Keef's tree troubles may cost him role in 'Pirates'

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The Independent Online

* The day that Keith Richards tumbled from a Fijian coconut tree didn't just lead to an impromptu bout of brain surgery - it's also put the kybosh on his final stab at a Hollywood career.

Until the unfortunate encounter with terra firma, the grizzled Rolling Stone was preparing to take a cameo role in the Disney blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean Three.

However, medical complications - yesterday, it emerged that a blood clot had been removed from his brain - make it unlikely that the 62-year-old star will now appear in the flick, which is currently being filmed.

It's a particular shame since Richards had been due to play the father to Johnny Depp's character, a pirate called Jack Sparrow.

The Hollywood superstar, a longstanding fan of the Stones, had previously declared Keef to be a major inspiration behind the role. According to reports in the US, he was even willing to take a pay cut in order to secure his services.

Disney are yet to decide if Richards will be replaced, or if his character will be entirely written out of the script. A spokesman said yesterday: "The casting of the film is yet to be finalised."

A Stones spokesman wouldn't comment on film commitments. They hope that Richards, who is said to now be up and about in hospital in New Zealand, will be better in time for the band's European tour this summer.

* Confusion surrounds Christopher Eccleston's mooted return to the lucrative world of prime-time telly.

For several months, reports have claimed the brooding Dr Who star is to front a Sky TV remake of the cult 1960's TV show, The Prisoner.

In fact, no such deal has been struck. And a spokesman for the (occasionally cantankerous) Eccleston won't discuss rumours of a behind-the-scenes bust-up.

Sky, meanwhile, is anxious to stress that Eccleston cannot yet be ruled either in or out of the project.

"Christopher did contact Granada earlier this year, when talks about the project began," they say. "But since the casting process has only just begun, we are also looking elsewhere."

Either way, locals in Portmeirion, the Welsh village where the show was filmed, are taking the matter seriously. They've launched an online poll to find a suitable alternative to Ecclestone.

* Tom Cruise would do many things for fame, fortune, and column inches proving he's got lead in his pencil.

Getting into bed with Richard Desmond looks a step too far, though. Last week, Dezza's OK! magazine trumpeted a world exclusive: "the baby daughter of Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes - only in next week's OK!"

Yesterday, the glossy duly arrived. But grinning shots of baby Suri - "the pictures the world has waited to see" - were nowhere to be found.

"No decision has yet been taken about Cruise's baby pics," reports an expert in such matters. "But if they were sold to Desmond, or any other pornographer, I'd be astonished."

* Ever wondered what became of James Major, likeable son of John, and ex-hubby to glamour model Emma Noble? On Monday, Pandora found out, at the launch of pop impresario David English's autobiography.

"I work as a floor fitter in Cambridge," he said. "I used to be a floor salesman in Edinburgh, but it became difficult to see my son. So I moved south and took a course in installing floors. I much prefer being a labourer."

Compare and contrast with Mark Thatcher: I know which former PM's son I prefer.

* My telephone stands to attention. It's the Lord Chancellor's office, and they want to talk lap-dancing. Specifically: Ken Livingstone's failure, reported here yesterday, to prevent a gentleman's club opening near to City Hall.

My report said Ken's objection (the club would offend female staff) had been thrown out by the Lord Chancellor. In fact, it was binned by local magistrates. Lord Chancellor Charlie Falconer's views on lap-dancing remain top secret.

* On Saturday, the Sigmund Freud museum in Hampstead held a party to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the great man's birth.

Sadly, although several descendents were there, none of the "big name" members of the Freud clan bothered to show up.

"There was no sign of Lucian Freud, or Sir Clement, or even that PR man, Matthew," reports one guest. "It's rather a snub: they do, after all, owe an awful lot to their famous surname."

Over to the museum. "They hardly ever come to our events," I'm told. "Clement and Matthew get invited, but normally don't show. As for (the reclusive artist) Lucian, we've given up on him."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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