In London …
Maybe it’ll work out better for him this time?
Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview with the BBC in 2019 was so compelling that it’s become necessary to dramatize the drama. Twice. Emily Maitlis, who conducted the interrogation, is working with Blueprint Pictures (A Very British Scandal, A Very English Scandal, and the “Wagatha Christie” drama mentioned in last week’s Diary) on “a three-part miniseries with a major streaming service,” according to The Times of London. And Sam McAlister, the BBC producer who booked the Duke of York, has sold the rights to her book about the episode for a film adaptation.
Hugh Grant’s name was linked to at least one of the projects, but he tweeted that he’d “never heard of it.” Why not just get Andrew to play himself? If he could be talked into doing it once, there’s a decent chance he could be persuaded again.
In or, rather, near Donetsk …
It’s a job for Seagal
How does an aging action-film star top light classics like Half Past Dead, Sniper: Special Ops, Hard to Kill, Under Siege, and dozens more? Maybe with … Under Inspection? Steven Seagal, a fierce supporter and longtime chum of Vladimir Putin’s, recently toured the Russian-controlled Olenivka detention center, where 50 Ukrainian prisoners were killed in a mysterious explosion on July 29, reported The Times of London. “The Ukrainian government has accused Moscow of carrying out a massacre of the inmates and the UN is setting up a fact-finding mission to investigate the atrocity,” said the newspaper. “Ukrainian officials said the prisoners were deliberately moved to the camp before an attack…. Russia has countered that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the blast and said that they used a US-supplied rocket launcher.”
Photographs showed the black-clad, bespectacled, concerned-looking Seagal talking to prisoners through bars and crouching to intently examine a piece of shrapnel. He’ll get to the bottom of this!
In Greenwich …
The art of divorce
A Jackson Pollock valued at $176,000 has become the focus of a legal dispute over which half of a divorcing Connecticut couple—or possibly the brother of one of them—gets to keep it. “Until 2018 the collage, made in 1943 with ink, watercolour and cut pieces of paper, and signed by the artist, had hung in the seven-bedroom mansion where Alex Kasser and Seth Bergstein lived with their three children,” reported The Times of London. “That year Kasser, a lawyer, ran for the state senate and became the first Democrat to represent the town of Greenwich, on Connecticut’s wealthy Gold Coast in 90 years. She also filed for divorce from Bergstein, a managing director at Morgan Stanley and her husband of 23 years…. Since beginning divorce proceedings Kasser has announced that she is in a relationship with a woman who had been her campaign manager.”
Kasser’s brother, Matthew Mochary, says the picture is actually his and that he’d only loaned it to his sister. He filed a lawsuit against Bergstein, who has argued that the Pollock is jointly owned by the sundered couple and its fate should be decided in court. A judge agreed—but was overturned on appeal. So Mochary’s lawsuit proceeds, and the collage’s owner will be decided separately. Kasser, meanwhile, stepped down as state senator last year, blaming the demands of the divorce proceedings. Not hard to imagine.
In Rome …
Low in the saddle?
Speaking of shooting: Wealthy aristocrat, scion of Venetian nobility, polo buff … and Mafia hit man? Matteo Costacurta, 38, has been arrested “and charged with acting as a professional assassin for a Rome drug gang,” reported The Times of London. “Costacurta is accused of cultivating contacts with former members of the Revolutionary Armed Nuclei, a right-wing terrorist group,” an association, authorities say, that culminated in his accepting $30,000 to carry out a hit on an underworld figure called Alessio Marzani. In 2020, Marzani was shot but survived.
Costacurta, who belonged to the prestigious Roma Polo Club—“The Queen was a spectator before acceding to the throne, and the Duke of Sussex made a guest appearance in a tournament in May 2019,” said the newspaper—had been “involved in clashes with the police and leftwingers” as a young man, but, according to his lawyer, had changed: “Costacurta has recently been in Africa with the nuns who work on the projects of the Community of St Egidio. Does that seem like the profile of a killer?”
In Paris …
We need to talk about Kévin
Documentaries have often been used to right injustices—or attempt to—and a film devoted to an important new cause is in the works in France. Save the Kevins hopes to rescue the briefly, oddly popular name from ridicule. “Kevin — sometimes spelled Kévin — saw a boom in France in the early 1990s. More than 13,000 babies were called Kevin in 1991 alone, when it was the most popular name in every mainland region,” reported The Guardian. “Many families feel the name was boosted by US movie imports, including Dances with Wolves starring Kevin Costner or Home Alone, with the child hero Kevin McCallister, as well as boyband singers such as the Backstreet Boys’ Kevin Richardson.”
The Minions characters of the Despicable Me film franchise, created by the French director and writer Pierre Coffin, include one called Kevin (voiced by Coffin). But the name evolved into a punch line, and that crop of real Kevins, now hitting their 30s, feel they’ve been a national joke long enough. Kevin Fafournoux, a graphic designer and director who is crowd-funding the project, told the newspaper that more than 300 Kevins have gotten in touch with him already: “Some of the accounts are really hard…. I heard from Kevins who had their first name raised in job interviews as if it was an issue. Professionals in senior positions — a neuroscience researcher, a doctor — said they had noticed it was harder to be taken seriously…. One Kevin told me if he put his real name on a dating app profile he didn’t get matches, but when he put a different first name he did.”
Shooting begins in the fall.
In Aberdeen …
Here be Dragons
Warning: this item contains references to black magic, eating disorders, blasphemy, violence, death, and blood.
A note to University of Aberdeen students reading some 30 texts, including the epic Old English poem Beowulf, as part of a Lost Gods and Hidden Monsters of the Celtic and Germanic Middle Ages program “warns of ‘blasphemy, defecation, psychological violence, pain, alcohol abuse, symbols of evil, black magic’ in the literature of the Middle Ages, as well as references to death, blood and eating disorders,” said The Times of London. “Texts studied on this course contain representations of violence, coercion, animal cruelty or animal death, incest, suicide, explicit sexual content [and] ableism…. There will also be monsters.” Don’t say you weren’t warned. —George Kalogerakis
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL