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Alice Jones: A circulation boost from beyond the grave


So now we know. Had Princess Diana lived to celebrate her 50th birthday yesterday she would be Botoxed, wearing J Crew and have 10 million followers on Twitter.

She would be raising millions for Sudan and suing The News of the World over phone hacking. She would have remarried at least twice, be BFFs with Carole Middleton, though a smidgeon jealous of Kate and spend her free time poking Sarkozy on Facebook. As for how she'd look, well, obviously, she'd look like Diana – slim, blonde and chic but with crows' feet and a slightly saggy neck. How do we know this? Because Newsweek told us so.

This week, on the eve of Prince William's 11-day tour of North America, his first official overseas engagement with his new wife, the US magazine adorned their cover with a ghoulish vision of Kate walking alongside a computer-resurrected, artificially aged Diana.

Inside, in a creepy piece of carrion journalism, Tina Brown, Newsweek editor and author of The Diana Chronicles, riffs at length on the Noughties Princess. There's an imagined encounter with Gorbachev at a charity ball ("she would have caused his birthmark to flush deeper as she leaned in..."), prurient speculation on her love life (and "her yen for dashing Muslim men") and the bizarre assertion that Diana would have been "first on the scene, in a hard hat" after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and both tsunamis.

I don't think it's supposed to be funny and it's certainly not a tribute. Some of it is pretty offensive. So what's the point? According to Brown, it's an "intriguing package to show what she'd be like today". Not a terrible idea (the picture is another matter) but the resulting profile is a Frankenstein's monster of celebrity deities stitched together with cliches of modern womanhood rather than any recognisable human being.

Here's another "intriguing" scenario – where would Newsweek's sales and Tina Brown's profile be without their royal boost from beyond the grave?


The leap from front page to silver screen now happens at warp speed and so it is that not one but five Wikileaks movies are in the pipeline. Rights to the various books on the subject have been snapped up by Universal, Dreamworks and HBO while credible names like Paul Greengrass, the writer of The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal and Enron director Alex Gibney are lining up. The appeal of the real-life global conspiracy thriller is clear - it's All The President's Men meets The Social Network. And Julian Assange will make for a memorably flawed hero.

Who best, though, to capture the white-haired whistleblower on screen? Julian the younger is easy – Tom Felton, aka slimy schoolboy bully Draco Malfoy, has time now that Harry Potter is ending. As for the adult Assange, Neil Patrick Harris looks rather like him while among British actors, Michael Sheen could go to town on that Australian bass, John Simm has the right shrewish charm and Paul Bettany has demonstrated zealous albino acting chops in The Da Vinci Code. My choice, though, would be Kevin Spacey, currently wowing theatres with his campy, megalomaniac Richard III. Failing him? Tilda Swinton. Stranger things have happened in Hollywood.


Only 24 hours to go until Wimbledon's climax. No, not the men's final – the BBC highlights montage. Watching the closing minutes of coverage on the final Sunday – Cash clambering through the crowds, Novotna's tears, Krajicek's streaker and Llodra felling a ball girl, to an emotive soundtrack of "That's Life" or "Bring Me Sunshine" – is something of a sacred ritual. When Tsonga beat Federer in the quarter finals and celebrated with a skippy little cross-court dance, my first thought was not of giant-slaying victory but "that'll be great for the montage".

Wimbledon is full of these eccentric golden moments: that's why players and viewers alike love it. This year, I expect much slow-mo roof vs rain action, plenty of Bethanie "Gaga" Mattek-Sands in her eyepatches and knee-highs and a symphony of Sharapova squeaks. I suppose Murray might feature, too. Can't wait.