NEWSMAKERS

'VOTING TORY WILL CAUSE YOUR WIFE TO HA BIGGER BREASTS AND INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF OWNING A BMW M3’—BORIS JOHNSON, THE COL JRFUL AND SCRUFFY-HAIRED NEW MAYOR OF LONDON

May 19 2008
NEWSMAKERS

'VOTING TORY WILL CAUSE YOUR WIFE TO HA BIGGER BREASTS AND INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF OWNING A BMW M3’—BORIS JOHNSON, THE COL JRFUL AND SCRUFFY-HAIRED NEW MAYOR OF LONDON

May 19 2008

'VOTING TORY WILL CAUSE YOUR WIFE TO HA BIGGER BREASTS AND INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF OWNING A BMW M3’—BORIS JOHNSON, THE COL JRFUL AND SCRUFFY-HAIRED NEW MAYOR OF LONDON

NEWSMAKERS

VINCENZO VISCO YOUR SALARY, ON VIEW ON THE INTERNET

Ever wonder what your neighbour with the new car makes? If you lived in Italy, you’d have had a chance to find out. Last week, the country’s finance department posted the income, and taxes paid, of every single Italian on its website. Deputy Finance Minister Vincenzo Visco, who had the unenviable task of defending the move, said it was part of an effort to tax evasion. “It’s all about transparency and democracy,” he told reporters,

“I don’t see the problem.” His countrymen were caught off guard when the data was uploaded with no warning. Numerous complaints led Italy’s privacy regulator to order the site shut down. But curious Italians, clamouring to know what everyone from celebrities to their relatives made, had taken care of that—the site was so popular it crashed. Luckily for Visco, he won’t face the heat much longer. His party was defeated last month, and this week passes the controversy on to the new government.

RYAN REYNOLDS

SCARLETT FEVER TO LAST A LIFETIME

Ex-Vancouverite Ryan Reynolds is engaged to Lost in Translation ingenue Scarlett Johansson, his girlfriend of one year. Johansson, 23, flashed her new sparkler last week at an A-list gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Also the face of Louis Vuitton, she began dating the 31-year-old Kitsilanoraised funnyman—who struck comedic gold with the National Lampoon movie Van Wilder and now lives in west L.A.— after her split from Josh Hartnett. The bride-to-be has worked on three films with Woody Allen—accused of crushing on her—including the forthcoming Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And while she may be no Alanis Morissette—to whom Reynolds was previously engaged—she has musical stylings of her own; she is set to release an album of Tom Waits covers later this month. Rumours were sparked when Johansson was spotted in the Monique Lhuillier bridal boutique in L.A. Asked in January if an engagement was in her sights, she quipped: “I am engaged—to Barack Obama.” It seems she has since made room for both men.

JAVIER BARDEM

NO COUNTRY FOR TIRED MEN

“I would like to be everywhere at once,” sings Guido, the hero of the upcoming movie-musical Nine, from the Broadway adaptation of Fellini’s 8V2. But Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) doesn’t seem to share that sentiment: the Academy Award-winning actor was set to play Guido but pulled out due to “exhaustion,” reportedly telling director Rob Marshall (Chicago) he’s burned out from making movies and ning awards. Since Guido is a famous filmmaker who is burned out after his recent success and can’t commit to anything, that just makes Bardem even more ideal for the part. But a movie can’t wait for an actor to recover from the crushing blow of international stardom. Marshall is rehiring, and Bardem won’t sing the song from Nine that begins “I can’t make this movie, there’s no way that I’ll complete it.” He doesn’t need to sing it; he said it.

JEPP QUADRUPLETS NOW COLOUR-CODED FOR EASY IDENTIFICATION

For Calgary’s J.R and Karen Jepp, it’s a relief, eight months after the premature births of their quadruplets, that the hardest thing about looking after them is telling them apart. Identically ced and pink, ey wear colour-coded clothes (fall hues for Autumn, purple for Dahlia and green for Brooke, with Calissa in pink) and, for birthday-suit purposes, painted toenails. “There has been an occasion when we’ve realized we dressed one of the girls in one of her sister’s colours,” says J.P. The girls are home after months of precarious health and hospital stays. Their weights, once just under three pounds each, are between 14 and 17 now. Naturally conceived quads are a one-in-13-million event, a fact that catapulted the very private Jepps into the limelight in August. Last week the family, including big brother Simon, who’s 2, held a gathering to thank Canadians for all their help—everything from homemade blankies to babysitting. But keep the aid coming: the quads will soon be crawling, mobile and curious.

MICHIKO KAKUTANI THE STUPIDEST PERSON IN NEW YORK CITY

Jonathan Franzen, who famously balked when Oprah chose his novel The Corrections for her book club (he called her coveted insignia “that logo of corporate ownership”; she withdrew the lucrative hosanna), has another woman in his sights: book critic Michiko Kakutani, whose review in the New York Times two years ago of his memoir apparendy provoked an extended bout of pique.

“The stupidest person in New York City,” he called her last week. Kakutani, a Pulitzer Prize winner, isn’t dumb, but neither is she especially magnanimous.

“There is something oddly preening about his self-inventory of sins, as though he actually revelled in being so disagreeable,” she wrote of The Discomfort Zone. Such feuds are more at home in the U.K. “A weird woman who seems to feel the need to alternately praise and spank,” Salman Rushdie wrote of Kakutani—suggesting just the spanking would suffice. He’d know. “I’m grateful to John le Carré for refreshing all our memories about exactly how pompous an ass he can be,” he wrote in one classic English riposte.

SERGIO MARCHIONNE FIAT’S U-TURN

The world’s hottest car executive hit another high last week when Standard & Poor’s restored Fiat’s “investment grade” status. That amounts to the market’s ultimate seal of approval for the renaissance orchestrated by Sergio Marchionne, the Turin automaker’s CEO. In less than four years, the dual Canadian-Italian citizen has upshifted Fiat from a joke to the envy of the car business. Marchionne’s family moved to Toronto when he was 14. He studied philosophy at the University of Toronto and law at Osgoode Hall. He was running a Swiss company when deeply troubled Fiat turned to him in 2004. Favouring sweaters over suits, his style is more casually Canadian than sleekly Italian. But under his leadership, Fiat has recovered its reputation for gorgeous design. Perhaps its sexiest car: the Alfa Romeo 8C Spider. Ontario is now vying for a new Alfa Romeo plant. Its beleaguered auto sector must wish the émigré turnaround maestro had never gone away.

MARTHA STEWART DAY 10: WATER DAHLIAS DAY 11: FIX ELDER CARE

With her stint in prison behind her and her media company on the mend, Martha Stewart has been keeping a low profile lately. So it was surprising to see her pop up recently at a U.S. Sen ate committee hearing as an expert on, of all things, elder care. But there she was, not talking about flower arranging or cake decorating, but how the U.S. isn’t prepared to look after its aging boomers. Stewart, who built a vast media empire before serving time for charges related to insider trading, seems an odd choice when it comes to lecturing on caring. According to the biography Martha Inc., Stewart’s anger at her alcoholic father is behind her cutthroat drive, and many former friends describe her as clinically cold. Still, shortly before her mother’s death last year, Stewart did donate $5 million to create the Martha Stewart Center in New York. “The goal of the center, which is dedicated to my mother, is to help people to live longer, healthier, productive lives,” she told the committee. She didn’t mention her father.

BORIS JOHNSON HE’S ECCENTRIC, HE LIES, BUT BO JO'S NO BOZO

He wasn’t supposed to make it this far, but last week colourful, scruffy-haired Boris Johnson was elected mayor of London. Widely read as a signal that Londoners are unhappy with the Labour Party, his win pushed out two-term incumbent “Red Ken” Livingstone, famous for introducing a charge to keep cars out of the city’s core. At first, Johnson seemed little more than an amusing sideshow. The 43-year-old former journalist and TV personality has insulted Muslims, gay men, the city of Liverpool, and Jamie Oliver. He was fired from his trainee reporter job at the Times for falsifying a quote, and accused of lying about an extramarital affair. He is known for such utterances as “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.” But as the race progressed, his plain-spoken style and considerable charm gained traction. In the end, Londoners decided better the devilmay-care Boris than the devil they knew.