Spike Lee gets into old action films

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The Independent Online

"Spike has built a cinema on set," explained Owen, when I bumped into him at Tramp nightclub last week. "Every evening, he's been getting the cast and crew together there to watch classic heist movies."

It all sounds like hard work, but apparently there's a good reason for these extra-curricular activities.

"Spike's idea is that everyone should get into these old action films before we start shooting," added Owen. "It's his way of educating us. A heist film like The Inside Man is a bit of a departure for him, so I guess he really wants to get it right."

* Choppy waters ahead for Matthew Freud, the urbane showbusiness PR, and son-in-law to Rupert Murdoch.

A biography of the late actor-cum-gangster John Bindon is published this week, revealing that he became chummy with Freud during the 1980s.

Their close friendship is said to have begun shortly after Freud - then aged 17 - was arrested for cannabis and cocaine possession, and continued until Bindon's death in 1993 (Freud attended the funeral).

Author Wensley Clarkson says New Labour's favourite PR man was "very twitchy" about the book being written, but has now come on side after being assured that it'll paint him in a sympathetic light.

"He's stopped worrying, and may even turn up at my launch on Tuesday," he says.

* There's quite a scandal in the world of clay-pigeon shooting, after it emerged that Britain's Olympic hero Richard Faulds has been quietly stepping out with a fellow competitor, Tanya Goodman.

Members of the sporting press - most of whom were blissfully unaware of the relationship - were choking on their cornflakes last week, thanks to a press release from Beretta trumpeting Goodman's success in a European event.

"The Beretta 471 side-by-side was shared by Tanya and her fiancé Richard Faulds around the 100 bird course," it read. "This led to some pretty hot barrels!"

To the sound of jaws hitting the floor, a frantic "amendment" was soon dispatched.

"Tanya has just informed me that her engagement to Richard is not yet fully public," it read. "I hope you won't mind excluding reference to her 'fiancé' from any feature." Doh!

* A footnote to one of the more surreal rows of recent weeks, between Ann Widdecombe MP and the sex retailer Ann Summers.

Last month, Widdy told The Scotsman that she'd like to abolish the high-street chain "because it's part of the increasing emphasis in society on sex, rather than emotion and intellect."

By way of a response, the firm's MD, Jacqueline Gold, decided to send Widdecombe "a goody bag of delights, to explore in the bedroom". On Friday, the peace offering arrived. "We received a parcel that morning, containing a device called a Rampant Rabbit," says the matronly MP's office. "It came recorded delivery, and was sent straight back, unopened and unwanted."

Widdy is currently on holiday, so was spared the embarrassment of opening Gold's package. However, she regards it as "obscene mail", so goodness knows what will happen on her return.