Pandora: Spielberg's lawyers send a memo to Wales

Steven Spielberg's lawyers have thrown up a fascinating insight into the working mindset of the director often dubbed the most powerful man in Hollywood.

They have fired off a letter to the little-known Lampeter campus of the University of Wales, requesting that his image be removed from a document advertising its Masters degree in creative and scriptwriting.

The photograph, which was part of a collation of pictures, appeared on the cover of a flyer alongside images of the course's students.

The stern missive accuses the university of using Spielberg's image without seeking his prior permission.

For a man with a personal fortune estimated at £2bn, some might suggest such heavy-handed action conjures up images of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Understandably, the university was not in the mood for a fight.

"It was included by error – we were just trying to represent the scriptwriting aspect of the course," explains a university spokesman.

"Although of course as soon as we heard from Mr Spielberg's lawyers we destroyed all the leaflets and sent Mr Spielberg a personal letter of apology.

"I have no idea how he found out about it, but all we can say is that we're very pleased to see our marketing techniques have such a far reach."

Daniel defies linguistic rules

Daniel Craig has received mixed reviews for the Polish accent he sports in his new movie Defiance. One critic witheringly described it as a tone which "comes and goes at whim".

Hardly surprising, really, since the Bond star admits he never attempted to learn any of the language.

"I mean, I left school at 16 and I can't conjugate a verb in any language, even English," he told me at the film's premiere on Monday evening. "So I just did it phonetically."

A Mancunian accent would probably be much more up his street. Noel Gallagher recently claimed he wanted Craig to play him in a film about his band Oasis.

"He hasn't spoken to me about that yet, but if he wants to make a deal...

"But I'm a better guitar player than him," Craig added, "so I don't know how that's going to work."

Lily no fan of Terra Firma

Another day, another member of EMI's illustrious stable of musical stars delves out a kicking to the record label's private equity owners, Terra Firma. Following Robbie Williams's self-enforced strike over the company's extensive cost-cutting measures, Lily Allen's trademark loose lips have sounded off on the matter.

"It's really sad for EMI. I hate Terra Firma," she says. "They're wankers and they don't know what they're doing. They will fail. They don't know how to run a creative business. They are killing us, frankly." Allen's comments appear in an interview with The Word magazine. They're yet to offer Terra Firma's serious-minded boss, Guy Hands, the right to reply.

Plenty of room for the piano

The piano-playing Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, raised eyebrows at this week when he told guests at a lavish fundraiser at Claridge's Hotel in London that

"capitalism is dead."

Some Catholics reckon it's a bit rum, not least as the Archbishop is about to move into a six-bedroom home in Chiswick, provided by his Diocese, which sources claim was recently refurbished at "considerable expense".

Says one: "As a communicant of the Westminster Diocese, I haven't forked out the sums that I have for renovations of my local church in order for this newly found champagne socialist to spend his remaining days tinkling his ivories at my expense."

Lyons' New Year cheer

After the annus horribilis which saw the phone-in scandal and the Russell Brand debacle, BBC Chairman Sir Michael Lyons has sent staff a New Year's rallying note.

"Although last year wasn't without its problems," he writes, "... this is an organisation whose creative energies are flowing at full strength."

The issue with the licence fee, he added, is "making sure it offers the public great value".

Rachel's modest disguise

Fresh from her victory in last year's prestigious Bad Sex Awards, the writer Rachel Johnson has decided to revisit the world of the erotica.

Johnson has contributed a tale to In Bed With, an anthology of erotic fiction edited by Kathy Lette and Imogen Edwards-Jones and released by Penguin at the end of the month.

It's an interesting career move, since she was forced to relinquish her sex column in Easy Living magazine last year under orders from her family.

One piece about road-testing a "Rampant Rabbit" led to her children being teased at school. This time, however, the authors' identities are concealed under such suggestive pseudonyms as Minxy Malone and Bunty B Road.

"No one will know which one I wrote," Johnson tells me. "It's a secret which I will take to my grave."

As for her reasons for returning to writing about sex: "It might entice my husband to read more of my work."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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