Tag Archives: BARRY FLATMAN

Redford channels Nia, Kudelka builds a House of Mirth in Peterborough, and TIFF chats up Ms Turner

OUR TOWN: Talk about your embarrassment of riches. Monday May 7 must hold some special showbiz magic, because that’s night that enduring stage and screen siren Kathleen Turner will be on deck for an In Conversation

TURNER: at TIFF Bell Lightbox

session at Tiff Bell Lightbox. Also set to light up the Lightbox that night is another talk-and-tell event from the Canadian Film Centre’s Test Pattern series, with Mad Men executive producers Andre & Maria Jacquemetton. And just down the street, at Oliver & Bonacini’s re-dazzled Arcadian Loft, a few dozen of our brightest sparklies will engage in fund-raising wordplay at the 8th annual Scrabble With The Stars, co-hosted by perennial favourites Jeanne Beker and Barry FlatmanAdrienne Clarkson will salute Leonard Cohen the following Monday, May 14, at

CLARKSON; kind words for a poet

Massey Hall, when he’s feted for winning the ninth Glenn Gould Prize, Musicians set to serenade include his son Adam Cohen, the Cowboy Junkies and Gordon Pinsent with his new sidekicks Greg Keelor and Travis Good … and James Kudelka is premiering his new work, House Of Mirth, in Peterborough next week before opening here at The Citadel on May 9.  Produced by Coleman Lemieux & Co., it’s based on the Edith Wharton novel of the same name. Set in the 1890s, it features four female dancers (including the iridescent Laurence Lemieux,) four male opera singers and five-piece chamber orchestra, in a setting designed to evoke a 19th-century society salon. After its run of performances here in Toronto, Kudelka may take House Of Mirth to The Mount, Wharton’s estate in Massachusetts, and possibly on to New York,

LEMIEUX: a House Of Mirth in Peterborough

REDFORD: movie lover

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Remember I Hate Valentine’s Day, the romantic comedy written by and starring My Big Fat Greek Wedding screen-stealer Nia Vardalos? Me neither. But fans of the Sundance Channel are about to discover it for the first time, because Robert Redford has chosen Nia’s neglected rom-com for his new series, Robert Redford Presents. Set to debut tomorrow night, Redford will kick off his series with the 1996 version of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. Already the Creative director of the Sundance Channel, Redford will now curate rates and critique independent movies weekly. Also on his personal Must list: Tony Scott’s Domino with

COLLINS: on stage tonight

Kiera Knightley and Mickey Rourke, and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet with Dennis Hopper and Isabella Rossellini (as if you didn’t know) … TV drama exec Robin Neinstein, who put his career as a director (Souvenir Of Canada) on hold six years ago when he became a CBC production exec, is exiting the Mother Corp to join the Original Programming production team at Shaw …  Marvin Dolgay, Eva Everything, Michael Hirsh, David Hoffert, Paul Hoffert, Marilyn Lightstone, Maria Topalovich and Elaine Waisglass were among the showbiz boldface who turned out for shutterbug Brenda Hoffert‘s new-and-improved Shoes exhibition at the Cecile & Harry Pearl Gallery last night …  and get ready to laugh when funny girl Carla Collins takes the stage tonight and tomorrow night at Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament.

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Go ahead, take the rest of the day off, ’cause It turns out to be a good Friday for showbiz news ‘n’ gossip

NO SEASON LIKE TV PILOT SEASON: It’s true — Freddie Prinze Jr., Victor Garber, Judd Hirsch and Andrea Martin are all in the running for new series this fall. And they’re not alone. Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis

BARKIN: something new?

are exec-producing their new co-starring venture based on the true story of Ralph Lamb, the rodeo cowboy who ended up Sheriff of Las Vegas.
 Carrie-Anne Moss is also in their pilot … John Corbett and Jennifer Beals are top-lining a new drama pilot called Widow DetectiveBill Pullman and Jenna Elfman play the U.S, president and his missus in 1600 Penn, a Modern-Family type pilot set in the White House … Minnie Driver, Andrea Anders and Rachel Dratch are the funny girls featured in the comedy pilot Lady FriendsDane Cook’s new pilot, Next Caller Please, casts him as a brash alpha male DJ on a satellite radio station … Sarah Silverman’s new pilot is about a woman readjusting to

SILVERMAN: something borrowed?

single life following a decade-long live-in relationship. A little bit autobiographical? You bet. Jeff Goldblum co-stars … Anne Heche is trying the small screen again with Save Me, playing a woman who survives a broken marriage by transforming into another version of herself … and Ellen Barkin heads the cast in The New Normal, about a blended family of a gay couple and the woman who becomes a surrogate for them as they grow their family. Which sorta maybe sounds like something we haven’t seen before.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Young Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close screen-stealer Thomas Horn has been set as the lead in not one but two new features — Space Warriors and Joe’s Mountain

RHYS: something American

Welsh actor Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) is set to star opposite Keri Russell in the FX pilot The Americans Eddie Izzard has signed to star in and produce NBC’s Mockingbird Lane, a re-conceived version of The MunstersLaz Alonso (Avatar) will play Meagan Good’s former flame and the detective who hires her to investigate a murder in her home town in NBC’s drama pilot NotoriousOliver Cooper (Project X) has signed on for a lead role in the sequel to Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups … Golden Globe nominee Jaime Pressly is set to play the warden at a women’s federal prison in the NBC drama pilot Bad Girls … comic W. Kamau Bell is set to host a new variety show produced by Chris Rock for FXNeil Patrick Harris will host the Tony Awards for the third consecutive year on Sunday June 10 and Jimmy Kimmel is set to host this

HYATT: something to cheer about

year’s Emmy Awards telecast on Sunday September 23.

OUR TOWN: Veteran crowd-pleaser Pam Hyatt serenades at the Green Door cabaret tonight in her one-woman concert Pamalot, with Peter Hill on the piano  … sublime warbler Judy Marshak, dynamic duo Deb McGrath & Colin Mochrie and Canuck comedy legends The Frantics are among the sparkles gathering for the Autism Is A Pain In The Aspergers benefit on Wednesday April 18 at Hugh’s Room. For ticket info, click hereThe Stampeders bring their greatest hits to us in concert at the

McGRATH: something else

Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday April 20 … it must be true that third time’s a charm, because Jeanne Beker & Barry Flatman are once again hosting the annual celebrity-laden PAL fund-raiser Scrabble With The Stars on Monday May 7 at the Arcadian Loft. For ticket info, click here … the Harry Potter spoof Potted Potter closes at the Panasonic this Sunday … and due to unforeseen circumstances concerning the road closure around the Royal Ontario Museum, the date for Toronto Taste has been bumped to Sunday May 27. Which should give us just enough time to diet before the event. For ticket info, click here. (And yes, I know you knew I was going to say that.)

PETERS: something CBC (twice!)

SEE/HEAR: Let’s start your long weekend with a smile. Four of ’em, in fact! First, it’s Russell Peters week on CBC, starting Sunday with his Toronto filmfest hockey comedy Breakaway with Rob Lowe (want a sneak peek? Click here!) Then there’s the Alberta Ballet’s dazzling tribute to Elton John, Love Lies Bleeding, on Monday night on CBC. (Click here for a splashy preview.) Also on Monday: Ken Finkleman returns to the newsroom (and The Movie Network) with a brand new predictably outrageous comedy series, aptly named Good God, and allegedly inspired by Quebecor’s struggling  Sun News Network. Samantha Bee and Lolita Davidovich co-star, and the first episode is already viewable on line right here. Then Russell Peters returns to CBC with his own Just For Laughs special Russell Peters: Best Night Ever on Tuesday night (want a sneak peek? Ditto!)  And that’s just for starters. So have fun, rest up, and enjoy!

Jennifer plays Winnie, Sheila plays Halifax, Rick plays Rideau Hall — and stars coax us into the cold

STARS IN OUR EYES: Grammy showstopper Jennifer Hudson continues to prove herself as an actress as well as a singer. She and Terence Howard shine as Winnie & Nelson Mandela in the fascinating biopic Winnie, one of

HUDSON & HOWARD: As Winnie and Nelson Mandela in new biopic "Winnie"

the celluloid treats selected for the 12th annual Floating Film Festival. The FFF, launched by TIFF co-founder Dusty Cohl two decades ago and now captained by filmmaker Barry Avrich, embarks on a 10-day Caribbean odyssey on Monday Feb. 27 – the day after the Oscars – on the Seabourn Sojourn. More on FFF 12 as it happens …  Rachel McAdams and her main squeeze Michael Sheen are having a lovely Valentine’s Day, thanks for asking. McAdams’ film with Channing Tatum, The Vow, is number one at the box office, and Sheen is now set to star in the Showtime pilot Masters of Sex …  triumphant trio Russell Braun, Krisztina Szabo and Erin Wall, the three great voices who spark the current,

McADAMS: Happy February

theatrically dazzling Canadian Opera Company production of Love From Afar, won’t be sitting around after the controversial extravaganza closes on Feb. 22. Ms. Szabo is already set to perform with conductor Alex Pauk at the Esprit Orchestra event Gripped By Passion at Koerner Hall on Feb. 26 .And  her co-stars Braun and Wall are set to team up again in Ottawa in a new production of Carmina Burana March 8-9 at the National Arts Centre … and dynamic duo Jay Leno & Madonna teamed up to promote his Tonight Show with a delightfully snappy SuperBowl commercial I finally caught up with yesterday. Did you miss it too? Here it is. Enjoy!

PRESENT LAUGHTER: Montreal’s phenomenal Just For Laughs comedy festival celebrates its 30th anniversary (!!!) this year July 12-29, after warming up with a six-night stand in Chicago June 12-17 … a new cartoon-for-the-mind

JOHNSTON & MERCER: Rideau Hall playdate

podcast from those wacky Illustrated Men is set in the mythical town of Monogami, Ontario.  In the first episode Sam and Ella Toad move to Monogami to make a new start; some kids out camping spot a UFO; and alien bounty hunters land. Will Sam’s car get towed by zombies? You’ll have to tune in to find out …  stand-up guy Harry Doupe hosts Everyone’s A Winner, the March 9 all-star comedy fundraiser at Second City in support of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with smile-makers  Sean Cullen, Tim Steeves, Laurie Elliott, Pete Zedlacher and many more … Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are set to play two middle-aged guys starting over as interns at an internet company in the Shawn Levy comedy Interns … and Rick Mercer finally gets a taste of the high life he’s been missing when he hobnobs with new Governor-General David Johnston at Rideau Hall tonight on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report.

McCARTHY & NICHOLSON: on stage in Halifax

FOOTLIGHTS: Stage and screen lioness Sheila McCarthy is back on the boards at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, garnering glowing notices in Norm Foster’s new comedy Mrs. Parliament’s Night Out with J. D. Nicholson. McCarthy is also set to co-star in  Lost In Yonkers with Linda Kash, David Eisner and Happy Days legend Marion Ross when the Neil Simon classic opens here in May   … Graham Abbey of The Border TV fame

BALABAN: Back at Theatre Passe Muraille

is also collecting kudos for his stage turn with Barry Flatman in the Canadian premiere of Enron, directed by Antoni Cimolino at Theatre Calgary … Divisadero: a performance, adapted by Michael Ondaatje from his Governor General Award-winning novel and directed by Daniel Brooks, is back at Theatre Passe Muraille for a limited run through Sunday Feb. 26. The production reunites the original cast of Liane Balaban, Maggie Huculak, Tom McCamus, Amy Rutherford and Justin Rutledge, who created music specifically for the piece …  and Allan Hawco and Philip Riccio’s ambitious Company Theatre has announced its next production. Speaking In Tongues, by Andrew Bovell, will be directed by Riccio and play the Berkeley Street Theatre Oct. 29-Nov. 24. Will Riccio load the dice with lotsa star power? Stay tuned.

TENNANT: On a MIssion

DEEP FREEZE: Some of our faviourite stars are urging us to come into the cold. And their message is definitely on point. “Come freeze your butt off on February 25, 2012 with Yonge Street Mission on the coldest night of the year! It is a 5k and 10k non-competitive walk in the frigid cold for the hurting, homeless and hungry. Sign up as an individual or a team today. If you can’t join us that night, consider donating!” Sparklies askng us to participate via a very engaging vimeo include Maria Del Mar, Peter Keleghan, Debra McGrath, Patrick McKenna, Mark McKinney, Colin Mochrie, Leah Pinsent, Veronica Tennant and, still wearing his Stephen Leacock moustache, Gordon Pinsent. To see it, just click here.

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Rachel and Marion love Woody, Jeanne and Barry love to Scrabble, Jerry loves La Cage, and Conan loves Twitter

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Whatever he’s got, he’s still got it. Woody Allen is set to shoot another film in Paris this summer — mais oui, they love him in France — and

MCADAMS: To Paris with Woody

Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard have already signed on … flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, the Winter Olympics’ favourite bad boy, is now set to guest with Ice Theatre Of New York at the company’s 2010 Home Season stint April 29-May 1 at Chelsea Pier … John Tory, the new Chair of the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, is seeking $17.5 million in gifts needed to complete the TIFF Bell Lightbox between now and the opening of the building, which is still scheduled for this fall … Kelsey Grammer is back on Broadway, currently in previews at the Longacre Theatre for the Olivier Award-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles that took London by storn. Composer Jerry Herman says this new version “is hysterical, touching, outrageous, ingenious — a revelation from curtain to curtain.” This we gotta see … Channing Tatum and Al Pacino are teaming up for a new screen drama, Son Of No One …  and Sebastian Stan, best known for his roles on Gossip Girl and Kings, has joined the cast of Captain America as leading man Chris Evan’s sidekick.

MARCUS TRIO: at Smiling Buddha tonight

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Talk about a musical coup d’etat! Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dame Shirley Bassey will perform together at Carnegie Hall  at a Rainforest Fund benefit concert on May 13. The event will mark the 21st birthday of the charitable organization founded by Sting and Trudie Styler to help protect and preserve the world’s threatened rainforest areas and the pricey tickets includes a gala post-performance dinner at the Plaza … Jann Arden, Tom Cochrane and NHL legend Darryl Sittler are set to join Anne Murray at her 2010 Charity Golf Classic in support of Colon Cancer Canada on May 18 at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham … at last! Hypnotic singer-songwriter Jane Ford has finally released a new album, All I’ve Needed Most, a five-song EP featuring “some great new tunes I know you’re going to love.” Count me in. Her new album is available on iTunes in the US and Canada. “And Europe. Everywhere actually!” … Justin Bieber pop-rocks tomorrow night on SNL … and professional crowd-pleasers The Marcus Trio return to one of their favourite haunts, The Smiling Buddha Bar on College Street, tonight at 10 pm.

O'BRIEN: networking

TWITTERBUG: Deposed late-night prince Conan O’Brien wasn’t a great believer in social networking until NBC bounced him off his Tonight Show throne. But after being hounded by both his friends and personal Followers (read, Employees) O’Brien finally saw the light. He now has close to a million followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Which is how, with a few well-placed wisecracks, he has managed to almost completely sell out his 30-city comedy tour which kicks off on Monday night. “Five days to the opening of my tour,” he tweeted yesterday. “I don’t want to over-hype this thing, but attendance will cure all known diseases.”  His first stop on his sweep of North American cities? Eugene, Oregon.

(Now that’s funny.)

BEKER: all-star Scrabble soiree

SCRABBLE RABBLE: Autograph collectors should have a field day Monday night at the 6th annual Scrabble® With The Stars soiree at the King Suites. Returning hosts Jeanne Beker and Barry Flatman will welcome so many marquee names that I can’t possible mention them all here. Suffice it to say that the glamourous role call includes Angela Asher, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, Jayne Eastwood, Lili Francks, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie, Micki Moore, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent,  Avery Saltzman, Elizabeth Shepherd, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova, Robin Ward, Sara Waxman and enduring entertainment icons Sharon, Lois & Bram, all in aid of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) of Toronto. Tickets include dinner, a game of Scrabble with a celebrity and a tax receipt, and as usual there’s only a handful of tickets left. So if you want to play, don’t delay — just click here!

And have a great weekend.

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A new role for Feist, a new band for Ringo, more stars for Scrabble, and a chance to watch Tiger tee off in 3-D

FEISTY TV COMMENTATOR SAVES THE DAY: Who’s that girl pushing her microphone into your face? Believe it or not, the gal with the hot mike is none other than

FEIST: chess game

Juno-laden warbler Leslie Feist, and she’s not singing into it this time. Feist was tapped by her longtime friend, Paris-based ex-pat pianist and producer Chilly Gonzales (aka the artist formerly known as Beck,) to play a TV reporter covering a chess tournament in Gonzales’ first short feature film, Ivory Tower. The flick, which wrapped location shoots here yesterday, also features techno-popsters Tiga as Gonzales’ high-strung chess champion brother and Peaches as their mutual love interest. Insiders say the task of playing an on-camera TV maven was a walk in the park for Feist, who has previously survived playing an angel with a direct line to Heaven (on Stephen Colbert’s wacko Christmas special) to singing her monster hit 1.2.3.4. with Elmo on Sesame Street. Meanwhile her pun-addicted pal Gonzales — he of Pianist Envy fame — is now winging his way to Austin, Texas where he’ll rock SxSW music lovers with a predictably off-the-wall concert tonight before winging back home to Paris.

SHARPS ‘N” FLATS: Massey Hall-bound Dire Straits alumnus Mark Knopfler is set to serenade his Swiss fans at the 44th annual Montreux Jazz Festival July 2-17 … Iron Maiden returns to seduce Canuck fas on July 3 at the Molson Amphitheatre in T.O. and July

TAYLOR & TAYLOR: Valentines

7 at the Bell Centre in Montreal … new Grammy sweeper Taylor Swift, so good with that other Taylor (New Moon alumnus Lautner) in Valentine’s Day, will join Keith Urban, Ashley MacIsaac and Lady Antebellum at this year’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival in P.E.I. in July … Ringo Starr brings his new All-Starr Band, including Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and Richard Page, to Fallsview Casino on June 24 & 25 … Chantal Kreviazuk is set to brighten the Edmonton Symphony season this fall … and showstopper Idina Menzel, so brilliant at Defying Gravity in Wicked, is set to make a stellar appearance on the second season of Glee.

WOODS: a new dimension?

3-D STIMULUS PACKAGE: Two hours of each round of next month’s Masters golf tournament will be carried in 3-D by Comcast to its more than 20 million U.S. subscribers. The production will be separate from what CBS and ESPN will show, with Sony supplying cameras to show the action on the back nine. It’s all part of a grand scheme to persuade sports fans to buy new 3-D televisions sets.And of course Tiger Woods much-anticipated return to the Masters can’t hurt. But yes, you still have to wear the glasses.

SCRABBLE BABBLE: What do stage and screen showstoppers  Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie and Jayne Eastwood all have in common? They’re three of the 40 sparklies set to play at the sixth annual Scrabble With The Stars next month. In case you’ve forgotten this is the once-a-year fundraiser for PAL Toronto, the Performing Arts Lodge that is now home for so many of our now-senior artists who devoted their lives to delighting us on stage and screen. In addition

BARRY & JEANNE: Scrabblers

to such long time supporters as Peter Kent, Gordon Pinsent and legendary moppet charmers Sharon, Lois & Bram, marquee luminaries already confirmed include Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Mickie Moore, Leah Pinsent,  Shakura S’Aida, Avery Saltzman, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova and cuisine queen Sara Waxman, TV fashionista Jeanne Beker and her best beau Barry Flatman are returning to host this year’s star-studded Scrabble evening on Monday April 12 at the King Suites, and I can personally guarantee that you’ll have a great time. For more information and/or to order tickets, just click here. But don’t wait too long — this event ALWAYS sells out!

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More Stars In Our Eyes Tonight In T.O., N.Y. and L.A.

ENTER THE ACTRESS: Tony & Emmy collector Andrea Martin, fresh from her stage triumph in Mel Brooks’ musical version of Young Frankenstein, returns to Broadway tonight with Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon in a rare revival of Eugene Ionesco’s Exit The King. Rush is making his debut on the Great White Way in the absurdist comedy, playing a monarch who has only 90 minutes to live. Sarandon and Ambrose play two of his queens, and the indefatigable Ms. Martin plays the maid. Any bets as to who’s gonna get the most laughs?

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NORMAN CONQUESTS: The Canadian Film Centre and Film Independent are co-hosting a tribute to CFC founder Norman Jewison next month at the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. Veteran film critic Leonard Maltin will

JEWISON: L.A. honours
JEWISON: L.A. honours

host the on-stage tribute, which will be followed by one of Jewison’s several classics, In The Heat Of The Night. The saga of a black detective trying to survive in a racist southern town, Jewison’s1967 drama with Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and Lee Grant won five Oscars, including Best Picture. It also won a much-coveted Best Actor award for Steiger, who had been nominated for The Pawnbroker but lost to Cat Ballou’s Lee MarvinPoitier, who already owned an Oscar for Lilies Of The Field, followed up with Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and three years later his great success as Detective Virgil Tibbs in Jewison’s hit film inspired a so-so sequel, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, directed by Rat Pack favourite Gordon Douglas.

Sadly Rod Steiger won’t be there to toast his buddy Norman. But lots of Jewison’s admirers will be.

Stay tuned.

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TONIGHT, TONIGHT: I predict T.O. taxis will do boffo business tonight. Ron James is opening his Mental As Anything tour at the Winter Garden; TIFF is presenting a free screening of Hollis Frampton’s magnum opus Hapax Legomena, which will be Introduced by York cinema prof Michael Zryd at Cinemateque Ontario; and artistic director Ken Gass is hosting the Factory Theatre spring gala –“great food, great atmosphere, and a great show.”  The show? The world premiere of Florence Gibson’s Missing, directed by David Ferry. Call Michelle at 416-504-4473 for last-minute tickets.

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STARS IN OUR EYES: Add stage & screen charmer Cara Pifko, award-winning actor/director Sarah Polley, freshman MP Peter Kent, newspaper columnist and novelist Linwood Barclay and broadcaster Jane Hawtin to

PIFKO: Star Scrabbler

PIFKO: Star Scrabbler

the Scrabble With The Stars celebrity roster this year. Previously announced luminaries set to participate in the April 6 event at The King Suites include Graham Abbey, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Michael Burgess, Dinah Christie, Jayne Eastwood, Don Harron, Marilyn Lightstone, Sheila McCarthy, Deb McGrath, Colin Mochrie, Gordon Pinsent, Leah Pinsent, Paul Quarrington, Jackie Richardson, Zaib Shaikh, Dione Taylor, R.H. Thomson and hosts Jeanne Beker & Barry Flatman. Call 416-777-9674 for tickets, but don’t delay – the popular fundraising Gala is almost sold out … director Larry Weinstein’s much anticipated opus, Inside Hana’s Suitcase, will premiere here April 30 at Hot Docs … and B.C. soul rocker Alex Cuba has launched a new artist-branded web-browser. Based on the Firefox platform and developed by Canadian software companies Adevia Software and Brand Thunder, the browser can be downloaded from http://www.alexcuba.com and www.brandthunder.com/alexcuba.

Can you spell O-r-d-e-r Tickets N-o-w?

One of the year’s most star-laden events is exactly one month away – and you’re invited to bring your camera.

BEKER: H-o-s-t-i-n-g

BEKER: H-o-s-t-i-n-g

Everyone’s fave fashionista Jeanne Beker and her steady fella Barry Flatman will host the fifth annual Scrabble® With The Stars, the annual showbiz fund-raiser for Toronto’s Performing Arts Lodge (a.k.a. PAL) is set for April 6, 2009 at The Suites at 1 King West, with more than 40 stage, screen and literary celebs participating.

Public relations pro Vivienne Muhling, a primary PAL booster, devised the all-star evening five years ago, luring star-gazers and Scrabble fans alike by promising AND delivering a star at every table. So while patrons rub shoulders and match wits with some of Canada’s premiere sparklies, this year’s proceeds will fund the first steps towards providing assisted living for those PAL residents who are no longer well enough to fully care for themselves.

SHAIKH: Scrabbler

SHAIKH: Scrabbler

This year’s all-star cast of Scrabble players include – are you ready? — Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Michael Burgess, Dinah Christie, Jayne Eastwood, Don Harron, Peter Kent, Colin Mochrie, Marilyn Lightstone, Gordon Pinsent, Leah Pinsent, Paul Quarrington, Jackie Richardson, Dione Taylor, R.H. Thomson, Teresa Tova and Little Mosque On The Prairie stars Sheila McCarthy, Zaib Shaikh and Deb McGrath, with more marquee names to be announced momentarily.

And no, you don’t have to mortgage your condo to pay for it. Single Gala tickets, which include the cocktail reception, buffet dinner AND Scrabbling with a Star, are only $125 each, and come with a tax receipt (!!) for the maximum amount allowable. Which is why this event tends to sell out fast. So don’t take too long to think it over. Call 416-777-9674 or go to www.scrabblewiththestars.ca, but don’t let this one get away.

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NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ:  Crowd-pleaser Ron James returns to Toronto to bring his Mental As Anything tour to the Winter Garden – but he’s here for six nights only, March 26-28 and April 2-4. So don’t say I didn’t warn you …

KAIN: Casting calls

KAIN: Casting calls

best showbiz name I’ve heard this week: Underoath,  the Tampa-based heavy metal band who kick off their Canadian tour tomorrow night in Vancouver. Opening for the group: Norma Jean and Innerpartysystem, (I guess Sam Butera & The Witnesses weren’t available) … and although she’s clearly brilliant at nurturing show-stopping dancers, National Ballet chief Karen Kain is no slouch when it comes to off-stage casting either. Hosts for her series of Ballet Talks at the Four Seasons Centre For The Arts — those popular informal chats that begin 45 minutes before every show—for her current Innovation evenings are renowned dance critics Clement Crisp from the Financial Times in London and Michael Crabb from the National Post. And the host for the upcoming Romeo & Juliet ballet talks will be ex-Romeo Rex Harrington.

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MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH: Former CBC broadcaster Avril Benoît is now working for Médecins Sans Frontières Canada as the director of communications.  

BARRIE: Returning

BARRIE: Returning

Recently interviewed on Dispatches from Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she said the United Nations is failing the people there. “The UN peacekeeping force with amandate to protect is not protecting,” Benoit said flatly. “There’s no one protecting them!”… CBC ear candy Andrew Craig joins Mike Downes, Anthony Michelli and David Mott in a jazz quartet for Canada’s first jazz oratorio, Creation, written and composed by acclaimed saxophonist David Mott. World premiere is set for May 3 at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre. Also sharing the stage, which features photographs taken in space by astronaut and longtime Mott fan Steve MacLean: The 60+ voice Mississauga Choral Society and guest soloists Kathryn Domoney, Adi Braun, Martin Houtman, and Giles Tomkins … and much to the delight of his legions of fans, Andy Barrie is set to return to CBC Radio on Monday morning.