Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Sunday, September 11, 2005

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 canap├ęs 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.


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