OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS May 22 1995

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS May 22 1995

OPENING NOTES

WHOOPI’S FIND

Actress Whoopi Goldberg has a reputation for making her own career choices—and they usually pay off. But last week in Toronto, where she is currently filming director Norman Jewison’s comedy-fantasy Bogus with costar Gérard Depardieu, Goldberg asked for advice and got more than she bargained for. A known book lover, Goldberg has been seen browsing in many bookstores throughout the city. At one uptown location, she asked clerk Scott Fraser whether he could suggest a book for her

to read. Fraser, a big fan of Canadian writer Timothy Findley, recommended* the Cannington, Ont.-based author’s new novel, The Piano Man’s Daughter. The next day, Goldberg sent over a colleague to buy 13 additional copies, at $28 each, of the hard-cover book. A publishing industry insider, who asked not to be named, says that negotiations have now begun for Goldberg to option the

book with the hopes of turning it into another hit movie for the Los Angeles-based star. Goldberg, who earned an Academy Award for her part of the psychic in the 1990 movie Ghost, actually got her break in another screen adaptation of an acclaimed novel, The Color Purple by American author Alice Walker. Spokesmen for both Goldberg and Findley have declined comment on the state of negotiations. It’s a case of reading between the lines.

FRANK SINATRA DID IT HIS WAY

When Canadian tycoon Jim Pattison bought singer Frank Sinatra’s 6,100-square-foot bungalow in Palm Springs, Calif., last week, it went for more than a song. Pattison paid almost the listing price of $6.6 million.

And in parting with the lavish, 2.5-acre hideaway on Frank Sinatra Drive, 01’ Blue Eyes did it his way: he had Pattison sign a confidentiality disclosure statement. “I can’t really discuss it, other than to confirm it happened,” says Pattison, 66. Still, the shrewd Vancouver businessman who turned an automobile dealership into a multi-company empire, did get one thing he really wanted: the singer’s rustic, Old West-style modeltrain collection, in a separate deal for an

The estate includes guest houses named for Sinatra songs. New York, New York has four bedroom suites, each with two bathrooms, living-room and pool. The other, comprised of two joined, round houses—High Hopes and Tender Trap—was

undisclosed sum. The house deal also includes most of the furnishings, except for works of art.

built in the 1960s for a frequent guest—the late U.S. president John Kennedy. John Hussar, real estate writer for the Palm Springs Desert Sun newspaper, says the purchase price was high by local standards. But, he adds, “Pattison bought a museum piece, including the piano that Frank played New York, New York on a thousand times.” That’s life.

A GIFT FROM THE HEAVENS

University convocations can be dull affairs, primarily of interest to the graduates receiving their degrees and to their immediate families. But last week, Montreal-born David Levy—the amateur astronomer who, with his American partners Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, electrified the scientific world with their 1993 discovery of a comet before it crashed into Jupiter last summer—sparked the ceremony to life at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. Levy, who now lives in Tucson, Ariz., was on hand to receive an honorary

doctorate of science from the university

where he earned an undergraduate degree in English literature in 1972. But once onstage, he surprised university president Kelvin

Ogilvie by handing him a plaque declaring that a 15-km-wide asteroid orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Mars has officially been named Acadiau. “Nobody knew about this beforehand,” said university spokesman Bruce Cohoon. “It created quite a stir.”

Levy told Maclean’s that Carolyn Shoemaker discovered the asteroid in 1980. But it took so long to name it, he added, because The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., the agency that keeps track of such celestial discoveries, is very conservative in granting designations. The centre wants to ensure that there have been enough sightings to verify the asteroid’s orbit and, as a result, fewer than 6,500 of the millions of rocky remains from the creation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago have received permanent names or numbers. Acadiau, says Levy, takes about three of the Earth’s years to orbit the sun, and has six-hour days with temperatures reaching as high as 10° C and as low as -200° C. “It is its own little world,” says Levy. The same thing is often said about universities.

WRIGHT’S TURN

Already laboring to shrug off a history of discrimination against women, golf got a reminder last week that old-boy attitudes are still alive. At the McDonald’s LPGA Championship in Wilmington, Del., TV golf analyst Ben Wright was quoted by a local newspaper as saying the

presence of lesbians on the tour discourages corporate support of the game. “Let’s face facts here,’’ he allegedly told the Wilmington News Journal, “lesbians in the sport hurt women’s golf.” Wright, a 62-year-old Englishman, was also quoted as saying that women players are handicapped by their breasts. “Their boobs get in the way,” he supposedly said. After meeting with Wright, the network, CBS,

announced that he had “made no statements that were disparaging or otherwise offensive to gays or lesbians or the LPGA.” Wright, meanwhile, claimed the newspaper’s story was full of “lies and distortions.” With the News Journal standing by its story, the players said they would reserve judgment. But they did defend their tour. “He shouldn’t be doing women’s golf if he feels that way,” said Nancy Lopez. And

Dawn Coe-Jones of Lake Cowichan, B.C., Canada’s top touring professional, said that in her 12 years on tour, players’ sexuality had never been an issue among sponsors. As for the notion that breasts get in the way of good golf, CoeJones laughed and said: “He should talk to Joanne Camer.” Carner, a full-bodied veteran known as Big Mama, has more tour victories than any other current player.

A BIPARTISAN COMING OUT

It was a night for bipartisan speech-making and heartfelt thanks to political enemies. Last week, the NDP’s Svend Robinson and Réal Ménard of the Bloc Québécois teamed up to address 300 members of the Fraternity, an organization of gay professional men in Toronto.

Robinson, who openly announced his homosexuality in 1988, paid tribute to anti-gay-rights crusader Roseanne Skoke, a Nova Scotia Liberal MP. “She is single-handedly responsible,” he said, “for doubling the number of out gay members of Parliament.” Robinson was referring to Skoke’s strident opposition last November to Justice Minister Allan Rock’s declared intention to amend the human-rights code to

protect gays and lesbians. Angered by Skoke’s remarks, Ménard publicly proclaimed the following day that he, too, is gay. Robinson expressed hope that more federal politicians come out, insisting “there is certainly no shortage of candidates on the Hill.” For his part, Ménard re-

ferred to the irony of laws that apply differently to straights and gays. For instance, he said that there are 50 statutes protecting people in common-law relationships that do not apply to same-sex couples. Then, speaking of his close relationship with his twin brother, René, he noted that the two are identical “except that he has all the characteristics of a heterosexual person.” Pausing, he broke into a broad grin and added: “It’s not my fault—it was his choice.”

BARBARA WICKENS