Diary: The Lone Ranger and Panza

By High Street Ken
Tuesday 22 February 2011 01:00

News has broken that Johnny Depp will play Tonto in a film version of The Lone Ranger. Rather than stick to the text of the 1950s TV serial, however, director Gore Verbinski lured his star with a promise that he'd take inspiration from Cervantes' classic picaresque novel Don Quixote – with, one report suggests, "the Lone Ranger [as] a misguided fool and Tonto the voice of sanity, akin to Quixote's companion, Sancho Panza".

All very exciting for Messrs Verbinski and Depp, I'm sure, but what about dear Terry Gilliam? Gilliam, 70, has long been trying to make his own Quixote movie and the original doomed shoot, featuring Depp as Sancho Panza, was chronicled in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha. A second attempt went awry when Gilliam encountered more "financial hiccups" as this column revealed in August. He had been forced to cast Ewan McGregor as Sancho Panza; the more bankable Depp was still busy with Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

So what should the cranky old Python make of Depp's Panza plans?

* To what does Royal Wedding guest and ITV newsman Tom Bradby turn his mind when he's on holiday? His rivals' paychecks, naturally. "Have been thinking about revelation of Andy Marr's salary. I like him a lot, think he works hard and is very smart. But 600k? Seems a lot," Bradby mused on Twitter yesterday, referring to the leak of Marr's substantial annual earnings.

"I assume it means Huw Edwards and all the others also paid a very great deal," Bradby went on, struggling to keep his balance on the tightrope of impartiality. "I think it is really hard to justify in any time, let alone right now... There used to be a much greater sense of parity between the BBC and us. But over the last 10 [years], that has gradually disappeared... And no, I am not jealous," he insisted, some 20 tweets later. "But I do think some things have got out of control."

Despite being on leave, Bradby seemed to be tweeting in his official capacity as ITV's political editor, which is perhaps what finally prompted his colleague Mark Austin to give him the digital equivalent of a kick under the table: "Tom," Austin typed anxiously, "you're very chipper this morning!" At which Bradby obligingly shut his trap. An ITV spokesperson later insisted that "Tom's comments... were his personal views on the wider media industry and not specifically directed towards Andrew Marr". Could've fooled me.

* Jacqui Smith, ex-Home Secretary and early victim of the expenses scandal, has turned humiliation into remuneration by making a programme about porn for Radio 5, Porn Again, to be broadcast next month. "Not everyone in porn is a hideous old sleazebag," Smith assured the Radio Times, describing her visit to an Erotica exhibition, where she came across her first monkey spanker. "They aren't earning as much as I expected," she says of her new acquaintances in the adult film world. "The people who get the big money didn't want to talk." Happily, however, Smith found some willing interviewees: the more modestly paid pornographic performers of Television X, a web and TV porn channel owned by costcutter, philanthropist and onetime publisher of Asian Babes, Richard Desmond.

* Boris Johnson's Telegraph column will raise hackles in Westminster again this week, as he tackles a thorny issue: skiing. Having assured readers his annual Alpine jaunt was a low budget affair – unlike George (né Gideon) Osborne's costly Klosters holiday – he then maligned the Chancellor's dress sense. "The ski-helmet epidemic is out of control," he wrote, of Osborne's preferred headgear. "Imagine a film called Tadpole Head in which a weird cranial mutation is transmitted... until thousands of formerly happy-go-lucky skiers were in its zombie-like thrall." Early £11k estimates for the cost of Osborne's trip proved inaccurate: his family saved cash by staying at the chalet of millionaire fund manager, Caspar Rock – an inconvenient detail revealed, coincidentally, by Johnson's sister Rachel. Poor Gids; you'd think the whole family had it in for him.

* In more style news, Gok Wan has been unveiled as the first "attraction" at the new Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. What, not fashionable enough for the London branch?

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