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Entertainment: News In Brief

Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK

Branagh to star in modern Macbeth

Kenneth Branagh is to play Macbeth in his latest Shakespearean feature film, it was announced in Cannes.

Branagh, 39, is writing a script which will set the tragedy in the modern age.

He told Variety magazine: "With each Shakespeare film I've moved forward in history, so maybe with this one I will get to the present day."

Branagh, who has also filmed Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing and Henry V, may step down as director for Macbeth.

David Niven gems to go under the hammer

Gifts from the late actor David Niven to his Swedish model wife are expected to fetch thousands of pounds when they are auctioned by Sotheby's in Geneva next week.

Among the items in the Niven collection is an emerald and diamond bracelet by Bulgari which is expected to fetch more than £22,000.

Niven, who died in 1983, appeared in 93 films during his distinguished career, including Around the World in 80 Days, Raffles and the Pink Panther.

Barry Norman tells Scottish actors to tone it down

Film critic Barry Norman has advised Scottish actors to tone down their accents if they want to appeal to a worldwide audience.

"The biggest problem with Scottish films is they make no concessions for non-Scots", Norman told The Scottish Sun.

Refering to films like Trainspotting, Norman said he loved accents, but added: "I feel I'm missing good lines because I haven't a clue what's being said."

But the critic heaped praise on Robert Carlyle and fellow Scot Ewan McGregor, whom he said has all the qualities to be the next Sean Connery.

Axed News At Ten wins top award

ITN's News At Ten has been named Programme Of The Year at a major TV journalism awards ceremony, two months after it was given the chop by ITV.

The 32-year-old show, which was axed in March, impressed judges with its "consistently high standards" to take the Royal Television Society title.

Granada's World In Action, another long-running programme axed by ITV, took the Judges' Award at the RTS Television Journalism Awards.

Boyzone reveals reason for Ballads

Boyzone's Keith Duffy has revealed why the band release so many slow songs - because they don't like dancing.

The 24-year-old singer, hoping for his sixth number one on Sunday with another ballad, You Needed Me, told Channel 5's Pepsi Chart Show that the band prefer to keep still on TV.

"We don't like dancing to be honest. We're not much good at that. We'd much prefer to sit still and sing a song than dance around a studio," he said.

Roger Moore raising funds for refugees

Former James Bond star Roger Moore is in Macedonia helping to raise funds for refugee children from Kosovo in his capacity as a Unicef envoy.

"I hope that I will be able to learn a bit more about the situation here than I get from the newspapers and media, and to raise more funds," said the 71-year-old actor.

Fellow actor Richard Gere also toured refugee camps in Macedonia when he visited the area two weeks ago.

Eurovision winner angers Orthodox Jews

Transsexual pop star Dana International has recorded a traditional Sabbath song in the streets of Jerusalem, enraging ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Rabbi Haim Miller, Jerusalem's deputy mayor, said it was blasphemy and threatened to send thousands of supporters into the streets to protest.

Israel's 1998 Eurovision Song Contest winner, who had a sex change in 1993, performed Dror Yikra, which will be played at the 1999 event on May 29.

Heartbreak for Jane Eyre composer

Composer Michael Berkeley is suffering his own operatic tragedy after the only copy of a work-in-progress, on which he had devoted an entire year, was stolen.

"I'm just devastated. It's like having an embryo ripped from you," said Mr Berkeley, whose work was taken whilst he was unloading his car outside his home in London's Notting Hill.

The material, which contained 55 pages of music, was to form the basis for his forthcoming opera based on Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre.

"I feel completely lost", said Berkeley, who hosts Private Passions on BBC Radio 3.

"I'm hoping that someone will come forward and I'm prepared to give some money if that is going to help".

Pinter attacks West End theatre

Director and playwright Harold Pinter has critised London's Gielgud Theatre following its decision to abandon his latest play for a rock musical about a boy band.

Pinter told the Guardian newspaper he felt a "deep sense of shock and betrayal", adding, "I think it is a disgrace to me, the production and to English theatre".

The decision not to show the play, The Late Middle Classes, means it will never be shown in London, despite a successful regional run and glowing reviews.

Pearl Jam to raise funds for refugees

Rock band Pearl Jam plan to donate all proceeds from their forthcoming American single to refugees in Kosovo, it has been revealed.

Last Kiss, a cover of a 1964 hit by J Frank Wilson, is released in the US on 8 June. Proceeds will go to Cara, an Atlanta-based relief agency.

Once the band's new album is released a week later, their record company Epic will also make a $1m donation to Care and two other aid agencies.

Fry prepares to fill Wellington's boots

Stephen Fry and David Suchet are being lined up for a new film centred around the Battle of Waterloo, according to a newspaper report.

Fry will play the Duke of Wellington, a role he once took in a an episode of Blackadder, and Suchet will play Napoleon, says The Express.

The film, which has has the working title Sabotage, speculates that a Napoleon lookalike rather than the man himself was captured after the battle.

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