HERE WE GO…AGAIN

They think it's all over!

They think it's all over!

You heard it here first, England WILL win the soccer world cup in South Africa in 2010.
Right now a legion of soccer buffs probably think I’ve taken leave of my senses. Afterall, the nation who invented the game have only ever won the tournament once, back in the black and white TV days and recently failed miserably to qualify for the Euro 2008 Finals. (England needed only a point from their last qualifying game, but lost 2-3 to Croatia on home soil, despite the fact the Croats had already qualified).
However, they haven’t been talking to English director Paul Weiland, whose movie, “Sixty Six,” puts an autobiographical spin on the greatest moment in English soccer history.
The year was 1966 and England were tournament hosts.
Meanwhile, in North London, a 12-year-old Jewish lad was about to have his Bar Mitzvah, inconveniently scheduled for the day of the Final.
Great timing; become a man when your family, friends, nay the whole of the country are glued to the box, or curse the side forever if they ruin your big day.
Unfortunately, for Weiland (“Made of Honor”), he was that young man and has now exorcised those demons thanks to the “Working Title” producing team of Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (“Four Weddings and Funeral,” Notting Hill,” and “Love Actually”).
Richard Curtis, who penned all three of those films and also directed Love, collaborated with Weiland on the screen story and exec produced the picture. The screenplay was written by Peter Straughan and Bridget O’Connor.
The film stars Gregg Sulkin as an asthmatic Bernie, whose plans for his perfect day start to go awry when his father’s business starts to fail, forcing the family to scale back on their plans.
Adding to his jitters, the World Cup Final is going to be same day, but parents Manny and Esther (Eddie Marsan and Helena Bonham Carter) assure him that England won’t possibly make it that far and refuse to change the date.
With a bullying older brother, Alvie (Ben Newton), to contend with, Bernie’s only solace comes from his relationship with asthma specialist, Dr. Barrie, the always excellent Stephen Rea.
“I’m lifting my curse on the team,” said Weiland, in a phone interview last week from the Chateau Marmont for three days of press before flying back to London.
Of course, sport has a habit of the miraculous — Red Sox/Yankees 2004 and last year’s Superbowl — so you never know. “Perhaps England will win it next time, but I’m just glad to have made film,” added Weiland, who traces its origins to a 50th birthday speech in 2005.
“I had been to quite a few 50th birthday parties and a few of them were for writers and actors,” recalled Weiland. “There were some really good speeches and so I wanted to come up with something memorable. When I told the Bar Mitzvah story it got big laughs. The Working Title producers were in the room and said I should make it as a movie. Helena was also there and said if I ever do, she’d like to play my mother.”
Weiland made the film for a bargain basement $6 million but went up against “Borat” when it was released in the U.K. in 2006. The result was a blowout for Sacha Baren Cohen, but the Weiland has been pleased with the reception stateside.
“The reviews have been excellent, which makes me a bit nervous,” said Weiland with that typical British modesty.
“NBC Reel critic Jeffrey Lyons called it one of the best films of the year. I think that was over the top, but I’ll take it.”

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NOUVEAUX RICHE

Henley girl, Celia Hemken.

Henley girl, Celia Hemken.

If Princess Di had joined 80’s chart-topping electronica band The Human League, you might get something of the aura of singer/songwriter Celia Hemken.

An actor, writer, professional flautist and accomplished artist, Hemken, left ultra-posh Henley-on-Thames over twenty years ago to front her own punk band — Blue Nouveaux — in New York.

Hemken moved to L.A. in 1994, penned scripts and latterly jobbed as a background actor who got to kiss Harrison Ford in his Indy comeback.

She’s probably not trousered as much as Ford from the $300 plus million worldwide box office of “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” but in a nice bit of ironic deja vu, Hemken’s musical career is gaining a new lease of life with a new album soon to be released on itunes.

Entitled, “Ten Years After,” it’s an eclectic mix of rock, new wave and techno pop which displays a mischievous wit in tracks like “Barbie’s Dead,” and “Train Track Children.”

http://www.myspace.com/bluenouveaux

MINI COOL, MAX FUN

MINI USA owners peep a special edition Cooper at the fan weekend.

MINI USA owners peep a special edition Cooper at the fan weekend.

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.”
Michael Caine’s memorable line from British caper classic “The Italian Job” sprung immediately to mind as devoted MINI Cooper owners gathered here for a fan appreciation weekend.
It was the last leg of the 2008 MINI Takes The States Tour that kicked off in Miami in June, then visited Boston and Chicago.
Festivities began Friday night at Jillians in Universal City Walk as the meet and greet got under way with food, drinks, games and the chance to ogle a brand new John Cooper Works MINI that was parked right in the middle of the bar.
The next morning owners rolled out for a drive along Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway heading to the Rosebowl, where people took part in an autocross rally, MINI test drives, more games and were treated to a concert by American alt rockers Vertical Horizon. The Pasadena stadium re-hosted the group on Sunday for more of the same and a send-off barbecue.
Inaugurated in 2006, the MTTS drew more than 6,000 MINI enthusiasts to join in a 15-day, 19 state, cross-country road trip from Monterrey, Calif., to Lime Rock, Conn. The 3,904 mile route included major event stops in Las Vegas, Dallas, Nashville, Washington and New York.
“Mini owners absolutely love their cars,” said MTTS event organizer Kevin Connolly. “It’s a beautiful thing because they appeal to men and women, young and old, all different races and religions. It’s a unique thing to be part of this Mini culture.”
A testament to that is Kimberly Smith, the City Clerk for Cupertino, a suburban city in Santa Clara County, who went shopping for a car in a VW dealership, but ended up falling for the 60’s road icon.
“I was waiting to take a test drive and the car wasn’t quite ready, so I saw a second-hand Mini and asked the salesman if I could just test-drive it,” said Smith. “I loved it and went straight to a Mini dealership and now I’m the proud owner of a 2005 Cooper S.”
Meanwhile, oncology specialist Dr. Cary Presant and his wife, Sheila, reckon they own one of the only Mini’s in the world to sport checker board seats. The couple cooed like teenagers when talking about their 2006 Mini Convertible, painted Chilli Red with White Racing Stripes.
“My granddaughter loves it when we visit because she can’t get enough of the car,” said Presant. They also own an Acura and motorhome.
“There is an unbelievable sense of community which comes along with the car, added Cary. “Owners wave at each other, and continually chat about their experiences with the car, the renewed love of driving and touring, and the fun individualizing the car to their own tastes.”
The last word goes to Andrew “Aggro” Ross, an Australian native and current president of the Las Vegas Mini Club.
“It’s cool, distinctive, fun,” he said, “and you don’t have to slow down to corner.”

REIGNING SPAIN!

Euro 2008 final fan

Euro 2008 final fan

Labanter’s Mad-for-it-Manc and The GOONER joined Spanish and German fans as they took over SM’s The King’s Head and Barney’s Beanery to witness a tense match, won by a touch of class from Scouse striker Fernando Torres.

In the 33rd minute Torres raced passed a seemingly stagnant Philipp Lahm to smartly lift a Xavi through ball over German keeper Jens Lehman.

Spain had dominated play from the kick-off and the always dangerous Torres had hit the post with a header when he rose to meet Sergio Ramos’s cross on 22 minutes.

One goal down, the expected German onslaught didn’t materialize in the second half and marshaled by the brilliance of Marcos Senna and Cesc Fabregas, Spain missed a paella (ooohhhh) of good chances to do real justice to their dominance.

It might be worth putting a few bob on the Spanish for the next World Cup in South Africa!

SOPHIA’S L.A. DIARY

Rachel Hyde-Harvey

Rachel Hyde-Harvey and, right, Emma Roberts.

At just 20 Rachel Hyde-Harvey is following in the footsteps of fresh-faced English actresses like Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller.
However, her coming out party is not the catwalks of Milan and Paris, or some gritty, British flic.
Rather, it’s the brave new world of media that was the bone of contention during the long and costly Hollywood writer’s strike.
Harvey is the star of Sony Pictures Television’s “Sofia’s Diary,” an online series featured on Bebo, the popular social networking site founded in 2005. She plays Sofia Taylor, a feisty 17-year-old working at a teen magazine in London and living with an overbearing stepmother.
The show is based on an international cross-media format conceived by Portuguese writer Nuno Bernardo. Stretching across Internet, TV print and radio, the show is funded through advertising with a range sponsors who integrate their products into the series.
“My generation are the last to watch television,” said Harvey. “Younger people are watching online.”
Launched in February this year, the show immediately hit the zeitgeist, especially for young girls, garnering five million hits within the first few weeks. It is now up to 16 million views.
Last week, Harvey made a whistle-stop visit to Los Angeles to film a special Hollywood episode.
“I can’t give too much of the storyline away, but we’re filming with Emma Roberts [Julia’s niece] to promote her new film ‘Wild Child,’” said Harvey, in the familiar surroundings of Santa Monica’s famous English bar The King’s Head.
“I think Emma is a really good up and coming actress and she’ll be a great asset to the show.”
A graduate of the same London stage school as Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton and Amy Winehouse, Harvey is the product of a middle-class, middle-England upbringing.
“I wanted to sing, dance and act from a young age, but never knew how to get into it,” she said. “But when I was 13 my parents saw a national audition for stage school in London. I applied and got in.”
Given her young age, the rest isn’t quite history, but she’s beginning to carve out a career on stage and screen having trod the boards in London’s West End and acted opposite Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) in a movie shot in Barcelona.
Hollywood stardom might not be far behind. “I’m out here in L.A. so there’s loads of possibilities,” said Harvey.