Tag Archives: RICK MERCER

Luba returns to her roots, Rick goes back to school(s), and flashbacks to tasty times at Truffles

END OF AN ERA: Sooner or later we’re all history. Bistro 990 is gone — witness Bill Marshall’s splendid salute in the National Post — and the Four Seasons closed last week, and I enjoyed some wonderful times in both places. In its heyday the Four Seasons restaurant Truffles was even better than Le

MACLAINE: dining at Truffles

Cirque, and many New Yorkers shared that opinion.  At Truffles one night I shared a saffron palate cleanser with Shirley MacLaine, who put one spoonful in her mouth and grimaced. “Don’t eat it!” she warned. “It takes like tin!” When I explained it was saffron, she stared back at me blankly. “Saffron,” I persisted. “Like the colour of a monk’s robes.” Her eyes widened. “Oh, saffron!” she purred, and gobbled up the rest of it. At Truffles I introduced 75-year-old theatre legend Helen Hayes to Gordon’s Gin Tomato Soup, and she liked it so much she ordered it again the next day. “I should go out to dinner with you more often!” she teased. But everything must change, and now Sutton Place is set to close its hotel doors June 15 to begin the process of reconverting the property

HAYES: Gordon's Gin soup

into an upscale condominium. (So where do the hotel’s current apartment dwellers go from here? Just askin’ … ) However, I’m not nearly as nostalgic about that hotel anymore. It was glorious in the Hans Gerhardt era, when that superb hotelier would import Wolfgang Puck and the namesake nephew of Italian legend Alfredo De Leio  (as in Fettucine Alfredo) to cook up a storm in his elegant Sanssouci dining room. In those days you could barely make it through the lobby without bumping into two or three mega-stars – but that was once upon a time, many years ago. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for hotel space downtown in the next two months, I’m told Sutton Place is offering some of its rooms and suites at deep discounts. So enjoy it while you can.

HELLO WE MUST BE GOING: Two more season finales tonight. First, Rick Mercer wraps up his ninth (!!!) season by going back to school, attending celebrations at the winning schools in the annual Mercer Report Spread the

MERCER & FRIENDS: back to school

Net Student Challenge. Watching Mercer interact with elementary school kids is definitely something to see. Following his 8 pm Rick Mercer Report on CBC is the season finale of 22 Minutes, with Shaun Majumder at the Junos, Mark Critch at the Trudeau-Brazau fight and, if we’re lucky, HRM

SHORT: comedy special tonight

Cathy Jones making another Diamond Jubilee visit. Immediate following the 22 Minutes show is Martin Short’s off-the-wall comedy special, I, Martin Short, Goes Home, a 60-minute tour de force by Short and sidekicks Andrea Martin, Eugene Levy, Robin Duke, Fred Willard and your boyfriend George Stroumboulopoulos, who’ll be watching from B.C,  Strombo starts three nights of taping today at CBC Vancouver with guests Sandra Oh, Daryl Hannah, ‘Dragon’ Jim Treliving, Brent Butt, Kim Campbell; Ian Hanomansing, Jane Goodall and too many more to list here.

LUBA: back on the boards

PEOPLE: Special bulletin to Air Farce fans (and I know you are legion:)  Your favourite funny lady Luba Goy is coming home to a stage near you. She’s set to open May 7 at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Luba, Simply Luba, an autobiographical one-woman show penned by Diane Flacks …  John Peller, whose family makes those tempting Peller Estate wines in Niagara, and Wayne Gretzky, who needs absolutely no introduction, have joined forces and vineyards to make new vintages together. “Our families share the same commitment to quality,” Keller recently told his subscribers, “and we both feel passionate about making award-winning wines that we can share with you.” Okay, but will they sell for $99? Never mind, just kidding … devoted jazz buff Tim

TOWNSEND: lucky XIII

Tamashiro took over the reins of Tonic on CBC Radio this week from legendary music maven Katie Malloch, retiring from the airwaves after a 40-year career …  Juno Nominee George Olliver performs at the Old Newcastle House in – where else? – Newcastle, ON this Saturday night …  Stuart Townsend is back in T.O. to headline season two of the one-hour conspiracy thriller XIII.2 which will film in and around Our Town from now through to mid-July. Townsend plays XIII, a lethal former secret agent whose memory has been erased. The 13-episode original series will air on Showcase this fall …  The Voice judge and Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine is in talks to make his acting debut with Jessica Lange on American Horror Story … and how did Aaron Sorkin keep his new HBO series The Newsroom under the radar so brilliantly for so long? And will Ken Finkleman want his title back? Stay tuned.

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Patrick hits the ice in France, those wacky Women hit Vegas, and COC closes its season with Semele

OUR TOWN: Indefatigable charmer Dinah Christie hosts Chartwell’s 2011 Senior Star National Finale tonight at 9 pm on Zoomer TV (aka Vision.) “Wait ‘til you see the amazing talent of our Top 10 National Finalists,” says Dinah

CHRISTIE: hosting tonight

– “not to mention the incredible performance of our 2011 Senior Star winner, Toni Pinto.” So maybe Canada’s Seniors Got Talent too? … spotted shopping at Pusateri’s in Yorkville: Covert Affairs heartthrob Christopher Gorham, sans collapsible white cane … spotted huddling over coffee at the By The Way café: Producer Allan Novak and playwright Brad Fraser … spotted savouring the brisket at Caplansky’s: Toronto Star arts columnist Martin Knelman and better half Bernadette … and it’s official — the season closer for the Canadian Opera Company is the COC premiere of Handel’s Semele with Canadian coloratura soprano Jane Archibald in the

GORHAM: Yorkville steak-out

title role. The production will be directed by famed Chinese visual and performance artist Zhang Huan, with Italian Baroque opera specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini set to lead the COC Orchestra and Chorus. The COC’s presentation of Semele is the first opportunity for audiences to experience Zhang’s production outside Brussels, Belgium, where it premiered in 2009, and Beijing in 2010, where it was China’s first major staging of a Baroque opera.  Semele will run for only eight, count ’em, eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre starting May 9 … and yes, today’s the day when Why Men Lie, the new novel by Giller Prize-winner Linden MacIntyre (The Bishops Man,)  officially becomes available at a major bookstore near you.

MERCER: Shhh, it's a secret

APRIL IS THE COOLEST MONTH:  Okay, T.S. Eliot might not agree — but then he never met Women Fully Clothed. Fabulous foursome Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek will kick off next month with their first gig in Las Vegas – at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, no less — followed by half a dozen shows in California (Thousand Oaks, Napa, Saratoga, etc.) before returning to Home Sweet Ontario for their May bookings here.

P.S.: Shhhh, it’s a secret, but Greenwood and Pavlinek both appear in the same sketch with WFC fan Rick Mercer, who incidentally made a splashy visit to Montreal yesterday,  tonight on the Rick Mercer Report. 

AND NOW, FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE: The 2012 World Figure Skating Championships start today in Nice, with Scott Russell hosting CBC broadcasts with Brenda Irving and Canadian figure skating legends

CHAN: He's the Man

Tracy Wilson and Kurt Browning. This year’s big story is to see what reigning World Champion Patrick Chan will do to keep his crown, and to watch as Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir attempt to reclaim the World Ice Dancing Champions title. Our Canadian contingent also includes rising star Amélie Lacoste, pairs teams Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford and Jessica Dubé & Sebastian Wolfe, men’s single skater Kevin Reynolds and ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill. It all starts today at 3 pm on CBC Television, bold and CBCSports.ca., so rev up your PVRs and get ready to root for your favourites!

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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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Look, boys and girls, it’s THE RICK MERCI REPORT! … and no, that’s not a typo

BUT FIRST, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS: Canada’s most-watched man, Newfoundland export Rick Mercer, is slated to receive the 2012 ACTRA Award Of Excellence this weekend — yet another trophy to add to his countless Geminis,

HMMMM ... who's the guy with Bonhomme?

honorary doctorates and other accolades.  His weekly Rick Mercer Report, appointment viewing for thousands of Canadian families, is now in its 9th season, and neither he nor the show are showing any signs of slowing down.  How famous is he? So famous, apparently, that he and his show will soon be parodied by Kids’CBC. Yes, the home of cooking yam Mamma Yamma and singing dinosaur Drumheller is about to introduce its own Rick Merci Report, with another Maritimer, Saumon de Champlainplaying Rick. (Aside from his French accent and his vintage

DE CHAMPLAIN: casting coup

wardrobe and the fact that m’sieu de Champlain is, how you say it, a fish — hey, they could be twins.) Never mind — this we gotta see. Let’s hope the Merci Report attracts as many viewers as the original. More than one million Canadians tune in to Mercer’s Tuesday night telecasts, and an additional half million watch the same-week encore broadcast on Friday night. Mercer’s on the move again tonight, ice canoeing (brrrrrr!) at the Quebec the Winter Carnival and checking out Warming Hut installations (including one by Frank Gehry!!) at the Forks (brrrrrr!) in Winnipeg. And yes, there’s a Zamboni involved. And yes, it’s very funny stuff.

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “I think Margaret Atwood once said, ‘Wanting to meet an author because you like his books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like paté.’ ”

ATWOOD: It's Payback time

The speaker? Filmmaker Ethan Coen, at a film seminar in China last year. And speaking of film and Ms. Atwood,  look for her new collaboration with filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, Payback, to premiere at TIFF Bell Lightbox next month. Baichwal and Atwood christened their new celluloid baby, based on Atwood’s 2008 bestseller,  to much ooohing and aaahing at Sundance last month. Insiders say Atwood on-screen is almost as fascinating as Atwood off-screen, and if that’s true Payback should really be something to see.

OUR TOWN: The National Film Board launches its salute to the National Ballet’s 60th anniversary season tonight with a week-long series of dance on film at the NFB Mediatheque on John Street. First up:  Celia Franca: Tour de

PINA: Oscar contender

Force  by Veronica Tennant, who will speak following the screening. An archival display highlighting the past 60 years of the National Ballet and an interactive station where visitors can watch a dance and film playlist will also be offered onsite … Amy Nostbakken opens her controversial one-woman show, The Big Smoke, at Factory Studio Theatre tonight. Already a hit in the U.K., the play is reportedly inspired by the lives of Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath and is described as a “poetic waltz with death which walks a fine line between sanity and psychosis.”  Sounds like tons o’ fun  … getting the

THOMPSON: one night only

urge to go Oscar-ing before Sunday’s Academy Awatds telecast? You can catch two major nominees at TIFF Bell Lightbox this week – Philippe Falardeau’s rave-winning drama Monsieur Lazhar, up for Best Foreign Film, and Wim Wenders’ eye-popping salute to dance great Pina Bausch, Pina, currently a strong contender for Best Documentary … and Scott Thompson brings back coy barfly Buddy Cole for a one-show-only appearance this Friday at Maggie Cassella’s Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament Street.

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Jennifer plays Winnie, Sheila plays Halifax, Rick plays Rideau Hall — and stars coax us into the cold

STARS IN OUR EYES: Grammy showstopper Jennifer Hudson continues to prove herself as an actress as well as a singer. She and Terence Howard shine as Winnie & Nelson Mandela in the fascinating biopic Winnie, one of

HUDSON & HOWARD: As Winnie and Nelson Mandela in new biopic "Winnie"

the celluloid treats selected for the 12th annual Floating Film Festival. The FFF, launched by TIFF co-founder Dusty Cohl two decades ago and now captained by filmmaker Barry Avrich, embarks on a 10-day Caribbean odyssey on Monday Feb. 27 – the day after the Oscars – on the Seabourn Sojourn. More on FFF 12 as it happens …  Rachel McAdams and her main squeeze Michael Sheen are having a lovely Valentine’s Day, thanks for asking. McAdams’ film with Channing Tatum, The Vow, is number one at the box office, and Sheen is now set to star in the Showtime pilot Masters of Sex …  triumphant trio Russell Braun, Krisztina Szabo and Erin Wall, the three great voices who spark the current,

McADAMS: Happy February

theatrically dazzling Canadian Opera Company production of Love From Afar, won’t be sitting around after the controversial extravaganza closes on Feb. 22. Ms. Szabo is already set to perform with conductor Alex Pauk at the Esprit Orchestra event Gripped By Passion at Koerner Hall on Feb. 26 .And  her co-stars Braun and Wall are set to team up again in Ottawa in a new production of Carmina Burana March 8-9 at the National Arts Centre … and dynamic duo Jay Leno & Madonna teamed up to promote his Tonight Show with a delightfully snappy SuperBowl commercial I finally caught up with yesterday. Did you miss it too? Here it is. Enjoy!

PRESENT LAUGHTER: Montreal’s phenomenal Just For Laughs comedy festival celebrates its 30th anniversary (!!!) this year July 12-29, after warming up with a six-night stand in Chicago June 12-17 … a new cartoon-for-the-mind

JOHNSTON & MERCER: Rideau Hall playdate

podcast from those wacky Illustrated Men is set in the mythical town of Monogami, Ontario.  In the first episode Sam and Ella Toad move to Monogami to make a new start; some kids out camping spot a UFO; and alien bounty hunters land. Will Sam’s car get towed by zombies? You’ll have to tune in to find out …  stand-up guy Harry Doupe hosts Everyone’s A Winner, the March 9 all-star comedy fundraiser at Second City in support of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with smile-makers  Sean Cullen, Tim Steeves, Laurie Elliott, Pete Zedlacher and many more … Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are set to play two middle-aged guys starting over as interns at an internet company in the Shawn Levy comedy Interns … and Rick Mercer finally gets a taste of the high life he’s been missing when he hobnobs with new Governor-General David Johnston at Rideau Hall tonight on CBC’s Rick Mercer Report.

McCARTHY & NICHOLSON: on stage in Halifax

FOOTLIGHTS: Stage and screen lioness Sheila McCarthy is back on the boards at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, garnering glowing notices in Norm Foster’s new comedy Mrs. Parliament’s Night Out with J. D. Nicholson. McCarthy is also set to co-star in  Lost In Yonkers with Linda Kash, David Eisner and Happy Days legend Marion Ross when the Neil Simon classic opens here in May   … Graham Abbey of The Border TV fame

BALABAN: Back at Theatre Passe Muraille

is also collecting kudos for his stage turn with Barry Flatman in the Canadian premiere of Enron, directed by Antoni Cimolino at Theatre Calgary … Divisadero: a performance, adapted by Michael Ondaatje from his Governor General Award-winning novel and directed by Daniel Brooks, is back at Theatre Passe Muraille for a limited run through Sunday Feb. 26. The production reunites the original cast of Liane Balaban, Maggie Huculak, Tom McCamus, Amy Rutherford and Justin Rutledge, who created music specifically for the piece …  and Allan Hawco and Philip Riccio’s ambitious Company Theatre has announced its next production. Speaking In Tongues, by Andrew Bovell, will be directed by Riccio and play the Berkeley Street Theatre Oct. 29-Nov. 24. Will Riccio load the dice with lotsa star power? Stay tuned.

TENNANT: On a MIssion

DEEP FREEZE: Some of our faviourite stars are urging us to come into the cold. And their message is definitely on point. “Come freeze your butt off on February 25, 2012 with Yonge Street Mission on the coldest night of the year! It is a 5k and 10k non-competitive walk in the frigid cold for the hurting, homeless and hungry. Sign up as an individual or a team today. If you can’t join us that night, consider donating!” Sparklies askng us to participate via a very engaging vimeo include Maria Del Mar, Peter Keleghan, Debra McGrath, Patrick McKenna, Mark McKinney, Colin Mochrie, Leah Pinsent, Veronica Tennant and, still wearing his Stephen Leacock moustache, Gordon Pinsent. To see it, just click here.

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Soup for the soul, Maya hosts SNL, and Carol makes us so glad we have this time together

OUR TOWN  A new dance showcase opens in T.O. today with an intriguing history.  Citadel, a new centre for contemporary dance in Regent Park, was once a Salvation Army soup kitchen. The newly-renovated centre (by architects

RUDOLPH: back to her roots

Diamond + Schmitt) is the new home of dance troupe Coleman Lemieux &Compagnie and includes an 1,800 sq. foot studio/theatre for dance productions; a 900 sq. foot studio for rehearsals, pay-what-you-can yoga classes, workshops and community classes, and accommodation for visiting out-of-town artists. Citadel officially opens tomorrow night with  Les cheminements de l’influence, a world premiere solo by Laurence Lemieux in honour of her father, Quebec political scientist Vincent Lemieux … and glory-voiced Jackie Richardson and piano man Joe Sealey

RICHARDSON: Bodolai tribute

provided a stirring finale to Sunday afternoon’s celebration of writer-producer Joe Bodolai at the Young Centre. The event was deftly hosted by longtime Bodolai booster Albert Schultz. who ushered in a series of heartfelt salutes  to Bodolai’s achievements from comedy luminaries  Harry Doupe, Mark Farrell, Anna Gustafson, Ron James and Kenny Robinson. Musical charmers Cherie Camp, Geoff Kahnert and John Welsman also treated the crowd to a performance of Everything’s Gone Wrong Since I Left Mr. Right, one of the tunes Bodolai composed in his radio days.   All in all. a touching tribute to a brilliant artistic explorer who got  lost on his expedition and, tragically, never found his way home again.

FUNNY GIRL(S):  Fearless foursome Robin Duke, Jayne Eastwood, Kathryn Greenwood and Teresa Pavlinek, aka those fabulous Women Fully Clothed, are now a hit south of the border too. Last week they were deep

FEY: Super Bowl sweetheart

in the heart of Texas (and I do mean Dallas) … seasoned showstopper Sandra Shamas headlines the Feb. 25 East End Comedy Revue at the Dominion On Queen … standup ladies Martha Chaves and Laurie Elliott share the bill on this Friday night at the Flying Beaver Pubaret on Parliament … Maya Rudolph returns to her roots this weekend to host Saturday Night Live … and I gotta believe fellow SNL alumnus Tina Fey played a big part in that dazzling NBC Super Bowl commercial – and not just on screen, either. The network spot probably had a bigger budget than most Canadian films, but you can certainly see the money on the screen. If you missed it, just click here – and enjoy!

HAPPINESS IS A NEW MAGAZINE:  Intrepid funnyman Rick Mercer graces the cover of the first issue of What Makes You Happy, a

WHAT MAKES US HAPPY? This mag!

glossy good-news magazine distributed in T.O. last week to Globe & Mail subscribers. Mercer was among the honorees last weekend at the cfpdp‘s 28th annual gala, deftly hosted by CBC News anchor Suhana Meharchand at the Fairmont Royal York. (When the exhuberant crowd in the Canadian Room became too boisterous, Meharchand shushed them elegantly but firmly. “I’ve had three husbands,” she dead-panned — “I’m not afraid of you!”) King Clancy Award winner Mercer still insists he has the best job in the country. And if you’re not a Globe & Mail subscriber, you can still sample the first issue of What Makes You Happy on line, including publisher Johnny Lucas‘ entertaining  interview with Mercer, A Chip off the old Rock, right here.

LULLABYE & GOOD NIGHT: It’s her third book on the New York Times bestseller list, but this one is perfect bedtime reading – and not because it puts you to sleep. Now in paperback, Carol Burnett’s 200- page collection of anecdotes, This Time Together: Laughter And Reflection, is like a warm,

BURNETT: On the page and in person

long-awaited visit with an old friend who has finally agreed to tell you what really happened behind the scenes. Because she tells her stories in bite-size capsules, she gets to tell more than 60 of them, some of them surprisingly personal, most of them genuinely amusing, and all of them engaging. Some of the names involved in her anecdotes may surprise you, especially her close encounters with film greats Joan Crawford, John Huston, Laurence Olivier and Barbara Stanwyck. One classic story unfolds when she receives a telephone call from Martin Brando, whom she had long admired but never met. Brando had read a report in People magazine that Burnett had finally acquired something she’d always wanted: A chin. (“I had always wanted a chin. I was born with a weak one.”) An oral surgeon had added about three millimeters to her existing chin, with exceedingly pleasing results, and Burnett was back in New York when Brando called her from Los Angeles.

FLASHY FLASHBACK: The Carol Burnett Show

“Where’d you get your chin?” asked Marlon. “My chin?” said Burnett. “Yes,” said Brando. “My wife’s sister has a weak chin and wants to fix it. Where’d you get yours done?” Thus begins Burnett’s lengthy exchange with Brando, one of many great conversations in the book. As you might expect, there are some very touching moments too. When Burnett’s daughter Carrie Hamilton was in hospital, dying of cancer, one of the nurses asked her why she smiled so much. Burnett says her daughter replied, “Every day I wake up and decide: today I’m going to love my life.” Another lesson worth learning, in a heartwarming collection of stories worth reading. P.S. If you’d like to see Burnett in person, she set to do  two (2) nights of her Q&A show May 4 & 5 at Fallsview Casino in Niagara. But if I were you, I’d order those tickets sooner than later. When it comes to box office, the lady is still a champ.

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Russell gets Cannes, Leah gets yoga, Jeff gets on stage, Brenda gets new Shoes, and Rick gets Rideau Hall??

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: First it was all those enthusiastic fans who launched that Rick Mercer For Prime Minister campaign. Recently it was Toronto Star sportswriter

ALLEN: next month in Niagara

Randy Starkman who proposed that, due to Mercer’s unflagging support of our amateur athletes, Canada should make him an honorary Olympian.  Last weekend legendary Montréal Gazette editorial cartoonist Aislin proposed yet another new role for Mercer, as our next Governor General. Where was Mercer when Aislin’s creative comment was published? Hiding out at one of 007’s favorite haunts in the Bahamas, enjoying some well-earned post-season R&R and trading sunburn remedies with fellow resort-dweller Paul McCartney.  Meanwhile, to see Aislin’s clever cartoon, just click here …. funnyman Tim Allen and SNL alumnus Joe Piscopo are both set for two-night stints at Fallsview Casino next month …  Al Pacino’s reportedly eyebrow-raising portrayal of Dr. Jack Kervorkian premieres this coming Saturday night on HBO Canada … crowd-pleaser Christian Potenza has just launched his own YouTube Channel … Brenda Hoffert’s new photography exhibit, Shoes, opens April 30 at Gallery 888 on Queen Street in Leslieville

TRAVIS: looking for heroes

Thursday night headliners Ken Lindsay and Mark Cassius surprised fans at Fuzion last week by switching roles for The Nearness Of You. While ex-Nylon Cassius caressed the ivories (the ivories loved it,) piano man Lindsay delivered the vocal … terminally gorgeous screen siren Leah Pinsent has signed up for a double fitness marathon of yoga and high-energy Zumba Fitness sessions on April 25 at the 2nd annual Yoga in Motion at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. The award-winning actress is fund-raising in support of breast cancer research at Mount Sinai Hospital. For more info, click hereModern Family scene-stealer Ty Burrell is reportedly set to star opposite Jennifer Garner in her new romantic comedy Butter … and the biggest buzz-du-jour in TV circles is Debbie Travis’ new prime-time show – her first for CBC.

CROWE: heading for Cannes

Especially fascinating is her current search for local heroes. If you know someone you believe deserves to be recognized for his/her service to your community, don’t keep it a secret – just click here!

FLICKERS: Okay, don’t get me wrong, I realize that director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe are one of filmdom’s most dynamic duos. First there was Gladiator, then A Good Year (hey, nobody’s perfect,) then American Gangster with Denzel Washington and then Body Of Lies withLeonardo DiCaprio.  All in all, pretty good stuff.  But did I expect their new collaboration, Robin Hood – yes, that Robin Hood – to be invited to open this year’s Cannes Film Festival? Nope. Which strongly suggests

EHRENREICH: Grow-ing concern

that this Robin Hood must really be something to see … and Toronto’s fast-approaching Hot Docs filmfest will celebrate springtime by presenting three special open-air screenings in its new Rooftop Docs series. The annual marathon of documentary films will take over the top tier of the Citipark Cumberland Garage in Yorkville on Thursday May 6, Friday May 7 and Saturday May 8, presenting film screenings and live music, with locally brew courtesy of Steamwhistle Breweries and free popcorn courtesy of Whole Foods Market. For more info, click here.

FOOTLIGHTS: First Ken Gass directs the much-anticipated return of George F. Walker’s hit comedy Featuring Loretta, opening May 1 at the Factory Theatre. Then the

SEYMOUR: on stage in June

theatre world gathers to celebrate Factory’s big birthday with a 40th Anniversary Gala on May 10. And yes, tickets are still available. For more info, click here … David Mirvish is set to premiere Jake Ehrenreich‘s now-fabled  stage production A Jew Grows In Brooklyn at the Panasonic Theatre on April 28  … after winning glowing reviews in L.A. for both his direction and his performance, Jeff Seymour is set to co-star with Len Lesser (a.k.a. Uncle Leo on Seinfeld) in Ronald Ribman’s Cold Storage, on stage for 10 performances only, June 1-11 at the George Ignatieff Theatre … how do you attract attention for a new play without a big ad/pub budget? Bobby Del Rio is garnering eyeballs with an intriguing movie-style trailer for his new theatrical venture, The Market, now set to open in T.O. next month. To sample his stage wares on video, click here .

And have a great week!

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