Tag Archives: Richard Benjamin

Beck bows out, Tony loves Adele, and Gosling thriller & Churchill doc top FFF 12 honours

 AND THE WINNERS ARE:  Participants on the 12th annual Floating Film Festival voted the hugely-overlooked Ryan Gosling-Kirsten Dunst thriller All Good Things the Dusty Cohl Best Feature Award at a ceremony at sea last night on the sleek sophisticated Seabourn Sojourn cruise ship. Coming in a strong second was Winnie,  a sweeping biopic of South African iron lady Winnie Mandela, with stellar support from Elias Koteas and Wendy Crewson, a finely honed portrayal of Nelson Mandela by Terrence Howard, and a remarkably disciplined, outstanding performance of Jennifer Hudson as Winnie. Winner of the Brian Linehan Award for Best Documentary was An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill And The Jews, an unexpected coup for producer and Floating filmfest commander Barry Avrich, who had confided earlier in the week that he was sure  another FFF  contender, Jealous Of The Birds, which ended up in second place, would take the prize. Other major favourites with FFF 12 viewers included the Oscar-nominated father vs. son drama Footnote, from Israel. which gave us a new and somewhat squirmy inside look at academia; and Where Do We Go Now, from France, which won the TIFF Audience Award last September. Unexpected highlights of the week-long filmfest included Rex Reed’s master claass  tribute to actor-director Richard Benjamin and his wife Paula Prentiss, which included screenings of Benjamin’s 1969 screen debut with Ali MacGraw in Goodbye, Columbus, as well as a closing night showing of My Favourite Year, the 1982 Peter O’Toole classic that Benjamin directed with such style and panache. Most controversial entry at the festival was Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, which left the cinephile audience arguing about its merits for several hours after the lights came on again. But more on Ms Polley’s film and other Floating Film Festival events in future columns.

BENJAMIN & MACGRAW: in Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Rocker Jeff Beck will not be attending this year’s Slacker Canadian Music Week after all. Originally scheduled to perform at The Phoenix on March 22, followed by a one-on-one interview on March 23 at the Fairmont Royal York, Beck had to cancel his appearances due to delays in his recording schedule … supersongstress Norah Jones is getting her Irish on. She’s set to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by serenading fans at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. Jones’ new album Little Broken Hearts drops May 1, and Jones will tour extensively this year, with other North American dates to be revealed shortly. Hard to believe that it was 10 years ago this month (February 2002) when she released her first album, Come Away With Me, now the #10 best-selling album of the Soundscan era after selling 25 million copies worldwide … good news for Alice Cooper fans – your hero will open for Iron Maiden when the vet rockers bring their splashy new Maiden England World Tour to Montreal, Toronto, Sarnia and Quebec City in July … and you can add Tony Bennett to the growing legions of fans for Grammy sweeper Adele, who he compares with U.S. music legend Kate Smith. “Adele is magnificent,” he told Rolling Stone. “She’s the best British singer I ever heard.”

AKERMAN: piloting with Portia

CASTING ABOUT: Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan are the leads in Joss Whedon‘s upcoming supernatural indie romance,  In Your Eyes Michael Marc Friedman has been cast in the Fox comedy pilot Living Loaded from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia castmember and producer Rob McElhenney Shawn Ashmore and Valorie Curry are joining Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy on Fox’s new Kevin Williamson drama about a serial killer who creates a cult of serial killers …  Malin Akerman is set to star opposite Portia de Rossi in the ABC comedy pilot The Smart One … British actor Jamie Blackley has been cast as the lead in the upcoming 300 sequel … and Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are set as the stars of Michael Bay’s black comedy action thriller Pain and Gain.

BRYAN: Spring breker

GOLDSINGER: Country warbler Luke Bryan’s album Tailgates and Tanlines is now officially certified gold in Canada. Plus, his first single from the album, Country Girl (Shake it for Mes, is now platinum here, and his second single I Don’t Want This Night To End is already gold.  All this after his I Don’t Want This Night To End spent four weeks at #1 on country music radio charts. So expect some hootin’ and hollerin’ when Luke’s fourth Spring Break EP — Spring Break 4: Suntan City  — drops tomorrow.

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Tracie brings Judy back to Broadway, Kal takes a flyer on a pilot, and Mother D gets her nun on

CASTING ABOUT: Brit sensation Tracie Bennett brings her Olivier award-winning talents to Broadway on  March 19 when she opens at the Belasco with her controversial portrayal of Judy Garland in the  West End musical

BENNETT: as Garland

hit End Of The Rainbow … popular German TV presenter Barbara Schöneberger will host the Rose d’Or Awards Ceremony on May 10 in Lucerne … Kristin Kreuk has been set as the lead in the CW pilot Beauty and the Beast, a remake of the CBS series from the late ‘8Os … and Harold and Kumar star and House alumnus Kal Penn is set to star in the ABC comedy pilot Prairie Dogs.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN:  This year’s Floating Film Festival sailors started their day yesterday with a fluffy croissant of a movie — Darling Companion, from Big Chill filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan.  Ostensibly about a lost dog, it’s really a gentle look at the different stages of male-female relationships and the emotional baggage we carry with us from childhood. And what a cast — Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline –Rex Reed, who introduced the film, pointed out that this is Kevin Kline’s sixth outing with Kasdan — Dianne Weist and Richard Jenkins, Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men,  screen enigma Sam Shepard and more.

KEATON & FRIEND: going to the dogs

Thanks to Rex, our afternoon screening was a bit of a mind-bender.  Remember Dolores Hart, the actress who co-starred with Paula Prentiss, Yvette Mimieux and Connie Francis in Where The Boys Are? Some 47 years ago the fair Ms Hart left showbiz  to take holy orders. She’s now Mother Dolores at a cloistered convent in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and is the subject of the Oscar-nominated short God Is The Bigger Elvis. Knowing that Mother D’s chum Paula Prentiss would be on board with husband Richard Benjamin, Rex brought a copy of the film for all of us to see. Fascinating to hear Mother Dolores — now the Prioress of the Regina Laudus Abbey — reflect on her Hollywood screen life with Anthony Quinn, Montgomery Clift and, yes, Elvis himself. Even more fascinating was meeting the beau she left behind — Edith Head had already designed her wedding dress — and seeing his relationship with her today.

HARRELSON: all too convincing

The 26-minute short film was a stark contrast to the Woody Harrelson shocker Rampart, a somewhat relentless saga of a corrupt cop that proved to be a tough slog for many of us. Harrelson is all too convincing as the flawed protagonist, and he gets great back-up by a dazzling cast of supporting players, including Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Audra Macdonald, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright, each of whom make the most of their material. Not exactly a good time at the movies, but undeniably strong filmiest fare.

ROSENTHAL: Raymomd by any other name

Rounding out our celluloid hat trick last night was a film about television by someone who definitely knows what he’s talking about. Exporting Raymond is a genuinely funny and unexpectedly revealing ‘In’-sight into the world of television.  The documentary follows Phil Rosenthal, creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond, as he attempts to translate Raymond into a Russian sitcom. In a classic “fish out of water” scenario, show-runner Rosenthal travels to a distant land to help people who don’t want his help. What soon becomes amusingly apparent is that it is show creator Rosenthal, not Ray Romano, who is the real-life Raymond, with eccentric parents who are almost as camera-friendly as Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle. Watching him try to interact with understandably  suspicious Moscow TV types quickly becomes a guilty pleasure — which I suspect is exactly what Exporting Raymond star and producer Rosenthal had in mind. His sitcom was a monster hit and great fun, but his doc is not only entertaining, it’s also painlessly educational. Who’da thunkit?

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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