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Hugh Jackman

Jay-Z headlining the Global Citizen Festival was always going to be a major drawcard. So too, the prospect of seeing No Doubt together again on stage, joined for a track by Sting. Adding Carrie Underwood, The Roots and Tiesto to the mix made Saturday’s line-up appealing enough to take on the Global Poverty Project’s initiatives to win tickets to their concert in Central Park. Beyond, of course, the aim itself of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

It made sense that Jay would have started his set with Empire State of Mind – as he did, after opening with a mash of Gil Scott-Heron’s NY You’re Bringing Me Down,  Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind, and Sinatra’s New York, New York.  But I didn’t expect just how magnificent the sound of 60 000 people singing along, hands up in the air, would be – an anthem for the Big Apple, performed live in the heart of the city that birthed its creator. A moment too big for even the fanciest of phone cameras to capture. So too, was Sting roping in No Doubt for Message in a Bottle, his voice harmonizing with Gwen Stefani’s, as that familiar bass-line reverberated through the trees, and the sliver of golden moon grew brighter against the backdrop of the NYC skyline. Ridiculously perfect.

I’d always hoped to see No Doubt perform live. Even before their wedded union, Gwen and hubby Gavin Rossdale, with his band Bush, together helped get me through many moments of teenage angst. I remember watching videos of Stefani jumping around the stage, sweat glistening from her perfectly-sculpted abs. Twenty years later, she wasn’t rolling around on the stage but the band still energetically spun through their back catalogue, from opener Hella Good to prize possession Don’t Speak and the ska-fuelled Hey Baby. Stephen Bradley on trumpet and keys helped keep that vibe lifted, literally jumping up and down all through the set.

When Jay took over the reigns, the hood of a Global Citizen Festival sweatshirt framing his face, he bounded through his hits, one after the other, Izzo (H.O.V.A), Big Pimpin’, I Just Wanna Love U, Tom Ford, in between thanking the crowd for coming out for “a beautiful cause.”

“If you believe in this movement, make some noiiiise,” he urged.

And the crowd obliged.

Jay’s was the only set that wasn’t interspersed with messages from Global Poverty Project ambassadors, Elmo or Hugh Jackman (oh, how we love Hugh) explaining the various problems exacerbating world poverty right now and what is being done to help, or the challenges being issued to world leaders and, in many cases, the positive responses issued to these. In between The Roots, fun. and Carrie Underwood, who all performed to fans who’d filled the park, were snippets of info and stats to go along with that. It helped the medicine, so to speak, go down a lot easier than the first year a concert was held when so many of the messages were dragged down by being too long and overwhelming.

Jay was impressing just fine, but then he pulled out the Bey card, and his wife came out to perform Holy Grail, singing, as she did on their On The Run tour together, the part of Justin Timberlake. If Central Park had a roof, it would have been blown off, such was the excitement at Beyonce’s arrival on stage. Together, they ended the show, once again, how they ended their tour, with Young Forever and images of their life together playing onscreen behind them. It was another one of those ridiculously perfect moments, when those 60 000 voices sang the Alphaville chorus, cellphones – and one or two lone lighters – illuminating the night sky.

Like, I said, ridiculously perfect.

What’s not perfect, as we know, is the state of the world right now. Many of the problems the Global Citizen Festival highlighted seem insurmountable, like the fact that 2.5 billion people in the world still don’t have access to proper toilets. But Saturday’s concert and the actions its presenters – from actress Olivia Wilde to Madiba’s grandson Ndaba Mandela – asked its audience to perform, made those problems feel a little less so. It’s like, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Our world needs solar power and wind power, but I believe in an even stronger source of energy – people power.” After this year’s Global Citizen Festival, I’m a believer too.


* NY Fashion Week is in the home stretch but the sisters of Rodarte made us squeal in delight with these Star Wars themed dresses, playing on their love of sci-fi.

* Sing ahhhhh! Hugh Jackman will be back hosting the Tony Awards this year – his fourth time. Naturally the social-media-loving Oscar-winner used Instagram to make the announcement.

* Shia LaBeouf has taken his performance art, or whatever it is he’s doing right now, to the next stage, holding bag-covered court in an LA gallery, akin to Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present. Only his is titled #I’mNotFamousAnymore. Perhaps if he didn’t have the bag on his head, we might believe he means it.

* Martin Scorsese may have garnered much critical acclaim over the years, but now, The Wolf of Wall Street has given him his highest grossing film ever. The film has cracked the $300 million mark – and counting.

* Broadway’s darling Idina Menzel will be performing at the Oscars – the hit song from the hit animated flick Frozen, Let It Go. This should help raise the profile of the woman who brought life to memorable characters from Rent and Wicked.

[Pic: MBFW]


Hello from deep inside the polar vortex, the North Pole’s late Christmas gift to the US. No really, you shouldn’t have…

* After a good ol’ safari, Hugh Jackman has gone back to work and has begun shooting his first day of Chappie, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s latest movie, in which he plays a mullet-brandishing character named Vincent.

* The NY Film Critics Circle handed out its prizes for the top films and performances of the past year on Monday night. It was meant to be a fairly breezy night for the previously-announced winners – among them Robert Redford (best actor), Cate Blanchett (best actress), American Hustle (best film), but when best director Steve McQueen went up to collect his award for 12 Years a Slave, one of the critics heckled him – very poor form, indeed.

* She’s the only woman to have won a Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, and in May this year, New Zealand director Jane Campion will head the jury that decides who’ll win the accolade this year.

* Queen Latifah‘s talk show has been renewed for a second season – a good sign the comedian and actress is fairing a lot better at the gig than her first attempt in the late 90s. In somewhat related news, SNL has added Sasheer Zamata to the cast of Saturday Night Live, making her the first African-American woman to join the team in six years.

* British singer Ellie Goulding – a favourite of Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton – will have you feeling all warm and disco-fuzzy with the video for her new song, Goodness Gracious.

Pic: @therealhughjackman

This is what Hugh Jackman’s face looks like when he’s told you something he shouldn’t have. I wish the camera on my side had been rolling so you could have seen the excitement on my face when I heard it.

At the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, Hugh told me he was going to be working with Neill Blomkamp on Chappie.
I gasped in excitement, and he went, ‘oops!’, and then checked his phone to see if he could go public with the news…

Now, after a press con at the Zurich Film Fest, it’s all a-go. Hugh is due to head to South Africa at the beginning of next year to film Chappie with Sharlto Copley, Die Antwoord and possibly Dev Patel. And I’m still gasping in excitement – but now, everyone can join me.

It’s, of course, not the first time the Aussie star has worked with a South African – as Gavin Hood and X-Men Origins: Wolverine attest. His Prisoners co-star Jake Gyllenhaal also worked with Gavin, on Rendition. So they don’t just have stellar performances in this new thriller in common. What does separate them, is that Hugh has met South Africa’s first democratically-elected president – whom he told me was an inspiration in his Oscar-nominated performance of Les Miserables‘ Jean Valjean.

Prisoners comes out in South Africa October 13, while Chappie is due out around March next year.  

hugh jackman

The picture above was the face Hugh Jackman made when he found out he could start drinking water again. The now Golden-Globe-winning star notched up his first Oscar nomination for playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, which required him to build up (“but not like I’d been going to the gym”) and lose weight (“so that my friends wouldn’t recognize me”). To get the gauntness in his opening scene, he went so far as to not drink any liquids for 36 hours. Kids, do not try this at home.

It was all in line with playing what he says was the role of a lifetime. One, he told me, he prepared for, by tapping into Nelson Mandela’s experience. He does acknowledge the former president’s experiences were very much real, unlike that of the fictional legend of literature, but the part about emerging from prison to become a revered leader with no use for revenge certainly makes sense.

Playing Fantine in Les Misérables was also the dream role for Anne Hathaway – and a kind of cool full circle for the 30-year old actress. It was the last role her mom played before giving up acting to take care of her children full-time.

As for Russell Crowe, well, he says being in Les Mis was a purely selfish endeavour. Even though he’s an Oscar-winner, he still had to audition – no less after walking in the rain. That’s how much he wanted the role. He explains how that came to be:

And here, Hugh and Anne, talk more about making Les Miserables:

Les Misérables opens in South Africa today.