Pandora: Pay up, or the gong gets it
Thursday 06 March 2008
Sweaty and sleepless nights for ITV Meridian's head of current affairs, Steve McDonnell, whose Royal Television Society award for The Good Food Chain was stolen during last week's ceremony at the Novotel Southampton (he insists he wasn't at the grog).
McDonnell has since had ransom demands – the first picture showed the trophy on a lavatory seat and warned "be careful who you talk to or it goes down to the sea" – from a splinter cell calling itself "The Real ITV". The latest development is a threatening YouTube video showing balaclava-clad militiamen gesturing at the camera. The captors – either McDonnell's colleagues or rivals – are ransoming the plastic ornament on eBay, search term "Never used RTS award". Bidding had last night reached £59 with eight days to go.
Broomsticks at dawn as Pratchett curses JK
Ah, a little literary ink is slung in the world of fantasy fiction, something to warm the cockles on a nippy morning.
Should the Harry Potter author JK Rowling find herself invited to inspect the carnivorous plant collection of the prolific Discworld scribe Terry Pratchett, she had best decline, lest the door to his greenhouse clicks shut, locked, behind her.
At the screening of the TV adaptation of Pratchett's mass-translated novel The Colour of Magic, I asked if he was a fan of JK.
"Not particularly," he said bluntly. "I read the first one [Harry Potter], that was fine, but now I read other things. You don't have to be a fan, it's not compulsory."
Rowling is suing the US publishers, RDR Books, who intended to publish a Harry Potter Lexicon, a 400-page reference book of potions, mystical creatures and the like for fans of the child wizard.
Pratchett disapproves of Rowling's legal action. "In fantasy writing, accusations of copying are very difficult to make," he said. "You know who invented wizards? Who invented Goblins? If we were going to start paying royalties for nicking one another's ideas, we'd have all given our life savings to the Tolkien family a long time ago."
Turns out it's not the first time Pratchett has tried to turn JK into a frog. In 2005, she said she hadn't realised the first Potter book was fantasy. He deadpanned: "I'm not the world's greatest expert, but I'd have thought the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue."
Bronson film producers hope for an inside job
Filming began in Nottinghamshire this week on Bronson, the movie biopic of the notorious convict Charles Bronson, né Michael Peterson.
The director is understandably enthusiastic to keep his Category A prisoner onside. Bronson, the self-styled "most violent prisoner in Britain" approvingly kissed the script before any cameras could be turned on. And once filming is finished and the movie has been pieced together off the digital cutting room floor, the producers plan to approach the governor at the high-security facility Full Sutton about arranging a special screening for Bronson, 55, who has been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of them in isolation for various rooftop protests, attacks on inmates and staff and hostage-takings.
"We want to show it to him to make sure he's happy with it before release," says a set source. Any volunteers to hold the popcorn?
Charley's long way alone
Charley Boorman became a minor celebrity because he was a friend of Ewan McGregor, he was nice, and he subsequently ignited his own flatulence during their televised motorbike adventures across the globe.
He has finally been given his own gig – and a third exeat from Mrs Boorman for further gallivanting. McGregor is not donning his leathers.
"I've got a deal with BBC2 for a show, By Any Means," Boorman said at a fundraiser for the Central School of Ballet. "I'm travelling from my hometown in [Co Wicklow] Ireland to Australia, using each countries' means of travel.
"So if we're in Nepal we use a donkey," Boorman said. He will walk through Papua New Guinea and hitchhike on elephants in India. Hope he doesn't have any pressing engagements.
You won't hear it from the Paris media because of their intimacy with Nicolas Sarkozy, and France's privacy laws. But the garlic-breath gossip across the Channel is that the president's recently divorced second wife, Cecilia, is to marry the Moroccan-born events organiser Richard Attias on 22 March in Manhattan. Sarko's black mood – journalists are "vultures" – will not improve.
* Eddie O'Hara, 70, MP for Knowsley South, vented forth during Prime Minister's Questions about our damaging "celebrity cocaine culture". Dennis Skinner pointed at George Osborne and David Cameron. Could it be related to Skinner's 2005 ban from the Commons for bellowing "The only thing that was growing [in the 1980s] was the lines of coke in front of Boy George"?
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