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Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 17:51 GMT
Talented tortoises on trial

Frank Skinner gets friendly with a tortoise

Eight tortoises have auditioned in London's West End for the chance to appear alongside Frank Skinner in a new play.

Producers of the Cooking With Elvis show were alarmed at the thought of having to pay 1,000 for a professional agency to supply a creature - and launched a search for amateur reptiles instead.

At one point in the play, Skinner is naked with only the tortoise to preserve his dignity. Eight pets were selected from 60 after it was found they met the right dimensions.

One applicant, Amigo, could be making his stage debut at the Whitehall Theatre at the age of 60.

Skinner liked another tortoise, Monty, who the comedian said "eats peas and does a good Full Monty".

The cast will make their decision on which tortoise to pick at a later date. The show starts on 14 March.

Robbie rocks London

Pop star Robbie Williams was among the celebrities who turned out to christen the new Rock London nightclub.

The 25-year-old chart-topper arrived at the venue with three companions, two of them female.

Dancer Jimmy Gulzar, who split up with wife Spice Girl Mel B over the New Year, also joined the party, as did EastEnders star Dean Gaffney, who plays Robbie Jackson in the top BBC soap.

The new club is situated at Embankment, near the River Thames, and is housed in a 150-year-old pumping station.

Star Wars voted worst of 1999

Sci-fi fans have branded Star Wars the worst movie of last year but also the second best - rubbishing the acting and the plot in a SFX magazine poll.

"Fans who have been championing the Star Wars films for over 20 years felt betrayed by what they saw as a kids movie," said Dave Golder, SFX editor.

Bizarrely the same poll also ranked the film as second best of the year in a separate category, where it was beaten only by The Matrix.

Chainsaw massacre prequel planned

The producers of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series of horror movies are planning to make a prequel.

It will be called Ed Gein, named after the serial killer on whom the films have been loosely based. Production is due to begin on 1 July.

"The goal is to reinvent the series and make it a fabulous ride for a new generation," said producer Deborah Duda

The first film was released in 1974 and spawned three sequels.

Douglas stays close to Zeta Jones

Michael Douglas is set to accompany his pregnant fiancee Catherine Zeta Jones on the set of her next film Traffic when shooting starts in May.

Welsh-born Zeta Jones is set to play a pregnant women in the film and, according to US columnist Marilyn Beck, Douglas will be at her side throughout.

The 55-year-old actor also disclosed that the couple might attend ante-natal classes together and that he "will be with Catherine in the delivery room".

Janus praises cancer film

TV star Samantha Janus stepped out with boyfriend Mark Womack at the charity premiere of One More Kiss in London.

The former Game On star arrived in the West End last night for the film which traces a woman with terminal cancer.

The actress said: "Cancer was one of those things I chose because it wipes out so many people."

Janus, whose father beat throat cancer, praised the film for tackling the issue.

Musical tribute for Queen Mother's 100th

The Army has unveiled plans today to host a massive musical extravaganza in tribute to the Queen Mother.

The performance, which brings together 600 pipers and drummers, is to be held on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

It is scheduled for 27 July - days away from the Queen Mother's 100th birthday.

Major General Mark Strudwick, who commands the Army in Scotland, is to reveal the final plans later today.

Alda offered string of roles after ER

Former M*A*S*H star Alan Alda's return to TV for a guest starring run in ER has led to him being offered a string of roles in various weekly US series.

But so far the 64-year-old, who starred in M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983, has turned down all of them.

His agent Toni Howard told Daily Variety she did not know if Alda would accept another series.

"He had an amazing experience on ER but will only return if he finds something of the calibre of M*A*S*H or ER."

C4 buys Buffy spin-off

Channel Four has bought the terrestrial rights to Angel, the hit US spin-off to the popular Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

A spokesperson for C4 said: "We have bought the first series and will begin airing episodes in the autumn."

In the US, Angel airs straight after Buffy on the WB network but has recently achieved higher ratings.

The programme, already seen in the UK on Sky One, features David Boreanaz in the title role of Angel, a "semi-reformed" vampire.

Courtney to exit Ally for own sitcom

Hit comedy Ally McBeal has been dealt another blow with news that a second actor is set to leave the show.

Courtney Thorne-Smith, who has played Georgia for the past three years, will exit the show at the end of the season to concentrate on her own sitcom.

Earlier this week, Gil Bellows who plays Georgia's estranged husband and Ally's former love Billy, confirmed he was leaving.

Producer David E Kelley said: "Both characters will re-occur next season."
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See also:
24 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Robbie pops into panto
16 Mar 99 |  Entertainment
Texas Chainsaw Massacre released uncut
29 Jan 00 |  Wales
Catherine Zeta Jones confirms pregnancy
10 Feb 00 |  Entertainment
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