Tag Archives: TIFF

Wild about WEIRDOS

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Bruce McDonald’s 2016 TIFF offering, Weirdos, is the kind of film that makes you glad you went to the movies.

The title is a flashback to ‘70s jargon, where ‘weirdo’ was a common expression used to describe anyone who wasn’t like everyone else.

Set in 1976 Cape Breton, the principle weirdos in this magical collaboration by McDonald and playwright Daniel MacIvor are two teenage misfits, Kit (Dylan Authors) and his girlfriend Alice (Julia Sarah Stone,) who are desperately seeking to bring some colour into their black-and-white lives. Together they hitchhike their way to the big city – in this case, Sidney, Nova Scotia – where Kit plans to live with his glamorous mother (Molly Parker.) And although at first glance Weirdos resembles a teenage road movie, Kit and Julia soon learn that sometimes the destination is the journey.

Regardless of the size of their roles, McDonald has a wonderful way of giving his actors their moments to shine. Molly Parker should be a shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her tempestuous portrayal of Kit’s unstable mother. Allan Hawco offers a stellar, close-to-the-bone performance as Kit’s struggling father. Cathy Jones is heartwarming as Kit’s stiff-upper-lip grandmother. Rhys Bevan-John intrigues and entices in a high-risk cameo role that happily pays off. And thanks to McDonald’s light touch and MacIvor’s justifiably celebrated way with words, young scene-stealers Dylan Authors and Julia Sarah Stone win and keep us rooting for them from start to finish.

Given the lavish natural beauty of Cape Breton, Becky Parson’s soft black-and-white cinematography keeps us focused on story, not scenery, McDonald’s ‘70s soundtrack is a lyrical blend of rhythm and nostalgia, and all of it makes for  outstanding viewing. Weirdos is anything but weird, but it sure is fun to watch.

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Meryl tackles Juliet, Betty returns to T.O., Maggie rallies her troupes, and Brenda shines up her Shoes

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Okay, so they’re not teenagers – they were all grown up way back when, when they co-starred in Sophie’s Choice – but Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline will play Shakespeare’s

STREEP: reading in New York

famous star-crossed lovers in a one-night-only reading of Romeo and Juliet, as part of a gala celebrating the 50th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park. Public Theater vet Daniel Sullivan will direct the reading, to be held on June 18 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park … Patrick Habron’s new exhibition of Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons opens May 10 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center … Phylicia Rashad, currently in Atlanta filming the TV adaptation of Steel Magnolias for director Kenny Leon, will return to that Georgia city this summer to star in Leon’s stage adaptation of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner … American TV icon Larry

HAGMAN: guesting in Lucerne

Hagman (Dallas, I Dream Of Jeannie) and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson are among the sparklies set to light up the 51st Rose d’Or Festival in Lucerne next month … fillmmaker Roger Larry is just wrapping a feature doc on Canadian cannibis advocate Marc Emery (aka The Prince of Pot) entitled Citizen Mark. “I describe it as Citizen Kane meets Spinal Tap,” says Larry. Will we see it at TIFF in September? Just askin’ … former BBC CEO Paul Lee, who founded BBC America before becoming President of ABC, is set to deliver the CBC/Radio-Canada opening keynote speech at this year’s Banff World Media Festival on June 10 … and Brenda Hoffert launches

BUCKLEY: singing in T.O.

her new-and-improved exhibition, Shoes, on Thursday April 26 at the Cecile & Harry Pearl Gallery. She’s added eight new photos to this exhibit which first premiered at CONTACT 2010.

SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY: On a bit of a bittersweet note, the celebrated Toronto comedy festival We’re Funny That Way is about to celebrate its 15th and final year.  According to the WFTW website, festival producer Maggie Cassella has decided to call it quits – but she’s closing the festival with a major slam-dunk. First up is a May 10 concert by the vocally astonishing Betty Buckley, a benefit

CRAWFORD: back to Buddies

for the We’re Funny That Way Foundation, which directs funds to queer charities across Canada. Then WFTW crowd-pleasers Lea DeLaria, Gavin Crawford and Christopher Peterson strut their stuff on May 11 & May 12 to close the festival with appropriate star power. Showbiz dynamo Cassella is also working with filmmaker David Adkin on a sequel to his 1998 doc on her festival – DeLaria and Peterson were featured in that one too – to revisit the questions they first asked 15 years ago. “We’re hoping to track the evolution of queer comedy over the last 15 years and ask a lot of questions about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going.” Cassella is also one of the busy beavers behind the high-flying Flying Beaver

CASSELLA: Maggie for Mayor?

Pubaret on Parliament near Carlton – Carla Collins is set to headline there this weekend — and brings her brainy energy and unique street savvy to everything she does. Not that I want to punish her, but isn’t it time we forced her into public office, so she could look out for all of us? (I’m just sayin’ …) Meanwhile, I suspect we’re talking about three about-to-be historic nights to remember. For tickets to what is sure to be an amazing evening with the spellbinding Betty Buckley, click here; for tickets to see We’re Funny That Way dazzlers Crawford, DeLaria and Peterson, click here.

Adds the indomitable Ms Cassella: “Please come and help us pack Buddies and Bad Times Theatre one last time.” And who can say no to Maggie?

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More news, more gossip, more stars, and more award show dates than you ever wanted to know

OUR TOWN: Music master Paul Hoffert and sidekick Bruce Cassidy host a jazz salon this Sunday afternoon at Musideum on Richmond Street west …

LIGHTSTONE: new showecase

30 Rock scene-stealer Tracy Morgan brings his special brand of funny to the Sony Centre tonight … Marilyn Lightstone premieres her latest art showcase, New Directions, on April 12 at Latitude 44 … more than 60 chefs will gather at the Royal Ontario Museum on June 3 to showcase their finest creations in support of Second Harvest. Tickets are $250 with a tax receipt issued for $125. You may think that sounds a bit pricey, but be warned: Tickets to last year’s Toronto Taste sold out in record time. To purchase yours, click here …  and Natalie Cole is set for this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a June 25 concert at the Sony Centre.

PENMANSHIP: Additional marquee bait set for the third annual Toronto Screenwriters Conference at the Ted Rogers School Of Management next weekend (March 31-April 1) include ex-Toronto types Graham Yost (Speed,

CLOONEY: Sunshine boy

Justified) and Robin Gurney (Arrested Development, Parenthood) and Skype participants Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady) and Michael Hirst (The Tudors.) Closing speaker at this year’s creative clambake will be Lee Aronsohn (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory.) Sounds like a pretty lively weekend … say what you will about the politics of the Toronto Sun, the headline writers at the Little Paper That Grew are still the best (and consistently most irreverent) in the country. The Sun’s front page pic of George Clooney in handcuffs last Saturday was captioned You Have The Right To Remain Handsome. Now that’s funny … by the way, Sun co-founder and columnist Peter Worthington, still typing up a storm, is now 85 (!!!) And Worthington’s latest boss, Quebecor emperor Pierre Karl Péladeau, recently announced new annual Sun Media awards for his newspapers outside of Quebec. Will there be a prize for CBC-slagging? Just askin’ … and here’s one for your calendars: The 9th annual gala fundraiser for Pierre Berton’s writers’ retreat in the Klondike will celebrate the Canuck victory of 1812 with a festive June 5 bash at old Fort York. Berton House clambakes are always a blast, and this one should be no exception … and speaking of good writing, the justifiably-lauded screen version of Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version premieres Sunday night on CBC, and the much-anticipated fifth season of Mad Men kicks off Sunday on AMC. That is, if you can tear yourself away from Canada’s Got Talent on Citytv. And the beat goes on.

CALENDAR JOTTINGS:  Next big award show on our horizon is the 2012 Tony Awards. Nominees will be announced May 1
live on TonyAwards.com and CBS will host the three-hour 66thAnnual Tony Awards telecast on Sunday

GERVAIS: will he be back?

June 10 …  the 27th Annual Gemini Awards’ Industry Galas are set for Tuesday August 28 and Wednesday August 29. CBC will host the Broadcast Gala on Wednesday September 5, the night before the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival begins its time-honoured 10-day movie marathon on Thursday September 6 … 2012 Emmy nominees will be announced July 29, with ABC hosting the 64th annual PrimeTime Emmy Awards on Sunday September 23 … and before you know it we do it all over again in 2013, starting with the 70th annual Golden Globes, with or without Ricky Gervais, on Sunday January 20 on NBC, the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday January 27, the Directors Guild Awards on Tuesday February 5, and the 85th annual Academy Awards, with or without Billy Crystal, on Sunday February 24 on ABC.

STREISAND: Queen of Columbia

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Soprano-turned-director Catherine Malfitano and world-renowned conductor Sir Andrew Davis are joining forces for the Canadian premiere of Alexander Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy and the return of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, an extravagant double-bill opening April 26 for eight performances at the Four Seasons Centre. Since both one-act operas are set in Florence, expect some eye-catching cityscapes from set designer Wilson Chin, costume designer Terese Wadden and lighting designer David Martin Jacques… first headliners announced for the 46th edition of the

FEORE: hosting

Montreux Jazz Festival are Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds, who are now set for a July 4 gig at Auditorium Stravinski. Gallagher says he and his band will perform songs from their first CD as well as some favourites from his previous band, Oasis … when they were the fast-drivin’, rubber-burnin’ Dukes Of Hazzard, who knew they could sing? But three decades later John Schneider and Tom Wopat are still warbling and obviously not superstitious. They’re set to play Fallsview Casino showroom on Thursday April 12 and – wait for it — Friday April 13 … in celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary season, The National Ballet of

GALLAGHER: High-Flying gig

Canada Orchestra will make their concert debut at Koerner Hall on Tuesday April 3. Colm Feore will host the event, and the Orchestra will perform select works that highlight each decade in the company’s 60-year history … and how many of us made deals that last for half a century? Barbra Streisand is celebrating her upcoming 50th year with Columbia Records – her one and only label – by signing a new contract with the Sony-owned label. Only Tony Bennett has been on the label longer. Columbia will celebrate her signing by releasing a 12-set DVD which promises unprecedented access into Streisand’s professional and personal life, including never before seen footage directly from her archives. Streisand’s most recent Grammy nominated album, What Matters Most, was her 31st to reach the Top Ten.

AND NOW, THE WEEKEND WEATHER FORECAST:

Happy weekend.

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Cynthia lets her hair down, Idina rocks the symphony & Jean Dujardin is smokin’ hot

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: It’s prequel/sequel time again. AnnaSophia Robb will play the young Carrie Bradshaw in the new Sex And The City spin-off The Carrie Diaries. Ah, but will Sarah Jessica Parker narrate? Just askin.’

NIXON: at Wit's end

Speaking of SATC, Cynthia Nixon will start growing her hair again this weekend. The revival she shaved her head for, Wit, closes Saturday at the Manhattan Theatre Club, which seems to be having an unusually strong season. John Lithgow opens there next month in The Columnist, a new play about once-powerful Washington journalist Joseph Alsop from Proof  playwright David Auburn and director Daniel SullivanNick Jonas, currently knocking ‘em dead on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, is set to guest with Debra Messing& Co. on the season finale of NBC’s

COURTNEY: son of Die Hard

Smash … Aussie actor Jai Courtney, who attracted Hollywood’s attention in the TV version of Spartacus, plays the son of John McClane (aka Bruce Willis) in the upcoming fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise … …  and new screen Spider-man Andrew Garfield makes his Broadway debut tomorrow night in Mike Nichols’ much-anticipated  revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman. Garfield is playing son Biff to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Willy Loman.

DEFYING GRAVITY: Wondering why Wicked Tony Award winner Idina Menzel’s show-stopping special looked so familiar when it aired on PBS last week? It was shot right here last November at Koerner Hall, with Marvin

MENZEL: at Koerner Hall

Hamlisch conducting the 52-pierce Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. In addition to her rave-winning special, Idina Menzel: Live Barefoot At The Symphony is now a hot-ticket CD, DVD and digital download, and includes a duet with her hubby (and former Rent co-star) Taye Diggs. Ironically, it’s TV that has made Menzel and Diggs household names, on Glee and Private Practice respectively, but their big Broadway voices continue to soar  … Gordon Pinsent is back from Mexico after completing his scenes for the 3D Imax feature Flight Of The Butterflies, which just wrapped after a year of shooting.  Will the big-screen docudrama premiere at TIFF in September? Just askin’ … Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of

DUJARDIN: smoking

Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston are in T.O. today to highlight innovation and education through the arts.  First stop on their schedule is a meet-and-greet with young entrepreneurs at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (aka “the Zone”)and new Oscar owner Jean Dujardin of The Artist has been embraced by America, and he’s clearly returning the hug. He’s now filmed a bogus pro-Smoking commercial for Funny Or Die exalting the virtues of “Dujardin Cigarettes,” sendng up his super-cool French-from-France persona. Clever, funny stuff. To see it, just click here.

NEWS ITEM: “Google is developing a home entertainment device in a move that would bring it more broadly into consumer electronics.The device is the company’s most significant venture into hardware. While the initial

TOMLIN: She's worried too

purpose of the device will be for streaming music, the eventual use could be much wider. Amazon, which began as a retailer, now makes reading devices. Apple, which originally produced only hardware, now sells content.” Uh-huh. All of which reminds me of Lily Tomlin’s great line in her classic one-woman show The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe:  “I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else.”   Me too, Lily. Me too.

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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Cinema on the high Sees: How to save a village, a top Oscar candidate and a Churchill surprise

SOMEWHERE AT SEA: Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Atlantic ocean –warm, sunny, inviting — on the splendidly comfortable cruise ship called the Seabourn Sojourn. So naturally we spent most of it inside in the dark. But then, what else would you do on the 12th Floating Film Festival? On days when we’re at sea, we see three films. On days when we are in a port, we only screen two.

WHERE DO WE GO NOW at FFF 12

Yesterday was a three-film day, starting with a 9:30 am screening of Where Do We Go Now, a film by Caramel writer-director Nadine Labaki, about a group of Lebanese women who try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Selected by Floating Film Festival programmer Hannah Fisher, unfortunately sidelined at the last minute by foot surgery, Labaki’s film came to us with solid credentials, having already won Audience awards at film festivals in Oslo, San Sebastian and TIFF. It’s not hard to see why. Introduced by Cinefranco filmfest chief Marcelle Lean, the film is a bizarre, strangely engaging mix of pop music, death and destruction, and was very well received by our dedicated band of early-morning moviegoers.

FOOTNOTE: Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film

After lunch we screened our second film, Footnote, which came to us with even more dazzling credentials – it swept last year’s Israeli Oscars, picked up Best Screenplay at Cannes, and was cited as one of the top foreign language films by the National Board of Review – not to mention its nomination for Best Foreign Film at Sunday night’s Oscar giveaway. Writer-director Joseph Cedar creates a scenario in which a father and son are rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that the father is about to be lauded for his work, their complicated alpha-male relationship gets even more complicated. What makes it particularly fascinating, for me at least, is the concept of self-sacrifice — as in , no good deed goes unpunished.

CHURCHILL: Unexpected champion of Israel

Before dinner we screened our third film of the day, a documentary originally made for television by Floating filmfest commander and filmmaker Barry Avrich (The Last Mogul, Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project) and one which is seldom seen on the big screen. An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill And The Jews is a powerful celluloid spin-off of a book by Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and details Churchill’s ultimate and unlikely obsession in becoming a supporter of Jewish causes — most notably being responsible for determining the future status of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. It’s an intriguing story, and one which both surprised and pleased Floating Film Festival patrons last night, and one which should intrigue American audiences when it premieres in the USA in May.

Today we are scheduled to see three more films: Darling Companion, from Big Chill director Larry Kasdan; Woody Harrelson’s controversial new drama Rampart; and Exporting Raymond, in which the creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond goes to Moscow to try to help produce a Russian version for Soviet TV.  So, as we say in TV Land: Stay tuned.

DEFINITELY OVER THEIR HEADS: DNTO host Sook-Yin Lee and her guests take a dive in “over their heads” at a special live recording of CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not The Opera tonight at the Tranzac Club on Brunswick

LEE: over her head

Avenue in Toronto. Scheduled guests include Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz, As It Happens host Carol Off, writer/performer James Gangl, comedian Ron Josol and writer-performer and motivational speaker Deborah Kimmett – all of whom will share real-life stories about how they found themselves truly in over their heads. Musical guests are Corin Raymond (crowd-funding his newest recording with Canadian Tire money donated by his fans!) and Montreal-based Little Scream. Admission is free. You can reserve a ticket by emailing CBCtorontocommunity@cbc.cawith DNTO in the subject heading … and in one of the most anticipated shows of their high-rated season, the Dragons leave their

OFF: Definitely Not

studio tonight to catch up with memorable entrepreneurs who once braved the Den. This special edition of Dragons’ Den promises to reveal what’s happened to your favourite pitchers, track down the most memorable disasters and catch up with some of the biggest success stories in the show’s history, tonight at 8 pm on CBC Television … and calling all Lighthouse fans! The band that am (and continues to be) plays tonight at Casino Nova Scotia, tomorrow night at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Friday night at The Playhouse in Fredericton, Saturday night at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John NB, then on to Ontario to play March 9 at the Sound Academy in Toronto, March 10 at the Opera House in Orillia and April 4 at the Richmond Hill Arts Centre. And yes, they still meet with their fans in the lobby after the show. So catch ’em while you can!

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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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