Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

Today’s Specials: Catching up with The Killing and Game Of Thrones, plus ravishing Rita revisited

IT'S A CRIME: Season 2 of The Killing is almost upon us

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Remember Goodbye Charlie, the George Axelrod comedy about a cigar-chomping womanizer who is reincarnated as a female? Lauren Bacall created the role on Broadway, and

BATES: Hello Charlie

Debbie Reynolds had fun with it in Vincente Minnelli’s screen version. I was reminded of it when I learned that the spirit of Charlie Sheen’s recently-deceased character on Two And A Half Men is set to appear to Jon Cryer on the April 30 episode, and Charlie’s ghost will be played by Kathy Bates. Sheen stopped promoting his new Anger Mamagement series just long enough to say he is honoured that an actress of Bates’ stature will play his other-worldy Self David Chilton, author and publisher of the hugely

GRENIER: keeping in touch

popular Wealthy Barber series of personal finance books, is the newest Dragon in Dragons’ Den. He’ll replace departing Dragon Robert Herjavec when the hit CBC series returns this fall … Adrian Grenier has set up a new iPad app called Reckless Adrian Grenier (the “reckless” coming from his production company name), a new way for Grenier to keep in touch with his fans and keep them up to date on his forthcoming projects… and Jian Ghomeshi will once again host the Juno Gala Dinner & Awards this Saturday, this time in Ottawa, the night before the awards show telecast.

MUCH ADO ABOUT SOMETHING: Internet headlines notwithstanding, Downton Abbey stars Maggie Smith and Dan Stevens, aka the Dowager

SMITH: Downton Dowager

Countess Violet and Abbey heir apparent Matthew Crowley, will be back in Season 3 next January. Earlier this month breaking news that neither Smith nor Stevens had signed for the new season put Abbey fans knickers in a wringer, but in fact it’s seasons 4 and 5 they haven’t yet signed for. Downton fans, rest easy! No one’s going to kill off either one of them, especially Maggie, a perennial favourite with American audiences since her first Oscar win for The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie more than four decades ago. So you can expect both of them to sign on

STEVENS: heir apparent

the dotted line, just as soon as their respective agents sign off on their new-and-improved wages …  do I hear a fat lady singing? Little Mosque On The Prairie kicks off its two-part series finale tonight on CBC … and have you noticed how the cable nets are premiering their big shows now that spring is here? Last night AMC launched the fifth season of Mad Men.  Next weekend, competing with the 2012 Juno Awards telecast Sunday night on CTV, two big second-season Gotta-See series return: The Killing on AMC and Game Of Thrones on HBO. To get up to speed before Season 2 of The Killing, click here; for a crash course on Game Of Thrones, which is even more complex than The Killing, click here. After which you’ll almost know everything you’ll ever need to know. Promise.

AND YES, I”VE ABSOLUTELY SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST:

HAYWORTH: one last dance

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Hollywood cinema legend Rita Hayworth is remembered mainly for her sultry femme fatale roles – especially with Glenn Ford in Gilda — and for the headlines that would prove to be the milestones of

RITA & FRED: together again

her life, from her marriages to Orson Welles and Aly Khan to her heartbreaking demise from Alzheimer’s. Her romantic liaisons are the stuff of legend – her on-location tryst with a young Frank Langella is lovingly noted in his new autobiography, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them but what most of us have forgotten are Rita’s early days as a dancer, when she was good enough to hold her own in musicals with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. I was happily reminded of this by old friend and colleague Joe Baltake, the film critic who is also the avid cinephile behind one of the best U.S. film blogs, the passionate moviegoer. Joe found a truly wonderful video mash-up combining Rita’s dancing with the biggest hit from Saturday Night Fever, and it’s so brilliantly executed that he wanted to share it. It’s a dazzling manipulation of two decades of Hayworth moments, from You Were Never Lovelier to Pal Joey and then some, cleverly synched to that hypnotic BeeGees beat.  Thanks, YouTube. And thanks, Joe, I loved it. And I’m pretty sure you will too. So just click here, and enjoy!

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Arden has fun with 50, Bobby sings to Yamma, Alice goes to Washington and Mercer takes the plunge

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: She may be the most celebrated centrefold in Canadian history, but Jann Arden, whose Botticelli beauty is on full display in the current issue of Zoomer magazine, says she doesn’t mind turning 50. “I

ARDEN: cover girl

don’t mind getting older one little bit,” she insists. “I don’t mind standing in the middle of the kitchen with the refrigerator door wide open thinking that I am going to buy my reading glasses sitting there on one of the glass shelves only to realize that what I was really looking for where my car keys that I swear I just had in my purse that I set down on the table beside the backdoor when my cell phone rang… What was I saying? I don’t mind one single thing about getting older. No, I don’t.” Even more delightful than Bryan Adams’ whimsical portraits of the Adored Ms. A. is the essay penned by Arden herself in her uniquely inimitable style. Buy it for the centrefold, then read the article — you’ll be glad you did … meanwhile, Ms. Arden’s pal Rick Mercer, who continues to coax her into going on hair-raising playdates with him, takes the plunge with members of our Olympic swim team in Victoria BC tonight

MERCER: in the swim of things

on his weekly Rick Mercer Report. (Is there anything funnier than watching Mercer try to keep up with Olympic-calibre athletes?) Now in his ninth (!!!) season, Mercer’s new episodes are currently being watched by close to 2 million Canadians — and that’s not counting the fans who watch him on their iPads and smartphones … some eye-popping photographs by National Ballet principal dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, who opens here tomorrow night in The Seagull,  will be on display at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa from April 11 – 30. The exhibit will feature behind-the-scenes photographs of National Ballet dancers … and yes, you read that right —  Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Titanic) has signed on to write the new screen version of Gypsy with Barbra Streisand as Momma Rose.

DON’T WORRY, BE YAMMA: Watch for happy music maker Bobby McFerrin to duet with Mamma Yamma next month on Kids’ CBCLori Yates & The Nashville Rejects join Vinyl Cafe singer-songwriter Jadea

McFERRIN: Mamma's boy

Kelly at the Cameron House this Friday … Derek Christie and his band are set to heat up a Sick KIds Hospital benefit at the Hard Rock Cafe next Friday, March 30 … and Fallsview Casino is set to bring back its popular all-girl country-music salute 6 CHIX for a 10-day run June 20-30, following a two-night stand by Ringo Starr and his all-Starr band … and has any musical theatre company anywhere received the kind of response that Toronto’s Acting Up company has been generating? Its next concert show, The Long And Winding Road, is a musical tour of Beatles classics set for April 1 at Koerner Hall — and iit’s already almost all sold out. Then again, where else can you see Jackie Richardson, Graham Abbey, Michael Therriault, Steve Ross and so many more on the same stage in the same show? So maybe it’s not such a surprise after all.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  Science icon Stephen Hawking recently shot a cameo for next week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory in which he meets up with Jim Parson’s awkward theoretical physicist Sheldon

PARSONS: Big Banger

Cooper. Said BBT producer Bill Prady: “We’re not exactly sure how we got him. It’s the kind of mystery that could only be understood by, say, a Stephen Hawking.” Hawking, no stranger to show biz, previously voiced himself on The Simpsons — four times!! … American tenor Russell Thomas will make his Canadian Opera Company debut as the barfly poet who spins captivating reminiscences of lost loves to his fellow drinkers when the COC opens its spring season with Jacques Offenbach’s Tales Of Hoffman April 10 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts … and ballet boosters Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan are the Gala co-chairs of the National Ballet’s June 20

KAIN: D.C.-bound

Diamond Gala, a glittering celebration to wrap up the NBOC’s 60th anniversary season with a $1.25 million fund-raising goal. Meanwhile, National Ballet fans in Washington DC who have been waiting for the return of their favourite Canadian high-steppers  — the company hasn’t played there since 2006 — will finally get their wish. NBOC chief Karen Kain will take the company’s celebrated production of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland to the Kennedy Center next January.

WHY WE VOTE, or, What I Learned Today On The Internet: We are all familiar with a Herd of cows, a Flock of chickens, a School of fish, a Gaggle of geese, a Pride of lions and, presumably because they look so wise, a Congress of owls. Now consider a group of Baboons. They are the loudest, most dangerous, most obnoxious, most viciously aggressive and least intelligent of all primates. And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not — a Parliament. Yes. A Parliament of baboons.       Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

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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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Montreux takes it all off for 2012 jazzfest poster and Jennifer does a dazzling take-off on Downton Abbey

LIFE BEFORE YOUTUBE:  Yes, I do remember all those years before it existed. What I can’t figure out is, how did we manage without it?

SAUNDERS: As Dame Maggie

One of the latest YouTube delights to go viral is a wonderful spoof of the monster hit series Downton Abbey from the deliciously wicked pens of Absolutely Fabulous creators Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. Created as a special bonus for BBC’s annual Comic Relief fundraiser, Uptown Downstairs Abbey features Saunders in Dame Maggie Smith’s role, Kim Cattrall in Elizabeth McGovern’s role and Saunders’ pal Dame Joanna Lumley (aka AbFab’s Patsy) as the housekeeper, with Harry Enfield and Victoria Wood adding to the fun. Gravely narrated by Michael (Singing Detective) Gambon, it’s a lavish, sumptuous send-up in two too-brief outrageously inside-showbiz acts.  Click on Part One and Part Two, and enjoy.

DAME MAGGIE: The one & only

Mind you. the residents of Downton Abby would  never indulge in such an extravagant  meal without concluding their feasting with an appropriate dessert. So do help yourself to YouTube’s Top 10 Maggie Moments – sweet, yes, but fattening, no.

TV TASTE TEST:  Canadians are currently enjoying free samples of The Movie Network OnDemand. TMN is inviting non-subscribers to taste-test such acclaimed hits as Dexter, True Blood and Game of Thrones, as well as hot new series Luck, House of Lies and Spartacus: Vengeance. Some viewers are PVR-ing episodes of each one, so they can decide if they want to become subscribers. Meanwhile the ‘free’ part will vanish at the end of the month – so enjoy it while you can!

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: For the first time in more than 40 years, a photographer has been given a free hand to create the poster for the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival– but not just any photographer.

2012 MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL poster by GREG GORMAN

In 1967, a black-and-white photograph shot by Giuseppe Pino was used to advertise the first edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival. For the 46th edition of the Montreux festival, acclaimed U.S. photog Greg Gorman has presented a male nude reminiscent of a classical sculpture in motion.

Why the nude Monteux Jazz Festival poster?

Michael Jackson © 1987 Greg Gorman

“When I saw the festival poster from the year 1969 of a female nude I thought it was quite interesting, especially since it was the only nude in the collaboration of illustrative images for the posters. Since I have done many male and female nudes in my fine art photography, I thought why not do a male nude for this project. I love the total unexpected element of the male nude. Music can surprise, unsettle and sometimes even confuse people. A male nude even more so than a female nude, because it is still often thought of as taboo.”

Gorman has published nine books, created iconic film posters and photographed hundreds of high-profile advertising campaigns. He still runs photography workshops four times a year at his home in Mendocino, California, which is where he first worked with the model, Jordan David Miles, a 21-year old skateboarder and graffiti artist from Southern California. And he believes the Montreux festivaI decision to allow him

David Bowie © 1984 Greg Gorman

to present a nude was a very courageous one. “Nudity in photography is real and very direct. To offer a photographer carte blanche once again after so many years clearly illustrates the readiness of the festival to try out new things, to take risks and to surprise people.”

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Gorman has also photographed countless musicians, including Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, P. Diddy, Bette Midler and Quincy Jones. As a 1968 hippie he borrowed a camera to photograph Jimi Hendrix in concert. “The following morning,” he recalls, “I processed the film in a friend’s darkroom and when I saw the image coming up in the developer I was hooked.” A few weeks later he brought the camera to a Jim Morrison concert and he was on his way. Over the years he’s had some great shoots with rock stars, but his sessions with David Bowie in particular “were always amazing. He was one of my heroes from the beginning and he never let me down in any of our photo shoots together, which always involved a strong collaborative effort.”

Not siurprisingly, Gorman’s elegant website is stunning in its content and simplicity. Is it any wonder he’s been so successful for so long?                          Enjoy.

Shirley goes Downton, Patricia goes down that Gardens path & Kate goes from Horror to Netflix

GOIN’ TO THE ABBEY: Unsinkable movie queen Shirley MacLaine, still star-bright at 77, is packing  to leave for the U.K. and filming for the next season of Downton Abbey.  She ‘s looking forward to playing the American mother of

MACLAINE: off to the U.K.

Lady Cora Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern,) she says, because “there is sure to be a variance of opinions when you mix the staidBritish upper crust with brash American views of the 1920s.” She’s also taking her one-woman show, An Evening With Shirley MacLaine, on the road in March, with test runs in Arizona, Connecticut and New York state. But she’ll be back in Hollywood on June 7  to pick up an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award — the 40th in American Film Institute history. “2012 is off to an amazing beginning for me!” Shirley

McGOVERN: make room for momma

exclaims … Larry King will get his Lifetime Achievement Award the same month, from the 2012 Banff World Media  Festival … comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, whose light touch brightened  23 of the last 25 Oscar shows, won’t be typing backstage this year because he’s busy writing for Broadway. Also MIA this year: A  performance of Oscar-nominated songs. Producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer have voted to scrap ’em (there are only two.)  But in the nostalgic spirit of Best Picture nominees The Artist, Hugo and Midnight In Paris,  the Kodak Theater on Hollywood

MESSING: she's a Smash

Boulevard will be decorated to resemble a timeless movie theatre like the University and the Imperial and other picture palaces of old  … Liz Smith says the producers of Smash are wooing Broadway baby Lesley Ann Warren to join the cast as a Broadway diva on the comeback trail. Liz says Smash star Debra Messing would love having Warren on board, because they worked so well together on Will & Grace when Warren played Will’s father’s  dizzy mistress … and friendly fire-breathers Jim Treliving and Arlene Dickinson are teaming up to do a Dragons’ Den spin-offIn each episode of Big Decision, Treliving and Dickinson assess two struggling businesses and decide to save one company. Or both. Or neither.

OUR TOWN:  Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage launches this weekend with the world premiere of Everything Under the Moon, a collaboration by innovative performance artist Shary Boyle and songwriter Christine

WILLIAMS: NAACP nominee

Fellows. A year and a half in the making, Everything Under the Moon is reportedly their most ambitious creation to date, pairing hand-animated projected image with narrative song. An extra show has already been added next week due to bubbling ticket demand … Dave Bidini and the BidiniBand are giving a free concert as part of the SK8 festival at Harbourfront this Sunday from 2-4 pm. “Bring skates,” says the renaissance musician & writer. “The gig is just off the Natrel skating rink, and there’ll be lotsa stuff for kids and non-kids alike!” … and Second Harvest’s grassroots fundraising campaign Lunch Money Day wraps up today. Volunteers will be shaking their cans at subway stations across the city during the

RAINN: Office spin-off?

morning and evening rush hours, so  “peas give” the equivalent of what you usually spend on lunch to Second Harvest. Remember, with only $10 they can provide 20 meals! So show them that you “give a shiitake” and reward those valiant volunteers with more than just a smile.

THE WRITE STUFF: Award-winning director Patricia Rozema will take participants through her transformation of the classic Maysles Brothers documentary Grey Gardens into the hit HBO feature with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore at the 3rd annual Toronto Screenwriting Conference on March 30-April 1. It was Rozema’s shooting script that got the green light for the movie and the Emmyv and Golden Globe

ROZEMA: Grey Gardening

awards that followed … screenwriter and novelist Ron Base, author of those wildly entertaining Sanibel Detective yarns, shares trade secrets in his equally amusing tell-almost-all blog Writing Sanibel: Or How An Old Dog Used A Unique Island and Technology to Learn New Tricks … and Hollywood-based writer-producer Kathy Slevin has launched  a new blog focused on disseminating successful actions – her own and those of other writers and producers from whom she has learned.  “Its purpose,” she explains, “is to help writers bring their work closer to the kind of product a producer needs and wants and will hopefully be the kind of resource that both find useful.” Her current posts include Secrets Of Series Creations  and How To Hook An Audience, and would-be series writers can check ‘em out right here.

STARS IN OUR EYES:  Indefatigable ReelWorld filmfest founder and director Tonya Lee Williams, who most recently received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award in Montreal, has been nominated for a

BASE: Sanibel sleuthing

2012 NAACP Image Award for her role in the long-running CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless. The awards will be telecast live from Hollywood tomorrow night on NBC …  American Horror Story heroine Kate Mara has joined Kevin Spacey in producer David Fincher’s original Netflix series House of Cards … Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) is set to join Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener and Kevin Kline in Charlie Kaufman’s new flight of fantasyFrank or Francis … and Rainn Wilson is in talks to continue with his character Dwight Schrute in a spinoff of The Office.

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