Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Toronto Party Scene and Steve at the End

The Toronto Star
September 7, 2005 Wednesday
Distant stars
Rita Zekas, Toronto Star

Let the names begin.

The 30th annual Toronto International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow and everyone from Judi Dench to Justin Timberlake will be here.

Gone are the halcyon days when "Party" Barbara Hershenhorn, the director of special events for the festival, walked limo-challenged Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty from the Copa Club on Yonge and Davenport to the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville unmolested. These days, they would have been stalked by paps and autograph hounds.

People just can't get enough of celeb culture. As Andy Warhol observed, "Celebrity is the Nirvana of the masses."

The sycophantic British weekly OK! has joined a newsstand already bloated with virtually indistinguishable mags such as People, Us, Star, Celebrity Living, In Touch, Life & Style and Inside TV weighing in on such portentous topics as the avoirdupois of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie and Jessica Simpson. Even the dowager TV Guide is bulking up its celeb content.

CTV's eTalk, the Canadian TV infotainment series manned by relatives of former Canadian prime ministers, will be tripping over the newly minted Star! Daily and ET Canada on the festival's red carpet.

Jeez. Even The Mom Show wants red carpet access at Citytv's Schmooze party on Friday. So much for the ink-stained wretches having access. Maybe we can shoot photos and get quotes through the window.

The popular misconception is that it's a celebrity petting zoo out there in film festival land. They may "guarantee" the presence of celebs such as Johnny Depp at the party at Birks for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, but don't even think about getting up close and personal. You can't get near the quarry because of the doorzillas, the self-important American studio flacks with clipboards, earphones and no-neck enforcers.

God forbid you should have access to the talent at your own film festival. The Americans routinely shut out the , allowing entree to the VIP areas to their handpicked photo agencies, relegating the Canucks to spin their digitals outside on the red carpet.

And there isn't even the drive-by schmooze of fests of yore. These days, the celebs do the requisite perp walk up the red carpet and into the hallowed VIP section of the party. If there's a back door, they might even split, never to be seen again that night unless you happen to catch them (c'mon down, Charlize Theron) sneaking out of the Brass Rail or, like Nicole Kidman, blowing off your final bow at the Human Stain gala at Roy Thomson Hall to have a few cocktails at pal Gus Van Sant's party at The Senator.

But this year, there is a more level playing field - there are more parties than ever. We counted more than 60 on the official party list. So many parties, so little Advil.

"Friday alone starts with a 9: 30 a.m. breakfast!" Hershenhorn marvels.

Ewwww. Who does breakfast before the crack of noon at a film festival? The festival hasn't even started yet and Hershenhorn is being inundated with requests for party tickets. Don't phone her. She is not Ticketmaster.

When ruminating about favourite festival parties we have known and loved, the Princess Bride party at Casa Loma inevitably comes up. It was way back when Robin Wright Penn had only two names and was dating the film's director Rob Reiner.

Have the parties gotten too big? CHUM honcho Mary Powers has even been deliberating about cancelling her hot-ticket private party within Citytv's Schmooze bash this year because it's not so private anymore. It has overflowed from her office and taken over the whole floor.

C'mon, reconsider, Mary. Where else could you see festival co-founder Dusty Cohl slugging back Crown Royal and singing along to "Kumbaya"?

You don't have to tail party poster boy Nick Nolte to know that celebs want to stay out till the whee! hours. Actually, trailing Nolte should be mandatory training for crossing guards. They could protect him from becoming pizza on Avenue Rd.

Keep Nolte away from Dan Aykroyd, who is rapidly becoming the fest's one-man tequila ambassador. Aykroyd is hosting a gala opener tomorrow at Ultra Supper Club in conjunction with Patron (which he reps) tequila and the DVD launch party of Let It Rock at Flow, also in association with Patron.

Which brings up the coveted 4 a.m. extended liquor licences. Never saw the point of them myself. If you can't get drunk by 2 a.m., you're not really trying.

The official 4 a.m. festival venues are the Drake Hotel, the Rosewater Supper Club, Flow and Monsoon.

The other "unofficial" venues - some of which have just one-off, party extensions and which applied for extended hours directly to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario - include The Four Seasons Hotel, Lobby, Ultra, Brant House and Fox and Fiddle pub on John St. across from Citytv. Everybody but Lick's Burgers.

Conspicuous in absence is Bistro 990, which didn't apply for a 4 a.m. extension this year. It is hardly surprising, given they were forced to close for 10 days in July/August for some alleged liquor infraction from a bygone film festival.

But Bistro 990 has festival parties booked and it's show business as usual - without the mosh pit of party hearties upstairs, thereby saving themselves thousands of bucks on extra security and manager Fernando Temudo from requiring a set of titanium underwear.

Hey, a lot of these 4 a.m. revellers had nothing remotely to do with the film festival. The closest some of them came to film was Blockbuster Video.

Though, they were colourful. Especially one woman habitually decked out like a whore's lampshade.

Segue, segue, segue.

We note the increasing trend of parties held in clothing emporiums: Holt Renfrew, Hugo Boss, Roots, Club Monaco, Chanel, Caban and Birks.

Premiere mag is hosting some late-night festivities at Club Monaco on Bloor St. There will be a poker lounge and cigar bar, which should make it problematic for the store's clientele the next day. The merch will have to be treated for smoker's cough.

That said, the Thank You for Smoking party at Chanel on Friday night is generating a lot of buzz and we hear that so far, the best invite is for the Steve Martin/Claire Danes film Shop Girl: it contains black satin opera gloves.

Not that we've been invited.

Orlando Bloom generated the biggest heat last year. This year, our money is on Johnny Depp.

I asked a friend whom he was jonesing to see.

"Liza Minnelli," he replied.

"How gay are you?," I asked.


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