Tag Archives: MARK BRESLIN

Rachel and Marion love Woody, Jeanne and Barry love to Scrabble, Jerry loves La Cage, and Conan loves Twitter

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Whatever he’s got, he’s still got it. Woody Allen is set to shoot another film in Paris this summer — mais oui, they love him in France — and

MCADAMS: To Paris with Woody

Rachel McAdams and Marion Cotillard have already signed on … flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, the Winter Olympics’ favourite bad boy, is now set to guest with Ice Theatre Of New York at the company’s 2010 Home Season stint April 29-May 1 at Chelsea Pier … John Tory, the new Chair of the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, is seeking $17.5 million in gifts needed to complete the TIFF Bell Lightbox between now and the opening of the building, which is still scheduled for this fall … Kelsey Grammer is back on Broadway, currently in previews at the Longacre Theatre for the Olivier Award-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles that took London by storn. Composer Jerry Herman says this new version “is hysterical, touching, outrageous, ingenious — a revelation from curtain to curtain.” This we gotta see … Channing Tatum and Al Pacino are teaming up for a new screen drama, Son Of No One …  and Sebastian Stan, best known for his roles on Gossip Girl and Kings, has joined the cast of Captain America as leading man Chris Evan’s sidekick.

MARCUS TRIO: at Smiling Buddha tonight

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Talk about a musical coup d’etat! Sting, Elton John, Lady Gaga and Dame Shirley Bassey will perform together at Carnegie Hall  at a Rainforest Fund benefit concert on May 13. The event will mark the 21st birthday of the charitable organization founded by Sting and Trudie Styler to help protect and preserve the world’s threatened rainforest areas and the pricey tickets includes a gala post-performance dinner at the Plaza … Jann Arden, Tom Cochrane and NHL legend Darryl Sittler are set to join Anne Murray at her 2010 Charity Golf Classic in support of Colon Cancer Canada on May 18 at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham … at last! Hypnotic singer-songwriter Jane Ford has finally released a new album, All I’ve Needed Most, a five-song EP featuring “some great new tunes I know you’re going to love.” Count me in. Her new album is available on iTunes in the US and Canada. “And Europe. Everywhere actually!” … Justin Bieber pop-rocks tomorrow night on SNL … and professional crowd-pleasers The Marcus Trio return to one of their favourite haunts, The Smiling Buddha Bar on College Street, tonight at 10 pm.

O'BRIEN: networking

TWITTERBUG: Deposed late-night prince Conan O’Brien wasn’t a great believer in social networking until NBC bounced him off his Tonight Show throne. But after being hounded by both his friends and personal Followers (read, Employees) O’Brien finally saw the light. He now has close to a million followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Which is how, with a few well-placed wisecracks, he has managed to almost completely sell out his 30-city comedy tour which kicks off on Monday night. “Five days to the opening of my tour,” he tweeted yesterday. “I don’t want to over-hype this thing, but attendance will cure all known diseases.”  His first stop on his sweep of North American cities? Eugene, Oregon.

(Now that’s funny.)

BEKER: all-star Scrabble soiree

SCRABBLE RABBLE: Autograph collectors should have a field day Monday night at the 6th annual Scrabble® With The Stars soiree at the King Suites. Returning hosts Jeanne Beker and Barry Flatman will welcome so many marquee names that I can’t possible mention them all here. Suffice it to say that the glamourous role call includes Angela Asher, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, Jayne Eastwood, Lili Francks, Graham Greene, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie, Micki Moore, Eric Peterson, Leah Pinsent,  Avery Saltzman, Elizabeth Shepherd, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova, Robin Ward, Sara Waxman and enduring entertainment icons Sharon, Lois & Bram, all in aid of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) of Toronto. Tickets include dinner, a game of Scrabble with a celebrity and a tax receipt, and as usual there’s only a handful of tickets left. So if you want to play, don’t delay — just click here!

And have a great weekend.

-/-


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A new role for Feist, a new band for Ringo, more stars for Scrabble, and a chance to watch Tiger tee off in 3-D

FEISTY TV COMMENTATOR SAVES THE DAY: Who’s that girl pushing her microphone into your face? Believe it or not, the gal with the hot mike is none other than

FEIST: chess game

Juno-laden warbler Leslie Feist, and she’s not singing into it this time. Feist was tapped by her longtime friend, Paris-based ex-pat pianist and producer Chilly Gonzales (aka the artist formerly known as Beck,) to play a TV reporter covering a chess tournament in Gonzales’ first short feature film, Ivory Tower. The flick, which wrapped location shoots here yesterday, also features techno-popsters Tiga as Gonzales’ high-strung chess champion brother and Peaches as their mutual love interest. Insiders say the task of playing an on-camera TV maven was a walk in the park for Feist, who has previously survived playing an angel with a direct line to Heaven (on Stephen Colbert’s wacko Christmas special) to singing her monster hit 1.2.3.4. with Elmo on Sesame Street. Meanwhile her pun-addicted pal Gonzales — he of Pianist Envy fame — is now winging his way to Austin, Texas where he’ll rock SxSW music lovers with a predictably off-the-wall concert tonight before winging back home to Paris.

SHARPS ‘N” FLATS: Massey Hall-bound Dire Straits alumnus Mark Knopfler is set to serenade his Swiss fans at the 44th annual Montreux Jazz Festival July 2-17 … Iron Maiden returns to seduce Canuck fas on July 3 at the Molson Amphitheatre in T.O. and July

TAYLOR & TAYLOR: Valentines

7 at the Bell Centre in Montreal … new Grammy sweeper Taylor Swift, so good with that other Taylor (New Moon alumnus Lautner) in Valentine’s Day, will join Keith Urban, Ashley MacIsaac and Lady Antebellum at this year’s Cavendish Beach Music Festival in P.E.I. in July … Ringo Starr brings his new All-Starr Band, including Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and Richard Page, to Fallsview Casino on June 24 & 25 … Chantal Kreviazuk is set to brighten the Edmonton Symphony season this fall … and showstopper Idina Menzel, so brilliant at Defying Gravity in Wicked, is set to make a stellar appearance on the second season of Glee.

WOODS: a new dimension?

3-D STIMULUS PACKAGE: Two hours of each round of next month’s Masters golf tournament will be carried in 3-D by Comcast to its more than 20 million U.S. subscribers. The production will be separate from what CBS and ESPN will show, with Sony supplying cameras to show the action on the back nine. It’s all part of a grand scheme to persuade sports fans to buy new 3-D televisions sets.And of course Tiger Woods much-anticipated return to the Masters can’t hurt. But yes, you still have to wear the glasses.

SCRABBLE BABBLE: What do stage and screen showstoppers  Sheila McCarthy, Colin Mochrie and Jayne Eastwood all have in common? They’re three of the 40 sparklies set to play at the sixth annual Scrabble With The Stars next month. In case you’ve forgotten this is the once-a-year fundraiser for PAL Toronto, the Performing Arts Lodge that is now home for so many of our now-senior artists who devoted their lives to delighting us on stage and screen. In addition

BARRY & JEANNE: Scrabblers

to such long time supporters as Peter Kent, Gordon Pinsent and legendary moppet charmers Sharon, Lois & Bram, marquee luminaries already confirmed include Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Dinah Christie, Arlene Duncan, C. David Johnson, Deb McGrath, Sheila McCarthy, Mickie Moore, Leah Pinsent,  Shakura S’Aida, Avery Saltzman, Paul Soles, Amy Sky, Theresa Tova and cuisine queen Sara Waxman, TV fashionista Jeanne Beker and her best beau Barry Flatman are returning to host this year’s star-studded Scrabble evening on Monday April 12 at the King Suites, and I can personally guarantee that you’ll have a great time. For more information and/or to order tickets, just click here. But don’t wait too long — this event ALWAYS sells out!

-/-

Ms Taylor comes out to play, Ms Mirren comes to town (almost!) and Mr Mochrie goes to the dogs

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Wheelchair-bound but mobile again, Elizabeth Taylor made her first public appearance in months at Andrea Bocelli’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl. “My mind, my soul were transported

LAW: pajama Dane

LAW: pajama Dane

by his beauty, his voice, his inner being,” she reports. “God has kissed this man and I thank God for it.” Yeah, she likes him … funnyman John Wing says he was the sixth most famous person on the plane to Los Angeles Monday. Howcum? “The Tragically Hip were on the same flight!” … add director Guy Maddin to the growing list of fans hopelessly smitten by Roger Ebert’s Journals. (And yes, Ebert really does elicit the warmest, brightest, smartest, most literate responses from his devoted readers, including Winnipeg wunderkind Guy … Jude Law is breathing easier these days now that his Hamlet was well received by U.K. critics. Law himself acknowledged that playing the melancholy Dane is “a bit like a great song that’s been covered by a load of different singers.” But at least he’s comfortable on stage. In the London production he’s clad in pajama-like costumes for most of the play … and shhhh, it’s a secret, but Patricia Clarkson wants to play now-92 year-old Phyllis Diller in the still-being-scripted biopic of the legendary comedienne.

DILLER: before ...

DILLER: before ...

CLARKSON: ... and after

CLARKSON: ... and after??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TAIL OF TWO CITIES: In Montreal they close Ste Catherine street for the jazz festival and shut down Rue St Denis for the comedy festival. In Toronto we

MOCHRIE: going to the dogs

MOCHRIE: going to the dogs

close Front Street from Jarvis to Yonge for Woofstock, the annual doggie love-in set for the St. Lawrence Market Neighborhood this weekend. New features this year include a Saturday night Yappy Hour at which Wooftinis will be served. Seriously. (Oh c’mon, even I couldn’t make that up!) Headliners participating in Main Stage contests include Mark Breslin, Geri Hall, Colin Mochrie and Nikki Payne, and don’t be surprised to find a lot of four-legged friends on the TTC on Saturday and Sunday. Last year more than 150,000 dog lovers and their canine companions showed up from all over North America.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I don’t just sit around and wait for the phone to ring because, you know, I had to write my own script in the first place because I don’t look like Nicole Kidman. And the fact is I still don’t. So I don’t get offered fun, interesting roles. So I’m not going to whine about it; I just sit in my office and I write them.”

The speaker?  Comedy confection Nia Vardalos, currently winning new fans in her romantic comedy romp My Life In Ruins.

 OUR TOWN:  Yearning to be in London’s West End to see Jude Law‘s Hamlet and Helen Mirren‘s Phaedre? Lucky moviegoers will see Mirren ‘live’ on stage at The National Theatre, when Cineplex telecasts the play at key theatres across

MIRREN: On screen from stage

MIRREN: On screen from stage

 the country on June 25 … Driftwood Theatre launches its 15th season in Toronto at Todmorden Mills on July 11 & 12. The theatre company is taking two of Shakespeare’s plays on the road — King Lear and The Comedy of Errors — and will roll through 27 locations in Ontario with its Bard’s Bus Tour through to August 23. Stops include outdoor locations in Bloomfield, Cobourg, Dundas, Durham, Kingston, Marmora, Mississauga, Peterborough and more, and all shows are pay-what-you-can … add Sonia Rodriguez to the star power already

RODRIGUEZ: White heat

RODRIGUEZ: White heat

assembled for Karen Kain’s sizzling White Hot Gala, the National Ballet of Canada’s fourth annual fundraising event next week at the Four Seasons Centre. Sultry high-stepper Rodriguez will partner with Piotr Stanczyk in a Garbo-esque pas de deux from the company premiere of Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias … … and Art On The Move will launch June 22 in the Distillery District. Mayor David Miller will personally welcome the first three art-wrapped vehicles of the project onto city streets. Art On The Move is a three-year community arts initiative that will ultimately turn 15 selected vehicles into moving canvasses of art.

NET WORTH: Two major Canadian newsmakers, Rick Mercer and former MP Belinda Stronach, received honorary degrees from Brock University

MERCER: he's Dr. Rick now

DR. MERCER: class of 2009

yesterday.  Mercer and Stronach were honoured as the co-founders of the Spread the Net fundraising campaign. “I must — from the bottom of my heart — thank the students here at Brock for contributing over 5,500 bed nets for Spread the Net,” Stronach told the crowd. “It’s a great legacy for you to leave behind.” Mercer described a life-changing visit to Africa he and Stronach took to learn about the malaria problem. “I told Belinda, ‘I’m not going to come back from Africa as one of those guys on TV who won’t shut up about Africa.’ Now every time I turn around, I’m on TV telling people to Spread the Net.”

Mercer told reporters that he’s also the proud owner of an honorary high school diploma from a Nova Scotia school for students with learning disabilities — and now he has a doctorate of laws from Brock. “I don’t know if it comes with a prescription pad or not, but I’m going to frame it, hang it on the wall and offer legal advice to my friends.” 

And just before he and his Net partner Stronach left the stage, they imparted a few words of wisdom to the assembled graduating class.

Mercer said that in the meantime, he’s acquired an honorary high school diploma from a Nova Scotia school for students with learning disabilities.
“And from there, I’ve gone to a doctorate of laws,” he said.
“I don’t know if it comes with a prescription pad or not,” he added. “But I’m going to frame it, hang it on the wall and offer legal advice to my friends.” 

Said Mercer: “As you go through life, leave the world a better place for having been here.”

Dead-panned Stronach: “Never order food in a strip club.”

These two should definitely go on the road together.

-/-

Gimme a break!

Oh wait, I just had one.

I know, I know, I promised you (and me) a daily column, uhhh, blog, Monday thru Friday and then some.

Never did figure out when spring break was supposed to end.

Okay. My bad.

I sorta promise to never do it again.

And meanwhile, back on the ranch:

 

OUR TOWN: What a way to start the New Year! Theatre Passe Muraille will host the world premiere of Judith Thompson’s new play, Such Creatures, in

POLLEY: presenting

POLLEY: presenting

January 2010 … presenters set to assist 22 Minutes scene-stealer Geri Hall when she hosts the 2009 WGC Screenwriting Awards next week include Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries), Sarah Polley (Away from Her,) Tara Spencer-Nairn (Corner Gas), and Jennifer Podemski (Moccasin Flats.) Host Hall and 22 Minutes scribe Kyle Tingley will script the annual Writers Guild of Canada awards giveaway … and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Tickets are already selling briskly for the Toronto filmfest’s phenomenally popular annual children’s filmfest, Sprockets, which opens this Saturday April 18.

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PEOPLE: Veteran camera-huggers Kathleen Turner and Peter Gallagher are set to join the cast of David Duchovnys hit Showtime series, CalifornicationWill Arnett has signed on to star  in a comic book -inspired Wild West saga, Jonah Hex, with Hollywood heartthrob-du-jour Josh Brolin 

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

… director Kari Scogland was reportedly delighted by the reception for her film Fifty Dead Men Walking in Belfast last week. The controversial drama, which premiered here last September at the Toronto film festival, has just opened across the UK … ’70s gay porn icon and cabaret producer Jack Wrangler died last week of emphysema. Wrangler, 62, is survived by his 84-year-old wife, esteemed pop music legend Margaret Whiting, in what was one of Hollywood’s most fascinating romances … and Giancarlo Esposito will jet in this week for the Wednesday night premiere of his directorial debut, Gospel Hill, at Tonya Lee Williams’ 9th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival at the Scotiabank Theatre. Esposito’s film, the fest’s opening night Gala, stars Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Samuel L. Jackson and Taylor Kitsch.

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BILLY BOB BLUES: By now most of the free world has viewed Jian Ghomeshis quixotic interview with reluctant movie star Billy Bob Thornton on CBC Radio’s Q.  Can’t say I feel sorry for Jian, because he stick-handled Billy Bob brilliantly. Can’t say I feel sorry for Billy Bob, because his arrogance clearly

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

exceeds his talent. But I do feel sorry for his Boxmaster band-mates. Talk about being hung out to dry! … and although Thornton is in no imminent danger of receiving honourary Canadian citizenship, Texas-born Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith used to joke that if you even visited Texas, that was good enough for the Texas Film Hall of Fame to adopt you. Which is how Arkansas native Billy Bob became an official Texan recently, receiving the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award from the Film Society. When Dennis Quaid introduced him a native “of Northeast Texas – that is, Hot Springs, Arkansas,” Billy Bob quickly reminded him that he once lived in Austin, Texas.  Which apparently was good enough for the Film Society. (Other ‘Texans’ honoured this year along with Billy Bob were Larry Hagman, born in Fort Worth, Texas, and Powers Boothe, a Texas State University graduate and native of Snyder, Texas.)

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LITERATI:  Giller Prize winner Wayson Choy is out promoting his new heart-stopping (literally!) bestseller, Not Yet … ditto Mark Breslin and his

LEACHMAN: telling tales

LEACHMAN: telling tales

Confessions of a Porn Addict, not to mention his new audio book on Canadian stand-up comedy….  gee, she’s going to Parliament after all! Green Party leader Elizabeth May launches her new book, perhaps too aptly titled Losing Confidence, on April 26 in Ottawa at, wait for it, the Parliament Pub … also out there telling tales: Fabled Oscar, Emmy & Golden Globe legend Cloris Leachman, who collaborated with her favourite ex-husband, producer George Englund (she married and divorced him twice) on Cloris: My Autobiography … and Deepak Chopra is set to wing into our town this month to promote his new tome Why Is God Laughing? on April 27 at Roy Thomson Hall. (Gee, I dunno, Deepak – maybe He’s a fan of Billy Bob Thornton??)

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SEE/HEAR:  His episode with mayor Hazel McCallion was a big hit with Canadians this season, but Rick Mercer’s Mississauga mischief is now a bonafide viral sensation in the U.S., with almost a million hits (at last count) on YouTube alone. To see what all the fuss is about, or just to finish reading this column with a smile, just click here.

See you tomorrow.

More Stars In Our Eyes Tonight In T.O., N.Y. and L.A.

ENTER THE ACTRESS: Tony & Emmy collector Andrea Martin, fresh from her stage triumph in Mel Brooks’ musical version of Young Frankenstein, returns to Broadway tonight with Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Oscar winners Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon in a rare revival of Eugene Ionesco’s Exit The King. Rush is making his debut on the Great White Way in the absurdist comedy, playing a monarch who has only 90 minutes to live. Sarandon and Ambrose play two of his queens, and the indefatigable Ms. Martin plays the maid. Any bets as to who’s gonna get the most laughs?

* * *

NORMAN CONQUESTS: The Canadian Film Centre and Film Independent are co-hosting a tribute to CFC founder Norman Jewison next month at the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art. Veteran film critic Leonard Maltin will

JEWISON: L.A. honours
JEWISON: L.A. honours

host the on-stage tribute, which will be followed by one of Jewison’s several classics, In The Heat Of The Night. The saga of a black detective trying to survive in a racist southern town, Jewison’s1967 drama with Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and Lee Grant won five Oscars, including Best Picture. It also won a much-coveted Best Actor award for Steiger, who had been nominated for The Pawnbroker but lost to Cat Ballou’s Lee MarvinPoitier, who already owned an Oscar for Lilies Of The Field, followed up with Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, and three years later his great success as Detective Virgil Tibbs in Jewison’s hit film inspired a so-so sequel, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, directed by Rat Pack favourite Gordon Douglas.

Sadly Rod Steiger won’t be there to toast his buddy Norman. But lots of Jewison’s admirers will be.

Stay tuned.

* * *

TONIGHT, TONIGHT: I predict T.O. taxis will do boffo business tonight. Ron James is opening his Mental As Anything tour at the Winter Garden; TIFF is presenting a free screening of Hollis Frampton’s magnum opus Hapax Legomena, which will be Introduced by York cinema prof Michael Zryd at Cinemateque Ontario; and artistic director Ken Gass is hosting the Factory Theatre spring gala –“great food, great atmosphere, and a great show.”  The show? The world premiere of Florence Gibson’s Missing, directed by David Ferry. Call Michelle at 416-504-4473 for last-minute tickets.

* * *

STARS IN OUR EYES: Add stage & screen charmer Cara Pifko, award-winning actor/director Sarah Polley, freshman MP Peter Kent, newspaper columnist and novelist Linwood Barclay and broadcaster Jane Hawtin to

PIFKO: Star Scrabbler

PIFKO: Star Scrabbler

the Scrabble With The Stars celebrity roster this year. Previously announced luminaries set to participate in the April 6 event at The King Suites include Graham Abbey, Jaymz Bee, Mark Breslin, Dave Broadfoot, Michael Burgess, Dinah Christie, Jayne Eastwood, Don Harron, Marilyn Lightstone, Sheila McCarthy, Deb McGrath, Colin Mochrie, Gordon Pinsent, Leah Pinsent, Paul Quarrington, Jackie Richardson, Zaib Shaikh, Dione Taylor, R.H. Thomson and hosts Jeanne Beker & Barry Flatman. Call 416-777-9674 for tickets, but don’t delay – the popular fundraising Gala is almost sold out … director Larry Weinstein’s much anticipated opus, Inside Hana’s Suitcase, will premiere here April 30 at Hot Docs … and B.C. soul rocker Alex Cuba has launched a new artist-branded web-browser. Based on the Firefox platform and developed by Canadian software companies Adevia Software and Brand Thunder, the browser can be downloaded from http://www.alexcuba.com and www.brandthunder.com/alexcuba.

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.