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‘Very niiice!’: Kazakhstan adopts Borat’s catchphrase for tourism campaign 

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Kazakhstan has adopted Borat‘s ‘very nice’ catchphrase for a new tourism campaign. 

Borat, the fictional character played by Sacha Baron Cohen, hails from the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan and frequently paints the country as homophobic, sexist and anti-Semitic – a place where women are not allowed to drive cars and the annual ‘running of the Jew’ is intensely popular. 

In a new tourism campaign – released on Sunday – tourists can be seen visiting a series of sites in Kazakhstan and uttering Borat’s catchphrase ‘very nice’ in four 12-second clips. 

Kairat Sadvakassov, deputy chairman of Kazakh Tourism, said the catchphrase perfectly summed up his country’s tourism potential in a ‘short, memorable way.’ 

Borat (pictured), played by Sacha Baron Cohen, hails from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan

Borat (pictured), played by Sacha Baron Cohen, hails from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan

Borat (pictured), played by Sacha Baron Cohen, hails from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan 

In one of the clips, a man is seen drinking traditional Kazakh wine, which he says is 'very nice'. In the first Borat film, the character claims that Kazakh wine is made out of fermented horse urine

In one of the clips, a man is seen drinking traditional Kazakh wine, which he says is 'very nice'. In the first Borat film, the character claims that Kazakh wine is made out of fermented horse urine

In one of the clips, a man is seen drinking traditional Kazakh wine, which he says is ‘very nice’. In the first Borat film, the character claims that Kazakh wine is made out of fermented horse urine

‘[Very nice] offers the perfect description of Kazakhstan’s vast tourism potential in a short, memorable way,’ he told the Huffington Post.  

‘Kazakhstan’s nature is very nice; its food is very nice; and its people, despite Borat’s jokes to the contrary, are some of the nicest in the world. 

‘We would like everyone to come experience Kazakhstan for themselves by visiting our country in 2021 and beyond, so that they can see that Borat’s homeland is nicer than they may have heard.’

After the release of Cohen’s first Borat film in 2006 – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan – the country’s leaders were outraged at the way the comedian had portrayed the country. 

In this still taken from video a woman visits sites in the country's capital Almaty before uttering Borat's trademark catchphrase

In this still taken from video a woman visits sites in the country's capital Almaty before uttering Borat's trademark catchphrase

In this still taken from video a woman visits sites in the country’s capital Almaty before uttering Borat’s trademark catchphrase 

A man says 'very nice' while exploring the Kazakhstan's mountainous region. In 2006 the initial reaction to the Borat character from government officials was negative

A man says 'very nice' while exploring the Kazakhstan's mountainous region. In 2006 the initial reaction to the Borat character from government officials was negative

A man says ‘very nice’ while exploring the Kazakhstan’s mountainous region. In 2006 the initial reaction to the Borat character from government officials was negative 

The Kazakhstani government took out ads in American newspapers to dispute the claims made, attempting to portray the country as forward-thinking and modern, dashing suggestions of religious intolerance and sexism. 

In the first film, Borat drinks what he calls traditional Kazakh wine, which he says is made out of fermented horse urine. 

Government spokesman Roman Vassilenko was even forced to officially deny that this was a common Kazakh practice. 

In a statement, Vassilenko added: ‘Mr. Cohen could not have been more wrong when he chose Kazakhstan as a home country for his mythical, misogynist and anti-Semitic reporter. 

‘I am offended and the people of Kazakhstan are offended by the choice.’ 

Despite the official outrage, the number of visas issued to the country rose tenfold after the film’s release, AFP reported, prompting the country’s Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov to thank Borat for ‘helping to attract tourists to Kazakhstan.’

Dennis Keen, an American living in the Kazakh capital Almaty, was behind the new advertisements.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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TOM LEONARD: Stars’ haunt that had mischief on the menu

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Princess Margaret chain-smoked at a back table, Ava Gardner joined the pianist for an impromptu duet and Elizabeth Taylor packed her guest Rock Hudson off to the nearest gay haunt for a ‘boys’ night’.

Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole would drunkenly bellow songs into the early hours, but Sean Connery got shown the door for refusing to order food with his alcohol.

That said, the menu was hardly what drew the stars to Joe Allen, the restaurant for London’s Theatreland.

Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen touched tongues for this notorious 1977 photo at one of its tables

Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen touched tongues for this notorious 1977 photo at one of its tables

Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen touched tongues for this notorious 1977 photo at one of its tables

Princess Margaret visited Joe Allen, the restaurant for London¿s Theatreland. Pictured: Princess Margaret smoking a cigarette whilst visiting Yugoslavia in 1970

Princess Margaret visited Joe Allen, the restaurant for London¿s Theatreland. Pictured: Princess Margaret smoking a cigarette whilst visiting Yugoslavia in 1970

Princess Margaret visited Joe Allen, the restaurant for London’s Theatreland. Pictured: Princess Margaret smoking a cigarette whilst visiting Yugoslavia in 1970

For 43 years, the Covent Garden institution has effectively been the staff canteen for the West End, and actors in general, a place where they could expect not to be bothered, and where the staff could be trusted.

Sex Pistol Sid Vicious and girlfriend Nancy Spungen touched tongues for a notorious 1977 photo at one of its tables, but they were the exception. The myriad other famous performers — from Judi Dench and Ian McKellen to Barbara Windsor and Rod Stewart — who have dined at Joe Allen go there not to be noticed.

Now, after decades feeding and watering the stars, the latter are showing their affection for Joe’s in return. Friends of the restaurant, which has been closed since March due to Covid, have been taking part in a series of online ‘virtual cabaret’ shows to raise money for both Joe Allen and Acting For Others, an umbrella for 14 theatre charities as they struggle through a crisis that has brought the West End to its knees.

Tonight, the last of three virtual cabaret evenings, An Evening At Joe’s, will feature Dame Judi, Sir Ian and Jennifer Saunders among the cast.

Judi Dench is among a series of famous guests to visit the Joe Allen restaurant

Judi Dench is among a series of famous guests to visit the Joe Allen restaurant

Judi Dench is among a series of famous guests to visit the Joe Allen restaurant

Tonight, the last of three virtual cabaret evenings, An Evening At Joe¿s, will feature Dame Judi, Sir Ian (pictured) and Jennifer Saunders among the cast.

Tonight, the last of three virtual cabaret evenings, An Evening At Joe¿s, will feature Dame Judi, Sir Ian (pictured) and Jennifer Saunders among the cast.

Tonight, the last of three virtual cabaret evenings, An Evening At Joe’s, will feature Dame Judi, Sir Ian (pictured) and Jennifer Saunders among the cast.

Jennifer Saunders will feature tonight in the 'virtual' cabaret evenings to raise money

Jennifer Saunders will feature tonight in the 'virtual' cabaret evenings to raise money

Jennifer Saunders will feature tonight in the ‘virtual’ cabaret evenings to raise money 

A ‘virtual’ evening at Joe’s may prove rather more sedate than the real thing.

In the heyday of showbusiness drinking, says general manager Cathy Winn, who has worked at Joe Allen for 30 years, an ambulance would turn up outside most Friday nights as someone or other would have had a heart attack at their table.

The biggest celebrity boozers of them all — Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris — could always be relied on to pitch up late and inebriated.

‘They used to drive me mad. At the end of the night, they’d always come in p***-drunk and want to sing badly around the piano until the early hours,’ Cathy recalls.

But most guests were far more discreet — although not always courteous. A keen theatregoer, Princess Margaret once invited Derek Jacobi (himself a Joe Allen regular) to dine with her and some ballet world friends.

The biggest celebrity boozers of them all ¿ Peter O¿Toole and Richard Harris ¿ could always be relied on to pitch up late and inebriated. Pictured: Peter O'Toole, who died at the age of 81 in 2013 - just one year after he announced his retirement The biggest celebrity boozers of them all ¿ Peter O¿Toole and Richard Harris ¿ could always be relied on to pitch up late and inebriated. Pictured: Peter O'Toole, who died at the age of 81 in 2013 - just one year after he announced his retirement

The biggest celebrity boozers of them all — Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris — could always be relied on to pitch up late and inebriated. Pictured: Peter O’Toole, who died at the age of 81 in 2013 – just one year after he announced his retirement

‘There were eight of us and I sat next to her,’ he recalled. ‘She smoked continuously, not even putting out her cigarette when the soup arrived, but instead leaning it up against the ashtray.

‘We got on terribly well, talking about her mum and her sister, and she really made me feel like I was a friend . . . until she got a cigarette out and I picked up a lighter and she snatched it out of my hand and gave it to a ballet dancer called David Wall.’ She told the astonished actor: ‘You don’t light my cigarette, dear. Oh no, you’re not that close.’

The restaurant, where Graham Norton was once a waiter, was not only styled on a classic American bar, with show posters lining bare brick walls and red and white checked tablecloths, but an almost exact replica of the original Joe Allen in Manhattan.

Allen and his business partner, fellow American Richard Polo, came to Britain 12 years after opening the New York restaurant, finding cheap basement premises in a former orchid warehouse. The restaurant moved to a new home in 2017 after Robert De Niro announced plans (later scrapped) to redevelop the entire block as a boutique hotel.

Now, after decades feeding and watering the stars, the latter are showing their affection for Joe¿s in return. Friends of the restaurant, which has been closed since March due to Covid, have been taking part in a series of online ¿virtual cabaret¿ to raise money. Pictured: The interior of the Joe Allen restaurant

Now, after decades feeding and watering the stars, the latter are showing their affection for Joe¿s in return. Friends of the restaurant, which has been closed since March due to Covid, have been taking part in a series of online ¿virtual cabaret¿ to raise money. Pictured: The interior of the Joe Allen restaurant

Now, after decades feeding and watering the stars, the latter are showing their affection for Joe’s in return. Friends of the restaurant, which has been closed since March due to Covid, have been taking part in a series of online ‘virtual cabaret’ to raise money. Pictured: The interior of the Joe Allen restaurant

Ingrid Bergman, right, known for her role in Casablanca,  has visited Joe's restaurant

Ingrid Bergman, right, known for her role in Casablanca,  has visited Joe's restaurant

Ingrid Bergman, right, known for her role in Casablanca,  has visited Joe’s restaurant 

The brasserie had an appropriately showbizzy start when the Broadway cast of A Chorus Line, who were in town, high-kicked all the way down the bar singing A Singular Sensation.

In the early days, the British outpost — down a side street and identifiable by a small brass plate — had a ‘speakeasy’ feel: to obtain an all-important late licence, the restaurant hired a talented pianist. Jimmy Hardwick played there six nights a week for 37 years. An early Joe’s tradition, enthusiastically adopted by Porridge actor and regular Christopher Biggins, was to order the worst thing on the menu — a famously disgusting tapioca pudding — and have it sent to other diners.

General manager Cathy can reel off an endless list of stars who have patronised Joe’s through the years, ranging from acting royalty such as Ingrid Bergman, Maggie Smith, Joan Collins, Julie Andrews and Liza Minnelli, through younger British actors such as Damian Lewis, Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike and on to the casts of EastEnders and Coronation Street.

The drugs and drink-plagued singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse was one of the more tragic patrons. ‘She did spend a lot of time going to the lavatory,’ says Cathy. ‘She was a very lovely girl.’

While staff would try to protect stars from being bothered by fans — Barbara Windsor was particularly vulnerable, says Cathy, because ‘people just think they can go and chat to her’ — only Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman were once accorded the privilege of having a waiter stationed next to their table all evening to ensure they weren’t disturbed.

Julie Andrews has visited Joe Allen, the restaurant which has seen many famous guests over the years

Julie Andrews has visited Joe Allen, the restaurant which has seen many famous guests over the years

Julie Andrews has visited Joe Allen, the restaurant which has seen many famous guests over the years

While staff would try to protect stars from being bothered by fans ¿ Barbara Windsor (pictured) was particularly vulnerable, says Cathy, because ¿people just think they can go and chat to her

While staff would try to protect stars from being bothered by fans ¿ Barbara Windsor (pictured) was particularly vulnerable, says Cathy, because ¿people just think they can go and chat to her

While staff would try to protect stars from being bothered by fans — Barbara Windsor (pictured) was particularly vulnerable, says Cathy, because ‘people just think they can go and chat to her

Needless to say, there has been the occasional difficult customer since 1977. ‘It was before my time, but Kenneth Williams used to come in with his mum every Sunday. Apparently, they were very, very difficult — very challenging,’ she says. ‘Nothing was ever right.’

The American actress Elaine Stritch was ‘outrageously behaved’ whenever she popped in, says Cathy. Stritch, an alcoholic who could down a bottle of gin in one sitting, would wait until she had particularly shockable-looking diners nearby before getting out a hypodermic syringe — she was a diabetic — and injecting herself with insulin at the table, ‘cackling away manically’.

Kevin Spacey could also be a tricky customer who, Cathy observed, had no time for anyone he didn’t consider to be important or useful to him.

However, ‘the rudest, most horrible man’ she ever encountered was — no surprise — Harvey Weinstein. The now disgraced film producer would come up for lunch from the Savoy, where he stayed when visiting London, in a huge limo.

He’d turn up even after being told they were fully booked, march over to sit at an empty table and refuse to budge from it. ‘One time he came in with some of his lackeys and all these actors came to his table and left crying. One after the other,’ recalls Cathy.

Harvey Weinstein (pictured) was 'the rudest, most horrible man'. He¿d turn up even after being told they were fully booked, march over to sit at an empty table and refuse to budge from it (file photo)

Harvey Weinstein (pictured) was 'the rudest, most horrible man'. He¿d turn up even after being told they were fully booked, march over to sit at an empty table and refuse to budge from it (file photo)

Harvey Weinstein (pictured) was ‘the rudest, most horrible man’. He’d turn up even after being told they were fully booked, march over to sit at an empty table and refuse to budge from it (file photo)

There was usually a fierce pecking order in who sat where, with the tables lining the restaurant¿s back wall being particularly prized. Pictured: A waiter setting tables at the Joe Allen restaurant

There was usually a fierce pecking order in who sat where, with the tables lining the restaurant¿s back wall being particularly prized. Pictured: A waiter setting tables at the Joe Allen restaurant

There was usually a fierce pecking order in who sat where, with the tables lining the restaurant’s back wall being particularly prized. Pictured: A waiter setting tables at the Joe Allen restaurant

There was usually a fierce pecking order in who sat where, with the tables lining the restaurant’s back wall being particularly prized. No one wanted to sit anywhere near the theatre critics who ventured in.

A quiet, often empty overflow room, dubbed Siberia, was reserved for those not in the know — and Barry Manilow, who insisted on dining there as he hated being looked at.

Not that actors, a convivial bunch, will stay where they’re seated. Cathy says she would have a nightmare trying to track people down for their bills ‘as they’d just wander off and join another table and then get utterly sloshed and forget they hadn’t paid’.

Although actors descended on Joe Allen from 10pm, after their shows had finished, it was also patronised by hardened criminals. Great Train Robber Tommy Wisbey and gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser were regulars.

Cathy remembers one Christmas the restaurant was packed, and she was about to turn away a new arrival when she saw it was Fraser. ‘I was like: “Oh no, you can have a table. No problem at all. This way please.” ’

Just one of the spicier ingredients in the Joe Allen brew.

n An Evening At Joe’s will take place tonight from 8pm to 9pm via YouTube. The show will be available to watch after transmission on the Joe Allen website.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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PAUL THOMAS on… the cost of Covid-19

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36113538 8988651 image a 9 1606357661098

36113538 8988651 image a 9 1606357661098

To order a print of this Paul Thomas cartoon or one by Pugh, visit Mailpictures.newsprints.co.uk or call 0191 6030 178

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Hungarian press slam George Clooney for accusing Viktor Orban of spreading ‘hate and anger’

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George Clooney has been targeted by pro-government media in Hungary after he accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of spreading ‘hate and anger’. 

The actor, 59, said the actions of right-wing populists worldwide could contribute to a global disaster on the scale of that which features in his new film The Midnight Sky.

‘We weren’t in the middle of a pandemic when [the film was shot], but there were still all these other elements, these elements of how much hate and anger all of us are experiencing in this moment of history, all over the world,’ Clooney told GQ during a video interview to promote the film. 

‘Go to [Jair] Bolsonaro in Brazil, or Orban in Hungary. Look around: lots of anger and hate,’ he said, adding: ‘[The film] takes place in 2049. If you played it out this could very well be what our reality is if that kind of hate is allowed to fester.’

Politicians from Orban’s ruling Fidesz party jumped to their leader’s defence, branding Clooney an ‘imbecile’ and an ‘imposter’ and alleging that the actor couldn’t even find Hungary on a map, The Times reported. 

George Clooney criticised Viktor Orban and other right-wing populists while promoting his latest film [File photo]

George Clooney criticised Viktor Orban and other right-wing populists while promoting his latest film [File photo]

Viktor Orban has come under fire from many EU member states for his anti-migrant policies [File photo]

Viktor Orban has come under fire from many EU member states for his anti-migrant policies [File photo]

Actor George Clooney (left) has been slammed by pro-government Hungarian media for accusing Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right) of spreading ‘hate and anger’

Government-friendly newspapers also waded into the fray, implying that Clooney is a mouthpiece for Hungarian-born US financier George Soros, a popular bogeyman conjured up by Orban whenever he faces criticism.  

In the 1980s, Soros played a hand in toppling Hungary’s Communist regime through funding scholarships for dissidents and establishing a pro-democracy charitable foundation in the country.

Under Orban, he has become a frequent target in his native Hungary over his support for refugees in Europe and other liberal issues. 

Orban’s government launched a crude poster campaign against Soros in 2019, accusing the financier of working with then-EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker to weaken the country’s borders by allow more migrants and refugees in. 

A similar anti-Soros campaign appeared in 2017. 

Billionaire financier George Soros has become a bogeyman in his native Hungary and is the subject of innumerable conspiracy theories there and in the US, where he is a citizen [File photo]

Billionaire financier George Soros has become a bogeyman in his native Hungary and is the subject of innumerable conspiracy theories there and in the US, where he is a citizen [File photo]

Billionaire financier George Soros has become a bogeyman in his native Hungary and is the subject of innumerable conspiracy theories there and in the US, where he is a citizen [File photo]

A 2017 campaign by the Hungarian government portrayed Soros next to the message 'Don't let Soros have the last laugh'. The posters falsely suggested that Soros wanted to weaken Hungary's borders through migration [File photo]

A 2017 campaign by the Hungarian government portrayed Soros next to the message 'Don't let Soros have the last laugh'. The posters falsely suggested that Soros wanted to weaken Hungary's borders through migration [File photo]

A 2017 campaign by the Hungarian government portrayed Soros next to the message ‘Don’t let Soros have the last laugh’. The posters falsely suggested that Soros wanted to weaken Hungary’s borders through migration [File photo]

Orban founded Fidesz as a liberal party shortly before communism was overthrown but many of his policies have taken a sharp right turn since his second term as prime minister began inn 2010. 

He describes his anti-migrant, anti-LGBTQ+ stance – which saw Fidesz suspended from the ruling coalition in February 20202 – as ‘illiberal democracy’. 

Tamas Menczer, a secretary of state and the Orban government’s chief foreign policy spokesman, called Clooney’s remarks ‘foolish’ and said the actor should not be seen as a ‘global political oracle’.

Clooney has long been outspoken on political issues, which often feature in his work. 

In 2012 he was arrested during a protest in front of the Sudanese embassy and he is married to barrister Amal Clooney who has been involved in many prominent human rights cases internationally.   

Clooney (centre) has long been outspoken on political issues, which often feature in his work. Pictured: George Clooney speaks at a news conference on South Sudan in 2019 [File photo]

Clooney (centre) has long been outspoken on political issues, which often feature in his work. Pictured: George Clooney speaks at a news conference on South Sudan in 2019 [File photo]

Clooney (centre) has long been outspoken on political issues, which often feature in his work. Pictured: George Clooney speaks at a news conference on South Sudan in 2019 [File photo]

MEP and founding member of Fidesz Tamas Deutsch took the criticism one step further, lambasting Clooney as an ‘American imposter talking bulls*** about [our] homeland’.

A speculated link to Soros came after Origo, a popular pro-Fidesz news website, posted a photo of Clooney posing with one of the financier’s sons, which provoked a government spokesperson to claim the actor was a mere mouthpiece for the billionaire. 

Clooney responded with a statement denying that he was under the influence of Soros, whom he praised, and doubling down on his previous criticism. 

‘Orban’s propaganda machine is lying,’ Telex, an independent Hungarian news outlet, reported Clooney’s statement as reading.

‘As for my earlier remarks, I would be ashamed not to speak out publicly against the kind of authoritarianism with which the Orban regime controls the media, subjects companies to draconian tax rules and silences the free press.’

The statement also highlighted the fact that Orban himself had been a recipient of funding from Soros’s organisation, which allowed the future leader to complete studies at Oxford University.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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