Pandora: Grant takes Europe's scribes to the very edge of reason

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The Independent Online

* Hugh Grant's colourful love life is turning into a serious problem for the Hollywood bigwigs trying to promote his new film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

* Hugh Grant's colourful love life is turning into a serious problem for the Hollywood bigwigs trying to promote his new film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.

Last week, this column revealed that journalists wishing to interview Grant were being forced to sign a draconian contract, which - among other things - prevented them asking about his new girlfriend, Jemima Khan.

Now the floppy-haired matinée idol has pulled out of an interview with the Foreign Press Association in Los Angeles, which was due to supply the British press with material in advance of the film's launch early next month.

Yesterday, it emerged that the FPA press conference scheduled for tomorrow would not go ahead.

"He's cancelled," said an organiser. "You'll have to ask his publicist, if you want someone to explain why."

Dozens of papers and magazines from across Europe were left high and dry by the cancellation.

"It's a right mess," says a source at one glossy. "Grant is totally paranoid. He wants an assurance that his words won't be reprinted in any tabloids. We can't guarantee that, so he's pulled out.

"We were planning to run a big interview; now I'm inclined to ignore the Bridget Jones release altogether."

Grant's production company, Simian Films - which handles his media - wouldn't comment yesterday.

* DAISY GOODWIN, the comely face of poetry on the BBC, faces a literary challenge from the most unlikely quarter. Her mother, Jocasta Innes, is writing an autobiography.

It's a bold move: Goodwin is also working on a "childhood memoir", having signed a lucrative contract with HarperCollins.

"I've been trying to write mine for years, but TV keeps getting in the way, and now I've discovered that my mother is also doing hers," she said, at the launch of her Poems to Last a Lifetime .

"She was a bit miffed when I said I was doing one, and now she's gone to Greece for a couple of months to write. So it looks like there'll be two different versions coming out."

Goodwin's memoir is inspired by her parents' divorce. Sadly, I gather it won't cover the mid-1990s, when she was briefly Andrew Motion's mistress.

* NIGELLA LAWSON'S new cookbook, Feast , shares its title with a scholarly tome published by Sir Roy Strong, in 2002.

"There is no copyright on titles," says the great aesthete, near right. "In fact, in the Sixties, Lady Harlech published a book called Feast Without Fuss , which is very good. This is just another cookery book. I have 500 of them already, but none of hers and I don't think I'll need this one."

As to the role of Lawson, far right, in society, Sir Roy adds: "So long as we live in a culture dominated by Hello! magazine and the like, she has a place - she's just a harmless female."

* Worrying news for Jim Naughtie and John Humphrys: a "big name" has joined the political team on one of Radio 4's rival stations. Jerry Springer will be covering the US elections for Capital FM, and I gather that in one slot, he's going to interview fellow celebrities about how they'll vote.

"We've got Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hanks and Minnie Driver, who's not eligible to vote but is very outspoken," says a Capital spokesman. "But they're all in favour of Kerry. We've had a bit of trouble, actually, finding anyone to speak up for Bush."

* The Observer's leading article on Iraq was rewritten late on Saturday night.

In early editions, the newspaper softened the pro-war line it has (controversially) adopted for the past year. But by the main print run, its tone had been subtly altered.

"I gave it an edit and then I edited it a bit more, tidying it up and changing various little details," explains The Observer's editor, Roger Alton.

"I slightly adjusted the suggestion that there was any need for an apology as I don't personally believe that there was, other than what we've had already."

Fleet Street gossips reckon the alteration followed pressure from Downing Street. But Alton insists not. "Are you fucking insane?" he asks, when I raise the question. "Don't be ridiculous. That's just bloody insulting."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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