By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 2 Comments
He’s perfected the quad, is injury free, and has a new attitude. Next up: world domination
A furious Patrick Chan is hard to imagine. Downcast, maybe. Buffeted enough by a bad performance, or the vagaries of figure skating judging, to temporarily lose that wide grin. But the 20-year-old throwing a foot-stomping tantrum, complete with screams and curses, is a mental image about as difficult to reconcile as a fuzzy bunny with a machine gun. It simply doesn’t compute.
Still, the affable four-time Canadian figure skating champion (once as a junior, and for the past three years running, the senior men’s winner) swears it happened, out of public view, at the Vancouver Games, last Feb. 16. On the biggest stage of his career, in front of a hyped-up home crowd and an expectant nation, Chan had bombed in the short program. He bobbled the landing on his opening triple axel, stumbled during a step sequence—usually his bread-and-butter—and even received a penalty for finishing his routine after the music, a mistake he had never before made in competition. The score of 81.12 was good enough for seventh place, but a death blow to his Olympic medal hopes. So Chan smiled, waved, threw some kisses to the fans and cameras, then slipped behind the curtains and erupted. “My coaches had never seen me so mad,” he says. “I just said to myself, that’s not the way it was supposed to turn out.” Thirteen years of skating, building toward one ultimate dream, only to see it dashed in just under three minutes. You’d drop a couple of f-bombs, too.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, December 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 25 Comments
And he figures he’s got just 13 years left
A rhetorical question needs no answer, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. “Am I full of crap?” Mike Holmes barks from the stage, pausing just long enough to flash a teeth-baring smile. “No, I know I’m not.”
Even if they disagree, the teenagers before him—Aboriginal youth from across southwestern Ontario, brought together for a career fair at which the burly contractor is the keynote speaker—are unlikely to say it out loud. They’ve seen him on TV. He’s famous. Or at least recognizable enough that a bunch of 16-year-olds want to take his picture with their cellphones. At their age, Canada’s second most trusted man—trailing only David Suzuki in an April survey by Reader’s Digest—was a dropout, working full-time as a renovator, and living alone in a Toronto apartment where he wired the TV, stereo and all the lights to a panel attached to his armchair. Now he’s standing there, jabbing his finger in the air like Apollo Creed in Rocky, and pulling out every trick in the motivational bag to convince them to stay in school, and preferably pick up a skilled trade. There’s the scare: “If you quit, what the hell are you going to do? Work at McDonald’s?” Blandishment: “There’s so much opportunity. In 10 years, we’re going to be a million tradespeople short.” Even the potential for hookups: “I have met some of the hottest female electricians, welders and plumbers . . .”
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, November 15, 2010 at 12:20 PM - 4 Comments
The Victoria native went from dropout to teen idol
The first time Cory Monteith ever sang for a live audience was at the White House last Easter. The second occasion was later that same week on Oprah. By the time he and his cast mates from the Fox TV hit Glee completed a live tour with five sold-out performances at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in late May, it was becoming old hat.
Less so, the kind of teenybopper adulation that saw the 28-year-old Victoria native get chased down Fifth Avenue. Or the buzz-name status that convinces tabloid editors to turn a night out bowling in L.A. with a group including the singer Taylor Swift into cover stories about their “romance.” But that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re one of the stars of the hottest thing on television. A multi-platform commercial juggernaut that draws 12 million viewers a week, Glee has spawned more charting singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 than the Beatles, sold five million albums, 13 million digital downloads, and launched a clothing line at Macy’s. It’s a campy satire about a high school choir that has improbably convinced millions of teens worldwide that singing show tunes and classic rock ballads is cool. A show that is only six episodes into its second season and is already a certified cultural phenomenon.
By Michael Friscolanti - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 71 Comments
Murdering jihadist, victim of circumstance or model-citizen-in-the-making?
In exchange for another eight years in prison—and the chance to be a free man in Canada long before that—Omar Khadr consented to a long list of strict conditions. He cannot sue the U.S. government for damages, regardless of how many torture sessions he may (or may not) have endured inside the barbed-wire walls of Guantánamo Bay. He will never step foot on American soil for as long as he lives. And he is not allowed to profit one penny from public speaking tours or movie deals or anything else that would involve selling his saga to the highest bidder. Any such proceeds, the agreement says, will go straight “to the Government of Canada.”
Khadr has read a lot of books during his stint behind bars (from steamy Danielle Steele novels to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom), and his pen pals include an English professor at an Edmonton university. But when he signed his name to that seven-page plea deal on Oct. 13, he received a first-hand lesson in the meaning of irony: the same government that spent many years and millions of dollars fighting to keep him out of Canada now owns the exclusive rights to his life story.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The former sprinter looks to his past lives to explain his present one
Ben Johnson knows exactly when his troubles started. Not, as one might expect, on that day in Seoul in September 1988, when his “A” sample tested positive, setting off a chain reaction that saw him stripped of his 100-m Olympic gold, and transformed from World’s Fastest Man to global poster boy for cheating. Nor was it the time, seven years earlier, when his coach Charlie Francis first took his bone-rack 19-year-old protege aside to explain the concept of making a better living through chemistry. No, Johnson confides as he sits in the suburban Toronto office of his new spiritual adviser, his downfall began far earlier than that—7,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt, to be precise.
“I know I’ve always really, really loved the Egyptian monuments and drawings. I’m fascinated by them,” says the 48-year-old, but still buff, former sprinter. “So when he told me certain things, I said that makes sense.”
Sprawled on a leather couch, enormous, bare feet poking out from his dress pants, Bryan Farnum takes up the story. “My gift allows me to go within the matrix to other galaxies, other universes. We’re just part of this huge pathway of experiences. And the actual shape of the matrix, believe it or not, is the shape of the pyramids, and this is Ben’s connection.”
“Don’t say too much,” Johnson warns, and then laughs. “When you read the book, you’ll understand the link, and everything.”
By Charles Foran - Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 4:00 PM - 0 Comments
Biographer Charles Foran on finding notes and scenes for the novel Mordecai Richler did not live to finish
March 2001. He’d had a notion for an 11th novel as far back as fall 1999. Starting then, he had asked [his wife] Florence to help find and clip newspaper articles of an unusually dark hue.
“More body parts found in Toronto park” was a headline from Dec. 9, 1999, that interested him. The same was true for “Affair with youth led to axe killing,” from a February 2000 edition of the Daily Telegraph, which opened with the line: “A father beheaded his neighbour with an axe after she gave birth to his teenage son’s baby, Birmingham crown court was told yesterday.” On March 27 he was fascinated enough by a Times piece about a man who killed a transsexual married to his daughter, and then “tied the body in chains and padlocks and weighed it down with dumbbells before pushing it out to sea on an airbed at Covehithe, Suffolk” to add it to the file. Florence knew better than to ask his reasons, but she had noted his deepening fascination with plastic surgery in recent years. An old friend who had had a facelift had approached him at a hotel, and he hadn’t recognized her at first. Another time, greeting the wife of a prominent film agent—a woman straining to look half her age through successive cosmetic procedures—Florence observed him kissing the waxy cheeks with clinical attention. Her suspicions were confirmed when he asked if she would ever consider having work done. She said no, and when he added, questioningly, “Why alter yourself?” she was fairly certain that he was indeed “novelizing,” as he had told [his editor] Louise Dennys. But then On Snooker came along, costing him nearly a year.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, September 27, 2010 at 8:40 AM - 0 Comments
Can a smart, sharply dressed Canadian bring ultimate fighting into the mainstream?
The Most Dangerous Man on Earth (as voted by viewers of the testosterone-fuelled cable channel, Spike TV) pushes aside his plate and issues a challenge. “Go ahead, ask me a question about paleontology from the Triassic period, leading up to the end of the Cretaceous period,” says Georges St. Pierre. “I’m very, very good at this.”
To say that this is unexpected is something of an understatement. From the scars that part his stubbly hair, to his cauliflowered ears, to his well-muscled arms, everything about this 29-year-old Montrealer bespeaks his profession: beating people up. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion (20 wins-2 losses-0 draws) is rated, pound-for-pound, perhaps the best mixed-martial-arts fighter in the world.
Just minutes before, while polishing off a breakfast of three over-easy eggs, hash browns, sausages, a basket of whole wheat toast, a large bowl of fruit and yogourt, two orange juices and a café au lait in a trendy Manhattan bistro, he has calmly related the worst injury he has ever inflicted inside the steel-caged octagon: twisting back an opponent’s arm until he ripped the rotator cuff. “He didn’t want to tap out,” St. Pierre says, invoking fight jargon for crying uncle. “So I broke it. I couldn’t take the chance to let him go and do it to me.” Now, we’re talking dinosaurs.
By Nancy Macdonald - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
The grandson of Mao Zedong is rising through the military ranks. So why can’t he get any respect?
He’s a part-time blogger and a military historian. He was also born into China’s most vaunted political bloodline: the only grandson of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic and enduring icon to millions in China. And now, after almost 12 months of speculation, Mao Xinyu, the Great Helmsman’s beefy, 40-year-old heir has been made the People’s Liberation Army’s youngest major general.
When rumours of his promotion began circulating last September, officials refused to confirm them, apparently to avoid the scent of nepotism. But once the author of Grandpa Mao Zedong started turning up at events with a major general’s single star sewn to his red and gold epaulettes—as he did during a visit to the province of Sichuan last week—it became impossible to keep it under wraps.
By Kate Fillion - Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Andrew Morton, author of a new Angelina Jolie book, is just trying to help her
Angelina Jolie would seem to be a biographer’s nightmare. What else could there possibly be to say about the actress who has, in the tabloid press, played man-eating Veronica to Jennifer Aniston’s jilted Betty for the better part of a decade? To make matters even more daunting for an author looking to tell all, Jolie, apparently, already has.
Over the years, she’s regaled reporters with tales of her drug use, love of knives, sexual exploits with men and women—and even the story of how, feeling suicidal, she hired a hit man who subsequently backed out, counselling her to wait a month or two and see if she still required his services.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, August 9, 2010 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
This time it’s Beyond Blunderdome
A decade ago, Mel Gibson was a chauvinist pig. The type of man who used and abused women, caring little for their thoughts, feelings or affections. Then, he accidently dropped a hair dryer in a bathtub and instead of meeting a shocking end, was magically transformed, imbued with the power to read the female mind. “Finally . . . a man who’s listening,” went the slightly witty tag line from the 2000 film What Women Want. Gibson’s character, Nick Marshall, followed a predictable arc, at first using his great gift for advantage in affairs of the heart and business. But by the romantic comedy’s end, he had learned valuable lessons about respect and love, fairly swooning when co-star Helen Hunt agreed to save him from himself.
Released just before Christmas, when audiences are often in a giving mood, the fluffy fantasy went on to gross US$183 million in the United States, and a further $191 million worldwide. It still ranks as the number two all-time earner in the date-movie genre, trailing only My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And until recently at least, you could often find it playing late at night on cable’s upper tier—an artifact of an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and Mel Gibson was Hollywood’s most bankable star.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
He’s selling electric cars and space shots while battling his ex and the press
Elon Musk is used to making headlines. In fact, he seems to relish them. In late May, the 39-year-old Silicon Valley entrepreneur stood alongside Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Toyota Motors CEO Akio Toyoda and inked a deal to purchase a mothballed California auto plant for Tesla, his electric sports car company.
Two weeks later, he was in Florida, watching a Falcon 9 rocket, made by another one of his firms, SpaceX, blast off on its maiden voyage to orbit, and a potentially lucrative future hauling freight and astronauts to the International Space Station. On June 29, he and his 24-year-old fiancée, British actress Talulah Riley, toothily rang the bell to open trading on the New York Stock Exchange, as Tesla became the first automobile maker to go public in the U.S. since Ford in 1956.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
What’s really going on under all that hair (plus PHOTOS)
The sign on the door says “Mozart,” but it’s a safe bet that Wolfgang Amadeus never had a dressing room equipped with leather recliners, a super-sized flat-screen TV and an Xbox console. Nor, presumably, did his tour rider call for loaves of Wonder Bread, Cool Ranch Doritos, Fruit Roll-Ups and candy Swedish Fish.
Still, something is missing. Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette, looks at the choice of Pop Tarts—strawberry and apple strudel—and clucks, “Where are the grape ones?” before scurrying off down the hall. The day has enough complications already. Pop’s reigning prodigy is suffering greatly from Denver’s thin mountain air. Dizzy with a splitting headache, the Stratford, Ont., teen has been snarling at anyone brave enough to enter his darkened tour bus, pull back the Spider-Man bedsheets, and try to wake him for a scheduled 2:30 p.m. interview.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Friday, July 2, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 2 Comments
Accusations of cheating are louder than ever as Lance Armstrong gets on his bike
Lance Armstrong’s Twitter feed has more than 2.5 million followers. Among them, apparently, the many men charged with making him pee into a cup. Last week, the world’s most famous cyclist and his RadioShack teammates went on a reconnaissance mission to check out the mountain stages for this year’s Tour de France. “Headed to the Pyrenees now,” he posted from his phone, just before lunchtime.
Three hours later, when their convoy pulled up at the hotel, representatives from both the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) were waiting, testing kits in hand. The seven-time Tour champion allowed himself a not-uncommon moment of snarkiness. “Nice communication guys,” he tweeted before heading off, under watchful eyes, to the bathroom. Minutes later, a little lighter and cooler-headed, he was back online. “For the record—I don’t mind the controls. Part of the game. Test me any time, anywhere, result will always be the same, nothing to find.”
By Jaime J. Weinman - Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 11:00 AM - 13 Comments
A show-stopping visit to Banff last week confirms no one’s mocking William Shatner anymore
On June 16, the last day of the Banff World Television Festival, William Shatner was the subject of the feature interview. You could tell Shatner was in the building because of the line, stretching back and forth across the hotel, to see the Canadian actor and Priceline.com pitchman. And for the people who got in, he provided the equivalent of a one-man comedy show: getting laughs and applause every few seconds, telling anecdotes about his economics degree at McGill and his work in live theatre, and making fun of the long questions asked by the moderator, Big Bang Theory creator Bill Prady. He asked the video cameras, recording the event, to do a close-up of him so he could re-enact his famous terrified expression from an episode of The Twilight Zone. He delighted the audience with his awareness of a write-in campaign to make him governor general of Canada, saying that a governor general “needs to be old, distinguished and wealthy, and I’m none of those things.”
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, June 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM - 10 Comments
EXCLUSIVE: Maclean’s talks to hip-hop’s biggest star
The trappings of fame aren’t that hard to get used to. Aubrey Drake Graham was driving a leased Rolls-Royce around Toronto even before he signed one of the richest first-record contracts in music history. For more than two years now, he’s been hanging out with sports icons like LeBron James, partying with Jay-Z, Kanye West and other rap royalty, and making the gossip rags for his “romances” with Hollywood starlets (rumoured) and pop divas like Rihanna (conﬁrmed).
There’s been a No. 1 single, a couple of nominations and an on-stage performance at the 2009 Grammys, and the inevitable deal to shill for a soft drink. It’s a heady life, but to hear the 23-year-old tell it, it’s only now that he’s realizing what it means to be a global celebrity.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM - 2 Comments
A Canadian linesman at the World Cup
Héctor Vergara is calling from a South African safe house. Per instructions, he must be vague: the location is “about an hour” outside of Johannesburg. The former country estate has lots of green space, a library, chapel, restaurant, and a pool—although it’s far too chilly to swim in the southern hemisphere at this time of year. The rooms are cabin-style, but luxurious. And the complex is “totally secured,” with a single entrance and guards stationed around the perimeter.
FIFA has spared little expense to keep Vergara and its 83 other officials for the World Cup of soccer in splendid isolation for the next month. The unidentified resort has been equipped with everything the linesmen and referees might need. Conference rooms have state-of-the-art video equipment for reviewing matches and breaking down contentious plays. Its wellness centre is staffed 24 hours a day with physiotherapists and masseuses. Psychologists are on standby. There are no other guests.
By Stephen Marche - Thursday, June 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
Lionel Messi is the most feared and most admired man in the tournament. Could he be the best ever?
To people who do not love sports, the whole business may seem slightly ridiculous. Grown men punching each other. Girls twirling on figure skates. Men kicking balls around. To those who do understand sports, however, mainly children and obsessives, the games themselves are merely formalities for the main attraction, the real reason we watch sports: to witness the emergence of heroes. Everything else—the rules, the skills, the structure of the agon—is just an excuse. The current World Cup is the ultimate proof of this truth. The whole tournament is an elaborate mechanism, involving teams from every corner of the globe, to focus the eyes of the world on a single man, the Argentinian forward Lionel Messi. South Africa 2010 is about him.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 2:40 PM - 4 Comments
How an A-list doctor, whose patients include Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriguez, wound up on the wrong side of the law
The price sounds steep—$3,500, plus expenses, for a house call—but for the kind of people seeking Dr. Anthony Galea’s help, it’s chump change. New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez used his services, as did his on-again-off-again girlfriend Madonna, and Swedish soccer star and Calvin Klein underwear model Freddie Ljungberg, per a well-placed source. Tiger Woods flew him to Florida five or six times—business class, naturally. According to an affidavit filed in court when the RCMP searched Galea’s offices in mid-October, seeking evidence of performance-enhancing drugs, the 51-year-old doctor treated 23 pro-athletes in eight different American cities over a nine-week period last summer. During the last decade, hundreds more from the NFL, NHL, CFL, NBA, major league baseball, track and field, and beyond, have beaten a path to his unassuming clinic, now located near Pearson International Airport, seeking to ease their aches and injuries. And even after Tony Galea’s name has been dragged through the mud for months, fingered as the latest sports “Dr. Feelgood,” the calls still keep coming. When David Beckham tore his Achilles tendon in March, shattering his World Cup dream, he reached out to Galea, looking for a miracle. The doctor turned him away.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 11:00 AM - 6 Comments
Do Heather Reisman’s causes, or her profile, make her a target?
Ask Heather Reisman whether she feels more like a lightning rod or a pinata, and the response is a rather curt “neither.” Then again, the CEO of Indigo Books & Music also maintains she isn’t angry about protests by a handful of Mount Allison University staff, and like-minded individuals across the country, against the honorary degree she was awarded earlier this week. Irked, however, with occasional gusts to severely pissed, is exactly how she sounds. “This very same group of people have been protesting against me and against Indigo for three years,” she says. “There is an absolutely deliberate attempt to misinform; to twist facts.”