From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Brand problems at the Gallery of New South Wales. Simmering staff discontent continues to plague the Art Gallery of NSW, raising questions about the leadership of director Michael Brand. Some connected to the gallery think a petty bureaucracy of bean-counters has displaced the curatorial and artistic staff, which was cultivated during the 33-year administration of Edmund Capon; Brand’s latest appointment to the senior position of director of development is John Richardson, an American whose previous job was with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as general manager (marketing, membership, merchandise and brand) and as the rugby league club’s chief commercial officer. His appointment follows a corporate selection process conducted by headhunters Odgers Berndtson. Brand’s two-year honeymoon with gallery members, supporters and the media appears to be over. His enigmatic arts career has been charted in a profile by award-winning novelist Peter Robb in the latest edition of The Monthly. Expect more.

Full disclosure on Q&A. We love (to hate) the combination of panelists each week on the ABC’s Q&A, but one tipster was surprised to see somewhat abridged bio for one of the panellists on tonight’s show. Simon Breheny will sit on the panel tonight, and his bio mentions that he is “director of the Legal Rights Project and Editor of FreedomWatch at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs” as well as his preference for the Hawthorn Football Club. It fails to mention, however, that Breheny is president of the Victorian Young Liberals. We asked the ABC who writes the bios and were told that it’s done by a staff member with info provided by the guests. In Breheny’s case, the bio used was based on old info, and we’re told it will be updated later today. Is Breheny distancing himself from former Victorian Young Liberals leader Aaron Lane, who stood down from his place on the Liberal ticket at the state election after homophobic tweets came to light recently? Of course not — he’s all for free speech.

Someone’s gotta do it. Not-for-profit organisation Save The Children is looking for someone to manage and answer complaints from asylum seekers in detention on Nauru. This is not one to be taken on lightly, but we’ll be waiting to see what comes from this role.

99 problems but guilty ain’t one. A judge in the US ruled last week that rap lyrics are not admissable in court as evidence, overturning the attempted murder conviction of rapper “Real Threat” (real name Vonte Skinner). Justice Jaynee LaVecchia ruled that the reading of 13 pages of rap lyrics in the case in 2012 prejudiced the jury and their verdict no longer held up. Judgments are usually fairly boring, but this is gold:

“One would not presume that Bob Marley, who wrote the well-known song ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, actually shot a sheriff, or that Edgar Allan Poe buried a man beneath his floorboards, as depicted in his short story ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, simply because of their respective artistic endeavors on those subjects. The Court reasons that defendant’s lyrics should receive no different treatment.”

Conservative civil disobedience. While free speech activists are using their free speech to complain about the lack of free speech, conservative magazine Quadrant has decided that civil disobedience is the best way to go, as, according to Merv Bendle, it “is not the sole bailiwick of the left”. The right-wing warriors are asking readers to print out the form and send it to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. With the childish headline “Arrest me, Abbott, I dare you” the article was drafted by Quadrant editor Roger Franklin, who says he “would be proud to be charged with violating Section 18C”. The only problem is, getting charged with violating section 18C doesn’t get one arrested, so this stunt is bound to fail from the start.

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Peter Fray

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