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People: Revolutionary approach to publicity

HE PREFERS khaki to united colours, but that hasn't deterred Benetton from offering Fidel Castro a job, should he wish to retire as President of Cuba. The publicity-hungry Italian clothing group has invited Castro to head a school that it plans to set up for young artists from around the world.

'We plan a revolutionary kind of school without teachers and books, and what better than having a revolutionary at its head?' the company president, Luciano Benetton, said. 'Castro's work is coming to an end. Something must change in Cuba. It may be that he has more time to travel in the future. If he were to accept, it might do something to improve Cuba's relations with the United States.'

The planned study and research centre, near Benetton's base in Treviso, could open late next year to about 30 young people who have displayed talent in applied arts.

BACK on the airwaves, this time in Canada, is Arthur Kent, better known as the Scud Stud. Kent will be presenting Canadian Broadcasting Corp's long-running current affairs programme Man Alive, which in his words 'looks at the moral and ethical dilemmas that all of us face, whether as individuals, as governments or as countries'.

Kent's earlier CBC and BBC work got him noticed and hired by NBC, the US network, and his good looks under fire during the Gulf war earned him his sobriquet. Although he'll be working in Toronto, Kent will maintain a base in Los Angeles, where he is suing NBC for his suspension and subsequent sacking after he refused an assignment in Croatia.

TALKING to the Turkish press about his flight from Britain, Asil Nadir, the self-styled Belgravia One, said he had slipped down a fire escape at dawn to a waiting car chauffeured by a Formula One driver. All went well until the police started to follow the car on its way to an airport in Dorset. Nadir lit up his first cigarette in nearly six months and ordered the driver to speed up to 160mph. 'If we slow down, the police will suspect us,' he told the driver.

Not that the driver had much choice. Nadir said he was cradling a pistol in his lap and that his teams at stops in airports in France, Austria and Turkey were all armed. 'I was determined to use the pistol if necessary,' he said. 'If the police had stopped me, I would have shot all four of them. I said if the driver stopped, I would shoot him too.'

A THAI official is worried that Madonna may scandalise and undermine his country, known for tolerating a huge sex industry. 'If she strips off her clothes in front of the audience, could we tolerate that?' the Education Minister, Samphan Thongsamak, asked. 'That would be against Thai people's ethics and culture and totally unacceptable.'

The minister, who earlier gave a green light to plans for a Madonna performance in Bangkok, was having second thoughts. 'If she really wants to perform here it should be in an enclosed venue, not the National Stadium.'

Michael Jackson will be performing at the 40,000-seat stadium soon, but as the minister pointed out 'a man singing and a woman undressing are totally different'. Totally.

(Photograph omitted)