Newsmakers - Macleans.ca
 

Newsmakers

So a blond walks into a courtroom, A royal plot goes for naught, and a partridge in a pear tree


 

So a blond walks into a courtroom

Mississauga, Ont., native Jordan Wimmer cleared more than $1 million last year working for Nomos Capital, a London-based hedge fund. But all was not a bed of roses for the attractive, 29-year-old blond financier. Indeed, her blondness is at the heart of her $7-million wrongful dismissal suit against her multi-millionaire boss Mark Lowe. Sexist jokes, piggish behaviour and even an attempt to run her down on the street were part of a campaign of harassment, Wimmer testified last week. She told a London employment tribunal that Lowe made cutting personal remarks, emailed sexist “dumb blond” jokes throughout the office and cavorted in front of her with a stripper, causing her to suffer depression and an eating disorder. Lowe accused Wimmer of “gross distortions,” though he admits “entirely as a joke” to calling her “decorative” and a “dumb blond.” As for his emailed gag about a blond confusing a Corn Flakes box with a jigsaw puzzle, he says that “feeble joke” wasn’t told at her expense. Depending on the tribunal’s sense of humour, the joke may be on Lowe.

A royal plot goes for naught
The Duke of Windsor wanted to end his exile in Paris and return to England, possibly to reclaim the British throne he’d abdicated in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, according to letters discovered in the U.S. The letters, published in the Sunday Telegraph, outline fears in 1949 that Elizabeth, then 23, was too inexperienced to take the throne in the event of her ailing father’s death. The issue was raised in correspondence with aristocrat Kenneth de Courcy, who feared Elizabeth would be influenced by her new husband Prince Philip and his uncle Lord Mountbatten, imperilling the Windsor dynasty. The duke was advised to prepare by buying land in England. Simpson wrote “there’s no doubt something must be done.” The plans went nowhere. Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, after the death of her father, and has been running the family business ever since.

And a partridge in a pear tree
Mariah Carey is so huge a star she has her own time zone. How else to explain how she managed to be at least an hour late for every public and private appearance during a four-day swing through London. One of the highlights was belatedly waving a magic wand to turn on the holiday lights at the tony Westfield shopping centre. This was hard, thirsty work—so she required US$82,000 worth of Angel champagne and a $330,000 nightclub after-party, according to a list of the diva-level demands obtained by the Daily Mail. Also required: 80 security guards, an indoor fireworks display, and confetti in the shape of butterflies blasted over the crowd. A request to share the stage with 100 white doves and 20 white kittens was turned down by health authorities, who clearly lack a sense of occasion.

In your Facebook, Iggy
Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has maintained a stoic silence since losing the reins of the party to current leader Michael Ignatieff. Not so Dion’s wife, Janine Krieber. She lashed out on her Facebook page on the weekend. The Liberals replaced her husband with a man whose main attraction was “his ability to navigate the cocktail party circuit,” she wrote in a French-language posting. “If the elites of Toronto had been more alert, humble and realistic, Stéphane was ready to take all the time and the hits to rebuild that party. But they couldn’t accept 26 per cent [approval in the polls], now we’re at 23 per cent.” The party “risks winding up in the dustbin of history,” she said. She’s looking for “a party where the order of the day is happiness, and not assassination. A party where work ethic and competence are respected and where the smiles aren’t phony.” The note was pulled after it went viral. By then she’d made her point.

Colbert? Sounds French-Canadian, non?
The war of words (well, more like a kindergarten snowball fight) continues between all-American satirist Stephen Colbert and the nation of Canada. It hardly seems fair: he’s got a big TV show and three Canadians on his writing team. Colbert accuses Vancouver Olympic organizers of being “syrup suckers,” “ice-holes” and “cheaters” for limiting practice times for foreign athletes at the Richmond, B.C., Olympic speed skating oval. Colbert adopted the American speed skating team, pledging his viewers will raise $300,000 after the team lost a key sponsor. The faux controversy inspired Richmond city spokesman Ted Townsend to offer Colbert the job of oval ombudsman should he dare to come north for the Games. Colbert has yet to reply, presumably waiting for his Canadian writing team to provide the ammunition.

Hockey, a chicken and egg thing
Ryan Ross, like many eight-year-olds, dreams of playing pro hockey. Unlike most kids, he’s saving to buy a couple of teams.  “That way I can play in the NHL,” he told Metro newspapers. Ross is a born entrepreneur. He started at three raising chickens and eggs in the family backyard. Then there were lawn-mowing and power-washing businesses, where older kids did the work and he took a cut of the profits. He’s plowed that money into real estate. His current net worth, about $900,000, leaves him short of his goal, though the near-bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes are in need of a good money man. Or boy.

A frugal film for frugal times
While James Cameron gets ready to launch Avatar—possibly the most expensive movie ever made, with costs approaching half a billion dollars—fellow Canadian expatriate Jason Reitman makes a virtue of thrift. His new movie, Up in the Air, which opens Dec. 4, cost just US$25 million to produce. That’s peanuts for a studio picture with a major star, George Clooney. “I’ve always believed in a certain sense of responsibility,” the 32-year-old filmmaker told Maclean’s. “I don’t think directors should run wild.” Flush with the success of Juno, an Oscar-honoured hit that cost US$7.5 million and grossed US$230 million, Retiman could ask for the moon. “But I want to make smaller films,” he says, “so I can retain control and make them personal movies.” Reitman could sign on for an action movie, or the kind of blockbuster comedy patented by his father, Ghostbusters mogul Ivan Reitman. But the Montreal-born director says that doesn’t appeal to him: “Maybe I’ll run out of things to say and make something large and loud, but that’s really of no interest so far.” Meanwhile, Clooney is generating Oscar buzz for his role as a corporate hatchet man whose world is suddenly downsized.

IRE-land cries foul

What sets soccer apart from most sports is that business of not using one’s hands. That, and the quaint notion of honour; players are supposed to confess their transgressions. Both concepts took a beating last week when French striker Thierry Henry got away with smacking the ball twice with his hand before passing to a teammate who scored the goal that knocked Ireland out of next summer’s World Cup. Henry eventually owned up to the handball, and supported Ireland’s demand to replay the game. But by then, FIFA, soccer’s governing body, had decreed the result would stand. Henry, his reputation tattered, said he briefly considered resigning from international play. FIFA, also feeling the heat, meets next week, hoping to mitigate the damage to a World Cup that many consider tainted long before the competition begins.

Cruise control
At the tender age of three, Suri Cruise has a reputation as a junior style maven. While parents Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes sheltered her from publicity in her early months, now her every outing, wardrobe change and misstep is fodder for paparazzi. During a recent shopping expedition with her Elmo doll and her mom in rainy Boston, she looked sharp in her red coat and black leggings. However she had trouble navigating the puddles while tottering in a pair of silver strapless high heels, unusual rainwear for a three-year-old. She loves to dress up, says her father, explaining to Hello! magazine her predilection for heels. “She’s sweet, but she’s very strong-willed—just like her mother.”

Rock on Italian stallion

Sorry Bruce, Bono and Michael: the Italian edition of Rolling Stone has named its “rock star of the year” and it’s not you. The coveted cover goes to 73-year-old Silvio Berlusconi, a guy who doesn’t let his day job as prime minister of Italy stop him leading, as the magazine put it, a “lifestyle worthy of the greatest rock star.” It has been a rocky year for the billionaire mogul. His second wife, Veronica Lario, demanded a divorce after he lavished attention on an 18-year-old aspiring model. A call girl, Patrizia D’Addario, praised his sexual performance after a sleep-over at his Sardinian villa. His legendary parties there generated an Internet full of nude and semi-nude photos of his guests, including former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek. Berlusconi admits he is “no saint,” and his popularity continues undiminished. Says the magazine’s editor, Carlo Antonelli: “Rod Stewart, Brian Jones, and Keith Richards in their prime were schoolboys compared to him.”

Next time, a fist bump will suffice
Barack Obama is some wimp, says ex-U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney, who is bent out of shape by the President’s deep bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito. “There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone,” he said. Other commentators say it was Cheney who stooped low. George W. Bush walked hand-in-hand with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah as a sign of friendship. And another Republican president, Richard Nixon, bowed to Akihito’s father, Emperor Hirohito, in 1971—the ruler when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor 30 years earlier.


 

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