Thursday, November 01, 2007


PRIOR to and during her tempestuous relationship Heather Mills-McCartney (seen in the photo left with Sir Paul) often danced with the devil - usually in the form of a journalist. But as they danced the lady should have noticed that her partner had a camera in one hand and a pen and paper in the other.

Because there is always a 'copy' to file… which is why you can never completely trust Satan.

Now Lady Maccabeth claims there is a hate campaign being waged against her by the tabloids. True… few people like or trust her. Her outburst on GMTV yesterday drew further criticism from detractors who claim to have witnessed grief... but through a veil of 'crocodile tears'. [For further postings on crocodile tears see “Soham: Insincere grief”.]

It is certainly true that the mocking of the loss of one of her limbs ranks amongst the vilest media baiting in print... Remember here is a very attractive woman who - against all the odds - fought back from a horrifying and debilitating injury and walked taller and prouder on one leg than most people do on two.

In addition, here is the ‘lady’ who was extremely successful at highlighting the dangers of landmines. Who brought forth public awareness of various charities. Who down the years has revealed a dedication to challenging the war machine that was not just a scene-stealing celebrity moment (a one off) but a life’s calling. It is safe to say that she is not going to simply hobble away (no cruelty intended).

Heather Mills first met her future husband Sir Paul McCartney when she was a guest speaker at a charity event during which she spoke passionately and effectively. As a result, and in defiance of her critics, she bagged a national monument into the bargain. [The Beatles used to hang out in my aunties caff before they made it… but that’s another story.]

It was one of my aunts who, during an epileptic fit, collapsed and stumbled into a fire. By the time she was pulled out it was too late... her leg had to be amputated. This event changed her life. Always a happy-go-lucky woman she became withdrawn… Her husband ran off with another woman leaving her with three kids. In Liverpool, during the 60s, ridicule was no different - then or now it seems - and ‘Pegleg!’ was often screamed by way of what some people presumably thought was a joke – just like Heather.

Maybe it wasn't so much a joke but what they or she perceived as a weakness, but my auntie became isolated. Most of the time following her accident she spent lying on a sofa in the lounge in front of the telly or reading a book. She was eventually found on the sofa, life cut tragically short.

Did she take an overdose having been driven to 'the verge' or did she simply vomit and choke during another epileptic spell?

We shall never know... we just knew the pain was over

Anyway, it no longer matters. Life, in spite of a missing limbs, moves on… Which brings us back to Heather…

Heather lifted herself up from that sofa... She added a famous surname to her own… She refused absolutely to allow others to ‘steal’ her dignity and prior to her meeting and during her time with Sir Paul she displayed an incredible strength of will. Sadly however it was not just this that was absent in her GMTV ‘fight back’ yesterday and the criticism now directed at her (by a few people) is that she produced crocodile tears during the interview.

The above is something I feel able to comment on. I spent fourteen years working for one of the most prolific casting agencies in the movie business. Davis-Zimmerman Casting saw an enormous amount of talent pass through the revolving door of fame. Whilst many did not see the Hollywood sun set over their Spotlight page - the actors’ equivalent of Wall-Mart - a few did go on to become stars.

However, be that as it may, what I eventually discovered during this time is that insincerity is easily highlighted on the screen - mostly videotaped ‘auditions’ [which I still have locked away in my loft. So watch out Jude, Elizabeth, Uma, Hugh, Daniel etc!]And one thing is certain... insincerity on camera need not in itself suggest that a person is being deceitful or untrue to their emotions.

‘What’s my motivation?’ Dustin Hoffman once asked director John Schlesinger. ‘What were paying you, darling!’ came the riposte. [Actually, judging from the performances the majority of actors are now turning in this may be an industry standard.]

In fact, during my time in casting I quickly learnt that the ability to turn on the 'water taps' must rank amongst the most difficult and unnecessary manifestations of sadness/anger/hurt that an actor (unfairly usually women) need to display. [Note the emphasis.]

An observation that should come with the caveat: in the time allowed. Because no five-minute audition ever produced an Oscar. And the greatest difficulty for some actors to get their swollen heads around was that emotion does not come out of a vacuum, but builds. [An accomplished actor does it in stages.]

‘Build! Build! Build!’ Some got it. Many didn’t. And by no means was it only the most successful that ever did.

An actor doesn't just burst into tears s/he builds towards the moment. Often trying not to cry is more effective than trying. Grief builds. It shows in the body, the voice, the eyes, the voice, back to the eyes etc. But mostly it shows in the broken sentence of an unscripted speech.

NOW IS A GOOD TIME TO CRY THE BAD ACTOR SAYS. Of course... it never is... because emotion builds.

However yesterday on GMTV the emotion did not build. It started at the bottom and quickly jumped to the top. It was, as my ex and dear departed boss Noel Davis might say - himself a former accomplished actor- ‘More effing ham than Sainsbury’s!’ He might also have added, ‘She’s a regular See You Next Tuesday that one!’

But, like the part, Lady Maccabeth would not have got that either.

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