Pop star Gary Barlow has been urged to hand back a top honour from the British Establishment over claims he invested in a tax avoidance scheme. The singer and two of his Take That bandmates - Mark Owen and Howard Donald - are reportedly facing the possibility of paying millions in back taxes after a partnership they invested in was branded a tax scam by a judge.
All three singers have declined to comment on the report but several leading politicians have called for Barlow to hand back the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal he was awarded in 2012 for services to entertainment.
Margaret Hodge, leader of the U.K.'s Public Accounts Committee, says Barlow "might want to show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE", and another Member of Parliament (MP), Charlie Elphicke, tells The Times newspaper, "People who have seriously abused the tax system should be stripped of their honours."
However, Barlow has since received the backing of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who told TV show Good Morning Britain, "I don't think that's necessary, frankly. Gary Barlow has done a huge amount for the country... He's raised money for charity, he's done very well for Children in Need so I'm not sure (he should hand back) his OBE in respect of the work he has done."
Barlow, Donald, Owen and their manager are said to have invested $105 million (£66 million) into a partnership company that was later allegedly exposed as an elaborate tax avoidance scheme.
The After/Amazon Studios
A lot has changed since Chris Carter created his megahit The X-Files: new platforms, riskier material, binge-watching, and live Tweeting have changed the television landscape forever.
After taking nearly a decade to regroup and recharge, Carter is back with his Amazon pilot The After, a sci-fi drama about eight strangers, thrown together by mysterious forces, who must help each other survive in a world that is both unfamiliar and unforgiving. We spoke to Carter about the changing face of TV since The X-Files made us believers and more - to read the full story, it's right here at Studio System News.
We are used to seeing popular U.K. shows stateside. Series of Downton Abbey, Absolutely Fabulous, Skins and Dr. Who have all aired in the US in enough time to capitalize on their wild success across the pond. However, some shows slip through the cracks. Miranda is a wildly successful sitcom that first premiered in 2009 has only now become available on Hulu.
Miranda (Miranda Hart) is posh, yet utterly awkward. She’s tall, socially inappropriate, and a grown child. She spent the bulk of her wealth buying a joke shop that she runs with her Type-A best friend Stevie (Sarah Hadland). She is terminally single much to the dismay of her haughty and marriage obsessed mother, Penny (Patricia Hodge). She occasionally has run-ins with her former boarding school pal Tilly (Sally Phillips). Her latest obsession is her longtime friend and restaurant chef, Gary (Tom Ellis) who can see beyond her 6’1 frame and social ineptitude yet can’t seem to get a moment alone with her.
Hart is a comedic genius. Each episode has Mr. Bean-like physical antics, insanely well-crafted wordplay, and completely absurd situations. Hart is so likable and the pain, tension, and discomfort of being tall, romantically challenged, and stunted in youth is completely relatable. Plus, Hart will occasionally look at the audience and give commentary on what’s happening.
Hart represents an everywoman, but not necessarily in a Chaka Kahn/Whitney Houston kind of way. Her issues with men, her mother, and her friends are so much like what people have to deal with on a daily basis. However, Hart is able to say and do what we wish we could do in a given situation. She also has an incongruously attractive crush in a will they/won’t they relationship. The series is semi-autobiographical and it seems like Hart is living out her fantasies through her charcter.
Anglophiles, Brticom addicts, comedy lovers, and people with a pulse must check out this series. The first two series are available on Hulu. See what people in the UK have been obsessing over for years.
Leverage brings the heist movie genre to the small screen. Each episode, the team of Leverage Consulting & Associates takes down a fat cat or crime lord that has hurt one of their clients. Whether it’s a high-stakes grift or an elaborate theft, this cadre of ex-cons rights wrongs, Robin Hood-style.
Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) is a former insurance fraud investigator. He gets drafted into an elaborate con with thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), former black ops agent Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), and his ex, an experienced grifter, Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman). They decide to combine their unique set of skills on the right side of the law to help the helpless: to provide them with some leverage...get it?
The show takes all the twists, turns, and shocking misdirects from movies like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job and takes it to a local level. It’s insane that the series is able to come up with so many smart reveals and elaborate capers for each episode.
If great writing isn’t enough, the casting of the series is genius. The characters are more than just their heist skills. Each character brings a different layer to their character. Hutton may play the moral voice of the show but he also has a drinking problem and a self-destructive impulse. Riesgraf and Hodge may play expert thieves but they also have a dorky vibe. The British-born Bellman showcases all of her accents and unique vocal tricks as she plays a grifter playing a character during a con.
Movies like Oceans Fifteen: Still Wet, are fun to watch for the satisfaction of a well-played con. Leverage provides all that satisfaction combined with likable characters and unique writing.
Netflix has all five seasons of the series, which ended last winter.
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You can watch 10 different Jared Harris performances without ever realizing that they have an actor in common: the man is a proverbial chameleon. Following his exit from Mad Men and his turn as Ulysses S. Grant in Lincoln, Harris stars as the agoraphobic magic man Hodge Starkweather in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, lining the cast of young, fresh stars in the making with his veteran bravado. Of course, spending time around his youthful costars has clearly rubbed off on the thespian. "There’s lots of laughter, because you are being a kid again," Harris admits to Hollywood.com. "It’s great fun!"
Speaking on the creation of the new movie, adapted from the novels of author Cassandra Clare, Harris added, "That was one of the things [director Harald Zwart] believed would ground the audience in the world that the story takes place in. He wanted everything to be built. He wanted anything we saw to actually happen." Watch the video above to check out our full interview with Harris, and catch Mortal Instruments in theaters Aug. 21.
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Hip-hop star Meek Mill fought back tears on Saturday (29Jun13) as he addressed mourners at the funeral of his rap protege Lil Snupe, who was murdered in his native Louisiana last month (Jun13). The 18 year old, real name Addaren Ross, was shot and killed at an apartment complex in Shreveport on 20 June (13), just months after he was signed to Mill's Dream Chasers Records label, and the Ima Boss hitmaker was left devastated by the tragic loss.
Mill was among the guests who turned out to pay their respects to the slain teen on Saturday and spoke to the hundreds gathered outside the Jonesboro-Hodge High School prior to the service to express his heartbreak at the youngster's untimely death.
He told the crowd, "I'm never one to talk (at funerals)... I saw something in him. His demo tape spoke to me. I saw myself in him."
Police recently arrested and charged 36-year-old Tony Holden with Snupe's slaying, slapping him with counts of first degree murder, armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
A performance of Sam Mendes' new London musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was halted on Friday (28Jun13) when a prop elevator broke down in mid-air. Stars of the show were left dangling in a glass platform above the audience when the malfunction occurred at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, delaying the finale as crewmembers scrambled to fix the problem.
The stage manager came out to apologise before actor Douglas Hodge, who plays candy factory owner Willy Wonka, resumed the scene with child star Jack Costello.
A spokesperson for the production says, "The elevator did not finish its flight and had to be brought down manually. The show was stopped for six minutes while this happened and then continued as normal."
Skyfall director Mendes officially launched the show in the British capital on Tuesday (25Jun13).
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has been unveiled as the unlikely source of inspiration for British actor Douglas Hodge's new take on Willy Wonka. Roald Dahl's classic kids' book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted for the London stage by filmmaker Sam Mendes, with Hodge playing kooky candy boss Wonka.
Hodge insists his performance isn't based on actors Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, who previously played Wonka on the big screen, but instead rocker Yorke: "It's the way he dances. He's so tiny and birdlike."
The theatre star has also taken cues from rock icons Sir Mick Jagger and David Bowie, as well as the late King of Pop Michael Jackson.
He adds, "Bowie has been in my mind as someone who disappeared from the public for a long time and then emerged. A strange, exotic creature, he seems to inherit a tradition of enigma and exclusiveness (like Wonka)."
Mendes' musical officially opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the British capital on 25 June (13).
Emmy Award-Winning Comedian Sara Schaefer, Host Of MTV's Late Show Nikki & Sara Live, Will Be Blogging The Bachelorette For Hollywood.Com All Season Long.
Last night's episode of The Bachelorette was an emotional roller coaster (half-submerged in the Atlantic Ocean). Desiree took her gaggle of men to one of the world's most exotic locations: Atlantic City. Here are the highs, the lows, and all points in between:
The High: The Mr. America Pageant
I have to say, this was one of the most delightful group dates I’ve ever seen. Because it was the most honest group date I’ve ever seen: a bunch of guys peacockin’ trying to impress a lady on national television. No pretending to be deep with emotions trying to “connect.” Or, as Drew so eloquently put it, “It’s a hodge podge of tom foolery; a devil’s brigade.” A devil’s brigade indeed. During the pageant, we saw Chris’ hula hoop routine in high heels, Kasey’s fake tap dance, Ben’s beautifully executed ribbon dance, Alex’s pelvic thrusts (I think my eyes got pregnant from watching that), and Zak W. actually singing a not-terrible love song! Unfortunately, nobody pulled a Miss Utah during the interview round. Kasey won the pageant, but Zak W. ultimately won the rose: because he defied the hallowed rules of this game and sang during one-on-one time with Desiree! I have to say, I was shocked that he pulled it off. As Chris wisely wrote in his poetry book, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” Just kidding, T.S. Eliot said that.
The Low: Getting Dumped at the Top of a Lighthouse
Before the pageant, Desiree went on one of this season’s obligatory “weed out the weak” one-on-one dates. You know what I’m talking about - every season, the Bachelor or Bachelorette picks someone they’re “not sure about,” so they can dump them mid-date? For Brad, this would be just such a swan song. Though the two had fun acting like kids on the Boardwalk, the date turned into a disaster when an actual conversation had to take place. I’m not sure if Brad is crippled by shyness or a mild brain injury, but he just does not have much to say. The result: cringe-worthy long pauses. I felt like I was watching one of those old SNL sketches when Chris Farley would interview a celebrity. “Remember that time we went on the sling shot...?” A few hours ago? Oh dear. Desiree knew she couldn’t give him a rose at this point, so she knew she had to let him down easy. So she made him walk up a thousand steps to the top of the lighthouse. Because there’s no better way to tell someone you’re not into them: out of breath, in a location where the only two exits are a tiny spiral staircase or suicidal leap.
The Middle: Manny & Jan’s Private Dance with Hootie
While the men were off competing in the Mr. America pageant, James was eating strawberries in a bubble bath, exploring his body and preparing for his one-on-one date with Desiree. Their date was a helicopter over Hurricane Sandy wreckage. In other words, their date was sexy as hell. After the aerial view, they surveyed the damage on the ground by visiting a home owned by an old couple named Manny and Jan. During the heart-wrenching visit, a show producer Desiree got this really amazing idea: why don’t we gift our romantic date to Manny and Jan, and instead, we can eat garbage in a dumpy local restaurant? Wow. Is there a Nobel Peace Prize for Dates? James and Desiree, so moved by their act of charity, made out in front of the demolished house. See? I told you this date was sexy as hell.
Of course, they didn’t actually gift the entire date to Manny and Jan, because that would be silly. They weren’t going to just give up the best part of a Bachelorette date: the private concert. Desiree and James showed up just in time. The scene was beautiful: a homeless couple, married for nearly 40 years, dancing to their favorite musician, Hootie. (Yes, I know his name is Darius Rucker, but Manny and Jan don’t know that. Shhhhh. Don’t ruin this beautiful moment.) The date ended with a heartfelt speech in which James once again emphasized how he abandoned his sickly father for this journey. Desiree, you better be grateful!
According to previews for next week’s episode: it will be armageddon. (Literally, there was a clip of someone saying “This is armageddon.”) What! Wow! Isn’t this show pre-taped? How did we miss the apocalypse? Am I in heaven? Wait, what? Oh, you mean it’s Bachelorette armageddon? Oooooh, ok. So we’re just gonna see some guys get called out for being there for the wrong reasons? Got it. I can’t wait!
Tune into The Bachelorette every Monday night at 8/7c on ABC and check Hollywood.com on Tuesdays for Sara Schaefer's reactions to the madness.
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, writer, and producer based in New York City. She is the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live. She won two Emmy awards for her work as the Head Blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and has written for BestWeekEver.tv and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Sara has appeared on Comedy Central, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, FX, E!, Fuse, and AOL. She also has a popular podcast You Had To Be There with her MTV co-host Nikki Glaser.
Follow Sara on Twitter @saraschaefer1 Follow Hollywood.com @Hollywood_com
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The first two previews of Sam Mendes' much-anticipated West End musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory have been pushed back because of "unforeseen problems" with a contractor. The show, based on Roald Dahl's beloved book and starring Douglas Hodge as chocolate maker Willy Wonka, was due to debut at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday (17May13), but the evening's production, and on Saturday (18May13), have been scrapped, according to TheStage.co.uk.
A statement from the producers blames "unforeseen problems in the delivery of a piece of stage engineering by a contractor", which they claim has "caused delays to the schedule".
Show spokesperson Ryan Petersen adds, "The whole production team is frustrated by this unforeseen delay in what has otherwise been a very smooth and exciting rehearsal period. We're sorry to inconvenience people who have booked for these first previews..."
The show is now set to debut next week (begs20May13), and the two previews will be rescheduled.