Claims by two British newspapers that Auckland's The Langham hotel forced pop star Justin Bieber to sign a contract ensuring he behaved appropriately during his stay have compelled the five-star hotel to break its rigid rules and speak out.
The Daily Mail, quoting a story from the Daily Star, said 19-year-old Bieber was forced to sign a good-behaviour contract by the swanky hotel, which included a long list of demands including banning him bringing back girls to his 1000-a-night ($1997) penthouse suite and restricting him from eating with other guests in the banquet room in a bid to prevent controversy.
Both tabloids reported a source saying: "Justin will be thrown out if he doesn't follow the rules. They don't care who he is. His management were made to sign a contract, which included a long list of demands, stopping him from partying and disturbing other guests. It's a highly respectable place and Justin's arrival was dreaded by some."
However, Langham marketing manager Veronica Johnston tells The Diary the hotel did not make the pop star sign a good-behaviour contract.
"He didn't sign a contract because he didn't stay here," she says. "Normally we would never talk about our hotel guests, but he wasn't one."
SkyCity Grand Hotel had that dubious honour.
Barker will flick switch
Team New Zealand hero Dean Barker will flick the switch for the annual Franklin Rd Christmas light display on Sunday night.
The Herne Bay resident will prove a popular choice. Barker and his Team NZ teammates took part in the city's festive Santa Parade last weekend as grand marshals.
Organiser Ross Thorby said the Ponsonby lighting ceremony will have a new twist this year. "Each year we pick a different house and this year the ceremony will take place outside No 30 Franklin Rd at 8.15pm. It will be very exciting - there will even be snow!"
The snow-making machine is being funded by the Waitemata Local Board, part of Auckland Council.
Last year, Coatesville resident Kim Dotcom turned the lights on. Incidentally, he's offering funding towards another America's Cup campaign, and met Barker and Team NZ boss Grant Dalton recently. The Government has offered a $5 million grant to act as bridging finance to keep the syndicate alive until May, but Dalton is on the hunt for cash in Europe and the States to push the fundraising drive.
The Franklin Rd light display has become an Auckland institution, often bringing traffic to a standstill. But it's not without its share of controversy. Last year Auckland Council demanded organisers seek a permit for the ceremony, but that was waived after outbursts from residents.
This week, residents complained about the state of the street's footpaths, saying they're too hazardous for the 100,000-plus people who use Franklin Rd during the festive period. They want Auckland Council to intervene.
It prompted some mockery, with New Windsor resident Duncan Garner (who works at Ponsonby's RadioLive studio) to wonder what Christchurch East thinks of Franklin Rd residents. "It gets dangerous walking to Prego and Nosh," he scoffed.
Don't you know who we are?
After a gruelling European tour, some of the All Blacks made a quick stopover in New York City this week to promote rugby and a potential game next year in the Big Apple. Whether the team will play in America in 2014 is yet to be confirmed, but captain Richie McCaw, Israel Dagg, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Liam Messam and Sam Whitelock pulled out all the stops to plug a sport Americans know little about.
Guardian sports journo Martin Pengelly, who snapped the team posing like tourists on Wall St, tweeted: "Is this the greatest team America has never heard of?"
Being nobodies in the Big Apple was some relief to the sports stars who hit the tourist trail: Grand Central Station, Times Square, the World Trade Center memorial, a kosher deli and even the subway, where a bored McCaw was snapped stifling a yawn.
There were meetings, too, with some of the country's big brands including Twitter, Google and even rival code NBA, which gave them tickets to watch the Brooklyn Nets yesterday at the Barclays Center. Earlier, Italian luxury brand Bulgari (a sponsor of the All Blacks, oddly) threw a cocktail party for customers to mingle with the offshore stars.
Another gong for Catton
Canadian-born Eleanor Catton, the Kiwi author whose second novel won this year's Man Booker Prize, was honoured last night by the Governor-General of Canada at the Literary Awards in Ottawa. Catton, who tweeted that her luggage had gone astray en route to the glittering black-tie ceremony, won the fiction award for The Luminaries. Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin, also visiting Canada, was eager to get in touch with the young scribe.
Banksie back on air?
Sources close to Act leader John Banks suggest the troubled politician may be eyeing a return to the airwaves. Banks was in the High Court this week attempting to avoid a trial on electoral fraud allegations. A legal case during an election year is the last thing Banks wants. Friends close to the multimillionaire say he is "weighing up his options if everything turns to custard and he has to step down from politics".
Banksie used to host a talkback show on Radio Pacific, and is not short of an opinion. RadioLive hosts Willie and JT's afternoon time slot may be available and yesterday, Radio NZ's Geoff Robinson announced his retirement.
Banks couldn't be reached for comment, but after his tricky escape from waiting journos outside court this week (via a fire escape), a return to the media scrum could prove interesting.