Coffee with Oliver North, drinks with Margaret Atwood and a toast to Toronto fashion

October 10 1988


Coffee with Oliver North, drinks with Margaret Atwood and a toast to Toronto fashion

October 10 1988


Coffee with Oliver North, drinks with Margaret Atwood and a toast to Toronto fashion


Members of Canada's literary set refer to it simply as "The Roof." For decades, the elegant, softly lit rooftop bar at the Park Plaza Hotel in midtown Toronto has served as a refuge, watering hole and meeting place for many of the country's finest writers. Last week, the gilt-trimmed room was the setting for a gala literary event: the launching of author Margaret Atwood's latest novel, Cat's Eye. In choosing the party's locale, Atwood was not just bowing to literary tradition. She had already selected it as the setting for two scenes in her novel, and its veteran bartenders served as models for two of her characters. Art and real life came face to face when Harold Kochberg poured the drinks at Atwood's star-studded launch. Kochberg revealed that 10 of his customers, including the prolific author Mordecai Richler, had given him copies of their works to read during his 38 years at the Park Plaza. But he acknowledged that he had never read any of Atwood's seven novels. When informed of that fact, Atwood quickly exclaimed, "Let's spring for Harold!" Moments later, she presented him with a

copy of Cat's Eye (retail value: $24.95). Inside, she had inscribed: "To Harold, who looks exactly the same." Now Kochberg will have to serve up both a drink and a book report for Atwood's next visit.


For only $18, residents of Amarillo, Tex., can celebrate Oliver North's 45th birthday this week. Event organizers estimated that 2,400 people would decide to attend the morning coffee session with North—and help defray the huge legal bills that he incurred during last year's congressional hearings on the Iran-contra affair. North's more dedicated fans are even buying $120 tickets entitling them to a private chat with a “true American hero. " Those sales alone should guarantee many happy returns for the former marine officer.

Keeping the home fires stoked

Ronald Reagan, a notorious homebody, has limited his overseas travel to the bare minimum during his presidency. For one thing, his aides must devote lengthy planning sessions to ensuring that Reagan will be well rested during such odysseys.

Last week, his official datebook made provision for only two foreign trips during his final months in office. Now those plans have been cut at least in half. Presidential aides had pencilled in a December trip to Oslo, in the belief that Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would be picking up the Nobel Peace Prize for their agreement to do away with intermediate-range nuclear missiles. But Oslo was erased from the schedule last week when the award went to the UN Peacekeeping Forces. And, for the moment, the second trip is still up in the air. Should the 87-

year-old Japanese Emperor Hirohito, who is extremely ill with cancer, die while Reagan is still in office, the President would attend the state funeral. Otherwise, Reagan will coast to the end of his term in all-American ease.

A message on the medium

Harrowsmith, the magazine that specializes in environmental issues, began using a biodegradable mailing wrapper last month. Since then, other magazines have been seeking information about the see-through pouches, which were developed by Mississauga, Ont.based St. Lawrence Starch Co. Ltd. and Campbell Film Ltd. of Orillia, Ont. The compound of polyethylene, cornstarch and vegetable oil will disintegrate in a compost heap within 40 days—compared with an estimated 400 years for ordinary plastic bags. Sometimes, a book can be judged by its cover.


It was the largest display of Canadian fashion ever launched in Britain. Last week, a cast of international models displayed 120 outfits by Canadian designers in a dazzling show entitled Canada Nouveau. But the gala event, which began a three-week promotion of Canadian fashion by the renowned Liberty department store, drew criticism from Quebec officials. They claimed that Toronto designers had occupied 10 of the 12 exhibition slots. Nicola Pelly, a partner in the internationally acclaimed Montreal firm Parachute, declared, "[Liberty buyers] seemed to have set their minds on Toronto." For Quebec designers, the pursuit of Liberty was a thoroughly frustrating experience.

Her crowning glory

Kitty Dukakis is so confident that her husband, Michael, will become the next occupant of the White House that she has already made one of the key decisions as a future First Lady: she has chosen her official hairdresser. Last July, Eivind Bjerke, a partner in a fashionable Washington salon, passed a gruelling initiation at the Democratic party convention in Atlanta. There, he created the nowfamiliar Kitty Dukakis hairdo—short and wavy—as well as sculpting coiffures for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Beryl Ann Bentsen, wife of vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen. Declared the Norwegian-born Bjerke: “Those people are in the limelight, and it is very exciting for me to touch them and make them look good.” Added Bjerke, whose salon prices range from $30 for a shampoo to $125 for a permanent: “Mrs. Dukakis’s hairstyle is very modern and it suits her face. I would consider it a high honor to keep doing her hair if she becomes First Lady.” For the moment, however, the hairdresser still has a number of prominent Republican customers, including Selwa (Lucky) Roosevelt, the chief of protocol for the state department. Like all survivors in Washington, Bjerke has learned the value of bipartisan roots.


A group of influential Vancouver businessmen are so irritated with Premier Bill Vander Zalm’s autocratic style that they are offering a $1million war chest to any credible challenger. In response, the B.C. premier has hired two new media advisers, hoping to improve his standing in the opinion polls. He recently hit an all-time low: an approval rating of 20 per cent, half the

ranking achieved by New Democratic Leader Michael Harcourt. Veteran BCTV newsman Eli Sopow has signed on as associate deputy minister of communications at $75,000 a year, while radio reporter Ian Jessop earns $52,000 as the premier’s press secretary. Jessop, formerly a newsman on Vancouver radio station CKNW, has been es5 pecially effective H in curbing Vander I Zalm’s so-called leglt; islation by lip. One of his first moves was to cancel a hotline show that the premier had hosted for his previous employer.


In a March, 1987, cost-cutting operation, the CTV network dismissed 30 employees, including such prominent personalities as Harvey Kirck, Helen Hutchinson and Wally Macht. Nineteen months later, Kirck is still bitter about the manner in which he was let go. Said Kirck: “I found out about it by reading the newspaper.” The former anchorman, who is recovering from a heart attack, has been preparing brief opinion pieces for CKO, the all-news radio network.

Macht, who formerly did the sports and weather on Canada AM, is now “content” doing daily newscasts for CBC affiliate CHEXTV in Peterborough, Ont. Of the three, Hutchinson is the only one who did not receive a settlement offer. The former host of W5, she is now the radio voice of the Consumer Association of Canada—and she is still contesting her dismissal. Clearly, life after CTV offers opportunities to develop new habits: like watching The National.