Billy Connolly tells of cancer diagnosis

Funnyman Billy Connolly has revealed he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease on the same day.

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The 71-year-old comedian looks at customs and beliefs surrounding death in a new ITV documentary, Billy Connolly’s Big Send Off, in which he describes how he received the double diagnoses.

The week began with hearing aids and pills for heartburn.

The Scottish star tells the program: “It was a funny week I had.

“On the Monday I got hearing aids, on the Tuesday I got pills for heartburn which I have to take all the time.

“And on the Wednesday I got news that I had prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

“They told me on the phone, they said, ‘Look we’ve had the result and it’s cancer.’ And I said, ‘Oh nobody’s ever said that to me before’.”

He told Radio Times magazine: “I remember I went through to the bedroom to answer the phone, and (wife) Pamela (Stephenson) was behind me – I thought she was gonna catch me.

“And she sort of held me, and I went, ‘Oh Jesus…’ But when we went into the living room I went, phrrhrht.”

Connolly, who has since been given the all-clear after treatment for prostate cancer, dismissed a claim the drugs he had to take for Parkinson’s caused on-stage memory loss in Belfast last year.

“Oh that was bullshit! It makes me so f****** angry!,” he said.

“I’ve lost my train of thought all (through) my career! It’s what makes me different from everybody else – ‘Where was I, what was I saying?'”

He added: “I just ramble off and come back ages later.”

Connolly said that he uses notebooks to improve his memory.

“I’ve put myself on a strict regime of crossword books.

“They remind me of everything. I have to train my memory,” he said.

“I’ve got a notebook with all the words I tend to forget.

It’s the same ones cropping up again and again.”

In the Radio Times interview, Connolly refused to say whether he would vote for Scottish independence – but said that he is “deeply suspicious of patriotism”.

“I don’t have great belief in the Union of England and Scotland.

“But I have a great belief in the union of the human race,” he said.

“I’m not gonna say. It’s too important for people like me to put in their tuppenceworth,” he said.

“I’m really tired of people saying England won the war and calling Britain England. I think that does more harm…

“But you must remember that the Union saved Scotland.

“Scotland was bankrupt and the English opened us up to their American and Canadian markets, from which we just flowered.

“And I dislike patriots. I’m deeply suspicious of patriotism.

“People following the band, you know? I don’t want to be part of it… It’s paved with fools.”

Connolly also talks about his own death in the ITV documentary.

“I don’t think I want a resting place. I want to be scattered to the wind,” he says.

“Actually, I’d like to think we could have the coffin in a hearse, empty. And the real me being buried somewhere by pals, quietly, with a tree on top of me.”

* The first part of Billy Connolly’s Big Send Off airs in the UK on May 7th at 9pm on ITV.

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Alves backed by FIFA president Blatter on banana drama

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and several top players have come out in support of Barcelona’s Dani Alves, who ate half of a banana that was thrown at him in a racist gesture during his side’s 3-2 weekend win at Villarreal.

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“I take these things with humour and try not to make a big drama out of them. What was the point in complaining?” he said afterward.

Alves is dark-skinned. Some fans have begun to make racist statements at games by throwing bananas at black players, implying that they are monkeys.

Alves then claimed that the energy given him by the banana helped him to contribute to Barca’s late comeback win.

Blatter tweeted on Monday: “What Alves had to tolerate is an outrage. There will be zero tolerance (of racism) at the World Cup.”

What @DaniAlvesD2 tolerated last night is an outrage. We must fight all forms of discrimination united. Will be zero tolerance at #WorldCup.

— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) April 28, 2014

The player’s 64-year-old father, Domingos Alves, has shown that clever responses to racism run in the family.

“I plant mangoes, coconuts, melons, watermelons, passion fruit – and now I’m going to plant bananas,” he told media in his native Brazil.

He added he would be telling his son “not to eat any more bananas on the pitch.”

Alves’ mother Lucia Ribeiro added she was proud of her son’s reaction, which she said was “a slap in the face for prejudice.”

Alves himself joked on Twitter that “my father always told me to eat bananas to avoid getting cramp.”

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, which is the host of the World Cup later this year, has joined the widespread outrage about the incident.

“The player Dani Alves gave a daring and strong response to racism in sports,” she said in a series of Twitter messages, adding that such racism had become “unfortunately common.”

In addition, several players have backed Alves’ reaction. Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero posted a photo of him with Brazilian female player Marta eating bananas in support.

Alves’ Barca and Brazil colleague Neymar – who missed the game through injury – posted a picture of himself holding a banana in a demonstration of solidarity. This gesture was repeated on Instagram by Chelsea’s Brazilian trio of Oscar, David Luiz and Willian.

Meanwhile, fellow Brazilian internationals Hulk, Fred and Lucas Leiva displayed their support through their social media accounts, with Leiva writing on Twitter: “Congratulations on your attitude yesterday. We are together in this fight against racism.”

Villarreal officials have said they have identified the banana thrower and have hit him with a lifetime ban.

Brazilian footballer Neymar Júnior, who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona, posted a photos on Instagram in support of Alves. 

Agüero has joined in on the trend of eating Bananas to support Dani Alves last night. #NoToRacism pic.twitter广西桑拿,/txXIOBlzBS

— ManCityPhotos (@ManCityPhotos) April 28, 2014

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Favreau on working with Downey Jr

On the set of Iron Man 2, Gwyneth Paltrow shouted the crew and director Jon Favreau mouth-watering meals from the famous Kogi BBQ food truck to say thank you.

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As Favreau tucked into their short rib tacos, little did he know that years down the track the owner of Kogi food truck – chef Roy Choi – would play a huge part in one of his films.

After Favreau wrote his latest movie Chef (which he also produces, directs and stars in) the foodies among his staff pointed out the similarities between the main character’s story and what actually happened to Choi in real life.

Favreau says like his character, chef Carl Casper, Choi had traditional training and went to the Culinary Institute of America.

“He had worked in a very big hotel kitchen and he was working his way up the ladder when it all fell apart, and he came back,” he says.

“He was actually a trailblazer in the food truck area.

“He was the first guy to match it up with Twitter and use social networking, so there are tremendous parallels to the story I had written.”

Favreau reached out to Choi for help to learn the tricks of the trade and make sure the film captured the chef culture authentically.

Choi was on set every day – first as a consultant then as co-producer – making sure the filmmakers got everything right, from the knives to the way Carl ties his apron.

“He related very much to the story and he liked my movies,” Favreau says of Choi’s decision to come on board.

“He was my mentor and we’ve been buddies ever since.”

Choi wasn’t Favreau’s only buddy on the Chef set.

The cast also features Scarlett Johansson, who Favreau first worked with on Iron Man 2, as well as Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.

The two shared the screen frequently in the Iron Man films, with Favreau playing Iron Man (aka Tony Stark)’s onscreen bodyguard, friend and chauffeur, Happy Hogan.

Favreau says it was great to work with Downey Jr again, who plays something of an onscreen rival of his in Chef.

“I knew that it was a role where the character was going to beat up on my character a bit,” he says, adding it might not have been enjoyable for Carl, but it was great fun for him and Downey Jr to film.

“He just got to get under my skin as far as he could, but he’s just such a charming guy that even when he’s playing a bastard, he’s so likeable…

“And of course, you want to give Robert a moment to shine and steal the movie and he certainly did not disappoint.”

* Chef releases in Australian cinemas on May 8

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Whittaker’s wins NZ chocolate war

A chocolate war has had a sweet end for Whittaker’s but left Cadbury with the bitter taste of defeat.

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Cadbury tried to stop Whittaker’s from using a Berry Forest trademark in New Zealand, claiming it was too similar to its popular Black Forest confectionary.

But Whittaker’s will be allowed to trademark their chocolate, after a Wellington High Court judge ruled the names were different enough to avoid confusion for consumers.

Cadbury owns the Black Forest trademark, and has used it to sell chocolate with cherry and biscuit pieces in New Zealand for 20 years.

Last year, the Intellectual Property Office ruled Whittaker’s was free to trademark the Berry Forest name for a chocolate which hasn’t yet been revealed.

Cadbury appealed the IPO’s decision to the High Court, arguing the name was likely to deceive or confuse consumers.

The chocolate company said the only difference between the marks was `black’ and `berry’, and even those words shared the same first letter and number of letters.

The risk of the two products being confused was exacerbated by the fact chocolate was a casual or impulse purchase and the chocolates were often displayed next to each other in shops, Cadbury argued.

But in her decision, Justice Rachel Dunningham dismissed Cadbury’s appeal.

Justice Dunningham agreed there were undeniable similarities between the individual marks.

But she said the marks brought to mind different concepts – Black Forest conjured up the gateau of the same name, while Berry Forest referenced a forest full of berries.

“Cadbury’s mark adopts a well-known phrase which brings to mind a specific combination of ingredients.

“It will therefore be recognised in the way that the made-up combination of words in the mark Berry Forest will not be.”

Whittaker’s is entitled to legal costs.

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Closing arguments in Apple-Samsung trial

The high-stakes battle between the world’s largest smartphone makers is scheduled to wrap up this week after a month-long trial that has pulled the curtain back on just how cutthroat the competition is between Apple and Samsung.

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Closing arguments in the patent-infringement case are scheduled to begin on Monday, with the two tech giants accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features. At stake: $US2 billion ($A2.16 billion) if Samsung loses, a few hundred million if Apple loses.

Teams of lawyers on both sides have spent the month trying to poke holes in obscure and bureaucratic patent legal claims, while keeping the eight jurors engaged.

Drawing the most attention in the courtroom and the media are insider emails and meeting presentations documenting the frustration each company faced as they competed for market share.

Less than a year after Apple unveiled its iPhone in 2007 combining a web browser, music player and phone in one swipeable device, Samsung officials noted they were quickly losing customers.

“While Traditional OEMs are busy fighting each other in the Feature phone space Apple is busy making the category obsolete,” said one confidential briefing presentation.

“What makes the iPhone unique is software (applications) and services, beautiful hardware is just a bonus.”

But Samsung fought back, using Google’s Android system, offering less expensive smartphones with larger screens.

“Consumers want what we don’t have,” said a 2013 Apple presentation a few years later, noting that the low-priced, easy-to-view competition was surging ahead.

Throughout the three years of litigation, Samsung’s market share has grown. One of every three smartphones sold last year was a Samsung, now the market leader. Apple, with a typically higher price, was second, with about 15 per cent of the global market.

Although it’s impossible to predict what a jury will do, two years ago a federal jury found Samsung was infringing on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay about $US900 million, but it is has appealed the judgment and has been allowed to continue selling products using the technology.

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