- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cutting it close

Oscar-nominated director Baz Luhrmann‘s $130-million epic film “Australia” is scheduled to make its world premiere in Sydney on Tuesday - but the director says he hasn’t finished it.

According to Reuters news agency, Mr. Luhrmann is flying back to Sydney from New York to complete the film. He has spent four years working on it.

Mr. Luhrmann said a rough cut of the movie, starring Australian actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, so far has been shown only to the audience of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and to “Good Morning America” co-host Diane Sawyer.

Opening Nov. 26 in the United States and Australia, “Australia” is Mr. Luhrmann’s fourth film. His others are “Strictly Ballroom” (1992), “Romeo + Juliet” (1996) and “Moulin Rouge!” (2001), which received an Oscar nomination for best picture.

“Australia” is about an English aristocrat (Miss Kidman) who inherits a sprawling Outback property and falls in love with a rugged drover, or cowboy (Mr. Jackman). Mr. Luhrmann scoffed at recent media reports that 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp., had forced him to change the ending of the movie so Mr. Jackman’s character didn’t die because audiences didn’t like it.

Paul: ‘Rigby‘ claim false

Paul McCartney shot down suggestions Wednesday that his Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” was inspired by a hospital scullery maid after a woman claimed the star had sent her a pay slip signed with that name.

“Eleanor Rigby is a totally fictitious character that I made up,” Mr. McCartney said in a statement released to Agence France-Presse. “If someone wants to spend money buying a document to prove a fictitious character exists, that’s fine with me,” he said.

His spokeswoman added that they had not been able to establish whether Mr. McCartney sent the pay slip to Annie Mawson, who is auctioning it off to raise up to $769,000 for a music therapy center. The auction takes place Nov. 27 in London.

The pay slip dates from 1911 and originally came from City Hospital in Liverpool, Mr. McCartney’s home city in northwestern England, where Rigby worked. Miss Mawson, chief executive of the Sunbeams Music Trust charity, said the ex-Beatles’ office sent her the document after she wrote to him asking for a donation to help children with special needs.

“Eleanor Rigby” - Mr. McCartney’s song about a lonely woman who “died in the church and was buried along with her name/Nobody came” - appeared on the 1966 Beatles album “Revolver” and was the B-side to the single “Yellow Submarine.”

Mr. McCartney has previously said the name Eleanor was inspired by actress Eleanor Bron, who starred in the Beatles film “Help!” in 1965 and that Rigby came from the name of a wine merchant.

In the 1980s, a grave bearing the name Eleanor Rigby was discovered at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton, Liverpool, where Mr. McCartney and band mate John Lennon used to sunbathe as teenagers.

Cops quiz Garrett

Authorities are investigating battery claims against Emmy-winning actor Brad Garrett resulting from a reported scuffle with a photographer in West Hollywood, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Garrett, 48, has not been arrested in the incident, which occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

A video posted on the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com shows photographers shooting and taping Mr. Garrett as he leaves a restaurant. The actor briefly chased one photographer, then pushed the video camera of another paparazzo.

Mr. Garrett, who stars in the Fox sitcom “‘Til Death,” snagged three best-supporting-actor Emmys for his role in the CBS comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

— Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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