OPENING NOTES

Prince Edward creates an instant celebrity, Mary Collins wins behind closed doors, and George Bush runs down reporters

May 28 1990

OPENING NOTES

Prince Edward creates an instant celebrity, Mary Collins wins behind closed doors, and George Bush runs down reporters

May 28 1990

OPENING NOTES

Prince Edward creates an instant celebrity, Mary Collins wins behind closed doors, and George Bush runs down reporters

A WIN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Mary Collins had a hot potato dumped squarely in her lap when she received cabinet responsibility for the status of women in February—three days after budget cuts slashed $1.2 million in federal support from 74 women's centres across Canada. Initially, the associate minister of national defence maintained cabinet solidarity with Secretary of State Gerald Weiner, the minister responsible for overseeing such grants: the cuts were needed to help reduce the federal deficit. But Conservative officials say that Collins began lobbying for restored funding after she started visiting affected centres—and

became convinced that the cuts would eliminate such essential services as counselling for battered women in many small communities. That switch placed her at odds with Weiner, who continued to defend the reductions, party insiders say. After two months of battling alone in cabinet, Collins persuaded Deputy Prime Minister Donald Mazankowski and Justice Minister Kim Campbell to argue for restored funding before the powerful 10-member expenditure review committee chaired by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. And on May 4, Weiner was not in the House of Commons when Collins announced that the government had restored $1.2 million in 1990 funding to the women's centres. Weiner stayed away that day, according to one Tory official, because he felt as if he had been beaten up for the money.

Pulling the wool over Western eyes

As it contemplates a shift to a free-market economy, the Soviet Union is experimenting with Western business methods—and having mixed results. Indeed, the current issue of Business Contact, a glossy magazine published in seven languages by the U.S.S.R.

Chamber of Commerce, features an increasingly outdated sales technique: cheesecake. To that end, a headline on a knitwear advertisement reads: “How to set off beauty to the best advantage? Garments knitted of warm and soft yarn is one of the answers.” Accompanying that full-page ad for the Latvian-based Ogre Knitwear

Co. is a photograph of a smiling woman dressed only in strategically placed strands of colored yarn. As a result, Jennifer Ellis, a representative of Vancouver-based Media Watch, expressed her disappointment that Business Contact had copied what she

described as one of advertising's most unattractive features. Said Ellis: “It sounds pretty typical. That kind of thing comes part and parcel with capitalism.” Fortunately for Ogre Knitwear, MediaWatch’s mandate does not yet extend to Latvia.

FLAGGING DOWN A STATE CRISIS

Mikhail Gorbachev’s pending arrival sparked a crisis in Ottawa recently when federal public works officials discovered a shortage of a crucial item: Soviet flags. Said department spokesman Gerald Wharton: “We normally need 400 to 500 flags for a state visit and we had only 250 on hand.’’Eight employees at a Toronto firm have worked overtime to make an additional 150 flags—at a cost of $5,000. And with a May 24 delivery date—five days before the Soviet leader arrives— Wharton predicts that Ottawa will pass the flag test with flying colors.

A RIGHT ROYAL PRACTICAL JOKE

In 1987, Prince Edward convinced 48 celebrities, among them movie star Kevin Kline and former Canadian skiing champion Steve Podborski, to compete in Knockout, a televised event for charity that featured jousting and other medieval sports. Now, Brian Cooper of Toronto has told Maclean ’s that the prince’s powers of persuasion worked on him as well. When one of the starstudded teams needed another member, the prince convinced Toronto-based Hollis Com-

munications Inc.’s president to pose as “the dogsled champion of North America.” During his stay in the limelight, Cooper strove to avoid reporters who were seeking genuine celebrities but he appeared in pictures that ran in such publications as Newsweek, Time and People. Said Edward, in a personal letter to Cooper: “It was incredibly sporting of you and a successful practical joke. I am still laughing.” When royalty commands, dogsled champions are quick to respond.

Bad luck in an envelope

Paramount Pictures executive Dirk Van De Bunt maintains that he is not superstitious. Still, when he received a huge chain letter that is currently circulating among entertainment industry offices in Los Angeles, he, like hundreds of others, sent copies of the 50-page missive to five friends. Said Van De Bunt: I saw my boss's name on it and I figured, if he had passed it on, I would pass it on.'' Added Fox TV production president Harris Katleman: I would have chucked it out, but the letter came just as we were getting ready for the fall.'' No one cares to cross Lady Luck.

NOW PLAYING AT THE L0VED0ME

Some fans are suggesting a name change for Toronto's SkyDome— with Exhibition Stadium and the LoveDome among the favorites. The reason: during a May 15 game between the Jays and the Seattle Mariners, a man and a woman made love before the windows of a fourth-floor hotel room that opens directly on the playing field. SkyDome Hotel manager Ray Thompson said that he hoped to avert future incidents by posting notices in the 70 rooms that overlook the field. They will remind guests that "when you open the drapes, you become part of the stadium. You can see them; they can see you." But Thompson would not identity the amorous couple, saying that he "wanted to respect their privacy." It is a little late for that.

Samurai she-warriors

Twenty Canadian women left May 6 for a 35-day tour of Japan to promote the movie Heaven and Earth, a samurai epic that director Haruki Kadokawa partly filmed near Calgary last summer. The 17 blondes, two brunettes and one redhead were among 2,800 male and female extras who endured 32°C heat dressed as the armor-clad foot soldiers of feuding 16th-century Japanese warlords. Movie promoter Larry Weinberg candidly acknowledged that the women’s youth—and the fact that most are blonde—had determined their selection. Said Weinberg: “There is no such thing as a blond, female samurai. These 20 are a bit of a curio in Japan and are in demand by the media. When you are selecting a bunch of people to promote something, you pick those who are the most unusual.” The women will not receive any wages for helping to promote the film. Still, director Kadokawa expressed the hope that extras who played the part of sword-wielding samurai will experience a kinder, gentler Japan during their free trip to his homeland. Said Kadokawa: “I hope the ladies learn something of our traditional way of life—the tea ceremony and flower arranging.” Some Canadian women have come a long way: from the battlefield to flower arranging.

RUNNING DOWN THE MEDIA

Early each morning, about 20 members of the travelling press corps watch George Bush go jogging—usually in the company of two journalists who have accepted the President’s invitation to run with him. Initially, many

reporters strove to -

join the President, but that competition declined sharply when it became apparent that Bush nev-

er discussed matters of substance during those running chats. Indeed, no one volunteered in Columbia, S.C., recently when Bush asked for running mates—leading the President to deliver an impromptu lecture on

physical fitness. Said Bush: “A fit America ÿj should not include I reporters who slovta erüy sit back in the 1 grandstands while g some of us are out % running.” In response, reporters who frequently log 16-hour days cover-

ing Bush’s activities say that playing with the President is not part of their job.