Friday, December 11, 2009

The Scoop 11.12.09

Invictus releases worldwide today – It's the big story of the week. Morgan Freeman has been in South Africa this week for premieres in Joburg, Durban and Cape Town. He is playing a round of golf in Cape Town today at Steenberg Golf Estate, to help raise money for charity. He’ll be staying on in SA next week, where special screenings will take place for children from underprivileged communities. He was very gracious and humble during interviews earlier this week.

Morgan Freeman and co-producer Lor McCreary attend the Joburg premiere at Emperor's Palace.

Charlize Theron been getting upset with local fans – I’ve heard Charlize can be a little difficult, but this is not very nice. The Star newspaper reported that a journalist was approached by Charlize and told her she was “very upset” that she had taken photos of her during an event at Silethukukhanya Secondary School near St Lucia. Charlize apparently asked that no photos be taken during the event but people had pulled out their cameras and cellphones to snap pics anyway. The journalist’s camera was taken and the images deleted. 

Miss World and Miss South Africa – these pageants are happening one after the other this weekend. Amid more controversy over how much hosting Miss World is costing the City of Joburg – it’s now gone up to R90 million from R45 million – the pageant takes place on Saturday, then Sunday sees a new Miss South Africa being crowned at Sun City. Current Miss SA Tatum Keshwar will be handing over the title a day before her 26th birthday.

The Sex and the City 2 movie poster has been released – can life get any better?! The second installment of the movie hits the big screen in May next year. I went to the premiere of the movie in London last year – which also released in May. Kim Cattrall (who plays Samantha) has lots of love for South Africa. She’s friends with playwright Janet Suzman and has been talking about coming out her to work on a production with her – wonder if that is still in the pipeline?

The Parlotones have got another huge endorsement – KFC has come on board for the band’s latest music video off their newest album, Stardust Galaxies. The music video makes its debut on TV tonight on etv before 6:30pm. The Parlotones will be heading off to the world’s biggest music trade fair next month – in France. It’s called Midem and SA is going to be a country of honour there. Around 50 other music acts will also be going – like Lira, Kurt Darren and Jozi.

The Scoop - the top entertainment stories with a local twist - airs every Friday after 4pm with Richard Hardiman on 94.5 Kfm

Monday, December 7, 2009

Glamorous Indie Rock 'n Roll

Ask a fan.

A true-blood fan.
An I-own-every-CD-and-the DVD-and-all-the-legal-downloads-too-fan.
A sell-my-soul-to-be-here-kind-of-fan.

You'll find some of them on the DVD of The Killers: Live From Royal Albert Hall. One couple quit their jobs because they couldn't get time off work to be at the recording of the concert. Another saved up for a year to travel from Spain to London for the show. Those are the kind of people you ask about the concert.

Instead I asked others - the so-so-fans. The like-their-early-stuff-only-people. Looking out at the crowd on the first night of the concert in Joburg at the Coca-Cola Dome, I felt the presence of some of these kind of "fans". Many of them just stood there - gaping, not moving much. I moved and found a much better crowd. Afterwards I still felt that I needed to see if everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. I wanted everyone to have been as elated as I was.

Not everyone was. But then I realised I don't really care.

I don't care that many didn't get just what an inspired move it was to start with Joyride on the second night -"When your chips are down, when your highs are low...Joyride" A fitting start to an event that takes you away from the ups and downs of life.

I don't care that others ran out quickly while When You Were Young was playing and they missed the light explosion that lit up the stage and a fire in my soul.

I don't care that you got lost when they started playing songs other than 'Mr Brightside' and 'Human'.

I loved it - and I don't care if you didn't.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Scoop 04.12.09

2010 Fifa World Cup Draw – Cape Town is a buzz at the moment with the likes of all those soccer stars. But of course, I only really care about Charlize Theron and David Beckham – just kidding! Becks has been putting on a brave face after getting the news that his grandfather died while he was in CT. He still went on to inspire underprivileged children in Khayelitsha. “Onse Charlize” has been in high spirits – pulling out an ‘Ireland’ card in a rehearsal for the Draw. It’s only fitting, seeing as her boyfriend Stuart Townsend is a gorgeous Irish guy. SA musicians are getting in on the action too – TKZee before the head off to perform in London are part of the fanfest, along with Flat Stanley, Cassette and Freshlyground.

The Killers are going to wow Cape Town – Joburg audiences have already experienced the magic of the Las Vegas group. They pull out all the stops in the show I’m still on a high from meeting and watching The Killers last night! Those going tonight are going to have a brilliant time - it's filled with soul, energy, great story-telling, goose-bump moments and the hotness that is Brandon Flowers!

Golf fans – and did you know, Mr Flowers is a big one - you can play a game of golf with Morgan Freeman. He’s going to be in town for the premiere of ‘Invictus’ next week. Next Friday he’ll be playing golf in aid of three local charities – including the Nelson Mandela Foundation. If you have R50 000 to donate to a good cause – and want to meet and play a round with an Oscar-winning star – head over to for the details. There are also fourballs for sale for R15 000.

The Tiger Woods scandal just gets worse and worse – a number of South Africans have compared him to Joost van der Westhuizen but in a sense this is so much more salacious. Here is a world-revered icon who has kept his life very private and controlled and now things seem to be coming apart. Like Joost though, he doesn’t seem to be speaking truthfully from the start. He issued a statement saying he was sorry for hurting his family but he hasn’t exactly apologized for having an affair (or two). Oh, and the voice message he’s reported to have left on one of his mistress’s phones has been made into a You Tube hit called ‘Slow Jam.’

The Scoop - the top entertainment stories with a local twist airs - every Friday after 4pm with Richard Hardiman on 94.5 Kfm

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Scoop 27.11.09

    Big exclusive! Charlize Theron is heading for the 2010 Fifa World Cup Draw next week. I had heard this might be true, but only got official confirmation from her management in New York this week. It’s not entirely clear what she’s going to be doing, but she will be involved in the draw – and there will be performances by Grammy-winners Soweto Gospel Choir and Angelique Kidjo together with Johnny Clegg. It’s going to be a busy summer – we’ve also heard now that Morgan Freeman will be in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban for premieres of the new movie Invictus, in which he plays Nelson Mandela.

    Vuyo Mbuli made headlines early on this week – the Morning Live anchor, literally, it seems, got caught with his pants down. A man laid an assault charge against the TV presenter after he allegedly found Mbuli in his girlfriend’s house, getting dressed. The man, who accused Vuyo of having an affair, says the TV personality threw a vase at him, injuring his leg. Vuyo was arrested yesterday morning, after handing himself over, but the matter wasn’t pursued any further and the charge was dropped. Vuyo says he wants to put this behind him. The question is though, will this have any kind of impact on his life in the public eye -career-wise or other?

    The next film in the Twilight saga, New Moon, releases officially today in South Africa – but Twihards have been filling cinemas across the country watching sneak previews. I got to speak to Robert Pattinson at the Cannes Film Festival and he told me this film actually has more in it for guys than for girls – because of the fighting and the werewolves. He also says he thinks the next one, Eclipse, is even better because the book is his favourite in the series.

    Oprah is due to jet into Joburg this weekend. She often pops in around this time of year, all hush-hush, but this visit is a lot more publicized. And it’s hot on the heels of her announcement that the Oprah Winfrey Show will end in 2011. She’s here to host O, The Oprah Magazine’s reader event called ‘You Have the Power’. She’s going to be spreading some of her positivity to about 400 women – I mean, really, with all that money how can you not be positive?
    And of course, The Killers will be here in a few days – I have word that they are coming a few days before the show in Joburg. I might just have to find out where they are staying too…

    Pic from @TheKillers twitter page

    The Scoop - the top entertainment stories with a local twist airs - every Friday after 4pm with Richard Hardiman on 94.5 Kfm

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Mr A to Z

    It was sometime in November in 2006. I'd been sent to LA for the first time ever to interview Will Smith for his latest movie The Pursuit of Happyness and I was sitting in the hotel room of the Beverly Hilton, unable to sleep the night before the big interview. A mix of nerves and excitement but mostly nerves. As I flicked channels, I grew more tired, but still just couldn't sleep. And then I flipped over to the Hilton channel - you know, the one that tells you "eat here, drink here, etc" and, as I was about to change yet again, he caught my eye. Or ear I should say. Jason Mraz. Mr A to Z. With a beautiful little song called Life is Wonderful. It was the acoustic version, done especially for the hotel chain and it made me feel so peaceful, so, well, wonderful. Wonderful enough to finally get some shut-eye.

    It's one of my fave Jason Mraz songs - another is Song for A Friend - with words that I return to over and over again:

    Climb up over the top.
    Survey the state of the soul.
    You’ve got to find out for yourself whether or not you’re truly trying.
    Why not give it a shot?
    Shake it, Take control
    And inevitably wind up
    Finding for yourself
    All the strengths you have inside still rising

    But you've got to hear them being sung - incredible!
    Mr A to Z is now much more famous - and rightly so. He's brought out a fun-fuelled, energetic, thoughtful DVD, called Jason Mraz's Beautiful Mess Live on Earth, which will enable me to now "dine at the Gratitude Cafe" a little more often.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Stylish in Cape Town

    Just another day at work! But it's that much more special when your office is the top of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town with a breathtaking view. That's where the first Mastercard Style in the City event was held. A mix of fashion and fabulousness, the four-day-event featured Trinny and Susannah, from the hit show What Not To Wear and their Style Academy. The duo pulled out women from the audience and gave them a few pointers on how to look their best.

    Sunday Times' Lifestyle ed Lerato Tshabalala and I with Trinny and Susannah

    I got the thumbs up for my lime green nailpolish but someone who doesn't need any tips is my friend Lerato Tshabala. She was one of the 8 editors who modelled red dresses designed by some top local fashionista's in aid of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Go Red for Women Campaign. Trinny and Susannah voted her the evening's best dressed lady - yay!

    In real life Trinny and Susannah are fun, fantastic and fabulous - just as we hoped they'd be. 
    And they are not so mean when it comes down to it. In fact, as Susannah says, they tell women the things they do "not because we want to be cruel, but because we want to see them be the best they can be." After meeting them, I like to believe that is true. Also, their fame did not come overnight - these ladies put in the grind for a good few years before anything big happened. Plus Trinny had to shut down a multi-million-pound internet company. So they know what hard work is. Add to that, the fact that they did four workshops back-to-back each day of the event. All while wearing gorgeous heels - naturally!

    Friday, October 23, 2009


    I love this poem by William Ernest Henley. I'll be honest that I only really discovered it when this is what I found out the name of the Clint Eastwood-directed Madiba movie would be.

    Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

    I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
    My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul

    The film will make its world debut on December 11. Cannot wait!

    Things I Learnt while on a Tropical Island with a Handful of SA Celebs

    The reality competition is called Tropika Island of Treasure. I like to think of it as Survivor for Sissies. There are ten local celebs paired up with a competition winner. The goal is to win the challenges and win the Million Rand Prize. It's filmed on a tropical island, but this is hardly roughing it. Instead of twig-made shelter and bugs for dinner, these contestants got 4-poster beds and Italian buffets. "Smooth and easy - just like Tropika," commented one of the PR people. I'm sure...

    * Sometimes the Press Members are More Rowdy than the Celebs

    Just because they have their names splashed in the media, doesn't necessarily mean they're the ones hogging the spotlight. But perhaps the less said about this, the better.

    * Khanyi Mbau really does change twenty times a day.
    She has something like a gazillion costumes - each of them more "blinging" than the other. At one stage, Mz Mbau started posing on the beach with the Masai warriors which sent the photogs into a spin.
    * I should be watching more 'Sewende Laan'
    Cutie pie Hendrik Cronje plays Lucas. I can't really tell you what Lucas's character is like, but this easy-on-the-eye actor is sweet and very considerate of those around him. Did I mention how easy on the eye he is?

    * It's really expensive to call overseas from a hotel in Zanzibar. Or probably anywhere else for that matter.

    Tasha Baxter discovered this the hard way. The Sunday Times said it was because of phone sex, but I know this mother of two better than that. She says she was told by the guy at the front desk after her first hour-long phone call the cost was 18 dollars. So she figured the next time would be the same too...
    Well, that 500 thousand bucks would come in even more handy if she were to win it.

    *If there's a mic, Loyiso will rock it. 
    The singer at the hotel's "Souk Bar" was doing a decent job of easing folks into the evening with his guitar. But when Loyiso took the mic from him, the party really got going. When the hotel's SAPS-resembling band played for us on the Wednesday night, you could see Loyiso edging closer to the stage and then, next thing you know, he's putting his own spin on the track. Love it!

     * Trevor Noah really is that funny in real life.
    Some comedians are not so funny when you have to have a conversation with them or interview them. Trevor Noah on the other hand, is an ab-workout you don't mind doing. One night, we were talking about how co-presenter Natalie Becker went running on the beach after dinner. Trevor had us in stitches as he recalled all the bad horror films he's watched as his reasons for why he was too scared to do it himself (apparently he got over this fear a night or two later). He had us in stitches with his impromptu comedy routine. I wouldn't be surprised if that material makes its way into his next show.

    Drinking coconuts with Heat's Donnay Torr

    Tropika Island of Treasure airs every Sunday at 6:30pm on etv.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Like A Piñata - only better!

    I have never hit a piñata in my life before, but I imagine that if I did all sorts of sweets and little surprises would come out. British singer-songwriter Jack Penate's name is kind of prounounced like the word piñata and I love the little ditties he has on his album 'Everything is New'. I particularly love 'Pull My Heart Away'. It's just so grand and the song sounds more uplifting than the lyrics themselves are.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Blogging Shmogging!

    It’s times like this when nothing else is more suited to the occasion than a simple postcard:

    Zanzibar is gorgeous – wish you were here!

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Jambo Zanzibar!

    Being on an aeroplane, with no cellphone and no internet access, does much to help a girl catch up on her blogging. I’m used to travelling on my own so this flight feels a little like a school trip – only we’re grown up and there are no teachers to keep order (okay, maybe the flight attendants count). I’m with a group of ten of  South Africa's celebs and their competition winners on the 1Time flight to Zanzibar. It's for the Tropika Island of Treasure reality show that's going to air on etv from Sunday the 18th of October. The plane is mostly full of those involved in the event, but there are quite a few couples too and some families. I didn’t realize how many people go on holiday during the week – and to a place like Zanzibar. Dont they work?? Haha!

    So, who’ve we got?

    Sizwe Dhlomo – MTV VJ, who’s just come back from the MTV Base Africa Music Awards in Kenya.

    Trevor Noah – comedian extrodinaire. In a short space of time, this guy has fast become one of the country’s funniest men.

    Lira – the songstress who can do no wrong. Such a lovely lady. She’s no stranger to islands, having just recently run off to get married in Mauritius. (Note to self: Must ask her for tips about attending a wedding in Mauritius so I can be prepared for my cousin’s one next month).

    Loyiso – my main man. Have been overseas with him before – in London and New York so it’s become somewhat normal to see him outside of SA!

    Kelly Khumalo – have not actually ever met this kwaito singer, Arthur Mafokate prodige. She’s looking somewhat "tame" from the pictures I usually see of her.

    Bianca Le Grange – looking good with her new hair colour (well, it’s new for me to see). Gone from a blonde to a light red-head.

    Sashi Naidoo – pretty lass who has been to Zanzibar 5 times, she tells me.

    Speedy – no towel, hahah!No, wait, I spoke too soon. There's definately a towel still draped on his shoulder!

    Hendrik Cronje – stepped in at the last minute for Roland Schoeman. I don’t mind at all, he’s still quite cute and seems sweeter than the swimmer, who once asked me if I am really this short. (Um, no, it’s an optical illusion?!)

    Tasha Baxter
    – a honey pie with a honey voice. I can still remember when she started singing back in the day in Cape Town, catching a concert where she performed with Penelope Tree and also used to sing at the Homebrew events at the Jam.

    Tasha's been through a rough year - what with having her car stolen, along with all the laptop that housed all the new music she was working on. Perhaps she does need it more than the other celebs? Or maybe one of the competition winners needs it more? 

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Pretty in Pink

    Design for Life breast cancer awareness t-shirt, as worn by actress Terry Pheto, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe and Edith Venter.
    Simple and cute :)

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    They're a-Comin'!

    It seems to be that I get a musical wish granted every December. Last year I got to meet, and experience a 3-hour concert by, Wyclef Jean. Ever since my brother played Gone 'Til November for me, I've been such a fan of this hitmaker. The year before I got to meet and interview Dave Matthews - the SA-born singing star who sells out stadiums in the States. He didn't perform but he did promise that the band would come and perform here before 2010 - or at least during it. So, yay for that!

    This coming December, it's going to be another big one. One of my musical favourites, The Killers, are heading to South Africa for two shows. The other night there was a little taste of their performance on The Jonathan Ross Show. It was broadcast in the UK a few months ago, but it was still a yummy little taster of what's to come...

    Wonder if my other musical dreams will be granted in Decembers to come?

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    R.I.P Vanilla Charlotte Nurse

    I got this email from Justin Nurse, whom I first met back in the day when I joined in the march to the High Court in Cape Town for his 'Black Labour' court case issue. The story about what happened to his little girl is beyond tragic and I know he has written these words for publication but I want to share this because of the message towards the end; about how he and the family are choosing to focus on her life rather than blame or get angry. Such strength and bravery in the face of something so horrible and incomprehensible.

    Vanilla Charlotte Nurse 02/09/07 – 02/09/09
    Statement from her parents, Justin Nurse and Camilla Colley.

    Vanilla, our beautiful angel, passed away last Wednesday, on her second birthday. She lived a full, happy life. She was very much her own person, with an enthusiastic curiosity that was infectious to all those who knew, or only just met her.
    Vanilla was blessed in that her life on this earth was filled with an abundance of love and vitality. Life is all that we have, and the loss of it — whether it be your own daughter, a parent, a loved one, or a favourite pet — is almost always tragic at first.

    But when you begin to be able to see through your own tears, you can catch a glimpse of a prism of colourful refracted light that playfully reveals itself in a fleeting moment. And you find that the reward of truly embracing life and its challenges, day in and day out, comes from savouring each precious moment — catching as many glimpses of the rainbow as you can.

    We would like to express our immense gratitude to the family, friends and complete strangers in this beautiful country and indeed, this world of ours, that have compassionately cried with us, and have expressed their grief, love and care. South Africans at home and abroad have revealed their true colours to us during this tragic time.
    We are united by our tears of sorrow and our tears of joy. Displays of love, kindness and support in the form of flowers, phone calls, text messages and prayers, have touched us deeply and we can now take steps towards healing — feeling nourished, supported, held and loved by so many.

    Honda SA have been gracious and empathetic in their dealings with our family. We have chosen not to focus our energies on attributing blame or cultivating anger. Why, when love and life are all around us? With time, our hurt will turn to happiness and baby steps will become confident strides.
    We have chosen to celebrate the birthday that Vanilla never had by celebrating the present, every day, and with love.

    Long Walk to Freedom - for Kiddies

    Pic courtesy Debbie Yazbek/Nelson Mandela Foundation

    I love the idea of this!

    As someone still making their way through the 600-odd pages of the insightful Long Walk To Freedom, I like that it's now been abridged to be accessible to children too. After all, as I've said before, Nelson Mandela is the biggest celeb of them all, so it's great to know that youngsters can learn about his roots, his early life and how he made it through 27 years of imprisonment. Author Chris van Wyk (Surely, Goodness and Mercy) did the abridging and Cape Town-based artist Paddy Bouma did the illustrations.

    There's another book as well - Nelson Mandela's Favourite African Folktales - that's also currently out. A beautifully-illustrated look at some of those classic stories Madiba likes children to hear. Famous actors from around the world have added their voices to the recording of the stories - Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Hugh Jackman, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron and many others. It also has a special message from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and original music by Johnny Clegg and Vusi Mahlasela. A must-add to any child's book collection.

    As for my reading, Long Walk to Freedom sits on my bedside table as I collapse into bed, night after night. Perhaps I should take a weekend out in the bush and just finish it. Otherwise I might just have to get myself a copy of the kiddies version too.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    So much to little time?

    I went to the launch of the Joburg Tourism's Spring Fever campaign yesterday - and it just hit me how many wonderful things are taking place in the City of Gold this month. I mean, don't get me wrong, I already know about many of the events taking place as I do a weekly What's On slot on David O'Sullivan's show on 702. But seeing all the festivals - 10 to be exact - in front of me, just made me smile with delight. And yes, it has a little to do with the fact that I am a huge fan of the Whisky Live event ;) Oh, and that there is also something called the Joburg Shopping Festival!

    It's just the excitment of things to do. One of the reasons I love New York so much is that on any given day there is a host of things to do. Okay, look, a lot of them are also free and spontaneous, but there is nothing better than being spoilt for choice when it comes to the arts and being entertained.

    Pic from Joburg Tourism Company

    The lineup includes:
    • The Johannesburg Shopping Festival running until the end of September
    • Arts Alive! running from September 3-27 at various venues in the city.
    • Soweto Festival taking place from September 24-27 at University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus
    • Sanlam Fashion week running from September 16-19 at the Sandton Convention Centre.
    • Taste of Joburg running from September 30 to October 4, showcasing 16 restaurants
    • Soweto Food Festival taking place from October 1-4
    • WineX running from October 30-November 1 at the Sandton Convention Centre
    • Soweto Beer Festival running from October 30-November 1.
    • FNB Whisky Live Festival taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre from November 11-14.
    Now, if only I could find time to make sure I go to all ten of the events!

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    The Dirty Skirts vs Tumi and the Volume

    Picture it: an old ice rink just waiting to come back to life, 2 stages facing each other, and a DJ box in the middle of the room with one of the country's finest perched on it. And you have the setting for the Redbull Soundclash - The Dirty Skirts vs Tumi and the Volume. I loved the idea behind the event - taking two hot bands and give them the chance to show just what they can do.

    This was no ordinary "battle of the bands", but a true show of musical prowess combined with the ability to charm and win over fans from two of the hottest bands in the country. During each round the bands had to gain support for their efforts - the louder the applause, the higher the number on the metre placed up on the ceiling. First off, both bands performed 3 of their own songs.


    The Skirts

    Round 2 was hilarious - both bands had to cover the Spice Girls' Wannabe, as chosen by the superstar DJ that is Kenzhero. Both totally changed the song around and made it - for a few minutes - acceptable to like the Spice Girls. In the last round they had to bring out a secret weapon...

    Thandiswa helps out the Dirty Skirts

    Zolani from Freshlyground plays for Team Tumi

    In the end The Dirty Skirts won, but it was a tight competition and both bands absolutely shone up on stage and made it a night to remember.

    It made me want to see another one of these nights again. How about 340ml versus aKing? Or Taxi Violence versus Kwani Experience?

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    District 9

    It's being billed as the film of the year and it's no wonder. Walking out of a preview screening of District 9 I thought about how this is unlike anything we have ever seen come out of South Africa. By now, I'm sure you'll have heard the buzz about the movie - how it was directed by South African Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, after the whole 'Halo' concept fell apart.

    Using a pseudo-documentary style mixed with realism and fiction, the movie is about an alien ship that docks, not in New York, not in Washington, but in Johannesburg (gotta love it!), and how the residents try to contain its inhabitants who are condescendingly called Prawns (and as Gus Silber says, this could be in tribute to our very own Parktown Prawns). Much of the film was shot during the xenophobic violence that flared up last year so some of the scenes are very close to home, but the story is cleverly spun around and it works.

    District 9 truly blew me away! And I am not a sci-fi kinda gal. It was smart and and had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. Part of the reason I think I was won over is that at the heart of all the gunfire and CGI is the main character Wikus van der Merwe. He's played by Sharlto Copely in his first big acting role. When he laughs, you laugh with him but when he becomes terrified, you become terrified. I think Copely is outstanding in his breakout role.

    The film has also had an effective marketing campaign - first via the online viral trailer that was released and then also the on-thr-ground bus and seat signs such as these that I saw in the States.

    Check out the trailer here. The film releases locally on the 28th of August.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Smoorverlief, aka Oppikoppi '09

    It comes but once a year - well, for those who can only handle it once a year, it does. The annual Oppikoppi music festival, and it turned 15 this year.

    I can clearly remember being a 15 year old teenager and desperately wanting to go to Oppikoppi. I was a huge Fetish fan (still am) and one year the band was part of an online broadcast that was being streamed out of Northam. I didn't have the internet at home so I found an internet cafe to make-pretend I was in my own little stretch of Northam for one afternoon.

    Now that I get to go whenever I want, I try not to take it for granted. To have all these great bands together in one space for one weekend is still as marvelous now, as the allure of it was back then.

    So, highlights from this year's fest?

    Friday night was very festive - what with the new Jose Cuervo Black doing the rounds. It tastes a little like chocolate so it was going down very well ;) I had been invited to the launch of the new tequila which took place right on the koppie - with one of the best views of Oppikoppi, overlooking the bands and fans below. Aking's Laudo Liebenberg performed on the intimate Cuervo stage, which was only accessible to VIPs ;) Met and chatted to former Idols' contestants Pixie and Graeme. Discovered that Pixie has almost as much energy as me! Violin player extraodinaire Brendan Jury was also enjoying the party as well as the guys from Bed on Bricks. It was good to see a friend from Cape Town days, Agony Barman Dave - otherwise known as comedian Dave Levinsohn - who introduced the new drink to us.

    Aking's Laudo

    In between the goings on atop the 'koppi, the great vibes of The Sick Leaves and Bed on Bricks could be heard filling the Most Amazing Mainstage. Voodoo Child had warmed the stage up earlier in the evening - they are sounding tighter than I have ever heard them.

    The weather on Friday night was surprisingly warm and that made Saturday such a lovely day too. Surprise find of the day: Melissa McClleland and Luke Doucet. Although there were only a handful of people at the start of their set on the Levi's Original Bushveld stage, word soon spread and a big crowd had gathered, hanging onto their melodic voices. They're performing in Jozi this weekend so I am keen to see them perform again. Doucet recently toured with James Blunt and McClleland worked with Sarah Mchlachlan but they really are artists in their own right.

    Husband-wife duo Luke and Melissa

    Van Coke Cartel and Gerald Clark were perfectly placed to play the Saturday afternoon set unplugged on the Levi's stage. Francois van Coke cleans up quite well! He has cut his hair and was wearing a suit. Also enjoyed Isochronous on the Main Stage and of course Koos Kombuis, then later on in the evening Karen Zoid. I hadn't seen the fiesty songstress perform for some time so I really enjoyed her set - wedding veil and all!

    I missed the Sunday Women's Day lineup, because I had to get back for a wedding. But I hear Die Antwood, featuring ol' Waddy Jones, was the real crowd-pleaser of the day. Wonder if this latest incarnation by Mr Jones will last until next year's Oppikoppi? Hope so...

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    The Soundtrack

    I love it when it happens. I'll be sitting in a movie and seeping in through the screen I'll hear a snippet of the song that's been selected to accompany the scene. Sometimes I end up concentrating so hard on the hearing the song, I lose interest in what's going on on-screen. Other times it all comes together so well, enhancing my whole "cinematic experience".

    Some of the best CDs I own are soundtracks: Brokedown Palace, which introduced me to the haunting sounds of Plumb; City of Angels, with that tribute to overcoming grief by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush; Garden State, with the Imogen-Heap-led Frou Frou. I even got into the whole Robert Pattinson thing because of the song he added to the Twilight soundtrack.

    More recently, in the film Public Enemies, I found another gem. In between watching Johnny Depp play the charming John Dillinger, I heard this song:

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Mandela Day - the concert

    The NY Times had picked it as the gig of the week even before the show took place, and it certainly lived up to the hype. What a show! It was filled with so many highlights and goosebump-inducing moments. From Dave Stewart collaborating with France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to Baaba Maal and Chris Chameleon's version of 'With My Own Two Hands'. Morgan Freeman, too, said a few words about playing the role of Mandela in the upcoming movie, 'Invictus'. Madiba himself also sent a little message through and Barack Obama paid a warm, heartfelt tribute to the former SA president too.

    I truly felt proud to be South African as Soweto Gospel Choir enhanced the performances of almost every artist on that stage. Freshlyground, Jesse Clegg, Loyiso, Sipho Mabuse, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Vusi Mahlasela were brilliant on stage. Literally every single performance fitted right in and added its own shine to the show. Josh Groban and Italy's Zucchero too, brought tears to eyes of those around me. For me, that moment came with the Maal/Chameleon duet and the images on screen of people's hands opened out. The last image was Madiba, smiling broadly, with his palms turned out.

    Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo, Queen Latifah and Cyndi Lauper brought their pizzazz too. But Mister Stevie Wonder brought the house down. It was only natural that he sing 'Happy Birthday' and the entire ensemble joined him for that. Absolutely amazing!

    As I was leaving the afterparty, I saw him walk inside the hotel through the garage. I said to the person who was walking with him to please tell him that a South African fan wanted to say thank you for a great show. Stevie put his hand out right in front of me to shake mine and said thank you to me. It was a moment that no camera could ever have captured.

    Here's to 91 more, Madiba.

    A special thanks to the US Embassy for helping me to be in the United States to cover two of the biggest stories of the year.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Mandela Day Gala Dinner

    I've always thought Morgan Freeman was one of those iconic figures you could never really get close enough to speak to. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he hardly gives interviews and also that when he was filming in SA, there was no getting a microphone near him. But last night at the Mandela Day Gala Dinner and Auction at Grand Central Station, I got to shake his hand and have him give me a little hug. I couldn't believe how approachable he was - and such a warm character.

    Bill Clinton, together with Graca Machel, hosted the event. I was really lucky enough to be inside the dinner as it was not open to the media. It was really hard not to be able to record everything that was being said. Freeman spoke about how playing a US president and playing God paled in comparison to playing Mandela. Clinton described Madiba as one of his greatest friends, and said that not many people would give up 67 months of their life for others, never mind the 67 years Mandela dedicated to the struggle.

    Alicia Keys and Josh Groban were there too - and a whole host of great SA artists like Vusi Mahlasela, Sipho Mabuse, Thandiswa Mazwai, Jesse Clegg and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Loyiso and the Soweto Gospel Choir performed. The Reverend Al Sharpton - whom we have heard a lot from since Michael Jackson's death - also attended. Didn't get a chance to ask him what he thinks about the talk that MJ's death could be investigated as a homocide...

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Even the Mayor gets in on the action...

    He may be the richest man in New York and mayor of the city, but Michael Bloomberg did his part to bring the spirit of Mandela Day to life. Bloomberg joined dozens of people who were packing parcels of apples for the underprivileged. He even picked up a drum and started playing with the guys from The Drum Cafe - nice one!

    NY Mayor with 46664 director Tim Massey at Union Square.

    Mandela Day really seems to be gathering momentum. There are volunteers all over the city, recruiting more volunteers and talking to people about the idea. I've been approached by a number of them, handing out flyers and asking me to sign up.

    Also chatted to Vusi Mahlasela about his performing in the first ever Mandela Day concert. He was on the bill for last year's concert at Hyde Park in honour of Madiba's 90th birthday and he is collaborating again with Josh Groban. The way they do 'Weeping' is just beautiful. Many of the SA musicians are starting to arrive in New York now, getting settled in the city that never sleeps, ahead of the big concert on Saturday. I hear Gloria Gaynor has also arrived in town for the show - really want to speak to the woman who gave us 'I Will Survive'. I am sure she has much to say about a man who really did survive a lot.