Michael Flatley and the Life of Luxury

Michael Flatley and Castlehyde the focus of a "Life of Luxury" ABC television special.

November 8, 2004

Michael Flatley and his homes -- Castlehyde in Fermoy, the Langtry house in London, and Masquerade in Villefranche-sur-Mer -- were profiled on the ABC-TV show "Life of Luxury", hosted by American TV and film personality George Hamilton.

The segment, appropriately titled "Dance Class", was only six minutes long; it was the lead segment for the 2004 premiere of the show's second season. Other celebrities appearing in this episode included hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, wine experts Tim Kopec, Jeff Smith and Jean-France Mercier, celebrity jewelers Chris Aire and Jacob Arabo, and competitive shoppers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, plus visits to Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion and Isabel Goldsmith's Las Alamandas resort.

A note on the show transcript: most of the images appear in very fast sequences of very short cuts, with the bouncy pop-music soundtrack from "Life of Luxury" playing and George Hamilton doing voice-over narration. A few videoclips from Michael's shows are used, apparently chosen at random; Ronan Hardiman's music is not heard during these, only the "Life of Luxury" soundtrack. Most of the narrative consists of Hamilton's voice-overs, with a few very short scenes in which he and Michael exchange a sentence or two.

Many of the interior and exterior images of the three homes have been seen before, notably in OK magazine (the London house), VIP magazine (Masquerade), and the Irish press coverage on Castlehyde earlier this year. More attention has been paid in this transcript to describing images that have not previously been made public.


The segment begins directly after the show's opening credits. George Hamilton stands between the sunken hot tub and the pool at Masquerade (Michael's home in southern France), with the view over the Mediterranean behind him.

Hamilton: He is known to millions of fans the world over as the Lord of the Dance, but in three of the world's most beautiful locations, Michael Flatley is simply known as (exaggerated imitation British accent) "the Lord of the Manor"!

Credits shot with text reading:



Very brief videoclip of "Firedance" in Budapest, then clips of "Planet Ireland" at Hyde Park showing Michael and his dancers, the cheering crowd, then a shot from "Celtic Fire" at Hyde Park.

Hamilton voice-over: He's tapped, stomped and shuffled his way into the hearts of millions. Michael Flatley single-handedly turned Irish line dancing into a billion-dollar empire.

Exterior shot of a helicopter flying over the Irish hills.

Hamilton voice-over: And when you have an empire, you'd better have a castle.

Interior shot of the helicopter, showing Michael pointing out the window.

Michael: There's the old castle up ahead . . .

Exterior shot of Castlehyde from the air, then of Castlehyde and the Blackwater River from the lawns.

Hamilton voice-over: Nestled in the County of Cork, Ireland, this fifty-thousand-square-foot nineteenth-century mansion sits along the Darkwater River on two hundred acres.

Exterior shot of the two standing on the steps at the front of Castlehyde.

Hamilton: (directly to Michael) What does the land mean to you?

As Michael speaks, a montage of shots from the Castlehyde grounds: a country road, an antique cannon by the river under a tall flagpole flying the Irish tricolour, Castlehyde and the surrounding trees and green lawn, the front façade of Castlehyde again showing the fountain.

Michael: Ireland is where I'm from. It's who I am; it's where my parents were born. If I don't have this land, I'm nobody.

Cut to the two walking by the river, Michael swinging his blackthorn walking stick. As he speaks, another montage shows Castlehyde from the outside with a steep rocky cliff looming above it, then cuts to Michael sitting indoors talking. These seated shots were filmed later, in the library at the London house; Michael is in a leather chair with a framed photo on a shelf behind him.

Michael: It's a terrific historical property. It was the first home of the first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde. And it was also owned by the Guinness family.

Series of shots of hallways papered in red, a beautifully proportioned room with rounded walls and arched windows papered in rich blue, rooms with wood paneling, marble floors, doorways with elaborate pediments, a large bath suite with two footed tubs and a ceiling panted with floral motifs. Nearly every room has a fireplace, including the bath.

Hamilton voice-over: Currently, it's under renovation. With this three-thousand-square-foot bedroom suite (it's larger than the average American home) --

Montage continues through a vast bricked cellar and rows of wine bottles, a room with rich wood paneling and a polished bar facing another fireplace, concluding with a pan through the library, from empty shelves set into the walls, up the spiral staircase to the wood-railed second level and the high ceiling.

Hamilton voice-over: -- fifty-thousand-bottle wine cellar, home theatre, pub room, and two-story library.

Shot from above shows Michael gesturing around the empty Castlehyde library.

Michael: This is where we keep all the first editions, and my desk is here - it's kind of an office as well.

Close-up of gilded detailing, shot of Michael gesturing around the main hall, pan up the grand staircase with the ceiling murals above.

Hamilton voice-over: Apparently money is no object; he's already poured some sixty million dollars into the renovation!

Exterior shots of Michael and Hamilton on the lawn outside Castlehyde; interior shot of the fountain through a main hall window.

Michael: All the windows needed replacing, 'cause they're over two hundred years old - it took over three months and cost me about a half a million pounds.

A cash register sound effect is heard as "$1,000,000.00" scrolls onto the screen.

Hamilton voice-over: That's close to one million dollars - just for windows!

Exterior, then interior shot of Grindles pub in Ballyhooley; Michael toasts the other people cheerfully. He is standing
behind the bar, pulling a Guinness for a bemused Hamilton..

Hamilton voice-over: But Flatley didn't come from money. He was born on the working-class side of Chicago and both danced and boxed his way off the streets.

Shot of Michael talking to Hamilton in the pub cuts to Michael sitting in the chair again, talking earnestly.

Michael: . . . just a skinny little Irish kid in a real tough neighbourhood; and we grew up fast, we had no choice.

Shot of the interior of the gym in the London house; Hamilton points to a photo on the wall of Michael in boxing gear.

Hamilton: It warns us about your, your prowess as a boxer.

Close-up of the boxing photo fades to Michael sitting again.

Michael: We learned if you're willing to work really hard, you can achieve anything.

Cut back to Ireland, outside Castlehyde: Michael walking by the Blackwater, swinging his stick and talking energetically on his cell phone.

Hamilton voice-over: And Flatley is constantly working. On this phone call alone, he negotiated an eight-figure deal!

Videoclip fragments of Michael, Daire and Helen in "Dangerous Game" from LOTD.

Hamilton voice-over: There are books, videos and film projects in the works. But it's franchising and touring Lord of the Dance in over fifty countries that's made him a personal fortune of around seven hundred million dollars!

The cash register sound effect is heard as "$700,000,000.00" scrolls onto the screen.

Cut back to Michael sitting in the London library.

Michael: Any artist in today's world that doesn't pay attention to his own business is a fool.

Cut back to the Castlehyde lawn; Michael talking to the press at the March 31 press conference.

Hamilton voice-over: Yet something is missing. While we were in Ireland, Flatley announced the break-up with his fiancée. That's right, ladies - he's single. And looking!

The Castlehyde whiskey room, with its leather chairs and octagonal inlaid "chessboard" table; Michael examines a selection of bottles.

Michael: This is 1828 . . .

Michael pouring out glasses; Michael and Hamilton seated in the whiskey room.

Hamilton voice-over: Over a glass of seventy-five-hundred-dollar a bottle cognac, I found out what kind of lady he's looking for.

Michael: Mostly I'd be looking for somebody who's intelligent; and who is loyal, likes to travel and have fun . . .

Michael bounding up the steps to the private jet; interior shot of jet showing Michael and Hamilton dining in flight; exterior shots of the London house.

Hamilton voice-over: And for the right lady, life will be good. There are the private jets and the fabulous cars and the homes. Yes, homes!

Interior montage of the London house: the master bedroom, living room and den; shot of false bookcase opening to reveal giant plasma TV screen; sitting nook with thick carpet worked with the "MF" monogram.

Hamilton voice-over: This ten-thousand-square-foot, eight-bedroom, thirty-million-dollar mansion in London's posh Little Venice is home base.

Interior of swimming pool room in the London house, showing the pool flanked by a large white marble staircase, green marble columns, glimpses of elaborate murals of classical ruins, castles, and bridges.

Michael: All this dates back to when Lillie Langtry owned the house, and they put in all these murals and the swimming pool - we just restored it all.

The gym at the London house; Hamilton, in suit and tie, settling into a tanning bed.

Hamilton: You don't mind if I just try this out, do you? (Michael laughs.) This feels like home to me. (Michael laughs harder.)

The London dining room, with the table laid as for a formal dinner for ten. Michael and Hamilton are seated at opposite ends.

Michael: (sotto voce to his butler, handing him two wine bottles from a selection on the table) Would you ask Mr. Hamilton if he prefers the '61 Château Lafite Rothschild or the '82 Latour, please?

Butler: Absolutely.

Hamilton voice-over: (as the butler proceeds to the other end of the table) Forget "Lord"; this is a home fit for a King!

Hamilton: (whispering to the butler) The '82 Lafite is fantastic, so if it's all right with you, I'll just keep this one, and we can serve the other one. Thank you. (takes a bottle and hides it in his coat)

Butler: Absolutely. (glances towards Michael to share the joke)

Montage of interior shots: the master bedroom is papered in dark blue; the bed has a large carved headboard, the mink bedspread, and cushions showing black Celtic knotwork patterns on white.

Hamilton voice-over: There's mink on the bed -

The camera pans through the dressing room, which includes four closets and a central table; a dress form at one end displays the red beaded and sequined jacket from the 2000 and 2001 "Feet of Flames" tours. Close-up of eight watches laid out on an Irish lace table runner.

- a closet full of Brioni shirts (at an average of four hundred dollars a pop), a selection of Cartier watches, clocking in at up to fifty thousand dollars apiece -

Close-up of some sixteen assorted wood concert flutes, mostly blackwood with silver fittings; flute music is heard and the camera pulls back to show Michael standing by the table of flutes, playing a passage from "Whispering Wind" on yet another flute.

- and this collection of rare flutes, each valued at at least eighty thousand dollars -

Exterior shots of the Rolls driving through London; extreme close-ups of details of the Rolls -- headlights, hood ornament, grille.

- and a five-hundred-thousand-dollar Rolls-Royce Phantom, the latest in his impressive collection.

Shot of Hamilton grinning and waving as he gets out of the car; cut back to Michael seated in the London library.

Michael: I've got a couple of Rolls; Bentley; I've got a nice vintage Jaguar, a ragtop, that I like - it's an old one, but it's a beauty.

Hamilton: (directly to Michael) When was the moment you knew you'd made it?

Michael: In '97, I think it was - Lord of the Dance hit the Oscars one year, (videoclip fragments of "Firedance" from Gold) and we got a standing ovation. That was a really, really big thing for us. Shortly afterwards, when I bought this home in the south of France --

Cut to shot of the pool at Masquerade and the view out over the Mediterranean. Michael's voice continues.

Michael voice-over: -- and I came downstairs, out to the pool, and looked at the view; and I remember blessing myself and saying, "This is it. You made it."

Montage: Michael and Hamilton driving the coast road in Provence; the front entrance of Masquerade; interior shot panning past the dining room to the grand piano; close-up of the "MF" monogram in the pool tiles; cut to view from the balcony overlooking the pool and out to sea.

Hamilton voice-over: Ooo la la! Just a short and scenic drive from Monte Carlo is this twelve-million-dollar, three-bedroom Mediterranean mansion overlooking Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat - some of the priciest real estate along the Côte d'Azur.

Michael and Hamilton stand on the deck by the pool; Michael gestures across and down the hill in front of them.

Michael: Well, Tina Turner's my neighbour up here - and Elton John - Enzo Ferrari - Givenchy lives down there - Bono from U2 lives there -

Cut to Michael and Hamilton seated on the balcony.

Michael: I've had some wicked parties here. (Hamilton laughs) Yeah, it's true. Most of the parties I have are black tie. I like - I think people should get dressed up when they go out, and why not?

Michael diving and swimming in the Caribbean; view of Barbados beach; Michael walking barefoot along the edge of the surf.

Hamilton voice-over: But if you think Flatley's about to chill on the hill, think again. He recently bought this Barbados beachfront strip, where he plans to put another fabulous vacation home!

Cut back to the London house: Michael and Hamilton sitting at a table stacked with books. Michael turns the pages of a portfolio of architectural drawings and designs.

Hamilton voice-over: Then there's this pot o' gold - an Irish-themed casino on the Las Vegas Strip!

The title page reads "Irish Empire" in Celtic uncial capitals illuminated with green knotwork interlace Other pages show a freestanding marble arched entrance topped by a statue of a reclining stag in front of palm trees; a tall hotel building; a grand hall with a vaulted ceiling; elegant dining and café areas.

Hamilton voice-over: He's just two years away from turning this dream into piles of green. At a cost of -

Hamilton: (directly to Michael) When it's all in, what do you figure?

Michael: I reckon about, somewhere around nine hundred million -

Hamilton: Nine hundred million dollars.

The cash register sound effect is heard again as "$900,000,000.00" scrolls onto the screen.

Cut back to Michael and Hamilton sitting and talking in the library.

Hamilton: When are you going to settle down and enjoy?

Michael: Well, that's a great question, George. It's never been about the houses. (shots of the Castlehyde front entrance, the Masquerade pool, the London house) It's never been about the cars. (shot of the Rolls; cut back to Michael sitting in the library) The old saying goes - it doesn't suck. You know. (Hamilton laughs) But it's not about that. You gotta enjoy every day while you're there.

Montage: Michael driving his silver sportscar in Provence; esterior shot of the London house; Michael swinging his blackthorn as he and Hamilton walk in front of Castlehyde; the Castlehyde front lawn; Michael and Hamilton clinking glasses in the Castlehyde whiskey room.

Hamilton voice-over: And thanks to a little luck of the Irish, that's exactly what he does.

Evening at Masquerade: the camera pans over the lit pool, the Mediterranean at dusk and the nighttime lights of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Michael and Hamilton stand by the pool in evening dress, glasses in hand.

Michael: George, this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. (They clink glasses.) God bless you, George.

• • •

Click here to read the complete ABC press release on "Life of Luxury".

Click here for the CelticCafeFLATLEY mail list/discussion group, the largest on the Web for fans of Michael Flatley, where one can find all the latest news and information relating to Michael Flatley and his professional endeavors, and here for the Celtic Cafe's MIKEroCosm, the special section of our website devoted to Michael Flatley and his troupes.

Bernadette Price
Transcript: Louise Owen
Original Web Design: Alexander Servas

MF arrives at Castlehyde
Wine Connoisseur
Press Conference
Press Conference
Michael with George Hamilton

George Hamilton

Michael at Castlehyde
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