TODAY is April 25, an important date in our military history, since it marks
the start of the Battle of Kokoda Trail in PNG in 1942. Today is also a big date
in the history of peace, with delegates from 45 nations meeting in San
Francisco in 1945 to create the United Nations. Birthday wishes to author Morris
West (born 1916), singer Ella Fitzgerald (1918) and Roundhead Oliver Cromwell
ON THIS day in 1935, a shark captured at Coogee disgorged the arm of missing
ex-boxer James Smith. The discovery led to the arrest of Patrick Brady, who was
later acquitted after his lawyers argued that Smith was not proved to be dead.
THE Darling Harbour Harbourside Amphitheatre will host a revival "Rat Pack"
act - Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli - from 1 pm to 4 pm.
IF YOU want the definitive open-market guide to who's hot in showbiz, look no
further than the catalogue of Autographed Collectibles, an American mail-order
company selling autographs of your favourite stars. Master of the universe is
the typographical error formerly known as Prince ($US400), followed by Paul
McCartney and Bob Dylan (both $350) and Frank Zappa and Michael Jackson ($295).
Kurt Cobain seems a bargain at $250.
Actors are less prized than music stars, with Julia Roberts topping the list
at $195. Harrison Ford and Jodie Foster bring in $150 each, Michelle Pfeiffer
and River Phoenix $125. Australians Mel Gibson ($75, same as Sylvester Stallone
and Sharon Stone) and Nicole Kidman ($50, like Jamie Lee Curtis, Liam Neeson and
Meryl Streep) are fairly cheap, but still more expensive than John Travolta
($30) and Quentin Tarantino ($35).
Models and TV stars are generally the cheapest, perhaps because they sign
their names more promiscuously. Top model is Cindy Crawford ($75), while Elle
Macpherson scrapes up only $45. The highest-priced TV star is Shannen Doherty
($75), while Jerry Seinfeld musters a mere $45, same as David Letterman.
Reassuringly, the autographs come to you with "a 30-day money-back guarantee and
certificate of authenticity". We remain baffled as to why anyone would want the
autograph of a star they had never met. Surely it has the same significance as
a souvenir from a place you've never visited.
PESSIMISM LINKED TO EARLY DEATH
THINGS THAT MATTER
THE headline above is designed to make you think twice before reading this
report. If you're the kind of person who reacts by saying "I knew it", then go
no further, because this will only aggravate your condition. If you're the kind
of person who says "What nonsense - I've been pessimistic all my life and I'm
still here", then you're not pessimistic at all, and can read on with
The headline appeared in the newspaper USA Today, attached to an account of
some new research presented to a meeting of the Society of Behavioural Medicine
in San Diego, USA, last week. Dr Susan Everson of the Human Behavioural
Laboratory of Berkeley, California, revealed that a six-year study of 2,428 men
in their 40s had shown that those who felt hopeless about the future and their
chances of attaining goals were far more likely to die early than equally
healthy but more hopeful men. The men were examined physically and mentally, and
the study balanced out risk factors such as blood pressure, weight and smoking.
After six years, the men who had been rated as pessimistic were twice as likely
to be dead as the men rated optimistic. The most pessimistic had double the
risk of heart attack, and a much higher death rate due to accidents and
Pretty alarming, eh? Unless you're an optimist. But we have left out one
fact: the study was done in Finland. You have to wonder how the researchers
managed to find any men who were not pessimistic. This column has not been to
Finland personally, but we have been deeply moved by the Monty Python song:
Finland, Finland, Finland. The country where I want to be. Pony trekking or
camping. Or just watching TV. You're so close to Russia, So far from Japan,
Quite a long way from Cairo, Lots of miles from Vietnam. Finland, Finland,
Finland. The country where I quite want to be. Eating breakfast or dinner, Or
snack lunch in the hall. Finland, Finland, Finland. Finland has it all. You're
so sadly neglected, And often ignored. A poor second to Belgium, When going
abroad. Your mountains so lofty. Your treetops so tall. Finland, Finland,
Finland. Finland has it all.
But is pessimism confined to Finland? New Scientist magazine reports on a
study by the World Health Organisation, comparing depression across the world.
The WHO says doctors in many countries often fail to diagnose depression, and
even when they do, they often give the wrong treatment. The WHO's researchers
studied 25,000 patients in 14 countries who went to doctors complaining about
physical problems. They filled in questionnaires about psychological problems
such as loss of sleep, strain, unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness.
Generally, people around the world were not that different, though they used
different terminologies. What was described as "burnout" in the US seemed to be
the same as "kidney weakness" in China, jibyo(chronic illness) in Japan and
"postviral fatigue" in Europe. Depression seems to be more common in Santiago,
Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Manchester, and less common in Verona, Ibadan,
Nagasaki and Shanghai. Sadly, Sydney did not feature in the research. But don't
worry about it.
THE TRIBAL MIND
REMEMBER that fabulous night, back in 1987, when Kylie took Jason's hand and
2 million Neighbours fans sighed? The producers remember it too. Our ratings
analyst, Robin Oliver, explains last week's deja vu ...
There is nothing like a soapie wedding to haul in the viewers - and keep them
there once the ceremony is over. The recent bonding between Shane and Angel
(aka Dieter Brummer and Melissa George) has done everything their matchmakers at
Seven could have wished. Ranking 21 in Sydney last week with 447,000 viewers,
Home and Away was some distance from past glories, but knocked off Sale of the
Century for the first time in a while, pushing its old foe into 27th place with
Seven's Lois & Clark soared to the top with an Easter Monday score of 569,300
viewers, nice timing with Superman Dean Cain swishing into town for his
indoctrination into Logie rites next Friday night. Former favourite Roseanne is
looking terribly tired in repeats (232,200/88th). Best for the ABC was again The
Bill (377,300 viewers/42nd).
Sunday night saw 60 Minutes (452,800 viewers) dumped on by Home Improvement
(581,500) and The World's Greatest TV Commercials (544,000, peak 567,000). The
Sunday movie prize went to Whoopi Goldberg's Sister Act (669,000 viewers), with
Falling Down falling behind at 489,000 and Melrose Place back at 369,000.
IT USED to be as simple as lighting a match for actors in plays to smoke on
stage, but no longer. The stage direction that one of the characters should
smoke in Terry Johnson's play Dead Funny, playing at the Wharf Theatre, has
required the NSW Minister for Health, Andrew Refshauge, to put out a special
issue of the Government Gazette approving an exemption to the Tobacco
Advertising Prohibition Act, whereby the Sydney Theatre Company and its cast,
management and staff are free to light up from April 22 to June 17. The news
will not be dead funny to reader Garth Holmes, who says Steve Martin's play
Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Belvoir Street "was largely ruined by most of the
characters in the play smoking (cigars, pipes and cigarettes) throughout the
performance ... My wife and I both suffered severe headaches and bronchial
distress ... " Holmes was told that his complaint was the first of its kind in
more than a million Belvoir patrons. Yet he wonders "if we are really so alone
in this hazy theatrical experience?"
BRITAIN has proclaimed itself a Gump-free zone, with the British Academy of
Film and Television Arts failing to give Forrest Gump a single BAFTA award. Best
film was Four Weddings and a Funeral, which also won best actor (Hugh Grant),
supporting actress (Kristen Scott Thomas), director (Mike Newell) and the
publicly-voted most popular film. Accepting his prize, Grant did what Tom Hanks
would never have considered doing, which was attribute Four Weddings' success to
a bit of "national flagwaving". Apologising to fellow nominee John Travolta
(Pulp Fiction), Grant said: "Had Pulp Fiction been set in the heart of the
Sussex countryside, things would be different now." Writer Richard Curtis put
Four Weddings' win down to a different source: "They said my lucky underpants
wouldn't work, but they did." The Americans weren't completely shut out. Pulp
Fiction won two awards - best supporting actor (Samuel L. Jackson) and best
original screenplay (Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary). Susan Sarandon won best
actress for her role in The Client.
A REPORT released yesterday stating that one third of British 15- and
16-year-olds had smoked cannabis in the past year (three times more than in
1991) will be welcomed by the organisers of this weekend's Nimbin "Let It Grow"
Mardi Grass. The main prize will be the Mardi Grass Growers' Cup, awarded to the
region's superior horticulturalist. Entrants will be asked "to submit five
grams of their season's best under an original strain name, e.g. Purple
Paradise, Mullum Meekness", says a missive from the Hemp Embassy (actually a
phone booth outside the Nimbin Museum on the hamlet's main street). "Judging
will be done by a team of certified, credentialled judges. A smoke-off between
the three highest-scoring strains will be held by a celebrity judge on the May
Day Monday," says the press release, signed by one Bob Hopkins, who was last
heard of standing for the State seat of Lismore under the name of Prohibition
End. Spectators at the smoke-off beware: we understand the Minister for Health
has not gazetted an exemption for the performance.
WHAT'S HOT: HOME AND AWAY (7) 447,000 viewers Ranked 21.
WHAT's NOT: ROSEANNE (10) 232,200 viewers Ranked 88
TOP 12 SHOWS Week 11 (April 16-April 22)
1. Lois and Clarke (7)
2. National Nine News Sunday (9)
3. Due South Sunday (7)
4. Just Kidding (9)
5. National Nine News Saturday (9)
6. ER (9)
7. Rugby League Friday (9)
8. National Nine News Weekdays (9)
9. Wildlife With Olivia Newton John (9)
10. Funniest Home Video (9)
11. Burke's Backyard (9)
12. Married with Children (9)
Sydney Audience Share 9 (31.3), 7 (28.2), 10 (21.5), 2 (15.7), SBS (3.3)