Pandora: Sam makes a date for the diary with modern artists

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The Independent Online

There were several things that Tony Blair resolutely didn't "do". One of them was, memorably, God. Another was art. He was apparently fearful that the art world's elitist image in the eyes of the proles might damage his crafted "man of the people" aura.

Reassuring for paint-flecked brush-wavers, then, that the Camerons have no such compunction.

The Conservative leader's wife, Samantha Gwendoline obtained a fine arts degree at Bristol Polytechnic. In October, she was spotted perusing the edgy (and frequently just odd) exhibits at London's Frieze Art Fair, reportedly leaving with a bargain (?) new work by an up-and-coming artist.

Sam Cameron is now offering further patronage to our hungry artisans, busily signing up modern artists to produce her a limited edition 2009 diary for the swanky stationers Smythson of Bond Street, where she resides as creative director.

The diary will be crafted in conjunction with The Art Newspaper and is a work in progress, as they say. But Pandora understands Sam has enlisted the Saatchi-spotted painter Gary Hume to produce a cover, and she has her eye on other Turner Prize luminaries Tracey Emin and Rachel Whiteread.

"The artists haven't been confirmed yet, though we hope to announce them in June," says a spokesman. "As for the diary, it should be out in September."

Mortimer steps off the screen to follow father

Willowy actress Emily Mortimer sometimes seems caught between the arthouse and the Pink Panther film series. One reason might be that the 36-year-old – daughter of chipper Rumpole creator Sir John – is following in her old man's footsteps. She has been busy writing, and has finished a screenplay, subject unknown.

"Emily's been entrenched in Starbucks in Brooklyn writing a lot, on the phone to a friend in London," says a New York coffee shop gossip. "It'll be in production by the end of the year."

The name of David Mackenzie is touted for the directorship. He worked with Emily on 2003's Young Adam, in which Ewan MacGregor memorably flung ketchup and custard over her naked figure.

Mortimer's previous screenwriting attempt, an adaptation of Lorna Sage's memoir Bad Blood, "sent me out of my mind" – but has never gone before the film set lights. All the best this time.

Tom's eye on the free fizz

A rum deal for Tom Hanks, who is among the Hollywood A-listers hit by the cancellation of this Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, in support of the strike by the Writers Guild of America.

It not only deprives the two-time Oscar winner of another blubbery acceptance speech – he has been nominated for Best Actor for his riotous performance in Charlie Wilson's War, about the CIA's involvement in the 1980s Afghanistan-USSR conflict. The cancellation also means he'll miss a snazzy "craic".

"It's a shame, the Globes are one of the best bashes," Hanks said at his London premiere. "They ply you with food and really nice champagne. I was always satisfied with a little tipple, and you get to catch up with lots of friends."

A bit more fraternal spirit for your kinsmen at the braziers, please Tom!

Press pressed

Icy blasts in the corridors of the Foreign Office – and not only those from David Miliband's sudden Siberian-style exiling of his top spin doctor, Lucian Hudson.

The FCO has decided to end its annual payment to the Foreign Press Association – the prestigious trade body for overseas hacks in a grand building on Carlton House Terrace – as part of general cost-cutting. The association has been left in a financial pickle, needing to generate a minimum annual income of £100,000. HSBC has declined to offer it a fat overdraft and the committee warns, in a letter to the club's 700 luminescent members: "The amount we owe urgently to creditors is in the region of £50,000."

One option is to cash in its rainy day stocks and shares. Donations and sponsorship offers would be very welcome.

Send in the clowns...

It's not only immigrants who appear to scare the editor of the Express. Peter Hill – known to Private Eye readers by the middle name "Mentally" for his rhetorical flourishes with staff as print deadlines approach – is rumoured to fear clowns.

"We avoid mentioning them," says one lackey, worried that a rival paper's recent article on the subject was an attempt to knock Hill off his perch.

Editor Hill says the whispers are "absolute nonsense". I hope so, because this is no laughing matter. The fear of clowns is a recognised condition known as coulrophobia, commonly brought about by a traumatic personal experience or cultural reference: think Bubbles the Clown from the BBC test card, Batman's The Joker, or Pennywise, the terrifying fanged monster from Stephen King's It. Boo!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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