Archive for August 2008

Bruised Liam has some explaining to do to his wife

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You’d have to be tough or insane to try to beat up acting giant Liam Neeson – but that doesn’t stop his wife Natasha Richardson from thinking it happens all the time. Strapping Schindler’s List star Neeson, who measures 6ft 4in, keeps coming home with bruises and has a hard job persuading Natasha he’s just injured himself on the movie set.

New York-based Liam, 56, worried Richardson more than ever during the shooting of his new movie Taken, in which his character pursues a group of kidnappers who have snatched his daughter. The Oscar-nominated actor was required to undergo intense fighting training which left him covered from head to foot in bruises.

“I keep pretty fit, but I had to crank up the level and intensity of my training,” explains Liam, who lives in the Big Apple with Natasha and his kids. “I had to get together with a couple of guys in Paris and learn these different fight techniques known as ‘parkour’ which we had to keep doing it for weeks because there was so many complex fighting sequences. Every time I saw my wife she thought I’d been beaten up literally, and of course I had.”


Written by Jim McMillan

August 31, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Hollywood, Irish, movies, News

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Usual Suspect wants unusual centre for New York’s Irish

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Homesick New York-based actor Gabriel Byrne wants to keep a little piece of Ireland with him …by persuading the Irish government to fund a cultural centre for his countrymen in the Big Apple. Though he has lived in New York for over 20 years and now holds US citizenship, Byrne just can’t let go of his Irish roots and is campaigning to set up the “Irish Centre” in Manhattan, a place where “Irishness in all its forms can be nurtured.”

“Usually, culture has some kind of a center, a building, some place that you can go,” explains Byrne, 58, who is enjoying a second wind as an actor with his critically-acclaimed US telly show In Treatment. Even the British have managed to do that here with Soho house, a big building in the center of the city where you can meet people and operate on a business, social and cultural level. There is no place like that for Irish people. So I started to think, well, wouldn’t it be great if we had a place where people could go, where people could connect, where that thing that defines Irish American culture could be seen and begin to grow. Of course it’s a sensitive time economically to be asking for money. But this is the best time to invest, not just in this notion of an Irish identity and culture, but in the brand of Ireland.”

Byrne, who owns a sprawling mansion in Brooklyn, first talked about the project with Bertie Ahern and arts minister John O’Donoghue four years ago.

Now he says, “I’m reporting to (Taoiseach) Brian Cowen. It just needs a commitment from the Irish government to support this. The government is behind it, in theory. It just needs that final push to make it happen. You really have to envision it as a temple on the hill. We would have to make a place of welcome, not just for Irish Americans. It would reach out to all cultures, a place of light and welcome.”

Written by Jim McMillan

August 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Culture, Irish, News

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Washington gossip: Did Ted Kennedy secretly love Jackie O?

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Did cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy secretly nurse a 40 year love affair with his late brother’s wife Jackie? That’s the amazing rumour circulating around Washington. And according to the latest issue of Globe magazine, members of the world’s most famous Irish American political clan The Kennedys fear he may finally talk about his forbidden love for the glamourous brunette icon in a bombshell new autobiography.

The page turner also gives Kennedy the opportunity to pour out his heart about his guilt over his alcoholic wife Joan and the pretty girl passenger who died in a car wreck when Ted drove her off a bridge. Before he succumbs to cancer, Teddy, whose siblings have been struck down one by one by the so-called Irish Kennedy curse, means to publish his autobiography in which he will spill the beans about scandals like the notorious Chappaquiddick incident in which youngster Mary Jo Kepechne perished after her co-passenger Kennedy drove his car off a bridge.

When Kennedy signed a $6 million agreement for his memoirs, cynics believed they would just be a complete whitewash job but now that he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it is widely expected he will leave no stone unturned.

A source close to the Kennedy clan tells Globe, “In the early days after his cancer diagnosis, Ted was talking to family members about hurrying to complete his biography – and one of the subjects they discussed was Jackie. “Ted told them he was madly in love with her for years. There was stunned silence and he quickly added, ‘I always loved her, she was so special.'”

Written by Jim McMillan

August 31, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Books, Kennedys, News, politics

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Moose burgers not on the menu in New York

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John McCain‘s fetching new running mate Sarah Palin has put moose burgers on the map but it’s unlikely we’ll ever get to try one in New York.

While former beauty contestant Palin sinks her gleaming white teeth into delicacies like moose burgers, moose meatballs and moose bolognese, Federal law prevents the rest of us from doing likewise, the New York Daily News reveals. “You have to be in the know to try it,” laments the News, who nonetheless have tracked down Alaska’s formost gourmet moose chef.

“You can’t sell wild game in the US but my husband hunts moose, so we have it all the time,” says Laraine Derr, who runs Chez Alaska cookery school. “It tastes very much like ground beef, but it’s a very mild, very lean meat. “I’ve made moose Wellington, moose meatballs, moose spaghetti sauce and T-bone moose steaks. You can put it in a can and use it to make stew with some vegetables and potatoes – it’s wonderful.”

Written by Jim McMillan

August 31, 2008 at 12:00 pm

The past is orange, not emerald for Senator John McCain

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US presidential hopeful John McCain has always been popular with Sinn Fein-sympathising Irish-American voters because of his support for immigrants’ rights. So they will be perplexed to now learn McCain’s ancestor was one of the first Orange Men and fought alongside King Billy!

Senator McCain, 71, whose ancestors came from Armagh, has repeatedly played up his Irish roots and descent from Captain John Young. But he might be a little more coy about admitting that another ancestor – great great great great grandfather Captain Dixie Coddington – was a trusted officer of William of Orange who fought alongside King Billy to defeat James ll at the Battle of the Boyne.

Irish historian Sean Murphy, who has just uncovered McCain’s Orange Man link, explains: “The Coddingtons were a very wealthy Irish family so they weren’t hard to find in the records.”

Murphy, the University of Dublin’s genealogist, says his discovery is far more significant than the revelations that McCain’s chief rival Barack Obama is also descended from Irish stock. “Obama’s ancestor was a shoemaker, whereas McCain’s was an officer serving with King William,” he points out.

Written by Jim McMillan

August 19, 2008 at 1:49 am

Monster, what monster? Splinterheads director changes tune

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Back to the Future actress Lea Thompson stars in Splinterheads

Back to the Future actress Lea Thompson stars in Splinterheads

After cashing in on the Montauk Monster hysteria for ten days, the makers of a low budget movie are now singing a rather different tune. The crew of the new Lea Thompson film Splinterheads were shooting in Montauk when the monster sightings first occurred and have been linking to a Gotham News report on their website ever since and even brazenly displaying a picture of the famed beastie.

Now though, the film’s writer-director Brant Sersen has decided to own up to the fact his movie has nothing to do with the monster at all. Not only that but he is trying to pin all the blame on a 16-year-old kid who allegedly set up his own fake Splinterheads website to make a bit of money for himself.

Explains Sersen on his website Sersen Park: “It’s amazing what a quick thinking 16 year old entrepreneur can do.  Here’s what happened – Newsday does an article about our film (which is shooting near Montauk). Montauk Monster story breaks, kid steals some of our graphics, sets up a fake official Splinterheads website, makes up some names and voila – a national story.

“I’d like to go on record and say our movie “Splinterheads” has had nothing to do with this Montauk Monster thing. We’re shooting a comedy out here in Patchogue – not a horror film.  My producer Darren does not have a sister Rachel, but a Rachael Taylor is starring in the film.  Along side Thomas Middleditch, Christopher McDonald, Lea Thompson, Dean Winters, Frankie Faison, Jason Rogel and Pamela Shaw.  Check if you don’t believe me.”

It’s not that we don’t believe you, Mr. Splinterhead. It’s just that we don’t believe you have the gall to blame a kid for being a kid, when you have milked this story for all it is worth. Rather hypocritical. Pictures of the monster have been on your site for 10 days now, generating thousands of hits and interest in a movie which would otherwise be ignored. You finally admit Goldberg doesn’t have a sister called Rachel and yet on your August 7 website entry, you posted: “Thank’s Darren’s sister.” Funny but misleading.

Instead of blathering on about 16-year-old ‘entrepreneurs,’ try to look on the bright side. No one will watch your flick when it comes out next year but lots of people have read your website because of the monster!

The real mystery is why a beautiful and talented actress like Lea Thompson would want to be associated with the film!

This is how the Splinterheads team tried to cash in on the Montauk Monster story on their website. Now the film's director Brant Serson is blaming a 16-year-old kid. Did a 16-year-old kid put this up on your website too, Brant?

This is how Splinterheads tried to cash in on the monster on their website on August 7.

Written by Jim McMillan

August 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Ticket glitch gives rail passengers free rides for seven years

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If you discovered a glitch in the system which let you get free train tickets on your debit card, would you own up to it? Three commuters have been arrested and charged with knowingly exploiting the problem to buy $800,000 worth of Long Island Rail Road tickets and MetroCards, many of which they resold, according to the police and prosecutors.

Not everyone who benefited from the software glitch, did so knowingly. Since 2001, hundreds of rail riders have been rewarded from a computer gremlin which allowed vending machines on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad to dispense free tickets on some debit card transactions.

The problem was first spotted in May, reveals the New York Times, and let to the uncovering of a series of suspicious transactions tied to a pair of debit cards issued by First Republic Bank. New Yorker Lisa Foster Jordan, 38, was arrested on May 28 and charged with fraudulently obtaining thousands of tickets and MetroCards worth about $800,000.

Last week, the police arrested two more people in connection with the scheme, Foster Jordan’s husband, Cary Grant (yes really!) and Chris Clemente from Manhattan. Lawyers representing the trio say they will be pleading not guilty.

Written by Jim McMillan

August 16, 2008 at 1:06 pm