OPENING NOTES

Dan Quayle takes a joke, Bob and Chris Elliott look to the past, and Ronald Reagan continues a tradition

June 19 1989

OPENING NOTES

Dan Quayle takes a joke, Bob and Chris Elliott look to the past, and Ronald Reagan continues a tradition

June 19 1989

OPENING NOTES

Dan Quayle takes a joke, Bob and Chris Elliott look to the past, and Ronald Reagan continues a tradition

UNDER A DARK CLOUD

Toronto's SkyDome opened with a splash on June 3 as stadium corporation president Chuck Magwood ordered that the centrepiece of the $500-million complex—its movable roof—be fully retracted during the inaugural celebrations. But he did so during a rainstorm that drenched an audience of 45,000 spectators and caused minor injuries to several entertainers who slipped and fell on the stadium's wet floor. Now, many performers and spectators say that they are planning to sue stadium officials for water damage to their clothes. Said Edwin Kalvins, the director of a 25-member Latvian dance group: "We looked like drowned rats. The only thing louder than the music that night was the sound of shrinking wool." A storm also forced workers to close the roof during a June 7 baseball game between the local Blue Jays and the Milwaukee Brewers—a procedure that took 36 minutes. As rain lashed the field, umpires halted play for six minutes—and the SkyDome laid claim to a dubious world first: a rain delay in a domed stadium.

Low comedy on the cocktail circuit

Dan Quayle’s verbal gaffes have frequently exposed the U.S. vice-president to ridicule. But it is now clear that Quayle was maligned by the media for a comment that he supposedly made this spring. During a reception at the Belgian Embassy in Washington last April, the vice-president chatted with Rhode Island Representative Claudine Schneider, and later that month she told some of her constituents that she and Quayle had talked about his recent visit to South America. Schneider said that Quayle concluded the brief conversation by saying, “The only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people.’’ While Schneider stressed that she was simply cracking a joke at her fellow Republican’s expense, the joke’s punchline was widely reported as a comment that the vice-president had made

himself. Said Quayle’s press secretary David Beckwith: “He is surprisingly easygoing about these things. He does not attack the press. Mistakes reflect more on the people writing than on him.” Give that round to Quayle.

A FAILED HOAX IN WASHINGTON

One day after the death of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on June 3, about 25 journalists hurried to Washington's Radisson Park Terrace Hotel. There, Salman Rushdie—the British author whom the ayatollah condemned to death earlier this year for blasphemy— had supposedly emerged from hiding. But skeptical reporters swiftly determined that the supposed author was a fraud, and the man hastily departed from a conference room that he had rented for $120. Now, that unidentified impostor has a bond with Rushdie—he too is in hiding.

FOLLOWING IN FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS

In anticipation of Father’s Day on June 18, U.S. comedians Bob and Chris Elliott recently visited Toronto to promote their jointly written book. A parody of the 1978 best-seller, Mommie Dearest—Christina Crawford’s harrowing account of life with film star Joan Crawford—Daddy's Boy teems with humor, most of it black. In one

chapter, 29-year-old Chris, who is a regular performer on NBC-TV’s Late Night With David Letterman, recalls that on his sixth birthday, Bob forced him to watch the horror movie Psycho—three times—to make him “become a man.” Both father and son were in good form when Canada AM host Deborah McGregor had to redo the beginning of a

taped interview when she mistakenly introduced them as “Bob and Chris Wright.” According to the Elliotts, that clearly indicated she had been thinking about Robert C. Wright, the president and CEO of NBC. For two comedians who are parodying pop-psychology memoirs, such supposed Freudian slips are good for business.

Champagne tastes on a beer budget

Last week, U.S. senators finally began confirmation hearings on Edward Ney’s appointment as ambassador to Canada. Still, New York City decorator Stephen Stempler—who charges up to $200.000 to revamp a single room—has been buying materials for the ambassador’s residence in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park since April. U. S. Embassy officials declined to confirm reports that the Neys will only have a $10,000 redecorating allotment, but Judy Ney told Maclean’s that she hopes Stempler can at least “freshen up” the old house. A new doorknob, perhaps.

Mining the golden past

Its organizers billed it as “three days of peace and music,” and in August, 1969, more than 400,000 people responded by streaming to the Woodstock Music and Art Fair near Bethel, N.Y. That event has become a cherished symbol of youth to members of the baby-boom generation: a huge, peaceful gathering that was spiced by sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. As the 20th anniversary of Woodstock nears, local officials have fielded hundreds of calls from nostalgic onetime hippies—and hardheaded promoters and television producers—who want to stage a rerun of the original concert. But one of Woodstock’s legacies is an ordinance that town councillors passed shortly after such rock legends as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Who had finished playing: it prohibits local gatherings of more than 10,000 people. Still, many companies are hoping to benefit from an expected Woodstock nostalgia boom this summer. To that end, one television commercial will feature a woman gazing deeply into a glass of wine. As she notes that the wine “was passed around Woodstock,” images of hands making the peace symbol materialize on the glass. In 1989, one Woodstock message is clear: there is money to be made from old memories.

EXPANDING WITH DIFFICULTY

Publisher Ted Byfield has enjoyed considerable success with Alberta Report, an Edmonton-based weekly newsmagazine that he founded in 1973. Indeed, the Report had a solid foundation of 54,713 paid subscribers last year. But Western Report, a sister publication covering Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, has only attracted about 9,500 subscribers since its 1986 launch. As a result, Byfield's press empire has recorded losses of $650,095 and $394,241 during the past two fiscal years. But Byfield said that he is still planning to launch another offshoot, Vancouver-based fi.C. Report, in August. At that time, Byfield may have to re.^^w a request that he made last year—and ask readers to pray for hi»3 magazine's success.

TOP LEADERS ONLY, PLEASE

I n March, Ronald Reagan made a one-day trip to Pentic ton, B.C., and de livered a speech to 125 executives who work for Van couver-based en trepreneur James Pattison. And the former presi dent-who rou tinely commands a $50.000 fee for such appearances-has already scheduled another visit to Cana da: onJune 28, he will be the star

attraction at an event that finan cier Conrad Black's holding corn pany will stage in Toronto. Clear ly, a high profile is a requirement for the speaker's chair at Hol linger Inc.'s annual dinner: last year, Black persuaded British Prime Minister Mar garet Thatcher to address the 150 guests. Said Conser vative party of On tario president Thomas Long, who will attend this year's dinner, along with Prime Minister Brian Muironey: "What is Conrad going to do for an encore? He will have to get God next year~"