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TV documentary blasts Zeta

Nov 16 2003

Laura Kemp, Wales on Sunday

 

CATHERINE Zeta Jones was cruelly portrayed as "ruthless, fussy and hard as nails" in a damning documentary over the weekend.

Channel Four's Brits Go To Hollywood, which examined the Oscar winner's rise to stardom, even claimed her role as Velma in Chicago reflected the real Catherine - "desperate to be on top, with everything on show, wanting everyone to love her".

From her childhood, the documentary said she was "steely and precocious by the age of six", winning nearly every talent show she entered.

Suzie Kemeys, her co-star as a child when they both performed in Annie, told the programme: "She was always aware if someone important was around.

"She was never daunted by who she met, she knew how to handle herself all the time."

Piers Morgan, Daily Mirror editor, said her "devastating ambition and utter determination" came out when her career blossomed during the Darling Buds of May.

"She was very tactile, she would always give you a little kiss, she made you feel wonderful. She understood it was a game and she was good at it, I admired her, she was ruthlessly trying to get to the top and she did it with a smile and a sexy wriggle," he said.

But when Zeta moved to the USA, the media believed her 15 minutes of celebrity fame was up.

Mr Morgan said: "When she left the UK for Hollywood we honestly all thought that would be the last we'd see of her."

When she arrived, Christine Spines, from Premiere magazine, said: "She went everywhere - there was nothing subtle about it."

But her drive paid off - movie offers increased and she later fell in love with and married movie superstar Michael Douglas.

The documentary also accused her of control freakery over her image and in the parts she played.

Hinting at her so-called ruthless streak, High Fidelity director Stephen Frear said Catherine "was perfectly happy to be nasty in the film, it didn't bother her one bit".

Following the Hello! battle, the programme accused her of being "fussy and hard as nails" and Piers Morgan described her appearance in court as "manipulative and nauseating".

Another critic, entertainment guru Brian Sullivan, who handed Zeta medal after medal at Swansea talent shows during her youth, believes she had offended the people living in her home city when she famously said "1m isn't a lot of money" after the court battle with Hello! magazine over her wedding pictures.

"Swansea suffered the years of depression and the miners' marches, she needs to do a little repair job to bring the people back," said Brian.

But on Oscar night, he said her "earthy, sexy Welsh feel" was used "to great effect".

"I was amazed when she quoted Max Boyce's Oggy Oggy Oggy in her acceptance speech, she let her guard down and it came from the heart," he said.

* WELSH language campaigners are calling for Michael Douglas to learn the lingo.

The Hollywood legend is having a mansion built in Swansea for when he and Catherine Zeta Jones come back to Wales.

And like anyone who has a holiday home here, he is being urged to make an effort to preserve the country's heritage through speaking Welsh.

A Welsh Language Society spokesman said: "I would encourage anybody who moves into Wales to learn Welsh.

"I hope Mr Douglas' wife would encourage him to learn it anyway, and I'm sure he has got the money to support lots of Welsh language courses as well!"

The issue of second homes in Wales was discussed this week by outspoken education expert Chris Woodhead.

He has promised to learn the language when he retires to his house in Snowdonia.

The former head of schools' watchdog Ofsted said: "Why should incomers, who are unlikely to speak Welsh or care about the culture, be allowed to purchase holiday homes which then stand empty for much of the year?

"A sign of the times is the appearance on some houses of notice boards announcing that Wales is Not for Sale and that anybody from outside the area who wants to move in should commit themselves to learning Welsh."

Mr Woodhead bought a house in Blaenau Ffestiniog five years ago. But he says his love affair with Wales began nearly four decades earlier. That is why he respects the culture of the country.

He said: "I can only say that I sympathise and fully intend, once I finally retire, to sign up at the local language class.

"I just wish the language was not so difficult and that I was not so linguistically incompetent!"

Mr Woodhead's comments come hot on the heels of the Archdruid of Wales' attack on incomers this year.

In August Dr Robyn Lewis accused English people of "swamping" the values of Wales.

 
 

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