From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Who’s meeting the Fockers? There was talk on 3AW yesterday that an Australian journalist had scored the scoop of an interview with publicity-shy actor Robert De Niro. A well-connected media mole told us it’s Derryn Hinch who’s got the gig:

“The interview was teed-up for Hinch by his former wife Jacki Weaver who starred in a movie with De Niro … the movie has recently been released, and word is that De Niro and Weaver got on very well. The Hinch / De Niro interview will appear on Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program in February.”

The film in question, FYI, is Silver Linings Playbook. We put this rumour to Hinch, who indulged in some admirably rampant name-checking while not quite confirming the De Niro tip:

“You can speculate all you like. In the past few days in Hollywood I have met De Niro, Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey, Lisa Marie Presley, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Cooper, Quentin Tarantino, Russell Crowe, Damian Lewis from Homeland — and Jacki Weaver. I have filmed one big star interview as my first on Sunday Night to be aired later in February.”

Read all about it.We’re hearing grumbles from teachers who’ve paid for a special seven-day subscription deal with the Herald Sun, apparently offered to primary and secondary teachers. Some teachers reckon they haven’t received their papers and they can’t get through to the Herald Sun on the phone. “Waiting time is between five hours and seven hours. Must be a lot of teachers complaining,” one disappointed reader told us. Has it been sorted out?

ASIC under fire. ASIC’s decision to devote resources to chasing Whitehaven coal hoaxer Jonathan Moylan has elicited some criticism. Not the least from this aggrieved tipster, who reckons ASIC should spend its time providing a business portal that works:

“How much did ASIC pay to have a business portal that rarely works properly? How much productivity is lost in Aussie businesses due to poor IT systems at ASIC? Someone should be fired and some company should be fined millions for poor delivery. Instead they are chasing ferals up trees.”

Butt out, says consul. Australia’s bold bid to legislate plain packages for cigarettes has sparked an international legal challenge from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and the Ukraine at the World Trade Organisation, as Crikey described yesterday. The legal case claims the legislation is “dramatic regulatory meddling” and without medical foundation.

The Dominican Republic’s tobacco exports tally some half a billion US dollars a year. The Australian government has suggested big tobacco companies are partially behind the WTO challenges.

A reader, curious about the story in Crikey, suggested we talk to one of the honorary consuls for the Dominican Republic in Australia (there’s no ambassador here) to gauge their thoughts on this legal action by the country they represent. Andrew Lathlean is the South Australian honorary consul; our reader claims that he uses distinctive number plates because of the role and attends “various A-list functions etc” to fulfil his duties.

A Tips scribe called Lathlean, and asked him if he had offered any information or assistance to the government of the Dominican Republic in relation to the plain package legal case; he said “no”. When asked for his views on the legal challenge, he replied “no comment”. So we didn’t get very far there.

Mighell not running, yet. A report by Matthew Cranston in this morning’s Australian Financial Review claimed firebrand Victorian Electrical Trades Union state secretary Dean Mighell was planning on running on the Katter’s Australian Party’s Senate ticket. However, Mighell quickly informed Crikey that Cranston didn’t contact him for comment and that the story was garbage. “I have not put my name forward for ANY political party,” he said. The “independent” Victorian ETU has previously donated $50,000 to the KAP, but has also bankrolled the Greens and Labor.

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