Diary: Tina Fey laughs off troll slur
Tina Fey is expecting. First, a baby – her second, with husband, the composer and producer Jeff Richmond – but also further series of 30 Rock, contrary to reports, and despite the imminent departure of Alec Baldwin. If that weren't enough, there's also the publication of Bossypants, her book of autobiographical essays, for which the first US reviews are already in ("extremely funny", New York Times). Fey is most famous here for her uncanny impression of Sarah Palin during the 2008 US election. Palin may give her some well-earned time off by avoiding the 2012 race, but Fey would also be well suited to satirising Tea Party-approved potential candidate Michele Bachmann. Adored by one half of America, Fey's "Palin" earned her the ire of the other half. "Tina Fey is an ugly, pear-shaped, bitchy, over-rated troll," wrote one (probably Republican) web commenter, recalls Fey in her book. "To say I'm an overrated troll," she retorts, "when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair."
* It was a simpler age when, in 2001, two fresh-faced new MPs took a modest office in Westminster. Like a sugar-free Blair and Brown, James Purnell and Andy Burnham were thrusting young backbenchers, eager to rise through the Labour ranks. "Whenever a big issue broke... our phones would go almost simultaneously with media calls," the Working-Class™ Burnham once fondly recalled. "On James's desk, Radio 4; for me, Radio 5. If you want to sum up the difference between us, it's probably that." Sadly, I hear, like Blair and Brown, there are deeper differences these days. Burnham, now shadow Education Secretary, didn't take kindly to Purnell (now a civilian) telling him his job on the pages of Prospect. Purnell suggested Labour should support many of the Government's education and health reforms. Burnham, incandescent, lovingly crafted a rebuttal for the latest issue's letters page, beginning with the sarcasm-laden line: "As ever, it pays to listen carefully to what James Purnell has to say – still one of the clearest and most insightful political thinkers." Burnham isn't the only shadow cabinet member to have been heard grumbling about Jim's Coalition-friendly pronouncements from beyond the political grave. He's still aping Blair, they say, even now.
* Spotted! Nick "29 Shags" Clegg and Danny Alexander, striding into a private dining room at the Ritz for tea (or, at least, at teatime). Readers keen to be outraged that senior cabinet ministers are patronising such an upmarket establishment in this age of austerity should not jump to conclusions. There's every chance the pair were merely inspecting the damage inflicted on the hotel by the recent anti-cuts demo, for which they were – indirectly, granted – responsible. Moreover, Clegg and Alexander were (so says my source) joined by Tony Gallagher and Benedict Brogan, respectively the editor and deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph and the Ritz are both owned by those noted tax exiles the Barclay brothers, so tea was probably on the house.
* Tough times at No 10 for Cameron's iPad-toting spin chief, Hapless™ Craig Oliver, as he negotiates the thin ice of NHS reform with cracks appearing – or so reports PRWeek – in the Coalition's media strategy. The Lib Dems are, allegedly, distancing themselves from the Conservatives ahead of a perilous round of local elections; some Tories even suspect their junior partners of briefing against the health plans. Meanwhile, says a Downing Street insider, "There has been much annoyance recently about Clegg's off-grid activities." Among such off-grid activities, one suspects, was Clegg's "cry me a river" interview with the New Statesman. "I have feelings," the Deputy PM claimed. A likely story.
* Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was an accomplished actor in his youth, starring as Catholic saint Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons at Oxford, before he got into all that God malarkey. It seems his son, Pip, takes after him: reports have reached this column that Williams Jr gave a fine performance as Max Detweiler in the recent Emanuel School, Battersea production of The Sound of Music. The young fellow demonstrated not only natural comic timing, but also an impressive singing voice. Stick with theatre, Pip – better job prospects than the cloth.
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