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Coming to a cinema near you - spandex, lies and videotape

IF AN intellectual is some-one who can listen to the 'William Tell Overture' without thinking of the Lone Ranger, then the litmus test for a Spider-Man fan must be watching their hero without wondering how Tobey Maguire manages to get in and out of his skintight, zip-free latex suit.

Harsh realities in TV's battle for viewers

THERE are two kinds of show in broadcasting: the timeless and the time-limited. Parkinson, for instance, is a format which has in-built longevity for as long as there are people who have lives worth hearing about. Big Brother and Stars In Their Eyes on the other hand should come with egg timers counting down to the moment when audience patience finally reaches boiling point.

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Crazy Frog shows pop charts are ready to croak

CRAZY Frog has spawned much more than just what is quite possibly the most annoying sound to have come within our collective earshot. It is also responsible for the most annoying TV ad, which by the way makes no narrative sense at all: "The crazy frog is back in town and on the run." If he's on the run, perhaps it is not a smart idea to come back into town then.

Tom's love cruise heads down Hollywood river and up the creek

TOM and Katie, Angelina and Brad, and Britney and Kev have all been making themselves audible on the subject of amour this week. Once upon a time Hollywood romances were like Hollywood movies, with the fab couple demurely heading off into the sunset. Now they're riding down Sunset to the television studio so that Tom Cruise, 42, can tell Oprah of his excited infatuation with Katie Holmes, 26.

Between guitar rock and hard cheese

IF BRITISH DJs have an image problem, it is thanks largely to Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield. As Smashie and Nicey, two dim but smug veteran platter-spinners, they parodied the worst kind of radio voices as crescendos of self-promotion and wannabe-trendy vocabulary.

Why can't we have a Scottish Meltdown?

‘VANITY, thy name is woman," declared Hamlet rather petulantly: to be fair he was under a lot of pressure at the time. And of course, we all have something of the show-off in us, or Dance Fever, Big Brother, Stars In Their Eyes and karaoke would never get any airtime. Unlike the public, celebrities have almost limitless opportunities to parade their opinions and endorsements. Sometimes this power is abused, and ever so occasionally, a celeb’s messianic hubris can be put to good use.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

THE nature of reverie has changed forever - we have become intensely nostalgic for things that have barely had time to be consigned to the history books.

Madonna desperately seeks the ability to act

WHEN you picture Madonna, it’s difficult to see just one definitive image rather than the open-ended montage that has served her progress as the mother of reinvention. One concrete image still eludes her, however - that of actress. Not that Ms Ciccone herself accepts this. Or appreciates anyone else making this point.

A-list stars queue up to land a naff role

SOME years ago, Roger Enrico, then president and chief executive of Pepsi-Cola, was talking excitedly about his new celebrity signing. He had secured the services of America’s number one recording artist of the time, a star who was clean-living and non-political. Soon enough, however, Pepsi was forced to pull the plug on its multi-million-dollar sponsorship of Michael Jackson.

Why Little Britain won't be big in America

THE dysfunctional characters in Little Britain operate as the antithesis of the American dream; a gaudy couple of transvestites can’t fool anyone, an incomprehensible teenage mum who swaps her baby for a Westlife CD, and Daffyd, who is defiantly certain against all contrary evidence that he’s the only gay man in his Welsh village.

Singin' the boos can't give no satisfaction

MICK Jagger and Jerry Hall are not so much stars as international stereotypes: he is the fashionably emaciated rocker, she is the languidly glamorous Texan model.

Sword of justice looks more like a cutlass

THIS has certainly been the British Phonographic Industry’s week for weasel words and futile deeds.

Why not Mount Rushmore for the Ramones?

FORGET that South Bank Show special, forget the breathless acclaim of the bestselling biography and certainly forget anything as intangible as a ‘reputation’ - for some artists, the ultimate accolade is having a memorial created in your honour.

Beam it up: Star Trek faces final frontier

LIKE iPods, Morrissey and rice pudding, Star Trek is one of those things that inspires either adoration or deep loathing. You may love it so much that you can order your favourite meal in Klingon, or you chuck coins in the hats of those who do.

Pub rock and earnest sermonising? That'll be £40 please

IN A skit for "U2: The Early Years", Ben Stiller once sent up rock’s cosmic Irish band with a mockumentary where the group plays bar mitzvahs and weddings with all their trademark sententiousness. "How about Leo Krupnick, who made that cool gefilte fish sculpture, huh?" cries Bono. "I hope everyone’s ready to dance the Hora and the Hokey Pokey soon. And I’ll tell you something else. I’m sick and tired of what’s going on in Northern Ireland..."

Princess of Potters is a martyr to the ad-lib

DON’T you love comedians? Those waggish scamps, those naughty-but-nice funsters, those priests of the put-down. Don’t girls find comics irresistible as a sort of ultimate Guy Who Makes You Laugh?

Goody, there's a foul doctor in the House

OH, THE pull of medical drama on a hypochondriac audience hooked on a familiar fix. From the start, most hospital programmes are pitched at so high a dramatic note they attract dogs.

DVD goodies don't mean a thing if they ain't got that swing

IN THE past few months there has been a storm brewing in America over DVD extras.

Sport's still game when stars lose the plot

THE argument about sports books runs like this: novels from Serious Writers are accepted in literary circles because we know the sport is only there as a vehicle enabling these writers to explore issues of much deeper significance and metaphysical importance. Or something.

No wonder Bad Santa's sleighing us

FOR Hollywood studios, Christmas shopping must be a chaotic and anxious affair.

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