Monday, December 31, 2007

JK Rowling: Wisdom of knowing what's bollocks

It’s not every day – or decade even - that ITV1 dedicates a one-hour show to a literary figure in the primetime Emmerdale and Corrie slots. In JK Rowling: A Year in the Life, the Harry Potter author known as Jo denied her fortune was anything near half a billion quid: probably an honest but not entirely accurate answer. I don’t believe she knows her actual worth in monetary terms. She’s just too rich. As early as 2004 Forbes was heralding her as the first billion dollar author.

“Unlike [Oprah] Winfrey, Rowling has created a treasure chest of intellectual property that any media firm could buy - if she were willing to sell - and continue the Harry Potter franchise. The series is going to generate billions more in revenue just from the seven-book series,” the magazine speculated.

Rowling is soooooooo rich and powerful that Bloomsbury chartered a private jet to fly her and her bearded doctor husband to the “premiere” of the final Potter book (Is there a Harry Potter carbon trail?) Dr Beardie told James Runcie – the show-maker son of Lord Runcie (balls), the former Archbishop of Canterbury – that under pressure Jo tended to freeze out everyone and take total self-control: a worthy and essential characteristic of a fiction writer I’d say.

Such is Rowling’s stature as a money-spinner, Hollywood came to her to talk her through a proposed Harry Potter theme park in Orlando (due to open 2009). She looked quite mystified as some corporate-speaker gobbledygooked his way through one “sonic”-something-or-other game that would only speak when stood in front of. Diagrams and illustrations were pointed at as Jo’s blonde blades turned into face curtains – she has a hairstyle designed for impromptu shielding of shyness or awkwardness, achieved by dislodging nods and head leans, which adds to that “publicity-shy” reputation she has.

She was seen baking a birthday cake or flan for one of her kids. Earlier that day I’d read Cleo Roccos’ fascinating Benazir Bhutto memoir in the News of the World: Kenny Everett's muse recounted visiting a Costcutter store with her “close friend” where the late former Prime Minister of Pakistan headed straight for the tinned tomatoes (I think). Those tomatoes and Jo’s cake (it started out as a chocolate goo) somehow merged in my mind and I thought of Edna Everage, Housewife Superstar, of Shirley Conran, Superwoman, – all those versatile genius bitches – and then wondered whether I’d ever seen their male superstar counterparts ever bake a cake or buy tomatoes in a TV show or media profile (unless they’re Jamie Oliver). We’re too far out of the 20th Century to start harping on about feminism and sexual stereotypes. But the sight of a female dollar billionaire author baking a cake in a suburban kitchen was deemed necessary by someone.

Jo’s parents had wanted her to be a boy and dressed her in blue for a while. Had she turned out a lesbian, people would have said, “Well, there you go.” Likewise, had she not turned into a blockbuster industry, people would have said, “Fancy wasting her time fantasising when she could get a proper job.” Her great success enables her to speak of her clinical depression (from a failed first marriage and penury) without people saying: “She’s quite, er, fragile, isn’t she? Is she well?” Celebrity has rechristened these negatives into life-affirming anecdotes – and there’s nothing like a glamourising TV homage to make it look all so fated.

Fortunately, Jo is level-headed, normal, entirely decent. There's not a false bone in her body. I think she knows that what people say now in her honour, and what they might have said in disdain had things turned out very differently, is all bollocks.

And on that note, have a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Pope & why Satan can breathe a sigh of relief


I got quite excited this morning when I read in the Mail that "The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism."

The 82-year-old "exorcist-in-chief", Father Gabriele Amorth*, told the online Catholic news service Petrus: "Thanks be to God, we have a Pope who has decided to fight the Devil head-on. Too many bishops are not taking this seriously and are not delegating their priests in the fight against the Devil. You have to hunt high and low for a properly trained exorcist. Thankfully, Benedict XVI believes in the existence and danger of evil."

Alas, this news proved too sexy for the Vatican. Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, has now flatly denied the Petrus report. The papal spokesman said: "Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession.”

Just as well. The 1973 movie The Exorcist demonstrated well enough how the Catholic Church is run by bookish scholars and intellectuals who blush at the very idea of evil spirits (preferring to speak of the cop-out "spirit of evil"): old Ratzi would have to mount a purge of robed, post-faith academics first if he ever intended to unleash a new generation of Lankester Merrins on Satanists, their demon friends and, er, Mick Jagger-types.

*For Father Gabriele Amorth's horoscope (and his interview with, yes!, Gyles Brandreth) click here




Fr Gabriele Amorth: "Almost always, in cases of evil presence, the eyes look completely white. Even with the help of both hands, we can barely discern whether the pupils are towards the top or the bottom of the eye. If the pupils are looking up, the demons in possession are scorpions. If looking down, they are serpents."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: Death wasn't written in the stars

Was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto foreseen by astrologers? According to leading Jyotish astrologer KN Rao it was (more or less) - click here. "I felt sorry but the tragic death of Benazir death today was discussed at least four times by us in the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan; and Manoj Pathak had told me many times of the danger he saw for her. Sonia Mehdiratta also had hinted about it," he writes. But no death was foreseen.

Astrologer Mehdiratta was certainly alert to the dangers that faced Bhutto – dangers, frankly, a child could have foreseen given the religious and political divisions in Pakistan and its history of political assassination. But she will want to forget this line from her recent astro-profile of Bhutto: “From the pattern of dashas in her horoscope her return to power is a great possibility.” Oops.

Still, Mehdiratta is not alone in her failure to predict death. Bhavesh Pattni wrote this year: "Natal Sun will be aspected by transiting Jupiter which is a positive sign in [Bhutto's] favour. This doesn't mean that each and every problem will be sorted-out. She may face some amount of difficulty but the aspect of Jupiter over the Sun will save her reputation." Click here.

Astrologer Alex Miller-Mignone wrote: “… The backward-looking South Node could imply a return to power for Bhutto, a former Prime Minister, particularly when the wide square to the nation’s Venus at 17 Taurus and opposition to its 17 Leo Moon are considered, both Venus and Moon being feminine indicators.” Click here.

Tiberius had the right idea - astrologers who failed to live up to their prognostications departed Capri via a cliff, if rumour is to be believed. However, Madame Arcati shall be interviewing an astrologer shortly of true talent.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Molly Parkin: 'Lee's eyes tore flesh from my heart'

Arise Sir Parky indeed! What's he done all his life except sit about asking celebs what his researchers shovelled up from the archives? For his retirement show he could only find one woman to see him off, Dame Judi (and Dame Edna, but you know ...). What about Christopher Lee? Why isn't he Sir Christopher Lee or even Lord Hammer of Horror? Sign the Lee petiton, or die slowly. Click here

My new best friend Molly Parkin is also supporting my knighthood for Lee campaign and sends me this charming epistle ...

Dear MA,

I ALSO PETITIONED FOR CHRISTOPHER LEE TO BECOME SIR. AS AN ADOLESCENT I MET HIM ONCE IN THE 40S. HE WOULDN'T REMEMBER.

MY FATHER HAD YANKED ME OUT OF MY BED VERY LATE ONE NIGHT, THOUGH I HAD SCHOOL THE NEXT MORNING, AND ORDERED ME INTO MY SUNDAY-BEST TO SERVE COFFEE IN THE SITTING ROOM. I WAS TO MAKE SURE AND CATCH THE EYE OF THE YOUNG MAN IN THERE WITH THE LOOKS OF A FUTURE FILM STAR. MY FATHER CLAIMED IT COULD BE A SHREWD CAREER MOVE FOR THE FUTURE, MAKING THIS CONTACT. WHEN THEY WERE SEARCHING FOR CINEMATIC FRESH FACES, THIS MAN WOULD REMEMBER MINE.

I WAS 12, ALREADY WITH BREASTS, AND HAD BEEN MENSTRUATING A YEAR. THE HEAD-TURNER WAS CHRISTOPHER LEE IN HIS 20S, AND SO HEART-THROBBINGLY HANDSOME AS TO BE ILLEGAL. HE HAD ESCORTED HEATHER (POSH TOTTY) BACK HOME TO OUR PLACE WHERE SHE WAS RESIDING IN OUR PADDINGTON B AND B. WE HOUSED A BUNCH OF MEDICAL STUDENTS FROM ST MARY'S HOSPITAL NEARBY, AND MOST ROOMS WERE LET TO THEM AND THEIR FEMALE RELATIVES. OURS BEING A SAFE HOUSE WITH A GOOD REPUTATION. RARE IN PADDINGTON THEN!

SINCE MY FAMILY, WELSH CHAPEL, DIDN'T ALLOW MIXED UNMARRIED COUPLES IN OUR ROOMS, THESE TWO WERE RESTRICTED TO THE SITTING ROOM ON THE GROUND FLOOR, WITH THE DOOR TO BE LEFT WIDE OPEN. I WAS POSTED AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS TO MAKE SURE OF THIS. HE SMILED AT ME AS HE WAS LEAVING. HIS EYES TORE THE FLESH FROM MY HEART.

IN ALL THE 63 YEARS WHICH HAVE PASSED SINCE THEN, I HAVE NEVER SEEN CHRISTOPHER LEE IN PERSON.

MY MOTHER WHO HAD EMERGED FROM THE BASEMENT TO TAKE A PEEP SCOLDED MY FATHER AFTERWARDS FOR EXPOSING ME TO TEMPTATION, THE WORK OF THE DEVIL, MEANING CHRISTOPHER LEE AND HIS ASTONISHING PHYSICAL APPEAL. "WHO COULD TRUST A MAN AS HANDSOME AS THAT, WITH GIRLS THROWING THEMSELVES AT HIM HIM BECAUSE OF HIS FEATURES. HAS TYRONE POWER EVER REMAINED FAITHFUL TO ONE WOMAN?" (No, because he preferred men.)

IN YEARS TO COME WHEN CHRISTOPHER LEE BECAME A HOUSEHOLD NAME AS BOSS VAMPIRE IN THE HUGELY SUCCESSFUL HAMMER HORROR FILMS, SHE CROWED WITH PRIDE, "WHAT DID I SAY ALL THOSE YEARS AGO, THE FACE FITS. FAME AND FORTUNE FOR ABUSING FEMALES." ADDING DARKLY, "UNTO DEATH."

THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE THIS! I HAD FORGOTTEN IT ALL UNTIL I SAW YOUR KNIGHTHOOD PETITION........

LOVE, MOLLxx

Monday, December 24, 2007

Molly Parkin ... and Harold and Maude


In response to recent comments to the news that Molly Parkin is now in "loving email contact" with her once-only lover Laban - thanks to Arcati - Molly has written in ...

Darling MA,

I am immensely flattered that the loyal web-fanbase has picked up the Harold and Maude comparison, relating to myself and Labe (as Laban refers to himself when signing off. Labe ... so Kiwi surfer, eh!).

For others not familiar with the facts, Hal Ashby's 1971 cult movie Harold and Maude, scripted by Colin Higgins, music by Cat Stevens, starred Bud Cort as the 19 year-old Harold, passionately linked with Ruth Gordon's 80 year-old Maude.

Their utterly credible mutual attraction ignited the screen. Their sublime single sexual coupling as kindred spirits, he a virgin, she on the brink of death, fired my imagination and extended my sexual boundaries enough to embrace Labe as my own lover, with the 50-year age gap, 3 decades on.

In fact it was whilst I was describing Harold and Maude to Laban at the Las Vegas bar that he seized my fingers and steered them around a flourishing erection. That's when I surrendered my self-imposed celibacy and said Yes (urged on by Marty, my gay surrogate son - "Moll, if you don't fuck him, I will," he said).

I have never asked you why you chose to become Madame Arcati, as I have now become Maude. Both silver screen characters have influenced my life, certainly sartorially, side-stepping conventions. I celebrate the mantle of our adoptive personas, you and I.

Love Moll xxx

For more on Harold and Maude, click here

A knighthood for Christopher Lee CBE, please


Bruce Forsyth to get a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2008? That's the claim. ("Knight to see you, to see you Knight" - to be seen in all tabloids) So why hasn't Christopher Lee, 85, got a knighthood yet? As an actor he has 260 films credited to his name, he has starred in some of the biggest of franchise movies (Lord of the Rings, Golden Compass, Star Wars, Bond), his is a byword for old-style Hammer Horror, he has surprised (Jinnah, The Wicker Man), he is a sophisticated, cultural ambassador for Britain and speaks French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Greek and other languages. What is wrong with our fucking politicians and our goes-with-the wind Queen? He's a Gemini for cunt's sake.

To petition for his knighthood, click here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas, Queen and ... oculolinctus to you

One useful thing I learnt from the News of the World this morning - amid stories we'll never hear of again (eg "£100k plot to kidnap Amy Winehouse")* - is the word oculolinctus whereby people are aroused by licking their partner's eyeballs and or having their eyeballs licked. I was familiar with acrotomophilia (an intense desire to have sex with an amputee) and sitophilia (sexual arousal by food) and eproctophilia (sexual attraction to flatulence) and andromimetophilia (love of women dressed as men), but not oculolinctus which could be most unpleasant for all concened if one left one's contacts in (or specs on). Even more exotic paraphilia words or neologisms on this theme are most welcome for festive sharing.

To Rupert Everett**, a special Christmas prez - a pic of "Hugh Grant with a hooker", click here.

A welcome cheer for Queen Elizabeth II who now has her own Royal Channel on YouTube - do watch the poppet, click here. In 1957 she conceded "I might seem a remote figure to some of you". Now one can dip into her person at the touch of a keyboard. I see that TheRoyalChannel is classed a broadcaster and it joined YouTube on October 05, 2007. It has a mere 1,244 subscribers as I write but I'm sure this figure will shoot up. "The Christmas Broadcast or 'Queen's Speech' for 2007 will appear on this channel at approximately 3pm GMT on Christmas Day," we are told. Let's hope people don't accidentally go to xtube.

I was most appalled that BBC Radio 4's 7am news bulletin ran a report on who won Strictly Come Dancing last night. I should like to point out that last weekend the same news show failed to mention who won ITV's The X Factor: it's not good enough that a monopolistic beneficiary of a national tax shows such partiality between two shows that both drew about 9m viewers a week (peak time). The BBC is also in the habit of pushing its theme-prompted websites on TV and radio without any mention of rival non-BBC websites - a blatant disregard of the advertising rules.

I wonder whether there's a word for sexual arousal by the thought of, or proximity to, royalty. It's something to think about as you carve up the turkey when a Quorn substitute dish would have carried less of a health risk to you and your loved ones.

Merry Christmas to all my subjects in Arcatiland. MA x

*£100k? This awfully low figure for the safety of the globe's most famous cocaine user brings to mind Austin Powers' out-of-touch Dr Evil who thought to hold the world to ransom for just $1m. Amy's worth to some criminal gang is surely more in the region of £10m - though I shall stand corrected by the more ferally informed among you.

**Justine Picardie helped him with his memoirs btw.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Molly Parkin in 'loving contact' with Laban

The beautiful Molly Parkin has been in touch and she tells me she is in "loving email contact" with her young once-only lover Laban. Readers will recall that the glamorous septuagenarian had a sexual encounter with the 23-year-old surfer. Follow the labels to catch up if this is news. Molly painted an impression of their interlude and wrote a poem about it, all on Arcati. "Life is as glorious as ever," she writes. I'm looking forward to her next book of memoirs and much much more - may I suggest her for I'm A Celebrity or some other reality TV show? - she'd be perfect.

Humpback whales saved ... this season

A welcome message from Greenpeace: "Japan has announced today that it will not be killing humpack whales this season! Well done to all of you who pressured your governments to call - Japan heard us, and humpbacks will no longer be part of the hunt thanks to the public outrage we helped generate, particularly the diplomatic pressure that resulted from the US and Australia ..." To read the report, click here.

To send a letter to Japan demanding it stop plans to build a new whaling factory ship, and start planning how to end the whaling in the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary, click here.

See earlier post, click here.

The Woman In Black - Sultan of Brunei's a fan

At a party the other night a PR tells me that Susan Hill's The Woman in Black has now been seen by Henry Kissinger, Jonathan Ross and his family and the Duke of Kent. Every year for 10 years the Sultan of Brunei has taken over half the theatre to watch the play - his entire entourage arrive in stretch limos. They adore it. And next September it will be on for one week only with the cast of the Japanese production, which is sooooooo succesful in Tokyo, and it will be played entirely in Japanese. It's likely to be booked out the day the box office opens apparently.

If you want a spooky Christmas, read Susan's marvellous novella The Man In The Picture. To buy the book online click here. To read my review click here. To read more about The Woman In Black click here.

Nicky Haslam did it

A source at Weidenfeld says that it was entirely Nicky Haslam's decision to withdraw his book Redeeming Features - the publisher is "sad" about it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nicky Haslam's missing book - Poirot's detection

An anonymous contributor has brought me up to date on Nicky Haslam's missing memoir (see below). On December 12, the Mail's Richard Kay reported that the party divo and interior designer had decided to buy back the rights to Redeeming Features - click here for the full story (and then scroll down).

Kay writes, quoting an unnamed source (Haslam himself?): "'Nicky is prepared to repay his advance, which is in five figures, in order to get the manuscript back,'" says a friend. "'Most of the people he's written about are dead so he's decided to bring it up to date by including the past 40 years or so.'"

A Weidenfeld insider describes the book as "brilliant". I hear even that the Mail itself was ready to serialise for stacks of money; so this is all very odd. Why, for instance, doesn't Weidenfeld keep the door open for the updated book instead of saying someone else will have to publish it? It's a story that doesn't make much sense as presented.

Nicky Haslam - where's his book?

Where is Nicky Haslam's Redeeming Features: A Memoir? It was due out last month, then publication was postponed to January 3. Now it is noted that the book has disappeared from Orion's website completely - though I see in passing that on Jan 3 Jasper Rees' I Found My Horn is out, which would make a most suitable Haslam title, I feel. Would someone report back to me on when this book is out. Please.

The X Factor scripted the cry babies

While the UK is convulsed by the Rhyd-dle fiddle on The X Factor, I learn that a lot of the weepy stuff from the finalists’ relatives (eg "I've always loved you son, there's still milk in my breasts - here, feel ..." etc) was largely scripted. “Rhydian’s gran was told they couldn’t start filming unless she was ready to get tearful and she had to bone up on the lines they gave her – all the relatives were amazingly eloquent and unfaltering. The crying was a crucial part of the show - and expected.” Fake phone-ins, fake nods – and now fake blub-fests. It’s all very disillusioning.

Lily Allen story dismissed ...

Hugo Rifkind in The Times follows up the Lily Allen story below to be told by someone at the Orange Prize that it's "rubbish". Oh no it isn't.

In other news, congratulations to Lily on her pregnancy. Perhaps someone should find out whether she's likely to drop around the time the Orange is peeled.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Orange Prize wanted Lily Cole ... not Allen. Oops!

A source at the Orange Prize thingy tells me they got in an awful mess about singer Lily Allen who has been selected as one of their 2008 literary judges - they thought she's the one who has the 10 A Levels and is reading English at Cambridge. In fact that is the model Lily Cole, but they only found that out after they`d asked the wrong Lily - who is a poppet but not at all readerly. The Oranges will deny it, of course, to avoid egg on faces. But my source is, um, impossibly impeccable.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Nicole Kidman and the 'gifted' scent

Further to my little piece on Nicole Kidman and her victory over the Telegraph and its Celia Walden-edited Spy column in the Chanel No 5 libel case, I am intrigued by further information.

When the actress popped over to the UK recently to promote The Golden Compass - Kidman at her best, btw, as a complex villain - a press release was put out to hacks claiming that she was fragrant with Jo Malone's White Jasmine & Mint cologne. "Her co-stars can expect the red carpet to smell divine tomorrow night," it burbled. But this release was withdrawn very hastily with the explanation that it should not be treated as a celebrity brand endorsement. There is no suggestion that the actress asked for or used the scent: rather that Jo Malone sends unsolicited gifts to certain stars - Nicole Kidman included.

I don't know whether Jo Malone's celebrity gifting might have confused Celia, I have no idea at all. But may I take this opportunity to say how ravishing Miss Kidman looks in those Chanel No 5 bus shelter ads: a glamorous and warming sight as scruffy old tarts await the 267 to Richmond, or whatever. Personally, I would spray the homeless with the scent: Christmas always brings out the better part of me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

St Stephen's bookshops fight the Muslim heathen!

While Martin Amis pens anti-Islamism fiction on behalf of the religion of Atheism, and the Bisexual Word God, Christopher Hitchens, peddles anti-Islamism non-fiction wherever long fancy words are allowed, yet a further sign of religious intolerance is to be found in the hell that's befallen the 200-year-old British Christian bookshop chain, once known as SPCK (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge). SPCK transferred the chain to the US trust Saint Stephen the Great (SSG) last year. The shops are now called SSG "to reinforce their Christian values."

The trust is run by two Texan Orthodox Christian brothers - Phil and Mark Brewer - whose principal agenda is to "rescue abandoned Christian churches" from the Muslim and Sikh heathen (particularly in areas of "large ethnic populations") who would turn these churches into mosques and temples. The acquisition of SPCK's 23 bookshops will aid this purpose (for cash flow presumably) - bookshop staff have even been asked to look out for abandoned churches in need of saving.

Staff have not warmed to the Brewers who seem afflicted by a Bush-like cloddishness. One hundred have left since their takeover: 11 staff alone resigned en masse from the Exeter branch in October. Many complain of stock censorship: the Qur’an can no longer be bought at SSG shops - a development at odds with the original SPCK objective to "improve understanding between Christians and Muslims." The Brewers' new work contracts have appalled employees: reportedly, all staff will be required to work when told to, including Sundays and bank holidays, and to undertake janatorial duties. Part-timers will be treated as casuals. Questioned on Radio 4 this morning, Mark Brewer claimed that some staff had been unable to make the necessary transition - a nice euphemistic way of saying that many staff will not be treated as shit.

The Brewers admire St Stephen the Great because after each battle fought against the Muslim Turks he built a commemorative Christian church. Blessed are the peacemakers! What was once a liberal Christian chain of shops seems now to be turning into a Christian fundamentalist crusader. Most unfortunate in these fractious times.

Church Times views, click here
Staff resignations, click here
SSG video on rescuing churches for Orthodox Christianity, click here
Radio 4 show on the controversy, click here

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The X Factor - it was Scotland wot won it

Simon was gracious in disappointment. "Leon was the one who needed to win this more than anyone else," he said, which is a nice way of saying that on the night raw sentiment rather than best talent held sway. He'd backed Rhydian to win The X Factor but little Leon pipped it in the end, thanks to Scotland (and a lift from lovely Kylie). No matter. Rhydian was the true star of the series and his international success is assured.

Bill corrects David on Bridget about The People

In the venerable Press Gazette the venerable editor of the British Journalism Review, Bill Hagerty, who was once the editor of The People (sometimes called the Sunday People) – he succeeded the venerable but late Richard Stott - quite rightly corrects the venerable former Mirror editor, David Banks, on the matter of whether the not-so-venerable former editor of the doomed People, Dame Bridget Rowe CBE, MBE (gongs added to draw attention to absence), raised or lowered the circulation of last. She didn’t raise. As Bill writes, he left the title with a weekly circulation of just over a 2m while psycho successor Rowe flushed herself away at 1.77m. Banks is a friend of Rowe.

Quite how Rowe managed to lose so few copies (for contrast, I believe Stott managed to let go of about 400,000 readers in just over a year) is worthy of thought, yet I feel that the question cannot be fully answered until we know the truth behind the People's Phantom Sales Scandal, first raised by the venerable pundit Stephen Glover in The Spectator (1998). He discovered that 130,000+ copies of the People had been recorded as dispatched to a promotions company but which had never been received. The figure had been included in the sales audit nonetheless. Glover never did get to the bottom of this mystery. “Could the whole exercise have been a ruse to boost the circulation of the People when its sales were flagging?” he asked. He even called the Mirror Group CEO at the time, David Montgomery. He didn’t get back so far as I know.

For more on this story click here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nicole Kidman wins it for Celia Walden

Nicole Kidman has won "substantial"* libel damages from the UK Daily Telegraph over a baseless slur in its Celia Walden-edited Spy column on her commitment to Chanel No 5. It's all very distressing. Just when you think Celia has got a decent story at last it proves to be false. But Celia should take heart from one indisputable thought: a libel defeat in "Fleet St" is a badge of honour and invariably is followed by a promotion or offer of more lucrative employment elsewhere. It's all to do with raised profile and celebrity association. It's a blooding. A Mark Steyn column in the Telegraph once also attracted an expensive Kidman libel suit - and he's never looked back since. Celia, congratulations!

*Substantial normally means over £100,000

Martin Amis and his Islamism satire

I shall have to get the new issue of Granta and read Martin Amis' latest assault on Islam - or Islamism, if we are to be accurate: it's the fundamentalists he doesn't like, he says. The magazine has published a draft of his satire titled The Unknown Unknown which is sure to re-invigorate his critics, such as university colleague Prof Terry Eagleton who has accused him of Islamophobia. The story is about a Muslim terrorist called Ayed who plans to unleash rapists on Greeley, Colorado, in order to infect the good folks with syphilis. His perfect woman looks like a "matt-black postbox" though he has a sharp eye for Western women, noting a "thin skirt rendered transparent by a low sun", suggestive of a bit of hypocritical cock quivering. Yes, I shall read this so-called satire with great interest and await the anti-Amis threats of a fatwa.

Forget fucking Size Zero, join the Hot Women Campaign

"The Hot Women Campaign is about empowering women to play an active part in the global warming crisis. We believe that if people are encouraged to reduce their CO2 output by a moderate amount and in a voluntary manner they will be more willing to do so. Collectively even a small percentage reduction could amount exponentially to a significant decrease in the total CO2 output which is causing rapid climate change." For more on this campaign, click here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rupert Everett Wildely under-performs?

Further to the last homo-versatile Rupert Everett posting, and a commenter's point that Hugh Grant may work less but earns more because of his hetero-romantic image, I have found this British actors' earnings list for 2006 which rather confirms the point (Hugh's at joint No 5 - Rupert doesn't figure) ...

Ewan McGregor £10m
Liam Neeson £9m
Colin Farrell £8m
Orlando Bloom £8m
Sir Ian McKellen £8m
Hugh Grant £8m
Ralph Fiennes £7m
Daniel Radcliffe £6m
Clive Owen £6m
Anthony Hopkins £5m
Daily Mirror

However, because Rupes is a multi-tasker it's hard to tell what his annual income is just from one professional category - for instance, in 2005 he made £1m alone from a publishers' advance for his memoirs.

And by the way, I am intrigued to learn that he is writing a screenplay about Oscar Wilde's last days with a view to playing the playwright himself in a movie. I have always thought that there's a film in the Oscar-Bosie romance post-prison in Italy, though it seems Rupes is more interested in Oscar's final contest with his hotel room wallpaper.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mark Frith on the move?

Heat's Mark Frith to edit Mojo? Surely not ...

Graydon Carter ... is thoroughly stroked


I love the idea of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter – his monthly diatribes against Bush are a delight – but did he really need the gushing interview in Mediaguardian yesterday? I know Andrew Neil was the guest editor and that Andrew is one of Graydon’s VF contributing editors but who benefits from this line: “He and Graydon are pals; not least, it occurs to me, because Neil is the closest thing the UK has to the kind of editor-as-myth that Condé Nast creates”? OK, OK, I’ve got a lot to learn about the joys of arse-licking ...

A little while ago I extracted 10 outrageous arse-licky comments from a needlessly crawly Karl Lagerfeld interview by Tatler editor Geordie Grieg. In the same vein here are 10 from the Graydon piece by Janine Gibson:

1 “Even early on he was adept at crafting an image”
2 “A consummate showman”
3 “I wish Graydon Carter was the sort of control freak …”
4 [He is an] “editor-as-myth”
5 “Carter ... is second only to Anna Wintour in the profile stakes”
6 “You will not find him on the charity event circuit”
7 … “we sit in his triple-aspect, incredibly tasteful 22nd floor Times Square office”
8 “ … as pleasant and patient as Carter is …”
9 “Much has been made of his ability to reinvent himself ... as if it were immoral”
10 “He's pleased I'm delighted with his aphorism”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tyler Brûlé: Aping Phileas Fogg for Christmas

The Monocle founder and editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé why-oh-whys in the International Herald Tribune about the lack of Christmas spirit in London and New York (nowadays). But just when I fear he maybe doing God on us and thinking of empty churches, he adds a clarifier: “Shop windows were generally joyless and there even seemed to be a lack of special packaging in the department stores.” Ah, it’s the consumer landscape that troubles him, the lack of demonstrative, tinselly commitment to Christ’s the-till-bells-are-kerching-ing. I understand.

I’m not sure he’s right. My local garden centre opened its Christmas shop in September. Their wiry robot reindeers have been head-nodding ever since as mile-long ropes of pulsating light convey the message-seed of Christ’s birth (again) and fibre-optic trees iridesce like squid. Still, Tyler offers a comparative perspective based on his incessant, manic travelling - I wouldn't want to carry his carbon-heavy conscience.

In the IHT piece alone you can count up the air miles over a few days: "During a swing through New York last week ... "; "It wasn't until I was settled in on a fully decorated Lufthansa Airbus to Munich ... "; "Back in London 24 hours later ... "; "On Tuesday evening I boarded an ANA flight from Heathrow to Tokyo Narita ... ". In Japan he finds the Christmas that matches his festive expectation: "I actually got a bit emotional at the Tsutaya bookstore in Roppongi Hills as the music piping through the store reminded me of shopping with my mom at Ogilvy's department store in Montreal ... " Ahhhh.

Fortunately, he's not tempted to fly back to Montreal. But then these days he does live in "Switzerland, Sweden and Britain".

John Barrowman - no flash in the pan

One of my favourite TV stars John Barrowman tells me I got it wrong about his testicles - he does not put pictures of them on a wall on the set of Torchwood. He does however confess to the odd harmless flash of his gargantuan tackle to his on-set trusted colleagues when the camera moves off his perfect profile, otherwise concealed by a coat. He is a very bright man and I suppose he must do something to keep his mind alert.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Katie and Peter: the saviours of primetime TV!


Lavinia's insistance that Rupert Everett has had a facelift (if true the poppet should demand a refund) reminds me that I wanted to pay tribute to Katie & Peter Unleashed, the brilliant ITV2 chatshow hosted by Jordan's alter ego Katie Price and her horny husband Peter Andre. Very sadly it ended last night. I demand that ITV recommision the series immediately, relocate it to ITV1, schedule it for Saturday evenings (after The X Factor leaves a gaping wound) and lengthen it from one to two hours. Without doubt Katie and Peter are the future of variety entertainment (primetime).

Rupes was most charmed by Katie last night - and normally he is a swine to interview. It's true they had bonded during an OK! mag interview some time past, when just about every sexual permutation was touched upon, but her innate and charming impertinence is sooooooo winning. Everett only ever seems to open up to guerilla incursion, probably because he is a fantastic reprobate himself: it's a case of entertainment homeopathy, like treats like. If he doesn't like his questioner he sinks into an insolent torpor: many a TV sofa has ended up resembling a crypt beneath his restless arse-cheeks.

Katie is not a showbiz pro and never will be (thank God), but she has that rare thing - no side at all. She is Lorraine Kelly's bitch sister - a total must-watch natural in front of the cameras. You feel she could say anything or do anything on a militant whim: to retain that edginess in the feathered pillow of processed TV is amazing and should be fully exploited (she is of course a Gemini).

Andre is the perfect foil. He is the show condom, a lubricant and a defence: he could narrate a WW2 doc, the Eurovision Song Contest or a royal funeral without a pause. Talking is his natural condition, he keeps up the show motion, eyes a-glow with the latest daffy, soon-forgotten thought. You feel safe in his hands while Katie hums with harmful kinetic potential: it's a balance forged in many a domestic row and subsequent bedroom make up; and the show is the beneficiary of this frisson. They are that rare entertainment couple: they make heterosexuality seem rather interesting.

I like the flips between behind-the-scenes and before-camera: how the pair looked disappointed when the brilliant comic Alan Carr pulled out and was replaced by the too-normal, bearded, Roland Rivron - "Who's he?" asked Katie. Fantastic. Rupes gazed at Rivron with slight but tolerant bemusement as the comic out-talked Pete and tried too hard: but they (Rivron and Rupes) bonded during the tats bit. I knew who Rupes had his eye on.

Their best interview was with Boy George last week - he looked clearly at ease on their claustrophobic set, in their faintly sulphuric atmosphere; there was no distance, physical or professional. He revealed he had never penetrated a woman (not exactly news, but nice to hear nonetheless) and Katie was so distracted that on last night's show she thought he had said that he had penetrated a woman but never gone down on one. Perfection. And let us not forget that it was on this show that Jermaine Jackson revealed that Michael would be joining the Jackson Five reunion tour. So they can deliver gold as well as brass.

The mud bath battles, the tattoo contests, the agony aunting and uncling, the short attention span: it's all pure tabloid TV at its best. I want to say it's pure Chav TV but I know Julie Burchill will go ballistic at sight of the word (chav).

There's no diploma for what Katie and Peter have got. There's no self-improvement course to make you like them. It they is, as Timbaland might say.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Diana death re-enactment with 'assassin' Philip

Art eventist Mark McGowan is to re-enact the death of Diana, Princess of Wales at a prestigious central London venue.

McGowan tells me: "It's a theatrical art performance and there will be giant painted backdrops of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower a man on a bike with some onions, lots of Citroën cars etc, a massive tunnel made with an armiture and some black plastic bags, a makeshift car/limo with Di, Dodi and Henry Paul all played by actors with cardboard boxes on their heads with photographs of the characters which has a really strange effect, some real paparazzi, a crash, paramedics and above the tunnel a big image of Prince Philip with the word ASSASSIN scrawled underneath.

"The performance is aimed at unearthing some of the mysteries surrounding the tragic death and will be a serious look into the role played by the royal family and in particular Prince Philip. Tickets will be available soon."

Rupert Everett - 'It's not ideal to be a homo'

Rupert Everett has a moan in the January edition of GQ (UK edition). While dining on guinea fowl with confit leg and creamed cabbage (£23.50) at Artisan (in London's Westbury Hotel) with Indy ed Simon Kelner, he says: "It's not ideal to be a homosexual in my business. For instance, I'm every bit as good as Hugh Grant, and I can do the same sort of thing, but look at the roles he gets. He's always working, and I work hardly ever."

Rupe is a far better, more versatile, actor than Grant but as big a baseless moaner. I had a look at Imdb.com - the movie database - to check Everett's claim. In 2007 he featured in three major movies (including the hideous St Trinian's) and made at least 25 TV appearances (leaving aside all the stuff arising from his memoirs). Altogether 53 movies are credited to him in his estimable career. Grant on the other hand starred in just one movie in 2007, made at least 16 TV appearances and has 50 movies credited from debut. Rupes reigns in more ways than one.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

'Crackers' Cracknell's worthy successor

Hi Madame,

More antics at your favourite paper - the Sunday Times...

Apparently, the Mail on Sunday's deputy political editor Jonathan Oliver is to replace outgoing Sunday Times political editor David "Crackers" Cracknell. Cracknell quit to join an ailing lobbying firm originally set up by Labour's fundraiser Johnny Mendelsohn called FD something or other ... after Independent on Sunday political editor Marie Woolf was brought in over his head by the Wapping management.

Most recently, Oliver was behind the MoS story on David Abrahams - believed by many to be a "drop" form Tory HQ's research dept. Ironically, Oliver would have stayed on at the MoS - but for his boss Simon Walters, the political editor.

When Walters was moved upstairs to replace the Mail's executive editor (politics) Peter Dobbie, Walters - nicknamed "Shifty" by Lobby colleagues for reasons too obvious and tedious to list - insisted in clinging on to the political editor title as well - much to the chagrin of Oliver. Still, the poor chap has got his revenge by disappearing to Wapping.

Fern Britton's Mohamed-teddy moment

At the Comedy Awards last night - in TV purdah over the phoneline scandals - This Morning host Fern Britton sauntered on stage with someone dressed up as a bear, said to be the Turner Prize winner. "He's called Mohamed," she quipped in reference to teddygate. The audience howled with laughter, worryingly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Rupert Murdoch, Beliefnet and Pet Semetry

Heart-lifting news that the Old Scrote Rupert Murdoch has bought Beliefnet, an all-in religions site that promotes spirituality (cue lots of psychic phoneline skyscraper ads).

Driven perhaps by the sad news that the late Leona Helmsley’s pooch Trouble – left $12m in her will and subsisting on $300,000 a year – has become unwell on all the rich food, I am drawn to Beliefnet’s "Inspiring Pets Who Have Passed Away" section wherein readers find their voice in loving memory.

Meet Spirit the parakeet who passed away in October 2006 in his owner’s hands, or Hershey the Cockapoo who once saved his owner husband’s life during a diabetic low. There’s Bud the cat who seems to have enjoyed a telepathic link with his owner. My favourite story is of Rosita the little Chihuahua. The owner Carol relates: “Rosita accompanied Billy [her husband] to the hospital with him, riding on his belly as he was taken to the lab, to the X-ray room, and to Nuke-med. I can only imagine how much comfort she was to him when he died; she was at the funeral, too.” Many of the pets profiled have yet to pass away or perhaps there was a change in editorial policy.

Naturally, Islam has its own sub-site – and I think we can safely predict that from now on the Old Scrote will be softening his view on Muslims. Why, it was only last year that he told The New Yorker: “We keep having to speak politically correctly about it, saying Muslims are wonderful, it’s just a tiny minority. They are not all terrorists, of course, but the frightening thing is that it is the children of those good original immigrants who are being brainwashed in big numbers."

Beliefnet, click here

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Guardian's Jesus satire moment

My thanks to the Guardian which yesterday had a splendid giveaway: a sheet of Christmas wrapping paper printed with Jesus Christ's name all over it. An atheist newspaper, Jesus Christ, the excesses of festive consumerism and Linda Grant in G2 wondering where she can find a nice leather jacket that doesn't make her look like mutton dressed as lamb. Post-modernist satire - ie larky Yuletide moralising just to be clever - doesn't get much better.

Morrissey and the curious case of the hack

Tim Jonze, who interviewed Morrissey for the NME's current issue, has commented on the resultant controversy and threatened lawsuit against the mag. He is full of surprises. It had been assumed that that the letter he sent to Moz’s manager Merck Mercuriadis, distancing himself from NME’s “re-writing“ of his off-Q’n’A text, was written because he felt the magazine was heavy-handedly hostile to the singer’s perceived immigration views: the friendly tone of the letter led one to think that. Jonze now claims his text had to be toned down because he thought Moz sounded like Enoch Powell or the BNP.

He adds: "The piece was very critical and NME decided to tone it down, something I didn't agree with. They showed me several rewritten versions, some of which were very soft on Morrissey, one that was quite critical. None had any of my points or arguments in them and none of them were written in my voice. Furthermore, I hadn't even seen the finished version before it went to print (I still haven't seen it, as I'm currently writing this from the surreal surroundings of a beach internet cafe in Thailand). For these reasons, the byline was removed."

But, Tim, your byline is still on the piece – at least it is on my copy. Are we still talking about the NME?

I’m finding this all very odd. Why was his letter to Mercuriadis so crawly? Read Jonze’s piece for yourself, click here.

Queens and the gin and Dubonnet debate

I must tipple the Queen’s favoured ligging drink – gin and Dubonnet with one slice of pipless lemon and two ice cubes (strictly squared to slow the melt). This much I learned last night as I tried but failed not to be interested in BBC1’s Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work. Thanks to a 1999 piece in that well-known society magazine, the New Statesman, I now learn that this royal knock-back was favoured by the late Queen Mother as a breakfast aperitif and once known as a Zaza cocktail: it appears to have made its debut as far back as 1922 in a volume called Cocktails: How to Mix Them by "Robert of the American Bar, Casino Municipal, Nice, and late of the Embassy Club, London”. In those days orange peel rather than lemon was the citric topper so let it not be said that QEII is not an innovator of sorts. Controversy rages over measures: I would guess that QEII’s drink is one part gin to two parts Dubonnet, but the QM preferred equal measures, if we adhere to the Zaza recipe, denied with some force in ’99 by her private secretary Captain Sir Alastair Aird who insisted on the one-part gin theory. In fact the NS mischievously suggested that the QM might even have bare-backed on two parts gin to one part Dobonnet, given her fondness for Claridges’ rendition of the drink. I fear that the drinks expert at About.com, Colleen Graham, may have to correct a detail that accompanies her Dubonnet Cocktail recipe: she thinks that while QM preferred the drink on the rocks, QEII does not. But millions witnessed otherwise thanks to the BBC.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Golden Comp - romise

Anyone who doubts that The Golden Compass - the movie of Philip Pullman's novel Northern Lights - is "anti-religious" should, er, go see the movie. It's a tremendous entertainment, loved every minute of it. Its implicit line on the Catholic Church (hostile) is clear in the first 20 minutes. The world of this fantasy is dominated by the "Magisterium, which seeks to control all of humanity, and whose greatest threat is the last remaining Golden Compass and the one child destined to possess it," to quote New Line Cinema. America's Catholic League claim this is a direct assault on Ratzi's church. They are probably right, but read on ...

"Magisterium" - or the teaching authority of the Catholic Church - connotes ecclesiastical power, and for further explanation, see Fr William G. Most's (from Ch 5 of The Basic Catholic Catechism): "By the Magisterium we mean the teaching office of the Church. It consists of the Pope and Bishops. Christ promised to protect the teaching of the Church: 'He who hears you, hears me; he who rejects your rejects me, he who rejects me, rejects Him who sent me' (Luke 10 vs 16)."

In today's Sunday Times, Pullman tells the world he likes the movie - well, he would, wouldn't he? Despite the hacking, dilution, re-writing, it's a fair transubstantiation of the book with its anti-Catholic message masked but to the seeker of insult or affirmation. To a child or other innocent, the Magisterium will be just another power villain like Darth Vader or Cruella. In his piece Pullman artfully dodges the religion question and focuses on how he tolerated and welcomed the softening Hollywoodisation process. He writes: "What has impressed me about the reaction of New Line has been its clear commitment to the democratic value of openness and free expression."

He adds: "[New Line] knows full well (it bought the rights and read the books) that the tendency of the story is towards celebrating those very qualities, and other values such as humane-ness, kindness, intellectual curiosity and a sense of the wonder and the beauty of the physical universe, and it is not afraid to tell a story that criticises religious intolerance and hypocrisy." To read his piece click here.

This is very good (one of the film's stars, Daniel Craig, religiously parroted this line in interviews this week), but of course no studio could release a film on the premise that the Catholic Church (or any church) is intolerant or hypocritical - and here's an entertainment to show you how it is. There are laws against that sort of thing. So, we stuff ourselves with popcorn while thinking: "We know what this is about, oh yes. Fuck what Pullman has to say in public."

So, a great film, shame about the necessary subterfuge.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catherine Bennett joins Observer

Excellent news - the new Observer editor John Mulholland has hired Catherine Bennett from the Guardian - as first reported on Arcati the other day. This is a good omen for a paper that has been compromised too long. Bennett is brilliantly civilised. Mulholland knows who I want removed.

Join Brian May against whaling

One of the better celebrity blogs is Brian May’s. The Queen star posts regularly and actually interacts with his audience – and I’m impressed by his recent outspoken attack on the resumption of whaling by Japan. “I was looking at murderous Japanese boats going out to kill 1,000 intelligent, beautiful higher mammals ... the magnificent whales. And we all sit back and watch it happen?” he writes.

As Greenpeace reports, “If the countries that oppose whaling were putting one-tenth of the effort into ending it that the Japanese government invests in maintaining a sham research programme, whaling would have ended by now.” If you’d like to sign Greenpeace’s message to various world leaders to call Japan's Prime Minister Fukuda to stop whaling, click here.

May’s blog click here.

Read Adam Macqueen

Mmm, here's an interesting and amusing blog with Private Eye and Popbitch connections, click here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Morrissey declares war on NME

A delicious row brews between Morrissey and the NME – he’s on the cover this week adorned with his own words on the topics of immigration and floodgates. “Oh dear, not again,” sighs the mag. Shouldn’t this have been, “Oh goody! More PR for the NME!”? The interview itself confirms Moz’s view that logistically it’s probably unwise to let the entire world move into the UK but the NME takes this as code for darker sentiments even though he backs its Love Music Hate Racism campaign.

Now my attention is drawn to Morrissey’s website – oh dear, Big Mouth is awfully upset, and with reason if we are to believe the piece therein penned by Moz’s agent Merck Mercuriadis. His tale of what NME’s editor Conor McNicholas said one minute and then did the next is, prima facie, curious to say the least – it appears he only confirmed that the magazine would be tough on the star and his opinions when it was too late to injunct the issue, having first denied a hatchet job. Legal threats are made by Moz’s front, and a lawyer’s letter to Conor (“Not for publication") is published. Could it be that Moz will sue NME?

Let us examine the interview. It follows the lazy Q‘n’A format (I can get away with it because my stuff’s free) but has a caveat-style intro in which we are alerted to Moz’s “belligerence” on the topic of immigration. Contrary to NME’s testimony, he does not “steer” the conversation to the topic of immigration, but rather is slyly led there with such questions as “You live in Italy now. Would you ever consider moving back to Britain?” Ah, yes, I know that old trick; it’s artfully done. Moz’s basic message is more Laurie Lee rosy tints than BNP; a sentimental elegy for an imagined lost England: it’s the curse of age and is usually cured by a bout of hard sex with a stranger. The Q‘n’A is then interrupted by a little NME lecture about Moz’s form on immigration before the interview picks up again specifically on race and immigration. Moz repeats his concern about “floodgates”, denounces racism as “silly” and suspects he’s about to be pilloried. The interview ends with NME shaking its head in consternation at Moz’s “ravings” which make him sound like a “rogue Tory MP”.

The magazine makes clear it does not think Moz a racist. Rather, he is naïve and does not understand the effect of his words on a world he no longer understands. But damagingly a letter to Mercuriadis from the NME interviewer Tim Jonze is reprinted which reads: “I should mention that for reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it.” His name nonetheless appears on the piece.

I can’t think any legal complaint will succeed since interpretation is by its nature subjective and no words are made up or falsely attributed so far as I can see. But the NME ed should have risked telling Mercuriadis of its editorial treatment of the interview from the outset. Of course, no editor wants to lose a guaranteed seller, even one that’s “belligerent” on immigration.

Click here to read the Morrissey complaint

Catherine Bennett to leave the Guardian ...

... and take up residence at the Observer? If true I shall put the paper on order again. I love Bennett, she's my favourite sourpuss.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christy Brown and the celebrity wankers

I think it would be fair to say that Christy Brown is remembered today thanks chiefly to Daniel Day-Lewis’ extraordinary mimicry of the writer/painter/poet, who had cerebral palsy, in the 1989 movie My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (it won 16 film awards including two Oscars). As Georgina Louise Hambleton writes, in her new biography, Christy Brown: The Life that Inspired My Left Foot, “It still perplexes me why Christy has been forgotten as an artist. In his poetry (all of which is now out of print) and his prose, his skills as a writer are vast.”

Most probably the memory of his Herculean victory over disability crowds our perception of him; it cannot be the case that his work was elevated merely because of the circumstances of creation – given the peer raves he enjoyed during his lifetime. Critics are usually not kind, only intermittently dishonest on good days. It would be best to rediscover his work when the air of schmaltz has thinned away.

Hambleton has many wonderful stories to tell – my favourite featuring Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland. Brown met the couple when he had grown famous. After just 15 minutes of their company, he turned to his sister Ann and said, “These people are awful wankers.” Hambleton adds: “Sellers (who had ignored Christy after their initial introduction) leant over to Christy’s ‘interpreter’ and asked, somewhat pedantically, ‘What’s that he’s saying?’ Ann did not know what to say, so she thought quickly. ‘Ah, sure, I don’t know,’ she said. ‘He’s speaking Irish.’”

Christy Brown: The Life that Inspired My Left Foot, Mainstream Publishing, £15.99. Click here to order

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ben Stiller buys up Gods Behaving Badly

Great news that Ben Stiller's production company Red Hour Films has snapped up the rights to Marie Phillips' debut novel Gods Behaving Badly to turn into a TV comedy series. London-based Phillips wrote a StrugglingAuthor blog about the writing of the book before it was sold - it's a tale of the Greek gods who have been living together in a house since the 1660s, still in control of the world but dangerously bored: Aphrodite, for example, now runs a telephone sex service. A dream come true for Phillips. This reminds of the time in the mid-'90s when Robert Redford phoned up Nicholas Evans in London to secure the film rights for The Horse Whisperer. Can't say I much liked the movie; perhaps Gods Behaving Badly will turn out better.

Marie writes an entertaining blog - click here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mother Meera in UK next March

Those interested in the work of Mother Meera will have a chance to receive her darshan in London between March 27th and 30th, 2008. For further details click here.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gordon's November horrors foreseen

Arcati readers will know of my keen interest in the astrology annual Old Moore's Almanack - I have been particularly impressed by its predictive accuracy on the topic of the government. It foretold a happy August (with traditional Gord-style values emphasised) but that by November the government would be in trouble with new scandals aplenty - Northern Rock and the loss of 25 million benefit files might reasonably be regarded as, er, headaches. For my last Moore's report click here.

If Moore's remains spot on, then the UK economy in 2008 will perform reasonably well even if the PM is given little credit.

Christopher Biggins and actor star in a dream

Dear Madame

I thought I must share a dream I had this morning. It could have only come about from reading your blog and watching ITV ... In fact, it was possibly more "waking nightmare" ...

The dream: I'm sitting in The Ivy with none other than Kevin Spacey and Christopher Biggins. Kevin is holding court, discussing his movie triumphs and theatre excursions. Then, he looks slowly at Biggins followed by me and adds: "And I'm also writing the lyrics to P.Diddy's new album."

At this point I become EMBARRASSED and look at my table napkin, but Biggins seizes the moment with a huge cheshire cat grin - "How prodigious!" He throws his head back and laughs like a hyena on acid.

This dream REALLY happened. What's happening to me? By the way, the Biggins in my dream was the On Safari version. Thanks for your time:).

Mark

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jonathan King writes ...

Hi Madame - seven years ago to the day I was arrested! I'm drinking a toast to celebrate as I type.

Click here

All the best, JK

Duncan Fallowell ponders his bathtime churning balls


In this week's excellent Spectator - I love to stroke my cheeks with the gorgeously sexy silky paper, inter alia - Roger Lewis lists as one of his Books of the Year Duncan Fallowell's "long-awaited hedonistic masterpiece about his visit to New Zealand, Going as Far as I Can (Profile, £12.99)." Lewis writes: "New Zealand comes across as a philistine hellhole, so Fallowell shuts himself in a motel to contemplate his knackers floating in the bath instead. You assuredly didn’t get that in Bruce Chatwin."

The phrase darling Duncan actually writes is: " ... a good long soak in the bath and
contemplation of my balls slowly churning in their sac"*. It has been brought to my attention that this is "a unremarked phenomenon," namely, "that balls in this relaxed state can often be seen to make a definite churning movement of their own accord." My male writer adds: "I can't be the only man to have noticed this [as well] but I've never seen it referred to elsewhere. Can your readers offer some input on this?"

Any New Zealanders are most welcome to contribute, btw.

*Duncan spells this as "sack" in his book for the reason he gives in comments.

To order Duncan's new book click here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Poor Zsa Zsa Gabor mugged by VF

Abusing a frail old lady is usually unthinkable in polite society. But in the case of ancient starlet Zsa Zsa Gabor, the December issue of my second favourite magazine, Vanity Fair, throws caution to the wind and gives a very good impression of a hoodie happy slapping a passing pensioner. It sets on the old glitz-bag in a most thuggish way – probably because she didn’t have a savvy agent/PR to police the copy and threaten reprisals in the first place.

The assault appears to have been provoked by gossip writer Cindy Adams’ claim that Zsa Zsa is the prisoner of her very odd and much speculated about husband, Prince Frédéric von Anhalt. “This charge greatly upset von Anhalt, the aging German stud who counts himself as Zsa Zsa's 10th husband, although she claims to have married a mere eight”, reports the magazine. So in a damage limitation exercise he called in VF’s finest cosmetic prose and picture stylists for a summit with the actress – perhaps over-estimating her personal interest in the project. The Prince tells the writer that she fears being perceived as old, or as he puts it gallantly, “She doesn't believe she's 90 years old. She says she's 82." The “interview” is brief.

VF offers a geological treatise on determining his and her age and then later reminds us of the episode in which three women robbed him in his Rolls and left him naked and bound to the steering wheel. But there may be an alternative explanation: “Several internet gossip columnists suggested that von Anhalt frequents gay cruising areas and might have picked up the wrong person,” VF scrupulously reports. Before this Zsa Zsa is “poofed” into a powder-caked vision for the pics and then ritually slaughtered – it’s no way to treat a disabled person, is it?

It’s journalism at its worst and I just wish there was more of it. Click here for fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cranford: The show gives good suck

“My sister doesn’t like the word suck,” said Dame Judi Dench apropos the eating of an orange, in her latest period vehicle for an award aka Cranford (Sundays, BBC1). It was the second sexiest thing about this Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation. The first sexiest thing was Dame Judi sucking on an orange in the privacy of her bedroom – she made it look like a fruity type of cunnilingus: she had already said at table that she likes to make a hole in her orange for the sucking of the juice. She was tasteful enough not to allow a dribble, that would have been too much for this otherwise twee costumed tale about a group of hymened hysterics who faint at the first squeak of a woodlouse fart. Her sister did allow herself a bit of a suck, but from neatly cut orange segments. Still, the build up will be to a romantic tumescence - spinster redemption by cock - for even in Cranford oranges are not the only fruit.

David Montgomery and his Cycle of Doom

Reading the Guardian's entertaining report on David Montgomery and his empire building across Europe in the van of the alien-sounding Mecom – buying up hundreds of regional newspapers – reminds me to remind you of the usual Monty cycle as witnessed at News International and Mirror Group:

1. The surprise move as he emerges from nowhere to take control (he's a Scorpio, see. Secretive).

2. Lots of promises not to sack anyone ie “Everyone is in place …”

3. A brilliant start – cuts impress the suits, he talks the talk to the City types, paints his visionary future. Some useful purchases made.

4. Cuts start as promises are shredded, the troops start to revolt, editor heads roll, lots of vile coverage in the media. He is described as "thin man" and his nickname Rommel revived.

5. Eccentric editorial initiatives, bizarre appointments, more sackings, horrible or scandalous diary items about his love life. But he loves opera and is a delight on the piano.

6. Media Rumours of unease among the suits – concern about editorial hostility to Monty and the feasibility of some of his ideas. Is Monty a one-man band?

7. It's not that Monty's wrong on everything, it's just he cannot get over his basic contempt for journalists. This warps everything he touches. Doubts are raised about his understanding of readers and everything's done on the cheap. People tap their temples when they speak of him in hushed tones.

8. He’s fired and scuttles off several millions of euros wealthier.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nicholas Coleridge: At home in his graveyard

Not content with reviews of his novels in Condé Nast's many gorgeous catalogues, Condé Nast MD Nicholas Coleridge has now granted an Hello!-style audience to Condé Nast's opulent The World of Interiors. In its December issue it carries a 10-page feature, entitled A Fantasy Flower, on Nicky's grand Worcestershire home, Wolverton Hall - and I must compliment him on his exquisite taste if not the pretty pics.

However, as is the Indy on Sunday media diarist, one is perturbed by signs in the home of what the paper calls "creepy personalised features". These include "Sunhats perched on antlers from a deer shot by Nicholas Coleridge" and, in the bathroom, "the mounted butterflies above the basin were netted by Nicholas Coleridge, aged 10."

My friends at PETA claim that "Violent acts towards animals have long been recognised as indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that is not limited to animal abuse." While I think we may safely conclude that Nicky poses no obvious threat to his fellow humanity - if he sticks to writing non-fiction books I may grow yet more generous - the presence of the deer's antlers on one of his walls at least connotes an affinity with old aristocratic (if not royal) pastimes. A much-deserved peerage would surely complete the illusion.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Picture of the year: Look, no tongues!
















I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus
I am Spartacus I am Spartacus

Anthony Haden-Guest: FT gives him the FO

Is the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber the most self-important turd in "Fleet Street"? Probably not - the competition is keen - but I am appalled that he has sacked living myth the Hon Anthony Haden-Guest, as the paper's Weekend FT saleroom correspondent, for not being strictly accurate about the troubled politics at the National Gallery. Given H-G's decades as a high profile socialite and art critic, Barber could have at most demanded dinner at the Ivy at the author's expense as punishment.

Not that H-G is bleating. As he told Mediaguardian: "The allegations about Peter Scott had previously been published by both the Times and the Independent. Nonetheless I should certainly have double-checked. So I am not going to whine."

Let us hope that the FT was not perceived as the softer touch by the complainant, or as Barber put it in his Papal Bull of an email to his staff: "The FT's reputation depends on the integrity of its reporting and its unflinching commitment to accuracy." For more click here.

To acquaint yourself - if you need acquainting - with H-G, visit his website, click here.

I like Toby Young's story about H-G - whom he terms the Beast - in his excellent book-to-movie How To Lose Friends & Alienate People. The Beast and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter (and family) fell out while strolling on the latter's Connecticut estate. One of Carter's kids spotted a silver coin in a stream. "Where?" asked H-G. "There," replied the boy. At that the writer waded into the water and pocketed the treasure. "Aren't you going to give that to my son?" asked Carter. H-G replied: "No fear, finder's keepers."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Heather Mills: Two bitch superstars (and a dog)


Michele and Bijou. David is elsewhere

I am pleased to see that Heather Mills McCartney's new global PR Michele Elyzabeth has put on the moderator on her Heather blog at long last – I am most impressed. She has also wisely removed all the tabloid-driven commenter bile and replaced it with a confetti of lovely healing thoughts with only the slightest sign of demurral to Heather’s gospel – this too is wise: it gives the impression of free-speech (a childish notion in net world).

I think I may like Michele who has a dog called Bijou and a gay hairdresser called David. In contrast to Heather’s last PR, the Yoda-ish Phil Hall who understands how thin-skinned the average hack is, Michele vlogs weekly rants at the media as Bijou looks on with a sad countenance. Some media pundits are saying that Heather has made another big boob with Michele, but I’m not so sure. I did suggest in a previous posting that perhaps she could improve her image with some humour and self-parody. I think Heather has just found herself the perfect lightning rod.

And so to the Michele vlogs. In the first she appears without Bijou and announces in what may be a French accent: “I am sick and tired of all the lies about Heather.” She promises to “take apart” lying articles every week. True to her word she then launches into a splenetic attack on Barbara Walters and her show The View over claims Heather cancelled an appearance. Not true you bastards! And of Walters’ broadcast opinion that Heather is a "difficult woman", Michele explains that this defamation arose because Heather had the audacity to ask "for water at room temperature” when she appeared on Barbara's show earlier. "Heather had a tooth pulled that day so she was sensitive and in any case water at room temperature is a healthy option," Michele adds. With regretful pathos she sighs: “Walters was a fabulous journalist who got famous and became this storyteller of ... tabloid magazine” (sic).

Vlog 2 is even better. Here Michele appears with David on a sofa. Bijou sits between the drama queens and falls asleep to Michele's caresses. “If Heather were a man she’d be considered strong,” drawls David. They then both crucify a galère of anti-Heather villains including the Daily Mail and Perez Hilton – of the latter Michele says: “He drew something disgusting over Heather’s picture. He took someone else’s name to get famous. ” David responds: “That’s because he’s a nobody”.

The pair reveal their true glorious colours though when they bitch about someone called Joy Behar who slagged off Heather on The View. David: “She laughed about Heather’s leg, about a disability. I mean, I don’t laugh that Joy is 30 pounds overweight, has bad colour and needs a facelift.” To this Michele screeches and Bijou cocks up a fluffy ear. The show ends with a dodgy claim by David that Sir Paul’s “big PR machine” has shut down a lot of Heather’s charity work. Oh, more, more please.

It is plain to me that Michele and David must be given their own talk show PRONTO. They are brilliant. Like true stars they take the media seriously and aren't ashamed to customise their rage to the needs of the payer - a symptom of what some call loyalty. Two fabulous motormouth bitches! And little Bijou! Heather, I love you for bringing these people into our lives. I hope you get $100m from Macca. You have earned it in my view.

Catch Michele and David yourselves, click here

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tony Blair unpaid - a confirmation

The excellent Times diarist Hugo Rifkind reports today that Tony Blair's Middle East envoy role for the Quartet is unpaid. "I'm sure we have said this before," a bewildered spokesman for the former PM tells Hugo. But he begs to differ. Actually, back in June, Sky News reported that the role was expected to be unpaid, click here. But it's nice to be reminded.

Heather Mills: New PR may not last long ...

Heather Mills has appointed a new worldwide PR to replace Phil Hall - one exotic Michele Elyzabeth who has aristocratic pretensions and a new Heather blog unwisely unmoderated. The result is a cascade of atrociously insulting anti-Heather comments from the net's gabby anonymice - along the lines of "Crazy hires crazy", "She's only famous because she sucked a Beatle's dick" and "Why doesn't she take off her stump and knock you both over the head". Oh dear, this is not good PR at all, unless it's an experiment to measure the level of tabloid-driven bile directed at the embattled Lady Macca. Whatever, read up for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Observer and Guardian disagree on homeophobia

In the Guardian, novelist Jeanette Winterson soberly tackles the tricky subject of homeophobia – the fear and loathing of homeopathy, that is. She relates how while staying at a remote cottage in Cornwall she ran a temperature of 102, had spots on her throat, was delirious. And she had a book to finish. Her “desperate” publisher suggested she call the homeopath Hilary Fairclough who sent round a remedy called Lachesis, made from snake venom. “Four hours later I had no symptoms whatsoever.” (I believe this piece first appeared in The Times in 2004). She finishes: “We should be careful of dismissing the testimony of millions who say the remedies have worked for them.”

For once I have no firm view to offer – by temperament I am too impatient for results. And homeopathy, by my understanding, works slowly and subtly, if at all (Winterson’s rapid symptomatic relief surprises me). Zap me with the chemicals and I’m all yours (reluctantly). But it intrigues me that the piece has been resurrected in the Guardian when its sister paper the Observer only very recently ran a Nick Cohen homeophobic piece in which Hilary Fairclough got a kicking over claims that homeopathy can help in the treatment of Aids. “Of all the pseudo-sciences on offer, homeopathy is the most obviously spurious,” Cohen asserted, in the way Christopher Hitchens promises his flock that there is no god.

I see no reason why The Guardian and The Observer should not run contrary pieces – it’s very fair-minded of them – if a little redolent of their opposing stances on Iraq. Being all things - if done intelligently - is a very attractive commercial proposition.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nicky Haslam, Russell Brand and frying old boobs

Fish was right – publication of Nicky Haslam’s Redeeming Features: A Memoir has been postponed from November 1 to January 3. How annoying for Weidenfeld and Nicolson to miss out on the Christmas prezzie rush, and for me. I was getting sooooooooooo excited at the prospect of learning more of Tallulah Bankhead’s infatuation with him – she loved public schoolboys as I think MI5 discovered in their trawls and she may have even yielded to some under-age cock, the dirty cow.

So, instead I have to read Russell Brand’s tiresome “memoirs”, My Booky Wook, serialised in the gorgeously celebrity-obsessed Guardian (shouldn't it be restyled The Guardian! ?). His prose style stirs up Henry Miller as realised by Ken Dodd – “I didn't understand what I was witnessing, but by jingo, I knew I liked it," he writes. "Dumbstruck, I sat looking at the women, their hair, each strand identifiable as it responded to a fan that had been placed there to elicit exactly the reaction I felt in my pantaloons.” The extract I read today chronicled his sex addiction and its treatment at the KeyStone clinic. “In Hong Kong, I was naked and shy about my body. I had trouble getting hard, and the blow job seemed daft, not sexual, just giggly and intrusive.” It's all very tattyfilarious and I'm sure Guardianistas will appreciate this smutty excursus. To read click here.

For class I sought out the American former supermodel Janice Dickinson, currently residing in a downunder jungle on I’m A Celebrity. Of Lynne Franks she said: “I’m going to stab her in the middle of the night. You don’t think I’m kidding, I’ll eat her tits. I’ll fry up those big old boobs.” My kind of bitch.

Jonathan King: Pessimistic about Euro Appeal Contest

Jonathan King has replied to a new star on the Madame Arcati reality blog show (re: King's appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his conviction for sex attacks on teen boys). The pseudonymous Feodor quoted King on his site as saying: “[I] proved I could not have committed 4 of the 6 offences". Feodor replied: "So, the man implicitly admits having committed two of them, doesn't he? Enough said." Jonathan King writes:

"Feodor "doh" - the other (more obvious conclusion to those without tunnel vision) is the correct one - that I could not prove my innocence on the other two false claims. It is hard to prove you didn't do something 25 years earlier, especially when there is no proof that you did, but one person's word is enough for the legal system.

"Madame - sadly I would predict (though my crystal ball is rather cloudy) total failure in Europe as in the UK system. Once a Vile Pervert always a Vile Pervert. The truth is less important these days."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Are you a left-brainer or a right-brainer?

Quick test for you - which side of your brain do you use more, right or left? To find out with a simple at-a-glance test (is the model moving clockwise or anti-clockwise?), click here. (I'm a right-brainer apparently)

Norman Mailer: 'I think masturbation is bad ...

"I wouldn't say all people who masturbate are evil, probably I would even say that some of the best people in the world masturbate. But I am saying it is a miserable activity ... Masturbation is bombing. It's bombing oneself."
From An Impolite Interview with Paul Krassner, collected in Pieces and Pontifications.
RIP

Jonathan King wins right to appeal to Europe

Jonathan King has won his right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights against his conviction for sex attacks on teenage boys. To read more click here. King on the appeal, click here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rhydian

... In a class of his own. The current series of The X Factor may as well end now.

Karl Lagerfeld and his odd bedtime habits


Tatler editor Geordie Greig's interview with Chanel's legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in the magazine's December issue is faintly fawning to say the least, and it left me a little confused on the matter of the subject's bedtime habits, described in regal detail.

We learn that Karl sleeps in a long white nightdress, in a room with no curtains, for seven hours every night, "like clockwork". But before Hypnos carts him off to oblivion, Karl reads "two pages in bed before the book falls on his face." Karl adds: "I then read in the early morning" even though, as Geordie relates immediately afterwards, "he is woken by light and hunger". That he reads rather than breakfasts first thing is an example to me of admirable masochism.

But let us think this routine through. So, Karl lies in bed, presumably on his back with the book in his hands held above his face. This then crashes onto his face as he nods off. Would this not wake him up? - I take it he's not under sedation. I suppose it depends on the weight of the tome. A slim novella by Ian McEwan or Susan Hill might not make much impression on unconsciousness, but what if it was a fat Nicholas Coleridge hardback novel or anything by Tolstoy? This would surely bring Karl around with a start, and squash his nose too.

Perhaps we should assume that Karl's steepled arms descend gently and smoothly as consciousness ebbs away - he is elegance personified, after all - like one of those rickety elevators in ancient department stores (Debenhams usually) heading south, so that the book enjoys a soft landing. But if awareness ebbs away then we must also assume that he does not actually read the two pages unless he means that his lights go out precisely at the moment he reaches the last word on the second page, Pavlov style. This is most unlikely. I fear that Mr Lagerfeld probably stops reading well before he has turned his first page as drowsiness sets in. Mystery novels must remain a mystery to him, if this is the case.

But even if we accept this two-page claim, are we then to believe that the King of Chic sleeps his seven hours and then awakes with a book spread-eagled upon his visage, like some vampiric bat seeking to infect a new recruit for Vlad? Can you imagine a more absurd sight, accompanied we may suppose by the slightest rumble of a snore beneath? Happily, as Geordie loyally explains: "[Karl] does not take himself too seriously."

Geordie's top 10 Lagerfeld arselicks from the Tatler interview

1 "Lagerfeld is a man of supreme sophistication, charm and power"
2 "And supreme taste"
3 "He massacres hypocrisy and cant"
4 "He is a man of supreme politeness and decorum"
5 "No other designer seems to inspire such adulation"
6 "Pretension is his bugbear"
7 "With a clear conscience, he sleeps long and easy"
8 "He doesn't do anything as banal as translated books" (because he reads in four languages)
9 "His workload is Herculean"
10 "He is courteous, charming, gentle and yet incisive"

To acquaint yourself with the master click here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

John Barrowman, his memoirs and anatomical pics


Torchwood and Doctor Who star John Barrowman has just completed his autobiography, Anything Goes, with the help of ghostwriter, sister Carole, I learn. It's due out next February or March from Michael O'Mara after his well-earned break in South Africa.

But what's this I hear of him taking pics of a huge part of his anatomy on the set of Torchwood, having the images blown up and then stuck up put on the wall of a certain Torchwood set? Perhaps the poppet will get in touch and explain himself.

Madame Arcati is a great fan of Mr Barrowman - he will become a global superstar through movies I predict - and is pleased to learn that the stitching in another area of his anatomy is holding firm.

Nesta Wyn Ellis replies to Lavinia ...

Paris-based author and singer Nesta Wyn Ellis caught sight of a comment from commenter Lavinia and asked me to put up this response:

I have never heard of Lavinia, except that there is a rather nouveau riche pretentious wine chain here in Paris by this name. As for Lavinia's comment, the reason that I am not known in Paris is that I keep my life here a complete secret and my concerts, and social rendezvous, are entirely private and by invitation only.

Sorry "Lavinia" if you are one of the hoi polloi who never gets an invitation. My reason for coming to live in Paris was to keep my life entirely private and free of malicious comment in newspapers by freelance nonentities such as yourself, perhaps? As for Madame Arcati, she's a doll and a confidante and very much my valued friend.

Touché!

Best love,
Nesta

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Del Toro to direct The Champions movie


Great news that Mexican movie director Guillermo Del Toro is to make the movie version of Sixties’ TV sci-fi show, The Champions. Remember it? It featured one beautiful man (Stuart Damon), one beautiful girl (Alexandra – I want to say Bastardo – but, no, I mean Bastedo) and then one not-so-beautiful man (William Gaunt): all playing agents endowed with supernatural gifts and working for some international outfit called Nemesis.

The ejaculatory, spraying city fountains in the opening credits sequence were the one thing that impressed my child’s eye; the paranormal bits of course I took to be entirely natural, what with me being a precocious and witchy Madame Arcati and all. I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. I didn’t realise then just how dull life is for most wretches.

Del Toro is perfect for this project: a master of the schlock-free other-worldly. If you’ve not seen Pan’s Labyrinth yet, then get the DVD. It was my movie of the year last year; a literal fairy story set in Fascist Spain of 1944, featuring a most wonderful and sinister faun (pictured) among so many other underworld creatures – but none so dreadful as some of the pathological human beasts. Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, set during the Spanish Civil War of ’39, is also hugely impressive: a creepy ghost film fusion of the political and fantastical and allegorical.

What Del Toro will make of The Champions - which he will write, direct and produce - I can’t guess. It has to be a big tentpole movie because of the promise of super-action, but I don’t doubt he will add many new things, make it adult but not at the expense of fun and just a teensy bit of profundity.

For more on the old The Champions click here.

Stereophonics' Kelly Jones: 'Din with Keyser Söze'

One of my darlingest sources sends me this delightful item from the excellent freebie Metro London newspaper. It's an interview with singer Kelly Jones of Stereophonics and one part goes like this:

Did Kevin Spacey know your songs?
Yeah, he did. We met when I did a gig for the Prince’s Trust at St James’s Palace. He took us out for dinner to Madame Jojos and the Met Bar; that was the first time we went there. The boys in the band thought he was after me…

Did you think he was?
No, as far as I was concerned, I was out for a drink with Keyser Söze. We didn’t become pals.

Heather Mills McCartney: Crime claim against Sun?

Glad to see Heather Mills McCartney has no regrets about her various attacks on the British press last week. On GMTV this morning she claimed that a Sun journalist had approached a man in Newcastle offering him money to make up a story against her - "It could be a criminal matter," she said, "we have a statement from the man." This is most interesting and I shall watch with interest.

I liked the fact she kept calm this time and didn't whinny on a top note to suggest an imminent blub - she's not one for tears is Heather. She also wished Macca well in his new relationship with "US millionairess" Nancy Shevell saying it was no one's business but his. Some ancient alleged Mafia link with her dad's company adds juiciness.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sophie Dahl and those pesky gene-jeanies

Novelist and supermodel Sophie Dahl – or Dahling as some bitches like Arcati have a habit of saying – is all over the place right now with the release of her first full-length work of fiction, Playing with the Grown-ups. Whereas most writers must face the cruel fate of oblivion, Dahl’s more rarefied excruciation is the reverse of the common experience, hereditary celebrity and its remorseless trivialisation of her person and work.

It was the Indy editor Simon Kelner who encapsulated Sophie’s predicament with inadvertent and cruel efficiency in his GQ December Food column, following his delicious lunch with her (she had the smoked salmon and Jerusalem artichokes). He wrote: “For her career as a writer, the genes look good. As I watched her stride across the Aldwych after lunch, I thought the jeans don’t seem too bad either.”

Ah, yes the genes and the jeans. Never mind about the book! Every profile and interview rehearses the genealogy: Sophie’s mother is Tessa, the daughter of Roald and actress Patricia Neal; and her father is Julian Holloway, son of actor Stanley Holloway. Not just all this but Sophie was the inspiration for the Sophie character in Roald’s The BFG! Poor Sophie! It’s not her fault that she sounds like a walking ad for a benign form of Eugenics – popular in some areas of the media, broadsheets and glossy mags especially.

Her natal stardom leads to a kind of social determinism: her Wikipedia entry announces simply that she was “discovered by Isabella Blow on a London street at the age of 18.” Oh, OK. Just like that. Like you do. Crisp abbreviation lends a Mosaic quality to the tale; it was meant to be. It was ordained by ongoing, ambient success.

Then there are the jeans, the other thread – so to speak – of Sophie’s story (ie, the other big excuse not to discuss her fiction) which takes us back to her supermodel days – she did the Vogue cover for November, by the way – and at some point lately pint-sized jazz star Jamie Cullum gets a name-check (see pics of little man and tall woman). The lines of glittery detail are snorted up with tremendous relish – tragically to be repeated for Sophie’s entire life and in her obits - and, oh, she’s written a book!

To add to the distraction is the fact that she’s represented in the UK by that literary party Zelig, Ed Victor, the big agent man ever in search of the next buzz, buzz, buzz. You think: Yes, I see the sparkle, I can smell the sparklers' fume; yes, I concede the superior genes and jeans, but can any literary talent withstand such irrelevant heft? Wouldn’t even a very serious talent be compromised by sooooooooooo much trivia? Discuss.

Of course what one must do is read Sophie’s book to separate the genes from the jeans. Actually, I can’t be bothered because the hype puts me off. I did however read a short extract from Playing with the Grown-ups on Bloomsbury’s website: this establishes that she can write. But if I didn’t know it was the work of Sophie Dahl, would I be bothered? Would any publisher/journalist really be bothered? The question is the answer.

But this shouldn’t be read as a put-down of Sophie's writing talent – even “smart end of average” is a compliment on this site. If she wants to discover whether she can be taken seriously as a writer, my unsolicited advice to her is this: Dump star-fucking Ed, dump the family history (make all interviews contingent on no mention of Roald, Pat, Tessa, Jamie et al), refuse any picture poses and ban all model illustrations and insist that 90% of the interview is just about the work in hand. Only then will you know whether it’s your book, your genes or your jeans that’s the real point of interest.

To read the extract from Sophie's novel, click here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Heather! Get yourself on Ross pronto!

The PR Mark Borkowski gives sensible advice to Heather Mills McCartney in today's Guardian after shaking his head at her TV antics of last week. He even tries to explain to her the "emotional roles" celebrities play in the wretched lives of the public. First, stars provide a "mythical narrative that the fan can follow and identify with" (very true, as my studies of Spacey fans have revealed). Second, stars can "function as an empty screen on to which fans can project their dreams." He adds: "The slightest deviation from these prescribed roles provokes enormous rage." In other words, she should have just put up with the press shit because, let's face it, we want her to be Cruella.

Mr Borkowski is one of our shrewder PRs - Madame Arcati might yet put him on a retainer! But there is one way in which a celebrity can tear away the binds of media central casting. It's called self-parody. Send yourself up - surprise your public with a display of comic self-knowingness - and a whole new life may await you.

The trick is to get yourself on a show where you can be mercilessly sent up, thereby burying the old myth. The show has to be pretty hot - ie very cool - to achieve image conversion. Until recently anything associated with Ricky Gervais might have done the trick - ask Les Dennis who has not looked back since he appeared in Gervais' Extras in a piece of self-crucifying irony. The Simpsons is also a great place to shape-shift the PR: get yourself cartoonised, have yourself slotted into a zeitgeist narrative animation, and the public will look upon you with eyes afresh (except it didn't really work for Blair - he was too far gone by the time of his 'tooning).

Talk shows may help, but you have to be careful. A spot on Graham Norton might just do the trick if you can withstand his porno theatre of cruelty. Jonathan Ross is a better bet since he still cleverly sides with the stars while taking the gentle piss, loudly. If Heather could be persuaded to swallow the bitter pills of his scabrous humour - "So, Heather, what was it about a pop icon billionaire that appealed to you," etc etc - and if she could just hold her face together in a pose of amused tolerance, well, perhaps even the Sun might lay off. Eventually.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Zac Efron cock shock pic poll result!! It's a fake!!


In a shock blog poll result commissioned by the Madame Arcati personality construct, 58% of her global reading public have voted that this picture of Zac Efron's cock and balls is a Photoshopped fake!

Only 26% thought this pictorial display of the singing-acting star's masculine crown jewels was for real. Ten per cent generously concluded that the image captured "something of the actual" while a mean 6% thought it "nothing like the actual".

Madame Arcati commented: "Not much gets past my public - as seasoned size queens, they can spot a phony once it's pointed out to them."

However, critics of the much-maligned Madame savaged this latest blog poll. The Francophone Quebecian calling himself Duralex said, as he wiped away drama queen froth from his lips with a Man Size Kleenex: "Mon dieu! Madame has completely humiliated herself this time - suicide is the only answer!! Aux grands maux, les grands remèdes - or as the great philosopher Duralex père once said (via Babel Fish): 'Fuck me! I never thought I would enjoy pleasuring myself so much at the expense of another.'" Duralex fils added: "I am emailing Stephanie Mastini and all of Madame's other friends to announce her death - this is the blog equivalent of a life-changing tsunami!!!!!! Je me écrème dans mon pantalon!!!!!"

Another critic, Lorenzo, was fast asleep when called by reporters - his mother said to call back later. "Shhhhh! The masturbator lazy it is full of paste," she helpfully explained (according to Babel Fish). "È un muscolo Mary."

And the Francophone Claire issued a statement: "J'aime sucer le robinet du Duralex" (as translated by Babel Fish). For more on this incomparable translation service click here.