Tag Archives: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER

Billy rocks the Oscars — imagine our surprise — and Dusty Cohl’s floating filmfest sails again

CRYSTAL: Welcome home, Billy!

JUST A SIMPLE BOY WITH A DREAM: Yes, I watched last night’s Oscarcast. Just me and another billion people. And yes, it went on too long. It always does. But it was a splendid reminder of why we’ve missed Billy Crystal. Let’s hope Academy chief Tom Sherak can coax him to return next year.

BENJAMIN: filmfest honouree

ANCHORS AWEIGH: The one-and-only (as far as we know) Floating Film Festival sails from Fort Lauderdale today on a week-long movie cruise of Caribbean islands. Launched  by Toronto filmfest co-founder Dusty Cohl, and kept afloat after his death by filmmaker Barry Avrich, festival programmer Hannah Fisher and travel magician Rosemary Durham, this 12th (!!!) edition will visit San Juan, St. Barth’s, Antigua and the Virgin Islands while unspooling 15 new and classic films. Among this year’s gems is the hit 1969 drama Goodbye, Columbus, with stellar performances by Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw. Highlight of the voyage is expected to be an evening tribute to Benjamin, who will be accompanied on the cruise by his wife

REED: all at sea

Paula Prentiss. (More on the Benjamins as it happens.)  Also on hand to kibbitz and chide FFF 12 filmgoers are the film critics for the Chicago Tribune and New York Observer — respectively, Michael Phillips and Rex Reed (yes, that Rex Reed.) Tonight’s opening film is Dori Bernstein’s stunning biography of Broadway legend Carol Channing.  (More on that tomorrow.)

LINEHAN ON LINE:  Legendary interviewer Brian Linehan was one of the original Floating Film Festival crew members, interviewing stars on stage and usually making the voyage more exciting for all concerned. Good news is that, at

LINEHAN: on line at last

long last, dozens of Linehan’s television interviews are now on line for the whole world to see. Go to www.brianlinehan.ca and you’ll find hours of memorable moments with Daniel Day-Lewis, Mark Harmon, Bette Midler, Leah Pinsent, Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini, Elaine Stritch, Kiefer Sutherland, James Spader, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and many more.  The three major organizations behind the website — the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, the National Screen Institute (NSI) and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – have done a remarkable job of putting it together. Says TIFF CEO Piers Handling: “Brian was the celebrity journalist everyone wanted to talk with, and we’re proud to be able to preserve and digitize some of those incredible interviews to be enjoyed by the public via the new website.”  We couldn’t agree more.

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Midnight In Paris may not win another Oscar for Woody — but that poster is definitely a keeper

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: All will be revealed this weekend on Sunday night’s  Academy Awards telecast — but if they gave out Oscars for movie posters, the Van Gogh version of Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris would get my vote hands down. It really is a beauty, and so evocative of the spirit of the film.

I mean, how cool is this? Really. I’m sure Woody will survive without winning more gold statuettes; he already has plenty. And the fact that Midnight In Paris is his biggest hit in years has gotta be the best consolation prize of all. By the way, not all Woody fans get to enjoy the same poster we do. Different countries market films in, well, different ways. As you can see. Oddly enough I have no desire to frame this one. But hey — different brush strokes for different folks.

YET ANOTHER REASON WHY WE LOVE LIZ SMITH: Has Manhattan gossip queen Liz Smith had her final say about Whitney Houston’s demise? We hope not. “No matter what Whitney might have abused in the past,” she wrote last week, “reports indicate that there were no illegal drugs found in her hotel room. Or in her body — believe me, TMZ would have headlined that. Whitney apparently died of an accident that has probably claimed a thousand American lives since Saturday. Too much drinking the night before, anxiety and a hangover the next day. Pop a Xanax (or anything to relax and relieve stress.) You don’t mean to, but you’ve just killed yourself.

SMITH: how Whitney died

“The legalization of marijuana or cocaine or meth have nothing to do with the circumstances of Whitney Houston’s death,” says Liz. “She didn’t die with a needle in her arm, or a crack pipe nearby. When TMZ obtained photos of the bathroom where she died, what terrible thing was revealed? There was a gravy boat, filled with an oil Whitney was using to soften her skin as she bathed. (The terrible thing is that they received these heartbreaking photos and ran them.) Police also said that Whitney possessed less prescribed medication at the time of her death than most ‘regular’ people.” Point taken. Let he who possesses an empty medicine cabinet throw the first over-the-counter pill.

YESTERDAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG:  Try as I might, I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it was 40 years ago – four decades, folks – when Veronica Tennant danced that mind-boggling Rose Adagio choreographed by

NUREYEV & TENNANT

NUREYEV & KAIN

Rudolf Nureyev for the National Ballet’s headline-making premiere of The Sleeping Beauty. Then-aspiring prima ballerina Karen Kain danced it too, and next month Heather Ogden will follow in their bruised and tortured footsteps when she costars in Sleeping Beauty with her husband, high-flyer Guillaume Côte, who by the way will receive the Medal of the National Assembly of Québec tomorrow at the Parliament Building in Québec. Kain, now artistic director for the NBOC, acknowledges that the Rose Adagio her pal Nureyev created for the company “is one of the most athletically difficult versions in the world. This version is extremely challenging, for both Princess Aurora and the Prince.” But she’s very excited about seeing ballerina Ogden dance the role, she says, “because in addition to everything else, Heather has a powerful physicality. I think Rudolf would have loved her.” Ms. Ogden has her own thoughts on her new role, which she is still rehearsing as you read this. For a sneak peek at rehearsals, click here.

THEY GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS: Even when I was a film critic — come to think of it, especially when I was a film critic — I was always confused about the Academy Awards. Especially whenever I disagreed with the choice of nominees and/or winners. That is, until Ingrid Bergman straightened me out. Said the iconic Ms. Bergman, a three-time Oscar winner herself:  “We don’t care what you think.”

DAVIS: Oscar nominee

Pardon? “We don’t care what you think,” said Ms. B, flashing her legendary enigmatic smile. “You play the critic every day of the year. This is our one night to play critic. This is our one chance, once a year, to vote for who we think did the best job. So we don’t care what you think. This is one night when your vote doesn’t count.”  A few years later I was on the phone talking to song-and-dance queen Ann Miller, “I have to go now,” she said – “I’ve got to finish filling out my Oscar ballot.”  “Really!” I said. “Do you know who you’re voting for?”   “What a question!” she laughed. “My friends, of course!”

Who’s gonna win this Sunday? If they vote for their friends, it will probably be George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Nick Nolte and Octavia Spencer. If they vote for performances, it will probably be Jean Dujardin, Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Jessica Chastain. But either way it will probably be quite a show. Enjoy!

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Matthew dons tap shoes, Jim sees a rabbit, Jesus goes to Harlem, and Julie & Jodie salute Arlene

STARS IN OUR EYES: Two of her favourite stars, Julie Andrews and Jodie Foster, are the proud presenters set to celebrate Disney publicity ace Arlene Ludwig at the ICG Publicists Guild’s annual pre-Oscar luncheon tomorrow at

LUDWIG: luncheon honours

the Beverly Hilton.  The Guild is dedicating its 2012 Publicists Directory and resource book to Ludwig, who has been deftly juggling print and electronic press for Disney for almost 50 years … 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson and Smash headliner Debra Messing will join Judy Kuhn, Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, Celia Weston, Hope Davis, Tony Roberts, John Guare and many more to honour Tony winner Linda Lavin at the Vineyard Theatre’s 2012 Benefit Gala on March 12 in Manhattan … superSongwriter Paul Williams will return to T.O. next month for the March 21-24 Canadian Music Week Film Fest. This year’s CMW filmfest promises an eclectic mix of movie premieres and special events, including a retrospective screening of The Muppet Movie with a post-film Q&A at which Oscar-winning composer Williams will talk about working on the film with Jim 

SHATNER: it's his world

Henson. Also on the Hot List:  the Canadian premiere of Joe Berlinger’s new doc Under African Skies, which documents Paul Simon’s return to South Africa and his reunion with many of the musicians that he worked with on his classic album Graceland  and after five decades of toiling in Hollywood, Bill Shatner is finally back on the Great White Way .  His one-man show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It,  revisits his personal and professional highest highs and lowest lows. “My plan has always been to return to Broadway every 50 years,” says Shatner, who starred on Broadway in the ’60s in The World Of Suzie Wong and A Shot In The Dark.  “Since then, of course, I’ve been refurbished; I hope the theatre has been too.” He’s at the Music Box ’til March 4.

FOOTLIGHTS:  Big Bang Theory go-to-guy Jim Parsons will follow in Jimmy Stewart’s footsteps when he co-stars with an invisible rabbit in the

PARSONS: bunny trail?

upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Harvey. Aided and abetted by  Broadway vets Carol Kane, Jessica Hecht, Charles Kimbrough  and two-time Tony nominee Larry Bryggman, Parsons begins previews May 18 and opens officially on June 14 at Studio 54 … the illustrious cast of Stratford’s Jesus Christ Superstar  including  Paul Nolan, Chillina Kennedy and Josh Young —  won hearts and minds and much appreciative applause when they gave a short

NOLAN: Jesus goes to Harlem

performance of show highlights last Friday night at the Church Of The Intercession in Harlem. The show opens in previews March 1 at the Neil Simon Theatre  … new University Of Guelph chancellor David Mirvish was so impressed by the Theatre Sheridan production of RENT — an SRO hit two months ago at Sheridan College’s Oakville campus — that he’s bring all 32 performers to his Panasonic Theatre for a 10-night run opening May 16 … and if you loved those “re-imagined” George & Ira Gershwin musicals My One And Only and Crazy For You, better start dusting off your tap shoes. Matthew Broderick, Estelle Parsons, Judy Kaye and South Pacific sweetheart Kelli O’Hara start all-singing all-dancing previews next month at the Imperial Theatre on the latest ‘new’ Gershwin musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It, directed and choreographed by Anything Goes hit-maker Kathleen Marshall. 

ALI: still a knock-out

MUHAMMAD ALI: still a knock-out

NO BIZ LIKE SHOWBIZ: Never one to shy away from controversy, director Stephen Frears is at the helm of the new HBO feature Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, an examination of the legal battle that erupted between Ali and the U.S. government when he became a conscientious objector and declined to serve in the Vietnam War. Christopher Plummer will play Supreme Court Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan II and Frank Langella will play Chief Justice Warren Burger. Frears reportedly plans to use actual footage of Ali himself, and not cast an actor to play him …   my spies tell me that Montreux Jazz Festival chief Claude Nobs is

SUZUKI: back to Japan

wooing Leonard Cohen to do two concerts at this year’s 46th annual Swiss music extravaganza  … my spies tell me tomorrow night’s instalment of Marketplace on CBC is eye-popping in more ways than one. It’s all about the outrageously high cost of prescription eyeglasses and what we can do about it …  one year after the northeastern seaboard of Japan was devastated by a major earthquake and a giant tsunami, David Suzuki goes back to Japan for Journey to the Disaster Zone: Japan 3/11 tonight on The Nature Of Things on CBC … and if you missed last week’s provocative Future Cities installment of The Suzuki Diaries with Suzuki and his daughter Sarka, don’t fret – an encore screening is set for 10 pm tonight on CBC News Network.

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George gets Oprah, Kim gets a sidewalk star and Toronto gets one heaping helping of Hollywood

STARS IN OUR EYES: What a weekend for celebrity-spotting in Our Town.  In addition to Penelope Cruz, Colin Farrell, Jeff Bridges, Jason Bateman, Hugh Hefner, Drew Barrymore, Ewan McGregor (who walked the red

McGREGOR: took flight

McGREGOR: took flight

carpet, then dashed to Pearson International to catch a flight) and too many more to mention here, Anne Murray hosted the stars receiving Walk Of Fame honours on Saturday night at the Four Seasons Centre. New sidewalk star owner Kim Cattrall, back in New York this morning shooting Sex And The City 2, also sparkled at George Christy’s 25th annual filmfest family reunion at the Four Seasons, as did Michael Caine, Rachel Ward & Bryan Brown, Norman Jewison, Michael Sheen, Rex Reed, novelists Ron Base & Shinan Govani, Seamus O’Regan, Chaz & Roger Ebert, Ben Mulroney and An Education scene-stealer Carey Mulligan, who flew to Manhattan yesterday to start shooting Wall Street 2 with Michael

CATTRALL: Back to Manhattan

CATTRALL: Back to Manhattan

Douglas. A few blocks away at Il Fornello TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall & Sari Ruda hosted their annual All-Star Lunch for directors Fred Schepisi, Patricia Rozema and Don Shebib, satirist Rick Miller, filmfest veteran Tony Watt, columnist Martin Knelman, ex-Toronto mayors David Crombie & Art Eggleton and many more. Veteran filmfest programmer Hannah Fisher and producers Pierre Sarrazin & Suzette Couture were among the guests soaking up the sun and snacks at Tonya Lee Williams’ lively networking reception at The Pilot for her ReelWorld Indie Lounge. And producer Laszlo

CLOONEY: with Oprah

CLOONEY: with Oprah

Barna and dozens of TIFF participants showed up to shmooze at the Canadian Film Centre soiree hosted by CFC chief Slawko Klymkiw at The Spoke Club.

Biggest crowd-pleasers of the weekend: George Clooney, who greeted cheering fans Friday night at the premiere of The Men Who Stare At Goats and then showed up with Oprah Winfrey on his arm for the Saturday screening of Jason Reitman’s crowd-pleasing Up In The Air. (My spies tell me Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking star Aaron Eckhart also was there. Who knew?) La Wnfrey herself drew thunderous applause last night at the premiere of Precious, as did Mariah Carey. But it was Michael Caine who earned the most affectionate TIFF standing ovations yesterday in his stellar Q&A session with Canada A.M. stalwart Seamus O’Regan.

TIFF TALK: TIFF visitor Tilda Swinton reportedly wants to star in a new screen version of Mame, more along the lines of stage & screen Mame Rosalind Russell than movie musical Mame Lucille Ball … popular music-makers Terri

SWINTON: new Mame?

SWINTON: new Mame?

Clark and Hawksley Workmen are among the entertainers appearing this week at the Hard Rock Café as part of the fifth annual TIFF-related Canadian Music Café …  Canuck luminaries ranging from Christopher Plummer, Norman Jewison and David Cronenberg to Margaret Atwood, Oscar Peterson and Louise Pitre are currently showcased in a new 30-year retrospective by photographer Edward Gajdel at the o born contemporary gallery on Yonge street … Bobby Del Rio is living the Actor’s Dream. He’s in every single scene of Mio Adilman’s short TIFF film Unlocked … and organizers of the Dubai International Film Festival pulled the plug on tonight’s planned Park Hyatt cocktail soiree. All in all, not Dubai’s best year for public relations. Maybe all the headline-grabbing fuss about the TIFF salute to Tel Aviv scared them off?

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A drama for Amanda, a film feast for Chris, a new musical for Catherine and a Toronto visit for Meryl!

ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW: Sadly, most of the publicity surrounding the making of Chloe, the new Atom Egoyan drama set to premiere

SEYFRIED: at TIFF as Chloe

SEYFRIED: at TIFF as Chloe

Sunday night at TIFF, focused on leading man Liam Neeson when his actress wife Natasha Richardson died tragically during the shooting of the film. What no one seems to have noticed is that the title character in Egoyan’s film is played by Amanda Seyfried, so outstanding as Meryl Streep’s daughter in Mamma Mia.  In Chloe she plays a sultry young seductress hired by Julianne Moore to test her husband’s faithfulness. (Expect to hear a lot of tongue-wagging after this one!) … and tonight’s TIFF Galas should offer some genuine surprises. Already winning rave reviews, The Men Who Stare At Goats showcases a stellar 1ddcd8b24bd2e054_colin_firthcast led by George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges in a stranger-than-fiction true story. (Want a sample? Just click here.) And the new version of Dorian Gray, with Colin Firth and terminally handsome Ben Barnes directed by Oscar Wilde aficionado Oliver Parker, reportedly takes that famous portrait mythology to new heights (and depths.) This one sure doesn’t look like any of the Dorian Grays we’ve seen before. For a sneak preview, click here.

OUR TOWN: Hollywood columnist George Christy, Norman Jewison and Gina & Paul Godfrey were among the boldface who turned up for the Best Buddies tribute to Ann-Margaret this week at the Four Seasons. Glamourous

STREEP: Toronto-bound

STREEP: Toronto-bound

in a glittering cocktail dress, the award-winning actress beamed when someone asked her if she minds being called Ann-Margrock, her character name on The Flintstones. “No, I love it!” she exclaimed. “That’s why I voiced the part in the first place!”… delighted by its successful run at Niagara-On-The-Lake, Theatre Museum Canada has finally brought its much-lauded retrospective of stage designer Cameron Porteous to T.O. After a week of previews, Risking The Void: The Scenography of Cameron Porteous, opens tonight at the Design Exchange and runs through October 20 … and talk about a hot ticket: current box office queen Meryl Streep is set for a public sit-down session with Johanna Schneller at the ROM on Oct. 7. Bon appetit, ladies!

McKELLAR: Tiff Talent booster

McKELLAR: Tiff Talent booster

TIFF TALK: The aspiring filmmakers who made the final cut to attend TIFF’s annual Talent Lab are in good and remarkably famous hands this year. Governors overseeing the program are Danny Boyle, John Collee, Miranda July and Cooking With Stella star Don McKellar. Film folk who have agreed to be drop-in mentors include Tilda Swinton, Atom Egoyan, Gaspar Noe, Jane Campion, Bruce Beresford and Suzana Amaral … is anyone having a better year on film that Christopher Plummer? He’s a major voice in Up, one of the summer biggest box office hits, and one of the top-billed stars of the new animated film 9, which opened here this week; he’s nominated for a Gemini Award for his performance in the screen version of his Stratford hit

PLUMMER: as Dr. Parnassus

PLUMMER: as Dr. Parnassus

Caesar & Cleopatra; he plays the title role in Terry Gilliam’s much-anticipated Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus, premiering here at TIFF next week; and he and Helen Mirren play Leo Tolstoy and his missus in the new German-Russian-U.K. co-production The Last Station. Can’t wait to see that one … and the best and most significant comment I’ve seen on the current tiff over TIFF’s choice of Tel Aviv for its City To City program comes from Toronto film critic Peter Howell. Says Howell: “Film festivals are supposed to be about opening minds, not closing them.” To which we say, bravo. To read his thoughtful column in yesterday’s Toronto Star, click here.

DOUGLAS: playing Solitary

DOUGLAS: playing Solitary

STARS IN OUR EYES: New Manhattan-dwellers Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones won’t have a lot of time to unpack their California bags. He’s already started shooting Oliver Stone’s sequel to Wall Street, reprising his role as imprisoned corporate crook Gordon Gekko opposite TIFF scene-stealer Carey Mulligan (An Education.) Meanwhile Solitary Man, Douglas’ meaty new drama with Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker and his longtime pal Danny DeVito premieres at TIFF next week. Meanwhile the ravishing Zeta-Jones, who won her

ZETA-JONES: back on the boards

ZETA-JONES: back on the boards

Oscar for her song-and-dance tour de force in Chicago, is starting rehearsals for her return to the musical stage in A Little Night Music, tackling the role played by Glynis Johns on Broadway, Judi Dench in London, Jean Simmons in Toronto and Elizabeth Taylor on screen. And speaking of Dame Elizabeth, who not so coincidentally happens to be the Founding International Chairman of AMFAR – will she jet here to attend our first-ever Cinema Against AIDS Toronto Gala on Tuesday at the Carlu? And will Global Fundraising champion Sharon Stone come with her? Kevin Sullivan & Trudy Grant are presenting sponsors of the lavish evening, which features a special dinner designed by Jamie Kennedy with Sarah McLachlan and Deborah Cox served up for dessert. For ticket information, click here.

Have a great TIFF weekend.

See you at the movies!

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