Tag Archives: MAGGIE CASSELLA

Today’s Top Tips: Bernie & Ruby, a slapshtick night at the Opera, and where to take Mom on Sunday

I’LL TAKE ROMANCE: Just added two movies to my Must See list that I didn’t know even existed until quite recently. The first one is Bernie, a black comedy based on a true story about the ill-fated romance of a young mortician

MACLAINE & BLACK: Must See new movie

and a not-so-youthful Texas widow. Jack Black is the mortician. Shirley MacLaine is the widow. I think you’ll understand why I’m dying (you should pardon the expression) to see it after you click on this sneak preview. The second movie on my new Must list is Ruby Sparks. It’s about a young novelist (Paul Dano) struggling with both his writing and his romantic life. Then he creates a character named Ruby who inspires him. And then he finds Ruby (Zoe Kazan), in the flesh, somehow manifested by his writing, sitting on his couch. Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening and Elliot Gould are along for

DANO: Sparks f;ly

the ride, which to me strongly resembles a romantic rollercoaster. Click here for the sneak preview of that one.

SHOWSTOPPER: It’s just one of those songs/that you hear now and then/you don’t know just where/you don’t know just when …  but you sure know it when you hear it. There is a soft stirring in the audience at the Four Seasons Centre this month as soon as the first strains of Puccini’s haunting melody O mio babbino caro come soaring up from the orchestra pit during every performance of Gianni Schicchi. The surprise for some of us less well-versed in operatic endeavours is that this beautiful ballad comes right in the middle of a slapstick farce about a greedy family trying to cheat monks out of an inheritance.

THE GAMG’S ALL HERE: A family schemes as Puccini serenades

Aided and abetted by a brilliant ensemble, soprano-turned-director Catherine Malfitano displays a fearless flare for broad comedy that suggests she’s a serious fan of such screwball classics as Weekend At Bernie’s and Fire Sale, and Wilson Chin’s stylishly topsy-turvy set consistently keeps us in on the

MAYNARD: first visit here

joke. The lush musical score, sensitively and splendidly conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, makes the contrast even more appealing, and Simone Osborne’s rich vocalizing on O mio babbino caro earns every minute of the tumultuous applause she receives. Check it out at www.coc.ca.

Still not quite sure which aria it is? To watch Montserrat Caballe’s version, click here; to watch Maria Callas’ sing it to Japanese fans in Tokyo, click here. And, enjoy!

OUR TOWN: Lots of sparklies on the radar this week. New Brit pop music sensation Conor Maynard, who’s 19 if he’s a day, was on hand to co-host New.Music.Live on MuchMusic last night. This morning he’ll make live

JOHNSON: on stage this week

appearances on the KISS 92.5 Morning show at 8 a.m. and CP24 Breakfast at 8:45 a.m. So will he sing Can’t Say No? Whaddya think? …  enduring pop music siren Tabby Johnson entertains Thursday night at Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret … Jayzm Bee hosts Word Jazz – “ten poets doing ten minutes each in a truly unique evening of spoken word” — with Don Francks, Robert Preist, Dale Percy, Myna Wallin, Phatt Al, Mike Schram, Chris Hercules, Amanda Hiebert, Howard “Dr. Possibility” Jerome, Mike Hanson and Bruce Hunter, Thursday night at the Now Lounge on Church Street …. also this Thursday: Betty Buckley kicks off the 15th and final We’re

COHEN: he’s Our Man

Funny That Way festival with a concert at Buddies In Bad Times that’s sure to be spellbinding …  don’t say I didn’t warn ya: This Friday’s night concert by the legendary Lighthouse rock orchestra at the Molson Canadian Studio in Hamilton is expected to go SRO … so is female illusionist Christopher Peterson’s Saturday night WFTW festival show at Buddies … also on Saturday: The Three Lennys, a special Toronto Jewish Film Festival screening of three Leonard Cohen films at the Bloor Cinema in honour of the recently-announced ninth recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize. And before Cohen receives his newest accolade next Monday at a gala evening at Massey Hall, local musicians will take to the streets to play his music all over downtown Toronto. So keep your eyes and ears open!

RICHARDSON: Sunday salon stint

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL: Looking for significant stuff to do on Mother’s Day? Look no further.  Take her to The Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament for a 1 pm jazz brunch with Shannon Gunn on Vocals, Reg Schrager on guitar and Rosemary Galloway on bass, or a 7 pm Mother’s Day concert by singer-songwriter Duff MacDonaldJackie Richardson joins Paul Hoffert at his weekly jazz salon at Musideum on Richmond on Sunday at 3 pm … Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie have added an extra show to their world premiere of From the House of Mirth,

THOMPSON: Glory-watcher

directed and choreographed by James Kudelka, at the Citadel — which means you now have a choice of two Sunday performances (3 pm & 8 pm) …  Judith Thompson previews her new one-woman show, Watching Glory Die, in a staged reading this Sunday at 2 pm at the Factory Theatre … just looking for something special to slip in the envelope with that Hallmark card? The National Ballet of Canada is offering a special Mother’s Day deal on its upcoming premiere of Hamlet. Buy tickets to see the high-flying Prince of Denmark on Friday June 8 and get 30% off the price of tickets, in all sections. To take full advantage of this special I Love Mom promotion, click here!

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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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Meryl tackles Juliet, Betty returns to T.O., Maggie rallies her troupes, and Brenda shines up her Shoes

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Okay, so they’re not teenagers – they were all grown up way back when, when they co-starred in Sophie’s Choice – but Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline will play Shakespeare’s

STREEP: reading in New York

famous star-crossed lovers in a one-night-only reading of Romeo and Juliet, as part of a gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park. Public Theater vet Daniel Sullivan will direct the reading, to be held on June 18 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park … Patrick Habron’s new exhibition of Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons opens May 10 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center … Phylicia Rashad, currently in Atlanta filming the TV adaptation of Steel Magnolias for director Kenny Leon, will return to that Georgia city this summer to star in Leon’s stage adaptation of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner … American TV icon Larry

HAGMAN: guesting in Lucerne

Hagman (Dallas, I Dream Of Jeannie) and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson are among the sparklies set to light up the 51st Rose d’Or Festival in Lucerne next month … fillmmaker Roger Larry is just wrapping a feature doc on Canadian cannibis advocate Marc Emery (aka The Prince of Pot) entitled Citizen Mark. “I describe it as Citizen Kane meets Spinal Tap,” says Larry. Will we see it at TIFF in September? Just askin’ … former BBC CEO Paul Lee, who founded BBC America before becoming President of ABC, is set to deliver the CBC/Radio-Canada opening keynote speech at this year’s Banff World Media Festival on June 10 … and Brenda Hoffert launches

BUCKLEY: singing in T.O.

her new-and-improved exhibition, Shoes, on Thursday April 26 at the Cecile & Harry Pearl Gallery. She’s added eight new photos to this exhibit which first premiered at CONTACT 2010.

SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY: On a bit of a bittersweet note, the celebrated Toronto comedy festival We’re Funny That Way is about to celebrate its 15th and final year.  According to the WFTW website, festival producer Maggie Cassella has decided to call it quits – but she’s closing the festival with a major slam-dunk. First up is a May 10 concert by the vocally astonishing Betty Buckley, a benefit

CRAWFORD: back to Buddies

for the We’re Funny That Way Foundation, which directs funds to queer charities across Canada. Then WFTW crowd-pleasers Lea DeLaria, Gavin Crawford and Christopher Peterson strut their stuff on May 11 & May 12 to close the festival with appropriate star power. Showbiz dynamo Cassella is also working with filmmaker David Adkin on a sequel to his 1998 doc on her festival – DeLaria and Peterson were featured in that one too – to revisit the questions they first asked 15 years ago. “We’re hoping to track the evolution of queer comedy over the last 15 years and ask a lot of questions about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.” Cassella is also one of the busy beavers behind the high-flying Flying Beaver

CASSELLA: Maggie for Mayor?

Pubaret on Parliament near Carlton – Carla Collins is set to headline there this weekend — and brings her brainy energy and unique street savvy to everything she does. Not that I want to punish her, but isn’t it time we forced her into public office, so she could look out for all of us? (I’m just sayin’ …) Meanwhile, I suspect we’re talking about three about-to-be historic nights to remember. For tickets to what is sure to be an amazing evening with the spellbinding Betty Buckley, click here; for tickets to see We’re Funny That Way dazzlers Crawford, DeLaria and Peterson, click here.

Adds the indomitable Ms Cassella: “Please come and help us pack Buddies and Bad Times Theatre one last time.” And who can say no to Maggie?

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Lifetime grows black Magnolias, Israel sparks MIPtv sales, Nancy’s just Foolin’ and the Junos get Feist-y

LATIFAH: steel lady

FLICKERS: Dynamic leading ladies Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad have signed on for Lifetime‘s all-black remake of Steel Magnolias, taking over the roles originally played by Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field.No word yet as to who will  be cast in the Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts roles …  looking for some laughs this weekend? Servitude is the first film to be developed and workshopped through the Telefilm Canada Features Comedy Lab, the CFC Film Program in collaboration with Just For Laughs, and it opens today with a stellar cast — Joe DinicolJohn BregarLinda Kash, Lauren CollinsAaron AshmoreEnrico Colantoni, Margot

DINICOL: in service

Kidder, and Dave Foley.  Directed by Warren P. Sonada and written by co-producer Michael Sparaga, it looks like a lot of fun … left-wing heroine Jane Fonda will remind us what a good actress she is when she plays right-wing Republican former first lady Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  An Oscar nominee for directing Precious, Daniels describes The Butler as a sprawling historical drama that centers on Eugene Allen, a black man who worked as butler in the White House under eight presidents. Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker is slated to play Allen, and insiders say ardent Daniels supporter Oprah Winfrey may play one of the many supporting roles …and Marcelle Lean‘s 15th Cinefranco filmfest wraps up this weekend at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Hot titles include Ma Part Du Gateau/My Piece Of The Pie, one of

SUTHERLAND: worldwide

the films celebrated on last month’s 12th Floating Film Festival, and L’Art D’Aimer/The Art Of Love. For Cinefranco program notes click here.

BRAVE NEW WORLDS: Did you see the premiere of Kiefer Sutherland’s new series Touch last week on Global? If you did, you had plenty of company. Touch premiered almost simultaneously in 100 countries and territories. In the U.S. it screened on Fox; in Germany, on ProSieben; in Russia, on Channel One. New-world executive thinking indicates that the worldwide premiere signifies a new way of doing business that attracts multinational advertisers (Unilever is a sponsor of the series around the world) and attacks online piracy … also making history: the Adam Beach series Arctic

BEACH: hit series

Air, which averaged almost a million viewers a week in its debut season, the largest audience to follow the first season of a CBC Television drama series in 15 years.  Other CBC shows more than one million viewers weekly include Dragons’ Den, Republic Of Doyle and The Rick Mercer Report. So somebody must be doing something right … Israeli TV formats may prove to be the big buzz at this year’s MIPtv. The annual international television convention opens Sunday in Cannes with a red carpet gala screening of Julian FellowesTitanic, already sold in 86 countries, but it’s the shows from Israel sparking the most interest. HBO‘s In Treatment and Showtime‘s Homeland are both based on hit Israeli TV series. Another Israeli series, The Naked Truth,  a suspense thriller set entirely in an interrogation room, has already been picked up by HBO

WHITE: April Foolin'

for an American remake, and NBC has ordered a pilot called Midnight Sun, based on the Israeli show Pillars of Smoke, about a female FBI agent who uncovers a conspiracy. Other hot prospects at next-week’s four-day marathon in the south of France: Mr. Selfridge, a period drama about the life of the flamboyant founder of the London department story; Tom Fontana‘s Copper, about a police officer in 1860s New York City; the psychological thriller Hemlock Grove, already snapped up by Netflix; the period mini-series Madame Tussauds; dramatic series Hannibal, already sold to NBC; World Without End, a follow-up mini-series to Pillars Of The Earth; and Sinbad, BBC’s update on the tale of the

FEIST: Junos telecast

8th century swashbuckler who battles monsters and visits magical places.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Music man Jack de Keyser strums his stuff tomorrow night at Simcoe Jazz & Blues in Oshawa … perennial crowd-pleaser Nancy White headlines the April Fool’s Matinee this weekend at the trendy Green Door cabaret with pianist Bob Johnston, percussionist Marsha Coffey and singers Ghislain Aucoin, Suzy Wilde, Barb Johnston, Maddy Wilde, Eddy Be, Stella Walker, Bridget Carter-Whitney, Mavis Lyons and Mike O’Hara. “Do not be frightened by the number of singers and the fact that the show is on a Sunday,”

McLACHLAN: singing Sunday

adds the irreepressible Ms. Walker. “No gospel music will be presented. That is our pledge to you.” Showtime is 3 pm  this Sunday April 1, For ticket info click hereMaggie Cassella hosts her own April 1 send-up, Liar Liar Pants On Fire, Sunday night at The Flying Beaver Pubaret. “It’s an April Fools Day event where YOU get up on stage and tell a whopper of a story. The audience votes on weather they think it’s true or false. If you fool them you win a prize!” … and now that deadmau5 and Madonna have called a truce, his fans can see him on Sunday night’s Juno Awards telecast on CTV. Also set to rock the premises: Blue Rodeo, City and Colour, Feist, Hedley, Hey Rosetta!, K’NAAN, Lights, MC Flipside, Nickelback, Sarah McLachlan, and Simple Plan.

Happy weekend!

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Strombo gets YGL status, the Giller gets a new home, and Jesus steps up to the plate on Broadway

OUR TOWN: No wonder the upcoming April 10-22 TIFF Kids International Film Festival is already causing such a buzz. Guests set to participate in the new Roundtable Sessions designed to help delegates connect with each other include

DUNSMORE: directing at Factory

Patricia Ellingson (Creative Head of Children’s Programming, TVO); Alan Gregg (Director of Original Content, Teletoon); Jocelyn Hamilton (VP, Original Programming, Kids, Comedy & Drama Corus Entertainment); Kim Wilson (Creative Head of Children’s and Youth Programming, CBC); Daniel Bryan Franklin & Charles Johnston (Creators, Detentionaire); Simon Racioppa (Creator, Spliced!); Brad Ferguson (Director, Almost Naked Animals); Kevin Micallef (Director, Detentionaire); and many more …. when she’s not on stage herself, she’s in the

PORTER: jury duty

wings. Yes. that would be the Rosemary Dunsmore directing the Anosh Irani comedy My Granny The Goldfish, opening tonight at Factory Theatre …  and it’s official – the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner will be named on Tuesday October 30 at a gala black-tie dinner, not at the Giller’s traditional home at the Four Seasons hotel but at the still-newish Ritz-Carlton on Wellington Street. This year’s jury members are Dublin-based Roddy Doyle, Toronto-based Anna Porter and New York-based Gary Shteyngart.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Irrepressible barfly Buddy Cole (aka irrepressible Kid In The Hall Scott Thompson) sashays back to Maggie

FILLION: Castle builder

Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret this evening for a three-night stand … Gifted Man co-star Rhys Coiro has joined the CBS mystery pilot Applebaum …  Bridesmaids alum Wendi McLendon-Covey is set to co-star in ABC‘s comedy pilot Only Fools and Horses …  Castle star Nathan Fillion is set to play Hermes in the Percy Jackson sequel … ER alumnus Anthony Edwards has signed on as the lead in ABC’s drama pilot Zero Hour, not to be confused with Jim Brochu‘s one-man show about Zero Mostel. In this Zero Hour Edwards plays a character who stumbles into an enormous conspiracy when his wife is kidnapped … and just call him YGL.

STROMBO: B.C.-bound

Yes, your boyfriend George Stroumboulopoulos was recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, joining a select group of outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments and commitment to society. Meanwhile, Strombo is off to the west coast next month to tape a series of episodes at CBC Vancouver from Tuesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 5, and yes, some tickets are still available. For more information on how to score ’em, click here.

ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY: He’s opening on Broadway tonight in the title role, but Paul Nolan (aka Jesus Christ Superstar) confesses he still has baseball on his mind. After his show opens, he wants to play in the Broadway

NOLAN: new Broadway baby

league. “It will not be a successful year unless I’m doing that,” he told Broadway.com. Nolan says Jesus Christ Superstar at Stratford “was one of the first times in my career that I didn’t have to audition, so that was great.” Director Des McAnuff hand-picked him to play the lead, and after he saw Nolan in the show, Superstar composer Andrew Lloyd Webber gave him a hug — “but he looked kind of shocked. I didn’t know whether that was good or bad. But obviously it was good!” Obviously. Here’s hoping he hits it out of the park tonight. Meanwhile, Superstar lyricist and triple Tony Award owner Tim Rice will receive a well-earned Special Award at the upcoming 2012 Olivier Awards in London as a “celebration of his outstanding contribution to musical theatre.”

ECONOMICS 101, or, What I Learned On The Internet Today:  It’s a slow day in the small town of Pumphandle and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody is living on credit.  A tourist visiting the area drives through town, stops at the motel, and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs to pick one for the night.  As soon as he walks upstairs, the motel owner grabs the $100  bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. (Stay with this. And pay attention)  The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill to his supplier, the Co-op.  The guy at the Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her “services” on credit.  The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel Owner.  (Almost done. Keep reading) The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the traveller will not suspect anything.  At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, picks up the $100 bill and leaves.

No one produced anything.  No one earned anything.  However, the whole town now thinks that they are out of debt and there is a false atmosphere of optimism and glee. And that, dear reader, is how a “stimulus package” works!

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Look, boys and girls, it’s THE RICK MERCI REPORT! … and no, that’s not a typo

BUT FIRST, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS: Canada’s most-watched man, Newfoundland export Rick Mercer, is slated to receive the 2012 ACTRA Award Of Excellence this weekend — yet another trophy to add to his countless Geminis,

HMMMM ... who's the guy with Bonhomme?

honorary doctorates and other accolades.  His weekly Rick Mercer Report, appointment viewing for thousands of Canadian families, is now in its 9th season, and neither he nor the show are showing any signs of slowing down.  How famous is he? So famous, apparently, that he and his show will soon be parodied by Kids’CBC. Yes, the home of cooking yam Mamma Yamma and singing dinosaur Drumheller is about to introduce its own Rick Merci Report, with another Maritimer, Saumon de Champlainplaying Rick. (Aside from his French accent and his vintage

DE CHAMPLAIN: casting coup

wardrobe and the fact that m’sieu de Champlain is, how you say it, a fish — hey, they could be twins.) Never mind — this we gotta see. Let’s hope the Merci Report attracts as many viewers as the original. More than one million Canadians tune in to Mercer’s Tuesday night telecasts, and an additional half million watch the same-week encore broadcast on Friday night. Mercer’s on the move again tonight, ice canoeing (brrrrrr!) at the Quebec the Winter Carnival and checking out Warming Hut installations (including one by Frank Gehry!!) at the Forks (brrrrrr!) in Winnipeg. And yes, there’s a Zamboni involved. And yes, it’s very funny stuff.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I think Margaret Atwood once said, ‘Wanting to meet an author because you like his books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.’ ”

ATWOOD: It's Payback time

The speaker? Filmmaker Ethan Coen, at a film seminar in China last year. And speaking of film and Ms. Atwood,  look for her new collaboration with filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, Payback, to premiere at TIFF Bell Lightbox next month. Baichwal and Atwood christened their new celluloid baby, based on Atwood’s 2008 bestseller,  to much ooohing and aaahing at Sundance last month. Insiders say Atwood on-screen is almost as fascinating as Atwood off-screen, and if that’s true Payback should really be something to see.

OUR TOWN: The National Film Board launches its salute to the National Ballet’s 60th anniversary season tonight with a week-long series of dance on film at the NFB Mediatheque on John Street. First up:  Celia Franca: Tour de

PINA: Oscar contender

Force  by Veronica Tennant, who will speak following the screening. An archival display highlighting the past 60 years of the National Ballet and an interactive station where visitors can watch a dance and film playlist will also be offered onsite … Amy Nostbakken opens her controversial one-woman show, The Big Smoke, at Factory Studio Theatre tonight. Already a hit in the U.K., the play is reportedly inspired by the lives of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath and is described as a “poetic waltz with death which walks a fine line between sanity and psychosis.”  Sounds like tons o’ fun  … getting the

THOMPSON: one night only

urge to go Oscar-ing before Sunday’s Academy Awatds telecast? You can catch two major nominees at TIFF Bell Lightbox this week – Philippe Falardeau’s rave-winning drama Monsieur Lazhar, up for Best Foreign Film, and Wim Wenders’ eye-popping salute to dance great Pina Bausch, Pina, currently a strong contender for Best Documentary … and Scott Thompson brings back coy barfly Buddy Cole for a one-show-only appearance this Friday at Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament Street.

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Sandra & Ryan switch bait (and nationalities,) Kirstie gets a crush, Maggie hosts a Buddies bash, and Joan hits off-Broadway with a drag band

I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON YOU: Twitterbug Kirstie Alley admittedly gets crushes like crazy. Two weeks ago it was Jamie Foxx. Her new swoon? Violinist David Garrett. “Mr. Foxx is on the back burner today,” she confided last week

GARRETT: Kirstie crush

GARRETT: Kirstie crush

to her more than 40,000 Twitter followers. “Hottie violin player on front burner … boiling …” But she’s also an ardent admirer one of television’s true Golden Girls, Mary Tyler Moore alumnus Betty White. “I want to be Betty White when I grow up,” Kirstie insists. “I love her!” … which reminds me, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds clearly had a lot of fun shooting their new romantic comedy The Proposal, and it shows. The plot involves a transplanted Canadian boss who forces an American underling into a marriage to avoid being deported from the U.S. The inside joke is, Hollywood screen queen Bullock plays the Canadian boss and Canadian heartthrob Reynolds plays her harassed American assistant. Funnier still is the ‘secret’ out-take they manufactured to promote the movie on Will Ferrell’s 

WHITE: friction causer?

WHITE: friction causer?

Funny Or Die website, in which they both royally send themselves up as spoiled movie stars. Why did Kirstie’s crush on Betty White remind me of Sandra & Ryan? Because Betty is the cause of the fictitious friction between the two stars on the set in their sly rehearsed romp for Ferrell fanatics. To see for yourself, just click here.

GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE:  Okay, last night was not the Tony’s finest hour. Granted all the stars gathered at Radio City Music Hall seemed to love that overblown  musical opener, but despite Elton, Dolly and Liza it was mostly a train wreck on television. Camera direction was disastrous most of the night, as were persistent audio problems. New musicals were well represented but new dramas were given alarmningly short shrift

What was good about it? The Tony win for David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, who continue to make Billy Elliot, The Musical the ongoing talk of the town. And, as predicted here Friday, Tony host Neil Patrick Harris’ clever closing number was almost worth wading through the three (!!!) hours preceding it, which he so masterfully sent up.  And despite this flawed smorgasbord showcase,   I can’t wait to get back to Broadway to see some of these great shows. George & Ira Gershwin wrote, I like New York in June / how about you?  Over the years I’ve been there every month of the calendar year, and still can’t find a time or a season when I don’t love New York. So take a few days to lick your wounds, Tony TV producers, and then go back to the drawing board and fix it. And in just case you’ve forgotten: Yes You Can.

CASSELLA: Vent-ing

CASSELLA: Vent-ing

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Gorgeous Natalie Portman makes her directorial and writing debut behind the camera directing Lauren Bacall, Olivia Thirlby and Ben Gazzara in Eve, one of the ‘hot tickets’ for the Canadian Film Centre’s upcoming Worldwide Short Film Festival June 16-21. For more info on the WSSS line-up, click here …  Tragically Hip icon Gord Downie narrates Mongrel Media’s dazzling new doc, Waterlife, about the future of the Great Lakes, a gift enjoyed by 35 million North Americans that may not be able to continue giving if we don’t change our corporate ways. Want a sneak preview? Click hereMaggie Cassella’s much-anticipated new series The Vent premieres June 28 on Out TV and on the web at http://www.getoutthevent.com. La Cassella will host a Vent launch party – an

RIVERS: stand up

RIVERS: stand up

official Gay Pride event — on Sunday June 21 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and will preview the series’ first episode, Celebutantes, at the party. Sounds like fun … and speaking of Pride, Joan Rivers, who championed AIDS victims and fund-raised for research long before it became fashionable to do so, is set to do two shows on Thursday June 25 at off-Broadway’s Gramercy Theater, at East 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue, timed to coincide with New York City’s annual Gay Pride Week. The historic venue had been transformed into an intimate nightclub for Rivers’ show, with cabaret tables in the orchestra section, a full bar and waiter service. Her opening act? Rising indie drag band She-Dick. (And no, I’m not making that up.) Tickets are $25-$125 with net proceeds going to Rivers’ favorite charities: God’s Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

TOMORROW:  Catching up with Anne Murray.