Diary: An accent on authenticity

The hottest unfilled role in Hollywood is that of Lisbeth Salander, title character in David Fincher's US version of
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

A young actress need only cut her hair these days to be linked to the part of the computer-hacking bisexual goth. But despite their Twiggy-themed tress-reductions, Emma Watson, Carey Mulligan and Mia Wasikowska have all been counted out by the director, who reportedly hopes to cast an unknown.

* Yesterday, however, the New York Daily News turned the story on its head by suggesting Scarlett Johansson had entered the running. If Fincher decides against said unknowns, claimed the paper's source, then Johansson, right, is a "shoo-in" thanks to the impressive Swedish accent she unveiled at an audition last week. The most worrying thing about this dubious tale is the idea of English-speaking actors (confirmed stars include Daniel Craig and Robin Wright) playing Swedes by speaking English with accents. Is that really what Fincher has planned, or was Scarlett simply a touch over-prepared?

* Ignoring the PM's pleas to support UK tourism, James Gray MP informs readers of his weekly column for the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald that he's off to Madrid on his hols. While he's away, the small-state supporting Conservative member for North Wiltshire asks them to consider the following: "Is Britain during August while the House is in recess really a worse place than during the rest of the year?... If your answer is as I suspect, then, perhaps in future, you will encourage longer recesses rather than upbraiding us for taking them? Just a thought..." Yes, and a thought that may appeal to his constituents in particular. Mr Gray is the MP who fought off calls for his deselection after conducting an extramarital affair while his first wife was undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer. The chairman of the all-party group for the Army, he also claimed (unsuccessfully) on parliamentary expenses for the purchase of Remembrance Sunday wreaths, and was then accused of snapping photographs of a badly wounded soldier during a fact-finding visit to Afghanistan. If he really believes the country would be better off without MPs, perhaps he'd like to turn his vacation into a more permanent arrangement.

* Daniel Craig's attachment to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its likely sequels bodes ill for the James Bond franchise. And opinions aired by the world's greatest spy novelist (no, not Ian Fleming) won't improve matters. In a 1966 interview to be re-broadcast by BBC4 this week as part of the In Their Own Words series, John Le Carré told Malcolm Muggeridge: "I dislike Bond... I think that it's a great mistake if one's talking about espionage literature to include Bond in this category at all... He's more some kind of international gangster." Le Carré's stance has softened in the intervening decades, he assures the Radio Times, but, "at the root of Bond there was something neo-fascistic and totally materialist". Re-watching the 1966 interview is embarrassing, the author adds – not least because he smoked throughout, hoping to appear intellectual: "I shouldn't think I've smoked 20 cigarettes in my life since then."

* Predictable sneers greeted news that Tony Blair would donate the proceeds from sales of his memoir to the Royal British Legion. But, £4.6m advance aside, how much does Blair expect to make from sales? Amazon and Waterstones are already offering A Journey for half the cover price of £25, while Tesco has it at £17.50. I expect it will still earn more than Gordon Brown's account of the economic crisis (the profits from which will also go to charity); Brown's last tome reportedly shifted just 32 copies – barely enough for a rubber wristband.

* An item on yesterday's Today programme about the chemistry between broadcasters began unfortunately, grumpy Humphrys spluttering at his co-host's questionable vocab ("Presentorial?!"). But Evan Davis recovered admirably, and a consensus was reached: content is king, chemistry irrelevant. After all, Humphrys insisted, "You wouldn't want Evan and me – God forbid – flirting with each other!"


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