Singer Véronique Béliveau was the only FrenchCanadian who performed last week in an all-Canadian music video for AIDS research funding and AIDSrelated projects. Said Béliveau, 36: "At one point, the organizers said, 'Oh my God, we don't have a line in French.' " But, she added diplomatically, "I don't think it was an intentional omission." The bilingual singer, who has been criticized by some Frenchspeaking Quebecers for singing in English, declared: § "I hope these people will understand that you just | want people to hear your music." £
Richard Gere, the star of Pretty Woman, has melted the hearts of a generation of women. But there is more to the 41-yearold actor than meets the eye. Gere visited Toronto recently to attend a photography exhibit that he organized to raise money for the Dalai Lama and Tibet. The exhibition, which will also visit New York City, Tokyo and Paris, features works by Annie Leibovitz and Helmut Newton. A Buddhist, Gere said that he tries to balance acting with philanthropic work. “As soon as you can concentrate on other people’s problems,’’ he said, “yours don’t seem so bad.”
CHOPPING TO THE TOP
Karate champion Jean-Claude Van Damme is a hot new sensation with martial-arts movie fans. Indeed, they say that he may be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. Van Damme, 30, who karate-chopped his way through such hits as Kickboxer (1989) and Bloodsport (1988), is now starring in Lionheart. Like Schwarzenegger, Van Damme is a poor-boy-makes-good story. When he arrived in Hollywood from his native Belgium in 1984, he slept in his car until he could afford an apartment. Said Van Damme: “I came with my karate like Arnold came with his muscles. ” But New York Post critic Jami Bernard is reserving judgment. Said Bernard: “If he works less on his pecs, and more on his personality, I can see him doing fewer action-oriented roles. ”
Author Rick Hillis, a native of Saskatchewan, whose spare style critics have compared favorably to the working-man prose of Richard Ford and Raymond Carver, will publish his first story collection, Umbo River, next month. He supports himself by teaching creative writing at Stanford University in California—an occupation that he says "makes you lose your heroic ideas about what a writer should be." Still, Hillis, 34, is working on his first novel there. "I enjoy teaching, I get time to write," he said, "and it's 80° here."
Eating the words
Canadian fitness queen Charlene Prickett of Calgary, whose fitness tapes outsell Jane Fonda’s in Western Canada, is the host of the syndicated TV aerobics show It Figures. And she has just released her eighth fitness video, Step Right Up. Said Prickett, 44: “I have a reputation as a legitimate, intelligent person. I recommend nutritious food—no radical diets.” Still, she says that she may have lost one fan after one of her most embarrassing moments, when a viewer caught her in the act. Said Prickett: “In New York City, I stopped at a deli. I hadn’t had anything to eat and it was my birthday. So I saw these chocolate brownies and told the guy I wanted the nicest, prettiest brownie. I bought some skim milk to go with it. A man came over and said, ‘Well, you certainly don’t practise what you preach.’ Now, I’m not often undone, but I was speechless. I went back to my hotel and cried and cried.” But, added Prickett, “My husband reminded me: ‘You’ve never said not to eat brownies.’ ”
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