London Co-Living Space Offers Housing Crisis Solution

The 10-storey building in London may look like a hotel, but it is thought to be the world’s biggest large-scale house-share, offering modest rooms and upscale services for hundreds of young adults caught in the city’s housing crisis.

The Old Oak building, situated on a canal bank in north-west London, opened in the first quarter of 2016, and has become a pioneer of “co-living”, a concept that is beginning to catch on elsewhere, notably in the United States.

“Today in cities, we don’t know our neighbours, housing is more and more expensive, we’re living behind our devices and this is addressing that challenge,” says Ryan Fix, consultant at The Collective, the project’s developer.

This was no niche market, he insists: “It’s going to be a massive movement in the coming decades.”

Ed Thomas, who manages the property for The Collective, offers a tour of the 546-room building and its facilities.

“You’ve got a nice spacious room with big window that lets lots of light in,” he says as he shows us a room measuring 12sq m.

All of the rooms are currently occupied.

It might look like the lobby of a hotel but this is actually a common area in what is, essentially, a hostel of sorts. The main image above shows the outside of the Old Oak Building.

Some have a tiny ensuite bathroom, with a small wash basin placed almost over the toilet, and a kitchenette. In others, the cooking and washroom areas are shared.

The Old Oak boasts high-end facilities such as a spa, gym, library, work room, restaurant and even a cinema, which is packed for evening showings of the hit TV series Game Of Thrones.

The building is a 10-minute walk from two London Underground transportation stations. And its distinguishing features include its industrial-style architecture and sprawling common spaces filled with colourful armchairs and wooden furniture.

London Co-Living Space Offers Housing Crisis Solution

Personal trainer Adam Saez in his tiny but comfortable apartment in the Old Oak Building.

There are also communal activities on offer, such as music evenings and yoga classes.

The majority of the Old Oak’s current tenants are young people aged between 22 and 35 earning an average of £30,000 (RM167,000) a year – who might otherwise be sharing a cramped house with strangers.

It is common for Londoners to spend “40% to 50% of their net salary” on housing, James Mannix, a partner at estate agency Knight Frank, says.

London Co-Living Space Offers Housing Crisis Solution

The building’s common restaurant.

“It is extremely difficult to find a place to rent in London and young people are increasingly marginalised,” says The Collective’s Ed Thomas.

“It is very time-consuming, and even once you move into somewhere, the chances that you find a group of people that you get along with are extremely slim. We’re trying to tackle that problem.”

According to Knight Frank, a typical room in shared accommodation costs £1,602 (RM9,000) per month in central London and £954 (RM5,300) in areas farther out.

London Co-Living Space Offers Housing Crisis Solution

Residents working in one of the communal spaces at The Collective Old Oak.

The Old Oak’s prices are largely in line with those of the local area.

The majority of the rooms cost between £850 and £1,100 (RM4,700 to RM6,000) per month, but that includes all bills (energy, Internet, cleaning, taxes, and common facilities). The largest are advertised at more than £1,400 (RM7,800).

Adam Saez, a 26-year-old Australian sports trainer who has lived in Old Oak for over a year, sees his rent as “an investment”.

“I’ve not only made friends, but I’ve also done a lot of networking, so I’ve met lots of people that I now work with as well,” he says.

Sarah Sinigaglia, a 19-year-old Italian-Swiss student newly arrived in London, agrees.

“It’s very easy to meet people,” she says. “In the evening, you can go downstairs … to the lobby or the bar, and there are lots of people like me who are alone.”

The Collective, whose first shared building was funded by a “Singapore family” for an undisclosed amount, is launching two other projects in east London.

One is close to the Olympic Park in Stratford and the other in Canary Wharf, in the business district of the British capital.

They are expected to open in 2019, with a combined total of 1,000 rooms up for rent.

The Collective is also looking to expand internationally and eyeing different target groups, such as families.

Estate agent Mannix says the concept of co-living is “socially a good thing”, creating affordable accommodation – at the same time profitable for the developers – in a private-sector response to a crisis that the public authorities are failing to tackle sufficiently. – AFP

Japan’s Gachapon Capsule Toys Appeal To Adults

A tiny replica of an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus and a plastic cat squatting on sushi: just two of the weird-and-wonderful capsule toys that have become a multi-million-dollar craze in cute-obsessed Japan.

The industry is now worth an estimated ¥30bil (RM1.09bil), with the fastidious attention to detail in the toys appealing to the Japanese sense of precision along with a well-documented love of all things “kawaii” or cute.

One store, in Tokyo’s famous Akihabara electronics district, is crammed with around 500 capsule toy vending machines stretching out as far as the eye can see.

“When I see something I want, I keep on turning the crank until I get it,” said Shota Makita, a 23-year-old careworker on the hunt for a fun toy.

“There’s a sense of excitement about not knowing what I’ll get,” said Makita, one of a growing number of adult consumers of capsule toys, known as “gachagacha” or “gachapon” in Japanese after the cranking sound of the vending machines.

Capsule toys have been around for more than 40 years.

Store manager Yo Kono says the customer base has changed in the 16 years the shop has been open.“At the beginning, visitors were mainly male anime fans … but recently the number of customers has grown with more female visitors and foreign tourists,” Kono said.

Capsule toys have been around for more than 40 years but the craze really took off in 2012 when Tokyo-based manufacturer Kitan Club launched its “Koppu no Fuchico” (“Fuchico at the edge of a glass”) product.

This figurine of a woman wearing a typical office worker’s clothes, whose arms or legs were designed to hang over the edge of a glass, became an instant hit with adults.

Japanese capsule toys

The capsule toys include figurines of women wearing typical office clothes, whose arms or legs are designed to hang over the edge of a glass.

“We never thought of targeting children. Their numbers are dwindling and adults have more money,” said spokesman Seita Shiki.

Shiki chalks up the Fuchico capsule’s success to the fact it is “cheap and Instagram-worthy”.

Fans have been sharing photos of Fuchico on social media, which helped boost its popularity without the company even needing to advertise, he boasted.

“Fuchico was launched just as social media started to be used widely. It fitted with the times.”

Kitan Club, which makes various kinds of capsule toys, saw its sales grow from ¥800mil to ¥1.2bil after the launch of the Fuchico series.

The capsule toy became so popular that the company was asked to create a pop-up shop at the cult Paris concept store Colette and to hold an exhibition in Taiwan.

Very Japanese

Now many manufacturers are making capsule toys to appeal to adult consumers, helping to expand the market to around 100 new items each month.

Manufacturer Bandai, which occupies around 70% of the capsule toy market, said the products sell well because they are expertly made and they come in huge varieties.

When Bandai began making capsule toys exactly 40 years ago in 1977, the majority of them were cheap, sold mostly at ¥20 (70sen), and were of poor quality, general manager Toshikazu Saita said.

“A wide variety of quality products are available at only ¥200 or ¥300 (RM7 or RM11). I think that’s a reason why they’re so popular now,” said Saita.

He said the quality of the products was down to specialists who “hand-carve prototypes by paying attention to angles and colours”.

“The attention to detail is very Japanese,” he said.

But to keep costs down, the actual toys are manufactured in China using the Japanese design as a prototype.

Japanese capsule toys

The ultimate ‘Instagram-ready’ accessory.

Shiki of Kitan Club agreed that attention to detail was what set Japanese capsule toys apart.

“For example, Fuchico’s knees and elbows are slightly sprayed with red paint to make them look real,” he explained.

“This adds one extra step but we feel we have to do this” even if it adds to the cost, he added.

It certainly appeals to Nana Sakuma, 26, who snapped up four capsule toys in the shape of Japanese food stalls from machines in the Akihabara store.

She said: “I’m really happy to find toys that are so real. When I see real things turned into miniatures, I find them irresistibly cute. I cannot help but buy them.” – AFP

Museum In LA Celebrates Great Marketing Failures

Once cast aside as a cringe-worthy mistake, “Colgate Lasagna” has at last found fame … as a top flop at the Museum of Failure.

The dental care brand’s 1980s culinary foray joins the line-up of epic fails on display in Los Angeles at a roving pop-up museum that has proven an ironic success.

A model of the Titanic, coffee-based Coca Cola and the flashy but under-powered DeLorean car from the Back To The Future movie all have a special place among the more than 100 flops of innovation that make up the show, which first opened in Sweden in June before moving to California this month.

The inventions may trigger facepalms, but the show aims to prove that failure is indeed an option.

“For technological progress you need a lot of failures along the way,” says clinical psychologist Samuel West. Without the all-but-defunct monoski, for instance, the snowboard may never have seen the light of day.

West posing with some of the museum’s displays including a plastic bicycle, the model of a DeLorean car and a Segway. He began the exhibition because he was ‘tired of the success stories’.

“It is the same for any other social innovation, even us as individuals when we learn new things, we are going to fail. So I think we should accept it more,” says West, who came up with the idea for the museum because he was “tired of the success stories”.

Although the infamous Colgate Lasagna features, West says the packaging is actually a well-researched copy. The company known for toothpaste was not keen to provide a sample from its frozen food – known as one of the biggest marketing duds ever.

Museum of Failure celebrates failed marketing ideas

Donald Trump games, books, water, alcohol, and other items on display as part of the exhibition ‘celebrating’ commercial failures at the Museum of Failure.

Though he prides himself on his business acumen, US President Donald Trump also made the show’s cut, for several ventures from the time when he was known not as president but as simply “The Donald”.

What West calls a “shrine” to the former real estate magnate includes a Monopoly-esque board game named simply “Trump: The Game”, a bottle of Trump Vodka and a textbook on entrepreneurship from the for-profit Trump University.

Museum of Failure celebrates failed marketing ideas

Without the failed Monoski, we wouldnt have the modern-day snowboard.

The glass case also includes one of the now-iconic red caps emblazoned with his presidential campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.”

Trump is “a man who built his image on being a successful business man, it’s his trademark,” curator West says.

“But if you look at his business adventures, they are misadventures, he failed over and over and over again,” he says, noting that he included the cap to hint at pitfalls the embattled leader may yet hit.

West has no sponsors – as “companies don’t want to be associated” with failure – but every week he receives packages with donations for his collection, from cappuccino-flavoured chips to the astronomically high-priced – and just as short-lived – “Juiceiro” juicer.

Today, the museum’s exhibits are made up of 40% donations, and 60% his own finds.

The collection, which will move to other cities in the United States early next year, fits in well in Los Angeles: the city houses museums dedicated to everything from broken relationships to bunnies, and even an art gallery featuring only works created using velvet.

The Museum of Failure also encourages visitors to own their own botched efforts, confessing to them on index cards and publicly posting them on a wall.

“I liked it because I think it was such an unusual idea,” says Chris Whitehead, an IT worker who visited the museum – and wrote on the wall that he failed his driving test six times.

“I think the lesson to take away is even if you fail you might actually have a lasting impact anyway.” – AFP Relaxnews

The Museum of Failure exhibition is currently on at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles (No. 900, E. 4th Street) until Feb 4, 2018. For more information go to

Phone Boxes In Britain Get A Makeover And New Lives

Facing extinction due to ubiquitous mobile phones, Britain’s classic red phone boxes are being saved from death row by ingenious conversions into all sorts of new uses.

“It smells nice,” a passer-by says while sniffing the waft of hot stew steaming out of one phone box in the heart of London.

Every day, dozens of office workers come down to Bloomsbury Square to get their lunch at a phone box that has been converted to hold a tiny refrigerator and shelves to put the dishes on.

The generous salads – the house speciality – go down particularly well with customers who like to sit in the square’s gardens to enjoy their lunch.

It is one of thousands of phone boxes which are enjoying a new lease of life.

Often abandoned, vandalised or reeking of urine, some have been transformed into libraries, art galleries and information hubs; others into cafes, hat shops or even heart defibrillator points.

Since their numbers peaked at 92,000 across Britain in 2002, phone boxes have been in rapid decline. There are now 42,000 left, of which 7,000 are the classic red booths loved by tourists. British telecoms giant BT plans to remove 20,000 more by 2022.

Umar Khalid outside the red telephone box from which he runs a coffee shop in Hampstead Heath, north London.

It says most of its phone booths lose money, while maintaining them costs £5mil (RM27mil). Overall, 33,000 calls are made daily from phone boxes, a drop of 90% in 10 years.

The best-known model is the K6, in pillar box red with a crown embossed on its curved roof. It was the first to be installed as a standard around the country.

It was designed by British architect Giles Gilbert Scott for the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935, marking 25 years of his reign. The red boxes have become such British icons since then that tourists take pictures of them and photo shoots are designed around them, as shown in the main image above – a bride and groom are having their picture taken with one.

“We are looking for new alternatives to payphones,” Mark Johnson, BT’s head of payphone operations, says.

Britain's iconic red phone boxes get a makeover and new lives

Fouad Choaibi works inside a red telephone box from which he runs a smartphone repair shop on Southhampton Row, in central London.

Several hundred phone boxes now house cash machines, while others are being turned into free and ultrafast wifi booths paid for by advertising

BT is also considering whether they could be turned into power points for electric vehicles.

Some are restored and sold via an authorised reseller, with prices starting at £2,750 (RM15,000), excluding value added tax.

Others are sold for a pound to local communities or associations wanting to give them a new lease of life, part of BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme which has already kept 5,000 of them standing.

“The whole idea of this is keep the heritage of the UK in place,” Johnson says.

The Red Kiosk Company, which donates a portion of its profits to charity, is one of the beneficiaries.

It has already bought 124 redundant phone boxes, which it rents out for £360 (RM2,000) a month. It hopes to acquire 500 more over the next three years.

Britain's iconic red phone boxes get a makeover and new lives

Local resident Patsy Ari browsing the books at a red telephone box turned into a book exchange library on Lewisham Way, in south London.

“You’re saving an historic structure, you’re creating employment and you’re regenerating an area,” founder Edward Ottewell says.

Outside the costs of refitting them, which can be up to £6,000 (RM32,000), local authority authorisation can be difficult to obtain, Ottewell says.

The modest rental costs allows young entrepreneurs to get started, particularly in London, where commercial rents can be prohibitively high.

“It was the only place where we could afford the rent, because it’s only a square metre!” says Ben Spier, who founded the salad bar in London’s Bloomsbury Square.

Red Kiosk also counts Lovefone, a mobile phone repair business, among its customers.

“A passer-by asked me, ‘Don’t you feel claustrophobic?’” Fouad Choaibi says, sitting in his kiosk equipped with a small table, storage for spare parts and a tiny heater.

“No. If it was bigger, you would have more distractions,” Choaibi says. “I just go outside to stretch my legs. I just go outside and I’m out of the office.” – AFP

The Stars Wore Black, Yet They Dazzled

The majority of those who attended the Golden Globes wore black this year. Why? It was to support the #MeToo movement and gender equality in light of the recent wave of Hollywood sexual harassment allegations.

Nevertheless, those that showed up in black still stood out. They also managed to send out the message that fashion can make a difference. Not just beautiful, what they wore definitely worked in telling a story.

Here are five of the best-dressed stars of the night – all in black.

Jessica Biel

Biel commanded attention in a strapless tulle Dior gown. Classic and tasteful at the same time.

Millie Bobby Brown

Dressed in Calvin Klein, the 13-year-old star looked adorable. The silk satin dress featured billowing sleeves, which added drama as well.Golden Globes 2018

Saoirse Ronan

Instead of cutouts, the Versace dress used strategically-placed crystals to give an element of form. The single sleeve was a cool touch.

Dakota Johnson

Johnson’s stunning Gucci gown came with a big, beautiful surprise: a giant crystal bow on the back. Golden Globes 2018

Debra Messing

Instead of a dress, Messing chose to go with a cutaway tunic and trousers. The Christian Siriano design balanced masculinity and femininity.Golden Globes 2018

Maarimaia Is Made For The Modern, Intrepid Woman

Hand-stitched 3D embellishments, dramatic oversized sleeves and geometrical detailing paired with structured silhouttes. Maarimaia certainly stands out for its one-of-a-kind designs.

The Malaysian label’s collections (which can be viewed on centre around the narration of an independent woman, while paying homage to the heritage and craftsmanship of different textiles used.

According to founder May Tan, her inspiration is from life itself. She says that the designs are able to take her from work to events, to weekends and to summer holidays.

“I try to come up with pieces that are well-thought-out, practical and without artifice. Maarimaia is about a new genre of independent femininity, with a focus on using elegant materials, a passion for detail and timeless modernity.”

Tan launched Maarimaia in 2016. After completing her studies at Istituto Marangoni in London, she travelled and worked in Europe for a period of time before coming back to Malaysia and eventually starting her own label.

She describes the experience of having studied abroad as “eye opening”. She also points out that she has never said no to exploring new directions as a designer, and thinks it is always important to remain open minded.

“Being in a city like London really broadens your creative boundaries and forces you to explore and research areas of fashion that I never even knew existed, and some parts of that still shape me till today,” she states.

As it is, Maarimaia is 100% designed and produced in Malaysia by a team of seamstresses. The pieces are said to go through a rigorous sampling and fit test, to ensure that they are comfortable.

The current collection, Bloc & Flo, is a dual series collection. While Bloc is structured and plays with colour and space, Flo has a more relaxed aesthetic of oversized forms.

“Above all, I appreciate pieces that are stylish yet easy to wear, and also functional for everyday life. My next collection will explore opacity and textures, it will be more of a reflection of my personal style,” Maya says.

Maarimaia recently opened a space at The Studio in The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, where customers can purchase her ready to wear pieces off the rack as well as by appointment for custom designed pieces.

Rajinikanth And Kamal Haasan Arrive In A Helicopter

January 6 was a day to remember for many Kollywood fans who had come for the one-day Natchathira Vizha 2018 Festival at Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur especially when superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan arrived together at the National Stadium in a helicopter at 5pm.

These two actors have ruled South Indian movie scene since the 1970s, and continue to do so. It is only befitting that they need not battle Saturday traffic to get to the stadium.

Kamal Haasan, wearing all white, said to the crowd: “This is a joyous occasion, to see the unity of our families (of entertainers) at one place. We are here because of your (the fans) support throughout the years. Thank you.”

Rajinikanth, in a completely black ensemble, also stated: “I was here two years ago filming Kabali and it was a wonderful experience. It’s great to be back again now for this event. Malaysia has become like my second home.”

The 67-year-old Rajinikanth has a new film out this year titled 2.0, while 63-year-old Kamal Haasan stars, directs and co-wrote his new film called Vishwaroop 2.

Some 250 South Indian actors including Satyaraj, Saroja Devi, Naser, Vishal Krishna, Vijay Sethupathi, Suriya, Karthi, Kushboo, Sarath Babu, Kajal Aggarwal, Lakshmi Rai and Vijaykumar – not to mention playback singers, directors, comedians as well as dancers from India – also participated in the festival.

“The welcome we get in Malaysia is always fantastic. The crowd here is fantastic,” multiple award-winning actor Suriya addressed the 35,000 fans in the stadium. “We always feel like we’re home in Malaysia.”

The event saw the stars and 120 Malaysian-Indian talents take part in singing, comedy skits, dance numbers, cricket and football matches throughout the day. Trailers to upcoming Tamil films, including Suriya’s Thaana Serndha Koottam, were also showcased.

Actress Lakshmi Rai (centre) performing on stage at the Natchathira Vizha 2018 festival at National Stadiunm Bukit Jalil on Jan 6. Photo: The Star/Shaari Chemat

This was a joint-effort between South India and Malaysia to raise funds for charities and performing arts bodies in both countries. In Malaysia, RM100,000 were given to Tamil schools, old folks home and orphanage.

Veteran actors K. Bhagyaraj and Saroja Devi celebrated their birthdays by cutting a birthday cake, serenaded by their peers and the fans.

“It’s so exciting to see so many stars at one place,” said Karthi, a fan from KL. “I hope to catch glimpses of Vijay Sethupathi, Adharvaa and Vikram.”

Fans had been steadily making their way to the venue, as early as 11am on Saturday to see their favourite actors.

Navin Kumar, 14, who made the trip from Klang with his family was excited for a chance to see Remo’s leading man Sivakarthikeyan.

“I just want a picture with actress Samantha (Akkineni),” said Gopinath, 16. Unfortunately for this fan, Samantha couldn’t make it for the event. Dhanush, who was feeling under the weather, was also a no-show.

Actress Kajal Aggarwal enjoying herself at the festival. Photo: The Star/Shaari Chemat

In the morning, arrival of stars were welcomed by rows of fans who quickly captured the goings-on with their cameras and smartphones. There was also a performance of lion dance at the entrance to welcome the first batch of performers.

Ferocious beating of drums and performances marked the start of the festival at 12.30pm.

At this point, all the tickets were sold out except for VIP tickets and the cheapest ones, RM10.

“I bought my tickets online as early as last week,” said a fan who came with her mother.

All tickets were one-time entrance only, which meant audiences who came in the morning had to stay till the closing ceremony, at midnight.

Luckily they had come prepared – family with babies and youngsters had change of clothes, and all came in groups for the outing. After all, this was a chance of a lifetime.


The crowd at Bukit Jalil goes wild at the arrival of Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Photo: Malik Streams

Running Man’s Kim Jong-kook Is Looking For Love

With his hunky physique, boyish features and megawatt smile, it is no wonder fans go crazy when South Korean star Kim Jong-kook takes the stage. They burst into a screaming frenzy and dash towards the stage with banners and cameras in hand. The 41-year-old singer and goggle box personality was in Singapore earlier this month to attend the Asian Television Awards. At the event, he performed two Korean songs – Today More Than Yesterday and One Man – to some of the loudest cheers of the night.

But the heartthrob, best known as one of the hosts of the popular South Korean variety show Running Man, has his feet firmly on the ground. “I will keep on running. Keep supporting me. Thank you, guys,” he said to the 3,500-strong audience. For him, success was no overnight sprint, but a long marathon.

A former vocalist in a high school band, Jong-kook rose to prominence as a member of the K-pop group Turbo, together with former DJ Kim Jung-nam, in the 1990s. Despite its catchy music, its popularity was short-lived when Jung-nam left the group in 1997, reportedly due to conflict with its management.

Singer Cho Myung-ik then joined the group, but it disbanded in 2001 after Jong-kook’s contract expired. Jong-kook then became a solo singer, focusing mainly on ballads. Even so, success did not come instantly. It was only after he joined the cast of Running Man in the early 2010s that he gained fame across Asia.

On the ongoing show, he is known for his strength and chiselled body, which have earned him the nickname “Sparta-Kook”. Fansites say the bachelor has an older brother and his father works in the military. Jong-kook is also the uncle of South Korean singer Soya. Last year, he released his debut Chinese single Hate That Happiness Came, which was produced by Singaporean singer JJ Lin. Earlier this year, he joined the South Korean reality show Dragon Club – Childish Bromance, which features a group of celebrity friends taking a trip together.

The show’s name refers to the fact that five of the show’s stars – actors Jang Hyuk, Cha Tae-hyun and Hong Kyung-in, and singers Hong Kyung-min and Jong-kook – were born in 1976, the Year of the Dragon.

Among your dragon club members, who has the weirdest travel habits?

Those kids are all very generous and kind. But some of them snore very loudly. Cha Tae-hyun – he is the loudest one. But there is no weird guy. They are all very kind, generous and very good guys.

They say they cannot stand the fact that you talk a lot. How do you feel about that?

After I did a lot of TV shows and hosting – especially Running Man – I learnt a lot of things about speaking. Some of my friends say I have a “TV show disease”. I don’t know what that is. I speak a lot, so people think I am nagging? I don’t know. I just try to get other people to have fun.

Kim Jong-kook (second from right) with the members of Running Man at a concert at Stadium Negara in 2014. Photo: Filepic

They are all married. Are you envious of them?

Yes, I always envy them. I want my own family, I really want kids. I am kind of old, but I don’t want to be in a rush because I need to find the right woman first.

What is your ideal type?

A woman who can be a good mum for my kids. It is fine if she does not like doing exercise, but she has to be OK with me working out at any time.

If you had drama opportunities, who would you like to work with?

I get a lot of offers for dramas and movies, but that is not my real job.

How would you like to be remembered?

As a very friendly person. I just want to be a good man. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Oprah Winfrey To Run For President? That Is Quite Likely


Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech has revived notions that she is considering a 2020 presidential bid, a prospect that she has previously dismissed.

CNN reported on Jan 8 that two close friends of hers say that she is “actively considering” a bid, while her longtime partner, Stedman Graham, added fuel to the speculation when he told the Los Angeles Times after the ceremony that she “absolutely” would do it.

Winfrey was asked last year about the possibility of a presidential bid and, while indicating that the idea is not so far fetched, seemed to dismiss it. But her speech at the Globes, in which she evoked themes of unity, hope, and inclusion, could be a counterweight to the politics of Washington and, even though she did not invoke him by name, President Donald Trump.

Winfrey campaigned for Barack Obama in Iowa and other states in 2007 and 2008, and her endorsement was thought to have greatly improved his chances to break through and overcome the opposition of Hillary Clinton.

In this file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama his wife Michelle and talk show host Oprah Winfrey wave to the crowd at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire on Dec 9, 2007. Photo: Reuters

At the time, Winfrey was still hosting her daily influential syndicated talk show, and had not yet endorsed a candidate before. Her appearances drew Obama’s largest crowds up to that point. She also campaigned for Obama again in 2012, but largely stayed out of the 2016 contest.

While Winfrey has stepped into the political fray, she rarely goes on the attack, something that could be a challenge in a rough-and-tumble Democratic primary and general election.

Her background would come under scrutiny like never before, and that was apparent shortly after she gave her Globes speech and detractors shared a photo of her kissing Harvey Weinstein on the cheek.

If she were to run, though, she could emerge as a frontrunner by her name recognition alone. That, too, could be a liability, as it would set expectations high from the start.

Her speech – while written for her acceptance of a Golden Globe special award – was also the type of rhetoric meant to inspire large crowds on the campaign trail or a political convention.“I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights,” she said.

Winfrey has in the past dismissed the idea of running for office. In October, she told CBS News that, “There will be no running for office of any kind for me.” Despite reports that she may be reconsidering it, she herself hasn’t said that she is weighing a bid. – Reuters

Bafta Film Awards 2018 Nominations Announced


The Shape Of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Darkest Hour, lead the race for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ movie awards, regarded as a bellwether for the Oscars.

The Shape Of Water is making its presence felt this award season. Richard Jenkins (from left) Guillermo del Toro, Sally Hawkins, and Octavia Spencer pose with the vanguard award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Photo: AP

Actor Gary Oldman with his Golden Globe award for Best Actor In A Motion Pciture, Drama. He receives a nomination in the same category for BAFTA. Photo: AFP

The Shape Of Water received 12 nominations, the most of any film, including the coveted best film award. Guillermo del Toro is nominated for both director and original screenplay, Sally Hawkins for leading actress and Octavia Spencer for supporting actress.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Darkest Hour landed nine nominations apiece. The former is up for best film and Frances McDormand for leading actress. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson both received nominations for supporting actor. Martin McDonagh is nominated for both director and original screenplay.

As expected, veteran British actor Gary Oldman, widely considered the front-runner for the Oscar, is one of the leading-actor nominees for his performance in Darkest Hour.

Oldman won a Golden Globe award on Jan 7 for his acclaimed portrayal of wartime leader Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour also received nominations for best film and for Kristin Scott Thomas in the supporting-actress category.

The leading-actress nominees are Annette Bening for Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Margot Robbie for I, Tonya, Sally Hawkins for The Shape Of Water, and Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird. All except Bening had received Golden Globe nominations as well.

The leading actor category also reflected the awards buzz already out there. Besides Oldman, the nominees are Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread, Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out, Jamie Bell for Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, and Timothee Chalamet for Call Me By Your Name.

Although the BAFTAs, like the Academy Awards, consider all English-language films, not just those made in Britain, British films often figure more prominently in BAFTA’s nominations than at the Globes or the Oscars. Darkest Hour and Dunkirk were richly recognised with nine and eight nominations, respectively. Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool and Paddington 2, neither of which made much impression at the Globes, both received three nominations.

The nominations were unveiled on Jan 9 at BAFTA’s Piccadilly headquarters in London by Natalie Dormer (Game Of Thrones) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther) and were live-streamed on Facebook.

British actor Joanna Lumley, best known for Absolutely Fabulous, was named as the new host of the awards, replacing longtime emcee Stephen Fry, who has stepped down after doing the honours a dozen times. Lumley said she accepted the invitation to host “indecently quickly.”

The EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony takes place on Feb 18 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. – Reuters