After the rapturously received world premiere of Neil Young Journeys on Monday evening at a packed Princess of Wales Theatre, the singer and about 35 relatives, friends, associates and discreet admirers repaired to Canoe restaurant for a quiet (no music!), relaxed dinner 54 storeys above downtown Toronto.
Seated at Young's table – he kept a white chapeau on through the entire meal – were his wife, Pegi; his long-time manager, Elliot Roberts; Neil's brother, Bob; and Jonathan Demme, the director of Young's last three concert films, including Journeys.
Young said he is taking a holiday from music for the time being to concentrate on writing non-fiction, mostly memoir-ish stuff. He has just completed his first book, a 105,000-word epic tentatively titled Cars I Have Known. No publisher as yet.
Madonna's security blamed for slight of volunteers
It was an outside firm responsible for Madonna's security that directed Toronto International Film Festival volunteers to turn their backs as the pop star left a press conference on Monday, a festival representative said on Tuesday, stressing that the incident contradicted the festival's own attitude towards its volunteers.
"Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the festival. They keep it running on all cylinders," said Jennifer Bell, TIFF's vice-president of communications. "Of course, it flies in the face of what we stand for as an organization."
Bell said the 10-day festival relies on more than 2,000 volunteers to operate smoothly, and most of the stars have been generous toward both them and fans.
Ironically, Madonna herself had earlier thanked the ubiquitous orange-shirted volunteers, but one volunteer later reported that eight of the volunteers had been told to face the wall as the star walked down a hallway so that they could not look at her. She was appearing at the festival to promote W.E., her film about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Bard old hat to Ralph Fiennes
"They gave me two days off, but I've got to be back at work tomorrow night," Ralph Fiennes said on Tuesday, sporting blue jeans and a full beard as he dashed off to the airport. His work? Playing Prospero (thus the beard) in The Tempest on the London stage.
Here, he was showcasing his directorial debut in Coriolanus, where he also takes the title role. A conflicted Roman general in Toronto, the fading old sorcerer in London, that's quite a leap.
Apparently, though, leaps and the Bard are old hat to Fiennes. He got used to both at a very early age: "When I was 5, the first film I ever saw was Bambi. The second was Henry V."
Grounding of Mausam upset Bollywood fans
Bollywood fans were an unhappy lot on Tuesday when TIFF confirmed that stars Shahid Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor (no relation) were no longer coming for what should have been the world premiere of their film Mausam on Wednesday.
The romantic drama, starring Shahid Kapoor as a pilot, was grounded after the Indian Air Force complained to the censor boards about a 30-second clip involving an aerial fight sequence. Mausam's director, Pankaj Kapoor – also the leading man's real-life father – has argued that the clip in question is crucial to the film. But Eros International Media Limited, the film's distributors, had not been given the Indian Air Force's final approval on the movie. That delay in approval, apparently, resulted in further delays with Indian censor boards.
TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey said it was an unfortunate situation: "Toronto audiences have been powerful champions for the promotion and growth of Indian cinema abroad and it's a shame that our festival audiences will be left disappointed."
'Fun' just beginning, maker of Palin film says
British filmmaker Nick Broomfield showed resignation when asked about any conservative, Tea Party backlash toward his new documentary Sarah Palin – You Betcha!
The film follows Broomfield in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, where he travels to find out more about the public figure. As shown in the film, an online publication was already criticizing the documentary while it was being made, saying Broomfield was talking to Palin's enemies. A small piece on the website for conservative talk-radio host Steve Gill describes the documentary as using Palin as a "conservative punching bag" and refers to TIFF as a "liberal international film festival." The film portrays a highly vindictive, private side of Palin, according to her many former colleagues and associates.
So while most filmmakers at TIFF are just happy to get their films out to the public, Broomfield said in a quick interview, "I think the fun's just beginning. The rollout [of the film]is just starting really. Fingers crossed."
K'naan not very accommodating
The goal of the Festival Music House at the Mod Club is to showcase Canadian musical talent to filmmakers during TIFF, in the hopes that they will use the music in their future projects. Good idea, and with acts like Hey Rosetta!, Sam Roberts and the Sheepdogs on board, it appears that Canada's musical stars are all game to entertain. Well, almost all of them.
The party was in full swing when Monday's headliner, K'naan, took the stage. It was a bit of a strange vibe in the crowd – more industry types than straight-up music fans. And the most anticipated act of the night wasn't feeling it.
Kicking off his set by explaining to the crowd that "these are not the types of events I like to do," he attempted to "have some fun" anyway, starting off with a few songs from his critically lauded album Troubadour. When an audience member made a request for one of his early hits, Strugglin', he brushed him off, claiming it was "like five albums ago" and he didn't remember the words any more. After that, he appealed to the audience to attend his Massey Hall show on Oct. 1, so they could see the crowd that comes out to his shows. There was some anticipation that K'naan would end off the night with his biggest hit, Wavin' Flag, but no one dared make the request.
Estelle worth the wait
Estelle brushed off a long delay due to technical difficulties when she took the stage at the Diet Coke Stay Extraordinary gala on Monday night.
The entertainment at what was touted as an "old Hollywood" party was held up by a music system that wouldn't stop playing the wrong tunes – even as backup singers waited onstage, exchanging awkward glances.
When Estelle finally did come out, she apologized for the wait, explaining that she just wanted to make sure everything was perfect before her performance started. She is a pro: The British singer turned things around, playing an encore after pulling two guys onstage to dance with her during one of her first songs. And yes, she did (grudgingly) play American Boy.