Waltz With Bashir


No, not the acclaimed Israeli animated war film released in 2008, but rather a new show involving a ‘celebrity’ I hadn’t even heard of before I Googled ‘celebrity Big Brother’ in search of a new target. Jasmine Waltz? Heard of her? She’s a bit of a conundrum. Famous enough to have 263k followers on Twitter, but not famous enough to have a Wikipedia entry (*update, 2017* she now has a Wiki entry). Strange. Usual bio with this one; a sex tape, lingerie shots, part-time arm-candy for some Hollywood B-listers, a bit of jail time and a couple of acting roles before the CBB casters came a knocking.

Anyway, with no time for mucking about, I found her agent’s email and got straight into action:

I am looking for more information on the availability of Jasmine Waltz as potential co-host of a show I have in mind for her. It is titled ‘Waltz With Bashir’ and is somewhat reminiscent of the popular ITV show The Cook Report.

The premise is that Jasmine would team up with renowned interviewer and journalist Martin Bashir and would ‘investigate’ a range of issues, and doorstop some of those involved, and then return to studio for analysis and discussion. I know this is vastly different from her other projects, but several people on our concept team are huge fans and thought this could be a really good vehicle for her so pitched the idea.

Martin Bashir. Now that’s a name to add a bit of gravitas to an offer, isn’t it? Made famous for his interview with the King of Pop, Martin apparently fell apart for a little bit after the death of Michael Jackson. I have a friend who works at a record store in Islington who said he was in most days (often just in a dressing gown) for about a month snapping up vinyls of Michael’s work.


Martin Bashir (r) poses for a photo with a fan

I heard back within a couple of hours from Waltz’s agent:

Thank you.
Can you just let me know a bit more about yourself and who you work with please? The yahoo address tells me nothing…
Be good to know more.
Do you already have Martin on board?

Usually I jump at this sort of enquiry as it fully indulges the fantasist in me. I can create a whole persona and work history, as i’ve done before with other agents. Make them think i’m some edgy hotshot who’s gonna launch their star. This time, though, I really didn’t fancy it. She seemed nice. This Jasmine character seemed nice, albeit typically vacuous and shallow. So I let it pass and moved on without replying. Maybe i’m losing my killer instinct?


Blazin Squad’s Fire Safety Tips, Pt. Two

So, it’s been a while, but if you can’t remember we left off at having piqued the interest of Blazing Squad’s management and now it was a case of reeling them in. I told the agent it was fine that the ‘band’ wasn’t fully reformed and that it would probably be prohibitively expensive to have all 50 members clowning about anyway. Their website suggested only six original members remained, but the cheeky so and sos thought they could push for the inclusion of a mystery seventh member. I replied:

Six is fine, could you let me know what six of the original group it would be? If the potential 7th member was Kenzo or Striker that could be advantageous, but as I said, six is great. Those dates are ideal actually and if all goes well we might not even need them for the 7th, but we’ll see. Do you have an email for one of the guys I could possibly have? I would like to send through a script for them to peruse and we could really hit the ground running on the day.

Perhaps you weren’t a keen Blazin Squadder in your day and haven’t clocked the mistake up there yet. See, there is no ‘Kenzo’ or ‘Striker’, as the real names were actually Kenzie and Strider. That small piss take was a shot across the bow so to speak, a portent of what was to come. Alas, their busy agent didn’t pick up on it and so the email ping pong continued briefly before I got word that they were on. Now I just had to come up with some terms of agreement. Do you know how much a man has to pay six members of an early noughties rap boy band to do a make believe video for the NUS about fire safety? This much:

I think in total we would have the guys for around 7 hours in total. We would arrange transport and food and a fee of £600 each.

They were on it like a business of ferrets on a stick of rock (i.e. voracious, just take my word for it). It was, as the French like to say, le game on. Now the real fun began. I toyed with the idea of sending my dad down to Highams Park station to pick them all up in the back of his two seater van like a bunch of scally builders out for their first day on a new site. First things first though, I needed a date, time and location. I thought why not have them turn up at my old alma mater, King’s College, London. So it was all arranged. I was just waiting for the agent to confirm the names of the members who would be turning up, and in time I got this:

Names are;

Sam Foulkes
Oliver Georgiou
Marcel Somerville
Lee Bailey
Stuart Baker
Chris McKeckney

Errr, sorry what the fuck is this? Which one is Freek? Where is Reepa or Rocky B? She couldn’t legitimately think this was proper behaviour. They built their reputations on funky nicknames and now I was having to deal with a Marcel and an Oliver. Fuck off.

As it turned out I was a bit bored of it all and I had a trip to Lebanon coming up that needed a bit of organising for so I kind of forgot about it all. I had really planned on sending a very dorky script over, to give them the jitters about what they had actually signed up for, but before I knew it I was in Beirut and this had all but been completely forgotten about.

I don’t tend to check emails much when i’m away and when I did, I had some panicked messages in my inbox from their agent. I then realised the scheduled day of filming was only three days away. Shit!! I like to have a laugh, but I didn’t want to be a total dick, so I had to come up with something quickly, and it had to be good. I asked my brother to email this message:

Dear X,

I am emailing on behalf of Celebriteasing (not my real name) regarding the upcoming work he has scheduled with Blazing Squad. Unfortunately he has been detained by police in Monaco and we are not sure when or if he may be released. I have spoken with him very briefly on the phone and he has asked me to contact you to apologise and cancel the planned meeting and filming session. He will be in touch when he is back in the UK.

She was not happy and remarked loosely about the lack of professionalism and how I had let the boys down. Sorry what? I’m in the nick, love. No concern about my wellbeing, no sympathy for the monotony of my daily rations of baguette and brie. What a bitch. Anyway, it was of course quite some time before I was ‘released’. My time inside a make-believe Monacan prison has served me well, though, and I now had something masterly planned for a certain Antony Costa.

Blazin Squad’s Fire Safety Tips, Pt. One

There is a melancholy fatalism in some of the lyrics of Blazin’ Squad’s biggest hit, Crossroads, as Melo-D raps, ‘The way it is now is the way it’s gonna stay. There’s no choice left but to hope and pray’. Young Melo-D, real name Chris McKeckney, was described in 2002, by CBBC Newsround, as ‘the most talkative’ of the group, and I would like to venture that with that resigned attitude he was perhaps the most destructive influence on the career of the ten-piece rap crew that emerged out of the hardened streets of Higham Park in the early Noughties.

Even though those lyrics were penned more than a decade ago, I feared the complete lack of optimism and the absence of a belief in the mastery of one’s destiny may still be lingering in the minds of the Blazin Squad boys. So, I took it upon myself to make them believe there was hope yet and that Blazin Squad could burn hot once more. Perhaps not hot like an iron, but definitely like a strong radiator that you really shouldn’t lean against for too long. Thus began an episode of Celebriteasing that ran away from me.

I was familiar with some of the members of Blazin Squad growing up. Krazy (real name Lee Bailey who was given the moniker Krazy for antics that were so wild that ‘Crazy’ just didn’t cut it) and Strider (Mustafa Omer) were both keen runners and I would occasionally see them at training in Mile End and Victoria Park. Strider got his name as a result of a renowned burst of speed in the 400m, although back then we called him ‘Rikki Lake’, ‘Silly Sauce’, and my personal favourite ‘Fatter-Turk’, which was a play on ‘Atatürk’ the first President of Turkey. Strider always swore he wasn’t even Turkish, but we were never ones to let geography get in the way of good banter.

Krazy was actually a good middle-distance runner and I remember one hilarious incident that sums up his youthful exuberance and nutritional ignorance. We were up at Parliament Hill for a meet and I was geeing up some of the younger runners and noticed Lee drinking a strange looking concoction out of a soup container. I found out it was a pre-race mix drink he was trying out that was made up of Lucozade NRG, Red Bull, Gatorade, Nourishment and Dioralyte. The curdled mix left him in a right mess, and after the sugar crash we found he had vomited in his kit bag and was in no fit state to run. Talented kid though.

So when the Blazin Squad really emerged I was amused and pleased. It was good to see these guys having fun and what not. Their prancing and posing didn’t fool me though, and when it was suggested ‘that they were to So Solid Crew what S Club Juniors were to their senior counterparts, S Club’, I was in humored agreement. But, in their relatively short time in the limelight they amassed six top-ten hits so all credit was due to them.

It was back in August this year, while I was doing a bit of training at home, that I searched ‘psych up music’ on Youtube and got a bit of a shock. Alongside Eminem, Jorge Quintero and Fort Minor this particular compilation had ‘Here For One’ by Blazin Squad on it. This 2004 single had passed me by first time around, and indeed it was their last release before they first split. With the opening verse containing the lyrics ‘Cos we hip this hop this, y’all can’t stop this’, delivered with a totally unnecessary American twang, it is no wonder the crew fell apart soon after.

I sent my first email to their management agency almost straight away:

Hope this email finds you well. I’m enquiring about the availability of Blazin’ Squad for a project I have lined up. My small team and I are involved in video production, working primarily on educational or corporate training material. We have just been contacted by the NUS and Universities UK about producing a video that will be shown at universities throughout the country during Fresher’s Fairs. Whoever they hired previously has dropped the project and we have been asked to step in at the last moment and deliver something by the middle of September, which is why I’m getting in touch.

The video is to be an informative piece about fire safety in university halls. We want Blazin’ Squad to front this. I think the recent Big Reunion show has thrust bands/acts from the early/mid 2000s back in the spotlight, thus making the boys ideal for us to maximise the impact of this initiative. The target audience (18-20 year olds, generally) will remember the Squad and we’re planning on maximising this nostalgia effect. I have some great concept guys who have been working on ideas, but of course we’re open to collaborating with the boys about how we deliver the necessary information.

I would be very grateful if you could let me know if they are available soon so we can move this forward asap if possible.

I got a one line response back, but this one was different to the other one liners of rejection I had received in the past. This one smacked of the palpable desperation of an agent who has ‘celebs’ on his books that never throw up any work and who he doesn’t have the heart to get rid of. This line I could work with:

Hi, it sounds interesting, but the band are not fully reformed?

Oh my friend, trouble yourself not with such such trifling matters, I will take whoever you have. Whether that would mean another chance to wind up Fatter-Turk or not meant little to me. I was soon going to have some fun with the Blazin Squad.

Paul Danan: This Is Sparta


You know, weight plates don’t lie, and that’s why I used to get on with them so well. They tell you how things really are. It doesn’t matter how good or bad things are going for you outside of the gym, 100kg is a 100kg and that’s that. This is something Paul Danan knows and something I’ve spoken with him about.

You remember Paul Danan, right? He played Sol Patrick in Hollyoaks and on 2006’s Celebrity Love Island he was the comical bane of Sophie Anderton, who coincidentally is my favourite coke-head/escort/model ever (love you Soph). As a character he was engaging, as himself he is compulsive viewing. Never was there a celebrity who was more fitting for an attempted teasing. Especially since he had been sort of sidelined in the industry as a result of an incident in 2007 where, while tasked with turning on the Christmas lights in Preston, he shouted to the 3000 strong crowd, ‘Come on you motherf**kers…make some f**king noise!!’

So, back to the gym. It was in July this year that I was training in Legends Gym, Dalston (#legends #lightweightbuddy #nocontract) when I noticed a hulking Paul Danan racking up the bar for some bench presses. As I passed him he asked if I would spot him as he did ten reps of 140kg. This guy was serious and focused, training on his own, not there to talk shit, but just lift and go home. I liked that. His muscles were large and clearly defined. He reminded me of the character Boyka from the Undisputed films.

We spoke about training and our goals, and I said I recognised him from the telly. I think he was a bit sheepish for a while then, but we laughed about Celebrity Love Island and he relaxed again. He is a nice, engaging guy. He told me he runs a drama school, but then out of nowhere dropped a bomb. He said he could get me some ‘sauce’ if I was looking to go ‘nuclear’. I must be careful here, but I think he was offering me steroids. I looked him in the eyes and said, ‘mate, the only supplement I take is pain’. We laughed, but the awkwardness was there now and I made my excuses and left for the rower. I decided then that I would try to get him on Celebriteasing.

This is Sparta!


About a week later I sent this email to his management agency:

I’m hoping for some information on the availability of Mr Paul Danan in 2014.

The show I have in mind for Mr Danan is called This Is Sparta. It would involve residents of Sparta Street in Lewisham, SE10 living and training in the manner of Spartan warriors.

I’ve admired Paul since Hollyoaks and have actually had him in mind since 2005 when I felt he really showcased his no nonsense approach on Celebrity Love Island. I believe he would be a perfect host (potential co-host if Michael Wilson, formerly Cobra from Gladiators, comes through) for the show. I think Paul has a real approachability that would harmonise perfectly with the residents who get involved with the show. Much like Dermot O’Leary on X-Factor I think.

I would be grateful if you could let me know if this is something Paul would consider and if so what his availability is for next year.

I heard nothing for about a month, and then the agency head got in touch asking if it was still relevant and could I please send over a programme synopsis. I willingly obliged:

This Is Sparta

Have the excesses of modern living made us soft? Does the average person in the street have what it takes to become a fearsome warrior? Taking average, everyday residents from Sparta Street in Lewisham, London, SE10, this show follows ten men and women as they are trained to behave, live and fight like the famous warriors of Sparta, made famous by the Hollywood blockbuster 300. Historians, dieticians and personal trainers will all be on hand to assist their transformation, but can they do it?

I don’t believe there is a jobless TV presenter alive who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie. It’s like the Daz challenge on ‘roids. Knock on your door and promise you an eight pack and killer instinct. Where do I sign?

Paul’s agent was slightly more reticent than that though. And that’s cool, because I like the chase. I heard nothing back for a week so I told her I had a meeting coming up with Firecracker (a well-known production company) about the show and wanted to know if Paul was on board.

Hi, has this actually been commissioned? What are shoot dates please?

Oh please woman, stop wasting my time. We both know that he wants the gig. Stop playing at being a seasoned pro and tell me what I want to hear. Of course I didn’t mail her that. I figured this was more fitting:

The show hasn’t been fully commissioned yet. I am hoping to secure this at my upcoming meeting and from experience have found that they are usually more forthcoming when I present a holistic program rather than more conceptual ideas. Proposed shoot dates are February to June 2014. Thanks.

And of course I got what I wanted. It pays to be polite:

At this point, Paul is free & keen. This can obviously change but that’s the situation as it stands. What previous shows have you produced/had commissioned?

‘Free’; well I knew that. ‘Keen’; now that’s a word I like. I soon had an image of his cheeky grin enveloping his face as he read the WhatsApp message that told him that this could be his ticket back to the big time. I could practically see his swollen frame rippling as he chuckled to himself about his imminent return to the VIP area at China White. But then something struck me. What manner would his steroid-fuelled rage take when he realised another lead had come to nothing? Who would fall within his path of destruction. The man can bench 140kg for ten reps, he is capable of some serious damage. He could throw a fridge or something. Scary.

For this reason I decided not to reply. While I still wondered if this awesome show idea would ever come to life, my attention began to shift towards contemplating the morality of Celebriteasing.

Kerry Katona: Cat Owner

I’ve met Kerry Katona, albeit briefly, and she was very sweet. It was back in 2000, I was doing a temp stewarding job at an exhibition in Olympia and was manning one of the large hall’s back doors. Some of the celebrities that were doing short visits that weekend included then England goalkeeper David James and the soon to be genuinely famous, instead of just hyper and passably good looking, Atomic Kitten. My role was to make sure nobody came in or out of that door unless authorised. A team of three of us were on rotation at the back of the hall that day so I didn’t see the Kittens coming in, but I held the door open for them as they exited into a waiting car. Katona was the last to leave and as she bounded towards the open door she winked at me and said ‘thanks darling’. In that most monotonous of jobs, moments like that were an absolute blessing and a source of embellished boasting come home time.

Jump forward a few years and Katona had departed Atomic Kitten, leaving with a legacy of four top 10 hits, including a number one with ‘Whole Again’. She had left on account of being pregnant with Brian McFadden’s child. From Dublin, McFadden had played gaelic football with my cousin and was a promising left half back before fully investing in his music career. The two had remained friends and as a result I was privy to some of the mad stories from his early Westlife days, including some of his escapades with Katona.

For example there is the story about her being shown a promotional video from the Animal Liberation Front and going to a pet store in Dublin and buying as many kittens and puppies as possible to ‘set them free’. After about an hour of this brood of cuteness pissing and shitting all over her management’s Range Rover, she smuggled them all into Dunnes Stores and dumped them there before doing a runner. The writing was on the wall back then.

I needn’t expand on what’s happened to her career since then. The highs and extreme lows have been fully expounded by the tittle tattle press. She is z-list gold and I needed to at least have a crack at luring her into some madness. I knew the cat angle was my best way in, appealing to her Atomic Kitten glory days. I sent this over (with no mention of the moment we shared in 2000):

Hi Alex,
Im enquiring about the availability of Ms Kerry Katona for a charity show I’m hoping to put together for Channel 4 for the early quarter of next year. The show I have in mind is called ‘Kerry Katona: Cat Owner’ and will see Ms Katona trained under the tutelage of Oleksiy Pinko the renowned lion tamer and circus showman. She will learn all about controlling big cats and getting them to perform, as well as all the required elements of ring showmanship.
Six weeks of training would culminate in a final charity performance during which a variety of celebrities will be showcasing the skills they have learned. For example I am also currently in talks with Peter Andre about learning the bag pipes for a performance with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
I would be most grateful if you could let me know Ms Katona’s availability and potential interest.
Kind regards

Here is a picture of Oleksiy getting off with a lion. This obviously isn’t an opportunity to be sniffed at and I was vaguely optimistic they might go for it. In record time I heard back though:

Dear Patrick,
Thanks you for your email which I read with interest.
Sadly this is not something that we can consider at this time but the very best of luck with the show.

Best regards

I took solace in ‘sadly’. I know ultimately she wanted this gig. I have visions of Katona going ballistic at this Alex character saying ‘I wanna join the f**kin circus you c**t, make. this. happen!! You know I love animals’, and him putting the blockers on it as it’s not in line with his ‘vision’ for her. Some day I’m gonna get direct access to a celebrity and then they’ll be dancing to my tune.


Dane Bowers: Do You Want To Be Famous Or Not?

Sometimes you just know when enough is enough. Pop Idol’s Rik Waller gets it, and apparently now works as an exam invigilator. Michelle McManus gets it too, and after a brief period as a lollypop lady, she now has a very successful dog walking business. In celebrityville there isn’t anybody with a stop watch counting the seconds on your 15 minutes of fame, so occasionally a strong element of self-regulation is required. Sometimes they get it wrong and 15 minutes becomes half an hour. What I’m doing here is giving celebrities cause to think that maybe, just maybe, the clock has been reset for them. However, quite often I don’t hear back from a celebrity at all. Not a rejection, just nothing. Emailing multiple addresses and nothing happens. What’s going on here? If you have a management team, or an agent, they should be chasing up and at least trying to verify all possible leads, right? Dane Bowers is obviously an exception. I have tried and tried with this guy but I get nothing back. Perhaps he has seen the clock hit 15 and walked away. Is this the case? Does he want to be famous or not?

I had genuinely forgotten about Dane. I was never that knowledgeable about Another Level, and had merely a passing annoyance at the song he did with Posh Spice. I knew he had made it to the final of Celebrity Big Brother with harmonica wielding Alex Reid but that was three years ago. What had been going on since then?

About three months ago I stumbled on this: ‘Dane Bowers had to be physically restrained and handcuffed following an incident at family holiday centre Butlins last week.’ Lord preserve me. After headlining at a 90s night in Bognor Regis he had apparently taken umbrage to a drunken reveller continually calling him Brian Harvey, despite repeat warnings that he was his own man, his own 90s star. I know he had trained in muay Thai with Jack Osborne so I assume he handed out a bit of a beating but the trial isn’t until 29th October. Along with two associates, who were also charged with having a few grams of snort about their person, he saw the inside of a nick and I have it on good authority that his first call was to Lee Latchford-Evans, formerly of Steps, who has now trained as a solicitor.

Did Dane now simply prefer these smaller, more intimate gigs? Was he tired of the fame game or was this just the work he was being offered these days? I had to find out so I came up with a show idea to see if he or his team would bite.

Dear ASM Damage,

I’m hoping for some information on the availability in the coming months of Mr Dane Bowers. I’m working on a few TV show ideas and given the recent success of the Big Reunion, and I guess the general re-interest in all things 90s/early 2000s I thought it would be brilliant to get one of the key figures of that time back in focus.
The show I have in mind for Mr Bowers is to be titled Bowers vs. The Towers. The premise is much like the Amazing Race, but will only involve Dane and its key point is that he would be limited to a budget of £10 a day. This would mean he will have to barter, beg and charm his way to each of the towers. The show will start with him at the Tower of London and then take in the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Svanetian Towers (in Georgia) and finishing with the Minaret of Jam in Western Afghanistan (which I can assure you is much safer than it might sound). Of course we would be flexible with the course. Conceivably we could head west and take in the CN Tower and maybe one or two in Japan, China or Australia. The details are all fluid and reworkable. But as an opening idea, do you think it would be something Dane might be interested in. We will be pitching it to several production companies and channels, along with other shows such as Beefcakes vs. Cupcakes and a special take on David vs. Goliath, as part of a Versus season.
I look forward to hearing from you soon,

I waited and waited. I guess I timed it wrong. With court appearances looming, it’s highly likely a global trek on a small stipend is not top of his list. Perhaps, if he is found not guilty at trial his management team will be straight back to me to see if this is still a valid lead. And it will be. My leads never die.