Daily Bite October 2010

By Nicola Harvey

The month in the Daily Bite: Prince Charles gets busy in India; Paul Henry declares he's not a racist; and we pay tribute to Tony Curtis.


Rallies have been held around New Zealand in a bid to ensure filming of The Hobbit is not moved offshore.

Warner Brothers has threatened to shoot the film in the UK after a
the actor union, NZ Equity, called for a boycott of the Lord Of The
prequel. The boycott has since been lifted.

Rallies have been organised in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Queenstown and Matamata.

The ABC reports in Auckland, more than 150 have gathered in the city centre.

Organiser and non-union actor Mark Harrison says they want to send a
message of support to director Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers
executives from the US, who are due to arrive in New Zealand later

The executives are expected to meet with prime minister John Key tomorrow to discuss possibly relocating the shoot.

22.10.10: NO MERE MORTAL

Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow is to make her debut as a country music singer next month at the Country Music Awards.

Paltrow, who first showed off her vocal talents in the 2000 movie Duets, will perform the title song from her upcoming movie Country Strong, in which she plays a fallen country star.

Like Jake Gyllenhaal said (see 20.10 entry), Gwyneth Paltrow is no mere mortal like the rest of us adding yet another accolade to her CV. 

Paltrow, 38, who is married to Coldplay front man Chris Martin, is also due to take a guest role in TV musical comedy Glee.

21.10.10: HOMER

The official Vatican newspaper has declared that beer-swilling, doughnut-loving Homer Simpson and son Bart are Catholics – and what’s more, it says that parents should not be afraid to let their children watch “the adventures of the little guys in yellow.”

“Few people know it, and he does everything to hide it. But it’s true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic”, the Osservatore Romano newspaper said in an article on Sunday headlined ‘Homer and Bart are Catholics.’

The newspaper cited a study by a Jesuit priest of a 2005 episode of the show called “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star”. That study concludes that The Simpsons is “among the few TV programs for kids in which Christian faith, religion and questions about God are recurrent themes.”

The Simpsons pray before meals, and “in its own way, believes in the beyond,” the newspaper quoted the Jesuit study as saying.


Last night in front of a crowd at Elle‘s Women in Hollywood tribute, Jake Gyllenhaal bravely revealed a secret about Gwyneth Paltrow, one he has been keeping to himself since he co-starred with her in 2005’s Proof, according to Us:

“Bottom line, she is not a mere mortal like the rest of us. She is an Internet-savvy, award-winning, lifestyle guru, making all of us look lazy. She doesn’t just find a nice guy to settle down with — she marries a rock star and then domesticates him. She doesn’t just cook — she goes to Spain with Mario Batali and then domesticates him! She is not just a lifestyle guru, but she invents a whole new fitness movement and then convinces me to try it, and I do it, and I am, therefore, domesticated … sweating my ass off in spandex, which is humbling and embarrassing.”

19.10.10: HARRY

The revelation that Channel 4 has made a drama-documentary imagining the kidnapping of Prince Harry by the Taliban has brought immediate criticism. Mark Lawson, writing in the UK Guardian comments  “detractors regard this commission as typical of a lefty, subversive, trouble-making channel, which has previously aired similar fantasy dramas depicting the murder of President George Bush and Gary Glitter’s execution for paedophilia.

The head of Britain’s armed forces has written to broadcaster Channel 4 to urge it not to show a “dramatised documentary. 

“We can confirm that (Air Chief Marshal) Jock (Stirrup) sent a letter to the chairman of Channel 4,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said. “It was a private letter and it would be inappropriate to comment on its contents.”

The letter was partly motivated by what Stirrup viewed as a lack of respect by programme makers for troops serving in Afghanistan and their families back home, a defence source said.

Reports have said that the film includes a scene in which the actor playing Harry is made to appear in Taliban and al Qaeda propaganda. It also features contributions from intelligence analysts and people who have been taken hostage.

Channel 4 came under fire when it announced the film earlier this month, with The Sun newspaper’s in-house security expert Andy McNab saying it was “in bad taste”.

Harry, 26, has spoken of his desire to return to Afghanistan, which he was forced to leave prematurely after news of his presence there was leaked.

Channel 4 said earlier this month that it contacted the royal family about the film, but had received no response.

When asked about Stirrup’s letter, a spokeswoman for the broadcaster replied:

“We have written to … Stirrup replying to his concerns. The film is rooted in expert testimony and is a serious journalistic examination of a current issue. It treats the subject matter sensitively.

“It is a legitimate subject for documentary to explore the risks that Prince Harry faces as a high value target, and to seek to understand the full nature of the dangers to a royal in the modern theatre of war as well as the political implications of a high profile kidnap.”

18.10.10: DUSTY DAYS

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s installation in the giant turbine hall of
London’s Tate Modern gallery has been closed off to the public over
concerns that it is causing dangerous levels of dust.

Sunflower Seeds, part of the high-profile Unilever Series, consists of some
100 million individually made porcelain seed replicas which visitors were
invited to walk across.

“Although porcelain is very robust, the enthusiastic interaction of
visitors has resulted in a greater than expected level of dust in the
Turbine Hall,” Tate said in a statement.

“Tate has been advised that this dust could be damaging to health
following repeated inhalation over a long period of time. In
consequence, Tate, in consultation with the artist, has decided not to
allow visitors to walk across the sculpture.”

The work has been described as a commentary on living in a densely
populated country where individualism can be lost. Even before the dust debacle, there were concerns that some members of
the public were stealing the seed replicas.

17.10.10: MRS MOSS

Big news: Britain’s Daily Mirror is reporting supermodel Kate Moss married her rocker boyfriend Jamie Hince in a private ceremony in August.

15.10.10: CONVICTION

Family members of a murder victim portrayed in the new movie Conviction voiced outrage yesterday, questioning the filmmakers morals for not consulting the family on the movie’s depiction of their dead mother.The film, starring Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell and Mini Driver has been touted as a potential Oscar winner. The film is based on the real-life story of Waters and her brother, who was convicted of the 1980 murder of Katharina Brow. The mother of two had been found in her mobile home with more than 30 stab wounds. Kenneth Waters was convicted of her murder in 1983 and released 18 years later. Through their attorney Gloria Allred, Melrose Brow and Charlie Brow, the real-life daughter and son of Katharina Brow, said Swank and the film’s producers had a moral duty to meet them before or during the film’s production.”Our family is being forced to relive the memory of a heinous crime,” Melrose Brow told reporters at a press conference in Allred’s Los Angeles office.

14.10.10: EXTREME

Hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar walked off the set of US talkshow The View today after a shouting match with conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly about a planned Islamic cultural centre near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.Tempers flared on the daily talk show when a finger-jabbing Fox News host O’Reilly asserted that the planned Muslim cultural center and mosque near the old World Trade Center site was inappropriate because “Muslims killed us on 9/11.”In a noisy exchange, Goldberg uttered an expletive that was covered by a bleep, and Behar said “I don’t want to sit here. I am outraged by that statement”. The two women walked out, but returned a few moments later. The View co-host, veteran broadcaster and matriarch of day-time television Barbara Walters, apologised to the studio audience, saying “we should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage.” But Walters insisted that O’Reilly apologise, telling him, “It was extremists. You cannot take a whole religion and demean them.”O’Reilly grudgingly responded; “If anybody felt I was demeaning all Muslims, I apologize.”

07.10.10: GO CHARLIE, GO!

The head of the Delhi Commonwealth Games seems to be having a blunder-prone week. Confusing Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, for the late Princess Diana in front of Prince Charles, Suresh Kalmadi, thanked the late princess for attending Sunday’s opening ceremony while trying to avoid questions about the empty venues and queues for tickets that have blighted the first days of the games. Undeterred by the gaff, Prince Charles was last seen happily dancing his way around India promoting British business and discussing plans to tackle climate change. In the village of Tolasar he got his groove on impressing locals and media with a little stiff legged shuffle.


The big news out of this morning’s Michelin star announcement is the announcement of a two-star spot for Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a prix-fixe supper club located in an open kitchen attached to an upscale Downtown Brooklyn supermarket.   “I was not expecting to be on the list,” said chef César Ramirez . “We’re not the ordinary Michelin restaurant. But [Jean-Luc Naret, the Michelin guide’s Directeur Général] said, ‘You’re doing something different.'”

05.10.10: CITIZEN

Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, David Lynch’s Eraserhead and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead have been rated the top three best feature film debuts ever, by the Online Film Critics Society. The OFCS said in a statement Monday that its writers have voted on their choices for ‘”the most provocative, innovative and memorable directing debuts” in cinema history.


New Zealand television presenter, Paul Henry, has been suspended after sparking a race row by questioning whether the country’s ethnic minority governor-general was a proper New Zealander. State-owned broadcaster TVNZ says breakfast host Paul Henry has “crossed the line” in remarks made on today that challenged the credentials of governor-general Anand Satyanand, who was born in Auckland to Indo-Fijian parents.

“Is he even a New Zealander?” Mr Henry asked prime minister John Key, who must choose a replacement for Mr Satyanand when his term ends next year. “Are you going to choose a New Zealander who looks and sounds like a New Zealander this time … are we going to go for someone who is more like a New Zealander?” TVNZ initially fuelled the row by defending the presenter for saying “the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud”.

However, after the television station received dozens of complaints, TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis said Mr Henry’s comments were inappropriate and he would be suspended without pay until October 18.”Paul is one of New Zealand’s best broadcasters … but I consider his latest remarks to have well and truly crossed the line,” Mr Ellis said.Mr Henry made an on-air apology today before his suspension was announced, saying “I certainly didn’t intend to sound racist”, but invited further controversy by referring to himself as “half-gypo (gypsy).”

01.10.10: A MOVIE STAR

Tributes are flowing for Hollywood actor Tony Curtis, who died of heart failure at his Nevada home at the age of 85.

His colourful career spanned five decades, with his off-screen life often eclipsing his on-screen dramas.From the 1957 noir film Sweet Smell Of Success, to blockbusters like Spartacus, and the popular gender-bending comedy Some Like It Hot, where he starred alongside Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, Curtis starred in more than 100 movies.

Daughter Jamie Lee Curtis said of her father: “He leaves behind a legacy of great performances”.


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