Only In New York: Justice, Hollywood-style

CELEBRITIES these days are thrusting themselves into legal cases where they believe they see injustice. Busloads of them, including Woody Harrelson and Gloria Steinem, have joined the campaign to free Mumia Abu- Jamal, probably America's most famous Death Row inmate, whose execution date for killing a Philadelphia policeman is less than two weeks away. This week, meanwhile, should see the release from an upstate New York prison of Precious Bedell, sentenced to life in 1980 for crushing the skull of her two-year-old daughter in a restaurant toilet. If, as expected, Bedell's sentence is reduced and she walks free, she will have Glenn Close to thank. Close has been lobbying for her release for eight years. Not everyone is cheering, though. "Glenn Close should hang her head in shame", blared the New York Post yesterday.

I HAVE SOME sympathy with Victor Botnick, a one-time chief of the New York public hospital system, who was charged last Thursday with "interfering with the performance of a flight crew". Prosecutors allege that Botnick twice let off stink bombs beneath his first class seat on board a TWA aircraft travelling between New York and Paris. The first time was during the take-off of a Boeing 767 at Charles De Gaulle airport on 1 August last year. The stench was so bad, the plane had to return to the gate. All passengers and crew, their eyes watering, were evacuated and the flight was cancelled. Botnick is charged with repeating the prank on New York to Paris flight eight days later. Botnick evidently was displeased with TWA, something to do with botched reservations to Paris for his son's bar mitzvah.

I too have had my moments with TWA. The day I finally lost patience - the issue was missed connections in St Louis - I happened also to be travelling in first class. Having no stink bombs to hand, I simply drank too much wine and bored the poor woman next to me about my hatred for the airline. She listened politely. It was only after we had landed at La Guardia that she introduced me to the captain emerging through the cockpit door. He was a vice-president of TWA - and her husband.

I WILL remember interviewing Quentin Crisp last week, at his favourite Lower East Side diner, for a long time. They will be missing him now, where everyone knew his eating habits. We were mid-way through our interview when suddenly he raised his hand to point to the heavens. "Look, look at that," he said. "What is it?" The sky was brilliant blue and there, high above Manhattan, a message was being written out in white vapour. What was this aircraft trying to communicate? First it drew a large, fluffy, circle, then another. Finally, it puffed out an 'L'. There was no mistaking it, the plane had spelled out "LOO". What on earth? It was only as the pair of us began the very slow walk from the diner to the rooming house where Crisp lived that we saw the message being written out again. This time, it was to the south of us, rather than to the north, and we were looking at it the right way up. "Ah," I explained to Crisp. "007!" He remained puzzled. Had Crisp returned safely from his final trip to the UK, I doubt that going to watch Pierce Brosnan in The World is Not Enough would have been top of his list.

WE WERE a curious mix at the Four Seasons Restaurant last Tuesday for the first in a series of monthly breakfasts to be hosted by Harry Evans, perhaps the second most famous British expatriate in New York after his wife, Tina Brown. This is a familiar rite to those of us who remember the literary breakfasts he used to give until his abrupt exit two years ago from Random House. As we slurped melon slices, he charmed his panel of esteemed experts into telling us why America is crippled by a Congress with no interest in the common good and by an ignorant press. It was fun to watch Leona Helmsley, landlady of swathes of Manhattan, entering the room and calculating where she should sit. She found a space just behind Mort Zuckerman, owner of US News and World Report, and the sponsor of the breakfasts. The event was being filmed and clearly the cameras would be trained on Zuckerman and anyone close by for a part of the time. And Helmsley had something to show off - a 40-carat yellow diamond brooch.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvMartin Freeman’s casting is a stroke of genius

Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival

film
Arts & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

    The man who could have been champion of the world

    Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
    Didn’t she do well?

    Didn’t she do well?

    Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

    In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
    Before they were famous

    Before they were famous

    Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

    Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

    Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players