Pandora

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Ken Livingstone will run for mayor, either under the New Labour banner or as an independent - that is what sources close to the Livingstone camp are saying. The installing of new phone lines in Ken's campaign headquarters has raised suspicions about his intentions, in much the same way that Michael Portillo's quick telecommunications fix did during John Major's leadership challenge. Even with reports of a shady "Mr Dracula" attempting to cancel the phone lines, the fact that they are being installed in a campaign headquarters that itself was set up only last week, suggests a residency beyond today's resolution of the mayoral chaos. All this will be good news for Ken's campaign helpers, some of whom have been told they will have a job till Christmas at least.

THE WELSH Labour MP Paul Flynn has been busy telling the party that their control-freakery will cost them seats in London, just as it did in Wales. Flynn's book Dragons led by Poodles, out next week, contends that Alun Michael's success in becoming Assembly leader and the defeat of Rhodri Morgan was a "stitch-up" and cost the party three safe seats. "Now it's going to happen in London," Flynn tells Pandora. "Labour voters disaffected with the party's selection process for the mayor post will vote for other parties, such as the Greens, in the same way they voted for Plaid Cymru in Wales." One of the many anecdotes in Flynn's book is the story that Tony Blair preferred Alun Michael over Rhodri Morgan because Morgan was untidy. Blair is supposed to have decided this after visiting the homes of both Morgan and Michael. "Alun is a plump-the-cushions up type of man," explains Flynn.

It's been a bad month for the director Stephen Poliakoff. First there was the panning of his film Food of Love. Some of the nicer reviews included Anthony Quinn's in The Independent: "I can only assume that he hasn't any friends, else they would have told him to ditch the whole idea instantly"; then there was another critic, in a Sunday paper, who said: "He should be stood against a wall and shot." The latest blow, Pandora can reveal, came on Tuesday, when his play Remember This was pulled by the National Theatre. Playing at the Lyttelton with miserable advance seat sales of between 8 and 14 per cent, the show has been dropped ahead of schedule. "It didn't get the notices or audiences we'd hoped," admits a spokesperson. Sadly, reviews for the play were just as bad as they were for the film: "I would give anything to forget this," read one.

WHATEVER THE reviewers said, they would not stop Peter Hitchens' output. The reactionary polemicist is "talking to some people" about a follow- up to his book The Abolition of Britain. Hitchens obviously believes the PM is hanging on his every word, for he told Pandora that the new tome was designed "to annoy Tony Blair". But even before the Express columnist starts work on his new project there are more pressing matters on his mind. "The paperback version of The Abolition of Britain is out next year," Hitchens proudly announces. "It may contain a new, exciting chapter." We can hardly wait.

Johnny Depp: hard man of Hollywood? The actor is not in the least bit sorry about taking a swipe at photographers gathered outside London's Mirabelle restaurant in January, an incident that resulted in his arrest. "The beauty, the poetry of the fear in their eyes, in these filthy little maggots' faces, was so worth it," the star said this week. "I didn't mind going to jail."

Christina Ricci, Depp's co-star in his latest film, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is more worried about pubescent boys than paparazzi. Commenting on the advertising for the film, the young star complains: "There's some big ridiculous billboard of the film that's basically my cleavage. My costumes [in the film] were all push-up bras. I just thought, `God, they must be aiming for teenage boys.'"

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