By Eileen Murphy
Well, Holy God, as Miley might say. The suits at RTE — struggling with scandals, falling ratings and more scandals — have pulled the plug on "Glenroe."
For those of you who didn’t grow up in Ireland or, like us, catch the show during its brief PBS stint in the mid-’90s, "Glenroe" was Ireland’s answer to Brit soaps "EastEnders" and "Coronation Street." In this little Wicklow town, everybody at the local pub not only knew your name, but who you were shagging and what price you paid for that second hand tractor.
Part of the show’s charm lay in its unapologetically rural focus — can you think of another series where the characters worried about picking mushrooms (no, not the magic kind), or traipsed about in wellies with mud up to their bums? (OK, other than "Fraiser").
RTE Director of Television Cathal Goan said that the decision to axe the show was reached "after a lot of consideration."
"Some of the reference points in this program, in terms of the rural-urban divide, have disappeared," he said. "It’s important to say that this isn’t about ratings. It was time to say a fond goodbye."
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Well, he might say it’s not about ratings, but in reality, the show’s viewership has fallen from a high of 1 million to a low of around 600,000. Even ratings-grabbing events like Biddy’s (Mary McEvoy’s) spectacular demise in a car crash provided only temporary interest.
Cast members were upset, but most were philosophical about the show’s demise.
Mick Lally, who played the hapless farmer Miley, said, "There was a sense over the past while that the axe had been raised. It was just a matter of when it was going to fall."
Isobel Mahon, who played Michelle Haughey, was in a state of shock.
"It just hasn’t sunk in yet," she told the Star newspaper.
One person who was not afraid to speak his mind was former "Glenroe" star Joe "Dinny" Lynch, who exited the soap last year.
"I know nothing should surprise me about RTE anymore," he blasted. "They have treated a great bunch of people in a despicable manner.
"The attitude from that bunch of dumbos is actors don’t count because we can hire another busload tomorrow. If we were greyhounds, people would be calling the DSPCA!"
Liam: no longer ‘Hog’-wild
We’re sure that wife Natasha Richardson, and the rest of Liam Neeson’s nearest and dearest, are relieved to hear that the big man from Ballymena is giving up riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
The actor, who had a near-fatal collision with a deer near his home in upstate New York last summer, is hanging up his helmet for good.
The Star reports that Neeson told a friend, "I’ll never ride again."
"I’ve totally given it up. I have no intention of getting back up on one."
After the collision, an unconscious Neeson was spotted by a neighbor, who called an ambulance. Among his injuries, the actor suffered a broken pelvis and a smashed heel.
Neeson notes wryly that Natasha is "absolutely delighted" at his decision.
Lara: scary ‘bastard’
Now we know why we have nightmares every time we watch ABC’s "The Practice": it’s that scary Lara Flynn Boyle!
The raven-haired actress, who’s more famous for her on-again, off-again role as Jack Nicholson’s girlfriend than for her acting talent, recently revealed to Vanity Fair that she thinks she is "scary to people" because they think she’s a bit of a "ball-buster."
Describing herself as "the kind of woman who, when she walks into a party, all the other women leave the room," the extremely bashful actress says that this knowledge leaves her feeling "neither powerful nor insecure."
The Irish Catholic Boyle grew up in Chicago, where there must be something special in the water — just ask the equally reticent Windy City native Michael Flatley. And of course, once you see the words "Irish" and "Catholic" together in a sentence describing a celebrity, you know what follows isn’t going on any parochial school recruitment poster.
"I got a terrible education from the nuns and Jesuits," she said. "They kept flunking me and saying I wasn’t participating," even though she suffered from dyslexia.
Education aside, Boyle also had a problem with going to confession, since she didn’t trust the church.
"I used to lie in confession all the time," she reveals. "I’d never tell them what I really did. Never."
Part of Boyle’s resentment can probably be attributed to her parents’ bitter divorce when she was 6 years old.
"My dad wanted to remarry, and he had his marriage to my mom annulled," she told Vanity Fair. "Which makes me a bastard." No wonder she’s angry.
Anyway, Lara looked quite glamorous at the Golden Globes the other night, in a silver gown and a purple fur stole. She seemed to be flying solo, (does that mean she and Jack are "off" again?). She also seemed unperturbed that most of her peers were probably still snickering at Vanity Fair’s wicked joke at her expense on the cover of the recent issue.
Next to a photo of cover model Keanu Reeves, the mag promotes the Boyle profile thusly: "Lara Flynn Boyle: Why isn’t she on the cover? Her publicist is on the phone. And it’s not like Keanu is Jack Nicholson’s girlfriend." Oooh . . . saucer of milk, table two!
Michael does the squat(ters) thrust
With hunky monkeys like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp playing Irish travelers in recent films, all we can say is, where the heck is our caravan?
Brad takes the plunge in as a punch-drunk boxer in "Snatch," the new film by Brit wunderkind Guy Ritchie — you might have heard that he recently married some little pop star — and Johnny does the soulful gypsy thing in "Chocolat." Almost makes you want to quit your job and take up pot-mending and horse-trading, and whatever else the tinkers — oop! Travelers — do when they’re not squatting on Michael Flatley’s palatial estate.
No, you don’t have to read that paragraph again. (It’s just our way of easing you into the real story.) "Lord of the Dance" star Flatley went ballistic last week when he found out that a community of New Age Travelers had taken up residence on the grounds of his Castlehyde House mansion outside Fermoy, Co. Cork.
It seems that Michael and his on-again girlfriend, Lisa Murphy, had just returned from a trip abroad when they discovered what one neighbor described as "an Indian village" taking shape on the estate grounds.
"Pie-balled ponies and horses were roaming the fields and the air was thick with the stench of marijuana smoke," the neighbor told the Sunday World. "The new occupants were happily [passing their days strumming their guitars as they warmed themselves by bonfires."
Flatley was understandably horrified at the thought of uninvited guests. He asked the local police to oust the intruders, but was told that their hands were tied.
"From our point of view, it was a civil matter," a Garda source said.
Never one to let grass grow under his feet, and determined that it wouldn’t grow under their caravans, Michael hired a private security team, who resolved the matter with a minimum of fuss.
"[The Travelers] departed peacefully, and there was no trouble," said the source. "But they left an appalling mess behind."
Brad, Johnny, et. al — squatting? messy? stoned? Perish the thought.Briefings
This may come as a shock to those of you who don’t write for a living, but many writers find the actual process of producing words rather arduous. Take playwright Colm McPherson, for example.
The man who wrote the Broadway hit "The Weir" finds all sorts of things to distract him when deadlines loom. "I don’t like writing," he said bluntly.
"I tend to go to shops and buy things I don’t need," he laughed. "Or I suddenly find I need to Hoover and dust and wash the bath." Which reminds us — did we put those dishes in the dishwasher . . . ?
We told you last week that Van Morrison would play at the Bush inaugural over the weekend, but no sooner had we written the words than Virgin Records issued an indignant denial. Sigh . . . that’s politics for you. We can tell you, though, with reasonable certainty, that one of the new president’s favorite songs is Morrison tune "Wavelength."
It seems like only yesterday that Ed "Brothers McMullan" Burns and Heather "Rollergirl" Graham were getting ready to settle down in the apartment once owned by the late John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. Well, Burns and Graham went their separate ways, each taking up with equally high-profile partners: Burns with supermodel Christy Turlington, Graham with "The Patriot" hunk Heath Ledger. Now Ed and Christy have announced that they’re engaged to be married, and plan to live in the Tribeca loft. Ain’t love grand?
George "Swoony" Clooney lived up to his reputation as a jokester Sunday night as he accepted his Golden Globe for Best Actor the other night. The star of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" got huge laughs as he quipped, "Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, John Cusack, Jim Carrey — I think when you list the names of the actors [nominated] in this category, that you’ve got to figure that I’m going to win this."