In its Labour leadership special, out today, New Statesman features exclusive interviews with all five candidates. Outsider Diane Abbott talks to Sophie Elmhirst, a lowly "contributing writer" (and a fine one, at that). Andy Burnham gets Jon Bernstein, NS's deputy editor, but not a political specialist. The Westminster team, James MacIntyre (political correspondent) and Mehdi Hasan (senior editor [politics]), take the resurgent Ed Balls and the favourite, David Miliband, respectively. But the coveted spot, a sit-down chat with New Statesman editor Jason Cowley, goes to Ed Miliband. Seems the magazine has made its bet on the next leader, if not cast its vote.
Yesterday I reported on an email from Stewart Lee (funny bloke; former member of Finsbury Park Weight Watchers) to organisers of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award. Lee, incensed by an online vote to find a "comedy god" among the winners and nominees over the last three decades, appeared to describe awards publicist Anna Arthur and producer Nica Burns as "corporate whores". Today he explains what he meant: "To clarify my use of the word 'whore', I wasn't using it in a sexual or sexist sense, but in the commonly understood metaphorical sense of 'corporate whore'. I think this is clear to anyone reading the piece. I didn't have Anna and Nica specifically in mind, but was thinking of everyone involved with the awards over their 30-year history, including sponsors, judges, administrators, nominees, winners, and anyone who has ever attended the awards shows, irrespective of gender. I am happy for this statement to be issued as clarification. Stew." I'm starting to wonder whether this might not be some big, well ... joke.
Oliver Stone has made two documentaries with Fidel Castro (a third is on the way), and one with Yasser Arafat. His latest political road movie, South of the Border, is a glowing portrait of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. After complimenting our reporter on her red brassiere at a screening this week, Stone told her he's keen to make a film with yet another controversial figure: either North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, beige-loving President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. "He's my hot potato," Stone says of Ahmadinejad. "He's had a lot of bad press in the West. I made an offer to talk to him about three years ago and the answer was 'No'. Then, while I was filming W, the answer was 'Yes'; it's always mixed signals with Iran."
Stone is adamant that, if he can fit it around his 10-hour TV project, Oliver Stone's Secret History of America, he'd also love to work with Mr Kim. "Why shouldn't I make a film about the Dear Leader? Why doesn't he have the right to speak? He seems like a strange fellow, I agree, but wouldn't it be great to see a film about him?"
Meanwhile, Diane Abbott tweets that Stone wished her luck in her leadership campaign when they met at the House of Commons. She is, surely, the nation's great left-wing figure of the moment – maybe he'd like to make a film about her?
Rapping the news today
What's worse for a rapper keen to keep his cool in middle-age: an arrest for a serious crime, like carrying a loaded weapon, or one for a minor misdemeanour, like not wearing a seat belt? Ice-T, the 52-year-old "original gangster" (who now plays a policeman on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) was arrested in New York on Tuesday. According to T's tweets, "Some punk bitch rookie cop named Fisher #10026 Made the arrest of his bullshit career today. Arresting the Notorious Ice T for no seatbelt... He said 'I know who you are and I don't [care]!'" Unconcerned by any potential accusations of having gone soft, T later tweeted, "I'm really only thinking 'bout my dog. I'm glad he's ok." T's six-month-old bulldog, Spartacus, needed surgery after getting his knee stuck in a shopping trolley (so says Spartacus in his own Twitter feed, @CuteSpartacus). T was released soon after his arrest, but the story nonetheless made national news, which, he tweets on, "raises the question... How petty is our news today? What about the War and the Gulf?" What indeed?