Brace yourself for movies, movies and more movies for children and Comic Book lovers in filmfest-crazy T.O.

Better rest your eyes this week. Two more major film festivals are almost upon us.

The Toronto international Film Festival’s celebrated children’s festival, Sprockets, proudly offers “the films kids around the world are lining up to see.” And yes, these children’s

IRREVERENT TUNESMITHS: the gang's all here

films really are international. This coming weekend includes five features short films from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Germany and Mexico, presented in collaboration with the Canadian Film Centre’s popular Worldwide Short Film Festival. And no, black tie is not required. Screenings start Saturday morning at 9:30 am, and one of the best things about the excellent Sprockets website is that you can personally program Best Bet viewing for your kids by based on age or their current school status [Grade 3, Grade 5, etc.) For all the deets, just click here.

HIRSCHFELD by Hirschfeld

Also premiering this Saturday is the 2010 Toronto Jewish Film Festival, which may have snagged more hot titles than ever before. Two movies about movies, The Brothers Warner and Cinemas Exiles: From Hitler To Hollywood, are ringing that Don’t Miss bell for me. Also bound to garner attention: Gay Days, which chronicles the rise of openly gay citizens in Israel [from three in 1985 — yes, three — to 3,000 by 1998;) and is one of more than two dozen Canadian premieres; and a screening of Larry Weinstein‘s much-lauded dramatic documentary Inside Hana’s Suitcase.

HANA'S SUITCASE: encore screening

Special focus of this year’s TJFF is People Of The Comic Book, a salute to the artists and innovators who communicate with millions by creating images that make us laugh and cry. Hot ticket highlights of this special sidebar series include The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story, about the brilliant New York Times caricaturist; Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age Of Looney Tunes; and encore screenings of Bob Zemeckis’ classic Disney ‘Toon Town comedy Who Killed Roger Rabbit, Ralph Bakshi’s X-rated Fritz The Cat, and Ron Mann’s classic Comic Book Confidential. (Talk about yer embarrassment of riches!) Tickets are now on sale for the run of the festival. For the complete schedule and more info, just click here.

AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME: Do you think Rick Mercer deserves an Olympic medal?Toronto Star sports reporter Randy Starkman does. Yesterday in his excellent Olympics blog at http://www.thestar.com Starkman proclaimed that Mercer should be named an honorary Canadian Olympian.

“For one thing,” he wrote, “the bits he does with Canadian Olympic athletes are hilarious, but at the same time show a great appreciation for the athletes and their sports. Check out Rick trying out bobsleigh or biathlon or synchronized swimming and water polo.

MERCER: honorary medalist?

“Maybe Mercer keeps going back to the Olympians to do his shtick because he finds them so accommodating and easy to work with, but you also gets the sense that he understands what they’re about and the contribution they make to the country.His March 2 blog in which he takes up their cause with future funding on the line really shows that. He writes:

“And see this is the thing about governments; governments can take any amount of money and they can make it seem like a lot or a little. And we’ve been told over and over again that this government – this wonderful government – has spent over 55 million dollars over five years supporting amateur athletes. What a huge amount of money. Who’s ever heard of such a sum? 55 million over five years. In fact it’s the same amount of money this same government has spent in one year, in one Conservative riding, preparing for one G8 meeting. A meeting by the way that will last one day. Starts at nine, ends at five. And at the end of the day the only Canadian on a podium will be the prime minister. Never mind Owning the Podium, this is more Pass the Imodium.

“And my guess is when the meeting’s done, no six year old is gonna be inspired to be the best in the world at anything. That is the job of our Olympians. Team Canada did their job now it’s time we do ours and make sure the bucks don’t stop here.”

STEWART: chicken zzzzoup

Adds Starkman: “Maybe Rick Mercer should be in that parade in Montreal later this month.”

Maybe he should.

SEE/HEAR: And now, for the educational part of our program, Martha Stewart will show us how to put a chicken to sleep. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. And no, I’m not making this up. Hey, seeing is believing. To watch  Ms Stewart induce poultry zzzz’s, just cluck, uhh, click here.



Ken gets a novel idea, Martha makes nice for Macy’s, and Jian makes CBC Radio history

Here’s some good news — Ken Finkleman is brushing off his Smith-Corona again. The creator of The Newsroom, Foolish Hearts and so many of my

FINKLEMAN: first novel

FINKLEMAN: first novel

favourite series has signed a deal with Harper Canada for his first novel, Noah’s Crime, about the murder of a literary rival by an unemployed TV writer. Ken’s literary agent Chris Bucci of Anne McDermid Associates describes the novel as “a darkly comic cross between Martin Amis’ The Information and Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment.” Sounds like pure Finkleman to me. Hope he kept the movie rights for himself. Meanwhile, his legions of television aficionados can rest easy – Ken also has a new TV series in the works, this time for TMN … always-innovative superChef Jamie Kennedy has a new treat in store for Friday night diners at his Gardiner Museum oasis. He’s pairing some spectacular new dishes with spectacularly smooth Balvenie scotch

STEWART: dining out

STEWART: dining out

whiskey. Among the VIPs sampling both at a by-invitation-only soiree this week were Newfoundland scotch connoisseurs Rick Mercer, Seamus O’Regan and Gordon Pinsent … guess that verbal dust-up with Billy Bob whatzisname didn’t do him any harm, because my spies tell me Jian Ghomeshi’s daily show Q is currently earning the highest ratings of any show in the history of CBC Radio …  Kirstie Alley wonders when TV “got so degraded.” She remembers when Cheers and Seinfeld were ‘cutting edge.’ “Now the edge is a talentless tongue!”… and Martha Stewart reports from New York that the once-vibrant Plaza Hotel is coming back to life. “Great stores on lower level, lots of tourists,” she told her tweeple earlier this week. Martha tried out the hotel’s new Oak Room restaurant, recently redesigned by Annabelle Selldorf, and said her dinner was very good. “The desserts,” she added, “were extra good!” A devoted shopper herself, La Stewart spent yesterday shooting all-star commercials for Macy’s with Mariah Carey, Usher, Queen Latifah, Tommy Hilfiger and Donald Trump, to name more than a few.

GOING DIGITAL FOR A SONG: “Our patrons are passionate and loyal, and we wanted to make sure we delivered on their expectation and with every interaction they have with the COC.”

GHOMESHI: making history

GHOMESHI: making history

So says Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, which has now launched its new and improved website where visitors “can expect the same quality from our digital experience that we demonstrate with our productions in our beautiful opera house.” New features include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the COC’s production of Madama Butterfly; an historical timeline highlighting company milestones with commemorative photos, posters, interviews and audio and video excerpts; COC podcasts featuring musical excerpts and video highlights of select operas and exclusive artist interviews; and a blog by Neef himself, who shares his thoughts on COC productions and artists and encourages visitors to ask questions. To see for yourself, click here.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “You can’t get mad at weather because weather’s not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life.”

The speaker? National treasure Doug Coupland, sharing wise words on twitter.

NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS: They tried it last year for the first time and it was a hit.  So the Just For Laughs Comedy Conference (July 23 – 25) is back. For more info click here …  only in Canada, you say? Only in Montreal, we

RIVERS: salute to Ed

RIVERS: salute to Ed

say.  Just For Laughs veterans Mike Ward, Max Martin and Derek Seguin are “taking da henglish to da west hiland for Canada Day.” Yes, the fearless trio of comics are set to perform their acquired-tasteful French Comedy Bastards act on July 1 at Bourbon Street West … after 14 seasons with the National Ballet of Canada, resident Lighting Designer Christopher Dennis will join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City next month … 300 lay-offs at My Space, plus the collapse of Quebec’s top TV format company Distraction, reminds us that it’s still tough sledding out there … curious about the new story-based Captain Eyeliner podcasts produced and hosted by Nobu Adilman? To find out more, click here … and Joan Rivers paid tribute to Ed McMahon on The View yesterday. When Johnny Carson refused to speak to her after she left The Tonight Show to try her luck at Fox, and instructed everyone connected with his show not to speak to or fraternize with her, Ed McMahon would spot her in a restaurant and come over to say hello. “He was always, always a gentleman.”

Now that’s class.