Held at a lounge on Queen St. W. on Tuesday, the bash for Butter – about a woman trying to win a butter-carving contest – was certainly the quirkiest party of the festival this year. The cast enjoyed various film-themed treats: Butter chicken, of course. And (how could they resist?) some live butter carving by a food sculptor dressed as a naughty Minnesota dairy maid.
The film's comely stars, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Silverstone and Ashley Greene, were there for the goofy fun. As was the movie's lead, Jennifer Garner, who turned up in a fittingly butter-hued dress that showed off the actress's baby bump.
Talking about her film, Ms. Garner laughed at her attempts to master more than 20 different carving tools in preparation for her the role. "Our producers hired a top team of food stylists and pro butter carvers to consult on the film," she said. "We definitely all got our hands greasy. … It's a huge subculture in the Midwest and I really enjoyed getting into the thick of it."
Being in the thick of it was something of a theme on Tuesday.
By late in the day, following the volley of denials that TIFF volunteers were asked to face the wall when Madonna passed by was almost as difficult as tracking all the celebrity ping-pong games going on at this year's festival (more of those later on).
The controversy erupted after Madge's press conference on Monday, when volunteers were told to look away from the pop icon as she walked by. Who told them? First reports suggested it had been Madonna's security team; TIFF made it clear they certainly hadn't made the request. ("Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the festival," their press honcho stated.)
But at the red carpet Tuesday night for, appropriately, the film Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, an official statement was handed out from the Material Girl's PR people, insisting she and her team hadn't made the request to volunteers either. "She has never and would never ask anyone to do that ever," the statement read.
By this paper's press time, who turned volunteers around (and Madonna's image upside down) remained a mystery. What we know, however, was how the singer-turned-director appeared after the whole kerfuffle – at least at the high-security dinner celebrating her TIFF film W.E., where she looked not even a tad ruffled.
Madonna arrived at Grey Goose Soho's third-floor dining room on Monday wearing a demure black Tom Ford dress, her blond locks styled with precision. The affair itself – pristine linens, sparking flutes of champagne and flickering candlelight – looked as if the subject of Madonna's film, Wallis Simpson, had overseen it herself.
Hard to say whether Ms. Simpson would have approved of the menu – lots of creamy carbs – given that she's often credited with coining the phrase "You can never be too rich or too thin." Madonna, however, was eating up Soho's risotto. Craving comfort food to take the edge off, perhaps? Although, no, the 30 guests smattered strategically around the room were not asked to "face the wall" as Madonna raised her spoon to her mouth.
While Madonna was carb-loading upstairs, the cast of Coriolanus dined on red meat downstairs: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler and Brian Cox feasted at buffet-style steak stations as women nearby drooled into their vodka martinis.
And, in due course, all the parties in the building started to merge.
By the time Madonna rose from the dinner table to be whisked to the back door by her three-man security detail, the two cast parties at Grey Goose Soho were melding into each other, as well as a third TIFF party hosted by legendary studio boss Harvey Weinstein.
Among the minglers were Butter siren Olivia Wilde, Canadian Scott Speedman, and Hick star Juliette Lewis, looking fresh in a pale cocktail frock, as she chatted up Flare Magazine editor Lisa Tant. Channing Tatum, Adam Brody and Justin Long eventually rolled in to join the action as well.
By 1 a.m. the stars on site all seemed to be migrating to the club's fourth floor for fugitive cigarettes or a game of ping-pong. Following Jessica Biel's lead – she got in some paddle action here over the weekend – Shame's star, Michael Fassbender, and his director, Steve McQueen, decided to give the tables a try. The pair competed in a hard-core game, while a Hollywood agent kept score on his BlackBerry. (Mr. McQueen won.)
Those not passing the ball (or the buck) back and forth on Monday included Michelle Yeoh. The star of the film The Lady – about Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi – was an hour late to her own film bash. Some gossipers suggested the gridlock en route to Yeoh's dinner at The Roosevelt was caused by the crowds crushing to get a glimpse of Madonna. True or false, Yeoh finally arrived in time for an Asian-inspired meal by celeb chef David Rocco.
Also out celebrating on Monday night was the cast of the cancer comedy 50/50. Guests at the party for the film at Brassai on King St. W. inhaled sushi and oodles of oysters while gawking at the film's star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He seemed mainly to be evading party "randoms" (read: civilians) as his co-star, Canadian Seth Rogen, happily chatted to one and all.
Face to face, no less.