THE BUSINESS

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The Independent Culture
Splish splash. What American preview audiences have been saying about Kevin Costner's $150m sci-fi epic Waterworld: "Mad Max in the bath", "book your seats in the shallow end", "why didn't they pull the plug?", "bigger than the Atlantic and just as wet". After three flops in a row, his marriage in tatters (she's asking for nearly as much as the movie cost), and what looks like a final breach with director and best friend Kevin Reynolds, it remains to be seen if Costner's A-list membership has run out. Waterworld, meanwhile, is a camp classic. Swim to a cinema near you on 11 August...

Bang bang, you're cast: how did the Lyric Hammersmith maestro Neil Bartlett land the always booked up Joanna Lumley for his September production of Somerset Maugham's The Letter? By ringing her and asking her if she wanted to play a woman who pumps six bullets into her lover and gets away with it. Naturally, she said yes...

Sisters under the armour: the poet Sophie Hannah, author of The Hero and The Girl Next Door, and one of the winners of the 1995 Eric Gregory awards, was asked last week to appear on London's all-woman radio station, Viva! 963m. She said yes, though she was told she wouldn't be paid.

The researcher then asked Hannah for a copy of her book, so the poems she'd read on air could be chosen.

She said she'd post a copy first class the next day. She was told to post it first class that night. She posted the book.

Hannah rang two days later and asked about the poems, so she could practise. Everyone was too busy to read poems, dear. Just turn up on the day.

Hannah turns up at the studio. She is ignored by her fellow guests, transsexual songbird Jayne Country, ex-Sun women's editor Ingrid Miller, and the presenter, Magenta DeVine, even when she tries to discuss the poems she is going to read. Finally, she's informed that she's also going to take part in the studio discussion.

The studio discussion lasts an hour. Hannah is not given a microphone, is not asked any questions, is not invited to contribute. After the discussion, Hannah asks if it's all right to leave. She's told it is. She says goodbye. No one bothers to reply. Or even thank her for coming. Hannah leaves.

And the subject that Hannah was invited to speak on? How badly men treat women in professional life - especially in the media.

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