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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Jenny Priestley | Sun, 09/11/2014 - 15:04

By Jenny Priestley

★ Matt Damon has confirmed his return to the role of Jason Bourne. In an interview with E! Online, Damon revealed that the film will start production next year. "It'll be in 2016 when the movie will actually come out" he said. "Paul Greengrass is going to do another one and that's all I ever said. I just needed him to say yes."

Damon will also star in Downsizing, the new film from Alexander Payne. The film is described as a social satire about a man who realises he'd have a better life he became a psychiatrist.

Is Jared Leto the new Joker? He's being courted to play the role in Warner Bros' Suicide Squad. Tom Hardy, Will Smith and Margot Robbie are thought to be in talks for other roles in the film but I seems the Oscar-winning Leto is director David Ayer's choice to play the iconic role. Suicide Squad involves the government granting a group of supervillains a chance of redemption by sending them on a mission that will probably kill them.

★ The Big Bang Theory is being turned into Lego! The new set is expected to include figures of the new characters including Sheldon and Leonard as well as their living room – which, of course, is where most of the sitcom is set. The idea was submitted to Lego by some fans who then put it to an online vote and the idea received more than 10,000 votes. No word yet on when we'll get to see it.

Now this is a piece of casting news I never thought I'd write: Ian McKellen and Sylvester Stallone are going to appear in the same film. Well, sort of. They're both providing voices for new animated comedy Animal Crackers. The film follows a family who inherit a rundown circus. Danny DeVito will also be a part of the cast.

★ Matthew McConaughey is heading to the Civil War. Free State of Jones is about the true story of Newton Knight who defected from the Confederate Army with a group of other soldiers and they attempted to establish their own state. Gary Ross is expected to direct and it's slated to start filming early next year.

Meanwhile, McConaughey is getting his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He'll receive the award on November 17.

This is exciting: NBC is looking to stage a live reading of A Few Good Men. It's thought creator Aaron Sorkin will rewrite the script for TV. As we all know it's already been a film and stage play so why not TV as well? And Sorkin has a history with NBC (the greatest TV series ever...).

★ Rupert Friend looks set to make his directorial debut and Emily Blunt is in talks to star. The pair previously worked together on The Young Victoria. The film's called Barton & Charlie & Checco & Bill and it follows a con artist who meets a woman who he takes under his wing. But then she turns the tables on him. Filming's due to begin in the spring.

★ James Dreyfus is to star as Elwood P Dowd in a new theatre production of Harvey. The play will tour the UK next year starting in Birmingham on February 6. The play is being produced by Don Gregory, who brought the production to Broadway in 2012 with Jim Parsons as Dowd. 

★ Susan Sarandon and Allison Janney are in talks to star in the comedy Whatever Makes You Happy. The film will be directed by Cindy Chupack, who's previously worked on Sex And The City and Modern Family. The plot follows three friends who travel to New York to visit their sons and discover that everything may not be as rosy as they all thought. Filming is expected to begin in June.

Before she starts work on the film, Janney will be co-hosting the People's Choice Awards alongside her Mom co-star Anna Faris. The show takes place on January 7. Shailene Woodley leads the list of film nominees with four nods; Kaley Cuoco also has four in the TV categories and Brit singer Sam Smith also has four in the music categories.

★ Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan have joined the cast of Now You See Me 2,  with Raddcliffe playing the son of Michael Caine's character. Sir Michael actually revealed the news a while ago but now it's official with filming due to take place next month. Speaking about the idea of Radcliffe playing his son, Caine said: "My son is Harry Potter. I thought it’d be funny, me and Daniel Radcliffe as father and son."

★ Mark Rylance and Juliet Stevenson are staging a live read of Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory, the event is in aid of LIFT and takes place at the King's College Chapel on December 11.   A Christmas Memory is the recollection of a short and innocent period in the life of the seven-year-old narrator and his older distant cousin and best friend in 1930's America. As Christmas approaches they embark on a ritual involving friendship, cake, country life and the joy of giving.

Filming on the new Coen Brothers film Hail Casear! begins on Monday. It stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill and is set in Hollywood in the 1950s. It should be in cinemas in February 2016.

The nominations for this year’s Moët BIFA film awards have been announced this week. Drama ‘71 leads the nominations with nine nods including Best British Independent Film, Best Director and Best Actor for star Jack O’Connell. The brilliant Pride also received seven nominations. It’s definitely one of my favourite films of the year. Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley are both nominated for The Imitation Game which is also up for Best Independent Film. Other acting nominees include Alicia Vikander, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, Andrew Scott, Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllanhaal. The winners will be revealed on December 7.

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Win Texas Chain Saw Massacre 40th Anniversary on Blu-ray

Posted by Competitions | Sun, 09/11/2014 - 11:39

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre not only changed the face of horror in 1974 but still remains one of the most shocking, powerful and terrifying films ever made. Now to celebrate its 40th Anniversary, a brand new restored version comes to Blu-ray, and thanks to Second Sight, we have a copy to give away.

Widely banned  on  release,  its  notoriety  has  not  diminished  and  this  harrowing  tale  of  a  depraved  Texan  clan  and  its  chainsaw-wielding  icon  of  horror  Leatherface  continues  to  stun  and disturb  audiences like no other film.

Supervised by director Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has received a stunning 4K restoration and 7.1 audio mix, looking and sounding like never before.

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Small-Screen Jabber 8-14 November

Posted by Louise Bolotin | Sat, 08/11/2014 - 10:22

By Louise Bolotin

Drama
Jimmy McGovern’s acclaimed daytime one-off plays return for a new series. The core theme of each standalone drama in Moving On (Mon-Fri, BBC1, 2.15pm) is a turning point for someone. Hayley Mills stars in the opener as a 60-something widow, whose ghastly secret – that her husband (Kenneth Cranham) is actually alive and in jail – starts to unravel and jeopardise her new relationship. Drama of the Week accolade goes to The Fall (Thurs, BBC2, 9pm), which returns for a new series. Gillian Anderson (left) and Jamie Dornan co-star as ice-cool detective Stella Gibson and her nemesis, woman-hating serial killer Paul Spector. Set in Belfast and written by Allan Cubitt, Gibson is hot on Spector’s trail as he brazenly returns to the city soon after fleeing it. Anderson is mesmerising as ever – this is possibly her finest role and if she doesn’t get a Bafta for it (she inexplicably missed out last time, unlike Dornan) I’ll eat my silk blouse collection.

Also back, for a series after a successful pilot last January, is the biting cop satire, Babylon (Thurs, C4, 10pm). Brit Marling and James Nesbitt head a top-notch ensemble cast as the PR head and Commissioner negotiating the tricky minefield that policing London is. It’s bleakly funny, with obvious gags kept to a minimum, as it balances absurdity with a near-the-knuckle knowingness.

Factual
One of the world’s great rivers is the subject of a four-part documentary – The Mekong with Sue Perkins (Sun, BBC2, 8pm). The mighty Mekong is more than 4,000 miles long, snaking through Tibet, China, Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Perkins sets off at the delta in Vietnam and works her way upstream as she explores the landscapes, cultures and peoples en route. In week one, she meets Vietnamese fishermen before confronting the dark history of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It’s an intriguing journey steep in ancient history that has Perkins snapping at Michael Palin’s heels.

Hotel in the Clouds (Tues, ITV, 8pm) goes behind the scenes at the exclusive Shangri-La, high up in London’s The Shard. The staff undertake three months’ training in Asian-style hospitality before the first guests arrive. Not for those with vertigo – the views are jaw-dropping from that height, or gut-churning. Staff are under the spotlight in Liberty of London too (Wed, C4, 9pm), which returns for a second series. The daily life at the prestigious department store was one of last year’s docu-soap delights and rapper Pharrell Williams opens this episode as his fragrance goes on sale. The Home That Two Built (Fri, BBC2, 7pm) is a four-part clips show, voiced over by Mel Giedroyc (of Bake Off), that pays homage to BBC2’s half century of coverage of our changing lifestyles. From Fanny Cradock to Changing Rooms, it’s all here, starting with the upheavals of the swinging 60s.

Music
The public were under pressure when asked to name The Nation’s Favourite Queen Song (Tues, ITV, 9pm). It’s one of those flash countdowns of the band’s greatest hits, but don’t stop me now, just tune in. It’s like radio – gaga and daft, but the show must go on. So, play the game and see if Bohemian Rhapsody wins it. (Did you see what I did there?) There’s a little more cheese with Neil Diamond: One Night Only (Thurs, ITV, 9pm), in which Rob Brydon meets him in the 50th year of his career. The superstar singer-songwriter plays a one-off at the London Palladium and Brydon gently quizzes him about his early breaks. BBC4 goes country for the second Friday in a row. Johnny Cash: the Man, His World, His Music (Fri, BBC4, 9pm) is a very rare screening of Robert Elfstrom's 1969 classic film. It that captures the Man in Black at his peak, riding high on his successful At Folsom Prison blues album. Elfstrom got closer than any other filmmaker to Cash, revealing the dark intensity and raw talent that made him a country music star and cultural icon. There are great clips of him performing with Bob Dylan and also his wife June Carter Cash, plus personal footage of him with friends, family and aspiring young musicians. Unmissable.

Arts
Acclaimed poet Simon Armitage has written seven new poems this year to mark the centennial of World War One. In The Great War: an Elegy (Sat, BBC2, 8pm), he revisits the places and stories that inspired them, from the Normandy beaches to German PoW camps. In Alan Yentob’s Imagine… strand (Tues, BBC1, 10.35pm) he meets Broadway and Hollywood veteran Bette Midler to discuss her rise from gay bath house singer in New York to stardom. They visit places that boosted her career as she explains why she has no plans to retire.

Comedy
The team that brought you the nursing sitcom Getting On, which starred Jo Brand, are behind Puppy Love (Thurs, BBC4, 10pm). Co-writer Joanna Scanlan stars as dog trainer running classes for owners in the Wirral. Like Getting on, the humour is gently observational and character-based rather than gag led, but you can still expect belly laughs while the assorted dogs do a lot of scene-stealing.  

Entertainment
Fifty years ago Harold Wilson (Lab) beat Alec Douglas-Hume (Tory) in the 1964 General Election (Wed, BBC Parliament, from 10am). The Beeb is running the entire day of coverage and it’s fascinating to see how it was done. Check out those youthful reporters who went on to become household names – Alan Whicker, David Dimbleby and Raymond Baxter. Dimbleby’s dad Richard anchors it all. (It’s Freeview 131k, if you’re wondering.) The annual fundraiser Children in Need (Fri, BBC1/2, from 7.30pm) dominates the Friday schedule – there are sketches from Doctor Who, EastEnders and Call the Midwife, music from Cheryl Cole, Susan Boyle, the Script, One Direction and Boyzone. Plus Cirque du Soleil and Strictly. Terry Wogan and Tess Daly host.

Sport
The BBC has finally decided to screen the ATP World Tour Finals (Sun-Fri, BBC2, from 2pm), one of the most important tennis tournaments in the world. The top eight players at the end of the season take each other on at the O2 in London, firstly in group rounds then head to head. Andy Murray has just scraped a place after a lacklustre year that he finally turned around in October to get some much-needed ranking points.

Best of the rest
It being Remembrance Sunday, various events are taking place to mark this most poignant of anniversaries, 100 years after the start of the First World War. The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance (Sat, BBC1, 9.10pm) comes live from the Royal Albert Hall. Huw Edwards presents this concert, which features assorted top military bands, the cast of War Horse and Joss Stone. The queen leads the tributes on Remembrance Sunday: the Cenotaph (Sun, BBC1, 10.25am), with a two-minute silence at 11am to commemorate those who gave their lives.

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Win a copy of Derek Series 2 on DVD

Posted by Competitions | Thu, 06/11/2014 - 22:59

Series two of Ricky Gervais’ award-winning comedy drama Derek will be available to own on DVD from November 17. And thanks to 4DVD, we have ONE copy of Derek Series 2 on DVD to give away.

In a role that saw him nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series at this year’s Emmys, Ricky Gervais returns as Derek Noakes - a sincere, sweet natured individual who loves animals and has a heart of gold. Series 2, written, starring and directed by Gervais, also sees the reprise of top-notch performances from the likes of Kerry Godliman (Hannah), Holli Dempsey (Vicky), Karl Pilington (Dougie), Brett Goldstein (Tom) and David Earl (Kev).

A year has gone by since we last visited Broad Hill Retirement Home and there are some new residents, additions to the staff and the welcome return of a few familiar faces.

Not only are the old gang back, but there’s some new elderly tenants who’ve since joined the home. Derek's dad moves in, but far from being a sweet old man, he's got whisky in his back pocket and too much lead in his front one. Wayward youth Vicky is now working there full-time and providing the residents with ‘free’ slippers - no questions asked. Kevin is still drunk. Dougie is still grumpy. Hannah is still the salt of the earth. And Derek is still spreading kindness wherever he goes.

For a chance to win, just follow @Screenjabber on Twitter and tweet the following text:

Follow @Screenjabber and RT for a chance to win Derek Series 2 on DVD.

For an extra entry, just pop over and LIKE the official Screenjabber Facebook page.

The competition will close at NOON on Sunday November 30, 2014. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

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Win a copy of Begin Again on Blu-ray

Posted by Competitions | Thu, 06/11/2014 - 14:18

Begin Again is the funny, romantic and feel-good film of the year, which is available to Download now and will be released on Blu-ray and DVD from November 10. And to mark the film’s release, we have TWO copies of Begin Again on Blu-ray to give away.

Seduced by dreams of making it big, Greta (Keira Knightley) and her boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) move to New York to pursue their passion for music. However, when Dave rejects her for the fame and fortune of a big solo contract, Gretta finds herself alone and far from home.

Just when she’s given up hope, life begins to look up when struggling record producer Dan (Mark Ruffalo) stumbles upon her singing during an open mic night. He’s instantly captivated by her raw talent and inspiring authenticity and together they embark on an adventure, transforming the streets of New York in to their recording studio, giving love, life and music one final shot.

• Begin Again is available to Download now and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from 10 November 2014

For a chance to win, just follow @Screenjabber on Twitter and tweet the following text:

Follow @Screenjabber and RT for a chance to win Begin Again on Blu-ray.

For an extra entry, just pop over and LIKE the official Screenjabber Facebook page.

The competition will close at NOON on Sunday November 23, 2014. The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

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Screenjabber visits the set of Vikings

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Tue, 04/11/2014 - 17:23

Vikings, the gritty historical drama from Tudors creator Micheal Hirst, launches its second season onto Blu-ray and DVD this week. Having redefined our perception of Viking culture and delivered some epic battles, expectation is high to see where the show can go next. Screenjabber's Paul Anderson was invited to the show's Ashford Studios at Ballyhenry in Ireland to see Ragnar and Co in action and was given access to key cast and crew members to see exactly what was in store for the troubled Viking clan.

Screenjabber was lucky enough to visit the set of Vikings as the cast and crew were shooting scenes for the show's third season. While we can’t talk about that on pain of death we certainly can give you an insight into Season Two and the production of the show in general.

On arrival at the studio the first thing that strikes you is the scale of the production with full size replica Viking Long Ships having been constructed and the village of Kattegat created in minutiae detail. It’s certainly an authentic set up and gives an early indication into the effort and attention that is evident in every scene of the show.

A tour of the on-set armoury only serves to reinforce the effort and craft that is on display here, racks of meticulously designed Viking shields line the left hand wall and these are adorned with the markings of the Viking tribes. A little more intimidating is the wall of weapons hanging on the opposite wall.

While they certainly look deadly on screen, we are reliably informed by weapons maker John Mckenna that the swords used are in fact crafted from bamboo and that the blades can be swapped in and out of the handles with a twist of an allen key.

The axes are scary looking replicas too but created with rubber blades that still pack a punch in the hands of stuntmen. All the weapons start life in steel form but sensibly these were kept out of the less than trained arms of your Screenjabber journalist.

The aforementioned village of Kattegat was our next stop and this was seriously impressive, far more than just a few hastily constructed building fascias the village was full size and the buildings were fully functional and meticulously detailed. The market stalls felt like they could open at a moment’s notice and it genuinely felt like taking a trip back in time.  A brief drive away from the studio took to us to an equally impressive location shoot, surrounded by some beautiful Irish countryside we were witness to a pretty intense looking Viking party around a huge bonfire that again gave a sense of actually being there rather than being witness to a TV production.

Vikings once again reunites Micheal Hirst with veteran costume designer Joan Bergin and it certainly was a privilege to be given a tour of the costume workshop, (although a lot of what we saw was specifically for season 3 so we can’t talk about that in any detail). What we can say though is that again the effort put in by the team is second to none. With a small group hard at work on a vast array of costumes, effort is made to individualise everything that the main characters wear, Bergin explains, ‘One of things we specialise in doing in this workshop is leather work because you do get a little tired sometimes looking at everybody as if they look like Roman Gladiators’.

It's little details that help bring the characters to life and we’re shown some intricately detailed hand-woven leatherwork alongside some beautifully customised dresses that have all been painstakingly modified. There is one team responsible for going out and picking up suitable clothing and jewellery and then bringing it back to the workshop to be ‘vikingised’.  One of Ragnar’s signature outfits for example is being modified with symbols representing the Viking god Odin and this attention to detail makes all the difference. This outfit also shows us an example of an interesting and very effective technique that means a lot what looks like metallic armour on screen is in fact treated leather that even up close looks utterly convincing.

As you can tell from the brief insight here and in the series of interviews with cast and crew that will follow, whatever you make of the end product Vikings is undoubtedly a labour of love for everyone involved and this passion for the project is impossible not to get caught up in. In a cynical world of entertainment existing solely as product this is something that should be applauded and for this reason alone Vikings deserves your attention.

• Vikings Season 2 is out on Blu-ray and DVD on 3 November with interactive features only available on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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US Box Office Report

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Mon, 03/11/2014 - 11:02

Nightcrawler and Ouija scare up the Halloween box office

By Rich Matthews

In a close-run All Hallow's Eve race, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, the disturbing take on parasitic webcam journalism from Bourne Legacy scribe Dan Gilroy, is estimated to have pipped horror holdover Ouija to the top spot – but by as small a margin as $9,000.

Nightcrawler took $10,909,000, while Universal's sophomore weekender scared up a further $10,900,000 to take it's homegrown tally to $35m (and $42.7m worldwide). No other new release made into the top 10, thanks in part to studios leaving the weekend pretty empty because Halloween itself fell on a Friday, ostensibly destroying most potential business – overall Halloween weekend 2014 was 40 per cent less profitable than 2013's equivalent frame.

There was a genuine sense of ticking over while Hollywood waits for its big boys to land, starting with Christopher Nolan's epic space drama Interstellar, which has been brought forward two days to launch on November 5. After that, it's a role call of expected blockbusters that are hoped will save the year's overall box office – Disney's Big Hero 6 on November 7, Dumb And Dumber To on the 14th, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 on the 21st, Penguins of Madagascar on the 26th, with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Night At The Museum readying to battle for the Christmas dollars on December 19.

From three to 10, the rest of chart was filled out by Brad Pitt and David Ayer's WWII tank flick Fury ($9.1M, $60.4m, $75.6m), Ben Affleck looking for Rosamund Pike's crazy wife in David Fincher's literary adap Gone Girl ($8.8m, $136.6m, $279.1m – now Fincher's biggest ever hit in the US), the Guillermo del Toro-sponsored animated Book Of Life ($8.3m, $40.5m, $69.3m), Keanu Reeves back on form if not box office appeal in John Wick ($8.1m, $27.6m), Bill Murray earning Oscar buzz in St Vincent ($7.8m, $19.5m), Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner in Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ($6.5m, $53.6m, $69.5m), Robert Downy Jr's vulnerability-illustrating passion project The Judge ($3.4m, $39.6m, $58.6m) and Universal's revamp Dracula Untold ($2.9m, $52.9m, $189m) starring The Hobbit's Luke Evans.

Globally, Guardians Of The Galaxy is now the second biggest film of the year with $765.1m, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction's $1.08bn, while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles boosted its coffers to $434.5m thanks a Chinese opening of $26.5m.

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That's Showbiz! With Jenny

Posted by Jenny Priestley | Sun, 02/11/2014 - 13:14

By Jenny Priestley

★ Andy Serkis is taking a break from his Hollywood career to appear in a new video game. He'll be playing villain Guy Gisborne in new stealth adventure Volume. The game includes top-down stealth with player-generated levels. Players cannot kill in the game so will have to use their Ricochet device to control enemies and edit the environment. Volume is due for release on PS4, Vita and PC early next year.

★ Expect to see Serkis on the red carpet at the world premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in London on December 1. I'm delighted to see London get the world premiere – especially as there was no UK premiere for Desolation of Smaug. Organisers haven't announced who'll attend, but I would expect most of the cast – and, of course, Peter Jackson – to be there. Unfortunately it seems my hope for BotFA cameo appearances from Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan probably won't happen after Elijah Wood confirmed he won't be in the final film.

★ As I speculated back in July, Neil Patrick Harris is going to appear in American Horror Story. NPH will appear as a salesman in the last two episodes of the current season, while his husband, David Burtka, will be involved in a storyline with Jessica Lange’s character, Elsa Mars. Harris is a busy man at the moment. As well as hosting the Oscars, he's promoting his new book and looks set to front an American version of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Take-Away.

★ The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar will provide one of the voices for a new family comedy – he'll be street dog Santoosh in A Bollywoof Tale. The story follows Basil, a pet spaniel who moves with his family from London to Delhi, only to be lost in Kolkata after his crate is misplaced. Basil teams up with Santoosh and a Holy cow named Uma to help find his family. Filming begins early next year.

★ Ricky Gervais is heading back to the screen. He's going to star in and direct Special Correspondents, a comedy about a radio journalist and his producer who try to increase their flagging ratings by pretending to be kidnapped in Ecaudor. Really they're hiding out in a restaurant opposite their New York radio station. As a former radio producer I can tell you this would NEVER happen!! Eric Bana will play the journalist, with Gervais as his producer.

★ The Divergent Series: Insurgent is to be released in 3D. The film, which stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James, is the second in the Divergent series and is due in cinemas next March.

★ Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon are to co-star in a new drama called Three Generations. The film follows teenager Ray (Fanning) who is transitioning from female to male and her single mother, Maggie (Watts), who is coming to terms with having to raise her only daughter as a son. At the same time, Maggie’s mother, Dolly (Sarandon), is struggling with Ray's decision and Maggie's inability to move out of the family home. Filming begins this month.

★ Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel are to work on a new drama about an Indian street kid adopted by an Australian couple. Lion will be directed by Garth Davis and is being produced by The Weinstein Company.

★ The final Colbert Report will be broadcast on December 18. Colbert is leaving the Emmy-winning show to take over The Late Show from David Letterman next year.

★ Oscar hopefuls Michael Keaton and Julianne Moore will be among the stars turning out for the Hollywood Film Awards on November 14. Reese Witherspoon, Gerard Butler, Robert Duvall, Jack O’Connell, Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum and Shailene Woodley will also take part in the ceremony, which will be hosted by Queen Latifah. It's the start of a very long road to February 22 ...

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Screenjabber Podcast: Mr Turner is Marvelous ...

Posted by Stuart OConnor | Sat, 01/11/2014 - 09:22

Join Mr Andrew Jones, Mr Amon Warrman, Miss Mark Searby and host Lord Stuart O'Connor for a look back at the 2014 London Film Festival, some Marvel chitchat and a look at a few of the new films on offer in UK cinemas: Mr Turner, Nightcrawler and Ouija.

You can listen to and download the podcast – or subscribe to it on iTunes ... plus you can follow us on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

PubQuest: We're looking to take the Screenjabber Pubcast on the road, and want your input. Know a great pub in London we should visit to record the show? Drop us a line and let us know.

WriterQuest: We're seeking some more writers, particularly those who want to cover video games for us. Please get in touch if you're keen.

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Small-Screen Jabber 1-7 November

Posted by Louise Bolotin | Fri, 31/10/2014 - 21:54

By Louise Bolotin

Drama
Slightly late for Hallowe’en but Frankenstein and the Vampyre: a Dark and Stormy Night (Sat, BBC2, 9pm) ticks all the right boxes for a spot of spookiness. This docu-drama is set in Switzerland and recreates a summer of debauchery in a lake house occupied by Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley and friends. In between writing, there are sex, drugs and the Victorian equivalent of rock’n’roll, then one stormy night they sit down and tell ghost stories to each other… Thus was the tale of Frankenstein born. Actors recreate what happened, as pieced together from the protagonists’ diaries. Neil Gaiman is among those narrating. The Passing Bells (Mon-Fri, BBC1, 7pm) is a five-part series about the lives of two teenage boys who sign up for the trenches of World War One. It’s written by veteran Tony Jordan and is achingly poignant in parts.

Factual
Sceptic James Randi has made a career out of debunking snake oil sellers, but is under the microscope himself as he gets profiled in Exposed: Magicians, Psychics and Frauds (Sun, BBC4, 9pm). He’s a magician himself, so he knows how his peers can sometimes prey on people’s vulnerabilities. His is a cracking tale, revisiting some of his more famous tussles with the likes of Uri Geller and exploring his motivations for speaking out against fraudsters. The doors are flung open for the very first time in Broadmoor (Wed, ITV, 9pm), in a revealing two-part documentary. The high security psychiatric hospital houses some of the UK’s most notorious killers, such as Peter Sutcliffe and Kenneth Erskine, because they have been diagnosed with mental disorders. Broadmoor cares for many other patients too with severe psychiatric illnesses, while the cameras also follows the lives of the staff, who work in stressful conditions. When Fred Met Rose (Thurs, Channel 5, 10pm) is a somewhat lurid but compelling portrait of how the chemistry between Fred and Rose West sparked a spree of sexual abuse, rape and murder. Expert witnesses unpick the pair’s pathologies while family members offer their testimonies.  

Music
Bryan Ferry tops the bill in Later Live…with Jools Holland (Tues, BBC2, 10pm), singing songs from his latest solo album. Former Free frontman Paul Rodgers sings soul classics with a Memphis band and newcomer singer-songwriter Laura Doggett debuts. The War on Drugs are also in the studio. Country and Western is the focus of feature-length documentary The Heart of Country: How Nashville Became Music City USA (Fri, BBC4, 9pm). It's a potted history of the genre that features an astonishing array of country stars – Dolly, Hank, Willie, Loretta and Garth, among many – with extraordinary tales to tell. Nashville’s seedy side is exposed and there are many fabulous archive clips.

Arts
Film 2014 (Wed, BBC1, 11.15pm) returns for the next seven weeks. Claudia Winkleman and Danny Leigh check out the week’s new releases and Benedict Cumberbatch (above) reveals his frustration at not getting comedy parts. But why on so late?

Comedy
Toast of London (Mon, C4, 10.35pm) returns for a second series. Matt Berry stars as Stephen Toast, a two-bit actor struggling to make the big time in London. Bitingly funny, it mines a rich seam about the depths thespians stoop to to earn a crust – in the first episode, Toast enters a blow football contest.

Entertainment
It’s almost Children in Need time and a battle is looming. In Gareth’s All Star Choir (Mon, BBC1, 9pm), choirmaster Gareth Malone promises Terry Wogan that he will train a bunch of celebrities to sing this year’s official CiN tune and get it to top the charts. Naturally, it doesn’t run smoothly. Among the stars tuning their vocal chords are Jo Brand, Craig Revel Horwood, Fabrice Muamba, John Craven and Alison Steadman. A row about potato advertising triggered the exit of Michel Roux Jr from the judging panel of MasterChef: the Professionals (Tues, BBC2, 8pm), which returns for a new series. His replacement is Marcus Wareing, who joins regulars chef Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace. Will Wareing be a good cop or a bad cop? Watch and see. Michael Portillo embarks on a new run of his Great Continental Railway Journeys (Wed, BBC2, 9pm), armed with his 1913 Bradshaw guide. First up, he’s in Russia and wending his way from Tula, where Tolstoy lived, to St Petersburg via Moscow and the Bolshoi Ballet. Portillo’s genteel travelogues are a delight of lush scenery, quirkiness and history.

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