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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK


Mirren's mature Cleopatra

Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren at the Royal National Theatre

Helen Mirren wowed London's theatregoers on Tuesday night when she opened as Cleopatra at the Royal National Theatre.

Ms Mirren, 52, played Shakespeare's Egyptian queen on stage 33 years after she first appeared in the role, for the National Youth Theatre in 1965.

In a succession of flimsy dresses, her Cleopatra leads an opulent and seductive court, which entices Antony - played by Alan Rickman - away from his work in Rome.

The play hit trouble last month when star snake Cedric went missing, leaving Cleopatra without a snake to clasp to her bosom during the dramatic final scenes.

But Cedric eventually returned, and the play went without a hitch.

Hollywood's top 500 revealed

[ image: Steven Spielberg: Hollywood's top director]
Steven Spielberg: Hollywood's top director
Steven Spielberg and James Cameron have topped a new survey of 500 film directors from all over the world.

Directors were ranked by trade paper The Hollywood Reporter on their ability to attract big-name actors, get financing, ensure global distribution and score at the box office.

The Director Power '98 list used a scale of zero to 100, dubbing scores in the top five Maximum Director Power.

Spielberg - who has five of the top 20 highest grossing films of all time - led the field with 99.38 points.

Cameron scored 97.84, with Star Wars creator George Lucas following on 97.53.

Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick are behind on 90.94 and 87.96 respectively.

The next 25, in the Strong Director Power bracket, includes Clint Eastwood, Robert Zemeckis, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen.

U2 linked with Nobel show

[ image: Bono: U2 set to back Nobel show, according to reports]
Bono: U2 set to back Nobel show, according to reports
U2 are rumoured to be joining Canadian singer Alanis Morrissette and The Cranberries for a concert to mark the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

Phil Collins and 1980s group A-ha are also on the bill for the Norweigan show, to be held on December 11.

U2's record label Island has been unable to confirm the group's involvement in the concert.

Earlier this year U2 were joined on stage by the men who became this year's Nobel winners - David Trimble and John Hume - at at concert backing the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.

But A-ha, who last released an album in 1992, have reformed specially for the event and are now considering recording together again.

Spicing up the MTV awards

[ image: Emma and Mel C: Off to Milan for MTV show]
Emma and Mel C: Off to Milan for MTV show
Spice Girls Emma Bunton and Mel C have been added to the list of presenters for this year's MTV Europe Music Awards, to be held in Milan on November 12.

The duo join main host Jenny McCarthy and follow guest presenters George Michael, Natalie Imbruglia, B*Witched and Skunk Anansie.

The Spice Girls themselves are up for two prizes - Best Group and Best Pop Act.

Meanwhile, the pair are getting ready for an online chat with fans, to be carried by their official British website at 1630 BST on Wednesday.

McCaskill prepares for panto

[ image: Ian McCaskill: From fluffy bits to Puss In Boots]
Ian McCaskill: From fluffy bits to Puss In Boots
Former weatherman Ian McCaskill is hoping theatregoers don't give him a frosty reception when he makes his panto debut - as a villain.

The popular presenter, who retired from the BBC and Met Office earlier this year, is to tread the boards in Puss In Boots at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

"I may have been a rotten forecaster, but I've never actually been a baddie before," said McCaskill, who will star alongside Rod Hull and Emu.

Connery joins new 007 man

[ image: Sean Connery: Teaming up with Michael Apted]
Sean Connery: Teaming up with Michael Apted
Sean Connery, the original James Bond, is teaming up with the latest 007 director for a new film.

The 68-year-old Oscar-winner, currently filming Entrapment with Catherine Zeta Jones, will star and co-produce John Muir, the tale of a Scottish-born American naturalist.

The movie will be directed by Michael Apted, who begins filming the new Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough later this year.

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