Star struck at the Toronto Film Festival

Star struck at the Toronto Film Festival
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Courier Staff

With a rented 35mm camera and a copy of the Toronto International Film Festival Guide, I set out to find glamour in a moose-infested city. I am without a press pass, a ticket, or a clue as to where to go. I head to the most obvious location, The Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville, where I once shared an elevator with Dave Stewart from the Eurhythmics.

Outside, 3 stretch-limos line the narrow street. There’s Eugene Levy chewing gum nervously, checking his watch and looking very “L.A.”

Catherine O’Hara, in a fetching pair of turquoise and silver lame pants is close by, but unlike Levy, she’s very much at ease with herself. With Home Alone under her belt, she has nothing to prove.

An Australian tourist asks me for the buzz. When I point out the Canadian glamour she snidely chuckles and says, “Who cares about Canadians?”

A gaggle of voyeurs has formed beside me. We bond instantly around the cult of celebrity.
“There’s what’s-his-name!” a pierced woman with a camcorder says pointing to Michael Mckean. “What’s his name?” someone else asks. “It’s that Squiggy guy – no – Lenny, it’s Lenny from Spinal Tap!”

The laughter-infused blunders continue as certain celebrities are trashed for their low-celebrity or no-celebrity status. Everyone wants to see the celery stalk with blonde hair, the festival’s biggest draw, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Next stop is the Elgin Wintergarden Theatre. I spot Don McKellar walking inside unnoticed. Snap. Gotcha.

The 7:00 p.m. screening of Maelstrom has begun and it’s a two-hour wait for the premiere of David Mamet’s, State and Main. Expected glamour includes: Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Stiles, David Paymer and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

I settle in and keep an ear perked for the buzz. Cell phones jingle constantly and film festival officials dart around like Israeli intelligence.

The on-duty cops, happy to be here instead of directing traffic around construction at Bloor and Ossington, are in a jovial and glamorous mood.

The first limo delivers Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Gray. She poses for the cameras when asked to, with a grateful, glazed smile.

Alec Baldwin arrives looking dapper in a single-breasted, black suit and a peacock blue tie. He quickly makes his way inside with only a few brief stops to sign autographs.

Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex in the City is a gracious celebrity. She fiddles with her blonde tresses and flashes several brilliant smiles to fans and photographers.

“Just one more, Sarah Jessica,” I call out. She turns around to face me and I tell her she’s awesome.
“Thanks,” she responds with a big smile and gives me the best shot of the night.

And then it’s over. I float out to Yonge Street, feeling very satisfied with my accomplishments.

Two teenage girls approach and ask if I have yet been “saved by Jesus.” I’m wrapping up my speech about my aversion to institutionalized religion when a television cameraman asks if I would like a ticket to the film. I am happier than a Dead Head granted a miracle in a Texas parking lot.

In I rush.

The Toronto audience, excited to be screening a film with most of the main players present, applauds often and generously. The cast takes the stage to a tumultuous welcome.

Alec Baldwin speaks first by saying, “The reason I took this part was so that I could lobby Sarah Jessica Parker for a guest-shot on Sex in The City.”

More applause and laughter.

Baldwin declares Toronto’s film festival to be the best in the world and promises a Q&A after the film.

An hour and a half later, the cast is back on-stage. Baldwin and Hoffman are jonesing for a light for their cigarettes. I wonder if they’re aware of the smoking bylaw?

Baldwin does most of the talking as Parker stares down at her chunky, open-toed shoes.

Hoffman is purely comedic as he tries to answer what is not a difficult question: How much time everyone spent together on the set when filming State and Main.

“Uh,” he stutters “Yeah…we were on the set together. Is that your question? Yeah, okay…good.”

Baldwin who grabs the mic back to praise Mamet’s script rescues Hoffman.
“Most scripts I read are so terrible, that I think, they better pay me 10 million dollars just to do it,” Baldwin claims. “But I read this script and found out about this cast of people and I instantly said, ‘Sign me on!'”

Ten million to act in a bad film is a real hardship. If I wasn’t convinced that fame sucks before tonight, I am now.

Like Cinderella to her pumpkin, I board the subway. My thoughts are many, but mostly I contemplate my good fortune and give silent thanks to the universe for delivering the excitement I sought this Friday evening in early-September.

As big as this film festival gets and as much filming that goes on here in Hollywood of the North, we are still very much a city of politely star-struck people looking for a bit of glamour in our lives.


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