People

People

BARBARA RIGHTON February 1 1982
People

People

BARBARA RIGHTON February 1 1982

People

The executive headhunting firm Caldwell Partners is either unaware or unconcerned that government postings overseas are traditionally political plums. Whatever the case, the firm ignored scores of defeated Tory candidates and plucked Adrienne Clarkson, 42, from her job as co-host of the CBC’s top current affairs show, fifth estate, to be agent-general in Paris.

After 17 years at the CBC, the ACTRA Award-winning journalist is returning to her adopted cultural homeland. Says Clarkson: “Instead of being a closet French-watcher, I can actually go there and do something.” Comfortably bilingual, she will represent Ontario’s trade and cultural interests. As well as proving to the French that “the eight million Canadians in Ontario are visible—we exist,” Clarkson, a two-time novelist, also hopes to write again.

Helping her will be companion John Saul, author Clarkson:

of the best-selling The -

Birds of Prey, who will be researching a new work set in North Africa. It’s a big change of life for a controversial personality who once said she would like to be “the first old woman regularly seen on television.” Laughs Clarkson: “I just assumed I’d eventually end up in the rhinestone glasses, blue-rinse set.”

When Josie Cotton, a 26-year-old Texas pop singer, asked the musical question Johnny Are You Queer? on her debut single last month, she wasn’t expecting the controversy that immediately followed. “Fundamentalists on the West Coast have protested against the record, and gay groups have counterprotested,” she says. “But in New York, it’s the gays who don’t like it and the fundamentalists who approve.” The hotly debated song is a lightweight rocker which originally enjoyed a cult following when performed by the allgirl punkette band the Go-Gos. But Cotton’s version, recorded on a small Los Angeles label, has exploded into the most requested tune in Los Angeles radio station KROQ’s history and will be released worldwide. Radio station managers who have taken special offence are ordering their disc jockeys to play a censored version of Johnny which, Cot-

ton says, “almost makes it worse.” Heiress to a Texas oil fortune, Cotton can enjoy the hoopla without worry. Nevertheless, she says her follow-up album will be “More statements and no more questions!”

Any disgruntled Canadian feminists in the audience had a chance to review their situation last week after they heard Gloria Steinern speak at Winnipeg’s University of Manitoba. “I could make you feel much better about where you live by telling you about where I live,” said the longtime editor of Ms. magazine. Saying she was “happy to be out of the legal jurisdiction of Ronald Reagan,” Steinern predicted that “more and more of us will want to be spending time here.” Steinern even went so far as to say she would trade Reagan for Pierre Trudeau, although, “Once, years ago, I interviewed him . . . and I found him very cold and difficult as a human being.” Still wearing her signature tinted glasses, her hair long and streaked with blonde, Steinern, 47, gave the standingroom-only crowd of 1,200 an updated report on the feminist movement she helped to mobilize 20 years ago. “In spite of Reagan and his opposition to legalized abortion and the Equal Rights

Amendment, we’ve come a fair way,” she said, citing examples of “new terms such as sexual harassment—10 years ago it was called life.” And at the movement’s very pinnacle, said Steinern, are those few women who “are becoming the men we wanted to marry.”

After three months of blissful employment at ABC-TV, veteran journalist David Brinkley, 61, is evening the score with his former employer, NBC. Describing his ex-bosses as “slow, stodgy and full,” Brinkley says he left after 38 years with the network because NBC “insisted that I do topical news events [on NBC Magazine], which was silly. Anything important would have been seen already on the evening news, which was on just shortly before us. So I said no. They insisted. I still said no. They insisted harder. ... I don’t like being told what to do.” The scheduling of his show also upset Brinkley. “They put us on opposite Dallas,” he says. “That was like lying down in front of a bulldozer.” Now anchoring This Week with David Brinkley and commentating on specials such as this week’s threehour biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Brinkley has nothing but nice things to report about his new network. “ABC is active, eager, aggressive, lively, energetic and creative,” he says, all in one breath. NBC executives are nonplussed. “At the 1980 convention, he

stood on the desk of our anchor booth and talked about how the NBC approach to the election coverage was the most innovative in years,” says Ron Najman, director of news information. “I’m glad that David is continuing his enthusiasm in his new job.”

Canadians make three big mistakes when they try to cook French cuisine, says French superchef Pierre Troisgros, 54. “They cook the food too long, they cook it too far ahead before serving, and they won’t cook it simply enough.” The culinary artist, who owns the Michelin guide’s three-star Hôtel des Frères Troisgros in Roanne, France, recently showed 40 food writers in Toronto how it should be done when he cooked up a gourmet meal of lamb and lobster, poached in Mumm’s champagne. The jovial Oliver Hardy lookalike, who weighs 242 lb. (“all muscle”) and bears a name that means “three big people happily fed,” does not think it is incongruous that he has made his reputation on non-fancy, lightly sauced nouvelle cuisine. “North Americans mistakenly regard it as a diet cuisine,” Troisgros says. “I’m not opposed to rich sauces—just to heavy sauces starchy with flour and other cheap thickenings.”

I have no idea how I came to sign such a bad letter,” sighed Secretary of State Gerald Regan’s aide, Michel Décary, last week after he realized that he had unwittingly dismissed the Riel Rebellion as an event of little Cana-

dian significance. In his capacity as Regan’s special assistant, Décary was replying to a request for funds from Calgarian Doug McRae to mark the 1985 centennial of Louis Riel’s doomed uprising. McRae leads Steele’s Scouts, a historical re-creation of the troop headed by the famed Mounted Police major, Sam Steele, and hopes to march his men from Calgary to Batoche, Sask., the scene of Riel’s final battle. He was so taken aback with Décary’s response (“The federal government has no program under which funding may be provided for anniversaries other than those of a truly national character”) that he took the letter to The Canadian Press. Décary was quick to apologize, on the phone and in writing, for not reading carefully enough the form letter he had signed. “When we formed the troop, people on the street thought we were Custer’s cavalry,” says McRae. “We thought we were just starting to be recognized”—obviously not by the secretary of state’s office, which has now shunted the request to another department.

If you want a Carradine, I’m the one who comes cheapest,” quips Robert Carradine, the seventh son of film great John and brother of stars David and Keith. But two films in the post-production stage and an acclaimed co-starring performance in the Canadian feature Heartaches have put Robert “beyond the point where being another Carradine is a disadvantage.” In fact, the Heartaches role of Stanley, an immature macho-type who cares more for his racing car than his belittled wife, seems to have been tailored for this particular member of the family.

Robert, the winner of a couple of American racing championships, will be driving his Corvette in Vancouver, Toronto and Trois-Rivières, Que., next summer on the Trans-Am circuit. “The feeling I get just before the race begins is exactly how I feel when the lights go down at a premiere,” he says.

Phil Edmonston, 37, has been wearing out the shock absorbers of the automobile industry since the late 1960s. “My mother-in-law got a ‘fiveo’clock surprise,’ ” he says, referring to the inflated bills some people receive after asking for an innocent oil change, “and I got into it.” Various carmakers have taken great exception to Edmonston’s criticisms. Nissan Motor Corp. sued him for $4 million when he called their first 240Z a kamikaze car. But Edmonston has never been sued successfully. At his Montreal-based Automobile Protection Association, Edmonston says: “We have 10 lawyers. I guess we need 10.” Synthesizing the 75,000 to 100,000 complaints and inquiries the APA gets every year, Edmonston writes

his annual best seller, Lemon-Aid, and the Canadian Used Car Guide. He also helps initiate class action lawsuits such as the “biodegradable Firenza” owners’ revenge upon General Motors. “I love the strategy, the tactics, the pleading in small-claims court. Next year I may write The Art of Complaining,” he says. The ins and outs of beating big business may be exciting, but Edmonston’s personal life can become a bore: “At parties, doctors and lawyers get me in a corner and say, ‘What do you think of my Volvo?’ When I tell them, they say, ‘What do you know?’ ”

BARBARA RIGHTON