Newsmakers - Macleans.ca
 

Newsmakers

Arianna Huffington’s new gig, Knut the polar bear goes nutty, and a princess’s contentious walk down the aisle


 

The call of the aisle
Swedes were less outraged by Princess Victoria’s decision to wed a “commoner” than her desire to have King Carl Gustaf walk her down the aisle, a tradition gender-equal Sweden views as outdated. Nine bishops begged Victoria to abandon the plan, fearing a “bridal handover” trend. In the end a compromise was met: Victoria, in line to become regent, walked halfway down the aisle with her father. She and Daniel Westling walked the rest of the way hand in hand, following Swedish tradition.

A heroine’s send-off
Come September, Michaëlle Jean will trade her job as Governor General for new work as the UN’s special envoy for Haiti, where she was born and lived until 1968. Jean will also be busy in Canada with the newly created Michaëlle Jean Foundation for underprivileged youth in rural and northern communities. Stephen Harper, who has at times appeared cool toward Jean, noted her contributions as GG—and ones she’ll make in the future. “The governor general is a symbol of continuity, history and unity. Michaëlle Jean continues to fulfil this role with enthusiasm and grace, qualities I am certain she will bring to her upcoming position.”

You, sir, are no bro
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may be rich, but he’s no arbiter of cool. So it was perhaps inevitable that shortly after video surfaced of Zuckerberg “icing” a lackey—i.e., surprising Facebook director of products Blake Ross with a warm bottle of Smirnoff Ice, and inviting him to get down on one knee and chug it—Diageo PLC, Smirnoff’s parent, would move to close the website that had popularized the prank. Observers long suspected BrosIcingBros.com was in fact an ingenious guerrilla marketing ploy designed to up sales of the lemony malt beverage (at the vanguard of the trend were such frat-boy luminaries as the rapper Coolio and Saved by the Bell actor Dustin Diamond). “We had a good run Bros . . . ” the site notes.


Watch and learn, boys
Over the years, male pundits have appeared in such clash-happy shows as Hardtalk, Crossfire and Firing Line (though the head-to-head format has made way for tough-talking solipsists like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck). But what to call a right-vs.-left talk show where the interlocutors are women? Try Both Sides Now, after the willowy Joni Mitchell ballad (“Bows and flows of angel hair . . . ”), a new talk radio vehicle featuring the female Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke of this age, Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and long-time Republican insider Mary Matalin. The pair aim for civility, not Woodstock.

Even grizzlier man
Eat your Herz out, Werner Herzog. Five years after the German filmmaker’s Grizzly Man documentary featured some of the most compelling grizzly footage ever released, a Canadian, Leon Lorenz, did one better, capturing the moment a mama bear charged him last week. Lorenz, a 53-year-old wildlife filmmaker, was shooting the griz and her large cub from behind a tree 25 yards away as they grazed in B.C.’s Robson Valley. The video clearly shows the moment she recognizes his presence: she looks right at him, releases a startling huff and sprints through the trees toward him. At the very last second, he fires a shot from his .44 Magnum over the charging bear’s head, scaring her off—and capturing it all on tape.

Running while standing still
Sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. So says notorious killer Frank Dryman, who evaded authorities for 40 years and became a pillar of his community in Arizona before the grandson of his victim finally tracked him down last month. Dryman—who went by the alias Victor Houston—was imprisoned in 1951 for shooting a Shelby, Mont., man who had given him a ride on a snowy day. Dryman, now 79, described in a jailhouse interview last week with the Associated Press how he remade himself after jumping parole in 1970, getting married, opening a wedding chapel business and volunteering for local civic clubs. He said he felt bad about his crime, but added: “Victor Houston tried to make up for it by being an honourable citizen.”

Hitler’s little-known hippie phase
After a backlash from moviegoers, Dear Friend Hitler, Bollywood’s controversial first stab at an Adolf Hitler biopic, has lost its lead. Fierce criticism convinced veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, known best outside India for roles in Bend It Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice, to drop out. “I have never been moved by commercial considerations,” he tweeted, “but I have always respected social opinions.” The flick, filmmakers insist, will not glorify the Führer; it will explore his “love for India and how he indirectly contributed to Indian independence.”

From the hearts of babes
Six-year-old Maddison Biddlecombe fell in love with a horse so hideous euthanasia was prescribed. Not only is Diego ugly, his grossly bent nose made feeding a challenge. “I don’t care what he looks like,” says the British girl, who is raising $6,000 to fund corrective surgery. “To me, his face makes him special. He’s so lovely.” Eleven-year-old Olivia Bouler is also working to help her favourite animals. The Long Islander has, by selling the thousands of drawings she creates, raised more than $110,000 to rescue birds affected by the oil spill. Not all attempts to save animals end as sweetly: in Germany, the risks in loving an animal too much are on display. Knut, the orphaned polar bear who became a media sensation, is showing behavioural problems, reportedly suffering panic attacks and swaying from side to side.

From powerhouse to poorhouse
Being fired from a high-profile public sector job after racking up lavish expenses can be a trying experience. You go from making a few million a year and having a limousine to chauffeur your nanny and children around, to suddenly wondering how to make ends meet. That’s presumably why Eleanor Clitheroe, dumped as CEO of Ontario’s Hydro One in 2002 amid a broader spending scandal, went to court to protest her reduced $307,644 annual pension, arguing she deserved more. An Ontario trial court judge disagreed and, this week, so did an appeals court judge. It’s probably safe to say that Ontario taxpayers feel the same way.

The shirt off his back
No sooner had Ray John noticed a portion of CP rail line in flood-ravaged Medicine Hat, Alta., was sagging into rising water than he saw the train rolling in. “Luckily I was wearing a very bright red shirt,” said John, who is 65 and had been walking with his family along the bloated Ross Creek at the time. Tearing the garment from his back, he commenced waving it furiously, alerting the train with just metres to spare before certain derailment. (A CP spokesman demurred, claiming the train was arriving to repair the washout.) The family had no time to wait for thanks; they had a dinner reservation to make.

To say nothing of the dog
When heiress Gail Posner died last year, she left $26 million to her seven aides, $1 million to her only child, Bret Carr, and $3 million to Conchita, her spoiled chihuahua, who gets weekly mani-pedis, and owns a $15,000 Cartier necklace and a gold Escalade. Carr, who admits to having had a rocky relationship with his eccentric mom, is taking her staff, who continue to live rent-free in her Miami mansion, to court. In her declining years, he claims they “brainwashed” and manipulated his mom, who suffered bipolar disorder, to steal her fortune and exclude Carr from her will.


He’ll Rahm if he wants to
The consensus among unnamed Democratic sources is that Rahm Emanuel is planning to exit the White House after mid-term elections in November. Barack Obama’s chief of staff has reportedly had it with the Pollyannas who make up the President’s inner circle. The famously hands-on dad is also said to be concerned about losing touch with his young family. Emanuel himself, also famously sharp-tongued, is calling the reports “B.S.”

Bermuda love triangle
After dominating the MuchMusic Videos Awards, Justin Bieber landed in the crosshairs of a low-level love triangle. A tweet arrived, apparently from 23-year-old Heidi Montag, wanting to steal him away from Kim Kardashian, with whom Bieber has frolicked on the beach: “Now that I am getting divorced I think you and I should do a photo shoot together! Cutie;)!” Another tweet followed, in which Montag disavowed that message, claiming her account was hacked into by her soon-to-be ex-husband, Spencer Pratt. “He is so lame!” she wrote. Not Bieber, of course.

Checkmate
U.S. authorities were never able to capture Bobby Fischer before he died two years ago, but six feet of earth won’t protect the former chess champion from a paternity claim. The Supreme Court in Iceland, where Fischer lived out his final days, has ordered the exhumation of his remains so a DNA test can determine whether he’s the father of Jinky Young, the Filipina daughter of Fischer’s former girlfriend. Young has been party to a long-running dispute over the prodigy’s $2-million estate, which involves Fischer’s former wife, two of his nephews and the U.S. National Revenue Service. Fischer spent years as a fugitive from U.S. justice after defying sanctions against Yugoslavia by participating in a match there. He died of an unspecified illness at the age of 64.


 

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