The latest trend of live kitchens not only assures the customer of cleanliness standards, but also increases the interaction with the chef

Sitting casually, chatting up with the chef as he tosses a pasta with your favourite veggies or herbs - Live Kitchens seem to be latest 'in thing' in city circuits. Lately, there has been a barrage of new eateries in the city and one common thread that binds them is live or open-counter kitchens.

"One is spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in the city and among the many new experiences they offer, live kitchen is one that I enjoy the most," says Payal Goel, a psychology student who has been finding it difficult to stick to her diet plan. "When the media keeps reporting about unhygienic conditions of the city's leading restaurants, it is more than comforting to see your food cooked right in front of you," chuckles Payal. "On a serious note, the very sight of seeing your food being prepared, the very aroma sets you in a mood to savour food," says this girl.

Ditto for Dr Vikas, who enjoys looking at his slowly simmering barbeque before it ends on his plate. "There is a reason behind it. The anticipation of your meal activates your taste buds, which makes you enjoy the meal more," he says.

A foodie who loves to visit each and every new eatery, he shares, "Amongst the live kitchens, Taj's Dera offers a great experience, Barbeque Nation lets you have your kebab simmer right in front of you. The newest is Al Forno, which has this state-of-the-art machine that lets you peep in to your pasta. Then this little LCD on your table lets you see your menu on the table. I absolutely loved this."

But what makes live kitchens such a hit? Café Amor, Kebab Khan and Zazen at Page 3, Panchkula, all have live kitchens. "Gone are the days when chefs were restricted to kitchens. We have taken the initiative to bring to them limelight and celebrate their skills," offers Siddharth Kumar, vice president, Alchemist Food And Beverage Ltd. "And then an open kitchen assures our guests of our standards of cleanliness," adds Siddharth.

More than that, it's the whole experience of a guest being able to interact with chefs that really makes it special. "All over the world, the concept of hospitality is fast changing. The emphasis today is on individuality and making each guest feel special. Live kitchens provide that," says Sandeep Makroo, from Taj-17. "At Dera, our Indian restaurant, guests can interact with chefs, tell them the kind of seasoning they want in their dal and see their chapatti being rolled. It helps us cater to personal preferences of guests," says Makroo.

Live kitchens make guests part of the eating experience from the very beginning, says Siddharth. "Just the way one interacts with bar tenders, live kitchen connect the guests with chefs," he adds.

Recently opened as a show kitchen, bistro Sofrito-9 has put glasses on their show kitchen keeping in mind guests' comfort. "Show kitchens are not only a window to our standards of cleanliness, but they also let chefs interact with guests," shares Rajinder Sharma, manager, Sofrito.

Well, anything that makes you feel special is always welcome!

RS Shakya is in the city with his collection of paintings that is hugely inspired by leaves
Ashima Sehajpal

Understanding the basic philosophy of life doesn't take much. Even if it's often projected as a subject difficult to comprehend and meant only for intellectuals, in reality everyone can make sense of the simplest truth with the help of a little observation!

For RS Shakya, an artist from Lucknow, it wasn't difficult either and all he observed was leaves. Delicate soft leaves come out of nodes, grow into full-sized thick leaves before they turn yellow and are then shed, only to be replaced by new ones. "The circle of life from birth to death is thus completed. When nature can so easily teach us the meaning of life, where is the need to read spiritual books or follow people who claim to know it all?" questions Shakya, who is in the city to display his works at Punjab Kala Bhawan.

The same thought inspired him to make over 6,000 works on leaves. " I enjoy making thousands of leaves in different colours and patterns." He has painted them in colours of every season and the ones in blue, pink, purple are his imagination. " I wanted to see how beautiful leaves in bright colours would look."

Landscape, he opines, will always be the first love of artists. "Every artists begins his career with nature. At that time, the subject is a part of his curriculum and is forced upon him. Gradually, he forays into different mediums and themes according to interest. But after reaching a certain stage, every artist realises that nothing is as beautiful and diverse as nature. He then picks up nature again, this time, only with his own inclination towards it."

With an experience of 40 years, Shakya takes mere two hours to complete one painting. What else is special about his works is oil on canvas that, unlike the usual ones, doesn't take more than a day to dry up. "The required effect of a colour has to come in a single stroke. An artist who puts coats of colour has a lot to learn." For their sheer visual appeal, his works have been bought by big business houses, including Birla, Dalmiya and Singhania. This also points towards their price.

"Our society is impressionable. If today an artist sells his work at a reasonable price of Rs 5000, people might conclude that the market value of his works have plunged. If price tag reads 5 lakh, they will think that the artist is a big name and the work must be worth it." But from his point of view, artists can no more afford to be altruists since the investment made is huge. "It takes an artist a minimum of 10 years to become an established name. When we charge for our artwork, we also charge for our initial investment that didn't give us returns."

If not in monetary terms, artists do contribute to the society through their works that endorse a social cause. Shakya has also made a series on the Throos community of Himachal Pradesh. "They live in deplorable conditions and need support from the government. My paintings depict their plight." Art sure contributes in one way or another!

TASTEfully done
Newly opened Nando's in Sector 35 is set to delight the foodie in you
Ashima Sehajpal

It was a pleasure to watch people eating a big piece of grilled, juicy, well-marinated chicken. One on every plate in the restaurant, the chicken chunks were easy to dig out since the piece was cooked well. Just inquisitive about the taste, when we sought a bit of details, the answer from a colleague was quite expected, "Chicken seldom tastes like this. It melts in the mouth and leaves such a pleasant taste that the next bite is inevitable."

The experience was guaranteed at the newly opened restaurant, Nandos's, Sector-35, which promises authentic African and Portuguese flavours. This is only the third outlet by the Afro-Portuguese chain in India after one each in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Albeit popular for its non-vegetarian stuff, the menu incorporates 40 per cent vegetarian dishes. "We conducted a survey before opening up a restaurant here that indicated at a huge vegetarian population in this part of the country. We wanted people to enjoy food with our specialty, Peri-Peri sauce, the recipe of which is still a closely guarded secret even after 113 years of its invention," informs Tom Carter, operations manager. The sauce is made from the chilli called Birds Eye, which is grown only in South Africa. The sauce also makes the base for any chicken at Nando's. He adds that the other inputs flowed in through mails that people from the region sent at their official site. "People of Chandigarh are well travelled, which is why we didn't bring in any changes in the original recipe. Also there wasn't any need for change in the first place, as people here like to have spicy food."

The five-course menu here has plenty to offer. Beginning from five appetisers to a number of dishes in snacks and main course, there is enough to try for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Those looking forward to trying out something different in the health food category should go in for Mediterranean and Concous salad. Must try is Peri-Peri paneer and roasted veg dip served with pits bread for veggies. In the main course, however, non-vegetarians have got a better deal. "Whatever chicken we serve here is marinated for 24 hours in different sauces to ensure that they retain the flavours," adds Chunky, the chef from South Africa.

Suggested dishes are chicken strips and rice and Espetada, which is marinated chicken pieces, grilled, served with spiced rice and colesaw. There are family meals on the menu as well, for two, four and six people, but the option hardly makes a difference, as the cost factor can't be ignored either ways!

Even if you will not want anything to replace the taste of chicken in your mouth, do try out the desserts as well. There are ample options and each one is worth it. The chocolate pastry (just an easy way to address a little complicated name of a dessert) is like a brick of frozen chocolate that melts instantly in the mouth. The only difficult thing at the Nando's is to decide for what dish you should leave a little space in your stomach!

The preparation for SJOBA rally begins on an adventurous note
Tribune News Service

The Thunderbolt SJOBA Sub-Himalayan Rally maybe a few months away (scheduled for March 2011), but the SJOBA team is already out on the dusty, bumpy trails of the mountains doing a recce for the rally. Over the weekend, two vehicles and a team of promising young (and a couple of not so young) ex-Johnians took off from Chandigarh to test the rugged and unknown tracks in the sub-Himalayan ranges.

"You see, everything has to be just perfect for the SJOBA rally," said Nagendra Singh, president, SJOBA. "And, that is why we were up and about so early on a Saturday morning, checking the tracks the rally will ultimately pass by a few months away. We started preparing the road book for the rally, looked for new, challenging routes to take and also started working out the safety and communication aspects from now itself."

Many kilometers and photographs later, having completed a fair number of routes with a draft of the road-book and GPS tracks, the team reached Koti Resorts for the night, exhausted and full of dust. The road-book and GPS tracks were taken care of by the young lads under the excellent guidance of experienced seniors, who have had a fair share of doing this in the many years that they have been a part of the SJOBA rally.

Sunday morning also started early for the team. All pepped up, the team zoomed off from Koti Resorts early morning onto the dusty tracks once again. As fate would have it, one of the most interesting stretches could not be done because of a landslide, so turning back a little, the team headed off towards another stretch.

A quick lunch at a roadside dhaba was followed by more off-roading and photography, with the youngsters taking over the wheel and letting the elders enjoy the breathtaking view. Due to shortage of time, the team split into two and headed in different directions, finally meeting on the highway in the late hours of the evening. After lots of on-the-spot planning and brainstorming, the team decided on a probable route for the rally, which would incorporate several new tracks which have never been used before.

"Rallying is a sort of addiction and planning a rally is an even bigger one," said Shivneet Singh, a senior member of the team. "Once you do it, you want to keep doing it. You just can't get enough of the thrill, the view, the adventure and the fun," he added.

Two days of hard work, fun and bone-rattling and dusty rides, a highly satisfied team headed back home to Chandigarh, counting down the days till the next recce and to seeing yet another successful SJOBA rally!

Bits about Bytes
When words are not written
Roopinder Singh

When a letter was something that you penned on the paper, you selected the paper, the pen, and devoted much attention to the words that would be inscribed on the paper. Often, it was at least a page long, sometimes longer than that.

Even as you were bothered with the physical aspects of your epistle, a part of your mind was already composing it, crafting the words and weighing over their message. What was written had a particular significance; it was much more than what was merely said.

The veritable Emily in her book Post Etiquette (1922) had an interesting take on the task. Says she: "The letter you write, whether you realise it or not, is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste and character. A 'sloppy' letter with the writing all pouring into one corner of the page, badly worded, badly spelled, and with unmatched paper and envelope-even possibly a blot-proclaims the sort of person who would have unkempt hair, unclean linen and broken shoe laces; just as a neat, precise, evenly written note portrays a person of like characteristics. Therefore, while it cannot be said with literal accuracy that one may read the future of a person by study of his handwriting, it is true that if a young man wishes to choose a wife in whose daily life he is sure always to find the unfinished task, the untidy mind and the syncopated housekeeping, he may do it quite simply by selecting her from her letters."

Ah, those were the days. The take on how a young man would choose a wife is particularly interesting and so outdated, but her advice is not, as we will discuss later.

The art of handwritten notes, of making yourself write neatly and legibly, of debating what colour of ink to use, has slowly been overtaken by technology, which crept up slowly. When typewriters and computers were first used for producing letters, they were largely confined to offices and thus were means of official communication, not personal ones.

However, in time, the keyboard did not only replace the penmanship of yore, and all that went with it, the romance of the craft, the laborious, yet loving efforts of those who had chosen to impart the degree of permanence to their thoughts.

Electronic mail predates the inception of the Internet, and was, in fact, a crucial tool in creating it, but with the spread of the Internet, it became a tremendous method of communicating messages practically instantaneously, and thus became what is often called "killer application".

The introduction of e-mail absolutely changed the way people communicated. On e-mail, communications were immediate. Instead of days, it took mere seconds for your message to get through to the other party. Naturally, you expected an immediate response and this was often the way in which the recipient would respond to your e-mail letter.

Unfortunately, speed came at a cost-lack of reflection. We have already noted how what is written has a particular importance in communication. What people realised over the years of using e-mail communications with each other is that this significance has transferred itself across various mediums, even those that seem to be casual, like e-mail. It would not be wrong to say that e-mail stuck a "killer" blow to letter writing.

To play on the tag line of a modern advertisement which says, "Nothing official about it", as far as written communication is concerned; there is nothing casual about it. Inappropriately written e-mail messages have often got people into much trouble, legal and otherwise.

Now, Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, says he is going to change the way people communicate. He believes that people are exchanging shorter and shorter messages to communicate with each other. He is targeting school students who say they find e-mail "slow and cumbersome". He found that many are using Facebook to send messages and stay in touch.

My friend Gupi found this out the hard way. When he complained to his daughter Taran, a yoga instructor, that she had not kept him abreast with her latest trip, she retorted: "But, Dad, I Facebooked you!" Soon the telephonic conversations between Taran and her sister Daman ended with "Facebook me". Now, Gupi makes sure that his Facebook page is open most of the time, since his school-going son Guru also appears on it from his boarding school whenever he gets a chance. The immediacy of getting in touch with his loved ones makes him keep his computer on all the time.

Now Facebook Messages blog says it wants to integrate Instant Messaging (IM), online chat, e-mail and texts. Many people have been using them over the years. They are there in popular mail packages like Gmail (Gtalk and Buzz), Yahoo! (Messenger) etc. What all of them share is an intense desire to encourage users to spend more and more time within their sites, and for this, they marshal whatever is needed-games, activities, chat, e-mail, photo-sharing, etc. Why do they do that? Because of lucrative advertising revenues, without which we would have to pay for the Internet services, rather than get them free, as we do now.

So, Facebook Messages will stay and will attract hundreds of thousands of users. Along with "revolutionising communication", as Zuckerberg says, they will further make communication more and more informal. Well, I still take comfort from the fact that informal is not thoughtless. I implore readers to be thoughtful in their communication. The consequences of not being so can indeed be painful.

Small wonder

Motorola Mobility India Private Limited has launched the stylishly square and pocket-perfect Motorola Flipout. This smartphone packs a punch with a unique form-factor and innovative features.

Motorola Flipout runs on Android 2.1 and features an innovative square pivot design that opens to reveal a five-row QWERTY keypad with a separate row for numeric keys. Flipout features up to seven customisable home screens, live wallpapers and added security for exchange server users.

Personalise the Flipout with bright expressive battery covers that come in-box -licorice black, fairway green, poppy red and white. The phone offers flexibility of effortless communications as it easily switches between windows and continues with other tasks while the browsers run in the background. The phone enables easy one hand messaging and previewing of incoming messages without opening.

Flipout includes CrystalTalk Plus which improves a caller's voice quality while filtering out background noise for better conversations. Building on Motorola's proprietary microphone and speaker configuration, CrystalTalk Plus adds a second microphone to provide even clearer voice quality, while cutting down background noise.

For music fans, Flipout has a connected media player that offers full screen lyric support, integrated song ID and a social solution for knowing what people around you are listening to.

Additional multimedia features include a three megapixel camera with digital zoom and Kodak Perfect Touch technology for better, brighter pictures and gallery mode for tagging and labeling of photos. One-touch uploads to Facebook, Myspace, make sharing your images quick and easy. Also included are video capture, playback and streaming options along with Bluetooth capabilities for wireless calls and music.

The Android-powered Flipout is available at retail outlets in India for Rs 15,990 (MRP: Rs 16,990). With every purchase, you can indulge at a Lakme Salon with services worth up to Rs 1,000 absolutely free! — TNS

Single window
Amitpal Singh Grewal

Till a few years back, there were separate machines for printing, scanning, copying, and faxing, but this is no longer the case. Thanks to the 'all-in-one' printer, which helps save time, electricity, and space.

Nowadays, the complete segment of 'all-in-one' printers offers copy, scan, fax, and print options, plus excellent photo printing. All-in-one printers are sold in both inkjet and laser models. The latter is costlier, but a lot more popular.

If your home or office usage needs a photo printer as well, be sure your 'all-in-one' supports the same with various photo paper sizes and vivid print resolution. Higher-end 'all-in-one' models also allow users to fax. If you do not need a fax machine, you are better off buying an 'all-in-one' with a top-of-the-line printer and scanner combination than a second-rate printer, scanner, and fax.

If you are an eco-friendly person, you should opt for an 'all-in-one' printer that supports duplex printing. This not only speeds up print jobs, but also helps you go green!

Connection options also play a very important role. Before buying the 'all-in-one' find out whether it provides you with WiFi, Ethernet, USB or memory card connectivity.

Print speed is very important for any workplace printer. Most 'all-in-one' printers offer quick speed, especially for black and white pages. The best print speeds start at 30 to 35 pages per minute.

And higher your printer's resolution, the better the printouts. But better resolution, slows down the speed. Whether you are printing memos, spreadsheets, brochures, or photographs, you'll want the 'all-in-one' to have a colour inkjet resolution of at least 4,800 x 1,200 dpi, and a black and white resolution of 600 x 600 dpi.

As for scanning resolution, your 'all-in-one' should have at least 600 x 1,200 dpi and 24 bits. The higher these figures, the crisper the scans.

Next comes the affordability of cartridges. Now, there are cheaper ink cartridges that are not only affordable, but also reduce the toxic chemicals that end up in landfills. Re-manufactured ink cartridges are recycled cartridges that have been cleaned, refurbished, and refilled by skilled professionals. Plus, re-manufactured printer cartridges are thoroughly tested to ensure that they are compatible with printers.

So whichever 'all-in-one' printer you choose, be sure to buy re-manufactured ink or toner from a reputed supplier.

Social climbers
Satish Narula

Satish NarulaAll that is weak need support and so do the plants. There is this class of plants, the climbers that are all weak stemmed and thus cannot grow up on their own. No doubt there are provisions by Mother Nature like tendrils, sticking pads, claws etc in nature, such supports are created by the climbers on their own as they climb any structure that is close by but in home gardens, you can facilitate their upward movement by providing the suitable support system to help them do so.

When I talk about home gardens, it is not only the ornamental climbers but those too that bear fruit and vegetables. Such climbers are grapes and kiwi in fruits and all the cucurbits in vegetables as also some weak-stemmed vegetable plants like tomato.

There are also some of the shrubs that are weak-stemmed like allamanda, Clerodedron thompsoni, bougainvillea and some of rose species (ramblers). This may be a compulsion too as in case of trailing vegetable vines, the part of the vegetable that comes in contact with moisture on the ground gets damaged or diseasesed. They have to be raised. In some cases like tomato, bed and channel system of planting is followed where the vine is allowed to spread on dry raised bed whereas the roots are at the edge of a channel, which is watered avoiding direct contact of water and fruit.

There are various kinds of structures that are raised to give support to the plants. These are of two type, one the overhead structures and the other vertical trellis.

The overhead structures are normally raised in case of grapes as the bunches are allowed to hang at the raised hand level. For this the structure is raised to a height of seven feet or so. The wires are crisscrossed at one foot at right angles. It is better to raise the vine from the middle of the structure to equally spread on all the sides. We never provide the cucurbit vines proper structures and let them grow in any direction and on anything that comes in their near vicinity. It may be a tree too, on which they climb and camouflage it. This is very damaging for the tree growth as whole of the photosynthesis area is hidden. For cucurbits too, one should raise structures for disciplined growth and minimum loss of the fruit.

At times, structures are raised to hide some of the unsightly features in a garden that are a compulsion for locating these in the garden for example a motor. Such structures could be camouflaged by creating low-headed structures keeping provision for servicing the machinery at a later stage when required.

Love thy robot!

In what could bring some solace to the millions of lonely hearts worldwide, scientists have developed a robot, which they say can fall in love with its owner. Invented by German designer Stefan Ulrich, the bizarre blob-like Funktionide has special sensors that react to human touch to show when it is happy or in love. It can also give them a cuddle.

According to Stefan, his invention could one day completely replace the need to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.He said: "The products of the future will, in effect, be alive. People already bury themselves in possessions and shield themselves from real life with technology.

"So, if robots and objects can fulfil all their emotional needs as well, why do they need other humans?" According to Stefan, the robot uses state-of-the-art research in artificial muscle technology and has micro-sensors under its skin that react to pressure, skin temperature and colour to produce a response like a human reaction. Earlier, this year Japanese inventor Hiroshi Ishiguro created a bizarre robot called the Telenoid R1. It was the size of a small baby but had no arms or legs and was meant to be a communication device. Hiroshi's idea was that it could be used so people could chat even if they were long distances away. — PTI

Let's talk!

A study has concluded that people are unhappy with the lack of face-to-face time they spend with friends and family. The incessant march of technology is to blame, with text messaging, emailing and social networking taking over from traditional conversation, it revealed.

The research said that 95 per cent of those asked are dissatisfied with the amount of "real" time they spend with friends and family. Some 58 per cent prefer face-to-face above all other forms of communication. The nation's dependence on chatting online —gadget-to-gadget — is reducing the time available for socialising. One in three (31 per cent) admit to wasting time browsing online. — ANI

Get well soon, Hrithik

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan was hospitalised on Sunday after he complained of breathing problem caused by an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. The actor's spokesperson said that he was admitted to Kokilaben Hospital late afternoon for an allergic reaction to an antibiotic that he had taken.

"He is under observation and will be discharged tonight. He is much better now and recuperating," the spokesperson said.

"Hrithik's Guzaarish released this Friday and the actor was busy with promotions. He was supposed to attend a promotional event and took the medicine before leaving. But, he had an allergic reaction," sources close to the actor said.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old actor explaining his condition said, "Doctors confirmed that I experienced allergic reaction to an antibiotic. My lungs just closed. Throat went into spasm, could not breathe. Lips became 10 times their size. I was rushed to the hospital on time. I am under observation and will be discharged late night. But all good." Striking a positive note, the actor said, "I am now celebrating from here (hospital bed). No difference." — PTI

Couple Dance

Jimi Mistry Jimi Mistry, the Indian origin star of Hollywood flicks like The Guru and 2012 is reportedly romancing Flavia Cacace, his partner in the reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing. The Italian-born dancer was photographed enjoying an intimate evening with Jimi Mistry after they attended a fashion gala together.

The couple, who were kicked off the BBC Saturday night series two weeks ago, were guests at the 20th Annual Drapers Fashion Awards in London.

The couple were keen to avoid the bank of photographers waiting at the front of the building and asked organisers to let them go in through a back entrance so they weren't pictured arriving together.

The 37-year-old actor has been single since ending his marriage to wife Meg Leonard nearly four years ago and has a nine-year-old daughter.

Cacace meanwhile has a long history of romancing her dance partners.

In 2007, she broke off her 11-year relationship with Vincent Simone to begin a romance with former Eastenders actor Matt Di Angelo, her partner on Strictly.

She broke up with Angelo two months ago, citing work overload and distances.

"It was due to our work, travelling so much and being away from home so much. We are still in touch and very good friends," said the 31-year-old dancer. — PTI

Spotlight on Rahman

Oscar winning musical maestro A R Rahman headlined a spectacle of colour, sound and light to round off a week of celebrations in South Africa to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured Indians in the country.

It was a Bollywood show like no other seen in South Africa since top artistes began touring the country from the early 1990's after nearly four decades of boycott as a part of India's ant-apartheid policy.

Rahman shared the spotlight with the colourful troupe of singers and dancers in the non-stop roller-coaster of fast-paced song and dance.

Patriotic songs featured prominently in the show, with a special short message by Rahman wishing the locals well on the anniversary as he sang the song Ye Desh. There were loud cheers from the audience as Rahman indicated that the song was for all of them.

But the largest applause was reserved for his rendition of the hit song, Khwaja Mere Khwaja from the film Jodhaa Akbar. Even the cheers at the finale with Rahman's international anthem 'Jai Ho' were not as huge. — PTI

Arnold coming back?

Arnold Schwarzenegger Hollywood action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning a comeback to the big screen after his reign as Governor of California ends in January 2011.The actor-turned-politician whose tenure as Governor will end next year is weighing his options for the future and a return to his action star days could be a possibility.

"It could be that fighting climate change would be the main thing. It could also be that it would be one of five things that I would do. It could be showbusiness. It could be business in general," said the 63-year-old actor.

The Terminator star who made a cameo is Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables earlier this year saw success in movies, politics and bodybuilding. "My whole life I was always very ambitious but I was smart enough to always look, what is my talent, what do I have to offer the world? Then you go with that," he said. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is currently launching a global war on climate change and has already chalked out a plan as it is difficult to interest people in environmental issues. "People get stuck and fall in love with their slogans and with their little agendas. You've got to make it hip. You've got to make it sexy to be part of this movement." "I think that I have the talent of speaking the language in such a way so that the world understands it rather than making it complicated," he added. — PTI

Teri not so desperate

Teri Hatcher Hollywood star Teri Hatcher has quit her leading role in the cult hit TV series Desperate Housewives, throwing the show's future into jeopardy. The 45-year-old actor, who has played ditsy mother Susan Mayer for seven years, has told colleagues at ABC that the next season will be her last.

Bosses at the US network are now prepared for a double exit with co-star Felicity Huffman following Hatcher out of the show. "Teri has given in her notice and is making active preparations to move on. She has another production deal in the pipeline that she wants to start work on immediately after she finishes Desperate Housewives," said a source.

But while bosses are keen to keep the hit show running for at least two more seasons, insiders say the drama, set on the fictional suburban street Wisteria Lane, won't work without Hatcher, meaning that the next season will be the last. The show's creator, Marc Cherry, signed a deal with ABC Studios last October which gave the show a stay of execution for two years providing that its leading cast members, including Hatcher, Eva Longoria Parker and Felicity Huffman, remained happily onboard. But all three will be out of contract after next season. — PTI

Who’s afraid of werewolf?

Bronson Pelletier Twilight star Bronson Pelletier was attacked by a group of drunken men during a film convention in Birmingham, England. The 24-year-old Canadian, who plays werewolf tribe member Jared in the film franchise, was left with a broken nose after allegedly being struck, headbutted and put into a headlock.

"Bronson was really angry and upset... These guys were very nasty. They were so drunk they probably didn't even realise they were picking on a Hollywood actor," a source as said. "The convention was full of teenage girls and geeks desperate to see their Twilight heroes so no one expected this sort of trouble," the source said.

Pelleteir, who has starred in New Moon, Eclipse and is in the Breaking Dawn duo of films, was attacked in the toiletAn organiser of the event at Birmingham's Hilton Metropole Hotel who tried to intervene was also assaulted.

The four alleged attackers had been attending a wedding reception at the hotel holding the conference and were arrested by police officers. Two men were released and two were bailed in connection with the crime.

A spokesperson for the West Midlands Police Force confirmed that one of the gang was restrained after the deployment of a Taser gun, and all four were eventually arrested on suspicion of assault.

Two were then released without charge, while the other half of the group were granted bail pending further questioning. — ANI

Engag(e)ing talk

Simon Cowell and Mezhgan Hussainy Simon Cowell's fiancee Mezhgan Hussainy has rubbished rumours that she and the media mogul have split. Friends of the music mogul say he has become increasingly cool towards his relationship with the make-up artist and one close confidante even revealed it was 'definitely over'.

But Hussainy has denied the rumours. "I still love him and he says he still loves me and we are still engaged — as far as I know," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying. "Of course I miss him. It's not easy being apart and even one day apart is hard when you are in love. But he's got his work in England and I've got my work here in Los Angeles," she added. The 37-year-old said she was aware of speculation that the couple has broken up. "I don't know where these stories are coming from. It's as if when you're engaged you can't spend a moment apart or people think you've broken up," she said.

"That's nonsense. We are still in love and still planning on getting married. I am still living here as you can see," Hussainy added. One friend said Hussainy would move out of the 11,500 sq ft mansion, just off the Sunset Strip, once Cowell returned to Hollywood. "I doubt you will see them out together again. When he next goes over to LA, she won't be there," the friend said. Cowell's mother, Julie, whom he once described as 'the one woman in the world I am closest to', appeared to confirm the split, saying, "It's a break at the moment. The problem with Simon is that he works too hard. I think the engagement was too quick." — ANI

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