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Gerry O'Carroll: Brangelina saga reminds me how I gave star's dad a voice

I'm not one to take up the role of gossip columnist, but you can't ignore news of the reported break-up of the world's biggest celebrity couple, Brangelina.

In fact, I'm taking more interest that most, because of a personal connection to the whole saga.

A few years back I worked on the movie The General, based on Paul Williams' best-selling book.

I was the technical adviser and voice coach to Angelina's father, Oscar winner Jon Voight.

We became good friends and that friendship has endured to this day.

In one instance I remember he sent me a pair of insoles, from the States, after I had spent a couple of days during the shoot complaining of sore feet.

We often discussed his talented, but wayward daughter, Angelina, from whom he was then estranged.

That was a source of deep hurt to Jon, who was a highly sensitive man.

He certainly didn't approve of her marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, and her often bizarre wild child behaviour at that time.

But he was always proud of his beautiful and talented daughter.

Jon and Angelina subsequently reconciled, and have no doubt, he'll be a rock to her during this latest turbulence with Brad Pitt.

Put this white elephant to good use for our children

Have you heard the one about the white elephant in the Park?

It's not in Dublin Zoo but is just up the road. I'm talking about Farmleigh House, the official guesthouse for visiting foreign dignitaries.

Well, two of them at least, last year.

And it costs around €3m a year to run, with a staff of 40.

The hundreds of thousands of people on the dole must be shaking their heads in disbelief, disgust and anger when they read about the money splurged on the building.

This was Bertie Ahern's Taj Mahal in the Park, a monument to OTT, money-no-object excess which is becoming a symbol of the Celtic Tiger era when we lost the run of ourselves.

We cannot afford such an institution in the face of an economic crisis. Close it down, or convert it into a site for the new children's hospital. I couldn't think of a better location.

News that Bill's staying on the TV is okey doke by me

We recently lost the much loved 'voice of rugby' for the BBC -- Bill McLaren.

His soft but crystal-clear commentary has been greatly missed by sports fans since he retired in 2002.

But, thankfully, there there was some good news to lift the spirits this week, with the revelation that RTE sports anchor Bill O'Herlihy (left) has decided to keep on working until at least 2012, chairing the likes of Giles and Dunphy on soccer panels.

His new contract will bring him up to the age of 73. Fair play Bill, here's to two more good years.


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