Dave Gee: Entertainment Now: July 2007
Dave Gee: Entertainment Now
Latest News from the world of Entertainment, including the newest TV shows, DVD releases, Pop Music, and Celebrity Gossip

Two thirds of the UK song production team known as "The Hit Factory" are aiming to return to the music charts with the help of a familiar trio.

Mike Stock and Pete Waterman (of Stock/Aitken/Waterman fame) have signed up colourful female trio The Sheilas as their first new act since reforming as songwriter/producers. (Third member Matt Aitken initially featured in the trio's reunion, but doesn't appear to be involved in The Sheilas project).

The Sheilas (Cathi, Emma & Carly) will be well known to most UK TV viewers as "those three pink girls from that catchy car insurance advertisement" ;-)

Check out the original "Sheila's Wheels" car insurance jingle...

The girls recently shot the video for their debut Stock/Waterman-penned single, (I'm So) Happy Happy (You're Mine), and are currently on a promotional tour around the UK.

The bright and bubbly single will be released in the UK on September 17th, on the new SAW Productions label (via EMI Records). The Sheilas are also busy recording other songs for their debut album with Mike Stock and Pete Waterman in the new PWL studios.

* Pete Waterman Ltd - Official website
* The Sheilas - Official MySpace

The BBC has launched a free online video service, offering surfers the chance to download and watch top programmes from the British TV broadcaster.

The BBC's iPlayer allows surfers in the UK to download for free a range of programmes broadcast on the BBC within the past week. The video files have a 'self destruct' built into them, meaning users have to watch the files within the next 30 days, before they're automatically deleted.

The on-demand tv service currently offers around 400 hours of programming, but the BBC says a lot more is on the way. British web surfers can use the BBC iPlayer service for free and without advertising, while overseas users will apparently have the option of either paying to download ad-free programmes, or to watch content containing advertisements for no charge.

Users need to download the iPlayer software to their computer. About 70% of the previous week's BBC schedule is available for download, including hit shows like Doctor Who and Eastenders. (Programming excluded from the online service are American shows and sports matches).

Currently the service only works on PCs running Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10 or later. However, the Beeb says versions for Mac OS, Windows Vista, and Linux will be available by the end of the year. The BBC also wants the iPlayer to become a universal on-demand service on cable and other tv platforms, as well as mobile phones.

It's the latest UK broadcaster to go down the download route, with ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky also operating online video service offering a range of programming for download.

A commercial version of the iPlayer will be launched early next year by BBC Worldwide, eventually offering a range of ad-funded and pay-per-view content from the archives of the BBC. The British broadcaster is also developing versions for other countries, including Australia and the United States.

* BBC UK: Download BBC iPlayer

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fresh out of prison, Paris Hilton has revealed she's started work on a second music album.

Socialite and star of the reality series The Simple Life released her first album - Paris - last year. She had some chart success around the world with her first single Stars are Blind, and follow-up track Nothing in this World (both going Top 10 in many countries).

However, while the album Paris sold around 650,000 around the world, it wasn't a huge success in her home country of the United States (peaking at #6).

But Hilton says she's now working on a follow-up album, enlisting music producer Scott Storch, who also worked on her debut album. She has apparently begun weekly singing lessons to help improve her voice, in a bid to be taken more seriously.

Hopefully she'll also be calling on the services of Swedish hit-making musical geniuses, Max Martin and Dr Luke.

Check out the brilliance of the under-rated Nothing in This World, written (and produced) by Dr Luke with Sheppard Solomon... (the video is a mock movie trailer, parodying teen movie The Girl Next Door.)

Things have come in a full circle for Hairspray... Originally a cult John Waters film in 1988 (starring Ricky Lake, Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Sonny Bono, and Divine), the movie was adapted for the stage in 2002, and became a smash hit, Tony-award winning Broadway musical.

Now following that success, Hairspray is returning to its roots on the big screen, with the new Broadway musical stage version transferred back to celluloid. It features songs from the Broadway show by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, as well as three new numbers.

The long-awaited Hairspray movie-musical also stars a number of big names... John Travolta takes on Divine's role of Edna Turnblad, mother of "pleasantly plump" teenager Tracy Turnblad (played this time by newcomer Nikki Blonsky).

The revival in popularity for movie musicals has encouraged other Hollywood stars to warm up their singing voices for the film... Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, and Queen Latifah all feature, along with Brittany Snow, and High School Musical star Zac Efron.

Hairspray opens July 20th in the United States, Canada, and the UK. Moviegoers in Australia and New Zealand will have to wait until mid-September to see the cult revival on the big screen.

Check out the trailer for Hairspray the Movie Musical...

Here's the trailer to the most anticipated Disney Channel Original Movie ever... High School Musical 2! (Premieres August 17th on the Disney Channel in the USA, and on the Family Channel in Canada. Other regions: Asia - September 9, Asia - September 9, Australia/New Zealand - September 22, Germany - September 22)

Songs in the new film include: What Time Is It (Company), You Are the Music In Me (Company), All for One (Company), Everyday (Company), Fabulous (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel), Gotta Go My Own Way (Vanessa Hudgens), Humuhuunukunukua'pua'a (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel), Bet On It (Zac Efron), I Don't Dance (Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel), Work This Out (Zac Efron and the Wildcats).

And here's the most recent episodes of the Disney Channel's weekly Behind the Scenes show.

* The Road to High School Musical 2: Episode 5...

* The Road to High School Musical 2: Episode 6...

* More High School Musical 2 CDs, Books, and other High School Musical merchandise available now at the High School Musical Shop.

Kelly Clarkson is just the latest in a long line of music artists who start to believe their own hype and think "they" are the sole reason for their success. Clarkson has been involved in a very public feud with SonyBMG records boss Clive Davis, over the direction of her new album My December.

Outside of the United States - where Clarkson shot to prominance through the first series of American Idol in 2002 - she was a virtual nobody. That was until Swedish/US tunesmiths Max Martin and Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald were drafted in to pen a couple of pop/rock tracks for her second album Breakaway.

The first of these, "Since U Been Gone", became a massive worldwide hit and remains the biggest hit of her career. The followup single "Behind Those Hazel Eyes" was another smash hit for the trio.

But when it came to her third album, Clarkson ignored the suggestions of her record company to work with professional songwriters, and chose instead to write songs with members of her own band.

Those new album tracks were slammed by executives at pre-release preview meetings, with RCA and SonyBMG reportedly offering her US$10 million to record some new "radio friendly" tracks, preferably including a few with Max Martin and Dr Luke.

Clarkson continued with her bad decisions, firing her manager Jerr Kwatinetz after disagreements with her new songs and musical direction. She was then forced to cancel a planned summer US tour to promote My December, because of poor ticket sales. The lead single from the new album peaked at #8 on the US Billboard Top 100, before quickly dipping out of the Top 20.

She recently told reporters, "I’ve sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. Because I’m 25 and a woman." Uh, no... It's because your bosses know it is much harder to persuade people to buy bad music. Clarkson's new songs basically lack a "hook"... that essential indefinable element that makes certain songs stick in your mind, and become popular hits.

The highway of music is littered with former stars who slipped from glory after deciding to leave their Pop Svengalis and head in a more serious direction (often with self-penned songs)... The Four Tops, Diana Ross, The Monkees, The Righteous Brothers... through to more recent artists like Kylie Minogue (who returned to pop after crashing as "indie Kylie"), Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Britney Spears (who enjoyed a brief career boost when she returned to Sweden for "Toxic"), the Spice Girls, and almost every other boyband/girl group/pop star who learned just how quickly they could be dropped once the hits dry up.

Swedish pop-rocker E-Type is back, with the first single from his forthcoming new album Europtopia (produced by legendary Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin)...

Meanwhile, the title track of Magnus Carlsson's new solo album Live Forever has been around for a few months. It was one of the quality entries that unfairly failed to qualify in Melodifestivalen 2007 as Sweden's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.

(Swedish voters mistakenly picked The Ark, whose song The Worrying Kind finished back in 18th place, relegating Sweden for the 2008 ESC competition).

Magnus used to be in the popular Swedish pop group Alcazar, who are partially reforming (without Carlsson) this month to perform in London alongside BWO as part of a celebration of Swedish music.

Watch out for a few nods to some fellow Scandinavian artists in the video for Live Forever, including a-ha and Abba...

* Hat tip to the Schlagerboys
* Listen to tracks from Magnus Carlsson's new album here... (Click on "Provlyssna")

British comedian Catherine Tate has been confirmed as the newest companion for eccentric tv time traveller, Doctor Who. Tate will fill the gap left by Freema Agyeman, who currently plays medical student Martha Jones in the BBC TV series.

Agyeman leaves after the series 3 final, 'Last of the Time Lords', but the BBC says she'll make a "triumphant return" in the mid-season series 4, as well as starring in 3 episodes of Torchwood (Captain Jack Harkness' spinoff show, starring John Barrowman).

Catherine Tate is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who, having appeared as runaway bride Donna Noble in the show's 2006 Christmas tv special, 'The Runaway Bride'. She'll reprise her role for all thirteen episodes of series four.

David Tennant is expected to stay on as the Doctor for the fourth series, along with a number of high profile guest stars.

It was revealed earlier this week that pop singer Kylie Minogue will guest star in this year's Doctor Who Christmas special, 'Voyage of the Damned'. Shooting for the episode is scheduled to begin in Cardiff, Wales later this month.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

US actor John Stamos, now starring in ER, put on a display of bizzare behaviour this week while appearing on an Australian morning talkshow.

Stamos was down under to promote the hit medical drama ER, where he plays Dr Tony Gates. The former Full House star appeared tired, blurry-eyed, and dishevelled. Stamos was disorientated and often sniffing, prompting some industry insiders to speculate he may have been both drunk and under the influence of cocaine.

But execs at Australia's Channel 9 and Warner Bros. were so shocked by his behaviour on Kerri-Ann Kennerley's morning show that they cancelled the rest of his tour and claimed to have packed him on the next plane home. (It's since been revealed Stamos remained in Australia a few more days, and seemed to continue his partying in Sydney).

Channel 9 and US tv executives claimed Stamos was simply jetlagged and "needed to rest". You be the judge... ;-)