Napkin Man gets a Barenaked booster, Seagull stars get set to soar, and Nico dances into Cinefranco

FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS: Hard to believe, but Marcelle Lean’s once-struggling Cinefranco Film Festival is celebrating its 15thstanza this year. After running a successful weeklong school program of screenings last month, the

NICO & MYLENE: They've got Rhythme

festival opens to the general public this Friday at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Weekend highlights already generating a sizeable buzz include Nico Archambault’s splashy performance with Mylène Saint-Sauveur  in On The Beat/Sur le rhythme, directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud; the new Isabelle Hupert entry, My Worst Nightmare/Mon pire cauchemar, directed by Anne Fontaine; director Emmanuel Mouret’s new comedy The Art Of Love / L’art d’aimer, with François Cluzet and Julie Depardieu; and Dominic Desjardins’ opening night film, La Sacrée. For the complete list of films and how to get to see them, click hereet bon cinema!

OUR TOWN: Lots of openings tonight. A revisioned version of The Vindication of Senyora Clito Mestres, directed and performed by Dora nominee Dragana Varagic, is set to run tonight through Sunday at Theatre

RODRIGUEZ: opening night

Passe Muraille’s Backspace, with an additional performance March 31 at the Isabel Bader Theatre … Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie bring back Lemieux’s acclaimed 2003 choreographic work Varenka, Varenka! from tonight through March 31 at the company’s new dance centre in Regent Park, The Citadel. The work is inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s first novel Poor Folk, about an aging clerk and his love for a young woman in mid-nineteenth century Russia … and wow, what an opening night cast! — Guillaume Coté, Greta Hodgkinson, Aleksandar Antonijevic and Sonia Rodriguez. Still wondering if you will be able to keep all the different lovers distinct and separate when John Neumeier’s splashy ballet version of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull opens tonight at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts? Fear not – the National Ballet has produced a cheeky one-minute video guide to all the love affairs in the show. To see it, just click here — and enjoy!


TV SHOP TALK: Corus Entertainment will launch its newest service, ABC Spark, next Monday with the day-and-date season premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The primetime schedule will also include ABC Family original series Switched at Birth, Melissa & Joey, The Lying Game and Make It or Break It BBC director general Mark Thompson will step down after the London Olympic games this summer … KIds’ CBC is currently developing a new show for small fry called The Adventures Of Napkin Man, hosted by Barenaked Ladies charmer Ed Robertson Discovery Networks International has bought a 20% stake in French pay-TV company Televista, gambling that

SCHONEBERGER: Rose d'Or host

Televista will move into France’s free-to-air market … and only three Canadian entries made it to the finish line as Rose d’Or nominees this year. Storming Juno Interactive, produced by Secret Location for History Television, is a Multiplatform nominee; For One Night Only, produced by Les Productions Rivard for ARTV, is a Live Event Show nominee; and Property Brothers, produced by Cineflix Inc. for the W Network, is a Lifestyle finalist. Winners will be revealed on May 10 when German TV presenter, actress and singer Barbara Schöneberger hosts the Rose d’Or awards ceremonies in Lucerne.

WOMAN’S WORLD: It’s been a year or three since she lit up home screens as Felicity, but now Keri Russell is set to star in FX’s period drama pilot The Americans. Russell will play an undercover KGB spy who starts to fall in love

GUMMER: will First Cut be the kindest?

with her arranged husband (also a spy). Hmmm – wonder if Scott Speedman is available … Meryl Streep’s talented actress daughter Mamie Gummer, so good in her guest stints with Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife, is the lead in CW’s new medical drama pilot First Cut … three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver is set to star in her first primetime series, Greg Berlanti’s USA pilot Politcal Animals. She’ll play a former First Lady who is now Secretary of State. In the good old days the networks would have waited until Hillary Clinton left the job — but hey, these are the good new days. Or so they tell me.

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Coco & Heath at Cannes, Mel Brooks in Berlin, plus 101 things you didn’t know about Ms Green Gables

CUCKOO FOR COCO: It’s definitely the year of Chanel.  First Shirley MacLaine stars as the legendary French designer in the hit Lifetime mini-series



Coco Chanel …  then Audrey Tatou (Amelie, The DaVinci Code) stars as the young Gabrielle in Anne Fontaine’s new feature, Coco Before Chanel. (A poster for the film showing Tatou, as Chanel, smoking a cigarette, was actually banned by the ever-politically correct Parisian authorities. Never mind – Tatou has been named as the new face of the Chanel No.5 perfume, taking over from Nicole Kidman.) And closing night at Cannes is reserved for Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, with Anna Mougalis as the designer, trying to cope with her passionate affair with the Russian composer, pianist and conductor in 1920.

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FLICKERS: Dreamworks’ laugh-making megahit Kung Fu Panda is set to make its second debut as an animated weekly TV series next year … HBO’s $200M

LEDGER: last film

LEDGER: last film

World War II miniseries The Pacific, set to air next season, has already been sold into most major markets, including the UK, Germany, Canada and France … inspired by the box office returns from the unexpected hit He’s Just Not That Into You, Warner Bros. is preparing a new romantic comedy for next Valentine’s Day called, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day.  Director Garry Marshall is currently wooing the aforementioned Ms. Maclaine plus Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway,

ROBERTS: Valentine?

ROBERTS: Valentine?


Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper and Ashton Kutcher, among others, but admits the film is still more a negotiation than a movie. Still, sounds like fun … and Heath Ledger’s last film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, premieres out of competition tonight at Cannes. Ledger’s character is also played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, who helped director Terry Gilliam complete his film.

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FOOTLIGHTS:  Think you know everything about Anne Of Green Gables? Don Harron is betting you’re wrong. Harron’s new book, 101 Things You Didn’t Know About  Anne Of Green Gables: The Musical is a bright new addition to

BROOKS: Berlin (and not Irving)

BROOKS: Berlin (and not Irving)

Green Gables lore. Adds Harron, who co-wrote the legendary Canuck musical with Norman Campbell: “This is my first book in English!” Well, the Queen’s English, maybe. Up to now his most celebrated literary ventures have been penned by his inimitably eloquent alter-ego, hapless Hee Haw hero Charlie Farquharson …  plans for a Broadway transfer of the Kennedy Center production of Ragtime are moving ahead. The new $4M production, considerably less lavish than the Garth Drabinsky original, won rave reviews when it opened in Washington D.C. last month … and just when you thought you’d seen it all, the blockbuster  musical version of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, which premiered in Moscow earlier this month, has finally opened in Berlin, eight years after it conquered Broadway. It’s booked for a two-month run at the Admiralspalast, where Adolf Hitler liked enjoyed light operettas from the Führer’s box. And yes, it appears to be a hit, despite some media reservations. “Should one be allowed to laugh about Hitler?” asked the Berliner Morgenpost.  Answered The Berliner Zeitung:  “People in Tel Aviv laughed.”  ‘nuff said. 

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HAVING A TIFF:  Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell always find some quirky stuff to relate in his engaging daily video reports from Cannes. Yesterday he showed us a full-page ad for TIFF – the Toronto International Film Festival. Then he showed us another a full-page ad for TIFF – the Tokyo International Film Festival. And then he showed us another a full-page ad for TIFF – the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. But hey, wot’s in a name, right? Meanwhile, you can check out Howell’s entertaining filmfest vlogs right here.

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DOORS-OPEN CBC: Our perpetually beleaguered public broadcaster – the one owned by us, not the government – joins in this weekend’s Doors Open

McLEAN: on view

McLEAN: On view

Toronto festivities by inviting us to visit The Broadcast Centre (at Front & John, opposite the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Rogers Centre) for studio tours, demonstrations and celebrity-spotting tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is your chance to meet cast members from The Border, Dragons’ Den, Little Mosque on the Prairie and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, many of the hosts from CBC news, current affairs, and sports programs, and such CBC Radio icons as Stuart McLean.

Insider Tip: Best time for star-gazing is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.