By Eileen Murphy
We’ve said it before, and no doubt, we’ll say it again unless Kenneth Branagh finally gets over his shyness and asks us out on a date: being a celebrity is a lot harder than it looks.
Take the case of Westlife, the Irish boy band that has already conquered Europe and is now making serious progress in America. There they were, on a promotional tour in North Carolina, minding their own business, when a freak tornado hit the area.
Bam! Quicker than you can say "Buh-bye, Boyzone?" out went the electrical power, and in came the flash floods. The poor lambs were holed up in the hotel, holding on for dear life.
Shane, the cute, dark-haired one, recalled: "It was very scary, because it all appeared to happen so fast. It was a hurricane, the likes of which we had never seen before, and it was a very weird experience."
Power was soon restored, and the Westies were glad to be in one piece when they learned that the storm had forced widespread evacuations and had caused the crash of a small plane.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
In more Westie news, the boys recently recorded a cover of the old Phil Collins hit "Against All Odds" with superstar diva, Mariah Carey. The lads flew out to the island of Capri, where they were entertained on Carey’s luxurious yacht. But, they hastened to add in their Sunday World column, she didn’t put on any airs.
"Even though she’s such a big diva and famous superstar, she was very normal and down to earth," gushed Mark. "She was really, really nice to us and we had a great time."
Walsh enters girl-zone
Here’s a useful tip: if you aspire to Irish pop stardom, bluff your way into the VIP section of Dublin nightspot Lillie’s Bordello and catch the eye of music impresario Louis Walsh. That’s what up-and-coming star Samantha Mumba did, and, as they say on the other side of the Atlantic, it worked a charm.
The 16-year-old aspiring singer had heard that Lillie’s was Louis’s favorite haunt, so she showed up at the club (with her mother in tow) and convinced the staff that she was an American R&B singer (we’re guessing Brandy, to whom she bears a striking resemblance). Next thing she knew, she was sipping mineral water with starmaker Walsh, who came over to say hello.
"I knew that Louis Walsh is the pop manager in Ireland and that if anybody could make it happen for me, it would be [him]," she said. The rest, as they say, is history — Samantha’s first single, "Gotta Tell You," is due out any minute.
Of course, it helped that she’s a drop-dead gorgeous Dubliner with a great voice and a best bud who happens to be a member of Louis’s band-of-the-moment, Westlife. But Samantha insists that rumors of her romance with Westie Bryan McFadden are just, well, rumors.
"Bryan and myself always hung out together," she recalled of their years at Dublin’s Billie Barry Stage School. "We were both probably the least expected to make it because we were kind of messers."May the force be with him
The hottest rumor we’ve heard this week is that Irish actor Gabriel Byrne may appear in the next installment of the "Star Wars" series. No details yet (these things are usually shrouded in secrecy), but it’s a sure bet that Gabriel’s kids would be thrilled if dad wound up wielding a light saber on screen.
OK, girls, he might be back on the market! The Daily News reports that Hollywood glamour couple Ed Burns and Heather Graham have split up, and that Burns was seen practicing his chat-up lines over the weekend.
We can’t imagine that Kenneth Branagh is thrilled with his "Love’s Labors Lost" costar, Alicia Silverstone. We hear that Silverstone has been using her press junket time to plug the virtues of her new vegetarian lifestyle rather than the pleasures of their movie. Ken, more than anyone else, knows that Shakespeare is a hard sell next to such brainless summer competition as "Mission: Impossible 2" and "Big Momma."
But we guess we really can’t blame Alicia — the newly svelte star was unmercifully teased in the press when she gained a few pounds before playing Batgirl in the last "Batman" movie. So if she wants to refer to milk as — STOP RIGHT HERE AND SKIP TO THE NEXT ITEM IF YOU ARE EASILY GROSSED OUT. NO, WE’RE NOT KIDDING; DON’T SAY WE DIDN’T WARN YOU — mucus, well, that’s her business. All we can say is, she must have been a bundle of laughs during lunch breaks.