Diary: Long dark M Night of the soul
M Night Shyamalan must have thought he'd endured the worst reviews of his career for his 2006 movie,
Lady in the Water ("This cloying piece of claptrap sets a high-water mark for pomposity, condescension, false profundity and true turgidity" –
Wall Street Journal). But it looks like his latest, the unfortunately-named fantasy
The Last Airbender, may yet outdo its predecessor. Early reviews include those by the estimable Roger Ebert of the
Chicago Sun-Times ("
The Last Airbender is an agonising experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented") and AO Scott of
New York Times ("
The Last Airbender? Let's hope so").
If that wasn't bad enough, the director also finds himself at the centre of a race row. The film is based on an animated children's TV series, in which three central characters are Asian; in Shyamalan's version they're played by white actors, a casting decision that has enraged the blogosphere. On the other hand, Shyamalan has abstained from appearing on screen this time: in Lady in the Water, he cast himself as a writer whose work would save humanity, which enraged pretty much everybody.
* The editorial team assembled to rebrand GMTV around its new presenters, Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, has been busy dreaming up possible names for the programme. One early favourite, we learn from an insider, was Daybreak (the name of a 1980s TV-AM news programme). That idea was ditched, however, when they learned that Morning Glory, a forthcoming film comedy starring Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams, is about a notoriously dreadful morning TV news show called, yes, Daybreak. The movie is released in August; the new-look GMTV is launched in September – not exactly ideal timing. Apparently, the current favourite is simply Day. Best keep up the brainstorming, chaps.
* Louise Bagshawe, the Conservative MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, gives new meaning to the phrase "in-house publicity". Bagshawe, 39, was best-known before the last election as a successful chick-lit novelist. She may have trouble finding the time to write fiction nowadays, but parliamentary life hasn't prevented her from plugging her previous works. During a Commons debate about energy efficiency on Wednesday, she mentioned a solar cell being developed by Toyota to power its cars. "Indeed," she went on, " Passion, the excellent book that I wrote in 2010 and was nominated as romantic novel of the year – I highly recommend it to the House – was a thriller based around just that theme." This is the second time (by our count) that the book has been mentioned in the Commons; last month Labour MP Kerry McCarthy thanked Bagshawe for sending her a copy of Passion after the pair befriended each other on Twitter. Responding to Bagshawe's comments, Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans admitted he was new to the job, "so I shall have to have another look at Erskine May to see what it says about product placement".
* Sad news for the wagging tongues of Westminster: The Atrium Restaurant at Four Millbank is to close its doors and its kitchen for good next Wednesday lunch-time. The Atrium, housed in the same building as the BBC and Sky News Westminster offices, has long been the beating heart of Westminster gossip. Now it's going the same way as Granita. Fittingly, Diary was informed of its impending demise by 2010's new gossip centre: Twitter (the feed of ComRes Chairman Andrew Hawkins, no less, also based in the building). And we didn't even have time to lunch anybody there.
* The name's Cable. Vince Cable. Speaking to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders this week, the Business Secretary expressed a long-harboured, hitherto-unpublicised ambition, says our source – to drive very fast in an Aston Martin.
* On Wednesday, Diary drew attention to the curse of Condé Nast, whose glossy World Cup photoshoots for GQ and Vanity Fair seemed to have condemned most of the featured players to injury and poor form. Others have blamed Nike, whose World Cup television commercial – a six-minute ode to the godlike genius of Ronaldo, Rooney, Ribery, Ronaldhino et al – proved equally ill-starr'd. BT seems to have taken the hint, because its latest print ad, plastered across every newspaper yesterday (this one included) features Michael Owen, Shay Given, Gareth Bale and Wes Brown: four Premier League players who were never in danger of going to South Africa in the first place, and thus never had the chance to let their nations, or their wealthy sponsors, down.
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