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Six degrees

Mark Peters

 

Elmo, the furry red monster with a falsetto to rival the Bee Gees, will be hitting the Hong Kong stage next month as he and his Muppet pals from long-running American television show Sesame Street ride into town to perform Elmo's Super Heroes. The iconic children's character first appeared in the early 1980s, with a gruff caveman voice, the puppet having previously been seen under the name Baby Monster; but, in 1984, his then new puppeteer, Kevin Clash, decided to raise Elmo's pitch. In November last year, Clash resigned from the show amid allegations that he had engaged in sex with underage boys. Regular guests on Sesame Street include Itzhak Perlman …

 

Regarded as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the late-20th century, the Israeli-born musician, who plays sitting down, was stricken with polio at the age of four and walks with crutches. Of his chosen vocation, Perlman has said: "The sound of the violin it … it grabbed my soul. Who knows why? Who can understand what makes something take possession of your spirit like that?" Having performed many times at the White House, Perlman also played at United States President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, alongside world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma …

 

Following a concert at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1999, an exhausted Ma left his 266-year-old cello in the trunk of a taxi. The instrument, built by Domenico Montagnana and reported to be worth US$2.5 million, was returned safely a few hours later to the extremely relieved Asian-American. In 2005, Ma collaborated with composer John Williams on the score for the film Memoirs of a Geisha, in which the lead character - a Japanese geisha - was controversially played by a Chinese actress, Zhang Ziyi …

 

The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star filed a lawsuit against Next Media last year after suffering "immense grievance and distress" over allegations made against her in the Apple Daily and Next Magazine. Zhang vehemently denied claims she had slept with disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, and other officials, and that she had earned more than US$110 million as a prostitute. In 2004, she was the recipient of both the Hong Kong Film Critics' and Hong Kong Film Academy's best actress awards for her lead role in 2046, directed by Wong Kar-wai …

 

The Hong Kong director was jury president at this year's Berlin International Film Festival - at which his latest epic, martial arts period drama The Grandmaster, opened proceedings. Wong spent three years on the road researching the movie, travelling from town to town interviewing hundreds of kung fu masters. The lead role in his first full English-language movie, 2007's My Blueberry Nights, provided the acting debut for silk-toned singer Norah Jones …

 

The Brooklyn-born jazz artist has recently been romantically linked with Seth MacFarlane, creator of animated sitcom Family Guy. Last year they collaborated on the Academy Award-nominated song Everybody Needs a Best Friend, which featured in the movie Ted (the story of a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking teddy bear), in which Jones also cameoed. She has performed with many jazz greats, including Ray Charles and Herbie Hancock, but nothing could eclipse her rendition of Don't Know Y - a modified version for children's television of her song Don't Know Why - which featured shrill vocal backing from the ever-loveable Elmo.

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