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News Archive: February 2006
Bleak House: Rent or Own
Posted at 12:05 PM (PST) on Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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If you purchase the DVDs through our online links, the referral fees will benefit Neurofibromatosis, Inc. Thank you for your support!

The DVDs should also be available for rental at your favorite video stores.

Gillian at Vogue Pre-BAFTA Dinner
Posted at 9:02 PM (PST) on Sunday, February 19, 2006

There are new photos of Gillian leaving the Vogue Pre-BAFTA dinner on February 17th, available to view here.

Thank you to Anderson Avenue.

Music Rec: CocoRosie
Posted at 10:43 AM (PST) on Friday, February 17, 2006

Gillian says, "I am obsessed with a band called CocoRosie."

Noah's Ark
By CocoRosie

Noah's Ark

La Maison de Mon Reve
By CocoRosie

La Maison de Mon Ręve

For more of Gillian's favorite music recommendations, click here.

New Affiliate: iTunes Music Store
Posted at 4:56 PM (PST) on Monday, February 13, 2006

Follow our links and banners to the iTunes music store and 5% of your purchase will benefit NF, Inc!

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iTunes offers the largest and most diverse legal music download catalog: Over 1 million tracks from all 5 major labels and more than 600 independents.

Also downloadable are more than 8,000 audiobooks and popular public radio programs including, "This American Life with Ira Glass," "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," "Car Talk," and more.

Buy high-quality, ad-free music videos and TV shows for just $1.99, sync them to the new iPod and go. Browse and buy more than 3,000 music videos, plus new and vintage TV shows including “Saturday Night Live” and “Commander in Chief.”

Bleak House: Metro Toronto Phone Interview
Posted at 3:03 PM (PST) on Monday, February 13, 2006

Role hooks Anderson
Actress initially refused part in Bleak House

By Sandy Caetano
Metro Toronto

Wanting to further pursue her career in film and theatre, Gillian Anderson, formerly known as special agent Dana Scully from sci-fi drama The X-Files, told her agent to turn down any television roles that came knocking on her door.

That was until Bleak House, a new BBC One epic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel, came about. Still, without even reading the script, Anderson turned it down.

“It was offered to me, and before I read it I believe I said that I wasn’t interested, and then I was told that it was going to be great and that I should just take a look at it,” said Anderson during a phone interview with Metro. “And I did find it great. I met with the director and producer and they managed to convince me.”

Anderson took on the complex role of aristocratic Lady Dedlock, a woman whose life has passed her by, and as a result has become bitter and controlling. One moment she seems vulnerable yet strong, then seems sad and cruel.

Throughout the film, Anderson plays all of these emotions and qualities, turning them on and off as she sees fit. Though Anderson admits it was a bit of a challenge becoming Lady Dedlock, she says it was more exciting than anything else.

“I think the challenges were in different areas, I mean that to me is exciting to be able to play somebody who has so many layers, that makes it interesting as an actor,” Anderson said. “And certainly figuring out and keeping track of where she’s at, at any given time during the story and the best way to convey that on camera that isn’t repetitive.”

It’s especially interesting to see how Anderson depicts what Lady Dedlock is feeling in all the scenes where she’s standing by the window, since each of those moments are on a different level of her journey and they’re not the same.

No matter how good the writing is in the body of a script, Anderson said it’s important for her to be able to identify with the character she’s been asked to play so she can be able to make that character come to life.

“It was part of my character and having the opportunity to play her and to jump into the challenges that come in playing her was what grabbed me,” Anderson said. “There are times I look at scripts that may be good, but I just can’t find a way in.”

Bleak House, which also stars Charles Dance (Gosford Park) and Alun Armstrong (Van Helsing), is currently running Sunday nights on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre and will be released on DVD Feb. 28, two days after the program’s finale.

Alinyiikira Junior School Update
Posted at 2:26 PM (PST) on Monday, February 13, 2006

February 13, 2006

Dear All

Thank you very much for your tireless efforts in assisting the School. On the issue of Power connection, I am following it up aggressively and they have now promised me that it will be worked on this week. They have really been overwhelmed with a lot of work being that this is a campaign period they have to extend power to many areas to fulfill some of the promises some politicians made to the people. Of course there were also people who had applied before us and they had not been connected but possibly very soon I may give good news that the connection has been done.

Right now we have an immediate need for something else. The school needs to get an Examination Centre Number (a required standard of the Uganda Examination Board) so that Final Examinations can be sat at the School instead of transporting the students to other schools which is quite expensive. In order to get this Examination Centre Number we need to have plastered walls and cemented floors (prevents students from getting chiggers). The deadline of submitting the application forms for the Centre Number is 28/2/06. So if the work starts this month we can submit these forms knowing that by the time inspectors come to inspect the School, they will find the walls already plastered and floors cemented. Within one and half weeks this work will have been finished if all materials are on site. We can have enough man power to do the work expeditiously without much interruption. We can keep on shifting children as these people do the work. The quote for doing the floors and the walls is US$ 2,500.

Wishing you all the best and thanks once again for your kindness.

Godfrey Ssemakula

Because of this immediate need, the bulk of funds raised for supplies (Other Stationery) shall be used instead for the walls and floors. We'd like you all to know that we greatly value the flexibility and generosity of donors! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Gillian's fave new tunes
Posted at 11:50 AM (PST) on Friday, February 10, 2006

Whatever People Say I Am
Thats What I Am Not
By Arctic Monkeys

The Get Go / Jerk Me
By New Young Pony Club

For more of Gillian's favorite music recommendations, click here.

Gillian's latest favorite book
Posted at 11:28 AM (PST) on Friday, February 10, 2006

The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy's editorial review:

"In her first novel, award-winning Indian screenwriter Arundhati Roy conjures a whoosh of wordplay that rises from the pages like a brilliant jazz improvisation. The God of Small Things is nominally the story of young twins Rahel and Estha and the rest of their family, but the book feels like a million stories spinning out indefinitely; it is the product of a genius child-mind that takes everything in and transforms it in an alchemy of poetry. The God of Small Things is at once exotic and familiar to the Western reader, written in an English that's completely new and invigorated by the Asian Indian influences of culture and language."

This book is available to order online at:

For more of Gillian's favorite book recommendations, click here.

Getting Reel: Best Actress, Gillian Anderson in Bleak House
Posted at 9:30 AM (PST) on Monday, February 6, 2006

Getting Reel

Best Actress: Gillian Anderson in Bleak House
The best performance of the year wasn't nominated. In fact, it wasn't even in the theater...

By Russell Brown
Feb 6, 2006
The Simon

Did anyone catch 60 Minutes a few weeks ago? The one where Felicity Huffman showed us all the depth and brilliance of her technique, how she stretched her acting chops to walk like a man trying to walk like a woman? Leslie Stahl was so impressed, her jaw almost hit the ground. “That’s Bree!” she shrieked with schoolgirl-ish delight. “Yes it is,” replied the grinning thespian Huffman, quite happy to have satisfied another customer.

Like Leslie, everyone’s crazy about Felicity in Transamerica. (Except my friend who’s convinced that she actually is a transsexual, but that’s a different story.) And so, again, we go through the motions of celebrating yet another performance that is mostly style and flash. As Kate Winslet joked in an episode of Extras, playing a character “with an accent or a retard” will always win you an award. (Huffman’s not playing either, but the sentiment applies.) The reason? Most people don’t like to think too hard about what makes a performance satisfying. If there’s a quick and easy feature -- a glaringly obvious behavioral effect -- then you don’t have to tax the brain too hard trying to decipher what makes it “good.” Another friend once encouraged me to define precisely the qualities that I enjoy -- if I listen to a singer and think she has a "great" voice, what are the attributes that make it so? If food is tasty, how do you describe what that flavor is that brings pleasure? This specificity is difficult, and when it comes to awards, the voters likely check their ballots between the front door and the mailbox. So we get the most quickly identified, quickly recognizable winning “performance”: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Capote impersonation, Heath Ledger’s grunt, Huffman’s trick stride. But really, is this what acting is all about? The tightrope walker at the circus? The stunt?

Interestingly enough, just one Sunday after the Felicity/Leslie lovefest, PBS premiered what I think features the real best performance of the year, one that is mysterious and untouchable, and has that difficult-to-define aspect that makes it remarkable. In Bleak House, the six-part miniseries imported from the BBC, Gillian Anderson plays Lady Dedlock, a woman whose life has passed her by, and as a result, has become bitter and controlling, yet vulnerable, yet strong, yet hoping, longing, sad and cruel and probably a dozen or so other qualities. In every scene, Anderson plays multiples of these emotions simultaneously, switching from one to the other in a heartbeat, or showing a quality in her eyes that contradicts the words coming from her mouth. It’s a fascinating experience and, I think, blows all those other Oscar contenders out of the water.

Take, for instance, the first time we meet Lady Dedlock. Looking out the window of her mansion over the property she owns, she tells us how utterly bored she is with her life. Filled with contempt and venom, you sense she is ready to burst with rage at the husband she’s married (presumably for money) but keeps it in check. It’s not boredom so much as hatred -- for herself, for fate, for her money -- and yet, she’s wary of the social consequences that might come should she show any crack in the facade. All this emotion stirs underneath, boiling but never overflowing, and in just a few words, we learn so much about this character in just her first scene.

But as the series continues, the fissures begin to show, and Dedlock must deal with the past she both rejects and longs for, a love she wishes never happened, but would trade everything to have back again. A key scene comes when she must visit the apartment of the man she loved many years ago in a desperate attempt to find the letters that might ruin her. In these frantic moments, the passion she still feels for him threatens to erupt -- she’s clearly devastated that this man died in such a wretched place. Both filled with pain yet utterly determined, she is able to grieve and pursue her goal simultaneously, as if her heart and brain operate independently of each other in the same shell. In her face we see both the tautness of control and the weariness of suffering, as if the skin itself droops with sadness and holds itself up with purpose as she performs her task; her shoulders want to slump but the tightness of the dress holds them up; she moves with the grace of a lady but her legs might buckle at any moment. All of this is conveyed in body language and without words, as Anderson plays out the inner turmoil of desires that conflict: passion versus social obligation, unwillingness to lose control versus a desire to release herself to abandon and the frightening prospect of what those emotions might be like.

But let us not simply paint Lady Dedlock as a repressed housewife who doesn’t want to submit to her urges. Butting against Mr. Tulkinghorn, the lawyer who seeks to uncover and reveal her secrets, she is a most formidable enemy. In few recent performances has an actress been able to play such a cold, calculating creature without going overboard into the land of camp. When Dedlock dismisses her longtime maid, she does so with such brutal indifference, such ice-pick precision, the frost seems to leak through the television and chill the room where you’re watching. When she questions her servants for information about Mrs. Summerson, she chooses her words like a cat stalks its prey: slowly, delicately, and with intense concentration. In diverting her husband’s attention or formulating a response to the prying lawyer, she’s the most effective politician -- not attracting any attention but getting exactly what she wants. (She reminds me of Sian Phillips playing Livia in I, Claudius -- of the great performances in television history.) Yet every time she bares her claws, you still sense the fear and desperation underneath. Anderson never does one thing at a time, and so, even in her worst moments, she evokes pathos -- cruelty or manipulation isn’t that simple in her world, for it’s all designed as a cover to the river of emotions flowing underneath.

And guess what? Bleak House has just begun! There are many weeks yet to come, so you can still catch up and be part of the experience. And if Anderson isn’t enough, the rest of the show is incredibly well-done -- the deliberate writing, the exciting direction, the timely themes -- there’s so much to recommend this series. And so, ironically enough, I believe it will be around mid-run when Oscar Sunday rolls around. And at approximately 9:30 p.m., if Felicity Huffman accepts the trophy, a far greater performance will be taking place, just a few stations away.

Getting Reel is a biweekly commentary about movies and the world.

Refuge in "Bleak House"
Posted at 8:26 AM (PST) on Saturday, February 4, 2006

Masterpiece Theatre's languid take on the Dickens classic is a refreshing break from our sound-bite, bloggified culture.

By Stephanie Zacharek
February 4, 2006


In the past few weeks I've had numerous conversations with people, some of whom haven't looked at Masterpiece Theatre in years, who suddenly found themselves hooked on this British-made Charles Dickens adaptation, currently airing on PBS. (The series began with a two-hour opener on Jan. 22 and will continue through the month of February, ending on the 26th.) That's what happened to me: I turned the show on, never having read the book, and almost immediately slipped into its world.

Bleak House" will be available on DVD on Feb. 28, almost immediately after the series completes its TV run. But nearly everyone I know who has begun to watch the show prefers to see it the old-fashioned way, on successive Sunday nights, as it airs -- a way of approaching Dickens' work that's not far off from the way his earliest reading public would await each installment of his newspaper serials. Dickens' biographer Edgar Johnson has written about how American fans waited at the docks in New York, shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship, "Is Little Nell dead?"

This "Bleak House" is peopled with a vast assortment of characters, all beautifully cast -- and in any Dickens adaptation, that's only the first hurdle, but it's a crucial one.

And will any good come to, or from, the story's most mysterious and compelling character, Lady Dedlock (her name itself an obvious Dickensian metaphor), played with chilly (and yet potentially heart-rending) elegance by Gillian Anderson? Anderson, beloved by fans of "The X-Files," has worked on the London stage but has barely made a blip in the movies, despite the astonishing performance she gave as Lily Bart in Terence Davies' flawed but affecting "House of Mirth." "Bleak House" restores Anderson to us TV watchers, while also giving her a role perfectly suited to her age, her abilities and her chiseled-from-marble profile.

In the first episode of "Bleak House," Lady Dedlock stares from the window of her well-appointed Lincolnshire house; her eyes tell us little, next to nothing. But in them, we can see specters of all her dark, matte secrets -- we just can't get a good enough look at those specters to understand them, or identify them. She says, to no one in particular but possibly to her husband, the much older Sir Leicester (Timothy West), who has married her for love, that she is bored. She elongates the word bored as if she were drawing a threaded needle through a patch of drab linen, as if the mere enunciation of it were a tiresome task. Her bearing is dignified almost to the point of being stiff; she carries herself like a moving version of those spooky draped figures found on Victorian gravestones.

Which is apt, because although Lady Dedlock appears to be alive, there is something in her that is already dead, something that has been killed off or snuffed out. And yet as we look into her drably glittering eyes -- or when, in Episode 2, we stare in amazement at the fiery glare set alight in them when she first catches sight, in church, of the dewily alive Esther -- we realize that whatever has died in Lady Dedlock has only made whatever life remains more desperately vital. Does Lady Dedlock mean well, or does she intend evil? Anderson doesn't signal her character's intentions in this performance; instead, she makes us wait for more. We're her willing lapdogs, ready for whatever morsels she cares to dish out.

In "Bleak House," Dickens explains that Lady Dedlock had no significant family background, but did have "beauty, pride, ambition" and "insolent resolve." After her marriage, "wealth and station … soon floated her upward." His description of her manners and appearance follows that explanation, and Anderson, with her almost excruciating stillness, is a breathing manifestation of his prose:

"How Alexander wept when he had no more worlds to conquer, everybody knows -- or has some reason to know by this time, the matter having been rather frequently mentioned. My Lady Dedlock, having conquered her world, fell, not into the melting, but rather into the freezing mood. An exhausted composure, a worn-out placidity, an equanimity of fatigue not to be ruffled by interest or satisfaction, are the trophies of her victory. She is perfectly well-bred. If she could be translated to Heaven to-morrow, she might be expected to ascend without any rapture."

After watching Episode 2 of "Bleak House," I now think I have some idea of where the story is going, and of at least some of the secrets that Lady Dedlock is suffering with. But I'm sure, in places at least, I'll be proved wrong. For these next four Sundays, I'll be turning the pages, figuratively speaking, with many other viewers, and on Feb. 26, I'll close the cover at last.

And then, instead of feeling confident that I already know the story backward and forward, I anticipate reading the novel for real -- alone, as we always are with a book, and yet not alone at all.

Read more.

The X-Files Being Reopened?
Posted at 9:14 AM (PST) on Friday, February 3, 2006

The Ausiello Report
TV Guide
February 3, 2006

The X-Files Being Reopened?

When it comes to the long-awaited second X-Files feature film, the truth is out there — and it ain't good. The latest setback? Franchise creator Chris Carter recently filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox over the show's profits.

"Everyone's [movie] deal is done — mine, David Duchovny's and Gillian Anderson's — but Chris' is not," says former X-Files producer Frank Spotnitz, who cooked up the sequel's story with Carter. "And I can't imagine that his deal will get completed until this legal dispute is resolved. My hope is that we can make this movie while people still care." (Carter declined to be interviewed for this story.)

The actress formerly known as Scully still cares, but her patience is wearing thin. "It's frustrating because we have no control," says the Emmy winner, who, with the exception of some film work, PBS' recent Bleak House adaptation and a five-minute rendezvous with me in her suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, Calif., has maintained a relatively low profile since X-Files ended nearly four years ago. "It just seems like whoever is involved should do whatever it takes to make it happen."

And the sooner the better, considering Anderson has a project lined up that could further delay the X-flick. "I've been talking about having another child," says the 37-year-old and recently remarried mother of one, daughter Piper, 11. "And I don't want to be anywhere near the pregnancy when I'm [shooting] it."

If and when the film does get made, Spotnitz confirms that it'll be a self-contained story and not steeped in the show's dense mythology. "The first movie had to be about the mythology of the show," he explains. "But this doesn't have to be about the mythology of the show. It can just be a really good scary movie."

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