Oh, Arsinee, come fly away with me: Why won’t she just ditch…

National Post, Canada

Oh, Arsinee, come fly away with me…: Why won’t she just ditch that
Atom guy?

Shinan Govani, National Post

A few weeks ago, I fell in love with Atom Egoyan’s wife.

Sitting across from Arsinee Khanjian as I was, at Patachou, watching
her play a pastry like a piano, seeing her slip a strand of her hair
behind her ear, thereby revealing a river of grey at her temples, I
thought to myself: Why doesn’t she just ditch that Armenian lensman?
Come live with me in a hovel in … I dunno … Uruguay.

(Inner Voice kicking in now) Be professional, Shinan. Mention her new
movie. So, yes, Ms. Khanjian, Hogtown’s Isabella Rossellini, is in a
movie. And — surprise! — it ain’t directed by her husband. It’s a
small Canadian film called Sabah, exactly the sort of small Canadian
film we need more of. A compact romantic-sorta-comedy that transports
you into a certain world and doesn’t make a fuss. Directed by
newcomer Ruba Nadda, the story revolves around a 40-year-old
hijab-wearing Arab woman who falls in love with a “white guy” in
Toronto. It’s Romeo and Jihad! Sure, it follows the same plot as a
million star-crossed lovers stories we’ve seen before, but it does so
with assurance and pluck. And, besides, since when did stories of
star-crossed lovers ever go out of style?

So, as I sat chatting with Arsinee that fateful afternoon, I learned
a few things. And I thought I would share them:

1. Arsinee had to learn a whole Glad Bag of tricks for this movie.
Her character bellydances! She plays basketball! She even spends time
in a pool! The latter was perhaps the trickiest. She tells me that
before the shoot, she trekked out to a YMCA near Bayview and York
Mills three times a week to take diving lessons!

2. Arsinee says she’s shy and is positively spooked about making
small talk. It’s the “fear of banality” that gets her. (And, believe
me, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Arsinee say the word
“banality” in that sonorous, actressy voice of hers.)

3. Arsinee, who’s much more open and sunny than some of her on-screen
work would make you think, did reveal something that’s right in step
with the serious thespian image we have of her and her famous
husband. She tells me that she and Atom don’t have a television in
their house and haven’t for about 15 years! (So, yes, it’s not likely
they caught the season finale of Lost this week — too bad, because
it was very good.)

After a conversation that veered every which way and that I hoped
would never end — I’m sure my IQ went up a few notches just talking
to Arsinee — we got up from our table to leave. That’s when we
realized that the room was eerily silent. Everyone had been
eavesdropping on us!

Sabah, by the way, hit theatres yesterday.

– – –

Oh, and isn’t the magazine world the bomb? Take Flare and Fashion,
two of the big Toronto style books. Both of the mags, my yappers tell
me, were vying to shoot a cover some months ago of a certain pop
princess who likes to travel with her own bento box. We’re talking
Gwen Stefani. Long story shortish: Fashion thought they were going to
get her, but Flare slithered its way in. “One of the editors at
Fashion found out at a cocktail party that Flare had already shot
Gwen,” a source tells me.

Not only that. But mehears Flare’s newish editor Lisa Tant — who
some say is a much better publisher than editor and is obsessed about
besting the competition with covers that’ll sell on the newsstands —
accomplished the Gwen grand-theft by trash-talking her rival
magazine. “She basically goes to the people in L.A. and tells them
that there is only one fashion magazine that matters in Canada,” says
the source.

Quelle moxie! But you wanna know what else? After Fashion lost
Stefani, they turned their sights on a lesser celeb. Or so they
thought. They got Katie Holmes. Of course, they didn’t know all those
months ago that pretty soon she’d be embarking on some risky
business. As the news broke about Katie and Tom Cruise, Fashion’s
cover with Katie was just hitting the stands. Sweet revenge, perhaps?

Both Flare’s cover with Gwen and Fashion’s with Katie are out this
month. The former looks great. The latter’s got heat. And, for
Fashion head girl Ceri Marsh, what a nice wedding present to herself!
Word has it that the dark-haired editor is getting hitched in
Vancouver this weekend, and that the sorority of Toronto fashion
media babes will be on hand. Names like Viia Beaumanis, Tralee
Pearce, Leah McLaren and Rebecca Eckler float to mind.

– – –

I see, I hear…

That Jean Chretien was at Biff’s on Tuesday night. No doubt, having
the gloat special…

That Chilean wordsmith Isabel Allende has given her two magic-realist
thumbs up to a Toronto novel. Joseph Boyden’s buzzed-about Three Day
Road is her pick for the Today show’s monthly book club….

That it may be time to break out the crocodiles. Lacoste is throwing
a party on Wednesday for those in-town fashionistas who’ve got a
Michael J. Fox-in-Family Ties complex…

– – –

And how about this one?…

Bruce Willis, here shooting 16 Blocks, walks into the bar at the Four
Seasons last week. Not inconspicuous. Walks up and down, making
die-hard eye contact with every lovely in the room. Including the
chick at the centre of a bridal shower thingie at the back. When she
sees him, and he sees her seeing him, she rips off the sash she has
on over her dress. Necks crane. Snickering is heard. The words
written on the now-abandoned sash? “Bride-to-Be”!

– – –

Oh, and….

When I was in New York last week for the Daytime Emmys — I love
partying with soap stars, don’t you? — I had a quick pizza lunch
with the divine Measha Brueggergosman. She’s the Toronto opera-tor
who’s performing at Roy Thomson Hall this week. Debuted at Carnegie
Hall not long ago. Is about to go big, I predict. You can see the
hunger in her eyes. She wants to be a star.

And, oh that hair! Her grand black diva mane is as much an instrument
as her voice. And she let me in on a secret. It looks particularly
good now because Measha stopped shampooing six months ago. “It
changed my life,” she told me dramatically, adding that shampoo was
killing her hair. She now uses a special scalp product called No Poo
and has a special dealer in New York for it!

And now you know.

– – –


If you haven’t yet, read Marci McDonald’s cover story in the new
Toronto Life about power-mates Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman.
It’s certainly dishy, and not entirely flattering. And despite
murmurs to the contrary, the issue hasn’t been banned from Reisman’s
Indigo/Chapters stores. In fact, we hear, when a buyer went into the
Manulife Indigo asking if they had a copy, an eager sales type
actually asked, “You mean the one about Heather?”

Colour Photo: Mongrel Media; Arsinee Khanjian stars in Sabah, a sort
of Romeo and Jihad movie.;
Colour Photo: NO POO FOR HER DO: Measha Brueggergosman.;
Colour Photo: (Katie Holmes)

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