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Tapping for literature

Christy Nolan, the disabled 1987 Whitbread Book of the Year Award winner who can only write by tapping a typewriter with a rod strapped to his head, has completed a new 120,000-word epic, entitled The Banyan Tree, after 11 years work. Nolan's prize-winning first book was his autobiography, Under the Eye of the Clock. Weidenfeld and Nicholson has paid pounds 100,000 for the British rights to his debut novel, the story of several generations of an Irish family which they will publish in June next year. Managing Director Ion Trewin called it "Joycean".

Microsoft wordiness

The software giant Microsoft surprised commentators this week when it announced plans to produce a somewhat traditional publication - a dictionary. The corporation is collaborating with British publisher Bloomsbury, the US-based St Martin's Press and Pan Macmillan Australia to produce the Encarta World English Dictionary, to be available next year in electronic and print formats. The companies have been working together for three years on the dictionary, which will include more than three million words. Microsoft is billing the publication as: "the first World English Dictionary" because editions in American and British English are being produced from a single database.

Something in the air

A bizarre range of broadcasting problems were experienced by television stations around the world last week. According to Variety magazine, cable operators in India went on a nation-wide strike for a day in protest against the killing of Ram Punjabi, senior executive of Indian Cable company INCablenet, who was shot in Bombay on September 20. Police suspect business rivalry between competing cable operators was the motive for the murder. Meanwhile in Santiago, Chile, where broadcasters have been forced to cut back their output, the economic crisis in Latin America is only partly to blame. A dry southern winter has led to a shortage of hydroelectric power, a condition that leads to reductions in the country's transmission time. And in Slovakia, the budget of commercial broadcasters Markiza TV has been set back by a 3.5m Slovak Crown (pounds 75,000) fine imposed by the Slovak Broadcasting Council for breaking the media law and its licensing conditions for a 24-hour live transmission of a rally near the station's studios. This disrupted the regular broadcast schedule.

Warhol finds God

A new book, The Religious Art of Andy Warhol by Jane Daggett Dillenberger, is to be published in November. The author discloses that the late American pop artist, who discreetly followed the Roman Catholic faith, devoted a good deal of time during the last years of his life to painting 70 pictures inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Later this month, two Warhol portraits of the Prince and Princess of Wales, painted in 1982, are expected to fetch up to pounds 140,000 at an auction of 20th-century art at Christie's in London. The pieces are typical Warhol portraits based on photographs (in this case those formally issued at the time of the royal wedding) to which the artist applied his familiar silkscreen process.

The Sony also rises

Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced the creation of a new unit which will make films exclusively for Asian audiences. The news follows the creation by Sony of similar divisions in the UK, Germany and Brazil. The new business, to be based in Hong Kong, will be called "Columbia Picture Film Production Asia" headed by Barbara Robinson, who worked on several notable films such as Raise the Red Lantern, which received an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film in 1991.

Lottery developments

Nearly pounds 23m was spent last year on administering Arts Council Lottery awards in England, over twice that spent by the Heritage Lottery Fund in distributing a similar pounds 300m a year over the whole of the UK. The largest share of the arts budget, pounds 8.4m, went on fees to application assessors, pounds 1.6m was consumed by professional fees (mostly that of lawyers), and pounds 1.8m returned to the Government in the form VAT. One theatre director spent two and a half years working on a rejected bid for up to pounds 26.5m to redevelop and restore the Hackney Empire.

Ah, Mr Bond

ITV has secured the exclusive UK television rights to all James Bond movies in a deal with MGM Television. Tomorrow Never Dies is included in the deal and its transmission will represent the first time that a Bond film has premiered on free-to-air television since the introduction of satellite services in the UK. Meanwhile, ITV has concluded another broadcasting deal - the disc jockey Jonathan King has collaborated with network executives to develop Record of the Year 1998, the first pop awards show for which results are exclusively decided by viewers. Short-listed acts will be judged by either a live performance or their video. The results will be shown later the same evening.

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