Tag Archives: DIANA KRALL

Curious about Eppie? Just ask Ann Landers. And, the Who’s Who who cheered Barbra in the village

Ms LONELYHEARTS: After a memorable guest spot as a dying nurse on the first season of Edie Falco’s hit series Nurse Jackie, veteran stage and screen charmer Judith Ivey opens tonight at Manhattan’s Cherry Lane Theater in a one-woman play about legendary lovelorn advice columnist Ann Landers called The Lady With All the Answers.

IVEY: as Ann Landers

IVEY: as Ann Landers

The last time I remember seeing Chicago’s queen of hearts, as Eppie Lederer (her real name) was called, was at Chaz & Roger Ebert’s wedding. Eppie and Brian Linehan were hot-footing it on the dance floor when it started to get a tad too hot for Eppie. “Tame it down, tame it down!” she protested, and Linehan graciously acquiesced.

After dispensing sage advice to thousands of grateful readers, by the end of her career Eppie was most famous for failing to save her own marriage. Also, much to her chagrin, her daughter Margo Howard, who eventually took over her column, would marry four times. But then, when has a daughter ever really listened to her mother?

I was much better acquainted with Eppie’s twin sister Pauline, who was equally famous as the Abigail Van Buren of Dear Abby. In the days when newspapers ruled, the sisters’ columns competed with each other in rival journals. Ann Landers was in the Toronto Star, so Dear Abby ran in The Toronto Telegram (and later the Toronto Sun.)

ABBY & ANN in their heyday (AP)

ABBY & ANN in their heyday (AP)

Eppie was a permanent fixture in Chicago. ‘Abby’ lived in California and enjoyed it. Like her sister, she was bright, vivacious and always good company. One day I walked into Norman Jewison’s beach house in Malibu and Norman, ‘Abby’ and Washington columnist Art Buchwald were all sitting in the living room, busy debating a burning issue of the day. As I approached them Abby looked up at me and beamed.

“We met in Toronto two weeks ago!” she proclaimed, struggling to remember my name. “I know you!”

“I don’t!” said Buchwald with a shrug, and returned to debating with Jewison.

CHANNING: "Absolutely not!"

CHANNING: "Absolutely not!"

Identical twins born 17 minutes apart, the sisters also got a kick out of teasing people when they were mistaken for each other. One night I bumped into Eppie in the bar at the Four Season in Hollywood and started talking about mutual friends in Chicago until I saw the twinkle in her eye.

“Yep,” she said, grinning – “I’m the other one!”

Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith says that years ago Eppie’s good friend Carol Channing wanted her Hello, Dolly! composer Jerry Herman to make a musical for her to star as Eppie. “To which Eppie said, ‘Absolutely not!’ But now there is a two-time Tony winner channeling Ann Landers,” adds Liz – “and everybody just hopes Eppie approves.”

VILLAGE PEOPLE: Yes, Barbra Streisand really did return to the tiny Village Vanguard club in Manhattan to perform songs from her new album, Love

STREISAND: stage fright?

STREISAND: stage fright?

Is The Answer, with only a jazz quartet behind her. (Chalk it up to the influence of her album producer Diana Krall. Not that there would have been room for an orchestra, let alone a band. “It’s hard to have stage fright,” Streisand remarked, “when, like, there’s no stage!”) Her audience, comprised mainly of contest winners from around the world, were thrilled to find themselves squeezed against such devoted Barbra boosters as Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Donna Karan, Barry Diller, David Geffen and composers Marilyn & Alan Bergman. Streisand was reportedly in glorious voice, and in addition to tunes from her new CD, she also reprised a few of her classics, including Evergreen (which she dedicated to a misty-eyed Bill Clinton) and The Way We Were.

Apparently you had to be there to believe it. And don’t you wish you had been?

TOMORROW:

What Julie Stewart and Dan Aykroyd are up to in Toronto.

Juno stars Page & Cera and director Jason Reitman return to TIFF with three new flicks. Meanwhile …

PAGE: on a roll

PAGE: on a roll

MEANWHILE: Don’t be surprised if TIFF-bound Jason Reitman, who scored his first big hit at the festival with Thank You For Smoking, bumps into his Juno star Ellen Page. The irresistible Ms Page is coming here to promote Drew Barrymore’s first film as a director, Whip It, which features the most roller derby pulchritude we’ve seen since Raquel Welch tore up the track in Kansas City Bomber.

Meanwhile, joining Page and Barrymore on screen are formidable femmes Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis and SNL scene-stealer Kristen Wiig, so what’s not to like?

CERA: "hysterically twisted"

CERA: "hysterically twisted"

Meanwhile, Page’s Juno co-star Michael Cera has his own entry in the upcoming TIFF sweepstakes: Youth In Revolt, which TIFF programmer Cameron Bailey describes as an “hysterically twisted coming of age tale,” with Zach Galifianakis, Jean Smart and Steve Buscemi, directed by Miguel Arteta.

Meanwhile, director Reitman, still in L.A. finishing his new TIFF entry Up In The Air, has been taking Sundays off to screen movies he’s never seen but always wanted to. Last Sunday’s screening? Francois Truffaut’s 1959 classic The 400 Blows.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Prima ballerina turned prima producer Veronica Tennant is on the Gemini honours list again. This time she’s up for two, with a Best Director nomination for her shot-in-Cuba dance essay, Vida Y Danza Cuba, which is also nominated for Best Performing Arts program. Ms

DORE: clowning at Comix

DORE: clowning at Comix

Tennant’s brilliant cinematographer, Don Spence, is also a nominee this year, for his fearless camerawork on the Rick Mercer Report, which is about to launch its seventh season on CBC Television … reigning country music queen Shania Twain and Tony-winning Wicked star Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) have both been tapped to sub for Paula Abdul as guest judges on the next season of American Idol … and Canadian crowd-pleaser Jon Dore headlines at Comix, the comedy club on West 14th Street, this weekend in Manhattan.

OH TO BE A FLY ON THAT WALL: It’s official — Barbara Streisand is giving an intimate concert of selections from her new album at the famed New

STREISAND: new Love

STREISAND: new Love

York jazz club the Village Vanguard on Sept. 26. Her new album, Love Is the Answer, will be released Sept. 29 and marks the first time that Streisand has worked with Diana Krall and her combo. Streisand was executive producer of the album; Krall was producer.

“Her mom used to play my records,” says Streisand, “so she kind of grew up with them. I usually produce a lot of my own things, so we did it as a collaboration.”

The regular CD features the orchestra versions of the songs; the two-disc deluxe CD set also features Streisand performing the selections with Krall’s jazz group.

KRALL: producer

KRALL: producer

Krall always records basic tracks with her band and then the orchestra is added later. “David Foster records that way, where you do the tracks first,” Streisand told L.A. Times reporter Susan King. “I don’t particularly like it. But it brought me back to the way I started, so there was something very … nostalgic … about it.”

The small Manhattan clubs where she got her big break, the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel, are gone now. When she was 19, she auditioned at the Vanguard, where Miles Davis was the star of the show. “I didn’t get the job.” No, but somehow she managed to survive. Last month her three-disc DVD set, Streisand: The Concerts, went platinum after a three-week run at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts, making it the biggest selling music DVD of 2009.

Ain’t showbiz grand?

TOMORROW:

Pre-TIFF Oscar buzz, Hugh Jackman,  Jodie Foster & Mel Gibson, and more.

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Has Farrell one-upped Clooney? Will Atwood play the Cathedral? Hello again, and here we go again!

Is there a quiet competition going on between big-screen stars about who has the most movies in next week’s 34th Toronto International Film Festival? Just

CLOONEY: two for the show

CLOONEY: two for the show

wondering. By my count TIFF veteran Colin Farrell (Triage, Ondine, The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus) has a one-flick lead over fellow filmfest vet George Clooney (The Men Who Stare At Goats, Up In The Air)Jude Law brings his Hamlet to Broadway on October Oct 6, after almost five weeks of previews starting Sept. 12. But you can catch Jude at TIFF even sooner as one of Heath Ledger’s ‘seconds’ in the aforementioned Terry Gilliam epic The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus … and look for some sparks when West Wing alumnus Allison Janney, currently singing and dancing up a storm on Broadway in Dolly Parton’s musical version of 9 to 5, plays the estranged wife of a pedophile (Ciaran Hinds) in Life During Wartime. And no, this one is definitely not a musical.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR: She’s more force of nature than novelist, which is why Margaret Atwood is in England today opening this year’s Manchester

ATWOOD: "unprecedented"

ATWOOD: "unprecedented"

Literature Festival with a unique performance event inspired by her new novel The Year of the Flood. Atwood, script in hand, will be front and centre tonight  at Manchester Cathedral with two celebrated Samanthas – Samantha Giles (Bernice Thomas in Emmerdale) and Samantha Siddall (Mandy Maguire in Shameless) – and singers from a number of prestigious Manchester community choirs. Atwood’s lucky 13th novel, Year Of The Flood tells the story of God’s Gardeners, a religion devoted to the preservation of all species. 

The Gardeners have long predicted a waterless flood which arrives in the form of a global pandemic obliterating most of human life. Will the human race make it? And, more to the point, should it?

REYNOLDS: going Green

REYNOLDS: going Green

Atwood has also created a new interactive website for the book where you can do everything from buying Flood tee-shirts to ordering tickets to Flood performance events in cities across the world (she’s in London tomorrow and Thursday.) And McClelland & Stewart fiction guru Ellen Seligman says Atwood’s 70-minute dramatic reading with music, directed by stellar stage master Alisa Palmer, is “unprecedented” in the annals of publishing.

I’ll say! Her international tour includes six Canadian stops, including St. James’ Cathedral on Church St. on Sept. 24, two days after the novel officially goes on sale. Tickets are only $10 and proceeds go to Nature Canada. And you can get ‘em right now at the Harbourfront Box Office or order ‘em online just by clicking here.

FLICKERS: The 67th Venice Film Festival kicks off tomorrow with 23 films – yeah, it’s a few hundred films smaller than Toronto’s annual movie marathon  —

EFRON: new role

EFRON: new role

including such TIFF-bound titles as Michael Moore’s newest opus, Capitalism: A Love Story, Todd Solondz’ Life During Wartime, 
and Werner Herzog’s remake of The Bad Lieutenant with Nicolas Cage. Ex-Rocky Balboa Sylvester Stallone will be the Guest Of Honour when jury chair Ang Lee announces the winner of this year’s Golden Lion on Saturday Sept. 12, by which time TIFF will be well underway … Amanda Crew will romance Zac Efron in his new project Charlie St. Cloud … Canadian heartthrob Ryan Reynolds will be a new screen superhero to reckon with when he stars in Green Lantern … and in the same comic book vein, Natalie Portman will play the love interest of Norse hero Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for director Kenneth Branagh (yeah, that could be the reason she’s doing it.)

TOMORROW:

Reunions to watch for at TIFF —

and Ms Streisand meets Ms Krall.

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Summer movie sneak previews, The Perez strikes back, and going ga-ga over Lady You-Know-Who

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Okay, now I get it. Last week I still couldn’t figure out why America has gone ga-ga for Lady GaGa. Then I saw her on the Much Music Video Awards.  Not only does she have all of Madonna’s moves and more, she

GaGa: She's a Lady

GaGa: She's a Lady

also has a big, bold, beautiful voice, slyly obscured by her sexy special FX. Even surrounded by thousands of Sunday night street screamers, this Lady’s megaTalent still came shining through …  my spies tell me that Pam Hyatt, who sparked many a musical revue here, regularly slips into Statler’s on Thursdays to sing a few standards with popular piano man Ken Lindsay. Count me in … good news for Babs Believers: She’s back, with all new tunes. Love Is The Answer, Barbara Streisand’s much-anticipated collaboration with producer Diana Krall (yes, you read that right) is her first new studio album in four years and should be in stores here by the end of September.

THE LAST TIME I SAW PEREZ: Now wouldn’cha know that Perez Hilton would get clocked in Toronto? Maybe the real mystery is howcum nobody took

FERGIE: slagged

FERGIE: slagged

a shot at him before now. He certainly sparkled on the MMVAs in his bit with the Jonas Brothers. Meanwhile, in his 10-minute invective-laced apologia on his own website, he vehemently denies that it just a publicity stunt (“I have 10 million-plus people who visit my website every day! I don’t need press! I don’t need publicity!”) takes time to repeatedly slag Fergie and Will.I.Am, and tearfully decries violence (especially violence enacted upon him) as a solution to anything. “I like writing about other people’s drama,” he admits, but adds, “I don’t want drama in my own life.”

Yup. This from a guy who proudly promotes his feet-of-clay cyber-column as Hollywood’s Most-Hated Web Site.

Still curious? To see/hear his full rant – which truthfully gets pretty ugly at times – click here.

AND YOU THINK YOU HAD A BUSY WEEK? Since Celebrity Apprentice ended last month Joan Rivers says she’s been “busier than Angelina Jolie’s adoption agency.” In the last few weeks Z Rock started its second season on IFC

RIVERS: on the run

RIVERS: on the run

featuring Joan in her recurring role as Aunt Joan (“a name I’m not used to hearing unless ‘can you loan me…’ follows”), she’s been to San Francisco and Reno doing standup, she’s been traveling the country taping her new series How’d You Get So Rich for TV Land (it premieres in the U.S. on August 6th), she’s performed five sold out shows in London at the Southbank Center’s Underbelly Festival— “inside an upside-down inflated purple cow”  —  she finished her big June shows on QVC, she flew off to London for a week (including dinner with HRH Prince Charles & Camilla at Buckingham Palace,) then flew to Toronto (“Air Canada from London was soooo good!” she purrs) to spend last weekend on The Shopping Channel.

She’s also keeping a few other airlines in business. This Thursday she starts a four-night run of stand-up gigs in New York, Mississippi, Colorado and Arizona. And today she’s on The View.

And yes, she’s 75.

So what’s your excuse?

COMING SOON TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU: Summer movies are coming fast and furious, but some of the best bets aren’t always the most obvious ones. Dream cast of the summer has gotta be Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina

FEY: Disney darling

FEY: Disney darling

Fey, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin and Betty White — among others — on deck for Oscar-winner Hayao Miyazaki’s new Disney animation, Ponyo. And speaking of star power,  Leonardo Di Caprio’s fourth outing with director Martin Scorsese appears to be like any of their earlier efforts. Shutter Island is a thriller that evokes the spectre of The Snake Pit, with Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow as the possible (we can’t be sure) bad guys. Entourage Emmy-sweeper Jeremy Piven, a mercurial hit on Broadway last season, is taking another crack at big-screen fame with The Goods, a go-for-it over-the-top comedy with Ving Rhames and James Brolin. And remember the quirky Spike Jonze offering Being John Malkovich, in which John Cusack found a portal into the actor’s head? Sideways star Paul Giamatti goes him one better. In Cold Souls he plays an actor named Paul Giamatti (uh-huh) who has trouble getting his soul back after he agrees to deep freeze it for storage. And no, I’m not making this up.

To sneak preview Ponyo, click here. To sneak preview Shutter Island, click here. To sneak preview The Goods, click here. And to check out soul man Giamatti, click here. And enjoy!

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