Bye bye Bistro, Kathleen keeps her clothes on, and Titanic goes on and on (and on, and on, and …)

ANCHORS AWEIGH: Apparently it’s not only Céline’s heart that will go on and on. A boatload of new productions mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic next month. First up is the premiere of the new Julian Fellowes four-part mini-series Titanic on Global this Wednesday. This new version by

TITANIC: sinking ship syndrome?

Fellowes, who penned Downton Abbey— which, coincidentally, started with news of the Titanic sinking – follows the aristocrats staying in first-class cabins and the lower class families residing in steerage. “Each episode focuses on individual families but will feature every character as their stories become

REID: in four-part mini-series

intertwined with each other. Viewers will also see the ship begin to sink in every episode as the series builds up to the finale when it will be revealed who survives and who doesn’t.” Advance reviews are a bit iffy so far (c’mon, we already know how it ends) but insiders say the real fun is betting on which of the familiar faces on board (eg., David Eisner, Toby Jones, Linda Kash, Noah Reid, Linus Roache) will sink or swim. Next up: Titanic: The Canadian Story, a new two-hour special on the historical event we can’t seem to get enough of, set to air Thursday April 5 on CBC’s Doc Zone. Did you know that included among the more than 2,200 passengers and crew on the Titanic were 130 men women and children bound for Canada? Me neither. But

CAMPBELL: in 12-part series

wait – there’s more. On Monday April 9 National Geographic kicks off a week-long Titanic salute with Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron. (Do we believe that ‘final word’ bit? Not for a minute.) But wait – there’s more. Also in the works is Titanic: Blood & Steel, at 12-episode dramatic series that focuses on the construction of the ship, its owner and the workers, and is set in the Belfast shipyards in 1907. All-star cast members already signed include Sir Derek Jacobi, Neve Campbell and Chris Noth.  Can Titanic: The Musical and Titanic: The Mobile App be far behind? Stay tuned.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I’ve learned that great style has little to do with what you wear. It’s how you wear it and who you are. Confidence is the best fashion

BEKER: 60 reasons to celebrate

accessory. I’ve learned never to wish to be in someone else’s shoes — you never really know where they’ve come from or where they’re going. I’ve learned that aging should make us better, not bitter. I’ve learned that Botox can help.” The learner? Jeanne Beker, suddenly 60, in one of her best columns ever, in today’s Toronto Star. My personal favourite? “I’ve learned that inner beauty is the only kind that really counts. But good lighting helps.” To read the unsinkable Ms. Beker’s unique summing up of what she’s learned so far, click here.

FOOTLIGHTS: Toronto audiences will get a chance to see Kathleen Turner’s much-lauded stage performance as a salty nun trying to rehabilitate a 19-year-old drug user when High opens in May at the Royal Alex. And before you ask, this

TURNER: on a High

time it’s her young male co-star who appears on stage in the nude. Sister Turner, I’m advised, keeps her clothes on … among the sparklies on the New York stage this week is Eric McCormack, currently treading the boards with Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, John Larroquette and Candice Bergen in previews for a star-studded revival of Gore Vidal’s truth-searing political drama The Best Man … Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford is set to direct and choreograph the stage adaptation of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, a new big-budget Disney musical set to premiere in London next year. The musical will

McCORMACK: back on Broadway

incorporate Burton’s unique aesthetic into the show’s design, follow the plot of the 2010 film — the ninth highest-grossing film of all time (!!!) — and will feature a book by the film’s screenwriter Linda Woolverton … and Kate Winslet is toying with the notion of making her stage debut in a revival of David Hare’s drama Skylight. The production would be helmed by Hare himself, with Bill Nighy reprising his role as Tom Sergeant, most likely for a West End opening followed by a limited Broadway run.

Stay tuned.

THE NIGHT THEY CALLED IT A DAY: Once the Sardi’s  of Toronto, Bistro 990 served its last suppers Saturday night and officially closed Sunday morning, with a closing party on the premises last night. Among the dozens of

BISTRO 990: Going, going ... gone

merry mourners greeted by owner Tom Kristenbrun and maitre d’ Victor Magalhaes were Bistro regulars Austin Clarke, Larry Dane, ‘Party Barbara’ Herschenhorn, Bill Marshall, Gordon Pinsent, Sari Ruda, Rob Salem, Sara Waxman and Rita Zekas, whose Stargazing columns put the French bistro on the media map and kept it there for decades. Meanwhile, across town at Eglinton and Bathurst, despite headlines announcing its imminent demise due to city expropriations, the House of Chan is still thriving.  One media scribe reported

HOUSE OF CHAN: Business as usual

that the restaurant entrance was locked after he personally checked it out; apparently he didn’t realize that the legendary Toronto steak oasis that Donny Lyons lyonized  is open only for dinner, from 5 pm on. If proposed subway construction forces the restaurant to close in the future — and that’s still a big If —  it won’t happen until at least 2014. Until then, you can expect Chan to continue to serve up all its famous specialties seven nights a week. And amen to that!

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Jim gets Jack, Tony gets Chris, Nova Scotia gets a Zannslide & Stratford gets Hockey Day In Canada

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Looks like Jack Nicholson has signed on to another James L. Brooks joint. Brooks, who directed Jack in Terms Of Endearment and As Good As It Gets, wants him for a new romantic comedy with

VANELLI: Dutch treat

VANELLI: Dutch treat

Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd …  Serena Ryder’s critically acclaimed CD is it O.K., already certified Gold here, will debut in the U.S. this September … Gino Vanelli is happily hunkering down in his country getaway in Holland, just 20 kilometers south of Amsterdam. “Why do logic and simplicity strike only later in life?” he ponders. “Having a home here allows me so much more latitude and access to Western and Eastern European concert halls. Even a gig in Moscow is only 3½ hours away.” Besides his current dates overseas he’s considering a Greatest Hits concert this coming September at the Hilton in Las Vegas. Stay tuned …  young filmmaker Jonathan Chiovitti premieres his new Batman fan film, Reign Of Fate, on Sunday at 5 pm at the Royal Theatre …   irreverent laugh-makers Gavin Crawford & Elvira Kurt are Together Again For The First Time tonight at Buddies In Bad Times … and director Tony Scott has signed new Star Trek captain Chris Pine to co-star with Denzel Washington in Unstoppable. Which sounds like it probably is.



REMEMBER WHEN IT WAS ‘THE CANADIAN GAME’?  My oh my, how times have changed. Armani and Gucci will replace shoulder pads and skates when the NHL’s brightest stars spruce up and head to Las Vegas for next week’s 2009 NHL Awards at the Palms Hotel. The 90-minute show will include performances by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Chaka Khan and multi-platinum recording artist Robin Thicke, son of hockey fanatic Alan Thicke. (Look for another ice nut, crooner Michael Bublé, among the famous faces in the crowd. The NHL Awards house band will be led by Saturday Night Live band leader Katreese Barnes, and CBC Television will telecast the whole shebang in Hi-Def next Thursday  at 8:30 p.m.

OUT, OUT, DAMN PUCK:  It’s official – Coronation Street returns to its regular nightly 7 pm timeslot this coming Monday on CBC Television.

IN, IN, DAMN PUCK: Mr. Shakespeare’s second favourite town, Stratford Ontario, has been chosen to host the 10th annual Hockey Day In Canada celebrations January 30, 2010 on CBC Television, with Tim Horton’s picking up the tab for the ice time. Way to go, guys!

BERGEN: ex-fashionista

BERGEN: ex-fashionista

FASHION FILE: “Haute couture is over,” says wowOwow.com contributor Candice Bergen. “Toast. And whoever said that celebrities were the only ones left to wear these gowns failed to note that celebrities don’t pay a centime for them. Bupkus. Borrowed or given. So that leaves who … Russian girlfriends and Arab wives? Not to belittle or be dismissive but …

“I borrowed a Christian Lacroix once for a ball at a chateau outside Paris. I had a fitting. It was a spectacular dress and they had to let it out in the waist and take in the bust. My daughter was two or three at the time and she was playing underneath the gown, like in a teepee, and we had a small BMW and we had to bat the dress down so we could see out to drive!”

FAVOURITE HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: From the Halifax Chronicle-Herald: Actress wins her seat by a Zannslide. Which, in fact, she did. Brand-new NDP candidate Lenore Zann won more than 4,000 votes in her Nova Scotia riding of Truro-Bible Hill this week, twice as many as her closest Conservative competitor, and celebrated by hosting her victory party in a local watering hole, the Ponderosa Tap and Grill, affectionate dubbed The Pond by its regulars. And another Tory stronghold bites the dust. Said stage screen charmer (and new MLA) Zann: “This shows people in this province were really ready for a change.” Sounds like they’re about to get one.

VARDALOS: poster girl

VARDALOS: poster girl

NIA’S NEXT: Her life may be in Ruins at the moment, but Nia Vardalos has already completed her next film. It’s called I Hate Valentine’s Day, her costar is John Corbett (who was also her costar in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and she wrote and directed it. “It’s my directorial debut, and we shot it in 18 days.” To pull off the low-budget comedy she cast mostly personal friends, like SNL alumnus Rachel Dretch, who also joined her in her current rom-com hit, My Life In Ruins. And forget about those movie star salaries. They’re so yesterday. “Everybody worked for scale,” Vardalos reports – “including John and me.”


Have a great SUNNY weekend. See you Monday.


About Kylie & Barbara & Barbra & Stompin’ Tom

   NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  Fresh from her acclaimed Manhattan run at Feinstein’s cabaret, late-blooming Broadway legend Barbara Cook re-

CONNORS: still stompin'

CONNORS: still stompin'

unites with the New York Philharmonic for one night only on Saturday May 30 … following in the footsteps of Rick Mercer, John Cleese, Bob Newhart, Steve Smith and Tracy Ullman, grown-up Kid In  The Hall Mark McKinney will receive the CTV-sponsored Peter Ustinov Award at the Banff International Television Festival next month … pack up your pick-up trucks. The indefatigable Stompin’ Tom Connors is set to serenade high-rollers at Casino Rama on August 22 … pop superstar Kylie Minogue will finally make her North American debut with a six-city tour which includes the Hollywood Bowl in L.A. (October 4) and the ACC in Toronto (October 9) … young Canuck filmmaker Stephen Dunn reports that this week’s Cannes screening of his award-winning short film The Hall went extremely well. “The audience was packed and extremely lively. It had the exact same reaction in Cannes as it did in Toronto, so obviously the humour translated overseas. We are all very proud of the success of the film!” …   and why Will Ferrell keeps remaking TV series into movies is beyond me, not to mention anyone else who suffered through Bewitched – but he’ll try it again on June 5, the official opening date for his comedy (fingers crossed) remake of Land Of The Lost. To catch a sneak preview, click here.

So glad you got it.

* * *

BETTER THAN BEING THERE: Okay, the jury’s in — Roger Ebert‘s daily journals from Cannes are the best that ever were, sometimes breath-takingly brilliant, almost always riotously entertaining. Add his ability to add his own Shaky Cam coverage — wait ’til you see Mike Myers tell Maclean’s film maven Brian D. Johnson he’s very “honoured with a U ” to be in Quentin Tarantino’s new film with Brad Pitt — and the result is Don’t-Miss daily reading. And as Computerworld magazine noted not so long ago, “The comments from readers are about the best you will see on a blog.” I’ll say. To put him on your Must list right now, just click here.

* * *

EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSE: New audiences are discovering her as cub-lawyer Ellen Parsons on Damages with Glenn Close, but do they know she’s part of the current Australian invasion taking over Hollywood?

BYRNE: Australian

BYRNE: Australian

Yup, Rose Byrne is an Aussie, the youngest daughter of a statistician and a grammar school administrator. So how come she and Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman are so darn fluent in American?

“There’s really no great secret to it,” Byrne tells Sharp magazine’s Dylan Young. “It’s just that we have a distinct advantage over Americans actors—we grow up watching their films and television shows. Let’s face it, for every thousand hours of American content that we watch, Americans probably watch one or two that come from Australia or Britain. We’re bound to find it a bit easier.”

Byrne, who also co-starred with Nicolas Cage in Knowing, appreciates the value of making a great entrance. “Damages basically began with my character running down the street half-naked and covered in her fiancé’s blood. And that’s not the worst thing she ends up having to deal with.”

For more of the Sharp interview with Ms Byrne, click here.

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DAISY, DAISY, GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER, DO: (But gimme the correct one this time.) Yesterday I reminisced about H.A.L., the too-human computer in  Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and mentioned that H.A.L. had been voiced by Douglas Campbell.

Wrong. The voice of H.A.L. was, of course, the golden-throated Douglas Rain.

My bad. Sorry. But it’s great to have such diligent readers. Thanks!

* * *

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Reality shows? My thrill is Dancing With the Stars. I love it. But if I had to compete in an event, it would probably be eating. I could pretty much whup anyone’s ass there.”

BERGEN: bullied

BERGEN: bullied

The speaker? Candice Bergen, who also says she was bullied — and not by Charlie McCarthy, her notorious ‘sibling,’ but by all sorts of bullues, all her life.

“Oy, have I been bullied. I must have a sign tattooed on my forehead: ‘This one’s a pushover.’ Bullied by men. Women. But in the distant past. And yet, how well I remember … the distinct “I’m shrinking!” feeling. Turning to sludge. It seems to be something most people grow out of but I am a devout shirker of confrontation. No spine.

“That’s one of the reasons I loved playing Murphy Brown. She was fearless and it sort of wore off on me.”

I’ll say.

* * *

WHICH TUNE HAS THE TONY? That would be singer-dancer-choreographer-director Tommy Tune, who owns nine (9) of em! … Oscar,

STREISAND: sales champ

STREISAND: sales champ

Emmy and Tony owner Barbra Streisand’s new DVD package, Streisand: The Concerts, has scored the No. 1 spot on both the UK and USA charts. In America, the set has had the highest sales for any music DVD so far this year … Jane Fonda’s caricature is finally part of Sardi’s famous theater restaurant and it’s taken only 46 years for her to get there. Before her current Tony nomination for 33 Variations, she made her Broadway debut in the ‘60s … and speaking of the Tonys, honorary Tony recipients this year, for their contributions to excellence in theatre, include composer Jerry Herman and writer/actress/producer Phyllis Newman.

The show must go on. And on. And on.















When did live theatre become a synonym for marathon?

First came Mr. Charles Dickens’ The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, an eight-hour stage play presented over two performances. Then came Alan Ayckbourn’s three-play Norman Conquests (“See one! See them all!”)

Coming soon to our town, for the very first time, is the entire City of Wine seven-play cycle about the ancient Greek city of Thebes by yet another Dickens — Kingston playwright Ned Dickens. Billed as “an unprecedented event in Canadian theatre history,” City of Wine features 105 of Canada’s newest talents from the graduating classes of theatre schools across the country, in seven, count ‘em, 7 productions mounted by the award-winning Nightswimming theatre company for Theatre Passe Muraille.



And just when I was thinking that seven could be heaven, I watched Rick Mercer and learned that Shaw Festival chief Jackie Maxwell is staging all 10, count ‘em, 10 of Noel Coward’s one-act plays this season, and that yes, there are three consecutive days in the schedule where you can actually get to see all 10 Noel Coward one-act stands.

“Do you get lunch?” asked Mercer.

“You get a Noel Coward lunch,” Shaw Festival headliner Corrine Koslo assured him – “a martini and a cigarette!”

You can catch Mercer’s festival apprenticeship — in a Sondheim musical, no less! – tomorrow night at 8 pm on CBC.

* * *

MEAT & GREET: Still-gorgeous Candice Bergen, as magnetic on Boston Legal as she was on Murphy Brown, admits she has a strong feelings about eating any kind of four-legged animal.

“Also some two-legged,” she adds, “like duck. I will never eat duck. And I haven’t eaten pork or beef, especially veal, for 35 years. This started because I suddenly started to find people carving into these bloody haunches of meat so disturbing. And after walking through the former huge market square in Paris, with hundreds of carcasses hanging side by side, it just repulsed me and I decided to keep my own half-assed vegetarianism.”

She says she doesn’t mention it at dinner parties.

“I just eat around the meat. I’m not a pain in the ass, but I cannot eat meat now — even some that looks and smells delicious, like barbecued ribs or prosciuto — without feeling like I am betraying animals.”

* * *

BEFORE THE GAY GUY SEES YOUR BOOBS: Funnybone tickler David Sedaris (When You Are Engulfed In Flames) admitted to Sharp magazine interviewer Jeremy Freed that he’s a major fan of Sidney Lumet’s masterwork Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.

“I don’t understand why they just didn’t give an Academy Award to everyone who was in that movie,” he told Freed.



He was also admitted that he was somewhat bedazzled by Lumet’s wide-screen exposure of Marisa Tomei’s breasts.

“I’m curious, too, because I’m not a good judge of these sorts of things, were those really Marisa Tomei’s breasts? Or do you think that she had something done? She must be, like, 45 or something,” Sedaris reckoned.

But why the fascination with Ms. Tomei’s ta-tas?

“Because I’m a homosexual and I don’t see many breasts, I always thought that breasts, like, just looked a certain way. I didn’t know there were so many styles of them. But Marisa Tomei’s breasts look like a mermaid’s breasts.

“If I were her,” he added, “I would never wear a shirt.”

Then again, if you were her, you wouldn’t be David Sedaris.

Wow — it’s Watchmen and wowOwow!

Based on the much-lauded graphic novel, Watchmen is one of those rare page-to-screen translations that actually lives up to all its advance hype.

Visually eye-popping settings, spectacular special effects and just enough squirm-making suspense (yes, there will be blood) to keep it real. Plot twists are frequent and surprising, and the setting – America reeling under Richard Nixon’s fourth (!!) term in office — offers an intriguing mix of political fact and ficton. One of the nicest surprises is the tunefully clever soundtrack featuring, among others, Leonard Cohen and Simon & Garfunkel, whose songs are used to unexpected advantage here.

AKERMAN: Watchwoman

AKERMAN: Watchwoman

Director Zack Snyder (300,) an old hand at this, keeps the pot on such a high boil that despite its substantial running time Watchmen holds us entranced from start to finish. And he gets stellar support from his cast. Transplanted Toronto charmer Malin Akerman, who graced the Warner Bros. sneak preview at AMC Dundas Square last night, is a stand-out as Silk Spectre II, and Grey’s Anatomy scene-stealer Jeffrey Dean Morgan probably gets the most screen time as The Comedian.

Because Watchmen also provides back-story bios of its key protagonists, viewers are bound to pick their own favourites.  Happily they’ll have lots to choose from, because Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley and Stephen McHattie also make the most of their complex graphic comic book characters.

(McHattie will be doing double-duty this month. He stars in Bruce MacDonald’s TIFF tongue-wagger Pontypool, also opening this weekend.)

Not for the kiddies, Watchmen is nonetheless great fun, exquisitely executed.

BTW, the website is kinda neat too. You can check it out here.

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Where have I been?

Up until Liz Smith got fired last week, I’d never even heard of wowOwow.com.

So if I can‘t read Liz in the New York Post  — their loss, her gain – and can’t always be near a TV set for her showbiz reports on NBC, where else can I find her?

BERGEN: blogger

BERGEN: brainy blogger

“I will contiuue to blog,” said Liz last week, “on wowOwow.com” – an internet address that looked like a major typo to me.

Au contraire, mes amis!

Yes, Virginia, there really is a wowOwow.com. It stands for Women On the Web, and on it Liz serves up her Daily Dish with her usual style and panache. And she’s in very good company, because her fellow wowOwow.com bloggers include such brainy belles as Candice Bergen, Lily Tomlin and her brilliant partner Jane Wagner, Whoopi Goldberg and Marlo Thomas, just to mention a few.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, yes, it’s true, they’re all painfully shy girls, far too reticent to share their opinions.

No, wait, that’s wallflower.com.

I always get those two confused.

In the meantime, check out www.wowOwow.com  for yourself. Because it’s lots of fun.

And considering who lives there, why wouldn’t it be?

What a difference a dame makes.

You win some, you lose some

Joan Rivers is on QVC today – the U.S. forerunner of our Shopping Channel, as if you didn’t know – selling  jewelry from her high-profile Boardroom Collection.

The power of television!” La Rivers marveled on Twitter this morning. “The jewelry I wore last night on Celebrity Apprentice is being worn by the models at QVC and is almost sold out!”

RIVERS: no Dice

RIVERS: no Dice


After last night’s two-hour opener  — which saw Joan’s team trounce Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker‘s all-male team – Rivers received lotsa pro & con reaction to some of her team members, including brainy Playboy playmate Brande Roderick and Alpha-female poker champion Annie Duke. When some of her friends called her to say how much they hate Annie, team leader Rivers remained uncharacteristically mum. “I could lie and tell them they’re wrong,” she twittered, “but then my nose would grow back.”

And who thought potty-mouth master Andrew Dice Clay would be the first celebrity apprentice to be fired? (Besides Andrew Dice Clay, I mean?)

I’m already looking forward to the second installment next Sunday.


FALLING UP: After more than three decades of filing daily reports, much-loved New York showbiz columnist Liz Smith is nowhere to be seen in Manhattan newspapers this week. Now a celebratory 86, Liz got sacked last week by her current tabloid address, the New York Post.

SMITH: tabloid-free

SMITH: tabloid-free


Still a regular blogger and TV gossipist, Liz considered herself just another newsprint casualty until reporter James Barron put her on the front page of the New York Times.  And then the phone calls and emails started pouring in.

“Liz, I think you have fallen a step up in leaving the Post,” Carol Burnett told her. Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, who had serenaded Liz at her 80th birthday bash, took time to call her. So did Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg. “I also received a love note from the wonderful singer Josh Groban,” says Liz, “and loving support by e-mail from John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Sly Stallone.”

She also heard from Madonna, who asked, “What is New York without Liz Smith?”

Tom Brokaw called, and so did Warren Beatty. Liz also had “a riotous conversation” with Frost/Nixon star Frank Langella.  And her pal Candice Bergen sent her a cheery message “not appropriate for family reading.”

Ironically, you can catch up with Liz even more easily now, on www.wowOwow.com.


As expected, Carrie Fisher’s comments on this year’s Oscar weekend were true to form. (“Oh my God, there’s Madonna! Is she with that Jesus guy? Were you invited to her party with Demi on the night of the telecast? Yeah, me neither.”) Good news is that Sean Penn’s Milk producer Bruce Cohen is also producing the adaptation of Carrie last book, The Best Awful, a 4-hour thing miniseries to star Meg Ryan. Meanwhile Carrie has turned out yet another bestseller almost as funny as she is. Addicted to wordplay – remember her novel Delusions Of Grandma? – this one is called Wishful Drinking, and it’s all about growing up with Debbie & Eddie in Hollywood. But more about that (lots) tomorrow.