Diary: Roth dismisses wrath of Crowe

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The Independent Online

Gore-based film-maker Eli Roth has been working with Russell Crowe on the unlikely-sounding historical kung fu action thriller The Man with the Iron Fists, co-starring Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA (as a "weapons-making village blacksmith in feudal China"), who is also the film's director.

Roth, who wrote the script with RZA, seemed keen to dispel the myths surrounding Crowe's alleged anger issues when I spoke to him at the Jameson Empire Awards. "Russell is awesome," Roth insisted. "He's the opposite of what people say about him. I called him Sweetie Pie. I said, 'Russell, I'm going to out you as a really sweet, gentle person.' He said, 'You can do that, Eli, but no one will believe you. They'll all think I threw telephones at you.' He was great. He was wonderful."

Before assessing Roth's skill as a judge of character, readers should be reminded that he used to date Peaches Geldof.

* Though refusing to succumb to loud and ungallant cries for her sacking, Kay "Hurly" Burley, three-time winner of What Satellite TV magazine's "Most Desirable Woman on TV" award, is forging ahead with her second career as a romantic novelist. Naturally, then, I was overjoyed to receive my uncorrected proof copy of First Ladies, the first novel from the Sky News anchor, previously best known for having made Peter Andre cry. After reading a paragraph from the page at which said copy miraculously fell open, however, one has to wonder whether Ms Burley (described by Chris Bryant MP as "a bit dim") took her customary relaxed approach to details in its creation. To wit: "She reached across and picked up a remote control from the Lord Linley Trompe l'Oeil coffee table. She selected Smokey Robinson's 'Sexual Healing' on the Bang & Olufsen sound system, the music they had first made love to. Pressing play and reclining gently on the sofa, Sally parted her legs just enough to once again arouse Julian's insatiable interest in sex." Fans of Marvin Gaye – who recorded "Sexual Healing" – should be placated by the news that this is far from the most spectacular factual error of Ms Burley's career.

* More on the tennis-playing prowess of the young John Bercow, Cuban-heeled Speaker of the House. As a 12-year-old, Señor Bercow was so feared on the court that the father of one of his rivals had T-shirts printed with the slogan: "John Bercow bites yer legs", a reference to the formidable Leeds United footballer, Norman "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter. According to Bobby Friedman, author of the forthcoming biography Bercow: Rowdy Living In The Tory Party, the man was "quite a Bercow fan, so did it as a tribute out of affection and admiration for his tenacity". One imagines such a T-shirt would still be popular among Tory MPs, should the fellow have a few left in his garage.

* The newly-released "Thatcher Papers" may reveal how The Lady fomented divisions in her own cabinet, personally pushed through swingeing public spending cuts and gave Europe the proverbial finger. They also, reports the scurrilous Cambridge Tab, show that a blundering Chief Whip once sent her a racy picture of a topless girl, cut from a page in The Sun, under the headline "Please, Please Me" (still attached to an article criticising her economic policy). An accompanying ad invited the then-PM to "Put the romance back in your love life" and "Become a Page 3 Girl". Sadly, there are none of Thatcher's habitual notes in the margin to denote what exactly she made of it.

* Eternally youthful ITV political editor Tom Bradby ruffled a few feathers in February with his lengthy Twitter soliloquy on the subject of BBC salaries – specifically Andrew Marr's estimated £600,000. Now I'm told Bradby has bruised some fragile egos over at Labour HQ with a weekend blog in which he claimed the Eds were losing the economic argument. Labour, wrote Bradby, once again grazing the edges of impartiality, "seems to me to be in serious danger of losing the economic credibility that Gordon Brown and Tony Blair worked so hard to build". Given that the BBC's Nick Robinson is a former chairman of the Young Tories, it's no wonder those sensitive Labour spinners Tom Baldwin and Bob Roberts are feeling a bit ganged-up on.