Tag Archives: TONYA LEE WILLIAMS

Three years ago you had never heard of Susan Boyle. And then the dream she dreamed came true.

BOYLE: three new albums in three years

Three years ago, to this very day, Susan Boyle boldly strode on stage in Glasgow to audition for Britain’s Got Talent. (If you’ve forgotten just how powerful that moment was, treat yourself by clicking on the word ‘audition’  — as long as you have Kleenex handy.) All told, she was only on stage and on camera for seven short minutes — but those seven minutes changed her life.

Well, okay, YouTube changed her life. Some 100 million ‘hits’ later, Boyle even has that famous audition footage on her own website, including her statement that she hoped to be as successful as her musical idol, legendary British diva

BOYLE: the historic audition

Elaine Paige. It was Paige, an OBE currently regarded as the First Lady of Musical Theatre, who introduced the world to such Andrew Lloyd Webber classics as Memory and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. At the time Boyle’s remark drew audible snickers from the audience, but then she started to sing, and they stopped snickering and jumped to their feet cheering.

Since then, of course, Boyle has been making up for lost time, releasing three, no kidding, three albums – I Dreamed A Dream, The Gift and Someone To Watch Over Me – an autobiography, The Woman I Was Born To Be, and a website that sells not only her CDs but also Susan Boyle merchandise. A new crowd-pleaser musical based on her life story, I Dreamed A Dream: The Susan Boyle Musical is currently touring the provinces (Liverpool next week, then Cardiff, Birmingham, etc. until opening in Glasgow in October.)  So Susan Boyle, the unemployed Scottish villager, is pretty much her own industry now.

What somehow escaped me along the way was the fact that, after all those headlines and YouTube hits, Piers Morgan arranged for Boyle to not only meet her idol Elaine Paige but to actually duet with her on television, to one of Paige’s hit songs from Chess. And yes, YouTube has that one too. To see and hear the incomparable Paige and the transformed Ms. Boyle, just click here – and enjoy.

ELAINE PAIGE duets with uber-fan SUSAN BOYLE

OUR TOWN: Hey, who’s superstitious? Official opening night for this year’s 15th annual TIFF Kids film festival (it used to be called Sprockets)  is this

WILLIAMS: year 11

Friday the 13th, and Chimpanzee, a brand-new True-Life Adventure from Disney, is the official opening film. And there’s even a GapKids red carpet for young fest-goers to stroll. For more info on the TiFF Kids filmfest, click here … Cadence, Countermeasure, New York Voices, The Nylons and The Swingle Singers are among the glory-voiced performers set to light up the stage this weekend when the Toronto Vocal Arts Festival Sing! opens at Harbourfront, with Micah Barnes, Dylan Bell and Heather Bambrick among those leading vocal workshops. One of Barnes’ workshops

HAYSBERT: ReelWorld star

sounds like it has the makings of a reality show. He calls it the “quick Speed Dating version” of his Singers Playground Performance Workshop, where he works one on one with each A Capella singer for the benefit of both themselves and the class … and has it really been 11 years? Tonya Lee Williams’ 11th annual ReelWorld Film Festival opens tonight with Luv, with Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Michael Rainey Jr. and hip-hop hero Common, at the Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Cinemas. To check out this year’s impressive list of films, click here.

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Shirley goes Downton, Patricia goes down that Gardens path & Kate goes from Horror to Netflix

GOIN’ TO THE ABBEY: Unsinkable movie queen Shirley MacLaine, still star-bright at 77, is packing  to leave for the U.K. and filming for the next season of Downton Abbey.  She ‘s looking forward to playing the American mother of

MACLAINE: off to the U.K.

Lady Cora Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern,) she says, because “there is sure to be a variance of opinions when you mix the staidBritish upper crust with brash American views of the 1920s.” She’s also taking her one-woman show, An Evening With Shirley MacLaine, on the road in March, with test runs in Arizona, Connecticut and New York state. But she’ll be back in Hollywood on June 7  to pick up an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award — the 40th in American Film Institute history. “2012 is off to an amazing beginning for me!” Shirley

McGOVERN: make room for momma

exclaims … Larry King will get his Lifetime Achievement Award the same month, from the 2012 Banff World Media  Festival … comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, whose light touch brightened  23 of the last 25 Oscar shows, won’t be typing backstage this year because he’s busy writing for Broadway. Also MIA this year: A  performance of Oscar-nominated songs. Producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer have voted to scrap ’em (there are only two.)  But in the nostalgic spirit of Best Picture nominees The Artist, Hugo and Midnight In Paris,  the Kodak Theater on Hollywood

MESSING: she's a Smash

Boulevard will be decorated to resemble a timeless movie theatre like the University and the Imperial and other picture palaces of old  … Liz Smith says the producers of Smash are wooing Broadway baby Lesley Ann Warren to join the cast as a Broadway diva on the comeback trail. Liz says Smash star Debra Messing would love having Warren on board, because they worked so well together on Will & Grace when Warren played Will’s father’s  dizzy mistress … and friendly fire-breathers Jim Treliving and Arlene Dickinson are teaming up to do a Dragons’ Den spin-offIn each episode of Big Decision, Treliving and Dickinson assess two struggling businesses and decide to save one company. Or both. Or neither.

OUR TOWN:  Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage launches this weekend with the world premiere of Everything Under the Moon, a collaboration by innovative performance artist Shary Boyle and songwriter Christine

WILLIAMS: NAACP nominee

Fellows. A year and a half in the making, Everything Under the Moon is reportedly their most ambitious creation to date, pairing hand-animated projected image with narrative song. An extra show has already been added next week due to bubbling ticket demand … Dave Bidini and the BidiniBand are giving a free concert as part of the SK8 festival at Harbourfront this Sunday from 2-4 pm. “Bring skates,” says the renaissance musician & writer. “The gig is just off the Natrel skating rink, and there’ll be lotsa stuff for kids and non-kids alike!” … and Second Harvest’s grassroots fundraising campaign Lunch Money Day wraps up today. Volunteers will be shaking their cans at subway stations across the city during the

RAINN: Office spin-off?

morning and evening rush hours, so  “peas give” the equivalent of what you usually spend on lunch to Second Harvest. Remember, with only $10 they can provide 20 meals! So show them that you “give a shiitake” and reward those valiant volunteers with more than just a smile.

THE WRITE STUFF: Award-winning director Patricia Rozema will take participants through her transformation of the classic Maysles Brothers documentary Grey Gardens into the hit HBO feature with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore at the 3rd annual Toronto Screenwriting Conference on March 30-April 1. It was Rozema’s shooting script that got the green light for the movie and the Emmyv and Golden Globe

ROZEMA: Grey Gardening

awards that followed … screenwriter and novelist Ron Base, author of those wildly entertaining Sanibel Detective yarns, shares trade secrets in his equally amusing tell-almost-all blog Writing Sanibel: Or How An Old Dog Used A Unique Island and Technology to Learn New Tricks … and Hollywood-based writer-producer Kathy Slevin has launched  a new blog focused on disseminating successful actions – her own and those of other writers and producers from whom she has learned.  “Its purpose,” she explains, “is to help writers bring their work closer to the kind of product a producer needs and wants and will hopefully be the kind of resource that both find useful.” Her current posts include Secrets Of Series Creations  and How To Hook An Audience, and would-be series writers can check ‘em out right here.

STARS IN OUR EYES:  Indefatigable ReelWorld filmfest founder and director Tonya Lee Williams, who most recently received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award in Montreal, has been nominated for a

BASE: Sanibel sleuthing

2012 NAACP Image Award for her role in the long-running CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless. The awards will be telecast live from Hollywood tomorrow night on NBC …  American Horror Story heroine Kate Mara has joined Kevin Spacey in producer David Fincher’s original Netflix series House of Cards … Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) is set to join Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener and Kevin Kline in Charlie Kaufman’s new flight of fantasyFrank or Francis … and Rainn Wilson is in talks to continue with his character Dwight Schrute in a spinoff of The Office.

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More rain from Prince? More Hobbits from Jackson? More big screen roles for Dexter and Cristina? Stay tuned

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Hypnotic Six Feet Under alumnus Michael C. Hall, so good as Dexter, is set to move to the big screen. He’ll costar with Brie Larson [United States of Tara] in a new flick called East Fifth Bliss … is Prince planning a film  sequel to his

MARSHALL: fan fave

’80s megabit Purple Rain? My spies swear it’s so. In the sequel (or ‘the squeal,’ as his fans adoringly refer to it) his character The Kid is now 50, has lost his record deal and has to go up against much younger (and supposedly hipper) artists. Talk about spectacular comeback material … .Joe Manganiello has been cast in HBO’s True Blood as the series’ very first werewolf (who knew?) … Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan and Charlie Sheen are reportedly committed to attending the Cannes Film Festival now that Wall Street II has been selected as the closing gala …  and fan favourite Amber Marshall, who stars in CBC’s hit Sunday night series Heartland, was thrilled by the turnout this weekend when she agreed to sign autographs at the Can-Am Equine Emporium, a popular all-breeds horse show in London, Ont. “The signing was unbelievable!” she reports. “We had originally planned for a one-hour signing at 2 pm, but by 5 pm I was still signing away!!  Girls started lining up at 11 in the morning, and some drove for seven hours to get there. All in all, simply wonderful.”

OH: teacher, teacher

FLICKERS: First release of the 2-D DVD of Avatar is reportedly due this Saturday — Earth Day. So turn off the lights and enjoy …  d’ya suppose Tim Burton is as surprised as I am that his 3-D Alice In Wonderland topped box office grosses for the third consecutive weekend? Chalk up first week grosses to Johnny Depp star power, but it’s all word-of-mouth since then. And word-of-mouth on the film continues to be spectacularly good … screen-stealer Sandra Oh took a break from Grey’s Anatomy just long enough to play with Josh Duhamel and John Corbett in the upcoming Ramona & Beezus. Ms Oh plays school teacher to rambunctious pupils Selena Gomez and newcomer Joey King … and Sir Ian McKellen will return as Gandalf when Peter Jackson starts shooting The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to Lord Of The Rings, this summer in New Zealand.

WILLIAMS: happy anniversary

CALENDAR JOTTINGS: The new Canadian Media Fund, which opens for business next week, kicks off this Friday with a bilingual webcast launch and virtual town halls … speakers set for April 10-12 Toronto Screenwriting Conference include Tim Long, Writer/Executive Producer of The Simpsons, Chuck Tatham, Co-Executive Producer of How I Met Your Mother, and Robert C. Cooper, writer/Executive Producer of Stargate Universe … Hot Docs is set to announce its top picks for its April 29-May 9 2010 festival tomorrow morning … it doesn’t seem possible that a decade has passed since Tonya Lee Williams first championed it, but her ReelWorld Film Festival celebrates its 10th Anniversary season April 7-11. Wow! … and yes, it’s March 22. Happy 80th (!!!) birthday, Stephen Sondheim, And many more, please!

TOMORROW:

Rick wraps, k.d. sings and Zach chats up Jerry.

Lily conquers Vegas, Bette plans a Showgirl exit, and meet the new Susan Boyle (he’s a guy!)

LOVIN’ LAS VEGAS: Don’t know why I thought that Lily Tomlin and Sin City were not a natural fit. Turns out they are. La Tomlin premiered her new

TOMLIN & WAGNER: Viva Las Vegas

one-woman show, Not Playing With A Full Deck, at the MGM Grand, and reportedly loves Las Vegas! Lily’s partner and personal muse, the unabashedly brilliant humourist Jane Wagner, is the mighty pen behind her new show as well as such previous Tomlin megahits as The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe and Appearing Nitely. Lily’s new show is a mix of Greatest Hits – the characters her fans still can’t get enough of, like Ernestine and Edith Ann – and new characters, and

SHORT: Damages control

new technology. Tomlin’s new show ‘try-out’ played in MGM’s Hollywood Theater, which seats about 2,000 people at each performance. And when Tomlin isn’t hanging out with her Big Business co-star and Caesars Palace headliner Bette Midler (The Showgirl Must Go On) or trying to coax Jane (“it’s come down to begging, really,”) into writing a new Broadway show for her, she’s commuting to New York to shoot her scenes in the new season of Damages with Glenn Close. In it she plays the matriarch of a powerful family determined to destroy shady legal eagle Close. Assisting Lily in this mission are Martin Short as her high-powered attorney and Campbell Scott as her son. And yes, she confesses, she and Marty did misbehave one day on the set, when

MIDLER: The show must go ... off

she read her lines as Ernestine and he did his as Ed Grimley. “But never when the cameras are rolling!”

THE SHOWGIRL MUST GO OFF: P.S. for Vegas-bound Bette Midler fans: Your heroine ends her two-year residency at The Colloseum – aka The House That Céline Built – on January 31. Says Bette: “These legs have had such a great run in the desert, it may be time to haul them to places with more humidity and fewer slot machines.”

GET OUT YOUR HANDKERCHIEFS: Yes, it’s true, the latest YouTube sensation is a recent audition for Simon Cowell’s British talent show The X Factor. The singer is a 40-year-old cabinet-maker named Daryl Markham. Markham has his own website now, and is now a household

MARKHAM: YouTube sensation

name for millions of people all over the world. But can he sing? You be the judge. To see his now-historic audition, just click here.

NO BIZ LKE SHOW BIZ: Leave it to Reg Hartt to find a copy of the sumptuous MGM musical Kiss Me Kate, with Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel and young hoofers Bob Fosse & Tommy Rall competing for Ann Miller’s machine-gun taps., in — wait for it — 3D, its screen original format. Cineaste extraordinare Hartt unspools the classic Cole Porter musical this Sunday and next at 5 pm at his Cineforum HQ at Bathurst & College. Adds Reg: “Bring your own popcorn and we will zap it for you.”

WILLIAMS: ReelWorld decade

Hmmmm, wonder if Stratford’s Kiss Me Kate star Juan Chiorian, now on stage at the Factory Theatre in The Madonna Painter, has ever seen this version? … fan faves Colin Mochrie & Deb McGrath guest with Ron James tonight at 8 pm on CBC Television …  the Kate Rogers Band performs live tomorrow morning on CBC Radio One’s GO! Show. “Tickets are free and everyone is welcome!” sez Ms Rogers … speaking of tickets, you can still snag some for this weekend’s performances of the National Ballet’s spectacular Sleeping Beauty revival before it closes Sunday .. and can you believe that Tonya Lee Williams’ ReelWorld Film Festival, the little movie marathon that grew, celebrates its 10th anniversary next spring? Ms Williams, of course, is currently stationed in Washington, D.C. — on screen, at least — in The Border. And BTW, the ReelWorld call for submissions has already started. So if you have a feature, documentary, short, music video or animation from the Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian or other multi-racial community, click here and fill out the submissions form.

Happy weekend!

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http://reelworld.ca/

George gets Oprah, Kim gets a sidewalk star and Toronto gets one heaping helping of Hollywood

STARS IN OUR EYES: What a weekend for celebrity-spotting in Our Town.  In addition to Penelope Cruz, Colin Farrell, Jeff Bridges, Jason Bateman, Hugh Hefner, Drew Barrymore, Ewan McGregor (who walked the red

McGREGOR: took flight

McGREGOR: took flight

carpet, then dashed to Pearson International to catch a flight) and too many more to mention here, Anne Murray hosted the stars receiving Walk Of Fame honours on Saturday night at the Four Seasons Centre. New sidewalk star owner Kim Cattrall, back in New York this morning shooting Sex And The City 2, also sparkled at George Christy’s 25th annual filmfest family reunion at the Four Seasons, as did Michael Caine, Rachel Ward & Bryan Brown, Norman Jewison, Michael Sheen, Rex Reed, novelists Ron Base & Shinan Govani, Seamus O’Regan, Chaz & Roger Ebert, Ben Mulroney and An Education scene-stealer Carey Mulligan, who flew to Manhattan yesterday to start shooting Wall Street 2 with Michael

CATTRALL: Back to Manhattan

CATTRALL: Back to Manhattan

Douglas. A few blocks away at Il Fornello TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall & Sari Ruda hosted their annual All-Star Lunch for directors Fred Schepisi, Patricia Rozema and Don Shebib, satirist Rick Miller, filmfest veteran Tony Watt, columnist Martin Knelman, ex-Toronto mayors David Crombie & Art Eggleton and many more. Veteran filmfest programmer Hannah Fisher and producers Pierre Sarrazin & Suzette Couture were among the guests soaking up the sun and snacks at Tonya Lee Williams’ lively networking reception at The Pilot for her ReelWorld Indie Lounge. And producer Laszlo

CLOONEY: with Oprah

CLOONEY: with Oprah

Barna and dozens of TIFF participants showed up to shmooze at the Canadian Film Centre soiree hosted by CFC chief Slawko Klymkiw at The Spoke Club.

Biggest crowd-pleasers of the weekend: George Clooney, who greeted cheering fans Friday night at the premiere of The Men Who Stare At Goats and then showed up with Oprah Winfrey on his arm for the Saturday screening of Jason Reitman’s crowd-pleasing Up In The Air. (My spies tell me Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking star Aaron Eckhart also was there. Who knew?) La Wnfrey herself drew thunderous applause last night at the premiere of Precious, as did Mariah Carey. But it was Michael Caine who earned the most affectionate TIFF standing ovations yesterday in his stellar Q&A session with Canada A.M. stalwart Seamus O’Regan.

TIFF TALK: TIFF visitor Tilda Swinton reportedly wants to star in a new screen version of Mame, more along the lines of stage & screen Mame Rosalind Russell than movie musical Mame Lucille Ball … popular music-makers Terri

SWINTON: new Mame?

SWINTON: new Mame?

Clark and Hawksley Workmen are among the entertainers appearing this week at the Hard Rock Café as part of the fifth annual TIFF-related Canadian Music Café …  Canuck luminaries ranging from Christopher Plummer, Norman Jewison and David Cronenberg to Margaret Atwood, Oscar Peterson and Louise Pitre are currently showcased in a new 30-year retrospective by photographer Edward Gajdel at the o born contemporary gallery on Yonge street … Bobby Del Rio is living the Actor’s Dream. He’s in every single scene of Mio Adilman’s short TIFF film Unlocked … and organizers of the Dubai International Film Festival pulled the plug on tonight’s planned Park Hyatt cocktail soiree. All in all, not Dubai’s best year for public relations. Maybe all the headline-grabbing fuss about the TIFF salute to Tel Aviv scared them off?

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Cooking up a storm with ‘Doubters’ Meryl & Amy

BEAUTY CALL: Still-breathtaking silver screen siren Jacqueline Bisset, who reportedly walks away with Linda Yellen’s new opus, The Last Film Festival, has finally agreed to do a TV pilot. CBS has signed her for the lead role

BISSET: coup for CBS

BISSET: coup for CBS

 in The Eastmans, about a wealthy family who have made their fortune in medicine …  Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, so good together in Doubt,  team up again for Julia & Julia, the Julia Child saga now slated to open in August. The film marks Streep’s third outing with Nora Ephron, who co-wrote Silkwood and penned her own bestseller, Heartburn, which became a first teaming for Streep and Jack Nicholson … and one-man music machine Michael Feinstein recently coaxed 80-year-old MGM girls Jane Powell and Arlene Dahl  to team up with Jane Russell (yes, THE Jane Russell, now a sassy 88 years old) in a concert salute to Hollywood musicals.  Feinstein cast Hollywood Reporter alumnus Robert Osborne, more famous today as on-camera anchor of Turner Classic Movies, as the host, and audiences reportedly loved it.  Will the unstoppable Feinstein bring it to Broadway? Stay tuned.

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BALLET HIGH:  Attention, Ottawa dance fans — the National Ballet’s three-day run of Romeo & Juliet at the National Arts Centre this week is virtually sold

COTE: Romeo in Ottawa

COTE: Romeo in Ottawa

out. And on opening night Karen Kain will give a free talk about the dazzling NBOC production before Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté dance the title roles. So if anyone at the NAC owes you a favour, now’s the time to call it in … p.s. to Toronto balletomanes: The National’s White Hot Gala is now set for June 18. The company’s 4th annual fundraiser will include a one-hour performance by stars of the ballet, followed by a reception featuring a live DJ and Grey Goose signature cocktails, followed by an extraordinary three-course dinner by Mark McEwen, followed by a White Hot night of dancing on stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts with the company’s biggest stars, including the legendary Ms. Kain. For more info click here.  

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PARTON: smart stuff

PARTON: smart stuff

HELLO, DOLLY: She’s a superb songwriter, a sexy singer, and an All-American fantasy. And so smart, too.

“Dumb Blonde jokes don’t bother me a bit!” says Dolly Parton. “Because I don’t think I’m dumb. And I know I’m not blonde!”

She’s a columnist’s dream.

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SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Big-voiced vocal coach Elaine Overholt, currently shooting her Big Voice television series for ‘W’, is currently weighing offers from

OVERHOLT: big voice

OVERHOLT: big voice

two rival U.S. networks who want her to create the same magic for them … don’t know what you did last weekend, but comeback kid Leonard Cohen spent Good Friday with 7,000 fans, on stage in his adopted home-away-from-home, Los Angeles … highlights of the 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival, set for July 3-18 in Freddie Mercury’s favourite town, will include a world premiere performance by Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang and the reunion of Status Quo and John Fogerty

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PENN: boycotting Bill?

PENN: boycotting Bill?

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Sean Penn is a great actor, and if you hire him, you’ll get a good performance. I’m just not going to give a guy who gives aid and comfort to people like (Iran president Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and Saddam Hussein, when he was alive, my 10 bucks. That’s my right as an American.”

The speaker? Brass-tongued Fox TV maverick Bill O’Reilly, who boycotts Sean Penn movies.

When asked to comment, Sean Penn said, “Bill who?”

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FLICKERS:  One of the most welcome features of Tonya Lee Williams’ 9th annual ReelWorld Film Festival, opening tomorrow night, is a free Family screening this weekend. Set for Saturday at 11 am at the Cineplex Odeon

WILLIAMS: family flicks

WILLIAMS: family flicks

 

Carlton Cinemas, the screening will include four (4) short films and a 20-minute interactive show, with Canwest graciously picking up the tab, For more info on ReelWorld screenings and seminars, click here … adult film aficionados were saddened by news that Marilyn Chambers (Behind The Green Door) died over the weekend at her home in Los Angeles. Chambers, who counted David Cronenberg‘s Rabid among her few legitimate films, was 56 … and does any other city have as many film festivals as Toronto? And yes, we’re bragging, not complaining. Next up: The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, an annual celebration on themes of Jewish culture and identity, showcasing feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world – 90 films from 23 countries. This year’s TJFF opens Saturday and runs for 10 days. For tickets call 416-967-1528 or cick here

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RIVERS: all for All

RIVERS: all for All

 

SEE/HEAR: Two episodes ago, Celebrity Apprentice survivors (so far) Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa were asked to create a viral video commercial for All detergent.  After Donald Trump gave their respective team videos a definitive thumbs down, Joan and Melissa decided to shoot their own videos, on their own time and their own dime, with highly amusing results. Check ’em out here, and enjoy!


 TOMORROW:  Natalie Wood’s daughter in New Brunswick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gimme a break!

Oh wait, I just had one.

I know, I know, I promised you (and me) a daily column, uhhh, blog, Monday thru Friday and then some.

Never did figure out when spring break was supposed to end.

Okay. My bad.

I sorta promise to never do it again.

And meanwhile, back on the ranch:

 

OUR TOWN: What a way to start the New Year! Theatre Passe Muraille will host the world premiere of Judith Thompson’s new play, Such Creatures, in

POLLEY: presenting

POLLEY: presenting

January 2010 … presenters set to assist 22 Minutes scene-stealer Geri Hall when she hosts the 2009 WGC Screenwriting Awards next week include Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries), Sarah Polley (Away from Her,) Tara Spencer-Nairn (Corner Gas), and Jennifer Podemski (Moccasin Flats.) Host Hall and 22 Minutes scribe Kyle Tingley will script the annual Writers Guild of Canada awards giveaway … and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Tickets are already selling briskly for the Toronto filmfest’s phenomenally popular annual children’s filmfest, Sprockets, which opens this Saturday April 18.

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PEOPLE: Veteran camera-huggers Kathleen Turner and Peter Gallagher are set to join the cast of David Duchovnys hit Showtime series, CalifornicationWill Arnett has signed on to star  in a comic book -inspired Wild West saga, Jonah Hex, with Hollywood heartthrob-du-jour Josh Brolin 

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

JACK & MARGARET: odd couple

… director Kari Scogland was reportedly delighted by the reception for her film Fifty Dead Men Walking in Belfast last week. The controversial drama, which premiered here last September at the Toronto film festival, has just opened across the UK … ’70s gay porn icon and cabaret producer Jack Wrangler died last week of emphysema. Wrangler, 62, is survived by his 84-year-old wife, esteemed pop music legend Margaret Whiting, in what was one of Hollywood’s most fascinating romances … and Giancarlo Esposito will jet in this week for the Wednesday night premiere of his directorial debut, Gospel Hill, at Tonya Lee Williams’ 9th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival at the Scotiabank Theatre. Esposito’s film, the fest’s opening night Gala, stars Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, Julia Stiles, Samuel L. Jackson and Taylor Kitsch.

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BILLY BOB BLUES: By now most of the free world has viewed Jian Ghomeshis quixotic interview with reluctant movie star Billy Bob Thornton on CBC Radio’s Q.  Can’t say I feel sorry for Jian, because he stick-handled Billy Bob brilliantly. Can’t say I feel sorry for Billy Bob, because his arrogance clearly

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

THORNTON: Transplanted Texan?

exceeds his talent. But I do feel sorry for his Boxmaster band-mates. Talk about being hung out to dry! … and although Thornton is in no imminent danger of receiving honourary Canadian citizenship, Texas-born Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith used to joke that if you even visited Texas, that was good enough for the Texas Film Hall of Fame to adopt you. Which is how Arkansas native Billy Bob became an official Texan recently, receiving the Tom Mix Honorary Texan Award from the Film Society. When Dennis Quaid introduced him a native “of Northeast Texas – that is, Hot Springs, Arkansas,” Billy Bob quickly reminded him that he once lived in Austin, Texas.  Which apparently was good enough for the Film Society. (Other ‘Texans’ honoured this year along with Billy Bob were Larry Hagman, born in Fort Worth, Texas, and Powers Boothe, a Texas State University graduate and native of Snyder, Texas.)

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LITERATI:  Giller Prize winner Wayson Choy is out promoting his new heart-stopping (literally!) bestseller, Not Yet … ditto Mark Breslin and his

LEACHMAN: telling tales

LEACHMAN: telling tales

Confessions of a Porn Addict, not to mention his new audio book on Canadian stand-up comedy….  gee, she’s going to Parliament after all! Green Party leader Elizabeth May launches her new book, perhaps too aptly titled Losing Confidence, on April 26 in Ottawa at, wait for it, the Parliament Pub … also out there telling tales: Fabled Oscar, Emmy & Golden Globe legend Cloris Leachman, who collaborated with her favourite ex-husband, producer George Englund (she married and divorced him twice) on Cloris: My Autobiography … and Deepak Chopra is set to wing into our town this month to promote his new tome Why Is God Laughing? on April 27 at Roy Thomson Hall. (Gee, I dunno, Deepak – maybe He’s a fan of Billy Bob Thornton??)

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SEE/HEAR:  His episode with mayor Hazel McCallion was a big hit with Canadians this season, but Rick Mercer’s Mississauga mischief is now a bonafide viral sensation in the U.S., with almost a million hits (at last count) on YouTube alone. To see what all the fuss is about, or just to finish reading this column with a smile, just click here.

See you tomorrow.