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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Kennedy son may foil Affleck plot

US DIARY: ORLA HEALY

Published 23/12/2012 | 05:00

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Ben Affleck isn't the only member of Boston royalty showing an interest in filling John Kerry's senate seat if, as expected, the former US presidential candidate is appointed Secretary of State next month.

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But the Massachusetts-born actor/director can only flirt with the possibility of running for the plum slot until a surprise sudden threat from Ted Kennedy Jr is resolved.

Affleck, who has been active in Democratic party politics for more than a decade, was in DC last Wednesday to raise awareness about the violence plaguing the Eastern Congo just as Politico.com broke news that the Kennedy scion is giving "very serious consideration" to a run.

"I'm not one to get into conjecture," the Argo star told reporters while keeping his options open by adding: "One never knows ... "

Kennedy, 51, an investment banker who lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids, has stayed away from politics for most of his life.

"When his father's senate seat was available in 2009, Teddy did not rule out a run," a source tells The Boston Business Journal. "At the time he said his children were young and he didn't think it was the right time. But that was three years ago." According to Democratic strategist Matt McWilliams, the influence the Kennedy name and network retains in Massachusetts suggests the nomination will go to Teddy if he runs.

"I think it's his to win if he wants it," McWilliams tells Politico. "He obviously starts out with a real name ID and resonance ... That would be pretty hard to beat." Except, maybe, if you are a beloved movie star with equal parts name ID and resonance.

Up in arms at Osama movie

Kathryn Bigelow's controversial Zero Dark Thirty opened to critical acclaim and record-breaking box-office numbers stateside last week, but not everyone is cheering. A bipartisan group of senior senators, including John McCain, who have seen the film about the decade-long pursuit and killing of Osama bin Laden are calling on Sony Pictures to issue a disclaimer about what they claim is a "grossly inaccurate and misleading" storyline suggesting intelligence obtained through torture played a role in locating the al-Qaeda leader.

The politicians are particularly vexed by the opening scene of the film, which features an agonising depiction of US interrogators waterboarding an accused terrorist which, depending on your interpretation, could suggest intelligence gleaned from the session led CIA operatives to the al-Qaeda courier who ultimately delivered the location of bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan.

Bigelow, who insists the Oscar-contending film has no political leanings, isn't cowing under the pressure.

"This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film," she says in a statement responding to the high-pitched wheeze (think: Horse. Bolted.) from Capitol Hill. "We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding Bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatises."

She can afford to be brave. Zero Dark Thirty is expected to earn at least eight Oscar noms, including director for Bigelow, original screenplay for Mark Boal and lead actress for Jessica Chastain.

Scarface still big box office

Al Pacino got his own back on all the Hollywood-hating critics who panned his performance in Glengarry Glen Ross last week when the David Mamet revival became the first production of the 2012-13 Broadway season to recoup its investment, a reported $3.3m (€2.5m). The Godfather and Scarface star, who headlines in the 30th anniversary special run, is also being credited with having the pulling-power to fill premium seats priced as high as $350 (€265) – no mean feat for a 72-year-old (scorned by Ben Brantley in the New York Times as a "strange combination of comic shtick and existential weariness,") during a season littered with casualties including Mamet's new play The Anarchist, starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger, which closed after just two weeks.

All Suri wants for Christmas

Here's hoping six-year-old Suri Cruise isn't reading the tabs, which are reporting the finer details about her mum's recent online Christmas shopping spree, which includes a life-size $24,000 (€18,180) grand Victorian playhouse created by Sweet Retreat Kids.

The ritzy, life-size Wendy house features running water and electricity as well as custom extras like recessed lighting, a sunroom, a media room and a garage in which the tot can park the $9,750 kiddie Mercedes that Katie Holmes reportedly also purchased.

Suri will also receive the two items listed on her letter to Santa: a fur coat and an iPad mini.

Not to be outdone, dad, Tom Cruise has reportedly bought a $13.5m mansion for Suri for Christmas, where she will have room for her pony and another miniature car.

Sunday Independent

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