Thursday, September 04, 2003

No suprise to learn that Johnny Depp shares some of Hollywood's typical attitudes, but it is good to see that he recognizes a hole when he's in it, knows to stop digging, and even can try to climb out. Smart fellow... or at least smarter than some actors we could name.

Denying any anti-American sentiment on his part, actor Johnny Depp said on Thursday that quotes attributed to him as likening the United States to a "dumb puppy" were inaccurate and taken out of context.

"I am an American. I love my country and have great hopes for it," Depp said in a statement released by his Los Angeles-based publicist. "It is for this reason that I speak candidly and sometimes critically about it. I have benefited greatly from the freedom that exists in my country and for this I am eternally grateful."

Depp, currently starring in the swashbuckling film "Pirates of the Caribbean," issued the statement a day after the German news magazine Stern published an interview in which he ridiculed Washington's confrontation with France, where he lives, over the U.S. war in Iraq. The magazine quoted the actor as saying "America is ... like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive." He was further quoted as saying he wanted his children to "see America as ... a broken toy" that they should explore, get the feel of, then "get out."

Explaining his comments a day later, Depp he had been using a metaphor that was taken "radically out of context," adding, "There was no anti-American sentiment."

"What I was saying was that, compared to Europe, America is a very young country and we are still growing as a nation," he said. "My deepest apologies to those who were offended, affected, or hurt by this insanely twisted deformation of my words and intent."

His spokeswoman added that the Kentucky-born Depp, 40, lives in the south of France with his family because his wife, actress-singer Vanessa Paradis, is French.

via Yahoo! News

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Seeing the movie "Seabiscuit" last weekend was a real pleasure and makes me want to read the book on which it was based. Author Laura Hillenbrand answered questions for readers of The New York Times recently. Among other things, it seems she suffers from severe clinical fatigue these days. She also discussed how the book developed, and her sources in inspiration.

I think the secret to bringing immediacy to any nonfiction story is to ferret out every detail that is there to be found, so that the reader feels like an eyewitness. To do this, I consulted a very broad range of sources, from record books to living witnesses, and everything in between. I studied every film and photograph that I could find, and acquired complete newspapers and magazines from the period and read them cover to cover so I could put myself in the mindset of the men and women of the era. I researched what things cost, what books and movies were popular, what the weather was on a particular day, anything that might help me stand in the shoes of an average American of the Depression era. I was very fortunate in that Seabiscuit was covered very heavily in the press and followed by millions of people, so there was a lot to be found.

My goal as an historian is to make nonfiction read as smoothly as fiction while adhering very strictly to fact. I read a lot of nonfiction, and have certainly been influenced by such superb historians as Bruce Catton and David McCullough, but the writers who have had the greatest impact on me have been novelists. Michael Shaara's masterpiece "The Killer Angels," an historic novel about Gettysburg, has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Tolstoy has also been a wonderful teacher, namely "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina." Other writers I read over and over again, and try to emulate, include Austen, Wharton, Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

"Thuggles" strike.

The train used to depict the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies has been spray-painted with graffiti by vandals, a British newspaper revealed. A gang broke into the depot housing the train in Scarborough, northern England, and proceeded to give it a space-age makeover, The Sun tabloid said.

The train, its real name the Olton Hall, has been hired out during production of the three Potter films.

"It is heartbreaking and has made me and the rest of the staff very angry," said James Shuttleworth of the West Coast Railway Company which operates the train. "This will horrify the millions of Harry Potter fans," The Sun quoted him as saying.

The vandals sprayed a silver and green design, resembling futuristic homes, along two 64 foot carriages, signing their artwork 'Slobs'.

The gang was disturbed before it had a chance to spray the train's steam engine, which dates back to 1937, the daily said.


Well, the speculation is already building in Great Britain.

An application has been made by Seabottom Productions, a company with two employees and no known line of business, to obtain the trademark of two possible book titles, Harry Potter and the Mudblood Revolt and Harry Potter and the Quest of the Centaur.

The company, which does not appear to have a telephone number, was incorporated just three days before the application was made in July. To encourage intense speculation among Potter fans, the address of Seabottom Productions is the same central London address as the law firm whose name appears on the trademark registration for all the existing Harry Potter titles. One of Field Fisher Waterhouse's clients is Warner Bros, the American film company which made the Potter films. A spokesman for the law firm refused to comment yesterday.

via The Telegraph (UK)

Monday, September 01, 2003

Take care of your books, like I've always said.

Throwing away the dust jacket of a novel or children's book could be the most expensive mistake the owner has made, according to a survey.

Books which have been gathering dust on shelves or in attics for years may now be worth many thousands of pounds. But collectors are only prepared to pay the highest prices for rare editions in good condition with the original dust jackets, which are often discarded soon after purchase.

A first edition of Kenneth Grahame's children's book The Wind in the Willows is worth £50,000 if it has its dust jacket but only £6,000 if the jacket is missing. The 1937 edition of J R R Tolkien's The Hobbit fetches £30,000 with the original wrapping but just £6,000 without it.

via The Telegraph (UK)