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Wishing On A Stardom

James Coburn holds his Oscar won for best supporting actor for his role in "Affliction," during the 71st Annual Academy Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center, in this March 21, 1999 file photo. Coburn, who played tough-guy roles in such films as "Our Man Flint" and "The Magnificent Seven," died Monday, Nov. 18, 2002 at home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 74.
AP
The death a few days ago of a tall man, with broad shoulders and the widest smile possible, set me pondering on the traditionally parlous state of reality in this business we call show.

He was a tough guy, a big star, but recognised the way that fiction stood at odds with the real James Coburn, who was, when I met him, a delight and anything but threatening. Stardom, he said, was about ego and ego stopped you acting.

But it isn't acting that sells the product, it's stardom. Take those rumours of a love affair between Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant on the set of "Two Weeks Notice." Hardly likely, we all said this side of the pond. "No no no," the rumour mongers assured us, "they've fallen in love." Oh, no. Now they've fallen out of love. No... hang on, they're fighting like cats and dogs.

Of course, the movie is set for release next month and off screen romance always packs 'em in at the box office. The Welsh soprano, Charlotte Church has made millions of dollars by presenting herself to the world as the perfect, squeaky clean daughter that every mother hankers after. You'll be able to see her next week across the US in her own special called "Enchantment" in which she makes Shirley Temple in her high days look like a sour puss. But when you're in your teens and the hormones are jumping, reality bites. Charlotte has just moved in with her boyfriend, has been seen smoking in the street and her mother no longer controls her career. At first, I thought the new "real" Charlotte Church would be too much for the public to handle, but given that she's been saying privately that she wants to get into R and B, then this growing up seems like a good move.

And as a final thought, try this remark from Kenny Jones, the drummer with the Who and the Small Faces, back in the innocent days of pop and roll. He's just made a record attacking the British Government's tax system and when I reminded him of that old Beatles tune "Taxman", he snorted. "That was just a self interested song made by new millionaires". And I'd always thought it was part of the sixties revolution.

Just goes to show, as James Coburn once said, that "nothings like that in real life".
by Simon Bates