Diary: Kim's big-screen dynasty
Tuesday 30 November 2010
Jeremy Thomas, celebrated British producer of the Oscar-winning The Last Emperor, has another Far Eastern-themed biopic in the works: of ailing North Korean loon, Kim Jong-Il. The project is still in the "early planning stages", Thomas told me at an Academy event to celebrate his film career thus far – but he believes it'll be an "enlightening" tale for audiences. I should warn him that he has competition: as this column revealed in July, Oliver Stone is keen to film a documentary with the Dear Leader, in the vein of his previous Chavez and Castro portraits. (Perhaps Stone and Thomas could team up for a drama instead.) Meanwhile, the famously film-obsessed Kim dynasty doubtless has a hagiographic screen tribute planned to follow the dictator's allegedly imminent death. In the 1970s, Kim Jong-Il kidnapped the legendary South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, forcing him to make a Communist version of Godzilla. Kim and his sons are also reportedly fond of snuggling up in front of the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme.
* A curious convergence of thinking from London's top theatre critics this weekend, many of whom, dispatched to review The Invisible Man at Southwark's Menier Chocolate Factory, were moved to lyricism by its leading lady's "ample bosom" (Paul Taylor, The Independent). Musical theatre star Maria Friedman's formidable jugs caused Michael Coveney and Charles Spencer to unveil a pair of lusty similes: "The jumbo-sized bosom of Maria Friedman... heaves up and down like an undulating escarpment in the village landscape," writes Coveney for WhatsOnStage.com. "It's like watching a couple of muslin-covered blancmanges in an earthquake," says Spencer, in The Telegraph, of that "splendid bust". Moreover, asks Libby Purves of The Times, "When you're being offered ... a pub landlady having her stout breasts jiggled by the empty air, why complain?" Why indeed?
* My impeccable sources inform me that the leading contender for controller of BBC3 – the job vacated by Danny Cohen, now at BBC1 – is Karl Warner, the corporation's 31-year-old "executive editor, entertainment commissioning", who once had a hand in devising The Charlotte Church Show. Should he take the role, I hope Warner will consider my pitch for a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style sitcom called Anyone But Lembit, starring stand-up comic Lembit Opik as himself. The plot follows Opik's increasingly desperate, "smell-my-cheese"-esque attempts to persuade the Lib Dems to make him their candidate for the London mayoralty – while he's relentlessly pursued, Benny Hill-like, by a bevy of cheeky and/or weather girls. Each episode sees the party try vainly to convince another, more preferable celebrity to take the job. Week one: Wagner from The X Factor.
* Sadly, Rory Stewart MP – this column's favourite Old Etonian, former soldier, adventurer, diplomat, academic, prince among men and man among princes – still refuses to speak to The Independent, meaning I'm forced to follow his progress via 14-page profiles in The New Yorker and occasional YouTube videos, including one that appeared yesterday ( ind.pn/frueN4), featuring the humble-as-humble-pie polymath dancing to banging techno in Penrith's town square, alongside 100 men dressed as Santa Claus, before he switched on the town's Christmas lights. I can confirm that Stewart (who recently compared himself to the fictional demigod Achilles) is no Peter Mandelson, dance-wise.
* Mandy's fellow ballroom-gracer Vince Cable tells me he's "reasonably optimistic" about his chances on the Strictly Christmas special, for which he's been rehearsing with the "absolutely brilliant" Erin Boag at weekends. It is, he says, "demanding... [but] good for the soul". Unlike, one imagines, being a Lib Dem Coalition cabinet minister, which is just demanding.
* Finally, thanks to John Cook, prospective Labour MP for Norwich North, for the week's best tweet to date: "Phoned Lib Dem Head Office and asked for copy of manifesto. They said they'd sold out. I said 'I know, but can I have a manifesto?'"
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