Eat me, Sarah Palin

Wednesday 31 Mar 10

Uggh.  Sometimes I think that the best thing to do about Sarah Palin is to ignore her.  And also I think that the best way to ensure Barack Obama has another four years in the White House and can maybe get round to some of the (even more) contentious issues he needs to fix in American society is for the Republicans to make Palin their Presidential candidate.  Even America isn't stupid enough to elect her, is it?

Anyway she has flogged a reality series about Alaska and its nature. The same Sarah Palin who escalated Alaska's war on wolves and offered a 150-dollar bounty for the severed front-forelegs of dead wolves. The same Sarah Palin who fought against increased protections for America's struggling polar bear populations. And the same Palin who fought against the increased protections for the dwindling Cook Inlet beluga whales. I'm troubled that Discovery Communications - known for their stunning wildlife-focused productions - would choose to embrace such a controversial and anti-wildlife person as Sarah Palin to represent Alaska and the wildlife that lives there. To sign a petition urging Discovery Communications to dump Palin click here

While we're on the subject! Did you know that Obama signed a Student Loan reform act yesterday? Here's a video with Jill Biden telling us about it. It's so great!!

Finally, Theater Offensive in Boston, a really amazing theatre company that educates and supports the LGBT community, is giving me their Keep The Faith award at their big ClimActs fundraiser this year on April 27th.   Click on the little box to the right and find out more about this great organisation, and tell anyone you know in Boston to go along and support them.

Here is the random video of the day. This is me on a talk show in the UK in 1997 promoting Spiceworld. It's worth watching to see me eating whilst being interviewed, and also as a joke I told them that my friend Sue's cat had died. This was true, except it had died about twenty years before, but my friend Andrew and I joked with Sue about the death of her cat constantly.


Maggie Thatcher, milk snatcher!

Tuesday 30 Mar 10

Please welcome my little sidebars!!  They are so I can sell things to you, the innocent reader.  No matter how short or long my blog they, or those like them, will remain, urging you to click on them and buy or do something that I want you to buy or do.  I feel crazed with power! They are actually called kickers in the trade, apparently, so please enjoy these friendly kicks.  And there is a prize for the first person who can tell me which film this picture (above) is taken from.  The prize is a limited edition, old titled copy of the DVD of Ghost Writer. The fifth person who emails via askalan with the correct answer wins. Then we'll write you back and you can give us your mailing address.  Ready, steady,go!!

It is really juicy today on the set of The Good Wife.  I find it quite frustrating because I want to talk in detail about the scenes I am working on, but I know that if I did that I would give away the plotlines and I would probably get into trouble, so suffice to say I am doing a really great scene in which Eli Gold does something really magnanamous but ultimately he gets something to happen that he has been trying to engineer for some time!  And....scene.

Instead I am going to talk about the UK election, which is coming up soon though we know not exactly when. I have been shocked over the last couple of years to hear my lefty friends in London talk so scathingly about Gordon Brown and the Labour Party. I think that Tony Blair has a lot to answer for. It's quite interesting to look back and surmise that were it not for his decision to go to war in Iraq, his legacy, and therefore his succesor Gordon Brown's inheritance, would have been so much rosier.  Indeed, if Blair had gone earlier, when the British public's anger and indignance at his flouting of their opinions was at its height, instead of hanging on, ego-manically, until he had passed Thatcher in the length of time spent in Downing Street, then Gordon Brown would probably not be in the ambiguous position he is in now, he would not be practising crisis management and we would not all be getting used to the idea of a future hung parliament.

But the idea that the Tories might actually win is anathema to me.  I am an old-fashioned leftie, from the Socialist state of Scotland after all! Talking of which...Hello, America and all you who sail in her who believe that health reform is the first step towards Communism - wake up and smell the coffee, maybe even do a little research and realise that still actually having to pay for your health insurance leaves the good ol' U S of A proudly on the capitalist end of the not so free market. Also, countries who have adopted the notion that your taxes should pay for your health and education and welfare do not neccesarily fall into the grip of some oppressive dictator who is going to make everyone bicycle to work, not wear make-up and stand in line to buy stale bread.  We get by pretty well.

Anyway, back to the Tories.  They have of course, under David Cameron, had a bit of a make-over, become more centrist, the louder 'what they need is a good whipping' ranks have been hushed up and sent out to pasture.  But, I don't really believe they have disappeared, and I don't believe that the sensibility of the party that spewed out Margaret Thatcher into our lives only thirty years ago has changed so radically that prejudice and bigotry will never rear their ugly heads again.  To wit, here is a video of David Cameron having some trouble remembering where he stands on LGBT equality.  He doesn't exactly inspire confidence.


It's Ask Alan again!

Monday 29 Mar 10

From Jay in Missouri Hi Alan! I'm new to this vegetarian thing, and I don't like the texture of burgers, so I don't want to eat fake ones (veggie or bocca or whatever), and I've tried tofu and really don't like it. What are some common vegetarian things to eat besides those things? I don't want to be stuck eating salads and mac & cheese every day. Help! Hmm, have you tried seitan?  I really like it.  Also there are lots of different types of tofu so you might want to give it another go.  Basically all these things provide protein, which we need to supplement in our diets as we're not getting it from fish or meat.  I really like tofu, and I also eat a lot of veggie mince things, that taste delish and can fill out stews and things like mincemeat can. There are dry kinds that you add to water called TVP (Texturised Vegetable Protein) or you can but them in packages ready to go into the pot. There are loads fo good websites out there that can help too.

Two questions in the same vein: I am only in high school at the moment but i've always loved musical theater and very much want to get more involved at the moment and hopefuly after high school!! i know you have done a lot of musical theater which has also inspired me to get involved in more and really follow my dreams! So i was wondering if you have any tips or suggestions! that would be fabulouse! and Andrew in Australia writes: Hi Alan,  I'm a Big fan of  yours loved the spy kid movies
I've joined my local acting School and just got accepted from an Actors Agency called Blackbox
is there anything I Should know about the industry ?
  I think it's good to know that the showbiz industry is just like life: there are some evil, conniving people and there are some absolutely lovely, kind people. It can be shit, it can be amazing. You ca be loved one minute, hated the next.  And just like life, the most important thing is for you to be happy and to change your circumstances if you're not. And be yourself!

Conny from Austria has two questions:  1. What is the question you never get asked but which you would love to answer? Would you like me to give you a massage right now, Alan, whilst my team of people cook your favourite food, run all your errands, read all the things you're supposed to have looked at by now, walk your dogs, and arrange for all your committments for the next six months to be cancelled but still remunerated for so you can go to the country and loll around and write and just relax?  Well, what is your answer, Alan?
2. Would you mind if I had a character in my new novel based on some roles you´ve played and then I write in the foreword or something: blabla... thanks to Alan Cumming because he was my inspirtion for Tommy Fegan... blabla. something like that? Its also a very great character. The most innocent pimp you could ever imagine. Really sweet one. And Funny to write. Please go ahead. Go forth and create!

Claire asks: Have you ever been on Ellen? Never! What's up with that?

Jane says: We saw you on BBC2 last night in 'Nicholas Nickleby'. You do a really good Highland fling! Did you learn how to do it especially for the part, or did you learn it as a little boy? I actually did have to learn it for the role.  We don't all jig around in kilts all the time in Scotland you know!!

 

From Rachel: I was first introduced to you on The Good Wife.  Fascinated by your stellar acting ability, I researched your other work and was dumbfounded to learn that you aren't anything like Eli Gold.  This speaks volumes of your immense talent.  With that said, "How the hell did you get that gig?".   Did you go after the role and audition or did someone bring you the script or were you in the right place at the right time or do you know cast members or production people?  I am not in the business, thus do not know how this all comes together.  Please excuse my ignorance.  I will end by saying that the suit, NY-Jewish accent, grayish hair and cocky demeanor suits you beautifully.  Your face is utterly beautiful.  You sure as heck do not look your age.  Good genes or good lifestyle? Why, thank you, Rachel, I blush. First of all, I like acting because I am able to play and explore people who are very different from me. I think that is the difference between European and American actors: we are encouraged to be different in every role, and Americans are encouraged to form a sort of personality and to stick to it. I am aware that that is a contentious and sweeping generalisation but I think there is some truth to it.  Secondly, The Good Wife people just asked me, out of the blue, to play Eli. I had never seen the show and had no idea what I was getting into, I just responded to the first episode they sent me and took a risk!

August asks: Well i was wondering, if you have ever thought about releasing a CD with all the musical numbers you have sang through out your theater performances? Unless one already exists, then i must find it I do have a CD out, it's not a collection of all the songs I have sung on stage, but more songs that I have always wanted to sing. It's called I Bought A Blue Car Today. I have also sung on the soundtracks of Cabaret, Annie, Reefer Madness, Spy Kids, The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas and recorded a duet with Liza Minnelli on Home for the Holidays.

Sally with a little nugget: After reading your blog with the picture of 1st Lord of Cawdor, John Campbell, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1778 it made me think of this little fun fact. Food for thought: Do you know why men in the 17 century paintings angle their legs  to show their calves? It is because it was consider a turn-on and was 'sexy'.  Go figure, huh? Thought you might find that interesting. I do indeed find it interesting, Sally. I wish we all looked more kindly on our calves these days. Let's start a 'Calves are hot' campaign!

Hello Mr Alan Cumming! I was just wondering, since you were born in Scotland and spoke with a Scottish accent, did do you find it difficult speaking with an American accent? Or has it just become second nature to switch back and forth between the two? I study languages, so this sort of thing facinates me. Thanks! I think people in America don't understand how much the rest of the world is bombarded with your culture, and therefore people are exposed to American accents and habits and are more able to impersonate them than Americans can do the other way round, as American culture also dominates America!!  Also I think that being Scottish, I was always taught at drama school that it was imperative for me to lose my accent if I wanted to work as an actor. I don't actually think that is true (Hello Sir Sean!!) but I think that perhaps made me more attuned to picking up other accents.  Sometimes on films there are accent coaches who help you, but mostly I just do the work myself. I've done tons of films in  an American accent now so I feel quite comfotable with it.

Hi my name is Katie and I am 16, 17 April 3. I am a really big fan of yours I really love all of your movies. You were my ispiration to becoming a movie director. Now I have just joined my high school's latest play "The Women" and I wonder if an actor of your caliber can give me any tips as to how to remember my lines. I would greatly appreiciate any advice you could give. Thank you so much for your time to read this. It just makes me love you even more. Practise, Practise, Practise!  Run your lines in the shower, run them on the bus, run them as you're having conversations with people.  If you're having trouble, I have found that writing them down is a good way of etching them into your brain! Good luck!

Tess writes: Have you ever wanted to do a musical such as "Little Shop of Horrors" or something like "La Cage aux Folles"?  Which would you like to do, who would you be  and why? Actually, neither of them, Tess.  They're not really my cup of tea. I mean, I think they would be fun to see, but I don't have an overwhleming urge to be in them.

And finally Gwen from Malaysia: I would like to ask is ,do u think your life is nice or happy enough? And if 2012 really is the end of the world,what is the first thing u will do? Maybe you will think the questions senseless, but unless I know you read the mail that I sent you.Is already enough for me.^^ What interesting questions, Gwen.  First of all I really do think that yes, my life is nice and happy enough: I am doing what I want to do, living the life I want to live.  I am in love with the person that I want to be with forever, I have great friends, great mum, great brother and family, great dogs, and I really feel fulfilled in my life and career.  I have always thought that being happy and fulfilled is being able to say that if you got run over by a bus tomorrow you'd die happy.  And I would. And if the world ended in 2012 (though I don't think it will) I would have a party with all those I love and celebrate life!

My friend Eddie sent me this picture, from, naturally, LA. It was only a matter of time...

And this is the funniest video of a Japanese tribute version of We Are The World


Ricardo is dead!

Sunday 28 Mar 10

I am having many blasts from the past today. It is cold and windy upstate and so I have been hunkered over my computer with an old hard drive trying to upload various bits of my past that were captured on celluloid or tape onto the interweb.  It's a very therapeutic thing to do in many ways: Firstly it is quite fun to look back at things, and to see myself in situations that I have little or no recollection of. Obviously it is really me cos there I am on the telly, but just as seeing an old photograph can trick you into remembering something just because you have had a visual leg-up in your recall, so does these hours and hours of mostly daft, early TV appearances and interviews.  And it's good to have your memory bank augmented, especially with happy memories, whether you've had a leg-up or not.

Secondly, when I have done all the sorting out and uploading, and my study does not resemble that of a bolshie 14 year old who will not clean up after himself, I will be free of all those disks and tapes and hard drives and will throw them away. Alancumming.com is an archive of information and images, and getting it to its present state has enabled me to dispose of millions of bits of paper that have followed me around the world for decades. It makes me feel very free, but at the same time I have a very ordered way or accessing that information.  Actually my website is really useful for me, and I am sure as the years go by increasingly so, in remembering where I was and what I was doing at a particular point in time.  I used to think it was a rather disappointing trait in my character that I measured time by which job I was doing when.  For example 1989 for me is: Australian Victor and Barry tour, Heavenly in Edinburgh, Knickers in Bristol and then the RSC. I used to wish it had  been more about world events or my personal life, and sometimes it is, but jobs and where I was in the world because of them are much quicker and accurate in terms of activating memory, and of course are a portal to all the other stuff, as when you know where you were and what you were doing every day all the memories and the people come flooding back in and fill up the picture.

Talking of which, here is a series of clips of Victor and Barry's best bits from their appearances on The Terry Neason Show on Scottish Television in 1987.  It has been years since I saw these, and I have to say I am amazed that we got away with just being so daft.  So many memories came flooding back going through them, like one evening before a recording in Edinburgh being drunk and jumping on a London-bound train as a dare with Paula, one of Terry's backing singers, then running up to the Royal Mile and jumping a fence into Princes Street Gardens and not realising that over it there was a sheer drop down a hillside. We rolled and bumped our way down to the path and were brusied and bloodied and our clothes ripped to shreds. The next day make-up had a hard job covering up the scrapes on Paula's shoulders, and I was stiff for weeks. It was stupid and dangerous, but such fun..

Honey has bounced back big time after her visit to the vet this week. She still has to wear her lampshade so she won't touch the stitches below her eye, but she has been so sprightly and puppy-like up here in the mountains that I began to wonder if the pills she has to take might be making her slightly high. Right now she is fast asleep on her favourite chair by the fire so the pills aren't total uppers, thank goodness. A visit to rehab would not be good for Honey's career.


RIP Blue Jacket

Saturday 27 Mar 10

There have been some developments in the Facebook fiasco. Finally my impostor has been removed, and now there is a page that is really me, asking everyone to come to this official website.  I feel rather ambivalent about the whole affair: the person who was pretending to be me wasn't being mean, he or she just took the posts from this blog and made out that I had put them on Facebook.  However, he or she was misleading people into thinking it was actually me they were friending (don't you just hate that friend has become a verb?) and then people were leaving messages for me and sometimes, rather menacingly in my opinion, coming up to me in public places and telling me we were friends. I think the fact that nowadays it is perfectly acceptable to go up to a stranger somewhere and announce that you are friends with them and have been for some time is just awful, but more so, surely, when you're not on Facebook and have no desire to be, and, also, already have enough real friends.

So anyway, there we go.  I don't like people pretending to be who they aren't, in any circumstance.

I am having a lovely day.  I have decided to eat a lot of soup this weekend.  Sometimes your body just tells you what to do, doesn't it?  Anyway, mine craves soup, and luckily I have a freezer full of very spicy veg soup that I made.  I like nothing better than making soup, and especially when I have a load of random things in the fridge that need to be used up. You could say that making soup is almost a sickness for me.

It's funny.  At itsasickness.com, my obsession website, thus far you're only allowed to join five obsession groups (or sicknesses) at once.  I have actually six right now because I have connections!  But I realise that making soup could easily be another.  I guess that our sicknesses and obsessions vary from time to time.  I actually really hope that is true.  Today, I am feeling less sick about Caledonian Macbrayne Ferries of Lena Zavaroni than I am about soup.  The good thing though is that I have created those groups and even I leave them and join others they will carry on without me, and I can join back again at another time when, and if, my obsession pendulum swings back.

And so, itsasickness.com is a bit of metaphor for life!  We can have obsessive feelings for things or people and just as quickly, when our circumstances or moods change, we can find ourselves not obsessed any more, and even surprised that we felt so strongly at all. 

The reason I have these pictures from Monday night's gala at the Geffen in Los Angeles up today is because I am mourning the loss of my jacket. After the gala I ended up at a really fun bar downtown which had a night called Moustache Mondays! It was a hoot, but alas I took off my jacket and left it on a seat and went off to play. When we were leaving I couldn't find the jacket.  This blue suit is quite special for me because it was actually the first ever suit I was given in America by a designer to wear for press purposes.  And I really loved it as it was made of a type of synthetic material that made it possible to be rumpled up in a case one second and looking hot to trot the next.  And it was blue and the trousers were drainpipey and I loved it.  However, I have to say that sometimes we lose things for a reason. I often lose clothes in bars and clubs.  I either forget where I put them or someone has taken them by accident or else they've been nicked. And whenever that happens, I think of all the wonderfully happy times I have spent in bars and clubs and treat the loss as a sacrifice to the Party Gods.  So blue Hugo Boss jacket, wherever you may be, I hope you are continuing to bring joy. Also, I have to say that I hadn't worn the suit for years and when I wore it on Monday I felt that the jacket was not working quite as well as the pants, and either it had stretched or I am a little slighter than I was 13 years ago, but I just felt it wasn't as fabulous as I remember!!  And so it was apparent that I did not need it and the universe took it from me! Perfect!

Finally, two things referring back to previous posts this week: I look at the picture of me sitting in the row on Monday and realise that with my wide leg stance it was a miracle Clint eastwod wasn't pushed off the stage let alone rubbed knees with me; and secondly I found out what the beautiful, quadruple-onion shaped building in Greenpoint is that I can see from my Good Wife dressing room: it's a sewage treatment plant, naturally.


Ya numptie

Friday 26 Mar 10

I have been amazed how much attention is being lavished on the Smurfs movie. Today I am back shooting on The Good Wife and even the fact that I am becoming a series regular on the show next season heralded less interest and questions from the cast and crew than my portrayal of Gutsy Smurf. Who knew the Smurfs had such a wide demographic

I have done two days work laying down all of Gutsy's lines, and the movie starts shooting on Monday in NYC. Gutsy is Scottish, complete with kilt, and I am very excited to say that I hope to be able to introduce the world to a brilliant Scottish word - numptie, as in 'ya big numptie'. You see when you do these voice roles in film they usually ask you to improvise and bring some of you to the character and so I was able to delve into the part of my brain where obscure yet brilliantly onamotapoeic Scottish words are kept. Just you wait, everyone will be saying it next year!

The sound stages for The Good Wife are in converted factories, and from my dressing room I can see the beautiful industrial landscape of Greenpoint. I'm not being facetious, I really do think it's beautiful. There is a building right opposite that has four giant silver onion-shaped things with a glass walkway connecting them at the top. I can't imagine what it's for but it is very stylish.

Talking of stylish, I would like to give a shout out to the boys from Moods of Norway. They dressed me on Oscar night and I went in to meet them at their place on Roberston when I was in LA the other day. They are great, such fun boys and I love the aesthetic of their brand: the labels say 'made in Europe by really really pretty blonde girls' and they merge rustic Norway and cosmopolitan cocktail chic. Anyone whose logo is a tractor is A ok in my book!

Everyone is very excited on the set as we've just heard there will be a pizza truck coming at midnight!! Now the fact that we'll be working till all hours of Saturday morning doesn't seem so bad as we can stuff our faces and forget how tired we are! Ah, showbiz!

Random video of the day...


What a day

Thursday 25 Mar 10

Today I rode a pink elephant and put my head inside a lion's mouth.  Today I touched a man's bare bum in Madison Square Park. Today I got a vitamin B injection in my arm.  Today I talked about sex in the nineties over curry.  Today I was asked how I felt about turning fifty. Today I took my shirt off on fifth avenue twice.    Today I told a woman I was an alien.  Today I was asked how big I wanted my boobs to be.

Yes, it's been another packed day on Planet Alan. And that's only the half of it.  There was so much more.  But to put you put of you miseries...the pink elephant and the lion were statues on a truck in Union Square and I got on it for a photo-shoot.  The man's bare bum was also a statue and I was photographed fondling it too, and I changed a couple of times on the street for the shoot thus baring my manly chest. The vitamin B injection was from my doctor who I had gone to for an insurance medical for my next job which is a TV series called Runaway in South Africa in which I will play a transvestite, hence the boobs question. I had Indian food for lunch with a man who is writing a book about sex in the nineties (I am a sexual pioneer apparently.  I feel like a deviant Davy Crockett) I did an interview for the London Times and he used the f-word (fifty) and I also did an interview with TV Guide and said I was from another planet.

This picture is of me and was sent to me by my friend Kevin, one of the writers of Reefer Madness, and I think it is a hoot.  For those of you who haven't seen it, Reefer Madness is hilarious and I play loads of different roles including Goat Man, who comes out of a volcano in an orgy scene, naturally. Here I am in one of my other guises in the movie, FDR. Yes, that's right.

Honey update: Thanks for your kind messages about Honey's eye. She is feeling much better today, back to her sprightly self, though still having some coordination issues when the lampshade is on.  Here she is enjoying the spring weather at our favourite cafe.  Isn't she a pretty thing?

 

And here's a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot I did the other week for Save A Life.  I'm going for a lie down now. It's been a very draining day.


Do You Take It In The Ass?

Wednesday 24 Mar 10

 

Honey is not herself today.  Yesterday she went to the vet to have a little lump taken off her eye, and whilst she was under they cleaned her teeth too. Last night she was very groggy and also having a lot of trouble with the lampshade thing that she has to wear round her head to stop her scratching at her stitches.  She was banging into chairs and walls all night. Today she is a little better, and certainly not woozy with the anaesthetic any more, but still not 100%. I was going to put up a picture of her in her lampshade but her publicist intervened. Instead, here she is with Leon, taken the other evening as they were having some downtime.

Ask Alan!

From Sasha in Russia: That is the question: what do you think about Russia? And just now something like the entry: I am from this big country and it seems that in the world it looks like a useless and very cold state, which feels itself the great civilization and which couldn''t be interesting. Partially, it is true, but it isn't problem. I am terrified that, maybe, nobody from another country knows that people can live here . Different people with eyes, hands and thoughts. And you. Your opinion is very important for me. Because I love your creativity. And I like you. Could you believe that I exist? my name is Sasha and I'm very happy to write you. Thank you for your attention! I want to tell you so much, but it can be boring, because I couldn't  reproduce all pictures and words, which spin in my head - only on russian. Also I would preferred to portray the old-fashioned carousel. But how. P.S.,  I hope you will understand my English. I will wait your answer, thank you again !  Sasha, that is the sweetest message. I think I do understand all the images spinning in your head! I think that people think very kindly of Russia, at least I do. I know that I am really looking forward to visiting your country one day soon. Anyway, I am glad you like my blog - presumably you're reading it on the Russian language version page -  and I congratulate on your magical English!

From Alfred in Texas: Dear Mr. Cumming I love your theatrical performance in 'Cabaret' I can't seem to see it enough. But I have a question about it, why does it look like you brused your arms in the makeing of this performance? And will we ever see you do this performance again?  Thanks Alfred. I put bruises on my arms and body on purpose! I wanted the character to look really wasted. He had track marks too, and I felt that he was probably either beaten up or had bruises from rough sex. I just really wanted to show that this person was living a very volatile existence, and yet he was also alluring and charming.  And no, I will never play the Emcee in Cabaret again! I don't even ever want to sing Wilkommen again. People often ask me to sing it to open tributes or charity nights and I always say no.  I just don't want to be Carol Channing, if you see what I mean.

So is your obsession not CalMac ferries like it says on the site?  I think you need to tell them it was a secret.  Looking forward to the film though - used to visit Lewis regulalry.  That is unless of course you have multiple obsessions....... This reader is referring to itsasickness.com,. the obsession-based website I have been developing with my friend Barnaby  and which is online now.  You go there and either make or join an obsession (sickness) group and find out stuff and meet people who share the same sickness as you.  One of my sicknesses is Caledonian MacBrayne ferries, which go to all the little islands off the west coast of Scotland.  Check it out!

Jana in Seattle: Alan, I think you're delicious as Eli Gold on "The Good Wife".  Please tell me they will spin off Eli for his own show?!?  I want to see him dress down wayward politicians for years to come!  I doubt Eli will have a spin-off series, but he will be appearing in the show for a while, with lots of dressing down of various people! And it's just been announced that he (and I) will become a series regular in the second season.

Truffle oil update! Claire wrote me to say that there is indeed truffle oil available that is actually made from truffles.  Of course, it's available in France! I guess it is good to know though that it does still exist and we are not being totally duped. What I would like to know is what kind of chemicals are used to give the truffle oil flavour?  Are they nasty and carcanogenic?  Anyone know?

Last night after I got back from Los Angeles and had given Honey some lovin' I went to Joe's Pub to see The Wet Spots. They are a really fun, dirty duo, Cass and John, from Vancouver who perform brilliant, fun and dirty songs. My favourite is one called Bicurious George, and here is the video of their biggest hit...


Make my day

Tuesday 23 Mar 10

Last night I performed a couple of songs at the Geffen Playhouse Annual Backstage Gala in Los Angeles. The evening honoured Barry Meyer of Warner Brothers and the small but beautifully formed sensation that is Kristin Chenoweth.  The reason I was being secretive about what I was doing yesterday was that I knew that Kristin had no idea I was going to be there.  I saw her at the cocktail party beforehand and even then she had no idea that I was going to perform.  I opened the show with Mein Herr and then later did Taylor the Latte Boy, which of course Kristin has sung once or twice! (That's why it was randon youtube video of the day yesterday).

The evening also included theatrical anecdotes from Rita Wilson, French Stewart, Christina Applegate Sharon Lawrence and Hank Azaria (We talked Smurfs and how everyone seems to be so obsesssed with them! I don't know if I mentioned it on the blog actually, but I am voicing the role of Gutsy Smurf in the new Smurfs film. Naturally).  Then Dick Van Vyke appeared and sang Supercalifragilisitcexpeealidocious.  Yes, really, why would I lie about a thing like that?!.  Then, get this, Clint Eastwood turned up, told a little story, gave the award to Barry and then sat down onstage right next to me!!  Our knees touched! My mum is a huge Clint fan and I know she will freak out when I tell her.  He has a very wide leg stance when he sits. I suppose that's why our knees touched. Then the lovely Matthew Morrison from Glee gave Kristin her award and a good time was had by all.

You can watch a little video about the event here. And this is how Kristin and I met...


This is what change looks like!!

Monday 22 Mar 10

What an amazing thing! Last night was epic and historic and beautiful.  I feel so excited to be living in America during a time of such huge and radical change.  As Obama siad, this is what change looks like! He has done it! This is such an amazing feather in his cap in addition to such an amazing turnaround in the way America treats its poor.  And this is what the people voted for.  All these screaming people with their 'Obama is a communist' and 'Obama is a Nazi' signs (hello people, if you're going to engage in hyperbole, try and all agree on which end of the political spectrum you want to lie about) seem to have forgotten that the people spoke in November 2008 and what they asked for is precisely what they are getting as of last night: real, big, sweeping change that alters the sensibility of the whole nation in a good and fair and brave way that will benefit us all.  Yay!

I am on a plane. Again. I will tell you all why tomorrow as it's sort of a secret. But there is a clue in today's random youtube video below.

I went onto itsasickness.com today and had a look at my sicknesses. Right now they are: Caledonian Macbrayne ferries, flip video, Gay rights, Lena Zavaroni and truffle oil. I was horrified to discover on one of the posts in the truffle oil sickness group that what we all think of as truffle oil actually isn't!  It's really olive oil with some chemical stuff in it that makes it taste and smell like truffle oil! I am quite shocked.  So, apparently, are loads of chefs who don't want to believe that this is true and are hanging on to the idea that truffle oil has truffles in it in the way that children don't want to believe the tooth fairy is really their mum and dad.  Woops, spoiler alert!

You'll be glad to hear I am flying Virgin today, one of my top favourite airlines ever in the whole wide world. The Virgin Upper Class lounge at Heathrow is one of my favourite places. When I fly with them  from London I go there hours earlier than I have to just to be able to luxuriate. You can get a massage and a haircut! And it looks like some amazing 70s space-age film set. You expect Jane Fonda to serve you drinks in thigh-high boots. 

Oh, I have written an article for this month's OUT magazine about the role of religion in the movement for equality in the United States. Check it out, y'all. I would link to it here, but OUT doesn't seem to allow that. Ah well.  We may not have free access to OUT magazine, but 30 million people have healthcare today!!

 


Pleasure and pain

Sunday 21 Mar 10

I am watching television, all agog at the prospect that America might do someting very radical tonight. Seven presidents have tried to reform healthcare and now it looks like Obama might do it. Of course, it doesn't have a public option, and of course there are a lot of watered-down elements to it, but let's look at the big things: 32 million people who currently do not have health insurance will now have it.  I think it's always hard for people who are healthy and who have insurance to imagine what it is like to get sick and not be able to visit a doctor, or to be in an accident and to have bills that will take you decades to pay off in order to not die.

There will also be a ban on anyone being refused insurance because of an existing condition.  That is HUGE!! The insurance companies in the US have been able to cheat and squirm their way out of paying for people's health visits, even their prescriptions, for the most ridiculous and unfair reasons, and there is nothing the people can do.  This bill, if it passes, finally redresses the balance, the abuse of power, it alters the status quo and begins to stop making a mockery of what every politician, Democrat and Republican alike, says aloud when they pledge allegiance to their flag: liberty and justice for ALL!!  (Even my dog Leon was refused health insurance for a pre-existing condition!!)

What's really horrifying are the demonstrators outside the Capitol.  Demonstrating is great, of course, I wish there was more of it in America.  But what I am appalled by is demonstrators shouting racial and homophobic slurs against elected officials.  One congressman was even spat at.  The idea that these T Party people, who expect to be taken seriously and expound a credible message, would use the 'n' word and condone such hatred is very frightening.  I also read that Barney Frank, a senator who is gay, was called the 'f' word.  Of course the media have not covered this as much or with the same degree of horror as the 'n' word incidents, but I think that it is just as heinous and that the 'f' word is a word of hatred and violence and equally unacceptable in our society. Here below is a PSA I made for GLAAD a couple of years ago about the use of the 'f' word. I wasn't completely happy with it because I felt that it was possile to watch this and not realise what the actual word I am exhorting people to stop using is.  Anyway, the word - which was the one used against Barney Frank yesterday -  is 'faggot', and I am horrified that on such a momentous day for the American people, and a day that one day I believe will be celebrated even by those people demonstrating against it  should be marred by hideous, ugly pure hatred.  How sad that at the same time as the best of America is on display, the very worst of it is too.

On a lighter note, here is a picture of the 1st Lord of Cawdor, John Campbell, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1778. Does it remind you of anyone?  Incidentally, all my father's side of my family worked on Cawdor estate  for generations.


My inner porcupine

Saturday 20 Mar 10

I am away in the mountains.  Upstate New York, in the Catskills. It is so beautiful, big lumps of snow still on the ground where the plow has pushed them and yet the lovliest spring day with a breeze coming across the hills. I am here with a group of friends, many of whom I haven't seen for ages. I always love how you see people up here -  you're not just grabbing some time with them in a noisy bar or at a restaurant, you're actually spending proper time, cooking, lying around, enjoying the silence.  It's such a great way to check in.

There is a porcupine down the hill gnawing away at the pine trees. We are a bit worried about Honey getting too close and getting a face full of quills. But then I realised that the porcupine has become emblematic of something else. Everyone has stress of different kinds and this weekend I think the focus of our stress has become the porcupine, and probably the threat and risk of what he (or she) might do has been magnified because of it.  I am sure there have been porcupines in them there hills for years and we just haven't seen any, or else they haven't eaten our bark.

I am trying to reason with my inner porcupine and tell it to keep its quills to itself.

Here is a blast from the past.  A behind the scenes thing from Goldeneye.


Butter

Friday 19 Mar 10

Here is the first film I ever directed, a short called Butter.

It's funny seeing it again after so long. I first wrote it as a monologue which was performed by my friend Jane Maud, a fellow actor at the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 89/90 season.  When the company toured to Newcastle there was always an RSC fringe festival and so I wrote three monologues under the umbrella title Listen, I'm Talking for the festival and Butter was one of them.

I just became really intrigued by the fact that so many people I knew had quite weird issues about food.  Not just about not eating to stay looking a certain way, but also about the way food was seen as a reward or a penance or something that would, in this case, make themselves more alluring to a prospective lover.  I've also had, at times, a rather stange relationship with food myself, so I was really interested in trying to find out more and illustrate more about why and how we allow it to be a substitute and a balm for so much in our lives.

I also wanted to do a film that had a central character who was incredibly together and at the top of her game, but then you see in a really desperate state.  I knew, and still do know, of many people who are functioning addicts and who are able to live a life that seems completely in control and healthy, but at the same time they have a side to them that is pretty irrational or even out of control.

Anyway, enjoy.  It's a lovely day here in New York City. Spring has truly about to sprung. I just biked to a breakfast meeting and saw a man sunbathing in the park!


Ask Alan, Judaism and Dub Poetry

Thursday 18 Mar 10

Ask Alan:

I heart gay people! I believe in equal rights for all citizens of all nations. Unfortunately, I live in the South U.S. Alabama to be specific. Almost on a daily basis I see people trying to tell other people how to live. It is the bible belt after all. So my first question is, have you ever been to Alabama and if so how was your experience? And my next question is, will you ever come here to perform? I would love to catch any show you are doing. I don't really know how someone as fabulous as you would be received here. I wish I could say with open arms, but knowing this place, I doubt it. Please say you will come somewhere close to here so that me and my friends can come see you! I need some culture!!!  I know that there are a lot of our more reactionary and prejudiced brothers and sisters living in the South, but I don't believe everyone is like that.  And I know it must be hard to be there and feel like an alien in your home but I am sure you will find other people who agree with you soon, and some culture! But the fact that you think as you do and are striving for what's right and for inspiration as you are is really amazing and the sure sign that the future will be a rosier place for us all.  I have been to Birmingham, Alabama once, to receive an award at the SHOUT film festival. I had a blast.  I will keep you posted if I am coming back!

Lynn from Florida asks: How do I find my inner child without shirking my day to day responsibilities? Well, Lynn, I don't see that the two have to be mutually exclusive at all. I think it's all about keeping an open heart and not falling into the trap of receiving and perceiving things and people in ways you're told is appropriate, instead of just being spontaneous.  I think it's also about trust, being prepared to be vulnerable. Of course that means you can also get hurt, but I bet not as much as you'd think, because people appreciate openness and trust when they see it and I think most people cherish it.

From Ainslee: Alan love,what is your middle name?  Alas, I was never given one.  I am plain old Alan Cumming. It means I can never play that game where you give your middle name and the first street you lived on's name and you find out what your porn star name would be.  I never lived on a street growing up either, so I am a total washout!

Jane writes: Picture the scene ..... You have invited all of us who read your blog round for a three course dinner (a bit like 'Come dine with me'). What are you going to cook for us? What is your speciality? Also what made you decide to become a vegetarian, & how long have you been a vegetarian? As there's quite a lot of you I would just do one course and it would be stovies.  It's a real Scottish peasant meal of potatoes and onions and usually mince, but I use soy mince, and it's just really hearty and delicious and you can have a huge pan of it on the stove (hence the name) and go back and get more all night. It's excellent for nights of drinking, and is a staple fare every Hogmanay (New Year's eve). You can get my recipe here. And I became a vegetarian really because I don't like the sensation or the taste of eating meat, and it feels horrible having rotting carcass in my body. Sorry, but you asked. And I have been a vegetarian for ages, like maybe 15 years and then other spells earlier. I ate fish till a couple of years ago but then I stopped that too.

Lisa says: Hi, Alan -- You're doing a wonderful job on "The Good Wife!" Quick question: Who designed your site? My site was designed by Keith Shore, and it is maintained and updated by the lovely Alex at Droplet. Both very talented and nice young men.

Eric asks: I am a young actor in the Philadelphia area. How did you get your start? Connections? Just being fricken amazing? You are my biggest inspiration especially as the Emcee and as the Narrator in Reefer Madness the Movie Musical.  Thanks, Eric.  I went to drama school. I think if you're serious about acting you should go and try and do some kind of formal training.  It will mean you have more options later on, and also it's good to have a bit of technique to fall back on.  I didn't have any connections to showbiz when I started.  I was purely attracted to it because i liked the way it made feel and I felt I might be quite good at it. 

I went on the train to Boston the other week just after a big snowfall. The scenes I saw from my window reminded me of the opening of the movie 'Valley of the Dolls', and so I decided to film it. But as I did, the very nice girl sitting opposite me began confiding to the man next to me that although she had been confirmed as an Episcopalian, she still observed Jewish holidays.

Random youtube clip of the day comes from a film I did for BBC2 in 1991 called Dread Poet's Society


Living out Loud, baby!!

Wednesday 17 Mar 10

I am very excited to be hosting the Live Out Loud Young Trailblazers Gala 2010.  Live Out Loud is an amazing organisation that inspires and empowers LGBT youth by connecting them to LGBT professionals in their community.   I think everyone could do with being reminded when growing up that all will be well and people just like them grow up to be happy and live the lives they want to. I did a PSA for them a couple of years ago, which is below.

 


Rufus and Feinstein's

Tuesday 16 Mar 10

Last night I had another of those amazing New York evenings.  I went to the Rose Room at the Gramercy Park Hotel to see Rufus Wainwright sing his new album in its entirety. It was absolutely stunning! He  sat at the paino surrounded by strewn red roses and candles and performed these beautiful, haunting songs as only he can. I realised I have known Rufus for ten years.  I met him one evening in Los Angeles outside a club. I had been to a premiere of a film I was in that day, and in those situations you usually get to keep the car they send for you and take it wherever you want to go for the rest of the night. So I took a few friends and out clubbing we jolly well went. One of the boys in my posse was in a wheelchair and I was trying to get the wheelchair into the limo when suddenly I heard someone calling me and I see this leggy figure bounding toward me shouting 'Alan, it's Rufus!'.  We had never met before, but I had been given his eponymous first album and just thought it was magical and so I knew what he looked like from the photo on the CD.  I remember saying 'Oh! I love you!'. And that was that.  He got in the limo with us and we went off to some party. (PS, here I am last night with Christian Serriano)

Rufus is just fascinating. Whatever he does, he does with such passion and such individuality and utter, utter skill. Last night his piano playing was astounding. It was as though he was playing these incredible concertos AND singing on top of them. He really has moved onto another level in his song-writing. I was so full of admiration.  He is about to go on tour in Europe now so look out for him, and the new album, which is called All Days Are nights: Songs for Lulu and is in stores April 20th.

 

Also there has been a change in the schedule for my run Feinstein's at the Regency. I am now performing April 27th-May 1st and then June 22nd-26th. For those of you who booked for the week that has had to be cancelled, Feinstein's will be contacting you offering wither a refund or tickets to the week in April.  And if they haven't you should call the box office at 212-339-4095.  For those of you who haven't booked tickets yet, why not? Click here at once!

Itsasickness.com, the obsession-based site that I am involved with has launched some ads that show the sicknesses of some well-known people. I am shooting mine in the next couple of weeks but will keep the object of my obsession secret for now. Here's the lovely Marissa Tomei coming clean about hers...Don't forget to go to the site and explore. It's growing and getting bigger and better every day


Whatever Mary

Monday 15 Mar 10

This morning I was filming a scene on top of building under construction in West Harlem. The views were pretty amazing, including, not far away, St John the Divine Cathedral.

I was reminded of the one and only time I have been inside St John's. I was hosting an event on World AIDS day for the United Nations a few years ago.  It was pretty swanky.  Kofi Annan spoke as did several other politicians and luminaries, and artistes from around the world performed.  At one point a choir of young people from Botswana, many of them living with HIV/AIDS, performed some of their national songs, and then the star turn was Mary Wilson, newly returned from a UN trip to Africa where she told us she went around telling people she met there to 'Stop! In the name of AIDS'.  HIV infection rates dropped dramatically. Not.

Anyway, during one of Mary's songs, the Botswana choir returned to the stage (or altar) and sang a chorus of one of Mary's hits. She stood to the side watching, then turned to us and pointed at them and said admiringly 'In their own language!'

I was fascinated by Mary.  Then at the very end when she had done her last number and was telling people to go out into the world and tell everyone to stop in the name of AIDS, and it suddenly felt like we were not in a cathedral in New York at all but a casino in Vegas, she spied me, trying to get back on to the mike to say the finishing remarks I had been given.

'Hey look everyone, it's Cabaret, it's Cabaret!', shouted Mary, pointing at me.  Luckily I was in a pulpit quite a bit higher than her reach or I have no doubt she would have dragged me down and made me join in a Cabaret medley. The audience was streaming out by now, a first time for me to see people running from a Place of God to the sound of a former Supreme shouting at them about a disease.

'Thank you, Mary Wilson', I said in tone that was equal parts gravitas and condescension. 'And goodnight'.

 


Sunday night

Sunday 14 Mar 10

Last night I hosted the GLAAD awards in New York City. It was a really invigorating and moving evening.  There were amazing speeches from Elke Kennedy, whose son Sean was murdered in a hate crime in North Carolina nearly three years ago (find out about how Elke has turned this tragedy into a crusade for education and tolerance at seanslastwish.org) and from the brother of Brendan Burke, the out hockey player who recently died in a car accident. Then there was Joy Behar being hilarious, Cynthia Nixon being intelligent and passionate and gorgeous. It was a truly inspiring night, but also a lot of fun, and a big night for redheads, come to think of it. Here I am pictured with Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD's president, and a lady who is in Real Housewives of New York, and not -as I luckily did not say aloud but thought mistakenly - Desperate Housewives. Part of my hosting duties was to sing a medley of songs with new LGBT-themed lyrics. It was sort of nerve-wracking but I really enjoyed it (all part of my new life as a crooner since I Bought A Blue Car Today!)  Please note the outfit change between the red carpet and the show.  Thank you G-Star!!

 

Before I went to the GLAAD awards I popped over to rainy Brooklyn to do a photo shoot for a really great organisation called Save A Life.  Some very inspiring young people are making a documentary that will work towards bringing about equality for homosexual men in good health to be allowed to donate blood and vital organs to anyone in need.  I don't think many people are aware that in the US (and many other countries, including my homeland of Scotland) there is a blanket ban on gay men donating blood, regardless of their HIV status.  Also, I didn't realise that if I died my organs would not be used in any potential transplant procedure that might save a life - even though I carry my driver's licence with instructions to do so on it - purely because of my sexual orientation. Isn't that insane? Go to savealifemovie.com and find out more. There's a section of the site where you can sign a petition and also gives you details of how to write to the FDA about this heinous law.

Today was Morther's Day in the UK. It's really annoying that Mother's Day isn't the same day the world over. It's been a close call a couple of times since moving to the States for me to have remembered, and that would have been very bad.  Luckily my brother is good at reminding me and also now we have a special alarm thing on my office computer.  Anyway, I had a lovely long chat with my Mum today. She really is a darling.  Actually she really is. Her name is Mary Darling.  This picture of us was taken last year when she presented me with the National trust for Scotland's Great Scot award in NYC. Happy Mother's Day, Mary D. x


I'm so GLAAD

Saturday 13 Mar 10

Tonight I am hosting the GLAAD media awards in NYC, and so am about to go and rehearse.  I have a big number.  I will make a little film and show and you tomorrow, but in the meantime here is a video from the set of The Good Wife the other day...


Go Cynthia!!

Friday 12 Mar 10

Regular readers will know that I am a little obsessed with circumcision and how I feel that it is gential mutilation on a mass scale.  One of the arguments that proponents and indeed some of the medical profession (who, I'll wager, are circumcised themselves) use as an example of why it should happen is protection against HIV. (And what, education about safe sex comes second to lopping off a bit of the most sensitive part of thier bodies?!) This article confounds the HIV argument. It's really interesting.

And here is the lovely Cynthia Nixon and a video about fighting back for equality in NY state.  Brava! She's getting a GLAAD Vitto Russo award tomorrow night, and I'm hosting so I will be able to tell her how much I appreciate her work in person.

And then here I am being a beeotch to Becca in The Good Wife.  Three snaps, thank you.


L'uomo homo and free opera!

Thursday 11 Mar 10

Check me out in this month's L'Uomo Vogue...Remember I made a little video from the photo shoot, and I kept the make-up on to go and see Lady Gaga in concert? Well, here's the finished product...

Also my friend Sue has told me about the latest project of the company she works for, Streetwise Opera.  They are mounting a production of Carmen at the Fortune Theatre (near Covent Garden) in London at 7.30pm on Sunday 21st March.  Performers will include professional soloists as well as homeless performers (Streetwise takes music programmes to homeless centres to help homeless people move on with their lives). The cast will be rounded up by members of the public who have raised sponsorship for the opportunity to perform in the show.  (They’ve raised just over £10,000 so far and really deserve a good audience). And if you email Sue at sg@streetwiseopera.org and mention 'Alan Cumming' you'll get free tickets for the event!! So what are you waiting for, troubadours?

Here's a video of a former Streetwise project, a film and music installation called My Secret Heart. I saw this in an art gallery in Edinburgh last year during the film festival there, and it was utterly mesmerising.

 


More Boogie Woogie!

Wednesday 10 Mar 10

I have been having a few technical difficulties today as well as spending a long time on the set of The Good Wife, so I haven't been able to do a decent blog.  Gosh, that makes me think that I equate blogging with bowel movements, which I think I might!

Thanks to Kari for leading me to another Boogie Woogie trailer. This one tells you more about the story and has less boobs!

And here is a lovely video in which a little boy realises that two men can be married...


And the winner is....me!

Tuesday 9 Mar 10

I woke up today to discover that I had won a Bistro award for my album I Bought A Blue Car Today! How great is that?  And it's also pretty great to be in the same company as Elaine Stritch and Mitzi Gaynor!! How did this happen?

Also today I went for a meeting to discuss my hosting duties for the GLAAD awards this Saturday in New York City. GLAAD is a great organisation that is a sort of watchdog for how the LGBT population is represented in the media. On Saturday they will be unveiling thier new logo and rebranding and the slogn: Words and Images Matter.  You betcha they do as Sarah Palin would say.  Talking of her, isn't it brilliant to discover that she went over the border to take advantage of Canada's health care system, yet she denies that there is any good in the plan that our President has been trying to pass. It just goes to show the hypocrisy and stupidity that she and those who ally themselves with her negative, philistine and xenophobic stance display.

Here's a book review from Slate.com that is really illuminating about what makes people homophobes.  The book proposes that the reasons are much more basic and primal, without any analysis, and it also has interesting things to say about the imagination.


Sherry asks: if you were forced to spend a year in a cardboard box and could only take five items what praytell would they be? I would take my Minnie Mouse snow globe, my husband, my dogs and a cellphone so I could call my assistant to come and rescue me.

Here's the trailer for my next film Boogie Woogie, which is released in the Uk on April 16th and in the Us on April 23rd.  It's racy!!!!


Ask Alan!

Monday 8 Mar 10

You may not have noticed, but last night was the Oscars.  I watched the show at Elton John's party which was a real laugh, and at the after-party the legend that is Grace Jones performed.  Woah! The red carpet was enormous, and actually the corridor of press reminded me of one of those long, clinical stretches at an airport. My favourite part was chatting with old friends Mel B, formerly of the Spice Girls, and Ross King, who bizzarely I had seen hours before interviewing me in the Youtube clip below.  After Elton's we went to Madonna and Demi's bash, which was insane. Aside from everyone being super-famous, there was also the spectacle of Madonna on the dancefloor, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in fancy dress and me doing handstands against the floor to ceiling glass doors.  A very good time was had by all, especially I sense by my friend Greg, who was clutching the Oscar he won for producing The Hurt Locker.  I got to hold it!

 

Katie from Carnoustie: Hiyah, my name's katie and i go to carnoustie high school. The school has just been done up and it aint that good, but then agian it didnt look good at the start, lol. I was just wondering what you thought of the school when you went there?  I thought it was the height of sophistication! I guess having lived in the country, a 1970s municipal school building was pretty glamourous for me!  What have they done to it?

Mike and Frank: We saw your wonderful performance in BENT in the Trafalgar Studios in London which we loved. WeI have one quick question which we hope you can answer. Do you prefer Gay themed work as opposed to anything else or any other type of theme? When can weI see you  perform live  in the UK again? I don't prefer gay-themed work over non-gay themed.  I don't really think about it in that way. I am drawn to work that I feel has something to say and I am passionate about, and obviously gay stuff falls into that group, but it's not a deal breaker for me.  Not sure when I will be back in the UK.  There's a chance I may take my cabaret show to the Edinburgh festival, but I will keep you all posted.

Hello, mr. Cumming. I'm sorry for my English, but I think, that it is forgivable for russian girl. I'm sure, that you tired of trite compliments, sed I can't hold on myself. Before your Suffering Man's Charity, I thought, that shall never call a male over 40 attractive (I'm 19). But I must say, you are beautiful. After that masterpiece I watched and rewatched a lot of films with you. You are a brilliant man, and I wish you will live long, happy and fruitful life.
Catherine. P. S. In fact, I don't realy believe, that you read such staf, and feel very silly.
  It really is me!! And bless you!

Jessica: Hey.I have two questions: One,how come there was only ever 1 series of the high life??? I love it so much and wish there was more!  There was only one series because we didn't want to do another one.   Actually, to be honest, I was the one who ultimately didn't want to do it again. I really enjoyed it and am very proud of it, but by the time it came out there were other things happening for me work-wise, and also we had made a pact not to do a second series during the writing of it when we felt that the BBC weren't really getting us.

 

Tess from B.C.: if you were able to change the world, not in a physical sense, but through people, what would it be?  I would make people have more capabilites of imagination: to imagine what it would be like to be in someone else's shoes, to feel prejudice or injustice that others do.  I really think that if there was more of that we'd be sorted.

Liana from San Francisco Bay Area: Where does your lap go when you stand up?  To lapland?!

In all your life as a Movie and Theater star,  have you ever wished that you could just have a quiet non famous life? Yes, quite often.  But what is there to be done?  I actually had quite a big freak-out about it five years  ago and I realised that even if I were to stop making films or doing plays tomorrow, the legacy  of what I'd done would stay with me for many years to come so it is a little bit fruitless an idea

And here's a 1995 interview I did on the BBC.  Ah, youth!!


Happy Oscar Day y'all!

Sunday 7 Mar 10

Via Ask Alan: My name is Ming-Shan,Hsieh, live in Taiwan. Although I've just known you only for about 4 years,You are my favorite actor indeed. I like the way you perform, talk, singing and your personality. I try hard to collect all of your works like DVDs and albums as I can. I also made a fan website about you in Chinese..but unfortunately,the free space of yahoo was cancelled months ago. I'll set one again in future! ^___^ I say "future" because I'm going to Australia today for working holiday 1 year, must to be very busy. Knowing you have shows there sometimes, hope i can see you there. Maybe take a picture with you? I hope.^__^ And,I drew a picture in computer about your movie characters many years ago and wanted to send it to you. Now I'm glad I have this chance.:)  Best wishes for you. May the joy and happiness around you, and feel free and happy everyday, forever and ever

On Oscar day I think it's only proper that I have visual stimulation in my blog entry. Below is a little clip from this past week's episode of The Good Wife, which includes my introduction to the series. I will continue to appear on this CBS show, which stars Julianna Marguiles and Chris Noth.

And then there is a clip which is an advertisement for the DVD release of the TV series in which I made my professional debut as an actor in 1984, Travelling Man. Yes, 1984, when many of you were not even born. I was only 19.  The clip (in which I do not appear) looks so incredibly dated both in style and content, especially when viewed next to The Good Wife one.  But hey, that's life.  Everything must change.

And here I am arriving at the Chanel dinner in LA last night. I am actually rocking a Dior shirt, let's keep that to ourselves.

 


Swag, baby!

Saturday 6 Mar 10

Last night I went to the Independent Spirit Awards. It was a fun evening.  I sat at the Piaget table.  They were one of the sponsors of the evening, and therefore great friends of independent film and so they are my friend too.  They also very kindly invited me to the evening and gave me a nice Piaget watch to wear.  The last couple of days actually has been a swag overload for me.  It's a very weird thing when you first start being given loads of free stuff just because you're well known. Initially you think you've just stumbled upon really kind people who want to shower you with expensive gifts because you're special. But then you begin to undrstand that people give famous people things because we are walking billboards.  We get photographed all the time (last night I was wearing a free suit by Moods of Norway and a hoodie shirt by S2VS).  We get asked all the time about what we like and what we think and what we want, and of course we are more likely to do so if we have been given things that we like, want or think about and are fresh in our minds to discuss, see? Also we blog about them on our blogs the day after we get them! Actually I am going to wait and do a video of all the swag I have received over the Oscar weekend to show you the sheer outrageousness of it all. Yet, as outrageous as it is - and although, of course, as a celebrity, the richer you get, the less you have to pay for things - there is a point to it, a business model that works. But there is no such thing as a free lunch, or watch, or blender, or vaccum cleaner.We have to pay in other ways, llike having embarassing photographs of yourself holding said vaccum in a phallic manner available for all to see across the internet.

Last night I met the lovely Johnny Weir, the skater and Sundance TV star.  I told Johnny how impressed I had been with not just his skating but also how he quelled the crowds when they were outraged at his low scores at the Olympics.  What a nice boy he is.  I hope to see him again.  I was also so pleased to run into my old friend Colin Firth on the red carpet.  Colin and I met in 1994 in Ireland, when we were both shooting the movie Circle of Friends.  He is brilliant in A Serious Man, and I think you can tell that he is just enjoying himself and having a whale of a time with the success of it.  I was quite shocked last night that he didn't win the Best Actor award.  

It went instead to Jeff Bridges.  There is a perceived notion here that Jeff will win the Oscar, both for his work in Crazy Heart but also as a sort of 'woops, we've never given him one before and we should have, it's his turn' sort of thing. Therefore I thought that Colin would get it last night and Jeff on Sunday. But last night was a sweep for two films that are both in contention for Oscars, Crazy Heart and Precious.  Indeed Precious provided two of the most amazing moments of the night when Gaby Sibide received the Best Actress award and then when Lee Daniels was given the Best Actor award and had a sort of silent conversation with Mo'nique in which they just gazed at each other and nodded for about thirty seconds. It was stunning! Now the town is girding its loins for the big one tomorrow.

 

I did this interview at the beginning of 2009 when I was at the Sundance film festival promoting Dare.  It has finally surfaced at the SXSW festival and is now online.


crazy!

Friday 5 Mar 10

I am in the middle of Oscar frenzy.

This has been my day: woke up. Started dealing with a million emails and calls, which included having to read a script and decide whether I wanted to pursue the project in the space that it normally takes to eat an apple.

Then I had to drive [in LA!!] for a meeting with the writing staff of THE GOOD WIFE. It was really fascinating to meet the people behind the show. I was really delighted to find out that 80% of them are women. No accident that it's a big hit, huh girls? We talked a bit about where the story is going and what's going to happen to my character, which of course I cannot divulge on this blog. Just let me say I feel crazed with power.

Then I had to go and have lunch and read another script on my computer without my glasses, whilst stuffing a burrito down my face.

Before my body had time to adjust to the onslaught, I had to drive to SONY Studios [where I had just finished filming BURLESQUE] and start work on THE SMURFS movie. Yes, that's right, I am to be the voice of Gutsy Smurf in the forthcoming top international picture THE SMURFS. He's Scottish and wears a kilt. And I am very honored to be representing my homeland in this way.

Right now, I am driving [I am dictating this, don't worry] back to the hotel to be groomed and spruced and then I'll be driven to the Independent Spirit Awards, which you can watch live at 8PM Pacific/11PM Eastern on IFC. I'm really looking forward to sitting down at my table and starting my weekend of Oscar party-going because this week has been a frenzy.

Here now for your enjoyment is a link to some dogs in slow motion.....


Thank You and Sorry

Thursday 4 Mar 10

Check this out!  I am waiting till they have one called 'Eat rubber, asshole' befre I take the plunge.


oh, hi!

Wednesday 3 Mar 10

I am in Ojai! I have come away from the smog and the showbiz frenzy of Oscar week in LA for a night to visit friends on their ranch. They have massive rosemary bushes everywhere and it's a little damp right now so when I went out to the car to get my computer, the smell of wet grass and rosemary was absolutely delicious. It beats Sunset Boulevard hands down. I have come with one of my oldest (though she's not that old) friends, Whitney, and her dog, Bowie.  It's so nice to be here and have a night off from my real life.

Although I have to say last night was a dreamy evening. I had a little party in my hotel suite and I invited a load of friends and it was one of those really special nights: people from all over the world and all over the map artistically, culturally, sexuality and age-wise, but everyone just had a blast.  Loads of Scottish people were there too, which was very nice to be having a wee bit of the homeland in Hell A.  The boys from the band Glasvegas ended up there and they were darlings. And the lovely Karen Black came along and charmed the crowd.  I would like to publicly apologise to the maid who had to clean up the room this morning.

Now....my blog has been translated into Russian!!!! Thanks to whoever did this. Check it out and tell your Russian-speaking friends.

Also....my guest DJ spot that I did for KCRW is available to be listened to here.

I am off to smell the air again.

And here is a masterclass on award acceptance speeches. I am chanting we'll get more of this over the weekend.


Ask Alan!

Tuesday 2 Mar 10

Melissa says: Hi, Alan. I am a young college student in the states. I am currently writing a movie script for fun. I am almost finished with the first half of my rough draft. I was wondering...well I have a few questions. I would like some incite to what scripts should be like from an actors point. What advice would you give a script writer when writing a script and anything pointers that I should take note of.  Anything that makes life easier for an actor when reading a script or things that make it easier for a director to work with the script.  Well Melissa, I think that you should write a script for yourself first and foremost, but having said that you have to make sure that what you mean is properly translated to the page and is understood by the reader.  I don't think it matters if the person reading it is an actor or director or producer or even your auntie, what makes a succesful writer (in my opinion) is someone whose readers think and feel exactly what he or she intended them to feel. In terms of my reading a script, I get really put off by simple things like bad spelling and syntax, because it communicates that the writer hasn't taken the care and reviewed his or her work, and it just looks sloppy.  Reading a script is a committment and so you want to make the reader feel that you respect that. I would suggest you try and get hold of the screenplays of some of your favourtie films and just read them very carefully, looking especially at how the stage directions are written.  It's the bits between the dialogue that are the most potent, I think.

Mr. Cumming, you have a true skill with accents.  Do you speak any languages apart from English? I''m a student of linguistics and a film/theatre enthusiast.  Is there any language you do not currently speak, but would like to learn?  I feel like you would have a naturally phenomenal ability to speak other languages.  I speak Finnish, Russian and French, should any of those be of any interest to you, for a role or otherwise.  Have a great day, sorry to bore you with my questions! I speak French fairly well. I think part of the thing with a language is having confidence and swagger and going for the music of it.  So I think because of that people think I am better at French than I am. I really want to learn Spanish properly. Right now, being in Los Angeles, I feel bad that I hardly know any Spanish when I come into contact with so many Spanish speakers. So that's next on my list!

Kadir from Istanbul writes: I want to ask you a question about burlesque,this movie looks so interesting.I saw a little premier on E! and it was so good full of dancing singing..my question about the movie soundtrack how many songs will be in and how many songs christina sing in it and you of course !? =) If you answer me i''d be so happy,thank you so much and have a great life..LOVE FROM TURKEY...  Thanks Kadir! I hope you have a good life too.  I am not sure how many songs there will be on the soundtrack. Right now there are a lot of songs, maybe too many and so some will have to be cut. Christina has the most.  I just sing one song, That's Life.  The film and the soundtrack will be in theatres at the end of November.

Jane from the UK: You sound very busy at the moment, but you also sound like you are enjoying yourself & having fun, which is good. You are working on 'Burlesque' & 'The Good Wife' at the moment. Is it hard to work on two very different roles at the same time? I actually like it.  I thrive on multi-tasking, and I became an actor because I wanted to be lots of different people, so this is an ideal situation! They're also so different so it's not like they merge or anything. Oh, and I'm only doing one now because Burlesque is done!

I'm another one of those arty queers who people look at in the street and wonder where my parents went wrong. I've seen you a thousand times from movie to movie and while I'm a proud girl liking girl - I found that something about you screamed 'hot bitch'. Obviously, not A bitch. But. Well. I digress.  So all of my rambling has been the suspenseful buildup to a question: how did you go out there, be who you are, and fight criticism and whatever else while still fighting the rights of the GLBT community? You're one of my heroes, Alan. Thanks for making a change in my life. Gosh, thanks so much. I have to say that what inspires me to speak out and try to make a difference these days is emails like yours: to know that me being myself is making other people feel better about themselves is really amazing.  But throughout my life I have come to realise that I have been most happy and most effective as an artist and as a human being when I am speaking my mind and being true to myself.  It's as simple as that. And I feel there is a great iniquity in the way the LGBT population is perceived and treated and I won't shut up until I feel that has changed for the good.

Why were you and Ian Rankin eating fish and chips in L'alba D'oro in Edinburgh some months back. My daughter and I saw you and have expected to see this on TV at some point. Did we miss it ? Were the chips good? Why wouldn't we be eating the most delicious chips in the world? Actually we were filming a thing called Into the Night for French/German TV, so you won't see it in the UK. Here's a wee trailer though. And for those of you not in the know, L'Alba D'Oro is the best chip shop in the world.  They have deep fried broccoli and the most delicious white pudding -  a Scottish delicacy.

Uggh, that poor dog is howling again!!


Plastic nudity on film

Monday 1 Mar 10

My friend Lance Horne, who is the musical director of my cabaret show and a brilliant composer to boot, is currently in Australia performing with Meow Meow at the Mardi Gras festival, and today he took part in one of Spencer Tunick's massive nude photographs, where thousands of people come together at some world landmark. This latest one was on the steps of the Sydney Opera House and Lance was in it!! You can watch a little film about it here.  I think he's fascinating.

Don't forget if you to go to Maria's Tupperware page and buy some cool plastic before Friday ALL the proceeds will go to the Haiti relief effort. Yes!! Cool plastic that will keep your salads crisp AND cash to help the terrible tragedy on one of the world's poorest countries.  Please buy something right now!

 

Leonard Maltin, one of the most respected film critics working today, has just released his new book THE 151 BEST MOVIES YOU'VE NEVER SEEN, a list compiled from the past 20 years.  And I'm very proud to say that one of the films is Ali Selim's Sweet Land, which I produced and am in.  Hurrah!  So hopefully more people will see it now. Here's a taster...



Another one bites the dust

Monday 1 Mar 10

I just got back to my hotel after a 16 hour day of work, my last on the movie Burlesque. I am really tired, but I can't imagine how the girl dancers are feeling tonight.  They have been dancing their asses off, at full pelt, all day long, wearing these chain-mail style dresses that are already making scrapes and grazes on their skin - and they have a whole day of doing it all again tomorrow. It's the finale of the film, a song written by Christina, and it really is amazing. But wow, those girls, I don't envy them. And the set is so hot because there are huge stage lights on all day and the air conditioning can't be turned on because it makes the smoke that is pumped into the sound stage to increase the lighting effects disappear. At least they all look totally hot and are going to be worshipped the world over come Thanksgiving. Here's a little film I made today...



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