Vocal chord surgery complications for Rivers

Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to a New York hospital on Thursday (local time) after she stopped breathing during surgery on her vocal chords, local media reported.

New York City Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said a patient reported to be in cardiac arrest had been taken from Yorkville Endoscopy to Mount Sinai Hospital by emergency workers responding to the call at 9.40am local time (1.40am Friday NZ time).

He declined to name the patient due to privacy concerns, but the NBC television affiliate in New York identified the patient as Rivers, saying she stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal chords.

Ken Baker, an entertainment journalist at E! News, said on his Twitter account that Rivers was in stable condition at Mount Sinai Hospital. The E! cable TV network features Rivers as host of its show “Fashion Police.”

A representative for E! could not immediately be reached for comment.

Representatives for Rivers, 81, did not immediately return calls or emails, and a representative for her daughter, Melissa Rivers, declined to comment. A Mount Sinai official also declined comment, citing patient privacy rules.

The Brooklyn-born Rivers is one of America’s best known comedians and is considered a pioneer for women in stand-up comedy.

Rivers’ peers in the 1960s comedy club scene of New York’s Greenwich Village included Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and George Carlin, but she said she never felt like she was part of their clique.

In 1983, she earned one of the biggest gigs in the business when “The Tonight Show” host, the late Johnny Carson, crowned her as his regular guest host.

Her brash and self-deprecating routine found new life on the awards show circuit and in recent years she trained her acerbic wit and profanity-laced comment on the fashion faux pas of Hollywood’s celebrities.

In an age of political correctness, Rivers’ no-holds-barred style has stood out in the crowded world of celebrity TV, as did her ability to make fun of herself, including her penchant for plastic surgery.

Aside from her role on “Fashion Police,” she also has in recent years starred alongside her daughter in the WE TV reality show “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best”

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– Reuters


Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie announce marriage

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have married in a private ceremony in their home in France over the weekend.


Kiwis shine at Oz awards

Out of her prison scrubs and into a figure-hugging full-length gold dress, Kiwi actress Danielle Cormack was one of the New Zealanders who, despite torrential rain, shone at the annual Helpmann Awards in Sydney.

Cormack was a presenter at the Helpmanns, Australia’s version of Broadway’s Tony Awards, held to celebrate the country’s performing arts industry.

But she may well be back next year picking up an award.


Tony Soprano alive? Creator ‘misquoted’

It looks like the fate of Tony Soprano will remain a mystery after all.

The creator of The Sopranos says he was misquoted during a shocking interview during which he appeared to confirm the mob boss, played by the late James Gandolfini, did not die at the end of the iconic series’ last season.

The infamous final scene, which fades to black on Soprano eating with his wife and son at a diner, triggered a storm when it ran in 2007.

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Some viewers initially thought their televisions had gone wrong and seven years later, fans are still asking: “Is Tony Soprano dead”.

That seemed to be answered on Wednesday when online blogging site Vox posted an interview with creator David Chase, in which he was asked whether the lead character had in fact deceased.

“He shook his head no, and he said simply, ‘No, he isn’t’. And that was all,” the piece reads.

However, Chase’s publicist issued a statement soon after claiming the words had been misrepresented.

“A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview,” the statement said.

“To simply quote David as saying, Tony Soprano is not dead, is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.

“As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.

“To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of The Sopranos raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

Twitter sprung into action as fans were once more plunged back into the dark abyss of uncertainty.

“I like that we’ll never know if Tony Soprano died or not … Better than knowing he was killed with a Badfinger song playing in the background,” tweeted one.

Another advised: “Creators: Tony Soprano is alive, Hello Kitty is not a cat, gif is pronounced “jif.” The lesson: Don’t listen to creators.”

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Martin Scorsese to direct Ramones film: report

Maybe he just wants to have something to do, but Martin Scorsese has reportedly added to his already full dance card with plans to direct a movie about The Ramones.

According to


It’s politics, but not as you know it

Winston’s back, Colin’s throwing a tantrum and Paula’s on the prowl.

Timed to coincide with the cut and thrust of this year’s general election, Public Service Announcements is returning to Bats for Raucous Caucus, a festival of political theatre and comedy.

Longer than ever before and with its biggest cast to date, the PSA Election Special is the ninth run of the political satire show.

New characters this year include Laila Harre, Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig, David Seymour and Tony Abbott, alongside stalwarts like Winston Peters and John Key.

Director Anya Tate-Manning, who also appears onstage as Jacinda Ardern, said it was great to have a politically aware cast involved.

“They come to us with ideas if we’ve missed something,” she said.

If the writing team of James Nokise, Simon Leary and Thom Adams had any particular political leanings or biases they would make especially sure to take the mickey out of their side, Tate- Manning said.

“We don’t take sides,” she said. “We make fun of everyone.”

Tate-Manning said that although the show was satire, in the past the writers had been quite good at predicting how New Zealand politics would unfold.

In previous shows, David Cunliffe’s leadership aspirations were never far away and in last year’s Christmas PSA shows, writer James Nokise included a scene where Cunliffe was welcomed onstage to Cook Island drumming, something laughable at the time.

But Cunliffe was indeed welcomed onto a stage at Labour’s annual congress this year by nothing other than Cook Island drummers.

Was it a case of life imitating art Tate-Manning thought so.

“It’s getting harder for the writers. It’s hard to be much more ridiculous than the reality.”

The show includes some reactions to the Dirty Politics book saga, a source of material for the show that proved both a nightmare to work with and a comedy gift for the writers.

Tate-Manning said though she enjoyed working on the shows, it could be hard work. Those involved did it for the love of theatre and satire.

“It’s really hard to get funding for political shows,” she said.

“We feel it’s important to do though. As artists it’s the only power you have.”

Those attending the show won’t feel lectured to, though. It’s all about having a laugh, Tate- Manning said.

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– The Wellingtonian


Disney deviates from script

It’s a fully fledged play about an unproduced screenplay and it’s heading from New York to Circa.

A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney opens at Circa this week for the play’s second worldwide run.

But getting it off the ground was tricky.

Co-director Danny Mulheron first saw the play performed off- Broadway and wondered what to think of it.

Circa’s publicist struggled to think of a pithy slogan to promote it, with the title being such a mouthful. Veteran actor David McPhail considered rejecting the lead role, wondering whether he could remember his lines.

The play had disjointed dialogue, Mulheron said. Quick quips followed by quicker retorts. Characters. Finishing. Each. Other’s. Sentences.

But Mulheron pitched it, Circa agreed to run it and, to Mulheron’s delight, McPhail signed on as Walt Disney.

“It’s the role of his career,” Mulheron said.

Starring alongside McPhail are Wellington actors Jessica Robinson, Richard Falkner and Nick Blake.

Falkner said the play was about a giant, a man who “almost reshaped the American dream”.

In the play, Disney and his family discuss a screenplay he has written about his life and legacy.

It’s a play about a man who fancied himself a colossus bestride a narrow world, an empire builder always in control.

Mulheron said playwright Lucas Hnath saw parallels between Disney and King Cnut or Shakespeare’s King Lear.

“What he’s done is create an imaginary world with Walt Disney writing a script about what he wants to be remembered for,” Mulheron said. “What it cost him is what this is all about.”

In the play things never quite go to plan for Disney, who becomes increasingly frustrated as his onstage brother, daughter and son-in-law deviate from the script he has prepared.

McPhail said when Mulheron tracked him down and asked him to join the cast he had his doubts.

“I thought, ‘This was ridiculous’.”

McPhail said his character, though charming, was like a big child in a sandpit throwing his toys when others disagreed with his vision.

Jessica Robinson, who plays Disney’s daughter onstage, said McPhail was utterly charming in character.

“Even when he’s horrible you just want to hug him,” she said.

Asked whether the play would address the persistent urban legend about Disney being cryogenically frozen, Mulheron responded with a smirk.

“You can make your own mind up about that.” A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney, Circa Theatre, corner of Cable and Taranaki streets, August 30 till September 27, more information from circa.co.nz or the box office.

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– The Wellingtonian


MKR leads battle of the reality TV shows

My Kitchen Rules is emerging the winning recipe in the battle for local reality TV ratings.

Figures from television website Throng showed the Kiwi version of the Australian cooking show attracted 363,920 viewers last night.

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This was up from 339,590 the night before. The TV One series premiered on Sunday night to an audience of 375,010, the figures showed.

Meanwhile over on TV3 The Block received a disappointing 249,170 viewers last night.

According to Throng, this was an all-time low, and only the second time the home renovation show has dropped below 300,000.

The Block fared slightly better on Tuesday night, with an audience of 326,590.

On TV2 on Tuesday night, 267,800 tuned in to watch The Amazing Race: Australia vs New Zealand.

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– Stuff


Did Tony Soprano die? Here’s the answer

After staying quiet through years of debate,


Surprise: Hello Kitty is not a cat

Her expressionless mug has been featured on countless toys, not to mention