Pandora: Location dilemma for Rushdie's film

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The Independent Online

Not for the first time, Sir Salman Rushdie's next big project could face a major stumbling block.

Last week, it was announced that the Booker-winning author was teaming up with the Indian-born Canadian film director, Deepa Mehta, to work on a long-awaited film adaptation of his novel, Midnight's Children. Sir Salman and Mehta are hoping to have the film ready for 2010, but at the moment they are still looking for a studio to finance the project.

Whoever does take the film on is likely to find themselves with a hefty task on their hands. Not only has the book, which is set in India, long been branded the "unfilmable novel" but any location scouts will need to be blessed with the talents of diplomatic negotiation. One area that appears to be off the cards is Sri Lanka, where Sir Salman has already attempted one adaptation of the book. In 1997, filming was about to begin on a five-part television adaptation for the BBC, but was abruptly halted when the Sri Lankan government withdrew its permission. No official reason was given, though it was thought to have been related to protests from the local Muslim community over The Satanic Verses.

India doesn't seem to offer a much more promising alternative. Hindu extremists rioted there in 1996 over Mehta's film Fire, which centred on a lesbian relationship. So unpopular was the movie that she was forced to move the location of its 2005 follow-up, Water, to Sri Lanka.

Ferry 'treated as political prisoner'

After four years of trying, Otis Ferry has finally achieved recognition as a political martyr to the pro-hunting cause.

The tweedy pin-up has been on remand in Gloucester Prison since September for allegedly perverting the course of justice. It could be a further several months before he stands trial.

Ferry's constituency MP, the Conservative Daniel Kawczynski, reckons their refusal to grant him bail is a punishment for Ferry and his hunting chums' previous escapades.

"I have received a letter from Otis Ferry in prison and I am absolutely convinced he is being kept as a political prisoner," said Kawczynski. "I am concerned that they are putting political pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service to keep him in prison. I am in the process of going to Gloucester Prison and I am going to be speaking to him. I have also been on the phone to the governor of the prison and I am writing to the head of the CPS."

A spokesman for the CPS confirmed it had received a letter and was considering its response.

La Plante wants her actors to just grin and bare it

Lynda La Plante has bemoaned the current crop of jobbing young bucks attempting to ply their trade on British television.

The award-winning writer of Prime Suspect has been involved in the casting of ITV's forthcoming adaptation of her best-selling novel Above Suspicion. Chief among her gripes during the men's auditions was the woeful state of their oral hygiene.

"I can't tell you the trouble we had with the casting," she says. "You would think that to cast an actor who could play a possible movie star in America would be relatively easy.

"So you think 'who have we got in this country?' We have Clive Owen, Jude Law, Rhys Ifans, and he's a little bit wobbly. So we have the pick of British actors, and the important thing is that they have to have good teeth.

"It was so depressing, and it got to the stage where we thought we would even get their teeth fixed if we had to."

In the end La Plante settled on an actor called Jason Durr. I'm reliably informed that he recently featured in ITV's long-running sitcom Heartbeat.

Clarkson upsets London's Greeks

Jeremy Clarkson, in years gone by, has managed to upset environmental campaigners, the animal rights lobby and, more recently, even Britain's lorry drivers.

To that ever increasing list, I think we can now safely add London's Greek community.

In his weekly column for The Sun last Saturday, the loud-mouthed controversialist branded their homeland a "toilet" and referred to a recent campaign by the Greek National Tourist board in London, which he said featured a girl who "didn't look all that Greek either. She didn't have a moustache, for instance".

In response, John Kaponi, the Greek editor of the UK-based website London Daily News, has decided to report The Sun to the Press Complaints Commission for printing "misleading" information.

Delightfully, the Greek tourism minister is in town later this week, so Kaponi will be making sure he is suitably outraged.

David Davies, the other unbeaten Welshman

Joe Calzaghe wasn't the only Welsh pugilist to emerge victorious from a boxing ring at the weekend. Monmouth MP David Davies, the self-styled "Tory Tornado", recorded a points victory in a charity bout on Saturday which raised £10,000 for The Willow Foundation. Like his heroic compatriot, Davies remains unbeaten in the squared circle. In April, he beat Charles "The Pink Pounder" Jones, an architect who dubs himself Britain's only openly gay boxer.

'Guardian' editor bottom of class for once

Has Alan Rusbridger been guarding a dirty secret for all this time? The swotty editor of The Guardian newspaper was at yesterday's Society of Editors Conference in Bristol to present the National Council for the Training of Journalists' excellence awards to the next generation of aspiring hacks. Rusbridger admitted to his audience he was a strange choice of presenter. "I don't know why I am presenting these," he said. "I failed my NCTJ exams."

Pubs bible seeks healthy recruits staff

The weekly bible for the pub trade, The Morning Advertiser, is looking for a new features editor. Among the perks of the job, it says, is "discounted gym membership". Times certainly have changed. Says one former staffer: "The only work-outs we used to have involved seeing if you could hold your own drinks-wise with your fellow hacks, or indeed any of the soaks from the local victuallers' association."

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