Producer gives closing ceremony hints

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - Sunday night’s closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics will be a Canadian “celeb-fest,” according to executive producer David Atkins.

Atkins said Wednesday night that the three-hour pageant would be a "celebration of Canadian humour, talent and innovation” featuring several well-known Canadian performers and rock bands.

“Canada has an embarrassment of riches in those departments,” Atkins said at an Australian Trade Commission reception in Robson Square. “It’s going to be a very contrasting night to the opening ceremony.”

Atkins said the globally televised event will capture the “spirit of the Games” and be an occasion for the athletes to “let their hair down.”

He did not name the performers. The B.C. Place Stadium ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m.

Atkins also produced the Sydney 2000 closing ceremony, which was a celebration of Australian pop culture that starred Kylie Minogue, Met at Work, INXS, Midnight Oil, Olivia Newton-John and Greg Norman.

Australian Atkins’ company competed against 20 companies for the VANOC contract in September 2007. He said the Feb. 12 opening ceremony was meant to be “an intimate ceremony, especially in the wake of Beijing, that reflected Canadian culture and was also resonant commercially with an audience.”

“We’re quite in love with the country, it’s an extraordinary place,” he said. “Vancouver -- and British Columbia -- is an extraordinary example of what’s special about Canada. ”

The opening ceremony was criticized by Canadian Heritage minister James Moore and Quebec premier Jean Charest for its lack of French performers. Celine Dion was invited, but she declined because she was undergoing fertility treatments. One of the four hydraulic ice poles in the B.C. Place cauldron malfunctioned during the climax of the ceremony and remained stuck in the false floor.

“We’ve pushed the boundaries with the help of Canadians, you should all be aware we‘ve now perfected the three-legged cauldron, a unique and Australian invention and we’ll see it again in the closing,” Atkins joked.

A QMI source said costumes for the closing ceremony cast include lumberjacks and voyageurs. As is tradition, the Olympic flag will be passed to the next host city. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will hand over the flag to officials from Sochi, Russia who will also have approximately eight minutes near the end of the ceremony to promote the 2014 Games and exhibit Russian culture.

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