Rihanna stars in Hacks on a Plane - 10 Things
Even as you read this, there's a mutiny in the skies: reports from Rihanna's Boeing 777 are not doing what her management team presumably hoped. The plane is packed to the gills with lucky fans, Rihanna-handlers and around 150 members of the press, in what no doubt seemed like a jolly promotional wheeze in the planning stages, on a junket around seven shows in seven countries. "Here's a neat way for the press to feel like they have personal access to our artist," one can almost imagine said management plotting out on a white board, "and hopefully sidestep all that weird stuff on her Unapologetic album, like the lyrics seeming to equate violence with love and that duet with her ex-and-possibly-current boyfriend who beat the living hell out of her and has been remarkably unrepentant since." However, rather than be overwhelmed by the artist's largesse, word is that sticking a bunch of journos on a plane and plying them with booze, forced sleep deprivation (with reports of three hours of less of downtime between afterparties and wake-up calls) and Michael Christian of Melbourne’s Fox FM playing his harmonica over and over and over isn't winning them over. Especially since it's involved a major lack of Rihanna, who Rolling Stone reports made herself available on the first morning and has barely been seen since, with reports that she's done zero interviews, given no quotes and has been holed up in the plane's "panic room" for most of the time. And the lesson we've taken away from this is: Boeing 777s have a panic room? How often does that come up?In other career-saving-move-turned-fiasco news, early word from the US is that Liz & Dick, the telemovie about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton screening in the US this weekend, may not in fact be the comeback that Lindsay Lohan was rather banking on it being. With her performance as the screen siren being variously described as "inadvertently hysterical" and "woeful" (Hollywood Reporter) to "hilariously bad" (Newsday), it appears that Liz and Dick could yet become a camp classic to rival Faye Dunaway's legendarily over-the-top portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. Can dialogue like "I don't need a pool - I've got a whole ocean in you?" equal "No! Wire! Hangers! Ever!"? Only time will tell.
And while we're talking awesome career decisions, Sean Connery has revealed that he turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies, despite a US$6 million per film plus a staggering 15% of the profits which would have made him approximately all of the money in the world. The cinema legend supposedly has admitted that "I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it" - though he conceded that they went with the right decision on the character: "Ian McKellen, I believe, is marvellous in it." Start your own Bond-as-Gandalf quote thread in the comments.
He might be a K-pop flash in the pan destined to have the same cultural impact on the west as such august creative forces as Crazy Frog and Melissa Tkautz, but PSY, it turns out, is the champion of the flagging musical career. First, as we pointed out earlier, he was a surprise guest at Madonna's show in NYC; but on Sunday he raised the has-been bar further by closing the American Music Awards with a surprise guest of his own: MC Hammer, who contributed '2 Legit 2 Quit' to 'Gangnam Style'. Yes, really. And yes, he's wearing Hammer pants. And boy, that dude from Modern Family looks like he's been waiting for this moment all his life.
If you were kicking yourself for not buying up big in Apple shares, then good news: having hit a record US$705.07 per share in September, the stock is now celebrating its eighth smash week of plummeting value. In fact, the value of the company has plunged by US$170 billion, which is just over three Telstras-worth of pretend money according to the SMH's baffling comparison. On the other hand, it's still one of the most successful companies on the planet and the plunge in value has very little to do with Apple itself and mainly reflects investor fear over changes to capital gains tax in the US. So, y'know, maybe this is a great time to buy up, if you're prepared to take investment advice from a somewhat facetious news column written by a man whose main retirement strategy requires a massive upswing in the value of pre-opened Star Wars figures.
Budget airline Tiger Airways reputation for quality, service and not falling out of the skies took another hit with the revelation that the carrier was using "third party" software on the bit of their computers telling them what altitude the plane was at, which is why an Airbus A320 landed at Tullamarine last June at a potentially-disasterous 500 feet lower than it had been cleared for. That somewhat disturbing piece of news joined the ominous-sounding finding that the airline had an "inconsistent safety management system" - although for all we know that just means there's no panic room in case of Rihanna. Seriously, planes have those things? Are their designers just combining elements of all of their favourite Jodie Foster films?
And the Elmo sex scandal rages on: first we told you about how Elmo muppeteer Kevin Clash was accused of having had a relationship with an underage chap; then said chap - revealed to be 23 year old Sheldon Stephens - announced that no, he'd actually been of age when he and the now-52 year old Clash were together. However now, after a reported US$125,000 out-of-court settlement, Stephens has apparently remembered that ah, no, he was totally underage and who'd like to represent him legally while he shakes some more money out of Clash's now-somewhat-parlous-looking career. That sound you hear is your childhood memories breaking.
Melbourne students, breathe easy: the VCE exam body have explained that you won't have your history marks affected by your failure to accurately explain how giant battle robots helped the socialist revolutionaries during the Russian Revolution. Yes, proving once again that it's best not to use the first thing that pops up on Google Image Search when preparing state-wide examinations, a doctored version of Storming the Winter Palace by Nikolai Kochergin appeared in the VCE History: Revolutions examination which - in an act of either inexplicable sloppiness or subversive genius - had a BattleTech Marauder in the background. Then again, if our high schools won't teach our children about the robot wars, who will?
Any fish reading this will be pleased to learn that the two year ban on letting the Abel Tasman supertrawler is totes legal, according to Environment Minister Tony Burke. While the ship's Dutch operators are planning a legal challenge, Burke reckons that it's "not uncommon" for bans to be enacted while environmental studies are conducted. To that end, a panel examining the effects on redbait and mackerel has been convened - so, enjoy your aquatic amnesty, piscine brothers.
And finally: not unlike the Victorian exams board, a Toronto bookshop has discovered that nothing livens things up like the addition of robots. Hence: Biblio-Mat, the glorious alternative to the discount bin at the Monkey's Paw bookshop, where one inserts coins and gets a random mystery book with a whole lot of satisfying clanking and rattling. It's the baby of designer Craig Small, who should be churning these babies out all over the place if you ask us. No word on whether it supports the Tsar or the Bolshevik forces, but we assume that will become terrifyingly clear soon enough.