Best Cinematography ( DOP Kathy Chambers).

The British Short Film Festival runs from the 21 - 28 of September and this year has some of Britain's biggest film stars in attendance and lending their support to the Festival. These include Ewan McGregor, Helena Bonham-Carter and Kenneth Branagh. The awards will be announced on the 28th of September.

Totally woooo hoooo news:

From the Daily Express, 13 September 2000

Branagh Gets the Hump with Radio

Is there no limit to Kenneth Branagh's devotion to his art? The uncrowned prince of luvviedom is to convert himself into a physically deformed spectacle to play a behumped Shakespearian villain - for the radio. "I'm doing a production of Richard III for the BBC," Branagh, 39, told me at a fundraising dinner in London's Caravaggio restaurant for the children's cancer charity, The Over the Wall Gang.

"But I'm still making sure I've got a hump on my back!" Ken, who in any other profession might raise suspicions of being one powder-puff short of a full make-up kit, is starring alongside Celia Imrie, Nicholas Farrell and John Shrapnel in the Radio 3 production. Warming to his theme he added: "My footsteps have to sound like I have limped into the recording studio. You must do these things properly."

Course, some of us (alright, all of us) were hoping those 'interested in Richard III' comments that floated about over the last months meant on the stage, but no complaints about this...

On the "which historical character should I play next?" front, there is an update and some news.

Update: TV Times magazine clipping of August 19th

Kenneth Branagh could soon be slipping on his snow shoes. He's top of C4's wishlist to play Arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in a four hour film about his extraordinary trip to the South Pole in 1914. Although Ken's people are adamant that no deal has been finalised, they do accept that the involvement of award winning 'Longitude' director Charles Sturridge is a big lure. It was Charles who brought 'Longitude' to C4 as part of a contract, with his production company, that also includes a film about the poet Lord Byron. 'Ken is very interested in working with Charles,' says a spokeswoman at his Shepperton Studios office. 'But there's no script, budget or even a time set for filming! Any decision will have to wait until next year.'

News: Hollywood Reporter (13 September)

Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci have signed on to star in HBO Films' "Conspiracy," expected to start shooting in Europe in the fall. The project, to be directed by Frank Pierson and written by Loring Mandel, chronicles the secret meeting in 1942 of the Third Reich at Wannsee, where Hitler and his senior advisers drew up plans for the Final Solution for the extermination of the Jews.

The project will be produced by Nick Gillott and executive produced by Pierson, Peter Zinner and Frank Doelger, a former HBO executive who now serves as a consultant to the company. Branagh, whose participation marks a departure for the actor who is usually featured on film, will play the role of Reinhard Heydrich, the second in command to Heinrich Himmler and the boss of Adolf Eichmann, who will be played by Tucci. Branagh, who is repped by his manager Judy Hofflund of Hofflund/Polone, most recently wrote, starred in, produced and directed "Love's Labour's Lost" for Intermedia and Miramax Films. His most recent feature acting credits include "Wild Wild West," "The Theory of Flight," "Celebrity," "The Gingerbread Man" and "Hamlet." He recently signed on to star in the low-budget historical drama "Rabbit-Proof Fence," director Phillip Noyce's first Australian project in 12 years. Shooting is slated to begin Monday in Adelaide on "Rabbit-Proof."

Last but not least - the 'pic of the day', Spanish cover boy!        (14 September, thanks Marina, Jude, Jenny, Isabel)

Not much news - but this snippet from the Evening Standard (10 September): "Larry Adler and Kenneth Branagh were at Caraveggio's over the weekend to support the Over The Wall Gang Camp, a charity which provides holidays for children with cancer." Yay!! Feast your eyes on KB doing the dude thing (you don't need that life jacket, honey, I'll save you!). And doing the director thing in Dead Again and Much Ado. And... on a Renaissance tour in 1990, wearing the Now magazine t-shirt (Toronto publication - a nod to his upcoming visit). (I want to know what that Post-it note on the mirror says...). There are still articles and pics to come, when I figure out how to put more hours into the day.
(13 September, thanks Catherine, Juliane, Jude)

Crapload of old 'new photos' - Part deux . It's done - all the photos from January to June 2000 are in the Gallery and listed with the 'new photos' (the actual new photos aren't there yet, ha ha - but that's life   :-) They're coming!)

There should be some images and a sound bite from the Toronto film fest next weekend... in the meantime, here are 20 Bran-tastic Facts About Ken from, August 2000 (With Manchester United designated as KB's "beloved" team, you have to wonder about the 'fact' checkers for this article...   :-) ). A photo goes with it. And here's a photo of Herr Knopp (reminding me absurdly of a young Truman Capote - note to self: ask Ngoc about medication).
(10 September, thanks Ngoc, Jude)

So the "Ohmigod, why are they taking a picture of me now?" photo is gracing the Arts Section of the New York Times (Thursday, 7 September), with an article about the Toronto International Film Festival. Whose idea was it to make this a publicity shot? The over-thirty male demographic can be written off in terms of ticket sales immediately... but maybe it'll peak everyone else's curiosity.   :-)
Meanwhile, German fans can rest easy, according to this snippet from a January press release:

"CineMedia has taken full distribution rights for the German-speaking territories to six titles originally announced as part of an $87 million production and financing pact unveiled last year at Cannes between Avi Lerner's Millennium Films and German production-investment fund Cinerenta. Those pics are "Dreaming of Julia," with Harvey Keitel; "Loving Lulu," with Patrick Swayze and Melanie Griffith; "Prozac Nation," with Andie MacDowell and Christina Ricci; "Anasazi Moon," with Gary Oldman; "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog," which will be produced through Robert Redford's South Fork Films; and "Dancing at the Blue Iguana.""

To quote our inimitable (I try, but it's just a pathetic sham) Ngoc, there's a whole crapload of "new" photos up in the Photo Gallery. "New" is qualified because those of you who read this KB chronicle assiduously will have seen them, linked from here, in the early part of this year. The really old 'new photos' have been integrated into the Gallery, and the not quite so old 'new photos' are there (up to March 2000 - lots more to come!) with "New" flags. When my eyes start registering letters besides JPG again I'll get the rest of them up there.   :-)     The irony is that while we court eyestrain overdosing on gazillions of KB photos here, Kenneth probably has to go to the photo booth if he wants to buy a weekly travel card (not that I think he actually ever buys them, those quotes about "I like to take the tube" notwithstanding).

Getting back to the 'new' new... there's a new photo from HTKYND up on the Toronto International Film Festival site: go there and click on the schedule for September 16, and the name of the film, to see it and read the blurb, or here for just the pic. There are also some other new photos (we're sticking with the visuals today, articles coming soon): 'When we were 12... er, make that 22'; a series of pics (#1, #2, #3, #4) from The Boy in the Bush, and "The way you wear your hat...". Stay tuned!
(5 September, thanks Film Lover, Jude)

Oye, oye!!! Hey beans! (BTW, in case anyone doesn't go back far enough, the etymology of "beans" according to the KED (Ken-Friends English Dictionary - not put together with the aid of just one madman, like the OED, but a whole slew of mad people) traces this expression back to the "2B" list (first usage credited to the orignator, Katie Penote), whose members were "2Bers", subsequently referred to as "2Beans", and ulitmately as "beans" by (the famous) Ngoc. Ahem....

Hey beans!! It's here, it's finally here! The Companion to the Shakespearean Films of Kenneth Branagh is available for purchase - and reading! There's a slip of a lad on the cover, "photo inédite", as they say (you've not seen it before). Let's put this book on the bestseller list.   :-)
(31 August, thanks Jude)

So it's back under the burning sun in Oz for 'Kin'! (Gee, why does that Survivor music keep playing in my head?....)


Brit thesp Kenneth Branagh has signed to star in Phil Noyce's Rabbit Proof Fence, shooting from mid September in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia (as reported here 27/7/2000).

Rabbit Proof Fence is the story of three Aboriginal girls forcibly taken from their outback families in 1931 to be trained as domestic servants. They escape and embark on an epic 2,000 km journey to get back home, with the authorities pursuing them all the way. Based on a true story and written by Christine Olsen (from a book by Doris Pilkington), the film has attracted international executive producer Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, Naked Lunch, etc) and renowned Hong Kong-based Australian cinematographer Chris Doyle; David Elfick, with whom Noyce made his acclaimed debut, Newsfront, is co-executive producer, and John Winter is line producer.

Branagh will play one of the more controversial figures in Australian history, A.O Neville. "As Chief Protector of Aborigines in West Australia, the English born Neville devised and administered a notorious scheme for controlling the state's indigenous population", said Noyce. "Kenneth Branagh is one of the world's most gifted performers. I am thrilled that he has accepted the challenge to portray a man who literally killed with his misguided kindness."

Australian distribution will be handled by Ocean Pictures, the company recently formed by producers Jonathan Shteinman and Emile Sherman.
(Thanks Jenny, Sarah)

On the 'visuals' front, a rather dubious photo (Herr Knopp at the cabaret in his off-time?) to start off with - we cover all bases here, even Ken with snake-eyes.   :-)  (From Cinema, German movie mag.)

A photo link has been added to the Tatler article, this little caricature is also from the article; there is a drop-dead (making up for the snake-eyes) gorgeous Coriolanus pic (from the programme of the Fiennes/Roache "oeuvre" this past summer... they know who's good company!). A few of the previously seen HTKYND photos have been gathered on the HTKYND press page. There are scads of new pics on the way - enough to force me to fix up the Photo Gallery - very soon, very soon. Meanwhile, I leave you with this link to KB in a photo with a make-up artist, not sure when or where, but the lady's resume leads one to believe it might have been for a television show. Cute!     (29 August, thanks Alexandra, Jane, Isabel, Corky)

A little more catch-up: the Tatler article from 1994 is now up, as is a June article from the Boston Globe. The accompanying pic from the Globe is here. Tatler pics coming...

For a limited time only: pics from the July BB at Villa Vignamaggio are here.

And last but not least: the covers from The Little Prince CD-ROM.     (27 August, thanks Jane, Paula, Cyn, Jude)

Polish up those glasses - the How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog pics are starting to arrive. There is now a HTKYND Rress Room so you can read all about it (for a while anyway, till the lawyers contact me). The latest pic (see the article) suggests that maybe Ken was spending too much time with that dog... :-)

Casting back a bit, here's an arty Ken from the cover of the King Lear audiotape. (24 August, thanks Jennifer, Film Lover, Susan)

YESSSSSS!!!!!!           NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Okay, so the YES news is that How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog is being shown at the Closing Gala of the Toronto International Film Festival! How cool is that? (The Canuck pauses to dance around a bit with a red-leaf flag... :-))

The NO news is that all the tickets have already been sold out, and not only the tickets to the Gala but also the Festival Passes, Coupon Books, and Daytime Passes. I'm not quite clear on whether this is the only showing... single advance sale tickets are still available, though maybe not for this film. (The Montrealer pauses to engage in the old Montreal vs Toronto rivalry, muttering "typical for Toronto -they should call it The Bay-Street-and-Its-Backscratching-Buddies Film Festival", mutter, mutter, mutter - with apologies to any Bay Streeters reading this...)

So here's the press release (check out the site, they must have a thousand PR people, there are a thousand press releases there):


TorontoHOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG, written and directed by Michael Kalesniko, is the closing night Gala at the 25th Toronto International Film Festival. This world premiere stars Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright-Penn, and Lynn Redgrave.

HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG is a sophisticated and touching comedy about the cynical Peter McGowen (Kenneth Branagh), an L.A.-based playwright fallen on hard times, with a string of flops and personal tribulations contributing to his angst. His wife, Melanie (Robin Wright-Penn) is anxious to start a family, the neighbour has an aggressively noisy dog, and to top it off, his producer and cast insist that the 10-year-old character in his latest play doesn't ring true.

Challenged to develop a ‘real' child, Peter reluctantly befriends the little girl next door (Suzi Hofrichter) – which sends Melanie's maternal instincts into full gear and changes Peter's life in ways he never could have imagined.

Millennium Films and Cinerenta present HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG, directed and written by Michael Kalesniko and produced by Michael Nozik, Nancy Ruff, and Brad Weston. The film is executive produced by Robert Redford and co-executive produced by Avi Lerner.

This Gala presentation is sponsored by National Bank Financial.
Gala presentations at Roy Thomson Hall are made possible through the sponsorship of Famous Players Inc., Showtime Networks Inc., and Paramount Pictures (Canada) Inc.
For more information, please contact: Megan de Jong or Gabrielle Free at 416-934-3200.
Now, we only need to find out whether the illustrious cast will be in attendance.

To while away the time, and since LLL is still touring round the country - sort of - here's another interview with Kenneth. More pics and articles coming soon... (22 June, thanks Renie, Becky, Film Lover)

Hey 2b-eans! NEWS! We know KB is always doing 50 million things, but when it's quiet, the faintest, teensiest idea that maybe he *is* taking a break might sneak into your mind - but... you're wrong! He's been "Entering the Universe of 'The Little Prince'".... the link is to an article, with lots of psychological input, about the CD-ROM version of The Little Prince, narrated by the best. More good news: the mind-benders really like KB (see below), so all of us are sane after all...

Here are the pertinent parts

... Sure, millions of young readers in America have loved "The Little Prince" since it was first published in 1943 -- but they've never experienced Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic fable quite like this.

Tivola Publishing, a Berlin-based producer of children's multimedia CD-ROMs, will release the English language CD-ROM adaptation of the best-selling book Aug. 28. The CD-ROM ($29.99), which was released in Germany two years ago, features a 3-D animated version of Saint-Exupery's story, based on a new translation by poet Richard Howard, with British actor-director Kenneth Branagh as narrator and Owen Evans, a 12-year-old actor from west London, providing the voice of the Little Prince. ...

... That "The Little Prince" is now on a CD-ROM doesn't bother Kaganoff. "I think they've certainly chosen something that has delightful illustrations that live, and the voice of Kenneth Branagh will add a tremendous amount of meaning," she said. (Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times)

Here's nice news! I leave you to speculate on directors who might show their films (or themselves) here in the future...

LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Belfast's first film festival will include the last movie performance by screen legend Sir John Gielgud. The legendary actor will co-star with playwright Harold Pinter in "Catastrophe", one of seven short films in a film compilation of the work of Samuel Beckett. "Cork has had a film festival for 44 years, Dublin has had one for 37, Belfast has never had a film festival", Aidan McCloone, festival organizer, told the BBC. "I think it's long overdue and we're here today to set that straight." The festival, which will run from September 22 to 29, will include Cannes Film Festival winner "Dancer in the Dark", starring Icelandic singer Bjork. Gielgud died in May, aged 96.

One day I'm going to be beat the Photo Gallery into shape, but until then, here's a kind of "skipped the daily trimming" version of Spider(beard)man. It belongs to a nice article.    (18 August, thanks to Paula B., Millard, Jane)

Okay, today the news is not entirely good... if you've seen the grey box on the main page you'll know what I'm talking about, if not - go read it and weep. ...However, we soldier on...(she says, wailing and gnashing her teeth) or as Ken would say "onwards and upwards" (hey pal, can ya lend me that bi-plane you have in your yard?).

To cheer you, here is news from UAYD. Read about how the 1999 Birthday Fundraising gift was used and participate in this year's birthday project! Further cheer, and we're talking major feel-good, Ken-is-such-a-sweetie, wish-I-were-eleven-and-and-his-co-star cheer, right here. There will be a few more UAYD pics in the next days (check the BDay and UAYD pages).

Last bit of cheer: LLL is showing up here and there around the US... (not showing up enough to make us ever forgive Miramax, though, but let's not get into that). (12 August, thanks to Jude)

Okay, get ready for a whole slew of news (some could qualify as "olds"), in no logical order, as we play catch-up (with many thanks to Jude, our closet archivist).

First things first.... Wooooo hooooo!!!
Love's Labour's Lost DVD in the UK
September 11th release. This disk is presented 1.85:1 (enhanced for widescreen TV's) with a DD 5.1 soundtrack. Extras include 5 deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer, outtakes, 'making of' documentary and a commentary track by Kenneth Branagh.

They put the same goodies on with the DVD version in other countries, right? Right? Right? Otherwise shoot me now.

Tune into a wonderful interview with Ken at It's almost 8 minutes long and you'll find out why he won't go skydiving with you.

The sequel to Walking with Dinosaurs was announced by the Beeb. It's called The Ballad of Big Al and is about an allasaur whose bones were dubbed Big Al. It looks like it will be screened (in Britain) at Christmas but no word on who is narrating yet. (But we know who we want!)    (1 August 2000)

Alien Love Triangle is officially dead. The collection of three short films was killed after Gary Fleder's Imposter was drawn out to a feature. Now, the other completed segment, directed by Transpotting's Danny Boyle and starring Kenneth Branagh, Heather Graham and Courtney Cox will be included as an extra on the Imposter DVD.     (5 July 2000)

And the logic of this is....? Oh well, sales of the Imposter DVD will be good...

If either of these next two pans out (for this you're allowed to cross your eyes along with everything else, not to mention wishing on stars, etc.) Ken will be needing some woollies... (they say knitting is having a renaissance, BTW... though not at my house :-)).

From the Belfast Telegraph

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.

"Alexander I (of Russia)(1777-1825), emperor of Russia (1801-1825), son of Emperor Paul I. He abolished many barbarous and cruel punishments then practiced and in 1802 introduced a more orderly administration of government by the creation of eight ministries. He improved the condition of the serfs and promoted education, doubling the number of Russian universities by establishing those at Saint Petersburg, Kharkiv and Kazan. Alexander was for a time the ally of Prussia against Napoleon of France. In 1807, however, after the battles of Eylau and Friedland, Alexander allied himself with the French. He broke the alliance in 1812, and later that year Napoleon invaded Russia, only to lose his army in a disastrous retreat from Moscow. Alexander was prominent thereafter in the European coalition that led to Napoleon's fall. In 1815 Alexander instituted the Holy Alliance of Austria, Russia and Prussia. The purpose of the alliance, as it was conceived, was to achieve the realization of high Christian ideals among the nations of Europe, but it soon ceased to have any real importance. The last years of Alexander's life and reign were reactionary and despotic. He was succeeded by his brother Nicholas I."     (16 May 2000)

by Anthony Barnes

Actor Kenneth Branagh is in talks to play Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in a multi-million pound dramatisation of his polar expedition, it was announced today. Director Charles Sturridge is keen to land the Shakespearean star for the extraordinary tale of survival which will be made for Channel 4 and begins shooting next summer.

Shackleton and his crew survived for two years in the treacherous region after their boat the Endurance became trapped in ice floes and was later crushed.

Sturridge, who made the award-winning adaptation of bestseller Longitude, said: "This is a film about a man, his men and an incredible journey.

Against seemingly hopeless odds Shakleton managed to keep his 28-man crew alive for two terrifying years, at the same time as millions of men were being sacrificed in the defense of civilisation on the battlefields of France."

Sturridge has signed a three-year deal with Channel 4 to create further films and is currently writing the script for his four-hour Shackleton film, which will be shown in two parts.

Shackleton set off from Britain on the eve of the First World War in 1914 aiming to lead the first expedition to cross the South Pole. But by January 1915 their ship Endurance had become locked in the ice floes and 10 months later they abandoned ship when it was crushed by ice. Then Shackleton and his team dragged lifeboats across the frozen water until they reached the edge of the ocean then rowed 100 miles to Elephant Island. But after a long wait they realised there was no chance of being picked up there so Shackleton and five others made a further 650-mile journey tossed by 100ft waves. They eventually reached South Georgia and acquired a larger boat to return to rescue the rest of the crew.

Channel 4 Director of Programmes, Tim Gardam said: "I'm thrilled Charles Sturridge has come up with such a great project for us and I expect Shackleton to be one of our most ambitious dramas."     (7 July 2000)

There was also verbal fan-mail:

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." (10 May 2000)

Reaching waaaaay back to March....

This appeared in a Greek magazine Cinema March 2000 issue: "Strange murders happen at the studios of Chinecita, during the days Orson Welles shoots his new film. All these incredible events happen at the brand-new John Sayles script 'Fade to Black', which will become a film by Oliver -'An Ideal Husband'-Parker, with Kennegh Branagh as Orson Welles."

This is going to be one busy guy, or rather three guys (that we know about!) - and not one of them a plumber.

One more time....

Empire Online

Obi-Wan Laid to Rest
Ever since the concept of Episode I was first mooted, there's been speculation that Kenneth Branagh had originally been up for the part that Ewan McGregor finally nailed. But in an interview with Empire magazine this month, Branagh finally scotches the rumour.

Asked whether he was ever really up for the role, Branagh insists that the story came about when an Australian artist suggested Branagh for a Star Wars trading card. 'When people were starved of information for the new film this artist suggested that I would make a good young Alec Guinness. And that was it - there was never a glimmer of interest from Lucasfilm.

I endlessly explained to people that there was absolutely no truth in the rumour at all,' says Ken, 'but it happened around the time of the real intensification of the internet, and was an example to me of how a rumour like that can travel around the world in 24 hours.'  (30 March 2000)

London Times
A certain weariness hangs over Kenneth Branagh these days. "People seem to think I sit at home in my tights and codpiece watching TV," says Branagh. The solution? He plans to shed his Shakespearean skin by teaming up with Mike Myers, the comic behind Wayne's World and Austin Powers. "I want to do a character-based comedy. I'd dearly like to have been a stand-up comic, but I never had the guts."  (March 2000)

They'll probably write a skit with him watching TV in tights and codpiece - watch out what you wish for. :-). If your eyes are still focusing here are some wunderschöne photos (eins, zwei, drei) from Journal der Frau.

There are a few more bits and pieces (news from UAYD, Sarah's book!) but I would need access to illegal substances to finish it all tonight... so, stay tuned.
(10 August, thanks to Jude, Alexandra)

We're baaaaack!! Sorry about the hiccup - actually it was bordering on cardiac arrest - but life is like that sometimes.... anyhow, after Richard Briers let go of that oxygen tank that KB got him for LLL, the Compendium grabbed it, breathed deeply and is about to bring you the news. In the meantime (while the scribe is at work), here are a few things to revive your passion:

"Branagh the Builder"...   No, I don't think it's a candid shot of the construction of Ken's house... he looks way too relaxed and happy for that.   There are new articles from The Washington Post, Time Out New York and CBC Radio.   Back to the Bard, another article, comes with a pic of Ken cheating in a limbo contest.   Nothing like a guy in a tux.... at the LLL premiere and at the Tonys.
(9 August, thanks to Corky, Jane, Renie)

If you're within a 200-mile radius of either New York city or Los Angeles, it behooves you to take a trip asap to the Paris Theater (in NY) or the Laemmle Royal on Santa Monica (in LA) to check out Love's Labour's Lost. Multiple times. The movie opens in the next 10 largest markets this Friday the 16th, I'll try to post the list of cities up by Wednesday. I'll also be adding (hopefully) reports from the New York premiere, DC screening, Newport Film Fest screening, and How To Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Cannes screening (crikey, and there's a nice review of HTKYND from Variety too) when I have time to do a proper update (so much Ken info, so little time). In the meantime, there are a dozen new LLL-related articles on this site, the must-reads of which include:

-The Charlie Rose Show transcript: Ken, Nathan Lane, and Alicia Silverstone (*this aired last Friday, and usually repeats the next afternoon, so check your local PBS station today and try to catch it. Good stuff. Very, very funny. Thanks to Ann from the Shakespeare newsgroup for transcribing this!)

-Articles from the Hollywood Reporter, Salon and The Onion. As always, complete listing of the new articles here.

-Off-site links: Thanks to Tim for sending a link to his very fine interview with Ken, read the article here. And I've been alerted to a nice news site for Alicia Silverstone, called The New Alicia Gallery, which is updated daily and has lots of LLL-related Alicia links (and some Ken ones thrown in for good measure ;-). BTW, Alicia is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno this Wednesday). A new Alicia article can also be found here, with another sweet quote about Ken:

"Why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to sit down with Kenneth Branagh? What better acting class am I going to go to? I thought, I’ll have an hour acting class for free, that would be just amazing. Then a month later he called me and said, ‘you’re not going to get the part you auditioned for but I’d love you to play the princess.’ I was like, ‘Oh my goodness! I get to do it!? . . . [Ken] is so prepared, he certainly inspired me with his preparation,” gleams Silverstone. “Usually with a director you just try and help the director think a little bit beyond, push it. You want it to be as good as it can be. But with him it’s like from the moment you start working you just feel like, ‘Oh my God, all I can do is to just keep up with the train.’ . . . I am ready for Kenneth Branagh to direct something and have me be in it. I’d be so heartbroken if I didn’t get to work with him again. I really would."

Ken (along with Alicia and Nathan Lane) did a gazillion talk shows (Conan O'Brien, Rosie O'Donnell, Charlie Rose, Regis & Kathie Lee) last week in NY to promote LLL, and I must say, Mr Branagh did very well. (Of course, the last time I saw him on a talk show was courtesy of the UK's Big Breakfast, a show on which everyone seemingly is encouraged to pop ecstasy pills before 8 in the morning. Really, I saw that show on tape at like 8pm at night and just watching the Johnny fellow exhausted me. High-energy, that guy is) Anyway, so yeah, Ken vv funny, charming, and appealing. Too bad I can't do screen captures and transcripts of the interviews...(June 12, thanks to Ann, Jeanette, Tim, Susan. And to all the critics who trashed LLL, I'd like to dedicate the Terrance and Phillip song from the South Park movie - everybody join hands and sing along! ... Heheh, just, um, kidding. I love critics. They're the coolest buns-holes ever :-)

Go over to the Cranky Critic site to submit questions for Ken and Alicia Silverstone (Mr Cranky gave Love's Labour's Lost a good review, BTW. Good deal). Or just email your questions to Mr Cranky from here. Alicia will also be taking part in a live chat on Wednesday, June 7th at 8pm ET over at the Bigstar site, check out details here. . . . New pics include more Ken in Cannes - massage pic #1, #2, and #3, and posing with 3 supermodels (he does it so well) . . . Snippet from recent Entertainment Weekly re Ken and the upcoming Scottish King movie:

"Play time. My how Kenneth Branagh loves sprucing up Shakespeare. Now that he's added songs to the Bard's work in Miramax's Love's Labour's Lost, which opens June 9, he's turning his attention to a contemporary adaptation of Macbeth. 'It's a very timely story, all about ambition,' says Branagh. Still, he himself is not so ambitious this time around: While he'll adapt the screenplay and star as the murderous king, someone else will direct."

And another nice Alicia quote from a BPI article:

"Kenneth's really so passionate about what he does that I felt like I was part of this magical thing that I had to keep moving and keep up with," she gushes. "I can't wait to work with him again. If he doesn't hire me again, I may not be able to survive."

Oooh, I want Ken to direct a sequel to Clueless. That would totally rock. (Hey, that's better than Alicia playing Lady Macbeth. ;-) (June 1, thanks to Paula B, Dena, Sandra)