Rob Ford says his Hollywood trip is intended to drum up business for Toronto’s film industry, but he neglected to mention it to the city official or council counterpart responsible for the growth and promotion of the city’s movie business.
“I was not involved,” said Film Commissioner Randy McLean of the Ford adventure to California for Oscar weekend.
The city works with a Los Angeles-based agent to push Toronto as a location for Hollywood productions. Mr. McLean said he was “pretty confident” the mayor’s office didn’t contact the agent to set up meetings with Tinseltown’s players.
Nor did he consult Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of the Economic Development Committee, before embarking on his trip.
“No, he didn’t speak to me about this,” said Mr. Thompson, who has been to L.A. for a film-promotion trip and is currently considering an excursion to Cannes to do more of the same.
“I wish him well. Hopefully, he’s able to present himself well and acts in a fashion that promotes the city.”
Mr. McLean said he flies to California about twice a year to extol the virtues of filming in Toronto, but he wasn’t invited along as part of the substantial Ford delegation that includes the mayor, his driver and personal trainer Jerry Agyemang, communications director Amin Massoudi, chief of staff Dan Jacobs, brother Councillor Doug Ford and another brother Randy Ford, who holds no political position.
Toronto’s film industry hardly needs the help. Figures are not yet available for 2013, but the sector had a banner year in 2012, pulling in $1.2-billion. That included the production of the $190-million sci-fi thriller Pacific Rim, the biggest production ever filmed in Toronto.
The mayor has reiterated in multiple interviews that he’s in Hollywood to lure more blockbusters north.
“We are Hollywood North and we have a great city and we want people to come and visit our city, and make movies, and see the great theatres and restaurants we have and sporting venues and, you know, we have a responsible government there, too,” he told the CNN reporter who spotted him wandering along Hollywood Boulevard looking for Canadians on the Walk of Fame.
But he’s also in L.A. to appear on the late-night comedy show Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday.
The mayor is a favourite target of Mr. Kimmel’s late-night barbs, among them a song titled The Ballad of Rob Ford featuring the lyric: “I’ll do whatever I want to / Because I’m the drunk-driving, crack-smoking Mayor of Toronto.”
The late-night television host picked up the Ford entourage at LAX driving a white Suburban and wearing a chauffeur’s hat. The mayor tipped Mr. Kimmel with a Canadian bill before climbing aboard the SUV.
Mr. Ford told The Toronto Sun on Saturday that he would be attending the Oscars, but security and ticketing issues upended his last-minute bid for seats.
Even among the megawatt celebrities of Hollywood, Mr. Ford stood out. Multiple users on Twitter posted pictures alongside Mr. Ford, who was wearing a dark suit jacket over a black shirt with no tie.
The designer was unclear.