OPENING NOTES

Simon Wiesenthal stays at home, Borje Salming struts his stuff, and Frank McKenna joins the club

June 5 1989

OPENING NOTES

Simon Wiesenthal stays at home, Borje Salming struts his stuff, and Frank McKenna joins the club

June 5 1989

OPENING NOTES

Simon Wiesenthal stays at home, Borje Salming struts his stuff, and Frank McKenna joins the club

SAYING NO TO CANADA

Canadian-born film producer Robert Cooper scored a coup last year when he signed actor Ben Kingsley to play the lead role in Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, a film biography of the famed Nazi-hunter. The 80-year-old Wiesenthal visited the moviemakers on location in Hungary and warmly praised Kingsley's performance. Still, Wiesenthal told Maclean's that he will not attend the June 6 première of the $10-million film in Toronto. Instead, Wiesenthal will remain at his Vienna office on that date to protest what he says is Ottawa's lax pursuit of Nazi war criminals. In 1985, the federal government did create a unit of lawyers, historians and RCMP members to investigate war criminals. But Wiesenthal notes that only two Canadian residents—Jacob Luitjens, a retired botany instructor in Vancouver, and Imre Finta, a former Toronto restaurateur—are currently facing war crime-related charges. According to Wiesenthal, the paucity of cases brought to trial is scant cause for celebration—or a visit to Canada.

Wiesenthal: protesting a lax pursuit of war criminals

Showing some muscle to Moscow

Moscow’s Malaya Gruzinska art gallery has recently acquired a reputation for staging daring exhibits by dissident Soviet artists. But a Toronto photographer who specializes in pictures of slightly dressed young men will soon provide that gallery with a foreign perspective on provocative art. Photographer Silvia Pecota, whose work is regularly featured in Playgirl magazine and The Toronto Sun’s daily Sunshine Boy feature, said that her upcoming Moscow exhibit—the gallery’s first such showing by a Canadian photographer—may raise a few eyebrows in the U.S.S.R. The show, which is scheduled to run from June 23 to July 2, will expose gallery-goers to such high-profile athletes as Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Borje Salming, Olympic boxing silver medallist Egerton Marcus and Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Kelly Gruber.

Gruber appears in full uniform, but Pecota captured the boxer in a locker room pose: dressed only in a skimpy, loosely draped white towel. Said Pecota: “They don’t see a lot of that over there.” It is a rare coverup in the age of glasnost.

Resurrecting a success symbol

Soon after the Olympic flame flickered out in Calgary last year, workers dismantled the soaring steel tepee that had formed an impressive backdrop for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Games. But the 20storey structure may rise again—if a fund-raising drive generates the $300,000 that is needed to rebuild the tepee. In the meantime, a local developer is considering donating a site for the structure at a proposed shopping centre on the western outskirts of the city. Calgarians do not fold their tents without a struggle.

OTTAWA’S OFF-THE-RECORD DINNER

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivered a speech that was laced with swearwords, and Governor General Jeanne Sauvé recited a mock report to the Queen—in rhyme. But their comments, delivered before 200 reporters and politicians, received almost no coverage last April. The reason: the speakers were attending the Press Gallery dinner in Ottawa—an annual black-tie event that is traditionally off the record. Southam News columnist Don McGillivray and editors

at The Ottawa Citizen argue that reporters should not muzzle themselves in that way, and for the past four years, the columnist has published accounts of the dinner after interviewing guests. Members of the press gallery recently voted to continue an 80-year-old tradition and keep next year’s dinner off the record. But in response, Citizen editors and McGillivray say that they will adhere to a much newer custom: ignoring that voluntary ban.

At home among the oligarchs

At summits of the Francophonie, which groups French-speaking states, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has to share Canadian media attention with the Quebec and New Brunswick premiers. Last week in Dakar, Senegal, New Brunswick's Frank McKenna briefly monopolized the limelight. The rookie delegate treated the reporters to a breakfast of imported French food, and his wit, at the local Club Med. McKenna, whose Liberals face no legislature opposition, remarked—with a nod toward the Francophonie's many one-party states—“I feel right at home here. "

Undressed on the road

Since it was established in 1825, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet has charmed audiences around the world blending a spontaneous dancing style with meticulously detailed costumes. Last week, 30 of the company’s dancers arrived in Chicago for a three-night run of Giselle and other classic ballets—and had to work hard offstage in order to present a trademark Bolshoi performance. Three days before the May 25 opening at Chicago’s Civic Opera House, Soviet airline representatives informed dancers that Aeroflot had lost 10 crates containing company’s costumes. Bolshoi officials had shipped costumes on a separate flight from Moscow to Chicago New York City. But the Milwaukee Ballet and a local Chicago ballet school flung open their wardrobes—and the Soviet troupe temporarily garnished the borrowed outfits with additional ribbons and lace that they purchased at a local department store. Said baseball fan and U.S. tour promoter Susan Arons: “It’s as if the White Sox went onto the field in Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Cleveland Indians uniforms.” But prima ballerina Natalya Bessmertnova calmly accepted the costume crisis. Said Bessmertnova: “We have already cried. Now we have to laugh.” And the show must go on.

RACING THE DOME’S DEADLINE

The SkyDome, a $427.5-million complex with the world's first fully retractable roof, is scheduled to open in Toronto on June 3. But city officials began drafting newspaper ads late last week—in case they had to inform 56,000 ticket holders that the gala celebration had to be cancelled for safety reasons. Toronto Fire Chief Walter Shanahan said that extensive tests of the stadium's fire alarm and sprinkler systems had to be completed before the SkyDome could open. Postponing the opening by even a few days would force the Toronto Blue Jays to remain at Exhibition Stadium. The team has already sold 53,000 tickets for a June 5 game in the SkyDome, and Exhibition Stadium has only 43,737 seats for baseball—most of them bad.

MIXING CHURCH AND STATE

George Bush arrived in Europe last week on an eight-

rope day visit that includes this week’s meeting of NATO allies in Brussels.

But Bush also stopped off in London—the site of a potentially embarrassing controversy. Church of England officials in

London say that the seeds were sown when Bush visited the British capital during his term

vice-president. According to the officials, Bush—a practising Anglican—privately met several Church of England bishops and told them that he was personally opposed to the ordination of women. One bishop who was pre-

sent at that meeting recently wrote to Bush in Washington and told the President that he was looking forward to a public discussion on the subject of women as priests. But the response from the White House was unequivocal: Bush

swift and unequivocal: Bush would not discuss that issue— especially not in public.