Peter Rhodes on Harvey Weinstein: Did nobody warn the President?
THE writer Robert Harris says there's nothing worse than a screen or stage adaptation of a book sticking too closely to the plot and becoming "stilted". Actually, I can think of something worse. It is scriptwriters and producers altering historical facts.
THERE is no evidence, for example, that Queen Victoria's courtiers Lord Alfred Paget and Edward Drummond were gay. Indeed, Paget fathered 14 children which suggests he had a passing interest in heterosexuality. Yet in Victoria (ITV), Paget and Drummond are lovers. Writer Daisy Goodwin admits she has been "creative" in her interpretation of history and "some people might get very cross with me." Only the sort of people who get cross at movies suggesting the Yanks retrieved the Nazi's Enigma code machine (U-571) or that William Wallace painted his face blue (Braveheart). These days, most people get their history from television and movies. The least they can expect is accuracy.
THE most worrying part of the Harvey Weinstein affair is the role of America's mighty intelligence agencies. Between them, the FBI and the CIA have the resources to monitor phone calls all over the globe and predict which way the political winds are blowing from Caracas to Kazakhstan. We are told that Weinstein was a serial sex-pest and that his behaviour was an open secret in Hollywood. And yet President Barack Obama and his family were delighted to be seen with the mogul and sing his praises; their daughter even took an internship with his company. So where were the intelligence agents in all this? If the CIA and FBI were unaware of Weinstein's activities, they were incompetent. If they were aware but failed to warn the president about Weinstein, they were negligent. If they deliberately failed to inform Obama, it looks like conspiracy.
THE total-ignorance option is the most worrying for it means that agencies which claim to know exactly what is happening in North Korea were unaware of a scandal in Hollywood. At a time when the world needs first-class intelligence, this is scary indeed.
STILL on Obama, are we really surprised at this week's disclosure by presidential adviser Jeremy Shapiro that the former president regarded the Special Relationship between the UK and USA as a joke? America's oldest allies, whether we like it or not, are not the gallant Brits but the unspeakable French.
THERE is, if we believe the tabloids, some friction between TV cooks Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay over the size of their families. Oliver has five kids, Ramsay four. I am surprised, in an age of rocketing world population, climate change and loss of habitat, that anyone draws attention to their own fecundity. There you are, dutifully dividing your household waste into three different bins each week in order to save the planet. If the couple next door have ten kids, you must ask yourself, what's the point?
ART experts have examined Thomas Gainsborough's masterpiece, Mr and Mrs Andrews, and found three rude symbols (two phalluses and a pair of asses) believed to show that the artist was sending-up his subjects. From his blue period, perhaps?