Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't You Dare Say That

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't You Dare Say That

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID ROWAN

WHAT'S an artiste do when muckraking authors insist on digging for dirt?

The latest victim is Barry Manilow, whose avowed heterosexuality placed in serious doubt by an unauthorised biography out next month from Patricia Butler.

As for Madonna, she can hardly be looking forward to Barbara Victor's assault, also hitting the shelves in November. Having "done" Hanan Ashrawi and Aung San Suu Kyi, Ms Victor takes on this quiet Dorsetbased mother-of-two by quoting her grandmother and her alleged highschool girlfriend. Early reports suggest the book chronicles the singer's 11 denied abortions, and an unflattering story about how she snared her current husband. Muck enough, surely, to bring the libel writs flying.

Well, apparently not. Rather than sue, Madonna's team has opted for far less risky strategy: the Overdone Denial. It's just one in a range well-tested celebrity responses to the scandalmongers, from the Dignified Evasion to the Snotty Putdown. To Barry Manilow, and other biography victims, we offer this guide to your options.

MADONNA

Goddess, by Barbara Victor Claims: She has terminated at least 11 pregnancies, including one "with a British man" just before she met Guy Ritchie. Who, by the way, married her only when she "deliberately" became pregnant by him.

Response: The Overdone Denial.

The allegations are "completely untrue" and "ridiculous", her former US music publicist said. The book "is just being dismissed", added her UK spokeswoman. There are no plans for legal action.

JK ROWLING

JK Rowling: A Biography, by Sean Smith Claims: The Edinburgh cafe where this "penniless single mother" was forced to write was in fact owned by her brother-in-law, who liked her being there. She once argued in the street with her first husband, Jorge Arantes. Oh, and she was fined for overdue library books while at Exeter University.

Response: The Dignified Evasion.

"We have no comment," said a Rowling spokesman.

VICTORIA AND DAVID BECKHAM

Posh & Becks, by Andrew Morton Claims: The alleged attempt to kidnap Brooklyn outside Harrods was just a publicity stunt to have David's driving ban quashed.

There was no "manic fan", said witnesses; it was just "spin doctoring to get him off ". If so, it worked: the judge returned his licence.

Response: Heavy-Handed Litigation.

The couple tried hard to ban the book, on the grounds that a former bodyguard had breached his employment contract by talking.

After an aggressive court case, they settled for the removal of about 200 words.

JEFFREY ARCHER

Stranger Than Fiction, by Michael Crick Claims: He's a compulsive fibber from pretending to be the youngest MP to inventing academic qualifications.

He falsified his own expenses and offered to complete fellow GLC councillors' expenses for a fee; his father was a bigamist and fraudster; he gets involved in

dodgy business projects. …

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