So we now have the first pictures of 25-year-old Rooney Mara in the role of the year: the goth bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, in David Fincher's English-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The accompanying interview in W magazine does not, I'm afraid, dispel troubling rumours that the stars, Mara and Daniel Craig, will be "doing" Swedish accents in the film. However, Fincher does reveal the names of some of the others who auditioned for the role at a time when any actress seen to have cut her hair was said to be desperate to land it (viz Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson). Natalie Portman, he explains, was too exhausted after shooting three other films back-to-back. Scarlett Johansson was "too sexy". Jennifer Lawrence was "too tall". Mara's winning moment came when she screen-tested a graphic scene, which required her to insert something large into something small belonging to another character. "That's Salander's big scene," said Fincher. "We had to see if they could do it."
* Apropos my prediction yesterday that former future Labour leader Miliband (D)'s association with Sunderland FC would cost him the crucial votes of Newcastle fans in his South Shields constituency, a local Tory councillor has launched the first volley of an inevitably ugly battle. (This is Newcastle supporters we're talking about, after all.) David Potts of South Tyneside Council took to Twitter to complain about the ex-Foreign Sec's predicted role as a non-executive director on a salary said to be £50,000. "If I knew he was that cheap I'd have offered him 50k years ago," Potts declared. "What a wanker." Giddy with irritation, Potts then tweeted Miliband (D) directly, saying, "David, I'll give you a grand in cash if you teach my girlfriend how to cook." Confronted by The Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette about his comments, Potts was unrepentant, and repeated his unsavoury slur.
* Not a minute too soon, Nick "29 Shags" Clegg has acquired a new press spokesman. Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell conducted an official review to confirm the bleeding obvious: that the Deputy PM's office was, in the words of PR Week, "underpowered in strategic comms". So the Cabinet Office has drafted in James Sorene, the Department of Health's head of news, to stand in front of Clegg and deflect eggs. Yesterday's Guardian asked whether the Lib Dems were "staring into the abyss", while the Spectator declared the "Death of the Lib Dems". Still, the junior Coalition partner can count on Rupert and Co to keep the faith even without Sorene's expert assistance: a sympathetic interview in The Sun revealed that someone recently whispered to Clegg in a supermarket queue that they thought he was doing a good job. (Maybe they mistook him for Justin King.) It was puffed as "the Deputy PM's most open interview ever". Piers Morgan may dispute that.
* On the subject of Morgan and Murdoch, Piers held a cocktail party in New York this week (sadly, I had an appointment with Come Dine With Me that night) to launch his new CNN show. He told guests he'd emailed his old boss to request an interview, to which Rupert replied, "Thank you very much indeed for your kind invitation, but your chances are less than zero. I wish you good luck, but I do not wish you success." Charming old codger, isn't he?
* Another sorry tale of sanctimony from behind the Speaker's Chair. Tory MP Mark Pritchard is famed for his politesse, yet even he shares his party's simmering disdain for the Cuban-heeled Jon Bercow. Told by stickler Senor Bercow that no, he – order! – couldn't – ORDER! – ask a question in the House because he'd been absent at the start of some statement or other, Pritchard was moved to write an angry letter, explaining to the Speaker that he had, in fact, been present at the start of said statement, but had popped out for a quick tinkle. Later, Pritchard came upon Senor Bercow in the corridor behind the Speaker's Chair, and (reports suggest) the little fellow rounded on him: "The courtesy of the House," cried Senor Bercow indignantly, "is that Honourable Members should stand aside when the Speaker passes by... You will obey the courtesies of the House!" To which Mr Pritchard replied: "You are not fucking royalty, Mr Speaker!" LOL: Pwned.