Axe Grinder - 6 October 2006

Explaining why Morgan left? Not worth the hassle

THE APPEARANCE of the legendary David Hasselhoff at the Mirror's Canary Wharf office caused much merriment the other day.

The Hoff was being delightfully whacky during the tour and his HQ walkabout was halted for 10 minutes while he admired the toes of blushing Sunday Mirror showbiz columnist Suzanne Kerins. But staff were more than a little perplexed when The Hoff — who enjoys the occasional sherbet — started asking questions like: "Hey guys! What's it like working for Piers Morgan?" and: "Hey, where's Piers?" The "actor" looked shocked when it was eventually explained to him that Morgan, known well in this parish, left the Mirror's building some time ago. Executives didn't have time to recount the minutiae of Morgan's exit and the phrase "frogmarch" was not mentioned.

Newman looks for golden handcuffs deal

REBECCA Newman, who disappeared to the States after jacking in her job as Richard Kay's deputy on the Daily Mail diary, has returned to conquer London.

First up was a breakfast-time meeting with Condé Nast managing director Nicholas Coleridge. "So, give me an idea of what you'd like to write," said Coleridge, "and I'll put you in touch with the right editor." Newman — who has a delicious sense of humour — replied: "I want to write about bondage. I can only achieve orgasm if I have my hands tied above my head." Coleridge spluttered on his croissant and then sent her in the direction of GQ editor Dylan Jones.

Self-promotion: The oldest trick in the book

COMPARE and contrast the book-selling techniques of two authors at the Tory party conference in Bournemouth.

The Telegraph's sketch writer Andrew Gimson, who has penned Boris: The Rise of Boris Johnson, used bowls of olives, crisps and warm white wine in an attempt to lure punters in his direction so that he could persuade them to buy signed copies of his work.

His low-key approach was blown out of the water by the no-nonsense tactics of Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, who set up stall alongside Gimson. "She was yelling out like an East End market trader to encourage people to buy her novels," said one onlooker. "Andrew was too mild-mannered to resort to that."

Barclay twins keen on Lord Aidan arising

MEANWHILE, one intriguing rumour floating round the alcoholic haze of the Midland Hotel bar in Manchester concerned the ambitions of the Barclay brothers, owners of the ailing Daily Telegraph.

Sir Dave and Sir Fred Barclay already have knighthoods, but might their eyes now be on the Upper House? The rumour suggests that they are not interested in peerages for themselves, however, but want one instead for Aidan Barclay, son of Sir Dave, who has day-to-day control of the brothers' publishing interests in London.

Brown loses his Patience with Telegraph

THE WORD "frosty" doesn't even come close to describing Sunday Telegraph editor Patience Wheatcroft's meeting with Gordon Brown at Labour's conference. "It was positively glacial," reveals one Telegraph insider. "Patience has made it clear to the senior staff that she was deeply unimpressed." For his part, the Chancellor was equally unimpressed with her attempts to tell him how to run Britain's economy. Brown has told his political allies that Wheatcroft represents "everything that is wrong with Britain". Their spat might explain The Sunday Telegraph's splash just a few days later: "Brown is weak, tragic and laughable". The quotes came from an interview with Tory leader David Cameron. But the bucketload of vitriol could just have easily come from Wheatcroft herself.

Reporting from the corridors of powder

FOR some reason, Channel Four News did not seem to have a make-up artist available at its outside broadcast facility at the Labour conference. Jon Snow, who has presented the bulletin for years, is obviously a seasoned enough pro not to need anyone else to apply his make-up for him.

But what about the programme's guests? Jack Straw, Leader of the Commons, turned up and was blithely unconcerned about the lack of a make-up person. He seized hold of a powder puff (it may or may not have been his own), lifted his chin, and spent the next three minutes enthusiastically getting himself ready for the cameras. What a beautiful boy!

Subs love Nick's premature communication

WHOEVER subbed Nick Cohen's column in last Sunday's Observer must have had a chuckle over one of the headlines. Under the heading "How to bust an embargo the easy way", Cohen recounts the findings of an Amnesty International report that describes the loopholes arms dealers use to flout arms embargoes. Cohen adds that the report is "to be published tomorrow". Sure enough, the front page of my copy of the report states in big letters "EMBARGOED UNTIL 09:00 HRS GMT MONDAY 2 OCTOBER 2006". So who, exactly, is busting an embargo the easy way?

Spoon-fed Ed gags on boozy Prof's pieces

ARE the gourmets at Waitrose Food Illustrated exploiting this year's abundant crop of magic mushrooms?

I ask only because of the bizarre treatment of one of the magazine's long-standing contributors, Professor Spoon, who answers readers' questions about the science of food. The Prof has been sacked by editor William Sitwell and it is a public dismissal — he is fired in the editor's letter which appears on page three of the publication. "Spoon refused to adhere to a little friendly editing advice from me while writing his latest article and, after an alcohol-fuelled lunch, made the mistake of phoning me to remonstrate in language most unbecoming of a man in a lab coat. So it is unavoidable that I hereby announce his departure. Spoon, you're fired."

Sitwell, I am told, has long been intending to drop the column but when Spoon, aka deputy editor Paul Dring, brought out a book last year called Why is My Custard Lumpy? it was so successful that the editor felt obliged to keep the column running.

Surely, followers of the column will have something to say about it. Sitwell should prepare himself for a campaign to reverse the sacking.

War of words over Sunday Times scoop

AN INQUEST is taking place at The Sunday Times over the political team's latest great "scoop". Tory policy supremo Oliver Letwin apparently boasted there would be "no limits" to his party's plans to privatise the NHS. The interview by deputy political editor Isabel Oakeshott — who has previously described herself to me as "an entirely freckle-free zone" — was duly put on the front page. The byline of political editor David "Crackers" Cracknell was added for good measure. But furious Tories — who taped the interview — issued an angry denial and took the unprecedented step of issuing a transcript to support their case. Oakeshott, who also taped the interview, stood by her story and insisted the words could be clearly heard. Sadly for Oakeshott, political reporter Sam Coates. who followed up the story the next day for The Times, was forced to diplomatically admit he was "unable to determine what was said" on his colleague's tape. It must be a great relief to Sunday Times editor John Witherow that the rest of Oakeshott's taped interview was so crystal clear.

A lost temper is a lost exclusive for ‘rude' Sun

WONDER what the execs at The Sun made of The Mirror's exclusive interview with Victoria Cross hero soldier Johnson Beharry's wife Lynthia. She revealed despairingly how brave Beharry dumped her just six days after the Queen presented him with his gong. But it appears that Lynthia had apparently given Wapping first refusal on her tearful story. She only decided to take her tale to The Mirror because someone at The Sun was "so rude" to her.

Blair suffers Mac attack over dinner dates

"I DISLIKE Tony Blair immensely," ranted Kelvin MacKenzie in his Sun column last week. "While dozens of our troops are dying in far-flung parts of the world, he can always be found — in a swanky West End restaurant…"

He fails to mention which restaurant, but of course it is Cecconi's in Mayfair, where the PM recently enjoyed an intimate dinner with… Rebekah Wade, editor of the Sun.

Going down: Author Kelvin's sagging sales

MEANTIME, Kelvin MacKenzie's attempts to become a best-selling author are not going as well as expected. His debut book, The John Prescott Kama Sutra ("a modern day interpretation of the ancient guide to love-making") was published on 30 September. Yet three days later, its ranking on Amazon had dipped to 20,069 (18 "used and new available from £3.97").

The final two digits — soixante neuf — can only be seen as a good omen for a tome that dwells on sexual positions. Will sales perk up as shoppers start foraging for saucy stocking fillers?

Briefs

BEST not to name (for now) the editor who was spotted at last week's Labour conference in Manchester getting into a lift in the Midland Hotel with a former ministerial spin doctor (female). It was 3.30 in the morning.

MORE curious goings on at the Telegraph titles as dozens of staff are made redundant. Several journalists have secretly been offered jobs (on lower salaries, of course). But they have been warned to keep their heads down until the current furore blows over.

SPOTTED dining à deux at the Labour party conference in Manchester last Tuesday night: Telegraph executive Guy Black and Daily Mail political editor Ben Brogan. Given that the Telegraph's veteran political editor George Jones is soon to retire, is Brogan being lined up as his successor?

And finally…

This is the compelling tale of a showbiz publicist who created a PR nightmare when she sent an email to the wrong person. Adrienne Merrill at the Borkowski agency had been to a party promoting London's Supper Club dating agency. The next morning, Addi emailed her friend, Supper Club founder Tamsin Lonsdale, and was nasty about the event's PR. But Addi also managed to send the email to Laura Lou. And Laura Lou happens to work for Golden Goose — the firm which did the PR for the Supper Club event.

EMAIL #1 Addi emails Tamsin, but the publicist accidentally copies Laura Lou of Golden Goose, into the message

Dear Tamsin,

We all had such a great time last night, fantastic entertainment & drinks and music by the DJ was brilliant — we all danced until out feet hurt!!! As for the PR from Golden Goose… well — the celebrity attendance was what?? Zero? Oh no, let me think now, oh yes Syed (the one that didn't even come second in what was that show, The Apprentice?) He was there. And journalists, well now, I did have a pretty full house crack team of publicists with me, try as we might to spot one, well I think it was what? Zero? Oh, no, wrong again, Chris Sullivan was there. He did let slip to me though that he only popped in to see Mick (the lovely promoter) and he's not exactly a target writer for the Supper Club.

EMAIL #2 Miki Watson, MD of Golden Goose PR, has been shown Addi's email. She has a few words to say and wants to share them with some influential media figures (10 journalists are on the CC list). Settle back for a masterclass in bitchiness…

Dear Adrienne,

We're delighted that you enjoyed last night's Supper Club party; it was fabulous wasn't it! I'm terribly sorry that you obviously don't know your media well enough to recognise some of the UK's most influential press by face. We were looking after Esther Walker from the Evening Standard, arranging a photograph feature for Karen Stretch at the Mail on Sunday Live magazine, introducing some of our guests to Louise Hannah from the Mail on Sunday, arranging a ‘date' with one of the country's most well known jockeys that is being written about by Katie Hind in the London Lite, and entertaining the GQ editorial team who are writing about Tamsin in November. Oh and Helen Nugent from The Times was having a great time in VIP, along with Georgina Pattinson from BBC.co.uk whom, when she last wrote about an online networking client of us (BeautifulPeople.net), generated 9,000 hits for our client in one day. Pretty good contacts, don't you think? But as you don't know them, we thought we'd introduce you to them on this email; as we always like to help people out in PR here at Golden Goose… it's a pretty sad, bitchy industry when you don't, wouldn't you say? As for Dave Benett… it's a shame he didn't get a lead picture for today's Diary, but Tam — he had a fabulous time and your picture has also made a story in today's thelondonpaper with a great plug for the Supper Club. Zoe Griffin is very kindly posting us a copy for you now. Regarding celebrities… well, I don't recall that the Supper Club was meant to be about celebrities? It's about a calibre of person whom you get to meet at the most brilliant soirée. I think last night ticked every box. I don't know if Borkowski solely regards celebrity attendance or celebrity association as the epitome of a campaign's success; but at Golden Goose PR we look at what we've generated in terms of column inches, brand identity and revenue for our client's business. Daily Candy, OK! mag and London Lite pieces which ran even before the party started yesterday were only the beginning. Anyway, I'm way too busy to write about all the other pieces of editorial we're working on as my phone is going and people are asking for pictures…

I suggest, Adrienne, that you get back to doing your job too. Have a lovely weekend everyone, Miki xxx

EMAIL #3 Golden Goose is gathering supporters. First up, London's Lite's Katie Hind emails Addi (and the same CC bunch)…

I thought that Golden Goose were fantastic last night. They never fail to help me out when I need a favour and this quite often leads to fabulous coverage for their clients. The Supper Club will be no exception. Tamsin and the Golden Goose girls will have a great plug in my dating column on Tuesday. xx

EMAIL #4 Addi is acutely embarrassed. She adopts a strategy not normally known in the PR industry: humility (the usual CC mob are included)

I must stress, Borkowski have nothing to do with Supper Club, never have done, never will do. It was my private client who I worked on BEFORE even joining here! Surely you were aware of that Miki? I see you fantastically out bitched me! A true pro. I have much to learn. Sigh. Thanks for the advice, Adrienne We all make mistakes. Addi xxx

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