Newsmakers of the week

Sept 27-Oct 4, 2012: Anne Hathaway gets hitched, the Supreme Court adds one to the bench, and a new Oscar host
TOPSFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 28: Ron Wallace, 46, of Greene, R.I., celebrates after winning the Giant Pumpkin Contest at the Topsfield Fair. His pumpkin weighed 2,009 pounds. (Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Newsmakers: Sept 27-Oct 4, 2012
Photograph by Aram Boghosian

The outsider

All eyes at this year’s Academy Awards will be on Seth MacFarlane, named this week as host of the extravaganza in what can only be described as an off-the-chart choice. MacFarlane is best known as the brains behind the raunchy animated satire Family Guy—a hit among college-aged males and not exactly a brand of humour associated with the air-kissed pomp of Oscar night. Critics accused the Academy of pandering to younger viewers. But it turns out MacFarlane is an accomplished singer and a sought-after talk-show guest. He’s also showing a sense of occasion. “The challenge will be to keep it funny, keep it lively and stay true to what it is I do,” he said, “but at the same time adapt to the tone of this event.”

Speaking from experience

Stephen Barton, a survivor of last summer’s mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., is starring in a compelling new ad asking both presidential candidates to come up with a plan for gun control. In it, Barton sits in an empty theatre and talks about surviving gunshots to the face and neck. “Forty-eight thousand Americans won’t be so lucky,” he continues, “because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term.” The ad is airing on local television in Colorado, and Washington, D.C., and on national cable as part of a campaign funded by United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The group appears to be getting traction: more than 250,000 have signed its petition for legislative action.

How many pies does that make?

A Rhode Island man is $15,500 richer, all thanks to one hefty jack o’ lantern. Ron Wallace of Greene, R.I., may have set a new world record with his 2,009-lb. pumpkin at the Topsfield Fair in suburban Boston. He won $5,500 for first place—and added $10,000 as a bonus for breaking the one-ton mark (2,000 lb.) with his massive gourd. The real question, however, is what do you do with a one-ton pumpkin?

A sorry statement

Rob Anders has a way of making other tools in the parliamentary shed seem sharp by comparison, but the maverick Conservative backbencher outdid himself this week by claiming that NDP Leader Thomas Mulcairhelped hastenJack Layton’s death. Anders argued in an interview that Mulcair implicitly pressured Layton to relinquish the NDP leadership in the run-up to the 2011 election—a theory the Prime Minister’s Office quickly disavowed. Anders wound up grovelling to Mulcair and Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, who seemed too bewildered to be angry. “Let’s put aside the theories,” said the New Democratic MP, “and work for a cure for cancer.”

From Russia, with like

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made history this week when he visited Russia for the first time—and actually donned a suit to meet with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (he saved his signature hoodie for a visit to Moscow’s Red Square). According to the New York Times, Russians make up the biggest Internet market in Europe, something Facebook would like to capitalize on.

A motherhood issue

After months of speculation over how a Fortune 500 CEO would juggle pregnancy with a high-profile job, Yahoo! honcho Marissa Mayer had a baby boy early this week, less than three months after signing on as the company’s chief executive. Before she gave birth, Mayer was questioned for taking on such a stressful position while carrying a child (“Yahoo! CEO adds motherhood to list of challenges,” read one anxious headline). But with the baby born, the skeptics can scarcely question Mayer’s professional dedication: she planned to be back at work within a week.

Change your stripes, Jack

Jack White disappointed audiences at his sold-out show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall this week, prompting a mini-mob on Twitter later that night. The pallid rocker chided the audience for lack of energy, saying, “Jesus Christ, is this an NPR convention?” and reportedly took them to task over the number of tickets that went to scalpers. He left the stage after performing for just 45 minutes, and forced his audience to wait another 20 for an encore, but hell hath no fury like a scorned Jack White audience. Fans booed and heckled outside the theatre, and some returned the merchandise they’d bought at the show. Attendees took their tantrums to Twitter, some saying that, frankly, they’d always liked Meg—Jack’s ex-wife and former White Stripes bandmate—better.

Furlong feels the heat

John Furlong, the head of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, is facing allegations that he abused children in northern B.C. more than 40 years ago. Vancouver’s Georgia Straight newspaper quoted eight of Furlong’s former students who allege that they were mentally and physically abused by the then-18-year-old. Furlong is also facing questions over why he chose to create the impression he arrived in Canada from Ireland in 1974 when in fact he came in 1969, as an Oblate Frontier Apostle missionary, and taught physical education at a Burns Lake Catholic school. “I categorically deny absolutely any wrongdoing,” the 61-year-old told a packed news conference in Vancouver last week. That takes Balls, all right. It’s best to leave the personal out of politics. In a misguided attempt to show up British Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour MP and former cabinet minister Ed Balls boasted this week that he hasn’t treated his wife, Yvette Cooper, to a night out in 10 years. Balls spoke up after Cameron revealed that he keeps his marriage fresh by taking his wife Samantha out for dinner once a week. “Our view is that the times when we’re off work, we want to be with the children,” he insisted. No word at press time whether “our view” included Cooper’s.

Hathaway trades up

In a wedding over the weekend, actress Anne Hathaway married jewellery designer Adam Shulman at a private residence in Big Sur, Calif. Wearing a Valentino gown, 1920s-inspired headband, and her pixie haircut sans extensions, Hathaway married Shulman in front of 180 guests. They’d been engaged for a year, and together for four. But little was known about the couple’s wedding, other than they’d used the same wedding planner as actress Natalie Portman. Hathaway was previously connected to Italian entrepreneur Raffaello Follieri, who was convicted of fraud for posing as a real estate consultant to the Vatican and stealing millions from investors.

A tear in his beer

Tippling and tweeting is a perilous habit, but credit NHL tough guy Krys Barch for injecting honesty into hockey’s labour dispute this week, with a boozy cris de coeur on Twitter. Barch, who finished last season with the New Jersey Devils, took to his smartphone after an evening of lager and port, totting up his injuries (“bleeding, cut Achilles, broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out”), and scolding owners he sees as too far removed from the difficulties players face. The 32-year-old went on to question the NHL’s determination to prop up failing franchises in the American South, instead suggesting they “move teams to the North where they still make money.” If only players were so forthright in their post-game interviews.

In for the long haul

Way to make the rest of us seem lazy. Jean Marmoreo, a 70-year-old Toronto physician, became the first Canadian to win the Berlin Marathon in the 70-to-74 age group, finishing in three hours, 45 minutes and 26 seconds. Marmoreo is also the co-founder of Jean’s Marines, which trains women for the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon in Washington. In Germany, she beat her next closest competitor by nearly 19 minutes.

Once more for old time’s sake

Jean Chrétien’s scrapper image lives on. Cameras panning around an Order of Canada ceremony last week captured the former PM grabbing his own throat—a reference to his famed “Shawinigan handshake” with a protester who confronted the then-PM during a demonstration in 1996. Chrétien’s been cracking wise about it for years, and even endorsed a micro-brewery beer that depicted the moment on its label. Apparently, when the man gets hold of something, he doesn’t let go.