THE CRITICS : Cries & Whispers - Life and Style - The Independent

THE CRITICS : Cries & Whispers

n OVER here, their debut album I Should Coco is No 1 and heading towards platinum, and their new single "Alright" is at No 5; but over in the States, Supergrass have run into trouble. For the release of "Caught by the Fuzz", their debut single in America, Capitol Records planned a poster campaign using a photo of Hugh Grant. The photo they wanted to use was the one the Los Angeles Police Department released after arresting Grant for lewd conduct. But US law says you cannot use someone's image for financial gain without that someone's approval and Supergrass didn't get Grant's. Maybe they should have. Look at the current posters for The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. Grant's up in the clouds with absurdly wavy hair and a winsome smile. He might be emerging out of dry ice to sing a ballad on Top of the Pops. In the LAPD photo he looks tanned, rueful, interesting. A bit hard, even. He looks like a film star.

n IN Dangerous Minds, a film which opens here in the autumn, an ex-Marine leaves after 10 years in the service to become an inner-city high-school teacher. Challenging to colleagues, inspiring to students, the ex-Marine brings love and admiration to the classroom, while at the same time fighting to change a complacent system that has given up on teaching its students to think. Phew. That's a lot for one Marine to do. So who is playing this demanding part? Not Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks or Denzel Washington. It's even more right-on than that. It's Michelle Pfeiffer.

n SIMON GRAY has written his second drama of betrayal in a year. The first one, Cell Mates, closed after Stephen Fry left the production. The second one, Fat Chance (Faber, pounds 5.99), tells the story of Fry's departure. Gray's diaries have been filmed for TV with Alan Bates playing Simon Gray. Reading Fat Chance you wonder whether it has a chance (slim, average or fat) of making it on to the stage. There are four central characters - Gray, Fry, Rik Mayall and the producer Duncan Weldon - and they are nicely differentiated. Gray smokes cigarettes, drinks champagne and dines at the Ivy. Fry drives people home in his own taxi and talks to an electronic diary. Mayall buys dildos as presents and aims a toy gun at tourists. Weldon muddles up people's names. But Fat Chance has the traditional drawback of the West End play. Here is the playwright going on holiday to Barbados: "Victoria went shopping and came back with two pairs [of swimming trunks], both of which I liked. I paid off a number of bills with Sarah, who left in the early evening. I phoned Judy to say goodbye, see you in a week, lots of love." Victoria is Gray's companion, Sarah is his assistant and Judy is his agent. It's another drama with no decent parts for women.

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