Film

Olivia Newton-John posts video: ‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated’

Olivia Newton-John has denied recent reports in US media that she had just “weeks” to live.

Appearing in a short video posted on social media, the Australian music and screen icon wished fans a happy new year, and said reports of her imminent death were off the mark.

“I just want to say that the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated, to quote a very famous quote,” she said.

“I’m doing great and I want to wish all of you the happiest, healthiest 2019 that’s possible and thank you all for your wonderful support for me and for my Olivia Newton-John cancer wellness centre in Melbourne, Australia.”

Olivia Newton-John (@olivianj)

Happy New Year! Here’s to a wonderful 2019! Love & light, Olivia pic.twitter.com/1Nd2jIcRb1

January 3, 2019

It came after US tabloid site Radar Online had claimed the 70-year-old was “clinging on to life” amid her battle with cancer.

The site said Newton-John had been hoping she’d live long enough to see daughter Chloe Lattanzi wed fiance James Driskill in 2019.

Quoting unnamed sources, the report said Newton-John’s “bodily functions appear to be shutting down”, and quoted a “longevity expert” who said she was “almost certainly is going to die!”.

The reports in the US were picked up by a number of Australian media outlets, sparking an outpouring of grief among local fans.

It forced members of Newton-John’s family and friends to insist the rumours weren’t true.

Her niece Tottie Goldsmith, herself a singer and actor, denied the claims in a post on Instagram overnight.

“Just giving you the heads up that Livvy is in good health, so let’s leave that distressing rumour where it belongs,” she wrote.

Newton-John postponed tour dates in May 2017 after revealing a second diagnosis of breast cancer.

In September she revealed she had received a third diagnosis for cancer, saying her stage-four breast cancer had metastasised to her spine.

In an interview on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night, she said: “I’m one of millions in this fight. I shouldn’t say fight … in this journey.”

Newton-John was catapulted to global stardom in 1978 by her co-starring role with John Travolta in the musical film Grease.

She has previously spoken about her experience of surviving breast cancer and become an advocate for the importance of early detection.

Lady Gaga fans credited with negative Venom buzz

The embargo for Venom, a new Marvel movie starring Tom Hardy, lifted on Wednesday morning. And while the overwhelmingly negative critical reaction is unlikely to please distributors Sony, it seems likely to gladden the hearts of those Lady Gaga fans who have identified Venom as chief competition to Gaga’s new film, A Star Is Born.

On Tuesday, negative Twitter reactions to Venom – which have been charted by Buzzfeed – raised suspicions about their motivation on account of their similarly phrased critiques:

Nobody In California (@NobodyInCali)

Okay, something is up. The negativity around the #Venom movie is looking very artificial. pic.twitter.com/f5LWF3z7Xd

October 2, 2018

Atomic (@AtomicSpidey)

Sooooo there are BOTS attacking the #Venom movie. LMAO pic.twitter.com/CNXAtRtEd8

October 2, 2018

Others combined attacks on Venom with plugs for A Star Is Born. One read: “Just got out of a #Venom⁠ ⁠preview. Thankfully it was free. Worst two hours of my life. I will be taking my wife to see Lady GaGa’s new movie #AStarIsBorn with Bradley Cooper on Friday. Their song Shallow is great.”

Another said: “Just got back from seeing #Venom in theatre. So disappointed. Lots of democrat nonsense, pushing LGBT agenda down throat too. Disgusted. I can’t believe I am saying this but I might have to take the kids to see #AStarIsBorn tomorrow to make up for the terrible night. Very sad.”

A Marvel fansite flagged the possible campaign:

Marvel Mania™ (@marvel_maniac_)

Beware of fake #Venom movie reviews. There are people trying to promote Lady Gaga’s #AStarIsBorn and are fabricating negative reviews. Look out for bots and only trust proper and regular reviewers. pic.twitter.com/v9xznuN5R7

October 2, 2018

However, the power of Gaga fans to leverage change at cinemas was thrown into question earlier this month when the film failed to win the People’s Choice award at the Toronto film festival. This coveted prize, considered a barometer of future Oscars success, is voted for by audiences, theoretically as they exit the cinema after a screening. But a new facility allowing for online voting raised the concern that Gaga fans who hadn’t seen the film would flood the digital ballot box.

The top prize was awarded to Green Book, a road movie starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma as runners up.

Nonetheless, A Star Is Born is considered a strong Oscars favourite and goes into this year’s race the frontrunner to take best picture.

In his review, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw dismissed Venom as a “clumsy, monolithic and fantastically boring superhero movie-slash-entertainment-franchise-iteration”.