British pop star Robbie Williams surprised Londoners on Tuesday night (02Dec14) by throwing an impromptu Christmas concert at a West End tourist hotspot. The former Take That star performed festive songs at the unannounced gig in Covent Garden as a large crowd gathered to watch.
Williams sang carols and Christmas anthems on the balcony of the Punch & Judy pub as fake snow poured over the audience.
The performance was filmed for a TV special - Michael McIntyre's Very Christmassy Christmas Show - which will air in the U.K. on Christmas Day (25Dec14).
British socialite Tamara Ecclestone turned 30 in style by hiring Sean 'Diddy' Combs to perform at her birthday party in London. The rapper was the main entertainment during the bash at the British capital's ME Hotel on Monday night (07Jul14) to celebrate the beauty's milestone.
The daughter of Formula 1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone documented the bash in a series of posts on her Instagram.com page. The pictures show her cutting a huge pink and white, five-tiered cake, and dancing with Combs as he performed.
She added in a caption, "Great night for my big 3 0..."
British comedian Michael McIntyre also performed at the event. Ecclestone turned 30 on 28 June (14).
British pop star Rachel Stevens was so relaxed during her recent childbirth that she headed out on a shopping trip, visited friends, and enjoyed breakfast at a restaurant after going into labour. The former S Club 7 star began feeling contractions in the early hours of the morning but, as it was the second time she has given birth, Stevens and husband Alex Bourne knew the drill and refused to panic.
They calmly watched comedy shows on TV at their London home for several hours before heading out for breakfast and stopping to pick up some flowers on the way to a hospital.
Staff at the medical unit were amazed when they walked into the delivery room and saw Stevens sitting in an armchair reading a magazine.
The singer gave birth to the couple's second daughter, Minnie Blossom, last month (Apr14), and she admits the labour process was a lot less stressful than when she had her first, Amelie, in 2010.
She tells British magazine OK!, "I woke up at 2am, but I didn't know if I was having contractions - it was only when they started coming every five minutes that I knew... Anyway, we got dressed and went downstairs and watched (comedian) Michael McIntyre... while deciding what to do.
"A bag was packed by the door and by 5am we left for hospital... When we got to hospital I was monitored and they told me that I was in the early stages, but not to go far. We ended up going for breakfast around the corner - I was sat in the middle of a busy restaurant trying to hide contractions among all these people having breakfast meetings!... We were calm - we even went to Paddington station and bought some flowers because our friend had given birth two days before us and was still in our hospital. We went and had a lovely time with them, then suddenly my contractions came on pretty strong so I then knew I needed to go!"
Husband Bourne adds, "The nurses couldn't believe how relaxed Rachel was mid-contractions - she was sat in an armchair reading a magazine."
British actor James Corden hated his time hosting the BRIT awards, insisting he was constantly fighting for attendees' attention. The funnyman served as presenter at the event five times before bidding farewell to the role earlier this year (14), but he admits the live broadcast was a struggle because the audience, mainly made up of music insiders, had no interest in him.
Speaking on Britain's The Michael McIntyre Chat Show on Monday (14Apr14), Corden said, "It was horrid. It is so much fun the week leading up to it and you get to see the bands, and then it is live and you are in this room full of people that don't listen to anything you say. People who beg for a ticket turn up and pretend they are too cool to be there. They are all chatting, drinking and eating.
"It doesn't feel like there is a TV show going on, it feels like a big social function being watched by the rest of people in the arena. You are doing it and people are walking past you, they know it is on TV."
Corden announced he would step down as host before taking to the stage for a final time at February's (14) ceremony at London's O2 Arena.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson broke down in tears as she discussed the end of her marriage on British TV. The TV cook split from husband Charles Saatchi last year (13) after images emerged showing the businessman apparently throttling his wife outside a London restaurant.
Lawson subsequently endured a harsh examination of her life during a court battle involving the couple's former assistants, during which she was forced to admit taking cocaine.
Speaking with U.K. chat show host Michael McIntyre, Lawson wiped tears from her face as she discussed finding a new home and moving on after the highly-public split.
She says, "I've had better times. You know it's spring and I'm feeling better and I'm very happy to be here... I've been alive longer than you so I know that... life has its dips and it can get better, you can't fight it."
Discussing the media storm that surrounded the court trial that made her past drug use public, the former journalist adds, "I'm not an innocent, I understand how it works, I just don't involve myself. I don't speak and I don't comment. I could say things and they would be indiscreet but I don't want to. The real truth is that if you don't read things and you don't get too involved it doesn't enter your bloodstream, if it doesn't enter your bloodstream you don't get contaminated... We all gossip but I don't take a particular lofty view, perhaps having a layer of skin removed I'm also more aware of other people's misfortunes."
Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
British stars including James Corden, Jack Whitehall and Piers Morgan have paid tribute to comedy agent/producer Addison Cresswell, who has died at the age of 53. Cresswell passed away in his sleep at his home in England on Monday (23Dec13) but the reason for his death has not been officially announced.
A statement from his Off the Kerb management company reads, "(Creswell) passed away in his sleep at home. (He will be) fondly remembered as a devoted mentor, a dear friend and an unforgettable character. He will be sorely missed."
Talk show host Morgan paid his respects by taking to Twitter.com, writing, "RIP Addison Cresswell - the biggest pain in the a**e agent I ever dealt with, but very funny & cared passionately about comedy & his clients."
Corden also rushed to pay tribute, writing, "Such sad news about Addison Cresswell. An incredible man. An incredible talent. May he rest in peace."
Comedian and TV actor Whitehall recalls meeting Cresswell just last week (ends20Dec13), telling fans, "Sad news about Addison Cresswell last time I saw him was last week giving me a bear hug as I came off stage. An amazing character we've lost."
Cresswell had helped shape the careers of British funnymen including Jonathan Ross and Alan Carr. He also managed some of the biggest names in British comedy, including Jo Brand, Lee Evans and Michael McIntyre.
Those diligent followers of improvisational comedy will likely know the names Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, the Boston-born comedians who have taken to the stage internationally and created and starred in the satirical Ronna and Beverly television series. Speaking to Chaffin and Denbo, who appear in memorable roles in the acclaimed comedy The Heat, we instantly understand how their partnership allowed their careers to blossom: the two play off one another like lifelong friends. Chalking this up to a common language and, even more simply, the ability to make one another laugh, Chaffin and Denbo have a lot to say about comedy in general.
With experience in sketch comedy, television, and film — working in cities like Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and London — Chaffin and Denbo are a requisite for any aspiring comic looking to learn all that he or she can about the craft. The pair gave us some insight about their origins and using them to construct a brand of comedy that seems to transcend cultural barriers, about working on director Paul Feig's outstanding Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy buddy cop comedy (which is now available on Blu-ray), and about the rattling conversation that seems to follow movies like The Heat about whether or not women are funny. The discussion will enlighten you.
On the beginnings of their partnership and working together in the comedy world…
Jessica Chaffin: We both grew up just outside of Boston. I grew up in Newton, Jamie grew up in Swampscott. My grandmother actually lived in the town next to Jamie's, so we were kind of living these parallel childhoods even though we didn't know each other. But we had, basically, all the same kinds of influences and references and knew the same kinds of women. Twenty years later or 15 years later, we both found ourselves in New York doing improv. Jamie did improv in college —
Jamie Denbo: Anything that doesn’t involve homework, or memorization.
JC: I was the exact opposite. I was doing homework a lot, and not doing comedy. And then we both ended up at the UCB Theater, so that's how we met initially. Jamie got there a year before me, so we weren't always performing together. We'd do special shows together. Actually, one of the shows that we did together — before we started doing Ronna and Beverly, which was several years later — was this show called Wicked F**kin Queeyah, where all the improvisers from Boston would do a show together during the Del Close Marathon. And I would say that's probably where our common language found its first footing.
Then we both moved to L.A. around the same time. It was Christmas in L.A., and the guy that was running — the artistic director at the time, Seth Morris, a very talented and funny comedian and actor in his own right — said, "Hey, are you Jews gonna be around?" And we said yes, and he said, "Do you wanna do a show called Kosher Christmas?" So we said, "Let's do something together." We had never done something together, but I think we had admired each other from across the room."
In Boston, there's this thing called the Matzo Ball. I think they do it in a lot of major cities. Christmas Eve is like Jewish Valentine's Day. So basically, all the Jews go out that night. Your mother drops you off and hopes you get the number of a pre-med student — a pre-pre-med student, meaning a 16-year-old who may or may not have done very well on his SATs. So what really happens is, you go there and you're like, "I thought I hated all these boys and now I hate them more." Jamie and I both have non-Jewish partners. But I would say that's how we exorcised those demons. [But] where do you put it all? It became Ronna and Beverly. We basically said we wanted to do something that has to do with singles. We ate a tube of cookie dough and talked about it. She was like, "I wanna be this person," and I was like, "I wanna be this person." We decided to basically make fun of these women who had been making us laugh for our entire lives.
On transforming their backgrounds into a career in comedy…
It's a funny circle. We left Boston to go be performers… and now, all these years later, the things that still make us laugh harder than anything are the people that we grew up around. So, we joke that we play either really high status Jewish mothers or we play scumbags. We were very lucky to get to do that in The Heat.
JD: We get to do both with Paul Feig, which is pretty great.
JC: He directed our pilot for Showtime in 2009. That's how we met him. We've continued a relationship with him, and he produced our show that we did in England — the Ronna and Beverly show — but also, he put us in The Heat and gave us a forum to do our nonsense. It was great. We had a terrific time.
JD: They always say in comedy, the more specific, the more universal. I think what happens when you get really specific about where you're from or who you are, something in that is able to reach people about their own specific quirks, and they just enjoy it for what it is. I say that because we've had such a diverse audience. Specifically for Ronna and Beverly, where we've done Telluride Comedy Festivals year after year, and we've performed all over England and had a television series there. These are not places where you'd think, "Oh, they'll completely understand Boston and Jews." I don't know that they do. But something in it connects with them. And the overbearing matriarch, the judgmental matriarch, the embarrassing matriarch — those are universal. So, when you fill it with your specifics, you're able to surprise them with new jokes. It's been really fun for us to introduce the world to the quirky, quirky, crazy stuff that is very specific to Boston Jews. It's a WASPy kind of Jew.
JC: I was going to say… everyone thinks [of] New Yorkers. "That's a Jew." No, there's Southern Jews and Boston Jews and Chicago Jews. There's such a specific thing to each of those… in Boston, actually, people assimilated much more quickly than they did in New York, probably because there were fewer of them. You had to just jump into the stream, whereas in New York there was a bit more of a ghettoization. The Lower East Side, or Brooklyn, or whatever. I'm getting too deep into the etymology of that kind of language. Basically, one [universality] is the matriarchal archetype that Jamie is talking about. But also, ultimately, the reason why these women are so funny to us is because it's the complete lack of self-awareness and self-consciousness about what they do. They feel completely entitled to their opinion at all times, and they feel that everybody should either know it or share it. What we're essentially doing, because we are young people playing old people, is satire. It's happening on two levels. Yeah, it's funny to watch those old women, but we put it through the prism of how we feel about how they behave, or how they treat us, or how racist they are, or whatever it is. That's what it is, I think, that people respond to.
On bringing their comedy to film, specifically in The Heat…
JC: I think that was always great about it. You work on a huge movie, with a huge budget, and huge movie stars. I actually think this is a real credit to Paul — you could be doing a Funny or Die video for free, or for like 12 bucks, or you could be working on a huge multimillion dollar movie, and the actual act of doing the part, the process, feels very similar. I give credit to Paul, making everybody feel comfortable, and giving you the arena to do what you do best.
JD: I also think that it starts on the page. The great thing about The Heat is that it was a great script and it was something in the area of what we do and already connect with. So we were really able to have a blast feeling confident that we could bring what we already knew to the table, and make whatever adjustments we had to make. Driving Sandra Bullock crazy, her character — that's not a situation that we've had onstage. We haven't had the opportunity to make her nuts or intimidate her or try to make her laugh. It was so fun to be able to do that, it really was. Honestly, especially now that I've just seen Gravity, I'm like, "We f**ked with her! That was fun!"
JC: I also think shooting in Boston [made] the whole thing so cool. It's the greatest set that you can dress: the entire city. You get to see these characters in their natural habitat. It's this weird "What's real and what's not real?" thing. I think that was super fun and super satisfying. Actually, that's why I think Joey McIntyre is so fabulous in the movie, too.
JD: What a doll.
JC: He brings such an authenticity to it.
JD: He never let that part of him fall by the wayside. That's just who he is. It's something he's proud of.
On Paul Feig's understanding of the language of comedy…
JD: He's really, really brilliant, and has incredibly confidence in his performers. I don't say that because he just lets everybody run wild. There's a reason he has chosen to work with Melissa McCarthy over and over and over again. Part of that is because he is very confident that when he lets her do what she does, he's going get everything and more. I'm not saying he's not a control freak. It is a controlled environment. But at the same time, he lets people have a certain amount of control, and it makes you a confident performer. It's this great circle of confidence.
JC: I remember the first day. The very first thing we shot in the movie was my scene when I come down the stairs. You had Melissa — who is such a formidable talent, and who you admire and adore, and who is boundary-less in how far she'll take something — and Sandra — who is a huge movie star. On the one hand, it's really intimidating. On the other hand, Jamie and I work together all the time and have a common language. All the boys that were on the [set] — Nate Corddry is a really old friend of ours, Joey is a really old friend of ours. Bill [Burr] we met there, but it was immediate. We get each other. So on the one hand, you're totally comfortable, on the other hand, it's terrifying. You never know, when you have a small part, how much you can do — that's one of the things actors don't talk about. You just show up and think everyone is friendly and nice and awesome. When you have a small part, you just want to go and do it and get it done with and not f**k anything up for anybody else. I said to Paul, "I just need to know where the boundaries are. How far can I go? How much time can I take? Just let me know what you want me to do." And he said, "I want you to be yourself. Take it as far as you can." When I was coming down the stairs, he kept being like, "Even slower, even slower." Like, the slowest walk down the stairs that you can possibly do. I don't think I even quite got there. But that was so freeing. And to do such a crazy melee of a scene — Jamie is running out of the car, and we're getting in a fight. We probably did that for three hours. I think that set the pace for the rest of the movie. "Oh, we can totally have fun and play and do our thing!" I think that made it easy for us.
On the infamous conversation about women being "not funny"…
JD: Blah, blah, blah. You know what? You can quote me. Women aren't funny. They're just not. Everybody wins. There you go.
JC: We just think people are either funny or they're not. How do you know? You either f**king laugh or you don't. We don't ever think about being women while we're working. I'm not trying out my new period jokes on Jamie. "I hope that this one lands!" We just crack each other up. Actually, that's the secret to our overall relationship and collaboration. We really make each other laugh. We're not laughing at each other because I'm like, "Oh my God, her boobs are so funny!" when she's running around on stage. No. It's your brain. It either turns somebody on or it doesn't. The rest of it is people that are just, I guess, scared.
JD: I agree, except with the caveat that Jessica's boobs are very funny when they are running around onstage.
JC: You're right. I apologize. That's something men don't have. Funny boobs.
JD: Ha. Suck it, men. You're not as funny as women because your boobs aren't funny.
JC: Did your boobs get their own credit in the movie, Adam Carolla?
JD: No they did not.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Late stage and screen star Simon Ward was remembered at a memorial service in London on Tuesday (09Jul13), almost a year after his death. The Zulu Dawn and The Three Musketeers star passed away at the age of 70 on 20 July last year (12) and his family gathered to honour his memory this week.
The event was held at London's St Paul's Church, also known as the Actors' Church, and was attended by his widow Alexandra, actress daughter Sophie, and his other daughter Kitty, who arrived with her comedian husband Michael McIntyre.
All three women were said to have been by Ward's bedside when he died last year (12).
Eddie Redmayne showed off his serving skills on Sunday (16Jun13) as he took to a tennis court for a charity match at the Aegon Championships in London. The Les Miserables star joined London's Mayor Boris Johnson, U.K. TV host Jonathan Ross, tycoon Sir Richard Branson and comedians Michael McIntyre and Jimmy Carr for the Rally Against Cancer charity game.
The famous faces donned their whites for a tag-team match, which pitted them against professionals Andy Murray and Tim Henman.
The money raised from tickets sales will go to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, where British tennis player Ross Hutchins is receiving treatment following his Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis in December (12).
Before the charity match, Murray beat Croatian Marin Cilic to win the tournament.