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Newsmakers

Disney’s princess dust-up, a Star-Strangled Banner, and Canada’s next basketball superstar makes his choice


 
Newsmakers

Mark Humphrey/AP

A slam-dunk decision

The waiting game is over for America’s top college basketball teams: one of the most-hyped recruits in years, the Canadian basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins, is going to Kansas. The six-foot-eight, 18-year-old forward and Toronto native passed over Florida State—the alma mater of both his parents—Kentucky and North Carolina, and will don a Jayhawks jersey come the fall, a decision that left coach Bill Self with what he called a “kind of surreal feeling.” Wiggins has been compared to the likes of LeBron James and is known for a blend of athleticism and effortless style on the court. Kansas, whose basketball program was founded by James Naismith, the Canadian-born inventor of the game, “felt like the place for me,” Wiggins said. But he’s only expected to stay for the year—he’s the heavy favourite for the top spot in the 2014 NBA draft.

Learn your ABZs

U.S. President Barack Obama joked at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner that he had “99 problems” and rapper Jay-Z, who had recently taken a controversial trip to Cuba with superstar wife Beyoncé Knowles, was one. Now it looks like the Obamas might well become a problem for Jay-Z, if first lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at Bowie State University in Maryland are any indication. At a commencement ceremony, she told graduates of the historically black university to “be an example of excellence to the next generation” instead of “fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.” That’s career advice that might ruffle the feathers of Jay-Z, a high-school dropout who hosted a $40,000-a-head fundraiser for the president during his last campaign.

Masking a fortune

If you’ve ever wanted to own a death mask belonging to a power-hungry tyrant, $53,000 could make that dream come true. Napoleon Bonaparte’s head is up for auction at Bonhams, 192 years after the former French emperor died on the island of Saint Helena. Andrew Boys, the current owner of the cast of the death mask, is a descendant of Rev. Richard Boys, the chaplain who originally owned the mask. The reverend Boys got on well with Napoleon in the Frenchman’s final years on the British island, and earned the mask as a reward for their friendship. Turns out even failed megalomaniacs have pals to the end.

A royal blunder

Merida, from the 2012 movie Brave, was the first female lead ever created by Pixar. The studio’s parent company, Disney, chose to mark this momentous feminist triumph with marketing materials showing her as a stereotypical Disney princess, complete with a low-cut princess dress, a frizzy hairstyle and a much smaller waist than she had in the film. The drawing, which appeared on the company’s “princess website,” was criticized by everyone from Jon Stewart to Brenda Chapman, the female director fired from the movie: “Disney marketing,” she told a reporter, “should be ashamed of themselves.” It took a while but Disney finally clued in that the outrage wasn’t going away and took the drawing down.

Jewel of denial

Marc Bertoldi may be a trendsetter in the rising field of jewel theft. The French auto dealer was arrested in connection with the theft of $50 million worth of diamonds from a passenger airplane. The very day he appeared in court and managed to avoid extradition to Belgium, thieves broke into a hotel in Cannes and lifted $1 million of movie-star jewels. So while Bertoldi denounced the fact that he’s considered “almost guilty” without a trial, at least he may have an alibi for any other jewel heists that happen in France.

Too fool for school

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries has learned that the things you say will eventually ruin your life, even if it takes years. Jeffries gave an interview to Salon magazine in 2006, where he said his stores “go after the cool kids” and that people who don’t have the right looks “don’t belong, and they can’t belong.” Hardly anyone noticed the interview at the time, but last week it went viral, provoking complaints from non-skinny celebrities, including actress Kirstie Alley. Jeffries was forced to take to Facebook and issue an apology, telling the world that A&F is “strongly committed to diversity and inclusion.” He didn’t say if that was also true seven years ago when he gave the interview.

Coke, the deal thing

Remember the soap-opera storyline about the young actor who was arrested for dealing cocaine? Wait, that’s not a soap opera, that’s soap actor Dylan Patton, who was fired from Days of Our Lives in 2010. Three years after his role was recast, he’s been charged with selling coke out of his parents’ house in Los Angeles, a home that is conveniently located near an elementary school. Though his parents were home when he was arrested, no one had paid his bail the three days after he was thrown in jail. And you thought Rob Ford had problems.

From flub to fame

Known as one of the hardest anthems to sing, the Star-Spangled Banner has humbled many a vocalist. Knowing that didn’t make it any easier for Saskatoon singer Alexis Normand when, while performing the anthem prior to the Memorial Cup final in her home city, she made it through all of three lines before melting down, substituting mumbling, long pauses and sustained notes in lieu of the song’s actual lyrics. Eventually the crowd at Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre came to her rescue and sang the lyrics along with her. Despite immediately tweeting an apology, her performance went viral—to both jeers and words of support, not to mention interview spots on CNN and CBS.

Getting a head start

Since the remains of King Richard III were identified in February as those buried under a parking lot in Leicester, England, the Richard III Society has been busy putting his bones to good use. The society, dedicated to rehabilitating Richard’s good name after centuries of being maligned as an usurper and murderer, got a forensic art team at the University of Dundee to use the monarch’s skull to reconstruct what he looked like. Then scientists created a life-size wax model using a 3D printer. The bust is going on a “highlights of Richard’s life” tour, including the Bosworth battlefield where he was slain in 1485, before ending in Leicester at the new Richard III visitor centre. The society’s hope: to put a new face on Richard’s life.

A restaurant from hell

Gordon Ramsay is not usually one to shy away from a challenge, but on a recent episode of Kitchen Nightmares, the celebrity chef met his match. Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, the husband and wife team behind the repetitively named Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro, an Italian fusion restaurant in Arizona, were the first restaurant owners Ramsay ever gave up on after they were filmed abusing customers, confiscating their servers’ tips, serving raw pizza and lashing out at criticism. After the episode aired, viewers expressed their shock on the company’s Yelp and Facebook pages, and the Bouzaglos’s explosive, rage-filled response went viral—“You people are all s–t,” the couple wrote. Not only did the couple become a web sensation—they even made the world feel sympathy for Ramsay.

Farewell, and good riddance

Jorge Rafael Videla, the brutal army commander who came to power in Argentina after a 1976 coup, died May 17 from natural causes while serving time in a Buenos Aires prison for crimes against humanity. Videla, 87, was the last surviving member of a three-man junta that held power in Argentina from 1976 to 1981. Often considered the darkest period of the country’s modern history, he was found guilty of mandating extrajudicial killing, widespread rape and the systematic abduction of infants from suspected left-wing activists.

Freedom 38 for Beckham

Eighty-one minutes into his match for Paris Saint-Germain last weekend, soccer superstar David Beckham was subbed from the game, marking the start of his retirement. “I want to say thank you to everyone,” he said, noting that after 22 years in the sport, he wished to spend time with his family.


 

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