OPENING NOTES

Margaret Thatcher changes dresses and addresses, Brian De Palma’s vanity flares, and Madonna gets a trim

December 31 1990

OPENING NOTES

Margaret Thatcher changes dresses and addresses, Brian De Palma’s vanity flares, and Madonna gets a trim

December 31 1990

OPENING NOTES

Margaret Thatcher changes dresses and addresses, Brian De Palma’s vanity flares, and Madonna gets a trim

STAND BY HER MAN

As Brian Mulroney suffers the attacks of his critics, theories abound about how the Prime Minister deals with the strain. Ottawa journalist John Sawatsky, who is at work on a biography of the Prime Minister, says that it is the devotion and determination of his wife, Mila, that help him to withstand the criticism. "She is really his bedrock," Sawatsky told Maclean's recently. "She is his greatest influence, but not in a policy sense." Sawatsky said that during the 1984 election campaign, CBC journalists compiling footage for a news documentary assembled a tape showing Mulroney mingling with crowds of voters. "Each time he became separated from his wife," Sawatsky recalled, "he would look around like a lost child and ask, 'Where's Mila, where's Mila?' It was so devastating that they decided they just could not use it." Sawatsky added: "Mila made him Prime Minister. Without her, he never would have made it. He is extremely thin-skinned. She is much stronger psychologically."

More than a place to hang her hat

After she resigned, Margaret Thatcher and her husband, Denis, moved from number 10 Downing Street to the $1.3million mock-Georgian house that they purchased in 1985 as a retirement home in the nondescript south London suburb of Dulwich.

But insiders now say that the Dulwich house may be destined for sale. Thatcher, who is still a member of Parliament, says that she finds the 25-minute drive to Westminster, even with a police escort, too difficult. Insiders say that the Iron Lady likes changing her clothes between appointments, and Dulwich is just too far away.

Now, an American friend of the Thatchers has lent them a $600,000 apartment, once occupied by prime minister Stanley Bal-

dwin, in London’s fashionable Eaton Square. Maggie watchers are calling it Britain’s most expensive dressing room.

SOVIETS WATCH BIG BROTHER

British director Michael Radford greeted the recent Moscow opening of his movie 1984 with pride. Said Radford: “It is the fulfilment of an old dream.” He added that there is nothing that viewers would find “fantastic or unfamiliar” in his movie, based on George Orwell’s novel. An otherwise quiet audience roared with approval when the movie’s hero, Winston Smith, presented his lover with delicacies obtained despite shortages under Big Brother. “I have coffee, ” he proclaimed. “Real coffee. ” A case of life imitating art.

A star-studded menagerie

The good news is that Connie Chung is pregnant. The bad news is that it is the wrong Connie Chung. The expectant one is rival TV personality Geraldo Rivera's dog. Last August, People featured TV interviewer Chung on its cover with the headline “I want a child. ” Now, her namesake is due next week. A spokesman said that the host of The Geraldo Show also has a macaw named after Chung's husband, journalist Maury Povich, and two finches, Oprah and Phil. Added the spokesman: “Geraldo admires the real Connie and Maury and Oprah and Phil very much. "

Some imitation is less flattering than others.

VANITY GOES BEFORE A FALL

Turning Tom Wolfe’s celebrated satirical 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities into a major movie has inflamed the vanities of some real-life characters. Everything from the casting of Tom Hanks as Sherman McCoy, “Master of the Universe,” to the movie’s contrived happy ending has led to energetic discussion by critics throughout North America. Even the racist concerns that form the basis of the story have burst from the screen into public debate. Earlier this month, Bonfire director Brian De Palma responded to charges

by black director

Spike Lee that the movie is racist. Lee directed such films

as Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues. In an interview with Maclean’s, De Palma called Lee “an incredible media loudmouth.” He also pointed out that Lee had not seen the movie before denouncing it. Added De Palma: “To me, he is an example of Bonfire of the Vanities. He’s Spike Lee. He’s sort of become like a product.” The movie was released last week in Canada and the United States. And from the early reactions of critics and test audiences, De Palma will soon be defending his picture on another front. Many reviewers say that the long-awaited blockbuster is a dud.

A DIPLOMAT COMES IN TO THE COLD

Brian Friebel has lived in interesting times. The 51-year-old communications officer with the department of external affairs and his wife, Louise, returned safely to Ottawa earlier this month after spending four harrowing months as hostages in Kuwait and Baghdad. Friebel and other Canadians have achieved hero status at home for helping Americans and Britons also trapped by the Iraqi invasion. But Friebel is no stranger to adversity. In 1979, he was a member of the Canadian Embassy staff in Tehran where Canadians hid American diplomats and then helped them escape from the wrath of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Friebel told Maclean's that he has mixed feelings about being back. "I don't appreciate the weather," he said. "But I guess it's better than living under a gun."

A glimpse of paradise

When a little-known Mississauga, Ont., businessman, Stanislaw Tyminski, ran for the presidency of Poland, most analysts expressed skepticism that he could have an impact. But Tyminski defeated Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round of voting. And although Lech Walesa eventually defeated Tyminski on Dec. 9, it was only after a highly controversial campaign. The Canadian’s strong finish reflects a firmly held tenet of Polish culture. Many Poles, living with the effects of a shattered economy, seem convinced that Canada is a relative paradise. Said Marian Czakanski, Polish trade commissioner to Canada: “When someone says in Polish, ‘It is Canada for him,’ they mean he is better off than others.” That perception of Canada was one of Tyminski’s big attractions. What he apparently did not have was the luck of the Irish.

Tree-trimming

Madonna has had a trim. Apparently, the hedge around her mansion in the posh Los Angeles district of Hollywood

Hills was so high that it was blocking a neighbor's view of the Pacific Ocean. He complained that the obstruction lowered his property's value by $1 million. A superior court judge agreed and ordered Madonna to trim her foliage to the regulation eight feet and to pay all legal costs. Madonna had no choice but to comply. Good shrubs make good neighbors.