Tag Archives: Piers Handling

Billy rocks the Oscars — imagine our surprise — and Dusty Cohl’s floating filmfest sails again

CRYSTAL: Welcome home, Billy!

JUST A SIMPLE BOY WITH A DREAM: Yes, I watched last night’s Oscarcast. Just me and another billion people. And yes, it went on too long. It always does. But it was a splendid reminder of why we’ve missed Billy Crystal. Let’s hope Academy chief Tom Sherak can coax him to return next year.

BENJAMIN: filmfest honouree

ANCHORS AWEIGH: The one-and-only (as far as we know) Floating Film Festival sails from Fort Lauderdale today on a week-long movie cruise of Caribbean islands. Launched  by Toronto filmfest co-founder Dusty Cohl, and kept afloat after his death by filmmaker Barry Avrich, festival programmer Hannah Fisher and travel magician Rosemary Durham, this 12th (!!!) edition will visit San Juan, St. Barth’s, Antigua and the Virgin Islands while unspooling 15 new and classic films. Among this year’s gems is the hit 1969 drama Goodbye, Columbus, with stellar performances by Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw. Highlight of the voyage is expected to be an evening tribute to Benjamin, who will be accompanied on the cruise by his wife

REED: all at sea

Paula Prentiss. (More on the Benjamins as it happens.)  Also on hand to kibbitz and chide FFF 12 filmgoers are the film critics for the Chicago Tribune and New York Observer — respectively, Michael Phillips and Rex Reed (yes, that Rex Reed.) Tonight’s opening film is Dori Bernstein’s stunning biography of Broadway legend Carol Channing.  (More on that tomorrow.)

LINEHAN ON LINE:  Legendary interviewer Brian Linehan was one of the original Floating Film Festival crew members, interviewing stars on stage and usually making the voyage more exciting for all concerned. Good news is that, at

LINEHAN: on line at last

long last, dozens of Linehan’s television interviews are now on line for the whole world to see. Go to www.brianlinehan.ca and you’ll find hours of memorable moments with Daniel Day-Lewis, Mark Harmon, Bette Midler, Leah Pinsent, Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini, Elaine Stritch, Kiefer Sutherland, James Spader, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg and many more.  The three major organizations behind the website — the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, the National Screen Institute (NSI) and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – have done a remarkable job of putting it together. Says TIFF CEO Piers Handling: “Brian was the celebrity journalist everyone wanted to talk with, and we’re proud to be able to preserve and digitize some of those incredible interviews to be enjoyed by the public via the new website.”  We couldn’t agree more.

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Who wouldn’t talk about Hef, who got shortchanged in my TIFF tally, and who took home the hardware

GOOD MORNING, TORONTO: Welcome to another razzle-dazzle week of entertainment in Our Town.  Among the notable treats in store: The Boys In The Photograph, the new Andrew Lloyd Weber–Ben Elton musical about

SLEAN: on Abbey Road

SLEAN: on Abbey Road

young men and women involved with a neighbourhood soccer team in Belfast in 1969, opens tomorrow night at the Royal Alex … DanceWorks opens its new show, Namesake: three, on Wednesday at Harbourfront’s Enwave Theatre … also opening Wednesday: The new Allen Cole-Melody Johnson-Rick Roberts collaboration, Mimi (or A Poisoner’s Comedy) at the Tarragon  … Darren Anthony’s new concert show, Secrets Of A Black Boy, produced by his sister Trey (Da Kink In My Hair) Anthony, opens at the Music Hall on Friday, the same night conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Anton Kuerti, Richard Margison and more launch a reportedly spectacular new

RIVERS: Saturday night

RIVERS: Saturday night

Royal Conservatory music venue, Koerner Hall, in the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning on Bloor Street West … Chick Corea and Sophie Milman christen the hall with jazz the following night … Celebrity Apprentice champ and TSC favourite Joan Rivers plays Casino Rama that same Saturday night … and Kevin Hearn, Raine Maida, Steven Page and Sarah Slean are among the celebrated warblers who will lend their voices when Andrew Burashko’s Art Of Time Ensemble salutes the 40th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road with a re-imagined, re-invented concert version running two nights only, this Saturday and Sunday, also at the Enwave.

And that’s just for starters, folks.

MY BAD: It’s easy to get cross-eyed when so many stars come to town at the same time. At least, that’s my lame excuse for telling you that Colin Farrell and

BETTANY: double-header

BETTANY: double-header

Julianne Moore ruled the TIFF roost this year with three, count them, three films each, while celebrated runners-up George Clooney, Colin Firth and Amands Seyfried each appeared in two TIFF entries. All of which is true, except for two guys I forgot to mention. Don’t know how I missed him, but Willem Dafoe also deserved to be in that top spot with Colin and Julianne, as he appeared in no less than three TIFF titles this year: Antichrist, Daybreakers and Farewell. Sorry about that, Willem. And yes, Paul Bettany, who played Charles Darwin in the opening night film Creation and Lord Melbourne in the closing night film Young Victoria, should have been listed with Clooney, Firth and the young Ms Seyfried in second place. And yes, I’m just hoping I didn’t miss anyone else.

PLAYBOY OF THE EASTERN FILM FESTIVAL: After three capacity crowds jammed the TIFF cinemas where her much-discussed documentary on Hugh Hefner premiered last week, director Brigitte Berman admitted that

BENNETT: talking about Hef

BENNETT: talking about Hef

by the time she finished shooting she had an embarrassment of riches, and had to delete scenes she loved from the original version to bring the film to a more manageable size. Deletions included interviews with the magazine magnate’s two sons, and the stories they tell about how they were treated in high school as Hugh Hefner’s offspring are apparently so fascinating that Berman intends to include that footage as a separate feature when the film is released on DVD. At a Q&A after the film she informed us that Playboy is the second best-known brand in the world — “Coca-Cola is number one,” she added — and that the toughest interview subject to secure, surprisingly, was Tony Bennett. “His agent is very protective of him, as he should be. But as soon as Tony was told of the request, he was all for it, and just a pleasure to work with.”

Did any key players from Hef’s past actually turn her down? “Yes,” replied the ever-candid Oscar-winning director — “Gloria Steinem, Jules Pfeiffer and Bill Cosby.”

WHO WON WHAT: As T.O. filmfest chief Piers Handling noted on Saturday night, TIFF delivered not only 335 films but also 10 days of consecutive sunshine – “the summer we did not have.” But thanks to superb programming, meticulous planning and the more than 2,000 volunteers (!!) who help make it happen, it was truly a festival to remember.

CLARKSON: winning film

CLARKSON: winning film

Finally, just in case you missed it, here’s who took home the hardware from the 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival.

– Best Canadian Short Film: Pedro Pires, Danse Macabre. Honourable mention: Jamie Travis,The Armoire.

– Best Canadian First Feature Film: Alexandre Franchi, The Wild Hunt.

– Best Canadian Feature Film: Ruba Nadda, Cairo Time, with Patricia Clarkson, Tom McCamus and Alexander Siddig. Special Jury Citation: Bernard Émond, La Donation (The Legacy).

– FIPRESCI Prize (Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics for Discovery:) Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, The Man Beyond the Bridge (India).

SIDDIG: Cairo Time

SIDDIG: Cairo Time

– FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations: Bruno Dumont, Hadewijch (France).

– People’s Choice Award: Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire. First runner-up:  Bruce Beresford, Mao’s Last Dancer. Second runner-up: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Micmacs (Micmacs à tirelarigot).

– People’s Choice Award – Documentary: Leanne Pooley, The Topp Twins. Runner-up: Michael Moore, Capitalism: A Love Story.

– People’s Choice Award – Midnight Madness: Sean Byrne, The Loved Ones. Runner-up: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, Daybreakers.

TOMORROW:

Margaret Atwood, Twyla Tharp, Rick Mercer, and more.