'Crown Court' up before beak for party summons

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The Independent Online

* I do hope that producers of the soon-to-be-repeated 1970's daytime drama Crown Court aren't themselves about to be hauled into the dock.

Legal TV, which will soon be rerunning all 800 episodes of the series that helped launch the career of such luminaries as Sir Ben Kingsley have found themselves in hot water with the real life Crown Court after throwing a party to celebrate the television show's return on Tuesday evening.

Her Majesty's Court Services has fired off a furious letter after discovering the 200 guests invited to the bash were sent an invitation which was a near replica of a real court summons.

"As the invitation is based upon the actual form for summoning witnesses, we wanted to bring to your attention that although it is a clever concept, it should not be used for any other purpose than as an official witness summons," the letter reads. "As the form contains the official crest, there are certain protocols for when and how it should be used."

Over at Legal TV's offices, management has yet to decide as to how to reply to the dressing-down, but are hoping to get away with just a severely slapped wrist.

"Unfortunately, when we put the idea to the marketing people, we didn't realise they were going to reproduce an exact summons using the royal crest and everything," says a spokesman.

"It was all meant to be a bit of fun. I just hope none of the guests who received the invite in the post didn't think they were in any genuine trouble."

* It appears that Desperate Housewives vixen, Eva Longoria, may have been a little premature in her recent boasting about her next cinematic turn.

Last week, Longoria told reporters in America that she hoped to soon be starring alongside the singer Beyoncé Knowles in a Hollywood version of Tipping the Velvet, based on the erotic historical novel by British author Sarah Waters. "Yes it's true, we are talking about doing the movie - it's such a wonderful novel, a beautiful love story," she said. Added Knowles: "We've had Brokeback Mountain, so the time is right for this divine novel to get the same treatment."

Strangely, this is news to Waters. When I try to contact her to find out any more details about the glamorous-sounding treatment for her novel, a spokesman tells me that it was the first Walter or any of her agents have heard about the matter. "We honestly don't know anything about it," I'm told. "I've checked with Sarah's agents and they're not aware of any deal at all and so there's nothing to be said."

* Whilst female audiences have been agog at the British actor Daniel Craig's hulking performance in the latest Bond film, his sultry co-star Caterina Murino is willing to trade him in for an older model.

"Daniel is a great human being, but if I could work with any English actor out there it would have to be Kenneth Branagh," she tells me at the film's Royal premiere on Tuesday night. "I just think he's terrific. Do you think you could get the message through to him for me?"

Branagh's effect on young Hollywood beauties is starting to become mildly irritating. Just three months ago, Bryce Dallas Howard opened her heart to Pandora and began gushing that the Branster, who directed her as Rosalind in As You Like It was "just the most amazing person".

* As Newsnight's "Mr Ethical", BBC journalist Justin Rowlatt has been given a brief by his employers to live as ethical a lifestyle as possible over the course of the next year.

Splendidly, Rowlatt appears to have been caught out early in his mission by his own wife, who has mischievously placed the following post on his online blog: "Hi Justin, I asked you this in person recently but didn't get much of an answer so I'll try here instead... why do you own shares in a petroleum company?"

No doubt embarrassed at being associated with the oil industry through what he describes as his "(very small) shareholding in Dana Petroleum", Rowlatt informed his missus that it was all part of a feature he was preparing on ethical investments.

* Just what is it about John Reid that has earned the Home Secretary his reputation as Westminster's foremost political bully?

Some would suggest it might have something to do with the regular tongue-lashings he issues to the press on the Prime Minister's behalf - and his frequent proclamations about "getting tough" on crime.

But at a journalists' charity event held at the Irish Embassy on Tuesday evening, Reid offered Pandora his own explanation.

"It's simple, if you come from Glasgow and have two O-levels and another for weaving baskets, you get known as an intellectual," he complained.

"And if you come from Glasgow and have a PhD then for some reason you're classified as a thug."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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