“Californication” star Natascha McElhone suffered a great tragedy last year when her 43-year-old husband was found dead in their house in England from dilated cardiomyopathy, but the English actress tells us she’s picked herself up and is staying strong, thanks to friends, family and coworkers.
“Everyone’s been really wonderful. It’s been tough but we’re all very close on the show so it’s good to have something that is sort of contrary to what you see on TV. The backdrop on our set is a very familiar one. I have a lot of support and a lot of friends on this show,” says McElhone, who has three young sons with her late husband. “We’ve just all carried on with life, as I should and will continue to do. You’ve just got to be strong. It’s the only way to be, really.”
Luckily McElhone, who plays David Duchovny’s long-time, on-and-off girlfriend on “Californicatin,” has had the show to serve as a nice distraction. “I think this season has upped the game. The show always did have its own voice, which was quite different from other things on TV, but now I suppose it has that confidence of being on for two seasons. It’s really allowed to be its own animal,” she notes of the Showtime series. “We had some great story lines that went off on strange and wondrous tangents. You never know what’s going to happen. That’s what I love about it,” she adds. “I just think a strange environment like a college campus is so ripe for turning the show on its head. I thought it was a very good idea.”
FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: “Amazing Race” host Phil Keogan is not surprised his seven-time Emmy- honored show is now in its 15th season, and firmly expects it to remain on the air for years and years. And years.
He credits the program’s longevity to the fact, “We’ve never had a malignant element to our show.” And he compares it to other series of its genre, which, he says, “have had ratings erosion because they’ve indulged in shock treatment. For instance, have a contestant eat the grossest thing you can imagine…do stunts that humiliate someone so badly the person is embarrassed to go out on the street.”
He goes on, “For awhile, reality shows seemed to specialize in who could come up with the most insane train wreck. By that I mean, if you drive by a train wreck you slow down and look, but the next day, if you see the same sight, you don’t slow down as much, and by the third day, well, you’ve become numb to it. ”
He says an object of “Amazing Race” is to give the impression of danger, while the production team works overtime to be sure contestants are safe. The most dangerous moments, he notes, don’t come when contestants are engaged in seemingly dangerous tricks, but when they’re driving a car or are in a taxi — and the production team has no control. When someone is driving recklessly, a member of the crew will call the person on it — and I’ll give the contestant a penalty when they reach the mat.”
A LOVELY WAY TO SPEND AN EVENING: The descendants of Jimmy McHugh are planning to turn out Wednesday night (10/7) for Michael Feinstein’s Carnegie Hall tribute to the American songwriting great, creator of such immortal tunes as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” The event also coincides with the launch of “I Feel a Song Coming On,” Alyn Shipton’s new biography of McHugh, and there’ll be “a very elaborate book signing at the Barnes & Noble store at Lincoln Center on the Friday (1/9) reports McHugh’s grandson, noted photographer Jim McHugh.
While the tunesmith certainly is worthy of such fanfare, the McHugh family deserves lots of credit for keeping his name and work in the spotlight.
As Jim sees it, publicizing his grandfather now has a lot of similarities to the late McHugh’s own efforts toward “song plugging” back in the day. “When coast-to-coast radio came in and NBC broadcast across the United States, it was just as revolutionary in his time as the internet is now. For the first time, you could do something in New York and people in California could hear it. The difference now is that the individual can be quite effective,” he says. “Now we do Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and all that. We’re using YouTube and in New York, we’re going to be doing a podcast. And it’s not something that ends, either. You have to keep rolling forward. The family has been very aggressive in grasping new technologies.”
According to Jim, his grandfather’s estate – the family – “holds one of the largest archives of standard music ephemera in the world. My grandfather kept everything. Every note of correspondence, memos, extensive interviews.” Around 10 years ago, “Because I’m a photographer, and was very aware of the digital revolution, we started photographing and scanning everything, so we don’t have to go into those fragile old paper files, and Alyn Shipton was able to do his work at home in England.”
CELEB SEEN: What a tete-a-tete — Lakers star Ron Artest, still remembered for that big brawl with a fan in the stands during a game, was seen the other day offering Village Pourhouse owner Michael Sinensky some fatherly advice while in New York’s swank SLS Hotel. Also listening in were Lindsay Lohan’s dad Michael and poker star Phil Ivey. Sounds almost like a reality show in the making.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster