Carrie Fisher’s role in the third series of Channel 4 sitcom Catastrophe will be a “fitting tribute”, say its makers.
The Star Wars actress died on 27 December, days after filming had wrapped on the show.
Sharon Horgan, star and co-creator of the comedy, says Fisher, who played her mother-in-law Mia, has a “bigger, chunkier part” in the third series.
She described Fisher as the “sexiest, funniest woman”.
It is thought to be the last television appearance for Fisher, who also stars in the new Star Wars film due out later this year.
‘We really feel privileged’
Horgan and Rob Delaney, her co-star and co-creator, are yet to decide how the show will deal with Fisher’s death.
Catastrophe – which tells the story of an American man and Irish woman who deal with a number of disasters after a one-night stand turns into a full-blown relationship – has become a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
It was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding comedy series writing last year.
“The first and second series, we didn’t have her for very long,” Horgan said. “She flew in and did her bit in about a day and a half.
“We wanted to get to know her better. We idolised her.
“In series three, we wrote a bigger, chunkier part for her in episode six and got to spend time with her. She was part of the gang.
“All of the cast got to spend time with her. We really feel privileged. She was funny all of the time. She was incredibly witty company.”
‘Tribute to Fisher’
Asked how Fisher’s character would be written out of the show, Horgan said: “It’s a bit hard to think about yet. I hope time will pass and we’ll think of a fitting finish to that story.”
Channel 4’s head of comedy Phil Clarke said Fisher would be seen in “very emotionally powerful scenes”, adding: “We think it’s a fitting tribute to her.”
Fisher has appeared as Mia since the first series, having first been approached over social media to take part in the show.
Delaney contacted Fisher on Twitter after he and Horgan saw her give a lifetime achievement award to Graham Norton and make an “amazing” speech.
“Sharon said, ‘I wonder if she’d play your mum’. I said, ‘Sharon, you’re crazy’.” he said. There was no response to the tweet, but after they approached her agent and Fisher read the script, she agreed to join the cast.
“She was a really lovely, kind, supportive person,” added Horgan.
The third series sees the characters Rob and Sharon dealing with the fall-out of yet another catastrophe – her spending the evening with another man, a student in a band.
It goes on to deal with Rob, a recovering alcoholic, turning to drink.
Asked why it strikes such a chord with viewers, Delaney said: “We’re very grateful it does. If it has a secret sauce, it’s that every episode is written by two people – one of them is a man, and one of them is a woman. That’s my theory.”
‘Filth finds us’
Horgan added: “I think maybe they (the audience) sees terrible things happening to people, and people not always figuring it out – and it’s not the end of the world. Terrible things happen, and it’s fine.”
One episode deals with another parent at the school gate making a complaint about their son, Frankie.
Asked about their inspiration for the show, Horgan explained: “It’s a little bit from looking around us, at the school gates and in our own homes.”
Catastrophe also doesn’t shy away from topics some might consider crude – and is very, very rude in parts.
But, said Horgan with a smile: “We don’t look for filth. Filth finds us.”
The third series starts on Channel 4 at 22:00 GMT on 28 February.
Celine Dion was left visibly stunned when two fans turned a recent meet and greet in Las Vegas into a proposal.
The singer, who lost her husband Rene Angelil to cancer just over a year ago (Jan16), was not expecting superfan Austin McMillan and her boyfriend to seal their love in front of her on Friday (03Feb17), when he got down on one knee backstage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
The lucky bride-to-be posted a photo of the moment she accepted her new fiance’s proposal as a shocked Celine looks on.
Her caption read: “when @celinedion is just as shocked as you are at your PROPOSAL!!! there are no words to describe this moment! what i thought was just going to be a special night seeing my favorite performer turned out to be a night filled with so much happiness, surprise & celebration with everyone we love & even ended with donuts and ice cream…
“i get to marry the man of my dreams & grow old with my best friend. God’s timing is so perfect. nothing could be better than this!!”
Under another shot of the newly-engaged couple kissing, Austin wrote: “@celinedion is about the only person i wouldn’t mind photobombing the pictures of our proposal. I’m still floating around in the clouds over here feeling like it’s a dream!! my heart is so happy!! what a dream come true.”
And it appears the superstar could well make another appearance at the newly-engaged couple’s wedding.
Austin, 24, tells Entertainment Tonight, “Celine was shocked and I was too. She was super sweet and wished us a long and happy marriage like she had with her husband. Then (she) invited herself to the wedding!”
Singer Jamie Lynn Spears’ daughter is awake and talking after a near-fatal all-terrain vehicle accident at the weekend (05Feb17).
Eight-year-old Maddie was left unconscious in a pond on the family estate after attempting to avoid a drainage ditch and flipping the ATV. She was airlifted to a nearby hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Her grandfather, Jamie Lynn’s dad Jamie, and aunt Britney Spears urged fans to keep the family in their thoughts and prayers as Maddie fought for life in critical condition on Monday, and it appears those prayers were answered on Tuesday (06Feb17), as the youngster woke up.
“With her father, mother and stepfather by her side, Maddie regained consciousness mid-day Tuesday, February 7,” a statement from the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Department reads.
“The 8-year-old daughter of entertainer Jamie Lynn Spears was involved in an ATV accident at a family home Sunday in Kentwood, La. Paramedics resuscitated her and she was airlifted to a local hospital. She is aware of her surroundings and recognizes those family members who have kept a round-the-clock vigil since the accident.”
Doctors have removed a ventilator that was helping to keep Maddie alive, but she is still being monitored closely.
“It appears that she has not suffered any neurological consequences from the accident,” the statement continues.
A Spears family friend tells Gossip Cop that Maddie is “doing wonderfully” and her recovery is “truly a miracle”.
“It’s truly been amazing,” the source adds. “She has responded miraculously every step of the way.”
Ed Sheeran is ready to give up the single life for good and settle down with his girlfriend Cherry Seaborn.
The Shape of You singer has revealed he and Cherry now live together and their relationship is beginning to get very serious.
“She lives three or four miles away from me, where I grew up, and we live together now,” Ed told Australian radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O on Tuesday (07Feb17), adding, “We just got cats!”
And, with St. Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the singer/songwriter confessed he “feels pretty good about” the idea of spending the rest of his life with his girlfriend.
Ed recently told Apple Music DJ Zane Lowe he’s also keen to become a dad.
The Lego House hitmaker started to think seriously about starting a family while he was travelling last year (16), noting, “I wanted to be a dad last year. I’m ready. Let’s go. I want a load of tour bus babies.”
And he has even planned his future around parenthood, revealing he’ll take his kids on the road with him until they start school and then he’ll take an “extended break” and work on producing other artists’ music from a home studio.
“I think Springsteen took an extended break when his kids went to school,” he said. “I think that’s gonna be me.”
Ed and Cherry first started dating in 2015 but they hit the headlines last summer (16) when they were spotted kissing in the background of a party photo pal Taylor Swift posted on social media. Ironically, the bash was staged to partly celebrate the couple’s one-year anniversary.
This year’s Oscars “class photo” has been released – and as usual there are several quirks and questionable outfits.
The picture sees 163 of this year’s nominees gathered together and smiling away, but zoom in and there is a whole lot more going on.
Here are just seven of the things we spotted in this year’s photo.
1. Pharrell Williams didn’t exactly dress for the occasion
All of this year’s male nominees are dressed smartly in tuxes and suits. Well, almost all.
The “dress code” memo must have gone into Pharrell’s junk email inbox, because he turned up wearing a green baseball cap and grey sweater.
To be fair – the sweater does have the Nasa logo on it, a reference to best picture nominee Hidden Figures.
Pharrell wrote several songs for the soundtrack to the film, which tells the story of three African-American women who worked behind the scenes at the space agency in the 1960s.
2. Michelle Williams is upstaged by Casey Affleck’s facial hair
Casey Affleck’s facial hair is fast becoming the eighth wonder of the world. It gets longer with every awards ceremony he appears at this season.
It’s now on the verge of totally eclipsing poor Michelle Williams, Affleck’s co-star in Manchester by the Sea, who has to peep out from behind his mane.
She must be used to Affleck stealing her limelight.
Affleck appears in nearly every scene in the 137-minute movie, while Williams’s screen time clocks in at 11 minutes.
3. The writer of Moonlight wants you to know how many nominations it has
Tarell Alvin McCraney brightens up the back row of the photograph with his winning smile.
He’s the man behind the stage play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue – which went on to become Moonlight, one of this year’s most hotly-tipped Oscars contenders.
McCraney is so pleased with the film’s success he wants to let you know just how many Oscar nominations the film has received, and he is seen here holding up eight fingers.
Also – hats off to Shawn Levy (who’s standing next to Tarell), who wins the award for the most delightfully bright smile of the whole photo. He is the producer of Arrival, which is nominated for best picture.
4. Justin Timberlake needs to sack his tailor
“What’s your inside leg measurement, Justin?”
“I don’t know, maybe 32 inches?”
“Hmmm, I don’t have enough material for that. Have a 28-inch pair of trousers instead.”
“Great, that’ll do, thanks Derek.”
5. The front row is so where we wanna be
Emma Stone, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Octavia Spencer are all sitting together in the front row.
Can someone please organise for us to join this BFF group, that’d be great, thanks.
Extra respect for Octavia Spencer for wearing a pair of white trousers while so many of the other female nominees are in a dress or skirt, and for Natalie Portman, who manages to create the illusion she’s impressively wearing high heels even while pregnant with twins.
(She is actually wearing her flat shoes and tipping her heels up. Crafty.)
Also – Manchester by the Sea producer Kimberly Steward (far right) is that sweet kid in your class who was accidentally never looking at the camera in the school photo every single year.
6. Ryan Gosling needs to cheer up
You’re the lead actor in the jointly most-nominated film of all time, pal. Uncross your arms for goodness sake.
Slightly happier to be there is the lovely Dev Patel, in the row in front, looking every inch the Hollywood star.
He’s come a long way from how he looked at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009 when he was starring in Slumdog Millionaire.
He told the BBC: “I first came to Toronto in my school shoes and I had a blazer and I was with Frida [Pinto, his co-star] and they said ‘You can’t put this guy next to her because he looks so terrible’. I think I got a free penguin suit that didn’t quite fit me and they gave me shoes.”
This year, he’s nominated for best supporting actor and is seen wearing a burgundy Valentino suit. Nice.
7. Is this gap for Meryl Streep?
Missing nominees from the photo include Michael Shannon (nominated for best supporting actor for Nocturnal Animals) and Andrew Garfield (best actor, Hacksaw Ridge).
But of course, the most notable absentee is Her Royal Acting Highness, Meryl Streep – who is up for best actress this year for her role in Florence Foster Jenkins.
Perhaps this gap in the back row behind Denzel Washington was intended for her, and she got held up in traffic.
Alternatively, perhaps she’s been to so many of these things she’s just had enough. Either way, we’re pretty sure she’ll be at the ceremony.
This year’s Oscars, which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will take place in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 26 February.
Amy Adams may have missed out on an Oscar nod for her critically acclaimed turn in Arrival but the Empire awards have come good for the Hollywood star.
Adams is up against Natalie Portman, Ruth Negga, Emma Stone and Felicity Jones in the best actress category.
Jones’ nomination is one of nine for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, while Arrival picked up seven nods.
The winners, voted for by the public, will be announced at a ceremony in London next month.
The Star Wars spin-off film is also in the running for best male newcomer (Riz Ahmed), best film, best sci-fi/fantasy film and best director (Gareth Edwards) along with several technical categories.
Up for best actor are Ryan Gosling for La La Land, Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool, Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, Eddie Redmayne for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange.
Portman is recognised for Jackie, Negga for Loving and Stone for La La Land.
While there was an absence of female filmmakers in the best director Oscar nominations, Andrea Arnold (American Honey) found herself a place among a field of male competitors in the Empire nominations.
She will take on Taika Waititi, Denis Villeneuve, Ken Loach and Edwards.
Competing against Rogue One for best film are Hunt for the Wilderpeople, La La Land, Arrival and Deadpool.
I, Daniel Blake’s Hayley Squires is up for best female newcomer.
Empire’s editor-in-chief Terri White said: “This year has once again seen the fans out in force to vote for their favourite films in the Empire Awards. Which is why we are the only awards ceremony in the world to recognise Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story alongside La La Land and Arrival!”
The Three Empire Awards will take place at The Roundhouse in Camden, north London, on 19 March.
One of pop’s true originals, MIA, has been handed the keys to this year’s Meltdown festival in London.
The musician said she would “bring together music’s best forward thinkers” for the week-long event.
Although the programme is yet to be announced, it is bound to combine her revolutionary politics with a restless passion for new music.
Created in 1993, Meltdown is curated by a different cultural figure every year, from David Bowie to Yoko Ono.
MIA said she intended to showcase “different types of music which have inspired each other to exist” on London’s South Bank.
The singer, whose biggest hits is the Clash-sampling Paper Planes, is known for pitting hip-hop beats against world music.
Her lyrics address oppressed peoples around the world, including Tamils, Palestinians, and African-Americans.
Often outrageous, always outspoken, her songs and videos have angered the US government, Super Bowl fans, and an entire French football team.
Here are five times she stood up to the status quo.
CHALLENGING SAUDI ARABIA OVER WOMEN’S RIGHTS
The video for Bad Girls finds MIA perched atop a car as it races through the Moroccan desert on two wheels.
It was inspired by YouTube videos of “drifting culture” – a Saudi phenomenon, where daredevil drivers nonchalantly sip tea or smoke hookahs while their vehicle is tipped up on the passenger-side tires.
By putting herself in the driving seat, MIA was openly supporting the “Women to drive” movement in Saudi Arabia, which is (still) seeking to allow females the right to drive in public.
ACCUSING THE SUPER BOWL OF EXPLOITING GIRLS
When MIA appeared as Madonna’s guest at the 2012 Super Bowl, she was instructed to censor a lyric during the song Give Me All Your Luvin’. She responded by raising her middle finger to the camera – and America went apoplectic.
“I literally had to make out of there like a diamond robber,” she told the BBC of the aftermath. “There was so much press. I was like, ‘I can’t believe this, it’s insane.'”
The National Football League attempted to sue her for $16 million, saying the singer broke a pre-show agreement to maintain its “reputation for wholesomeness”.
MIA responded with a feisty YouTube statement, protesting that at “the precise moment in question” you could see 15 dancers behind her, all of them under 16.
“They’re all wearing cheerleader outfits, hips thrusted in the air, legs wide open, in this very sexually provocative position,” she said. “Is my finger offensive, or is the underage black girl with her legs wide open more offensive to the family audience?”
The dispute was eventually settled in private.
As recently as last year, the star courted controversy by appearing to criticise the Black Lives Matter movement.
Asked about the upsurge in politically-motivated music by London’s Evening Standard, she said: “It’s interesting that in America the problem you’re allowed to talk about is Black Lives Matter. It’s not a new thing to me – it’s what Lauryn Hill was saying in the 1990s, or Public Enemy in the 1980s.
“Is Beyonce or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters? That’s a more interesting question.
“And you cannot ask it on a song that’s on Apple, you cannot ask it on an American TV programme, you cannot create that tag on Twitter, Michelle Obama is not going to hump you back.”
The quotes were characterised as an attack on Black Lives Matter – an accusation the star angrily denied. Nonetheless, the controversy led to her being dropped as the headliner of the Afropunk Festival in London.
HIGHLIGHTING THE PLIGHT OF REFUGEES
As a former refugee, who escaped the violent civil war in Sri Lanka to come to London as a child, MIA has written about the refugee experience since her first album, 12 years ago.
But the self-directed video for Borders was her boldest statement to date, featuring boatloads of refugees, and people desperately climbing barbed wire fences in an attempt to flee tyranny.
She said it was inspired by an aerial photograph of “1,000 people in one boat” printed by Time Magazine, which pressed home the urgency of the topic.
“We’re at some sort of turning point,” she said. “Society was gearing up to become more closed off than it has been.”
Bizarrely, the biggest protest against the video came from the Paris Saint-Germain football team, who objected to MIA wearing a bootlegged version of the club’s shirt (it read “fly pirates” rather than “fly Emirates”).
An exasperated MIA said the team has missed the “bigger picture and the bigger message”.
“It’s gone over their head.”
MIA’s fourth album opened with a track called The Message – riffing on the spiritual song Dem Bones, with a lyric about government surveillance.
“Headbone connects to the headphones / Headphones connect to the iPhone / iPhone connected to the internet / Connected to the Google / Connected to the government.”
Back in 2010, critics derided the song as naive – but three years later, Edward Snowden leaked details of a massive global surveillance programme by the US National Security Agency.
MIA responded by posting a collage of those negative reviews on Tumblr, asking “Who said this three years ago?”
Her actions earned the praise of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who later helped her write lyrics on her fourth album, Matangi.