OPENING NOTES

Alice Munro balks at a ‘compliment,’ U.S. Republicans court Tom Clancy, and Sinclair Stevens makes his peace with the press

April 9 1990

OPENING NOTES

Alice Munro balks at a ‘compliment,’ U.S. Republicans court Tom Clancy, and Sinclair Stevens makes his peace with the press

April 9 1990

OPENING NOTES

Alice Munro balks at a ‘compliment,’ U.S. Republicans court Tom Clancy, and Sinclair Stevens makes his peace with the press

MISPLACED PRAISE

The New York Times Book Review chose her collection of short stories, The Progress of Love, as one of the seven best works of fiction of 1986. And in an apparent extension of that American enthusiasm for the work of Canada's Alice Munro, U.S. publisher Random House, Inc. has now billed the Canadian author as "one of America's leading writers of short fiction." Random House did so on the jacket of an audiocassette tape of Munro's recently released short-story collection, Friend of My Youth. Random House spokesman Leslie Nadell told Maclean's that the mistake was "meant respectfully," adding that Munro "is described that way because she is highly regarded around the world." But her Canadian publisher was unmoved. Said Douglas Gibson, publisher of Toronto-based McClelland & Stewart: "I regard it as an infuriating compliment." Munro, meanwhile, was even less equivocal in her appraisal of the Random House error. Said Munro, who lives in Clinton, Ont.: "It was stupid."

Rating a network’s priorities

Its one million regular viewers were in for a surprise if they tried to catch CTV’s current-affairs show W5 on April 1 at its normal 8 p.m. time. That was because CTV executives decided only a week before to move the show to a slot one hour earlier, clearing the prime-time, eight o’clock time period for the hugely popular U.S. comedy show America’s Funniest Home Videos. CTV spokesman Janet Eastwood said that the hasty manoeuvre was chiefly an attempt to find a more dependable time slot for W5, which had often been preempted by Sunday evening specials. But other network staffers, who requested anonymity, said a more important motive, just one week before the end of the TV season, was to draw a big audience at 8 p.m. to boost April ratings, on which ad rates are set. Timing in television is a primal concern.

A MONETARY OVERSIGHT

A 1954 Canadian $1,000 bill sold at auction last week in New York City for $10,000. That price reflected the rarity of the bill, which was pulled from circulation after just six months when people noted what looked like an image of Satan’s head—with horns and hooked nose—in the Queen’s hair. Although government officials insisted at the time that the unintended design glitch was almost indecipherable, their decision to remove the note quickly from circulation has created a coveted—and devilishly expensive—collector’s item.

Marriages on the move

The Manitoba government's plan to decentralize some of its services by moving 692 jobs out of Winnipeg seemed simple enough. But, as details of the program emerge, it has become clear that the plan could force at least six married couples to part company. One of those couples is Graham and Mamie Somers. He is an agriculturalist whose office is moving to Carman, 100 km south of Winnipeg; she is an administrator at a welfare office relocating in Carberry, 150 km to the west. Still, government officials say the orders are firm, leaving couples to choose between at least one resignation—or a decentralized marriage.

A BATTLE OVER NICK NAMES

It was the kind of publicity that Canadian actor Nick Mancuso clearly felt that he could do without. Early in 1989, Mancuso noticed that the lead character in the TV series Mancuso FBI was also named Nick Mancuso. The actor got in touch with the show’s Los Angeles producers and told them that he would appreciate a name change for his fictional counterpart, who is played by an American actor, Robert Loggia. Last January, almost one year after Mancuso’s initial request, the producers agreed to meet him partway—they told him they were changing the first name of their fictional character to Nico. But the real Mancuso was still not satisfied. The problem was that his own real name, which he modified when he became an actor, is actually Nico. Still, the chances for yet another name change appear to be slim at best. Declared the series’ spokesman, Robert Maynor, with evident frustration: “You rarely hear the character’s first name anyway.” Name-dropping can be a sensitive pastime.

Dumping a restrictive propaganda law

The 26-minute, Academy Award-winning documentary, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, presented a searing account of U.S. nuclear arms policy. But several months after the Canadian release of If You Love This Planet in 1982, the U.S. government labelled the film "political propaganda," invoking the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938—which requires such labeling on films financed by foreign governments. But last week, hearings took place in Washington to revoke the act, which some film-makers have contended contravenes the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. Said the film's director, Terri Nash, who testified at the hearings: "It has taken a while, but it is a hopeful sign for democracy that we have gotten this far."

Stalk the presses

He criticized the standards of journalism and accused the press of “stalking” him during his much-publicized 1987 trial, in which he was found guilty of 14 conflict-of-interest charges. But now former Conservative cabinet minister Sinclair Stevens, who was a reporter at The Toronto Star in the 1950s, has himself resettled in the world of journalism. This week marks the first anniversary of his own newspaper, The Planet Today, a monthly tabloid that is distributed free of charge to about 130,000 selected homes in and around Toronto. And late last week, Stevens announced that he had just bought the Guardian Express, a Welland, Ont., twice-weekly tabloid with a circulation of 30,000. Stevens said that the purchase would provide him with “an excellent base” for larger forays into the world of publishing—giving him a chance to stalk his own presses.

Hunting them man

The recent release of the film version of author Tom Clancy's Cold War thriller, The Hunt for Red October, has clearly impressed a key U.S. Republican. Soon after the film's debut, Edward Rollins, chief tactician for the Republican congressional committee, asked Clancy to run for Congress next November. Clancy said that he would consider the offer when he finishes a promotional tour for Red October later this month—leaving Republicans to read between the lines.