You can tell that the new commercial for Australia's Vittoria coffee is tasteful, because it's in black and white, like La Dolce Vita. And it has a soundtrack by Nick Drake. And Al Pacino is in it. Yes, Pacino has picked his first ever advertising gig, and it's for a coffee whose name means "Victoria" in Italian.
Shot in New York this May by Barry Levinson, the 30-second spot begins with Pacino informing us that "When you're making a movie you get up real early so you need all the help you can get... Coffee goes with my line of work." Pacino has obviously been acting so long that he's forgotten other people have to get up early for work, too. But then it's nice to feel that movie stars are just coffee-drinkers like us, only richer. As ads for coffee featuring Hollywood actors go, Pacino's lacks the wit of George Clooney's Nespresso series, and the romance of Anthony Head's work on behalf of Nescafé Gold Blend. But when a man with eight Oscar nominations (and one win) tells us "This is good coffee", we're inclined to believe him.
* No 10 thought Lord Browne of Madingley, ex-CEO of BP, just the fellow to imbue the Government with a business ethos when they appointed him a Whitehall "super-director" last month. Browne oversaw substantial cost-cuts at BP during his 12-year tenure, which evidently sounded attractive to Cameron and co – despite the inconvenient news of America's largest ever oil spill darkening the reputation of Browne's former firm. But we hear his appointment was less-than-generously met by many of his fellow former business execs in the Lords, on either side of the party divide. As one such peer told our mole: "The general view in here is that Cameron's made a mistake. Browne simply hasn't got the kind of contacts in this place that David imagined he had. His impact across government will be minimal." Lucky, we suppose, that Browne's position is unpaid.
* Pity poor Andy Burnham, falling behind in the Labour leadership race and forced to contend with fellow candidates briefing against him (or so he alleges). Remember Andy? White, dark-haired 40-something Oxbridge graduate, used to be a special adviser (oh, and Secretary of State for Health)? No? Well, that's what comes of not being an Ed, or a Miliband, or Diane Abbott. We're told Andy has trouble achieving name recognition even in Westminster: he recently forgot to bring his parliamentary pass to Portcullis House, and was denied entry by the security guards. And no, they did not know who he was.
* Diane Abbott, on the other hand, has been busy making sure people know exactly who she is (as if they didn't already) by launching a glossy new campaign website this week. Every section of the site features a large picture of a grinning Diane; it has been pointed out to us, however, that only one of those pages contains a picture of Diane with a parliamentary colleague. The MP in question is Meg Munn of Sheffield Heeley — who's a declared supporter of, er... David Miliband. Does Diane have a hard time making friends?
* Doesn't sound like Holly Branson – daughter of Richard, chum of Wills and Harry, frequenter of Boujis – will return to her medical career any time soon. When Holly, 28, gave up doctordom in 2008 to join her father's firm, she said she'd deferred her studies for a year. Two years later, she's adding to her portfolio (which includes a planned network of GP super-surgeries) with a move into magazine publishing. Maverick, a new tech, film and design title for the iPad, will be launched by Virgin this autumn. "Insiders claim that [Richard] Branson wants to compete with the major publishing houses," reports Brand Republic, describing the project as "led" by Miss Branson. "To say the project is being 'led by Holly Branson' is slightly overstating the case," a Virgin spokesman assures us, "but she's part of the team."
* Publishing news, part two: Richard Desmond's Daily Express earned the ire of the Twittersphere yesterday with its provocative front-page splash: "ONE IN 5 BRITONS WILL BE ETHNICS." Desmond, lest we forget, was once the publisher of Asian Babes.