Theatre power spat proves that any publicity will do

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The Independent Online

* "Top 100" lists are often, by their nature, rather arbitrary and prone to controversy. So I hear of a wonderful lack of perspective from Lord Lloyd Webber's publicists, who have rung Time Out magazine to complain about the theatre impresario's omission from its "100 Movers and Shakers 2006". (Not on Lloyd Webber's instructions, apparently - he is abroad.)

A source at Time Out tells me: "Lloyd Webber's publicity person just called, furiously demanding why Andrew wasn't on the list, given that he's got several hit West End shows at the moment, and that Cameron Mackintosh is No 27.

"She said Andrew hasn't seen the issue yet. But she was steaming and wanted to find out our criteria before explaining it to him. It's a hoot that she should care so much. We're flattered."

A spokeswoman at Lloyd Webber's public relations firm confirmed: "I just rang up and asked why he hadn't been included. People like [stage manager] Nica Burns were on it so I wondered why Lord Lloyd Webber wasn't. The journalist snapped at me and said the list was subjective."

She added: "Andrew doesn't know anything about the list. He didn't ask me to call."

Time Out's editor, Gordon Thomson, defended the exclusion of Lloyd Webber (and the inclusion of the capital's 10,000 foxes at No 6).

"As far as we are concerned, foxes are more influential in London life than Andrew Lloyd Webber.

"If his publicists are prepared to argue the case for his inclusion in 2007 we'd be happy to consider him then."

Better luck next time!

* Robin Williams had a brief affinity of sorts with the aquatic world earlier this year - namely his ability to drink like a fish. He subsequently checked into rehab to beat alcoholism, because he was "violating standards faster than [he] could lower them".

So it's good to see the actor promoting his latest (animated) film Happy Feet, which is about Mumble, a singing emperor penguin.

"Our President thinks the Kyoto Accord is a nice car," says Williams about the movie's environmental themes.

"There's no such thing as global warming - that's why they had Michael Crichton speak to Congress, which is always great when you want scientific fact, to get a really good science fiction writer. By the year 2048 we'll have fished out the oceans, or 98 per cent, which leaves two crabs and a haddock. That's a big idea.

"It is weird to live in America, where we have an administration that's like, 'It's not happening'."

Whereas over here, we talk apocalyptically... while the ice caps melt. Carry on!

* Another day, another delightful item of Beatles memorabilia goes under the hammer. This afternoon, a grim-looking grey shirt once belonging to John Lennon will be sold in Cooper Owen's Music Legends auction at Air Studios. It is expected to fetch more than £6,000.

Lennon apparently gave it to now-ageing Aussie rock chick Kerry Collingwood when the pair got locked inside a bathroom together at a party in Brisbane, in 1964. (Don't ask.)

"That shirt travelled with me to England and back," she says. "And it was lent to a few Australian singers in various bands here. After 1980 it was put in a shoebox in the back of a wardrobe."

I hope she has since washed it.

* Disquiet among Fleet Street's legal correspondents about the Labour government's "erosion of civil liberties", after Lord Chancellor Charlie Falconer unexpectedly locked them in a press conference for 90 minutes on Tuesday.

Most irked was The Guardian's legal editor, Clare Dyer. "I told Falconer I had a plumber coming at 11.30," she tells me, "but he said we would have to stay there until midday, when he gave his speech to the House, so we wouldn't break the embargo."

It took mutterings about claiming damages for false imprisonment for Falconer to allow Dyer to leave - and only then after she took a Mafia-style vow of omerta. She fled home.

Her plumber arrived two hours late.

* On Tuesday I reported that Radio 4 broadcaster Simon Fanshawe - author of a guide to "the minefield of modern manners" - has asked 150 friends to pay £35 to come to his 50th birthday party. "Fanny", as he is known, subsequently suffered a profanity-strewn "episode" directed at Pandora.

It seems my experience is, reassuringly, not unique. Writes one reader: "He is a monster if crossed. We went to see a film and the tickets were sold out. In the crowded foyer, Fanny screamed: 'The fucking stupid c* * * !!' - to the alarm of assembled cinema-goers." Says another: "He is the only person to have called me a c* * * in public. At great volume."

I have started a Simon Fanshawe Charity Swear Box. Pandora will donate £5 to charity for each credible report of a Fanny-uttered cussword. He aimed a triple-fuck and a shit at me (£20), and the three profanities listed above take the running total to £35 (enough to go to his party). E-mail address at the top!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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