Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS September 1 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS September 1 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Parliamentary spruce-up

The scaffolding is down from the Peace Tower and a gleaming new copper roof on the Centre Block on Parliament Hill is in full view where three years of renovations to the front have wrapped up. All in all, the work so far seems to be a success, at least according to comments from tourists last week. A thorough cleaning and months of detailed work by stone masons has left the Peace Tower and facade of the building a light sandy brown, in contrast to the still-grey-and-sooty stones of the East and West blocks. Visitor Cindy Lombardi of Pontiac, Mich., was impressed by the difference. “That one,” she says, pointing to the Peace Tower, “sure looks better than the others.” Still, she was surprised that the roof is still oldcopper green, while the Centre Block roof shines like a million new pennies. “That does look strange,” says Lombardi.

Work on government buildings in the area is far from over. Massive repairs, which are expected to cost at least $265 million, are scheduled to continue until 2010. The tower’s roof will be replaced in a decade or so, when the copper is corroded enough to justify repairs. Even the House and Senate will be ripped apart and rebuilt. That will displace MPs into a makeshift chamber in the West Block cafeteria from 2002 to 2006, followed by senators from 2006 until 2010. The cafeteria debates should be quite a mouthful.

A not-so-trivial pursuit

Once in a while reality can exceed even the most ambitious inventors’ dreams. A foursome from outside Toronto has invented The Reel to Reel Picture Show, a game in which players advance across a board to collect different colored film reels by correctly answering movie trivia questions. Longtime trivia buffs Sandy Cherry and Bill Lewochko, both engineers, Kathy Cargill, an elementary school principal, and Pauline Harley, an elementary school vice-principal, launched their board game last fall. Since then, it has sold more than 50,000 copies—making it the biggest selling new game in Canada in 1995.

Now, the group is thinking even bigger. In June, they produced a TV pilot of a game show based on their board game. Filming took

place at the Disney-MGM theme-park studios in Orlando, Fla., with actors Teri Garr and Burt Reynolds as celebrity guests and Peter Marshall of Hollywood Squares fame as host. “Disney is very excited about our concept,” says 48-year-old Cargill, “and they may use the set as a park attraction.” The four are also continuing to develop the original game—and a number of spinoffs. The 12,000-question Reel to Reel Picture Show board game, which retails for about $40, is already sold in Disney’s U.S. and French theme parks and will be widely available in major U.S. markets in October. The inventors are also working on a Disney-only version, a family version, as well as a 3,000-question mini-version for travel. Truly a business that is fun and games.

The leaders' Highlands fling

Cape Breton’s internationally renowned golf course, the Highlands Links, is so busy this summer that locals are having trouble getting tee times. But Prime Minister Jean Chrétien had no such difficulty. Last week, when he and three Atlantic premiers—Frank McKenna of New Brunswick, Russell MacLellan of Nova Scotia and Brian Tobin of Newfoundland arrived at the Ingonish Beach, N.S., course, they were quickly ushered to the first tee. Afterwards, McKenna was vague when asked what they discussed—“mainly issues about Atlantic Canada”—and why Prince Edward Island’s Tory premier, Pat Binns, the only non-Liberal leader in the region, was not invited—“only four can play golf at a time.” Less clear still were the results of their 4 Vá-hour round. While Chrétien insisted their scores were “a state secret,” a member of the course staff says the quartet left their scorecards behind but “hadn’t even filled them out.” In politics, of course, the score is always settled.

She's back in orbit

Her psychic phone service ended in ignominy last January, but flamboyant Quebec astrologer JoJo Savard is now confidently predicting a bright future. Savard told Maclean’s that jojo’s Psychic Alliance will be up and running again this week with the backing of Palm Desert, Calif.-based Guthy-Renker Corp. “We’re making a big comeback,” says Savard, ¡ who found herself mired in controversy I when her former producer, a MiamiÍ g based subsidiary of Integrated Communiri cation Network Inc., which operated the I Alliance’s English and French phone ser£ vices, stopped paying its 2,000 part-time g psychics last September. They still have î not been paid, but Savard says they are I coming back to work. “I got hurt as much as they did, and they understand that,” says Savard, who consulted the stars about the best time to relaunch the lines. Why she is doing it was never in question. “This business is so lucrative,” she says, “it really isn’t funny.”

No, no—New York!

Thanks to its burgeoning film industry, Toronto has stood in for many an American metropolis. With added litter and graffiti, it has been particularly adept at posing as New York City in feature films and TV movies. But now—at least according to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani—it seems that Canada’s largest city has taken on the Big Apple role once too often. That’s because one of the 32 productions currently filming in and around Toronto is about that great New York institution, the Yankees. The Joe Torre Story stars Paul Sorvino as the baseball manager whose brother, Frank, underwent a heart transplant the day before the Yankees clinched the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. When Giuliani heard where the made-for-TV movie was being shot, he had one of his deputies get on the phone to find out why. A New Yorkbased spokesman for the producer, Showtime, declined to comment on the call. But industry insiders say Giuliani’s representative was told the simple truth: that it was cheaper in Toronto than New York. Still, the call had its desired effect. Several days of The Joe Torre Story will now be filmed in the real New York.