Signings of the times
The end of conventional book tours is nigh, if a new online platform backed by the authors Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman catches on. Called iDoLVine, it "virtualises the book tour" by allowing authors to remotely sign hard-copy books and e-books from anywhere in the world. Atwood, who with the other authors will be launching the gizmo at North American book fair BookExpo America, which starts on Monday, has previously experimented with a robotic pen, which allows remote signings of hard-copy books by mimicking an author's autograph. According to Atwood, iDoLVine will incorporate such technology but will also allow e-book signings. "The technology is incredibly complex," she tells me. "We use 40 per cent of our brains when we sign something. As children, we can learn to follow stories very easily, but learning to write is somewhat harder." Atwood has overseen its development in a "garage in Toronto" and says its use can extend to the signing of album covers. The author was in London this week to promote British Library's science fiction exhibition Out of This World.
The look of love
The television historian David Starkey has revealed the secrets of how he holds his lingering gaze on TV cameras with such enthusiasm. "It's like oral sex," he told an audience at the Mall Galleries this week. Starkey was there to discuss the experience of having his portrait painted by June Mendoza, at an event publicising the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Starkey's portrait appears in the show. "There is no other way of accounting for such an artificial gaze which you wouldn't normally do in real life." He was less complimentary about sitting for Mendoza, which he said was "like going to the dentist". Mendoza was more enthusiastic about the pundit, describing him as a "pussycat" to paint.
Lost and found
A bizarre story, courtesy of the Hoxton Square gallery KK Outlet. A press release landed in journalists' inboxes this week advertising the gallery's latest show, The Lost Collection. Its aim is to exhibit works of art lost by people on the Tube, which Transport for London has donated to the exhibitors. On Tuesday, articles appeared in newspapers relating to the lost portfolio of one Régis Gautier-Cochfert, whose collection of photography is one of the show's exhibits. A spokesperson for the gallery said it had attempted to contact Gautier-Cochfert, but had no joy. Except, if you Google his name, Gautier-Cochfert is an arts programme manager at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. So is it a PR stunt? Apparently not, says Gautier-Cochfert. "I thought it was a bit ludicrous when I contacted Transport for London last year and received the standard response saying my work was lost," he says. "It's bizarre. But I don't mind so much that they're inefficient. The main thing is that it's been found."
Of mice and method
David Blair, best known for his directorial work on Jimmy McGovern's The Street, has turned his gaze to another gritty drama, the feature film Best Laid Plans, which is being sold in the Cannes market. The picture, starring This Is England '86 actor Stephen Graham and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, recently wrapped filming in Nottingham. The film is a "love story" between two friends, Danny (Graham) and Joseph (Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and is loosely based on John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Apparently, Akinnuoye-Agbaje has been raising eyebrows on set, by employing method acting and staying in character between scenes. This is particularly unnerving, say his co-stars, since he is 6ft 2, 43 years old, and is playing a character with the mind of a seven-year-old.
Something for amateur historians out there: a new film billed as "War and Peace in Portugal", which dramatises events during the third French invasion of Portugal in 1810-1811. "It was Napoleon's first great defeat," says the film's producer, Paulo Branco, who was promoting it in Cannes. "We have a great actor tipped for the central part." And presumably a small actor.