Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page

Bodies

Embarrassing Bodies

Had a rather good day at work! 100,000 people used the videos commissioned for my latest project, Embarrassing Bodies, in the first two hours after broadcast of the kick-off show last night. That bodes well for a lot of self-checking and preventive health activity. One Self-Check Video was viewed 24,000 times in those two hours. And there were well over half a million pageviews in the first 12 hours. NHS eat your heart out… (or more productively and with less risk of MRSA, work with Channel 4 to get this kind of thing across effectively.)

Another C4 speciality is scheduling. Tonight’s a classic:
21:00 Embarrassing Bodies
22:00 Michael Barrymore – What Really Happened? (Honest, Officer, I’ve no idea how that embarrassing body got there…)

Embarrassing Bodies TV: Maverick TV
Web: Maverick TV and Made Media

Guardian article by Jemima Kiss

Life afta Bafta

Bitter Lemon

I think it was Sartre who said: “You’ve got to be philosophical about it.” Well, I was trying my best last night at the TV BAFTAs after Big Art Mob lost out to Spooks in the Interactivity category. I tried to put on my least bitter look, so more mandarin than lemon but not really peachy.

That said, I had an enjoyable enough evening. Besides my co-nominees (Alfie Dennen of Moblog and Clifford Singer of Edition, who showed an admirably rigid upper lip) at my table was the dapper Peter Kosminsky, writer and director of Britz (for Channel 4), which caused the biggest upset of the night by stealing the Drama Serial category from hot favourite Cranford. He gave a lovely acceptance speech acknowledging his late father, an aspiring writer who never achieved recognition. Accompanying Peter was his wife Helen who works for Artichoke, the outfit behind The Sultan’s Elephant – which I had the great pleasure of stumbling on by accident as I left a meeting at the ICA, one of those unexpected pleasures which make life worth living.

The two leads from Britz were also at our table, Riz Ahmed and Manjinder Virk, the former filling us in on his non-acting activities as Riz MC – I’ve just downloaded a track (The Post 9/11 Blues) and it’s a jolly little choon with a nice twist of politics. Talking of twist, he told an illuminating story about coming back from the Berlin film festival (where Britz won the Silver Bear) and being detained and roughed up by British immigration when he reacted with incredulity to their bizarre full-on questioning as he arrived home-sour-home.

Among our number was also a trio of filmfolk – David Aukin, formerly head of FilmFour (in the Trainspotting era) who told us a bit about his new movie that kicked off production yesterday starring the marvelous William Hurt (The Big Chill, Altered States, Smoke); Rebecca O’Brien, Ken Loach’s long-time producer; and Kierston Wareing, up for best actress for It’s a Free World (not bitter either), who was sitting on the other side of a large clump of decorative foliage from me so never had the pleasure of engaging with her beyond admiring her LBD+ (second only to Joanna Lumley’s flowing tangerine Grecian number).

Otherwise caught up with Ben Miller (of Miller and Armstrong) who co-wrote MindGym with Tim Wright and me. The best thing about working with him was that he insisted on performing the stuff he wrote before he would hand it over. He was also being philosophical about things having lost out in the Comedy category to C4’s Phonejacker.

Another philosopher was Matthew MacFadyen who, having missed out on Best Actor (in his role in Secret Life) to Andrew Garfield (Boy A), confirmed it’s all a pile of crap (the classic default position until you triumph), backed up by his Mrs Keeley Hawes who confirmed it’s all down to who’s in the room the day they do the judging (the back-up default position).

Other highlights of the evening included having a piss beside the Top Gear boyz Richard Hammond and James May which impressed the Enfants Terribles no-end (they’re Dave addicts); getting picked up from my gaff by a chauffeur-driven posh Audi (driven by an off-duty road cop from Northampton) – I took as long as I could decently do getting from the front door to the car for maximum neighbour-exposure; meeting various Skinsfolk including Tony and the late Chris; and spotting a psycho-stalker-autographhunter (complete with two cameras round his neck, the cover of an Emmerdale video among his equipment, and seriously deranged teeth) as we went into the Grosvenor bash, who, together with the red carpet experience before the Palladium show, made you happy not to live the celeb life-style and truly content with the Simple Pleasures.

Are you Adam Gee?

Mr Gay UK Barnsley heat winner

By way of research for my upcoming project (Codename Sam I Am), I’ve just been watching ‘Are You Dave Gorman?‘ (DVD kindly send to me today by the lovely Dan Lloyd at Avalon Public Relations – Amazon are all out of them, reckless fools) and I can’t really go to bed now without starting to collect together my favourite Adam Gees, the bastards who fight me day after day for Google supremacy and the more retiring ones.

So to get the Adam Gee Collection off to a fruitful start who better than Adam Gee, Mr Gay UK from Barnsley (originally kindly brought to my attention by Mr Robert Marsh of Fremantle Media back in his heady days at C4).

Let’s offset that with a suit, New York attorney Adam M. Gee, a small town lawyer with big city results, specialising in personal injury and medical malpractice (suing against it, that is, not carrying it out).

On the sports front pride of place should probably go to Adam Gee, a shit-hot golfer, the first overseas player since Nick Dougherty in 2001 to win the Lake Macquarie International Amateur Championship. I kid you not.

Irritatingly the owner of http://www.adamgee.com seems to be some kind of drugged out hippy who makes clothes. Please don’t visit the site – it will only encourage him and probably cost me my top spot in Google in the process. Do you really want to know about the ‘Alchemy of Energee’? Do you buy the notion that fashion provides protective energee and inspiration leading to growth and well being? Or do you think it just keeps you warm? We’re talking about a character who makes clothes with “the fabric of the universe”. He’s peddling something called a Gee Shirt (doesn’t he realise the T refers to the shape? where’s your other arm going to come out in a G-shirt?) He’s flogging Geens – aargh! Let’s hope we don’t share any.

If you are an Adam Gee or know any good ones, please do add them to my nascent collection.

Photo courtesy of Adam Gee and Mr Gay UK

Update 13.vi.09:

Well, over a year has elapsed and things are looking up. Project codename Sam I Am was Osama Loves and it turned out well. Almost as satisfying, the freaky adamgee.com has at last begun to sink and is currently sitting at #4 rather than the #2 spot it clung irritatingly to for month after month. Only a couple of the more colourful Adam Gees make Google page 1, the golfer and former Mr Gay UK, the lawyer has been displaced to page 2 reflecting the times as no-one can afford lawyers these days – and, like a good Christmas game of Risk, I’ve now occupied 16 of the top 20 Adam Gee slots, including the top 3. It surprises me that no new Adam Gees have bubbled up like the geoscientist (not to be confused with the gee-o-science I’m currently engaging in) in Adelaide or the rugby league referee. Nonetheless we do seem to be a varied lot, pretty much no overlap, and if you are one (or know one) please do chuck yourself (or them) [via the comments] into the pot, that rich mix jambalaya that is the Adam Gee collection.

Lean on me

Rudolph Valentino in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Having just written about the Oirishness of Ryan’s Daughter in Sons & Daughters below, an irony occurred to me today. The great cinematic inspiration which drew David Lean into the world of cinema was in fact an Irish film-maker, Rex Ingram. Lean was much taken with silent cinema and Ingram’s Mare Nostrum (1925) was the movie he saw as a boy which opened his eyes to the potential of the medium.

The only Ingram film I’ve experienced to date was Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) starring Rudolph Valentino [above with Alice Terry, his leading lady and Ingram's devoted wife] which I saw as a Channel 4 Silent at the Parkway Cinema in November 1992. Those performances were dedicated to Lean. The film had been lovingly restored by David Gill and Kevin Brownlow, to whom a few years later I had the pleasure of explaining the potential of interactive media (at that time, CD-ROM) and how it might be applied to silent cinema. I met them at their Photoplay Productions office in Primrose Hill and soon came to realise that these were people who did it For Love Not Money. That was a real inspiration.

The music that night was conducted by Carl Davis. I remember seeing him just before in George & Niki’s, the little caff on the corner beside The Parkway. Those were days when there was cinematic magic to be had in Camden Town.

The Parkway, and Peter the cinema manager who dressed in a tux for every evening performance, are now history. The building still stands but the soul has departed. I worked as one of the Friends of Parkway to save it from the developers (organising, among other things, a premiere of one of the Lethal Weapons (the one with Patsy Kensit as a Sowd Dafrikan) – look, we just needed the dough, beggars can’t be choosers) but in the end I guess we only saved the bricks and the chopped up screens.

Weirdly enough, Ingrams’ full name was Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock. He was born in Dublin, the son of a Church of Ireland clergyman. Ingram’s own prompt into cinema was seeing the Irish actor Maurice Costello in an early movie of A Tale of Two Cities when he was on holiday in New York around 1910 (the year my local cinema, The Phoenix, was born).

His first job in the biz was at Edison Co., then he moved in 1914 to Vitagraph where he both acted and wrote. In those days stardom and technical craft were not so separate and he got a rounded education in movie-making. It was when he joined Universal in 1916 (the year Ryan’s Daughter is set and the year Ireland’s greatest modern drama was unfolding on the streets on Ingram’s native city) that his directing career began in earnest. His first undertaking there was directing his own script, The Great Problem. His subsequent films were distinguished by interesting, atmospheric locations; off-beat characters; and imaginative settings and lightening (Ingram was also a sculptor and artist). It was ‘Four Horsemen’ that made his name after he moved to Metro – whose bacon its success ultimately saved (which makes him to some degree responsible in another way for Ryan’s Daughter, which was an MGM film). In the mid-20s, weary of Hollywood, he set up the Rex Ingram Studios in Nice (where he made ‘Mare Nostrum’, which he considered his best movie). He left movie-making shortly after his first sound picture (in which he also starred), moved to North Africa, then back to Hollywood where he devoted himself to sculpture and novel writing. He looks very dapper in the pictures I’ve seen of him, a cross between Martin Scorsese and Gary Cooper.

I haven’t yet seen the Film4 funded ‘Garage‘ nor another current Film4 movie ‘In Bruges‘ starring celebroDub Colin Farrell (though I love the poster: ” Shoot first. Sightsee later”) but I have the impression the Irish energy in cinema is on the up so I’ll return to the theme Once I’ve seen those two.

Fairtrade

Had a quick poke around Starbucks new web 2.0 UGC blah de blah site ‘My Starbucks Idea‘. Perhaps it should be called ‘Starbucks’s My Idea’. Here’s Starbucks’s idea:

“You know better than anyone else what you want from Starbucks. So tell us. What’s your Starbucks Idea? Revolutionary or simple—we want to hear it. Share your ideas, tell us what you think of other people’s ideas and join the discussion. We’re here, and we’re ready to make ideas happen. Let’s get started.”

And here are their basic terms:

“‘If we implement your idea, we may give you credit on the site, but we won’t be compensating customers if their ideas are chosen.”

So here’s the first idea I came up with and posted:

“My idea is that Starbucks compensate people fairly for their ideas and original thinking.

‘If we implement your idea, we may give you credit on the site, but we won’t be compensating customers if their ideas are chosen’ reads like exploitation to me.

But you can have this idea for free.”

I can’t see why littl’ ol’ Starbucks can’t reward some ideas appropriately, even if it’s on a good faith, unspecific basis. Ideas may be ten a penny but implemented ideas have a value, so not paying for them is as exploitative as not paying farmers properly for coffee beans.

I’m working on my second idea now but it’s difficult – my friend Akeva banned me from Starbucks years ago.

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