Opening NOTES

D’ARCY JENISH,BARBARA RIGHTON April 19 1999

Opening NOTES

D’ARCY JENISH,BARBARA RIGHTON April 19 1999

Opening NOTES

D’ARCY JENISH

Who busted the Quebec singer?

The billboard, aimed at Montreal commuters crossing a bridge into downtown, caused traffic to slow down and, reportedly, a couple of fender-benders. And no wonder. “Look me straight in the eyes,” was the blunt message blazed down one side of the eight-metre-by-14-m advertisement And next to it was the arresting image of Québécois pop singer Marie-Chantal Toupin in a skimpy, skin-tight camisole that drew attention to her ample bosom. The billboard went up on March 26 to promote Toupin’s debut album, Après tout (After All), however, a week later someone had removed it. No arrests have been made, but officials with the billboard company Pattison Québec Inc. said a man called to claim responsibility and warn that he would torch the ad if it went up again. The singer is distressed by the vandalism. “They’ve stolen my right to freedom of expression,” says the 27-year-old Toupin. “I want to express myself the way I feel like it.” In any event, the incident has raised Toupin’s profile considerably. Her album has already produced two hit singles and the ad’s wording

was intended to promote a third song, Droit dans les yeux (Right in the Eyes). If nothing else, it has led to a huge increase in traffic at the Internet Web site operated by Toupin’s record company, Tacca Musique. The site recorded one million hits in the 10 days following the billboard vandalism, compared with the usual 8,000, says Tacca publicist Claude Guillet. “For sure,” she adds, “the fact that MarieChantal’s name is on everyone’s lips, this is a success.”

CAPITAL CONFIDENTIAL

It was supposed to be a simple dinner date at Edmonton’s trendy River City Grill, but things went sour before the appointed day arrived. Last November, oil company general manager Sean Freeland plunked down $800 at a charity auction for the privilege of a meal and drinks with federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan. He could also invite two guests and, initially, says Freeland, 28, he planned to bring his grandparents, who live in Peace River, 485 km northwest of Edmonton. But shortly before the March 30 dinner date, they decided the journey would be too taxing.

That’s when he decided to take along two very different companions: Link Byfield, editor of the conservative newsmagazine Western Report, and Dave Tomlinson, president of the National Firearms Association, which strongly opposes Canada’s new gun-control laws.

McLellan, who has previously participated in such fund-raising dinners, quickly cancelled. She told Maclean’s that it was

“simply inappropriate” to turn “a charitable and social event” into an interview or consultation with a lobby group. She receives hundreds of requests for meetings, she says, and in the interest of fairness, organizations like the firearms association and media outlets must go through her staff, like everyone else. McLellan did offer to meet with Tomlinson after the dinner debacle. But Tomlinson says her insistence on a one-hour time limit made the gesture meaningless. He needs at & least four hours, he says, to I do the issue any justice.

I Freeland says the whole ° incident caught him “completely off guard.” An ardent hunter and gun collector, he says he only asked Tomlinson to go along as a way of helping him make his arguments in favour of changing the gun law. Although Freeland has been offered a refund, he says he doesn’t care about the money. What he really wants is for the minister to stick to the deal. “Let’s get some dialogue going,” he says. “This is what the Liberals are all about, I thought.”

EMPORIUM

For many Canadians, spring is gardening season. While tastes may vary by region and climatic zone, horticultural experts say the best-selling annuals and perennials include:

Annuals

Impatiens

Petunias

Geraniums

Pansies

Marigolds

Begonias

Lobelias

Portulacas

Alyssums

Snapdragons

Perennials

Hostas Daylilies Peonies Shasta daisies Asiatic lilies Coral bells Bleeding hearts Delphiniums Black-eyed Susans Irises

GOLDFARB POLL

When 1,400 Canadians were asked how they were coping with computer technology, nearly two-thirds said they get by reasonably well. Not surprisingly, the young do better than their elders. The numbers:

Total Under Canada 25 25-3435-44 45-54 55-64 65+ Relatively 36 21 21 25 41 50 72 Relatively 64 79 79 75 59 50 28

Opening

PVOTES^

DOUBLE TAKE

Megan Follows

For many of her admiring fans, actor Megan Follows remains frozen in time. She is the red-headed, frecklefaced, fiery-tempered Anne Shirley—Lucy Maud Montgomery’s EE.I. heroine—thanks to the phenomenally successful and frequently rerun TV adaptations, A nne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Avonlea: The Sequel (1987). Since her last appearance as a teenaged Anne, Follows has married, had two children and divorced. Now 31, she lives with actor Stuart Hughes and her two children, daughter Lyla, 7, and son Russell, 4, in a funky part of Hollywood called Silver Lake. “Anything goes here,” she says. “What keeps you grounded in LA is your friends and family situation. My kids are great for that.” While raising her family is her top priority, Follows has continued to pursue her acting career. In 1992, she starred in a Stratford stage production of Romeo and Juliet, and, in 1996, she appeared in the acclaimed CBC drama Under the Piano. She has just finished filming

a takeoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Montreal with her mother, actress Dawn Greenhalgh, for Fox Family Channel. The good news for fans: Follows will play Anne Shirley in a third mini-series, again produced by Toronto-based Sullivan Entertainment and scheduled to air on CBC later this year. “The storyline is completely made up,” Follows says. “There has been a timeline change so that Anne is dealing with events around the First World War. Of course, the real Anne would have been in her 50s by then.” If it seems that she can’t escape this character—and may indeed play her into her own 50s—Follows isn’t complaining: “Really, playing Anne is a gift. It is a fabulous role.”

BARBARA RIGHTON