BARBARA WICKENS September 8 1997


BARBARA WICKENS September 8 1997



No rest for the wickedly funny

Since 7 a.m., he has been on his feet at the downtown Toronto set of It Seems like Yesterday, a historical retrospective show debut ing this fall on the new specialty History Channel. As the show's

host, Rick Mercer—best-known for his work on the hit CBC TV news satire This Hour Has 22 Minutes—has been trying to be his usual funny, informed self. But by mid-afternoon on a Friday in late August, the St. John’s, Nfld., native is getting a little punchy. While taping a bit about Wallis Simpson and the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII, the floor director tells Mercer to shift his weight onto his other foot. “My back foot?” he asks, squinting into the glare of the stage lights. “My back foot?

Jesus, they’re mistaking me for a goat!”

Considering his schedule, 27-year-old Mercer can be for-

given for feeling a wee bit tired. “This summer, I was just going to take some time off,” he says. But in June, he was busy covering the federal election for the Microsoft Network, and then landed a part in Toronto to guest star in the hit kids’ show Dudley the Dragon. Last week, taping started in Halifax for the fifth season of 22 Minutes, which resumes on Sept. 22. In between, he was in Toronto to host the first 12 episodes of It Seems like Yesterday, and he will be back again in October to tape a further 40 episodes.

Flip, funny and already one of the most recognizable young faces on Canadian television, Mercer is also rapidly becoming a sought-after voice on political affairs, having written pieces for

both Maclean ’s and Time magazine. Still, he adamantly refuses to be labelled a journalist—although he does confess to being

a “news junkie.” As a child, Mercer recalls, “my grades were so bad I wasn’t allowed to watch much television. But my parents always watched the news, so that was my TV entertainment.”

Now, Mercer is clearly looking forward to satirizing the new

Parliament, with its five party leaders. “I think this Parliament will be bad for Canada,” he says, “and good for 22 Minutes.”

A paddle made of gold

Caroline kayaking—that Brunet got spent little a notice decade in Canada. toiling in But a sport— the 28year-old from Lac Beauport, Que., has single-handedly made Canadians pay attention in the past 12 months. On the final day of the Atlanta Olympics last summer, in the sweltering heat on Lake Lanier, Brunet captured Canada’s final medal, a silver, in the K-l 500 event. Then last week, at the World Canoe and Kayak

Rolling from T.O. to Babylon

Three summers ago, The Rolling Stones

sneaked into Canada and quietly set up shop in a North Toronto private boys’ school to prepare for a world tour. This time, when the legendary rock band returned to rehearse for its latest tour, there was no such secrecy: TV crews camped out at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to film the group’s arrival, and fans were waiting eagerly for their heroes when they showed up for the first day of rehearsals at a downtown concert hall. Cynics might suggest that rock’s senior citizens were looking to generate some advance publicity for their upcoming Bridges to Babylon album and tour, which stops in six Canadian cities, beginning with Winnipeg on Sept. 30. But according to Susan Rosenberg, marketing director for Toronto-based Step Entertainment, a firm affiliated with longtime Stones associate Michael Cohl, the more open approach simply reflects how the Stones feel about Toronto. “They’re very comfortable with the city now,” says Rosen-

berg. “Plus, Michael is here, so they can do all their business at the same time." Rosenberg had no details about any possible surprise club appearances (in 1994, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts performed a last-minute show at a downtown bar). Then again, the Stones have never exactly been predictable.

Championships on Lake Banook, near Dartmouth, N.S., she swept all three women’s singles gold medals. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been in the position to say I’m the best in the world,” said an exhausted but elated Brunet after winning at 200, 500 and 1,000 metres. “It was nice to do it in front of my fam-

ily and friends, and I couldn’t be happier.” Even with that, she ranks Atlanta as her best performance. “Winning an Olympic medal,” she said, “is still my favorite memory.”