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Grannies on the go

Rome, May 7 (Reuters): Out with sexy 20-year-old women in barely-there bikinis. Think wise-cracking grannies.

Italy’s most popular television show plans to drop its regular offering of voluptuous young dancers in skimpy outfits and is on the hunt for Italy’s coolest woman over 65.

But while the semi-clad young things were required only to shimmy in and out of the set in between skits and celebrity interviews, the senior showgirls will perform dance routines, tell jokes and answer questions about their lives.

“We’re looking for women who are spontaneous and are prepared to make fun of themselves,” Gianna Tani, casting director of Striscia la Notizia (roughly Strip the News), told Il Messaggero newspaper.

Trials have started for the show, which will run all summer on Canale 5, one of the channels owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset company. “One of the most promising candidates was an 82-year-old lady from the Veneto, who told hilarious jokes,” Tani said.

Noise merit

London (Reuters): A British church minister fined over the noisy singing, clapping and loud music at his church lost a court appeal on Wednesday on the grounds it was “devoid of merit”. Pastor Albert Olorunleye was fined £7,000 in 2001 for “nuisance” noise after neighbours had complained about the din from singing, amplified sermons and musical instruments at the Christ Apostolic Church in east London. Olorunleye pleaded guilty to breaking two orders to keep the noise down, but later sought to overturn the conviction by claiming it was based on false evidence. But the High Court in London rejected his call for a judicial review of the conviction, describing his case as “hopeless” and “devoid of merit”.

Phone scent

Sydney (Reuters): Marijuana-scented cell phone covers caused such a buzz in Australia that the company selling them had to pull them out of an technology fair in Sydney on Wednesday. Local authorities and New South Wales state Premier, Bob Carr, slammed the green, marijuana motif covers as promoting drug use to young people. “A big overreaction,” said Robert Punch, owner, chief executive and founder of Corporate Phone Covers. “It’s a novelty. You wouldn’t go and buy a big block of chocolate after smelling the chocolate one,” he said. Made in China and arrayed next to chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, cherry and rose-scented snap-on covers, the marijuana version sold well, though only to the over 18s, Punch said. “It sells better than the strawberry, much better,” he said.

Surf at loo

London (Reuters): The world’s first portable lavatory with Internet access is due to be unveiled in Britain this summer. The “iLoo” is being built by Microsoft Corp’s internet arm MSN which aims to showcase its creation at Britain’s summer music festivals. “The Internet is so much a part of everyday life now that surfing on the loo was the next natural step,” said MSN marketing manager Tracy Blacher on Tuesday. The converted lavatory will feature a wireless keyboard, plasma screen and quick internet access. In 2001, MSN installed an Internet-enabled park bench in Suffolk.

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