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GREG DYKE: the Rebel Years. Like many of the Tony Toni Tone generation, the BBC's new DG has... antecedents. Let's revisit the autumn of 1966. The nation basks in the after-glow of winning the World Cup. "Good Vibrations" hits the charts. And a 19-year-old trainee manager is fired by Marks & Spencer. His name? Greg Dyke. He feels "awful". But he picks up the pieces, reinvents himself as a young gun reporter and wins a lucky break in the shape of a gig at The Hillingdon Mirror. "What made it fun was you were given freedom. But..." Greg (pictured) says, "...I was always a natural troublemaker. I remember leading a sort of revolt of the trainee journalists...": the hacks wanted more money but Dyke backed down when management refused to pay up. Underpaid but undaunted, he knuckled down to life in the trenches; the paper's offices in the eerily-named Blair House were opposite those of its more successful rival, the Middlesex Gazette. Every Thursday, Dyke says, he and the crew would wait until the Gazette hacks went home - and then search their offices to find stories to fill their own paper. When he arrives as No 1 Guy at White City in April, Dyke will be editor-in- chief overseeing more than 2,000 BBC journalists. Guess they're all now on notice of what's expected.

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ROCK'N'ROLL LIVES - during the pre-party for the Kerrang! Awards at the Virgin Megastore this week, the police were called (dressing room trashed, property destroyed, scatological incident). The fire brigade arrived after a burning cross scorched the store's ceiling. Then one band refused to perform after a petrol spillage. How are they going to top that at the event itself on Monday?

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FEUDS CORNER: Seconds out for today's bout featuring Joe Haines, the grizzled wiseguy, and Piers Morgan, the preternaturally bouncy tabloid editor. Haines opens with a devastating barrage in a media magazine. The Mirror he worked on, he contends, was a real newspaper that crusaded passionately on issues that mattered. And they knew how to have lunch. Morgan strikes back in the new Press Gazette, laying into Haines with bad intentions: "Maxwell lickspittle", "24 pages of mind-numbing trivia", "a man celebrating the fact he helped his paper bore its readers"... Haines takes a mandatory 8-count, but Morgan's moving in for the kill. The Mirror's July numbers, he says, will hit 2.4 million, four points up on June, closing the gap on The Sun and staying ahead of the Daily Mail. "During Haines's time on The Mirror," Morgan finishes, "the paper lost 673,000 circulation." Haines is counted outtahere.

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GIMME MOORE? Bruce Willis and Demi Moore are reportedly close to closure on a divorce settlement.

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ESMERELDA, THE Chilean ship on which General Pinochet's flunkies passed the idle hours by torturing their fellow citizens, seems to have sailed into choppy waters again. During its annual cruise the Esmerelda, now a training ship, berthed in Valletta, Malta. Its crew, as is sailors' wont, got into a brawl - a Maltese local found himself on the sharp end of a blade and was hospitalised in critical condition. Enter the gendarmerie; they seize the ship and begin investigating all 340 cadets and crew, including the captain who reportedly claimed immunity - because, he contended, Esmerelda was a warship, the perpetrator should be tried in Chile. Fact: that would be correct if the brawl had been on board. But it was landside, so the criminal falls within Maltese jurisdiction. Perhaps the ship's captain has the same lawyer as Pinochet?

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PUMA HITS back at Niketown by opening a new chain of chromed-out stores inspired by "the hipness of London-born downsizing". So where does the old-school sneaker maker open its flagship? Los Angeles. D'oh!

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CARNIE WILSON, the morbidly obese Beach Boys scion and sometime popster, gave both her fans a treat this week by broadcasting her gastric by-pass surgery live on the Net.

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OH, AND winner of Pandora's avianca-sprinkled Saucer of Milk this lap is ...Hunter S Thompson. Johnny Depp delivered the Doctor's message at the memorial service for Allen Ginsberg the other day, reprinted in full in the new Esquire. Sample: "Ginsberg was a monster; he was crazy and queer... people who loved him believed he should commit suicide." Miaow!

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