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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More news, more gossip, more stars, and more award show dates than you ever wanted to know

OUR TOWN: Music master Paul Hoffert and sidekick Bruce Cassidy host a jazz salon this Sunday afternoon at Musideum on Richmond Street west …

LIGHTSTONE: new showecase

30 Rock scene-stealer Tracy Morgan brings his special brand of funny to the Sony Centre tonight … Marilyn Lightstone premieres her latest art showcase, New Directions, on April 12 at Latitude 44 … more than 60 chefs will gather at the Royal Ontario Museum on June 3 to showcase their finest creations in support of Second Harvest. Tickets are $250 with a tax receipt issued for $125. You may think that sounds a bit pricey, but be warned: Tickets to last year’s Toronto Taste sold out in record time. To purchase yours, click here …  and Natalie Cole is set for this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a June 25 concert at the Sony Centre.

PENMANSHIP: Additional marquee bait set for the third annual Toronto Screenwriters Conference at the Ted Rogers School Of Management next weekend (March 31-April 1) include ex-Toronto types Graham Yost (Speed,

CLOONEY: Sunshine boy

Justified) and Robin Gurney (Arrested Development, Parenthood) and Skype participants Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady) and Michael Hirst (The Tudors.) Closing speaker at this year’s creative clambake will be Lee Aronsohn (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory.) Sounds like a pretty lively weekend … say what you will about the politics of the Toronto Sun, the headline writers at the Little Paper That Grew are still the best (and consistently most irreverent) in the country. The Sun’s front page pic of George Clooney in handcuffs last Saturday was captioned You Have The Right To Remain Handsome. Now that’s funny … by the way, Sun co-founder and columnist Peter Worthington, still typing up a storm, is now 85 (!!!) And Worthington’s latest boss, Quebecor emperor Pierre Karl Péladeau, recently announced new annual Sun Media awards for his newspapers outside of Quebec. Will there be a prize for CBC-slagging? Just askin’ … and here’s one for your calendars: The 9th annual gala fundraiser for Pierre Berton’s writers’ retreat in the Klondike will celebrate the Canuck victory of 1812 with a festive June 5 bash at old Fort York. Berton House clambakes are always a blast, and this one should be no exception … and speaking of good writing, the justifiably-lauded screen version of Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version premieres Sunday night on CBC, and the much-anticipated fifth season of Mad Men kicks off Sunday on AMC. That is, if you can tear yourself away from Canada’s Got Talent on Citytv. And the beat goes on.

CALENDAR JOTTINGS:  Next big award show on our horizon is the 2012 Tony Awards. Nominees will be announced May 1
live on TonyAwards.com and CBS will host the three-hour 66thAnnual Tony Awards telecast on Sunday

GERVAIS: will he be back?

June 10 …  the 27th Annual Gemini Awards’ Industry Galas are set for Tuesday August 28 and Wednesday August 29. CBC will host the Broadcast Gala on Wednesday September 5, the night before the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival begins its time-honoured 10-day movie marathon on Thursday September 6 … 2012 Emmy nominees will be announced July 29, with ABC hosting the 64th annual PrimeTime Emmy Awards on Sunday September 23 … and before you know it we do it all over again in 2013, starting with the 70th annual Golden Globes, with or without Ricky Gervais, on Sunday January 20 on NBC, the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday January 27, the Directors Guild Awards on Tuesday February 5, and the 85th annual Academy Awards, with or without Billy Crystal, on Sunday February 24 on ABC.

STREISAND: Queen of Columbia

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Soprano-turned-director Catherine Malfitano and world-renowned conductor Sir Andrew Davis are joining forces for the Canadian premiere of Alexander Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy and the return of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, an extravagant double-bill opening April 26 for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre. Since both one-act operas are set in Florence, expect some eye-catching cityscapes from set designer Wilson Chin, costume designer Terese Wadden and lighting designer David Martin Jacques… first headliners announced for the 46th edition of the

FEORE: hosting

Montreux Jazz Festival are Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds, who are now set for a July 4 gig at Auditorium Stravinski. Gallagher says he and his band will perform songs from their first CD as well as some favourites from his previous band, Oasis … when they were the fast-drivin’, rubber-burnin’ Dukes Of Hazzard, who knew they could sing? But three decades later John Schneider and Tom Wopat are still warbling and obviously not superstitious. They’re set to play Fallsview Casino showroom on Thursday April 12 and – wait for it — Friday April 13 … in celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary season, The National Ballet of

GALLAGHER: High-Flying gig

Canada Orchestra will make their concert debut at Koerner Hall on Tuesday April 3. Colm Feore will host the event, and the Orchestra will perform select works that highlight each decade in the company’s 60-year history … and how many of us made deals that last for half a century? Barbra Streisand is celebrating her upcoming 50th year with Columbia Records – her one and only label – by signing a new contract with the Sony-owned label. Only Tony Bennett has been on the label longer. Columbia will celebrate her signing by releasing a 12-set DVD which promises unprecedented access into Streisand’s professional and personal life, including never before seen footage directly from her archives. Streisand’s most recent Grammy nominated album, What Matters Most, was her 31st to reach the Top Ten.


Happy weekend.

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Together again: Fonda & Redford — but only backstage

TWITTERBUG:  After almost half a century of film and TV work, Jane Fonda officially returns to Broadway tonight in Moisés Kaufman’s new play, 33 Variations

Fonda seems pretty sanguine about the fact that the critics are coming. “So what. Let them come,” says Jane. “We are so ready we’re about to burst like ripe fruit.”

REDFORD: Twitter target

REDFORD: Twitter target


Glenn Close and Arthur Laurents were among the well-wishers who stopped by during previews. “Thank God I didn’t know they were in the audience beforehand!”

And shhhh, it’s a secret – but guess who’s coming to see her this Wednesday?

Her favourite leading man, Robert Redford, who romance her in Barefoot In The Park and The Electric Horseman.

And how, you ask, did I manage to get such a scoop?

Two-time Oscar winner Ms. Fonda, now a mischievous 71, has become an avid Twitterbug. When she isn’t posting updates on her own excellent blog, she’s Twittering.

“Just heard that Redford will see the show next Wednesday,” she twittered last week, then added: “He’d hate that I twittered this.”


At least, after he stops laughing.

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DOANE: May days

DOANE: May days


PEOPLE:  Angel-voiced songstress Melanie Doane will perform an evening of songs by Irving Berlin, Leonard Cohen, Don Messer, Randy Newman, Stan Rogers, Tom Waits and Hank Snow when she headlines the final concert of Art of Time’s 2008-2009 season on May 26-27 at the Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront …  Marilyn Lightstone opens her new captured-by-camera exhibit, a homage to the Haida Gwai, at the Fairmont in Whistler on March 28. She’ll jet back to T.O. just in time to guest at the fifth annual Scrabble With The Stars on Monday April 6 … and despite rumours au contraire, D.L. Hughley has not, repeat, NOT been sacked by CNN. Yes, his weekly comedy show D.L. Hughley Breaks the News is ending, but CNN swears it’s because D.L. wants to work out of Los Angeles, where his family lives. So Hughley will soon be “a contributor for the network based in Los Angeles.” Meanwhile, his current show, which debuted last fall, will continue airing through March.

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LITERATI:  Chapters Indigo chief Heather Reisman promoted all five books competing for the prize in this year’s Canada Reads sweepstakes on CBC Radio.  So naturally George

GHOMESHI: morning man

GHOMESHI: morning man


Stroumboulopoulos tried to corner her on camera on The Hour. Surely, he said, of the five books in the race — The Outlander by Gil Adamson, The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay, Fruit by Brian Francis, Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards and The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill — she must have a personal favourite.

“Yes,” she confessed, “I do – The Book Of Negroes.”

Apparently Canada agreed with her.  Last week CBC Radio revealed that The Book Of Negroes, passionately aided, abetted and advocated by former CBC nowAl Jazeera journalist Avi Lewis,  “soared past its competitors” to win.

Maybe Ms. Reisman should consider a side career in handicapping?

Meanwhile, you can catch Avi and author Lawrence Hill with Jian Ghomeshi in the winner’ circle this morning on Q.

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A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: Watch this space for names of Canuck newsmakers when nominees for the 2009 Rose d’Or awards are announced tomorrow in London at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA.)


TOMORROW:  Rick Mercer bears all

Can you spell O-r-d-e-r Tickets N-o-w?

One of the year’s most star-laden events is exactly one month away – and you’re invited to bring your camera.

BEKER: H-o-s-t-i-n-g

BEKER: H-o-s-t-i-n-g

Everyone’s fave fashionista Jeanne Beker and her steady fella Barry Flatman will host the fifth annual Scrabble® With The Stars, the annual showbiz fund-raiser for Toronto’s Performing Arts Lodge (a.k.a. PAL) is set for April 6, 2009 at The Suites at 1 King West, with more than 40 stage, screen and literary celebs participating.

Public relations pro Vivienne Muhling, a primary PAL booster, devised the all-star evening five years ago, luring star-gazers and Scrabble fans alike by promising AND delivering a star at every table. So while patrons rub shoulders and match wits with some of Canada’s premiere sparklies, this year’s proceeds will fund the first steps towards providing assisted living for those PAL residents who are no longer well enough to fully care for themselves.

SHAIKH: Scrabbler

SHAIKH: Scrabbler

This year’s all-star cast of Scrabble players include – are you ready? — Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Michael Burgess, Dinah Christie, Jayne Eastwood, Don Harron, Peter Kent, Colin Mochrie, Marilyn Lightstone, Gordon Pinsent, Leah Pinsent, Paul Quarrington, Jackie Richardson, Dione Taylor, R.H. Thomson, Teresa Tova and Little Mosque On The Prairie stars Sheila McCarthy, Zaib Shaikh and Deb McGrath, with more marquee names to be announced momentarily.

And no, you don’t have to mortgage your condo to pay for it. Single Gala tickets, which include the cocktail reception, buffet dinner AND Scrabbling with a Star, are only $125 each, and come with a tax receipt (!!) for the maximum amount allowable. Which is why this event tends to sell out fast. So don’t take too long to think it over. Call 416-777-9674 or go to www.scrabblewiththestars.ca, but don’t let this one get away.

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NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ:  Crowd-pleaser Ron James returns to Toronto to bring his Mental As Anything tour to the Winter Garden – but he’s here for six nights only, March 26-28 and April 2-4. So don’t say I didn’t warn you …

KAIN: Casting calls

KAIN: Casting calls

best showbiz name I’ve heard this week: Underoath,  the Tampa-based heavy metal band who kick off their Canadian tour tomorrow night in Vancouver. Opening for the group: Norma Jean and Innerpartysystem, (I guess Sam Butera & The Witnesses weren’t available) … and although she’s clearly brilliant at nurturing show-stopping dancers, National Ballet chief Karen Kain is no slouch when it comes to off-stage casting either. Hosts for her series of Ballet Talks at the Four Seasons Centre For The Arts — those popular informal chats that begin 45 minutes before every show—for her current Innovation evenings are renowned dance critics Clement Crisp from the Financial Times in London and Michael Crabb from the National Post. And the host for the upcoming Romeo & Juliet ballet talks will be ex-Romeo Rex Harrington.

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MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH: Former CBC broadcaster Avril Benoît is now working for Médecins Sans Frontières Canada as the director of communications.  

BARRIE: Returning

BARRIE: Returning

Recently interviewed on Dispatches from Dungu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she said the United Nations is failing the people there. “The UN peacekeeping force with amandate to protect is not protecting,” Benoit said flatly. “There’s no one protecting them!”… CBC ear candy Andrew Craig joins Mike Downes, Anthony Michelli and David Mott in a jazz quartet for Canada’s first jazz oratorio, Creation, written and composed by acclaimed saxophonist David Mott. World premiere is set for May 3 at Mississauga’s Living Arts Centre. Also sharing the stage, which features photographs taken in space by astronaut and longtime Mott fan Steve MacLean: The 60+ voice Mississauga Choral Society and guest soloists Kathryn Domoney, Adi Braun, Martin Houtman, and Giles Tomkins … and much to the delight of his legions of fans, Andy Barrie is set to return to CBC Radio on Monday morning.