Axe grinder 28.10.05

Prospects are grim for the luvvies

THE
OTHERWISE chummy, chablis ‘n’ olives clique of London theatre critics
has been blown apart following a severely brutal article by Michael
Coveney in Prospect, the must-read magazine for eggheads.

Coveney
has had no regular perch on Fleet Street for more than a year. But now
he flies in from the wings to deliver a bitchy, four-page critique of
his fellow critics. Expect dramatic repercussions.

Of Quentin
Letts (Coveney’s successor at the Daily Mail), he writes: “… not so
much a voice of the theatre in the Mail as a voice of the Mail in the
theatre.”

Coveney then turns to the ladies. “Similar recent
appointments to the theatre job – Victoria Segal on The Sunday Times,
Rebecca Tyrell on The Sunday Telegraph – suggest theatre is now fair
game for anyone who can turn a phrase.”

The Spectator’s theatre critic, Toby Young, is described in headmasterly terms as “impertinent”.

And
Young gets a roasting (if you’ll forgive the phrase), for getting lost
on his way to the National, and for leaving during an interval because
he was “bored”.

“Would a sports editor,” Coveney asks Prospect’s
intellectual readers, “hire a soccer reporter who had not been immersed
in the sport since his earliest years and never been to Old Trafford or
Goodison Park?”

Had Coveney launched Exocet SM39 missiles towards the critics’s comfy seats in the stalls, he’d have done less damage.

Coveney’s wife is Sue Hyman, the London theatre publicist.

One
of the insulted critics tells Axegrinder: “I wonder how many of us will
take revenge by ignoring Mrs Coveney’s entreaties next time she begs us
to attend some piss-poor West End first night produced by one of her
clients.”

Watch this space, as they say at NASA.

No need to panic, just call the Samaritans

AFTER
SLY Bailey’s frightening email announcement last week that Trinity
Mirror will be axing more staff, department heads at the Daily Mirror
did what they could to rally the terrified troops.

Features
editor Barbara Davies compassionately told her team of writers: “You’ve
all seen the email – Mirror editorial won’t be affected.”

Then she added: “But if anyone feels really worried, just phone The Samaritans.”

At
this point a wise old Mirror sage stepped forward and offered to the
fretful features brigade the following words of comfort: “Usual rules.

Last in, first out…”

Don’t mention the war

STICKING
with the Mirror (someone has to), just one hour after Sly’s roundrobin
email about job cuts, another upsetting email was circulated.

It contained the news that the paper’s editorial floor will soon be invaded by a regiment of German journalists.

Apparently,
Bild magazine is sending over some of its finest to do a bit of work
experience at Canary Wharf. The German hacks will need putting up, said
the email, so if anyone could offer accommodation it would be much
appreciated.

Wobbly Mirror hacks, who were still coming to terms
with the horrendous possibility of losing their jobs, considered the
second email “poor timing”.

Mail’s Eastham is miffed and missing

WHILE
Sunday Times political editor “Crackers” Cracknell searches the globe
for a deputy, there is confusion within the Daily Mail’s own political
team.

Political editor Ben Brogan has lost his number three,
James Chapman, who is fleeing to The Daily Telegraph. But what of
Brogan’s Number Two, Paul Eastham?

He has not been seen in Westminsterin recent weeks. And I have not seen the eye-catching Eastham byline since August.

It
wouldn’t surprise anyone if, deep down, Eastham was more than a little
miffed that he was passed over for the political editor’s job in favour
of Brogan.

Walden must cover up, pleads reader

CELIA
WALDEN’S flesh-bearing, naughty nightie byline picture that appears on
her occasional Spy column in The Daily Telegraph, is proving too
explicit for the paper’s Middle England readers.

“Would someone please tell Celia Walden of Spy to put a dress on,”

one discontented reader writes in an unpublished letter to the Telegraph. “She puts me off my breakfast.”

Walden
is so pleased with the note she has pinned it on a wall beside her
desk. As the chill sets in will she pose for a new byline snap, covered
up in a warm mink coat and muff?

So just how does Kimberly take it?

ON
Richard and Judy the other day they were discussing David Blunkett and
the Channel 4 satire about his disastrous affair with Kimberly Quinn.

Judy Finnegan wondered if Quinn might sue. “She doesn’t take this sort of thing lying down,” said Judy.

Wrong choice of words, love. It was the lying down that caused all the problems.

Fruity pair’s scent of success

NOMINATIONS are coming in for the most pleasurable press releases.

This
week’s winner is the hand-out produced by Charlotte McCarthy and Claire
Goodwin who use two pages to tell the world about Jo Malone’s new
fragrance, Pomegranate Noire.

“The inspiration began,” write the
and buries hatchets McCarthy-Goodwin duo, “with a vintage dress worn by
a friend, both electric and sophisticated, in rich red silk. Hence Jo
found herself noticing all things red, a journey that eventually led to
the red leathery skins of the pomegranate fruit.

“Once found,
pomegranate was relentless in its mission to be noticed, appearing in
the soft centre of dark chocolates, in a pomegranate margarita and in
its own medicinal qualities and historical importance.”

The PR
ladies have also gone to the trouble of including a powerfully poetic
quote from Jo Malone: “My attraction to pomegranate is in its delicious
taste and eating experience. The moment the waxy skin breaks and
reveals that unexpected release of blood-red juice, which eagerly
stains fingers and mouths…”

Pomegranate perfume is a tasty £59 per 100 ml. Splash it all over.

Field is not so wide for Paul

THE
OBSERVER media section gives space to Paul Field, the former British
tabloid executive who left these shores to edit US supermarket weekly,
The National Enquirer.

Field tells The Observer that he is
living the American dream. He has a loft apartment in New York; at meal
times he can be found at Soho House NY where he particularly enjoys the
mushroom risotto (Field mushrooms, perhaps).

While he has lots of
big exclusives in the pipeline, of course, there are suggestions that
he is having cash rows “with the bosses” upstairs. Mmm. Suddenly the
mushroom risotto seems rather unappetising.

Field’s former
colleagues on this side of the Atlantic believe he is preparing the
ground for a return to the UK – not with tail between his legs but to
edit a national. If so, it will be fascinating to watch.

Annoyingly
(for him), he is widely viewed as having burnt his bridges at News
International. He worked at The Sun where, it must be said, he was not
concerned about endearing himself to other members of staff.

It’s
a similar story at the Mirror titles (where he worked on the Sunday
People and Sunday Mirror newsdesks). This just leaves Associated (he
was news editor at The Mail on Sunday before he left for The Sun) where
there is already a long queue for the top jobs.

Is hearty Dacre at risk?

UNDER
the headline “The Meldrew Test”, Daily Mail science reporter Fiona
MacRae informed readers that gloomy Victor Meldrew-type people run a
high risk of suffering a heart attack.

Her article was accompanied by a 14- point test, enabling readers to find out if they have the dreaded Type D personality.

Readers
were invited to answer True or False to statements that included: I am
often irritated; I take a gloomy view of things; I am often in a bad
mood; I don’t make contact easily when I meet people; I’d rather keep
people at a distance; I never talk to strangers.Daily Mail staff say
that General Dacre would have scored a zero in the False box.

Should YOU be reading The Oldie?

MEANWHILE, celebrating the 200th issue of The Oldie, editor Richard Ingrams invites Axegrinder readers to take the Oldie test.

Answering Yes to some of the fivequestions below means you should be reading his magazine:

■ Do you not only talk to yourself, but see nothing wrong with it?

■ Do you write letters?

■ Are there at least 10 people in your address book who are dead?

■ When you hear of Big Brother do you still think of George Orwell?

■ Did you watch Grumpy Old Men and think: “They’re not old?”

 

Dave, I flew to sydney for the national commercial radio awards and conference.

I was talking at the event and
co-hosting with Barry Humphries at the sydney conference centre. I flew
in on the Friday morning..spoke at the conference about the art of the
celebrity interview on radio and tv…..then gave away some awards on
Sat night with Dame Edna…..I ended up winning the gold award for best
Syndicated radio show for “My generation” my aussie show that’s on 98
stations all over OZ. I flew out on Sunday afternoon after spending the
Sunday with my mum for her 80th…which was the Tuesday after I
left…..flew out on BA at 3.15 sunday afternoon….back to Heathrow at
5.15am Monday…morning……customs held me up for 45 mins….with my
new radio award that was big and very heavy……they also thought it
was very funny that they made me late for the show…I know you’re
really pissed off, but it won’t happen again.

EVER-DECREASING DJ Jono Coleman infuriated his new bosses at BBC
London 94.9 by managing to arrive an hour late for his first show. The
station’s managing editor David Robey has asked Coleman for a written
explanation. To save Robey the time of switching on his computer, I
publish Coleman’s pitiful excuse here (note the way he drags his mum
into it) …

The 1pm girl

LUNCHING at Kensington Place, I find myself at a table beside four
Mail on Sunday staffers who have clearly not mastered the art of
whispering.

They are gossiping about their recently departed deputy editor, Rod Gilchrist.

According
to one of the quartet: “He not only got hundreds of grand as a farewell
gift, he also walked away with 500 first class stamps, an office fax
machine and the porter’s trolley, which he used to take away all his
belongings.”

Another diner chips in: “And he keeps calling up people complaining about ‘life in the real world’.

“He’s
been ringing Lorraine [Gilchrist’s former PA] asking how he can get his
computer to work and where he can buy mudguards for his bike.”

My
colleague Axegrinder, who wrote last week’s Hello-style puff piece
about Gilchrist, says “the great man” deserves everything the company
is prepared to give him.

OH DEAR. The plotting has started at The Guardian, where not everyone is thrilled with the redesign.

Ian
Katz, once seen as a successor to Alan Rusbridger, is being blamed for
the flimsy new G2 and is seen as the author of his own misfortune.

The
new contender for the succession is thought to be Janine Gibson, who
used to be media editor and is now editor-in-chief of all supplements.

At 35, Gibson is still young enough not to be seen as an immediate threat to Rusbridger.

SENIOR
columnists at the Telegraph may not be the only ones angered by the
paper’s hiring of former Guardian media critic Roy “Tu-Tu”

Greenslade.

I
hear that Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside – a close friend of
Telegraph supremo Murdoch MacLennan – is also greatly disturbed that
the DT should have hired a man who has a track record of being far more
sympathetic to Irish Republicanism than the Telegraph ever was.

OPENLY
GAY Times columnist and broadcaster Matthew Parris being interviewed by
Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker about the writer’s Spanish castle… Walker:
“And will you be holding very big balls there?”

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