Pandora

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The Independent Culture
The Liberal Democrat logo is sure to be a burning issue for party faithful as they tuck into tea and cakes in Harrogate. The party's old logo was a bird of liberty. Delegates at the well-to-do Yorkshire town will be startled to discover that the new one is, er, a bird of liberty. Surprisingly the overhaul, by Rodney Fitch Design Consultants, was completed free of charge. The effect of this charitable touching up was to make the body of the bird slightly fatter and its plumage bolder. The redesigned logo may say rather more about the new Lib Dem leader's physique than his party's new-found confidence.

IT IS that rare breed, the young Conservative, however, that wins this week's award for corporate rebranding. When the Conservative Future movement renamed itself "cfuk", it achieved the double feat of irritating the Tory establishment and the clothing company French Connection. Now more evidence of young Tory tomfoolery reaches Pandora. In a three-way TV interview, a representative from Conservative Future, in a nod to youth culture, insisted on being credited as part of the organisation's National Management Executive - or NME for short.

Anyone thinking that the Internet might bring entertainment across a new, bold frontier should think again. Internal documents seen by Pandora suggest that the UK's first Web TV station, Switch.2.net, isn't going upmarket. The flagship programme, launching later this year, is to be a game show called Blow Shit Up. Better news is that the programme is close to signing up the cult comedian Ali G. Is this a case of dumbing down with knobs on?

IN YESTERDAY'S Sunday Telegraph, the spy-writer Alan Judd contends that neither MI5 nor MI6 can be blamed for failing to act against the grannies, lecturers and lefties who are currently being outed as Moscow's "finest". It is worth noting that the former Foreign Office official had MI6 to thank for giving him exclusive access to the diary of Sir Mansfield Cumming, founder of Britain's secret service and the subject of Judd's new book, which The Sunday Telegraph trailed only last week. Pandora would, of course, like strenuously to deny that the editorial stance of The Sunday Telegraph's editor Dominic Lawson has played any part in his newspaper's impartial appraisal of the matter.

John Hurt's performance of Samuel Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape has taken on award-winning proportions. The audience for last Saturday's matinee performance at the Barbican's Pit Theatre included the Oscar nominee John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), and his fellow Oscar nominee Stephen Frears (The Grifters). But giving the rest of the audience most pause for thought were the playwright Harold Pinter and his historian wife Lady Antonia Fraser. In a little performance all their own, the couple took their seats on three separate occasions before finding their place.

DRUG TESTING is now in place at chess tournaments. The success of the campaign for chess to be fully recognised as a sport has meant that the game must take on the responsibilities of other sports. The International Olympic Committee has granted a trial run at the 2006 Olympics, holy grail for chess campaigners, and hopefully the fledgeling sport will make it to next year without too much controversy. However, the future of "Speed Chess", established to make the mind game more sexy, must surely be in doubt.

Money and infamy. Pandora notes two different exemplars of being famous and being loaded. George Clooney, on reports that he would earn $2m per episode if he were to return to the hospital drama ER for the birth of his character's children: "I'll deliver those twins with my teeth for that kind of loot." And Michael "Wacko" Jackson, after buying a large replica dollar bill at a New York store: "I love anything with money."

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