My reporter was eager to ask Angelina Jolie about her plans to play Marilyn Monroe when they spoke at Monday's premiere of Jolie's new thriller, Salt. According to reports, author Andrew O'Hagan told the Edinburgh Book Festival that the star would fill Marilyn's shoes in a film version of his novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, opposite George Clooney as Frank Sinatra. But Jolie just looked bewildered. "Where did all these rumours come from?" she asked. "I haven't heard a thing about it! I don't even know if I'd be the best person to play her." As to her rumoured co-star, she added, "I haven't even talked to George about it." An embarrassed (or incensed?) O'Hagan – whose book contains the memories of Maf, a Maltese terrier given to Marilyn by Sinatra – went so far as to issue a statement about the confusion: "Despite what was said in the unchecked stories that appeared in the papers... I made no public statement about Ms Jolie or Mr Clooney... Everything about the film has still to be decided." Scarlett Johansson, anyone?
* Yesterday I reported rumours that Scarlett Johansson had auditioned as Lisbeth Salander, anti-heroine of the forthcoming Hollywood adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Minutes after my story went to press, the unknown Rooney Mara was officially unveiled as the computer-hacking bisexual goth. Now she has the most sought-after role in Hollywood, Mara should really be described, in Rumsfeldian terms, as a "known-unknown". Those who missed out include known-knowns (Johansson, Ellen Page, Natalie Portman) and unknown-unknowns (Sophie Lowe, Sarah Snook, Lea Seydoux. Nope, me neither). My error was not unique: the new issue of Grazia devotes a page to speculation that Emma Watson (in acting terms, an unknown-known) cropped her hair to win the part.
* In case you'd forgotten, there's a race on for the leadership of the second or third most important party in politics. Some weeks ago I wrote that a source from a rival campaign accused David Miliband of running for Labour's top job in pre-season. Said source has finally got back to me with the additional information he/she promised: Miliband (D)'s itinerary for 25 April, when he visited Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton South East and Manchester Withington to meet Labour "members and supporters". Why, asks the anonymous source – whose candidate trails Miliband (D) – was he in safe seats a fortnight from polling day, when there were three marginals nearby? "He was effectively taking himself out of the general election campaign and running a shadow leadership campaign instead... He was 10 yards down the track before the starting pistol was fired." Unfortunately for my outraged mole, the Miliband (D) camp calmly swats away the story, saying: "It's absolute rubbish. That itinerary was put together by the Labour Party for David to follow, which he did."
* It's hardly for me to chide anyone for shirking factual research (see above, and above that). But Ben Goldacre MD, celebrated scourge of journalistic inaccuracies and those who purvey them, was forced to admit one of his own this week. After Channel 4 News anchor Samira Ahmed tweeted her followers for advice on some convoluted algebra as part of a news item, Dr Goldacre's reflexes kicked in: he instantly called the equation "bullshit" and appeared to accuse Ahmed of "lame non-journalism". (I get that all the time, Samira. Chin up.) But Goldacre and his many acolytes had to back down after discovering the formula was based on genuine academic research. To his credit, the good doctor apologised – and his offending tweets remain online. More than can be said for his nemesis Gillian McKeith "PhD", whose official Twitter account hastily deleted a swathe of tweets last time she (and/or her PR rep) was unwise enough to question Goldacre's integrity.
* Sarah Palin and pals remain opposed to the building of a mosque on the "hallowed ground" where the World Trade Centre once stood. Already on the site are a strip club, a betting shop, a Burger King, a McDonald's and an Irish bar. Hallowed indeed.