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Catty about Kate

I wonder what got into author Hilary Mantel, to make her denounce the Duchess of Cambridge -- née Kate Middleton -- so viciously.

Mantel, a two-time Booker Prize winner, certainly can turn a phrase. Giving a lecture on Anne Boleyn this month, she said Kate "appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile" and that she seemed "painfully thin... without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character."

Please, someone get this woman a saucer of milk!

Mantel's novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, are about the time of Henry VIII, which she seems to think makes her an expert on modern royal wives.

She's 60. Kate's 31.

Rolling Stones gather warts

BILL Wyman, a founding member of the Rolling Stones, left the band in 1990, amid talk that he was feuding with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; at one point he called Mick an "egomaniac". So his memoirs should be fun.

Wyman tells The Telegraph that the book will be "warts and all" - a phrase that usually means "I'll admit what everyone knows, and clobber my enemies".

But don't hold your breath. "I'm going through my old diaries and boxes," he says "... but it's finding it all that's the problem. I'm only up to 1972 at the moment."

Wyman, who did appear with the band last November in London, is 76.

Accent-uate the positive

HARRY Styles speaks: The boy-band Brit, asked on Capital FM radio over there about his break-up with Taylor Swift, was non-committal: "I'm OK, thank you for asking. I'm good."

Was she mocking him when she used a British accent at the Grammys? No comment: "She's always good on the stage. She's been doing it a long time. She knows what she's doing on stage."

But then he added something sensible about being under the celeb-gossip microscope:

"I understand why people would want to know stuff like that, I get it. If someone does stuff like that then I want to know about it, too."

Blame Brando

RITA Moreno tried to kill herself and it was Marlon Brando's fault, she says in her new autobio.

The dancer, still best known I guess for West Side Story, was 22 and Brando was 30 when they met, in 1954.

Their affair lasted "for years" she writes, but throughout he saw other women, had a couple of kids, and "broke my heart and came close to crushing my very spirit with his physical infidelities and, worse, with his emotional betrayals." For a while she went out with Elvis, trying to make Brando jealous.

Later, when she was pregnant by Brando, he arranged an illegal abortion that almost killed her; then she tried to do it herself, with pills at his home.

He died in 2004. She's still here at 81.

Cows lining up to buy tickets

POOR earnest Morrissey, taking himself way too seriously, has organized an all-vegetarian concert for March 1. Need I say this will happen in L.A.?

It's vegetarian in the sense that all the snack bars at the Staples Centre will offer stuff like bulgur wheat and yeast burgers and all the carrot sticks you can stand, plus of course French fries and fizzy drinks. But the McDonald's outlets at the place will be closed for the night and there will be no, you know, food. No hamburgers, no pepperoni pizza, no sushi, no 24-oz medium-rare sirloin steaks with bacon on the side... but I digress.

The singer says solemnly that "I don't look upon it as a victory for me, but a victory for the animals."

You may recall that he was in hospital last month. They said it was an ulcer; can wheat grass cause that? I suspect malnutrition.

He's 53.

Bungee jump or get bangs

MICHELLE Obama, on Rachael Ray's talk show, explained her new bangs this way: "This is my midlife crisis... I couldn't get a sports car. They won't let me bungee-jump. So instead, I cut my bangs."

Her husband, understanding clearly his duty in this situation, reacted to the new hairstyle by asserting "I love her bangs! ... She always looks good!"

Michelle turned 49 last month.

Our responsibility... to make money

AFENI Shakur, mother of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, has decided "it is our responsibility to make sure that Tupac's entire body of work is made available for his fans," Billboard reports. I think we can all decode this: "There's money to be made."

Tupac was gunned down in 1996 -- nobody has been convicted -- leaving behind a lot of unreleased work, some which has been trickling out ever since. "My son left many incomplete pieces and even more unfinished ideas," Afeni says now. "Using the blueprints he gave us, I am committed to fulfilling this duty."

Celebrity gossip update

-- The Hugh Grant - Tinglan Hong baby boy will be called Felix Chang Hong Grant. Felix is Latin for lucky; and I am told Chang, in Chinese, means long-lasting.

-- No, Katy Perry and John Mayer are not engaged. That ring she's wearing on the engagement finger was just a gift he gave her, not a token of betrothal.

-- Crime writer Patricia Cornwell has won that lawsuit against the financial advisors Anchin, Block & Anchin. She claimed they cost her $40 million by bungling her business affairs; a federal judge in Massachusetts has now agreed, ordering the company to pay her $50.9 million. Her reaction: "God bless justice."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 24, 2013 ??65524

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