Dick Cheney 'levied a lot of damage', says Vice director

Vice writer and director Adam McKay clearly likes controversy.

His latest film has been described as the most divisive out this season.

This unconventional political biopic paints former US vice-president Dick Cheney as a megalomaniac who puts his own political agenda above virtually everything else.

McKay is not averse to drawing comparisons with the current administration, telling Sky News that in terms of political manoeuvring, his subject was far more shrewd than Donald Trump.

“Cheney was quite brilliant in what he did and he definitely loosened the screws on democracy and he was definitely smart enough to get in there and work the system,” he says.

“The current guy who’s president doesn’t have that kind of bureaucratic knowledge, doesn’t really understand government.

“I jokingly call Dick Cheney the safe-cracker – he’s the one who got the diamonds out and then the current president is the one who came in and started walking around the empty office, trashing the office and eating a sandwich.”

Image: Adam McKay (centre) with Vice stars Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams, Adam McKay, Christian Bale and Steve Carell

McKay says Mr Trump is “dispiriting and upsetting because he doesn’t care about anything”, but Cheney “levied a lot of damage; we invaded a country, we started torturing – there’s some pretty major stuff, the world economy collapsed on his watch”.

The film stars Christian Bale as Cheney and Amy Adams as his wife Lynne, and has already won a clutch of awards – including best actor for Bale at the Golden Globes.

However, it has certainly not been embraced by all, with reports Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner walked out of a screening.

This is something McKay seems to relish.

“I think a lot of the Republicans wanted to pretend that the Bush-Cheney years never happened, so some were very unhappy that this movie came out.

“As far as Ivanka and Jared walking out, that is the least surprising thing I’ve ever heard and I’m amazed they bought a ticket.

“I think they meant to buy a ticket for Mule and got Vice,” he says, referencing the latest movie from Clint Eastwood, based on the true story of a Second World War veteran in his 80s who became a drug courier.

“They knew it was about some cranky old white guy and couldn’t figure out which.”

McKay, who had huge success in 2015 with The Big Short, which looked at the financial crisis of 2007-2008, also hinted at making another movie about the “crazy political system in the United States”.

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He says both Vice and The Big Short are part of his ‘What the heck is going on?” trilogy, aiming to make audiences “unsettled, uncomfortable and surprised”.

:: Vice is released on 25 January

Cardi B for president? Rapper rips into Trump over shutdown

Rapper Cardi B has ripped into Donald Trump over his prolonged government shutdown, saying the US had become a “hellhole” and that she was “scared” for her country.

The 26-year-old – one of the world’s biggest music stars – posted a strongly-worded Instagram video after federal workers continued to work without pay.

The Money rapper called for people to “take action” with almost 800,000 federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay as the shutdown approaches four weeks.

Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – said: “It’s been a little bit over three weeks, Trump is now ordering – as in summonsing – federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid!

Image: The rapper called for people to ‘take action’

“Now, I don’t want to hear y’all motherf****** talking about, ‘oh, but Obama shut down the government for 17 days’ – yeah b****, for healthcare! So your grandma can check her blood pressure.”

The musician told her 39.7 million followers the shutdown was “crazy”.

“This s*** is really f****** serious, bro. This s*** is crazy. Like our country is in a hellhole right now, all for a f****** wall,” she said.

“We really need to take this serious, I feel like we need to take some action, I don’t know what type of action b**** because this is not what I do, but b**** I’m scared.

“This is crazy, and I really feel bad for these people that got to go to f****** work to not get motherf****** paid.”

College football champions Clemson Tigers receive fast food feast from the US president 1:50

Video: Trump serves up 1,000 burgers during shutdown

Shortly after uploading the video, numerous fans posted under the hashtag #CardiB2020 on Twitter calling for her to run for president at the next election.

Cardi B’s intervention comes as Mr Trump was urged to delay his State of the Union address if the shutdown was not resolved.

Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives speaker, said the speech – scheduled for 29 January – would place an undue burden on the departments responsible for security if the government did not reopen this week.

As an alternative, she suggested that his address should be delivered in writing instead.

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The shutdown has become the longest in US history and was brought into effect following a stalemate with Democrats over funding for the president’s plans for a US-Mexico border wall.

He claims the wall will act as a deterrent to those entering the US illegally, putting an end to human trafficking and other crimes.

Actress Carol Channing, star of Hello Dolly! musical, dies

Actress Carol Channing, who played the role of Dolly Levi in the musical Hello, Dolly! more than 5,000 times, has died aged 97.

The Broadway star died of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, her publicist B. Harlan Boll said.

The singer, dancer and comedian had twice suffered strokes in the last year, Mr Boll added.

Image: Channing, seen performing in Los Angeles in 2004

Born in 1921 in Seattle, Carol Channing decided she wanted to become an entertainer at the age of seven and, encouraged by her father, she studied drama and dance at college.

A positive review of her role in a revue show in New York convinced her to ditch education in favour of full-time performing.

Carol Channing with Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue and Barbara Windsor in 1970

Image: Carol Channing with (L-R) Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue and Barbara Windsor in 1970

After moving to Los Angeles, she struggled for several years before landing the role of Marge Champion in another revue, Lend An Ear.

The show was a hit in LA and transferred to New York, where she later starred in the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

She “hurls across the footlights in broad strokes of pantomime and bold, certain, exquisitely comical gestures,” one reviewer wrote.

Now an established stage star, she began playing scheming matchmaker Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!, the enormously popular musical whose eponymous leading song became her signature tune.

It made her name worldwide and she became something of a national treasure thanks to her personal warmth and enthusiasm and her iconic, wide smile.

She last performed with the show in 1996, when she was in her 70s and earned $5m (£3.9m) from one national tour.

She saw Dolly Levi as “a role as deep as Lady Macbeth,” but added that “the essence of her character was her unquenchable thirst for life”.

It was a description that also fit her, which she put down to her lifelong faith in Christian Science.

After two early marriages which ended in divorce, in 1956 she wed television producer Charles Lowe, who adopted Channing’s son and supervised every aspect of her business affairs and appearances.

After 41 years of marriage, she sued for divorce in 1998, alleging that he misused her funds and humiliated her in public.

She said they only had sex twice in four decades.

Channing remarried in 2003 to Harry Kullijian, her childhood sweetheart from 70 years before. He died in 2011.

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Many tributes were posted on Twitter, with the League of Professional Theatre Women saying Channing “was a gift of inspiration to so many.”

Fans who saw her work also took to social media, calling her a “firecracker” and saying she was “matchmaking for the angels now.”

Teen girl with 'unreal' voice to star in Spielberg's West Side Story

A school student has reportedly seen off competition from more than 30,000 hopefuls to land a starring role in Steven Spielberg’s film remake of West Side Story.

Teenager Rachel Zegler, from New Jersey, will play Maria alongside The Fault In Our Stars and Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort’s Tony, according to US entertainment site Deadline.

The 17-year-old posted on Instagram to announce the news, saying she had previously played the character on stage.

“When i played maria on stage a few summers ago, i never could have imagined that i’d be taking on the role again in steven spielberg’s ‘west side story’,” she wrote.

Her post continued: “As a colombian-american woman growing up in this day and age, strong roles like maria are so important. to be able to bring that role to life- a role that means so much to the hispanic community- is so humbling. i hope you’re all as excited as i am.” (sic).

Broadway veterans Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez are also set to star, Deadline reports, while Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1961 film adaptation of the story, will return for Spielberg’s version.

The role of Maria was originally played by Hollywood star Natalie Wood.

Actress Lily Collins was among those to congratulate Zegler, reposting on Twitter a video of the teenager singing Shallow, from the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper film A Star Is Born.

In her post, Collins said: “Couldn’t have found a better Maria for West Side Story!! Your voice is unreal… Congrats and can’t wait to see it. Get ready girl!”

Scrubs star Zach Braff also showed his support, saying: “Your voice is insane. Now sing all the songs. Congrats on being chosen by Mr. Spielberg.”

Zegler has been posting her covers of her favourite songs on YouTube for the past few years, amassing more than 84,000 subscribers.

Her version of Shallow went viral after she posted it in November, with more than 430,000 views so far.

Check out some of her most recent covers…

Kim Kardashian expecting fourth child via surrogate

Kim Kardashian West has confirmed rumours she is going to have a fourth child, and revealed it will be a boy.

The reality TV star and her rapper husband Kanye West will have the baby via a surrogate mother, as they did with their third child Chicago last year.

After much speculation, Kardashian West confirmed the news during an appearance with sisters Kourtney and Khloe on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.

“Are you working on another child?” Cohen asked, to which she replied: “We are.”

The baby will arrive “sometime soon”, she said.

In response to her sisters, who were shocked to see the 38-year-old announcing news, she said there was no point keeping it secret as the news is already “out there”.

“I got drunk at our Christmas Eve party and I told some people,” she said. “I can’t remember who I told, because I never get drunk.”

Kardashian West and West, 41, are already parents to daughter North, five, and three-year-old son Saint, as well as Chicago.

Health complications during pregnancy with her first two babies led to the decision to use a surrogate for her younger children.

Selena Gomez back on social media with message for fans

Selena Gomez has returned to social media after a four-month absence to wish her followers a happy new year.

The 26-year-old had not posted on her Instagram account since the end of September, when she announced she was taking a social media break and reminded fans not to post negative comments.

Gomez, a singer and actress, posted a series of black and white portraits on Monday along with a caption thanking her 144 million followers for their “love and support”.

She wrote: “It’s been awhile since you have heard from me, but I wanted to wish everyone a happy new year and to thank you for your love and support.

“Last year was definitely a year of self-reflection, challenges and growth.

“It’s always those challenges which show you who you are and what you are capable of overcoming.

“Trust me, it’s not easy, but I am proud of the person I am becoming and look forward to the year ahead.

“Love you all.”

Image: Selena Gomez (c) was pictured with friends just before Christmas. Pic: Instagram/Bailee Madison

Gomez was seen on social media just before Christmas, in a photo with two friends during a snow tubing trip to Big Bear Lake ski resort in Southern California.

In October she began treatment in New York City for anxiety and depression and the photo, posted by both of her friends on their accounts, was one of the first times she had been seen in public since then.

She suffers from the autoimmune disease lupus which can trigger anxiety and depression, and had initially been in hospital for a low white blood count.

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In 2017 she had a kidney transplant due to her condition but has reportedly been in hospital twice since then due to complications.

She dated wayward pop singer Justin Bieber on and off between 2010 and 2017 but he married model Hailey Baldwin late last year.

Margot Robbie: Don't presume I'm having a baby

Margot Robbie has said she is “so angry” about being asked when she is going to have babies after getting married.

The Australian actress, 28, drew parallels with her character Elizabeth I in the new Mary Queen of Scots film.

Discussing the pressure on the monarch to produce an heir, she told Radio Times magazine: “It made me really angry; how dare some old guy dictate what I can and can’t do when it comes to motherhood or my own body?

“Unfortunately, it’s a conversation we’re still having.

“I got married (to film-maker Tom Ackerley, in 2016), and the first question in almost every interview is ‘Babies? When are you having one?’

Image: (L-R) Director Josie Rourke, Saorise Ronan and Margot Robbie attend the London premiere of Mary Queen of Scots

“I’m so angry that there’s this social contract. You’re married, now have a baby. Don’t presume. I’ll do what I’m going to do.”

Robbie, who made her Hollywood breakthrough in the Wolf of Wall Street, married Ackerley in a private ceremony in Byron Bay in December 2016.

In the interview, she revealed that frustration over the lack of strong female roles had led her to set up her own production company.

“I wasn’t seeing many scripts where I wanted to play the female role – I always wanted to play the male role. The female roles are always a catalyst for the male story, and that’s unsatisfying,” she said.

Margot Robbie will be the first person to play Barbie in a live-action film

Image: Robbie will be the first person to play Barbie in a live-action film

“So I was like ‘Well, we’ll start making our own films, because we can’t just sit around forever and wait for them to come along’.”

The I, Tonya star, who will play Barbie in an upcoming film, said she is learning more about history since setting up the production company.

“We’re finding these projects and I’m learning all these things. It’s like ‘So why is this not in the history books?’

“The things women did in the Second World War were incredible.”

Robbie also expressed how much she enjoyed working with a female director, Josie Rourke, on Mary Queen Of Scots.

“A character who sacrificed certain things in their life in order to have a certain career is interesting to explore with another woman who has an incredible career.

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“‘What do you think you gave up in order to be here?’ is a conversation I couldn’t have really had with a male director,” she said.

The full interview is in this week’s Radio Times.

Kele Okereke's modern love story with a Brexit backdrop

Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke says he has taken aspects of his own personal experiences for inspiration for his new musical, Leave To Remain.

A “modern love story”, it follows a young gay couple who are facing an uncertain future when a visa comes into question and, as the title suggests, is set amid the chaos of Brexit.

The singer-songwriter says it is not autobiographical “in the traditional sense” but that he has drawn on lots of different stories to tell the tale.

“I think all writing is in part autobiographical,” he tells Sky News. “It’s not an autobiography in the traditional sense, but there are aspects of the characters that are drawn from personal experiences, aspects from friends and people we’ve spoken to. And actors bring their own experiences as well.

“I feel like it’s an amalgamation of lots of different things. That’s the art of good storytelling – taking things from different places.”

Okereke, who has written the show with co-writer Matt Jones, says he had the initial idea for the story around eight years ago.

It was first mooted as a TV show, but eventually the decision was made to turn it into a musical.

While the title obviously suggests Brexit, the idea came way before the referendum result in 2016. As the UK voted Leave and the drama over a deal rumbled on, and on, it was decided that themes around the UK leaving the EU fitted the musical’s storyline.

“With the title, we don’t want to confuse people,” Okereke says. “Brexit is a backdrop to the drama but it was a relatively recent addition to the story.

“As people who come to see the show will see, it’s a story about a gay marriage and the ramifications that the resulting new union has on people’s families.

“One of the characters is an immigrant and that’s what precedes the proposal. It’s more about who we decide to give residency to in our lives, if that makes sense.

“[Brexit] seemed like a prescient backdrop given that this story is about two lovers from different places. It seems like so much of what is happening with Brexit seems to be dividing people.

“So much of the Brexit discourse seems to be about identity – well, that’s what I’m reading it to be about. It’s nice to be working on something which is about two people coming together in love.”

Image: Co-writer Matt Jones, Okereke, and choreographer Robby Graham. Photo: David Tett

Leave To Remain is Okereke’s first foray into musical theatre, and debuts in London today.

“It’s going good,” he says. “I’ve never been in this environment before and I think some people are stressed because there’s a lot to do in a short space of time. But everyone says that’s standard. I’m taking their word for it.

“It’s amazing watching it all come together and seeing how the idea has turned into something real.”

The main characters are Obi, who is West African, played by Tyrone Huntley, and Alex, who is white American, and played by Billy Cullum.

Okereke said he wanted to create a fusion of sounds when writing the music.

“It was important to bring in a West African style together with more traditional western club kind of music. There were two different worlds – that was something I knew from the get-go I wanted to represent.”

Bloc Party's Kele Okereke (right) in rehearsals for Leave To Remain musical

Image: Leave To Remain is on at the Lyric Hammersmith

Okereke says he watched as many musicals as he could for research, from Hamilton to Wicked – although admits he is not generally a fan of musical theatre.

“Personally I’m not a big fan, no, so it was a challenge for me – how could I make music that I would want to go and see? Music that wasn’t cliched or trite. Something that made sense to me.

“I tried to see as many different musicals as possible. I felt it was important to try and understand the form; it wasn’t so much about the music but trying to understand how it works, the technicalities.

“I had to go back and rework songs for the stage. I realised it needed to be bigger. Writing for the stage is very different to writing for a record.”

Speaking of which, Okereke has also just finished making his next solo record, a project he is “very excited about”, due to be released next year. Bloc Party are also due to start work on their sixth album “in a few months’ time, so it’s going to be a busy year”, he says.

It all comes after a relatively quiet period for the singer, who now has a two-year-old daughter, Savannah, who was born via a surrogate.

While being a gay parent is not unusual in 2019, Okereke’s is something of his own modern love story.

“It’s just amazing watching the world through somebody else’s eyes, who’s never seen it,” he says, “Every day she’s expressing something different. I feel very thankful that for the most part I’ve been at home in these formative years and seeing her first words and steps.

“I made a conscious decision not to travel so much. It is a balancing act. I have put out a record and toured and you have to find the time. We’re lucky there are two of us.”

Okereke says becoming a father has changed his mindset, but he feels that every new thing he has written has “always come from a different place”.

“It’s like this musical, it was new terrain for me. The last album I did was new territory as well.

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“I feel like I really like putting myself in situations where I don’t know so much about what I’m supposed to be doing.”

:: Leave To Remain is running at the Lyric Hammersmith, with the soundtrack released on 24 January.

True Detective returns with macabre murder case

Award-winning drama True Detective is back on our screens with its long-awaited third series.

Starring recent Golden Globe winner Mahershala Ali alongside Stephen Dorff and Carmen Ejogo, the first two episodes were aired in the early hours as they debuted in the US, but will be watched by most UK fans on Monday night.

This time round, the story focuses on a child murder case, and plays out over the course of 35 years.

The first series of the HBO drama, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and set in Louisiana, was a huge hit with critics and fans when it launched in 2014.

The show has been nominated for a total of 13 Emmys, winning five.

Image: The series is set in the Arkansas Ozarks. Pic: Sky Atlantic

The second season, starring Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn and set in LA, did not go down as well and the new series is being hailed as a return to the show’s roots.

Once again, there is a change of cast and location. It returns to the Deep South, with the setting in the sprawling Arkansas Ozarks.

The story is told over three separate time periods, starting with the disappearance of a 12-year-old Tom Purcell and his 10-year-old sister Lucy in the town of West Finger, Arkansas, in 1980.

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in True Detective

Image: Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey starred in the hit first season

Ali stars as detective and Vietnam veteran Wayne Hays, who originally investigated the case with his partner Roland West (Dorff), and has been haunted by it ever since.

The story takes the viewer to from 1980 to 1990, when a shocking discovery reignites interest in the case, and then to a true-crime documentary in 2015, in which the retired Hays unpicks the details.

Told over eight episodes, it reveals how one tragedy has shaped the lives of many people.

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With the first episodes setting the pace, Sky Atlantic says the drama is set to unfold further in the third show.

:: Episodes one and two of series three of True Detective are on at 9pm and 10.10pm on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV

Steve Buscemi's filmmaker wife of 31 years dies

The filmmaker and artist wife of Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi has died.

Jo Andres, who was aged in her mid-60s, and Fargo star Buscemi had been married for 31 years and had a son, Lucian, in 1990.

Her funeral was reportedly held at their home in New York City earlier this week. Her cause of death has not been revealed.

Around 20 guests were at the service and they reportedly included Buscemi’s Big Lebowski co-star John Turturro and his wife Aida Turturro from The Sopranos.

Andres was known for her film/dance/light experimental performance art in the 1980s and also directed music and art videos.

The couple married in 1987, and Andres won acclaim in 1996 for her film Black Kites which was shown at the Sundance, Berlin, and Toronto festivals.

Image: Buscemi said his favourite work of art was by his wife

Andres’ website describes the film, based on 1992 journals of Bosnian visual artist Alma Hajric, who was forced into a shelter during the Sarajevo siege, as “non-linear, dreamlike and spectral”.

Andres and Buscemi attended their final event together seven months ago in New York City.

During an interview in 2009, the Boardwalk Empire and Reservoir Dogs star, 61, said his favourite work of art was “something by my wife Jo Andres. She paints, she makes films, she has done performance”.

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Andres was also a dance consultant to the acclaimed Wooster Group.

And she was artist in residence at leading universities, museums and art colonies, including Yaddo and The Rockefeller Study Centre in Bellagio, Italy.