'I wasn't supposed to have become a musician," says the 63-year-old Latvian-born cellist, Mischa Maisky, in a thick Baltic accent. "With two older siblings already studying music, my mother wanted me to be 'normal'."
In fact, he was anything but. "I was a hyper-active child, running around all the time playing football and never sitting still for a moment, so it came as a great surprise when I suddenly announced I wanted to play the cello."
Darren Aronofsky became fascinated by madness - specifically paranoid schizophrenia - while working on first feature film, Pi. Set among New York's Orthodox Jewish community, its main character, Max Cohen, is a troubled number theorist who believes he may have discovered the numerical code which can explain everything in Creation, and ends up taking a power drill to his head in what must be one of the few scenes of self-trepanning in cinema history.
You can hope, but I don't think you can plan for it. That would be dangerous," says wise James Bierman about success.
Bierman knows a lot about the subject. As executive producer of the Donmar Warehouse he oversaw and was largely responsible for the theatre's greatest era - a period so great that it even overshadowed Sam Mendes's tenure in the job, and Mendes managed to persuade Nicole Kidman to appear at the 250-seat Covent Garden venue.
Those heady days seem relatively tame compared to the heights reached by the Donmar under Bierman, and the artistic director Michael Grandage.
What's eating Stacey Solomon? In the past few weeks, the Dagenham diva emerged triumphant from the Australian jungle as winner of I'm a Celebrity… and made an emotional return to the X Factor. She is widely feted for her bubbly girl-next-door naturalness and generally regarded as the nation's sweetheart. Everything in the garden should be rosy. So what's the problem?
First of all she has had enough of reality TV. Then she is anxious about her employment prospects and craves a steady job. And to cap it all, she has got a bone to pick with Simon Cowell.
Every journalist hopes he can make predictions that, eventually, come true. Remarkably, as it may now appear, I made one in my first month as a junior reporter. I was sent to review a production by an amateur dramatic group in a Luton school hall. What I wrote was a few simple sentences: "The best performance of the evening came from a man who should think of becoming a professional. If he does, he's going to go places. His name, Ron Moody."
Carl Davis has spent the past half-century specialising mainly in music for film and television, creating characterful and beautiful scores that often have helped to carry the movies they enhance to legendary status.
A warning goes out to those visiting Michael Codron. To get to London's longest-serving producer, whose office sits at the very top of the Aldwych Theatre, you have to climb the kind of spiralling stairway that takes you to the top of castles or to the bottom of Tube stations. There are enough steps to take you past many of the framed posters that publicised some of the 200 shows that Codron has put on since he started producing in 1956.
ITV's decision to drop The South Bank Show earlier this year was greeted with dismay by arts lovers who worried that British TV was in danger of becoming a culture-free zone. The good news is that the strand is to be revived on a satellite channel next year. The even better news is that fans can relive some of its greatest moments with a show at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Many of us might be tempted to throw a party for our 50th birthday, but not Robert Cohen. The celebrated British cellist had a better idea - he asked the composer, Sally Beamish, to write him a new work.
It is a concerto, entitled The Song Gatherer, that draws inspiration directly from Cohen's Polish and South African Jewish family background. The substantial half-hour piece was a co-commission between the Minnesota Orchestra and the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, where Cohen will give its UK premiere on December 2.