The first time Toronto actress Wendy Thatcher performed the striptease section of Barrie Keefe’s play A Mad World, My Masters, director Des McAnuff told her she was playing it too coy. Thatcher’s reluctance to raunch it up in the ribald play about the English class system may have been out of respect for the woman she portrays in the act of disrobing—British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Wendy T., who is no relation to Attila the Hen, took her director’s advice. “He told me to play her more like Ilse, she-wolf of the SS,” recalls first-time teaser Thatcher, 30, who rehearsed her dress-down with local dancer Margaret Dragu. Thatcher also mimics Queen Elizabeth, but Her Royal Highness keeps her clothes on. “After the prime minister,” admits Thatcher, “the Queen feels like a letdown.”
Can Canadians believe a man who said, “The twentieth century could be the century of Canada”? Apparently so. In 1974, none other than Sir Wilfrid Laurier predicted Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s defeat in a future election and—remarkably— his subsequent re-election. Madame Red Davis, the Winnipeg clairvoyant who conjured up Laurier’s spirit for Maclean’s six years ago, has succeeded again. “Trudeau walks in my shoes,” Laurier told Madame Red from the Great Beyond. “His overriding concern is to unite the provinces. His immediate objective is to bring the constitution back from England. He will govern in the ’80s with more feeling and, though Trudeau wants to leave politics in two years, destiny won’t let him.” Laurier says Trudeau will be in power for five years and “only then will he be succeeded by a short, wide-shouldered, grey-haired man who has worked closely with him in the past. The new leader will win the subsequent election, but only with a minority. Within two or three years he will be replaced by a survivor who deserves a role in Canada’s history—Joe Clark.”
After meeting Ottawa’s Sammy Koffman, the late John Wayne suggested: “If Koffman lived in the States, he’d be a star.” The unmelancholy Dane, Victor Borge, pronounced Koffman “the funiest man in the world.” All this, yet 67year-old Koffman has never formally appeared as a comedian, choosing instead to serve as bon vivant owner of Ottawa’s celebrity wateringhole, the Belle Claire Hotel, which closed in 1974. Koffman’s debut is finally happening at Toronto’s ritzy Royal York Imperial Room, where he was guided by friend and adviser Sam Shopsowitz, the Corned Beef King. What makes Sammy
fun? Well, one of his jokes involves having Aspirin placed on every table. “Give her an Aspirin now,” Koffman instructs the males in the audience, “so she won’t tell you she has a headache later on.” John Wayne would have laughed.
When California-based Canadian TV/music producer Alan Thicke and his wife, singer Gloria Loring, discovered that their five-year-old son has diabetes they decided to try something different to raise research funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The result is a hit single that combines Thicke’s recording
talent with his passion for hockey. Side one features Hockey Sock Rock, performed by an unlikely quintet of New York Rangers hockey players, and on the flip side there’s a Please Forgive My Misconduct Last Night sung by a trio of puck-busters from the Los Angeles Kings. Despite the singing of Phil Esposito and Marcel Dionne, the record has sold more than 100,000 copies. The sound on the record is exceptionally
slick, since Thicke enlisted the aid of musicians who usually back up Barry Manilow, Glen Campbell, Toni Tenille and Jackson Brown.
Though Anne Murray will not, after all, be joining Miss Piggy in a duet of Snowpig in her March 9 appearance on The Muppet Show, Murray does sing Snowbird, Walk Right Back and Everything Old Is New Again. The show also features Kermit falling off a skateboard, while Miss Piggy toddles around in black leather on a two-wheeled “hawg.” “We got along just fine,” Murray says about her encounter with the porcine superstar. ‘Tm the girl next door and she’s all Hollywood. I’ve got the voice and she’s got the looks.” The next Canadian up for grabs with the Muppets is Manitoba-born magician Doug Henning, who is said to do a great disappearing pig act.
f fit’s enough to make your hair stand Ion end,” says conductor Boris Brott, whose schedule this year has more kinks than a Toni home permanent. Along with conducting sold-out concerts for the Hamilton Philharmonic, the 35-year-old maestro has been behind the baton for Jack Jones’s series The Palace, and soon starts on Wilks and Close Productions’ Great Artists in Concert series featuring the likes of Peter Ustinov, Stephane Grappelli, Teresa Stratas and, possibly, Luciano Pavarotti. Brott is also the conductor of the CBC orchestra in Winnipeg, which recently taped André Prévost’s Cello Concerto for CBC Radio Week at the end of
February. After a few concerts in France this March, Brott will return to Canada to pick up the “crazy commuter” pace once again. “Conductors are like chameleons,” he says about his classical-to-pop work load. “So long as the music is good it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s Marvin Hamlisch or Brahms that I’m conducting.”
A battle of spiked verbal volleys has been raging through the literary world as playwright Lillian Heilman ( Toys in the Attic) slapped novelist Mary McCarthy (The Group) with a $2.25-million lawsuit for defamation. It seems that when McCarthy, 68, appeared on Dick Cavett’s TV interview show last January she described Heilman as a “bad writer, overrated, a dishonest writer. I once said every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’.” Heilman, 73, seethed and her lawyer has charged McCarthy’s comments were “false, made with ill will, malice.” “I haven’t seen her in 10 years,” says Heilman, finding the venom inexplica-
ble, “and I never wrote anything about her.” The feud seems to go back to the Spanish civil war when the two women supported opposing factions. Commenting on the charges from London, England, McCarthy says: “My views are based on her books, especially Scoundrel Time which I refused to buy, but borrowed.”
f f I hate to be in the position to say ‘no Icomment,’ but the negotiations are very delicate,” says La Presse journalist Jean Pelletier, who broke the story of Ambassador Ken Taylor’s “Canadian Caper” last month. Pelletier’s current negotiations have nothing to do with hostages in or out of Iran; rather they concern the retelling of the heroic tale as a made-for-TV movie. Pelletier went to Hollywood to discuss the project with CBS and ABC, but he won’t say anything about casting, directing, scripting or timing. What Pelletier will confirm is that he will receive a high five-figure sum for his involvement—and in the meantime he’s working on a book.
Pinball wizards take note. It’s not enough for today’s machines simply to spew forth lights and sirens while gobbling quarters by the handful—the latest machine to hit Canada actually talks while it chews your money. Williams Electronics Inc. of Chicago pioneered the talking game, Gorgar. “He’s computer programmed to say seven words and form eight phrases,” says company spokesman Nancy Goodwin. So far Gorgar’s most popular sayings among flipper-fanatics are, “Me Gorgar, beat me” and “You got me. Me got you.” Gorgar’s grammar may not be up to scratch, but he’s got heart. As a player begins accumulating vast numbers of points, a wildly thumping beat emanates from the machine. “That’s because Gorgar is afraid,” explains Goodwin.
Expatriate Cezch author Josef Skvorecky has won this year’s Neustadt International Prize for Literature, granted by the University of Oklahoma. Skvorecky’s best-known works in Canada are his 1958 novel, The Cowards, and The Bass Saxophone, a book of two novellas published from his Toronto base in 1977. Skvorecky won the $10,000 prize over German author Günter Grass, and he plans to use the money to help finance a year of research on the time Czech composer Antonin Dvorak spent in the U.S. during the 1890s. He has also completed his first novel set in Canada, Engineer of Human Souls. The title quotes Joseph Stalin’s definition of writers, but Skvorecky’s uses it ironically. “The writer,” he says, “is a bum who gropes his way.”
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