Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

** Not Steve Warning** I saw the movie Serenity...

I saw "Serenity" tonight. It was worth seeing.

The movie is a lot of fun. It's got sad, it's got surprising, it's got funny, it's got wit. And you like the characters. The bad guy is a reaaaally bad guy. The ship's crew establish themselves as individuals (although you'd like more character development if you haven't followed the series "Firefly".

The crowd at the theater I attended were a very mixed group. They ranged from 70s down to young children. They certainly weren't all there because they were Firefly fans. Many had won tickets on radio contests. Some, like me, were bloggers. But the crowd was together in laughing out loud through the movie at the funny (intentionally) lines that accompanied the tense scenes.

The special effects are decent, with the 3d done by Rhythm and Hues. The plot was sometimes thin, but I didn't really care because I was enjoying the ride.

I recommend it as a date movie or to see alone.
Sunday, September 25, 2005

Straight from the New Yorker Festival

Emily Gordon, of emdashes and all things New Yorker, attended Steve's banjo do last night at the New Yorker Festival. Go to this site to read the entire post and see a nice pic. But here is an excerpt:

So was it the greatest night of my life?

Earl Scruggs,Pete Wernick,Steve Martin

It was pretty damn great. Seeing and hearing Earl Scruggs and Steve Martin (pictured, with Pete Wernick; all the musicians there were fantastic) playing banjo together did indeed turn out to be sublime, as sad as Martin happily advertised the banjo sound to be, and transforming for an audience that needed some lullabies. I found myself tearing up again, but not about mortality—just in that pleasurable/bemused wrench of recognition because the songs tap into such essential human problems, states of mind that don't have much to do with trivia, posturing, or irony. Plus, it was sweet to see New Yorkers left so in the dark about steamboat paddle-wheel and fox-hunt imagery. For once, we aren't the last word. I think it was like a little vacation to feel that way for a few hours. I wished my mom, who introduced me to all of this great music, could've seen it, but I recorded a tiny bit of "Earl's Breakdown" on my phone (sorry!) to play for her. The crowd, afterward, echoed my thoughts: Isn't it something that Steve Martin, who writes plays and acts and contributes to the art world and seems to do everything so thoughtfully and stylishly, decided to learn this incredibly difficult instrument as well, submitting happily to the ribbing of his superiors? Huh. Cool guy.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

And now for something completely different

This post has nothing to do with Steve directly. But it does have to do with premiering new movies and one movie in particular.

Steve is, of course, coming out with several new movies in the next few months. Shopgirl has been shown at the Toronto Film Festival over a month before it's official premiere. Who knows how the studios will deal with Pink Panther. Some places still have sneaks for the public. But one new method is apparently to harness the blogosphere in premiering movies. So I am involved in an experiment. Who knows -- this may be the wave of the future.

The movie is called "Serenity." Like the Star Trek movies, it is based on a tv series that the network jerked too soon for it's fans. It sounds a little like the first Star Wars in a time now far, far away (the '70s). But having been offered the opportunity to attend a preview for bloggers, I have been reading up on it. It actually sounds and looks like something I'll enjoy.

The synopsis of the movie is:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family -- squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

You can check out pics and previews on the official site.

I'll let you know what I think of it.
Friday, September 23, 2005

Ifilm Interview

During the Toronto Film Festival, Steve did an exclusive sit down interview with IFilm and Rotten Tomatoes.

The site has trailers, photos, and other interesting things on Shopgirl, but go to the bottom of the page and check out the link for the exclusive interview.
Thursday, September 22, 2005

Steve: My Three Movies

The Daily News of Los Angeles
September 18, 2005 Sunday
U; Pg. U9
Bob Strauss

How much Steve Martin can you stand?

"Now I've got three movies coming out in five months, and each one radically different from the other," says the star of October release "Shopgirl," December's "Cheaper by the Dozen" sequel and next February's "Pink Panther" remake.

"It'll be interesting to see how sick of me everyone gets."

Of the three, "Shopgirl" is the most Martin-esque. Based on the veteran funnyman's best-selling first novel, it stars Claire Danes as Saks Fifth Avenue glove seller Mirabelle and Martin as Ray Porter, the wealthy older man who competes for her heart.

Martin also produced the film and wrote its screenplay, though he initially had no intention of appearing in the movie.

"I really thought Tom Hanks would be the perfect guy," he says. "But, he's busy. So I thought, well, I'm gonna be standing around the set anyway and I'll probably be wearing makeup, so I might as well be in the movie."

It turned out to be a job like none the wild-and-crazy-guy ever played before.

"There's an actors exercise, which I've never done in my life, of writing out three or four pages of information about the character," he notes.

"Well, I'd already written 150, so not only could I play Ray Porter, I could play Mirabelle, I know her so well."

Martin didn't think that his bittersweet book would ever become a movie. Too internalized, its emotions too complex, he reckoned. Maybe a play, like his highly successful "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." But then visual ideas for "Shopgirl" came to him.

"My task was to stay true to my own work, and yet because the screenplay was my work, I had the right to change things necessarily," he says of the process.

As for all of this extracurricular fiction and play writing, Martin says that, despite his busy moviemaking schedule, there's always time to fill creatively.

"It keeps me interested. I can't think of anything worse than just sitting around waiting for the next script to come through the door. And I guess it's just my nature. None of this is new. I wrote my first screenplay in 1979 and I've done it periodically through the years, put pixel to screen and manage to come up with something."
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Steve wins Disneyland Legends Award

PR Newswire US
September 21, 2005 Wednesday 2:28 AM GMT
Disneyland Cast Members Dominate 2005 Disney Legends Awards;
Ceremony Coincides With 50th Anniversary of 'The Happiest Place on Earth'
ANAHEIM, Calif. Sept. 20

In celebration of 50 years of Disneyland magic, The Walt Disney Company inducted the 2005 "class" of Disney Legends for their roles in creating the company's treasure trove of entertainment, particularly their part in creating "The Happiest Place on Earth." Today's 10:00 am ceremony was presented in the Main Street Opera House at Disneyland. Following the awards presentation, the honorees participated in a hand-print ceremony.

Honored during the ceremony at the Disneyland Resort were famed Hollywood star Steve Martin and legendary broadcaster Art Linkletter. As a teenager growing up in Orange County, California, Martin spent time working at the Magic Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. where he honed his talents for magic, juggling and creating balloon animals. Linkletter was one of the three hosts of the live nationwide telecast of the Disneyland grand opening festivities on July 17, 1955 (along with future U.S. President Ronald Reagan and actor Bob Cummings).

The 2005 Disney Legends Ceremony marked the first time that the prestigious presentation has been showcased at Disneyland. It also signified the first time that an hourly Disney theme park "Cast Member" has been given the award (longtime Disneyland Cast Member Chuck Abbott). The honor was also bestowed upon Milt Albright, who in 1954 became the very first "Cast Member" on the Disneyland payroll. The other new inductees represent such Disneyland disciplines as attractions, entertainment, public relations, community service, custodial, administration, the Disneyland Marching Band, Imagineering, hotels, food and merchandise.

The Disney Legends program was established in 1987 to acknowledge and honor the many individuals whose imagination and talents have made a significant impact on the Disney legacy. The Legends are chosen by a selection committee comprised of longtime Disney executives, historians and authorities. The awards are presented annually.

Steve Martin was all smiles today at the 2005 Disney Legends Awards that took place for the first time ever at the Disneyland Resort in California. Martin was honored for his work at Disneyland and in Disney films, including working as a teenager at the Magic Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. where he honed his talents for magic, juggling and comedy. Martin received the prestigious honor from his mentor and fellow Disney Legend Wally Boag.

Cemented in Disneyland History: Hollywood star Steve Martin and broadcaster Art Linkletter were recipients of the Disney Legends Awards at a ceremony held today at the Disneyland Resort in California. Martin was honored for his work at Disneyland and in Disney films, including working as a teenager at the Disneyland Magic Shop where he honed his talents for magic and comedy. Linkletter received the award for his nationwide telecast of the Disneyland grand opening festivities on July 17, 1955.
Sunday, September 18, 2005

High class movie tie ins

Some movies have plastic action figures as tie-ins. Steve has art shows. And see, mentoring works. (Janie Canuck found the article).
Show runs September 17 - October 29
September 17 – October 29, 2005
Opening Reception Saturday, September 17, 6 – 8pm

The Michael Kohn Gallery is pleased to present new photographs by Allyson Hollingsworth. This is the artist’s second one-person show at the Michael Kohn Gallery. Comprised of images created over the last three years, the exhibition will feature small scale, black and white photographs often depicting narratives which include the artist herself. In these images Hollingsworth lends the conventions of Romantic nineteenth-century paintings to her photographic work and the result is a sometimes eerie, but always emotionally charged work of art. Imagery includes the artist herself posed in front of a group of trees illuminated only by the headlights of an automobile. Or as in other pieces, figures inhabit domestic settings, cast in deep shadow, where all narrative appears to be at a standstill.

In October 2005, “SHOP GIRL,” the new film based upon the book of the same title by Steve Martin will be released. Starring Steve Martin and Clare Danes, the central figure played by Danes is based upon the photographer Allyson Hollingsworth and her work. Acting as a consultant on the film, Hollingsworth and her drawings and photographs prominently appear in the movie. The film portrays the partial accumulation of life events that defines a young artist, namely, Hollingsworth.

Commenting articulately about her work, Hollingsworth writes about her photographs:

“One night I dreamt I was haunting my own life. The series A Night There Lay the Days Between was borne of that dream. The idea of being “asleep” during the day while being really “awake” at night, and the importance of the night triumphing over day, as in the Emily Dickenson poem from which the title is taken, is central to the theme of these photographs…These series of photographs explore a theme that runs throughout my entire body of work – that of a personal mythology constructed from memory coupled with desire.”
Saturday, September 17, 2005

And for those of you in LA....

Michael Kohn Gallery
8071 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90048 Tel: 323 658 8088
Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 11am - 6pm

Sep 17 - Oct 29, 2005

Allyson Hollingsworth

Here's Allyson


New York Times on Allyson Hollingsworth
September 18, 2005
From Artist to Muse and Back to Artist

Berkeley, Calif.

WHEN the film version of Steve Martin's best-selling novella, "Shopgirl," opens next month, audiences will see just how much of himself Mr. Martin put into the adaptation: he wrote the screenplay, produced the film and stars as Ray Porter, a wealthy older man who enters into a relationship with a shy, depressed clerk (Claire Danes) who spends her days selling gloves at an elegant Beverly Hills department store and her nights making art at her small dining table.

But they will also see the work of the woman who inspired Mr. Martin's tale in the first place: the artist Allyson Hollingsworth, who created the photographs and drawings attributed to Ms. Danes's character, Mirabelle Buttersfield, and who also served as a consultant on the film. Ms. Hollingsworth previously worked as an art assistant on "Cheaper by the Dozen," another of Mr. Martin's movies, and jumped at this new opportunity, she said, when he offered it. And this time, her own artwork figured into the process: for example, Ms. Hollingsworth recreated one of her original pieces - a charcoal self-portrait of her nude body suspended in dark space - so it could be filmed for the movie as the work progressed.

"To actually be able to be paid to create something while I'm creating it?" said Ms. Hollingsworth, 36, sitting on a chair in her tidy, 9-by-13-foot white-walled studio here, dressed in baggy beige trousers and a pink and white cowboy shirt. "Not that that is a huge motivation for an artist, because that doesn't happen very often, but to be able to sit there and draw all day? It was such a luxury. My whole life, I had day jobs and fit my art in between. This was absolutely phenomenal."

At the time, Ms. Hollingsworth had yet to see "Shopgirl," which was directed by Anand Tucker, but she did catch the two-and-a-half-minute trailer on the Internet. There is a scene where Ms. Danes, wearing a thin cotton gown, sets the timer on her Nikon camera and makes a nighttime dash into a faintly lighted grove of spindly trees. Then a click, and the image is captured. "It got me really excited to see my process reproduced: the car headlights, the freezing of the white figure against the trees," Ms. Hollingsworth said.

The result is like a giant replica of a series of Ms. Hollingsworth's ghostly, faux Victorian-era photographs featuring a sleepwalking bride, which appear in a show scheduled to open last night at the Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles. "Oh, it was so cool," she said of the movie scene.

This is her second one-person show, but the first time she is being featured as just an artist, not also an employee. From 1993 to 1996, she worked at what was then the Kohn-Turner gallery cataloging other people's art. One day, Mr. Martin, a serious art collector and a regular customer, came by.

"As soon as he left, I looked at Allyson and said, 'He likes you,' and she got all red and embarrassed and said, 'No, he does not,' " Michael Kohn, the gallery's co-owner, recalled recently. "About an hour later there was a phone call, and it was Steve, and he asked to speak to her." When "Shopgirl" the book was published in 2001, it wasn't just the "To Allyson" dedication on the flyleaf that suggested who the book's inspiration had been. "It was the truck that she drove, the cats that lived in her apartment, the apartment that was at the back of the complex," Mr. Kohn said. "You didn't have to suspend any disbelief, because he was very truthful to the model."

And what is Ms. Hollingsworth's own calculation of the fact-fiction ratio in the book? She replied in a manner that could have been lifted from actions of the self-conscious young woman in "Shopgirl." First she stammered, then her voice trailed off, then she just fell silent. The flat expression on her face never changed, but discomfort seemed to roil just beneath the surface of her pale skin. The longer she remained silent, the heavier the molecules in the air grew. Finally, she spoke: "I'm a really private person. Even with friends, I have a certain reserve."

"I think it's from moving around so much when I was growing up," said Ms. Hollingsworth, who was born in Columbia, Mo., and as the daughter of a career Army officer attended 12 schools before graduating from high school.

Still, she tried to push beyond her uneasiness and provide a better answer. "There are definitely movies like 'Erin Brockovich' or 'A Beautiful Mind,' based on a person's life from Point A to Point B," she said. "I would certainly say this wasn't a biography. There were things inspired by experiences that I had, but they've been so changed in the process of writing fiction." Ms. Hollingsworth's hesitancy extended to any and all queries placing Mr. Martin and herself in a single sentence - including something as simple as how long they were a couple. "I don't discuss my personal life," she said. (Mr. Martin declined to be interviewed.)

Perhaps Ms. Hollingsworth would prefer that her art serve as the window into her soul. Having received her undergraduate degree in jewelry and metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and a master's degree in art at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, she now lives in Oakland and works in various media - drawing, photography, sculpture, installations - many of them made to look as if they were made at the turn of the 20th century. Even her playful pieces have an underlying sense of longing and sadness.

"For me, it's about ephemera - her work is a lot about elegy and the question of mortality, what's fragile," said Gregory Hinton, a Los Angeles-based novelist who owns a few of Ms. Hollingsworth's romantic creations, including a quilt made of glistening communion wafers linked together with tiny brass rings, a version of the nude floating in space from "Shopgirl," as well as an antique handkerchief with the word "once" embroidered in the middle. "It's like, 'Once, I loved you,' or 'Once I dreamed about this,' or 'Once I was here,' " said Mr. Hinton. "She works in the past - like a love affair that's gone."

Recently, Ms. Hollingsworth reread "Shopgirl" and found it "moving," she said. "It's really amazing because the story that he wrote became a kind of universal theme. I think people can identify with love, loss and transforming."

Mirabelle's inspiration is Allyson Hollingsworth
Unveiling Steve Martin's mystery girl
By P.J. Corkery

Scooplet: Steve Martin's been rather coy in all the press generated lately about the name of the woman who is the real-life inspiration for his much-praised new flick, "Shopgirl," which stars Claire Danes. The movie, based on Martin's novella of the same title, premiered last week at the Toronto Film Festival. Claire Danes plays the eccentric young wallflower who is pursued by an older, rich divorced man, Martin. Danes, who confessed she had met the real-life inspiration for the role, said she was struck by how much alike she and the real shopgirl were. But Martin refused to name the girl.

That's OK. We will. ... Martin's real-life shopgirl is an artist with many local connections, who also has exhibited in galleries here. She's a sculptor named Allyson Hollingsworth ...

Her real-life best friends, the San Francisco artists Alexia Pilat, Svea Horton and gallery guru Jason Leggiere, also appear as characters in Martin's novella in guises that other jolly friends call "transparent." All the gang is talking about them, even if Martin isn't. … But don't take our word for it. Hollingsworth has also worked for Martin on other films. She was an art assistant on his less-than-artsy "Cheaper by the Dozen." … And just look at the novella "Shopgirl." It's dedicated to … "Allyson." ....
Friday, September 16, 2005

Steve goes all political on us

Daily Variety
September 14, 2005, Wednesday
NEWS; Pg. 3

Jerry Seinfeld will be awarded the Comedian award at HBO and AEG Live's inaugural Comedy Festival.

Event is skedded for Nov. 17-19 at Caesars Palace and the Flamingo in Las Vegas.

In addition to the Seinfeld honor, the event's lineup also has been unveiled.

Performances and appearances by, among others, Dave Chappelle, Larry David, George Lopez, Bill Maher, Chris Rock and Ray Romano have been slated, in addition to screenings and sketch comedy routines.

Additional performers include Jon Stewart, Dennis Miller, Garry Shandling, Carlos Mencia and Triumph the Wonder Dog.

Special events include:

"Earth to America," created by Laurie David to raise awareness about global warming. Jack Black, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin and Ben Stiller are among performers slated to appear.

"Inside the Writers Room," a roundtable full of "Everybody Loves Raymond" writers who will take the audience inside the process of creating a fresh and relevant sitcom.

"Women With Attitude" will feature an all-femme comic lineup and will be hosted by "Curb Your Enthusiasm" regular Susie Essman.

The Second City Room, already at the Flamingo, will feature three nights of new sketch comedy talent, including Upright Citizens Brigade.

Fest is sponsored by TBS, which will air "Earth to America!" on Nov. 20.

Pickin' and a grinnin' on Letterman

Denver Westword (Colorado)
September 15, 2005 Thursday
Wild and Crazy Local twanger Pete Wernick is ready for the national spotlight.
Michael Roberts

"When you get to the highest levels of the entertainment business," says banjo expert Pete Wernick, "you never know what to expect."

The Coloradan is experiencing this truism firsthand. Since making his recorded debut in 1971 with a band called Country Cooking, the self-proclaimed Dr. Banjo has distinguished himself in roots-music circles as an inventive solo artist, the co-founder of Hot Rize and, currently, the leader of Pete Wernick's Live Five, a group that infuses bluegrass with an unexpectedly jazzy vibe. But on Wednesday, September 21, he'll perform for the largest audience of his career when he guests on Late Night With David Letterman as part of Men With Banjos (Who Know How to Use Them), a quintet that features Earl Scruggs, his all-time musical hero, and comic-turned-movie-star Steve Martin.

Prior to headlining multiplex hits such as The Jerk and the Father of the Bride flicks, Martin incorporated banjo playing into his standup act, and he continues to pick for his own pleasure. He's also an aficionado of other banjoists, and when he mentioned his admiration for Wernick's work in an interview with Banjo NewsLetter magazine, the pair connected through a mutual friend. Shortly after being invited to a party at the actor's New York City apartment attended by the likes of Monty Python vet Eric Idle, Wernick became Martin's banjo sensei, teaching him techniques and encouraging his songwriting. One day, during a break from filming Cheaper by the Dozen 2 outside Toronto, Martin called Wernick about a new composition he was refining, but admitted that he didn't have anything to record it on -- which explains why he wound up playing the tune into Wernick's answering machine.

Cut to March, when Martin asked Wernick if he would like to participate in a September 24 banjo summit at NYC's Directors Guild of America theater in conjunction with the annual New Yorker Festival. Wernick told Martin he was already booked, having committed to take part in a banjo festival in Ireland -- "but two days later, a gong went off in my head, and I was like, 'You idiot,'" he recalls. He subsequently joined the lineup of the show, which sold out in five minutes -- and in July, he experienced another pleasant surprise. "I got this very dry, strictly informational e-mail asking if I was available to be on the David Letterman show on the 21st," he says. Also receiving invites were Wernick's wife, Joan, and their son, Will, who will supplement the banjos with guitar and mandolin during both New York appearances.

The Men With Banjos moniker sounds like a typical Martin joke, but Wernick's the one who came up with it, and he believes it's apropos. Tony Ellis and Charles Wood, two of Martin's other recruits, are widely respected for their virtuosity, and the venerable Scruggs, now 81, initially inspired Wernick to devote himself to the banjo. "I first saw him play when I was fourteen or so," he says. "There's no doubt that he's singlehandedly responsible for changing my life." Wernick hopes a few of the young musicians who hear the Men unleash "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Scruggs's signature song, on Letterman will have similar reactions: "I'd like to return the favor Earl did for me." As for Martin, Wernick notes, "He's shy about his playing, but he's quite good."

At this point, there are no plans for the Men With Banjos to record together, and Wernick refuses to pressure Martin on the subject. "I don't let myself think about that," he admits. Upon his return from New York, he'll focus on smaller-scale projects, including a November banjo camp in Boulder (check for details) and a twice-monthly Live Five residency beginning October 4 at the D Note, 7519 Grandview Avenue in Arvada. Still, he's excited that the instrument he loves will receive some rare spotlight time.

"Three minutes on Letterman, with banjos front and center?" he asks. "That's a pretty big deal."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005

An interview on making Shopgirl

Los Angeles Times
September 11, 2005 Sunday
Home Edition
SUNDAY CALENDAR; Calendar Desk; Part E; Pg. 8
FALL SNEAKS; Taking stock;
Elaine Dutka, Times Staff Writer

STEVE MARTIN does triple duty on the film version of his 2000 novella, "Shopgirl": He's the screenwriter, a producer and a star. The movie revolves around Mirabelle (Claire Danes), a lonely Saks Fifth Avenue employee whose life is intertwined with a charming, commitment-wary bachelor (Martin) and a hapless, young font maker ("Rushmore's" Jason Schwartzman). A serio-comic tale about the difficulty of connecting in the modern-day world, it examines how miscommunication and protective behavior get in the way of love.

Speaking long distance from Toronto, where he's shooting "Cheaper by the Dozen 2," Martin fielded questions about "Shopgirl," which is directed by Anand Tucker ("Hilary and Jackie"). The R-rated Touchstone Pictures release, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday night, will open on Oct. 21 in New York and Los Angeles.

It's hard not to draw parallels between you and the affluent, worldly bachelor on screen. Is the story, in part, autobiographical?

Anything you make is partly autobiographical, but the story is not based on me. It's based on anecdotes from others and a lifetime of observation. Men and women, I've found, come at reality in different ways. As maturity comes, you try to make sure you understand what the other is saying and avoid shorthanding your language. This movie is about people learning about life -- and themselves -- through love. Love is a test.

There's a May-September relationship at the core of the film. Is that something you've seen close up?

I've had those relationships. I have some experience [in that area] -- but this is a role, a performance. I already went through the implied parallels when the book came out and better get used to these questions, I guess.

You sent the script to Tom Hanks, hoping that he'd play Ray Porter.

That's true. I chose him because he's kind -- a crucial component of the character. When Tom wasn't available, I figured I'd play Ray myself since I was going to be on the set in any case.

Playing Ray is a challenge, it would seem. Fiscally generous but emotionally closed off, he's a bundle of contradictions.

Writing the book already places you inside the head of each character. I could have played Mirabelle, though that's probably too much of a stretch.

You initially thought "Shopgirl" too "interior" to make an effective movie.

I didn't think there was a screenplay there. But the more I mused on it, the more I started to see scenes -- Mirabelle at the Saks glove counter, for instance. I went through the book to see if there were enough "events" and found more than I remembered in terms of plot.

Did you ever consider directing?

No. I knew there were capable artists who could deliver the movie better than I. Anand brought a great visual sense and sensitivity to the actors. Just as important, he, as an Englishman, brought the eye of an outsider.

Is Los Angeles a character in the film, as it was in your "L.A. Story"? The movie presents the city warts and all, unlike Woody Allen's love letters to Manhattan.

The city is just a setting, an inert place in the movie and book. Mirabelle would have been lost and depressed in any location. The story was originally set in New York. It was called "Bergdorf Girl," but since the L.A. store had closed, I had to forgo that title. I opted for Los Angeles because I don't know what it's like to live in Chelsea or how to get from there to 57th and Madison -- and logistics are central to the film. Though Ray is hidden away in the hills, he looks out at Mirabelle's low-rent Silver Lake apartment and can get anywhere in 20 to 25 minutes.

The movie ends with a bittersweet comment by your character: "Well, that was life." What's the message?

Quirky, complicated situations arise out of thin air -- that's a part of learning about life. There's a sadness about a breakup, even if you want out. She emerges older and wiser. The guy, it's hard to say.

You turned 60 in August. Is this a time of personal soul-searching?

The reflection took place five years ago and I've exhausted myself preparing for the big day. It feels good to have made it to this point. You get to a place where you tell yourself: "I'm 60: I don't have to do the things I don't want to anymore."

3 movies in 5 months

National Post (Canada)
September 12, 2005 Monday
Toronto Edition
With Martin, the first second felt like four seconds, the second like six, the third ...
Bob Thompson, National Post

Seriously, Steve Martin is low key and laid back. Sort of mild and hazy. Want proof? First, there is his Shopgirl novel and the movie made from the book.

And there is the rich-but-repressed character, which seems to come naturally, that he plays in the film. Then there is the real Steve Martin. Fans of funny get to see that guy later on. His family comedy, Cheaper By The Dozen 2, (shot in Toronto) gets its release later this year, and then comes his take on Inspector Clouseau in the The Pink Panther remake, set for a February opening. "I've had a weird, star-crossed constellation thing happen," he says at the Four Seasons. "I have three movies coming out in five months. It wasn't meant to be, but it worked out this way."

Variety Review

Daily Variety
September 13, 2005, Tuesday
Pg. 12

A Buena Vista Pictures release of a Touchstone Pictures and Hyde Park Entertainment presentation of an Ashok Amritraj production. Produced by Amritraj, Jon Jashni, Steve Martin. Executive producer, Andrew Sugerman. Co-producer, Marcus A. Viscidi.

Directed by Anand Tucker. Screenplay, Steve Martin, based on his novella. Camera (CFI color), Peter Suschitzky; editor, David Gamble; music, Barrington Pheloung; production designer, William Arnold; art director, Sue Chan; set decorator, David Smith; costume designer, Nancy Steiner; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Edward Tise; associate producers, Nick Hamson, Simon Conder; assistant director, Timothy Bird; casting, Tricia Wood, Deborah Aquila, Jennifer Smith. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 8, 2005. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 116 MIN.

Ray Porter .... Steve Martin

Mirabelle Buttersfield .... Claire Danes

Jeremy .... Jason Schwartzman


Cramer .... Bridgette Wilson-Sampras

Dan Buttersfield .... Sam Bottoms

Catherine Buttersfield .... Frances Conroy

Christie Richards .... Rebecca Pidgeon

Loki .... Samantha Shelton

Del Rey .... Gina Doctor

Mr. Agasa .... Clyde Kusatsu

Loan Officer .... Romy Rosemont

Steve Martin the author is well served by Martin the multihyphenate in "Shopgirl," a smartly reconstituted yet largely faithful adaptation of his precisely crafted novella about the mixed signals, misinterpretations and melancholy life lessons that define bittersweet romance. Mainstream auds expecting a laugh riot on the order of Martin's recent star vehicles may be surprised --- and disappointed --- by the paucity of guffaws, and that could translate into downbeat word of mouth. With careful marketing and critical support, however, the pic could reach enough simpatico ticket-buyers to post respectable numbers. Homevid afterlife likely will be impressive and prolonged.

Collaborating with helmer Anand Tucker ("Hilary and Jackie"), Martin does triple duty as scripter, star and co-producer. But except for a snippet of scene-setting narration, he doesn't enter until 20 minutes into the pic.

Opening scenes deftly establish the loneliness and wistful yearning of aspiring artist Mirabelle Buttersfield (Claire Danes), a twentysomething transplanted Vermonter whose sense of isolation is enhanced by her job as sales clerk at the seldom-frequented glove counter in a fashionable Los Angeles department store (Neiman-Marcus in the book, Saks Fifth Avenue in film).

Mirabelle is so hungry for human connection she accepts a date with Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman), a scruffy motormouth she meets at a Laundromat, and eventually has comically unsatisfying sex. (Latter scene is typical of sporadic episodes --- most involving Jeremy --- that deliberately disrupt the pic's overall contemplative tone.)

A casual remark by Mirabelle is enough to make the instantly smitten Jeremy, a self-described "font artist," more focused and ambitious in his job selling amplifiers to rock musicians. But Mirabelle attaches little importance to their relationship, making it easier for her to shift her focus when Ray Porter (Martin) appears at her glove counter.

A smoothly self-possessed dot-com millionaire with a private jet and lavish L.A. and Seattle homes, the fiftysomething Ray woos Mirabelle with equal measures of courtly attentiveness and methodical determination.

After they make love for the first time, however, he politely but firmly tells her they should keep their options open and see other people.

Later, in a clever split-screen sequence that recalls a similar moment in "Annie Hall," Ray tells an acquaintance that he and Mirabelle agree theirs is a no-strings-attached relationship. On the other side of the screen, however, Mirabelle indicates to friends that she senses a deepening commitment.

Ray's wealth allows him to buy expensive clothes and pay off a huge student loan for the lovely young woman. And he's reflexively courteous and compassionate in times of emergency, particularly when she suffers side effects after unwisely deciding to stop her prescribed antidepressants.

But despite these gestures, eventually even the lovestruck Mirabelle has to acknowledge the unbridgeable distance between them.

Martin hits all the right notes while subtly conveying both the appealing sophistication and the purposeful reserve of Ray. But he cannot entirely avoid being overshadowed by Dane's endearingly vulnerable, emotionally multifaceted and fearlessly open performance. (In a few scenes, she appears so achingly luminescent it's almost heartbreaking to watch her.) The two stars bring out the very best in each other, particularly in a poignant final scene.

Martin and Tucker are surprisingly successful at capturing the distinctive tone and delicate nuances of a novella that often reads like the work of a contemporary Henry James. (There's a provocative hint of "The Beast in the Jungle" to both the novella and this adaptation.)

A few missteps aside --- the bits and pieces of narration probably should have been voiced by another actor --- the translation is dramatically sound enough for the pic to work on its own terms.

Some critics may complain Martin has upset the balance of his original storyline by drastically expanding the character of Jeremy. But though the alteration leads to the formation of a more conventional romantic triangle, it also allows Schwartzman to provide welcome comic relief. He's especially funny during a mistaken-identity encounter with Bridgette Wilson-Sampras as Mirabelle's gold-digging co-worker.

Judging from the virtually wordless cameos by familiar supporting players --- including Frances Conroy as Mirabelle's mom and Clyde Kusatsu as her boss --- other significant changes were effected in the editing room during an unusually long post-production period.

Much like Martin's scripts for "L.A. Story" and "Bowfinger," "Shopgirl" --- both book and film --- places characters in a vividly detailed, semi-affectionately satirized L.A. landscape. Pic has fleeting fun with the city's more amusing eccentricities. (A visit to Universal CityWalk is both funny and character-defining.)

But the most deeply affecting moments in "Shopgirl" spring from a sense of the city as a place where disconnectedness is the norm, and isolation breeds neediness in those who are emotionally vulnerable.

Tucker underscores these elements with astute framing, graceful camera movements and shrewd pacing. He gets invaluable assistance from lenser Peter Suschitzky, costumer Nancy Steiner and production designer William Arnold.

Composer Barrington Pheloung occasionally errs on the side of overstatement, but pic's recurring main theme is aptly evocative.

Another review
MovieCityNews Reviews
David Poland
Directed by Anand Tucker
Touchstone Picures

I don’t know if it’s fair to start talking Shopgirl by noting that the book was better. I don’t even know if “better” is a direct issue. What I can say is that I preferred the desert dry novella, the change in tone evident from the first shots of the movie, which transform the acrid Barney’s New York in Beverly Hills into Saks Fifth Avenue. Barney’s (in Los Angeles) is a barren and mean (and beautiful) place to shop. Saks is wealthy, but much more accessible. And that could well be the perfect natural metaphor for this film vs. Steve Martin’s book.

Martin himself did the screenplay, so it seems odd to complain about changes. But you can almost hear the meeting. “Couldn’t it have a B story that gives them both some chance of happiness?” “We saw Lost in Translation, but they didn’t actually do it... no one wants to see a movie with an old man sleeping with a young girl... there has to be some young guy.”

Jason Schwartzman is very likeable here. But the dollop of whipped cream not only fails to cover the story’s natural taste of burnt meat, but it removes that pure flavor that many people seem to like, even if many would prefer to spit it out.

I quite like the performances by Martin and by Claire Danes. And at moments, the direction by Anand Tucker matches the rich, painful, dry detail that Martin’s novella is built on. The lingering close-ups of Danes’ flesh... the detail of the production design... the textures of the sky... are poetic and beautiful.

You can see the outline of Martin’s story here. But what is missing is, for the audience, the Shopgirl as an untouchable, obsessive interest... a possession, who turns out to be all too human. That is what I loved about the book and really miss about the film. Again, this is not to say that much of the new stuff isn’t charming. But it isn’t terribly special either. And it feels like an endless internal fight.

With due respect to Tucker, I would love to have seen Mark Romanek’s take on this book. He has the obsessive interest in textures and raw intimacy that Tucker and Disney has softened almost out of existence.

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy watching the film... it keep me on the coaster. But I think I would have enjoyed a more uncomfortable ride.

Hollywood Reporter Review of Shopgirl
Film review: Shopgirl
By Michael Rechtshaffen, Reuters

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Displaying some fine performances -- including a lovely one by Claire Danes and a lively one by Jason Schwartzman -- the elegantly appointed "Shopgirl" certainly has the goods but it ultimately fails to make the sale.

Adapted by Steve Martin from his 2000 novella, this particular L.A. story is fraught with stark poignancy and quirkier lighter moments, but under the direction of Anand Tucker ("Hilary and Jackie") those dueling moods struggle to find a common ground.

With the more morose mode winning out in the end, the Touchstone picture will be hard-pressed to ring up significant numbers in a crowded season of awards contenders.

Danes is Mirabelle, a fragile young woman who has arrived in Los Angeles from Vermont hoping to start a new life as an artist, but for the time being she spends her days working in the quiet glove department at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, while her nights are spent alone in her dark Silver Lake apartment.

Potential relief on the lonely hearts front finally arrives in the form of not one but two very different individuals.

First, while waiting for her clothes to dry in the Laundromat, she meets the terminally awkward Jeremy (Schwartzman), a certified oddball of an amplifier salesman and budding font artist whose idea of a romantic first date is sitting outside Universal CityWalk and just staring at all the bright signs.

Things look more promising with Ray Porter (Martin), a wealthy logistician who shows up at Mirabelle's glove counter one day with the intention of wining and dining her in style.

Despite Ray's repeated warnings that he's not looking for anything serious, Mirabelle puts considerable stock in their May-December romance even though it's only a matter of time before her heart gets broken.

There are some effective moments in this glove story, but the film, which was originally shot two years ago and has undergone significant reshaping in the interim, keeps getting pulled back into a persistent state of malaise.

And while Danes does fine work and it's nice to see Martin (who also provides some needless narration) digging deeper than he has in a while to play the part of her emotionally distant suitor, it's Schwartzman who practically shoplifts the picture, generating some welcome energy.

Although the setting is contemporary, production designer William Arnold lends the film a period 1950s patina with shades of Edward Hopper, while cinematographer Peter Suschitzky contributes the sophisticated compositions.

Not as wonderful is the insistent Barrington Pheloung score, which churns and swells yearningly at the drop of a, uh, glove.
Monday, September 12, 2005

Photo alert

There are a whole bunch of movie stills at

The girl behind Shopgirl
San Francisco Chronicle
Martin's mystery girl makes it to big screen
Ruthe Stein
Monday, September 12, 2005

Toronto -- As Steve Martin knows, artists often get inspiration from their lovers. A Picasso collector, he did the audiotape for the Museum of Modern Art in New York show of Picasso's paintings of his female companions. A mystery woman in Martin's life inspired "Shopgirl," which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday night. Martin wrote the screenplay based on his novella and stars as a wealthy and meticulous older man courting a 24-year-old who sells gloves at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

"This is Steve's personal story -- it's based on his actual relationship," Claire Danes, who plays the title role, told me. Meeting the real shopgirl, Danes said she was struck by how much they resemble each other. "We both have kind of slight frames, and I have dark hair in the movie like hers."

At an elegant dinner party celebrating the premiere, I searched for a Danes look-alike. After all, if you had a movie named for you wouldn't you want to attend the hoopla? But I didn't spot any possibilities, and Martin was conspicuously there by himself.

He and I were having a pleasant enough chat about the movie when I delicately asked who it's based on. "What difference does it make, really?" he replied, tightening up slightly. And he's right. The important thing about "Shopgirl" is that it touches universal emotions -- the very definition of art.

Despite his closeness to the dialogue, Martin insisted he "was not neurotic" about changing lines during the shoot. Mostly he's just happy "Shopgirl" is finally opening after a series of delays he found "very frustrating." The same thing happened to him with the "Pink Panther," which was to be released this fall, but has been pushed to February.

While Martin dressed up as Inspector Clouseau, his "Shopgirl" co-star Jason Schwartzman was got up in his Louis XVI's finery. "I've never worn tights before in a movie," said Schwartzman, who just finished playing the French king in "Marie Antoinette," which is directed by his cousin, Sophia Coppola.

He had another first in "Shopgirl" -- his first nude scene. "I'm not used to taking my clothes off for the camera. But it was smooth sailing once I got out of them."

Men bare it all: Male nudity seems to be a theme of the Toronto festival. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal expose the sides of their butt cheeks making love in "Brokeback Mountain." But the real shocker was the World War II drama "Mrs. Henderson Presents," in which Bob Hoskins has a full frontal nude scene. Hoskins can't claim the producers made him do it -- he's credited as the executive producer.

Minnelli radiates star appeal: There on a big screen was a luminescent and very skinny 27-year-old Liza Minnelli high kicking and hitting all the high notes. Liza-come-latelys who know the entertainer mostly for taking pratfalls on "Arrested Development" or falling for Mr. So Obviously Wrong will understand why fans have stood by her when this vibrant concert -- "Liza With a Z," shot for TV in 1972 -- airs on Showtime next year.

A festival audience watching the show for the first time since it was meticulously restored got Liza in the flesh as well. She made a breathless entrance in a purple sequin pantsuit, a hot pink scarf draped around her neck. Fashion designer Halston covered her in considerably less in "Liza With a Z," directed and choreographed by the inimitable Bob Fosse.

Minnelli recalled that Fosse wouldn't permit NBC censors a viewing until the last minute, and they were outraged that her nipples are visible through one sheer top and her breasts look as if they're about to fall out of another.

"Bob did some very fast talking. One lady from NBC left the building muttering about how 'it's fashion'. "

Her trademark false eyelashes, so long they sweep her brows, are another fashion statement. Minnelli told the audience she used spirit gum to keep them on while sweating buckets in the digitally remastered version, which is coming out on DVD.

As great as it is to watch Minnelli in her prime, the best news is that she's making movies again. She's in "O in Ohio" as a sex therapist who advises Parker Posey on how to achieve her first orgasm.

"And I'm starting work on a musical set in New York," Minnelli said. It's apparently based on her life, so she'll be getting her reality show after all.

Steve fat? No weigh

American funnyman STEVE MARTIN has laughed off critics who claim he looks overweight in new movie SHOPGIRL - he insists he lost nine kilograms (20 pounds) before shooting the comedy thanks to a self-designed diet.

US entertainment writers have described the ROXANNE actor as "old" and "puffy" in their film reviews - which also stars CLAIRE DANES - but Martin remains unfazed because he actually discarded so much fat, he then had to put weight on.

He tells the New York Daily News, "I lost 20 pounds - actually, I lost 25 pounds, but then I gained 5 back because I was too skinny.

"I didn't change what I ate, I just started eating smaller portions. And I cut out bread - that's the real killer, because I was reaching in and eating half a loaf before dinner arrived.

"All you have to do is that, and then you can drink all you want."
Sunday, September 11, 2005

More Steve exposition

Ottawa Citizen
September 11, 2005 Sunday
Final Edition
NEWS; Pg. A6
'A work from the heart': For wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin, the hardest part of writing, producing and starring in the drama, Shopgirl, was staying distant from his original book, writes Jay Stone.
Jay Stone, The Ottawa Citizen

Every comic, they say, wants to do drama, but Steve Martin is the comic who wrote the drama.

And then adapted it as a screenplay.

And then produced the movie and starred in it and went around doing interviews to promote it.

"In drama you worry, and in comedy you really worry," he says with some of the rueful irony that marked his standup career, but you get the feeling that there may be more than a few concerns in getting the public to buy into a melancholy romance that's more apologetic than funny.

It's called Shopgirl, and it's having its premiere tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Mr. Martin is making the rounds, explaining this tender love story about an older, successful man named Ray Porter (played by Mr. Martin, 60,) and his relationship with a fragile, lonely clerk in the Saks Fifth Avenue glove department named Mirabelle Buttersfield (played by Claire Danes, 24).

Shopgirl is based on Mr. Martin's 2000 novella that the movie's director, Anand Tucker, calls "a drama with comedic elements" and "a meditation on loneliness."

That's not the Steve Martin of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or The Jerk, let alone Saturday Night Live, but Mr. Martin has always been more than he seemed.

He's the banjo-playing wild and crazy guy who has become a serious actor (in The Spanish Prisoner, David Mamet's twisty con game), a world-class art collector, and a somewhat cerebral playwright (Picasso at the Lapin Agile).

If you buy the assumption that Shopgirl is autobiographical (and Mr. Martin denies it) then he's also a bit of a heel with women.

The Ray Porter character is about the same age as Mr. Martin, and he dresses similarly -- the same outfit of jacket over an unbuttoned shirt that Mr. Martin sported at interviews this week. Also, in the past Mr. Martin had well publicized breakups with Anne Heche and Bernadette Peters. But the writer-star-director says it's not his story at all, just a tale he picked up from personal experience and anecdotes related by friends.

"Some is personal and some isn't," he says of a plot in which Ray enters into a relationship purely based on sex and then has to deal with the emotional needs of the younger Mirabelle.

"It's like anything. It's a work of fiction and it's a work of imagination, I hope, and it's also that you draw characters of life. The character of Lisa Cramer in the book and in the movie (a sexually predatory saleswoman played by Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) is really three specific women that I've known in my life or talked to or interviewed or whatever."

One of the easier parts of the journey into melancholy was to play a character in a style much more reserved than Mr. Martin, or any comic, is known for. He recalled a friend who is a comedian and was praised for his role in a drama.

"He said, 'Steve, Steve, if I got praised for my dramatic acting, it's only because when they were cutting to me, I was thinking about where I was having dinner.' Meaning he was just stoic. And a lot of emotion is written in nothing. And Ray Porter is quite stoic."

More difficult, Mr. Martin says, was staying distanced from his own book so that he could do a proper job of adapting it.

"You have to be pretty cold sometimes. I have a saying about adapting something, that it takes the process of a failed marriage: it starts with fidelity, then there's transgression, then there's divorce."

Mr. Martin the screenwriter chopped a lot of material from Mr. Martin the novelist, but he says it's a question of making things work on their own, not just salvaging them from the book: Shopgirl is a film with many silences, and Mr. Martin says he likes showing character through the details of everyday life rather than a lot of exposition.

The result is a luminous and sometimes sad story of a relationship, and when someone asks if Shopgirl -- which is set in Los Angeles -- is part of an L.A. trilogy that includes his previous films L.A. Story and Bowfinger, he says: "Never thought of that, but that's what I'm going to say from now on."

Shopgirl is partly told through narration by Mr. Martin and he says the technique evokes the feeling that the character is looking back and apologizing, that he is observing from a more distant place where he has more insight. He also says that this tone of apology is all about Ray Porter and not about Steve Martin, although it was an emotional experience to write.

"It's affecting, and it becomes a part of you."

It comes on the eve of a return to his better known comedic persona -- in the upcoming remake of The Pink Panther in which he takes on the Peter Sellers role -- that fulfills what he says is his need for a physical comedy.

Shopgirl, though, is a special case.

"Shopgirl is a work from the heart and that's the greatest thing, when you work from your heart. It's very thrilling."

Shopgirl Interview
Sep 11, 3:45 PM EDT
Martin Shows Versatility With 'Shopgirl'
AP Movie Writer

TORONTO (AP) -- More so than at perhaps any other time in his career, Steve Martin has a film that showcases his versatility. "Shopgirl" started with Martin's prose, his best-selling novella about a depressive wallflower pursued by a rich older man and an awkward young slacker.

It comes to the theater via Martin's own screenplay adaptation, which turned a highly internalized tale with minimal dialogue into a camera-friendly story.

It also features one of the finer in Martin's growing range of quiet, restrained performances as he fills the role of the lonely older man looking for love while settling for sex with a woman half his age. And as the producer, Martin helped stitch together a pitch-perfect cast that includes Claire Danes as the wallflower and Jason Schwartzman as the slacker.

The only thing missing is the wild-and-crazy physical comedy that has been a trademark of Martin's biggest successes, from "The Jerk" and "All of Me" to "Bringing Down the House" and "Cheaper By the Dozen."

Dismissed by critics in the 1970s as an anti-intellectual, banjo-toting buffoon with a fake arrow through his head, Martin has undergone a gradual transformation since the mid-1980s to become an esteemed writer and performer.

"I think when the movie `Roxanne' came out, which I also had written, I felt something new that I never felt, which was respect," Martin said with a bonny laugh in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival, where "Shopgirl" played in advance of its Oct. 21 theatrical debut.

That continued through such films as "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," "L.A. Story," "Grand Canyon" and "The Spanish Prisoner" and a literary career that has produced the play "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" and the novel "The Pleasure of My Company."

"Also, as you get older, you gain a little more weight just by default because you've been around that long," said Martin, who turned 60 in August.

"Shopgirl" centers on Mirabelle (Danes), a twentysomething clerk at a ritzy Beverly Hills store. Solitary and on medication for deep depression, Mirabelle finds herself ineptly romanced by a young bumbler (Schwartzman) and swept off her feet by a rich divorced man (Martin).

Neither man proves quite what Mirabelle expected as the story winds through the euphoria of new romance, the sour taste of rejection and the human inclination to obsess over relationships gone wrong.

"I often think all that thinking we do and that emotional pain is some kind of evolutionary flaw. Why? Why are we neurotic? What's the purpose?" Martin said. "It's something like evolution going too far, and we end up so worried about things that don't matter. That's what love is. It's like this whole side effect of mating that got really complicated."

"Shopgirl" is the first of a flurry of Martin films that continues with the Christmas release "Cheaper By the Dozen 2," in which he reprises his role as patriarch to a family of 12 kids, and February's "The Pink Panther," in which he recreates Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

Even that broad range of films only scratches the surface of Martin's talent, said "Shopgirl" co-star Danes.

"He's an incredibly dynamic person. I don't know if the general public is so conscious of that," Danes said. "He's a skillful, celebrated writer. He also collects art in earnest, and he's also an incredible musician. You should hear him play the ukulele. It's ridiculous what he's capable of."

The soft-spoken, graciously polite Martin comes off like an elder statesman far removed from the wild-and-crazy guy he once portrayed.

"The Steve Martin I met and got to know is not a wild-and-crazy guy," said "Shopgirl" director Anand Tucker. "He's an incredibly erudite, articulate, quiet, I want to say even shy man. Very thoughtful. So in some ways, the Steve Martin you see in `Shopgirl' is more the real Steve Martin now."

Martin is braced for the day when writing could become his main job if lead movie roles dry up.

"I've kind of looked at it in two ways. One, one day it'll just be over," Martin said. "On the other hand, you've got Walter Matthau. He found a way to be funny late in life. But to just take a role as a corporate executive who sets up the new young stars, I have no interest in that."

What Roger's up to

It's a dog's life at the Toronto Film Festival, as KMT finds:

Stars' pets get doggone pampered during Film Festival News Staff

It's a dog's life when you're the pet of a Hollywood A-lister, visiting Toronto for the International Film Festival.

Pooches that come to town with their celebrity owners can get the star treatment at many of the city's finer hotels and can get spoiled rotten at one of the downtown's chi-chi doggie salons and day cares.

Pups lucky enough to stay at the Four Seasons hotel in the heart of the festival area can take advantage of the tony Yorkville hotel's VIP Pets Program.

Upon check-in, your star owner will receive a map from the concierge of the best walking routes in the area. Or, the hotel can arrange private pet-sitting in your room so you won't go lonely when your owner is downstairs making deals at The Studio Café or dining at Truffles.

Waiting for you inside your room will be two bowls of scrumptious doggie biscuits, all homemade by the hotel's own chefs, baked fresh on the day of your arrival. There's also be a big bowl of Evian water to wash down all those treats, because really, who drinks city tap water when you can have the finest?

The Four Seasons has hosted countless A-list celebrities and will go to any length to keep their star clientele satisfied, says the hotel's Samantha Geer.

"We once had a star who came to stay with us for a month and they wanted their dog to be able to lie out on a lawn," she recalls.

With green grass scarce in the downtown, the hotel accommodated the request by building a lawn on the guest's balcony so the pooch could sun himself all day without the annoying bother of paparazzi.

There is an extra charge for all these privileges, of course, since after you're gone, your room will need an extra good vacuuming and scrub down for the next guest who may use the room. But really, what are a few extra dollars when you're a star's best friend?

If you're feeling you're looking a little scruffy behind the ears and could use a trim, the hotel might recommend you pay a visit to Tire Biter, just a few blocks away in Yorkville. They're walking Steve Martin's dog while he's in town promoting Shopgirl at the festival.

This salon has seen dozens of celebrities come through its doors, says owner Emily Cartwright, who can instantly recall which stars had which breeds of dogs.

Courtney Cox Arquette and her husband David Arquette have brought their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels for walks and trims. Kate Hudson has brought in her family of pooches: a Mastiff, a Pomeranian and a British bulldog. And Renee Zellweger has stopped in with her beloved Golden Retriever/Collie mix, Dylan, to check out Tire Biter's fun array of leashes and toys in their Chi-Chi-Chic Boutique.

Geddy Lee from Canada's own Rush, brings in his Cairn terrier for the salon treatment at Tire Biter. And fellow rocker Keith Richards has an adorable little Bijon mix pup -- named "Ruby Tuesday" of all things -- who likes nothing but the best.

Not only will Tire Biter walk and groom Fido, they also provide a cageless Doggie Daycare that allows all the resident pooches to play together, rest together and of course enjoy cookie time together.

And if your star owner has to work late or will be away overnight, you can take advantage of Tire Biter's Doggie Slumber Parties, in which one of the salon's staff will take you home with them, read you a bedtime story and tuck you in at night.

For celebrity hounds that like the exclusive treatment, Pampered Paws is the place for you. At either of their locations in downtown Toronto or Mississauga (or even at their two new locations in Japan), your owner can rent out the entire first floor of the salon for a mere $1,000. That way the salon's Artistic Pet Stylists can indulge your every desire while your parent enjoys an escape from the fans.

You can get a shampoo, a deep conditioning, a hair re-texturizer, a massage and a trim. If your fur's looking a little mousy, a stylist can give you highlights or lowlights -- or why not both? Think you would look positively precious in pink? That can be arranged with any of Pampered Paws' rinse-out fur colourings. And you can even have your toenails painted to match from the salon's selection of dog-friendly, quick-drying polishes.

If your doggie hair is long enough, why not have it French-braided? (Yes, it's been done, and it looks darling, darling) Finish it all off with some bows or a bandana and you're ready for your big red carpet moment.

"It's just fun for the owners," says Pampered Paws' Lesley Weeks. "These are wonderful owners who love their dogs and treat them as part of the family."

Dogs are not the only kinds of pets that get pampered silly. Cats can also come in for a grooming and fluffing. And the salon has seen other pets, too.

Weeks says there is a particular star (who would like to remain nameless), who takes his falcons with him when he comes into town for longer stays or movie shoots. He'll bring his birds into Pampered Paws for a claw trimming, a little grooming and a treat.

When you're the beloved pet of an A-list celebrity, why should any expense be spared? After all, when a star returns home from a long day of film festival paparazzi, media junkets, and bad reviews from the press, who else will jump up and down when they see them, wag their tails happily and love them so unconditionally?

A bit on Steve's drinking

But does he like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?

KMT offers:

Velvet Rope 101: Where the parties are this year News

For 10 fleeting days, Toronto's downtown core plays host to a full-fledged schmooze-fest for Hollywood heavyweights who juggle film premieres, interviews and parties where they strut their stuff on red carpet runways.

Let's face it, the Toronto International Film Festival is as much about the glitz, glamour and red carpet, as it is about the 335 films that will be screening this year.

This year, the designated party schedule centres around a few main hot spots, most of them in the heart of Toronto's tony Yorkville neighbourhood: Bloor Street's Lobby, Avenue Road's Four Seasons Hotel; Exhibition Place's Liberty Grand, Yonge Street's The Carlu and King Street West's Spoke Club.

"This is glamour HQ," eTalk Daily's gossip columnist Susie Wall says of Yorkville, sitting in the Four Seasons Hotel.

"This is where a lot of it is happening," she says, appearing on CTV's Canada AM.

The past few years, observers have noticed the trend of parties being held in high-end retail emporiums, such as Club Monaco, Holt Renfrew, Hugo Boss, and Chanel.

"This year, the parties are a little more dispersed, but they're still ultra-glamorous. Everybody want to be on the guest list," Wall says.

"You walk down the corner in the city and all you hear is people on their cell phones: 'Can you get me in? Who do you know?'

"It's like velvet rope 101. How you do jump them and how do you get past the two big dudes at the door?"

Chance are that most star-struck fans don't have ready access to these much-coveted invites where fusion canapés and flutes of bubbly are de rigueur.

The good news is that even celebrities need to let their hair down, and certain Toronto haunts have proven to be worthy watering holes, year after year after year.

Don't despair, it's easier than it seems. You, too, can see stars without the help of an industrial-strength telescope.

Armed with our trusty guide, you can avoid the contingent of overeager fans and rabid paparazzi who stake out hotel driveways and schmooze like a seasoned Hollywood scenester in no time.

According to unconfirmed reports, four local venues have nabbed this year's coveted extended-hours licences to serve alcohol and food until 4 a.m.: Queen Street West's Drake Hotel, Toronto Street's Rosewater Supper Club, Yorkville Avenue's Flow and Simcoe Street's Monsoon.

The other "unofficial" venues" -- some of which have one-off extensions, reportedly include the Four Seasons, Lobby, Queen Street West's Ultra, Brant Street's Brant House and the Fox and Fiddle pub on John Street across from Citytv.

Lobby is a favourite that has come into its own in recent years. Not only does the venue look right onto Bloor Street west of Avenue Road, making it ideal for people watching, it also has a private room where celebrities like to hibernate from the glare of the media machine.

"It also has a private room so celebrities can still feel like they are going to a party," says Jacintha Wesselingh, entertainment reporter for CTV News Toronto and eTalk Daily.

Hotel Intercontinental and the Four Seasons continue to function as press junket central. Ever year, a star hunters and paparazzi wait patiently outside, cameras and notepads at the ready.

As for The Drake, this trendy Queen Street West hotel has rapidly come into its own as a destination for those who want to party somewhere other than Yorkville. If the weather is balmy, head to the newly redecorated Moroccan-style patio.

Still, it's a bit out of the way, Wesselingh says, noting that most of the screenings are booked in and around the streets of Yorkville.

Meanwhile, Bistro 990 on Bay Street and Sassafraz on Cumberland Street continue to unabashedly self promote themselves as the destination for movie stars passing through town.

Indeed, celebrities do fill their dining rooms year after year, eating among a roomful of gawkers who expect no less.

"I do enjoy the margaritas at Sassafraz," Steve Martin admitted to reporters at the premiere for his film Shopgirl, which is based on Martin's bestselling novella of the same name.

This year, the inaugural Canadian Music Cafe will set up shop on three consecutive afternoons at Sassafraz restaurant, with performers such as Chantal Kreviazuk, Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Slean.

As the restaurant is already a favourite hangout for celebrities and their fans, the project organizers hope to woo those with the power to make decisions. Shows are free, but they are only open to official film festival delegates.

As for Sotto Sotto on Avenue Road, where the celebrity quotient is high even when the TIFF behemoth dies down, stars are sure to flock to the dining room for post-premiere dinners.

"This is a festival staple. Celebrities go there even when there is no festival," Wesselingh says. "It's also very dark and the atmosphere very low-key so celebrities like to hide out there."

Still, be warned. You may need to burn the midnight oil if you want to do any serious star spotting.

Though some stars try to keep a low-profile, by nature, they glitter most at night.
Saturday, September 10, 2005

Paparazzi view

The Toronto Sun
September 10, 2005 Saturday
NEWS; Night Scrawler; Pg. 67

THIS IS one of those nights where you just let the pictures do the talking.

If you like to see celebrities in person, there really is no better opportunity since the Toronto International Film Festival is as much about the fans as it is about the stars. You sure don't have to have a ticket to be part of it.

"I want to see Orlando Bloom," says Hitomi Nakamura, who was out on the town with her little camera last night.

Others out for a look are people like Victoria Rutwind -- a law student who I found out had been an actor in her youth. She's going more for a corporate law career now but Scrawler thinks she's just as beautiful as many of the big shots in the movies.

The stars are pretty good with the fans at this event --and they understand this is not the time to play prima donna. But there are exceptions. Anybody know who Jason Schwartzmann is and why he would rush by photographers so they can't get a good shot?

But the other stars in Shopgirl were pretty good at their film party at The Carlu. Steve Martin was all smiles and Claire Danes made sure the shooters got her. I really liked Ericka Christensen, too --what a lady and what a beauty.

Other stars like Adam Brody, Val Kilmer, Heath Ledger, Ed Harris, Gordon Lightfoot and Tommy Chong have been terrific. "I thought Tommy Chong was a hoot," said 680 News entertainment editor Gloria Martin, whose microphone was jokingly commandeered and turned into a pretend bong. Yes, the mood is pretty good.

"Everybody likes to look at the photos but no one likes the photographers," said one of those professional paparazzi guys in from Los Angeles.

This is a week, though, where it does pay off if you have a camera. Hang around Yorkville today and you'll see some stars for sure. What I love about some of the parties is how the stars come out of their limos and run into people like my pal Robert Ferguson. He's been on the street for years and it's tragic, but he's always got a great sense of humour and I can tell you he was a good hockey player in his day.

"The Kitchener Rangers used to watch me play," he said, his face kind of mangled from a recent fight.

You should see the other guy. But it is a neat contrast and the "oh-so serious" Hollywood promo types don't know what to do when they run into a guy like that. Hey, it's his city and he's here all the time, I say.

By the way, I mistakenly wrote in yesterday's column that Ruby Dhalla is our youngest MP when it should have said youngest female MP. The youngest MP distinction should have gone to Pierre Poilievre of Nepean. She's still hotter than him, though. I stand by that.

Also I have heard the rumours about a U2 New Orleans benefit show at the ACC for tonight or tomorrow but have not been able to confirm it. One source told me to "bank on it" because Bono wants to raise some money, but others say it may not happen now. Also lots of talk about Elton John getting married at the Windsor Arms but no one seems to be confirming that. If you were there and have a picture, be sure to call. Also Bono, let me know what's happening on your thing, too.

Mentoring -- the new euphemism

The Toronto Sun
September 10, 2005 Saturday

The citation for the Slotek article below. For those of you who are anal about bibliography.

Steve, Star Maker

more from our Toronto correspondent -- KMT
INTERVIEW-DC.XML&archived=FalseSteve Martin wants to become star maker
Sat Sep 10, 2005 7:34 AM ET
By Arthur Spiegelman

TORONTO (Reuters) - Self-styled "wild and crazy guy" Steve Martin has been many things in his life -- stand-up comedian, screenwriter, movie star, best-selling novelist -- and now he might become a star maker.

If the extraordinary young actress Claire Danes becomes a major star after her performance as Martin's unappreciated mistress in his new film "Shopgirl," he deserves some of the credit.

"Shopgirl," which was shown on Friday night at the Toronto Film Festival, is based on a best-selling novella by Steve Martin, with a screenplay by Steve Martin, who also produced it and plays the lead male role.

Danes, 26, plays a Saks Fifth Avenue glove saleswoman enticed into an affair with a rich man more than twice her age who gives her everything but love and she steals the picture.

"If she doesn't get an Academy Award nomination, I will kill myself," Martin said in an interview with Reuters.

Then, in a flash, he paused to consider just what he had said and backtracked a bit -- he noted that he said the same thing about Eddie Murphy who starred with him in the 1999 comedy "Bowfinger" and he did not get an Oscar nomination.

Martin, 60, of course, lived on to host the Oscars and write for the New Yorker, a couple of his many other jobs.

"I think my greatest thrill as a writer would be to provide someone with a role that launched her. People should see her talent," he said, adding that there is one nude scene in the film in which she displays more character than flesh.

"It is a nude scene with a purpose. This is not an actress walking naked across a room."

Danes plays Mirabelle Buttersworth, a lonely "shopgirl" at the Saks store in Beverly Hills who fights off boredom during the day and loneliness at night.

Martin plays a rich computer executive, Ray Porter, who woos her by buying a pair of gloves from her and then sending them to her home, along with an invitation to dinner. Soon an April-to-December affair springs up with Martin's character unable to commit himself to anything other than a sexual relationship.

Since his character is an older single man, many people are leaping to the conclusion that the man in the film is the man who created the film.

"People want to think this is my story. But it is not. it is a little bit this and a little bit that. It is a work of fiction and all the characters in the book represent the author," he said.

Martin said his real pleasure in life these days is writing. "The real joy is in constructing a sentence. But I see myself as an actor first because writing is what you do when you are ready and acting is what you do when someone else is ready," he said.

But he said he would not mind also becoming a star maker.

More Shopgirl

more KMT
Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life on screen at film fest
Megan Leach
Canadian Press
Saturday, September 10, 2005

Claire Danes laughs with Steve Martin' at a news conference for the movie Shopgirl. (CP PHOTO/Adrian Wyld)

TORONTO (CP) - Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life in film with Claire Danes in the title role. The movie premiered Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Shopgirl stars Danes as Mirabelle, a slightly lost everygirl who works at the glove counter in Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. Martin and Jason Schwartzman play her two very different love interests.

Martin's Ray is a far cry from a wild and crazy guy. He's a charming, reserved, Mr. Big-type suitor for the heroine. Schwartzman's Jeremy is the polar opposite - a goofy, good-natured guy who has a lot to learn about adult relationships.

Martin told a festival news conference he never envisioned the novella as a movie. "In fact, when I finished writing it, I thought 'At last, something that can never be changed into a film.' " He said it took him two years to develop the story into a film.

Danes said she read the novella in one sitting.

"It was incredibly subtle and poignant and relatable," she said. "And amazingly impressive that Steve could depict a woman so richly."

Danes said working closely with Martin on Shopgirl was like dancing with a really good partner. "I just get to follow and feel incredibly graceful and capable. But he's doing all of the work."

Schwartzman called Martin an "exquisite" writer, and that working with him "is like being asked to play drums on a Keith Moon record."

Director Anand Tucker also sang Martin's praises as a writer. "The novella was this perfect thing in and of itself," said Tucker. "The screenplay was its own complete being in its own self. These were two perfectly formed things."

Tucker said the film is a meditation on loneliness and how people make connections. "It's like a dance between these three people. It's very delicate and sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes terribly sad."

Shopgirl opens in wide release in October.

Nice article based on the Shopgirl news conference

KMT again.
Toronto Sun
Steve smartin'
Film funnyman feels some pain in Shopgirl

Steve Martin looks for divine guidance at yesterday's festival press conference for his new movie Shopgirl. (Veronica Henri, SUN)

A SAD clown. Who ever heard of such a thing?

Steve Martin and friends from his movie Shopgirl met the Film Festival press at the Sutton Place Hotel yesterday, where Martin opined that what the world needs now is some "down" time.

"This is one of the few movies I can remember in a very long time that ends sad. It's actually very brave of Disney -- a large, large, company -- to release a movie that is, if not sad, at least melancholy," Martin said.

At this point, leading lady Claire Danes turned to Martin and snapped facetiously, "Do you want ANYONE to see this movie?"

"Just joking," she said. But an unfazed Martin went on, "I'm not afraid of that at all. The experience of being moved is a very powerful one."

'Tis true folks. Accidentally spilling his glass of water on the dais was about as close as Martin is going to get to broad comedy at this Festival.

Shopgirl -- which he cagily and uncomfortably admits "did happen to me, some parts to other people" -- was written, produced and co-stars Martin as the fiftysomething lover of a twentysomething L.A. salesgirl at Sacks in Beverly Hills (Anand Tucker directs). Danes is the girl fresh from Vermont who has to choose between the noncommittal older man and a madly-in-love geeky guy her own age (Jason Schwartzman).

"I forget what he was referencing," the 60-year-old Martin said, "but a friend of mine ... a quite smart, educated person ... said that in the 19th Century, older men often mentored young women as one of the mores of growing up. I think it's not an L.A. phenomenon, it's an everywhere phenomenon. All the smart people say, 'Age doesn't really matter, it's what works.'

"And that's what this story's about. If we were the same age, there's no story. This is what it's about, the slight mismatch of desires, the misunderstandings, the effort of, I believe, every character in the film to be good and be honest -- and yet pain still happens."

There's some comic relief in the movie, mostly courtesy of Schwartzman, who characterized that assignment as "kind of like being asked to play drums on a Keith Moon album. You're like, 'Shouldn't you, Keith Moon, be playing drums?'

But if you really want the funny, you'll have to wait for Cheaper By The Dozen 2, which Martin just wrapped in T.O. with Bonnie Hunt and Hilary Duff. Although Martin reports his serious movie persona and his comedic one are already clashing.

"Fox wanted to promote Cheaper By The Dozen 2 -- which is coming out in December -- with the tagline "America's Favourite Dad." I said 'Look, I have a movie coming out where I'm having sex with a 26-year-old girl. You cannot call me America's Favourite Dad. It's not fair to my career.

"Plus, I just turned 60. I'm not going to be America's favourite dad much longer. I'm going to be America's favourite dead.

"The thing is, the way I perceive myself is different from the way others perceive me. Most people see an actor through the movie poster. They don't even see the movie, and you're defined by the poster. But in my head, Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a very emotional movie. Father Of The Bride had a lot of dramatic scenes. Roxanne and L.A. Story, a lot of romantic scenes.

"So I think I've established that my career jumps around a lot -- if anybody's paying attention."

And lest Shopgirl lead you to read melancholy in his own life, Martin says, "Right now I'm recovering from Cheaper By The Dozen 2, I'm searching for peace and quiet. Otherwise, everything in my life is good and satisfying."

Steve eats macaroni and cheese

that KMT... :)
The Toronto Star
Sep. 10, 2005. 01:00 AM
Want to catch a rising star? Learn to eat like one
Cuisine co-stars at Sassafraz `Coppola tasting'of director's wines


So what does it take to be a celebrity magnet?

At Sassafraz, it's the simple things — if you could call gnocchi infused with foie gras simple.

Food, says executive chef Jason Rosso, is what it's all about.

Of course, a long-standing reputation as a star-sheltering haven in the heart of Yorkville hardly hurts.

For the 10-day Toronto International Film Festival, Rosso is preparing a Coppola tasting menu — five courses paired with selections from Francis Ford Coppola's California winery, Niebaum-Coppola.

Offerings include the aforementioned gnocchi and poached Angus tenderloin in red wine consommé.

Not to mention dishes tailored for maintaining the lean, green celebrity machine — hothouse tomatoes and French goat cheese salad with Spanish olive oil and 12-year-old balsamic vinegar.

It's not all star bait, Rosso says. In recent months, the restaurant has made an effort to earn its stripes through its menu and not its clientele.

"We shifted the whole culture in this place. We want the restaurant to stand on its own merit, not just because celebrities come in," Rosso says.

But it's hardly staunched the flow of the rich and famous. Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, musician Darryl Hall and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees have all recently come calling. Not to mention Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette

"They take a big table, and they order, sometimes, 10 or 15 things off the menu. They just sit and feast on it," Rosso says.

And there's the perennially undemanding Steve Martin.

"Steve Martin's in all the time. He's a great eater. He usually orders throughout the menu."

"Last time he was in, he had the macaroni and cheese — with six-year-old cheddar sauce."

Still, unlike places such as Planet Hollywood, which live and dine by the celebrity endorsement, Rosso isn't about to name a dish after anyone.

But for anyone whose interest in the film festival begins and ends with star-spotting — or for those who think seeing a celeb might be an added bonus to a fine meal — here's the usual celebrity circuit and the high-profile appetites they have served recently:

Bistro 990 (990 Bay St.): Tim Allen, Margaret Atwood, Graham Greene (the actor), Ted Danson, Marcia Gay Harden, Gordon Pinsent, Larry Dane, Don McKellar, Atom Egoyan.

Bloor Street Diner (55 Bloor St. W, in the Manulife Centre): Shirley Douglas, Rex Reed, Roger Ebert, Norman Jewison.

Flow (133 Yorkville Ave.): Tim Allen, Vivica A. Fox, Coldplay, Steve Martin.

Il Posto (148 Yorkville Ave.): Jay Z, Kiefer Sutherland.

Joso's (202 Davenport Rd.): Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Charlie Watts, Vivica A. Fox, Christopher Plummer, John Leguizamo, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.

Kit Kat (297 King St. W.): Isabella Rossellini.

La Bruschetta (1317 St. Clair Ave. W.): David Rasche, Jennifer Dale, Margaret Atwood, Joe Mantegna, Sela Ward.

Lago (Queen's Quay Terminal): Kiefer Sutherland.

Lobby Restaurant (192 Bloor St. W.): South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Adam Shankman, Mark Wahlberg.

Mistura (265 Davenport Rd.): Christopher Plummer.

Morton's (Park Hyatt Toronto Hotel, 4 Avenue Rd.): Kiefer Sutherland, Michael Douglas.

Nectar (488 Wellington St. W.): Dan Aykroyd.

Opus (37 Prince Arthur Ave.): Bonnie Hunt, Michael Douglas, Norman Jewison, Ben Affleck.

Sassafraz (100 Cumberland Ave.): Ron Wood, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Daryl Hall, Steve Martin.

Sotto Sotto (116 Avenue Rd.): Avril Lavigne, Tim Allen, Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria, Michael Douglas, Bruce Willis, Dennis Hopper, Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Tom Selleck, Julianne Moore, Drew Barrymore, Drew Carey, Our Lady Peace, Metallica and Jimmy Smits.

Sotto Voce (595 College St.): Belinda Stronach.

Spuntini (116 Avenue Rd.): Queen Latifah, Erykah Badu, Damon Wayans, Rod Stewart, Forrest Whitaker, Dennis Quaid, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Mats Sundin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nathan Lane, Liam Neeson.

Trattoria Vaticano (25 Bellair St.): Vivica A. Fox.

Ultra Supper Club (314 Queen St. W.): Mick Jagger, Kiefer Sutherland, Vivica A. Fox, Adrien Brody.

Live Streaming Video of Steve's Press Conference

Tonight at 10pm Eastern you can see the press conference for Shopgirl at the Toronto Film Festival at this site.

It's very interesting and revealing.
Friday, September 09, 2005

Danes on Martin
Martin a double success in Shopgirl, says Danes News

It's challenging to wear one hat when making a film, let alone two. But in Shopgirl Steve Martin did just that and according his co-star Claire Danes, he did it very well.

"Martin knew the story very well. He internalized it years ago when he wrote the novella," Danes told Seamus O'Regan on CTV's Canada AM on Friday.

"But he was very generous. He knows how collaborative movie making is," she said, adding that Martin "sacrificed his own relationship with the novella to a certain extent in order to have it undergo this next incarnation."

The film, which will premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival tonight, is based on Martin's bestselling novella of the same name.

It's about sugar daddy Ray Porter (played by Martin) who sweeps an aspiring artist named Mirabelle (played by Danes) off her feet.

Mirabelle, who sells gloves at a department store and struggles to make ends meet, is torn between Porter and musician Jeremy Kraft (played by Jason Schwartzman).

"He (Martin) wasn't precious with his words at all. He encouraged me to change something if I felt the need to."

Danes, 26, gained recognition in the 1994 television drama My So-Called Life and went on to star with Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Romeo and Juliet.

She's risen to prominence in recent years, appearing in Terminator 3 and The Hours,
and is now reportedly in talks to join Richard Gere in the thriller, The Flock.

Danes told Canada AM that she's believes the film stayed true to the novella.

"I was very moved by the book, and I think that we did a really good job translating it, thank goodness," she said.

The film's been getting some advance buzz, but Martin isn't holding his breath waiting for an Oscar.

"Comedians don't get Oscars, so I gave up on that a long time ago," he told the Canadian Press.

But he can still dream.

"I'll quote (screenwriter) Nora Ephron," he told CP. "She said, 'I don't care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you're also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.'"

Even though Martin may not be expecting any accolades, word out of Hollywood is that Disney is so happy with film, they hired the director, Anand Tucker, to make what they're hoping will be the next Harry Potter franchise "His Dark Materials."

Shopgirl is set to open wide Oct. 21.

Steve in Toronto
Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life on screen at film fest
MEGAN LEACH Fri Sep 9, 4:23 PM ET

TORONTO (CP) - Steve Martin's novella Shopgirl comes to life in film with Claire Danes in the title role. The movie premiered Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Shopgirl stars Danes as Mirabelle, a slightly lost everygirl who works at the glove counter in Saks Fifth Avenue in Los Angeles. Martin and Jason Schwartzman play her two very different love interests.

Martin's Ray is a far cry from a wild and crazy guy. He's a charming, reserved, Mr. Big-type suitor for the heroine. Schwartzman's Jeremy is the polar opposite - a goofy, good-natured guy who has a lot to learn about adult relationships.

Martin told a festival news conference he never envisioned the novella as a movie. "In fact, when I finished writing it, I thought 'At last, something that can never be changed into a film.' " He said it took him two years to develop the story into a film.

Danes said she read the novella in one sitting.

"It was incredibly subtle and poignant and relatable," she said. "And amazingly impressive that Steve could depict a woman so richly."

Danes said working closely with Martin on Shopgirl was like dancing with a really good partner. "I just get to follow and feel incredibly graceful and capable. But he's doing all of the work."

Schwartzman called Martin an "exquisite" writer, and that working with him "is like being asked to play drums on a Keith Moon record."

Director Anand Tucker also sang Martin's praises as a writer. "The novella was this perfect thing in and of itself," said Tucker. "The screenplay was its own complete being in its own self. These were two perfectly formed things."

Tucker said the film is a meditation on loneliness and how people make connections. "It's like a dance between these three people. It's very delicate and sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes terribly sad."

Shopgirl opens in wide release in October.

Let's hear it for KMT

In the flurry of cutting and pasting that goes on when new Steve articles appear, I frequently intend and then fail to give credit to the person who put me on notice of an arcticle.

I tend to commit this sin most frequently against KMT, who is one of the best at keeping track of the latest news on Steve's doings. That is true of the last article I posted, and it's been true of others as well.

So all hail, KMT! Keep up the good work... and sorry about that.

Oscar buzz in Toronto
Toronto gives first glimpse of Oscar hopefuls
Updated: 2:52 p.m. ET Sept. 8, 2005
Associated Press

TORONTO - The Academy Awards are six months away, yet contenders already are off and running.

The Toronto International Film Festival, which opened Thursday, offers an early glimpse of potential competitors for Hollywood’s top awards, among them the Johnny Cash film biography “Walk the Line,” the romances “Elizabethtown” and “Shopgirl,” the working-stiff drama “North Country,” the sister tale “In Her Shoes” and the cowboy saga “Brokeback Mountain.”

“I think Toronto is, for better or worse, the starting gate for awards season,” said festival co-director Noah Cowan. “The awards crop we’re already seeing this year is terrific. Some really standout films.”
Story continues below ? advertisement

As they do throughout awards season, stars are playing it coy about their Oscar prospects next March 5. They tend to take the high road, hoping the work speaks for itself while insisting the Oscars are the last thing on their minds.

“I just went through that, so for me to be thinking about it again would just seem very selfish,” said Charlize Theron, who won the 2003 best-actress Oscar for “Monster” and stars as a woman who leads a sexual-harassment case against a mining company in “North Country.”

“You can’t control those things. When they happen, it’s great, but if you put too much emphasis on that, you lose track of what you’re supposed to be doing and the work itself.”

Martin laments the fate of comedians
“Shopgirl” star Steve Martin, who also wrote the script based on his novella, said he felt co-star Claire Danes had a real shot at an acting nomination and jokingly alluded to the Oscar prospects for his screenplay.

“I’ll quote Nora Ephron,” Martin said. “She said, ‘I don’t care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you’re also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.”’

Martin, who plays a wealthy older man vying with a young rival (Jason Schwartzman) for the affections of a Saks clerk (Danes), brushed off his own acting chances.

“Comedians don’t get Oscars, so I gave up on that a long time ago,” Martin said. “And I can’t really speak about the Oscar worthiness of my own performance.”

The Toronto festival allows others — critics, film journalists and industry professionals who may be members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — to handicap on the Oscar worthiness of many movies.

In 1999, the domestic satire “American Beauty” premiered at Toronto and caught a critical wave of admiration that lofted the film to five Oscars, among them best picture, actor for Kevin Spacey and director for Sam Mendes.

“‘American Beauty’ really reinforced in Hollywood’s eyes the idea that Toronto could actually break a film that was very important,” said Piers Handling, the festival’s chief executive officer. “They came here and gathered acclaim and critical support that lasted through the Oscars. Subsequent to that, virtually every year we’ve had a significant number of films here that later came out with nominations and Oscars.”

The best-actor race for 2004 was virtually over after the world premiere of “Ray” at Toronto last year. The buzz that began for Jamie Foxx’s extraordinary embodiment of Ray Charles never let up, carrying him to an easy win on Oscar night.

Toronto gives first glimpse of Oscar hopefuls

Could Phoenix be this year’s Jamie Foxx?
This time around, Joaquin Phoenix as country legend Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter are almost certain to catch Oscar attention for “Walk the Line,” which has earned high praise in pre-Toronto screenings.

Phoenix prefers not to think about whether the movie will do well or whether critics will like it.

“There’s really nothing I can do about that,” Phoenix said. “My work is to just make the film and try to make it as true as possible.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman as another real-life artistic figure, Truman Capote, could emerge as a best-actor front-runner for “Capote,” a Toronto entry dramatizing the author’s ordeal researching his true-crime novel “In Cold Blood.” Hoffman delivers a remarkable portrayal of the effete raconteur, backed by an excellent supporting turn from Catherine Keener as Capote’s lifelong friend, “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee.

Other possible Oscar entrants playing during the festival’s 10-day run include Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine in “In Her Shoes,” a comic drama of squabbling sisters and the grandma who reunites them; Viggo Mortensen, Mario Bello and Ed Harris in the mobster tale “A History of Violence”; Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom in “Elizabethtown,” a romance set against a Southern patriarch’s funeral; Keira Knightley in “Pride & Prejudice,” a period pageant based on Jane Austen’s classic; and Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain,” playing cowboys swept up in forbidden love.

Of course, plenty of films will enter the Oscar mix long after the Toronto festival.

Past best-actress winner Diane Keaton turns in an Oscar-worthy performance in the ensemble comic drama “The Family Stone,” while Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” Sean Penn’s “All the King’s Men,” Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha,” Chris Columbus’ “Rent,” Terrence Malick’s “The New World” and the new version of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” are on the horizon.

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