Pandora: McGregor's gay comedy falters

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The Independent Online

Danny Boyle may be basking in unceasing glory for his film Slumdog Millionaire, but spare a thought for his erstwhile muse Ewan McGregor.

News reaches me that McGregor's new movie I Love You Phillip Morris – a comedy in which he plays one half of a gay couple opposite Jim Carrey, has yet to attract a distributor at the Sundance Film Festival. "This was expected to get picked up quickly," I'm told. "It got decent enough reviews when it was screened earlier this week but so far they haven't got a bite."

Stand up for Kelvin, would-be comedian

Stand by for the most dramatic career change since Sinead O'Connor threw down her guitar and became ordained as a priest.

Kelvin MacKenzie, the loud-mouthed former editor of The Sun, who gave birth to such legendary headlines as "Freddie Star Ate My Hamster" and "Gotcha!", is in training to become a stand-up comedian.

MacKenzie has undertaken the task for a new show on the cable channel UKTV. He made his first appearance this week at an open mike night at the Comedy Café in Shoreditch, east London.

"I started off alright but it slowly went downhill," he tells me. "I have always thought I'd like to have been a comedian. They're much more intelligent than actors – they're sort of half-actor, half-journalist.

"Do you want to hear some of my jokes? I said I would do a TV show about Poles moving back to their homeland and call it Escape From The Country. I must say I didn't really enjoy being in the spotlight like that, so it gives you a far greater appreciation of comedians."

Such as Jonathan Ross? "No, I said comedians."

Ex-RBS boss calls in the spin doctor

Like his New Labour associates before him, Sir Fred "the Shred" Goodwin's first reaction to his current crisis has been to spin his way out of trouble.

The disgraced former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, who has been blamed for much of RBS's recent financial woes, has enlisted the services of the public relations guru Phil Hall to handle the continuing media storm.

Hall, the highly regarded former editor of the News of the World, is no stranger to lost causes. He has previously represented "Lady" Heather Mills-McCartney and the frisky Formula One boss Max Mosley.

Smith sets the (cyber) record straight

The author Zadie Smith broke cover in cyberspace this week to defend herself against some uncharitable accusations made on The Guardian newspaper's website.

Commenting on a blog by the Observer journalist Robert McCrum, one reader claimed that Smith was a hypocrite because she once professed to loathe publicity, yet a few days later appeared in The Times talking about her kitchen, and then also graced the cover of the London listings magazine Time Out. Another reader childishly suggested that McCrum must be sleeping with Smith.

On Wednesday, however, Smith decided to hit back. "The young man who made the kitchen in my Kilburn flat wanted to do a piece about his work in a magazine, and of course they put my name on top of it," she retorted.

"As for Time Out, they put my picture on the cover against my will and without telling me, something I was deeply upset by at the time and complained about.

"I got kicked around a bit for it, though I never asked for it – an experience much like this thread."

Mitchell over-achieves

George Mitchell has been passed the poisoned chalice that is serving as US envoy to the Middle East. Time was, however, when his political aspirations weren't so lofty. In a letter submitted for the 2003 anthology My Original Ambition, Mitchell said he always wanted to be a "professor of history at a small college or university", but never fulfilled that dream. He added: "I now occasionally lecture at colleges and universities and, when I do, I think about what might have been."