BY THE numbers

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Ten flames can heat it up in Race 5

He’s the choice of Joao Moreira (above) and has a perfect gate. Make him your banker. — Phillip Woo on Ten Flames (Race 5)
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Josh Groban is returning to a familiar stage in his life

US singer Josh Groban has a new album of Broadway covers, but what he's really excited about is sharing the screen with Miss Piggy
"I will tell you that being able to share humour is so important to me and to be able to laugh. Kat and I, we always get the joke." - Josh Groban on his one-year relationship with actress Kat Dennings (above)

Josh Groban is returning to a familiar stage in his life.

His latest album is aptly titled Stages, a compilation of covers of beloved Broadway tunes such as Over The Rainbow (The Wizard Of Oz), All I Ask Of You (The Phantom Of The Opera) and Bring Him Home (Les Miserables).

The US classical crossover crooner told M: "The Broadway community has continued to have a very special place in my heart. As I have done one-off concerts, a (Stephen) Sondheim birthday concert or something for Andrew Lloyd Webber, the fans have continued to say, 'Hey, we would love to see you more like that in that role and in that world.'

"One of the reasons why I felt it was the right time to make (Stages) six, seven albums into my career was because it was at a time when musical theatre is changing in a way that is making people excited about the genre and excited about the new work and reinvigorated about the old work."

Groban certainly is relishing the opportunity to revisit a genre he has been a fan of since he was a kid.

"A song like Old Devil Moon was my first lead role in high school, and All I Ask Of You was the first song I ever sang for (US producer) David Foster (who discovered me) when I was 16 years old.

"If I could go back and tell that shy kid (that) when you are 34, you are going to be singing these songs with this orchestra and people are going to want to come see it... I probably would have had a huge ego, but it would have been nice to be able to tell that kid that."

We met Groban at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and the 34-year-old still looks youthful despite the beard he is probably sporting to look older. And he is the most unsuperstar-like celebrity you will ever meet - on time, polite, friendly, laughs easily and is happy to be talking to you.

Tell us about the new Stages tour, which could be taking you to Singapore next year.

I wanted to fully present these songs the way they were meant to be presented.

Any time I get the opportunity to perform with a great orchestra, it is the most rewarding because you get to feel its power behind you and you get to feel like you are in this cushion of music that is tremendous. And so it is going to be loose - the songs are very serious, but (during) my time between songs, I really like to chat with the audience and have fun.

How did US presidential candidate Donald Trump's off-the-wall tweets on a recent episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live talk show come about?

Kimmel and I have this tradition of doing song tweets. We take some really outrageous tweets and we set them to music in a very serious way...

I think we found the right person in Trump. And I thought some of them were fake, honestly. But they said, 'Yes he did write them.'

As a songwriting exercise, it is fun because you spend so much time overthinking and trying to be super clever, when suddenly you are given lyrics and (told) to write a silly ditty, and you actually come up with pretty good melodies. It calls him out a little bit on some of the ridiculous things he has said in the last couple of years.

You've mentioned being a shy kid. How did you develop a sense of humour?

When you are signed at 17, there is a real pressure to live every day like what your billboard looks like.

You don't want to break any rules. But in the last few years, I have had so much more fun relaxing a little bit. It has been more freeing for me to show a lighter side, and I think it is more fun for the audience if you can make them laugh and make them cry in the same night.

I was the nerd in high school and in order to not be bullied, I needed to defuse (the situations) with humour. It kept the bullies from pulling at my underwear.

Your girlfriend of one year is US actress Kat Dennings. It must be good to be with someone who understands the pressures of this business.

The schedule is crazy, we are always travelling. But at the same time, she is the most understanding person I have ever met because she lives it too.

We both like to live on planet Earth the moment we are off stage - we don't like to take that circus with us when we are not performing.

So to know somebody who understands the side of it where there are a lot of demands on you and then at the same time to be just as human and relaxed when they aren't, is a wonderful combination and in this business it is very rare. So we are very compatible in that way...

When the right person comes along, it hits you and you have got no defences. I will tell you that being able to share humour is so important to me and to be able to laugh. Kat and I, we always get the joke.

Does she sing with you?

She is actually shy about singing. I don't think there are any musical duets in our future.

Tell us about your guest-starring role in the new TV sitcom The Muppets, playing yourself and Miss Piggy's new love interest in the wake of her nasty break-up with Kermit the Frog.

She is a great kisser, by the way. I had such a great time with the Muppets, and this is my third time filming with them. We did (the 2014 movie) Muppets Most Wanted, and then I did a music video (for my song Pure Imagination). And so they called, and said we want to make a kind of scandalous love affair between you and Miss Piggy, and I immediately high-fived my eight-year-old self.

This new Muppet show is hilarious and smartly written, and the people who are involved with it are really taking it back to the kind of sauciness that it used to have back in the 70s and 80s. So yes, to make a cameo was a dream come true for me.

Goro, Japan's hero

Fullback gives courage to Springboks' conquerors

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She has things to say now

Just a teen when she became famous, Selena Gomez, now 23, says she has experienced a lot more of life and wants to express it

"When people say no to me, I just have this urge inside of me to want to prove them wrong."

US singer-actress Selena Gomez, who rose to prominence after starring in the Disney Channel teen sitcom Wizards Of Waverly Place from 2007 to 2012, is trying to explain what drives her.

"I have worked since I was seven years old. I have had someone look at me at 11 years old and say I will never be strong enough to carry my own TV show. Three years later, I had my own TV show on Disney."

Despite her success, like everyone else, she has moments of insecurity.

"Nobody is perfect, but honestly, there are days when I don't feel good enough."

We are in Cancun, Mexico, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and Gomez has been flown down by Sony Pictures Animation for the Hotel Transylvania 2 press junket.

In the sequel to the 2012 animated family flick, which opens in Singapore tomorrow, she reprises her voice role as Mavis, Count Dracula's (Adam Sandler) daughter (left) who is now married to her human boyfriend Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and has a half-breed son who really worries "Vampa" - Grandpa - Drac because he isn't showing any signs of being a vampire.

When Drac's strict and old-school dad Vlad (Mel Brooks) comes to visit while Mavis is away visiting her human in-laws, things get batty - excuse the pun - and Transylvania will never be the same.

Right now, it's hard to believe that Gomez has ever had insecure moments as she is very poised and put together despite being only 23.


When asked about being frank about her weight gain, the Unicef ambassador says: "I was just shocked to see how much attention it got. I am growing up and when you become a woman, things change and certain body types are different than others.

"I don't look at those things and think, 'My goodness, I should look different'.

"But certain girls do and I don't want girls to look at a picture of me and think, 'oh, is that what I am supposed to look like'?''

She attributes her maturity to her upbringing.

"I always feel like I was surrounded by adults growing up and my mum always taught me how to be respectful and listen to people and hear them out and be gracious and be grateful."

Her Disney days are long behind her as evidenced by the artwork on her new album Revival, which produced the hit single Good For You and will be released next month.

She poses nude, striking a sultry pose in the black and white photo.

"This album is something that I have put my whole heart into. I am executive-producing it and it's where I am able to finally say what I want to say. I am not the world's greatest singer, but there's a lot that I want to prove."

Gomez understands the concept that you have to live a little to have something to say.

"When I was 14 years old, what was I going to sing about and what was I going to really care about? I wanted to have fun and dance onstage with a glittery costume. At 23, there's a lot that I have experienced and there's a lot that I have done. I have things to say."

Like dating and breaking up with 21-year-old Canadian pop star Justin Bieber from 2011 to 2014, for one. Not that she is going to openly discuss that today.

"Are people still talking about that? That's so frustrating. Of course it's natural and I am going to have friends and I am going to have relationships and I hope that for the rest of my life I will get to be blessed enough to fall in love.

"But a relationship has never defined my life."

We persist and ask her about being on David Letterman's talk show, where he told her that he made Bieber cry and she answered, "That makes two of us".

What was that about?

"Comedic timing," she answers.

And what did Bieber think of that?

"He laughed with me. We support each other no matter what. I think I said that multiple times. They are not going to pit us against each other."

Can she at least tell us what she looks for in a man?

"I don't trust a lot of people and I get nervous and it's, like, why do people want to talk to me, why do they like me, do they just like me because of who I am?

"And so I think when the time happens, I hope that I can feel comfortable and I can just feel safe and that I know it's real."

With Hotel Transylvania 2 beginning with a wedding, we ask Gomez if she has ever dreamed of her own nuptials.

"I am from Texas, so I should be married now," she says with a laugh. "You know what's crazy is, I go to premieres and red carpets so I am constantly wearing a dress and I have make-up on and I feel like a princess. But I feel like for my wedding day, I don't know how much of that I am going to want. But it's not any time soon, I can tell you that."

Dortmund's Sahin: No regrets about those failed stints with Real and Liverpool

Turk happy at 'special' Dortmund and has no regrets over poor stints with Real and Liverpool

Nuri Sahin was once destined for great things.

At 16 years and 334 days, he became the youngest player to play in the German Bundesliga.

Three months later, in November 2005, he became the youngest goalscorer in Germany's top tier.

By 22 years old, right after helping Borussia Dortmund to the league title, Sahin (right) was voted the Bundesliga's Best Player.

A dream move to Real Madrid followed. But his career path didn't work out the way he had envisaged.

Plagued by injuries, he failed to establish himself with the Galaticos and, after a short loan spell with Liverpool, he moved back to Dortmund in 2013.

Now 27, there's no place he would rather be as he goes about resurrecting his career.

"For me, Dortmund are a special club because they are my first club and I grew up here," Sahin told The New Paper in an interview in a meeting room at the club's headquarters on Monday.

"It gives me a feeling of home. It's here that I feel very comfortable and can play my football."


The Turkey international has no regrets over how things turned out for him overseas.

The elegant midfielder said: "I knew already how big Liverpool are and, after four or five months there, I can't help but admire how big and how organised the club are.

"I will never forget the experience there. I met great guys, great players and made some friends. I'm happy that I was a part of that even though it was a short part.

"Listen, I am a person who criticise myself a lot and I look for the mistakes in myself and in my own game. I don't regret anything.

"I went there to play football, played some games and scored some goals. In the end, it was the best choice to come back home to play for my club again."

Former Dortmund star Lars Ricken, 37, saw a little bit of himself in Sahin when the midfielder made his debut a decade ago.

Ricken, who spent all 15 years of his career with Dortmund, was the club's youngest-ever player until Sahin broke the record.

And he is confident that the Turk can recover his best form.

"His problem is he has had a few injuries in the last few years," Ricken said of Sahin.

"He must play 30 matches each season. Sahin is a great and creative player who can help the team.

"He's not as fast as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but he has very good speed of action.

"It's very sad for us that he didn't play for such a long time. We are looking forward to him coming back."

However, Sahin isn't quite past his injury nightmare just yet. A club official said just before the interview that any question on his injury situation is prohibited.

Last season, Sahin racked up just nine games and he has yet to start a match for Dortmund since February.

However, his determination to win trophies with Dortmund hasn't waned and the Champions League is what he's after.

The club have started this season in sizzling form, winning 11 matches (in all competitions) on the trot and are top of the Bundesliga table.


He said: "Every footballer dreams of winning the Champions League. It's one of my goals.

"First of all, we have a new style of football (under new coach Thomas Tuchel),  but the team have adapted very fast.

"This season, we have the chance to go for top four. We also have the chance to hold something in our hands at the end of the season.

"But it's only the start. I hope at the end of the season, we can sit here and speak about titles."

l Gary Lim's trip is sponsored by Turkish Airlines, the official airline partner of Borussia Dortmund.

Giveaway: Weekend buffet for four

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Scaling fame

Jason Clarke takes on yet another high-profile movie, Everest. Will he finally be recognised?

You have seen Jason Clarke in a number of high-profile Hollywood movies such as Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, to name a few, but probably don't know his name.

That was supposed to change with his turn as John Connor in the recent Terminator Genisys, but the movie wasn't as successful as its makers had hoped and his inexplicable anonymity was prolonged.

Now he has another shot with Everest, the true story of two expeditions in 1996 to the most dangerous place on earth, where the mettle of the climbers are tested to their utmost in a desperate struggle to survive Mount Everest in Nepal.

Disaster struck when one of the fiercest blizzards in history hit the mountain with hurricane force, and a combination of human error and bad luck causes the climbers to be oxygen-starved, frost-bitten and utterly at the end of their resources.

The film opens here Sept 24.

The busy Australian actor meets us at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, newly blond for his upcoming role in historical thriller HHHH, in which he will star as German Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the mastermind of the "Final Solution"- the genocide of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Clarke just arrived from Budapest, Hungary, where the film is being shot and where he is learning fencing and the violin.

The son of a sheep shearer from rural Queensland, Clarke, 46, takes it as a compliment that people don't think he is Australian because of a very authentic American accent he puts on whenever required for his job.

In fact, he has a low-key presence Down Under as well.

"I don't do that many articles in Australia. I like to go home at Christmas and just go about my business. My family lives in the countryside and I don't even go to Sydney that much any more. I just fly to the farm and hang out with my mum and family and then come back (to Los Angeles)."

He reluctantly admits to being married for three years to a "beautiful French wife" when asked about the "secret wedding" stories on the Internet.

Why is so little known about that?

"Because I never talk about it," he says with a laugh. "Happily married, really happily married. And we have a little seven-month-old."


But we are here to talk about Everest, and the first question has to be why.

Why do people do this insane thing, and in particular, why did his character Rob Hall, the ill-fated leader of one expedition, leave his pregnant wife (played by Keira Knightley) to summit Everest?

Clarke tries to make sense of it by saying: "You are reaching for the stars. It's hard not to put it in cliche, but it's the highest mountain in the world and anyone that likes to walk, likes to climb; and anyone that likes to climb goes, you know, I want to get up that. It's either an itch you have or you don't have. These are the things that define you."

Since this is a Hollywood movie, the base camp was shot in Rome, and most scenes of mountain climbing were shot in the Dolomites in the Italian Alps.

But they did go on location to Kathmandu and Everest's actual base camp.

There were no five-star hotels, no heating (just electric blankets), the water was freezing cold, and there were no assistants to carry the actors' gear.

Moving the equipment up the mountains in the Alps was also a huge challenge for the crew.

Eleven Sherpas were cast in the movie, and it was the first time they ever left Nepal.

The heart of Everest is a gut-wrenching scene when Hall is stranded on the South Summit as the storm rages and rescue efforts are doomed.

The base camp crew connects Hall by satellite phone with his wife, Jan, in New Zealand.

The phone conversation is authentic as there was a tape recording of it.


Clarke listened to the recording when he went to New Zealand to meet Jan and the couple's daughter, Sarah, as part of his preparation.

"The recording is extraordinary and you hear Rob's voice for 10 minutes... I was struck by his togetherness and you realise where he was at and what was happening. It was really an extraordinary moment."

And how did he prepare to play the scene?

"It was always one of those big things where the scene is coming up and so my first take on, I started just bawling my eyes out, I was so upset.

"And then (director Baltasar Kormakur) walks in and I am up in this thing in this ice cave and he was like, 'no crying Jason, there's no crying'.

"And that was it... Just listening to this woman crying on the phone, it was really upsetting."

He even remembers the actual radio account of the situation some 20 years earlier.

"I was doing a play in Australia with Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett, and we were doing a tech run. I went outside to listen to the radio and it came on...

"And you look up and you think, he is still dying up there and she is sitting in a room crying."

Other disaster films

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