Harvey Weinstein’s fury over Bradley Cooper’s Thanksgiving interview being given the chop by the NFL

November 24th, 2012

Harvey Weinstein is miffed at the US National Football League network for pulling an exclusive interview with Silver Linings Playbook hunk Bradley Cooper.
The Weinstein film boss was told an already filmed interview special for Thanksgiving was scrapped purely because Robert De Niro’s character in the film playing a part-time bookie and they felt it promoted gambling in football.
Harv said last night, “We are deeply disappointed in the NFL’s decision, and we are quite frankly surprised. Pulling a pretaped interview with our stars is nothing short of censorship . . . [‘Silver Linings’] is not a film about gambling in the NFL. It’s a film about fathers and sons and football bonding a family together.”
More importantly Silver Linings Playbook one of the most highly anticipated films of the year so far and it widely assumed to be THE film to beat at the Oscars. Time to realise it’s 2012 NFL and people are free to make their own decisions with the films they watch – especially in a land that celebrates a certain city called Las Vegas. I mean, really?! Pot. Kettle. #networknumpties


November 24th, 2012

Mother, presenter and proud northerner Sara Cox has been a voice in our ears since the glory days of ‘Ladette’ television when she hosted Channel Four’s The Girlie Show.
Nowadays she’s a mother-of-three, is a regular on both BBC Radio 1 and 2 and keeps us all entertained with her fantastically overactive imagination.
Speaking as she promotes Heinz’s new campaign to send personalised soup to those feel under the weather, she had me howling when we talked One Direction, Grimmy and why she’s coming around to the idea of getting married again.

Hello Sara, how you doing?
Hiya love, I’m OK. I’ve got a twitchy eye thing today and went to get checked to make sure it’s not connected to my brain. It’s connected to being tired or stress. It goes like the clappers when I’m all stressed out.

Tell me about this Heinz campaign to begin with…
It’s the Heinz Gate world food campaign and you go on and if you know someone who’s a bit under the weather you can send them a personalised can of soup. And it says get well soon on the soup tin too. They opened it up as they are covered in their own snot and tissues. It’s the third time they’ve done it but it’s done this time with the Starlight Foundation. They donate money to Starlight to entertain children and people in children’s wards.

Do you cook at home then?
Yes of course. Don’t even get me started. I’ve got a slow cooker these days and I’m addicted to it. I do like making a soup actually. From scratch. I knock up a mean broth. I make ham shank broth in a massive pan big enough to bath a three-year-old child in – it’s huge. Then nobody else eats it so I freeze it all and a few months later chuck it away. I think it’s therapeutic to make. Soup’s the most comforting food out there.

Are you on the baking bandwagon too?
Nope. I’ve not got a sweet tooth really. I’d much prefer to get some soup over a muffin when I’m ill.

Your eldest daughter Lola is eight now – it seems like only yesterday you were pregnant with her – do you feel mature enough to have an eight-year-old?
It’s madness. I still have that thing of dealing with school stuff or ‘grown up stuff’ and sometimes I feel way to young and you sometimes worry you’re not grown up enough to act like a mum. But I obviously am. Lola’s wicked. She’s got a really fruitful imagination and very dramatic. She’s funny.

As fruitful as yours?
All three of my children are very different and ace in their own way. Lola’s especially like me. On Halloween we went to a neighbour’s house party and she had this amazing outfit where she was a billionaire’s widow where the man of the house had died under suspicious circumstances. We came up with the idea together but then she took it a step further. She’s got this amazing imagination.

How do you reflect on The Girlie Show days – are you proud of it?
The Girlie Show days are amazing. I can’t bear it when people try to distance themselves from where they started. I’m proud of it. I look back on modelling and The Girlie Show and I can’t be snobby. It was post pub rock TV. I made it because of that. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without having started at The Girlie Show.

You seem to be coming to the end of your run with Radio One naturally – are you hoping Radio Two will be your new home at some point?
I keep doing more and more flirting with R2. Whenever I’m on R2 I keep sneaking in and it’s like flashing your leg…and I’m loving it. I’m covering for Fearne Cotton on her maternity leave and I was really chuffed to be asked. It’s great for me because I need a new roof on me house. Ha.
I’ll probably end my time at R1 soon. I don’t want to talk myself out of a job here, but it’ll be in a natural end at some point. If I go out on the high of doing Fearne’s show for a big chunk of time I’d be happy. I’m pleased to be asked and she’s not got some young upstart going after her job. She’s got one of her mates doing it. It’s a brilliant show, loads of live music and lots of Live Lounges and that’s exciting.

Will you have to rein in the crazy imagination for Radio Two?
No. I don’t change the way I am for R2. I love it because you’re still yourself but maybe it’s just a bit like you’ve got your in-laws at the table. That’s what I’m like. It’s like you’ve been joined by your dad-in-law. I’m still 100 per cent me. I love the music on R1 and on R2. There’s a good crossover with the music policy. I love them both but they’re very different – like my children. R2′s the place where I think I’ll settle, hopefully.

How do you think Nick Grimshaw is settling into his role hosting the breakfast show?
Grimmy’s doing really well. It’s a different show, it really is, but I think it needed to be. Chris is a really good friend and he did a great job. When he took over from me I was like, ‘time for him to put his money where his big mouth is’ and he proved himself and did it for eight years, brilliantly. We ended up becoming really good friends.
With Grimmy he’s got a gorgeous turn of phrase and he’s a lovely storyteller. People tweet me saying he’s like the male version of me and I believe them. I think I taught Grimmy everything he knows. Not really. I just think he’s a very honest broadcaster and what you’re hearing is just how he is. He’s different from Chris but all breakfast presenters have to be able to tell a tale and he does that well.

It’s a very new sounding show…
It’s great having amazing music on – new music. And now I think it sounds really fresh, young and relevant.

What’s your take on R1 not playlisting Robbie Williams new track Candy?
I don’t know about this Robbie stance and all this beef. I did play this on my Sunday show because it was in the chart. It’s always a balancing act – Radio One ask their listeners what they want to hear and they get feedback. They wouldn’t have just done it for no reason. There’s no musical God sitting there making decisions. I like Robbie, bless him. That song is annoyingly catchy so good luck to him.

Are you still in touch with your old mucker Zoe Ball?
With Zoe we text but we are both useless at it. I saw her dad Johnny at a premiere the other night and he sneaked into a VVIP section and that was hilarious. I last saw her when I was on R2 and handing over to her. I don’t see her often but if ever I was washed up in a little dinghy on Brighton beach then I know she’d be there for me.

Moving on to home life – are you and your boyfriend Ben Cyzer going to have anymore children?
No I think we’re done. But if ever I ovulate and have another then so be it. Jo Whiley’s a miracle woman when it comes to being a mother. She’s got proper Jennifer Aniston arms too. She just pops babies out willy nilly and then gets on with it. The reason I actually think we’re done is because we need a new roof more than we need a new baby.

You’re not married yet – despite being together for years – will you ever marry?
Marriage is one of those things I used to say was like pot holing. You know, I tried it once but I wasn’t very good at it. But Ben is so keen and very lovely. I like having a boyfriend. It would be nice for the kids. And you know me I love a bit of a buffet and a disco. Obviously he’s desperate to do it and a diamond would be nice but I’m pretty chilled about it. Ben’s absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not saying never.

Moving on – how do you stay in shape these days?
I’m still doing body combat and a bit of pilates from time to time. I’ve worked out with Ben a couple of times with a personal trainer and that’s hilarious – it reminds me of a montage in a romantic comedy where I’m Jennifer Aniston and he’s Ben Stiller. My working out is not for skinniness at all. I’m a farmer’s daughter and I’ve still got to be able to wrestle a bull to the floor at a moment’s notice. And it gets me away from the kids for an hour too.

Quick fire round. Are we bored of Rihanna?
No – we’re not bored of Rihanna but I’m bored of her twitter pics. Alright love, you look great stop shouting about it.

Should Madonna start covering up?
Oh no, she can get whatever bits out she wants. She’s Madonna for God’s sake. I like her.

Are One Direction overrated?
Erm, no. I personally love them. Harry pointed at me at his gig recently and I had my kids with me and and I screamed so much my contact lenses nearly popped out.

Sara’s supporting the Heinz ‘Get Well’ Soup campaign, in association with Starlight. Find out how you can help to provide entertainment to children’s hospital wards across the UK by visiting the Heinz Soup UK Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HeinzSoupUK

INTERVIEW: Donna Air and Markus Lupfer

November 24th, 2012

Actress Donna Air and London Fashion Week designer Markus Lupfer have joined forces to launch a children’s range for girls at high street store Debenhams.

It’s Lupfer’s trademark fun designs teamed together with cute ideas, beautiful fabrics and, of course, trendy slogans.

I caught up with the pair this week at London’s Sketch for the launch of the collection for girls aged four to 14 and they told me just how the partnership came about.

Hello Donna and Markus – tell me how this kid’s range for Debenhams came about…
Donna - Friendship was how it started. I love Markus and I was buying lots of Christmas presents and children last year. Markus is such a fun brand and designer and I always knew it would transcend so well to children. He’s bright and fun and it works for the children. Markus is also a wonderful person.

Credit to you Markus – you’ve got a great reputation in the industry.
Markus – Oh don’t. I’m shy.
D – He’s got great business sense and he’s very talented at what he does.

What was the design process like?
M – What we wanted to do was have the Markus Lupfer signature. We started together, sat down, worked for a couple of days and learnt what we wanted to do together. In the country with a bottle of red. Then we talked colours, images and what we wanted to do. It’s been an easy thing to do to take the main elements and designs and put a Markus and Donna spin on it.

There’s a great mix of celebrities and designers releasing clothing through a high street brand these days. It must have been exciting to work with Debenham’s then.
D – It’s a perfect union.
K – We both got really excited. There’s a celebrity, a designer and Debenham’s and it’s not been done before like this. It’s very new and designing for young girls is a great idea. I also think when we chatted about it we saw the ideas come alive immediately.
D – It’s really fun working together with somebody – you get bored on your own.

And how was it for you Donna, working as a fashion designer for the first time?

Well I’d never ever want to cut out the designer aspect and just put my name to something and pretend to be a fashion designer. The truth is I’ve always been very forward thinking when it comes to fashion.
My sister has just graduated in fashion and I know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into this. Working with Markus was an important thing to do. I wanted to work with a designer and acknowledge how hard it is. I’ve learnt something over the years through wearing the outfits I have. I’ve been learning about fashion for ages and I’m putting my experience into play now.
There’s also the practical element that I’m a mother now and I know what young girls want to be wearing.

Did your daughter Freya help with the process?
She is very outspoken and vocal about what she likes and doesn’t like. So all the little things she came up with were helpful. For example Freya doesn’t like things to be tight around her neck and she doesn’t like the fabrics to be too itchy. Freya’s more excited about this project than anything I’ve ever done. I’m already not cool and I don’t know anything. But apparently Markus is cool. So hopefully through collaboration I’m now slightly cool.

Markus, how did you adapt to designing for kids? Was it tricky for you?
It was actually fine. It was really natural. It’s more fun than anything I’ve been able to design. I was quite aware of finding the balance between not being too fun but still appealing to children. I wanted it to have a high end look. We didn’t want garish. Simplifying things was important.
This has been a mass learning curve for me too. I had no idea what little girls wanted. I had to find out what a completely new market wanted from our designs.

Donna, how important is it for you to be taken seriously in the fashion world?
I don’t care or even focus on that. I’m not doing that as an equal project. I’m just doing a project that makes me tick and I don’t want to focus on what people think of you. I also want to, at this point in my life, start thinking about the future and keep things stable and provide. The showbiz industry is hard and very dependant on other people’s pace. So it’s great to put my energy into this and have things that are consistent.

INTERVIEW: Freddie Flintoff

November 23rd, 2012

Freddie Flintoff was known for his boozy escapades off the pitch nearly as much as his international cricket career.
But these days you won’t see him touching a drop of alcohol, eating a carbohydrate or behaving badly – because he’s on a mission to become a professional boxer.
And what began as a bit of a laughable twist on a reality TV show seems to have turned into a big deal.
For the past nine months he’s been trained by former world champion Barry McGuigan and his son Shane to become a professional boxer and on November 30 he will face his first opponent in the ring.
But whereas during his cricket career as one of England’s best ever ‘all rounders’ he became known for his infamous benders to celebrate accolades, he’s now ridiculously focused.
He even admits he’s not even considering touching a tipple after his fight and confesses it was easy for him to change his party animal ways.
Freddie, 34, said this week: “It was easier than you would think for me to give up the booze.
“The first week or a fortnight maybe you wouldn’t mind a pint but then after that you just get involved in the training. I’m getting up now with a purpose and there’s no battle on my hands.
“It’s been harder eating a steak at 6am in the morning than it was giving up booze. The thing I miss most is picking at my kid’s meals like fish fingers and chips – those are my favourite meals. I’m not allowed to alter my diet in any way.
“For the first few weeks of training back in March I got one meal a week where I could eat whatever I wanted. So I would pig out on that! But that doesn’t happen now.
“I don’t want to celebrate the fact I’ve done all this work to my body for the fight by going and ruining it all with some bender. I love the fact I’ve got healthy and fit and I don’t want to go out on some bender and ruin it.”

This is a huge change from the Freddie who hit the front pages throughout his cricket career for all the wrong reasons.
Who could forget the time he walked into No10 Downing Street celebrating the historic Ashes win in 2005 after he’d been celebrating all night and was clearly worse for wear.
And of course his time with England was also marred by the infamous pedalo incident during the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean when he was stripped of the vice-captaincy. A drunken Freddie had to be rescued after falling into water trying to board the seacraft.
The change in his life right now is extraordinary.
The dad-of-three wakes up at 6am and makes himself his a steak or a buffalo burger (“minus the bun and the mayo”) and then hits the gym with fruit and cashew nuts for snacks before three balanced meals of chicken or fish with fresh greens before getting an early night.
The three-part Sky1HD documentary Flintoff: From Lords To The Ring documents the star in his quest to become a boxer and on November 30 he will face unbeaten American Richard Dawson.
Freddie’s lost 45lbs in weight during his gruelling four-month training camp and admits his body has changed shape – including his nose after numerous bloody sparring sessions.
“My nose has completely changed shape,” he admits. “My wife Rachael keeps pointing it out. It’s flattened down and I’m morphing into Barry McGuigan. I’ve got his nose now.
“At the start of my training when I was punched in the face I couldn’t even breathe through my nose but now I’m fine – it’s been a learning curve and I had to get used to it.
“Rachael’s noticed my body changing too – in a good way, I think. But you know, it’s not a big deal really. I’m always too tired…so there’s none of that. I just flake out on the couch.”
Freddie, who married wife Rachael in 2005, even reveals he’s not sure if his boxing career will end after his first fight. He appears keen to continue with his training. “I’m going to see how I go,” he admits. “I’ve worked so hard for this – to be able to face a professional boxing match and if I’m honest it would be sad to give it all up.
“I want to take things as they come and concentrate on the fight and getting through that. It will be my first experience with a big crowd for the first time and my eyes will be eyes wide open to see what that feels like.”

The star, who has children Holly, eight, Corey, six and Rocky, four, with wife Rachael, has benefited from the best in the business training him on his boxing challenge. Both Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard offered their expertise and visited Freddie at the training centre in Battersea.
“Sugar Ray gave me a coaching session for an hour which was amazing and then Mike Tyson comes down to the gym in Battersea and pitches up to see me,” he beams. “I was the one stood in the ring with my boxing shorts on and vest and I’m getting to hear Tyson’s thoughts. Tyson talked about the emotional side of it all and the way to deal with nerves and fear. It was strange to listen to him because it was the exact way that Tyson always fought. Tyson was amazing in the old days. He was immense.”
But not everybody is happy with the former cricketer’s decision to box. His wife’s secretly a bag of nerves and his mother’s struggling to understand why he’s doing it.
Freddie says: “Rachael’s way of dealing with things is to act like me being a boxer isn’t a big deal. She will obviously come to watch me when I box. Her grandfather boxed so she’s seen it before.
“But I’m not sure what my mum’s doing. She says she wants to come, but I’m negotiating with her right now. It’s one thing to watch your son play cricket but being in a ring boxing is a different matter. I think for her it would be a bizarre experience to watch.
“The kids are fine with it – but they’re not happy I’ve lost my belly flab. We used to play this game called ‘The Tummy Man’ where I’d talk to them with my belly button – but the flab has disappeared and we’ve lost The Tummy Man.”
There’s one down side to boxing!

Flintoff: From Lord’s to the Ring, November 22, 9pm, Sky1HD.

INTERVIEW: Ellie Goulding

October 7th, 2012

There’s no doubting Ellie Goulding is onto a winner with new album Halcyon. It’s dark, electro, mysterious and fascinating. And the lady herself isn’t your average pop puppet either.
She jumps from subject to subject and keeps you enthralled with her conversation and you get a feeling a night out with her would be a lot of fun.
Here’s our conversation as it happened.

Hello Ellie, Halcyon is fabulously dark. Did you mean for it to come out this way when you began work on it?
It is darker than the last. It wasn’t intentional but I think I was in a different head space from the first. I wrote Lights such a long time ago too.

Lights did go on and on and on…
It did. Ha. By the time I released bright Lights I started thinking that I wanted to move on. And then America happened and things became tricky. Because it meant I was going out there again and new music was delayed.

It came out of the blue didn’t it?
It sure did. I wasn’t expecting a US rebirth. I was actually writing Halcyon out in the middle of nowhere in the Valleys and then…BTW – have you seen The Valleys on MTV. It’s just amazing. You will love it. It’s a Welsh version of Geordie Shore. It’s unbelievable. It’s writing gold.

We digress…
Yes, sorry. I was writing Halcyon and then I was getting emails saying Lights was taking off on US radio stations. Then it became massive and huge and I couldn’t believe it. Then I was back off to America.

You did a stint early on with Lights in the US anyway?
Yes, I performed on Saturday Night Live and loads of shows. But I ended up going to the States and doing it all again. I was supporting Katy Perry on the first time – literally nobody knew who I was. It was a lot more under the radar events. The second time I was a little more well known. But I’m a grafter and never envisaged myself being a singer who was going to release a huge single and then know that I was huge. I write everything, produce everything too so that’s a lot to take on.

Are you a control freak?
I don’t know what that means. I genuinely don’t. It’s a weird phrase. Some things I have to pass to other people. I’m lucky having a great amazing, clever and responsible team around me. I never wanted to just have ‘yes people’ working for me. It’s good to have positive people but I want honesty before anything else. Anything to do with music or anything that surrounds my music is all down to me.

Is this an Adele 21 situation with a lot of tracks about your break up from Radio One DJ Greg James?

To be honest it was very coincidental that I was writing my record and something was missing for a while. I had writer’s block and went away to Ireland and had two weeks just by myself. Totally by myself and it forced me to think. I did that to try and target what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t write. I was really down in the dumps and so much had happened to me. I’d been all around the world and my brain hadn’t really caught up at all. I started to get withdrawal symptoms and didn’t know how to cope. I needed to go away to save my sanity.

Are you still mates with Greg?
Yes, we really are. And I played him a lot of the stuff and made sure he knew what was what. Not every song is about Greg. But they were prompted and inspired by that time. I can be a really happy bubbly person but then write a very sad song. I guess that’s the kind of writer I am – I’m the queen of sad songs. I guess that time in my life and my mood was just poured into my work. It wasn’t a very nice time at all.

Usually a break up means good work!
Well, I actually think I needed a distraction from my personal life and just threw myself into work. I had to become a control freak in a sense because otherwise I would lose it.

You are now dating dubstep DJ Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore) – how’s that going? Do you ever see him with your busy schedules?

I’m seeing him on Tuesday for the first time in about a month and a half. It’s pretty insane. I never have a second to think about love life. I’ve been so busy. I’m looking forward to seeing him. He’s as busy as I am. So maybe it’s a good thing. We’re really really good friends so that helps. That helps the long distance thing.

Has Skrillex introduced you to a lot of different music?

He has. But I’ve also introduced him to a lot of music too. It’s been a mutual learning experience. I’ve always been very intellectual with music. People may have thought I started that I was all about folk music but I always knew it was going to have an electronic edge. I have such an affinity with electro because my mum used to record Judge Jules and Pete Tong on the radio and we’d listen to it together.

That’s a very cool mum…
Yes she is. My uncle and my mum were proper ravers. So my mum and dad used to be punks back in the day and it’s involved into some sort of rave thing. Mum introduced my to Bjork, Future Sound of London and Prodigy.

I would have thought you’d love Carole King and The Carpenters too.

I had to discover Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac and the Beatles only a few years ago. I did it myself. I did everything the wrong way round. God knows where my dad is, but whenever I did see him he’s have Aerosmith and AC/DC and rock stuff on.

Do you not see you dad nowadays?

No, I’ve not seen him for years. We didn’t fall out we just stopped seeing each other. My and my siblings – I’ve got two sisters and a brother – are a strong bunch. None of us have really seen him and I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing but I hope he’s happy, sort of. I used to be very bitter about him and I’ve written two songs about him. One’s called I Know You Care and it’s been used for that new film Now Is Good with Dakota Fanning. It’s the saddest film I’ve ever seen in my life. Don’t see it on a hangover or if you’re feeling depressed. Dakota is such a huge star.

Are you happy now?
Do I not seem it?

I’m not sure. I just want to make sure you’ve got out of that depression.

I’m happy because I’ve got a new record. So I’m happy in that sense. I genuinely have been too busy to think about anything. I’ve forgotten to do things I should be doing. It’s hard to keep yourself in check in this job.

Has second album syndrome crossed your mind and is there pressure for success?

Not really. I feel like it’s just a new project. We did a re-release of Lights with new tracks and Eps so it was different. You have to forget your successes when you start work on a new album. It’s starting from scratch. Regardless of what your first album does sales wise you need to think about your work first and foremost.

How much do you cost to be a wedding singer?

Wah. I still can’t believe that actually happened.

How was it performing for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge?

It’s pretty badass. And mental. I’d never done anything private like that before. I did a Richard Branson party before actually. Such a big shock too. I look back at it and it feels like a dream.

Is X Factor your bag – I wondered why you weren’t a guest judge?

I don’t know if I was. But it’s not really my bag. I wouldn’t be a good judge. I’d be shit at it. Only because I get nervous on TV and I wouldn’t say what I felt. I want people to do well and develop into artists and it is a good show. But I hope the artists do get to develop within that format.

Have you seen any of this year’s show?

I know there was a girl with a guitar who seemed very good.

Lucy Spraggan?
Yes, I wish her the best of luck. I did what she did and play guitar in the pubs where nobody listened and work my arse off. I just hope they have the time to breathe and they have the right people around them. To let them become the artist they want to be.

You were on Jonathan Ross last night – how was that with all those ‘celebs’?

It was amazing. Taylor swift said she was my biggest fan and was singing my songs at me. Which was overwhelming to me. She knew a track called This Love Would Be A Downfall on my first album. She’s stunning too. Nicole Scherzinger was lovely too and Gary I’ve known for years.

And what about Stephen Fry too!

I know. I was so amazed to meet him. He started following me on twitter too after the show. We had a good old chat.

Were you nervous meeting him?
I was!

I’d be worried I wasn’t clever enough!

I was. There was a guy in X Factor called Rylan and we had an imitator of Rylan come in and freak out like he was the real guy. We did a sketch. Stephen was so sweet and knew who I was. I had the time of my life on that show.

Ellie’s album Halcyon is out tomorrow…go get it…

Taylor Swift on new album Red and her exhausting love life!

October 6th, 2012

Taylor Swift sounds like she’s used her flings with Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and Joe Jonas to make an extra great new album. She may be happily settled with new man Conor Kennedy now but her new album Red sounds like it has all her heartache channelled into it. Reflecting on her love life she revealed: “Yeah I’ve definitely been though it the last two years – but you know what at least now it feels justified because how ever hurt I was at least I got a song out of it! I’m very happy now.”
Taylor also spoke about managing a relationship in the public eye too. “See, they’re not in the public eye to me and I ignore all that. I don’t read anything about myself and I definitely don’t google myself,” she admitted. “I don’t want to know what people are saying about me or what think of who I’m dating. Ignorance is bliss as far as I’m concerned.”

Taylor also tells me she’s firm friends with Ed Sheeran these days after he worked on her new album. She revealed: “We’re really good friends. It was so much fun working together, and I was so relieved he was even cooler than I expected, you know when you really like someone and you meet them and its a let down…? It definitely wasn’t like that with Ed. He came over to my house and I had a load of friends over and he just fitted in. We baked cupcakes for him and we became fast friends. And it ended up me and him jamming in the living room on our guitars.” Cool.

Geri Halliwell: “I’d jump at touring again with the Spice Girls!”

October 6th, 2012

Geri Halliwell says she’s up for a second Spice Girls Reunion world tour. The artist formerly known as Ginger revealed: “The door isn’t shut and I love singing with the girls.
“We could do a world tour tomorrow and I would absolutely love to do that. I would absolutely do that. It would be amazing because we have the best time when we’re on stage together.
“They’re great girls and we’re all getting on so well these days. We’ve been through so much to be honest. The thought of touring with them would be a delight. We love the music, the performing and we would get to hang.”
Geri debuted her single Phenomenal Woman this week at the Breast Cancer Care benefit event. She’s worked hard on her voice thanks to vocal training with David Grant and she was far stronger on her vocal.
But any sign of a release date for new material seems to be in the very distant future. She’s still yet to bag herself a new record deal. But I’m assured there are offers on the table.
She also said there’s a very good chance the Spice Girls will sing together for an encore of Wannabe on December 11 for the opening night of Viva Forever the musical. “The door is definitely ajar these days for performing again,” she revealed. “In the past it was probably closed. But nowadays I’ll never say never.”
Meanwhile, I hear Geri’s a dab hand at clay pigeon shooting and has spent time at Highclere Castle throughout the summer shooting away. Get her.

Picture: Sam Hussein

INTERVIEW: No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal

October 6th, 2012

No Doubt are one of the biggest bands in the world but for the last eleven years they’ve been on a musical hiatus. Now they are back with a stunning fourth studio album, Push And Shove, out now, and Gwen Stefani’s abs are just as impressive as the new tunes.
This time around it was no easy slog as Gwen has openly admitted the writing process was a grueling one now she has her brood, six-year-old Kingston and four-year-old Zuma.
But the blood, sweat and tears were definitely worth it as it’s the band’s best album with tracks like Settle Down, Looking Hot and the title track.
I caught up with Gwen and bass player Tony Kanal in an exclusive chat at a posh London hotel and to my surprise she starts to well up when I tell her what a huge fan of the album I am!
Relaxing on a coach wearing her trademark red lipstick, Gwen reveals how her kid’s musical opinions keep her grounded, why she thought the album would never be released and how every day feels like her wedding day….

Welcome back – it’s been an awful long time!
Gwen: It has been long. When you are living it it’s actually really speeding by because we have been doing so much but it does feel really good to get to this point though and to have finished the album. It was a really challenging record to make!
Tony: It was really challenging but the last few years have been so jam-packed with work that we never stopped.
Gwen: And work is not a good way to explain it because although it is hard and it is work – it’s our passion! We are writing songs and we are making an album and we don’t take it for granted for one second. We had a really fun time making it.

And it’s been 11 years since you released Rock Steady – how did it feel when it came to working on Push And Shove because after all having babies and getting married music was no longer the priorities in your lives?
T: It couldn’t have been more different!
G: There was nothing the same.
T: When we made Rock Steady we didn’t have kids, we could be in the studio as long as we wanted to, stay up all night, go to clubs all night and go to Jamaican dancehall clubs and get inspired and come in the studio the next day whenever we felt like it and then we’d do it all over again. Now we have to be responsible, be up early at 5-6am and sometimes we start in the studio at 9am and go on to 2pm, 3pm or 8pm at night. It was a different way of doing it but it was awesome.
G: It was so fun. I think that you have to look at your whole life of career of making records and music and different ways you get inspired. The thing that really made this record great was that struggle of having to do it different and having these time restraints – like you will have to come in after being up all night with the baby, exhausted all day long with kids and then sat on a couch with your best friends and try and write a song in the next five hours. You have to do it then. In some ways it was like an art project and saying ‘You are going to make a record but you have to do it like this…’ and ‘by having doing it like that it’s going to come out sounding like this…’ It’s true – if we didn’t have all the struggles that we had we wouldn’t have made the record that we have. I feel like… you always feel like this….Actually I don’t think you always feel like that…but I feel like this is one of our best records, for sure. It’s so fun to share it because it’s so innocent when you go in to make it because you really don’t have a lot of control over it and I think that song writing is the hardest things that we do. Add that in with the lifestyle we have now and the responsibilities it was just really hard. I hate when it comes out in a way because I ‘love’ right before it comes out. When it’s done and I’m driving in the car. Or before it’s been mixed and I’m like ‘This is sounding exactly what I want it to sound like’. It’s the best feeling.

Gwen, you admitted to having writer’s bock. Were you worried that this latest album was never going to get made?
Yeah, I think there were lots of times we felt that way! Tony now admits he was worried it wasn’t going to happen…
T: …I could never let her know that I was worried.
G: I was worried the whole time because I was like ‘How am I going to do this?’ ‘I can’t do this!’ But Tony would be like, ‘Don’t worry! It’s happening and you are doing it. It doesn’t matter.’ Him and Tom were both so supportive and were like if you can’t come in today then you can’t come in today, who cares – come in tomorrow! And if you need to leave now to get back to the kids, then go. I needed that at this time in my life. I couldn’t work with people that had all these expectations of me. I needed love and support and that’s what they really gave me.

Were you surprised at how much the charts had changed in the last 11 years because now there is the rise of shows like the X Factor and The Voice?
G: It is weird and way different. The platform to be heard is all over the place and you don’t really know who is hearing the record anymore. Everyone is on different pages and websites. It’s wild but it’s super exciting too.
T: The rad thing about our journey because we have been doing this for so long is that we get to see so many different ways of putting out records and so many different ways of making music. We are still doing it and having fun doing it. I think it’s really, really exciting the instant feedback you can get when you Tweet somebody.
G: Even the other night when we were in New York and Sophie Muller – who is an English video director and is one of my best friends – said ‘Let’s make a video tonight!’ We literally did a TV show, got in the van and we took a light on a stick, a camera and a boombox and tequila! Then we went on the streets of New York and made a video. We were literally on a private jet going to a show and we were dancing on the middle of a plane in the sky! Then the rest of it was shot at my house. In my kitchen and in my pool. One night after the kids went down we did it within an hour of shooting! It was guerrilla-style and that’s what is so exciting because that would have never happened before. Sophie then took two days to edit it, we upload it and then it’s out! That’s what it is amazing and that’s what is exciting. I could Tweet you right now and then you could be out there. I need to get more followers though….I am a lazy Tweeter. I like doing the photos and they are my favourite. I don’t like writing.

What do you think of shows like the X Factor and The Voice and the platform for fame and success which they provide?
T: I think it’s awesome that there are all these new things. In the States we did the mentoring on American Idol and that was cool because we get to be on stage with all these really talented finalists and all these really talented singers and try and impart a little bit of advice which is always weird because we are not those kinds of people.
G: We’re not but it is fun. You know those things about those things is that when you watch it on TV it’s so different to real life with the people singing right there. They are actually really talented and you’re like ‘Woooh, this is intense!’ I like those shows actually. I lot of people I know don’t because they are like ‘oh it’s a talent show’ but they make it really engaging. I’d never watched any of those shows and then I was here last year in England and my nannies were all living in the house and we started watching X Factor. Little Mix had a cool rap and it was just engaging and fun. I just started watching X Factor USA but no I’m gone so I’ll have to catch-up when I’m back. There are some amazing people who come out. There was a white rapper who came out who was totally nerdy and he comes out and freestyles and makes-up his rap right there. He asks the judges what they want in to put his rap and Britney is like ‘something about doughnuts or whatever’ and he incorporated everything that they said in to it. It was so cool. And he was totally nerdy.

What do your kids think of your music?
G: Tony’s daughter Coco calls me ‘Sissy’ and then goes ‘get get get’ because she is just starting to talk. I think she is like fascinated with me. Why is she fascinated with me? Because of my lipstick I think.
T: She just recognises you. So every time she sees my computer she will go ‘Sissy’ and then I’ll put on No Doubt music and she will go ‘Dadda’.
G: Do you remember at first every time I looked at her she would cry? I was like ‘Nooooo, this can’t be happening!’ Then my ones…I came home with a CD the other day and gave it to Kingston and he was like ‘Oh my gosh’ and was looking at it. Then on the way to school he wanted to listen to it but then he was really mad that he didn’t watch TV on the way to school. When he got to school he was like ‘I made a mistake, I should of watched TV! I made the wrong choice.’ That definitely keeps me grounded. I think it’s really weird, especially for my kids to see me, because when we went on the tour three years ago then were too little to really take it in. Now I think it’s just weird. Zuma watched us the night we played in Vegas and I was like ‘I don’t know if I want to watch’. He did soundcheck with us on Ellen DeGeneres and he had his guitar. He wants to be in the band – that’s the problem!

Do you ever think one day there is going to be a mini No Doubt formed of your kids?
T: We hope not. We are telling them to all be doctors and scientists!
G: I just want them to be happy and stay out of jail. That would be my dream.

How rock n’ roll is your lifestyle now you are in your 40s?
T: We have been out partying the last few nights because we have been celebrating the record coming out.
G: And none of them have their wives or kids with them. I just have Zuma with me so it’s been a little bit free. Zuma actually came out with us because he was totally jetlagged. He went to dinner with us to till 2am in Paris. He was in a Spiderman outfit like ‘Whatsup it’s two in the morning!’ Everyone must be thinking ‘She’s a bad mother bringing her kid out’ but he was totally jetlagged and is up! When we were writing we would have those special nights where we would get all the families together. You would have to go there a little bit and luckily we have amazing support with our wives and husbands and nannies that you can still go there once in a while.

With the album track Looking Hot do you feel pressure to look good in the limelight?
G: I think there is a pressure to look good in life generally. I think we all have those pressures. For me it’s not that hard and even before I was in the band – I have been in the band since I was 17 so for most of my life -  I have always liked getting made-up and make-up and dressed-up. Even if I didn’t have someone waiting to look and judge me I would still do it. It’s part of who I am and I love that part of life. I love clothes and I love Barbies and I love playing dolls and I was always that girl. It’s not that different but I just get to do it more. I was thinking about it and people get married and that’s their one big night with the dress and the make-up and I get to do that everyday. It’s a dream and so much fun. I think we all take care of ourselves and we try and eat good and we work out and we have to do that stuff to do our live shows. It’s just part of who we are and it’s not that hard. It’s fun! Yes I do take bad pictures. I have had bad pictures taken.

And finally – how do you keep your amazing abs in shape?
Oh well they are a little squidgy. They are not what you think they are! I’m going to go and work out after this. I keep them in shape by working out and I like to work out. I like to work on my fitness. On stage our show is so physical. It’s interesting to watch footage of the live shows and see how much energy we put out and how much you have to be in shape to be able to do that. We played six songs in Vegas the other day and I was dying because I haven’t been on a big stage in ages! We had been rehearsing on a small stage and all of a sudden you’re on a big stage and are like ‘Aaah, I can’t breathe!’

No Doubt’s Push and Shove is out now….

Words: Natalie Edwards