From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

So-cheap Olympics. Journalists are live tweeting the dodgy hotel rooms they’re being squeezed into in Sochi, for the Winter Olympics — check out this amusing summary via WashPoA mole told us Peter Dutton, the federal Minister of Health and Sport (what do you mean, you haven’t heard of him?) left for the Olympics yesterday. Is it true that he’s only spent one week in the office since Christmas? And will he find time when not on the piste to work on health matters for the federal budget in May? Lets hope Dutton’s Sochi hotel room has a floor, at least …

SPC v Great Gatsby. Tony Abbott refused to give $25 million to fruit processor SPC Ardmona to invest in its struggling Victorian plant, because government funds shouldn’t go to a “highly profitable business like [parent company] Coca-Cola”. The Age reports up to 3000 jobs may go as a result.

So why did the feds give up to $76 million to Warner Brothers to make The Great Gatsby — a film based on a book by an American author, set in New York, filmed with American mega-stars — in Sydney? A reader is not happy:

“It is supremely ironic that the day the federal government declines to invest $25 million in SPC Ardmona, the Australian Film Awards run by ACCTA announced multiple prizes including best ‘Australian film’ to The Great Gatsby. Its producer Warner Bros received a generous taxpayer subsidy. If I was an SPC Ardmona employee I’d be asking for an explanation.”

We’ve looked into it and yes, the film did receive a large government subsidy. It’s delivered via the Tax Office, so it’s a big secret how much it was (it’s against the law to identify a taxpayer). The government’s “producer offset“, administered by Screen Australia, means eligible Aussie films get 40% of their costs back. It’s been estimated that Gatsby’s production budget was between $105 million and $190 million, meaning a subsidy of $42 million to $76 million. Bear in mind that the film grossed an estimated US$350 million, and California-based Warner Bros says its pictures grossed US$5.08 billion last year.

Screen Australia’s motto is “to ensure diverse and compelling Australian stories are reflected on screen”. Gatsby is based on the novel by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald and is about socialites in New York in the 1920s. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio (American), Carey Mulligan (British) and Tobey Maguire (American), although some Australians feature in lesser roles, and it was directed by Aussie Baz Luhrmann.

Our tipster noted that none of the government subsidy will be returned, despite the film’s profits, which is correct. So what do you think? Perhaps it’s time for more solidarity with SPC, as Crikey writer Helen Razer suggests …

Star gets sick in Sydney? A medical mole passed this on about Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital: “Which mega female pop star was in RPA emergency last Wednesday night?” Our mole teased us with some options, so ever the bloodhound, Ms Tips set about finding out more. Now, American power singer Beyonce was in the US on January 30 (the Wednesday of the alleged ER trip was January 29), so it wasn’t her. International songstress Katy Perry was in the US on January 28 (and you won’t believe what she was wearing), so it wasn’t her. Is our health mole pulling our leg? If you know more, you know what to do. And if a mega pop star was indeed in emergency, we wish her a speedy recovery — whoever she is.

Gambling links. The Herald Sun today reports an Economist study that found Aussies lose an average of $1144 on gambling a year, about half of that on non-casino pokies. Ms Tips is not sure who’s losing her $1144 …

A reader noted that the recent dump of AEC political donations data found Clubs NSW gave $100,000 to the Liberals and $66,000 to Labor, while the Australian Hotels Association Victoria gave $100,000 to the Liberals. “No wonder pokies reform has no chance,” our reader concluded.

More newspaper cuts. A caller to radio 3AW today reckoned the weekend editions of a popular newspaper section will be cut from March 1, and only available online. Wonder which section that is?

Can you bear it? We’ve been asking for your snaps of good graffiti of late, and we enjoyed this submission of a podiatrist’s window in Brisbane. “Maybe doubles up as a vet,” our stringer suggested.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form