David Lister: Julianne? Nicole? Which screen redhead will play Rebekah?

The Week in Arts
Click to follow

The veteran Watergate journalist Bob Woodward said on Thursday that there would probably be a book about the News of the World hacking scandal.

Doubtless there will be. But there will equally certainly be a movie or TV mini-series. So the burning question in the world of middle-aged actresses is who will play Rebekah Brooks.

I have a hunch that the News International chief executive would love to be played by that most fragrant of fellow redheads Nicole Kidman. But Rebekah might have to dream on as far as being played by Nicole goes. I wouldn't rule out, though, another Hollywood redhead, Julianne Moore. She has a harder edge to her than Kidman and there might be a more natural fit here. Then again, if superstars don't mind a bit of hair dye, one could easily imagine Meryl Streep reprising her The Devil Wears Prada office vixen, or Glenn Close her ruthless power bitch turn from Damages.

Ah, that hair. It's not just a case of dye, of course. The hair is, as they say, big, and Hollywood's image consultants may not be too happy about the likes of Close and Streep going for such extreme measures, even in the interests of method acting. I think I'd choose Julianne Moore, probably more of a character actress than some of her peers, and with a steely glint in her eye that goes with the Wapping territory.

But the glory of culture at the moment is that one can look beyond movies and TV for relatively rapid depictions of political and social scandals. Opera is proving a remarkably adaptable art form in this regard. The current production of Two Boys at the English National Opera is based on a true-life story of a chatroom relationship that ended in a murder. Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House last year told the story in arias of the Playboy model's tragic life. Indeed, Eva-Maria Westbroek, the soprano who played Anna Nicole, had exceedingly big hair to match her big voice. She could sing Rebekah wonderfully, with the redoubtable baritone Bryn Terfel singing her mentor Rupert Murdoch.

In the theatre, a play about the News of the World could see an overdue return to the stage of Emma Thompson. From Nanny McPhee to Rebekah Brooks is a leap, it's true, but Emma is nothing if not versatile.

Sadly, I can't see the hacking scandal as a dance piece, though the wonderful Sylvie Guillem, of a similar age to Rebekah and coincidentally also blessed with a mane of long red hair, was at her mesmerising best in London this week, and never says no to a challenge.

But it is on screen, I suspect, that the protagonists in this scandal will first be portrayed, and I don't think we will have to wait very long.

Whatever her present troubles, Rebekah is headed for Hollywood stardom. Woodward himself had the enviable pleasure of being played by Robert Redford on screen, and Rebekah Brooks may yet end a terrible year by being absurdly flattered.

Latecomers don't deserve priority

I've campaigned for a long time against rip-off booking fees and other charges at theatres. But a reader, Dr RW Smith from Marlow, writes to tell me that, in addition, I should do something to draw attention to late running. Dr Smith says that he has come across a number of instances of poor time-keeping recently. A performance of Flare Path in the West End, for example, started more than 10 minutes late. When he complained, the management told him that they had to wait for a coach party that had been delayed. This was little consolation to Dr Smith, who had to leave before the end to catch his train. He's right. The boast of theatre managements is that performances start on time. Catching a train home from a West End performance if you live outside the capital is logistically hairy at the best of times.

It's interesting to learn, though, in a variation to the usual phrase, that latecomers will not be admitted ... unless there's a coach-load of them.

I want to listen to Paul Simon, not you

It's taking a risk, I know, to complain about people talking at a rock concert. It might sound just a little pompous. And, of course, when it comes to an outdoor gig or a festival it's long been part of the experience to stand in a group of people, chatting from time to time, and going to get a beer between chats. That's an established part of outdoor gig-going.

But I do feel the "rules" should be a little different indoors. At the Paul Simon concert at the Roundhouse in London last weekend, numerous people seemed to talk non-stop throughout some of the most intricate musicianship and some of the most delicate ballads. It didn't help.

Why exactly did they go? I struggled to work that out. Still, it did lead me to reflect during one of his most famous early hits that never has "The Sound of Silence" felt less appropriately named.