Monday, January 16, 2006

Conan-Halonen: That's the Ticket

At least one American is interested in the outcome of Finland's presidential election -- Conan O'Brien .

The late-night TV host has been promoting President Tarja Halonen 's reelection campaign as part of a long-running joke about their supposed physical similarities. "Why do I support Tarja Halonen? Because she's got the total package: a dynamic personality, a quick mind, and most importantly -- my good looks," the comedian said in a statement to the Associated Press.

In yesterday's election, Halonen finished well ahead of the other candidates but failed to win 50 percent of the vote, so she will have to face conservative challenger Sauli Niinisto in a runoff Jan. 29.

"Late Night With Conan O'Brien" airs five days a week on Finnish cable, and the mock campaign ads for Halonen have not gone unnoticed in the Nordic nation of 5.2 million. In one show, O'Brien presented a pseudo-ad in which he and two Finns are discussing the election while fishing on a frozen lake. At the mention of rival candidate Matti Vanhanen , a dead fish shot out of the hole in the ice, prompting a joke about how just speaking Vanhanen's name causes fish to commit suicide.

Halonen was favored in the election before O'Brien discovered their similarities, but her campaign quickly recognized an opportunity and started running real ads before O'Brien's show.

"Of course, when she is mentioned so many times it's positive for our campaign," said campaign manager Markku Jaaskelainen , who said hits on Halonen's Web site have quintupled partly because of O'Brien's shows.

Some of Halonen's opponents are not amused.

"If this decides the election, then we're in trouble," said Harri Jaskari , campaign manager for Niinisto. "It gives a very poor picture of Finnish democracy. . . . He's just making fun of the whole election."

Eminen & Kim Again

Eminem remarried his high school sweetheart Saturday night at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills, Mich., an 80-year-old mansion built for the widow of auto baron John Dodge. News helicopters hovered overhead and paparazzi converged outside as the rapper (born Marshall Bruce Mathers III) and Kim Mather s arrived by limousine and were whisked inside.

"I can confirm that they were married this evening," said Dennis Dennehy , a spokesman for Eminem's label, Interscope Records. "Family and close friends were in attendance, including members of D12 , 50 Cent , Obie Trice and members of G-Unit ," Dennehy told the Associated Press.

D12's Proof , whose real name is Deshaun Holton, served as best man. Dinner was lobster tails and filet mignon, and New York DJ Lord Sear provided music for the reception.

Mr. and Mrs. Slim Shady, 33 and 30 respectively, are planning a honeymoon later this year. Their first marriage ended in October 2001, and the ensuing legal fight included a custody battle over their young daughter, Hailie Jade Mathers.

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