Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, June 10, 2004









Rocking with Peter Gabriel

Innovative musician, writer and video maker Peter Gabriel is one of the very few musician who promotes artists from all over the world. One of the musicians he had promoted was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. And he keeps on promoting unknown talents through organising international festivals.

Born in 1950, vocalist Peter Gabriel co-founded the band Genesis along with keyboardist Tony Banks and bassist Mike Rutherford in 1968. After recording seven progressive rock albums with Genesis he left in 1975 to make more experimental music than Genesis could make.

His post Genesis works began amid experimentation with synthesizers mixed with ethnic rhythms. But he did not limit his efforts in just making albums.

In 1980, he collected together a group of people to found WOMAD (World of Music, Arts & Dance). In a series of international festivals, each year WOMAD brings together traditional and modern music, arts and dance from every corner of the globe. Peter is currently an advisor on the board of WOMAD.

Shortly afterwards, Peter established Real World Studios in Wiltshire, designed as an ideal environment for performance. It also became the base for Real World Records, a label which is dedicated to recording and promoting a wide range of artists from all over the world.

He has released 10 solo albums, and in 1986 he won his first Grammy with his seventh album, 'So'. The videos from this project established him as a leader in video production and included 'Sledgehammer' which has won the most music video awards ever, including a No. 1 position in Rolling Stone's top 100 videos of all time.

In 1989, Peter composed the soundtrack for Martin Scorcese's epic film 'The Last Temptation of Christ', which was the basis for one of his most experimental and innovative albums, 'Passion'. The album, which involved an extraordinary selection of musicians and vocalists, integrated many very different styles of music. A powerful concept, it provided the inspiration behind the BBC's specialist radio programme, 'Mixing It'.

Then 1991 saw him open Real World's doors to a host of international artists and producers for a unique recording project in association with WOMAD and Real World Records. Known as "Recording Week", the aim was to make the most active and creative use of the studio's many facilities. The collaboration of musicians from different cultures produced some of the most daring and exciting work.

For the release of his tenth solo album, 'Us', in 1992, Peter commissioned 11 visual artists to interpret each of the 11 songs on the album. These works of art were featured at the British Contemporary Art Exhibition in 1993 and also at a special exhibition in Japan.
'Us' earned him four Grammy nominations and two MTV awards in the USA, plus awards from BRIT and Q in the UK.

April 1993 was the start of the 'Secret World Tour'. Produced by Peter and pioneering Canadian director/designer Robert Lepage, the show blended Lepage's visionary style of theatre with Peter's personal songs focused on relationships. It was seen by over a million fans in five continents and toured for 18 months.

In August 1994, Peter Gabriel's 'Secret World Live', the double live album and video, was released.

Peter has been involved in a broad spectrum of human rights and environmental issues. His song, 'Biko', was the first pop song which talked about the effects of apartheid, and in 1988 and 1990 he was involved in the Nelson Mandela concerts at Wembley. In 1988 he also worked with Amnesty International to set up the "Human Rights Now" tour, visiting many countries with Sting, Bruce Springsteen,Tracey Chapman and Youssou N'Dour.
Following this, he initiated the "Witness" programme, which was launched in 1992 in conjunction with the Reebok Foundation in the USA. The organisation aims to arm human rights activists from around the world with hand-held video cameras and other tools of mass communication. To date, they have supplied hundreds of cameras to over fifty countries, and have also set up a bi-weekly Witness web broadcast via Macintosh's Quicktime Channel.

In 1989, he visited the USSR to help launch Greenpeace and also contributed to the 'One World, One Voice' album - a collaborative project which featured artists from all over the world.

Also in 1993, Peter set up Real World Multimedia and brought together a team of experts dedicated to developing, producing and publishing innovative CD-ROMs and pushing new technology to its limits.

RWMM launched a series of multimedia titles, which went on to win many awards across the world, including the coveted Milia d'Or, two BAFTAS, the 1994 BIMA Award, the Sparky from the Interactive Media Festival and four awards at the Digital Media Awards. Among these titles were 'Ceremony of Innocence' and Peter's CD-ROM's 'XPLORA 1' and 'EVE'.


Hugh Jackman & Kate Bekinsale: Van Helsing

Q: Are you also one of the characters who's flying high up in the air?

Hugh: Yeah, we're doing some wire stuff. That's thrilling. I love it. There are some scenes where we are on wires and we are flying around because there's vampires and bats and things like that involved, and we're being dragged around this huge fight sequence. It's taken four weeks, at least, to shoot just the main unit. Then there's a whole other second unit, too. I'm being dragged by vampires, lifted off the ground - and then Kate's character gets lifted off and I have to run and grab her by the legs - and we're flying, going very fast.

The hardest scene in that sequence was the extras, who were incredible. One of the great things about Prague is you get these extras you can't believe. Their faces, these people look like peasants. Many of them were - I don't say that in a bad way, but um, many of them have been taken from the homeless shelters. They look incredible. And they're thrilled to have the work. The film industry in Prague has been fantastic for them. But they're getting everything translated into Czech so everything goes in, and the scene is a melee. Literally there's 250 people with pitchforks and scythes and knives, all running around. And in the middle of that, I run on wires, and if they cut together all of the outtakes of me taking out the villagers who I'm supposed to be protecting I'll become the most dislikable hero in the history of the movies.

Q: What's it been like working with Kate?

Hugh: Kate is wickedly funny in her wry, English humor. She grew up one of five kids, I think, with four brothers, so doing these action films for her and playing these ballsy women - she has this incredible look which, she sort of, you know, looks very beautiful and done up, and much like a princess in many ways. But trust me, she's stronger than most girls I know.

She's physically very able, which is terrific. I've had one shot where she had to land from about up there, and she had to be dropped on wires as though it was not on wires. So she had to come down fast, with her knees on either side of me here pinning me back. As she was about to do it, I thought, 'This could be really bad.' All I could see was a mouthful of knees. But she's incredible. She was almost better than the stunt girl.

She's great fun to work with, and of course she's got a little kid and I've got a little kid and they're married. They've declared themselves married. My boy is three, and her girl is four and they're together. I don't know how long it will last but know, they're got it all worked out.

Q: Kate has described you as the nicest guy in Hollywood.

Hugh: Kate, you're going to ruin my career.

Kate: I checked you out. Believe me, I watched you for six months.

Hugh: We had a great time and it was the most fun I ever had on a set. Stephen Sommers is an old-fashioned director because he sets the tone. He ends the day at 7:30 pm with the same energy he had in the morning. He goes 100 percent every day but never goes a minute past 7:30. He pops his head in your makeup trailer every morning to see you and ask if you have any questions. Trust me - that doesn't always happen. He made it really easy. It was an almost frighteningly free of tension and there were no breakdowns.

Kate: That's how we felt a bit about you. You arrived with this "Gone Hollywood" label. The set was full of nasty English and Australian people and we wanted to find out what's going on there. We were peering in his trailer and popping in unexpectedly, but there was nothing.

Hugh: Steve actually came into my trailer when I was practicing for Oklahoma. I was wearing my Van Helsing costume but with tap shoes on. I felt this presence behind me, I turned around and Steve said, "Do not tell anyone!" He was genuinely frightened. He thought it was the end of his movie.

Q: Kate, how did you get into the whole physicality of the role?

Kate: I had a whole training period called Underworld. I didn't have any training for this movie because I started it right after I finished Underworld. But I would have been in huge trouble if I hadn't done Underworld. We had a great stunt coordinator who would tell me to jump off this 80-foot tall building, but I knew how to do it. I found it really helpful and sometimes it's really helpful to be around friendly people who you trust. Some people will go further for those they trust. It was a very comfortable set. The only stunt I hurt myself on was when I was running up to a window and I banged my elbow.

Hugh: Occasionally Kate would pull the English rose thing but then as soon as action is said she's tougher than all of us. One stunt I was nervous about was when we were on wires about 50 feet up in the air and we're supposed to land on a mat with Kate astride of me with her knees on either side of my head. I did it once with the stunt double and she nearly landed on my shoulder. I thought "Just a few more inches and I'm going to get a knee in the face." We did it three times and Kate got it right every time like an Olympic gymnast.

Q: Hugh, there have been quite a few Van Helsings before you in Dracula films. Did you take from any of those performances?

Hugh: They weren't really relevant. I play a much younger Van Helsing. I did read Bram Stoker's novel. According to Stoker he is much older and very enigmatic. I took the Dutch accent mildly and there is mystery around him but not much else. He is still an expert on the occult and has a window into this other world.

Q: Kate, pretty much every one had a transformation process except for you.

Kate: No way! I was in makeup for three hours a day. It was a nightmare. The boots took 25 minutes to get on. Every tiny curl in my hair took so long.

Q: What special skill or idea did you learn from working on this film?

Kate: For me I was having all kinds of interesting personal things going on. I really did find that working with people like Stephen and Hugh made it possible to get through them. I had such a profound experience on this because they gave me freedom to just go. It was really liberating. Doing Van Helsing made me feel like I was prepared to work on The Aviator with Martin Scorsese. It sounds ridiculous but it was true. In a theatre it's a given that everyone is supportive but it's quite difficult on a film but we did really became a family.

Q: Kate, what can you say about the Underworld sequel? And Hugh, what about X-Men 3?

Kate: Were I not marrying the director, I'm not sure I'd know anything about the Underworld sequel. The first draft is under lock and key at the moment.

Hugh: I think they're in discussions about X-Men 3.

Sony's GBA-killer Announced!

On the 11th of May, 2004, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) officially unveiled the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) at the E3 2004 event held at the L.A. Convention Centre, USA.

This is the first time the electronics giant has forayed into the handheld market one that has been indefinitely dominated by Nintendo's GameBoy series for the past decade.

The PSP is scheduled for launch in Japan at the end of this year and will be released worldwide in 2005.

The console itself looks very ergonomically designed and is only somewhat similar to the original GameBoy Advance in general shape. It comes in a black matte colour similar to the Sony PS2. It boasts a 4.5" 16:9 (length : breadth) TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 480 x 272 pixels and is able to display about 16.7 million colours. In layman terms, it has a very, very impressive display. If you see the image you can see that the screen is pleasantly large. It approximately weighs in at 260 grams. It has basic portable functions like built-in stereo speakers, headphone jack, brightness control and sound mode selectors. The buttons resemble that of a standard PS2 controller with the Square, Triangle, X and Circle face buttons, a digital pad, Start, Select, an Analog thumbstick and two Shoulder buttons (R1 and L1) at the top.

Also for technophiles, it boasts USB 2.0 and 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless LAN connectivity for multiple PSPs to be connected simultaneously together. Data and software can be downloaded either bu using the wireless LAN connection or through Sony's Memory Stick Pro Duo. The PSP also uses Sony's proprietary Universal Media Disc (UMD) format. This is a small, high-capacity optical disc designed by Sony. It allows for a capacity of a whopping 1.8 GB of space even if the disc is puny with a diameter of 60mm! The UMD makes for an incredibly versatile format for games, music and video. To protect this content, a copyright protection system has been made which uses a combo of a unique disc ID, a 128-bit AES encryption keys for the media and an individual ID for each PSP unit. The upside is that not only games, but both music (esp. music videos and full length albums!) and full DVD movies will be released in the UMD format. Thus you can enjoy some great portable content anywhere, anytime! Of course the downside is that the movies and games are regionally coded into PAL for Europe, NTSC U/C for the US, NTSC/J for Japan, etc.

Now here comes the juicy part. Uptill now you're probably thinking that the PSP is a handheld version of the original PlayStation (One), right? Well that's where you're wrong! Sony has designed the PSP hardware using chips from the PS2! Not only does this make the PSP cheap (since the chips are already in production for the PS2), it means that the PSP, a handheld the size of a GBA, is able to match and even outperform the PS2 itself! Is that incredible or what? Though many were skeptical when they heard this (and I'm sure most of you will be), after seeing actual footage from the PSP during the E3 2004 they were dumbfounded it appeared that the PSP was as powerful as (and it appeared at times, more powerful than) the PS2!

So far, about 99 developers from the USA, Japan and Europe have announced development plans for the Sony PSP. Many games are being showcased at the E3 2004 and have been met with aplomb from the attendees. There have been some ports of existing games as well as complete surprises. Some highly anticipated games include Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, Metal Gear: Acid, Dynasty Warriors, Death Jr., NBA Street, Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Formula One 2004 and more!

Sites Unseen

For the fans of Harry Potter out there, the third movie in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, is going to be released on June 4. A new director directs this movie, so you will see many changes, or let's say improvements, in this movie. In the honour of the Harry Potter fans and the upcoming movie, this very first article of Sites unseen will be themed about Harry Potter and stuff related to it.

Now you would surely want to know more about the movie, and of course, about the cast and the crew. Visit the official site of the movie: www.harrypotter.com. You can download a lot of stuff here, especially the trailers. You can also subscribe to the official Harry Potter newsletter. And don't worry, there are no movie spoilers in this site.

www.mugglenet.com is another site very dedicated to Harry Potter books, movies, cast crews and everything else you could think of about Harry Potter. The site has freshly updated news, rumours and hoaxes, pictures of the crews, wallpapers, screensavers, and funny write-ups. If you want to be kept updated of what's going on the Harry Potter world, then this site is for you.

Our favourite author, J K Rowling, has recently rebuilt her website. What was once a boring site listing publishers is now one of the most innovative and cool sites in the internet. Why did I praise the site so much? See for yourself: www.jkrowling.com. When you visit the site, you will see an interactive flash video showing J K Rowling desk, cluttered with pieces of paper, chewing gum wrappers, newspapers, floppy disks. All the links to the news, rumours, FAQ and other stuff are among them.

Hmm, I guess it's getting somewhat boring. That's exactly the thing I dreaded the most. You know, sometimes you just can't help it. I hope that this time, I can.

You see everybody is going to praise Harry Potter in awe for a couple of days. So unless something different comes up, you will all get bored. If you love Harry Potter and know a lot about it, then I've got something very funny for you. These are flash animation videos, poking some harmless fun at everything related to Harry Potter. http://www.luckystarscattery.com/Potter.swf and http://www.g33k.nu/flash/potter2.swf Remember to watch them serially; the second one is the sequel of the first one. These will surely make you laugh.

Well, that's it this article of Sites unseen. I hope that you find it useful. Oh, if you have problems with any links or any other things, you can always email me at niloy@yours.com.


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star