By Eileen Murphy
It seems to us that the British media regards Irish performers in the same way they would view cute but rambunctious toddlers: they’re British when they’re good, but they’re Irish when they start scribbling on the walls with indelible markers.
The Irish, on the other hand, tend to be quite proprietary when it comes to homegrown celebrities, be they U2, Liam Neeson or that little leprechaun who advertises breakfast cereal (well, maybe not so much about him). So it’s come as a bit of a jolt to the Celtic Tigers (and tigresses) that their best-known musical export will be honored for their "outstanding contributions to British music" at next year’s Brit awards.
Actually, while the Irish seems fairly amused by the whole thing — after all, this isn’t Bob Geldof accepting a knighthood — some British music executives are miffed at what they see as a snub of British music acts. But come on — if they gave it to Oasis, the battling Gallagher brothers would only wind up whacking each other with it.
Anyway, the Brit Awards people say that U2 is closely associated with the country’s music scene.
"Very early on, they made London their base," a spokesman told Ireland on Sunday.
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"They lived and worked in the city for years. They signed to a British independent label [Island records] and helped turn it into a leading brand."
Despite all the fuss, U2 is not the first Irish act to bring the trophy back across the water. In 1998, the award was presented to Van Morrison. The Brit music establishment didn’t mind because Van the Man hails from Belfast, which makes everything all right.
In more U2 news, County Meath will be ground zero for Irish music fans next Aug. 25, when the band plays an outdoor concert at Slane Castle. This will mark their first headlining gig at the venue, although not their first appearance. Twenty years ago, when they were an up-and-coming local band, they played Slane as support for another Irish supergroup — Thin Lizzy.
Sheridan to film Bloody Sunday movie
Irish director/producer Jim Sheridan has been involved in some of the most important Irish movies of the last decade, including "My Left Foot," "In the Name of the Father" and "Some Mother’s Son." Now he plans to tackle one of the most notorious events in modern Irish history, the Bloody Sunday massacre, in a film to be made next year.
The movie will be directed by Paul Greengrass, a British journalist who has rattled his government’s cage before. In 1988, he co-authored the book "Skycatcher," which exposed the tactics of British and American intelligence agents. The book was so controversial, in fact, that then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fought like a demon to get it banned around the world. Thanks, in part, to her efforts, the book carved out a place on the New York Times bestseller list.
The as-yet-untitled film will begin production in February with a budget of $5 million. The movie is being financed by Sheridan’s Hell’s Kitchen Productions and Britain’s Granada Films.
Flatley’s in fine form
It’s been a while since we ran anything on Irish-American dance phenomenon Michael Flatley, and this has caused some of our loyal readers to experience painful withdrawal symptoms, including tapping of the feet, oiling of the chests and a strange urge to paint Celtic symbols on their faces. So, in the interest of public safety and well-being, here goes . . .
Michael is enjoying life very much at the moment, thank you very much. After a well-publicized breakup earlier in the year, he’s back together with his busty blonde girlfriend, Dubliner Lisa Murphy.
What does the lovely Lisa do for a living, people (OK, we) can’t help wondering.
"She’s my girlfriend," said Flatley.
But what does she do, people (OK, we) still wonder.
"She don’t have time to do nothin’ else," he said with a wicked grin. Well, we suppose if our ball and chain was worth £150 million, we wouldn’t be buying a monthly train pass, either.
Need more Flatley news? Well, the virtuoso dancer may have stopped touring with his "Feet of Flames" extravaganza, but those who need another Flatley dance fix will be happy to know that he has a new video, "Gold," which has been released just in time to stuff the stocking of the most fervent Flatley fanatic.
Still want more? Well, Michael takes aim at those who dismiss his art as "Oirish" or hokey.
"Everyone from John Wayne to the Kennedys are Irish Americans," he told the Sunday World.
"I think we do romanticize, but it’s a good thing. It’s nice to think about your homeland."
And make no mistake, Flatley feels that Ireland, as well as the United States, is his homeland.
"I was brought up in both countries, half and half. I was raised in the back streets of Chicago and then I’d come to the beautiful countryside of Ireland, to art and culture," he recalled fondly.
"In the States, I’m a Mick and a Paddy," he said.
"In Ireland, I’m more of a Yank." Hey, just call him Lord of the Dance and be done with it, right?
The kids are alright (but obnoxious)
These kids today just have no respect for their elders. Just ask ex-Boyzoner Keith Duffy, who knows whereof he speaks.
Duffy’s post-pop star career as the host of a television variety show has put him contact with younger versions of himself. And he’s not impressed with many of the young whippersnappers, although he’s too smart to criticize them by name. Hey, today’s obnoxious teen idol might be tomorrow’s garage mechanic.
"The boy bands out at the moment — I’m not mentioning any names — get some chart success and they’re suddenly totally up themselves," he sniffed to the Sunday World.
"I’ve actually had people look down at me," he said incredulously.
Look down at you, Keef? But why?
"They see themselves as these huge pop stars," he explained.
It’s just a suggestion but we think they might be wise to spend some of their much-needed rehearsal time practicing phrases they might need in a few years, like, "Do you want fries with that?"