Tag Archives: National Ballet Of Canada

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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A living doll named Andriana brings down the (opera) house when Hoffman starts telling his Tales

POWER PLAY: Andriana Chuchman gets re-charged by Steven Cole

SHOCK TREATMENT: You don’t expect a lot of repressed mirth at the opera, even when the themes are tragicomic. But Toronto opera goers are howling with laughter this month at Andriana Chuchman’s diabolically funny performance in the new Canadian Opera Company production of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman. In case you’re unfamiliar with the plot, it’s all about a

CHUCHMAN: living doll

romantic poet [Hoffman] who becomes a greater and more insightful poet after he amorously pursues three enigmatic women with disastrous results. Which is where Ms. Chuchman comes in. Hoffman is sure that in the exquisite Olympia he has found the perfect woman –apparently the fact that she sleeps in a glass coffin has somehow eluded him — and vows to make her his own. Alas, Olympia is a mechanical doll, brought to life by jolts of electricity that evoke nostalgic memories of Elsa Lanchester rising to the occasion as the Bride of Frankenstein. As directed by Lee Blakely, clearly a disciple of the Mel Brooks school of drama, and as deftly executed by Winnipeg-born soprano Chuchman, Olympia is a brilliantly bawdy creation, sung with spellbinding precision and a sense of punch-line timing

SHEARER: as Olympia in 1951

worthy of Madeline Kahn. It’s a great role, of course; ballerina Moira Shearer danced it in the award-garnering 1951 screen version more than half a century ago. But the remarkable Ms. Chuchman takes it to a new and hilarious level, and the performance frequently interrupted by spontaneous applause from a most appreciative audience. Her star turn is the diamond in a show filled with gems, including Russell Thomas’ searing Hoffman, Erin Wall‘s tortured Antonia — how often do you get to sing all those great arias about how you’re not supposed to sing? — Steven Cole’s amusing posturing as all four thankless servants and John Relyea‘s tour de force performances as all four demonic villains. Tales of Hoffman is on stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts through May 14, and even with those memorable Offenbach melodies, I predict it’s Ms. Chuchman’s Olympia you’ll still be talking about long after the final curtain comes down.

ALICE & CHESHIRE CAT: her Adventures are bound for L.A.

BALLET HIGH: The National Ballet of Canada will return to L.A. this fall for the first time in 35 years. The company will bring its spectacularly successful production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the Los Angeles’ Music Center, October 19–21. Closer to home, the National’s celebrated outreach programme YOU Dance is in Thunder Bay this week, introducing students in

BRUEGGERGOSMAN: we've got a crush on her

grades four to six to the world of dance through free workshops and performances. Now only five years old, YOU Dance has already performed free of charge for more than 48,000 students and teachers in Ontario. Hey, somebody’s doing something right …

SHARPS & FLATS: The irrepressible World Rock Symphony Orchestra is back rocking Fallsview Casino this week and next, with homegrown rocker Gowan set to play a three-night stand there on July 11-13 …  the incomparable Measha Brueggergosman serenades fans with songs from her new pop album, I’ve Got A Crush On You,  tonight  at the Markham Theatre and tomorrow night at Trinity St. Paul’s Church …  Jack de Keyzer brings his Blues

HOFFERT: Sunday salons

Revue to the lakefront this weekend with a Saturday night gig at the Riverview Room atop the Port Credit Legion … and always-in-demand music man Tom Szczesniak joins Paul Hoffert’s Sunday afternoon jazz salon at Musideum this weekend.

OUR TOWN: Super shutterbug Barbara Cole’s new photo exhibit, Two People Walking A Tightrope In An Ordinary Life Filled With Extraordinary Moments – love that title! – is now on view at the Baux-XI Photo gallery across from the AGO … Grace Restaurant on College Street celebrated its fourth birthday this week with a new chef, Kevin Gastonguay, replacing exiting rave-maker Dustin Gallagher … still in a festive mood, Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company celebrates its 30th Anniversary this week with tonight’s world premiere of Aguas/Waters at the Fleck Dance Theatre at Harbourfront. Aquas/Waters is choreographed by Artistic Director Esmeralda Enrique and Juan Ogalla, who won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Dance Performance last year.

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Ms Mirren gets to put the bogus bite on Mr. Crystal, but will Mr. Doyle get to play another Endgame?

WHEN BILLY MET HELEN: Great news – Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal have teamed up again to make the long-awaited much-anticipated sequel to When Harry Met Sally, and in addition to casting great supporting players like Maya Rudolph they’ve snagged Helen Mirren for a key romantic role. In keeping with the times, director Reiner promises that When Harry Met Sally 2 will be a comedy with a substantial bite to it.  To see the already-controversial sneak preview, click here – and enjoy!

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Canuck comedy sensation Russell Peters hosts his own Just For Laughs special tomorrow night on CBC with his

COHEN: Gould Prize winner

own handpicked supporting cast of merry men, namely Jeremy Hotz, Jimmy Carr, Sebastian Maniscalco and Nick Thune … jury members who voted the selection of Leonard Cohen as the winner of the ninth Glenn Gould Prize included Atom Egoyan, Stephen Fry, Elaine Overholt and jury chair Paul Hoffert. And I know I said this last week, but details of the gala evening to honour Cohen’s win should be revealed tomorrow … Jaymz Bee is celebrating his birthday this Wednesday by rocking The Old Mill.  For more details click here … and Jian Ghomeshi chats up Slash tomorrow on Q before leaving for Moncton and CBC Radio coverage of the 2012 East Coast Music Awards.

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: This year’s Winnipeg Comedy Festival will include live tapings of Steve Patterson’s hit CBC Radio show The Debaters 

DOY:LE as John A.

this weekend. Sean Cullen and Scott Thompson will go head-to-head about pure bred vs. mongrel dogs. And just to make it even more interesting, Thompson will debate as The Queen, while Cullen portrays Adele. And yes, you read that right … why do I think the late Brian Linehan‘s name should be on our Walk Of Fame? Because of his dedication to celebrating, promoting and building Canadian stars on television (Linehan, City Lights) and radio (CFRB) throughout his career. If you agree, please vote for him here, under ‘Other’
… and Global Television has picked up a hard-won Rockie nomination for its homegrown cop series Rookie Blue. Ironically,

DOYLE as Arkady Balagan

the financially beleaguered CBC  won Rockie nods for no less than seven (7) shows, including Heartland, Michael Tuesday & Thursdays, The Debaters, John A.: Birth Of A Country, and The 2012 Gemini Awards. Is that a new network record? Just askin’ … and good news for Shawn Doyle fans. His excellent Endgame series, in which he played crime-solving world chess champion Arkady Balagan,  played for only one season on Showcase, but yesterday the New York Times reported that the series has been picked up by Hulu, the online streaming service, which is considering the production of a second season.   Let’s keep all fingers  crossed.

BALLET HIGH: Love Lies Bleeding tonight on CBC

LORDS OF THE DANCE: The hit National Ballet of Canada production of The Seagull opens Thursday night in Ottawa. Headliners at the National Arts Centre premiere are Greta Hodgkinson as Arkadina, Guillaume Côté in the role of Kostya, Aleksandar Antonijevic as Trigorin and Sonia Rodriguez as Nina. Which means the entire company can get to see Antonijevec’s exhibit of his ballet photography, Feet and Mirrors, on view at the NAC until April 28 … DanceWorks presents Ottawa urban dance sensation Bboyizm in its Toronto debut with two shows: IZM this Friday April 13 and Saturday April 14 at 8pm, and a matinee performance of the family-friendly show, Evolution Of B-Boying, on Saturday at 1pm, at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre. Word is that choreographer/dancer and Bboyizm founder Yvon Soglo (aka b-boy Crazy Smooth) takes a daring, imaginative approach to street dance tradition without losing its authenticity. Sounds intriguing … and tonight’s Don’t-Miss TV eye-candy is Love Lies Bleeding, the Alberta Ballet’s wildly popular, rave-winning exploration of Elton John’s music, directed by the masterful Moze Mossanen of Nureyev fame. For an intriguing behind-the-scenes look, click here.

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Napkin Man gets a Barenaked booster, Seagull stars get set to soar, and Nico dances into Cinefranco

FRENCH WITHOUT TEARS: Hard to believe, but Marcelle Lean’s once-struggling Cinefranco Film Festival is celebrating its 15thstanza this year. After running a successful weeklong school program of screenings last month, the

NICO & MYLENE: They've got Rhythme

festival opens to the general public this Friday at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Weekend highlights already generating a sizeable buzz include Nico Archambault’s splashy performance with Mylène Saint-Sauveur  in On The Beat/Sur le rhythme, directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud; the new Isabelle Hupert entry, My Worst Nightmare/Mon pire cauchemar, directed by Anne Fontaine; director Emmanuel Mouret’s new comedy The Art Of Love / L’art d’aimer, with François Cluzet and Julie Depardieu; and Dominic Desjardins’ opening night film, La Sacrée. For the complete list of films and how to get to see them, click hereet bon cinema!

OUR TOWN: Lots of openings tonight. A revisioned version of The Vindication of Senyora Clito Mestres, directed and performed by Dora nominee Dragana Varagic, is set to run tonight through Sunday at Theatre

RODRIGUEZ: opening night

Passe Muraille’s Backspace, with an additional performance March 31 at the Isabel Bader Theatre … Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie bring back Lemieux’s acclaimed 2003 choreographic work Varenka, Varenka! from tonight through March 31 at the company’s new dance centre in Regent Park, The Citadel. The work is inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s first novel Poor Folk, about an aging clerk and his love for a young woman in mid-nineteenth century Russia … and wow, what an opening night cast! — Guillaume Coté, Greta Hodgkinson, Aleksandar Antonijevic and Sonia Rodriguez. Still wondering if you will be able to keep all the different lovers distinct and separate when John Neumeier’s splashy ballet version of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull opens tonight at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts? Fear not – the National Ballet has produced a cheeky one-minute video guide to all the love affairs in the show. To see it, just click here — and enjoy!

ROBERTSON: Napkin Man

TV SHOP TALK: Corus Entertainment will launch its newest service, ABC Spark, next Monday with the day-and-date season premiere of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The primetime schedule will also include ABC Family original series Switched at Birth, Melissa & Joey, The Lying Game and Make It or Break It BBC director general Mark Thompson will step down after the London Olympic games this summer … KIds’ CBC is currently developing a new show for small fry called The Adventures Of Napkin Man, hosted by Barenaked Ladies charmer Ed Robertson Discovery Networks International has bought a 20% stake in French pay-TV company Televista, gambling that

SCHONEBERGER: Rose d'Or host

Televista will move into France’s free-to-air market … and only three Canadian entries made it to the finish line as Rose d’Or nominees this year. Storming Juno Interactive, produced by Secret Location for History Television, is a Multiplatform nominee; For One Night Only, produced by Les Productions Rivard for ARTV, is a Live Event Show nominee; and Property Brothers, produced by Cineflix Inc. for the W Network, is a Lifestyle finalist. Winners will be revealed on May 10 when German TV presenter, actress and singer Barbara Schöneberger hosts the Rose d’Or awards ceremonies in Lucerne.

WOMAN’S WORLD: It’s been a year or three since she lit up home screens as Felicity, but now Keri Russell is set to star in FX’s period drama pilot The Americans. Russell will play an undercover KGB spy who starts to fall in love

GUMMER: will First Cut be the kindest?

with her arranged husband (also a spy). Hmmm – wonder if Scott Speedman is available … Meryl Streep’s talented actress daughter Mamie Gummer, so good in her guest stints with Julianna Margulies on The Good Wife, is the lead in CW’s new medical drama pilot First Cut … three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver is set to star in her first primetime series, Greg Berlanti’s USA pilot Politcal Animals. She’ll play a former First Lady who is now Secretary of State. In the good old days the networks would have waited until Hillary Clinton left the job — but hey, these are the good new days. Or so they tell me.

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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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Carol has her night on screen, Jian takes his show on the road, and Evan proves he’s a Prince of dance

HELLO, CAROL:  Broadway devotee Dori Bernstein’s new documentary Carol Channing: Larger Than Life opened the 12th Floating Film Festival last night, and Channing is such an irresistible presence on screen that we couldn’t help wishing the 90-year-old musical comedy legend was with us on board the Seabourn Sojourn as we sail into Caribbean waters. Bernstein, with Channing’s blessing, gently reveals the forces and conflicts and inner turmoils that drove Channing to succeed in show business in a way few others before her have achieved. The star studded cast of characters who share Channing anecdotes includes Lily Tomlin, Tyne Daly, Bruce Vilanch, Barbara Walters, Loni Anderson, Tommy Tune, Chita Rivera, JoAnne Worley, Rich Little and Tippi Hedren. And Carol’s first roommate Betty Garrett (whose last interview appears in the film) points out that their first screen kisses were with Frank Sinatra and Clint Eastwood. The film is a delight, full of insight and

THE NEWLYWEDS: Harry & Carol

inspiration. At times almost hypnotically fascinating, it also captures a bonafide love story when Channing, who has no illusions about her failings as a wife and mother, is reunited with her fist love, old school beau Harry Kullijian, after 70 years. In her late ‘80s, Channing marries for the fourth time, and together they launch the Channing-Kullijian Foundation to support arts education in schools. What the film doesn’t share with us is the touching real-life epilogue to their December-December romance. On Boxing Day they were at their desert home in Rancho Mirage when Harry, by now 92, suffered an aneuryism and died.       Small comfort, perhaps, but at least Kullijan had the pleasure of seeing Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, not to mention marrying the original, before his untimely exit. For which Carol, I’m sure, is genuinely grateful.

GHOMESHI: Montreal-bound

GOES TO QUEBEC: Host with the Most Jian Ghomeshi is admittedly “stoked” by plans to broadecast his top-rated CBC Radio show Q from Montreal on March 1. His live sold-out gig at the historic Le National theatre features some of Quebec’s leading cultural figures from the worlds of music, dance, comedy and film, including electronic music maestro DJ Champion and his band the G-Strings, who will perform live throughout the show;

LECAVALIER: high Q

comedian Sugar Sammy, dance great Louise Lacavalier, singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt, and web TV star Simon Olivier Fecteau. Ghomeshi, who has previously taken to enthusiastic audiences in New York, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Chicago and Salt Lake City, says he’s super-excited about going back to Montreal with the show – and we believe him.

DIAMOND: sparking OCAD

MARCH BREAKS: Select nominees for the 32nd annual Genie Awards will be grilled on stage at TIFF Bell Lightbox on March 7, the night before the awards telecast on CBC. The special  In Conversation event will take place from 6:30-8pm. Seating is limited, so contact the TIFF Box Office sooner than later for tickets …  OCAD University prez Sara Diamond will host renowned digital culture theorist, data visualization artist and educator Lev Manovich on Friday, March 23. Manovich will give a free practical workshop and lecture exploring the dynamic field of information and scientific visualization. Both events are open to everyone … Goodmans’ good guy David Zitzerman is once again co-chairing the 12th Annual International Film & TV Finance 

McKIE: home town high

Summit sponsored by Bloomberg BNA/CITE on March 22-23rd  at the Luxe Hotel in L.A. … National Ballet guest artist Evan McKie has danced the role of the Prince in Sleeping Beauty before, but never on his own turf.  The Toronto-born Stuttgart Ballet star will dance the role here on March 11, his first performance in his hometown since training at the National Ballet School.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE:  .. Next big film for Viola Davis is Won’t Back Down, a new drama about laws in California and a handful of other states that allow parents to dump bad teachers and overrule administrators in bottom-ranked schools. Davis plays a teacher who risks career and friendships to join the revolt. Maggie Gyllenhaalplays the single mother who sells cars, tends bar and rouses parents to take charge of their grade school. And Holly Hunter plays the union rep who fights the takeover.  Sounds like a natural for next September’s TIFF …  Rick Mercer goes skate to skate with the Winnipeg Jets tonight on The Rick Mercer Report at 8 pm on CBC … nominees for the 2012 Rose d’Or

MERCER & WINNIPEG CHUMS: When you're a Jet / You're a Jet all the way ...

Awards will be announced at a gala tonight in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — the first time in its 50-year history that the Rose d’Or has held an event in Asia … and author Lawrence Hill will be presented with the Writers’ Union 2012 Freedom to Read Award tonight at the Book and Periodical Council‘s Freedom to Read event at the Gladstone Hotel. Union chair Greg Hollingshead said the Union chose Hill for “his reasoned and eloquent response to the threat to burn his novel The Book of Negroes.” Roy Groenburgof The Netherlands, taking offense to the use of the word “Negro” in the title of Hill’s novel, burned the cover and publicly threatened to burn the book. Hill responded that burning books “is designed to intimidate people. It underestimates the intelligence of readers, stifles dialogue and insults those who cherish the freedom to read and write. The leaders of the Spanish Inquisition burned books, Nazis burned books.” Too true.


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Midnight In Paris may not win another Oscar for Woody — but that poster is definitely a keeper

SUITABLE FOR FRAMING: All will be revealed this weekend on Sunday night’s  Academy Awards telecast — but if they gave out Oscars for movie posters, the Van Gogh version of Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris would get my vote hands down. It really is a beauty, and so evocative of the spirit of the film.

I mean, how cool is this? Really. I’m sure Woody will survive without winning more gold statuettes; he already has plenty. And the fact that Midnight In Paris is his biggest hit in years has gotta be the best consolation prize of all. By the way, not all Woody fans get to enjoy the same poster we do. Different countries market films in, well, different ways. As you can see. Oddly enough I have no desire to frame this one. But hey — different brush strokes for different folks.

YET ANOTHER REASON WHY WE LOVE LIZ SMITH: Has Manhattan gossip queen Liz Smith had her final say about Whitney Houston’s demise? We hope not. “No matter what Whitney might have abused in the past,” she wrote last week, “reports indicate that there were no illegal drugs found in her hotel room. Or in her body — believe me, TMZ would have headlined that. Whitney apparently died of an accident that has probably claimed a thousand American lives since Saturday. Too much drinking the night before, anxiety and a hangover the next day. Pop a Xanax (or anything to relax and relieve stress.) You don’t mean to, but you’ve just killed yourself.

SMITH: how Whitney died

“The legalization of marijuana or cocaine or meth have nothing to do with the circumstances of Whitney Houston’s death,” says Liz. “She didn’t die with a needle in her arm, or a crack pipe nearby. When TMZ obtained photos of the bathroom where she died, what terrible thing was revealed? There was a gravy boat, filled with an oil Whitney was using to soften her skin as she bathed. (The terrible thing is that they received these heartbreaking photos and ran them.) Police also said that Whitney possessed less prescribed medication at the time of her death than most ‘regular’ people.” Point taken. Let he who possesses an empty medicine cabinet throw the first over-the-counter pill.

YESTERDAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG:  Try as I might, I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it was 40 years ago – four decades, folks – when Veronica Tennant danced that mind-boggling Rose Adagio choreographed by

NUREYEV & TENNANT

NUREYEV & KAIN

Rudolf Nureyev for the National Ballet’s headline-making premiere of The Sleeping Beauty. Then-aspiring prima ballerina Karen Kain danced it too, and next month Heather Ogden will follow in their bruised and tortured footsteps when she costars in Sleeping Beauty with her husband, high-flyer Guillaume Côte, who by the way will receive the Medal of the National Assembly of Québec tomorrow at the Parliament Building in Québec. Kain, now artistic director for the NBOC, acknowledges that the Rose Adagio her pal Nureyev created for the company “is one of the most athletically difficult versions in the world. This version is extremely challenging, for both Princess Aurora and the Prince.” But she’s very excited about seeing ballerina Ogden dance the role, she says, “because in addition to everything else, Heather has a powerful physicality. I think Rudolf would have loved her.” Ms. Ogden has her own thoughts on her new role, which she is still rehearsing as you read this. For a sneak peek at rehearsals, click here.

THEY GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS: Even when I was a film critic — come to think of it, especially when I was a film critic — I was always confused about the Academy Awards. Especially whenever I disagreed with the choice of nominees and/or winners. That is, until Ingrid Bergman straightened me out. Said the iconic Ms. Bergman, a three-time Oscar winner herself:  “We don’t care what you think.”

DAVIS: Oscar nominee

Pardon? “We don’t care what you think,” said Ms. B, flashing her legendary enigmatic smile. “You play the critic every day of the year. This is our one night to play critic. This is our one chance, once a year, to vote for who we think did the best job. So we don’t care what you think. This is one night when your vote doesn’t count.”  A few years later I was on the phone talking to song-and-dance queen Ann Miller, “I have to go now,” she said – “I’ve got to finish filling out my Oscar ballot.”  “Really!” I said. “Do you know who you’re voting for?”   “What a question!” she laughed. “My friends, of course!”

Who’s gonna win this Sunday? If they vote for their friends, it will probably be George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Nick Nolte and Octavia Spencer. If they vote for performances, it will probably be Jean Dujardin, Viola Davis, Christopher Plummer and Jessica Chastain. But either way it will probably be quite a show. Enjoy!

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