Thursday, 15 December 2011

Olivia Newton John Interview

I am very happy that my interview with Olivia Newton John has been printed in Thrive In Life Magazine. We chat about yoga, her walk on the Great Wall of China, and much more. Olivia is a true inspiration and I was very honoured to do this interview with her.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

My Week With Marilyn

Last night I went to see 'My Week With Marilyn'. I had decided from very early on that I most likely wouldn't go to see it, but I'm glad I did, as it has now enabled me to have a valid and informed opinion of the movie.

First of all, I thought that Michelle Williams did a grand job at being Marilyn with the material she had. No, she doesn't look particularly like her, but I thought she did a very good job at trying to adopt her characteristics and voice. There were times during the scenes from 'The Prince and The Showgirl' that I could just about believe that it was Marilyn up there on the screen - she really had studied the part of Elsie in great detail.

The parts of 'My Week With Marilyn' that covered the making of 'The Prince and The Showgirl' were mainly fine in my opinion. I have spent 16 years researching every detail of the trip to England and of course the shooting of the movie, and it is no secret that Marilyn was difficult to work with and had trouble learning her lines. She walked off set in temper at times, and had the odd day off when she really shouldn't have, and all of this is documented in 'My Week With Marilyn'. The making of the movie corresponded well with what I have found by talking to cast members, crew and friends over the past two decades.

What I did have a problem with was the part of the movie that dealt with the flirtation or romance between Marilyn and Colin Clark. It is a fact that he was indeed on the movie, and this is confirmed by production records, but there is nothing in the records that indicates any kind of flirtation between the two, and according to 'My Week With Marilyn', just about everybody seemed to know about it on set. This can not be the case in 'real life' judging by the people I have spoken to over the years. Nobody has remembered any kind of romance either on set or off, so either it happened in complete secrecy or not at all. In my opinion it did not happen and I'm not saying that to be controversial towards the film-maker or the author; it's my opinion based on the research I have done and the people I have spoken to over the years.

I actually spoke to Colin Clark many times in the 1990s by telephone and I still have his letters. At the time I found him to be a charming man; very friendly and always happy to help me, but he never told me of any romance between him and Marilyn at all. Instead he spoke highly of her as a person, and at one point said something which I found very interesting at the time and indeed now: that often memory plays tricks on a person, and he demonstrated that by revealing to me that he had recently been in trouble with journalist Donald Zec. Apparently he had written in the book that Marilyn did not know who he was and hadn't met him before, but Zec had proven to Clark that that wasn't the case at all; Marilyn did know him and had actually posed for photographs with him.

My research into the making of the film has revealed discrepancies between the dates in the diary and a document compiled at the end of shooting, which showed the dates and times that Marilyn was on set for the entire shoot. It does show that Marilyn was off set sometimes, but did she spend that free time with Colin? In my opinion she spent the days off biking in Windsor with her husband; being genuinely ill; pottering around Parkside House; doing costume fittings for parties; shopping in London and going to the theatre with her husband. I do not believe she ever went to Windsor Castle or Eton. Why? Because in all the years of researching, I have heard from people who saw her in Brighton; cycling in Egham; driving in the lanes of Surrey... I've had letters from students who serenaded her from her garden; people who saw her at the theatre; even people who saw the infamous 'fake Marilyn' at Shakespeare's house. But never have I heard from anyone who saw her actually in Windsor castle or at Eton, and so that's a real sticking point for me.

But ignoring the parts of the film that were 'off-set', I did think it was a worthwhile effort by those involved. The casting was very good, and thought all of the actors made great attempts to get close to those they were playing. The only one I didn't like was the portrayal of Milton Greene. He wasn't portrayed in the best light and was not the person I have found him to be in my research.

The costumes were fabulous; the make-up wonderful and the sets were lavish and beautifully designed. I love period films anyway, so that was a great treat for me and in all I did indeed enjoy watching it and think that there will probably be quite a few awards for Michelle William's portrayal. I was very concerned with the way Marilyn would be played, and how she would come across, but I didn't have many problems with that side, apart from her being portrayed as rather more naive than she ever was in real life. But putting that and the 'romance' aside, I would say the film is still worth seeing. Just take the cornier parts of the script with a big pinch of salt and make your own mind up.

Friday, 25 November 2011

'My Week With Marilyn' and my trip to Pinewood Studios

I was really thrilled recently to be asked to film a segment for 'The One Show', for the BBC. I was even more excited when I discovered that the filming would take place at Pinewood Studios, home to many, many wonderful films but of course the biggest one for me being 'The Prince and the Showgirl' with Marilyn Monroe.

I travelled to and from Pinewood in a mixture of train and chauffeur driven Mercedes (I could get used to that!) and once at the studios, I was presented with a map to try and find the TV building, which is where I was filming.

Pinewood Studios is like a huge industrial estate and to say I was confused by the map would be an understatement. I wandered around, trying to follow the hand-drawn directions, but it was no use. I eventually had to phone for help but not before I stumbled across a large castle and a medieval soldier; both of which were for the new Snow White film that is currently being shot there. Now when I see the film at the cinema, it will be my claim to fame to say I saw the castle before anyone else did!

I arrived at the TV building and was hurried into a dressing room where the interview was to take place. I brought a handful of Marilyn books with me and after spreading them out it was time for the questions to begin.

I was asked various things about Marilyn, such as the usual - was she a dumb blonde, through to could she act and everything in between. Eventually I was asked what I thought of the Colin Clark diaries which were the basis for the new movie, 'My Week with Marilyn'. I explained that the research I have done over the past 16 years doesn't necessarily correspond with Clark's book and that I had dedicated a huge amount of time to researching Marilyn's trip to England and the events that took place during the time. I always try and be diplomatic with my answers so began as so:

"Whether or not they are true or if he embellished them we'll never know, but..." I then went on to explain about my research once again. Unfortunately on the night of the broadcast, the last part of my answer was cut so that my answer only went up to the words 'we'll never know'.

I was a little disappointed to be edited this way, but the producers only had a few moments to include my comments, so maybe it was to be expected. I do hope though that viewers could see how very passionate I am about Marilyn and her contribution to this world. I have had very positive comments so far, so hopefully that did come across.

Incidentally, while I did say 'we'll never know', in regards Colin and Marilyn's friendship, I didn't mean we'll never know if they had an affair, because I whole-heartedly believe they did not. I don't even think they had a flirtation, based on the research I've done. What I did mean was that we'll never know the extent of the relationship - i.e. if they were friends; if they ever spoke in great detail to each other; etc. etc. I do believe that comes across in my answer; and thankfully have had some very positive comments from viewers in this regard.

I haven't seen the movie yet, so will reserve my judgement on that until I have. In the meantime, I would like to say that I did offer my research to the producers of the movie before it went into production, but never received a reply....

Saturday, 2 July 2011

MM Private and Undisclosed

I am very pleased and proud to unveil the cover for my new book, out Spring 2012. As most of you know, while it has the same name as the last book, this one is completely revised and expanded and will have many, many new interviews, stories and memories in it.... Someone who recently read it described it as 'Hugely impressive'. I hope you will think that way too!!

Until then, I hope you enjoy the cover!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

MM Private and Undisclosed

At long last I am very happy to announce my MM biography will be republished as a paperback next year.

The publication date will be approx March or April 2012; it will be published as part of the Brief History series by Constable in the UK and by Running Press in the USA and the title will be 'The Brief History of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed'...

There will be more information, stories and memories than previously, with some new photos too.... Feel free to spread the word or ask any questions too! Thanks for your support!