The Pacific is next big mini-series
'The Pacific', a historical drama by Hugh Ambrose following the real-life, intertwined odysseys of four US marines and a US navy carrier pilot within the Pacific during the Second World War – which has been turned into an HBO TV mini-series with the help of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg as executive producers, and is set to be the next 'big thing' – was, according to a source, begun as a father-son collaboration between Hugh and his famous father, Stephen E Ambrose, the late author of the bestselling 'Band of Brothers', who, among other things, was the military adviser for 'Saving Private Ryan', but Hugh then finished alone after Stephen was no longer able to (he died in October 2002). Ambrose Junior was also involved in the HBO series from its conception, through his friendship with Spielberg, via his father. The drama stars James Badge Dale (from 'The Departed') and Joe Mazzello, and is due to appear on Sky Movies in March to coincide with the publication of the book.
Not a bard idea
What a welcome the Shakespeare "toolkit for teachers" will be for students who are sick of poring over the texts, trying to decode the language. The Royal Shakespeare Company has compiled the kit, which recommends that Shakespeare should be watched live (not read) and that children should learn about his works through acting, not by watching them on television. So much more interesting than my English A-Level – I memorised large chunks of 'Hamlet' without ever having watched the play live.
An ice little earner
The latest series of 'Dancing on Ice' has been creating an explosion of interest in ice skating among adults across the nation. Jayne Torvill, the former Olympic champion and star of 'Dancing on Ice', said the show had given a "great boost to skating", with skate rinks cramped with beginners and sports shops running out of skating boot stocks. There has been a 25 per cent increase in business in the lead up to the show, with the popularity of the programme bringing in an extra £10m of revenue to the skating industry.
A matter of life after death for Eno
Brian Eno has become such a fan of a book about the afterlife that he is to put it to music at the Brighton Festival this spring. The book is called 'Sum: Tales from the Afterlives' by David Eagleman, which imagines what life after death may consist of and which has gained a cult following include Nick Cave and Jarvis Cocker: "You may regret wishing you'd been reincarnated as a horse. You may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into different ages, in some you are recreated based on your credit-card records..." Eno was so taken when he first read it that he wrote a score for its very own stage show, and first performed it at the Sydney Opera House. Download bundles of three 'sums' narrated by Cave and Cocker among others are available.
Rude awakening for Beeb's arts head
Will Gompertz, the new BBC arts editor currently "in training" for his TV appearance, came under some (gentle) fire from Kevin Lygo, the head of Channel 4's director of programmes. Both men were sitting as speakers on the panel, talking about arts in the media, at an all-day conference called State of the Arts (which consisted of a gruelling nine-hour day of panel discussions). Lygo joked that Gompertz might "frighten the viewers" to which the arts editor shook his head and said, "Bloody rude." I'm more interested to know whether Gompertz will be allowed to keep his eccentricaly longish hair and wacky glasses for telly.