Newsmakers: Feb. 3-9, 2011 -

Newsmakers: Feb. 3-9, 2011

The First Lady does push-ups, Bob Barker takes aim at the Stampede and Gwyneth is just like us


Damian Dovarganes/AP

Barking mad

He says he’s pro-animal, but it’s as likely that former game show host Bob Barker is just downright anti-Alberta. The former game show host and animal lover, who last year continued his crusade to move an elephant named Lucy from the Edmonton zoo to a U.S. sanctuary, blasted his old show, The Price is Right, for awarding a contestant with a five-day trip for two to the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. “If I had been there, it would never in the world have happened,” said Barker, adding that the Stampede is “notorious for horses falling to their deaths . . . This Calgary Stampede is just an egregious example of inhumane treatment for animals. To give that prize away, I think, is utterly disgusting.”

Dog whisperings

Prince William, whose mother Diana was long pursued by the press—indeed, right up to her death—continues to manage very carefully what about his life with new wife, Kate, goes public. The latest mystery is the name of their new puppy, a three-month-old cocker spaniel, whose appellation is a “private” matter and therefore secret, according to aides. Nevertheless the couple has been spotted walking the little beast around the beaches near their farmhouse in North Wales. Whatever the pup’s name, Kate will no doubt find comfort in the animal while Will, a search and rescue pilot, serves a six-week deployment in the Falklands.

Summer of ’92—redux

Bryan Adams embarks on his first cross-Canada arena tour since 1992 in April, a road show he sees as an opportunity to challenge soaring ticket prices. Promoter Live Nation is billing the singer’s hit-heavy tour, which kicks off in St. John’s and will include such chestnuts as Run to You, Summer of ’69 and Heaven, as his “first cross-Canada tour in 20 years—20 cities—20 shows—tickets starting at just $20.” Adams has lately preferred small, rootsy acoustic sets and photo-taking (it’s his shot that graces the cover of Amy Winehouse’s new posthumous collection). But manager Bruce Allen says Adams has been looking to do a loud Canadian venture, and “wanted to see us offer a $20 bottom price.”

Holding her own

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council got so many complaints about it that it announced it was swamped and told Canadians to send no more. Nevertheless, the council last week ruled that Krista Erickson was not out of line in the way she questioned Margie Gillis, a dancer and recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. As host of Sun News’s Canada Live, Erickson berated and ridiculed Gillis during a segment on public arts funding, waving her arms in a mocking impression of her dance technique. The segment later went viral online, triggering an avalanche of sympathy for Gillis, who appears perplexed by the interrogation. “Gillis clearly ‘held her own’ in the face of Erickson’s aggressive questioning,” the council decision reads, noting Erickson “gave Gillis the opportunity to leave the program . . . but Gillis chose to stay.”

A play for the grizzly bear vote?

Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman would risk arrest by barring logging trucks from entering the Castle Crown Special Management Area in southwest Alberta, where she says timber harvesting is devastating grizzly bear habitat; only 700 grizzlies remain in the wild in that province. “I want to be able to see a grizzly bear in the wild in my lifetime,” she told reporters. “More than that I would like to see my niece get that opportunity.”

Mightier than the sword

From Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn, Russia has a long history of literary lions slumming it in the roughneck world of politics. More recently that watchdog role has been better served by the country’s new über-wealthy—hence all the well-heeled prisoners in Russian jails—though a writerly resurgence is changing that. Grigory Chkhartishvili, a novelist better known by his pen name, Boris Akunin, is part of a wellspring of intellectual opposition to Vladimir Putin’s re-election last year. “This regime doesn’t hear us, it’s deaf,” says Chkhartishvili, whose sobriquet, Akunin, is Japanese for “villain” (a twist Putin is likely to appreciate), and who has helped organize a number of major protest rallies in recent weeks. “We have to shout louder.”

The true costs of drunk dialling

Erika Lee claims to be Drake’s ex-squeeze and wants compensation for a voice mail message that the Canadian rapper later used in his hit single Marvin’s Room. A lawyer has filed suit in California on Lee’s behalf seeking royalties. The voice mail message featured in the song is particularly famous for the muffled query, “Are you drunk right now?” made in reaction to lyrics outlining why a woman should drop her new boyfriend and return to Drake. In addition to damages, Lee wants to be credited as a co-writer of the song. A Drake spokeswoman says her claim is “entirely without merit.”

There’s always a critic

A new fraternity at McGill University, Delta Lambda Phi, is the first Greek society in Canada to cater to “gay, bisexual, and progressive men,” though the gambit has sparked criticism from Queer McGill, an activist group. In an esoteric argument that could only be made on university campuses, Elyse Lewis, a Queer McGill administrator, argues the frat is suggesting that transgendered men aren’t “real men” because of the frat’s membership criteria allowing “men and those who identify as men.”

Just like you?

Beautiful, thin Gwyneth Paltrow has won an Oscar, been romanced by Brad Pitt, then married Coldplay’s Chris Martin. She’s also the mother of two small children. So when “regular” mums read Paltrow’s Goop, a blog recommending labour-intensive black cod with miso and cordial tumblers from the tony Summerill & Bishop kitchen shop in London, they see red. Now an interview in Harper’s Bazaar suggests she’s more like them than they knew: Paltrow has compromised for her husband (“I want to maintain my marriage and my family, so I have to be here when he comes home”) and hit conjugal rough patches: “I think you do fall in and out of love and you just keep going, and every time you go through a really difficult phase, you rediscover something new and it just gets better.” How common.

Mr. Hockey’s diagnosis

In the end, old age catches up to everyone, even the exalted. Gordie Howe, the hockey god known for his flying elbows and rough play, may be suffering the early stages of a disease that, in 2009, killed his wife, Colleen, his constant companion and a tough-minded businessperson known simply as “Mrs. Hockey.” As Gordie embarked on yet another series of fundraisers to support dementia research, Marty, his son, retracted a statement to the Canadian Press indicating his dad was suffering dementia. It’s a “cognitive problem” that causes “memory loss,” Marty specified; and although dementia may result, the diagnosis “got blown way out of proportion.” Whatever it is, it’s clearly not good news. The clock never stops ticking, even for the gods.

One heart still beats for him

“I love him,” Domnica Cemortan confessed to Italian prosecutors last week. The object of her affection commands little elsewhere: Francesco Schettino, disgraced captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia, who’s accused of abandoning his sinking ship off Giglio Island, leaving 32 to drown. Divers have reportedly found Cemortan’s cosmetics and underwear in his cabin. Though the 25-yearold former crew member from Moldova initially said her relationship with the married captain was platonic, she’s since revealed otherwise. Schettino appears to have torn a hole in his ship on jagged rocks while showboating; he’s now under house arrest.

Brew Velvet?

David Lynch is selling it with the same soundtrack of low industrial rumbles that characterized much of Eraserhead and the dream sequences in The Elephant Man, but the product is something awfully mundane: a “damn fine cup of coffee,” to quote Kyle MacLachlan’s coffee-loving character, Special Agent Dale Cooper, from the early ’90s TV cult hit Twin Peaks. (A combination of the esoteric and the ordinary is in itself quite Lynchonian.) The film director has a bit of a coffee fetish himself—he’s confessed to once maintaining a 20-cup-a-day habit—and has launched his own brand of bean: David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee. The coffee’s good; the commercials, meanwhile (available for online viewing), are deeply, deeply weird.

The ice man cometh

In the end, Sam Gagner’s legs almost gave out on him. In the dying minutes of the young Oiler’s transcendent four-goal, four-assist game last week—the NHL’s first eight-point night since 1989—“everyone,” he said, “was telling me to stay out there for the last five minutes. But I didn’t have the legs to stay out that long.” The humble 22-year-old, who earned all three of the night’s game stars, and had all of five goals going into the game, also tied the Great One’s franchise record for most points in a single game. “I didn’t think I would ever be mentioned in the same breath as Gretzky,” he said.

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