Pandora: From Four Weddings to Litvinenko the film

Much moustache twitching over at the Russian embassy, where officials are bracing themselves for a revival in the intrigue surrounding the death of Alexander Litvinenko.

The mysterious poisoning of the former KGB spy, which he blamed on the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is about to be made into a film – and Mike Newell, director of Four Weddings and A Funeral, has been called in to write and direct it.

The project is to be based on The Terminal Spy, the book by Alan Cowell, The New York Times' London bureau chief. At one stage Johnny Depp was rumoured to be producing it, though his involvement appears to have fallen by the wayside after Warner Brothers bought the film's rights from his company, Infinitum Nihil.

Newell's film isn't, in fact, the only Litvinenko project in the pipelines. Another, based on the banned book he sought to publish with historian Yuri Felshtinsky, is said to be underway.

Whether or not any officials from Litvinenko's home country plan to attend either's premiere remains to be seen.

"It doesn't sound interesting to us," snapped a spokesperson for the embassy. "People make films about whatever they like. It's not something for us to worry about."

Winner ensures he gets his 10 per cent

Hats off to Michael Winner – who has not only managed to have his personal hairdresser and make-up artist hired for his new TV series Michael Winner's Dining Stars, but has also

wheedled a commission out of ITV for finding a sponsor. Winner tells us he approached his friends at the insurance company eSure about the matter. "When I asked for a 15 per cent commission ITV first of all refused," he jokes. "We had some talks and they finally agreed after I dropped the percentage, but not by much!"

Bennett's head gives the silent treatment

Surely not! Alan Bennett appears to be suffering from a very specific form of writer's block. The playwright claims that, despite his best efforts, he has been unable to write any further segments of the famous Talking Heads series which made him a household name.

"They were all voices in my head," he said of the star-studded programme to an audience at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. "Thora Hird, Maggie Smith and the rest. I wrote them very quickly but I seem to have run out of voices.

"I simply can't do it any more. Believe me I've tried. I simply can't. I wish I could."

Alas, so do we!

Mirror men out to wind up Cameron wind-up duty

Top-level investigations at the Daily Mirror. We're told the Labour-supporting red-top has taken to stationing a reporter outside David Cameron's Notting Hill home with the aim of getting his goat before he heads to work. "Every morning he comes out three times," we are told. "The first to collect his milk and papers, and the second to take his children to school. The third time he's heading to work and that's when the questioning starts, not that he ever answers them." No doubt Andy Coulson, Cameron's thrusting spinner, is thrilled.

Hoult's keeping it all under his hat

We very much hope that Nicholas Hoult hasn't taken our recent reference to his "hemp-hatted debut in About A Boy" too seriously. "I didn't realise this was an event where they were taking photos!" exclaimed the young actor on arriving at Monday's launch of Sony PlayStation's new game, Heavy Rain. "I've come with my big woolly hat on." Hoult has been gathering plaudits for his role in A Single Man, the debut film from fashion designer Tom Ford. Clearly Ford's own sartorial standards have yet to rub off.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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