THE BACK PAGES

NEWSMAKERS

March 27 2006
THE BACK PAGES

NEWSMAKERS

March 27 2006

NEWSMAKERS

THE BACK PAGES

‘IT’S CERTAINLY NOT GLITTER 2. IT’S AN INDIE FP IMAGINE.’—TORONTO DIRECTOR AARON WOODLEÏ

1. THE LOTHARIO OF LAHORE

The Islamabad house arrest of IMRAN KHAN, the playboy cricketer-cum-political-maverick, has backfired. He was detained in advance of a planned protest against visiting U.S. President George Bush, but the move by Pakistan’s leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has given some legitimacy to the tiny opposition party Khan founded. Though his international club-hopping days are behind him, the Pakistani Gretzky was once also the Lothario of Lahore, linked to supermodels, actresses, and illegitimate children. (His ex-wife, British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, is currently dating Hugh Grant.) As an MP, Khan has also shed his jeans and Nikes, aligning his party with Islamic fundamentalists against Musharraf’s rule. Unfazed by his arrest, he recendy stated, “the worst democracy is better than dictatorship.” But as captain of the

country’s first World Cup titlewinning team in 1992, he was routinely criticized as “authoritarian” by teammates and the Pakistani media. Seems like he’s had an extreme makeover, subcontinent-style.

2. IT DEPENDS ON WHO GETS SHAFTED

ISAAC HAYES was so incensed by the recent episode of South Park mocking Scientology that the soul singer (best known for the Shaft theme song) quit the series last week. “There is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” said Hayes, 63, who has voiced South Park’s school cook/ladies’ man for nine years. Matt Stone, the comedy’s co-creater, accuses Hayes, an outspoken follower of Scientology, of being two-faced: “He has no problem—and he’s cashed plenty of cheques—with our show making fun of Christians.”

3. A REAL DOWNHOME DIVA

“It’s certainly not Glitter 2,” laughs Toronto-born film director AARON WOODLEY, of his upcoming project Tennessee, starring MARIAH CAREY. “It’s an honest, gritty, heartfelt tear-jerker of a drama.” So why on earth did Woodley—who just celebrated the release of his latest film, Rhinoceros Eyes—pick Carey? “I didn’t see much in Glitter, but in WiseGirls she played a waitress who is very similar to her character in my film—a waitress who dreams of being a country singer,” says the 35-year-old nephew of Canadian film legend David Cronenberg. “I think there’s a ton of acting talent there.” And he’s confident that Carey will not play her diva-esque self. “This is an indie film and the most unglamorous shoot you can imagine,” says Woodley, who along with producer Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball) will begin shooting in

New Mexico and Tennessee this spring. “She says she can’t wait.”

4. A LITTLE REDCARPET PUBLICITY

Montreal fashion designer MARISA MINICUCCI has never been one for Hollywood hype. For more than 25 years she’s tailored men’s fine suits and styled the likes of Aline Chrétien and Mila Mulroney. “Not show business people,” she says. But that all changed when Brokeback Mountain co-screenwriter Diana Ossana asked Minicucci, 43, to make her Golden Globe and Oscar gowns. In a matter of weeks, she created three from imported Italian satins (one iceblue and white for the Globes, and two to choose from for the Oscars: red and turquoise). Since the night of the Academy Awards, Minicucci, whose label M Siamo sells at 70 retailers in North America, has been busy fielding requests from many new and loyal

\ND THE MOST UNGLAMOROUS SHOOT YOU CAN )N HIS UPCOMING FILM STARRING MARIAH CAREY

customers—including Ossana, who’s gushed to many celebrity colleagues about the designer. Hollywood could see more Minicucci, yet. “It was a high, and now I’m back down to earth,” she says. “But not for long.”

5. EVEN BETTER THAN SEX?

Disheartened by his homeland’s growing disinterest in good eats, JAMIE OLIVER, the Naked Chef, packed up and headed to Italy. “Food is not just about eating in Italy—it’s about the therapy of cooking and sitting around talking about the day with family,” says Oliver, 30, who only eats out at a restaurant once every few weeks. “In England you’re lucky if you get half an hour for lunch—and it’s usually just a shitty sandwich.” The highlights of his culinary trek is Jamie’s Great Italian Escape, a six-part series premiering on the Food Network on April 3. “Italian food is un-

pretentious,” says Oliver, who says food ranks right up there with sex among Italian priorities. “Most of the genius dishes are sort of poor people’s cooking. It’s simple, but fantastic.”

6. KNIGHTHOOD FOR A PLUMBER

SHIGERU MIYAMOTO, the Japanese inventor of the iconic video game character Mario, the bouncy, mustachioed Italian plumber, was made a knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. It is the first year the honour is being extended to video game designers—a nod to a “new form of cultural creativity.” Miyamoto, 54, created Mario while working for Nintendo in 1981. His character first appeared in the groundbreaking game Donkey Kong and later in the Nintendo classic Super Mario Bros. Since his debut, more than 180 million Mario-related games have been sold worldwide.

7. DOOR OPEN FOR SOFTER LANDING

Washington lawyer CARLA MARTI N severely hurt the chances the prosecution had of getting the death penalty in the case against Zacarías Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty last year to capital murder terrorism charges connected to 9/11. Martin, a senior transportation security administration attorney, is accused of violating the judge’s orders by trying to shape the testimony of witnesses and allowing several to see transcripts of earlier trial sessions. Not only was Martin kicked off the case, but the judge determined that only witnesses and evidence about aviation security not tainted by Martin was admissible. The trial to determine if Moussaoui, who is the only person charged in connection with 9/11, should be sentenced to death or spend life in prison without parole, will resume this week.

8.1 SWEAR I KNOW THAT GUY

Of the seven fresh-faced MTV Canada hosts, DARYN JONES is the only one whom you might actually recognize. While the rest are almost total unknowns—including one who was discovered while working at a Toronto-based music shop—Jones is a former correspondent on the Rick Mercer Report. And at 28, the Gemini Award winner is also the oldest host on MTV Live, the new network’s daily current events and pop culture talk show, which premieres this week. But the Victoria-born stand-up comedian says that his role on the highlyinteractive show isn’t just comic relief. “If all we’re going for is a laugh, we’re failing,” says Jones. “Ideally, when you hang out with your friends, great discussion leads to great jokes, which leads to more discussion about things you don’t know anything about. That’s what we’re going for.” M