CELEB GOSS: INXS: Oz rock god brought to tears

Luke Arnold as Michael Hutchence. Picture: NARELLE SHEEHAN

Luke Arnold as Michael Hutchence. Picture: NARELLE SHEEHAN

INXS: Oz rock god brought to tears

The cameras hadn't even started rolling on INXS: Never Tear Us Apart when up-and-coming actor Luke Arnold received a poignant reminder of the responsibility that comes with depicting a real-life character, whose memory is still fresh in the minds of those who knew and loved him.

On the first day of rehearsals for the two-part mini-series, in which Arnold depicts Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS, fellow band-member Tim Farriss was on set.

Farriss was visibly upset when Arnold emerged from a dressing-room looking cannily like his late friend.

''Can I tell you something?'' he whispered to Arnold. ''You're not Michael.''

Tears well up as Farriss recalls that first meeting. ''I wanted to say things to Michael,'' he says.

INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.

INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.

Since Hutchence's death in a Sydney hotel room in 1997 in circumstances that are still open to much conjecture, there has been no shortage of interest from film and TV program makers in a project about the charismatic singer and the globally successful band he fronted.

The consent of the band and its manager, Chris Murphy, was a key factor in greenlighting Never Tear Us Apart.

''There were a lot of obstacles to navigate about who owns what,'' says executive producer Mark Fennessy. ''INXS took a huge leap of faith in backing us. They've had a lot of approaches over the years, a lot of opportunities for movies and mini-series from all corners of the world. Ultimately, they backed us, which is a big call, given [production company] Shine [Australia] hasn't done a lot of scripted drama.''

In addition to giving the production the rights to the music, the remaining band members were closely involved. Tim Farriss regularly attended the shoot and offered advice.

''The very first day I could tell he knew nothing about [playing a] bass,'' he says referring to Hugh Sheridan, who plays Garry Gary Beers, while Kirk Pengilly lent wardrobe items for his alter-ego, played by Alex Williams, and others to wear.

Mark Opitz, who produced many INXS albums, was also on board.

While the mini-series doesn't deal with the circumstances of Hutchence's death, it is an inescapable part of the story, says director Daina Reid.

INXS: Never Tear Us Apart premieres on Seven next week.

Read the full story: SMH.COM.AU

Vedder a surprise guest at Neil Finn show

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder made a surprise appearance when he performed a duet with Neil Finn in front of a small audience of about 300 people in Sydney.

Finn introduced Vedder as ‘‘a special friend’’ as he came on for an encore during a Max Sessions performance at the Seymour Centre on Wednesday night.

The pair performed Throw Your Arms Around Me and belted out a pumping rendition of History Never Repeats to a standing ovation from the delighted crowd.

Vedder said he should have been graduating when Throw Your Arms Around Me was written.

‘‘But it never happened between you and my favourite ashtray filled with joints,’’ he quipped to Finn.

‘‘Had I graduated who knows what would have become of me.’’

Finn replied: ‘‘It all ended well.’’

The Crowded House founder performed material from his forthcoming album Dizzy Heights as well as old favourites from his back catalogue including One Step Ahead and a piano solo of Message To My Girl.

Finn’s new album, his third solo offering, was made in collaboration with his wife Sharon and sons Liam and Elroy, and shows a more introspective side of the New Zealand singer-songwriter.

Wednesday’s session came ahead of the release of Dizzy Heights in Australia and New Zealand on February 7.

It was also the first outing for Finn’s new band which will accompany him on an Australian and overseas tour that kicks off in March.

The concert will air on Foxtel’s Max channel in late March.

Judy Skatssoon, AAP 

White House weighs up Bieber petition



As if Barack Obama didn’t have enough problems to deal with already, his administration now is being asked to weigh in on the grave matter of Justin Bieber’s bad behaviour.

By midday Wednesday (4am on Thursday in Australia), a petition on the White House website calling for the deportation of the Canadian-born teen idol had garnered 103,000 names - easily surpassing the threshold of 100,000 signatures required for presidential consideration.

‘‘We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture,’’ says the petition, created by one ‘‘J.A.’’ in Detroit on January 23, the day Bieber was busted in Miami Beach for impaired driving and illegal drag racing in a flashy Italian sports car.

‘‘We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug-abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked. 

He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation’s youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.’’

Justin Bieber appears in court via video link. Picture REUTERS

Justin Bieber appears in court via video link. Picture REUTERS

The White House website hosts citizens’ petitions on other, more heady issues such as the legalisation of marijuana and a pardon for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

‘‘Every petition that crosses the threshold will be reviewed by the appropriate staff and receive a response,’’ assistant White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki cautioned that the petition program ‘‘doesn’t always determine a step will be taken, it’s more of another opportunity for the voices of the American people to be heard.’’

There was no comment from Bieber himself, who according to gossip websites was back in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a weekend beach break in Panama.

Bieber, 19, is understood to be living and working in the US under a renewable O-1 visa for entertainers, rather than a green card for permanent resident status.

It remains unclear whether Bieber’s visa to stay in the US would be affected by his arrest.

Now out on bail, Bieber is due back in Miami for a court appearance on Valentine’s Day, when he will also also face charges of resisting arrest and using an expired driver’s licence.

Police in Los Angeles are pursuing their own investigation into an earlier incident in which Bieber allegedly hurled eggs at a neighbour’s house.


Amber Heard fuels Depp engagement rumours

Amber Heard has fuelled rumours she is engaged to Johnny Depp after she was spotted showing off a large diamond ring on her wedding finger.

Recent reports suggested The Rum Diary co-stars became engaged over the Christmas holidays, but neither of them commented on the story. 

Heard was subsequently seen hiding her left hand in front of photographers.

However, she has now been snapped showing off her new piece of jewellery - a massive ring on her wedding finger - fuelling speculation the pair is planning to marry.

Heard was seen wearing the band as she photographed her rumoured fiance while he was on stage at a gig in Anaheim, California on Saturday night. 

Depp was performing at the Servite Theatre with stars including Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, and Marilyn Manson, while Heard snapped pictures from the side of the stage.

Depp split from his longterm partner, Vanessa Paradis, the mother of his two children, in 2012.


Gene Simmons to guest star on CSI

Gene Simmons. Picture: GETTY

Gene Simmons. Picture: GETTY

KISS founder Gene Simmons is set to make a cameo on top TV drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Simmons will play himself on an episode of the crime show in March.

CSI executive producers Don McGill and Carol Mendelsohn said in a statement: ‘‘We’re really excited to have Gene Simmons guest starring on CSI, playing himself in a rock-and-roll themed murder mystery.’’

This isn’t the first foray into TV for the 64-year-old - he has previously appeared as himself on Castle and Ugly Betty.