Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The people's pin-up

The limits of trademarking are sometimes all too obvious. Timed to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a firm of Chinese lingerie retailers has chosen to run a campaign using a Di lookalike to flog its merchandise. (Their Diana website has gone missing as I write.)

Taking the company to court would be counterproductive. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund spent a fortune combating Franklin Mint in the States where copyright is respected; fighting dodgy traders in China would empty the coffers into a black hole.

Other than tasteless publicity on a sad anniversary, the Fund should use unofficial channels to explore ways of shutting down the trade. A trademark infringement case, should it go wrong, would simply open the floodgates to products seeking their main chance.

Search Amazon.com for Diana, Princess of Wales

Monday, 30 August 2010

Notting Hill: the people's carnival

Fans of Notting Hill the movie would be forgiven in thinking the avoid was devoid of black culture. The film, however, was an airbrushed version of the vibrant reality. Not so much Hugh Grant as Eddy Grant; not Julia Roberts, more Robert Nesta Marley, universally known as Bob.

At Notting Hill Carnival time, the ethnic diversity of the area is celebrated with music, costume, Caribbean food and joie de vivre (not to mention truckloads of Red Stripe lager). The floats started their parade at around noon, and the crowds promised had not reached bone-crushing, pickpocket-cruising levels at the time. The volume of the music was less ear-splitting than feared (maybe Kensington and Chelsea borough council whispered in the organisers' shell-like ear, after last year's sound systems would have given a Jumbo jet a run for its money). The food was reasonably priced (jerk chicken and a beef pattie for £6.50). And there were surprising pockets of calm, with jewellery stalls, face-painting opportunities, and vuvuzela sellers dotted around.

The police were everywhere without being obtrusive. I only saw one cannabis dealer and one guy offering laughing gas to an unsuspecting public, both plying their wares at a mobile disco where nubile young things were writhing to the ragga on the back of a specially customised lorry.

All in all, a joyous day, wrapped up with a warming-down walk through Kensington Gardens and a read  of the paper next to the Serpentine.

Search Amazon.com for carnival

Friday, 27 August 2010

Live from Easter Road: Thompson 1 Murdoch 1

At the Edinburgh television festival's MacTaggart lecture, the BBC director general, Mark Thompson ordered a dish of hot revenge from the media menu. His target was James Murdoch, Sky's chairman, who roasted the BBC during the event's speech last year.

What would be more impressive than the knockabout jousting would be a smidgen of mea culpa. But media moguls are politicians these days and have to be seen to avoid Gerald Ratner-style 'crap' gaffes. You can't admit to naffness without adversely affecting the next BBC licence-fee settlement or the next morning's Sky share price.

Search Amazon.com for BBC

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Sean Connery at 80

Shaken, not stirred, perhaps to have reached such a milestone, the Scottish icon is still semi-active as an actor. A voiceover for the animation, Sir Billi, is in post-production.

It's amazing that Sir Sean was still playing action heroes in 2003. Given audience expections, you can't imagine Angelina Jolie playing Lara Croft at 73, unless the franchise spins out to the Tomb Raider's granddaughter.

Movies are strange beasts that don't reflect society. Perhaps we are more reluctant to let go of action heroes? Maybe things won't change until women get action franchises as the lead protagonists ... and this has not happened often in a century of commercial film-making.

Search Amazon.com for Sean Connery

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Who do you think you are? Royalty?

Actually, in the cases of Matthew Pinsent and Alexander Armstrong the answer is 'Yes'.

Alexander Armstrong traced his ancestry back to William the Conqueror and Matthew Pinsent was related to God, via Edward the Confessor.

There seems to be one episode every series that deals with a celebrity's distant relationship to the English aristocracy and, in Boris Johnson's case, the European monarchies.

The other staple is the Holocaust story: such as Stephen Fry, Jerry Springer, and Esther Rantzen (the family that got away)

The producers must approach about twenty celebrities per series to work out which stories are the most interesting.

Perhaps the groundwork is done before filming starts. Rumour has it that an episode featuring Michael Parkinson was canned on account of Mr Parkinson being the most interesting person in his own family.

Search Amazon.com for genealogy

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The art of East London: beyond Banksy

'How can you tell me you're lonely
And say, for you, that the sun don't shine
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind'

Ralph McTell might have been singing about isolation in the big city, but Hookedblog.co.uk's blogger and street sherpa, Mark, took a group of individuals at a loose end last Sunday on a tour around the ever-changing surfaces of parts of Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

This urban jungle safari brought out an abundance of sightings of work by the likes of Roa, Invader, Eine, D*face and the Toasters: many of which would be missed by the untrained eye. Mark's tracker skills in the wilder streets proved invaluable. Everyone caught the moments with their cameras, while trophy hunters were discouraged.

And were the walk to be repeated in a few weeks time, the images captured would be different; shifted by the passage of time, the councils' clean-up teams, gallery commissions, opportunistic collectors and street-art politics.

Search Amazon.com for street art

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Overnet stardom

The mechanisms of making a name for oneself are changing. Wither music went, comedy follows. Bo Burnham has gone from gigging in his bedroom to the Edinburgh Fringe, with a stratospheric fan base shift from 1 (his Mum) to 59 million.

What's next? Playwrights: front room to Royal Court? Actors showreels: no need for auditions? Television presenters/hosts: cut out the expensive Stage School fees?

But in this wired world of celebrity meteors, will fame burn brightly but fade quickly? It would be interesting to learn current hit stats for Susan Boyle YouTube videos and websites.

Search Amazon.com for overnight sensation

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A Chelsea morning

Chelsea Clinton got her wish to have a high-profile, low-profile wedding to her investment banker, Marc Mezvinsky. Commentators were saying that the nuptials were an American equivalent of a royal wedding, although the highest profile celebrity to attend was Ted Danson.

So, who's next in line? Of the Bush twins, Jenna is already married and rumours of a Barbara wedding proved false. And it'll be a long wait for the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, who are at least a decade away from naming the day.

The US media will have to hope they get a bit closer to the action next time ...

Search Amazon.com for Clinton
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