Pandora: 'Standard' opera row has a dramatic finish

The long-running legal row between the British composer Keith Burstein and London's Evening Standard is heading for the stage.

Two years ago, Burstein lost a libel case against the newspaper after trying to argue that one of its critics had unfairly suggested in a 2005 review that Manifest Destiny, his opera featuring suicide bombers, glorified terrorism. The case bankrupted him and resulted in the Standard owning his royalties.

Now, in a delicious irony, the saga is being turned into a play by the Stop the War Coalition's press secretary, David Wilson.

The Reader will be staged next Friday at the Oxford House Theatre in Bethnal Green, east London, and stars the seasoned performers Corin Redgrave and Tim Pigott-Smith.

"It is a slightly surreal play," says Wilson. "But we got both actors involved as they have been very sympathetic to the cause. It will be on for one night only, but we hope someone might want to take it on somewhere else."

'Potter' role for Walcott's girl wins film role

Melanie Slade, the girlfriend of Arsenal and England footballer Theo Walcott, has broken with the WAG tradition by landing herself a job. The 19-year-old appears in the upcoming film Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows.

"I was in a scene with Hermione watching a Quidditch game and had a couple of lines to say," she tells Pandora. "I'd love to do more acting."

The unlikely cameo came about thanks to Walcott's aunt Yvonne, whose partner happens to be the film's director David Yates. Handy!

Tasteless book promotion backfires

The Jo Moore prize for least sensitive email of the year so far goes to the marketing staff at the children's publisher Halliday, who thought Wednesday a good day to write to journalists under the subject title "Tie-in with David Cameron Bereavement".

It was to promote the company's "best-selling" picture book about child bereavement, called The Lonely Tree. "We have already sent a signed and dedicated copy to the Camerons this morning, but would like to introduce you to this charming title in case you don't already know it," the email read.

Not surprisingly, the publisher has since issued a hasty apology to all recipients of the email, and the marketing employee responsible has been suspended.

Davies gets acquainted with The Streets

Alan Davies appears to have struck a frankly surprising relationship with the Brummie rapper Mike Skinner.

Davies has been in regular contact with The Streets frontman of late via the social messaging website Twitter. It transpires that Skinner is a big fan of the comedian's television drama Jonathan Creek. On Wednesday, Skinner enquired about whether any more episodes were going to made after last year's Christmas special, which, he assured Davies, was "bangin'."

"Hopefully doing a Creek in the summer," replied Davies. "Ta for watching."

Five minutes later, however, after presumably getting deluged by messages from nerdy Creek fans, Davies was forced to put out a clarification.

"Nothing definite on future Creeks," he wrote. "How can I stop this torrent of questions? As soon as I know for sure I will tweet."

Cherie heads home

Is it Cherie Blair's turn in the political spotlight? As her husband Tony played with elephants on Sir Richard Branson's game reserve in South Africa yesterday, she was in Merseyside as guest of honour at a "hotpot supper" hosted by Wirral South Labour Party.

Interestingly, it is the second time she has visited the area recently. Just before Christmas, she dropped in at Wirral Hospital with the local Labour MP, Ben Chapman, to open a new cancer unit. Scousers insist Mrs Blair is "a Crosby girl at heart".

pandora@independent.co.uk

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