Happy Birthday Sacha Baron Cohen

This week’s Born This Day feature celebrates the birthday of Sacha Baron Cohen, the English stand-up comedian, writer and actor. A graduate of Cambridge University, Sacha Baron Cohen is most widely known for writing and playing four unorthodox fictional characters: Ali G, Borat, Brüno, and Admiral General Aladeen. He has encountered many controversies regarding some of his comic characters.

Sacha Baron Cohen married Australian actress Isla Fisher on 15 March 2010. After three years of study, Fisher converted to Judaism in early 2007. She received the approval of Baron Cohen’s observant Jewish parents. Baron Cohen and Fisher have two daughters: Olive, born in 2007, and Elula, born in 2010.

"Ali G", "Borat", "Bruno",

Sacha Baron Cohen with his wife Isla Fisher

Characters played by Sacha Baron Cohen

Ali G

Sacha Baron Cohen shot to fame when his comic character Ali G, an uneducated, boorish junglist, hailing from Staines, started appearing on the British television show The 11 O’Clock Show on Channel 4, which first went to air 8 September 1998. A year after the premiere of the show, GQ named him comedian of the year. He won Best Newcomer at the 1999 British Comedy Awards, and was nominated for Best British Entertainment Performance at the British Academy Television Awards. Da Ali G Show began in 2000, and won the BAFTA for Best Comedy in the following year. Also in 2000, Baron Cohen as Ali G appeared as the limousine driver in Madonna’s 2000 video “Music”, directed by Jonas Ã…kerlund, who was also responsible for directing the titles for Da Ali G Show. In 2002, Ali G was the central character in the feature film Ali G Indahouse, in which he is elected to the British Parliament and foils a plot to bulldoze a community centre in his hometown, Staines. His television show was exported to the United States in 2003, with new episodes set there, for HBO. Ali G’s interviews with celebrities (often politicians) gained notoriety partly because the subjects were not privy to the joke that Ali G, rather than being a real interviewer, was a comic character played by Baron Cohen. The resulting willingness of Baron Cohen’s targets to answer his frequently risqué questions often created surprising conversations. Interviewees have included: astronaut Buzz Aldrin, real estate mogul Donald Trump, businessman and billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed and former Conservative Party MP Neil Hamilton. Sacha Baron Cohen is a supporter of Comic Relief and as Ali G has hosted an interview with footballer David Beckham and his wife, ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, a feature film with Borat at the centre, was screened at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and released in the United Kingdom on 2 November 2006, in the United States on 3 November 2006 and Australia November 2006. The film is about a journey across the United States in an ice cream truck, in which the main character is obsessed with the idea of marrying Pamela Anderson. The film is a mockumentary which includes interviews with various American citizens that poke fun at American culture, as well as sexism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, jingoism.


Another alter ego Sacha Baron Cohen performed as is ‘Brüno’, a flamboyantly gay, allegedly-19-year-old, Austrian fashion show presenter who often lures his unwitting subjects into making provocative statements and engaging in embarrassing behaviour, as well as leading them to contradict themselves, often in the same interview. Brüno asks the subjects to answer ‘yes or no’ questions with either “Vassup” (whats up) or “Ich don’t think so” (No); these are occasionally substituted with “Ach, ja!” (Ah yes!) or “Nicht, nicht” (“Nicht” means “not” in German). In one segment on Da Ali G Show, he encouraged his guest to answer questions with either “Keep them in the ghetto” or “Train to Auschwitz”. Brüno’s main comedic satire pertains to the vacuity and inanity of the fashion and clubbing world. In May 2009, at the MTV Movie Awards, Baron Cohen appeared as ‘Brüno’ wearing a white angel costume, a white jock strap, white go-go boots, and white wings; and did an aerial stunt where he dropped from a height (using wires) onto Eminem. Baron Cohen landed on Eminem’s lap, with his rear in Eminem’s face, prompting Eminem to exit the venue with fellow rappers D12. Eminem later admitted to staging the stunt with Baron Cohen. After an intense bidding war that included such Hollywood powerhouses as DreamWorks, Sony, and 20th Century Fox; Universal Pictures paid a reported $42.5 million for the film rights. The film was released in July 2009.

Admiral General Aladeen

Baron Cohen’s 2012 film, The Dictator, was described by its press as “the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed”. Baron Cohen played Admiral General Aladeen, a dictator from a fictional country called the Republic of Wadiya. Borat and Bruno film director Larry Charles directed the film. The main target of the film’s satire was Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was still alive when the film was written. The producers of the film were concerned it would anger Gaddafi, possibly even resulting in a terrorist attack, so they released deliberate misinformation saying that the film was loosely based on a romance novel written by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

In 2012, Sacha Baron Cohen will be starring in the film adaptation of the stage musical Les Misérables as the villanous character Thénardier.

It has been announced that Sacha Baron Cohen will star as Freddie Mercury of the rock band Queen in Mercury, an upcoming film about the period in the band’s history from 1971 to the Live Aid concert in 1985. It was Baron Cohen himself who contacted screenwriter Peter Morgan with the idea of portraying the flamboyant lead singer. Time magazine commented with approval on his singing ability and physical resemblance to Mercury. The film is due for release in 2014.

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Happy Birthday Ioan Gruffudd

Continuing our Born This Day series, today we celebrate the birthday of Ioan Gruffudd, the Welsh actor best known for playing the role of Dr. Reed Richards, in the film Fantastic Four (2005) and the sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). Ioan Gruffudd also played the role of Andrew Martin in the US thriller television series Ringer (2011-2012) opposite Sarah Michelle Geller.

Ioan Gruffudd at World Premiere of Fantastic 4


Gruffudd was born on 6 October 1973 in Llwydcoed, near Aberdare, Cynon Valley, in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Tâf, South Wales. The popular Welsh name “Ioan” is an equivalent of “John”, and “Gruffudd” corresponds to the anglicised “Griffith”. He has been quoted as saying, “I’m determined not to lose my name. It’s who I am. It has neither aided my progress nor hampered it. It’s just who I am. My character… my make-up. My culture and heritage is a very rich one. So what if it’s difficult for people to pronounce? We all learned how to say Schwarzenegger.”

Gruffudd started his acting career at the age of 13 in a Welsh television film called Austin (1986) and then later moved on to the Welsh language soap opera Pobol y Cwm (People of the Valley) from 1987 to 1994. In 1992, aged 18, he began attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. However, he was only given small parts in the Academy’s productions, and feeling isolated and directionless, almost dropped out several times. However, in 1995 in his final year, he was cast in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler as George (Jörgen) Tesman, the husband of Hedda, the lead character. This performance led to him being offered the lead role in the 1996 TV remake of Poldark.

After playing Oscar Wilde’s lover John Gray in 1997’s Wilde he took his first international role as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in the blockbuster film Titanic. He later landed the role of Horatio Hornblower in Hornblower, the Meridian production of the C. S. Forester novels (1998–2003), shown on ITV1 and A&E. Gruffudd has said: “It was quite something for an unknown actor to get the lead. So I will always be grateful to Hornblower. … I would love to play this character through every stage of his life. I think it would be unique to have an actor playing him from the very early days as a midshipman, through till he’s an Admiral. So, I would love to play this character till he perishes.”

His television work includes playing the character Pip in the BBC TV production of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1999), Lt. John Feeley in BBC One’s “Warriors” (1999) and architect Philip Bosinney in ITV’s adaptation of The Forsyte Saga (2002). He has starred in the films 102 Dalmatians (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001) and King Arthur (2004).

In 2007, he starred in the historical drama Amazing Grace as William Wilberforce, the British abolitionist, receiving critical acclaim for the role. Gruffudd has also portrayed characters of both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, having appeared as Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) in Marvel’s Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and provided the voice of Mister Miracle in DC’s Justice League Unlimited (2004-06).

In 2008, he appeared in the Julia Roberts-Ryan Reynolds film, Fireflies in the Garden. In 2008, he also appeared in The Secret of Moonacre. In 2009, he starred alongside Josh Brolin in W., a biopic about the life of U.S. President George W Bush, in which Gruffudd played Tony Blair. In 2011, he played the financier of a cave dive in Sanctum.

Between September 2011 and April 2012 Ioan Gruffudd played the role of Andrew Martin in the US thriller television series Ringer until the show’s cancellation in 2012.

In June 2012, Ioan filmed the fantasy adventure movie Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box throughout the South West of England, playing the role of Charles Mundi, the movie is schedule for release in 2013.

Gruffudd lives with his wife, actress Alice Evans, in Los Angeles, California. The couple met during the production of 102 Dalmatians, and married on 14 September 2007 in Mexico. On 20 April 2009, Gruffudd and his wife announced they were expecting their first child together.

Gruffudd enjoys being in Los Angeles because “it’s the easiest place in the world to drive, and it’s a real pleasure to do that in my black Jag XK8. I’ve gone all out.” According to Gruffudd: “There’s a physicality and confidence to Americans; they’re very present. That’s something I enjoy being around because it rubs off on you. Although an actor friend of mine visited recently and said, ‘It’s no wonder they write such terrible scripts these days, there’s no pain! Everything’s so nice you can’t be bothered.'”

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Happy Birthday Catherine Deneuve

City Connect celebrates the birthday of the actress Catherine Deneuve who was born on this day in 1943. She is considered one of France’s most successful actresses and has starred in seven English-language films, most notably the 1983 cult classic The Hunger.


Catherine Deneuve has gained recognition for her portrayal of aloof and mysterious beauties in films such as Repulsion (1965) and Belle de jour (1967). Deneuve was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her performance in Indochine; she also won César Awards for that film and The Last Metro (1980).

As Catherine Dorléac, she made her film debut at age eleven in Les Collégiennes (1957), filmed in 1955 but not released until two years later. Deneuve subsequently began using her mother’s surname professionally so she wouldn’t be confused with her elder sister, Françoise Dorléac, who was using their father’s name.

Deneuve then starred in films such as Vice and Virtue (1962), directed by Roger Vadim. The film that brought her stardom was Jacques Demy’s 1963 musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. She made two more films with Demy , most notably another musical, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), with Dorléac – who was killed in a car accident the following year – as her twin sister. Further prominent films from this early time in her career included Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s La Vie de château (1966), which employed her ‘underused comic skills’, and Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), – as the ‘ haut-bourgeois housewife who achieves sexual satisfaction working in a Parisian brothel.’ In the Polanski film, Deneuve first portrayed the character archetype for which she would be nicknamed the “ice maiden”, playing a beautiful Belgian girl, an emotionally distant and mysterious woman ‘going homicidally insane in Kensington.’ Her work for Buñuel would be her most famous, and her screen persona as “a cold, remote erotic object which dreams are made on” reached a peak, according to the critic Philip French, in her second Buñuel film Tristana, (1970). Deneuve remained active in European films throughout the 1960s and 70s, but limited her appearances in American films of the period to The April Fools (1969) and Hustle (1975).

Shortly before his death in 1980, Alfred Hitchcock had planned to direct Deneuve in an adaptation of the spy novel The Short Night. Her most notable films during the decade were François Truffaut’s Le Dernier métro (1980), which garnered her the César Award for Best Actress, and Tony Scott’s cult classic The Hunger (1983), her third American film in which she starred as a bisexual vampire, featuring David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Deneuve’s sex scene with Sarandon in The Hunger brought her a significant lesbian following.

Deneuve won a second Cesar Award and received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her performance in Indochine (1992), which also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Deneuve is one of the distinct few to receive an Oscar nomination for a non-English speaking role. Her other significant films were André Téchiné’s Ma saison préférée (1993) and Les Voleurs (1995). In 1997, Deneuve was the protagonist in the music video for the song N’Oubliez Jamais sung by Joe Cocker. In 1998 she won acclaim and the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in Place Vendôme. In 1999 Deneuve appeared in five films, including: Est-Ouest, Le temps retrouvé, and Pola X. Her part in Lars von Trier’s musical drama Dancer in the Dark (2000) alongside Icelandic singer Björk was subject to considerable critical scrutiny. The film was selected for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Deneuve’s fourth and most recent American film to date was The Musketeer (2001). She shared the Silver Bear Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in 8 Women (2002). In 2005, Deneuve published her diary A l’ombre de moi-meme (“In My Own Shadow”, published in English as Close Up and Personal: The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve); in it she writes about her experiences shooting the films Indochine and Dancer in the Dark; and working with leading men such as Burt Reynolds, Jack Lemmon, Vincent Perez, William Hurt, John Malkovich, Alain Delon, Gerard Depardieu, and Marcello Mastroianni. In 2006, she headed the jury at the Venice Film Festival. She made another brief return to Hollywood with a guest-starring role on the FX TV series Nip/Tuck during its fourth season in November 2006. She also lent her voice to the Oscar-nominated animated feature Persepolis (2007). In 2008, she appeared in her 100th film, Un conte de Noël. That same year she was honored at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for her contributions to European cinema.

In 2010 Deneuve starred in the period comedy Potiche (2010). Her latest film is the musical Les Bien-aimés (2011) co-starring her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni. Although they share four previous acting credits, this is the first time Deneuve and Mastroianni have shared a scene together.

During an interview at the Cannes Film Festival with Ali Naderzad, Deneuve was asked which was her own favorite film. “I still say it was The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. To do a film completely with music like an opera was an incredible experience. But to work with music all the time, it’s such a lift, you know? It’s an opera, it’s very different.”

One of the world’s great beauties, her image was used to represent Marianne, the national symbol of France, from 1985 to 1989. She was the face of Chanel No. 5 in the late 1970s and she caused sales of the perfume to soar in the United States – so much so that the American press, captivated by her charm, nominated her as the world’s most elegant woman.

In 1983, American Home Products retained her to represent their cosmetics line. The company hired world-renowned photographer Richard Avedon and Catherine Deneuve to promote its line of Youth Garde cosmetics in which she famously proclaimed “Look closely. Next year I will be 40.”

She is considered the muse of designer Yves Saint Laurent; he dressed her in the films Belle de Jour, La Chamade, La sirène du Mississipi, Liza, and The Hunger. In 1992, she became a model for his skincare line.

In 2001, she was chosen as the new face of L’Oréal Paris.

Deneuve is involved with the charities: Children Action, Children of Africa, Orphelins Roumains and Reporters Without Borders. Deneuve has also been involved with various charities in the fight against AIDS and cancer.

Deneuve speaks fluent French, Italian, English and is semi-fluent in German. In 1965, the 21-year old Deneuve married British photographer David Bailey. They divorced in 1972 but remain friends.

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Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock

On 13 August City Connect celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most famous and innovative film directors and producers of the 20th century. He is best remembered as a pioneer in the genre of psychological thrillers and as the director of such famous films as North by Northwest, Psycho and The Birds.

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was born on 13 August 1899 and died on 29 April 1980. After a successful career in England in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood. In 1956 he became an American citizen while retaining his British citizenship.

Over a career spanning more than half a century, Hitchcock fashioned for himself a distinctive and recognisable directorial style. He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. He framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently feature fugitives on the run from the law alongside “icy blonde” female characters.

Many of Hitchcock’s films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys or “MacGuffins” meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the extremely complex psychological examinations of the characters. Hitchcock’s films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and feature strong sexual undertones. Through his cameo appearances in his own films, interviews, film trailers, and the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he became a cultural icon.

Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades. Often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker, he came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, which said: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.” The magazine MovieMaker has described him as the most influential filmmaker of all-time, and he is widely regarded as one of cinema’s most significant artists.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, Hitchcock directed what many see as his three greatest films: North by Northwest (1959),  Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963).

In North by Northwest, Cary Grant portrays Roger Thornhill, a Madison Avenue advertising executive who is mistaken for a government secret agent. He is hotly pursued by enemy agents across America, apparently one of them being Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).

Psycho is almost certainly Hitchcock’s most well known film. Produced on a highly constrained budget of $800,000, it was shot in black-and-white on a spare set. The unprecedented violence of the shower scene, the early demise of the heroine, the innocent lives extinguished by a disturbed murderer were all hallmarks of Hitchcock, copied in many subsequent horror films. After completing Psycho, Hitchcock moved to Universal, where he made the remainder of his films.

The Birds, inspired by a Daphne Du Maurier short story and by an actual news story about a mysterious infestation of birds in California, was Hitchcock’s 49th film. Hitchcock signed up Tippi Hedren as his latest blonde heroine opposite Rod Taylor. The scenes of the birds attacking included hundreds of shots mixing actual and animated sequences. The cause of the birds’ attack is left unanswered.

The latter two films were particularly notable for their unconventional soundtracks, both orchestrated by Bernard Herrmann: the screeching strings played in the murder scene in Psycho exceeded the limits of the time, and The Birds dispensed completely with conventional instruments, instead using an electronically produced soundtrack and an unaccompanied song by school children (just prior to the infamous attack at the historic Bodega Bay School).

Hitchcock’s films sometimes feature characters struggling in their relationships with their mothers. In North by Northwest, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant’s character) is an innocent man ridiculed by his mother for insisting that shadowy, murderous men are after him. In The Birds, the Rod Taylor character, an innocent man, finds his world under attack by vicious birds, and struggles to free himself of a clinging mother. Norman Bates has troubles with his mother in Psycho.

Hitchcock heroines tend to be lovely, cool blondes who seem proper at first but, when aroused by passion or danger, respond in a more sensual, animal, or even criminal way. In Rear Window, Lisa (Grace Kelly) risks her life by breaking into Lars Thorwald’s apartment. The best known example is in Psycho where Janet Leigh’s unfortunate character steals $40,000 and is murdered by a reclusive psychopath.

Hitchcock worked several times with the same actors, notably Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly.

Hitchcock is famous for playing cameo roles appearing briefly in many of his own films, usually playing upon his portly figure in an incongruous manner, for example, seen struggling to get a double bass onto a train, or walking dogs in the background. He is quoted as saying that “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder”.

Hitchcock died on 29 April 1980. He passed away peacefully in his sleep due to renal failure in his Bel Air, Los Angeles, California home at the age of 80, survived by his wife and their daughter. His funeral service was held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. Hitchcock’s body was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

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Happy Birthday Chris Hemsworth

On 11 August, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Australian actor Chris Hemsworth who was born on this day in 1983. Chris Hemsworth first became known for his role as Kim Hyde in the Australian TV series Home and Away before starting his film career portraying Lieutenant Commander George Kirk in Star Trek (2009). Chris Hemsworth is best known for portraying Thor in the Marvel Studios films Thor (2011) and Marvel’s The Avengers (2012). In 2012 Chris Hemsworth also starred in The Cabin in the Woods and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Chris Hemsworth in 2012


Chris Hemsworth was born in Melbourne, the son of Leonie, an English teacher, and Craig Hemsworth, a social-services counsellor. He was raised both there and in the Northern Territory, in a little Aboriginal community in the Outback, called Bulman. He has stated, “My earliest memories were on the cattle stations up in the Outback, and then we moved back to Melbourne and then back out there and then back again. Certainly most of my childhood was in Melbourne but probably my most vivid memories were up there in Bulman with crocodiles and buffalo. Very different walks of life.” He attended high school at Heathmont College before his family again returned to the Northern Territory, and then moved a few years later, to Phillip Island. He is the middle of three boys; Luke (older) and Liam (younger) are both actors.

In 2004, Chris Hemsworth auditioned for the Australian soap opera Home and Away role of Robbie Hunter (played by Jason Smith), but did not receive the part. He was subsequently recalled for the part of Kim Hyde and moved to Sydney to join the cast, appearing in 185 episodes of the series. He left the cast of Home and Away on 3 July 2007.

In 2009, Chris Hemsworth portrayed James T. Kirk’s father, George Kirk, in the opening scenes of J. J. Abrams’ film Star Trek. He played the character Kale in the thriller A Perfect Getaway the same year. Chris Hemsworth went on to play Sam in Ca$h, which was the first film he shot when he arrived in the United States. The film’s director, Stephen Milburn Anderson, said Hemsworth had only been in the United States for six weeks when he had auditioned for the role, recalling, “Here’s a guy who is young, has the right look, is a very good actor and, let’s face it, he’s beautiful. So I say, we need to get this guy in. I was very impressed”. In November 2010 The Hollywood Reporter named Chris Hemsworth as one of the young male actors who are “pushing – or being pushed” into taking over Hollywood as the new “A-List”. MTV Networks’ NextMovie.com named him one of its “25 Breakout Stars to Watch for in 2011”.

Chris Hemsworth is best known for his role as the Marvel Comics superhero Thor in the 2011 Marvel Studios film Thor. He and cast-mate Tom Hiddleston, who ultimately played the antagonist Loki, had each auditioned for the role, for which Hemsworth said he put on 20 pounds of muscle. Chris Hemsworth reprised the role in the 2012 film The Avengers as one of the six superheroes sent to defend Earth from his adopted brother, Loki.

Chris Hemsworth starred in the 2012 horror film The Cabin in the Woods and played the role of Jed Eckert in Red Dawn, scheduled for November 2012. Also in 2012, Chris Hemsworth starred opposite Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron in the film Snow White & the Huntsman as the Huntsman.

In 2013, Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role as Thor in the sequel Thor: The Dark World, set to start filming in August 2012. He is also set to star in Ron Howard’s action film Rush as Formula 1 driver James Hunt. Additionally, Chris Hemsworth is scheduled to star in the 2014 thriller Shadow Runner.

Chris Hemsworth began dating Spanish actress Elsa Pataky in early 2010 after meeting through their mutual representatives. They married in December 2010. The couple have a daughter together, India Rose Hemsworth, born 11 May 2012.

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Atlas Shrugged

For many years we have been waiting for a film based on one of the cornerstones of modern literature: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. The film is based on her most famous novel that caused heavy philosophical debates in the late 1950s and created a philosophy called objectivism. Her philosophy is discussed widely until today and has influenced modern literature and thinking. This film will be the first attempt to translate this thinking to the general public. The book starts with the quote: “Who is John Galt” and this phrase is reiterated throughout the book several times. But who is John Galt? The film is based in a dystopic world where grief and despair rains and the economy of the United States is at the brink of a collapse. Dagny Taggart is a railroad executive who fights for her company and the forthcoming economic collapse that threatens the well-being of everyone. But what is happening to the world? Who is John Galt? Where do all the talented people go that used to run the world? Why is poverty taking over the country and why does everyone seem to fight against the railroad company? This film is expected to be a highlight of the year and will certainly reignite the philosophical debates in the Western world.

The release is scheduled for April 15 in the States and the film will come out in the U.K. shortly thereafter.

Happy Birthday Natalie Portman

On 09 June, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Israeli-born American actress Natalie Hershlag – better known by her stage name Natalie Portman – who was born on this day in 1981. Natalie Portman played Nina Sayers, a veteran ballerina, in Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan, a role of which critic Kurt Loder wrote: “Portman gives one of her most compelling performances in this film, which is saying something.” In 2011, Natalie Portman won both the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Black Swan.

Natalie Portman - Black Swan Movie Poster


Natalie Portman’s first film role was as an orphan taken in by a hitman in the 1994 French action film Léon, but mainstream success came when she was cast as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (released in 1999, 2002 and 2005).

Portman as Padmé Amidala

In 1999, Natalie Portman enrolled at Harvard University to study psychology while still working as an actress. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2003.

In 2001, Natalie Portman opened in New York City’s Public Theater production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, directed by Mike Nichols; she played the role of Nina alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The play opened at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

In 2005, Natalie Portman received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for her performance as Alice in the drama Closer.

Natalie Portman hosted Saturday Night Live on March 4, 2006. In a SNL Digital Short, she portrays herself as an angry gangsta rapper (with Andy Samberg as her Flavor Flav-esque partner in Viking garb) during a faux-interview with Chris Parnell, saying she cheated at Harvard University while high on marijuana and cocaine.

She won a Constellation Award for Best Female Performance, and a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her starring role in V for Vendetta (2006). Natalie Portman portrayed Evey Hammond, a young woman who is saved from the secret police by the main character, V. Portman worked with a voice coach for the role, learning to speak with an English accent, and she famously had her head shaved. Natalie Portman has commented on V for Vendetta‘s political relevance and mentioned that the main character, who recruits Evey to join an underground anti-government group, is “often bad and does things that you don’t like” and that “being from Israel was a reason I wanted to do this because terrorism and violence are such a daily part of my conversations since I was little.” She said the film “doesn’t make clear good or bad statements. It respects the audience enough to take away their own opinion”.

Natalie Portman played the leading role of Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) starring opposite Eric Bana as Henry VIII and Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn.

Movie Poster for The Other Boleyn Girl

Natalie Portman appeared in Paul McCartney’s music video “Dance Tonight” from his 2007 album Memory Almost Full, directed by Michel Gondry. She co-starred in the Wes Anderson short film Hotel Chevalier, opposite Jason Schwartzman. In May 2008, Natalie Portman served as the youngest member of the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival jury, and in 2009, she starred opposite Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in the drama film Brothers, a remake of the 2004 Danish film of the same name.

In 2008, Natalie Portman at age 27 made her directorial debut at the Venice Film Festival. “Eve“, a short movie about a young woman who is dragged along on her grandmother’s romantic date, was screened out of competition. Natalie Portman said she had always had a fascination with the older generation, and drew inspiration for the character from her own grandmother.

In 2011, Natalie Portman won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, Independent Spirit Awards, and the BAFTA Award for her lead performance as Nina Sayers in Black Swan. To prepare for the role, she went through five to eight hours of dance training each day for six months and lost 20 pounds.

Natalie Portman began dating ballet dancer Benjamin Millepied in 2009. The couple met while she was filming Black Swan, for which Millepied was the choreographer. In December 2010, she announced that she was engaged to Millepied and confirmed her pregnancy. Natalie Portman gave birth to their first child, a son named Aleph Portman-Millepied, in 2011. In February 2012, it was confirmed that Natalie Portman and Millepied had married in a private ceremony.

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Happy Birthday Helena Bonham Carter

On 26 May, City Connect celebrates the birthday of English actress Helena Bonham Carter CBE who was born on this day in 1966. She is known for her roles in films such as Merchant-Ivory’s A Room with a View and The Wings of the Dove as well as for frequently collaborating with director and domestic partner Tim Burton in films such as Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows.

A two-time Academy Award nominee for her performances in The Wings of the Dove and The King’s Speech, Bonham Carter’s acting has been further recognised with six Golden Globe nominations, an International Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to drama.

    Helena Bonham Carter in 2011


Bonham Carter’s first starring film role was as Lady Jane Grey in Lady Jane (1986), which was given mixed reviews by critics. Her breakthrough role was Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View, which was filmed after Lady Jane, but released beforehand. These early films led to her to being typecast as a “corset queen,” and “English rose,” playing pre- and early 20th century characters, particularly in Merchant-Ivory films. She played Olivia in Trevor Nunn’s film version of Twelfth Night in 1996. One of the high points of her early career was her performance as the scheming Kate Croy in the 1997 film adaption of The Wings of the Dove which was highly acclaimed internationally and it netted her first Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

Bonham Carter played villainess Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. Bonham Carter received positive reviews as Lestrange, described as a “shining but underused talent”. She then played Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd’s (Johnny Depp) amorous accomplice in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The film was directed by Tim Burton and Bonham Carter received a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance.

Bonham Carter joined the cast of partner Tim Burton’s 2010 film, Alice in Wonderland as The Red Queen. Bonham Carter’s role was an amalgamation of two roles, The Queen of Hearts and The Red Queen.

In early 2009, Bonham Carter was named one of The Times newspaper’s top 10 British Actresses of all time. Bonham Carter appeared on the list with fellow actresses Julie Andrews, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Audrey Hepburn.

In 2010, Bonham Carter played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in the film The King’s Speech. As of January 2011, Bonham Carter had received numerous plaudits for her performance, including winning her first BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Bonham Carter starred as author Enid Blyton in the BBC Four television biopic, Enid. It was the first depiction of Blyton’s life on the screen, and Bonham Carter received her first Television BAFTA Nomination for Best Actress, for the biopic. In 2012 she starred in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and she will be taking on the role of Miss Havisham in Mike Newell’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations.

In April 2012, Bonham Carter appeared in Rufus Wainwright’s music video for his single “Out of the Game“, featured on the album of the same name.

In 2001, Bonham Carter began her current relationship with director Tim Burton, whom she met while filming Planet of the Apes. Burton has taken to casting Bonham Carter in his films, including Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows. They live in Belsize Park, London.

Bonham Carter is known for her unconventional sense of fashion, which has been described as “shabby chic”. Despite her often controversial fashion choices, Vanity Fair named her on its 2010 Best-Dressed List and she was selected by Marc Jacobs to be the face of his autumn/winter 2011 advertising campaign. She cites Vivienne Westwood and Marie Antoinette as her main style influences.

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one then what had gone before…”

The first sentences of the book immediately draw the reader into a world so utterly different from anything we can imagine, that one cannot stop reading to find out more about it. It is not just a dark world, but also a manifestation of the greatest fears one can have of the modern world leading humanity into an apocalypse. A world without hope, a world filled with purposelessness, placing life in a lifeless world.

The book leads the reader into a world set after a nuclear holocaust ending the world as we know it, creating a desert devoid of hope and full of despair. The story evolves around a man and a child who battle for survival in a world without any order, filled only with death and a few scattered people trying to survive yet another day. Cormac McCarthy uses a unique writing style, abolishing grammatical conventions, mingling sentences together. He chose an ice-cold narrative and a deadly factual style, putting the language right on par with the world he describes.

“The boy was sitting up wrapped in his blanket.
What is it?
Nothing. I had a bad dream.
What did you dream about?
Are you okay?
He put his arm around him and held him. It’s okay, he said.
I was crying. But you didnt wake up.
I’m sorry. I was just so tired.
I meant in the dream.”

The book not only deals with the philosophical implications of a world without hope, but also with an obvious conflict in the relationship between the two protagonists. Whereas “the man” does not wish to discuss the past or to mention anything about the life before the apocalypse, “the child” who was born into this new world asks many questions, waiting for answers.

None of the characters in the book has names – not surprising, as this fits perfectly into the narrative McCarthy has chosen. The otherwise so somber story has small glimpses of hope, which have been placed in such sharp tones that they only highlight the hopelessness of the situation.

“Do you think there could be ships out there?
I dont think so.
They wouldnt be able to see very far.
No. They wouldnt.
What’s on the other side?
There must be something.
Maybe there’s a father and his little boy and they’re sitting on the beach.
That would be okay.
Yes. That would be okay.
And they could be carrying the fire too?
They could be. Yes.
But we dont know.
We dont know.”

The book has an amazing twist towards the end, which makes the reader shudder and think. The true beauty about this book, however, is the thinking it initiates about the reader’s own life and where he/she stands in this world. This book was directly made into a film last year, carrying the same title, but was also partly the basis of another film, “The Book of Eli”. Both films try to encompass the world McCarthy describes but fail to convey the same feelings one has about oneself after reading the book.

The novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 2006 and was also awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Be enchanted by a beautiful narrative – not beautiful because of the aesthetics of language, but because of every word carefully chosen to accompany a story and a feeling you will never forget.

If you’d like to obtain the book on Amazon UK, click here:

To obtain the DVD from Amazon, click here:

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Happy Birthday Winona Ryder

City Connect celebrates the birthday of American actress Winona Ryder who was born on this day in 1971.


Winona Ryder made her film debut in the 1986 film Lucas. Ryder’s first significant role came in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988) as a goth teenager, which won her critical and commercial recognition. After making various appearances in film and television, Ryder continued her career with the cult film Heathers (1989), a controversial satire of teenage suicide and high school life, which drew Ryder further critical and commercial attention.

Having played diverse roles in many well-received films, Ryder won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination in the same category for her role in The Age of Innocence in 1993, as well as another Academy Award nomination for Little Women the following year for Best Actress. In 2000, Ryder received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.

Ryder’s personal life has been widely reported by the media. Her relationship with actor Johnny Depp in the early 1990s was highly publicized and received much scrutiny by the media and tabloid press. A much talked about 2001 shoplifting incident led to a four-year hiatus from acting. She has also revealed her personal struggle with anxiety and depression, briefly checking into a clinic. In 2006, Ryder returned to the screen, and some media outlets called her performance “a remarkable comeback” to acting, having appeared in high-profile films such as Star Trek. In 2010, she was nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards, as the lead actress of When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story, and as part of the cast of Black Swan.

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Happy Birthday Catherine Zeta-Jones

City Connect celebrates the birthday of Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones who recently separated from husband Michael Douglas who was born on the same day as her and is 25 years her senior. Catherine Zeta-Jones has announced she has Bipolar II Disorder and sought treatment for the condition in April 2011, checking herself into a mental health facility in Connecticut. Read our article about her brave announcement here. For more about Catherine’s life and work, read her biography below.


Catherine Zeta-Jones CBE (born 25 September 1969) is a Welsh actress. She began her career on stage at an early age. After starring in a number of UK and US television programmes and small roles in films, she came to prominence with roles in Hollywood movies an won an Oscar for her role as Velma Kelly in the 2002 film adaptation of the musical Chicago.

Her role as Mariette in the successful British television adaptation of H. E. Bates’ The Darling Buds of May brought her to public attention and made her a British tabloid darling. She briefly flirted with a musical career. In 1990, Zeta-Jones participated in a television commercial for the German Deutsche Bahn at the age of 21, playing the part of a young woman eloping with her lover from a joyless marriage, a role which apparently helped in promoting her acting career. She continued to find moderate success with a number of television projects, including The Return of the Native (1994) based on the novel of the same name and the mini-series Catherine the Great (1995). She also appeared in Splitting Heirs (1993), a comedy starring Eric Idle, Rick Moranis and John Cleese. In 1996, she was cast as the evil aviatrix Sala in the action film, The Phantom, based on the comic by Lee Falk. The following year, she co-starred in the CBS mini-series Titanic.

Career success, 1998–2003

Steven Spielberg, who noted her performance in the mini-series Titanic, recommended her to Martin Campbell, the director of The Mask of Zorro. Zeta-Jones subsequently landed a lead role in the film, alongside compatriot Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. She learned dancing, riding, sword-fighting and took part in dialect classes to play her role as Elena. Commenting on her performance, Variety noted, “Zeta-Jones is bewitchingly lovely as the center of everyone’s attention, and she throws herself into the often physical demands of her role with impressive grace.” She won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Female Newcomer and received an Empire Award nomination for Best British Actress and a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actress.

In 1999, she co-starred with Sean Connery in the film Entrapment, and alongside Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor in The Haunting. The following year, she starred in the critically acclaimed Traffic with future husband Michael Douglas. Traffic earned praise from the press, with the critic for the Dallas Observer calling the movie “a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a beautiful and brutal work”. Zeta-Jones’ performance earned her her first Golden Globe nomination, as Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture as well as many other nominations and acclaim.

She took the lead role of America’s Sweethearts, a 2001 romantic comedy film which also starred Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal and John Cusack. The film received unfavorable reviews, with Los Angeles Weekly stating that the film “isn’t just banal, it’s aggressively, arrogantly banal.” However, it was a hit at the box office grossing over $138 million worldwide. Her character in the film was Gwen Harrison who is a film star.

In 2002, Zeta-Jones continued her momentum and played murderous vaudevillian Velma Kelly in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago. Her performance was well received by critics. Chicago was a commercial success, grossing more than $306 million worldwide, and received universal acclaim. In 2003, Zeta-Jones garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance. Also that year, she starred as serial divorcee Marilyn Rexroth in the black comedy Intolerable Cruelty with George Clooney.


In 2004, she played air hostess Amelia Warren in The Terminal as well as Europol agent Isabel Lahiri in Ocean’s Twelve, the sequel to Ocean’s Eleven. She and the cast members were nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast. In 2005, she reprised her role as Elena in The Legend of Zorro, the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. The film grossed over $142 million worldwide.

In 2007, she starred opposite Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin in the American romantic comedy drama No Reservations. The film garnered mixed or average reviews but was successful commercially, grossing $92 million worldwide.

In 2008, Zeta-Jones starred alongside Guy Pearce and Saoirse Ronan in Death Defying Acts, a biopic about legendary escapologist Harry Houdini at the height of his career in the 1920s. In 2009, Zeta-Jones starred in romantic comedy The Rebound, in which she played a 40-year old mother of two who falls in love with a younger man, played by Justin Bartha.

In August 2009, it was announced she would return to her musical roots and make her Broadway debut in the revival of A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury, beginning December 2009. For her performance, Zeta-Jones received an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, as well as a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

In 2012, she featured in Stephen Frears’ Lay the Favorite starring Bruce Willis, which premièred at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. In 2012, she also appeared in Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler and Rock of Ages, alongside Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin. Her 2013 projects included Broken City and Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, the latter being their third collaboration.

Apart from her acting career, Zeta-Jones is also an advertising spokeswoman, currently the global spokeswoman for cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden. She has appeared in numerous TV commercials for the phone company T-Mobile, and one for Alfa Romeo. She is also the spokeswoman for Di Modolo jewellery. Zeta-Jones was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Personal life

Zeta-Jones met actor Michael Douglas, who shares the same birthday as her, and is exactly 25 years her senior, at the Deauville Film Festival in France in August 1998, after being introduced by Danny DeVito. They began dating in March 1999, even though Douglas was still married. Zeta-Jones claims that when they met, he used the line “I’d like to father your children.” They became engaged on 31 December 1999, and were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on 18 November 2000, just weeks after Douglas’ divorce was finalized. A traditional Welsh choir (Côr Cymraeg Rehoboth) sang at their wedding. Her Welsh gold wedding ring includes a Celtic motif and was purchased in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth. They have two children. Their son, Dylan Michael Douglas (named after Dylan Thomas), was born on 8 August 2000, with Zeta Jones’ pregnancy incorporated into her role in Traffic. Their daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas, was born on 20 April 2003. The family currently lives in New York City.

In August 2013, People claimed that Douglas and Zeta-Jones began living separately in May 2013, but have not taken any legal action towards separation or divorce. A representative for Zeta-Jones subsequently confirmed that they “are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.”

In April 2011, Zeta-Jones sought treatment for Bipolar II Disorder, checking herself into Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. Zeta-Jones “proactively” checked into a health care facility again in April 2013 for further treatment related to her bipolar disorder.

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Happy Birthday Lord Attenborough

City Connect celebrates the 88th birthday of The Rt Hon Lord Attenborough, CBE – better known as actor, producer and director Richard Attenborough. He became a life peer in 1993 and his title is Baron of Richmond upon Thames in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. He is an acclaimed actor, director and producer and has won countless awards over the years including BAFTAs, Oscars and Hollywood Golden Globes.

Lord Attenborough is probably best known as the director and producer of the film Gandhi which depicted the life and assassination of India’s great political and ideological leader Mahatma Gandhi. The film won 8 Oscars, 5 BAFTA Awards, 5 Hollywood Golden Globes and the Directors’ Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement.


Lord Attenborough was born in Cambridge, England on 29 August 1923. He is the elder brother of naturalist and wildlife filmmaker Sir David Attenborough. His father was a don at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During the Second World War Attenborough served in the Royal Air Force.

Lord Attenborough’s film career began in 1942 as a deserting sailor in In Which We Serve, a role which would help to type-cast him for many years as spivs or cowards in films like London Belongs to Me (1948), Morning Departure (1950), and his breakthrough role as a psychopathic young gangster in the film of Graham Greene’s novel Brighton Rock (1947). Lord Attenborough worked prolifically in British films for the next thirty years, and in the 1950s appeared in several successful comedies for John and Roy Boulting, including Private’s Progress (1956) and I’m All Right Jack (1959). Early in his stage career, Lord Attenborough starred in the London West End production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which went on to become the world’s longest-running stage production. Both he and his wife were among the original cast members of the production, which opened in 1952 and as of 2010 is still running.

In the 1960s, he expanded his range of character roles in films such as Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) and Guns at Batasi (1964), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM). In 1963 he appeared in the ensemble cast of The Great Escape as Squadron Leader Roger Bartlett (“Big X”), the head of the escape committee. It was his first appearance in a major Hollywood film blockbuster and his most successful film up to that time.

In 1967 and 1968, he won back-to-back Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor, the first time for The Sand Pebbles starring Steve McQueen and the second time for Doctor Dolittle starring Rex Harrison. He won another Golden Globe, for Best Director, for Gandhi in 1983. Six years prior to Gandhi he played the ruthless General Outram, in Indian director Satyajit Ray’s period piece The Chess Players. He has never been nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category.

He took no acting roles following his appearance in Otto Preminger’s version of The Human Factor in 1979 until his appearance as the eccentric developer John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993 and the popular film’s 1997 sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The following year, he starred in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street as Kris Kringle. Since then he has made occasional appearances in supporting roles, including as Sir William Cecil in the 1998 historical drama Elizabeth.

In the late 1950s, Lord Attenborough formed a production company, Beaver Films, with Bryan Forbes and began to build a profile as a producer on projects including The League of Gentlemen (1959), The Angry Silence (1960) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961), also appearing in the first two of these as an actor.

His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), and his acting appearances became more sporadic—the most notable being his portrayal of serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971). He later directed two epic period films: Young Winston (1972), based on the early life of Winston Churchill, and A Bridge Too Far (1977), an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II. He won the 1982 Academy Award for Best Director for his historical epic, Gandhi, a project he had been attempting to get made for many years. As the film’s producer, he also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. His most recent films as director and producer include Chaplin (1992) starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Charlie Chaplin and Shadowlands (1993), based on the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham. The star of the latter was Anthony Hopkins, who also appeared in three other films for Lord Attenborough: Young Winston, A Bridge Too Far and the thriller Magic (1978).

Lord Attenborough also directed the screen version of the musical A Chorus Line (1985); and the apartheid drama Cry Freedom based on the life and death in police custody of prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films.

Lord Attenborough is the patron of the UWC movement (United World Colleges) whereby he continually contributes greatly to the colleges that are part of the organisation. He has frequented the United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA) Waterford Kamhlaba. With his wife, he founded the Richard and Sheila Attenborough Visual Arts Centre. He also founded the Jane Holland Creative Centre for Learning at Waterford Kamhlaba in Swaziland in memory of his daughter who died in the tsunami on 26 December 2004. He passionately believes in education, primarily education that does not judge upon colour, race, creed or religion. His attachment to Waterford is his passion for non-racial education, which were the grounds on which Waterford Kamhlaba was founded. Waterford was one of his inspirations for directing the Cry Freedom motion picture based on the life of Steve Biko.

A lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club, Lord Attenborough served as a director of the club from 1969–1982 and between 1993 and 2008 held the honorary position of Life Vice President. On the 30 November 2008 he was honoured with the title of Life President at the club’s stadium, Stamford Bridge.

In December 2008 Lord Attenborough suffered a fall at his home and was briefly in a coma. His health deteriorated after the fall and in May 2011, David Attenborough revealed in the Telegraph newspaper that his brother was now in a wheelchair but is still capable of holding a conversation and talking about old times. David Attenborough also said that his brother has been “watching his beloved Chelsea in the Premiership”. Lord Attenborough’s spokesman has confirmed that the actor/director probably won’t be making any more films.

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Happy Birthday Kim Cattrall

On 21 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of Kim Cattrall who has proved to audiences that there is life after Samantha and the runaway success of Sex and the City with her latest movie roles and successful stage career. Cattrall is as busy as ever and looks fabulous in her fifties!


Kim Victoria Cattrall (born 21 August 1956) is an English-Canadian actress. She is known for her role as Samantha Jones in the HBO comedy/romance series Sex and the City, and for her leading roles in the 1980s films Police Academy, Big Trouble in Little China, Mannequin, and Porky’s.

For her role as Samantha Jones, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002 and received four nominations for the role. Her success in Sex and the City also led her to receive two Screen Actors Guild Awards out of seven nominations (including two for Outstanding Female Actress in a Comedy Series) and five Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress.

In 1982, Cattrall played P.E. teacher, Miss Honeywell (Lassie), in Porky’s, followed two years later by a role in the original Police Academy. In 1985, she starred in three movies: Turk 182, City Limits, and Hold-Up, the latter with French star Jean-Paul Belmondo. In 1986, she played Kurt Russell’s brainy flame in the action film Big Trouble in Little China. In 1987, her lead role in Mannequin proved a huge success with audiences. One of her best-known film roles is that of Lieutenant Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Aside from her film work, Cattrall is also a stage and theatre actress, with performances in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge and Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters and Wild Honey to her credit. In 1997, she was cast in Sex and the City, Darren Star’s series which was broadcast on HBO. As Samantha Jones, Cattrall gained international recognition. She capitalized on her success by appearing in steamy television commercials promoting Pepsi One.

Her film work continued during Sex and the City when she appeared in Britney Spears’ first film venture, Crossroads. Sex and the City ended as a weekly series in spring 2004 with 10.6 million viewers. Cattrall reprised the role of Samantha Jones in the Sex and the City film, released on 30 May 2008. She also appeared in the sequel released in May 2010. She was nominated for 5 Emmy Awards for her role in the show.

In 2005, she appeared in the Disney picture Ice Princess, in which she played ice skating coach Tina Harwood of the film’s lead character. She portrayed Claire, a paralyzed woman who wants to die, in the West End drama revival of Whose Life Is It Anyway?. In October 2006, she appeared in a West End production of David Mamet’s The Cryptogram at the Donmar Warehouse in London.

Since late 2005, she has appeared in a number of British television commercials for Tetley Tea. In July 2006, a commercial for Nissan cars, which featured Cattrall as Samantha Jones, was withdrawn from New Zealand television, apparently because of complaints about its innuendo.

In 2006, she starred alongside Brendan Gleeson in John Boorman’s 2006 film The Tiger’s Tail, a black comedy that focuses on the impact of the Celtic Tiger economy on Irish people. On ITV, she starred alongside David Haig, Daniel Radcliffe, and Carey Mulligan in My Boy Jack, the story of author Rudyard Kipling’s search for his son lost in World War I.

On 24 February 2010, Cattrall began a critically acclaimed run in the West End of London at The Vaudeville Theatre as leading lady, Amanda, opposite Matthew Macfadyen, almost twenty years her junior, in a revival of Noël Coward’s play Private Lives. She performed until 3 May 2010.

In 2010, Cattrall was named an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in recognition of her contributions to the dramatic arts.

In 2011, Cattrall reprised her role as Amanda in the revival of Noël Coward’s play Private Lives opposite Canadian actor Paul Gross in Toronto and on Broadway.

From June to August 2013, Cattrall is scheduled to star in The Old Vic’s production of Tennessee Williams’s Sweet Bird of Youth, directed by Olivier Award-winner Marianne Elliott.

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Happy Birthday Charlize Theron

City Connect celebrates the birthday of award-winning actress and activist Charlize Theron who was born on this day – 7 August. Charlize Theron started life as a dancer and has now reached the dizzy heights of being an Academy Award winner. She has been named as John Galliano’s muse by the designer himself. You will either be familiar with Theron from her numerous films or because she is currently the face of J’Adore by Christian Dior.


Charlize Theron (born 7 August 1975) is a South African actress, film producer and former fashion model. She rose to fame in the late 1990s following her roles in 2 Days in the Valley, Mighty Joe Young, The Devil’s Advocate and The Cider House Rules.

She received critical acclaim and an Academy Award for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she became the first South African to win an Academy Award in a major acting category. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance in North Country.

Theron was born in Benoni, Transvaal Province, South Africa and left home at 16 to start modelling. Although fluent in English, her first language is Afrikaans. After a knee injury cut chort her ballet career in New York, Theron moved to Los Angeles and her acting career skyrocketed in the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998) and The Cider House Rules (1999). She was on the cover of the January 1999 issue of Vanity Fair as the “White Hot Venus”.

After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). Film critic Roger Ebert called it “one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema”. For this role, Theron won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first South African to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

In 2012 Theron starred as Queen Ravenna in the fairy tale adaptation Snow White and the Huntsman which also starred Kirsten Stewart as Snow White and Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman.

Charlize Theron is involved in women’s rights organizations, and has marched in pro-choice rallies. She is also a supporter of animal rights and an active member of PETA. She appeared in a PETA ad for their anti-fur campaign. Charlize Theron is a supporter of same-sex marriage and attended a march to support that in Fresno, California, on 30 May 2009. She is a gay rights activist and refuses to get married until same sex marriage is legal in the United States.

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Happy Birthday Peter O’Toole

On 02 August City Connect celebrates the birthday of Peter O’Toole, the famous Irish actor who shot to stardom after his 1962 portrayal of T. E. Lawrence in the classic film Lawrence of Arabia.


Peter Seamus Lorcan O’Toole (born 2 August 1932) is a highly-honoured film and stage actor, now retired. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most competitive Academy Award acting nominations without a win. He has won four Golden Globes, a BAFTA, and an Emmy, and was the recipient of an Honorary Academy Award in 2003 for his body of work.

After starting out in British theatre, O’Toole’s major break came when he was chosen to play T. E. Lawrence in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), after Marlon Brando proved unavailable and Albert Finney turned down the role. His performance was ranked number one in Premiere magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time. The role introduced him to American audiences and earned him the first of his eight nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor – he is the most-nominated actor never to win the award.

Peter O’Toole has starred in countless films and was most recently seen in the 2004 blockbuster Troy where he played King Priam and the 2006 film Venus where he portrayed Maurice. O’Toole’s latest appearance on the small screen was in the second season of Showtime’s hit drama series The Tudors, portraying Pope Paul III, who excommunicates King Henry VIII from the Catholic church. O’Toole has narrated the forthcoming horror comedy film Eldorado, which was directed by Richard Driscoll.

In an interview with National Public Radio in December 2006, Peter O’Toole revealed that he knows all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. A self-described romantic, O’Toole regards the sonnets as among the finest collection of English poems, reading them daily. In the movie Venus, he recites Sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day.”

Peter O’Toole has written two memoirs. Loitering With Intent: The Child chronicles his childhood in the years leading up to World War II and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1992. His second, Loitering With Intent: The Apprentice, is about his years spent training with a cadre of friends at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. The books have been praised by critics such as Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote: “A cascade of language, a rumbling tumbling riot of words, a pub soliloquy to an invisible but imaginable audience, and the more captivating for it. O’Toole as raconteur is grand company.”

Peter O’Toole has said that the actor he most enjoyed working with was Katharine Hepburn, his close friend, with whom he played Henry II to her Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.

On 10 July 2012, O’Toole released a statement that he was retiring from acting.

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Happy Birthday Selma Blair

On 23 June, City Connect celebrates the birthday of American actress Selma Blair, who was born on this day in 1972. Selma Blair’s career has included commercial and critical successes; she has starred in feature films including Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, The Sweetest Thing, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She also played the titular role of Kim in the US version of the Australian comedy TV series Kath & Kim. She has recently released a new line of handbags & wallets called SB designed by herself. In 2012, Blair is set as the female lead in the new FX comedy series Anger Management opposite Charlie Sheen, which is scheduled for worldwide release at the end of June 2012.

Selma Blair in 2012


After several auditions, independent film roles and guest roles in various television series, Blair starred in a mainstream movie with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe in the 1999 film Cruel Intentions, based on the novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”.

In 2000, Blair portrayed a predatory and sexy seductress college girl in the teen comedy Down To You alongside Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Julia Stiles. Her film career continued in the 21st century with the independent drama Kill Me Later opposite Max Beesley. She later co-starred in the well-received comedy Legally Blonde opposite Reese Witherspoon in which Blair played a snobby and preppy law student.

Selma Blair then starred in the controversial Storytelling (2001), a drama set in 1985 alongside Leo Fitzpatrick where Blair portrayed a college student forced to have a relationship with her teacher. In 2002, Blair co-starred in the comedy The Sweetest Thing alongside Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, her role got her the nomination for “Best Actress in a Comedy” in the Teen Choice Awards. At the same time, Blair appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone on 25 April 2002. Later, she had a guest-starring role in the episode “The One with Christmas in Tulsa” on the hit TV series Friends.

In early 2003, Blair co-starred in the romantic comedy A Guy Thing with Jason Lee and Julia Stiles. Blair then appeared in several supporting roles before being cast in one of her most recognized roles, “Liz Sherman” a depressed pyrotechnic superhero, in the Guillermo Del Toro blockbuster Hellboy co-starring Ron Perlman. The fantasy film is based on the Mike Mignola’s popular comic and was a commercial success, topping the box office in the U.S. and Canada.

Blair as Liz Sherman in Hellboy

In November 2005, she starred opposite Tom Welling and Maggie Grace in John Carpenter’s ghost movie The Fog, in which Blair did her own stunts, remaining twelve hours in a water tank for two days to shoot her underwater scenes. The movie was a commercial success and debuted at number one in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada.

In 2008, she again starred as Liz Sherman in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, in this sequel, her character was much more extensive and influential in the film, for which she was nominated for the Scream Awards for Best Actress in a Fantasy Movie or TV Show; the film was a worldwide commercial success, ranking first at the box office in North America, United Kingdom, Germany and Italy among other countries.

From 2008-2009, Blair accepted the titular role in NBC’s TV series Kath & Kim, opposite Molly Shannon and Mikey Day, the sitcom is based on the Australian television series of the same name about a mother and daughter who are obsessed with celebrity culture, Blair plays Kim, a self-absorbed suburban young princess, who is forced to reassess her relationship with her mother. Blair also appeared with Rainn Wilson singing Baby, It’s Cold Outside for the 2008 GAP winter ad campaign.

In the early summer of 2011, Selma Blair returned to the stage, taking the lead role as Kayleen in Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries opposite stage actor Brad Fleischer, the drama talks about why people hurt themselves emotional and physically to win love and attention.

Recently, Blair starred in the home invasion thriller Replicas opposite Rachel Miner and James D’Arcy, the film had its world premiere in NYC at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival with a mixed critical response. She also plays the role of an immature troubled woman in arrested development, in the comedy-drama Dark Horse with Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow, due for worldwide release in June 2012.

In 2012, Selma Blair began shooting as the female lead in the new FX comedy series Anger Management opposite Charlie Sheen, which is scheduled for worldwide release on June 28, 2012. The series is based on the 2003 movie of the same name and stars Charlie Sheen as the role originated by Jack Nicholson in the movie.

The series follows Charlie (Charlie Sheen), a former minor-league baseball player who has overcome his past anger issues to become a “non-traditional” therapist. However, his life is continuously complicated by his family and friends. This will be Sheen’s first acting role since his firing from the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men on 7 March 2011. Selma Blair has been cast as Charlie’s therapist and possible love interest.

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Happy Birthday Nicole Kidman

On 20 June, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Nicole Kidman – actress, singer, producer and humanitarian – born on this day in 1967. Nicole Kidman began her career in 1983, starring in various Australian film and television productions until her breakthrough in the 1989 thriller Dead Calm. Nicole Kidman’s notable films include To Die For (1995), Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Moulin Rouge! (2001), The Hours (2002), Cold Mountain (2003), The Interpreter (2005), Australia (2008) and Rabbit Hole (2010).

Nicole Kidman at Tropfest 2012


After appearing in the Australian miniseries Bangkok Hilton, Nicole Kidman starred in Dead Calm (1989) which garnered strong reviews and brought Kidman to international recognition. She moved on to star alongside her then-boyfriend and future husband, Tom Cruise, in the 1990 auto racing film Days of Thunder. This was Kidman’s American debut and was among the highest-grossing films of the year.

In 1991, her work in the film Billy Bathgate earned Nicole Kidman her first Golden Globe Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actress. The following year, she and Cruise re-teamed for Ron Howard’s Irish epic Far and Away (1992), which was a modest critical and commercial success. In 1993, she starred in My Life opposite Michael Keaton and the thriller, Malice opposite Alec Baldwin.

In 1999, Nicole Kidman reunited with then husband, Tom Cruise, to portray a married couple in Eyes Wide Shut, the final film of Stanley Kubrick. The film opened to generally positive reviews but was subject to censorship controversies due to the explicit nature of its sex scenes. The film received further attention following Kubrick’s death shortly before its release. After brief hiatus and a highly publicized divorce from Cruise, Kidman returned to the screen to play a mail-order bride in the British-American drama Birthday Girl.

In 2001, Nicole Kidman played the cabaret actress and courtesan Satine in Baz Luhrmann’s musical Moulin Rouge!, opposite Ewan McGregor. The film was a critical and commercial success. Subsequently, Kidman received her second Golden Globe Award, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, as well as other acting awards. She also received her first Academy Award nomination, for Best Actress.

In 2003, Nicole Kidman won critical praise for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. Kidman wore prosthetics that were applied to her nose making her almost unrecognisable playing the author during her time in 1920s England, and her bouts with depression and mental illness while trying to write her novel, Mrs. Dalloway. The film earned several nominations, including for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Kidman won numerous critics’ awards, including her first BAFTA, third Golden Globe, and the Academy Award for Best Actress. As the first Australian actress to win an Academy Award, Kidman made a teary acceptance speech about the importance of art, even during times of war, saying, “Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil? Because art is important. And because you believe in what you do and you want to honour that, and it is a tradition that needs to be upheld.”

Following her Oscar win, Nicole Kidman appeared in Anthony Minghella’s war drama Cold Mountain (2003), was a critical and commercial success. Kidman appeared opposite Jude Law and Renée Zellweger and received her sixth Golden Globe nomination at the 61st Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress.

In 2004 Nicole Kidman appeared in the black comedy-science-fiction film The Stepford Wives, a remake of the 1975 film of the same name. The film, directed by Frank Oz, was critically panned and a commercial failure. The following year, Kidman appeared opposite Sean Penn in the Sydney Pollack thriller The Interpreter, playing UN translator Silvia Broome.

In conjunction with her success in the film industry, Nicole Kidman became the face of the Chanel No. 5 perfume brand. She starred in a campaign of television and print ads with Rodrigo Santoro, directed by Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann, to promote the fragrance during the holiday seasons of 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. The three-minute commercial produced for Chanel No. 5 made Kidman the record holder for the most money paid per minute to an actor after she reportedly earned US$12million for the three-minute advert.

Nicole Kidman starred in the commercially successful fantasy-adventure, The Golden Compass (2007), playing the villainous Marisa Coulter. In 2008, she reunited with Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann in the Australian period film Australia, set in the remote Northern Territory during the Japanese attack on Darwin during World War II. Kidman played opposite Hugh Jackman as an Englishwoman feeling overwhelmed by the continent. Despite the film’s mixed reviews, the acting was praised and the movie was a box office success worldwide.

In 2010, Nicole Kidman starred with Aaron Eckhart in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole. In 2011, Nicole Kidman starred alongside Nicolas Cage in director Joel Schumacher’s action-thriller Trespass, with the stars playing a married couple taken hostage.

In 2012, Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen perform in an HBO film directed by Philip Kaufman about Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with Martha Gellhorn. entitled Hemingway & Gellhorn. Kidman will also star in Lee Daniels’ adaptation of the Pete Dexter novel, The Paperboy with Zac Efron.

Nicole Kidman has raised money for, and drawn attention to, disadvantaged children around the world. In 1994, she was appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. On Australia Day 2006, Kidman received Australia’s highest civilian honor when she was made a Companion of the Order of Australia. Kidman has been married twice, first to actor Tom Cruise, and then to singer Keith Urban.

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Happy Birthday Penélope Cruz

On 28 April, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Penélope Cruz, the Spanish actress. She made her feature film debut in Jamón, jamón (1992). She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award for her supporting role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and the first Spanish actress to receive a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

penelope cruzBiography

Signed by an agent at age 15, she made her acting debut at 17 to critical acclaim. Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000). Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in the 2001 films Vanilla Sky and Blow.

She has since built a successful career, appearing in films from a wide range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas movie Noel (2004), and the action adventure Sahara (2005). She has received critical acclaim for her roles in Volver (2006) and Nine (2009) receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for each. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Cruz has modeled for companies such as Mango, Ralph Lauren and L’Oréal. Penélope and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed items for Mango. She has donated both her time and money to charities. Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working for Mother Teresa; she donated her salary from Hi-Lo Country, TheThe Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun’s mission. A wax sculpture of Cruz will be placed in a premier spot in the Grevin Wax Museum in Paris.

Cruz in L'Oreal Elnett Satin ad

Cruz in L’Oreal Elnett Satin ad

Cruz has donated money and time to charity. In addition to work in Nepal, she has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent a week working for Mother Teresa that included assisting in a leprosy clinic. That trip inspired Cruz to help start a foundation to support homeless girls in India, where she sponsors two young women. She donated her salary from her first Hollywood movie, The Hi-Lo Country, to Mother Teresa’s mission. In the early 2000s, she spent time in Nepal photographing Tibetan children for an exhibition attended by the Dalai Lama. She also photographed residents at the Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home, most of whom are former gang members and recovering substance abusers. She said: “These kids break my heart. I have to control myself not to cry. Not out of pity, but seeing how tricky life is and how hard it is to make the right choices.” A pregnant Cruz showed her support for the battle against AIDS by lighting up the Empire State Building with red lights in New York City December 1, 2010 on International AIDS Day, as part of (RED)’s new awareness campaign, ‘An AIDS Free Generation is Due in 2015,’ which aims to eradicate the HIV virus from pregnant mothers to their babies. In 2012, she posed for an ad supporting PETA’s anti-fur campaign.

Cruz & Javier Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Cruz & Javier Bardem in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Cruz is a friend of director Pedro Almodóvar, whom she has known for almost two decades and with whom she has worked on films.Cruz is known to friends as Pe. Cruz owns a clothing store in Madrid and designed jewelry and handbags with her younger sister for a company in Japan.

Cruz had a three-year relationship with Tom Cruise after they appeared together in Vanilla Sky. It ended in January 2004. Cruz dated actor Matthew McConaughey from February 2005 to June 2006. In 2007, Cruz began dating Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who was her co-star in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. They married in early July 2010 in a private ceremony at a friend’s home in The Bahamas. Cruz gave birth to their first child, son Leonardo Encinas, in January 2011 at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. In February 2013, it was announced that Cruz is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

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Happy Birthday James McAvoy

On 21 April, City Connect celebrates the birthday of James McAvoy, the Scottish actor first known for his role as Steve McBride in the Channel 4 TV series Shameless. James McAvoy has also starred in the films The Last King of Scotland (2006) and Atonement (2007) amongst others. Most recently James McAvoy played Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class(2011), a role he will reprise in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014

James McAvoy


James McAvoy was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland in 1979. James McAvoy’s acting debut came at the age of 15 in The Near Room (1995). He graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000. In 2004, James McAvoy acted in a supporting role in the romantic comedy Wimbledon which also featured American actress Kirsten Dunst as a co-lead. Also starting in 2004, James McAvoy appeared in the first two seasons of Shameless as Steve McBride, the moral hero of the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 programme, giving the actor a big break in his career.

His public profile was raised in 2005 with the release of Walt Disney Pictures’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. James McAvoy starred as Mr. Tumnus in the fantasy adventure film based on the C. S. Lewis children’s novel. The film was released in the UK on 9 December 2005. At the UK box office, this movie opened at number one, earning around £8.7 million at 498 cinemas over the weekend. Worldwide, Narnia grossed £463 million, making it the 41st highest-grossing film of all-time worldwide.

In 2006, James McAvoy also accepted the principal role of Brian Jackson, a nerdy university student who wins a place on a University Challenge quiz team in the mid-1980s, in Starter for 10. In spite of positive buzz, the movie flopped at the box office, unable to recover its production costs of £5.7 million.

Forrest Whittaker had suggested McAvoy to director Kevin Macdonald for the role of Nicholas Garrigan in 2006’s Academy Award-winning low-budgeted The Last King of Scotland. McAvoy portrayed a Scottish doctor that becomes the personal physician to dictator Idi Amin (played by Whittaker) while in Uganda. While the movie is based on factual events of Amin’s rule, the story between the two is fictional and adapted from Giles Foden’s acclaimed 1998 novel. An overwhelmed McAvoy fainted during his first take of what would be the hardest scene for him to shoot, Nicolas’s torture. McAvoy was named Best Actor of the year by the Scotland’s own BAFTA Awards, where the film swept the major categories, and received a nomination from the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The movie itself walked away with three wins, including the honour for Outstanding British Film of the Year. This was accompanied by praise for McAvoy’s performance.

Following that, he played Irish attorney Tom Lefroy and love-interest to Jane Austen in Becoming Jane, a 2007 historical movie inspired by the author’s early life. Next up was Penelope, which premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Also starring co-producer Reese Witherspoon, it generated polarised reviews.

The breakthrough role in McAvoy’s career came in Atonement, Joe Wright’s 2007 adaption of Ian McEwan’s novel of the same title. A romantic war film, it focuses on lovers Cecilia and Robbie’s (Keira Knightley and McAvoy) lives being torn apart after her jealous younger sister (Saoirse Ronan) falsely accuses him of a crime.

Upon reading the script, McAvoy thought to himself, “if I don’t get the part I’m not reading the book because it’ll be devastating. It’s an amazing role and I really wanted it.” McAvoy has called the movie “incredibly sad” but considers it an uplifting experience. He also shared that he hoped viewers will be left “absolutely devastated and harrowed.” Screenings of Atonement were held at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was one of most acclaimed films present, and Venice Film Festival. Atonement was a big awards contender; it was nominated for fourteen BAFTAs and seven Academy Awards. Both McAvoy and Knightley were nominated for their performances at the 65th Golden Globe Awards, respectively. The film was also highly praised by critics.

One of the biggest highlights of McAvoy’s career was starring opposite Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in Wanted (2008), an action movie where he personified Wesley Gibson, a young American slacker who learns he is heir to a legacy of assassins. McAvoy had never done this type of genre before and thought of Wanted as a chance to be more versatile. The movie received favourable reviews from the press, who generally liked that it was fast-paced. At the box office, Wanted was a success, grossing £207 million against a £45 million production budget.

In mid-2010, McAvoy was cast as telepathic superhero Professor X, leader and founder of the X-Men, in X-Men: First Class. He joined an ensemble that included Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Kevin Bacon. Based on the Marvel Comics and a prequel to the film series, it is set primarily during the Cuban Missile Crisis and focuses on the relationship between Professor X and Magneto and the origin of their groups. The film was well-received by critics and grossed £5 million from ticket sales during its opening weekend.

In 2011, McAvoy began filming the role of Max Lewinsky in the British thriller, Welcome to the Punch. He was also cast as the lead role in the upcoming Danny Boyle film, Trance. In early 2012, McAvoy was cast as Bruce Robertson in Filth, an adaptation of an Irvine Welsh novel of the same name. The film’s ensemble cast includes Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan, and Imogen Poots.

It was also announced that he was cast as co-star with Jessica Chastain in a double-feature film project, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. McAvoy was cast to star in Shakespeare’s Macbeth on London’s West End in 2013.

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Happy Birthday Sarah Michelle Gellar

On 14 April, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Sarah Michelle Gellar, the American actress & producer famous for her leading role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and most recently appearing in the well-received drama series Ringer. She has been married to Freddie Prinze Jr. since 2002. The couple have two children.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in 2011


After being found by an agent in a local restaurant in New York City, she had a role in the made-for-TV movie An Invasion of Privacy and went on to appear in shows like Spenser: For Hire. She originated the role of Kendall Hart on the ABC daytime soap opera All My Children, winning the 1995 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series.

Gellar came into promincence in the late 1997 when landed significant parts in the successful horror films I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 and played Buffy Summers on the WB/UPN television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which she won six Teen Choice Awards and the Saturn Award for Best Genre TV Actress and received a Golden Globe Award nomination. In her feature in Esquire magazine Gellar expressed her pride for her work on Buffy, “I truly believe that it is one of the greatest shows of all time and it will go down in history as that. And I don’t feel that that is a cocky statement. We changed the way that people looked at television.”

She found film critics praise for her performace in the teen drama Cruel Intentions (1999), a modern-day retelling of Les Liaisons dangereuses featured a kiss between Gellar and co-star Selma Blair that won the two the “Best Kiss” award at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards. This film was a modest hit at the box office, grossing over $38 million in the United States and over $75 million worldwide, and earned several awards and nominations. Critic Roger Ebert stated that Gellar and co-star Ryan Phillippe “develop a convincing emotional charge” and that Gellar is “effective as a bright girl who knows exactly how to use her act as a tramp”. Gellar’s role showed her versatility as an actress, and many were surprised to see her playing a brunette cocaine addict with an appetite for manipulating and using people. Her performance was praised by a number of critics, including Rob Blackwelder for SPLICEDwire, who wrote about the “dazzling performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar who plunges headlong into the lascivious malevolence that makes Kathryn so delightfully wicked. (Plus she looks great in a corset.)”.

Sarah Michelle Gellar subsequently appeared in the box office hits Scooby-Doo (2002), Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, (2004) and the American remake of Japanese horror film The Grudge (2004).

Since then she has starred in limited released and straight-to-video films such as 2006’s Southland Tales, 2007’s Suburban Girl and 2008’s The Air I Breathe.

More recently she starred in the television series Ringer, which started airing in late 2011. In 2011, Gellar signed on to star and work as executive producer for the drama series, in which she plays a woman on the run who manages to hide by living the life of her wealthy twin sister. The show was originally made for CBS but was picked up by its sister channel The CW in May 2011. Gellar has stated that part of her decision to return to a television series was because it allows her to both work and raise her daughter. The series premiered with high rating for the network (the first episode brought 2.84 million viewers) and mixed-positive reviews. E! Online wrote that Gellar was “awesome” and “fantastic”, TV Line remarked she “does a fine job” as both characters and USA Today found her performance “well-defined”.

On 15 February 2013, it was reported that Gellar would return to television with a pilot for CBS entitled Crazy Ones opposite Robin Williams. The show will be a single-camera comedy, about an advertising agency run by a father (Williams) and his daughter (Gellar).

Gellar is an active advocate for various charities, including breast cancer research, Project Angel Food, Habitat for Humanity and CARE. Of her charitable pursuits, she says, “I started because my mother taught me a long time ago that even when you have nothing, there’s ways to give back. And what you get in return for that is tenfold. But it was always hard because I couldn’t do a lot. I couldn’t do much more than just donate money when I was on the show because there wasn’t time. And now that I have the time, it’s amazing.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar has a black belt in taekwondo and four tattoos.

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Happy Birthday Russell Crowe

On 7 April, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Russell Crowe, the Australian actor, producer and musician. He came to international attention for his role as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator (2000), directed by Ridley Scott, for which Russell Crowe won an Academy Award for Best Actor. Recently Crowe portrayed Javert in Les Misérables (2012), an adaptation of the popular musical. Russell Crowe will appear in Man of Steel (2013), where he will play Jor-El, the father of Superman, and star in Noah (2014), in which he will play the title role.

Russell Crowe in 2012

Russell Crowe in 2012


Russell Crowe was born on 7 April 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand but lived the vast majority of his life in Australia and became an Australian citizen in 2006.

Russell Crowe began his performing career as a musician in the mid-1980s. He starred in a number of stage musicals before appearing in the TV soap opera Neighbours and a number of films such as The Crossing (1990) and Romper Stomper (1992).

After initial success in Australia, Crowe began acting in American films. He co-starred with Denzel Washington in Virtuosity and with Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead in 1995. He went on to receiving three consecutive best actor Oscar nominations, for The Insider (1999), Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001).

Within the six-year stretch from 1997–2003, Russell Crowe also starred in two other best picture nominees, L.A. Confidential (1997) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). In 2005, he re-teamed with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for Cinderella Man. In 2006 he re-teamed with Gladiator director Ridley Scott for A Good Year, the first of two consecutive collaborations (the second being American Gangster (2007) co-starring Denzel Washington.

In 2010, Russell Crowe appeared in Robin Hood and The Next Three Days. After a year off acting, Crowe played Jackknife in The Man with the Iron Fists before taking on the role of Inspector Javert in the musical film of Les Misérables (2012).

Russell Crowe will portray Superman’s biological father Jor-El in Christopher Nolan’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, due to be released in the summer of 2013. He will play the lead in the Darren Arnofsky film Noah, due to be released in early 2014, and the role of a gangster in the film adaptation of Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel Winter’s Tale.

Between 1999 and 2005 Crowe was involved in three altercations which gave him a reputation for having a bad temper. In 1999, Crowe was involved in a scuffle at the Plantation Hotel in Coffs Harbour, Australia, which was caught on security video.

Four years later, when part of Crowe’s appearance at the 2002 BAFTA awards was cut out to fit into the BBC’s tape-delayed broadcast, Crowe used strong language during an argument with producer Malcolm Gerrie. The part cut was a poem in tribute to actor Richard Harris who was then terminally ill, and was cut for copyright reasons. Crowe later apologised. Later that year, Crowe was alleged to have been involved in a “brawl” with businessman Eric Watson inside a fashionable Japanese restaurant in London. The fight was broken up by British actor Ross Kemp.

In June 2005, Crowe was arrested and charged with second-degree assault by New York City police, after he threw a telephone at an employee of the Mercer Hotel who refused to help him place a call when the system did not work from his room, and was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon (the telephone). Crowe pleaded guilty and settled the lawsuit out of court.

Crowe’s work has earned him several accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Academy Award nominations in a row (1999–2001), one Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, one BAFTA, and an Academy Award. Due to his success and character variety, he has been called a “virtuoso” actor.

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Happy Birthday Ewan McGregor

On 31 March, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Ewan McGregor OBE, the Scottish actor who has had widespread success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. He is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting (1996), Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005), and poet Christian in the musical film Moulin Rouge! (2001). He has also received critical acclaim for his starring roles in theatre productions of Guys and Dolls (2005–07) and Othello (2007–08). Ewan McGregor was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to drama and charity.

McGregor at the 2009 Venice Film Festival


In 1994, McGregor earned critical praise for his performance in the thriller Shallow Grave, for which he won an Empire Award, and which marked his first collaboration with director Danny Boyle. His international breakthrough followed in 1996 with the role of heroin addict Mark Renton in Boyle’s Trainspotting, an adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name. The film was the first of several times that McGregor would appear nude on screen.

McGregor played the male romantic lead in the 1998 British film Little Voice. In 1999, McGregor starred in the blockbuster Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally made famous by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars trilogy. In 2001, he starred in Moulin Rouge! as the young poet Christian, who falls in love with the terminally-ill courtesan Satine, played by Nicole Kidman. The role was a perfect platform for McGregor to display his impressive singing voice.

McGregor reprised his role of Obi-Wan Kenobi for the subsequent prequel Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in 2002. In 2003, he starred alongside Renée Zellweger in Down With Love. He also portrayed the younger Edward Bloom in the critically acclaimed film Big Fish alongside Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman and Billy Crudup. During that year, he also received critical acclaim for his portrayal of an amoral drifter mixed up with murder in the drama Young Adam, which co-starred Tilda Swinton.

In 2005, McGregor appeared for the final time as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He took very special care—especially in Revenge of the Sith—to ensure that his portrayal of Obi-Wan’s mannerisms, speech timings, and accents closely resembled Alec Guinness’ version. Also in 2005, McGregor played two roles—one a clone of the other—opposite Scarlett Johansson in Michael Bay’s The Island, and he appeared in Marc Forster’s Stay, a psychological thriller co-starring Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling.

From June 2005 to April 2007, McGregor starred alongside Jane Krakowski, Douglas Hodge, and Jenna Russell in the original Donmar Warehouse production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in London. He played the leading role of Sky Masterson, made famous by Marlon Brando in the film of the same name. McGregor received the LastMinute.com award for Best Actor for his performance in 2005, and he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2007.

McGregor with Jenna Russell in Guys & Dolls

In 2007, McGregor starred opposite Colin Farrell in the Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream. From December 2007 to February 2008, McGregor starred as Iago in Othello at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor as Othello and Kelly Reilly as Desdemona. He reprised the role on BBC Radio 3 in May 2008.

In 2009, he co-starred with Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris and appeared in Amelia alongside Hilary Swank. Also in 2009, he portrayed Camerlengo Patrick McKenna in Angels & Demons, the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel of the same name.

In 2010, McGregor starred in the film The Ghost, a political thriller directed by Roman Polanski and adapted from the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost, with the screenplay written by Polanski and Harris. It also starred Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams. McGregor was awarded with the European Film Award for Best Actor for his role as the Ghost Writer. In the same year, Ewan McGregor also had a starring role in Beginners, a romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Mills. It tells the story of Oliver (Ewan McGregor), a man reflecting on the life and death of his father (Christopher Plummer) while trying to forge a new romantic relationship with a woman (Mélanie Laurent) dealing with father issues of her own. Beginners premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, where the Los Angeles Times heralded it as a “heady, heartfelt film” with a cast who has “a strong sense of responsibility to their real-world counterparts”.

In 2011, Ewan McGregor played the role of Kenneth in Haywire, a action-thriller film directed by Steven Soderbergh, which also starred Gina Carano, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender. In the same year, McGregor also has a starring role in the movie Perfect Sense directed by David Mackenzie and starring Eva Green as the female lead. The film premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews.

In 2012, Ewan McGregor starred in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and also starring Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. The plot centres on a fisheries scientist (McGregor) who finds himself reluctantly involved in a project to bring salmon fishing to the wadis of the Highlands of Yemen, a project which surprisingly changes the course of his life.

Also in 2012, Ewan McGregor starred in The Impossible alongside Naomi Watts who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film is based on María Belón and her family’s experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

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Happy Birthday Alyson Hannigan

On 24 March, City Connect celebrates the birthday of American actress Alyson Hannigan who is known for her roles as Willow in the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Michelle Flaherty in the American Pie films and Lily Aldrin from the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

Alyson Hannigan in 2003


Although Alyson Hannigan appeared in an industrial film for “Active Parenting” as a baby, as well as having starred in a commercial for the Duncan Hines cookie mix in 1978, it was not until 1985, when she moved to Los Angeles, California, that she formally began her acting career. Living with her mother and attending North Hollywood High School, she successfully auditioned for agents while visiting her father in Santa Barbara. After attending North Hollywood High School, she attended California State University, Northridge where she earned a degree in psychology.

Alyson Hannigan’s first major film role was in My Stepmother Is an Alien, a science fiction comedy released in 1988; one of her co-stars in the film was actor Seth Green, who would later join her in the regular cast of Buffy as her on-screen boyfriend. Then in 1989, her first regular role on a TV series came when she was cast in the short-lived ABC sitcom Free Spirit.

In 1997, at 23 Alyson Hannigan was cast to play Willow Rosenberg, Buffy’s best friend, on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show became a huge success, and Hannigan gained further recognition, subsequently appearing in several notable films aimed at teenage audiences, including American Pie, American Pie 2, Boys and Girls, and American Wedding. By the time Buffy ended in 2003, Alyson Hannigan was earning a US$250,000 salary for each episode.

In early 2004, Alyson Hannigan made her West End debut, starring in a stage adaptation of When Harry Met Sally… at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, opposite Luke Perry.

In 2005, Alyson Hannigan returned to starring in a regular television series, appearing in the hit CBS comedy, How I Met Your Mother, as Lily Aldrin. Set in Manhattan, How I Met Your Mother follows the social and romantic lives of Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) and his friends Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), Lily Aldrin (Hannigan) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris). How I Met Your Mother has been a critical success, has received consistently strong ratings throughout its run and is now in it’s seventh season on CBS. It has won five Emmy Awards, including a nomination for “Outstanding Comedy Series” in 2009. The show won the People’s Choice Awards 2012 for Best TV Network Comedy and Neil Patrick Harris won the Best Male Comedy Actor for his role as Barney. The Bro Code, cited by Barney many times throughout the series, is a set of written rules for bros to follow, and has been published as a tie-in novel, an audiobook and an iPhone App.

In February 2006, Alyson Hannigan starred as Julia Jones in Date Movie, a parody of romantic comedies. She was also a guest star on the ABC animated sitcom The Goode Family in 2009.

Also in 2009, Alyson Hannigan joined forces with Emily Deschanel, Jaime King, Minka Kelly, and Katharine McPhee in “The Booby Scare” – a “video slumber party” featured on FunnyorDie.com (see below) to promote regular breast cancer screenings for the organization Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Alyson Hannigan recently became the new face of Head & Shoulders Shampoo in America. Here’s one of the TV commercials where Alyson Hannigan gives her friend some good advice on averting catastrophe with Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care.

This year, Alyson Hannigan is reprising her role of Michelle in American Reunion – the fourth movie from the popular American Pie films. The movie will be released on April 2012. See the trailer below for a sneak preview of what to expect from the American Pie cast members this time round.

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Happy Birthday Ronan Keating

On 3rd March, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Ronan Keating, the Irish singer/songwriter who came to prominence in 1994 as the lead singer of Boyzone. His solo career started in 1999, and so far has resulted in 9 albums. Keating gained worldwide attention when his single “When You Say Nothing at All” was featured in the film Notting Hill and peaked at number one in several countries. As a solo artist, Keating has sold over 22 million records worldwide. Also a philanthropist, Keating has worked as a charity campaigner most notably for the Marie Keating Foundation, a foundation that raises awareness for breast cancer. It is named after his mother, who died of the disease in 1998. The biography below details the life and work of this international music celebrity who in 2010 was said to have a fortune of around £25 million.

Keating at the State Theatre Sydney in 2012


Ronan Keating was born on 3 March 1977 and grew up in Dublin. He joined the band Boyzone in 1993 alongside Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch, Stephen Gately and Mikey Graham. The group performed in various clubs and pubs before being signed by PolyGram in 1994 and released a cover version of “Love Me for a Reason” which peaked on several charts. In 1998, his mother died at the age of 54 from breast cancer, resulting in the establishment of the Marie Keating Foundation. Keating married Yvonne Connolly in April 1998 and together, the couple have three children: Jack, Marie and Ali.

From 1994-1999, Boyzone released 3 studio albums and 1 compilation album before disbanding in 2000.

In 1999, while still a member of Boyzone, Keating recorded a version of “When You Say Nothing At All” for the motion picture Notting Hill. The single peaked at number one in the UK charts, leading to a successful solo career. Keating released his debut solo album entitled Ronan in 2000, peaking at number one in the UK Albums Chart. The album produced four UK and Irish top-ten singles: “When You Say Nothing at All” (originally recorded for the soundtrack of the 1999 film Notting Hill), “Life Is a Rollercoaster“, “The Way You Make Me Feel“, and “Lovin’ Each Day“. Ronan was given several negative reviews, however, it sold over 750,000 copies and became one of the top selling albums of the year in the United Kingdom.

After the successful debut album Ronan, Keating continued on with his solo career and since has released four more studio albums: Destination (2002), Turn It On (2003), 10 Years of Hits (2004) and Bring You Home (2006). Keating collaborated with several major stars, including Elton John, Lulu, LeAnn Rimes and the Bee Gees, for these albums.

In 2003, Keating was named Rear of the Year – an award given to celebrities with a notable posterior. In October 2007, Keating was listed in the Guinness Book of Records for being the only artist ever to have 30 consecutive top 10 singles in the UK chart, beating the likes of Elvis Presley. Keating also embarked on two world tours, won the Ivor Novello and BMI songwriting awards, released an autobiography, had a role as ambassador for Christian Aid and earnt sales in excess of 22 million albums worldwide. In 2007 he released 2 fragrances,the range consists of a female fragrance, Hope By Ronan, which is based upon musk and amber scents and a male EDT, Believe by Ronan, based on Sicilian Lemon, Lavender and Clary Sage scents. All proceeds go to the Marie Keating Foundation.

Keating performed at the 2006 FIFA World Cup opening party at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, in front of an audience of nearly 250,000 people, and posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine’s 10 Years of Naked Centrefolds.

Ronan posing for Cosmopolitan Magazine

Boyzone reunited in 2007 for a special appearance on the BBC’s Children in Need and soon went on a 29-date tour. On 10 October 2009, Stephen Gately – close friend and bandmate of Keating – died at his home in Spain of a pulmonary oedema which left Keating devastated. However, the band continued on and released the album “”Brother” in March 2010 which went to number one in UK and Ireland. Ronan Keating also continues with his solo career and a new studio album and tour have been scheduled in 2012. Ronan has also hinted that he will be reuniting with his Boyzone bandmates Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham and Shane Lynch in 2013 to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a group.

In terms of charity work, Keating ran in the London Marathon on 13 April 2008 to raise money for Cancer Research, with a personal best time of 3hr 59min. He has also walked the length of Ireland twice, each time raising money for the Marie Keating Foundation, now linked to Cancer Research UK. In 2009, Keating was part of a group of celebrities who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Comic Relief. In June 2009, Keating received a Special Achievement Award from Cancer Research UK – he was singled out for his work with them since 2006. He, along with the Marie Keating Foundation, has helped to raise over £1.7 million for the UK charity. In September 2011, he swam the Irish sea 90 km stretch from Dublin to Holyhead with a team of celebrities to raise money for cancer charities and set a new Guinness World Record for open water swimming with a 11-member celebrity team. They raised £1 million for Cancer Research Britain and the Marie Keating Foundation.

Ronan Keating has been quoted as saying he’d like to break into acting but does not intend to stop working as a recording artist. He unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in the The Hobbit. In 2013, Ronan Keating will make his screen debut in the Australian romantic musical comedy Goddess starring alongside Australian comedy actress Magda Szubanski and British actress Laura MIchelle Kelly. The multi-million dollar film will be directed by Mark Lamprell (Babe: Pig In The City) and is due for release in March 2013.

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Happy Birthday Rosamund Pike

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of actress Rosamund Pike who was born on 27 January 1979. She has starred in such films as Die Another Day, Pride and Prejudice, An Education, Made in Dagenham, Barney’s Version, Johnny English Reborn, Wrath of the Titans and Jack Reacher.

Rosamund Pike


After graduating from Oxford with a 2:1 in English Literature, Rosamund Pike considered working at Waterstone’s bookshop, due to a lack of acting opportunities, but was offered a role as a Bond girl and MI6 agent assigned to aid James Bond in Die Another Day. She also appeared in the special show Bond Girls Are Forever and, shortly afterwards, the BAFTA tribute to the James Bond series. Rosamund Pike played Elizabeth Malet in The Libertine (2004) co-starring Johnny Depp, which won her the Best Supporting Actress award at the British Independent Film Awards. In the same year, Rosamund Pike portrayed Rose in The Promised Land (a film about Palestine), and starred as scientist Samantha Grimm in the cinematic adaptation of the computer game Doom. In 2005, Rosamund Pike appeared as Jane, the elder sister of Elizabeth (played by Keira Knightley), in Pride & Prejudice.

Rosamund Pike had a role in the film adaptation of Anne Michaels’s novel Fugitive Pieces. She starred as a successful attorney in the film Fracture, opposite Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.

Rosamund Pike’s stage credits include Hitchcock Blonde by Terry Johnson (in a role requiring her to appear completely nude on stage with only a pair of high heels) and Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, both in London’s West End, and Gaslight at London’s Old Vic Theatre. Rosamund Pike has said that she would be happy to do at least one play every year. In 2009, she played the title character in Madame De Sade during the Donmar’s West End season.

Rosamund Pike appeared in the British film Made in Dagenham and in the Canadian film Barney’s Version where she plays Miriam. In 2010, she starred in a production of Hedda Gabler on UK tour. Rosamund Pike plays the part of Kate Sumner in the 2011 Bond-spoof film Johnny English Reborn, playing a psychologist and English’s love interest. In 2012 Rosamund Pike starred in the thriller Jack Reacher as Helen Rodin opposite Tom Cruise as the title character.

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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


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.


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.


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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