A passion for Passchendaele

DUE NORTH: The Genie Awards are still three weeks away, but Paul Gross already knows he’s a winner. His remarkable Passchendaele has won the 2009 Golden Reel Award for most popular Canadian film of 2008, grossing (you should pardon the pun) more than $4.4 million in domestic box office receipts.

GROSS: golden

GROSS: golden

And when the Canadian Academy hands out the awards on Saturday April 4 in Ottawa, Gross — who wrote the script, directed the movie, starred as the protagonist and co-produced the epic World War I saga with Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa and Francis Damberger — still has a crack at collecting another half dozen statuettes, because Passchendaele has been nominated for another six Genie Awards.

Also celebrating this week: Yves-Christian Fournier, winner of this year’s Claude Jutra Award for his directorial debut of Tout Est Parfait/Everything Is Fine, which has garnered no less than seven, count ‘em, seven Genie nominations.

* * *

GIRL TALK: Only three episodes in and Joan Rivers’ all-girl team has now trounced bad boy Dennis Rodman’s all-boy team three times in a row on this season’s Celebrity Apprentice.

Yes, the fellas are falling like flies. First it was Andrew Dice Clay, who was almost voted off by his own team until Donald Trump saved them the trouble and fired him, After the second show  Olympic skating champ Scott Hamilton got sacked by The Donald, and the only Canadian challenger, Tom Green, got the axe last Sunday night.

BRODERICK: brainy?

BRODERICK: brainy?

As much as she enjoyed her victory, Rivers says she was sorry to see them go. “Scott Hamilton,” she reports, “is someone I like a lot — a true gentleman.” As for Tom, “I like him more and more. If you cut through, he’s very smart.”

One of her teammates is brainy Playboy playmate Brande Roderick, who proved a great asset on their first outing.

“Brande seems very nice, but controlled,” says La Rivers. “Boy oh boy is she gorgeous. And I am very impressed that she can count above 20 wearing closed-toe shoes.”


“No, no, Brande is actually very smart … for a Playboy bunny. However they only put her in months that are easy to spell … May, June, July … “

Any tips on next Sunday night’s free-for-all?

“Yeah – keep your eye on ‘Mr. Nice Guy, Clint Black.”

* * *

SILVER: screen-stealer

SILVER: screen-stealer

ABSENT FRIENDS:  He was a veteran scene-stealer on stage and screen, from Speed-The-Plow to West Wing. But my favourite Ron Silver performance was in Sidney Lumet’s luminous lovesong to Manhattan, Garbo Talks, a charming and unexpectedly potent weeper.

In it Silver played a man trying to track down the eternally elusive Greta Garbo to bring her to the bedside of his ailing mother (Anne Bancroft) so she can die happy. En route Lumet gives us glimmering glimpses of a handful of wonderful New York characters, wonderfully well played by Carrie Fisher, Harvey Fierstein, Dorothy Loudon and Hermione Gingold, and when Silver finally confronts Garbo in Central Park, he delivers a three-hanky monologue with such understated brilliance that most actors still marvel at his chutzpah.

Tony award-winner Silver died Sunday morning after losing a private two-year battle with esophageal cancer. He was 62.

He will be missed.

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SEE/HEAR: “Economists say that by this time next year, there could be fewer than 100 late-night talk show hosts!”

The speaker? Enduring Late Show host David Letterman, currently enjoying a YouTube  resurgence with his stint at Taco Bell.

When it comes to Stupid People Tricks, nobody does it better. See for yourself, right here.


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