ABBA World links updated

As you probably know ABBA World has the internet’s most comprehensive ABBA links section, with every known ABBA or related site ranked and categorised.

Between 11 and 19 April I have rechecked every single link, updating 126 links and removing 248 dead or duplicate links. There have also been some updates with site ranks and comments, plus a few other changes to the links section.

As of today there is a total of 1125 links, with more still to come. So if you’re ever in search of ABBA on the web, there is only one place to go – ABBA World!


Author: Ian Cole

My name is Ian Cole, and I live in Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales in Australia.

2 thoughts on “ABBA World links updated”

  1. Hi Ian

    More articles to be read by ABBA fans!

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    * Mindfood (New Zealand) – August 2008 (Pages 25-29)


    Mamma Mia’s Multi-talented Meryl Streep

    MERRYL STREEP: Multi-talented, multi-award winning actor Meryl Streep dances her way onto the silver screen in the film version of the hit musical ‘Mamma Mia!’

    MERRYL STREEP: “Flawless instinct” is how Meryl Streep’s mastery of her various roles is often described. Add to that “fearless, confident and multi-talented”. Words by Donna Duggan. Photography by Firooz Zahedi

    “For one thing I thought no one liked me. Actually, I’d say I had pretty good evidence. The kids would chase me up into a tree and hit my legs with sticks until they bled. Besides that I was ugly.”

    Everyone seems to have their favourite Meryl movie. ‘Kramer vs Kramer’ (1979) is often referred to; it’s a film that is still watched regularly despite being 29 years old. The same goes for ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ (1981), ‘Sophie’s Choice’ (1982), ‘Out Of Africa’ (1985) and ‘Postcards from the Edge (1990). Younger fans put ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (2004) and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (2006) at the top of their list. When Streep turned 40 she worried that it meant her career was about to dry up, but at 59 she is still going strong.

    Considering her long and successful career, little has been revealed of Streep’s private life, mostly because she maintains that her private life should be just that: private. She thanks her ‘Out of Africa’ co-star, Robert Redford, for his good advice: “You don’t have to talk to everybody who wants to talk to you. You don’t have to go to everything and be photographed everywhere.” Streep also dislikes interviews, telling ‘The New York Times’ in 1994 that “I hate seeing myself pontificating. I can’t bear it, as if I’m an expert on anything.”

    What we do know about Streep is that she grew up with two younger brothers in suburban New Jersey. Her father was a pharmaceutical company executive and her mother a graphic artist. “I didn’t have what you’d call a happy childhood,” Streep said to ‘Time’ magazine in 1979. “For one thing, I thought no one liked me. Actually, I’d say I had pretty good evidence. The kids would chase me up into a tree and hit my legs with sticks until they bled. Besides that, I was ugly. With my glasses and permanented hair, I looked like a mini-adult. I had the same face I have today and, let me tell you, the effect wasn’t cute or endearing.” Streep decided to overhaul her look, becoming a cheerleader, collecting an array of boyfriends and getting elected as homecoming queen.

    Majoring in drama at Yale, Streep worked consistently in film and on stage, winning a plethora of awards for her craft. She has been happily married to sculptor Donald J. Gummer since 1978 and they have four well-adjusted kids. She attributes “goodwill and a willingness to bend” to her successful family life. She also says that it’s always “an enormous negotiation” because she has “a holistic need to work and to have huge ties of love in my life.”


    Kramer Vs Kramer (1979): A former husband and wife (played by Dustin Hoffman and Streep) fight for custody of their son. Streep wins an Oscar for her performance.

    Sophie’s Choice (1982): Streep wins an Oscar for her role as Polish immigrant Sophie, who shares a house in Brooklyn with her lover (Kevin Kline) and a writer (Peter MacNicol).

    Adaptation (2002): Streep (pictured with Nicole Kidman) receives a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Susan Orlean in ‘Adaptation’.

    The Devil Wears Prada (2006): Streep wins a Golden Globe and National Society of Film Critics Award for her role as ruthless magazine editor Miranda Priestly.


    What Streep is happy to talk about are the many charities with which she is involved – about 40 of them, ranging from the Academy of American Poets to the environmental conservation charity Global ReLeaf. “Some people are filled with compassion and a desire to do good, and some simply don’t think that anything’s going to make a difference” she said.

    One charity that Streep is extremely passionate about is Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet, which she co-founded in 1989 with some of her neighbours in Connecticut, including environmental health scientist Wendy Gordon. The group was concerned that their children were being exposed to unsafe pesticide levels in foods. They have campaigned for food safety issues, particularly organic and sustainable farming, and were instrumental in pushing the US Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 to protect children from unsafe pesticide levels in foods. Their efforts also stimulated the US Environmental Protection Agency to announce its National Agenda to protect Children from Environmental Threats in 1997.

    When they started the charity, they never planned for it to become that big. “It was not a big thing; it was a local group of my friends and neighbours in upstate Connecticut. We joined together so we could access responsibly grown products in our supermarkets and we’ve really achieved that. It started out as a small local organisation with a little newsletter. We thought, “Well, we’ll send this out to follow up on news of what’s happening.’ And since that time, it’s grown – much more than I’d ever anticipated.”


    Christopher Reeve Foundation: The foundation funds research to find a cure for paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.

    Children’s Health Environmental Coalition: The coalition educates parents about the preventable health problems that may be caused by exposure to toxins.

    Skin Cancer Foundation: It’s clear that Streep has always protected her porcelain skin from the sun. She is pictured here at the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Skin Sense Awards in New Year.

    New Dramatists: New Dramatists is the oldest non-profit centre for the development of playwrights in the US. It offers a seven-year program of career support.


    Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep’s musical film role. Interview by Martyn Palmer

    When Meryl Streep was first offered the chance to star in the screen adaptation of the hit musical, ‘Mamma Mia!’, she was
    “absolutely flabbergasted” and completely delighted.

    While an amazing body of work has garnered her a record 14 Oscar nominations and a justified reputation as one of the best actors of her generation, no one should doubt her sense of fun – and making ‘Mamma Mia!’ sounded like great fun.

    “My agent called and said, ‘This is nothing that would probably interest you, but…’ and I said, ‘What is it? And he said, ‘Mamma Mia!’ and I was like, ‘Say yes!’”

    Streep delights in that memory and frequently laughs as she recalls preparing for and filming ‘Mamma Mia!’ She had seen the Broadway version of the worldwide smash-hit musical several years earlier and loved it.

    She’d taken her youngest daughter, Louisa, then in 5th grade, and a group of her friends and had the best time.

    “I took six 10 year olds and we were all up dancing in the aisles; we all loved it,” Streep recalls.

    She welcomed the challenge of singing and dancing in the musical that is built around the ever-popular songs of 1970s super-group, ABBA.

    When Streep met with the creative team behind the project, she kept asking whether they were sure she was right for the role of Donna, a single mum living on a Greek island with her grown-up daughter. Director Phyllida Lloyd, producer Judy Craymer and writer Catherine Johnson assured her that yes, she most certainly was. And that was the start of a rollercoaster ride that Streep describes as one of the happiest times of her remarkable career.

    “I met Judy and Phyllida and Catherine in a hotel in New York and I kept saying to them, ‘Are you sure you’re interested in me? I really, really want to do it but I can’t believe it.’ But I’m an old musical comedy hound. When I was a kid my mother used to take me to every single show.”

    Indeed, Streep reels off a list of musical greats – Ethel Merman in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, Carol Channing in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and Georgia Brown in ‘Oliver!’, among many others – that she was thrilled to see on the Broadway stage.

    “I loved it. And my mother loved it, too, so we both had a ball. And I was in musicals in high school.

    “When I went to university I thought I would study music as my major but then I kind of got diverted into acting. I never sang again for years and years and years.”

    “Streep’s preparation for playing Donna started with her rushing out to buy an ABBA’s Greatest Hits CD. “I have lots of their albums but they’re all on vinyl, boxed up in the garage somewhere,” she says.

    Then, after a session with voice coach Martin Lowe, Streep met ABBA’s Benny Andersson, who flew to New York to put her through her paces, which was, at first, a daunting encounter.


    “We met at Lincoln Center. We went down to the practice rooms and it was such a nerve-racking day,” Streep recalls. “Benny had flown in on his own aeroplane and turned up with his sheet music and said, ‘Let’s play through the whole thing.’

    “I had been sort of singing along with ABBA songs. I’d got a ‘Greatest Hits’ CD and I would sing along with that. But Benny played them in a different tempo.”

    Streep admits that she initially felt rather intimidated in Benny’s presence. “It was like, ‘Oh no, he’s the guy from ABBA!’ But, you know, he’s a lovely guy. He has this sunshine that comes to his face when he smiles; he’s so great. And he said, ‘You know, we can change the keys and do whatever you want, but I want to see if you can do it in the key that I wrote it.’

    “We had this joyous afternoon, absolutely so much fun, just me and him. I was walking on air when I left. A couple of days later, they called and said, ‘Benny loves what you sound like.’ That’s when I knew I was on track, because he is the ultimate arbiter.”

    After that, Streep began to practice in earnest, mostly at home, enduring good-natured ribbing from her family. The exact location in which she chose to rehearse might seem surprising to most people: a small closet.

    “Benny went back and did the backing tracks on a synthesiser and put those on a CD and sent it to me. Then I just practiced singing along to that in my closet because the bedroom was too loud for everybody in the family,” Streep laughs.

    Streep was especially delighted to be working alongside a stellar cast in ‘Mamma Mia!’ featuring Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, among others. The entire cast gathered together for the first time for a read-through at Pinewood Studios in London – a special moment, says Streep.

    “Oh, that was fabulous, that was really good, but it was so nerve-racking. Plus I was such a fan of all of them,” Streep says. “I had known them from all sorts of things, like Stellan from ‘Breaking the Waves’. He’s so deeply funny, smart and very witty.

    “I’m a huge Colin Firth fan and, you know, I’ve been in love with Pierce forever, so I was just bowled over. They had all these people observing the read-through and it was really scary because there were so many people in the room.

    “We had recorded our songs a few weeks before and they played that, but we still sang along so everyone could hear each other sing for the first time, and that was scary.

    “Still, it was at Pinewood, in that great big garden room with flowers outside and the birds, so it was sort of fated to be wonderful.

    “It was also a dream role in that some of the movie was filmed on the beautiful Greek islands of Skiathos and Skopelos.”


    ‘Mamma Mia!’ is the story of a young woman, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who discovers her mother’s old diary just before she is about to marry the man she loves, Sky (Dominic Cooper), on the Greek island where she lives with her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep).

    Sophie has always wanted to know the identity of her father and, from the diary, discovers three of her mother’s former lovers – Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) – one of whom could be her dad.

    Without telling her mother, Sophie invites all three to the ceremony, with hilarious results.

    For the three men it’s a reunion with a beautiful woman that they had loved, and lost, many years before. For Donna it’s a headlong collision with her past and her wild youth.

    For Streep, the musical is simply an uplifting, life-affirming experience.

    “As a performer it’s sort of outside my purview to do this, but I knew I wanted to do it because it gave me something,” she says. “That show gave me something and I knew it was rare. It’s rare that we can be leavened, you know, and picked up and delivered to a place like this.

    “We are all pretty cynical and jaded now, but that show is uplifting and it’s great to be reminded that we are so lucky just to be alive and to be reminded of what’s so wonderful about being alive.”


    The many faces of Meryl Streep: Meryl Streep has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other actor.

    The Devil Wears Prada (2006): Best Supporting Actress
    Adaptation (2002): Best Actress
    Music of the heart (1999): Best Actress
    One true thing (1998): Best Actress
    The Bridges of Madison County (1995): Best Actress
    Postcards from the Edge (1990): Best Actress
    Evil Angels (1988): Best Actress
    Ironweed (1987): Best Actress
    Out of Africa (1985): Best Actress
    Silkwood (1983): Best Actress
    Sophie’s Choice (1982): Best Actress
    The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981): Best Actress
    Kramer vs Kramer (1979): Best Supporting Actress
    The Deer Hunter (1978): Best Actress

    * The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) – 14 December 2008 (Page 141)

    Peter Cetera

    …the legendary voice, songwriter and bass player for the Multi-Platinum group Chicago

    On sale Monday December 15th, 2008.

    Saturday February 21st 2009 show.

    Sydney Entertainment Centre (Harbour Theatre).


    Peter Cetera

    Performing in the intimate HARBOUR THEATRE at the SYDNEY ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE


    Grammy award winning singer/songwriter PETER CETERA has succeeded with two profound musical careers. As a distinguished solo artist since 1986, his notable hits have included the #1 single and Academy Award nominated song ‘Glory of Love’ from the hit movie ‘Karate Kid II’ ‘The Next Time I Fall’ with gospel singer Amy Grant, ‘Feels Like Heaven’ with Chaka Khan, ‘After All’ with Cher, from the motion picture ‘Chances Are’ and ‘No Explanation’ from the mega hit film ‘Pretty Woman’.

    Prior to his prominent solo career, (from 1968 thru 1986) Peter Cetera was ‘the’ legendary voice, songwriter & bass player for the Multi-Platinum group ‘Chicago’. His world wide success with the Grammy Award winning band include the gigantic hits ‘If You Leave Me Now’, ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry’, ‘Baby What A Big Surprise’, ‘You’re the Inspiration’, ‘Just You N’ Me’, ‘Stay the Night’, ’25 or 6 to 4′, ‘Question 67 & 68’, ‘Happy Man’ and many more which are included in any Peter Cetera live concert performance.

    Recently, Peter has announced that ‘for the first time in 15 years’ he has reformed his classic ‘7 Piece Electric Band’ adding another exciting performance format to the music that continues to touch the lives of so many people around the world.

    Seating Plan: Peter Cetera 2009

    Sessions:Saturday, 21 Feb 2009
    Prices: A reserve $208.30 B reserve $128.10
    Bookings: Web: Ticketmaster
    Telephone: 1300 883 622
    Outlet Location Web: Ticketmaster Outlet Locations
    Associated Media Releases: Peter Cetera Feb 09 Tour

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday- Sunday, 19-21 December 2008 (Page 7)

    Midweek – Mamma Mia! Sing Along

    Warm up your vocal cords for an outdoor singalong screening of the hit film. Meryl Streep and Colin Firth croon ABBA favourites in this love story. Friday, December 26, 2008, 7pm, Moonlight cinema,, Centennial Park, $11-15,

    * The Sydney Morning Herald (Late Edition) –Tuesday-Thursday, 23-25 December 2008 (Page 10)

    The Movie Guide: Summer 2008-2009

    Stars under the sky

    When a night out really means a night out. Katrina Lobley reports.

    Never mind the mozzies or the clouds of bats. For thousands of Sydneysiders, Summer means it’s time to catch a movie in the great outdoors.

    For more than a decade, outdoor cinemas have entrenched themselves in the city’s Summer entertainment calendar. OpenAir cinema general manager Rob Bryant is surprised it didn’t appear sooner.

    Bryant, who programmed Open Air’s upcoming 12th season, says: “Somewhere in the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve worked out what a wonderful environment we’ve got to live in and that we should spend more time outdoors – and not just at the beach.”

    OpenAir’s patrons are among Sydney’s hardiest outdoor cinema-goers.

    “It’s not uncommon to have 1600 or 1700 people sit there in more than drizzle,” Bryant says. “Even if it’s drizzling or raining, it’s still 20 degrees in Sydney, no matter what.”

    OpenAir Cinema opens at the Royal Botanic Gardens on January 12, 2009, with the Sean Penn drama ‘Milk’ and runs for 34 nights until February 21, 2009.

    Other previews include ‘Changeling’, ‘Valkyre’, ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ and, in an ironic programming twist, ‘Bride Wars’ on Valentine’s Day.

    Starlight Cinema at North Sydney Oval will screen the same film on Valentine’s Day. This will be starlight’s six season at the historic oval, although this Summer it won’t run satellite sessions in other areas.

    Instead, Staright’s Jill Keyte has channeled her energies into the North Sydney season, which opens on March 1, 2009, with Starlight Shorts – the top-10 movies of an inaugural short-film competition.

    Keyte started Starlight to give North Shore residents an alternative outing to “pubs, clubs and multiplexes”.

    With Moonlight Cinema’s 12th season already under way at Centennial Park, event director Simon Bogle says: “We’ve seen growth over the last few years even in the spite of, or maybe because of, more outdoor cinemas. It’s just something that people love.”

    While Centennial Park patrons often enjoy an added extra in the shape of bats swooping through the night sky, Flickerfest, at Bondi Pavilion, enjoys a different type of wildlife: stray seagulls and the odd drag racer behind the pavilion.

    Festival director Brownwyn Kidd says Flickerfest’s laid-back atmosphere makes it a big drawcard for Sydneysiders each Summer. Patrons sometimes come straight from the beach, she says, and “park their surfboards next to the bar and wander in to see some films – there’s lots of sand and thongs and towels”.

    The Academy Awards-accredited festival has added an extra Australian program to cater for the ever-growing number of entries.

    This year, a record 1350 short films were received – they’ll be whittled to about 100 and screened over five international, five Australian and two documentary programs from January 9-18, 2009.

    Flickerfest’s themed programs are Love Bites, a collection of stories about relationships, and Celebrity Shorts.

    With many people tightening their belts, perhaps the best-value outdoor cinema experience is the free one at Sydney Olympic Park. Movies in the Overtoflow runs from January 3-18, 2009, and features many PG-rated titles, such as ‘Get Smart’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda’.

    This Summer, the park is adding pre-movie children’s entertainment from 5-8pm to make it an even better-value proposition.

    Photo: City sights…Sydney’s outdoor cinemas include OpenAir at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
    (Samuel’s note: The viewers here are also able to see the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, sky scrappers, the sea, etc. in all its beauty- an incredibly amazing sight!)

    OUTDOORS: Five of the best
    1. Mamma Mia! – Songbirds can trill ABBA’s greatest hits – without getting shushed by anyone – at this special sing-along session at Moonlight Cinema on Boxing Day.
    2. Milk.
    3. Lars And The Real Girl.
    4. Frost/Nixon.
    5. Juno.

    * The Sun-Herald (Sydney) – Sunday, 18 January 2009 (Page 8)

    Habit of a lifetime

    Meryl Streep logged on to YouTube every day to play a tyrannical nun, writes Donna Walker-Mitchell.

    If Hollywood has royalty, Merryl Streep is queen. A crowded room hushes to near silence when she enters. Educated at New York’s elite Vassar College and Yale University, her sentences sound like poetry.

    Next June she turns 60. Her face is scarce of make-up but her butter smooth skin defies her birthdate. Adding to her youthful look are the high-heeled boots, dark denim jeans and flowing grey satin top she is wearing.

    Her acting record is second to none. Bette Davis had 11 Oscar nominations. Katharine Hepburn, the one time record holder, had 12. Streep has 14 and, with what could be the most powerful performance by any actress this year, she seems sure to earn her 15th nomination when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its nominees this week.

    In the film ‘Doubt’, which is based on the Tony Award-winning play, Streep dons a habit to play Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a tyrannical nun overseeing a Catholic high school in the Brox in 1964.

    To crawl into the skin of Sister Aloysius Beauvier, she sought help from something that did not exist when Davis and Hepburn were alive.

    “I’m addicted to YouTube,” Streep told The Sun-Herald.

    Each morning as she sat in her trailer on the Bronx set of ‘Doubt’, Streep turned on her laptop, logged on to YouTube and watched a performance by an obscure English boys choir of the hymn, ‘Panis Angelicus’.

    The performance transformed Streep – the New Jersey-born mother of four, wife of 30 years to sculptor Don Gummer and the star of classics including ‘Kramer vs Kramer’, ‘Sophie’s Choice’ and ‘Out Of Africa’ – into Sister Aloysius.

    “It had many triggers for me and our film,” Streep explains. “It’s not a famous boys choir.

    “It’s just a boys choir from a church in England but it is so, so beautiful and very touching.

    “It’s a multicultural group of kids, mostly little white English boys but there was a Filipino boy, an African child.”

    ‘Doubt’ offers a feast of superb acting by the elite of Hollywood.

    It pits Sister Aloysius, principal of St Nicholas, against Father Flynn, the school’s beloved priest, played by another Oscar winner, Philip Seymour Hoffman. She suspects that father Flynn is molesting the school’s sole African-American student.

    The subject matter is why the YouTube video gave Streep chills.

    “These voices are so pure and identify a moment in a boy’s life, which is just that eighth-grade moment,” Streep says.

    The boys are 12 and 13 and very vulnerable. There’s something heartbreaking and beautiful about children of that age.”

    Streep also spent many days with the Sisters of Charity, the order of nuns that ran St Anthony’s, a school in the Bronx that ‘Doubt’ director and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley attended as a boy.

    Shanley introduced Streep to his favourite nun, Sister Peggy, before filming began.

    “The remaining Sisters of Charity are in their 70s and 80s now,” Streep says. “There are not very many left and there are now new recruits, Young women no longer join.

    “It’s only women who are in their 50s and 60s and have raised their children and feel strong and capable of giving something to the world and want to make a contribution in this way.

    “I had a number of meals with them and I discovered many, many things.

    “Sister Peggy told me every second of the day is accounted for.

    “There is a prayer upon walking, there is a prayer on rising, a prayer on dressing and so it is mindful living.

    “You connect every physical act to dedication to the mission of your life.

    “It is very compelling.”

    Streep had her own inspiration for Sister Aloysius, drawing on her school days and a schoolroom tyrant who frightened the daylights out of her and her classmates.

    “I’m sure everyone had had a teacher like Sister Aloysius,” Streep says.

    “For me it was a man – Mr Riccio.

    “He was Italian.

    “He was hard-nosed and people were scared in that class, but people paid attention.

    “I remembered what I learned in that class.

    “It was algebra.

    “I had other favourite teachers I loved. I remember nothing from them. So there is something to focusing the mind and having discipline in class.”

    ‘Doubt’ also shines a light on the perceived old boys’ club in the Catholic Church that allowed priests to moles without punishment.

    Streep, who says she is not religious (“I follow no doctrine. I don’t belong to a church or a temple or a synagogue or an ashram”) says she has encountered a similar old boys’ club in Hollywood.

    “Isn’t everything an old boys’ network?” Streep asks.

    The film industry? The senate? The House of Representatives? The top echelons of business?”

    That is why last year’s ABBA-inspired musical, ‘Mamma Mia!’, was such a triumph for Streep who starred in and fought for the film to be made.

    The movie, considered a risk, cost $US52 million to make but earned $US568 million worldwide to become one of the most profitable films of 2008.

    “I wasn’t surprised,” Streep smiles.

    “In Hollywood they were surprised because it was difficult to finance the film.

    “We had some champions, most notably a female executive at Universal, Donna Langley.

    “She rolled that boulder up the hill and a lot of the other executives said ‘I don’t get it, I don’t get it’ but she made it happen. That was important.”

    Streep says her 2006 drama-comedy ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, her last Oscar nomination, and the success this year of ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Sex And The City’, showed women will go to the cinema if films are made for them.

    “Women will always go to watch a movie but they have been discouraged because so many decisions are made by people who are not going to necessarily be entertained themselves by something like ‘Mamma Mia!’, she says.

    “The fellas usually make those decisions based on what they want to see or what they wanted to see when they were 14.”

    Streep earned her first Oscar nomination, for best supporting actress, in 1979 for ‘The Deer Hunter’, that year’s best picture winner. Streep did not win (Maggie Smith was honored for ‘California Suite’), nor did ‘Deer Hunter’s’ best actor nominee, Robert De Niro.

    But Streep did not have to wait long. A year later the Academy awarded her with the best supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of a mother embroiled in a bitter divorce in ‘Kramer vs Kramer’.

    Three years later Streep confirmed her place at the top of Hollywood with a best actress Oscar win for playing a Nazi concentration camp survivor in ‘Sophie’s Choice’.

    But, despite 10 more nominations for roles ranging from ‘Silkwood’ to ‘Postcards From The Edge’, ‘The Bridges Of Madison County’, ‘Adaptation’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, the Academy has not awarded Streep another Oscar.

    She is happy with two.

    What is surprising is Streep has not become blasé about attending the Oscars despite 14 trips down the red carpet as a nominee.

    If she is nominated for ‘Doubt’, Streep says she will be as nervous as the first time she attended thee ceremony.

    “I get excited,” Streep confides. “I’m also intimidated because Hollywood to me is what it is to the average person. I sit outside of the industry and look in. It’s scary.”

    * The Age – Saturday, 24 January 2009 (Page 22)

    Non Fiction – Reviewed by Steven Carroll

    That’s Another Story: The Autobiography. By Julie Walters (Weidenfeld & Nicolson $35)

    Like any autobiography, this is part memoir, part confessional. Julie Walters, who shot to prominence in 1983 in Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, grew up in working-class Birmingham and this is reflected in the matter-of-fact writing. In the early sections she ushers us into her childhood home and takes us on a tour of the house and, in the process, evokes her childhood and youth – strict Catholic mother, bed-wetting and languid Saturdays watching Bette Davis on the sofa. All very ordinary, then one day at school she performs a mime for her classmates and discovers the transforming power of acting, and her teacher tells her she ought to be on stage. She becomes a nurse instead (for her mother’s sake), but acting eventually wins out. The rest is theatrical history. At its best, the book gives us a portrait of an artist who has never lost touch with all those seemingly “ordinary” things that made her who she is.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Sunday, 25 January 2009 (Page 11)

    Memoir of a survivor

    That’s Another Story. By Julie Walters (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $35). Reviewed by Daniel Herborn

    One of the most acclaimed character actors of her generation, Julie Walters has always done a nice line in ordinariness, her career has never been based on Hollywood beauty or film-star charisma but comic nous and humanity. Recent work in ‘Billy Elliott’, ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Calendar Girls’ and the ‘Harry Potter’ films have built on her unglamorous , quintessentially British persona but, tellingly, her favourite performance involved her playing a cleaning lady.

    So it is with her memoirs, where her pre-fame days are recounted with the most verve, particularly in the richly detailed story of her parents. Her first thrilling taste of the limelight came as a child when she was enlisted to play the assistant in her brother’s magic show. Required to “disappear” through the back of a box, she defiantly remained in her place when he whisked back the curtain, upstaging her sibling and earning his grudging respect.

    Like many successful actors, Walters was a shy child. Her chronic bed-wetting had to be tactfully negotiated by her parents when arranging sleepovers, while her mildly promising athletics career was initially almost derailed by anxiety. She was racked with insecurities over her appearance, over where her family spent their holidays and about the working class accent she had, which no elocution lessons could polish away.

    While acting eventually provided her away out of being stuck as a bit-player in life, her progression towards the theatrical life was initially slow, her only school play being a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, that she signed up for mainly because she fancied the teacher directing, who at one point decided she would make a good Moth because, like the insect of that name, she was buzzy and annoying.

    The anecdotes here are warm, funny and well chosen. There is a world of difference between stories that illuminated telling details about one’s life and those which simply involve telling details and Walters, a storyteller at heart, understands this acutely.

    As a teenager, she attends a disco and has an uncomfortable dance with an older man, who dentures she later finds nestled in a handkerchief stuffed into her bra. Other sour notes come from her shame at having passively watched her former friend bullied and the sadly familiar spectacle of nuns at her school mercilessly beating crying children.

    Apart from a fascinating account of how she arrived at the career-making performance in ‘Educating Rita’, the book’s later stages – dealing with her TV and movie career – feel rushed and perfunctory by comparison. Walters becomes something of a distant figure sin her own story, easy to miss in the comings and goings of playwrights, movie openings and actor friends; look there she is, borrowing stockings from Liza Minnelli at the Oscars and, oh, over there! That’s her, learning dance moves from Phil Collins’s sister.

    There are still funny moments (starstruck at meeting a toupeed Burt Reynolds, she blurts out “Thank you, Wig!”) but its harder to care and the effect is rather like reading the transcript of a solid, unmemorable recital of celebrity anecdotes on ‘Parkinson’.

    This memoir will best serve long-term admirers of Walters; those who have come more recently to her work are unlikely to be satisfied with a couple of sentences about how lovely it was working with Meryl Streep, while those interested in her work on the ‘Harrry Potter’ films will have to make do with the revelation that her breasts were augmented with birdseed for the role, attracting some unwanted attention from local avian life.

    Yet while Walters the famous actor proves a somewhat forgettable character, her childhood days glow brightly. It was here that the spark that fired her career was formed and the drive provided by raging insecurity eventually proved an irresistible combination.

    Photo: Acclaimed…Julie Walters at the London premiere of ‘Mamma Mia!’ last June.

    * The Sun-Herald (Sydney) – Sunday, 1 February 2009 (Page 11)

    The Greatest Album Covers Of All Time. Barry Miles, Grant Scott & Johnny Morgan (Harper Collins, $39.99)

    Some might think the superlative title challenges the accepted wisdom of popular culture but this selection, based on artistic and cultural worth, should satisfy most purists of the main musical genres from 1956 to 2005. It has histories accompanying the album covers, most of which are beautiful art works in their own right. The classics are there – ‘Disraeli Gears’, ‘Cheap Thrills’, ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘Mingus Ah Um’, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’, ‘Mezzanine’, ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ and ‘Nevermind’ – but curious omissions included ‘Led Zeppelin III’, ‘Kraftwerk’s The Man Machine’ and the Yes covers by Roger Dean. – Review by Marc McEvoy.

    * The Weekly Telegraph (UK) – Thursday, 29 January-Wednesday, 4 February 2009 (Page 6)

    Mamma Mia! West End defies recession with a record year. By Stephen Adams – Arts Correspondent

    West End Theatres have defied the recession to post record figures as theatregoers avoid the gloom by enjoying the escapism of musicals.

    Box office receipts for last year reached £480.6 million, up three per cent on 2007, itself a record year, according to the Society of London Theatre.

    Musicals fared better than plays, accounting for about two thirds of seats sold. But Nica Burns, the society’s president, put the success down to the breadth of shows, including ‘Mamma Mia!’, ‘Jersey Boys’, ‘Hamlet’, which starred David Tennant, and Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘The Norman Conquests’.

    She said: “You’ve just got to look at what’s on across the West End to see why it’s really strong. People are choosing to spend their money in theatres rather than going out for expensive meals.”

    Yet seat sales were only up by a more modest one per cent and Ms Burns was not so confident about this year.

    “If we hold up to the 2007 figures I will be thrilled,” she said. “If we hold up to the 2008 figures I will do cartwheels down Shaftesbury Avenue.”

    However Robert Iles, the founder of the theatre ticket comparison site, said: “The Society Of London Theatre seems to be putting a very brave face on what has been a distinct drop in demand for theatre tickets since the second half of last year. Autumn was tough.

    “’Oliver!‘ brought a much-needed boost in the latter part of the year, but many shows were offering unprecedented numbers of discounted tickets.”

    Terri Paddock, the editorial director of, also urged theatre owners not to pop the champagne quite yet.

    She said revenues were bound to go up as a natural product of inflation, and although attendance figures rose by 1.3 million from 2006 to 2007, they increased by only 171,000 from 2007 to last year.

    However, she added: “The West is proving remarkably resilient, particularly compared with Broadway. We haven’t got any ‘dark theatres’, and that’s an incredible feat.”

    Meanwhile, Cardiff University is offering Hopelessly Devoted To You: The Passion of Musical Theatre to students. It will be Britain’s first course analysing West End musicals.

    * The Sun-Herald (Sydney) – Sunday, 1 February 2009 (Page 3)

    Eurovision Song Contest

    Where: Moscow Russia
    When: May 16th, 2009

    The juggernaut of kitsch pop, howling balladry and suspicious voting patterns is hosted in Moscow for the first time. The Olympic Indoor Arena gets the pleasure of staging the show and will be besieged by enthusiastic oddballs from across the continent.

    The music may be dire but the spectacle is tremendous entertainment and the atmosphere may turn dour, old Moscow into a heart-warming destination. It’s the sort of event where visitors take great joy mixing with people from other countries and cultures.

    For a high-end contrast to Eurovision, don’t miss the opportunity to attend the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg. It starts at the end of May and runs through to July. Think opera, ballet and sublime productions at the famous Mariinsky Theatre. For more information, see;

    The Age (Melbourne) – Wednesday, 4 February 2009 (Page 8)

    Arab-Jewish Eurovision duo falls flat. By Dina Kraft

    Tel Aviv

    They had hoped to be an example of unity amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    But a Jew and an Arab lined up to be Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest entry may have to pull out of the competition after suffering abuse and condemnation.

    Mira Awad, an Arab citizen of Israel, and Jewish Israeli superstar Achinoam Nini, better known as Noa, are under pressure from critics ranging from right-wing Israeli Jews to Palestinians and even Israeli peace campaigners.

    Soon after her nomination as Israel’s choice for Eurovision, television footage showed people in the street urging Awad to stand down.

    A group of prominent artists sent her an open letter asking her to reconsider.

    Juliano Mer-Khamis, one of the signatories and an actor whose parentage is Jewish and Arab, said: “We think Mira Awad has been used cynically by Israeli propaganda. They are going to use her as a a fig leaf.”

    During a television interview last week, Awad said: I’m for life. I want to live here and I want everyone to live here together. To live, not to die. I am sure there is a solution if everyone would just be honest.”

    Her manager said she still hoped to compete at Eurovision, adding that the two singers were “for dialogue and co-operation”.

    However, the duo cancelled a charity even for Gaza at a Tel Aviv nightclub, after Nini came under fire from Israeli peace campaigners for calling Hammas a “cancer” and a “virus” and supporting Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

    The debate has exposed the uneasy position of Israel’s Arabs, who make up nearly 20 percent of the population and have been opposed to the Gaza offensive.

    Eurovision may seem like an unlikely arena for such arguments but it has a large following in the nation. Parties are thrown to watch the contest on television. Israel’s greatest Eurovision success was Dana International, a transsexual who won in 1998.


    * The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) – 8 February 2009 (Page 129)

    Game Zone. By Richie Lamberton

    Name: SingStar ABBA
    Platform 2 and 3
    Developer: Sony Studios
    Age: All
    Rating: 2 Stars

    One of the most iconic pop bands of all time has wormed their way into a SingStar gig.

    In regular SingStar tradition, players can sing by themselves, challenge a friend, perform duets and host open mike parties, with up to eight friends. During these performances, the lyrics will appear and light up the bottom of the screen and you’ll need to sing in perfect tune, to see your voice pop up on screen as a colour.

    You’ll be trying to take that colour and paint in the pitch and timing bars that dictate how high or low a word should be sung. Do well and you’ll receive a favourable score. Do poorly and you’ll be mocked by your friends.

    Lovers of ABBA will welcome the opportunity to sing another out-of-tune ABBA song that we so often hear, while people new to ABBA may like the classic pop music that made the Swedish group one of the most successful of all time.

    There are 20 tracks available from ABBA:

    ‘Chiquitita’, ‘Does Your Mother Know’, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’, ‘Money, Money, Money’, ‘Ring, Ring’, ‘Summer Night City’, ‘Take A Chance On Me’, ‘The Name Of The Game’, ‘Voulez-Vous’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Fernando’, ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’, ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘One Of Us’ ‘’Super Trouper’, ‘Thank You For The Music’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’, ‘Waterloo’.

    There are five bonus tracks available on PS3.

    * The Sunday Telegraph – 15 March 2009 (Page 135)

    September hit

    Following the mammoth success of her first single ‘Cry For You’, Swedish pop singer September next month releases her follow-up, ‘Can’t Get Over’

    The catchy dance track is very Eurovision lollypop pop, but it’s hard to resist and will no doubt be another radio hit for September – real name Petra Marklund.

    * The Weekly Telegraph (UK) – Thursday, 19 March-Wednesday, 25 March 2009 (Page 31)

    Eurovision put out by Georgia

    Georgia has pulled out of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after its chosen song, ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’, was banned.

    The European Broadcasting Union said the song, widely interpreted as making a mockery of the Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, contravened contest rules.

    * The Sun-Herald– Sunday, 19 April 2009 (Page 19)

    Net piracy judgment applauded. By Anita Maglicic

    The mainstream Australian entertainment industry has applauded an overseas court decision against the founders of an internet file-sharing website.

    The four founders of The Pirate Bay were sentenced in Sweden to a year in jail and ordered to pay a total of $5million in damages for breaking copyright law.

    They are expected to appeal against the decision by Judge Thomas Nordstrom.

    Rebecca Melkman, of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, said sites such as The Pirate Bay caused immense damage to the creative industries.

    “This is an important decision for right holders, underlining their right to have their creative work protected against illegal exploitation and to be fairly rewarded for their endeavours,” she said.

    The Pirate Bay indexes and tracks BitTorrent files – small parts of larger files such as music albums and movies.

    It does not actually hold any of the files itself. Its 25 million users use the site to download the fragments of the larger files, often in far less time than it would take to download in one piece.

    In Stockholm District Court on Friday, Judge Nordstrom ordered the founders to pay damages to entertainment companies including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

    In 2004, the Australian Record Industry Association announced its legal action against kazaa, alleging massive copyright breaches which ended up with a settlement with the music industry worth more than $100 million.

    Despite these cases, copyrighted material online has multiplied.

    Michael Speck, head investigator from the music industry’s anti-piracy unit for the Kazaa case, said there were clear parallels between the Kazaa and The Piracy Bay cases.

    “What’s clear out of these cases is that the operators of the file-sharing services are breaking the law but what’s equally clear is that industry needs to find a way of making the peer-to-peer space legitimate,” he said.

    * The Age (Melbourne) – Saturday, 25 April 2009 (Page 18)

    Sad songs say so much for music millionaires feeling the pinch

    Super-rich musicians in Britain are struggling to keep their place on the wealth charts.


    The finances of Britain’s top music stars, including Elton John, Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams, have been badly hit by the recession.

    Singer Elton John’s personal fortune fell 26 per cent in the last year, from £238 million ($A488.3 million) to £175 million in 2009, according to a preview of ‘The Sunday Times’ Rich List of Britain’s 1000 wealthiest people.

    John still ranked eighth wealthiest. “John spends quite a bit: he’s given away £42 million to charity, which is a considerable amount, and his Las Vegas tour is coming to an end,” Ian Coxon, editor of the ‘Sunday Times’ Rich List, said. John’s lucrative contract at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas ends this month, and his recent donations to humanitarian and HIV/AIDS charities added up to £42 million. Music millionaires’ losses were “broadly in line with the overall pattern”, Coxon said.

    Billionaires and multi-millionaires on the list have seen their fortune eroded by the worst slump since World War II. Former Beatle McCartney, who last year paid his estranged wife, Heather Mills, £24.3 million in a divorce settlement, has seen his fortune fall by £60 million in the past 12 months, thanks to falling property and share values.

    Other decliners included: Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, down 16 per cent to £190 million; Sting, down 10 per cent to £180 million; and Eric Clapton, down 14 per cent to £102 million.

    Phil Collins and Engelbert Humperdinck both lost substantial sums.

    On the other hand, Judy Craymer, producer of the hit ABBA stage musical ‘Mamma Mia!’ and the spin-off film, saw her fortune surge 29 per cent to £75 million.

    Pop star Robbie Williams lost £25 million and now has £80 million, Welsh singer Tom Jones’ wealth dropped 24 per cent to £130 million, and Cliff Richard’s fell by a fifth.

    Meanwhile, footballer David Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, have seen their fortune remain steady at £125 million, according to the list.

    Music millionaires’ wealth is calculated by surveying the accounts of the companies that they and their bands run, and calculating royalties on recordings and ticket sales on tours.

    To be one of the 1000 people on the Rich List, you have to have been born in Britain, live in Britain, or draw a major part of your wealth from Britain. Last year, you had to be worth at least £80 million to land on the list. This year, £55 million was enough to make you eligible.

    2009(£ million) 2008(£ million) 2008ranking Change
    1. Clive Calder, record executive 1300 1300 1 0
    2. Andrew Lloyd-Webber 750 750 2 0
    3. Paul McCartney 440 500 3 V 12%
    4. Cameron Mackintosh 350 450 4 V 22%
    5. Simon Fuller, artist manager 300 450 4 V 33%
    6. Mick Jagger 190 225 9 V 16%
    7. Sting 180 200 11 V 10%
    8. Elton John 175 235 8 V 26%
    8. Keith Richards 175 190 12 V 8%
    10 Olivia and Dhani Harrison 140 160 14 V 13%
    Source: Bloomberg
    Symbol V: Indicates, down.

    Photos: Fortunate sons – Paul McCartney, Elton John and Tom Jones still make the ‘Sunday Times’ Rich List in Britain, but along with many other investors they are counting their losses in 2009.

    * The Sydney Morning Herald – Friday, 24 April 2009 (Page 14)


    Mamma’s back

    If you are not one of the 32 million people around the world to have seen ‘Mamma Mia!’ on stage, your chance to change that is nigh. The production is returning to Sydney in October as part of a national tour, reuniting original cast members Anne Wood, Jennifer Vuletic, Lara Mulcahy, Robert Grubb and Peter Hardy, and adding Michael Cormick. ‘Mamma Mia!’ will play at the Lyric Theatre, Star City, from October 24, 2009 until February 7, 2010. Ticket details are to be announced.

    * The Age (Melbourne) – Thursday, 30 April 2009 (Page 22)

    Livewire: games

    Singalong crowd cut the chord

    Sony’s popular SingStar goes wireless, increases its music catalogue and adds new elements, discovers Jason Hill.

    SingStar is the ABBA of music games. It’s arguably not as cool as its competitors, and can certainly grate if you’re not in the right mood. But it has hugely influential, is stylish in its own unique and ostentatious way, and is wonderful fun at parties, especially after a few drinks.

    Sony’s karaoke crowd pleaser was a significant pioneer in the “casual” or “social” game space now also occupied by the likes of Wii Sports and Guitar Hero. SingStar introduced countless newcomers to video games for the first time, and Sony research reveals it has struck a chord with females.

    More than 17 million SingStar games have now been sold worldwide since 2004. In Australia, 19 SingStar compilation discs have been released for PS2 and PS3 consoles, and there are more than half a million sets of SingStar microphones in Australian homes – a number that is set to grow significantly from today as new wireless microphones hit retail stores.

    Sony originally planned to launch the microphones with the first SingStar PS3 release two years ago, but struggled with latency issues and keeping the price as low as possible. Fortunately, the final product has been worth the long wait.

    Latency is certainly not an issue: the microphones’ performance is indistinguishable from their wired cousins and they feel just a robust. But the $80 asking price is not cheap, representing a $30 premium over the wired versions.

    No doubt Sony has decided to limit the wireless models to individual sale and keep bundling the wired versions with SingStar games because of the price tag. SingStar has benefited from being terrific value: a fun game anyone can enjoy packaged with two microphones for $100.

    The wireless microphones use a surprisingly large USB receiver to communicate with the console, not Bluetooth technology as originally thought. But crucially, given SingStar’s huge PS2 install base, they are fully compatible with the older console as well as PS3.

    SingStar is not the first singing game to cut the cord: Microsoft released wireless, motion-sensitive microphones with competitor Lips for the Xbox 360 last Christmas. But SingStar has a significant advantage over Lips because of its massive music catalogue, with 650 songs now available for PS3 owners to download via the SingStore (as well as 100,000 videos of people making fools of themselves…)

    The bulging SingStore means that SingStar is arguably now more a “service” in the same vein as iTunes rather than a “product”.

    It also means that it has become impossible to formally review new SingStar releases such as Pop, ABBA or Queen, given the songs on the disc are just the springboard to a huge online music catalogue.

    PS3 owners from today can also download a new SingStar update that lets them browse their song collection using voice commands instead of a joypad. Players can use terms such as “Browse left” and “select” as well as band or song names, which works surprisingly well.

    Sony plans to keep evolving SingStar via online updates, regularly adding new elements. It also plans frequent singing competitions and festivals celebrating popular artists.

    Sony research reveals SingStar has struck a chord with females.

    For the latest gaming news, visit

  2. Hello Ian

    Your website is mentioned in this article!

    Kind ERegards
    Samuel Inglles

    Smash ABBA musical ‘Mama Mia!’ to play again at Kravis Center

    By JAN SJOSTROM, Daily News Arts Editor

    Saturday, August 01, 2009

    Money, Money, Money. The ABBA tune could be considered the unofficial theme song of Mamma Mia!, the musical constructed from the 1970s Swedish pop group’s songs. The show, which has been seen by more than 40 million people since it debuted in 1999 in London, has grossed more than $2 billion at the box office.

    People can’t seem to get enough of Mamma Mia! The show has played eight times at South Florida venues, including twice at the Kravis Center, in 2004 and 2006. Mamma Mia! will return Tuesday when it will open for a six-day run at the Kravis.

    In honor of the occasion, we’ve rounded up some facts about ABBA and the Mamma Mia! sensation:

    * ABBA has sold more than 350 million records — more than any other band except The Beatles.

    * The Web site lists 81 “essential or highly recommended” ABBA-related Web sites.

    * ABBA’s Facebook page has 140,655 fans.

    * A search for ABBA on YouTube retrieves nearly 73,000 results.

    * A touring exhibition of ABBA memorabilia is in the works, salvaged from a failed plan to open an ABBA museum in Stockholm. Visit to sign up for updates.

    * The Broadway production of Mamma Mia! has been going strong for eight years, and the London production has been playing for 11 years.

    * The show has spawned versions in Norwegian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Flemish, German, Russian, Japanese and Korean.

    * The international tour has been on the road for six years.

    * The road-show coming to the Kravis is its second national tour.

    * During the next year, the show will play in Australia, Thailand, Switzerland, Mexico City, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and Taiwan.

    * The 2008 movie starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth is the highest-grossing movie musical of all time, earning box office revenues of nearly $603 million.

    * The original cast recording went platinum in the United States. Eight cast recordings have been produced, including discs in Swedish, German, Dutch, Spanish and Korean.

    What: Kravis on Broadway production of ‘Mamma Mia!’
    Where: Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
    When: Tuesday through Aug. 9
    Information: 832-7469 or

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