Mum has hit with Ed Sheeran song parenting parody

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A parody of Shape of You, which includes the lyrics “I gag at the smell of poo”, is a Facebook hit.

Mum-of-two Sophie McCartney from Warrington sings a parenting parody based on Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You song.

The song details “the every day struggles of being a mum” and has had 14 million views.

It includes lyrics such as “stop wiping snot on my body” and “my bed sheets smell like poo”.

Caution! The celebs who are wary of Twitter

Caution! The celebs who are wary of Twitter

Emma WatsonImage copyright
PA

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Watson keeps a safe distance from reaction to social media content

Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson has said she does not read social media comments for the sake of her sanity.

Watson is playing the lead role in The Circle, the film adaptation of Dave Eggers’s novel about an all-seeing tech corporation.

She plays a graduate who joins Hanks’s company and soon finds herself joining an experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy and ethics.

Watson said at the New York premiere: “For my sanity, I cannot, I just cannot even go there (reading comments).”

“I have to create some distance because I’m human. I think there’s this way where technology can dehumanise.”

How to keep your kids safe online

She’s not the only celebrity who has had issues with social media in recent years:

Rylan

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PA

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Rylan’s gameshow – a storm in a teacup?

The former X Factor contestant and current This Morning presenter quit Twitter earlier this week after receiving online abuse over his new gameshow.

Fans of successful ITV show The Chase mistakenly thought their favourite show was being taken off air to be replaced by Rylan’s Babushka.

In fact, The Chase was taking its usual yearly contractual break so the next series could be filmed and Babushka will fill that slot.

On Monday’s This Morning, Rylan, sporting an ‘I love The Chase’ T-shirt, told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “I am not cancelling The Chase, it has not been axed. Please stop hurling abuse at me, it’s not fair, OK?

“I’m just someone doing my job. Everyone this weekend is in uproar that Rylan has ‘axed The Chase’ to make way for my new show. That’s a lie, The Chase has a break every single year guys, calm down.”

Later that day, he took himself off Twitter as the unwanted comments continued.

“Getting a bit ridiculous now. Just doing my job. Enjoy the show. Coming off here for a while. Babushka stars on Monday 1st.”

Lily James

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James also starred in last year’s BBC adaptation of War and Peace

The Cinderella actress felt the social media heat when she starred in ITV period drama Downton Abbey.

Lily – who played Lady Rose MacClare in the series – admitted that she’d left Twitter after being targeted by trolls who mainly criticised her appearance.

Lily, 25, told the Radio Times: “I was surprised people had an opinion about me, but now I don’t want to engage with that stuff. The internet is not a real person, so why would you want to read it? I did at first, but quickly got over it.”

Her last tweet was in 2015.

Stephen Fry

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PA

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Fry has taken several breaks from Twitter over the years

Stephen has had a volatile on-off relationship with Twitter.

He has quit the social media platform several times, including last year when he left after receiving criticism for joking that costume designer Jenny Beavan looked like a “bag lady” at the Baftas.

Stephen said he had not “slammed the door” on Twitter but said the site had become a “stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”.

The star left the social media site from February to May 2015 without giving reasons. He also pleaded for fans to stop sending him direct messages saying “it was impossible” for him to look at them if he wanted to have “anything close to a life.”

In 2014, Stephen quit the site saying it was “unsafe” for him to tweet, adding he was filming “in a place whence I’ve been advised it is safest not to tweet”.

And in 2009, he said he was going to leave after another user called his posts “boring”.

Stephen is currently back on Twitter.

Lily Allen

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Reuters

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Allen described herself as a “lightweight” after attending last year’s Notting Hill Carnival

The singer left Twitter in February after receiving abuse relating to her son, who died during childbirth in 2010.

Trolls questioned her version of the event but the star was back on Twitter the following month.

It’s not the first time Lily has left Twitter temporarily.

Last year, she told her followers she would “steer clear of Twitter for a bit” and that she was going “off grid”.

That was following claims she had collapsed at Notting Hill Carnival, which Lily put down to being “just a lightweight, I had two cans of Strongbow on an empty stomach”.

Matt Lucas

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Getty Images

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Lucas has had a lot of support on Twitter as well as haters

Comedian Matt Lucas had a similarly unpleasant experience at the hand of Twitter trolls back in 2012.

His decision came shortly after another Twitter user tweeted an offensive joke about the suicide of Lucas’ ex-husband Kevin McGee, who killed himself in 2009.

He tweeted: “I appreciate all the support on here over the past couple of years but it’s time to shut down my Twitter account. Xx.”

Matt later rejoined but found himself a target again, telling his followers that he had contacted the police because of online homophobic abuse.

Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran has a huge 18.3m followers on Twitter

Singer Ed Sheeran announced he was “taking a break” from social media in 2015 – not because of trolls but because he was “seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes”.

Writing on his Instagram account, the singer explained he was “taking the opportunity of not having to be anywhere… to travel the world”.

Ed returned to the social media universe exactly a year later, tweeting just an image of a blue square.

Cryptic, man.

Sue Perkins

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PA

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Perkins is back on Twitter, describing herself as “mutton dressed as mutton”

Former Great British Bake Off star Sue was hounded off Twitter in 2015 after false rumours spread that she was replacing Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear.

“I am off Twitter for a bit. Love and peace,” Sue wrote after being sent death threats.

She told her followers that one troll had said they would “like to see me burn to death” and that her timeline had been “full of blokes wishing me dead”.

Adele

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Reuters

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Is Adele a liability on Twitter?

Back in 2015 Adele told the BBC she doesn’t have direct access to her official Twitter account.

“I’m not a drinker any more, but when Twitter first came out I was, like, drunk tweeting, and nearly put my foot in it quite a few times,” she explained.

“So my management decided that you have to go through two people and then it has to be signed off by someone, but they’re all my tweets.

“No-one writes my tweets. They just post them for me.”

But on the Brisbane leg of the tour she revealed how she gets around it.

“I was looking on Twitter last night. They don’t know I have a secret account. Well obviously they do now because I said that. By ‘they’ I mean my management.

“I’m not allowed access to my own Twitter because I’m quite mouthy and I say the wrong thing a lot of the time. So they took that privilege away from me.”

JK Rowling

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Reuters

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Rowling is more than ready to respond to her online critics

The Harry Potter creator has turned the table on the trolls – she’s become famous for her Twitter takedowns.

Following her criticism of Donald Trump last year, one Twitter user said they would now “burn your books and movies, too”.

To which JK responded: “Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I’ve still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter.”

James Blunt

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Getty Images

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Blunt has never been afraid to poke fun at himself

Singer James Blunt is also a fan of the troll put-down.

One of his corkers pointed to the fact that while some may not like his music or appearance, he was sitting pretty on top of a very healthy bank balance.

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Twitter/Blunt

Along with this self-deprecating gem: “Yup, it’s called “Greatest Hit” in response to a tweet which asked: “There’s a “best of” James Blunt? Really?”


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Lord Sugar splits from Apprentice winner

Lord Sugar splits from Apprentice winner

Lord Sugar and Joseph ValenteImage copyright
PA

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Lord Sugar invested £250,000 in Joseph Valente’s business

Apprentice winner Joseph Valente has split from Lord Sugar two years after winning the show.

Lord Sugar invested £250,000 into Valente’s plumbing business in 2015.

They’ve now announced that Valente will take full control of ImpraGas – but they’re parting on friendly terms.

Lord Sugar said: “I’ll still be on hand to offer any help and advice required. I wish Joseph and ImpraGas all the very best for the future and will follow their progress with much affection.”

Lord Sugar will now divest himself of his interest in the company, with Valente acquiring his shareholding and taking full control of the business.

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Joseph Valente beat Vana Koutsomitis in the 2015 final of The Apprentice

Valente added: “I am so grateful for everything Lord Sugar has done for me and I could not have asked for a better partner in the early stages of my business career.

“I owe him a great deal. I am confident that with the winning business model we created together, I can continue to grow the business successfully.”

So how many Apprentice winners does that leave who are still working with Lord Sugar?

Glad you asked, let’s take a look:


Still with Lord Sugar

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L-R: Alana Spencer, Ricky Martin and Leah Tatton

Of the 12 winners of the UK series of The Apprentice, five are still working with Lord Sugar.

They are Tom Pellereau, Ricky Martin, Leah Totton, Mark Wright and Alana Spencer.

Interestingly, all five won the show after a format change which saw Lord Sugar invest £250,000 in a business idea, rather than offering the winner a job in his own company.

After his time on the show, Pelleraeu used the investment to invent and bring to market a curved nail file, which is now stocked by major supermarkets.

Martin runs a science and technology recruitment company while Totton now has two cosmetic clinics offering botox and wrinkle reduction.

Wright is still working with Lord Sugar on his company which uses digital marketing to help small businesses grow.

And Spencer, who won the most recent series, is in the process of launching her own bakery firm.


Parted company

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BBC / Getty

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L-R: Michelle Dewbury, Lee McQueen, Stella English

Seven of the 12 winners have since parted company with Lord Sugar – many on perfectly good terms… others less so.

The very first winner, Tim Campbell, worked for Lord Sugar for a year before leaving (with his boss’s blessing) to set up a male grooming business, and more recently a digital marketing agency.

Michelle Dewberry worked for Lord Sugar for 11 months but left to set up her own company and a media career, appearing regularly on news programmes such as Sky’s weekly discussion show The Pledge.

Simon Ambrose worked for Lord Sugar for three years but left to pursue his own ventures, while Lee McQueen also left after two-and-a-half years to start his own sales recruitment and training agency.

Yasmina Siadatan stayed in her job with Lord Sugar for a year but became pregnant while she was there and didn’t return after maternity leave. She later set up her own restaurant.

Stella English’s departure from her job with Lord Sugar was far less friendly – she unsuccessfully sued him for constructive dismissal.

But she went on to work as a TV presenter and management consultant.

Lord Sugar has previously called on the BBC to commission a new TV series to catch up with former contestants and find out where they are now.

If such a show ever came to fruition, it certainly wouldn’t be short of material.


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Museum of the Year: Tate Modern to race horse museum for £100,000 prize

Museum of the Year: Tate Modern to race horse museum for £100,000 prize

Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane's Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horseracing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum of Geology (bottom left)Image copyright
Marc Atkins

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Hepworth Wakefield (top left), Sir John Soane’s Museum (centre), National Heritage Centre for Horse-racing (top right), Tate Modern (bottom right) and Lapworth Museum (bottom left)

Britain’s most popular contemporary art gallery and a new horseracing heritage centre are in the running to be named the UK’s Museum of the Year.

Tate Modern in London and The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket, Suffolk, are both nominated for the £100,000 award.

They are joined in the contest by the Hepworth Wakefield gallery and the Lapworth Museum of Geology, Birmingham.

Sir John Soane’s Museum in London completes the five-strong shortlist.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology

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Marc Atkins

This museum, operated by the University of Birmingham, re-opened last June after a £2.7m redevelopment that was designed restore it to its 1920s grandeur and create three new galleries.

It holds 250,000 specimens, ranging from dinosaur skeletons to volcanic rocks.

The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art

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Marc Atkins

Officially opened by the Queen in November, this complex is home to the National Horseracing Museum, the Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art, and a yard for the Retraining of Racehorses charity.

It is also home to two of the Queen’s former racehorses and a virtual Clare Balding.

Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Marc Atkins

Housed in the former home of 19th Century architect Sir John Soane, this gallery and museum has completed a £7m restoration intended to open up “lost” areas and return it to how it looked when he died and left it to the nation in 1837.

That includes creating 33 per cent more space and putting 10 per cent more objects on display.

Tate Modern

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Marc Atkins

Seventeen years after it opened on London’s South Bank, Tate Modern had a record 5.8 million visitors in 2016.

That was partly down to the opening of a 10-storey extension, the Switch House, and exhibitions of photographs owned by Sir Elton John and artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe.

Hepworth Wakefield

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Marc Atkins

The West Yorkshire gallery celebrated its fifth birthday last year and saw a 21% rise in visitors.

It also launched a major new award for British sculpture and staged exhibitions by Martin Parr, Stanley Spencer and Anthea Hamilton.


The winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year will be announced on 5 July.

Art Fund director Stephen Deuchar said: “Each of these museums has had a remarkable year, reaching – in a range of ways – new heights in their efforts to serve and inspire their visitors.

“Whether unveiling new buildings, galleries, displays or public programmes, all the finalists have shown a real commitment to innovation and experimentation, offering fresh perspectives and new ways of seeing and understanding their collections.”

Last year’s prize was won by the Victoria and Albert in London.


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Mindhorn cast ‘comes home’ for Isle of Man premiere

Mindhorn cast ‘comes home’ for Isle of Man premiere

MindhornImage copyright
Steffan Hill

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Many recognisable Isle of Man landmarks feature in Mindhorn, including the Laxey Wheel, Strand Street in Douglas and the Sea Terminal

The cast and crew of the new comedy feature film Mindhorn have returned to the Isle of Man to attend a premiere in the place where it was shot last year.

While rugged Manx scenery has featured in dozens of movies, rarely has the island ever featured in the script.

More than 100 extras were used during the five-week shoot last summer which took in locations such as the Laxey Wheel and the Sea Terminal in Douglas.

Mindhorn actor Julian Barratt said: “We have come home for the Manx premiere.”

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Steffan Hill

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More than 100 extras were recruited in the Isle of Man for the filming of Mindhorn

He added: “When we were coming over and saw the island come into view from the ferry, we really felt like we were coming back to where the film was born.”

Mindhorn centres around a character called Richard Thorncroft (Barratt) who became famous in the 1980s while playing a detective.

In the new film he works alongside the police to catch a serial killer who will only speak to Mindhorn, whom he believes to be real.

“By this time the character is washed-up and out of work and sees this as an opportunity to get his career back on track,” said Barratt, who starred in cult BBC comedy The Mighty Boosh.

“Quite despicably he piggybacks on the crime as a way of getting get some publicity.”

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Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby travelled to the Isle of Man for the premier of Mindhorn on Thursday

Mindhorn was co-written by Barratt and Simon Farnaby more than 10 years ago.

The pair looked at a few different options before settling on the Isle of Man as a location.

“We thought about Guernsey but that would have been too close to the idea of Bergerac so we Googled the Isle of Man and it had a faded grandeur about it which is very much like Richard,” said Farnaby.

“The island gets a gentle ribbing in the film but it’s done with affection and I think it will be taken well.”

Mindhorn, directed by Sean Foley, is out in the UK on 5 May.

ENO recruits diction coaches for new opera season

ENO recruits diction coaches for new opera season

The Barber of SevilleImage copyright
Mike Hoban

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The Barber of Seville is one of the ENO’s new season revivals

If you’ve ever struggled to hear every word being sung at an opera, things may be about to improve.

The English National Opera is to bring in diction coaches to ensure its productions are loud and clear.

Speaking at the launch of the ENO’s 2017/18 season, artistic director Daniel Kramer said: “We want to make sure that when we do sing in English it is as comprehensible as possible.”

Coaches are currently being recruited to work with the cast on each show.

“It’s a huge space in there,” said the ENO’s new music director Martyn Brabbins of the company’s 2,359-seat home at the London Coliseum.

“Some singers are more predisposed to do it than others… some singers find it more challenging. It’s a difficult thing. But tell me where you hear every word in any opera.”

The new ENO season features four new productions and five revivals at the London Coliseum.

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Robbie Jack

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The Marriage of Figaro is also among the productions

It will open with a new production of Verdi’s Aida, directed by Phelim McDermott, whose Akhnaten won an Olivier award earlier this month.

Verdi’s La Traviata will end the season, with Kramer directing Irish soprano Claudia Boyle in the role of “fallen woman” Violetta.

‘Financially stable’

The ENO has been through turbulent times in recent years.

In February 2015, the Arts Council of England cut its core funding by £5m and placed the company under “special funding arrangements”.

Two months later, the ENO announced it was cutting ticket prices in an attempt to secure its financial future.

Artistic director John Berry quit the following July after 10 years in the post.

In February 2016 the ENO chorus was set to strike over a pay dispute which was later resolved. A month later music director Mark Wigglesworth resigned after less than a year in the job.

At Thursday’s season announcement, CEO Cressida Pollock said the company was “more financially stable than we have been in over a decade”.

She said ticket price cuts in the balcony and upper circle had boosted audiences, and would be extended to the dress circle this year.

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Tristram Kenton

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Daniel Kramer took over as ENO artistic director last year

Kramer added that a new funding model – in which the London Coliseum is rented out to commercial musical productions such as Carousel and Bat Out of Hell – helped finance his opera programme.

“Bat Out of Hell is buying me a world premiere,” he said. “That’s how I look at it on paper.”

Looking further ahead to the end of 2018, ENO will mark the the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

In 2019 it will team up with Opera North for the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper, which Kramer said would “look at the myth from the female perspective”.

With Rupert Charlesworth in the title role, the central female roles will sung by Josephine Barstow, Lesley Garrett, Susan Bullock, Janis Kelly and Marie McLaughlin.

Other 2017/18 season highlights:

  • Marnie – the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s latest opera based on novelist Winston Graham’s psychological thriller, which was also made into a 1964 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Iolanthe – Gilbert and Sullivan’s fantasy political satire directed by Cal McCrystal, who was responsible for the slapstick sequences in the National Theatre’s comedy hit One Man, Two Guvnors
  • The Turn of the Screw – Benjamin Britten’s spine-chilling chamber opera, based on the Henry James novella, in a co-production with Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
  • More revivals, including Jonathan Miller’s The Barber of Seville, Robert Carsen’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Fiona Shaw’s The Marriage of Figaro

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We fact-checked the Madonna film script

We fact-checked the Madonna film script

Madonna in 1984Image copyright
Rex Features

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Madonna has disputed the accuracy of the biopic

Not for the first time, Madonna is on the war path.

The focus of her rage is Universal Pictures, who snapped up a script about the singer’s early years in New York earlier this week.

Madonna sought out a copy of the screenplay, called Blonde Ambition, and immediately declared it to be “all lies”.

“Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen.” the 58-year-old fumed on Instagram.

“Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool. Looking for instant gratification without doing the work. This is a disease in our society.”

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Madonna / Instagram

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Madonna’s representative confirmed her Instagram post related to the Blonde Ambition script

Penned by first-time writer Elyse Hollander, Blonde Ambition topped last year’s Black List, Hollywood’s annual chart of the best unproduced screenplays.

The list has previously featured future Oscar-winners such as Spotlight, The Revenant, Argo and American Hustle – so it’s no surprise that Universal nabbed the rights.

Two major producers have already been attached to the project, Michael De Luca (The Social Network) and Brett Ratner (X-Men), who himself directed Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger video in 1999.

However, it’s clear that the project doesn’t have the star’s approval.

In theory, that’s not a barrier to the film getting made, but the script relies heavily on Madonna’s music, including Like A Virgin, Everybody and Lucky Star.

If the singer vetoes their use, the project would essentially be dead in the water.

But how inaccurate is Hollander’s script?

We read a publicly available draft to see how closely it stuck to Madonna’s story.

While the arc is broadly true, Hollander compresses and condenses events, even creating composite characters to keep up the momentum.

Here’s what’s true, and what isn’t.

True: Madonna was in a band called The Emmys

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PA

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The singer was in several bands before hitting the big time as a solo artist

The first act of the script focuses on Madonna’s pre-fame band The Emmys, which she formed with her boyfriend Dan Gilroy and childhood friend Stephen Bray, who went on to co-write Into The Groove, Express Yourself and True Blue.

Their name derived from Madonna’s childhood nickname, and video footage of their scrappy garage tunes can easily be found online.

The film insists the group were a cheap knock-off of new wave pop band Blondie, but their sound was more indebted to Britain’s ska and 2 Tone scenes.

Madonna can even be heard adopting a British accent in some of their early demos.

False: The Emmys were erased from history

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Getty Images

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The singer paid tribute to her bandmates in later years

One of the script’s biggest fabrications was that Madonna and The Emmys had a deal with Sire Records and cut an entire album before Madonna took the songs, erased Dan’s vocals and launched herself as a solo artist.

In reality, the band never got beyond making demo tapes; and many of the songs attributed to them in the film – including Borderline and Lucky Star – were written much later.

Madonna even paid tribute to Dan Gilroy when she was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

“He lived in an abandoned synagogue in Queens,” she recalled, “and he taught me how to play guitar.

“I practised those four chords that Dan taught me over and over and over again.”

Partially true: Madonna worked in a Russian tea room

At the start of Blonde Ambition, Madonna is seen waiting tables at New York’s prestigious Russian Tea Room.

While the star did work at the venue for two months, she was stationed in the cloakroom, and eventually let go for failing to adhere to the dress code.

“She was a hard worker, conscientious,” said restaurant manager Gregory Camillucci in 1991.

“I got the impression that the one meal we fed her was the only food she was getting.”

True: She dated her producer, Jellybean Benitez

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Rex / Shutterstock

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Madonna and Jellybean in 1983

Blonde Ambition’s biggest sub-plot is Madonna’s romance with dance producer John “Jellybean” Benitez, who produced her breakthrough single, Holiday, and remixed others, including Material Girl, Like A Virgin and Dress You Up.

They first met at the influential New York club Fun House, where, according to one observer, Madonna “walked right up to the DJ booth, grabbed him and kissed him”.

After that, they dated for two years, during which time Madonna’s career exploded – leading to inevitable tensions and the eventual breakdown of their relationship.

However, it’s unlikely that their courtship included the sort of “romantic” dialogue Hollander provides in her script.

“You’re the first Latin DJ to break out of genre in a heavily white industry and I’m a driven woman in [an] all boys club,” says Madonna during one encounter. “We’re both outsiders but I’m willing to work the system from within. Are you?”

True: (Most of) the things she said

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Getty Images

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Many of the quotes come from archive interviews with the singer

Throughout the script, entire lines of dialogue are lifted verbatim from Madonna’s interviews, including the pivotal quote: “It never occurred to me to get into this business and not be a huge success. I wanted the world to notice me, always have.”

In fact, Hollander’s reliance on archive clips caught Madonna out during her Instagram rant.

As an example of the script’s inaccuracies, the singer singled out a line of dialogue on the first page, in which Madonna tells US TV personality Dick Clark: “I was born in Detroit. I’m a famed high school dropout.”

“I was born in Bay City, not Detroit. And I did not drop out of high school. In fact, I went to University of Michigan,” Madonna said.

But the interview Hollander quotes is available on YouTube – which might explain why Madonna later deleted her comments.

However, some of her quotes have been placed in a new context.

On page 58 of the script, Madonna tells Jellybean: “I always knew I was going to be a nun or a star. Spending six months in a convent cured me of the first one.”

This superb (and untrue) piece of hyperbole actually comes from a handwritten letter Madonna sent to film director Stephen Lewicki, requesting an audition for his movie A Certain Sacrifice.

Partially true: She signed her record deal in hospital

One of the most well-worn Madonna stories is that Seymour Stein signed her to Sire Records in hospital, hours after having heart surgery.

In the script, this is all at Madonna’s behest. So desperate is she to sign the deal that she frog-marches to his ward and practically puts the pen in his hand.

But Stein insists hewas the one who summoned Madonna to him.

“I was caught with dirty pyjamas with a slit up the back of my gown,” he told Rolling Stone.

“”I needed a shave and a shower. But I got it together to meet with her.

“When she walked in the room, I could tell she wouldn’t have cared if I was like Sarah Bernhardt lying in a coffin.

“All she cared about was that one of my arms moved, that I could sign a contract.

“What I saw there was even more important than the one song I heard.

“I saw a young woman who was so determined to be a star.”

Uncertain: The abortion

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Getty Images

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Madonna later tackled the subject of abortion in Papa Don’t Preach

In Blonde Ambition’s final scene, backstage at the 1984 MTV Awards, Madonna coldly informs Jellybean that she has aborted their child.

“I won’t have to choose between my career and a family now,” she says, not even deigning to make eye contact. “And that’s how I want it.”

Madonna has never suggested she was pregnant in 1984, and Hollander’s claim would appear to be based on Christopher Andersen’s salacious 1992 biography Madonna: Unauthorized (you can read an excerpt here).

However, Madonnahas spoken about having an abortion during the early years of her career on several occasions.

“You always have regrets when you make those kind of decisions,” she told Times Magazine in 1996, “but you have to look at your lifestyle and ask, ‘Am I at a place in my life where I can devote a lot of time to being the really good parent I want to be?’

“I think you have to be mentally prepared for it. If you’re not, you’re only doing the world a disservice by bringing up a child you don’t want.”

(A group of New York Film Students have filmed Blonde Ambition’s final scene, should you be interested in watching an am-dram version of the movie).

True: The feud with Cher

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Getty Images

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Cher and Madonna have traded barbed words for the past 30 years

“I think Madonna’s vulgar and tacky,” says Cher on the 83rd page of Blonde Ambition. “She’s a flash in the pan at best.”

Amazing though it may seem, the quote is real.

Madonna even responded to the comment in a 1984 interview with her future biographer J Randy Taborelli, saying: “Who knows tacky better than Cher?”

False: Madonna auditioned songwriters in a swimming pool

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Holiday was Madonna’s breakout hit, and the UK’s introduction to the future Queen of Pop

Half-way through Blonde Ambition, Madonna is desperately seeking a final song to complete her debut album. So she and Jellybean hold an open audition in an indoor swimming pool at the YMCA.

After a montage of dismal musicians playing dismal songs, funk duo Pure Energy walk through the double doors.

Singer Lisa Stevens and bassist Curtis Hudson (bizarrely renamed Richard Curtis in Hollander’s script) nervously set up their instruments before playing what will become Madonna’s signature song, Holiday.

Great story – but it never happened.

The band originally submitted a cassette demo of the song to Mary Wilson, of The Supremes.

When she rejected it, Holiday was passed on to Jellybean, who presented it to Madonna.

“The song still generates money,” Curtis told blogcritics in 2006 .

“Can you live off of one hit? Yes, you can if you get the right hit. It can last you a lifetime. We’ve been living proof of that. If we did nothing else, the royalties from Holiday could support us.”

True: She fell over at the 1984 MTV Awards

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Warner Bros / Sire Records

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Madonna’s MTV performance echoed the cover of her second album, Like A Virgin

Madonna’s most public mishap came at the 2015 Brit Awards, when she was yanked off stage by a cape.

But it had happened once before – at the first MTV Awards in 1984, when she lost a stiletto while walking down a 17ft (5m) tall wedding cake in her wedding dress (it could happen to anyone).

Although the incident plays a pivotal part in Blonde Ambition – has she lost the baby? – it was never as serious as the script makes out.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just pretend I meant to do this,'” Madonna later said. “So I dove on the floor and I rolled around. And, as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up. And [my] underpants were showing.”

The stumble-flash made television history and propelled Madonna to even greater heights. And that’s where the film drops the curtain.

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Dame Judi: I love Tracey Ullman’s ‘evil Judi’ sketches

Dame Judi: I love Tracey Ullman’s ‘evil Judi’ sketches

Tracey Ullman as Dame Judi Dench

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Tracey Ullman as Dame Judi Dench: A menace to society

Dame Judi Dench has declared herself a big fan of comedy sketches that show her using her fame to get away with shoplifting and other petty crime.

Tracey Ullman played Dame Judi last year as a nefarious national treasure – stealing, smashing china in a boutique and hurling bags of dog poo into trees.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row about Ullman’s portrayal, she said: “I love it. I dote on it.

“But I get into trouble now if I go into a shop with a bag over my arm.”

Ullman is “brilliant”, the actress said – but joked that the sketches in the BBC One comedy show have caused problems.

“It’s tricky, people look at me in a funny way,” she said, adding: “A man came up to me in M&S the other day and said to me, ‘I’ve got my eye on you’.”

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PA

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The real Dame Judi: The paragon of respectability

Dame Judi was speaking as she unveiled a blue plaque for her friend, the late actor Sir John Gielgud, at his former London home.

She told Front Row that Sir John was one of the greatest Shakespearean actors and that young actors would do well to learn from his performances.

She said: “He used to present the whole of a sentence, the whole arc of a sentence, or the meaning of a passage of Shakespeare.

“We’re in an unfortunate century where people think, ‘oh Shakespeare, it needs to be changed because we don’t understand what things mean’. That’s not so. One can understand it and John was sublime at being able to tell you exactly what it meant.”


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Jonathan Demme, director of The Silence of the Lambs, dies at 73

Jonathan Demme, director of The Silence of the Lambs, dies at 73

Jonathan DemmeImage copyright
AFP

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Demme won the best director Oscar in 1992 for The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of The Silence of the Lambs, has died in New York at the age of 73.

His publicist confirmed he died from complications from oesophageal cancer.

Born in 1944, Demme’s other features included Philadelphia, Something Wild and the Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense.

Tom Hanks, who won an Oscar for his performance in Philadelphia, told the Press Association Demme was “the grandest of men”.

He said: “Jonathan taught us how big a heart a person can have, and how it will guide how we live and what we do for a living.”

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Getty Images

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Both Demme and actress Jodie Foster won Oscars for The Silence of the Lambs

Demme’s own Oscar was for best director for The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.

The second film to feature serial killer Hannibal Lecter, it is one of only three films to win the so-called “big five” Oscars.

As well as best director, the 1991 film was named best picture, won a screenplay prize and saw both of its lead actors honoured.

Demme also steered Mary Steenburgen to a best supporting actress Oscar for his 1980 film Melvin and Howard.

In recent years he worked with Anne Hathaway on Rachel Getting Married and directed Meryl Streep in both Ricki and the Flash and his 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

His most recent film, Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, showed Timberlake in concert in 2015.

Tributes flowed in from the film world:

British actress Thandie Newton, who worked with him on Beloved and The Truth About Charlie, said she was “deeply saddened” by his passing.

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@thandienewton

Actor-turned-director Ron Howard remembered Demme as “a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague”.

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@RealRonHoward

Clerks director Kevin Smith, also writing on Twitter, praised Demme for his “honest cinematic storytelling”.

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@ThatKevinSmith

Fellow film-maker Barry Jenkins, who directed the Oscar-winning Moonlight, wrote: “Met tons through the Moonlight run but my man Demme was the kindest, most generous. A MASSIVE soul. He lived in love. And rests in peace.”

Director Jim Jarmusch wrote: “Inspiring filmmaker, musical explorer, ornithologist (!), and truly wonderful and generous person.”

Author Stephen King tweeted: “Deeply sad to hear my friend, neighbor, and colleague Jonathan Demme has passed on. He was one of the real good guys. I miss you, buddy.”

Elijah Wood, star of the Lord of the Rings films, tweeted that he was “sad to hear” of the director’s death.

Edgar Wright, the British director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, said: “Admired his movies, his documentaries, his concert films. He could do anything.”

In a statement, the director’s publicist said: “Sadly, I can confirm that Jonathan passed away early this morning in his Manhattan apartment, surrounded by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.

“He died from complications from oesophageal cancer and is survived by his children Ramona, age 29, and her husband James Molloy, Brooklyn, age 26, and Jos, age 21.

“There will be a private family funeral. Any possible further plans will be announce later.

“In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Americans For Immigrant Justice in Miami, FL [Florida].”

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Orion Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

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Sir Anthony Hopkins (right) was also honoured for the 1991 film

Born Robert Jonathan Demme on New York’s Long Island, Demme began his directing career working for famed producer Roger Corman.

His earliest credits included Caged Heat, a thriller set in a women’s prison, and Crazy Mama, a road movie starring Cloris Leachman.


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Paula Hawkins’ new novel Into The Water confuses critics

Paula Hawkins’ new novel Into The Water confuses critics

Paula HawkinsImage copyright
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The Girl on the Train was Paula Hawkins’s first novel under her own name

The only problem with writing a debut novel that sells 20 million copies and spawns a Hollywood film is – your follow-up has a lot to live up to.

Paula Hawkins’ 2015 debut The Girl on the Train was a publishing phenomenon, and the first reviews for her new book Into The Water are in.

And most critics are not impressed.

Reviewing it for The Guardian, crime author Val McDermid predicted Hawkins’ sales would be “massive” but “her readers’ enjoyment may be less so”.

McDermid was puzzled by the 11 narrative voices used in Into The Water, which is released in the UK next week.

She wrote: “These characters are so similar in tone and register – even when some are in first person and others in third – that they are almost impossible to tell apart, which ends up being both monotonous and confusing.”

She added: “Hawkins had a mountain to climb after the success of The Girl on the Train and no doubt the sales of her second thriller will be massive. I suspect her readers’ enjoyment may be less so.”

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Dreamworks

Slate‘s Laura Miller declared that Into the Water “isn’t an impressive book”.

She wrote: “Its tone is uniformly lugubrious and maudlin, and Hawkins’ characters seldom rise to the level of two dimensions, let alone three.”

But Miller pointed out: “None of this will necessarily prevent Into the Water from triumphing at the cash register. The book surely will become a best-seller, if only on the strength of residual name recognition for The Girl on the Train.”

Janet Maslin wasn’t much more enthusiastic in The New York Times.

“If The Girl on the Train seemed overplotted and confusing to some readers, it is a model of clarity next to this latest effort.

“Her goal may be to build suspense, but all she achieves is confusion. Into the Water is jam-packed with minor characters and stories that go nowhere.”

‘Plausible and grimly gripping’

She asks: “What happened to the Paula Hawkins who structured The Girl on the Train so ingeniously?”

However, The New Statesman‘s Leo Robson defended the book, writing: “Most of the time, the novel is plausible and grimly gripping.

“Into the Water follows its predecessor in applying laser scrutiny to a small patch, but there are signs of growth and greater ambition.”

He described Hawkins’s writing as “addictive”, adding that the novel “is on a par with The Girl on a Train”.

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Getty Images

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The film adaptation of The Girl on the Train was released last September

The Evening Standard‘s David Sexton wrote: “Unfortunately, Into the Water turns out to be hard work.”

“There’s a ridiculous multiplication of narrators from the start, some first-person, others third, so that on first reading it is almost impossible to keep track of who’s who and what relation they have to one another… several of the stories never really cohere.”

‘Overambitious’

Marcel Berlins in The Times said: “This novel has its intriguing attributes.

“It does not follow the usual samey fashionable pattern of ‘domestic noir’ and psychological thrillers. For that Hawkins ought to be commended, even if the result is not a full success.

“She is let down by her overambitious structure and a lack of sufficient tension. Hawkins does not quite pass the second-book test.”

Of course, reviews of any kind are unlikely to deter the millions who enjoyed The Girl on the Train.

After all, critics didn’t much like the film adaptation of her previous book, starring Emily Blunt, but that didn’t stop it being a box office success.


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