The whisper: it’s De Bono

Getting by with a little help from their friends … Joel Madden and Sara De Bono. Extraordinary … the cultural performance, which features a lot of swordplay, is not your typical opera.

Powerful pooch … Reuben the cavoodle with Julia Gillard.

The reality TV karaoke competition The Voice might still be two days away from ending, but an online magazine has already calculated who it thinks will win, based purely on the number of votes the judges are able to muster through social media.

While Keith Urban, Delta Goodrem and Seal have (respectively) 400,000, 235,000 and 119,000 followers on Twitter – and have used the network to ask for votes – Joel Madden has 644,000 and has called in some heavyweight friends to help.

As fast as Joel sends out a tweet calling for his fans to vote for singer Sarah De Bono online, so too does his wife, Nicole Richie, who has an army of more than three million followers.

”My girl @Sarah-DeBono is the #TEAMJOEL finalist,” she wrote yesterday, ”Vote for her anywhere in the world 1 x a day on your facebook page … ”

Also spruiking for Joel are DJ Samantha Ronson (with 1.6 million followers) and Fall Out Boy singer Pete Wentz (more than 2 million followers).

Despite the fact Karise Eden is the bookies’ favourite to win, with Darren Percival and Rachael Leahcar close behind, the pop culture site is predicting Sarah will win by sheer force of online numbers – most of whom will never have seen an episode of the show.

”It’s very exciting that people are so enthusiastic about the voting,” a very noncommittal spokeswoman for The Voice said. ”But we will just have to wait and see what happens Monday.”


Too much water isn’t good for anyone, even fish apparently. Leaks near the Fish in Australian Art exhibition area have prompted staff at the Australian National Maritime Museum to temporarily close the show until repairs can be made and the museum dried out. More than 170 works from Australian artists such as Conrad Martens and Margaret Olley have been showcased in the exhibition since early April. The paintings, indigenous rock art, photographs and installations are all inspired by fish, be it the Queensland gropers, southern pygmy leatherjacket, or skate. Fortunately, museum authorities said, none was damaged by the unwanted water. ”There has been no damage. The leak occurred in the circulation areas, the corridors where people walk through,” the museum’s Shirani Aththas said.


Lucy Lawless, the actor better known as Xena the Warrior Princess, is well and truly living up to her surname after admitting to a charge of being unlawfully on a ship after she scaled an oil exploration vessel in New Zealand to protest Shell’s planned exploration for oil in the Arctic. Lawless, was arrested with seven other Greenpeace activists after the protest in February and was initially charged with burglary after spending 77 hours on the 53-metre tower of the Noble Discoverer. Yesterday, however, her lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said the new charge of unlawfully being on a ship had been laid after negotiation with prosecutors, after which they entered guilty pleas at Auckland District Court. In the true spirit of a warrior princess, Lawless said she wasn’t worried about it possibly harming her acting career. ”It’s not as risky as doing nothing,” she said as she left Auckland District Court yesterday. ”I stand by what we did, and our need to do it. Peaceful action’s the only way forward, a clean green Earth is what we need.” Lawless, appearing under her married name Lucy Tapert, was remanded on bail and will reappear in court on September 14.


The game of musical chairs at some of Australia’s leading glossy magazines seems to have come to its expected end, with the announcement Kellie Hush, editor of Grazia magazine until yesterday, will take over Harper’s Bazaar Australia. Hush, who had been deputy editor of Harpers before moving to The Sydney Morning Herald and then Grazia, steps in to replace Edwina McCann, who last month left to edit Vogue after its editor, Kirstie Clements was sacked as part of a ”new broom” policy by NewsLifeMedia boss Nicole Sheffield. The appointment came as little surprise to anyone in the publishing world, except possibly Hush, who said she never expected the job to become vacant. ”I seriously didn’t think it would happen in my career because these jobs … people don’t move out of them,” she said. ”It really is a matter of musical chairs and the domino effect. You’re just waiting for someone to kind of fall over for the doors to open.” And when the door opened, she stepped through quickly. ”I announced to Grazia at 11am and I was up at Bazaar at 11.15am and I’m now in the chair. It’s all happened very quickly.”


THEY’VE got swords, spears and centuries of tradition behind them, and the Chinese Opera Warriors are looking forward to using all of it in the closing show for the Year Of Chinese Culture in Australia, playing at the Opera House until tomorrow. More than 60 performers from the Shanxi Huajin Dance Art Troupe arrived in the country yesterday and went straight into rehearsals and performances, starting last night, said the event co-ordinator and troupe translator Wanni Zhu. ”The story is about three brothers, all training in martial arts at the Peking Opera in the early 20th century,” she said. ”It’s a traditional Chinese story told in a modern way.” And yes, a production spokeswoman said, given the martial arts element, there is a lot more swordplay than most operas we see. ”Peking Opera has nothing to do with what we think of as traditional opera,” she said. ”It’s all dance. Add in the lighting, the music and the choreography and this is quite extraordinary”.


JULIA GILLARD take note: if war breaks out anywhere in the next few weeks, before you send in the troops, send in your cavoodle Reuben for a photo opp. A team of American political scientists has just released the study Unleashing Presidential Power: The Politics of Pets in the White House, which looks at the animals who have shared the lives of various US presidents and what effect they have on the public when they’re trotted out (sometimes literally) at press conferences. The conclusion is that when the going gets tough, the tough get a dog. ”In times of war or scandal, dogs are welcome public companions,” the scientists found, ”but not so in periods of economic hardship.” Published by Cambridge University journals, the paper ”presents a theoretical framework and statistical evidence” to explore the conditions under which presidents put their pets in front of the cameras. ”We show that presidents carefully gauge the best and worst times to conduct a dog and pony show,” the paper’s abstract states. We suspect the scientists weren’t taking things too seriously, however. Buried in the biographical notes about those who took part is the following information on one author: ”James H. Lebovic is professor of political science and international affairs at The George Washington University. He is owned by a standard poodle named Softly and three cats (Jellybean, Bessie, and Woody).”


THE medieval-fantasy television drama Game Of Thrones has long drawn flack for its violence, nudity, language and the countless taboo themes they explore, but now the show is really under fire – for cutting off the head of a US president and mounting it on a pike. Without giving away too much, the finale of season one features a scene where one of the major characters meets a grisly end, with their head lopped off and offered up for all to see. And when it is seen, there alongside is the head of former president George Bush, dripping blood as it sits atop a spear. The show’s creators admit in their commentary to the recently released DVD of the first series that it is Bush’s head, but insist it is not a political statement. ”It’s just … we had to use what heads we had lying around,” one of the show’s creators is heard to say as the grisly spectacle unfolds. Still, that has been enough for American politicians to call for a boycott of the show and its broadcaster, HBO. ”It’s despicable,” said the chairman of the Brooklyn Republican Party, Craig Eaton. ”Americans of all political persuasions should stand up and demand that things like this should not continue. They should boycott watching this particular show.”


EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas, they say. Soon it could be faster too. Officials in the Lone Star State are looking to raise the speed limit on one stretch of highway to 85 mph (137km/h), making it the highest in the US. Chris Steinbach, the chief of staff to Lois W. Kolkhorst, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, said lawmakers paved the way for the possibility of an 85mph speed limit under the reasoning that ”if future highways were engineered for safe travel at a higher speed, then the legal speed limits could be raised to reflect that road’s capability”. The speed limit could be raised if officials determined the highway was designed to accommodate that speed and it was ”safe and reasonable based on an engineering and traffic investigation”, according to a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman. Texans shouldn’t start mounting steer horns on the front of Ferraris just yet, however. Insurers are far from happy with the idea. ”If you’re looking at an 85mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95, up to 100mph,” Sandra Helin, the president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service, said. ”When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You’re going to have a lot more fatalities.”

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