ONES TO WATCH

Category: Misc./General Career News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 1, 2003 | Publication: The Scotsman | Author: Stephen Mcginty
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The events of each year throw up new names to burn into the public consciousness. Stanley Kubrick's own year, 2001, unfortunately gave us the terrible syllables of Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta, while courage was wrapped in the consonants of Ellen MacArthur. Last year no-one on the planet could shake off Shakira, Darius rose phoenix-like into Scottish hearts and when China's new leader was announced, one billion people asked: "Who is Hu Jintao?" So who are the names that over the next 12 months will begin to rattle around our households?

Some will be familiar, some new and others will merely elicit a "Who the hell are they?"

Divination is never an exact science and the ones that are impossible to predict are those individuals who, through heroic action or terrible misfortune, are plucked from contented obscurity and subjected to public adoration, sympathy or infamy. The year 2003, like all those that have passed before, will contain its fair share of winners and losers, heroes and villains, but here are a few names who may come to dominate headlines across the globe in the year to come:

General Tommy Franks What Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf was to the Gulf War of 1991, General Tommy Franks will be to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As the head of Central Command, Franks is responsible for all US military operations across 25 countries from Egypt to Central Asia, but don't expect him to pop up on chat shows talking about his experiences as Schwarzkopf did. A focused warrior not in the habit of giving interviews, Franks has already won his first major battle - against the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Whereas Rumsfeld wanted to use special forces, local rebels and laser-guided missiles - a tactic employed successfully in Afghanistan - Franks won the argument for a more conventional invasion that will involve hundreds of thousands of troops. A recent practice run, Operation Internal Look, was masterminded by Franks from Centcom's headquarters in Qatar. Saddam Hussein: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

JK Rowling

The Scots author will be behind two new debuts in 2003: one public, one private. In the summer a three-year wait, decades in child years, will come to a conclusion with the release of the latest Harry Potter novel. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is expected to be big and beautiful, one chapter longer than book number four and with prose a little more polished than the tight deadline for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire allowed. The novel is guaranteed to be the biggest selling book of 2003, but while Rowling will no doubt be delighted to have it off her chest, another new arrival will be even more sweetly anticipated. She and her husband, Dr Neil Murray, are expecting their first child (her second) in 2003. If the baby is a boy, we can only pray he's not called Harry.

Salvatore Licitra

In opera, they say it isn't over until the fat lady sings, but change that last bit to "when the fat man shuts up." The announcement that Luciano Pavarotti is waving his white hankie in surrender triggered a global fight to take over his crown. The victor, it would appear, is Salvatore Licitra, a 34 -year-old Sicilian who, when Pavarotti caught flu before his farewell gigs at the New York Metropolitan Opera House, was flown in on Concorde and won a series of standing ovations. A stunning achievement for a singer who only discovered his voice at the age of 19 when his mother heard him singing along to the radio. He promptly abandoned his job as a graphic artist with Italian Vogue and trained under Carlo Bergonzi, the top Italian tenor.

Adored for his rich tones and theatrical swagger, Licitra is a milder man off stage, favouring cowboy boots and a convertible to tasselled loafers and a limo.

"I'm not a diva," he declared. We'll see if he says the same after 23 January when he appears at New York's Carnegie Hall in Verdi's La Forza del Destino.

Eliso Carrio

Forget Evita, Eliso Carrio may become the most powerful woman in Argentina in 2003. In a nation that possesses the most beautiful women on earth, Carrio describes herself merrily as: "fat, peripheral and provincial." Yet this hasn't prevented her becoming the most popular political candidate in the country. As leader of the Alternative for a Republic of Equals (ARI) Carrio is in pole position for the general elections this April. An astute law professor who wears a large pectoral cross and attends mass daily, Carrio has risen in popularity through her promise to tackle corruption in a nation which blames their economic problems on the avarice of the ruling classes. In just four months' time she could well be the next president of Argentina.

Larry and Andy Wachowski

Don't expect to read in-depth profiles, watch at-home documentaries or extensive interviews with these two brothers, the men behind the biggest movies of 2003. The duo, best known to date for The Matrix, prefer to let their work speak for itself and in 2003 the conversation will be in stereo. In May The Matrix Reloaded opens in cinemas across the world followed five months later by another sequel, The Matrix Revolutions. At a total cost of $ 300 million, both films continue the tale of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his battle against a computer dominated world, and early reports suggest the brothers have created a blend of digital action that is quite literally out of this world.

Niall Ferguson

The latest don to break from the shackles of academia and embrace the goggle box is a young Scot, and handsome to boot. The lucrative market opened up by the likes of David Starkey and Simon Schama sees a new contender step up. Ferguson, the former professor of political and financial history at Oxford, embarks on two new careers this year. In January his multi-part TV series on the British Empire begins on Channel 4 and a coinciding new book on the subject also hits the shelves. Later this month he will abandon the dreaming spires altogether to embark on a new position as the Herzog professor of financial history at the Leonard N Stern School of Business at New York University.

Gordon Brown

If ever there was a deal for the man at Number 10 to step aside to make room for the man at Number 11, then 2003 is to be the year in which it will occur. Yet while the analysts insist it will never happen, a bad year is already forecast for Tony Blair and this will undoubtedly benefit Gordon Brown. At the moment the chancellor of the exchequer is a brooding political colossus, silently biding his time. He'll have the final say over any Euro referendum, keep his head down during the forthcoming war with Iraq and then pop up again in time to promote his new book, Courage, arriving in stores this summer. He'll also be the subject of a new unauthorised biography by Julia Langdon. Even if he doesn't wind up the Prime Minister by the end of the year, Blair will be a few steps nearer the door and Brown to achieving his lifetime's ambition.

Gerard Butler

The 32-year-old Scot has the opportunity to rival Ewan McGregor as the country's top Hollywood export when he appears in two major summer movies in 2003. Butler, a former lawyer, takes on the lead role as an archaeologist who travels back into medieval Europe in Timeline, an adaptation of Michael Crichton's best-selling novel, directed by Richard Lethal Weapon Donner. He also has a smaller role in Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2, starring Angelina Jolie.

Liz Collins and Daryl Kerrigan

It may be a while before the ideas of these women, tipped by Newsweek as the hot young designers of 2003, trickle down into your local boutique, but in the meantime if you wish to bandy a few names about to demonstrate your street cred, these are the ones to reach for. The fashion beast, or so we are told by its handlers, has wearied of megabrands and the latest logos and is favouring individual designers who demonstrate an intimate sense of style. Collins dresses up plain cotton with knitting and draws her own labels on with a marker, while Daryl Kerrigan, a fellow New Yorker, is a specialist in low -slung pants whose made-to-order line is now the hot ticket at Henri Bendel.

Peter Mullan

The release early in 2003 of The Magdalene Sisters, Mullan's Lion D'Or -winning film, will serve only to consolidate the writer, actor and director's position as the first man of Scottish cinema. While there are both actors more famous and directors more lauded, few possess the smouldering genius that Mullan does. He lives in a quiet flat in the southside of Glasgow, surrounded by his family, but, when afforded the opportunity, he invariably produces work of a world-class standard. In 2002 the Venice Film Festival awarded Mullan the coveted Golden Lion and it is hoped audiences will recognise his ability when the film goes on general release.

Jalaluddin Taheri

An aged cleric with a long white beard and black turban, to most outsiders indistinguishable among a nation whose senior figures are nearly all aged clerics with long white beards and black turbans, Jalaluddin Taheri is nevertheless special. If the hardline regime falls in Iran during 2003, it will be broken on Taheri's anvil. Last July Taheri delivered a resignation speech, after almost 30 years as an Ayatollah, in which he denounced the current regime as corrupt and repressive: "Those in power are using the people's beliefs and religion to reach their own materialistic aims."

As a close friend of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, no other critic carries such weight and he has more recently spoken out in support of Hashem Aghajari, a history professor sentenced to death for arguing that students should not follow the religious leaders unquestioningly.

Wayne Rooney

The teenager with the world at his feet is just 17 years old, but already he is being spoken of with the kind of reverence usually reserved for the likes of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen. At Everton, where he currently earns just GBP 80 a week (though he is rumoured to be only days away from signing a new contract that will see this rise to nearer GBP 10,000 a week), he has been dubbed "Roonaldo" on account of his stunning ball skills. Although Rooney was raised in a Liverpool council house, he recently went shopping for London accommodation more suited to his talents and new salary. Unfortunately, estate agents on the King's Road took one look at his shaven head, tracksuit and square jaw churning bubble gum and asked him to leave, presumably assuming he was casing properties for a future burglary. The only thing Rooney is likely to steal is the ball from his opponents.

George Galloway

Lining up in the opposite corner to General Tommy Franks is the MP for Glasgow Kelvin. To political foes he remains known as the Member for Baghdad and one of Saddam's "useful idiots", but to a growing number he is the most eloquent and forceful advocate of non-intervention in Iraq in the House of Parliament. This year it is expected that he will increase his profile as the preparations for war continue to escalate. On the home front Galloway is set to face a battle for his political life once his constituency is effectively erased by the Boundary Commission. If he fails to be selected by the Labour Party for another seat, he has vowed to stand as an independent at the next election.


Copyright 2003 The Scotsman Publications Ltd.