MAGIC IS A PR DREAM: Former CBC-TV sportscaster Ernie Nairn is in PR heaven over the ticket-selling power of Earvin (Magic) Johnson in 2014. The basketball great speaks at the Rady Jewish Community Centre gala fundraiser at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg on Thursday. It's a 1,500-ticket slam dunk so far.
"Actually, it was sheer luck that we booked Magic Johnson for the Y Sports dinner back in January and then all this controversy blew up over Sterling," says Nairn. Suspended Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist comments to his ex-girlfriend about taking black people such as Johnson to Clippers games. The story went viral and Sterling has since been banned for life by the NBA.
Tickets are still available for $225-$525 at 204-477-7513.
MEMORIES OF MAYA KISS: Maya Angelou, the Beloved writer/poet activist and close friend of Oprah Winfrey who died two weeks ago at 86, came to speak in Winnipeg in 1997. Cherrlyn Thomson, owner of Singles Today, went to the champagne reception.
"I was all dressed up, hoping to be able to say hello to her, and edged in closer. She said to me, 'Oh what a stunning woman you are!' " But when Thomson moved to touch Angelou's arm, a six-foot-seven bodyguard leapt into action.
"Maya said to him, 'Oh no, no, no!' embraced me, and and kissed me on the cheek and we talked for a minute about my matchmaking business," says Thomson. "Oh my God, I didn't wash my cheek for four days!"
PASTOR WHO? Tall, blond sax player Walle Larsson, who splits his time between Winnipeg and Los Angeles, has started taking a ministry course. "I get nicknamed the Pastor, but in a loving way," he says with a grin. "I don't necessarily want to be a minister, but I want to help family and friends. The ministry course offers me some tools."
Being a musician can be a rough ride, says Larsson. "For a lot of people, music becomes their God. If music is going good, things are OK. If music isn't going so good, there can be hard times, sickness and poverty, and they need to stay stable."
Larsson has been been charting high on the Billboard jazz chart this year. Check him out at the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival Friday at Cinematheque. "I'm with my whole band -- Jordan Jackiew, Curtis Nowosad, Julian Bradford and Aaron Shorr. And I have a young lady called Mae Losa sitting in for a tune; I'm producing a CD for her right now in L.A."
KARAHI: You have to fight to get a parking spot at new Karahi of India restaurant ("karahi" means curry) at 754 St. Mary's Rd. "We planned to have a grand-opening party, but we opened quietly one day, and the people just kept coming and coming," says owner Sarvesh Sahni. He has been a chef at five different Indian restaurants, including the Taj Hotel in Delhi. People are raving about the buffet and exotic menu.
Cool staff help doesn't hurt. Artist wife Rajni Sahni is the hostess -- and the exotic Indian art in the alcove booths is hers. Friendly server Saleha Atif, 15, speaks several languages, goes to Glenlawn Collegiate next door, and is one of four young women wearing a hijab headcovering at school. "It's just about my faith, and respect," she explains.
IMPROV FOR ADULTS: Jeff Skinner, the longtime actor of stage, film and TV, and associate Jacquie Nagy have created a new venture for fun-loving grown-ups called Improv Café Winnipeg. "It's all about improvisation and having fun, and it's a great place to meet fun new people," says Skinner. The next meet is Sunday, June 29, at 7 p.m. Last month it sold out. To get a $10 ticket, go to www.meetup.com/Improv-Cafe-Winnipeg/.
Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o Scene and Heart, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.