WORD FOR WORD

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS September 11 1995
WORD FOR WORD

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS September 11 1995

OPENING NOTES

Up, up and away with advertising

FOX TV’s popular Simpson family is taking off, and not just in the ratings. Since June, giantsized cartoon figures of Homer, Marge and their three bratty children, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, have appeared on the exterior of a Western Pacific Airlines jumbo jet, one of the carrier’s eight such “flying billboards.” Mobile advertisements are not new, of course: companies have long painted their messages on buses and trucks and, more rarely, on airplanes. But now, one airline is taking the trend to new heights. When Ed Beauvais, head of the Colorado Springs-based Western Pacific, launched the regional airline last spring, he decided to carry ads on the

company’s entire fleet of 737-300s. So far, a hotel, a college and a resort town have put their messages on the Western Pacific planes. But the FOX TV ad—with Marge’s blue bouffant hairdo stretching up the tail—has attracted the most attention. “It’s been wild,” says company spokeswoman Sharon Kent Freeman. “We get queries from China, Australia, places we never fly to. People call and want to book a flight on the Simpsons’ airplane.” And what about passengers who are not Simpsons’ fans? Well, as Bart might say, “Don’t have a cow, man!" There is always Tokyo-based Japan Airlines’ Mickey Mouse plane.

A festival of barbed remarks

They are both titans of the film industry— and neither has been known to shy away from a good public brawl. So there was much anticipation in Montreal last week when the organizers of the city’s 19th annual film festival persuaded Robert Lantos,

Canada’s premier moviemaker, and Jack Valenti, president of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Association of America, to sit on the same panel.

`l'hey were supposed to Movlegoe talk about the informa tion highway. Instead, they traded barbed quips about Canada's attempt to stem the tidal wave of American movies that threatens to inundate the industry around the world. "When your policy is to bully your neighbor, don't be surprised if he takes steps to protect himself," Lantos remarked. He was referring to Canadi an-content rules on television and ra dio, as well as Canada's continuing ef forts to ensure that cultural products remain outside the purview of interna tional arrangements like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Lantos, chairman and chief executive officer of Toronto-based Alliance Corn-

munications, also accused Valenti of leading “Hollywood’s obsessive drive for market share,” which is designed to put everyone else out of business. “When international programming achieves a 30to 40-per-cent share of the U.S. market, instead of the current two per cent,” said Lantos, “the raison d’être of quotas elsewhere will cease to exist.”

Valenti, however, refused to concede the need for protective legislation. In his view, a resolution of the problem is simple. “We’re all in the storytelling business,” said Valenti. “If you tell the kind of stories that people want to see, you’ll do well.”

Off the beaten track

In the age of supersonic jets, some travellers still prefer the more leisurely pace of the train—especially when they can set their own route. For the first time, the eight-year-old American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners is holding its annual convention in Canada. Starting this week, 38 private railcars will explore some of the most scenic rail lines in Western Canada, including stretches usually reserved for freight trains. Two trains, one originating in Chicago with 15 of the cars and the other in Los Angeles with the remaining 23, will meet at Nelson, B.C., before moving on to Cranbrook, B.C., to visit the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. The railroaders then travel to Lake Louise, Alta., for a banquet, before doubling back to Vancouver.

During their week-long journey, they will get a rare glimpse of Canada: parts of their route haven’t seen a passenger train since the 1960s. Even the section of the CP Rail main line they will travel from Lake Louise to Vancouver has not had regular passenger train service since 1991. (Since then, Via passenger trains have taken the northern route through

the mountains, via Edmonton and Jasper.) Clark Johnson, a computer consultant from Minneapolis who organized the convention, declined to reveal how much the association paid CP Rail for the right to travel on its tracks. Still, Johnson, who owns an old CN railcar that he refurbished in the early 1980s, says that CP Rail management was helpful, especially when it came to arranging transit through the congested Rogers Pass. The golden age of rail travel lives on—at least for those who can pay the freight.

In any language, a case of ‘abuse’

WORD FOR WORD

What started out as a routine child custody case in Amarillo, Tex., has angered Hispanic leaders in the United States and sparked a debate over bilingual child-rearing. Earlier this summer, State District Judge Samuel Kiser told Marta

Laureano and daughter: ‘housemaid’

Laureano, 29, a bilingual Mexican-American, that she was “abusing” her five-year-old daughter by speaking Spanish to her, and he ordered Laureano to speak only English at home. The judge issued his ruling after Timothy Garcia, who was seeking unsupervised visitation rights with his daughter, complained that she was not proficient in English. In court, Kiser told Laureano that she was relegating her daughter “to the position of housemaid.” After a public outcry, Kiser backed down—a little. He apologized to housekeepers everywhere, “since we entrust our personal possessions and our family’s welfare to these hardworking people.” But otherwise, Kiser stood by his statements. Excerpts from his comments:

“If she starts first grade with the other children and cannot even speak the language that the teachers and others speak, and she’s a full-blooded American citizen, you’re abusing that child and you’re relegating her to the position of housemaid. Now, get this straight: you start speaking sj English to that child, because if she doesn’t do s good in school, then I can remove her because

0 it’s not in her best interest to be ignorant.

g “You are real big about talking about what’s

1 best for your daughter, but you won't even teach a z five-year-old child how to speak English. And I then you expect her to go off to school and edu-

0 cate herself and be able to learn how to make a

1 living. Now, that is bordering on abuse.”

Asking the penny-pincher to stick around

Since Confederation, the finance portfolio has proven a graveyard for many a promising politician. It is difficult to be popular while pinching pennies and raising taxes. Jean Chrétien, who was federal finance minister from 1977 to 1979, is an exception. Another is John Pollard, the finance minister for the Northwest Territories for the past four years. Pollard, who was first elected in 1987, has announced that he will not run again in the next territorial election, scheduled for Oct. 16. But when business leaders in his Hay River riding, on the southern shore of Great Slave Lake, heard of his plans, they circulated a petition asking him to reconsider. Although he raised business taxes and instituted a payroll tax as finance

minister, they quickly gathered 800 signatures in the 6,000-person community. “Hay River needs him and his experience,” says Jane Groenewegen, an area developer who led the petition organizing committee. “And judging by the number of people who signed the letter, there was a general consensus on that.” So far, however, Pollard has not been persuaded to run again. After two terms in the N.W.T. legislature, plus a previous two-year tenure as the mayor of Hay River, Pollard, 52, says he wants to spend more time with his wife, Ellen, and their two school-age children. Finance ministers, like nice guys, don’t always finish last.

BARBARA WICKENS