NEWSMAKERS

‘WE WEREN’T GOING TO WRITE A MOVIE ABOUT A RUSSIAN POLITICIAN BASED ON A MARTIAN’ —FILM PRODUCER ANATOLY VOROPAYEV ON HIS VLADIMIR PUTIN-LIKE FICTIONAL CHARACTER

February 25 2008
NEWSMAKERS

‘WE WEREN’T GOING TO WRITE A MOVIE ABOUT A RUSSIAN POLITICIAN BASED ON A MARTIAN’ —FILM PRODUCER ANATOLY VOROPAYEV ON HIS VLADIMIR PUTIN-LIKE FICTIONAL CHARACTER

February 25 2008

‘WE WEREN’T GOING TO WRITE A MOVIE ABOUT A RUSSIAN POLITICIAN BASED ON A MARTIAN’ —FILM PRODUCER ANATOLY VOROPAYEV ON HIS VLADIMIR PUTIN-LIKE FICTIONAL CHARACTER

NEWSMAKERS

ROBERT MILTON COME FLY WITH ME

With Air Canada’s pockets bulging with a 2007 profit of $429 million, the CEO of the airline’s parent firm, Robert Milton, is mulling over offers to buy it. Milton, the man who led Air Canada through a turbulent period of insolvency, says he’s being approached by pension funds and private equity funds. The parent company, ACE Aviation Holdings Inc., has been busy spinning off former components of the airline, including large chunks of its frequent-flyer program, regional airline and maintenance division. Although there’s a possibility that one U.S. carrier might buy a stake in the maple leaf carrier in order to funnel traffic back and forth, the U.S.-born Milton says that government rules restrict foreign ownership of Canadian airlines to 25 per cent. One domestic participant could be always-acquisitive Onex Corp. But the Toronto firm, outmanoeuvred by Milton in a 1999 hostile takeover, isn’t saying anything so far.

DALE KASPER AND TOBY TUTKALUK RED RIVER HEROES

As off-duty firefighter Dale Kasper drove along Winnipeg’s Perimeter Highway last week, he watched in horror as the Jeep in front of him started to skid on the bridge across the wide and frozen Red River. The SUV mounted a bank of plowed snow and for a moment teetered on the guardrail before plunging over and landing on its roof, 4 partly smashing through the ice 15 m below. Kasper instantly phoned for help and, along with another motorist, Toby Tutkaluk, who’d been on the way to a physiotherapy appointment, bravely ran onto the ice and smashed the car’s window. Inside was 23-yearold Lisa Klassen, the sister of Olympic skating champion Cindy Klassen. Lisa’s head was submerged in the muddy, icy water. With Klassen pinned in place by her seat belt, Tutkaluk yelled to people on the bridge to throw down the knife in his truck. Then Tutkaluk cut the belt, and he and Kasper pulled her out. Kasper performed CPR until she was breathing again. “I’m used to having a lot of equipment,” said Kasper, referring to his job as a firefighter. “I was very relieved to see her breathing on her own.” Now in hospital t with her family at Jg her side, Klassen is expected to

recover, thanks —/^4 to the two passing motorists. M

ANDREI PANIN FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

In the film Kiss Me Off the Record, a young KGB spy falls in love with a former stewardess called Lyudmila and then gains the Kremlin. Sound familiar? The plot of this Russian film, starring Andrei Panin, bears an uncanny resemblance to the relationshij between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife. But producer Anatoly Voropayev pooh-poohs any similarity to the real-life leader: “This is an original screenplay,” he says, although he admits, “We built our ideas on existing facts. We weren’t going to write a movie about a Russian politician based on a Martian.” The film was made between 2001 and 2003, but is just now being released and only on DVD. The producer denies that he was under pressure from the Kremlin to bury the film. The official date is set for Valentine’s Day, two weeks before voters choose a successor to Putin, who is stepping down after eight years in office. Few film directors have dared to delve into the family life (let alone the love life) of Russian presidents, and reporting on the personal lives of Kremlin leaders is taboo. But now that Putin is leaving his presidential position, the time seemed right to release this love story. Word has it that Putin saw the film and

ANGELA FONG

FROM FELION TO FULL NELSON

With such pageant acclaim as being a finalist for Miss Molson Indy and Miss Hawaiian Tropic International under her belt, Angela Fong, 23, is trading in the princess crowns for wrestling mats. The Port Coquitlam, B.C., native, who’s spent three seasons rah-rahing for the B.C. Lions cheerleading squad (the Fêlions), and is four classes short of a communications and publishing degree at Simon Fraser University, has signed a development deal with World Wrestling Entertainment. Vince McMahon’s empire has intentions of moulding Fong—who has no prior wrestling experience—into the next Trish Stratus, Canada’s WWE bombshell until her retirement in 2006. Fong is now at “wrestling boot camp” in Florida, learning full nelsons and flying clotheslines. Fong hopes that her parents, immigrants from Macau whom she describes as “a little conservative,” will be cheering her on from the sidelines.

MOHAMED ABOUTRIKA HAIL THE PHARAOHS

The Africa Cup of Nations soccer trophy entered the stadium in Accra, Ghana, last week on a throne reserved for that nation’s kings. But the honour of receiving the cup was reserved for the Pharaohs, Egypt’s national team.

One member, the 29-yearold superstar Mohamed Aboutrika, had scored the climactic game’s only goal to beat much-favoured Cameroon. Professionally, Aboutrika plays for the Egyptian team Al Ahli, but he says, “We’re making the whole country happy. When you score the winning goal for the national team, it’s different from scoring for a club.” It was the second time in as many years that Egypt has taken the continental honour. Earlier in the series, Aboutrika courted controversy and a penalty when he scored a goal against Sudan, then celebrated by lifting his team’s red shirt to reveal a white one that said “Sympathize with Gaza.” But on Sunday, the only place that mattered for Aboutrika was Egypt, a nation that erupted in joy for its ruling Pharaohs.

HERWIG HAIDINGER

IGNORING THE CLUES IN A TRAGIC CRIME

The former head of Austria’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, Herwig Haidinger, has made disturbing revelations of police bungling in the case of Natascha Kampusch. She was the 10-year-old who was abducted by Wolfgang Priklopil and held captive for 8V2 years in a Vienna suburb. Haidinger has caused outrage by charging that only eight weeks after Natascha vanished in 1998, police had evidence pointing to Priklopil. A police-dog handler, he says, gave Vienna investigators tips that would have led them to Priklopil, including information about his personality, preoccupation with children, a description of his van, which matched the one witnesses saw Kampusch dragged to, and even his address. But, Haidinger charges, the police ignored the handler’s comments and buried the report, which Haidinger never saw until 2006, after Kampusch managed to escape on her own. (Priklopil killed himself hours later.) One person who is expecting answers is Kampusch, now 19. Last week she said, “When one makes a mistake, one should somehow try to make things right again.” The cops now face a formal investigation and possible lawsuit.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS

SAYING GOODBYE TO HEATH LEDGER

The Montana-born actress has reason to feel exhausted. After three memorial services on two continents for Heath Ledger, her former fiancé, Michelle Williams, kicked off her shoes at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia, and joined a group of jp mourners to frolic in the surf at sunset.

While Ledger’s father,

Kim, watched from a balcony and shouted “Hip, hip hooray,” the 200 mourners remembered Ledger, who died on Jan. 22 of an accidental prescription-drug overdose in his New York City apartment. Williams, who with Ledger received Oscar nominations for their roles in the gay cowboy drama Brokeback Mountain, gave birth to their daughter Matilda in October 2005 and lived with the Australian actor in Brooklyn until their split last fall. After Ledger’s ashes were interred in his family plot, Williams, 27, gathered up Matilda and boarded an airplane to the United States. Said the actress: “His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still.”

XANANA GUSMÄO

CAN ANYONE SAVE EAST TIMOR?

The prime minister of East Timor was helping lead a youthful nation teetering on the brink of anarchy. Then, on Monday, Xanana Gusmäo almost lost his life in a failed assassination attempt. While the PM was unhurt, East Timorese President José Ramos-Hortawas seriously wounded in an attack a few hours earlier led by a rebel former military police leader, Alfredo Reinado. (Reinado was killed in the attack.) Gusmäo, a one-time rebel leader, was elected East Timor’s first president when the former Portuguese enclave achieved full independence in 2002 after more than two decades of brutal occupation by Indonesia. He stepped aside last year after violence erupted when Reinado and his followers took up arms against the government in 2006. Gusmäo then ran for parliament and was appointed prime minister by the new head of state, Ramos-Horta. Now, at least temporarily, it falls to Gusmäo alone to try to develop the natural riches of his desperately poor country while dealing with high unemployment and instability.