OPENING NOTES

Meryl Streep shows some skin, Jean Chrétien ponders his lines, and Canadians infiltrate U.S. TV news shows

December 25 1989

OPENING NOTES

Meryl Streep shows some skin, Jean Chrétien ponders his lines, and Canadians infiltrate U.S. TV news shows

December 25 1989

OPENING NOTES

Meryl Streep shows some skin, Jean Chrétien ponders his lines, and Canadians infiltrate U.S. TV news shows

HOW TO PLEASE AN OLD BOSS

With six months to go before the federal Liberals choose a new leader in Calgary in June, the race to succeed Opposition Leader John Turner has only one declared candidate—Scarborough MP Thomas Wappel. Other likely candidates, however, are preparing to make a formal entry into the contest. Lloyd Axworthy, for one, has already prepared red-and-white campaign buttons, each with the letter "x" in his name enlarged as a visual reminder for prospective voters. But according to key Liberals, Jean Chrétien remains the favorite among the still-undeclared

candidates. For the past four months, in

fact, Chrétien has spent about four days of each week crisscrossing the country recruiting party members to his cause. But that low-key approach has drawn fire from Chrétien's old boss, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau: he wants Chrétien to launch a highly visible attack on the Meech Lake constitutional accord. Indeed, at a cocktail party in Ottawa last month, Trudeau forcefully chastised two Chrétien aides for their boss's failure to speak out against Meech Lake. By contrast, Donald Johnston, a Trudeau-era cabinet minister who shares the former prime minister's strong dislike for the accord, is considering entering the race—in part to express those views. In response to those developments, Chrétien is now preparing to deliver a major speech on the Constitution—next month. His former boss is certain to be listening.

All the news that’s fit to fly

Last summer, Dallasbased American Airlines and several other U.S. and Canadian airlines screened Rain Man as an in-flight movie—after first shortening a scene in which actor Dustin Hoffman recited aircrash statistics. In the fourminute sequence, Hoffman, playing an autistic savant named Raymond Babbitt, refuses to board a plane despite the pleading of his brother,

Charlie (played by Tom Cruise), panics and starts to scream and thrash about.

Now, American has resorted

to censorship on another in-flight feature—a daily news program. Indeed, the airline is set to hire Atlanta-based Cable News Network this week on condition that CNN’s taped newscasts avoid such items as air crashes, plane bombings or hijackings. CBS TV had supplied

American with an uncut version of its program CBS Early Morning News since 1983, but network executives said that CBS decided not to renew a $200,000-a-year contract rather than comply with the airline’s conditions.

POST OFFICE PERMISSIONS

Traditionally, December is Canada Post Corp.'s busiest month. And to cope with the heavy ffow of Christmas mail, managers at Vancouver's main post office last week drew inside workers' attention to a regulation that requires them to get permission before they leave the line to go to the washroom. While Canadian Union of Postal Workers members grumbled about that edict, Canada Post spokesman Douglas McClelland defended the rule. Said McClelland: “Such absences can have a dramatic trickle-down effect."

STARS IN THE ALTOGETHER

Meryl Streep has never appeared in a film that featured extensive nudity. Still, as a worker in a plutonium-processing plant in the 1983 movie Silkwood, Streep briefly flashed a breast—in order to shock a fellow employee who had been ogling her. Now, Craig Hosoda, a software programmer from Santa Clara, Calif., has written and published a specialized movie guide, which duly notes that glimpse of Streep—and the onscreen nudity of other Hollywood stars.

Indeed, Hosoda has compiled nude appearances by more than 500 actors and actresses in The Bare Facts Video Guide. One of the stars listed is heartthrob Richard Gere, who, according to the guide, had a full-frontal nude scene in the 1980 film American Gigolo. In his capsule comments, Hosoda includes the point at which a scene appears in the film as well as rating it on such factors as its length and the quality of the shot. That could be termed overexposure.

Burning issues of the day

Forest fires destroyed a record-setting 16.4 million acres of woodland across Canada in 1989, and many environmentalists are now voicing concerns that the quantities of carbon dioxide released by those fires could contribute to a dramatic warming of the earth’s atmosphere—the so-called greenhouse effect. Forestry Canada figures show that CO 2 emissions from Canadian forest fires jumped to 205 million tons from 40 million tons—a fivefold increase—in a single year. According to Kenneth Hare, such emissions complicate an environmental goal that Canada and other nations are considering: reducing fossil-fuel emissions in 2005 to a level that is 20 per cent below 1988 totals. Said Hare, who is the chairman of a key federal-provincial advisory body, the Climate Program Planning Board: “If we are trying to achieve a 20-per-cent reduction, our efforts will be offset by the fact that our forests are burning down.” Added Environment Canada climatologist Roger Street: “Mars and Venus have greenhouse effects on them now.” According to Street and other scientists, Canada’s 1989 forest fire season underscores the need to reduce atmospheric emissions now— before a third planet has a well-developed greenhouse effect.

In search of moreßrepower

Tensions are easing between the United States and the Soviet Union, but the U.S. army is still seeking a replacement for the M-16—the rapid-firing weapon that has been its main assault gun since the Vietnam War. To that end, marksmen at Fort Benning, Ga., are testing four weapons that are designed to hit more targets by firing two or three tightly clustered slugs in each burst. Two of the rifles fire steel darts instead of slugs. Said an army spokesman: “When they hit a soft target like tissue, they bend like fishhooks and are very lethal.” Peace has not yet broken out at Fort Benning.

A YUKON DESIGN CONTROVERSY

For 37 years, a representation of a miner panning for gold has been a prominent feature of Yukon licence plates. Now, however, the territorial government plans to introduce redesigned plates in 1990—a proposal that has drawn many protests. Yukon Transportation Services Minister Maurice Byblow supports a design that has blue digits on either side of a sprig of purple fireweed—the Yukon's official flower—as well as the slogan "The magic, the myster/' above a row of golden mountaintops. As a result, the licence-plate miner is scheduled to become part of the territory's history—in company with the men who inspired that design when they went north to seek their fortunes in the 1898 Gold Rush.

CANADIANS WIN IN A U.S. ARENA

His news program, ABC World News Tonight with

Peter Jennings, is currently the most popular evening TV newscast in the United States. And Toronto-born anchorman Jennings is not the only Canadian doing well in U.S. news. Indeed, according to

the current issue of The Quill, the journal of the Chicago-based Society of Professional Journal-

ists, Canadians are particularly adept at breaking into the competitive world of U.S. TV news. In The Quill’s current issue, its editors list 13 Canadians occupying prominent positions on U.S. news shows. That list included

Jennings, Robert MacNeil of PBS’s MacNeil-Lehrer Report and Morley Safer, a correspondent with CBS’s 60 Minutes. The secret, according to The Quill: “Canadians can fit into the American scene

without appearing too foreign.” Reassuring presences from North, huh?