Pandora: Frogmarched to the rescue
Wednesday 27 February 2008
Ribbit! MPs were called to a photoshoot yesterday to help save frogs from mass extinction. (They are threatened by a chytrid fungus sweeping the globe; scientists have set up "amphibian arks" to take the cold-blooded creatures into protective custody.)
"Frogs are not cuddly, cute or iconic," explains Charles Walker MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Zoo and Aquarium Group, behind the campaign. "But this extinction will be on the scale of the dinosaurs."
Walker has the support of 259 colleagues and Sir David Attenborough. One of the guests at yesterday's press conference – a Rococo toad – disgraced himself, by soiling Walker's front while the pair posed together (kissing?) for a photograph. Ken Livingstone did not attend.
Prezza 'throwing his weight around' in Hull selection
The battle for John Prescott's car parking rights at the constituency office in Hull East approaches D-Day. As the temperature rises, there are grumbles locally about a, erm, bull elephant in the corner – none other than Prezza himself.
The former deputy prime minister's son, David, is one of seven candidates to make the final shortlist after Saturday's meeting of the Hull East Labour Party.
Each of the candidates had to go in, one at a time, to address about 30 local activists. Sitting at the back of the hall throughout was what some describe as an unwanted and unhelpful observer: John Prescott.
He took great interest in proceedings, scribbling notes as his son's competitors took to the floor.
He was within his rights to be there, but had given the firm impression that he would stay away from the contest for fear it would prejudice David's chances and look like nepotism.
"John doesn't care about that any more," said one source close to the battle. "David needs all the help he can get." Said another: "It looks like nepotism and that is not good for the party. His presence was a pressure on others at the meeting."
A Hull Labour source disagrees, claiming the gripes come from opponents with "vested interests" who are displaying "ingratitude" for Prezza's services to Hull.
Also in the running is JP's secretary (just a normal secretary, not a diary secretary), Della Georgeson.
Charming JP even called Pandora back last night. When I explained, he declared: "Gah! Diaries!" Click.
Parlour game pays off for asylum inmate Emily
All go for Emily Mortimer the daughter of Rumpole mastermind Sir John. Yesterday brought the announcement that the graceful English actress is to play an escaped mental patient pursued by cop Leonardo DiCaprio, in Martin Scorsese's forthcoming drama Shutter Island, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.
The project begins filming in Massachusetts on 6 March – meaning Mortimer is cutting it fine. As reported here, Mortimer makes her off-Broadway debut the previous evening in British playwright Jez Butterworth's domestic paranoia Parlour Games.
Happily, a source close to the star explains that a compromise was reached: "She can still lead in the play, then join the Scorsese movie a month into shooting."
On the down side, DiCaprio will not be contractually obliged, as Ewan MacGregor was in Young Adam, to fling ketchup and custard over her derobed form.
Wintour warms to Oxford
Anna Wintour side-stepped any cream chucking at Paris Fashion Week last night by dropping by to address the Oxford Union.
The fur-wearing American Vogue editrix, who in 2005 was pelted with a tofu pie by animal rights activists, said the talk was "good timing", since it's her son Charlie Schaffer's last year at Oxford.
Not the first time Wintour has shown Oxford her generous side. Two years ago, when Charlie helped to organise Magdalen College's ball, Ma prompted the hip-hop icon Pharrell Williams to cross the pond and play at the bash gratis.
Crossing Wintour in the corridors of the Union last night was David Icke, the one-time Coventry City goalie who believes the world is ruled by a secret reptilian sect, the Illuminati. Who has the colder blood?
A chance to knock the pearly white smirk off Gary Lineker's mug. On 24 April, Cancer Research UK will host its Sporting Turn The Tables lunch at the Café Royal. Lineker will be grilled by ex-England prop Gareth Chilcott. Pandora would like readers to suggest a killer question to make him squirm. Organisers promise the best one will be asked. I offer a fizzy bottle. I'm sure you can think of something.
* It's not all gloom for Newsnight's political editor Michael Crick, whose love life was turned over in the News of the World. The Jeremy Lee agency has signed him up for after-dinner speaking. He is band "C" (£2,500-£5,000). Perhaps Crick will disclose whether or not his manhood really is named "Richard".
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