Pandora: McGee creates a storm over a form

Alice-Azania Jarvis
Monday 24 November 2008 01:00

He is the legendary music mogul behind such greats as Oasis, Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream, and one of the industry's most influential voices. Now Creation Records' founder Alan McGee has lent his support to a campaign against legislation which critics say will pour cold water over the UK music industry.

Following news last week that music business campaigner and singer Feargal Sharkey was applying for a judicial review into Form 696, a piece of bureaucracy that forces music venues to register detailed information on their acts and the ethnic make-up of their audiences, McGee tells me that he's outraged at the extent of interference that the form could initiate.

"I think it's absolutely shocking that anyone is doing this – it reinforces racial stereotypes and creates a Big Brother state. What I worry about is the totalitarian aspect, people knowing what the likely audience will be. It's another step in the CCTV, fingerprint, eyeball scanning direction."

Of equal concern, he claims, is the assumption that audiences' race is relevant to security. "Why should they need to know the ethnic background? People's freedoms are being eroded. It's scary. No promoter is going to be able to predict their audience. They'll be forced to stereotype, say 'oh all black kids like hip-hop and white kids like rock' when really those aren't accurate.

"It's the absolute antithesis of rock'n'roll. It's outrageous."

Stars' dubious Dubai welcome

A lesson in how not to get good publicity from the world's most expensive holiday resort, the newly-opened Atlantis in Dubai.

The luxury hotel invited more than 100 high-profile guests to their extravagant four-day opening bash, including such showbiz luminaries such as Lily Allen, Agyness Deyn and Kylie Minogue.

Unfortunately, the jolly didn't extend to a free pass through Dubai's notorious airport security, where several stars were forced to endure a thorough strip-search before being allowed in.

Lily Allen, who last year was denied entry to the US following an alleged assault outside a London nightclub, was one of the lucky visitors told to drop their lower garments.

"It was so nice as soon as you arrive," she told reporters, with a wan smile. "It took more than an hour. It was really scary as they didn't tell you what they were doing, they just said, 'Take off trousers'."

It's certainly one way of grabbing the headlines – though perhaps not quite the ones Dubai's tourist bosses were hoping for.

Dame Viv not keen on biopic

After her strong castigation of "uncultured" government ministers last week, fashion industry doyenne Dame Vivienne Westwood appears to have since come over rather bashful.

The eccentric designer is rumored to be the subject of an upcoming biopic, reportedly starring Kate Winslet in the lead role.

Set over four decades, it has been billed as chronicling her rise to fame, from her punk roots in the 1970s to her status as an international icon today.

When I spoke to her at a recent cocktail party, however, Westwood played coy, telling me: "I'm not sure what's happening with that. Hopefully they will drop it."

The TV show that lived up to its name

Joining the queue of those eager to bash the BBC we have actor Warren Clarke, who tells me he is none too pleased with the Corporation's handling of his recent TV series, The Invisibles. "We worked our behinds off on that thing, we really did," he groans despondently. "And then the prats in charge at the BBC's scheduling department got it completely wrong." No wonder he's angry. The show went out on Thursdays at 9pm – and of course no one watches TV then. Do they?

Mute Davies in an awkward position

Mischief at the Police Review Awards, where a guest swapped name places leaving Tarique Ghaffur seated next to Tory maverick David Davies. Not long ago Davies, MP for Monmouth, attacked the Black Police Association for backing Ghaffur in his allegations of racial discrimination.

Davies confirms that conversation was stilted: "It caused me a sharp intake of breath. I decided that should the subject come up, I would exercise my right to silence."

Proprietor patrol for divine dining?

It's all hands on deck at Tom Aikens' swish Chelsea restaurant. Pandora spotted the chef touring the dining room of his eponymous eatery, checking all was satisfactory. A wise precaution given the unfortunate fate of his nearby chip shop – it was forced to close after complaints from locals about the smell.

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