About City Connect Cambridge

City Connect was first established in Cambridge and aims to spread to other cities nationally and internationally in the future. City Connect's online magazine style website reaches out to a wide audience and has something for everyone. City Connect offers a comprehensive range of features and articles, such as news, film and music reviews, trends and hot topics, dating advice, culture and style to name but a few. City Connect also holds networking events to join our writers, advertisers and readers together. City Connect events range from the casual to the formal, but everyone with a passion for networking is welcome.

Happy Birthday Alicia Keys

Today City Connect celebrates the birthday of Alicia Keys, the R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, and actress born January 25, 1981.

Alicia Keys in 2011

Alicia Keys in 2011

Biography

Alicia Augello Cook, known professionally as Alicia Keys, released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records. Keys’ debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for “Fallin'” becoming the second American recording artist to win five Grammys in one night. Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.

Keys made guest appearances on several television series in the following years, beginning with Charmed. She made her film debut in Smokin’ Aces which included Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Taraji P. Henson, Jeremy Piven and also went on to appear in The Nanny Diaries which starred Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamitti and Chris Evan in 2007. Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in the same year and sold five million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The following year, she appeared in The Secret Life of Bees with Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, and Dakota Fanning, which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards. She released her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, in December 2009, which became Keys’ first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom. She released her fifth album, Girl on Fire, in November 2012, which became Keys’ fifth chart-topping album in the United States.

Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 65 million records worldwide. Billboard magazine named her the top R&B songs artist of the 2000s decade. In 2010, VH1 included Keys on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Billboard magazine placed her number ten on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. BlackBerry (formerly RIM) named her as its Global Creative Director at the Blackberry 10 Experience event in New York City on January 30, 2013. Keys then opened Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 3, 2013, by singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

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Happy Birthday Gary Barlow

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Gary Barlow who was born on 20 January 1971.

Gary Barlow

Biography

Gary Barlow OBE is a British singer-songwriter, pianist and record producer. He is frontman and lead vocalist of British pop-group Take That and he serves as head judge on the The X Factor. Barlow is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters, having written twelve Number 1 singles. He has had three Number 1 singles and two Number 1 albums as a solo artist, and has had sixteen top 5 hits, eleven Number 1 singles and seven Number 1 albums with Take That. He is also a six-time recipient of the Ivor Novello Award and has sold over 50 million records worldwide. He was appointed OBE in 2012 for services to the music industry and charity.

Barlow, who wrote the majority of the group’s songs, is widely recognised as the musical talent behind Take That. The media have widely acknowledged Barlow’s talent and labelled him as the mastermind behind the unprecedented success of Take That’s comeback and the new musical direction they have taken. Barlow’s solo career was predicted to be very successful, being described as ‘the next George Michael’.

At the beginning of May 2010, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had asked Barlow to organise her 86th birthday and her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Gary Barlow was named as the lead organiser and producer of a concert that took place outside of Buckingham Palace and featuring globally recognised superstar artists. On 4 June 2012 the Diamond Jubilee concert was held outside Buckingham Palace with it acting as a backdrop to a stage built upon the Victoria Memorial featuring artists from all across the world. The concert included music stemming from the 50’s to the 00’s with each decade of her reign reflected in the music performed. Barlow himself appeared alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and his own Commonwealth Band to perform the self written official jubilee single “Sing” while also dueting with Cheryl Cole on the night which won praise from critics who called “the performance as [two of] the best of Britain [who] proved their pop credentials with a dazzling duet.” The reception from the concert was universal in praise for the efforts of Barlow with Prince Charles himself personally thanking him for putting together the concert.

On 7 May 2011, it was announced that Barlow was in advanced talks to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on The X Factor. He was officially confirmed as a judge on 30 May alongside the returning Louis Walsh and new judge Tulisa Contostavlos and fellow new judge Kelly Rowland, who replaced Dannii Minogue. Barlow was given the “Boys” category for the live shows and mentored Marcus Collins to the final of the X Factor where he became runner up.

After a successful debut as a judge on the The X Factor in 2011, it was announced that Barlow would return to The X Factor for a second year. He was later joined by returning Louis Walsh on the judging panel, alongside Tulisa Contostavlos. With Kelly Rowland being replaced by Nicole Scherzinger who later became the winning mentor with James Arthur. For his second year as a mentor, he was given the “Overs” category which featured both male and female artists over the age of 28. He became the only judge to have four acts in the finals after singer Christopher Maloney was voted into the show by the public and became the 13th finalist. Barlow guided Christopher Maloney to the final of the show, becoming Barlow’s second X Factor finalist in consecutive years.

Barlow revealed on 9 December 2012 that he may not return as a judge for a third series on The X Factor, stating that he doesn’t know “if there is room” in his diary for the programme.

After 20 years within the music industry in which Barlow has achieved phenomenal success across the world; coupled with his efforts to raise money and awareness for various charities he was honoured in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours. He was appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 June 2012, which he was awarded on the 21st of November for “services to the Entertainment Industry and to Charity”.

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Happy Birthday Jason Segel

Today City Connect celebrates the birthday of Jason Segel (born January 18, 1980). Jason Segel an American actor, screenwriter, songwriter, singer, puppeteer and musician. He is known for his role as Marshall Eriksen in the CBS hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, as well as his work with producer Judd Apatow on the cult classic, short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared; the films Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Knocked Up; I Love You, Man; Gulliver’s Travels; Bad Teacher; Despicable Me; The Muppets and The Five-Year Engagement.

Jason SegelBiography

Jason Segel’s first major role was as stoner “freak” Nick Andopolis on the critically acclaimed but short-lived 1999 NBC comedy-drama series Freaks and Geeks. The series revolved around a group of suburban Detroit high school students circa 1980. Segel personally composed a song for his character, Nick, to sing to the lead female character, Lindsay (Linda Cardellini). Cardellini and Segel dated for a few years following the show’s cancellation. It was rumored that she broke up with him for gaining too much weight, but it was later revealed that the statement was in fact a joke taken out of context.

Jason Segel had recurring roles on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as Neil Jansen and on Undeclared as Eric. He currently plays Marshall Eriksen on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother; he had previously stated he would move on to other projects in 2013 when his contract expired, but was successfully convinced to finish the series after its ninth season in 2014. Feature film appearances include Slackers, SLC Punk!, The Good Humor Man, and Dead Man on Campus. In 2007, he appeared in Knocked Up, directed by Freaks and Geeks creator Judd Apatow. Segel starred in the lead role of 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a film he wrote and Apatow produced with Shauna Robertson for Universal Pictures. He also starred in I Love You, Man, which was released on March 20, 2009 by DreamWorks.

In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Segel’s character writes a “Dracula” musical performed by puppets. He also appeared in a full frontal nude scene in the film. In an interview, he stated that the Dracula musical with puppets, as well as being broken up with while naked, were real experiences he wrote into the movie. Those cloth creatures were custom-made by the Jim Henson Company, and the experience emboldened Segel to pitch his concept for a Muppets movie. Segel performed a song from the film, entitled “Dracula’s Lament”, on the 1000th episode of Craig Ferguson’s show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

For the 2010 comedy Get Him to the Greek, Segel co-wrote most of the soundtrack’s music which was performed by the fictional band Infant Sorrow. He also appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and sang an original song entitled “Wonky Eyed Girl”.

In 2010, he voiced Gru’s arch-rival Vector in the Universal’s CGI animated film, Despicable Me and appeared as “Horatio” in a fantasy comedy film Gulliver’s Travels directed by Rob Letterman and very loosely based on Part One of the 18th-century novel of the same name by Jonathan Swift. Segel appeared in Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz, which opened in June 2011. He played gym teacher and thwarted suitor Russell Gettis. Along with Nicholas Stoller, Segel approached Disney in 2007 to write the latest Muppets film. Disney was unsure on how to take the request, as Segel had just done frontal nudity in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but after realizing that he was an avid fan, the project was approved. Segel stated that he wanted to do the film because the last film in the series to be released in theaters was Muppets from Space in 1999, and he felt that the younger generation was missing out on enjoying one of his childhood favorites. He has stated that he will not star in the sequel to The Muppets. He filmed The Five-Year Engagement, with Emily Blunt, in spring 2011, in Michigan, and the film was released on April 27, 2012.

In 2013, Segel revealed he was working on a series of young adult novels, based on a story he conceived when he was 21. Segel will also be in the cast of a film based on the 2012 Quebec maple syrup heist, which will be directed by Seth Gordon.

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Happy Birthday Jason Bateman

Jason Bateman – the American television and film actor – was born on this day 14 January in 1969 and City Connect celebrates his birthday in our weekly Born This Day series of famous people birthday tributes by looking at Bateman’s life and work on the small and silver screens.

After appearing in several 1980s and 1990s sitcoms including It’s Your Move, and The Hogan Family, Jason Bateman came to prominence in the early 2000s for playing Michael Bluth on Arrested Development, for which he won a TV Land, a Golden Globe, and two Satellite Awards. Jason Bateman has since established himself in Hollywood by appearing in several films including The Kingdom, Juno, Hancock, Up in the Air, Horrible Bosses, The Change-Up and Identity Thief.

Jason Bateman

Biography

Bateman was born in Rye, New York, the son of Victoria Elizabeth, a former flight attendant for Pan Am, and Kent Bruce Bateman, an actor, film and television writer/director, and founder of a repertory stage in Hollywood. His mother was from the United Kingdom, born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. His older sister is actress Justine Bateman, of Family Ties fame. Bateman also has three half-brothers. His family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, when he was four, and later to California.

Television

Bateman began his television career on Little House On The Prairie. He appeared in the Knight Rider third-season episode “Lost Knight” in 1984. In 1987, he appeared with Burt Reynolds on the men’s team in the inaugural week of game show Win, Lose or Draw. He earned the status of teen idol in the mid-1980s in shows such as Silver Spoons, It’s Your Move, and most notably Valerie (later renamed Valerie’s Family, and then The Hogans, and then The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper left the series), and became the Directors Guild of America’s youngest-ever director when he helmed three episodes of The Hogan Family at the age of eighteen.

After the series ended its run, he gained international recognition in the motion picture Teen Wolf Too, which, despite his casting in the title role, was a box office failure. In 1994, he played opposite legendary actors Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn in the television film This Can’t Be Love. During this period, he had major roles on four series—Simon, Chicago Sons, George & Leo, and Some of My Best Friends—none of which lasted longer than one season. He also directed an episode of Two of a Kind in 1998. In 2002, he played the frisky sibling of Thomas Jane’s character in the feature film The Sweetest Thing.

In 2003, Bateman was cast as Michael Bluth in the comedy series Arrested Development. Although critically acclaimed, the series never achieved high ratings and ended on February 10, 2006. Bateman won several awards for his work on the series, including a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. He was also nominated in 2005 for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.

Bateman performed commentary on the 2004 Democratic National Convention for The Majority Report with Arrested Development co-star David Cross, and hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live on February 12, 2005. In 2006, he appeared as a guest star on the Scrubs episode “My Big Bird” as Mr. Sutton, a garbage man with a flock of vicious ostriches as pets.

In 2009, Bateman became a regular voice actor for the short-lived Fox comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up. He voiced Larry Littlejunk, the gym teacher and only staff member that can teach. In 2010, Bateman and former Arrested Development co-star Will Arnett created “DumbDumb Productions,” a production company focusing on digital content. Their first video was “Prom Date,” the first in a series of “Dirty Shorts” for Orbit.

Film

In 2004, Bateman appeared in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story as ESPN 8 (“The Ocho”) commentator Pepper Brooks, and in Starsky & Hutch as Kevin, Vince Vaughn’s business partner.

Bateman reunited with Vaughn in 2006’s The Break-Up. In 2007, he played former lawyer Rupert “Rip” Reed alongside Ben Affleck in Smokin’ Aces, and also starred in The Kingdom, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and Juno. In 2008, he co-starred with Will Smith and Charlize Theron in the superhero film Hancock.

Bateman’s 2009 films included Extract, written and directed by Mike Judge, and Couples Retreat, reuniting with Vince Vaughn in a comedy chronicling four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort (Kristen Bell played his wife).

In 2010, he starred in The Switch, a romantic comedy, with Jennifer Aniston. In 2011, he played the role of Special Agent Zoil in the comedy Paul, and starred in Horrible Bosses. 2011 also saw Bateman star in the hilarious comedy The Change-Up opposite Ryan Reynolds.

It was announced in January 2012 that a sequel to Horrible Bosses is in the works. In March 2012, Mansome, Jason Bateman’s first executive producer credit with Will Arnett, was announced as a Spotlight selection for the Tribeca Film Festival. The documentary, directed by Morgan Spurlock, is a comedic look at male identity as it is defined through men’s grooming habits, featuring celebrity and expert commentary. He made a dramatic turn in 2012 with the thriller film Disconnect, and starred in the 2013 comedy film Identity Thief.

In 2013, Bateman made his directorial debut with Bad Words. He is also set to direct and star in an adaptation of The Family Fang.

Personal Life

Bateman told Best Life magazine that he and sister Justine Bateman supported their parents with the paychecks they earned on their television shows, and that his father was his manager until Jason fired him at the age of 20. Throughout the nineties, Bateman struggled with drug use; he stated in an interview in 2009 that “It was like Risky Business for 10 years”.

Bateman with wife Amanda Anka in August 2011

Since July 2001, Bateman has been married to Amanda Anka, daughter of singer Paul Anka. Their child, Francesca Nora Bateman, was born October 28, 2006. Their second child,  Maple Sylvie, was born February 10, 2012.

In late 2005, he had surgery to remove a benign polyp from his throat. The surgery and required recovery time halted production on Arrested Development, though enough episodes had been completed to get the show through the November sweeps period.

Bateman is a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and wore Dodgers clothing in the 2008 film Hancock.

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Happy Birthday Patrick Dempsey

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Patrick Dempsey who was born on 13 January 1966. Patrick Dempsey is best known for his role as neurosurgeon Dr. Derek Shepherd (“McDreamy”) on the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Patrick Dempsey

Biography

Patrick Dempsey was discovered by an invitation to audition for a role in the stage production of Torch Song Trilogy. His audition was successful, and he spent the following four months touring with the company in Philadelphia. Patrick Dempsey’s first major feature film role was at age 21 with Beverly D’Angelo in the movie In The Mood, the true World War II story about Ellsworth Wisecarver whose relationships with older married women created a national uproar. This was followed by the teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love in 1987 with actress Amanda Peterson and Some Girls with Jennifer Connelly in 1988. This film was a flop. In 1989, Dempsey had the lead role in the films Loverboy with actress Kirstie Alley and Happy Together with actress Helen Slater.

Patrick Dempsey’s first major television role was a recurring role as Will’s closeted sportscaster boyfriend on Will & Grace. He went on to play the role of Aaron Brooks, Lily & Judy’s psychologically unbalanced brother, on Once & Again. Dempsey received an Emmy nomination in 2001 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Aaron.

Patrick Dempsey has received significant public attention for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd in the drama Grey’s Anatomy. Prior to landing the role of Derek Shepherd, Dempsey auditioned for the role of Dr. Gregory House on another medical show, House. Initially a midseason replacement, the show was very well received and has become a highly rated program. Dempsey’s character is often referred to as “McDreamy” and has received press attention for his sex appeal, and his chemistry with Grey’s Anatomy co-star Ellen Pompeo was well received by fans and critics. Patrick Dempsey was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama at the 2006 Golden Globes for the role. On May 9, 2012, it was announced that the six original cast members including Dempsey had signed up for two more seasons.

In 2002, Patrick Dempsey had a high-profile role as the fiancé of Reese Witherspoon’s character in Sweet Home Alabama. In 2004, he co-starred in the highly acclaimed HBO production Iron Jawed Angels, opposite Hilary Swank and Anjelica Huston. In 2007, Patrick Dempsey starred in the Disney film Enchanted, and the Paramount Pictures film Freedom Writers where he reunited with his Iron Jawed Angels co-star Hilary Swank. Patrick Dempsey’s most recent roles include the 2008 film Made of Honor as Tom and the 2010’s romantic comedy Valentine’s Day. Patrick Dempsey starred as Dylan Gould in the 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon. On November 1, 2012, Deadline.com reported that Patrick Dempsey is set to star in the romantic comedy Wonderful Tonight playing opposite Amanda Seyfried.

Patrick Dempsey enjoys auto racing in his spare time, having competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race, and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race. He was a co-owner of the Vision Racing IndyCar Series team and current owner of Dempsey Racing, which is presently racing two Mazda RX-8 cars in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class. He participates in this series as often as his schedule allows, as he is unable to race while filming a movie due to insurance issues.

Patrick Dempsey was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 12. As a result, it is necessary for him to memorize all his lines in order to perform, even for auditions where he was unlikely to get the part.

Entertainment Weekly put Patrick Dempsey’s hair on its end-of-the-decade “best-of” list, saying, “What made Grey’s Anatomy a mega-medi-hit? It could have something to do with creator Shonda Rhimes’ scalpel-sharp writing…or McDreamy’s impossibly luxurious man hair. Just saying.” BuddyTV ranked him #74 on its list of “TV’s Sexiest Men of 2011”.

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Happy Birthday Ashley Taylor Dawson

Today City Connect celebrates the birthday of Ashley Taylor Dawson (born 11 January 1982). Ashley Taylor Dawson is an English actor and singer. He is best known for his role as Darren Osborne in the British Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, in which he is one of the longest serving cast members and as being a member of UK pop band allSTARS*.

Ashley Taylor Dawson entertainment-focusBiography

Dawson has played the role of Darren Osborne in Hollyoaks since 1999. Actor Adam Booth originally played the part before leaving in 1997. The character rejoined Hollyoaks in 1999 when Dawson secured the part. Dawson joined Hollyoaks when he was 17 years old after getting his big break with the National Youth Theatre. He went onto secure the part of Darren following an audition, but soon after left in 2000 to join ALLSTARS*. Dawson re-joined the show in August 2003 after AllSTARS* split up. On playing the part Dawson said “I love playing the bad lad. He’s my alter ego”.

He was a member of the UK pop band allSTARS*. His college best friend, Sam Bloom, called him up for an audition and invited him over. Byrne Blood Productions (Steps, A1), the management company at that time, was surprised to find that the actor could also dance and sing. Dawson eventually made it in, getting accepted and rising to fame. Dawson and Bloom also shared a flat together. Other than performing, he also appeared in allSTARS*’ Accompanying CITV television show, STARStreet*. Dawson made a lot of appearances with the band, such as performing on the accompanying TV show, STARStreet*. Dawson was featured in other shows as well. He performed with the band on 80s Mania in 2001, and was next seen on episodes of Top of the Pops. He later made an appearance in Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Stars in Their Eyes and RI:SE. While with the group they managed to score four Top 20 singles in their two year career.

Ashley Taylor Dawson dailymailAshley Taylor Dawson appeared along with Darren Day in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, UK. As a teenager, he appeared in a number of amateur productions in his home town, including Wilmslow Guild Players’ production of Jack and the Beanstalk in 1996, for which he was nominated for The Barry Phillips Award for the Most Promising Youngster (Male) in the Cheshire Theatre Guild Awards.

ATD with Strictly partner Ola Jordan

ATD with Strictly partner Ola Jordan

In September 2013, Taylor Dawson was announced as a participating contestant on the current eleventh series of the reality ballroom talent competition, Strictly Come Dancing. His dancing partner was Ola Jordan. They were voted out in the quarter-finals, on 8 December.

ATD on Strictly Come Dancing 2013

ATD on Strictly Come Dancing 2013

In January 2011 Dawson announced that he and long term partner Karen McKay were expecting their first child; son Buddy Mac Taylor Dawson was born on 23 March 2011. They got engaged in September 2011.The couple’s second son Mason Mac Taylor Dawson was born on 1 October 2013, during Dawson’s time on Strictly Come Dancing.

Ashley-Taylor-Dawson 04Dawson is fond of sports and plays football, tennis and basketball. He supports Manchester United F.C. and considered a career as a professional footballer. He currently plays occasional charity football matches with the “Hollyoaks All-Stars”.

Ashley Taylor Dawson recently appeared on the cover of Attitude and has featured in several magazine photoshoots wearing very little clothing.

Ashley-Taylor-Dawson 01

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Happy Birthday Nicholas Cage

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Nicholas Cage, the Academy Award-winning American actor, producer and director. Nicolas Cage is one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, earning $40 million in 2009 according to Forbes Magazine.

Biography

Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola on January 7, 1964 in Long Beach, California. His father, August Coppola, a professor of literature, and his mother, Joy Vogelsang, a dancer and choreographer, divorced in 1976. He was raised in a Catholic family. Cage’s mother is of German descent and his father was of Italian descent (his paternal grandparents were composer Carmine Coppola and actress Italia Pennino, and his paternal great-grandparents were immigrants from Bernalda, Basilicata). Through his father, Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, and the cousin of directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola, film producer Gian-Carlo Coppola, and actors Robert Carmine and Jason Schwartzman. Cage’s two brothers are New York radio personality Marc “The Cope” Coppola and director Christopher Coppola. He attended Beverly Hills High School, which is known for its many alumni who became entertainers. He aspired to act from an early age and also attended UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. His first non-cinematic acting experience was in a school production of Golden Boy.

To avoid the appearance of nepotism as the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, he changed his name early in his career to Nicolas Cage, inspired in part by the Marvel Comics superhero Luke Cage. Since his minor role in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn, Cage has appeared in a wide range of films, both mainstream and offbeat. He tried out for the role of Dallas Winston in his uncle’s film The Outsiders, based on S.E. Hinton’s novel, but lost to Matt Dillon. He was also in Coppola’s films Rumble Fish and Peggy Sue Got Married.

Other Cage roles included appearances in the acclaimed 1987 romantic-comedy Moonstruck, also starring Cher; The Coen Brothers cult-classic comedy Raising Arizona; David Lynch’s 1990 offbeat film Wild at Heart; a lead role in Martin Scorsese’s 1999 New York City paramedic drama Bringing Out the Dead; and Ridley Scott’s 2003 quirky drama Matchstick Men, in which he played an agoraphobic, mysophobic, obsessive-compulsive con artist with a tic disorder.

Cage has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, winning once for his performance as a suicidal alcoholic in Leaving Las Vegas. His other nomination was for his portrayal of real-life screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Kaufman’s fictional twin Donald in Adaptation. Despite these successes, most of his lower-profile films have performed poorly at the box office compared to his mainstream action/adventure roles. The suspense thriller 8mm (1999) was not a box office success, but is now considered a cult film. He took the lead role in the 2001 film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and learned to play the mandolin from scratch for the part. In 2005, two offbeat films he headlined, Lord of War and The Weather Man, failed to find a significant audience despite nationwide releases and good reviews for his acting in those roles. Poor reviews for The Wicker Man resulted in low box office sales. The much criticized Ghost Rider (2007), based on the Marvel Comics character, fared better, earning more than $45 million (the top earner) during its opening weekend and over $208 million worldwide through the weekend ending on March 25, 2007. Also in 2007, he made his directorial debut in Sonny and he starred in Next, which shares the concept of a glimpse into an alternate timeline with The Family Man (2000).

Most of Cage’s movies that have achieved financial success were in the action/adventure genre. In his second-highest grossing film to date, National Treasure, he plays an eccentric historian who goes on a dangerous adventure to find treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States. Other action hits include The Rock, in which Cage plays a young FBI chemical weapons expert who infiltrates Alcatraz Island in hopes of neutralizing a terrorist threat, Face/Off, a John Woo film where he plays both a hero and a villain, and World Trade Center, director Oliver Stone’s film regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks. He had a small but notable role as the Chinese criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu in Rob Zombie’s fake trailer Werewolf Women of the S.S. from the B-movie double feature Grindhouse.

Cage made his directorial debut with Sonny, a low-budget drama starring James Franco as a male prostitute whose mother (Brenda Blethyn) serves as his pimp. Cage had a small role in the film, which received poor reviews and a short run in a limited number of theatres. Cage’s producing career includes Shadow of the Vampire, the first effort from Saturn Films.

In early December 2006, Cage announced at the Bahamas International Film Festival that he planned to curtail his future acting endeavors to pursue other interests. On The Dresden Files for the Sci-Fi Channel, Cage is listed as the executive producer. Cage said: “I feel I’ve made a lot of movies already and I want to start exploring other opportunities that I can apply myself to, whether it’s writing or other interests that I may develop.”

In November 2007, Cage was spotted backstage at a Ring of Honor wrestling show in New York City researching his role for The Wrestler. The role was ultimately played by Mickey Rourke, who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance. Wrestler Director Darren Aronofsky, in an interview with slashfilm.com, said of Cage’s decision to leave the film that: “Nic was a complete gentleman, and he understood that my heart was with Mickey and he stepped aside. I have so much respect for Nic Cage as an actor and I think it really could have worked with Nic but … you know, Nic was incredibly supportive of Mickey and he is old friends with Mickey and really wanted to help with this opportunity, so he pulled himself out of the race.”

In 2008, Cage appeared as Joe, a contract killer who undergoes a change of heart while on a work outing in Bangkok, in the film Bangkok Dangerous. The film is shot by the Pang Brothers and has a distinct South-East Asian flavour. In 2009, Cage starred in science fiction thriller Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas. In the film, he plays an MIT professor who examines the contents of a time capsule unearthed at his son’s elementary school. Startling predictions found inside the capsule that have already come true lead him to believe the world is going to end at the close of the week, and that he and his son are somehow involved in the destruction. The film received mainly negative reviews but was the box office winner on its opening weekend. Also in 2009, Cage starred in the film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, directed by acclaimed German director Werner Herzog. He portrayed a corrupt police officer with gambling, drug and alcohol addictions. The film was very well-received by critics, holding a rating of 87% positive reviews on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Cage received lauds for his performance, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writing “Herzog has found his ideal interpreter, a performer whose truth lies deep in the artifice of performance: ladies and gentlemen, Nicolas Cage, at his finest.” This film reunited Cage with Eva Mendes, who played his love interest in Ghost Rider. In 2010, Cage starred in the period piece Season of the Witch, playing a 14th-century knight transporting a girl accused of causing the Black Plague to a monastery, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, in which he played the sorcerer.

In 2012, Cage reprised his role in Ghost Rider’s sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. He voiced the character Grug Crood in the animated film The Croods, which was released in 2013. The Croods received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success grossing $585 million against a budget of $135 million.

Cage has been married three times. His first wife was actress Patricia Arquette (married on April 8, 1995, divorce finalized on May 18, 2001). Cage later married singer/songwriter Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. Cage is an Elvis fan and used the star as the base of his performance in Wild at Heart. Presley and Cage married on August 10, 2002 and filed for divorce on November 25, 2002 which was finalized on May 16, 2004. The divorce proceeding was longer than the marriage.

Cage met his third and current wife Alice Kim, a former waitress who previously worked at the plush Los Angeles restaurant Kabuki, at the Los Angeles-based Korean nightclub, Le Privé. She bore their son, Kal-El, (after Superman’s birth name) on October 3, 2005.

In February 2011, Cage claimed to have created a new method of acting he calls “Nouveau Shamanic”. He claims to have used the acting style throughout his career and one day plans to write a book about the method.

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Happy Birthday Nigella Lawson

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Nigella Lawson who was born on 6 January 1960. Nigella is renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting and has been called the “Queen of Food Porn”.

Nigella Lawson

Biography

Nigella Lawson (born 6 January 1960) is an English food writer, journalist and broadcaster. Nigella Lawson is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa Salmon, whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. empire. After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Nigella Lawson started work as a book reviewer and restaurant critic, later becoming the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986. She then embarked upon a career as a freelance journalist, writing for a number of newspapers and magazines.

In 1998, Nigella Lawson brought out her first cook book, How to Eat, which sold 300,000 copies and became a best-seller. She went on to write her second book in 2000, How to be a Domestic Goddess, winning her the British Book Award for Author of the Year.

In 1999, she hosted her own cooking show series, Nigella Bites on Channel 4, which was accompanied by another best-selling cook book. The Nigella Bites series won Nigella Lawson a Guild of Food Writers Award; her 2005 ITV daytime chat show was met with a negative critical reaction and was cancelled after attracting low ratings. Nigella Lawson hosted the Food Network’s Nigella Feasts in the United States in 2006 followed by a three-part BBC Two series, Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, in the United Kingdom. This led to the commissioning of Nigella Express on BBC Two in 2007. Her own cookware range, Living Kitchen, has a value of £7 million, and she has sold more than 3 million cook books worldwide.

Nigella Lawson has become renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, although she argues, “It’s not meant to be flirtatious. … I don’t have the talent to adopt a different persona. It’s intimate, not flirtatious”. The perceived overt sexuality of her presentation style has led to Lawson’s being called the “queen of food porn”. Many commentators have alluded to Nigella Lawson’s attractiveness, and she was once named as one of the world’s most beautiful women. She has been referred to as “stunningly beautiful, warm, honest, likeable and amazingly normal”, as well as being described as having “flawless skin, perfect white teeth, a voluptuous body, ample height and lots of lush, brown hair”. The media has also noted Nigella Lawson’s ability to engage with both male and female viewers; The Guardian wrote, “Men love her because they want to be with her. Women love her because they want to be her”. The chef, Gary Rhodes, spoke out against Nigella Lawson by suggesting that her viewers are attracted to her smile rather than the cooking itself. Despite often being labelled as a domestic goddess, she insists that she exhibits very few of the qualities associated with the title.

Nigella Lawson is also known for her vivid and adjective-filled food descriptions in both her books and television programmes, as one critic summarised, “her descriptions of food can be a tangle of adjectives.” In a study conducted in 2007 on the readability of different recipes, the chatty and florid style of Nigella Lawson’s recipes was judged to be confusing to readers with weak reading skills. Nigella Lawson has also expressed her surprise at how many reviews in the United States have mentioned her class and posh accent.

Comedians and commentators have taken to mocking Nigella Lawson’s style of presentation, particularly in a regularly occurring impersonation of her in the BBC comedy series Dead Ringers, because they perceive that she plays overtly upon her attractiveness and sexuality as a device to engage viewers of her cookery programmes. Impressions by Ronni Ancona that further parodied Nigella Lawson’s presenting style have also been featured on the BBC One impersonation sketch show, The Big Impression.

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Happy Birthday Henri Matisse

Today, City Connect celebrates the anniversary of the birth of French artist Henri Matisse who was born on 31 December 1869.

Henri Matisse

Biography

Henri Matisse was a French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the 20th century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture. Although he was initially labelled a Fauve (wild beast), by the 1920s he was increasingly hailed as an upholder of the classical tradition in French painting. His mastery of the expressive language of colour and drawing, displayed in a body of work spanning over a half-century, won him recognition as a leading figure in modern art.

Around April 1906 he met Pablo Picasso, who was 12 years younger than Matisse. The two became life-long friends as well as rivals and are often compared; one key difference between them is that Matisse drew and painted from nature, while Picasso was much more inclined to work from imagination. The subjects painted most frequently by both artists were women and still life, with Matisse more likely to place his figures in fully realized interiors.

The Dance

In 1917 Matisse relocated to Cimiez on the French Riviera, a suburb of the city of Nice. His work of the decade or so following this relocation shows a relaxation and a softening of his approach. This “return to order” is characteristic of much art of the post-World War I period, and can be compared with the neoclassicism of Picasso and Stravinsky, and the return to traditionalism of Derain. His orientalist odalisque paintings are characteristic of the period; while this work was popular, some contemporary critics found it shallow and decorative.

In 1941, Matisse underwent surgery in which a colostomy was performed. Afterwards he started using a wheelchair, and until his death he was cared for by a Russian woman, Lydia Delektorskaya, formerly one of his models. With the aid of assistants he set about creating cut paper collages, often on a large scale, called gouaches découpés.

Blue Nude II

His Blue Nudes series feature prime examples of this technique he called “painting with scissors”; they demonstrate the ability to bring his eye for colour and geometry to a new medium of utter simplicity, but with playful and delightful power.

Matisse died of a heart attack at the age of 84 in 1954. He is interred in the cemetery of the Monastère Notre Dame de Cimiez, near Nice.

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Happy Birthday Ricky Martin

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Latino pop star Ricky Martin who was born on 24 December 1971. Ricky Martin’s exuberant 1999 single “Livin’ la Vida Loca” made him a prominent figure of Latin dance-pop. In 2010 Martin announced that he was a “fortunate homosexual man”, ending years of speculation on the topic. Ricky Martin will be playing Ché in the Broadway revival of the show Evita, scheduled to begin previews on Broadway in March 2012, ahead of an opening in April 2012.

Biography

Ricky Martin is a Puerto Rican and Spanish pop singer and actor who achieved prominence, first as a member of the Latin boy band Menudo, then as a solo artist since 1991.

During his career he has sold more than 60 million album copies worldwide. He is the founder of Ricky Martin Foundation (in Spanish Fundación Ricky Martin), a non-profit charity organization. Ricky Martin’s exuberant 1999 single “Livin’ la Vida Loca” made him a prominent figure of Latin dance-pop. Ricky Martin got his start with the all-boy pop group Menudo; after five years with the group, he released his Spanish-language solo album, Ricky Martin, in 1991. He also acted on stage and on TV in Mexico, becoming a modest star there. In 1994 he starred on the American TV soap opera General Hospital, playing a Puerto Rican singer. In 1999, after several albums in Spanish, he released his first English-language album (also titled Ricky Martin), which included the salsa-style “Livin’ la Vida Loca”. The album sold 22 million copies and brought Ricky Martin international fame. His other studio albums include: Me Amarás (1993), A Medio Vivir (1995), Vuelve (1998), Sound Loaded (2000), Almas del Silencio (2003), Life (2005), and Música + Alma + Sexo (2011).

On the edge of the new millennium, Martin – almost by himself – gave Latino music an international face. An acclaimed performance at the 1999 Grammy Awards launched Martin into worldwide super-stardom. As Entertainment Weekly’s Andrew Essex reported, “his leather-pants, electro-pelvis version of ‘La Copa de la Vida’ single-handedly goosed a very dull [Grammy] telecast, earning him a standing ovation.”

Ricky Martin’s twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, were born via a surrogate mother in 2008. Ricky Martin also co-owns a Miami restaurant, Casa Salsa, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.

On March 29, 2010, Ricky Martin publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in a post on his official web site by stating, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.” Ricky Martin said that “these years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within, and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.”

Ricky Martin announced on The Oprah Winfrey Show that he is in a relationship. He has also expressed support for same-sex marriage in an interview on Larry King Live, and commented on his experience of being closeted and coming out. “Everything about saying that I am gay feels right…”, Ricky Martin stated, adding “if I’d known how good it was going to feel, I would have done it ten years ago.”

On November 2011, he acquired Spanish nationality in recognition of his artistic talents and for having roots in the country, Ricky Martin’s grandmother is Spanish, and he owns a residence in Madrid. As a Spanish citizen he can now marry his boyfriend in Spain. He said he could marry in some states of the United States, but he wanted to marry in Spain to recognize the efforts of Zapatero in defense of LGBT rights.

Ricky Martin is the founder of Fundación Ricky Martin (English: Ricky Martin Foundation), a non-profit organization. Among the events promoted by the foundation was a summer camp, which included Martin’s personal participation.

Ricky Martin has been honored with many accolades for his humanitarian efforts including: Leadership in the Arts Award, Billboard’s Spirit of Hope Award, ALMA Award, Vanguard Award, International Humanitarian Award by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, Hispanic Heritage Award for his humanitarian work through the Sabera Foundation in rescuing three orphan girls from the streets of Kolkata (September 2002).

Ricky Martin has also collaborated with the International Organization for Migration on the Llama y Vive (Call and Live), a campaign which is aimed to facilitate prevention of human trafficking, protection of the youngest victims of child trafficking, and prosecution of the traffickers. For his work against human trafficking, the United States Department of State named Ricky Martin one of its Heroes in Ending Modern-Day Slavery in 2005.

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Happy Birthday Paul Cadmus

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of American artist Paul Cadmus who was born on 17 December 1904 and died on 12 December 1999. Paul Cadmus is best known for his paintings and drawings of nude male figures. His works combined elements of eroticism and social critique to produce a style often called magic realism. Paul Cadmus painted with egg tempera.

Paul Cadmus

Biography

In 1934 Paul Cadmus painted The Fleet’s In! while working for the Public Works of Art Project of the WPA. This painting, featuring carousing sailors, women, and a homosexual couple, was the subject of a public outcry and was removed from exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery. The publicity helped to launch his career. “The Battle of the Corcoran” was a critical turning point in the career of the young, 29 year-old Greenwich Village artist who was suddenly thrust into national prominence. Involving elements of overt censorship, it was brought back into the limelight decades later.

The Fleets In (1934)

As a young scholar, Philip Eliasoph was given unprecedented access to work with Cadmus to record for posterity the biographical details of his career. Completing ‘Paul Cadmus:Life & Work’ Eliasoph realized there was a missing piece as Cadmus’ notorious sailor painting was created for the first New Deal art project, the P.W.A.P. and rightfully belonged in the public domain as Federal property. ‘The Fleet’s In!’ had been seized by Navy admirals at the behest of Roosevelt administration officials for the Corcoran’s premier event showcasing the first examples of New Deal art patronage, the sexually explicit painting was overtly censored. Secretary of the Navy Swanson stated the [painting] “represents a most disgraceful, sordid, disreputable, drunken brawl..” [Time, April, 30, 1934]. Cadmus defended himself: “I owe the start of my career to the Admiral who tried to suppress it. I didn’t feel any moral indignation about those sailors, even though it woundn’t be my idea of a good time. I always enjoyed watching them when I was young. I somewhat envied the freedom of their lives and their lack of inhibitions.”

“This, then, is my viewpoint – a satirical viewpoint: and I think I’m correct in saying that genuine satire has always been considered supremely moral,” Cadmus wrote in his “Credo”, a broadside for his first exhibition at Midtown Gallery in 1937. In the tradition of Hogarth, Rowlandson and Daumier, Cadmus felt the urgency to use his artistic expression towards exposing the “replusive” and “malignant” aspects of human behavior towards a “nobler” society. In preparing for the artist’s first and only national Retrospective tour in 1981, Eliasoph sought restitution of the painting. He sought out the counsel of Karel Yasko, Counselor for Fine Arts and Historic Preservation of the General Services Administration, in Washington D.C. Since the end of the New Deal, the GSA had been given supervisory authority for federal property created by artists. Cadmus showed Eliasoph evidence that his painting – which he had last seen when he delievered it to Juliana Force at the old Whitney Museum on 8th Street in 1934 – had been confiscated and sequestered in an elite private men’s social club in Washington. The Alibi Club on “I” street had received the painting from FDR’s cousin, Henry Latrobe Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and a club member. The second ‘Battle of the Corcoran’ ensued when Eliasoph commenced a legal campaign to recover the painting aided by Yasko’s threat to the club to seize it using federal marshalls. With amicable negotiations, and a public airing of this “censorship” matter in The Washington Post, the painting was legally transferred back to the U.S. Navy Historical Center in Washington, D.C. where it is now proudly displayed. It was not until the opening night of Cadmus’ retrospective, at the Miami University Art Museum, in Oxford, Ohio, that Cadmus was re-united with the work he had not seen in over 47 years.

The third “Battle of the Corcoran” took place decades later when the homo-erotic photographic exhibit of Robert Mapplethorpe was removed due to pressures about its funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. In a published letter to The New York Times, [Nov. 26, 1989] Eliasoph reminded readers of “The Other Time Censorship Stormed Into the Corcoran Gallery,” noting: “while members of the curatorial staff..might be too young to remember the history of their predecessors, an earlier storm of controversy forced the censorship and removal of an offending artwork from the very same institution 55 years ago… As in most cases of artistic censorship, Mr. Cadmus’ work seems mildly tame and lighthearted compared with today’s notions of sexuality as seen in magazine ads and music videos.”

Paul Cadmus worked in commercial illustration as well, but Jared French, another tempera artist who befriended him and became his lover for a time, convinced him to devote himself completely to fine art.

Jon Andersson, who became Cadmus’s longtime companion of 35 years, was a subject of many of his works.

In 1999 Paul Cadmus died in his home in Weston, Connecticut due to advanced age, just five days short of his 95th birthday.

Cadmus’ sister, Fidelma, was the wife of philanthropist and arts patron Lincoln Kirstein. Cadmus is ranked by Artists Trade Union of Russia amongst the world-best artists of the last four centuries.

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Happy Birthday Kenneth Branagh

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Kenneth Branagh who was born on 10 December 1960. Kenneth Branagh is an actor and film director from Northern Ireland. He is best known for directing and starring in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. Kenneth Branagh has also starred in numerous other films and television series including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Wallander. He directed such notable films as Swan Song (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (also starring) and the 2011 blockbuster action film Thor.

Branagh at the 2011 press conference for Thor

Biography

Kenneth Branagh was born and brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the age of nine, he relocated with his family to Reading, Berkshire to escape the Troubles. At school, he acquired an English accent to avoid bullying. On his identity today he has said, “I feel Irish. I don’t think you can take Belfast out of the boy,” and he attributes his “love of words” to his Irish heritage.

Kenneth Branagh is known for his film adaptations of William Shakespeare, beginning with Henry V (1989) for which was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director, followed by Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Hamlet (1996) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) and As You Like It (2006). As You Like It premiered in theatres in Europe, but was sent directly to television in the U.S., where it aired on HBO in August 2007. Branagh was also in Oliver Parker’s Othello playing Iago.

Notable non-Shakespeare films in which Branagh has appeared include Dead Again (1991) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), both of which he also directed, Wild Wild West (1999), Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and Valkyrie (2008). He starred as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He also played the Minister, Dormandy, (a parody of PMG Tony Benn) in the film The Boat That Rocked (2009).

From 1989 to 1996 Branagh mostly directed his own films, but the commercial and critical failure of Love’s Labour’s Lost ended his directorial career for a time. In 2006, the same year that Branagh’s film version of As You Like It was released, he also directed a film version of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. Branagh has also directed the thriller Sleuth (2007), a remake of the 1972 film.

At a film promotion for Valkyrie in 2008, Branagh confirmed that he would be directing Thor, a film based on the Marvel superhero. Thor, Branagh’s return to big-budget directing, was released on 6 May 2011 and stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.

Branagh is the star of the Wallander television series, adaptations of Henning Mankell’s best-selling Wallander crime novels. Branagh plays the eponymous Inspector Kurt Wallander and also serves as the executive producer of the series. The first three episodes were broadcast on BBC One in November and December 2008. Branagh won the award for best actor at the 35th Broadcasting Press Guild Television and Radio Awards (2009). It was his first major television award win in the UK. He received his first BAFTA TV on 26 April 2009 for the British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series. For his performance in the episode One Step Behind, he was nominated in the Outstanding Actor, Miniseries or Movie category of the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. The role also gained him a nomination for Best Actor at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards. The second season of three episodes were filmed in 2009 and aired in January 2010 on the BBC and October/November 2010 on PBS in the US. Plans have been announced for a third season of six episodes—the last three Mankell novels, as well as three original Wallander stories.

Branagh was married to actress Emma Thompson from 20 August 1989 until 1995. After their divorce, he was in a well-publicised relationship for several years with actress Helena Bonham Carter, whom he directed and starred with in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In 2003, he married film art director Lindsay Brunnock, to whom he was introduced by Bonham Carter in 1997. He speaks Italian and is a lifelong supporter of Belfast football team Linfield, as well as Tottenham Hotspur.

Branagh was the youngest actor to receive the Golden Quill (also known as the Gielgud Award) in 2000. Alongside Roberto Benigni, he is one of only two non-American actors to be nominated for Oscars for acting, writing, and directing, and one of nine actors to have achieved this honour. The other seven are Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, John Huston and John Cassavetes.

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Happy Birthday Julianne Moore

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of American actress Julianne Moore who was born on 03 December 1960. Throughout her career, she has been nominated for four Oscars, six Golden Globes, three BAFTAs and nine Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is also a children’s book author.

Julianne Moore at the 2009 Venice Film Festival

Biography

Julianne Moore began her acting career in 1983 in minor roles, before joining the cast of the soap opera As the World Turns, for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1988. She began to appear in supporting roles in films during the early 1990s, in films such as The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The Fugitive. Her performance in Short Cuts (1993) won her and the rest of the cast a Golden Globe for their ensemble performance, and her performance in Boogie Nights (1997) brought her widespread attention and nominations for several major acting awards.

Her success continued with films such as The Big Lebowski (1998), The End of the Affair (1999) and Magnolia (1999). She received particular acclaim for her portrayal of a betrayed wife in Far from Heaven (2002), winning several critic awards as best actress of the year, in addition to several other nominations, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. The same year, she was also nominated for several awards as best supporting actress for her work in The Hours.

In October 2007, Moore made her literary debut with the publication of Freckleface Strawberry, a children’s book based on her experiences as a child. In April 2009, Moore followed up with a second children’s book titled Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully.

2009 saw Moore appear opposite Colin Firth in the well-received American drama A Single Man, for which she received her fifth Golden Globe nomination, with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calling her performance “explosively good”. During the 2009–2010 season of 30 Rock, she had a guest role as Nancy Donovan, a love interest for Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy.

In 2010, Moore starred in the erotic thriller Chloe, theatrically released by Sony Pictures Classics and has since become director Atom Egoyan’s biggest moneymaker ever. In his review of the film, David Edelstein of the New York magazine called Moore’s performance “extraordinarily raw and affecting.” Moore next appeared in the comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right, co-starring Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo; Moore was instrumental in getting the film made and in getting Bening involved.

The Kids Are All Right was both a critical and commercial success, garnering acting and production nominations from the Gotham Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards, as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy”. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times commented, “Moore and Bening are superb actors here, evoking a marriage of more than 20 years, and all of its shadings and secrets, idealism and compromise”, and the Los Angeles Times review said, “Moore is fearless” and “plays every note perfectly.” For this role, Moore received her sixth Golden Globe Award nomination and a BAFTA nomination.

In July 2011, Moore appeared in the comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love., co-starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, which was successful commercially and received favorable reviews, with The Globe and Mail commenting, “some genuinely impressive acting breaks out. The accomplished Moore is an obvious candidate and, even in a confined role, she delivers – here a nervous look, there a tender gesture.” It has been announced that Moore is to portray former vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin in an upcoming HBO drama. Altogether, she has five upcoming projects, amongst others the fantasy film The Seventh Son based on the book series The Wardstone Chronicles, co-starring Jeff Bridges, in which Moore will star as the “most dangerous 1700s witch” Mother Malkin.

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Happy Birthday Tina Turner

Today, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Tina Turner - the American singer & actress - who was born on 26 November 1939. Her career has spanned more than 50 years and she has won numerous awards. Tina Turner’s achievements in the rock music genre has led many to call her the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Turner’s music continues to be a popular floor-filler to this day and was recently featured on X Factor 2011 when aspiring star Misha Bryan sang her version of “Proud Mary”.

Tina Turner performing on stage in 1985

Biography

Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock) started out her music career with husband Ike Turner as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Success followed with a string of hits including “River Deep, Mountain High” and the 1971 hit “Proud Mary”. With the publication of her autobiography I, Tina (1986), Turner revealed severe instances of spousal abuse against her by Ike Turner prior to their 1976 split and subsequent 1978 divorce.

After virtually disappearing from the music scene for several years following her divorce from Ike Turner, she rebuilt her career, launching a string of hits beginning in 1983 with the single “Let’s Stay Together” and the 1984 release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer.

Her musical career led to film roles, beginning with a prominent role as The Acid Queen in the 1975 film Tommy, and an appearance in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. She starred opposite Mel Gibson as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome for which she received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, and her version of the film’s theme, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, was a hit single. She appeared in the 1993 film Last Action Hero.

One of the world’s most popular entertainers, Turner has been called the most successful female rock artist and was named “one of the greatest singers of all time” by Rolling Stone. Her combined album and single sales total approximately 180 million copies worldwide. She has sold more concert tickets than any other solo music performer in history.

Tina Turner is known for her energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, career longevity, and widespread appeal. In 2008, Turner left semi-retirement to embark on her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour. Turner’s tour became one of the highest selling ticketed shows of 2008–2009.

Turner was born a Baptist, but converted to Buddhism and credits the spiritual chants with giving her the strength that she needed to get through the rough times. Rolling Stone ranked her at 63 on their 100 greatest artists of all time and considers her the “Queen of Rock and Roll”.

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The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 1

In Chapter 1 of City Connect’s brand new series – The Dating Diary of Miss X – the very anonymous and very single Miss X talks about living the dream in London.

I am writing this on my very balcony close to a well known train station in London.

Any friend who visits or knows I live here is immediately intrigued, jealous or even suspicious wondering how I can afford to live in such a wonderfully located flat close to every known amenity that London has to offer.

I could almost jump into the tube or train, the gym is within a 30 second walk, park and tennis courts within a short walk, plentiful shops, oh and check out those very hot men walking past the flat. Luckily I am on the 3rd floor so no one can really see me apart from my Team GB flags waving away. Well I have to show my support.

The feeling at the moment is one of complete jubilation. I must admit I was one of those, although born and bred in the UK (London to be precise) who was not at all excited at the prospect of us hosting the Games. What about the traffic, congestion, tube woes blah blah. The list goes on. The good thing is I am completely and utterly addicted and this occurred directly after the Opening Ceremony which was so brilliant.

I’ve tried with vain to get some tickets but have given up and live vicariously through the few lucky friends who have been there or post on facebook that they have been there (I suspect some have superimposed themselves into the Olympic Park or Velodrome) but none the less I think we are all secretly loving the Games.

I actually live here with other flatmates who are great to live with but it has taken a while to get a ”good vibe” going on here. I love the current ones. The old ones have generally left because a) they were French and went back to France b) Met someone in this flat and got a place together  c) just decided they didn’t like me or one of the existing flatmates.

The last 3 people to have left actually met their partners here so I am really hoping and praying that I can also do just that and have moved rooms into the “lucky” room ie with the balcony so I can do just that. Time will tell.

Oh did I mention that I am single and very single.

A man who recently approached me on a dating website that I hadn’t actually logged on for that many years I didn’t even realise it still existed contacted me recently with the immortal words:

“You’re actually really attractive, why on earth are you still single. Are you a bunny boiler? *smiley face*”

That really riled me – not the bunny boiler thing but the smiley face actually.  No the bunny boiler thing did and yes I would say I am not unattractive but that is not the issue. The issue I think is London and so much choice for guys/girls – we all keep our options open. However saying that if I met the guy I really really liked I would make exceptions as they would for me.   Why should I be mad – I am just really really fussy and for whatever reason find myself still single but actually pretty happy! I am young-ish, free and single to do what I want when I want.

I relish in spending time alone. I do have a very active social life to be perfectly honest and can barely find the time to fit friends in but need to have the “me-time”  I get up at the weekend (alone and no one hogging the bed covers) to go to the gym/swim/run in the park ALONE.  I go and read the Saturday/Sunday papers ALONE. It is bliss. I order what I want at the cafe ALONE.  Yes it sounds like I am a loner but really I am probably the most sociable and pretty confident person you can meet – I just like to have some time to myself and reflect. I thought guys liked that so how can I be a bunny boiler?

I have met a fair few men just for dating and really to test the waters out there. I really feel that I would like to meet a guy which is something for me as I think I was the commitment-phobe before. Saying that guys I am really keen on and fancy the pants off have never really worked out.

I get asked out by many many guys I am just not interested in. My lovely mother says “You are just too fussy”  but so what?  I would sooner be fussy and slightly choosy than be in a relationship which could even be humdrum and many people do just settle…I see many couples like that and in my age thirties am also seeing the first wave of divorcees. So they will be getting out of their marriages and need time to adjust perhaps with a kid or two.

I am completely open on the divorcee or having had a kid even. I would be happy to be a step mum as long as the guy was perhaps open to a child. Saying that though there is no clock or anything near me ticking.

Check back next Friday for Chapter 2 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

Happy Birthday Robert De Niro

On 17 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of acclaimed American actor, producer and director Robert De Niro who was born on this day back in 1943. Robert De Niro has been nominated for the Academy Awards (Oscars) and BAFTAs several times in his acting career and has won two Academy Awards to date: an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and an Oscar for Best Actor in Raging Bull (1980). In recent times, Robert De Niro has taken on occasional roles in comedies such as Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers which have allowed audiences to see a softer, more humourous side to this actor and thus Robert De Niro has avoided being typecast in mob roles. Robert De Niro is a firm believer in Method Acting and has gone to great lengths in the name of roles he has portrayed – for example, De Niro gained 60 pounds and learnt how to box for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.

Biography

Robert De Niro was born in New York City on 17 August 1943. His first major film role was in 1973’s Bang the Drum Slowly. In 1974, he played the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

His critically acclaimed, longtime collaboration with Martin Scorsese began with 1973’s Mean Streets, and earned De Niro an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his roles in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991). In addition, he received nominations for his acting in Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Penny Marshall’s Awakenings (1990). Also in 1990, his portrayal as Jimmy Conway in Scorsese’s Goodfellas earned him a BAFTA nomination.

He has earned four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy: New York, New York (1977), Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) and Meet the Parents (2000).

De Niro directed A Bronx Tale (1993) and The Good Shepherd (2006).

Praised for his commitment to roles, stemming from his background in method acting, De Niro gained 60 pounds (27 kg) and learned how to box for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull; ground his teeth for Cape Fear; lived in Sicily for The Godfather Part II; worked as a cab driver for a few weeks for Taxi Driver; and learned to play the saxophone for New York, New York. He again put on weight for his performance as Al Capone in The Untouchables (1987).

De Niro’s brand of method acting includes employing whatever extreme tactic he feels is necessary to elicit the best performance from those with whom he is working. During the filming of The King of Comedy, for example, he directed a slew of anti-Semitic epithets at co-star Jerry Lewis in order to enhance and authenticate the anger demonstrated by his onscreen character. According to People magazine, the technique was successful. Lewis recalled, “I forgot the cameras were there… I was going for Bobby’s throat.”

Fearing he had become typecast in mob roles, De Niro began expanding into occasional comedic roles in the mid-1980s and has had much success there as well, with such films as Brazil (1985), the hit action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), Analyze This (1999) opposite actor/comedian Billy Crystal, Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004), both opposite Ben Stiller.

In 1993, De Niro made his directorial debut with A Bronx Tale. The film, written by Chazz Palminteri, was about Palminteri’s turbulent childhood in the Bronx. De Niro agreed to direct the film after seeing Palminteri’s one-man off-Broadway play. De Niro also played Lorenzo, the bus driver who struggles to keep his son away from local mobster Sonny, played by Palminteri.

De Niro did not direct another film until 2006’s The Good Shepherd, which starred Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie. The Good Shepherd depicts the origins of the CIA, with Damon portraying one of the top counter-intelligence agents during World War II and the Cold War. De Niro has a small role as General Bill Donovan, who recruits Damon’s character into the world of counter-intelligence.

De Niro, who lives in New York City, has been investing in the TriBeCa neighborhood in lower Manhattan since 1989. He also has residences on the east and west sides of Manhattan and an estate in Marbletown in upstate New York. His capital ventures have included: cofounding the film studio TriBeCa Productions; the popular Tribeca Film Festival; Nobu and TriBeCa Grill, which he co-owns with a developer Paul Wallace and Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane, The Greenwich Hotel, located in Tribeca, and the restaurant inside the hotel, Locanda Verde, formally known as Ago, which is run by executive chef and co-owner, Andrew Carmellini.

De Niro is a supporter of the Democratic Party, and vocally supported Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. De Niro publicly supported John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. In 1998, he lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton. On February 4, 2008, De Niro supported Obama at a rally at the Izod Center in New Jersey before Super Tuesday.

In 2011, De Niro appeared in the action film The Killer Elite with Jason Statham and Clive Owen, and in Limitless, the film adaptation of the novel The Dark Fields, with Bradley Cooper, directed by Neil Burger and in New Year’s Eve, the romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall. Thirty-four years after Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, De Niro will star in one of three episodes of the film Manuale d’amore 3, with Monica Bellucci, directed by Italian director Giovanni Veronesi. De Niro is attached to star in the upcoming project The Irishman, that will be directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starred by Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. In January 2011, CBS picked up De Niro’s crime pilot, Rookies. Also in 2011, De Niro was the President of the Jury for the 64th Cannes Film Festival.

In 2012, he stars in the movies The Silver Linings Playbook, Freelancers, Red Lights and in Being Flynn.

Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Image reproduced from Wikipedia Commons
Video reproduced from YouTube / hollywoodstreams

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 9

In Chapter 9 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Miss X talks about Mr Toyboy at home and Mr French on holiday…

woman_head_silhouetteSo the trip to France has already been and gone but what a fun time. It was more about a bit of R&R rather than S&M however a super time was had. The beauty with being single is you can actually get on and do trips like this. I now want to book more weekends away with or without anyone. The only downside to going away on your own is it can get a bit boring and you don’t always want to sit alone in estaurants. Apart from that it’s great!

I left on a very sunny morning just after Easter. Easter was quite blissful with the parents. Oh just before Easter I had a bit of fun.

Through work met Mr Toyboy who works in another department at work and apparently has a crush on me. Yes it’s always the ones who are totally unsuitable who always seem to be the most interested. But Mr Toyboy is incredibly good looking, tall, blond and very Dutch. We met just before the Easter break – I had finished work exceedingly late in PR by gone 9 and decided to join the gang in the local pub.

Mr Toyboy looked incredibly hot but talking to the rest of the group. I find it all slightly embarrassing as he has told everyone he fancies me. Nothing to hide then. We chatted a bit but I can’t get over the fact even he is below the minimum age I normally go for. Not ridiculously of course and there are worse cougars out there but still. He walked me to the bus stop – how adolescent is that and tried to kiss me. I don’t know why I didn’t respond. It just didn’t feel right, no ideas why. Finally my bus arrived and off I went – perhaps it was just at the back of my mind and more trouble can only begin. Plus holiday in between.

So post Easter I caught my plane to Nice. It was so terribly exciting to be flying on my own on a new adventure. I could so get used to this. It felt almost surreal to be spending some time with no one else bothering me or asking questions. Bliss.

Plane left on time and got to Nice around midday. Perfect. Got off the plane and even then felt the difference in temperature. In April! It must have been in the early twenties. Caught the bus to the city Centre which was so easy and found my Hotel almost immediately. Lovely boutique style, cute and got upgraded to a King size room. Now that is more like it.

Spent day one on my own enjoying wandering around the Old Town. Hotel was very close and just off the Promenade Des Anglaises. The beach had the bluest sea you can ever imagine. It had that sort of aquamarine, bluey haze which twinkles in the sun. I was addicted to it immediately and headed for the beach where I rested imagining what I would normally be doing at work – the usual craziness of dealing PR deadlines, networking and general admin.

Later I went to the Old Town of Nice which is very similar to Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Long windy cobbled streets leading to old style restaurants, cafe’s and lovely squares. There was a feeling of laissez faire which I thought I could really get used to (well just for a bit as I’d miss my town life way too much) After a lovely day to myself I resigned myself to the largest King sized bed in the world (or so I call it) with the biggest walk in shower and watched bad French TV, mostly dubbed and films that they decide to dub too: why I ask myself.

Got a few facebook messages from Mr French asking what I was doing. I couldn’t work out whether he wanted to join me that night or the one after. He told me to be waiting at 11 ish the next day and we’d be going for a surprise.

Check out Chapter 10 of the Dating Diary of Miss X next Friday to find out about Mr French’s surprise and more!

Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani

On June 27, City Connect celebrates the birthday of French actress Isabelle Adjani who has recently been chosen as the new face for jewellery house Poiray for their forthcoming international campaigns. Poiray explained their choice of the leading actress as their ambassador saying she is “an icon to embody femininity, sensuality and the sensuality of these collections”.

Isabelle Adjani for Poiray

Isabelle Adjani is the only actress in the history of French cinema to get five César Awards for Best Actress, for the films Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994) and La Journée de la Jupe (2009). She was also given a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981 and a Berlin Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1989. She also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970. She performs in French, English and German.

Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani!

Biography

Adjani was born in an immigrant neighborhood Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris to an Algerian father of Turkish origin from Constantine, Algeria, Mohammed Cherif Adjani. Her father was a soldier in the French Army in World War II. Her mother Augusta, called “Gusti”, was German. She grew up bilingual, speaking German and French fluently. After winning a school recitation contest, she began acting in amateur theater by the age of twelve. At the age of 14, she starred in her first motion picture Le Petit bougnat (1970).

She first gained fame as a classical actress for her interpretation of Agnès, the main female role in Molière’s L’École des femmes, but soon left the Comédie Française she had joined in 1972, to pursue a film career. After minor roles in several films, she enjoyed modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (or The Slap). The following year, she landed her first major role in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adèle H. Critics enthused over her performance, with Pauline Kael calling her acting talents “prodigious”. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and offers for roles in Hollywood films, such as Walter Hill’s 1978 crime thriller The Driver. She then played Lucy in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of Nosferatu (1979).

In 1981, Adjani received the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress award for the Merchant Ivory film Quartet based on the novel by Jean Rhys, and for the horror film Possession. The following year, she received her first César Award for Possession, in which she portrays a woman having a nervous breakdown. In 1983, she won her second César, for her depiction of a vengeful woman in the blockbuster One Deadly Summer. That same year, she released the French pop album Pull Marine written and produced by Serge Gainsbourg. She starred in a music video for the hit title song Pull Marine, which was directed by Luc Besson.

In 1988, she co-produced and starred in a biopic of the sculptor Camille Claudel. She received her third César and second Oscar nomination for her role in the film, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following this publicity, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the ’50 Most Beautiful People’ in the world in 1990. Her fourth César win was for the 1994 film La Reine Margot, an ensemble epic directed by Patrice Chéreau. Below is the wedding scene from Adjani’s acclaimed film La Reine Margot.

In 2009, she won her fifth César in La Journée de la Jupe playing a teacher in a tough school who holds her class hostage. In 2010, Isabelle Adjani starred once more opposite Gérard Depardieu playing the role of the ghost of his old flame, killed in a far-off motorcycle accident, in the French road movie Mammuth.

When talking about her work, Isabelle Adjani has been reported as saying: “I like films that rest in the memory so I try and choose parts which have some kind of social or emotional force. For me, being an actress is not just a profession but a profession of faith”.

In 1980 she had a son, Barnabé Nuytten with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten. Adjani was romantically linked to actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987, and Daniel Day Lewis from 1989 to 1995. He left her during her pregnancy with their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, who was born in 1995. Adjani was also engaged to composer Jean Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.

In 2011 she was named ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in Film’ by the Los Angeles Times magazine. However the actress has faced constant claims about her use of plastic surgery. In an interview with Gala magazine in 2011, she admitted using anything she could to make her look younger, from Botox injections to hyaluronic acid. She said, “I am a follower of hyaluronic acid – always in small doses of course – to fill wrinkles and fine lines”.

Parisians are now used to seeing her wandering around the city in oversized dark glasses and large headscarves, maintaining a low-key public profile. Her ash-white face is said to often look completely frozen, while her pronouncements can be equally eccentric. It has led to a perception among many in France that, like a lot of sensitive artists, she lives in her own world.

The popular stand-up comedian Florence Foresti often potrays Adjani as a Greta Garbo-type recluse who constantly says: “Je ne suis pas folle, vous savez” (translated as “You know, I’m not mad”). Here is an example of Florence Foresti portraying Isabelle Adjani on the French TV programme On N’est Pas Couché with Laurent Ruquier:

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Video reproduced from YouTube / maxime236 and YouTube / Vinsugoy
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 8

In Chapter 8 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Miss X talks about fending off Mr Gin whilst finding possible dates at a Beer Festival and there’s a impending trip to see Mr French…

woman_head_silhouetteI have been out and about recently and have been in the company of some nice guys. My job involves meeting interesting people all the time – I also still meet contacts from my old industry the Drinks business.  This was when I was selling that lovely spirit gin for 3 years. It’s now really fashionable and I help in my bar with promoting gin just not selling it – it’s all win win.

So where have I been recently.  Well I went to a Beer festival only a few weeks ago. This was fun. I decided to have a bit of craziness and this was it. It took place in a large venue on Brick Lane. Beer being beer meant it would be well attended by guys with very few ladies (ie competition) around.  I had a blast – ended up drinking a fair amount of selected beer / ales and then discovering a cocktail “pop up” stand at the same venue serving gin specials all night.

Met up with Mr Gin – a gin ex contact of mine – who is slightly older and has always been a bit of a sleaze who decided to be friendly at the start which was fine before trying to hook me up with some nice men in there (he seemed to take pity on me and my singledom status) telling me I was fantastic and wonderful – “why haven’t you got a boyfriend… are the men mad”  The amount of times I hear this and I wonder why guys tell me this, before trying to pounce on me which unfortunately he did later – no funny business at all but he did manage to get back to my place, where we continued the gin theme but all I had was a very cheap supermarket brand and we both passed out (thank goodness).

To show what an alcoholic he must be, he asked me for a swig of it in the morning before he departed….

The best bit about Mr Gin is that although he was certainly not attractive I did however like his sense of humour/fun and charisma. On the night he mentioned a girlfriend/fiance – this then became a girlfriend to getting married next year, to no girlfriend. I was not going to even go there but he continued to text me the day after he left (and after his swig of gin at 10 am in the morning – a Sunday) becoming very intimate on texts before texting me the next day with “I don’t think we should see each other it just wouldn’t be right. I’m getting married  next year and it’s just not right”.

I texted Mr Gin with ” Thank goodness – well works to that effect – I am not your fiance/girlfriend/ whatever – a lucky escape for me last night, I actually feel sorry for your girlfriend getting married to such a p**** like you. **** off.

Never again.

However whilst I was fending this man away, another couple of chaps took my fancy. Although Mr Gin kept trying to usher them away!  One was Mr Cute who was good looking from what I can remember but that isn’t much apart from the way out of the venue! Another was Mr Pop Up who owned the famous “pop up” bar. It was like all my Christmasses rolled into one – or Easter Eggs even.

One has since texted although I can’t quite remember what he was like. At least he was honest when he texted me  “Hey it’s ____ here, lovely to meet you at the beer festival. It was all a bit drunk and hazy but wondered whether you wanted to catch up”.

I thought that was well constructed, honest and I probably would have written the same.  That night I had my own personal cards to hand out – a PR friend of mine told me to always go out prepared for action.  The date is this week and makes it date number 5 in total for this year. Let’s see how we fare…

I also have a longer distance date/meeting in the South of France over Easter after the weekend.  Mr French is a friend of mine from the South who moved back from the UK last year. We tried to meet up over the Summer but I got cold feet. This year I decided to go for it – my new mantra is just to go for it – make the most of every opportunity and just say yes (well there are some circumstances where you can’t always say yes and Mr Stockings is one example)  so he asked me last week to visit him soon and I have holiday which I need to use up so why not.  It will be around a week in Nice/Cannes and along the coast. I’ve already booked in a few South of France hotels through my Hotel which is part of a big chain and look forward to some fun in the sun!

There is also a big whisky show soon so I’ll go to that. Whisky is another area being male dominated. I am going in a PR way to “network” and to see what business I can help with as we are opening a whisky bar in our venue. I am going for the new contacts of course darrrlings however may have to see what’s out there, in terms of whisky samples of course!

Check back next Friday for Chapter 9 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 6

In Chapter 6 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Miss X talks about what she’s learnt from “The Magic” and gets back in touch with an ex – Mr LinkedIn.

woman_head_silhouetteSo, Easter has been and gone. Is it just me or have we really only just had it but everyone is talking about next Holiday? No sooner than one holiday is over, we are all wishing our lives away looking towards the next one! The Easter eggs came out in my local Sainsbury’s just after Christmas. It’s ridiculous!

Well whatever, time is passing by too quickly and I’ve decided to take action.

I have a new job which even then isn’t too new as I’ve been there for 6 months already. It has become a complete blur and each week just merges into one. My weekends are too short now. I seem to get the Sunday blues on Saturday now.  But enough of that – all is very good and I’m happy generally. I think that is where true contentment must come.

For the first time I haven’t actually thought about a guy being the icing on the cake, more like the cream on the side or the accompaniment which must be a good thing.

I’m too busy for a relationship at the moment but when friends of mine say that I always think at the back of my head “because you haven’t met the right guy yet” or “just not in the right space for a relationship”, I would say it’s the former – meeting the right guy - but then I’ve been getting into my new book, The Magic, which is a sequel to The Secret and it really has changed my life. I would say we attract everything into our lives and that is the essence of it. Although that doesn’t mean we sit around and expect things to happen: we still have to actively create our own lives and make it happen, it just speeds it up. Gratitude also stands for something.

On this subject, I hope no one is offended or thinks it’s mumbo jumbo although you are entitled to your opinions (my father goes crazy at all this being an ex scientist however mum the painter loves all this). The only reason this has come out is the fact that recently I have been drawing in people I have been thinking about or from nowhere they have been in touch. I see it now as a reason and that most things to happen for a reason.  They really do – I can almost predict some outcomes to certain situations or just get a “gut feeling” to all sorts.

One such example just before Christmas I was on one of my many social sites and somehow I had an apparition to contact an ex from my Dating Agency days. Let’s call him Mr LinkedIn.  We’d went out briefly after his stint at the Dating Agency I helped to run.  But the warning bells were always out and this is why we ran out of steam then. I then decided to try again with him and really must learn to judge my initial gut feeling which was always to say – he is not really looking for a relationship and is just playing the game. He was then and is now.

The thing about Mr LinkedIn is that he just always got under my skin and I couldn’t really forget him. Even whilst he was at the Dating Agency (I fancied him from the beginning but couldn’t do anything about it for it being unprofessional – whose rules were those, oh mine!) he dated a couple of women but also had nightmare dates as I was his Matchmaker and purposely gave him a couple of not-so-great dates.  He remembered these dates when we met up again recently….

But even then when we tried to date properly he was actually “too busy”. What does this term mean when guys say “I’m too busy at the moment” or it’s been such a “busy ” week – I know what it means, it means he is “just not that into you”.  I totally dig this however I genuinely believe he did quite like me but just couldn’t commit. The proof is 5 years later (yes 5 years) Mr LinkedIn is still single having been through a few dates and also a relationship.

Will Mr LinkedIn link up with our Miss X? Find out next Friday in Chapter 7 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 5

In Chapter 5 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Miss X talks about Mr French and paying the bill.

Who pays?

This is an interesting question raised when I was seeing a chap called Mr French.   Yes he’s French!

I met him at a party and although he and I were both flitting between people. I realised by the end of the evening that he was actually quite decent as per usual I’d gone for most of the good looking (those are the good looking but caddish men usually)  so I facebooked him over the next few days. We had a mutual friend so this was easy.

He responded well, almost too well and was very persistent about meeting up which was all fine. Finally we met and I was certain it was classed as a first date a couple of months ago.  Another guy though who was not quite settled in his job and I could see he was slightly troubled. I do meet them!

I always had the impression that French guys were gentlemanly, romantic and chivalrous. He was on some accounts but on the first date “broke every rule” as they say. But then there shouldn’t be any rules. He persistently asked about my exes, who I’ve been with, how long, why it ended and then took me to a restaurant and we ended up splitting the bill.

This led me to a question which I have been pondering ever since. On a date who foots the bill or should it be split? I have no problem doing the splitting or even paying but perhaps I am a little old fashioned and on the first date like to allow the chap to be a “gentleman” and perhaps at least offer?  I am self-sufficient and can pay my way but that is not the point.

Yes we chatted earlier and agreed it was a date – so surely the guy can pay on the first date?

It was a lovely restaurant but quite cheap overall.

The bill arrived and rather than he take it, the Bill was left on the table. After a few minutes of nervous chatting I said “oh look there is the bill”  He almost seem to disregard it and then took it and gave me a look as if to say “are you about to cough up”  I felt it was right to say something and I said so “are we going dutch then?”  Surely he should and could have said No I’ll pay – but that didn’t arise so we split it.

After this interesting scenario I haven’t actually seen him since – mainly due to the fact he is back in France for a few months. We are still facebooking and there was a plan to go to visit him in the South, but it hasn’t felt right.

Check back next Friday for Chapter 6 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 3

In Chapter 3 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Miss X talks about being a single girl “in between jobs”.

Career wise – I am currently in between jobs as they say. Been made redundant a few times and this time just considering my time and watching lots of Olympics/sun bathing and holidays. Well why not indeed? That is why it could be tricky for a relationship or would this now be the best time to embark on one?  At least it means I can look at what I want and don’t want. The only thing is I will soon need some money or I won’t be able to go out and have the lifestyle I really like and am accustomed to.

You see the last job was in the glamorous world of spirit sales (as in the alcohol and not the other outside world) events and parties. You could say I was and still am a bit of a Girl about town. I am actually hoping I stay in this world or at least put all my lovely 5* contacts to good use in the next role. That or just work for myself.

The only feedback I get from all my jobs to date and CV is “You have an interesting CV. It’s quite a Plethora of roles…” I can only assume this is a good thing and am certainly not run of the mill. The only thing is I am certainly non corporate and like to be doing my own role so really should have my own business. Consultancy, Lifestyle Manager, Drinks Specialist, the List is endless… I also love people and how they work.   I have even been a voiceover artist. Mainly online corporate voiceovers as my voice is pretty husky and quite unusually deep. However very challenging to get ahead in this field.

Apparently ideally suited to nursing which I found out at an early age in school but too squeamish with blood and can barely watch Die Hard without looking away.  It’s the caring side of me…I do like people and find they do open up to me. I enjoyed the dating agency side as guys/women always used to open up and tell me everything. I was of course completely confidential but it was nice to be able to really try to help them if I could. The same with the drinks role – it was good to get to know people and not only sell them my product but see what we could all do together.

A week ago despite my “in between jobs” status I still managed to go on holiday with a great PR pal of mine and we went to a fabulous resort in Southern Spain’s Malaga. More on that next time…

Check back next Friday for Chapter 4 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

The Dating Diary of Miss X – Chapter 2

In Chapter 2 of The Dating Diary of Miss X, our very single and very anonymous Londoner talks about dating, jobs and more dating.

I have had some interesting jobs to date and they are also linked to my love-life you could say. I was working in Media for 5 years – almost made redundant and then decided to leave and had a pre 30 crisis, went to Australia – hooked up with a very cute Aussie who then moved back to the UK with me and we ended up living together for 2 years before his working visa ran out. It was fun. Since then I have dated but longest was around 6 months. In my early twenties I had probably the most other serious relationship. He was older, my boss at an IT company and would have married me but I was too young then and hadn’t even left home by that stage! I do look back and wonder but realise that perhaps we weren’t right in any case.  We didn’t really have much in common but all good experiences.

Post Australia I then worked at a dating agency for a bit, dated a few clients and can just about live to tell the tale!  You would think I’d find the One that way. I did meet some interesting guys but they had some real deep rooted issues that needed sorting.  I could not be their therapist (actually we had a therapist/counsellor/date doctor we’d refer them too) It was strange.

Many of the people also had the same issue I had with my last job – NO TIME for a relationship. What was the point of spending all that money on a dating agency/website if you don’t have the time to devote to a potential relationship.   That happened with one of the guys I was seeing – he literally had to keep cancelling or rescheduling. But the other argument is anyone can make time if they really like someone!

Oh the course of true love never does run smoothly but I am enjoying the ride and believe there is someone out there for everyone. I think the one thing i have learnt from all the weddings I’ve been to is it will happen when you least expect it and to be happy within oneself. I can say I really am just need to sort out a few other things but if the love life thing happens than all good!

I’ve also got into the idea of the law of attraction and believe things do happen for a reason. However i do think we create our own luck/success and opportunity.

I probably won’t meet him sat at home watching the Olympics in my jim jams but then I do have a very hot new flatmate so does that count?  I want to test the fact and see if this flat does breed relationships due to the past 4 couples somehow meeting either present counterparts here or a connection to this flat such as a one of the infamous Flat parties.

I will also try out once again different dates and use some internet sites. I’ve heard Match.com is good as is My Single Friend. Friends have actually met and married through these sites. Again all a bit of luck but as I say with competitions that I win regularly – you’ve gotta be in it to win it.

I recently won a trip on Eurostar to Cologne following a band – I beat 900 applicants which was really incredible. Shall tell you about that another week…

Check back next Friday for Chapter 3 of The Dating Diary of Miss X

Fiona’s Christmas Countdown – December 23

Have Your Christmas Cake AND Eat It!

Fiona Kirk’s Christmas Countdown to Fending Off The Festive Flab

Nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk (fatbustforever.com) is on a yuletide mission with her fabulous fat busting daily tips to help YOU body swerve the festive pounds this Christmas.

Fiona Kirk

Each day, from now until Christmas Eve, Fiona will be helping YOU to party hard whilst eating to love your waistline during the holiday season and into 2013!

December 23: A multi vitamin and mineral supplement is a great decision at this time of the year. The work/party/organisational pressures can quickly take their toll and suddenly we can be struck down with a virus which is no fun. Try Nutrishield’s daily pack – a great and well-researched combination of essentials.

Fiona’s Christmas Countdown – December 22

Have Your Christmas Cake AND Eat It!

Fiona Kirk’s Christmas Countdown to Fending Off The Festive Flab

Nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk (fatbustforever.com) is on a yuletide mission with her fabulous fat busting daily tips to help YOU body swerve the festive pounds this Christmas.

Fiona Kirk

Each day, from now until Christmas Eve, Fiona will be helping YOU to party hard whilst eating to love your waistline during the holiday season and into 2013!

December 22: Last minute Christmas shopping should always include a present to yourself! How about a beautiful big handbag? That way, you will have plenty of space for saviour snacks which keep hunger at bay.

Top choices: mini oatcakes, cold meats and hard cheeses, cold boiled eggs, cooked chicken portions, 0% fat Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit, raw baby vegetables, small pots of hummus, bags of nuts and seeds, yoghurt smoothies, fishy sushi, sachets of miso soup.

Fiona’s Christmas Countdown – December 21

Have Your Christmas Cake AND Eat It!

Fiona Kirk’s Christmas Countdown to Fending Off The Festive Flab

Nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk (fatbustforever.com) is on a yuletide mission with her fabulous fat busting daily tips to help YOU body swerve the festive pounds this Christmas.

Fiona Kirk

Each day, from now until Christmas Eve, Fiona will be helping YOU to party hard whilst eating to love your waistline during the holiday season and into 2013!

December 21: 2lbs of muscle weighs the same as 2lbs of fat but muscle is denser so you look leaner. Try resistance training (lifting weights) for 20 minutes a day. Don’t worry about bulking up too much or getting muscle where you don’t want it, it is a great all-over fat buster.