Life imitates art as 'King Kong' star meets jealous gorilla

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The Independent Online

The actor Andy Serkis, who plays King Kong, in the new blockbuster film, has come within a whisker of being mauled by a real-life great ape.

Filming an interview with The Culture Show at London Zoo's last week, Serkis was pulled to the floor by a 20-stone female gorilla. Keepers stepped in to separate them, but not before a large chunk was bitten out of his leather jacket.

The attack took place because the gorilla, Zaire, believes Serkis to be her boyfriend. In the interview, broadcast tomorrow, the actor describes befriending her to research animal movement for the film.

The BBC footage also shows Serkis - who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings - introducing his wife, the actress Lorraine Ashbourne, to Zaire. She responds by throwing hot tea over Ashbourne.

"It's like a real-life King Kong," says the show's director Natasha Serninn. "Mark Kermode, our presenter, is shown interviewing Serkis, and at one point touches him on the shoulder when he's standing next to the enclosure.

"Zaire is clearly jealous. She shoves her hands through the bars and pulls him to the ground. The zoo keepers separated them, but a large hole was bitten out of Andy's jacket."

"Unfortunately, it was a jolly expensive jacket."

* Koo Stark has always kept the gory details of her private life to herself, refusing (among other things) to shed light on her 1980s romance with Prince Andrew.

Fascinating, then, to discover that the 49-year-old "it girl" is in the early stages of writing her memoirs.

Friends say an outline proposal is being touted around publishing houses, and is likely to be co-written by the Evening Standard journalist Alice Hart-Davis.

It should be a corker, since Stark's CV includes spells as a soft-porn actress, society photographer, and a recent battle against breast cancer.

Stark is still to return Pandora's calls. Meanwhile, Hart-Davis says no deal has yet been signed.

"I would love to do it. She has made a couple of attempts to start a memoir before, but it's not a running project at the moment."

* Good times are rolling for Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert, and the wife of the noted PR "fixer", Matthew Freud.

After four years of trying, her Notting Hill-based TV production company, Shine, has turned in its first profit.

Accounts recently filed at Companies House show that it made £50,000 in 2004, following a loss of £1.1m the year before.

The change in fortunes (in 2001 and 2002 Shine lost a total of £3.7m) will serve to increase speculation that Elisabeth, right, could one day be chosen to inherit her father's media empire.

A flick through the accounts reveals that BSkyB has quietly acquired a 3 per cent stake in Shine.

It also appears to have put nearly £8m of work the firm's way over the 12 months in question. Cosy!

* Liz Hurley isn't about to let anyone cash in on her wedding to the dishy Indian socialite, Arun Nayar.

Yesterday, I revealed that Cox & Kings was running Hurley-themed package tours to the Devi Garh hotel in Rajasthan, where the couple are reported to be tying the knot on 14 February.

Today, the upmarket travel agent is required to make a grovelling apology. They have issued a statement withdrawing their original press release on Hurley.

"Neither Miss Hurley nor Mr Nayar personally endorse or have a business relationship with Devi Garh Fort Palace," it reads. "No information from the aforementioned press release should therefore be printed."

Sources close to La Hurley tell me she went "bonkers" upon hearing of the release. "Liz has an acute sense of her own market value," I'm told.

* Andy Murray made headlines last week when he blamed the Lawn Tennis Association for having "ruined" his brother Jamie's career.

Interesting, then, to spot Murray breaking bread with the LTA on Monday night. He was sat with the various stuffed shirts from its executive during an awards dinner at the Hurlingham Club.

This caused much gossip, since Murray's comments are said to have gone down like a lead balloon with the sport's governing body.

However, word from his agent is that they've now made peace. "Andy was really talking about what went on at the LTA six years ago," she said. "Despite what you read, he never intended to criticise the current regime."

Although the "do" - the Lawn Tennis Writers' Association awards - was black tie, Murray wore a crumpled suit, with open-necked shirt and trainers. Tim Henman was never so daring.