On the Town with Shinan: Canada's Comic-Con queen

By Shinan Govani

Joining an assembly of zombies, shape-shifters, and varied tights-wearers in San Diego, this week? That would be Canada's Evangeline Lilly.

To the Feast of Geek, as it's been called - aka Comic-Con. No stranger to the annual convention, the star of Lost as well as the Hobbit trilogy knows that it's increasingly a must-stop for the entertainment industry, a kind of summer resting stop between the Cannes Film Fest, in May, and the mayhem that comes with the fest, in Toronto, in September. But it's not a movie, or show, that the reluctant sex symbol came to premiere this time – it was her first children's book.

There's a first time for everything, and Evangeline's first go-'round as author is, I'm told, “inspired by Pinocchio.” That is to say, this ain't no cozy bedtime read. Rather, it's a Cadbury-dark book called The Squickerwonkers, and it tells the tale of a spoiled little girl kidnapped by a band of tricky marionettes.

Comic-Con ate it up. Many, moreover, are intrigued in hearing that she dreamt up the plot when she was all of 14 years old! Its original incarnation? As a poem. Dubbed a “cautionary tale,” its main character is a young thing named Selma who starts off as a “good girl,” but “she makes some bad choices and she reacts really badly when something happens to her...it's a lesson about choosing to make good choices.” (Btw, her Hobbit director, Peter Jackson, has written the forward, in which he calls Selma “a young lady to be reckoned with")

Evangeline has never played it safe, managing to keep a healthy distance from stardom. And so it is with this book, a collaboration with noted illustrator, Johnny Fraser-Allen. A number of people told her that the book was too scary, too sinister, but her ultimate focus group told her otherwise. “My 3-year old son,” she told USA Today recently, “has proved what I've been telling publishers: we have a different notion of fear, and what's scary, than children do.”

Oh, and as for a film version of The Squickerwonkers? Evangeline is all for it. You hear that, Hollywood?

Meanwhile:

An iPhone in a bag of rice: just another day in Muskoka country for the Harry Hamlin-Lisa Rinna clan! After the Melrose Place/Days of Our Lives star dropped her lifeline in Lake Joseph, where they have a Canadian summer getaway, her chivalrous husband – starring these days on Mad Men – jumped into the lake and tracked it down. Cue, the rice-bag trick. “He is a stud,” Lisacooed about her husband on Twitter. (No confirmation on whether the iPhone lived)

Lisa, who really is a hoot, and a Jill-of-many-trades – she has a QVC line, and also just joined the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – knows our cottage country well. It came, after all, with her husband of 16 years! Harry, you see, goes way back. Like, way, back. People's 'Sexiest Man Alive' (1987 edition!) started doing Muskoka as a kid, and his family's place there traces five generations! And, as I reported some years back, when Harry was preparing to do Dancing with the Stars, he was even spotted ballroom dance-practicing on his dock that summer!

The couple, by the way, do occasionally socialize while they're out there: just last weekend, they both came out to support the annual SickKids' Boat Rally, joining other names such as P.K. Subban and Catherine O'Hara.

Here! There!

* Adam Sandler, and his family, spotted getting the front-of-line “escort treatment” at Canada's Wonderland when they did the vast amusement park, outside of Toronto, recently.
* The court-side heat is on: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic are all confirmed for the Rogers Cup, at the onset of August. (How confident is Canada's man, Milos? Pretty darn confident. In it to win, as he tells me in my 'Last Word' column in this week's issue of Hello! Canada.)
* Daniel Radcliffe still raving and raving about the buns at Burger's Priest – his fave place in Toronto – when he did the rope-line, here this week, for a screening of his film, The F Word, at Scotiabank Theatre.
* Save the date: Revenge vixen Madeleine Stowe is on-board as one of the hosts of Paul Haggis' annual fundraiser, come TIFF-time in September.

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