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the women of cult television

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knightley set to make a fortune in sequels

30 july


• keira to shoot "pirates" sequels back-to-back

Keira Knightley is in the middle of secret negotiations to spend 10 months of next year shooting two sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl back-to-back.

Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer has decided to shoot the third Pirates movie at the same time as the sequel to last year's hit.

Keira and fellow Brit Orlando Bloom are looking at a fee of $12.6 million each for both films, while co-star Johnny Depp is able to command the highest price, as his performance as pirate Jack Sparrow made the original a phenomenal success - taking $720 million worldwide in 2003.

A source says, "They can name a high price as their love story was a very popular feature of the original and both have huge fan bases. The decision to make both movies at the same time will take them off the market for a year." back to the top

alba steps out with jeter

30 july


• home run for yankees star

According to Teen Hollywood, Jessica Alba (shown right at Comic Con in San Diego) is dating Mariah Carey's ex Derek Jeter.

The former Dark Angel star was spotted among the crowd when Jeter's New York Yankees played her baseball team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, earlier this month and the couple are now an item, reports Sports Illustrated.

The couple have been spotted out and about at clubs in Los Angeles and friends insist they're dating.

Alba's past boyfriends have included Spanish golfing ace Sergio Garcia. back to the top

geek goddess

27 july • sunday express magazine


• jennifer garner is the high-school nerd who became a hollywood hottie, but her new hit comedy takes her right back to not-so-sweet thirteen

Playing the part of a teenager brought back some toe-curling memories for Jennifer Garner. The stunning star of Daredevil and Alias insists she was one of the biggest geeks in her class and a million miles away from her sleek Hollywood persona of today.

"I was such a teenage nerd," she says. "I wasn't the popular one, I was one of those girls on the edge of the group. I never wore the right clothes and I had a kind of natural geekiness. I was in the school band too, and I think that has a bit of a stigma at the age of 13. But I wasn't really unhappy about it, and that's all that mattered."

Not all that mattered, surely? What about boys? "I really liked this trumpet player," she says. "All my friends were running up to him and saying: 'Well, do you like her? Why don't you ask her to go out with you?' And there I was with my saxophone and he didn't ask me the whole night, and I just waited and waited. I had these huge glasses on and I remember being totally deflated."

I bet he's sorry now. "Oh no," she says brightly. "He's not at all. He's happily married. It's OK."

Jennifer is reliving those awkward teenage years in her latest movie, 13 Going On 30, which has been a massive hit in the United States. What Big did for Tom Hanks in the 80s, 13 Going On 30 is doing for Garner in the Millennium.

The film opens in 1987 when Jenna (Garner) is a typical 13-year-old, eager to wear her first bra and experience her first kiss with a boy. She invites the "cool kids" to her 13th birthday party where her best friend, Matt (Mark Ruffalo), makes her a special gift. A few sprinkles of magic dust later and Jenna finds herself waking up as a hot 30-year-old magazine editor in a plush Manhattan apartment, a teenager in a grown woman's body.

Jennifer's own transformation from geek to goddess happened almost overnight. "It never occurred to me the way I looked had changed until one day I was doing a play in school," she says. "I was all done up and there was a picture in the paper comparing me to Geena Davis. And I did look so much like her in this picture that it made me realise that I clean up rather nicely - which is a really empowering thing to know for any teenager, let alone a woman!"

Jennifer, now 32, was catapulted to stardom playing the sexy superspy Sydney Bristow in the television series Alias. That performance won her a best actress Golden Globe in 2002, and caught the attention of Steven Spielberg who cast her in his movie Catch Me If You Can. From there it was a short backflip to her first leading role, as Elektra, in the comic-strip flick Daredevil, opposite Ben Affleck and Colin Farrell. Critics didn't like the movie much, but audiences did and Jennifer is now filming the spin-off - just called Elektra - wearing costumes so tight it apparently takes three people to get her into them.

Just as well, then, that she is so finely toned. That figure, combined with her peaches-and-cream complexion, is enough to turn any guy to jelly, but with characteristic modesty Jennifer insists it's all down to good beauticians. "You should have seen me before I went through hair and make-up this morning," she laughs.

The second of three daughters, Jennifer was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in West Virginia by her mother Pat, an English teacher, and her father, Bill, a chemical engineer. She studied drama at Ohio's Denison University and headed off to try her luck on the New York stage. Many off-Broadway shows, bit-parts in TV shows and a waitress job later, Jennifer relocated to L.A. where she landed a role in the TV show Felicity. The show's creator, J.J. Abrams, never forgot her, and years later, offered her the starring role when he came to cast his new drama, Alias.

"Isn't it unbelievably crazy?" says Jennifer. "When I was a little girl, I never wanted to be an actress, and I didn't have stars in my eyes about being famous. I never wanted to walk a red carpet and I never watched the Academy Awards until I started acting professionally. I was the sort of kid that, if you'd asked me what I wanted to be, I would have said something like a librarian, an author or a doctor."

Perhaps it's just as well she didn't plan her career because things could hardly have worked out better even if she had. And she'll never forget that call from Spielberg. "It was so unexpected, so out of the blue that I was giddy about it," she says. "In fact, I was giddy for weeks. I kind of held it close to my heart and couldn't even tell anyone for a while. But then once I started telling people, I wanted to stand on the rooftops and yell, 'Steven Spielberg wants me for a role in a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks!'

"It was one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. And you know how some things are just fantastic from the moment they enter your life all the way through? That's how that little role in that big movie was for me, right from the moment we started shooting it. And they were so good to me - they changed their whole schedule to work around my hectic timetable at Alias."

Jennifer still loves the show that made her name - and she especially enjoyed her scenes with our own Ricky Gervais. "I was completely starstruck by Ricky," she says. "He's got such an impish twinkle. He was a blast. He ruined so many takes by laughing, but he made us all laugh too."

Now single after a very public break-up with her husband of four years, Scott Foley, Jennifer is dating her Alias co-star Michael Vartan. But she and the 35-year-old actor have no plans to tie the knot any time soon. Of her divorce with Foley, she'll go as far to say that she regrets things didn't work out. "It was just one of those things where we both really tried to make it work, but it just wasn't the right time for either of us."

For now, she is concentrating on her work and all the baggage that comes with celebrity on a Hollywood scale. "I don't really think about fame - I just do my work," she says. "It hasn't really impacted on my life, because I literally work an 80-hour week. I hardly go out - and when I do go to restaurants and places like that, I'm so completely oblivious to people looking at me, it's almost funny. It's like I'm walking through the world with my head in the clouds and I don't even seem to notice at all what's going on around me. I can't decide whether that's a good or a bad thing.

"I can't pay too much attention to any of it. I can enjoy the perks, but not depend on them and let them get too important to me. I feel so lucky to be doing what I love, but every job has flipsides. In my case, they're probably a little more extreme."

But with global movie fame beckoning, Jennifer's feet remain firmly planted on the ground. "This would never go to my head, my friends and family wouldn't allow it to for one second," she smiles. "Sometimes I do feel like I'm on another planet. I mean, let's face it, this job is just a little odd, isn't it?" back to the top

"dead like me" not as grave

22 july •


• "i never got into this for the money"

George Lass (Ellen Muth) steps more confidentally into the first day of the rest of her death as Dead Like Me begins its second season on Sunday, 25 July, on Showtime.

Fans of the dark comedy will remember that George (short for Georgia) spent much of season 1 in a vile mood, and understandably so. After all, the bright but aimless teenager had been fatally creamed by a toilet seat from the plummeting Skylab space station. George's messy demise threw her into the arms of her new mentor, Rube (Mandy Patinkin), a crusty pragmatist who quickly recruited her for his team of Grim Reapers, the beings assigned to remove the souls of the living and point them toward their designated afterlife.

Nonplussed to discover that her own afterlife required her to work at a temp agency called Happy Time to make things meet, George also spent many nonreaping hours at an eatery called Der Waffle Haus with Rube and the rest of his team: cranky meter maid Roxy (Jasmine Guy); Daisy (Laura Harris), a dazzlingly self-absorbed former actress; and Mason (Callum Blue), a feckless Brit slacker who has carried his penchant for substance abuse beyond the grave.

Season 1 ended last September as a more mature George made peace with her new role in the cosmos, even as she sadly watched the marriage of her parents (Cynthia Stevenson, Greg Kean) come unglued under the stress of her death.

"I'm playing George quite a bit differently this season, and I'm glad you picked up on the fact that she kind of made peace with her situation at the end of last season," Muth says during a production break on the show's Vancouver set. "This season is a lot funnier, not as dark, mainly because, well, she has accepted the fact that she is dead. She knows she cannot go back to where she was when she was alive.

"But she's also a lot more confident now in who she is and what her job is, and she is becoming more of a woman and more sure of her sexuality. As far as the reaping of souls, she now views her job the way the other Reapers do: It's a job, you do it and it's done, so there you go."

George's newfound confidence spills into her goofy office routine at Happy Time as well, where new friends begin to gravitate toward the once-lonely teenager.

"Early in last season, George was very worried about other people's emotions, especially how they saw her, and felt she was outside looking in," Muth explains. "This year, she still hopes people will acept her for who she is, but if they don't, she's OK with that. Oddly, because she has that confidence, the people around her like her more. She becomes more a part of the Reaper family, and she also is able to get along with people more outside of their circle as well.

"Things that go on at Happy Times are very funny this year, and if you were watching last year, some of the people you saw then as basically extras emerge as real characters iin their own right this season, at least to some degree. And they also manage to cast the best guest stars on this show! They are just amazing, and work very well with the rest of us."

The new episodes this season also contain hints that George's destiny as a Reaper may have been preordained on some level. Certainly she is suspiciously good at this bizarre job and, Muth notes, she is the only character able to see the Gravelings, mischief-making gremlins who often set into motion the fatal last events in an impending tragedy.

"The fact that she's the only one of the team who can actually see the Gravelings means that she gets a kind of head's up as far as which person around her is about to die," Muth points out.

As for her fellow Reapers, look for the lovely Harris to have a dalliance with Will & Grace star Eric MCormack in a multi-episode arc. Viewers will be making other discoveries about Daisy, Muth reveals, many of which uncover an unexpected depth to this wistful beauty.

"Daisy comes across as very high-maintenance and hard to deal with and very confident, yet this year we discover a lot of insecurities she has," Muth says. "All that cockiness is actually a cover-up. She actually has a very dark side that starts to be revealed this season, and Mason, of all people, is the one to discover it. She's an extremely smart character, although she seems like the typical blond ditz at first, almost as if she is content to be treated as a trophy. But she's actually very shrewd about knowing what she wants and how to get it, no matter who she has to step on."

Muth, a dazzlingly self-assured actress at 23, is a good deal less ruthless when it comes to her own career. At the moment she hasn't even read any scripts for a future project - "It's just too distracting while I am focusing on George," she explains - and she has nothing lined up after she wraps season 2 of Dead Like Me.

"I never wanted to play in a teeny-bopper movie," she says candidly. "I never wanted to play - and don't think I would be cast as - the pretty girl who got to wear all the name-brand designer costumes. From the beginning, I always was drawn to the deep roles, the ones that had a lot of different things to explore. I never really cared about the paycheck. It was all about the craft, really. I never got into this for the money." back to the top

keira's poster push-up

11 july


• "they could have given me a lot more on top"

Anyone who's seen the posters for King Arthur may have noticed that there's something a little extra about Keira Knightley.

However, the actress did not have to go under the surgeon's knife for her chest to swell with pride.

Instead the computer wizards got to work to make her look bustier in publicity posters for the movie.

Keira, who plays Guinevere, had been moaning that nothing had been done to make her flat chest look curvier.

Film bosses gave in to her wishes - but she is still not satisfied.

She said: "They could have given me a lot more on top."

It is the second time that Keira's image has been doctored to appear larger than life in promotional pictures. Last year she was given an impressive cleavage for Pirates of the Caribbean. back to the top

visit to thailand leaves mark on jolie

10 july


• angelina treats herself to a new tattoo

A brief visit to Thailand has left an indelible mark on Angelina Jolie.

After a two-day visit to Cambodia, the 29-year-old actress stopped in Bangkok on Wednesday to have a tiger tattooed on her lower back by a well-known local artist, The Nation newspaper reported yesterday.

Jolie spent more than two hours at a hotel having the 12-inch-long image applied by renowned tattoist Sompong Kanphai, the newspaper said.

Last year, Sompong applied an image featuring ancient Cambodian script, designed to ward off bad luck, on her back.

Jolie reportedly said she decided to get the new tattoo because the first one made her feel that her life is filled with luck.

Sompong chanted an ancient hymn to bless the latest tattoo, the newspaper said. back to the top

jessica alba in "fantastic four" movie?

9 july


• "dark angel" star favourite for role

According to Variety, Dark Angel star Jessica Alba is the favourite to play Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman in 20th Century Fox's live-action Fantastic Four movie.

The paper reports that three of the roles have already been cast. Michael Chiklis has been cast as Ben Grimm/the Thing, Iaon Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/the Human Torch.

Gruffudd can currently be seen playing Lancelot in King Arthur, while Chiklis is best known from the FX series The Shield. Apart from Alba, other candidates for Sue Storm are Rachel MacAdams and Keri Russell.

Production is expected to start under the direction of Tim Story in August in Vancouver for a US release of 1 July 2005. back to the top

eliza's flying nerves

8 july • teen hollywood


• "tru calling" star's fear of flying

Eliza Dushku is so scared of flying that she never travels without religious artifacts.

The American actress, 23, who was raised in a Mormon household, hates soaring through the skies and takes a crucifix on planes to comfort her.

Eliza says, "I get very religious whenever I fly. I can't fly without a cross and I feel a little bit like a poser."

"I'm always sporting that cross because the prayers start when the plane takes off and they end when we land... until the next time."

"I think me and God are pretty cool, you know? I'm going to heaven, baby. I might stop off and visit a few friends in hell first, but I'm staying on the train and taking it upstairs for sure."

The photo on the right shows Eliza at a Hollywood gathering to celebrate presidential candidate John Kerry. back to the top

keira launches sport relief donation line

7 july


• "let your fingers do the walking"

Keira Knightley helped launch the Sport Relief official donation line, which opened this week.

Keira said: "Let your fingers do the walking. Call the Sport Releif donation line number and donate what you can.

"Every penny really can help to change people's lives."

Beth Courtier, head of charity programmes for BT, added: "With thousands of volunteers in 50 call centres providing 3,185 lines, BT expects to break Sport Relief's record and handle over 350,000 call on the night."

As well as the Fitness First Sport Relief Miles taking place all across the UK on Saturday, BBC One will be clearing its schedules for five hours on fundraising TV on the night. (Personally, I'd be more likely to pay if it was five hours of Keira rather than the "it's for charity" rubbish we're likely to get.)

The BT-enabled Sport Releif donation line is on 08457 910 910. You can also pay in person at high street banks and most building societies and Post Offices, quoting FREEPAY account 6777.

You can also send cheques, made payable to Sport Relief '04, to: Ernst & Young, PO Box 678, London, EC4A INT, or visit the official Sport Relief website. back to the top

keira's "king"-sized performance

4 july • entertainment tonight


• keira, warrior queen

Flying high after her breakout role in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Keira Knightley is back in a new period action-adventure - this time as the warrior-queen Guinevere in King Arthur.

ET's Mary Hart got the scoop from Keira on her exciting, new Dark Age epic - and how she keeps her feet on the ground while dealing with instant fame.

"I don't think my feet are planted on the ground," the 19-year-old said with a smile. "I think they're way off the ground!"

A new take on the age-old legend of King Arthur, the film is based on the real-life character that united Britain ater the fall of the Roman Empire. In 450 AD, the British Isles were thrown into anarchy as errant knights were entrenched in years of territorial combat. One reluctant leader, Arthur (Clive Owen), realises that when Rome is gone, Britain will need a king. With the help of his brave Knights of the Round Table, including Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Galahad (Hugh Dancy) and Gawain (Joel Edgarton), the guidance of Merlin (Stephen Dillane), a former enemy, and the beautiful, courageous Guinevere by his side, Arthur sets out to change the course of history.

The epic film is full of battle scenes with warriors dressed to the hilt in full armour, while in one scene Guinevere emerges from the trees to fight in practically nothing! "Well, I had trousers on," says Keira. "Actually, historically Celts and Picts would've fought nude, so there was no way I was going to do that - I thought it would be distracting."

Keira's skimpy outfit in the film actually came courtesy of blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who also produced the highly successful Pirates. "I wore quite a short top to the Pirates of the Caribbean premiere in LA last year," explains Keira, "And he did go back to the costume designer and say, 'Well, she's got this stomach.'"

The elegant actress bulked up for the role of the sexy-but-tough Guinevere, actually doubling her muscle mass. When asked how she feels about the pressure to be thin in Hollywood, she definitely has a strong opinion.

"Certainly it is an industry that focuses on what you look like," she says. "It's a visual medium, there's no getting away from that. But for me, personally what I find interesting, watching actors and actresses onscreen, are the imperfections. I think that's to be celebrated. I think there is pressure on women, but you just have to be comfortable in whatever shape you're meant to be." back to the top

keira knightley in "arena"

4 july


• "the world's most wanted woman"

GKA favourite Keira Knightley appears on the cover (right) and inside the August issue of Arena magazine.

Tagged as "the world's most wanted the shoot we've all been waiting for," Keira looks simply great, and this issue looks like a must-have for all Keira fans (even though the photos are already all over the Internet).

For anyone who needs a reminder, Keira's latest film, King Arthur, opens in the UK on 30 July, and the film's official site can be found here. back to the top