Pandora: Bale won't need to hurry back

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The Independent Online

It's probably safe to say that screen Batman Christian Bale couldn't leave London quick enough last week. And the actor, who was quizzed over an alleged assault on his own family, won't need to hurry back.

He was linked to the part of Robin Hood in Ridley Scott's film Nottingham, which was to begin filming in London this autumn. Yesterday, the project was shelved.

In fairness, he hadn't shown much enthusiasm for the role. When I asked him about it at the premiere of The Dark Knight, he replied: "What are you talking about?"

In the soup? Ivy owner is given the 'Vanity Fair' treatment



Interesting times ahead for Richard Caring, the rag trade millionaire who has spent the past three years snapping up some of Mayfair's most exclusive hotspots.

I hear that Vanity Fair is planning an in-depth article on Caring who, despite the high-profile nature of his business portfolio which includes The Ivy, Le Caprice and Annabel's nightclub, prefers to shun the limelight.

A female journalist from the magazine has recently been dispatched to London to begin probing the intriguing tycoon's career, much of which remains largely undocumented. Caring, I'm told, has been contacted by the journalist about the article but has so far appeared unwilling to co-operate. That's unlikely to deter Vanity Fair's bouffant-haired editor Graydon Carter, who has a reputation for mischief.

Carter almost caused an almighty schism at Vanity Fair's publisher Condé Nast three years ago, after he commissioned his chief digger Michael Wolff to pen a piece on the infamous "Sextator" scandal after it was revealed The Spectator's publisher Kimberly Fortier was having an affair with the then Home Secretary David Blunkett.

It was a daring commission since Fortier is married to Stephen Quinn, the publisher of another one of Condé Nast's titles in London, Vogue. After several executives reportedly threatened to resign if the article ever saw the light of day, Carter pulled it. However, another article by another journalist called James Wolcott did eventually appear, albeit a watered down version.

Just recently, in a similar vein, it was also reported Carter was planning a warts-and-all piece on the late eccentric fashionista Isabella Blow, even though she was fashion director on another of Vanity Fair's stablemates, Tatler.

Has lovelorn Sienna lost her (public) voice?

The media storm surrounding Sienna Miller's complicated love life isn't just a drain for her, it's also causing the dainty star's publicity team at the Public Eye agency no end of headaches.

One rumour currently in circulation is that the non-stop merry-go-round of stories about Miller had recently pushed her relationship with her formidable spokesperson from the agency, Ciara Parkes, to breaking point.

In turn, Parkes had apparently started to refer all press inquiries about Miller on to her colleague (and, incidentally, Miller's old school chum) Tori Cook.

Parkes is currently away on holiday, however Public Eye insist there is no truth to the rumours.

"Ciara still looks after Sienna along with Tori Cook and Claire Dobbs, and she is still with Public Eye," I was informed.

Brown's safest bet?

Keep a beady eye on William Hill's survival odds for Gordon Brown. I mention this as, over the weekend, the Labour MP George Howarth was reported to be calling for Brown's dismissal. According to the Commons Register of Members' Interests, Howarth is a paid adviser to William Hill. Currently, they're offering 5-6 that Brown will be a goner by the end of the year. Do they know something we don't?

Purnell's web worries

An early setback for the Pension Secretary James Purnell's leadership ambitions, presuming he has some, that is.

Yesterday, anyone trying to access the Pension Service website found it out of action for most of the day. Calls to the department weren't much use either. "They didn't know when it would be back up. It was like speaking to that Little Britain character who moans 'computer says no' all the time," said one peeved codger.

The Bransons change their tune

Sir Richard Branson's son, Sam, arrived at Sunday's Cartier Polo with an alarming new Mohawk-style haircut.

"I wouldn't say I'm a particularly big fan of David Beckham, it's just something I've always wanted to do," he said.

"I was on holiday with a friend in Necker [the island Sir Richard owns in the British Virgin Islands] recently and we just decided to do it.

"My dad absolutely loves it."

Also enjoying the sunshine was Branson's daughter, Holly, who told reporters she was quitting medicine to work for her father.

Seeing as that's five years of taxpayer-backed training down the chute, might pa be willing to cut the Government a cheque?

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