Grimm times as Gilliam takes on Hollywood's top brothers

The spat revolves around Gilliam's new film, The Brothers Grimm, which is released later this month starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger.

In the US media, the Mineappolis-born Monty Python star complains of interference from the Weinsteins, who backed the $80m project.

Tensions began when they overruled his choice of Samantha Morton as female lead - going for Lena Headey - and fired cinematographer Nicola Pecorini, for apparently shooting too slowly.

Relations further deterioriated, when Bob Weinstein prevented Damon from wearing a false nose, saying it would be "the most expensive nose job in history."

According to Time magazine, Gilliam was so upset that filming ceased for two weeks. "I'm used to riding roughshod over executives, but the Weinsteins rode roughshod over me," he says.

Damon is also quoted in the magazine: "Terry was spitting rage at the system. You can't try and impose big compromises on a visionary director like him. If you try to force him to do what you want creatively, he'll go nuclear."

In defence, Bob Weinstein says: "Any film involves the making of 10,000 decisions. If you only concentrate on the few we had issues with, you ignore the 9,997 we left totally to Terry."

* Ursula Martinez - a Cabaret "artiste," whose pièce de résistance involves removing a handkerchief from her nether regions, made headlines last year, when she performed at Salman Rushdie's stag party.

Now she has another high-profile male fan, in the aristocratic shape of Lord Linley's father-in-law, Lord Petersham.

Martinez tells me she was hired to perform her one-woman show "Hanky Panky" at Petersham's 60th birthday party in Croatia last month.

"It was a private party, so I oughtn't really to talk about it, but it was the most extraordinary group of minor royals and aristocrats," she says. "There were guests whose names were counties, if you see what I'm saying. I think they chose Croatia so they could let their hair down a bit."

Aside from randy minor royals, Martinez claims another fan in Ruby Wax, who wishes to film her Edinburgh Festival show for a documentary on performance theatre.

I hope it'll be screened after the watershed!

* In The Deal, Stephen Frears portrayed Tony Blair as a vain, insincere schemer who shafted Gordon Brown over the Labour leadership.

Despite - or perhaps because of - the backlash that provoked, the director's next TV film, The Queen, appears likely to portray the PM in a more charitable light. Michael Sheen will (again) play Blair in the flick, which portrays the reported tension between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace that followed the Princess of Wales's death in 1997.

"This is not the first time I've played Tony so it will be like slipping into a comfortable pair of old slippers," Sheen said at last week's Rushes Soho Short Film Awards. "Stephen said he chose me because he wanted to make Blair a likeable character. From my point of view, that's very flattering indeed."

Derek Draper has thought better of asking Charlotte Raven to be best man at his wedding to the comely GMTV presenter, Kate Garraway.

* Last week, I reported that Raven - the author and former girlfriend of Julie Burchill - would take the job, after Draper excitedly announced her appointment to guests at The Spectator's summer party.

Now there comes a U-turn. "A few days after plumping for Charlotte, Derek got cold feet and decided to give the job to a man," says a chum. "It's been agonising for him, as he's had to choose between two very close friends and didn't want Charlotte to feel snubbed. So she's been given a consolation prize: reading at the wedding service."

Politically, it's a canny move, since Draper and Raven were once an item. Who knows what fruity anecdotes her speech might have contained?

* An urgent investigation is underway at the Royal Albert Hall, after technical problems interrupted Friday night's BBC Proms.

The 24 year-old Venezuelan prodigy, Gustavo Dudamel - making his Proms debut conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra - was forced off stage, after being rudely interrupted by malfunctioning sound equipment.

"There was a loud, electronic hum coming out of the internal Tannoy," says a spokesman. "Nobody could fathom out what it was, so Gustavo eventually had to come off with the orchestra."

An hour later, the humming mysteriously stopped, and the show went on (accompanied by suitably highbrow heckling). "Some people were shouting that the hum was in C minor, others that it was better than Stockhausen," I'm told.

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