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Russell Brand's Arthur Sydney Premier Inspires "Disadvantaged" Students, by Eva Rinaldi - 14 April 2011

The talk ofAustralia's entertainment industry for the past weeks has been the long awaitedSydney premier of Jason Winer's 'Arthur' - the remake of the 1981classic which stared Dudley Moore. 

Staring the everentertaining, funny and oh so controversial Russell Brand, alongside Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner, the flick hasalready been predicted by numerous insiders to be in line for a number ofOscars. 

For me this ismuch more than just another run of the mill movie write up. 

I've got a bitof history with Russell, mainly via his beautiful woman, Katy Perry. A numberof years ago I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to do make-upon Ms Perry via my creative arts company. Katy was absolutely delightful towork and deal with, and I understand that word of the creation filtered back toMr Brand a while later who was pretty impressed. 

Ever since thatpersonal connection with Ms Perry I have taken a more than casual interest inthe affairs, if you don't mind my choice of words, of Katy and her man. 

Just last MarchI was blessed to be able to speak about 'Team Brand' on Channel Seven's 'TheMorning Show' while I was interviewed about various celebrities' experienceswith professional photographers, paparazzi and the press in general. It came tomy attention that a pap had attempted to put a camera up the skirt of Katy, andher man, Russell, had came to her rescue.  This is something thatresonated with me, as my partner has also done his best to try to protect mefrom some of the undesirable aspects of the photography and larger medialandscape also. Russell and Katy understand all too well that there areboundaries to personal privacy that need to be protected and honoured, butunfortunately some of the "bad guys" in the business don't understand(or don't want to understand). It actually felt wonderful to be able topublicly stick up for the lovely couple. Doing so actually got me a little bitof heat from a small number of other photographers in Sydney (so I knew thatthat my appearance on tele must have been good and had made animpact). 

Moving along tothe present, not everyone will know this but I'm also an educator. Over theyears I've taught art, life skills, and more recently, even the basics ofphotography and media skills.  My current group of students are far from atypical student body.  This is not high school, TAFE, uni or even close. I teach adozen students who have been labelled as "disadvantaged" (educationland's legal term, not mine), and we are now five weeks into an eight weekcourse. It's a modest, yet effective classroom at a Sydney college that doesn'trequire naming here.  I think the most newsworthy aspects of my class isthat of the determination of the students to succeed, and how they areprogressing towards their individual goals of once again entering the part orfull time workforce, despite enduring some massively challenging circumstances- early childhood trauma, depression, sexual abuse, neglect, financialdevastation, significant health issues and you get the idea. This crew is neversay die, and they are determined to beat the odds and prove the knockers wrong.I know many folks would see my class as being in the "too hardbasket" and one for the "in your dreams" category, but sometimesI look at my own life and career, and I see that the impossible can indeedbecome possible. The more folks tell me and us that it can't be done - the moreI know it can be. 

The last fewweeks in the classroom have been so exciting.  We've given the the class ashot of showbiz flavor, but in quite a practical way, with just a modest amountof hype to keep things interesting, but at the same time we didn't overpromise, but we did add fun, creative expression and fun in learning.  Wealso shared true stories of how other "successful" (whatever that is)people had themselves overcome massive odds, saw the light at the end of thetunnel, and have achieved things behold their wildest dreams. 

Let's see...first up we had Eskimo the miniature pony and his handlers, Jason and Susan.The class transformed Eskimo into a Zebra! How you might ask... with bodypaint of course.  Eskimo wastransported over to our college, and before you could say 'Mr Ed', he was inthe lift on route to level 1.  When he trotted into the room the responsewas amazing, and before long many of the buildings teachers had invaded ourclass to take a closer look and the citizen paparazzi had swamped us (in a niceway). Fortunately we took lots of photos and also caught much of thetransformation and action on video, so be sure to check it out on the web. Whata wonderful day that was, and one that my students and I will remember for along time. School had never been so much fun. 

Then in the lastweek a dear friend of mine spoke at my class presentation about some of theinner workings of the media and entertainment business, with a focus on redcarpet events. It was mentioned that preparation, hard work, dedication, andpositive mental attitude were keys to success. The presenter, choosing toremain anonymous at this stage, advised the students that they had beencontacting various movie producers and media agents for blockbuster films aboutthe potential involvement for them! We went through what may be suitablequestions to ask movie stars if in fact they had that opportunity, and most ofthe students got the idea pretty quickly. It would seem to me that 'Arthur' isgoing to be a really big hit, as the film and leading actor, Russell Brand,seemed to come up frequently in discussions.  So did Russell Crowe forthat matter, but Mr Crowe,we know you don't have a film out in Sydney at the moment (but the students andI are super keen to see you attend our class to share also. If anyone knowsabout beating the odds, and some of life's challenges, that would be you. Yeah,there's some Rabbitohs fans in the class also. 

All of thisbrings me to the present as I count down the hours to Sydney's premier of'Arthur'. My big news is that the wonderful folks at Roadshow Films acceptedour proposal to have a number of our lucky students attend the Sydney premier -camera and interview notes in hand no less! Wow. What you have to understand isthat many of these students have had a really rough go of it in life, and noneof them have ever got even close to showbiz before. Some of them haddemonstrated a nature flair for photography, and a few even have some verysolid interview techniques. Enough to trip up Russell Brand... not likely, butthey will sure get him thinking if he can take the time to stop and take somequestions that will surely be a breath of fresh air. 

I think itswonderful that the 'Arthur' powers that be - Roadshow, Russell and you know whoyou are, have made the decision to enrich the lives of other Aussies lessfortunate than most. The showbiz industry does have a heart, and has showed methat sometimes love can win over money - just like has been exhibited in'Arthur'. 

Hey Arthur, er... I mean Russell, I think it's time we got to know oneanother. My students and I really look forward to seeing you at the premier, anddon't forget who publicly defended you and Katy in the Aussie press a fewmonths ago will you mate? Just kidding, I think you and your team have alreadyremembered it, and for that I am forever grateful.  The positive buzz andkarma is already coming back to you and your team ten fold, such is the powerof love and appreciation. Go with the heart, and just about anything can beachieved, be it in showbiz or everyday life. Thank you kind sir.     



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