People

People

TANYA DAVIES February 8 1999
People

People

TANYA DAVIES February 8 1999

People

TANYA DAVIES

Satire in St. John’s

As the unholy terror of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mary Walsh has hijacked the spotlight in a variety of guises, from battle-axe Marg Delahunty to beer-hall bozo Dakey Dunn. She has ridiculed Joe Clark and annoyed Jean Chrétien. Now, Walsh, 46, unleashes her satirical wit on the big screen in Extraordinary Visitor, a comedy from the Rock that sends up the media, millennial angst and the Roman Catholic Church. Written and directed by Newfoundland’s John Doyle, the film’s surreal premise has the Virgin Mary dispatching John the Baptist to St. John’s, Nfld., on the eve of the millennium. With Codeo veteran Andy Jones co-starring as her husband, Walsh plays a cable TV talk-show host who sees the prophet as her ticket to network stardom.

Walsh herself is not worked up about the millennium: “It’s like we made up this clock and now we’re frightened of it.” As for the Y2K bug, Walsh does not even use a computer, writing all her scripts by hand. But recently, she bought the computer version of Monopoly for her nine-year-old son, Jesse. “I found it really terrifying,” she says. “Money is taken out of your account and you can’t do anything to stop it.”

Walsh’s own game plan is busy. She is in The Divine Ryans, a film based on the novel by Newfoundlander Wayne Johnston. And beginning next month, she co-stars in the CBC TV series Dooley Gardens, a comedic soap opera about a St. John’s hockey rink. It has no prerecorded laugh track, says Walsh. “People have to do something for themselves, don’t you think?”

Trudeau’s viewpoint

As the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Trudeau Kemper, Alexandre (Sacha) Trudeau grew up surrounded by TV news crews and photographers—and now he is working in the media. Trudeau, 25, is one of seven bilingual video journalists involved with Culture Shock/Culture-Choc, a 13-part series which debuted last week on CBC Newsworld and Radio-Canada’s RDI. Each half-hour show examines the differences and similarities between life in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Trudeau had to shoot his own footage, and the McGill University philosophy graduate laughs when asked about his camera work. “I’m still learning,” he says.

His four segments are among the series’ more serious. Three deal with aboriginal issues and the fourth looks at Frenchimmersion programs in Calgary. The latter includes an archival news clip of his father

urging people to take advantage of Canada’s diversity. Trudeau says he hesitated about using it. “But I figured I might as well,” he says. "Why shouldn’t I deal with this subject like any other?” He interrupted his taping schedule when his brother Michel was killed in a B.C. avalanche last November. He declines to discuss the accident, and instead prefers to focus on his work, even a difficult topic like native street life in Winnipeg. “It’s hard doing a story on desperation and desolation,” says Trudeau. “You feel like a scavenger, looking for people at their worst.”

These days, Trudeau is writing a screenplay adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed. His ultimate challenge would be directing a feature film. Says Trudeau: “There is something old and ancient about taking an idea and turning it into a world.”