She may not be getting an award, but our tip is that an Armani-clad Cate Blanchett will be the star attraction at the Australian Film Institute Awards in Melbourne next Thursday. Blanchett has built up a healthy stock of Armani gowns since the designer became a patron of the Sydney Theatre Company. She will be joined on the red carpet by a swag of homegrown celebrities who have hit the big time overseas, such as Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush and Eric Bana, and some who are trying their best, such as Sophie Monk.
His paintings of dismembered bodies and friendship with Mark "Chopper" Read have given Adam Cullen a reputation as Australia's angriest young artist. He is now in his 40s, but this week the aging enfant terrible proved he still has that bad boy spark. Stay in Touch had organised an interview with Cullen to get some gossip about his new exhibition, I Am The Cheese, but when we arrived at his Blue Mountains home he was nowhere to be seen. Cullen was, in fact, lying unconscious in the bush after a motorcycle accident somewhere between Katoomba and Wentworth Falls. After about two hours he came to and rode back home on the bike without so much as a stopover at the local doctor's surgery. At the opening of his show at Paddington's Kaliman Gallery last night he was sporting a nasty bruise on his head. We know artists are supposed to suffer, but is Cullen taking it to extremes?
SONGS WITH JAY
He has just finished filming Daybreakers , due for release next year, with Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Ethan Hawke, and is also working on a television series with Kerry Amstrong. Today Jay Laga'aia goes back to his bread-and-butter job of entertaining the ankle-biters. The actor best known from his work with Play School and Water Rats, has a new show, Jay's Place, opening today at Sydney Theatre, a stage version of his debut CD, Come Dance & Sing, for which he did all the writing, singing and backing vocals as well as playing instruments from guitar to saxophone, kazoo, ukulele, harmonica and percussion. "I always gauge it on what would my children like to watch, most importantly to play," the father of seven told Stay in Touch.
"But it is very much a theatrical show, so it is also for adults. Like Playschool, the songs are for children but they are written from an adult's point of view." The show plays until December 19.
MORE PROFANE THAN PROFOUND
In further evidence that Sydney's artists appear to have moved from their usual state of charming eccentricity to full-blown insanity, last night the Chalkhorse Gallery in Surry Hills hosted a communal sauna party where visitors were encouraged to get steamy with Renny Kodgers, the camp parody of the country singer Kenny Rogers. The performer behind Kodgers, Mark Shorter, cooked sausages inside the sauna, wearing nothing but a giant prosthetic penis. According to Shorter, the performance was "one of the most generous artistic displays in the history of Australian performance". Naturally. Things are no saner at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where last week there was a dead body on the floor. Or at least a performance artist masquerading as a dead body. The artist was Fiona McGregor, draped in black and tagged like a morgue corpse (pictured). McGregor said her stunt was a protest about the absence of live performance art at the MCA. With offerings like these, who could blame the MCA for steering clear?
■ The V Festival, the idea of that middle-aged hipster Richard Branson, will be back next year with a line-up that includes something for every generation. For generation Y the music festival promises the operatic pop sensation Mika and the Sydney electronic duo the Presets. For generation X there is the Smashing Pumpkins, Air and Queens of the Stone Age, and for those nearing a mid-life crisis there is Duran Duran and the recently reformed the Jesus and Mary Chain. The festival begins in Centennial Park on March 29. Tickets go on sale next Thursday.
■ Human Nature better watch their backs. One of the original boybands, the Backstreet Boys, are coming back to Australia as part of a world tour, playing stadium shows in Brisbane and Melbourne and Sydney on February 22. Tickets go on sale on December 11.
THREE QUESTIONS Lara Bingle
Strangest place you've been recognised?
"India. Some people recognised me there and they actually tried to do a version of 'So, where the bloody hell are you?' I don't hear that so much any more. I used to drive around in my car and people would be screaming it at me."
Plans for Christmas?
"I just want to spend as much time with my friends and family as I can … My boyfriend, Michael [Clarke], has a boatshed and I've been working on it for a few months, painting it and turning it into a five-star boatshed. By the time we're finished it will be the best boatshed on the bay."
"Cancer. I do read my stars in the magazines, but my birthday's on the cusp. Some say I'm a Cancer and some say Gemini. But my mum says I'm a Cancer, so that's the one I take."