OPENING NOTES

Václav Havel’s power breaks, Mordecai Richler remembers Pia Zadora, and John Turner aims high

February 26 1990

OPENING NOTES

Václav Havel’s power breaks, Mordecai Richler remembers Pia Zadora, and John Turner aims high

February 26 1990

OPENING NOTES

Václav Havel’s power breaks, Mordecai Richler remembers Pia Zadora, and John Turner aims high

A CERTAIN KIND OF FAME

Critics have regularly savaged Pia Zadora's work as an actress, singer and dancer, but the petite blonde is now achieving literary fame of sorts by inspiring references in recent novels by prominent writers. In Thomas Pynchon's Vineland, a TV viewer watches her in a (fictional) movie, The Clara Bow Story. And in lengthier passages, Mordecai Richter's Solomon Gursky Was Here and Jay Mclnerne/s Story of My Life make use of a tale about Zadora's stage appearance in the title role of The Diary of Anne Frank. Zadora's work in that play was purportedly so wretched that, as stage Nazis searched Anne's home, one member of the audience shouted out, "She's in the attic." Richler and Mdnerney acknowledge hearing that story about Zadora, but neither man was aware that the other writer had seized on that particular anecdote. As for Zadora, she maintains that the story is false, as she has never portrayed Anne Frank onstage. In fiction, certainly, facts should not stand in the way of a good story.

Accounting for Hollywood’s magic

Art Buchwald recently convinced a California court that Paramount Pictures stole his idea for Coming to America, a 1988 movie starring Eddie Murphy that has generated about $420 million in gross revenues. But the U.S. humorist’s original contract with Paramount calls for 19 per cent of the film’s net profits, and Buchwald has encountered Hollywood’s bottom line: the film did not report any net profits because costs—ranging from Murphy’s $26.5-million share of the profits to a $283.80 breakfast bill for members of the star’s entourage—were charged against Coming to Americds gross revenues. Said Paramount lawyer Robert Draper: “Nineteen per cent of zero continues to be zero.” Still, Buchwald is proceed-

ing with one of the most daunting tasks of his quest for net profits: a court-authorized scrutiny of the studio’s ledgers.

SOUVENIRS OF A WAR ZONE

The U.S. army is going to great lengths to commemorate its most recent engagement: last December’s invasion of Panama. To that end, the army recently ordered 44,500 Combat Infantryman Badges to supplement the 11,400 decorations it already has in store—even though only 2,500 soldiers came under fire during the first four days after the invasion. Said army spokesman Joseph Padilla: “Soldiers

can get badges for extra uniforms and for wives, mothers, what have you.” The face of courage has many badges.

Taking a break for laughter

Václav Havel has found a way of reducing the pressure on the non-Communist members of Czechoslovakia’s new coalition government. When the country’s problems appear to be overwhelming, the Czechoslovakian president sometimes halts policy discussions and reminds new cabinet ministers and officials of them swift and near-surreal passage from jail, police harassment or menial jobs under Communist rule. Then, say his colleagues, he asks them to “take one minute out for laughter. ” Still, the problems persist, and one official has noted that the so-called laughter breaks have now shnmk to 30 seconds each.

CARS AND CLOTHES HELP MAKE THE MAN Life after Ottawa

Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbieris presence at a NATO-Warsaw Pact conference in Ottawa last week underscored the profound political—and personal— changes that have occurred in Eastern Europe. But when federal officials who wanted to present him with a $400 parka asked for his coat size, they drew a blank. Said Dienstbier: "It has been so long since I had a new coat that I have forgotten my size." Antonello Marescalchi can vouch for the benefits of a good appearance. The well-dressed Italian TV journalist gained speedy access to a hotel housing many of the delegates by cruising past a low-level security check in a $60-per-hour Cadillac stretch limousine—like those rented for Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.

John Turner will resume practising law next month, joining Miller Thomson, a 60lawyer Toronto firm—sever-

WOMEN WITH SOMETHING EXTRA

Britain’s glossy Harpers & Queen magazine has compiled a list of the 20 richest women in the world—with Queen Elizabeth II in first place with a fortune of $10.8 billion. Reporter Michael Maconochie said that he made extensive checks with contacts in finance and banking before ranking 20 women who control approximately $30 billion in assets. Maconochie stressed that in awarding top spot to the Queen, he had excluded such state-owned treasures as the crown jewels. Still, Her Majesty’s personal property in-

cludes vast estates, such as the 50,000 acres of land around Balmoral Castle, and stocks worth $4.9 billion. Others named include Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (in second place with $5.7 billion) and Johanna Quandt, the majority owner of Germany’s BMW firm. But Maconochie had to adjust his rankings when revolutionary forces in Romania executed Nicolae and Elena Ceauçescu last December: the wife of the overthrown dictator had occupied 14th place on the list.

No women on parade

With one exception—submarine duty—women can serve in any Canadian Armed Forces’ combat unit. Despite that newly won right, however, the Governor General’s Foot Guards of Ottawa last month barred 11 women members from taking part in a ceremony installing Ray Hnatyshyn as the militia regiment’s colonel. The reason, according to Maj. Richard Caverly, the unit’s second-in-command: only soldiers who are infantrymen now are eligible to march in a guard of honor, and the women have all served in clerical or administrative roles. But Marlene Catterall, the Ottawa West Liberal MP who has championed the female soldiers’ cause, rejected that argument. Said Catterall: "He could have broken with tradition—it was totally within his discretion—but he chose not to.” An all-male guard of honor may soon be an outdated military formation.

al months after friends in the private sector started trying to place Turner with a bigger firm. Some Toronto lawyers say that the former opposition leader’s initial monetary requests prolonged that job search: before reaching an undisclosed agreement with Miller Thomson, Turner had sought a salary and expenses package of up to $500,000 per year.