Here's to you, Jerry Hall
When Jerry Hall auditioned to play Mrs Robinson in The Graduate on Broadway in 2000, she cancelled dinner parties and overseas trips to rehearse.
Thirteen years later, the supermodel-turned-actor is reprising the role in Melbourne, having also played the famous seductress in London and Perth.
''At a certain age you get offered roles where you're the mother or where life has passed you by,'' the 56-year-old said on Tuesday. ''But Mrs Robinson is a fantastic sexual predator; she's an older woman who's seducing this young man.''
Jerry Hall is in Melbourne to perform in The Graduate. Photo: Justin McManus
Hall is the only confirmed cast member of the Melbourne production, which opens in September, reports Michael Lallo. ''Luckily, I'm not Mrs Robinson,'' she said when asked if she brings personal experience to the role. ''But I could have been.''
Based on the 1963 novel The Graduate, the play tells the story of Benjamin Braddock, a young man who is seduced by Mrs Robinson. Braddock then falls in love with her daughter, Elaine.
''It's set in a period where the birth control pill came around,'' Hall said, ''so women, all of a sudden, had a kind of freedom they didn't have before.''
Fashion fracas: Samantha Harris, Gai Waterhouse and Barry O'Farrell at the DJs launch. Photo: Getty Images
Inevitably, Mrs Robinson has been described recently as a ''cougar''. ''I think it is quite appropriate, especially with Mrs Robinson because she is quite the predator,'' she said. ''You know, it's quite nice dating younger men. They have a lot of stamina and they can keep up.''
Born in Texas in 1956, Hall found fame as a model in Paris in the 1970s and has four children with former husband Mick Jagger. Asked how she feels about ''getting on a bit'', Hall baulked before replying: ''I feel happy about it. When you're young, you stress out about things but as you get older, you don't care … I'm having the time of my life.''
And the secret to her youthful looks?
''I don't know if I'm the right person to give advice. I like drinking and smoking and coffee.''
Still, she looks forward to the nude scene on stage each night.
''When I first did it, I hated it so much,'' she said. ''Then it became my favourite part because the audience is so shocked.''
They're off: retailers go neck and neck
Perhaps it was meant as a distraction from the state of Randwick Racecourse's building site. Myer and David Jones launched their autumn racewear collections on the very same day, less than an hour apart. It can only have been a conscious decision - so, nose-to-nose it was for the big fashion players at the autumn races.
The retail arch-rivals put on paddock-worthy shows on the catwalk on Tuesday - Myer's models Jennifer Hawkins and Laura Dundovic shimmying at the Sydney Theatre Company in Walsh Bay, while DJs' production unfolded at the launch of the BMW Sydney Carnival at Centennial Park Dining.
There, Vogue editor, Edwina McCann, GQ's editor-in-chief, Nick Smith and queen of the turf Gai Waterhouse reigned over the looks, frothing over capes, cloches and pantsuits and reminding ladies who needed no reminding that felt, not straw, is the order of the day for autumnal headwear.
Samantha Harris opened the show for DJs, wearing a white cape and dress by Carla Zampatti, shoes by Celine and a jaunty bowler hat by Paul Smith. Josh Goot, Dion Lee, Alex Perry and Lover all featured alongside turncoat label, Ellery, newly defected from Myer.
Insiders report that David Jones was not pleased to learn of the surprise staging of its rivals' showcase on the same day, with voices from both sides of the fence claiming they had sent out invitations first.
Away from the fashion fracas, pressure was heaped onto both Black Caviar and Gai Waterhouse, putting the horse and the trainer squarely in the spotlight, as ever.
Premier Barry O'Farrell, taking a short, sharp respite from cabinet duties, declared Minister for Racing George Souris has the ''best job in government'' and that Waterhouse rates as one of Sydney's trifecta of icons, sitting alongside the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in status.
Jockey Jim Cassidy admitted that he'd love to ''upset the party'' and knock Black Caviar from pole position, while an upbeat O'Farrell joked to media: ''We have to leave because Parliament is sitting. It's not true that David Jones asked us not to be in the background of the fashion show.''
Waterhouse told the crowd, which included Zoe Marshall, Neil Grigg, Australian Turf Club chairman John Cornish, ATC chief executive Darren Pearce, Kate Waterhouse, Emma Freedman, Casey Burgess and Samantha Jade that ''the Queen is under a lot of pressure sending her horse to Australia''. Waterhouse, who will be training Carlton House over the season, could only smile when Channel Seven's Bruce McAvaney replied that ''only Gai would think the Queen's under pressure. Most people would think Gai is under pressure''.
And, putting any hopes of a hot tip to rest, Waterhouse, when asked to choose between her runners in the Golden Slipper, was unshakable. ''Do I have a preference? No, I'm the mother.''
Story behind Prisoner X
To most people, the story of Ben Zygier, or Prisoner X, who was found dead aged 34 in a high-security Israeli prison over two years ago, is something of a mystery, complete with lies, spies and deception.
Now Walkley Award-winning ABC broadcaster and former Fairfax investigative journalist Rafael Epstein is trying to make sense of his life in Prisoner X, which will be published in November by Melbourne University Publishing, reports Jason Steger.
''I want people to understand how a person from Melbourne ended up in a place like that. Ben's story is bigger than what happened. We know that he worked for Mossad and they thought that he had made a big mistake, but did he make that mistake?'' Epstein said. ''The issue is that he knew about operations, I suspect. The Israelis clearly had some concerns - that's the mystery.''
Epstein, who once moved in the same Jewish youth movement circles as Zygier, said he had not yet approached the family. ''I want them to know what I'm doing and why,'' he said.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH ...
WOOD'S BITE INTO THE BIG APPLE
Sydney fashion designer Fleur Wood (pictured right) is heading to the Big Apple to take her brand of feminine designs (pictured left) to the international stage - and closer to ''intercontinental fans'', including Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson and Nicole Kidman. Wood's husband, journalist Nick Bryant, tells the Diary that New York City provides the ''perfect combo'' of fashion and political action (he is set to become the BBC's New York and United Nations correspondent). He moved to Australia with the BBC in 2006. He may have hit upon the ideal career and wife-pleasing compromise - but, as Bryant tweeted, Sydney is a hard place to leave.
THE OTHER BALDWIN
It's not clear at whom the punishment is aimed - the public, or the criminal. Either way, Stephen Baldwin has sidestepped a stay at the state's pleasure by promising to act his way out of a jail term. After failing to file income-tax returns in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the born-again Christian will pay $350,000 in back taxes by finding work in commercials and acting roles. But Baldwin's faith is coming between the star of The Usual Suspects and many a potential role. ''In the past, he did movies that portrayed violence and drugs. He no longer does those types of movies,'' his lawyer Russell Yankwitt told AP. The actor has come in for his fair share of ribbing for certain low moments in his movie portfolio, and alongside Kylie Minogue, may wish that Bio-Dome had never happened … but that is another crime story altogether. He could always resort to a spot of advice from big brother Alec Baldwin who, as 30 Rock's power-sozzled autocrat Jack Donaghy, may find a fast - but ultimately flawed - way to speed up the money-making process.
It was 2008 all over again for a few awkward moments on Tuesday. As embroiled MP Craig Thomson took to the steps of Parliament House in Canberra to opine over the good, the bad and the ugly of coal seam gas, the confused telemagicians over at Sky News included a caption stating that the independent member was a Labor MP. The unexpected news - possibly not what the ALP needs right now - might have come as a shock to colleagues and the media had a simultaneous broadcast by ABC 24 - where Thomson's correct and decidedly un-Labor position was reassuringly ship-shape - not brought The Diary back to Earth.