This week : Newsmakers

Gretzky outsells Bieber, Kim Cattrall’s sick of sex and that city, and two Canadian retirees vs. Mexican gunmen


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Well, no one likes a bad photo

With winter over, Jack and Eileen Appleton pointed their Winnebago north from Mexico for their home in Niagara Falls, Ont. The retired couple—he was a Mountie, she a Toronto cop—were nearing the bridge from Matamoros, Mexico, to Brownsville, Texas, when they were chased down by a man in an SUV wearing a balaclava and waving a rifle. Jack jammed on the brakes and threw their land yacht into reverse, while Eileen snapped pictures. They sped to a nearby gas station followed by a three-car parade of irate Mexican bandits who stormed the camper, took Eileen’s camera and sped off after she tried to land a roundhouse kick. “There’s not many people in their life who get to stare down eight guys armed to the teeth,” Jack told the Canadian Press. “Maybe we just reacted to our training, although it’s 40 years out of date.”

She’s not a tart, she just played one on TV

Meet Monica Velour director Keith Bearden said of his star Kim Cattrall that she doesn’t suffer fools, and she proved the point by attacking a New York Post reporter who asked about her getting a bikini wax before the film’s premiere. “That’s a stupid question,” she said. “You’re a smart girl. How could you want to write that? Being a gossip reporter just isn’t a respectable job. Why don’t you work at—what’s that news agency? — Roybers? Reuters.” She added with a chuckle, “Yeah, sorry, I’ve been drinking.” Cattrall also got annoyed at a New York Daily News interview after her co-star claimed they’d shared stories of sexual exploits. Not true, she said, adding that Monica Velour may be an aging porn star, but the film is about a lot more than sex.


Franka Bruns/AP

With friends like these

This week, Washington finally unfriended Ali Abdullah Saleh. The U.S. had shied away from calling for the Yemeni leader’s resignation because he gave the CIA an all-access pass to the country’s al-Qaeda cells. No more. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell urged for a transition “as quickly as possible,” condemning ongoing violence that has killed at least 120. Speaking of unfriending, Moammar Gadhafi, who lost two high-profile pals over two days last week—foreign minister Moussa Koussa and Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, ambassador to the UN—has assigned guards to senior officials to ensure they cannot leave Libya, an official told the New York Times.

Some might say two counts of theft were bad enough

As if being investigated for possibly trying to steer contracts to his fiancée wasn’t scandal enough, Bruce Carson, it turns out, was convicted on five criminal counts, not two, as was previously reported, and received court-ordered psychiatric treatment before becoming one of Stephen Harper’s most trusted advisers. Carson disclosed all of this during a security check, his lawyer told Canadian Press. But Harper says he knew only of the two counts of theft that resulted in an 18-month prison sentence. “Had I known these [other] things, obviously I would not have hired him.”


Christian Hansen/The New York Times/Redux

Katie Couric says goodbye

The sweetheart of American prime-time news is leaving her post at the CBS Evening News—less than five years after making her mark as the first woman to anchor a nightly newscast. But the 54-year-old has even bigger aspirations: rumour has it she may fill the gap left by Oprah, hosting a syndicated daytime talk show next year. The leading candidate to replace Couric appears to be Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes fame.

The wrong kind of cover-up?

The headline read, “Naked ambition,” but the picture was worth even more than those scathing words. A digitally altered Rob Ford graced the cover of the Toronto alt-weekly Now, all big belly and tiny underwear. The unsightly edition might have disappeared with yesterday’s trash—except for an alleged request from the mayor’s office to City of Toronto locations to “remove and dispose” of the magazine, raising international eyebrows and questions about press freedom. Though Adrienne Batra, the mayor’s press secretary, denied any muzzling took place, councillor Adam Vaughan took it upon himself to distribute copies of the allegedly censored issue. “I was disturbed that an established newspaper was treated in this way,” Vaughan remarked. “It’s a cartoon, for God’s sake.”


Marco Ugarte/AP

Plus, they keep insisting on being small, and acting all innocent

Ah, the happy rites of spring, when children can be fined $100 for playing baseball, tag, or laughing out loud. That, no kidding, may come to pass in one central Florida community if a mean-spirited residents’ association gets its way. Persimmon Place, in Edgewater, would ban bike riding, skateboarding, Big Wheels, even running around. Playing in driveways and yards—front and back—would be prohibited. “Parents come down here, and turn their children loose,” board member Kim Scott told the U.K.’s Daily Mirror. Resident Shawna Magee is fighting the proposal. “I think people have forgotten what it’s like to be a child,” she said.

Drug lords everywhere sighed

Citing “strictly personal and urgent issues,” Mexico’s attorney general, Arturo Chávez, resigned after just 18 months in the nation’s top legal post. It can’t be pure coincidence the personal problems arose three weeks after the WikiLeaks release of a 2009 diplomatic cable in which U.S. officials called Chávez’s appointment “totally unexpected and politically inexplicable.” Harsh words, but perhaps not unwarranted, given the ineffectual Chávez not only failed to make headway in Mexico’s war on drug cartels, but also botched investigations into multiple murders of women in the border state of Chihuahua in the ’90s, when he was top prosecutor. President Felipe Calderón nominated investigative prosecutor Marisela Morales to replace Chávez, a party loyalist. If approved, she’ll be Mexico’s first female attorney general.

Still going, and going

Frank Stronach has continued his long goodbye from Magna International, the auto parts company he launched in the 1950s. Last week he announced he would step down as chairman following Magna’s annual meeting on May 4. Stronach has already got his going-away gift: in 2010, the company paid him nearly $1 billion in cash, shares and future fees to give up control. But don’t expect this to be the last we hear from Stronach. He retains the title of founder and honorary chairman, will continue to earn millions in additional fees, and controls a joint venture with Magna to build components for electric cars. And he offered a parting shot at his critics, saying regulators put in place “excessive rules that stifle the market’s creative forces.”


Dan MacMedan/WireImage/Getty Images

Kid, the real money’s in rubber

It wasn’t a contest, but Wayne Gretzky’s cast-offs totally schooled Justin Bieber’s. The puck the Great One used on Oct. 15, 1989, to surpass Gordie Howe’s NHL scoring record of 1,850 points sold at online auction last week for more than $50,000. That’s $8,333 an ounce. The puck had been kept by Edmonton’s timekeeper, Don Whidden, who’d recently sold it for a small amount to a collector. Meantime, the autographed right sneaker of Stratford, Ont.’s teen heartthrob sold on eBay for $1,425. Bieber had donated a pair of purple Nikes to his old high school as a fundraiser. The school thought it had netted $5,500, but it turned out the Edmonton girl who made the bid didn’t have her parents’ permission. Plans for the left shoe have yet to be revealed.

Is it bad karma to snicker?

As Mike Barth reached for a Snickers bar at an Albany, N.Y., store, the guy behind him cut in front to buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket. Barth, 63, thought “maybe I should say something because that was pretty rude, but I didn’t,” he recounted Thursday. “I was behaving myself.” He let it slide, and bought the chocolate bar and the next Quick Pick for his group of seven co-workers at a state housing authority. Actually, former co-workers. Most are considering their retirement plans after the ticket proved the sole winner. Each member walked away with US$19.1 million, after taxes.

And the winner is… Snooki?

According to Rutgers University, Snooki is worth more than the Nobel- and Pulitzer-winning novelist Toni Morrison. In May, the beloved writer (the one who penned Sula, not A Shore Thing) will earn $30,000 for a commencement speech. The Jersey Shore star (who advises students to “study hard, but party harder”) snagged $2,000 more for hosting Q&A sessions in March. But it must be noted Snooki made it from Jersey’s tanning beds to its ivory towers on the ticket of a student-run committee—not that of school officials.

Better not show her the Michelangelos

Over the years, Paul Gauguin’s depictions of (and trysts with) Polynesian girls have offended many. Few, though, have physically attacked his works because they were too “homosexual.” Until now. Susan Burns of Alexandria, Va., allegedly tried to destroy his Two Tahitian Women, valued at US$80 million, during a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. While screaming “this is evil,” she punched the painting of two bare-breasted women, and attempted to pull it off the wall. Another visitor restrained her, and Burns was charged with attempted second-degree theft and destruction of property (which can be added to her previous arrests for carjacking and assaulting a police officer). Thankfully, officials reported the masterwork sustained no damage.

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