Comment: Pandora

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The Independent Culture
EARLIER THIS year, the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris called for the introduction of condom machines into the Palace of Westminster. Inevitably controversy followed his remark. When he agreed to host a dinner for London International Group plc, he somehow failed to notice the theme for the evening. He found himself being questioned about condom machines at the dinner last week, and braced himself for heavy criticism. But, lo and behold, the audience was extremely enthusiastic about his proposal. Only when he had sat down did Harris learn that he was hosting a supper meeting of the "International Standards Committee for Mechanical Contraceptives". Quite literally, he was among Mates.

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LAST YEAR, at the annual Greenpeace Business Conference, Peter Knight, an environmental journalist, told the gathering that they were so dull they "must be on the wrong sort of Prozac". This year, Greenpeace retaliated by making him its chairman. At London's Marriott Hotel last week, Knight opened the evening by remarking: "I didn't realise how much time Greenpeace campaigners spent in sex shops. How else do they get those handcuffs and leather straps to tie themselves to all those oil platforms and fences?" According to John Sullivan, a campaign director for Greenpeace, Knight was merely showing how out-of-touch he was: "I don't know what happened when John was active, 20 years ago, but these days we use chains bought at hardware stores." This interesting debate suggests to Pandora that the group still needs to adjust its Prozac dosage.

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FORGET SOUTH African racism. In Johannesburg, The New York Times's new female bureau chief has just declared that the country is one of the most sexist countries on earth. Writing in yesterday's paper, Suzanne Daley recounted her experience of moving into her new home/office. After supervising the removal men all day, she was asked by the foreman, who needed a signature on his job sheet: "Where's the boss?" "I'm the boss," declared the journalist. "No," said the foreman. "I mean the master." Later, at the bank, Daley learnt that there was no such thing as a joint account. Any account would have to be in her husband's name, and he could withdraw his permission for her to use it at any time, without notice. What makes this especially galling for Ms Daley is that she is her husband's boss; he is a correspondent in her bureau. However, his reaction was not reported.

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AMERICAN MARKETING hucksters have now discovered the Zippergate scandal. Head, the well known ski and tennis equipment manufacturer, had approved a new ad campaign featuring a Monica Lewinsky lookalike on her knees, wearing a beret and a blindfold, under the slogan "Superior Performance". A substantial sum was offered to Ms Lewinsky, but her lawyers informed the company that she was not interested in giving permission for her likeness to be used - at any price. Obviously, the girl's got some taste.

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HAVE YOU always dreamed of going to Hollywood, of picking up one of those six-figure cheques for your original screenplay idea? Thanks to the Internet, you can pitch your idea direct to a top Hollywood producer. Robert Kosberg, whose credits include 12 Monkeys and the Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando, and who was recently named one of Hollywood's 100 most influential people, has set up a website, MoviePitch.com, where he welcomes film ideas. "The more ideas you have, the better," he says. Before Kosberg will accept your idea, however, you have to purchase an instructional "how to" CD-Rom from him for $20 (pounds 12). Those guys don't miss a trick.

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OF COURSE, the length of time Hollywood takes to turn an idea into a finished film is notorious. A glaring example was revealed in Daily Variety, with the announcement that yet another Orson Welles script (adding to those mentioned in yesterday's Independent on Sunday), written in 1941, is to go into production. Called The Way To Santiago, it is a thriller about a man with amnesia who finds himself in the middle of a revolution in an unknown country. Why it has taken so long to get the film made is partially explained by the nasty memos found with the screenplay. They are angry exchanges between Welles (pictured) and his studio bosses. These days, presumably, they would all be

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