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Entertainment Through the Year

Aired December 31, 2013 - 15:30:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hello and welcome to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, coming to you from this, London's entertainment hub, Leicester Square. And there is a reason for that. Tonight's show is all about show biz and the icons of culture that we've brought you throughout the year.

So lights, camera, action -- let's go.


BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/FILM DIRECTOR: And I've never been to (INAUDIBLE) before, never been nominated, never been invited, nothing. So I'm just thrilled.

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: I'm just -- I get so overwhelmed and excited at (INAUDIBLE)...


MIRREN: Oh, my god, totally. I mean speechless.

ANDERSON: Just down here, two away from me at the moment, is Hugh Jackman. I'm going to nab him as he comes past.


ANDERSON: Where did you get that voice from?

You're unbelievable.

JACKMAN: Oh, you say all the right things, don't you?

ANDERSON: Stand by. Stand by. Stand by.

That's a gorgeous jacket. Stand by.

BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR: Just stand by. Great jacket. Stand by.

ANDERSON: The carpet is really soggy now, but nobody cares.

CHRISTOPH WALTZ, ACTOR: To be on that list, it makes my knees tremble, and not just because of the cold.

SURAJ SHARMA, ACTOR: Wow! It's snowing.


ANDERSON: Every time you hear the general public behind me start screaming, you know that there is a big, big actor or actress on their way up.

Good to see you here.

Looking forward to the (INAUDIBLE) once again?

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR/FILM DIRECTOR: Yes, I am, actually. It's fun. I mean, you know, where else can you come and just get rained on every time?


ANDERSON: Well, 2013 wasn't just about the blockbusters. One of the most anticipated Indian movies of the year was Terrence Malick's romantic drama, "To The Wonder." And here's what the actress Olga Kurylenko told me about working with the directing legend.


ANDERSON: Terrence Malick is the most remarkable director.

What is it about him that makes every actor want to work with him?

OLGA KURYLENKO, ACTRESS: You know, I think apart from the result that we get, basically his movies that are so different from everything else and a -- and so, well, visually beautiful, magnificent and poetical, it's also the way he works.

ANDERSON: We're talking about lots of unscripted scenes, a lot of ad- libbing.

Walk me through that.

KURYLENKO: The script wasn't present or wasn't available to us. I only heard the story from Terry. The scenes, he would come up with he would tell us at the last minute, because he didn't want us to over-think it, to rehearse. So he likes the spontaneity. He likes the instinct. He likes mistakes to happen. He likes the real thing.


KURYLENKO: It's not a comedy, but I think it betrays a lot of true sides of our lives and different, you know, views on different subjects, like faith, God, relationships, love, mental instability, mental illness.

ANDERSON: You're describing all of us to a certain extent, right?

KURYLENKO: I'm describing my parents (ph), right?

And describing all of us, yes.

ANDERSON: Many of our viewers around the world will know you as a Bond girl in "Quantum of Solace," of course.


ANDERSON: How different was it taking on a role like this?

KURYLENKO: The difference, of course, you know, the Bond movie was a big action film and, you know, everything was rehearsed and I had to prepare for two months physically. And I call it a Bond school, because I went there and I learned so many skills that I've used in so many movies after that. And I come half prepared. People ask me to shoot or to fight or run or anything, and I -- I already know how to do it.

And when they ask me, where did you learn that, I say Bond.

ANDERSON: The American actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton, is mostly known for his roles in movies like "Armageddon." But earlier this year, he directed and starred in "Jayne Mansfield's Car." Obviously not this one.

I caught up with him to hear about the movie and why, after so long, he decided to get behind the camera.

BILLY BOB THORNTON, DIRECTOR, "JAYNE MANSFIELD'S CAR": The movie is really about how different generations view war and how it affects them and how they pass the lessons of it along to the next generation. The people of World War I and then of World War II and the Vietnam era, there was -- there were very different views on it.

I mean these days, people's feelings are on their sleeves. And in those days, like my own father, who was in the Korean War, we rarely had a conversation.


ANDERSON: When you consider what is going on now, the past decade, with Iraq and Afghanistan and now with Syria, is this a prescient time for this movie?

And, if so, why?

THORNTON: We have, in the last few years, or the last couple of decades, really, been involved in wars that even people who are normally very patriotic and flag-waving and wanting to go to war, some of them are even questioning it, because we're not sure why we're doing it always.

If we open up this can of worms, is it worse?

All I tried to do with this movie, which I think is relevant now, because it deals with the personal things that go along with having served in war or being affected by it -- or been affected by war in some way.


ANDERSON: How do you direct acclaimed legends of the big screen like Duvall and Hurt?

Do you just let them go, do their own thing?

THORNTON: Yes, you say "action" and then you say "cut" and you go, that was great, let's move on.

ANDERSON: We all remember you in days of yore, in celebrity marriages, etc.

Where are you as a character now?

THORNTON: I guess I could say that, you know, when I go to work now, I feel much more grounded, because I know that my home life is grounded, if that makes any sense. So if you've got a solid base to work off of, then I think it's easier to sort of, you know, jump off the cliff into the river again.

ANDERSON: You don't miss the madness?

THORNTON: Oh, there's always madness, I mean, in one way or the other.


ANDERSON: Much more to come on this CONNECT THE WORLD entertainment special, including capturing the skies. The son of Beatles' legend, John Lennon, shows me the photographs at the center of his first exhibition in London.

And Wilbur Smith shares the secret of becoming a best-selling author.


ANDERSON: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer lollipop, as we enjoy the festive fun here in London for this CONNECT THE WORLD entertainment special.

Up next, we hear from Julian Lennon, the son of the Beatles' John Lennon, as he turned his hand from music to photography.

First, though, the novelist Wilbur Smith is a legend in his field. He's written over 30 page-turners and has been translated into 26 languages.

And he told me how his life and personality shaped the characters at the center of his books.




WILBUR SMITH, AUTHOR: "She had been attracted by the romance surrounding young Major Zouga Ballantyne. He was the traveler and the adventurer in far places of the African continent."



SMITH: "The twins could scarcely have been less alike. Sean was already taking on the shape of a man."



SMITH: "Are you not tight (ph) of a poet?, he asked in that thin and petulant voice of his?"

ANDERSON: You've just signed a new six book deal with a publisher. That would -- that would be, to any other author, a lifetime achievement, but this is on top of the 30 or so that you've already written.

Does it make you feel tired or excited?

SMITH: Both. It makes me stutter. B-b-b-both. I'm not quite sure. And it's -- it's a totally new experience.


SMITH: One that I never even, in my wildest dreams, contemplated, you know, because I'm an ego-centric. You know, the world revolves around Wilbur Smith.


SMITH: (INAUDIBLE) so to work with other people, my idea is a younger writer, either a male or a female, who has not yet broken in as it were, because it becomes harder and harder to break in these days.

ANDERSON: What's the prerequisite for co-authoring with Wilbur Smith?

SMITH: To be liked by Wilbur Smith.




SMITH: "His nose was large and imperial. His eyes were a cool and steady green. His teeth were very white, like those of a predator."

ANDERSON: Your latest book, "Vicious Circle," is out this year. It's a sequel to "Those In Peril," which I believe is being made into a film.

What is it about the center character, Hector Cross, which you like so much?

SMITH: He's his own man and he has his own view of morality and of justice. And I like him because that is it and also because he's a great lover.

ANDERSON: Who is he based on?


SMITH: All my characters have got a big -- a big slice of me in them, have a big piece of me, because, you know, it's my dialogue and this is the way I -- I think and talk. So I've -- well, I wouldn't say I'm Hector Cross, but, hell, I would love to be.

ANDERSON: Does art imitate life then, very much, in your (INAUDIBLE)?

Do you want to be seen as -- as factually correct or -- or was there a lot of creative license here?

SMITH: I want to be seen as a good story-teller. I'm a manipulator, as well, you know. I'm like...


SMITH: -- when it comes to the facts, you know. But when it comes to my stories, I'm as bad as any of them. I -- I -- I start wars. I wipe out civilizations. I -- I kill and -- and I don't hurt anybody in the process, I just give everyone a good time.

ANDERSON: What keeps you so young?

SMITH: I've got a young wife and I -- I have to keep young to keep up with her, because she runs so fast.


ANDERSON: Images of clouds -- they look like water-color paintings, but actually, they are photographs taken by Julian Lennon.

JULIAN LENNON, MUSICIAN/PHOTOGRAPHER: The reason they -- they look so painterly is -- more often than not is partly because of the paper and the texture and the quality of the paper and the absorbency of the paper.

ANDERSON: This is the singer-songwriter's first exhibition in London of what has become his new passion.

LENNON: I'm -- I'm not like most photographers that already frame their image up and set their -- their -- their image up. My shots tend to be a lot more random.

ANDERSON: So there's no one specific message across?

LENNON: I don't think so. I -- I think, though, through a lot of the painterly work, there's -- there's, I guess, a level of -- of peace and calmness within those photographers. I mean I've always said that, you know, many of the shots were taken while I was sitting on the plane while everybody is asleep. And for me, they're a time of either reflection or just blanking everything out altogether and just going, you know, going for a flight.

ANDERSON (voice-over): As the son of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century, the comparisons with his father have been inevitable. They look alike. They even sound alike. This, from Julian's first albumen in more than a decade, "Everything Changes."


ANDERSON: The photography, though, is all Julian Lennon.

(on camera): Do you feel a real need to identify yourself as an individual, as a musician, as Julian Lennon...

LENNON: Of course.

ANDERSON: -- not the son of?

LENNON: Oh, of course. No question about that.

ANDERSON: Did you seek advice from your father's colleagues, those in The Beatles?

I mean when you were -- when you were establishing yourself?


ANDERSON: Why not?

LENNON: Well, I felt it was my own journey. The only shoulder that I've lent on at all has been mom's. You know, she's -- she's been the -- my rock.

ANDERSON: Paul McCartney and George Harrison, do they give you a nod and a wink when it comes to the music?

Do they -- do you get reaction from them?

LENNON: Yes, no, I -- I have -- I have done in the past. George -- George was always a sweetheart to me. I loved him dearly. I miss him dearly. It was at the album launch in Los Angeles where I had a -- also had a -- an exhibition. I had one of those evenings were it was a mixture of both.

And I got -- I got a note from Paul, which was a -- was delightful, just saying how proud he was and how proud he thought dad would have been.

ANDERSON (voice-over): But that's not what drives this now 50-year-old artist.

(on camera): The best thing your dad taught you?

LENNON: I hate to say this, but how not to be a father.

ANDERSON: You were born John Charles Julian Lennon.

At what point did you decide to change your name?

LENNON: I didn't decide. It was -- what really happened was mom shouting, you know, John, come in here, your dinner is ready. And we'd both come running and there would -- so mom -- mom started calling me Julian Lennon.

ANDERSON: Julian Lennon on a Saturday night?

LENNON: Recovering from Friday night.

ANDERSON: You sound so grown up these days.

LENNON: Sorry.

ANDERSON: What do you hope your legacy will be?

LENNON: That I was a -- that I was a person that was as good as he could be.


ANDERSON: Much more to come on this CONNECT THE WORLD entertainment special, including two of Bollywood's biggest names reveal how they keep up with all that dancing.

And the multi platinum artist and Arab idol sweetheart, Nancy Ajram.


ANDERSON: Seasons Greetings from the front of the fair here in the heart of London's entertainment district.

This is a CONNECT THE WORLD special.

Well, as ever on CNN, we like to showcase the most memorable stories and talent from around the globe.

In a few moments, my interview with the queen of the Arab pop music world, Nancy Ajram.

First, though, Bollywood royalty. I met two huge stars from India's booming movie industry to talk about their new films.



ANDERSON: This is a classic rom-com (ph) going back to the roots of Bollywood.

To both of you, Imran, first, why make this movie?

IMRAN KHAN, ACTOR: As you said, it is a classic Bollywood kind of film. Romance has -- is synonymous with Bollywood. We are -- we just don't make films that don't have romance, that don't have -- you guys refer to all films as musicals because they have songs with them.

But for us, every film is a musical, every film has songs.


ANDERSON: But I want our viewers to just get a taste of the movie with one of the songs. I love this. I'm going to pronounce it. I may get it wrong, "Chingham Chiabaki (ph)."

Let's just have a listen.


ANDERSON: There are some great songs in this movie.

KAPOOR: Yes. This song is Imran's big thing.

KHAN: This is my favorite, yes.

KAPOOR: Because he just danced really well in this song.


ANDERSON: Listen, Imran, you play a really despicable character in this movie. I've got to say, nobody is going to like you in this, until possibly the end.


ANDERSON: Tell me about your character.

KHAN: He's kind of an aimless, directionless guy. He's the kind of guy that most people would be able to relate to. He -- he does -- he's very shallow. He doesn't really care about anything or anyone other than himself. He's a bit of a body boy. He wants to hook up with girls.

And the story is about how he grows up a little bit and gets a -- becomes a better person.

ANDERSON: Because he meets your character.


ANDERSON: Who is who?

KAPOOR: I play a social activist in the film, someone who is very determined, who has a goal. She kind of thinks cleaning up the entire nation is her responsibility, which I mean that's mad. And you can't have that. You can't do -- possibly do that in India.

But she has that. You know, she has that zest in her, that energy.

ANDERSON: There's been much talk about the influence that Indian film has on society and culture.

Do you think there is a responsibility for -- by the film industry, given - - given the sort of scenes of (INAUDIBLE) and various other sort of news stories that have -- that have been prevalent this year?

KAPOOR: I think I -- I firmly believe that, you know, we're an entertainment industry. We come up with different kinds of stories.

Personally, we're socially responsible as citizens of our country. But as an actor on screen, we're doing our job by playing different parts and, you know, the Bollywood industry has always been a soft target. A superstar is always a soft target to kind of say that, you know, OK, so and so did an item and so on where there was too much showing, so, you know, it's because of that.

We don't want to really target the real issue, which is the fact that we need to educate the people of our country.

ANDERSON: But if you can help then...


KAPOOR: -- and personally, we are just citizens, if we can. You know, the laws need to be re--- reevaluated.

KHAN: The problem is one of education. It is one of teaching people that a woman is not inferior, which is generally the accepted view.

ANDERSON: You can't just kind of take Bollywood out of the picture, when you know it has an influence?

KHAN: You do need to point where these -- where the people will disconnect if you -- if you are preaching to them. People come in, they want movies to be escapism...


KHAN: -- in India, particularly.


ANDERSON: There's still this sense of Hollywood runs the film industry and Bollywood comes in.

Just explain to me where you think Bollywood is these days.

KHAN: Hollywood, of course, is much more prominent. And that largely comes down to ticket prices. The fact is that Bollywood is a bigger industry. An interesting statistic we actually found out yesterday, 2.7 billion ticket -- people watch Bollywood films every year.

ANDERSON: 2.7 billion?

KHAN: That's right.

ANDERSON: That's amazing.

KHAN: So it is a much larger number of people watching our films than they are watching Hollywood films, but our ticket prices are ridiculously low, something a -- less than a pound per ticket.


ANDERSON: Just walk me through some of those moves.

I mean how fit do you need to be to hold it together?


ANDERSON: Oh, come on. I'd be exhausted.

KAPOOR: No, I think dancing is fun. You have to really like enjoy it. And the kind of dancing we've shown in this film is not really the choreographed kind of dancing. So it's just kind of like, you know, you're dancing at a wedding. And every Indian wedding, everyone is like, you know, kind of just phreaking out. And that's what we've shown in this movie.





ANDERSON: She is one of the biggest stars in the Arab world.


ANDERSON: Likened to Britney Spears, the Bay Ridge born Nancy Ajram was discovered as a child. By the age of 12, she had already won several awards on talent shows and, with the encouragement of her father, set off on a path to stardom.

(on camera): How important is your dad?

NANCY AJRAM, SINGER: Actually, here's the most important person to me.

ANDERSON: Are there times when you pinch yourself and think, I can't believe what I've achieved?

AJRAM: I always thought that something big is waiting for me. I always thought this way. But, you know, God gave me more than I -- I expected.

ANDERSON: Talk to me about your upbringing.

AJRAM: It was a bit difficult to me to keep on studying and, at the same time, singing, going at night with my father to the concerts and, um, his dream is to make for me a famous singer.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And famous she is. Nancy is a multi-platinum and award-winning recording artist who, at the age of 30, already has seven studio albums to her name.


ANDERSON: Among her hits, the 2010 World Cup song, "Waving Flag," with K'naan.


ANDERSON: The young mother of two is also a judge on "Arab Idol." And with nearly six million Facebook fans and more than a million Twitter followers, she's regarded as one of the most influential artists in the Middle East.

(on camera): How can you use that influence?

AJRAM: Being a successful woman in the Middle East, I would like to use my influence to help achieve equality between men and women and I would like to see education for all.

ANDERSON: If you had to write a letter to your 15-year-old self, what would it say?

AJRAM: A bright future is waiting for you.


ANDERSON: Well, that is it for this CONNECT THE WORLD celebrity special.

Plenty more, though, in 2014 for the world of show biz and culture.

If there is anybody in particular that you would like to see me interview, do contact us, or, as ever, you can Tweet me @beckycnn.

Until next year, good-bye.