Fallen British TV presenter John Leslie has accepted "substantial" damages from Rupert Murdoch's media empire over the phone hacking scandal. The former star presented programmes including game show Wheel of Fortune and kids' hit Blue Peter until false allegations of rape and sexual assault torpedoed his career in the mid-2000s.
Leslie's name and cell phone number were later found in paperwork belonging to a private investigator who had hacked into voicemail messages on behalf of the News of the World, and he took legal action against parent company News Group Newspapers (NGN).
In a hearing at London's High Court on Friday (19Apr13), officials were told Leslie has now settled his case against Murdoch's newspaper group in return for a substantial compensation payout.
Former Conservative Member of Parliament Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine have also received a large sum in damages, and lawyers for the estate of late reality TV star Jade Goody, who died from cancer in 2009, have also settled their case.
The News of the World was closed down in 2011 after it emerged some staff had commissioned the hacking of voicemail messages belonging to hundreds of celebrities, politicians, and crime victims.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
New bride Nicole Kidman was so overcome with emotion on her wedding day, she cried all the way to the church and throughout the ceremony, according to media reports.
Kidman, 39, tied the knot with country music singer Keith Urban, 38, in a sunset ceremony in Australia yesterday.
A wedding guest tells People magazine, "Nicole cried all the way to the church in the car and then she cried all during the ceremony and had to wipe her eyes under the veil.
"It was the most emotional and beautiful ceremony. Nicole looked ethereal with her veil floating, like a vision in white... Keith cried when he looked at her. It was so intense.
"When her veil was lifted, he moved right in and he grabbed her and kissed her. It was a long, passionate kiss.
"(Then) everything went from being quiet and elegant and intense to really loud, like we were suddenly at a soccer game.
"There was screaming and hollering and such excitement, but when Nicole and Keith looked at each other it was like they were the only two people in the room. It was the most incredible wedding."
After the ceremony, Hugh Jackman and Crowded House's Neil Finn performed at the reception, which had a "passion" theme and red color scheme--including red carnations hanging from huge chandeliers and red roses on the table.
Entertainment Tonight reports the celebrity guests included Russell Crowe, Naomi Watts, Renee Zellweger, her ex-husband Kenny Chesney and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
In lieu of gifts, guests were asked to make a donation to the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick.
Kidman's TV presenter sister Antonia and her daughter Isabella--from her first marriage to Tom Cruise--were bridesmaids.
Kidman and Urban Thank Australia
Newlyweds Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have released an official wedding photograph to the world's media and thanked their fellow Australians for such a warm reception in their homeland.
The Oscar-winning actress, 39, and country singer, 38, wed in the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel in the St. Patrick's Estate in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday following an 11-month courtship.
Following the reception, the happy couple released an official photograph of them smiling and holding hands.
In a brief statement, the couple said, "We just want to thank everyone in Australia and around the world who have sent us their warm wishes."
Kidman was born in Hawaii and Urban was born in New Zealand's North Island, but both were brought up in Australia.
After spending last night in a Sydney hotel, the newlyweds are expected to fly to Fiji's Wakaya Island for a weeklong honeymoon.
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