The Diary: Mona Lisa; Stewart Copeland; Bright Star; Looking For Eric; twins at the Tate Modern

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The Independent Culture

Come up smiling

The 'Mona Lisa' nearly came to a watery end in 1963 when it was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to 'The Art Newspaper'. Fire sprinklers were accidentally set off and the portrait was splashed for hours, according to Thomas Hoving, a former director of the Met, who has revealed this worrying nugget in his memoir, serialised on artnet.com. The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece was sprinkled for several hours. Mr Hoving remembers: "I dashed to the [storeroom] to study my gorgeous acquisition, only to find that Murray Pease, the head of the conservation studio, and his assistant Kate Lefferts, [and] the officials from the Louvre in charge of the Leonardo portrait were rushing around with towels... some time during the night one of the fire sprinklers in the ceiling broke its glass ampoule and the masterpiece of painting and the masterwork of ivory carving had both been... rained upon."

Back in the arena

Stewart Copeland, former bandmember of the Police, says he had been returned to his original love of Middle Eastern music in his new job as the composer of the £5m stage production of 'Ben Hur Live' at O2 (opening in September), which retells the swords-and-sandals epic set in the time of Jesus Christ. "I loved Stravinsky and ethnic elements but forgot about that stuff in my power-rock days with the Police," he says.

Good ode days

Poetry is set to become sexy all over again (if it ever wasn't), according to the team behind Jane Campion's new film, 'Bright Star', which tells the story of the poet, John Keats and his love affair with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, and stars Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish. An insider tells me that, "There is a lot of poetry in it. There is one scene where the two of them just sit and say alternate lines of Keats's poetry to each other."

Eric's still seeing red

Ken Loach's new film, 'Looking for Eric', which will have its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday (18 May) was inspired by a real-life obsessive fan who befriended the enigmatic French footballer Eric Cantona during his days with a Premiership English team. Cantona went to Loach with his story about Gary King, who did the "unthinkable" and left Leeds United FC to suppport Manchester United FC when Cantona moved teams. Mr King soon became fast friends with Cantona and this film idea was the Frenchman's homage to this everyman. Sadly, Loach's team rejected the story but worked it into the quirky comedy that is now running in competition at Cannes.

Twins put in the spotlight

Tate Modern is putting out a "wanted" plea to all twins who would be willing to take part in a "re-creation" of a Damien Hirst artwork for its exhibition, Pop Life: Art in a Material World, to be staged from 1 October until 17 January 2010. The gallery is hoping to replicate the performance that was first unveiled at the 1992 Cologne Art Fair, in which Hirst placed sets of twins in front of his spot paintings, including Ingo and Torsten. "We're recreating this and we are looking for applicants," said Catherine Wood, the show's curator.

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