Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U.S. expats party July 4; film folk set to get busy

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SAY CAN YOU SEE?: In a sweltering Uncle Sam costume, comedian Jon Ljungberg hosted the July 4 Independence Day bash for about 250 military families at 17 Wing Wednesday, most of them transplanted Americans. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were in attendance -- as cut-out figures on the lawn -- with many posing for pictures beside them.

"The only person who wasn't there was the drunk uncle who blows off the fireworks and loses three fingers," said Ljungberg, who came to Canada 23 years ago from the Boston area.

Stirring up lots of excitement at the whole-hog barbecue, a military helicopter landed in the midst of the gathering. The Royal Canadian Air Force Band gamely played and people sang both anthems, with great heart.

Quite the party put on by Timothy Cipullo, U.S. consul and principal officer and the gang. Spotted: Former governor general and premier Ed Schreyer, city councillors Russ Wyatt, Grant Nordman and Ross Eadie, MP Shelly Glover and MLA Jim Rondeau. Elmwood-Transcona MP Lawrence Toet delivered greetings from the feds, MLA Peter Bjornson from the province and Coun. Jeff Browaty from the city.

"We were worried we'd have to move inside with the thunderstorm, but the clouds parted and the sun came out. Ya don't mess with the U.S.!" said Ljungberg, the former Breakfast Television host, now special event co-ordinator for the Riverview Health Centre Foundation. .


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BY THE WAY: Ljungberg just got a call to try out for a part in Smilin' Jack: The Jack Layton Story, a CBC telefilm to be shot in Winnipeg this summer. The late NDP leader's widow, Olivia Chow, is reportedly fine with CBC doing the biopic. No surprise! When Chow came to Winnipeg to speak several months ago, she was good-natured and impossible to rattle. When loud static interrupted certain personal inquiries, Chow made little jokes about "somebody else" wanting the mic. The film is being produced by local company Eagle Vision and Pier 21 Films.


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MORE FILM ACTION: Several other films are in pre-production stage. Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) wangled another summer back home in the "normal" world of friends and family while doing 33 Liberty Lane. Vardalos, Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy), Emily Watson (Gosford Park) and Melora Hardin (27 Dresses) play four women who decide to get into the phone-sex biz together but have to bring in a "professional" to coach them. The rom-com is directed by Peter Hewitt of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and the recent straight-to-TV sequel Home Alone 5: Alone In The Dark, shot in Winnipeg.

Then there's Curse of Chucky bringing horror into the mix. (Chucky the doll wreaks havoc within a family that has come together for a funeral.) And there's yet another hockey film coming to town -- Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story. It's about Howe, at 45, coming back to play professional hockey opposite his two sons, aged 18 and 19. Meanwhile, TV show Less Than Kind is producing its final season this month.


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PUPPET SLAM -- ADULT CONTENT: When Heather Henson, the daughter of Muppet creator Jim Henson, visited Winnipeg in May 2010 to show her puppet film shorts collection, Handmade Puppet Dreams, a few local puppeteers introduced themselves. The Winnipeg puppeteers had never actually met until that night. Heather suggested they form a group and do a puppet slam. Their shows have been huge hits. The latest, July 13 at the Gas Station Theatre, is organized by Dan Wishes of the Wishweweres, with Curtis Wiebe of Secondhand Pants. This promises to be hot adult stuff. Estee Taylor, who's travelled worldwide with her adult puppet shows, is bringing Jessica, a lounge singer made of wood that Taylor refers to as a "fine piece of ash." Tickets are $10; call 284-9477.


Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 474-1116, email or send letters to Maureen Scurfield, c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 B2

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