Diary: 'Take 35' for film star Carla

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The Independent Online

Gleeful reports in the British press this week regarding Carla Bruni's trials and tribulations on Woody Allen's film set suggest Meryl Streep need not be losing any sleep quite yet. We're told – with maybe a hint of exaggeration – that it took France's First Lady a whopping 35 takes to convincingly exit a grocery store. Apparently the problem was caused by the fact "Madame Fancy Pants" couldn't stop staring at the camera! As the Daily Mail helpfully pointed out, it's not the first time she's tried to "monopolise" the lense. Apparently on a visit to London she shamelessly deployed all her "feline charm" in the direction of hapless snappers "licking her lips seductively" and offering a "husky 'bonjour'." (Glad I missed all that). Still, suggestions Bruni's take-tally could be one for the record books are wide of the mark. According to film historians, that honour still goes to one Shelley Duvall, who was obliged to perform 127 takes of the infamous" baseball-bat" scene with Jack Nicholson in The Shining before director Stanley Kubrick was satisfied. Still time Carla.

* Rarely averse to playing the populist card when needs must, Sir Paul McCartney ruffled plenty of Republican feathers last month when, during a performance at the White House, he dared to suggest George W Bush was an illiterate simpleton. After receiving the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress, Sir Paul "quipped" in front of Barack Obama: "After the last eight years, it's great to have a President who knows what a library is!" The fourth-funniest Beatle went on to offer his hosts yet another rendition of "Hey Jude" (the sight of middle-aged celebrities waving their arms to "nah...nah, nah...nah-nah-nah-nah!" isn't quite as uplifting these days as the old boy probably imagines).

A new documentary about McCartney's visit has just been watched by millions on the US channel PBS, but the show has drawn criticism after Macca's Bush jibe was curiously edited out. Maybe producers have heeded the warning of Dubya's ex-press secretary, Dana Perino, who emotionally declared Sir Paul's comments had "erased" years of goodwill among decent Americans. That's right: he's well and truly finished over there!

* What with David Davis getting himself in a pickle with all that Brokeback Mountain nonsense, surely time should be called on our politicians clumsily attempting to name-check popular films from yesteryear for their own ends? What with Davis implying in his trademark subtle fashion that Cameron and Clegg resembled a pair of "poofy cowboys", the Prime Minister took aim with a ready made Wild West-themed retort this week, suggesting he'd in fact prefer the current coalition to be compared to 1969's True Grit, starring a very un-gay John Wayne. Was the PM aware the said movie features a deadly gunslinger partnered by a 14-year-old girl?

* Having been in a spot of bother of late after I flippantly called Gillian Anderson a bit "batty", I'm cautious about tarnishing any other glamorous figures with the Diary mad brush. Still, it's Friday and Commons Speaker John Bercow's wife Sally would give the old March Hare a run for his money any day of the week. Mrs B has now announced she "can't abide" Westminster's tourists – not necessarily the official stance of the Commons gift shop. Keep 'em coming Sally!

* Ever since that old charmer Ed Balls threw his hat into the ring for the Labour leadership, Conservative foes have been unhelpfully suggesting he's the man they want to see in the hot seat.

While even his most ardent Tory backers now have to glumly accept that such an outcome looks unlikely, right-wing Bible The Spectator can't resist bigging up their lost hope one last time. Under the ominous headline "Dangerous Balls" on page three, the former Schools Secretary is hailed as an "indispensable ally to the next Labour leader" with an "unusual grasp of detail".

The said article goes on to dramatically conclude: "He is likely to remain a formidable figure in British politics – and a force with which David Cameron and his advisers had best learn to reckon."

If only Ed's ungrateful Labour colleagues could get this excited about him.