During the festival, we gave our reporter an assignment every day. As the festival winds down, read about her efforts.
Her final task: Get a celebrity makeover"> globeandmail.com: Voila! The transformation is complete...

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Festival challenge

Voila! The transformation is complete...

Globe and Mail Update

Armed with a digital camera and a wireless device, reporter Jen Gerson was on the streets of Toronto to cover the festival for globeandmail.com in an interactive and live format. Each day, she got an assignment to be completed that same day – a task voted on by our readers.

Your comments on her assignments can be emailed to reader-submission@globeandmail.ca.

Vote on your favourite assignment on our online poll.

TIFF time's up in the T-dot

Well that about wraps up the film fest here in the T-dot. Hope you enjoyed my attempts to take the stuffiness out of the TIFF-turkey (ohh, bad pun).

My brain is mashed.

(Ohh, two in a row. Anyone else getting geared up for Thanksgiving?)

I think we can all say that we've learned some valuable life lessons and made great friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Right. Now get me the hell out of Yorkville.

Without further adieu:

The final swag tally.

  • Chanel gift bag featuring full-sized perfume, lipstick, lipgloss and nailpolish.
  • Official Tiff vinyl bag featuring restaurant gift certificates.
  • Entree at il Fornello from the Star Schmooze.
  • Red Earth cosmetic bag filled with more lipgloss, foundation-like stuff, eyeshadow, scented body glaze (?).
  • Candy, candy and more candy from the ETalk Daily Lounge.
  • Pastries and lattes from the TIFF lounge on the second floor of roots.
  • Quadruple bladed leg shaver.
  • Knapsack-like thing filled with two lipsticks and a few charity causes from the Where the Truth Lies afterparty.
  • Versace cologne and chocolate from Versace party.
  • Bowmans hat and T-shirt and small cologne from Celebrity poker tournament in the Distillery district.
  • Granola bar from David Boreanaz that I have under my pillo ... uh, I mean, I ate it, I have eaten it. It is ate.
  • Not bad, though I do wish I had received the plastic surgery coupon.

    These moments of blog have been brought to you by:

  • The HP Ipaq wireless digital thingy. Was able to transmit my posts during some intense fits of real-time blogging. And even more intense temper tantrums.
  • Motorola Razr cellphone. Capable of capturing low-resolution pics of celebrities. As evidenced.
  • Rogers.
  • Also special thanks out to Preloved on Queen St. W., the store that outfitted the stars and kindly offered to outfit me for my celebrity makeover challenge.

    Goodnight all.


    Meet the new and improved Jen

    And the transformation is complete. Meet vampy Jen Gerson, though don't worry folks, the beauty and fame won't change me. Mac cosmetics in Yorkville is largely responsible for my gorgeousness.

    Jen après makeover.

    But with all the fabulous makeup and hair, where in the world will I go this evening?

    Well folks, it just so happens that I have a date with one of the most fabulous men in Toronto.

    My best friend Matt...don't worry, we're polyplatonic.

    Jen shares a platonic smack on the cheek with Matt.

    Where are we headed? A glamorous Cabbagetown pub.

    Posted Friday, Sept. 16, 8:51 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Jen's cheapie celebrity quick fix

    Avid readers of the blog will remember Joe, who worked at Jie, salon to the stars.

    Last we met, Joe told me to come up for a consultation, which I did.

    Everything about my hair needs to be changed, he said.

    "The colour is too flat."

    I need a crazier cut, shorter in the back, and more texture. Oh, and I need to be blonder, but with a warm, sun-kissed tone.

    Unfortunately Jie goes by the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it pricing scale, so I needed a cheaper celebrity quick fix.

    Went two blocks down the street to the nearest salon and asked for a wash and style.

    "I need celebrity hair."

    "As big as I can get it?"

    "As big as you can get it."

    In this case, my cheaper celebrity quick fix comes straight out of the 1980's. No pics until after the makeup.

    Jen likes this $400 dress because it matches her socks.
    This $300 dress did not come in anything larger than a 4.
    Silver dress: Jen's rent.

    Posted Friday, Sept. 16, 5:38 p.m.

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    Oh her poor, poor liver

    Wheat grass: mostly not as bad as it looks

    The first stop in the celebrity makeover tour is to cleanse my inner self. And by inner self, I mean the internal organs I've put through so much damage over the past week.

    Hence, the shot of wheat grass and glass of fresh juice.

    Posted Friday, Sept. 16, 1:56 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Jen, post-Tiff and pre-celebrity makeover

    Jen Gerson, post-Tiff and pre-celebrity makeover

    Eyes: Glassy, dazed.

    Skin: Pasty. (it's coming back!)

    Hair: A rebellion against cultural beauty norms.

    Clothing: Without a press pass, they wouldn't even let me through the gates of Yorkville.

    Liver: I don't want to talk about it.

    First stop: Actual food, then off to see a hair stylist to the stars...

    Posted Friday, Sept. 16, 11:50 a.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Jen discovers she's just not artsy...or freaky enough

    Frozen yogurt with sprinkles counts as dinner right?

    So I got half way through The Wayward Cloud before I realized that I can't understand Mandarin. In this case, the language barrier could not have impeded my understanding of the film.

    The movie started off with a dirty doctor/nurse watermelon sex scene that will make its way to every adolescent's inbox within three weeks.

    From there, it only became more bizarre. The Wayward Cloud rebels against Hollywood norms by lacking narrative, plot, dialogue and sense. But its bleak and abstract world is punctuated by vivid musical scenes a la the 1950s.

    When the naked male lead got up and started singing to the camera in Mandarin while wearing fish fins and blue sequins, I have to admit, I lost my shit. Just a bit.

    It was just too horrible to look away.

    But when the female lead gave birth to a watermelon in a stairwell and a waterbottle cap got lost inside a Japanese porn star I had to bail on that kinky freak fest.

    I guess I'm just not artsy enough for that stuff.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 11:17 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Last two...

    Caught C.R.A.Z.Y, a queer coming-of-age movie with beautiful characters and a quirky plot.

    And Angel, a documentary-style peek at the life of a teenager cast out on the streets of New York. Unfortunately it's so determined to show a gritty portrayal of reality that it forgot to have an ending. Jerky camera angles and intense head-on shots are great, but so is dramatic resolution.

    Please, please let me sleep now...

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 10:52 p.m.

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    Margaret Cho gets plastic surgery offer

    Margaret Cho has no money. So she takes advantage of swag whenever she can.

    Most bizarre thing she found in a gift bag: A coupon for $500 worth of plastic surgery.

    "You shouldn't be paying for plastic surgery with a coupon," she said.

    No doubt.

    Went to see La Vie avec mon pere.

    Got halfway through before I remembered I can't understand French.

    I'm going to go curl up in a theatre seat and wait for sound and colour to appear now. I'm so beyond the place where coffee can help me.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 4:29 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    I've hit a transcendental state

    Matador did, indeed, have men in tights. It also had an assassin Pierce Brosnan dealing with an amusing emotional breakdown on the job.

    Admittedly, I probably shouldn't have partied almost every single night this week. But last night I was invited to a celebration of Italian movies in the Versace showroom. It was a promise of good food and Italian men, how could I resist?

    Unfortunately now I fear I've actually hit a transcendental state and have to remind myself that the moving pictures playing before my eyes are, in fact, supposed to be there.

    Off to interview Margaret Cho, then more movies...

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 12:13 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    First movie

    Finally an assignment that allows me to indulge my secret love of watching movies alone in a theatre where nobody talks. First film: 9:15 a.m., the Matador. I have no idea what it's about but my fingers are crossed for men in red tights.

    Does popcorn count as breakfast?

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 9:19 a.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Lost luggage, tequila shots, and oxygen tanks

    My diet over the past week has consisted of free chocolate croissants provided for the press at the MCbo lounge in the Yorkville Roots store, candy swiped from the ETalk Daily lounge, alcohol, hors d'oeuvres and popcorn. But oh no, there will be no sleep for me. I'm back doing that words thing that I do. With the sentence construction and the typing and the repartee.

    Had to see two movies today, which is why I'm off to the late blogging. Lie with me (huh?) and Bam Bam and Celeste (haha).

    No crazy celebrity demands to speak of, but I did get a few tidbits from kindly publicists and journalists.

    The airport lost Guy Pearce's luggage and he and his wife were without clothing for three days as their stuff was driven up from New York. Pearce sheepishly took advantage of the celebrity swag room and outfitted himself in a Danier leather jacket and running shoes.

    Alan Cumming, Jennifer Tilly and Brendan Fletcher all did shots of Petron Tequila before raiding aforementioned lounge for running shoes, watches and beauty products.

    Forest Whitaker hit the swag lounge and couldn't decide between a blue or pink lululemon bag for his wife. He decided on the pink one, left for an interview, mulled it over during lunch and then traded it for a blue one instead.

    A producer gave Sarah Polley a hard time on a panel she was on and then went around bragging that he "Sarah Polleyed Sarah Polley."

    "Since when did I become a verb?" she responded.

    While handing out autographs, somebody accidentally scribbled all over Hope Davis's arm in black felt pen right before the screening of Proof. It took a gaggle of women in the greenroom to get it off before the movie's introduction.

    Nick Nolte carries around a personal bottle of compressed oxygen all the time. He inhales it several times a day. Apparantly the product will be on the market soon for the rest of us to partake in.

    Posted Wednesday, Sept. 14, 6:46 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Respect the arts reporter!

    Jen sent this piece in last night but it's not being used until now. Listen to her complain about life on the red carpet and interview a fellow arts reporter, ET Canada's Roz Weston.

  • Jen on the red carpet

  • Jen pinches the cheeck of ET's Roz Weston

    Jane Seymour and Reese Witherspoon say hello

    Jen managed to get Jane Seymour and, in spite of a troublesome publicist, Reese Witherspoon to say "hello" to our readers.

  • Jane Seymour says "hello" (Mp3 file)
  • Photo: Aaron Harris/CP

    Posted Wednesday, Sept. 14, 12:05 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

  • Reese Witherspoon says "hello" (Mp3 file)
  • Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

  • Jen sums it all up (Mp3 file)
  • Posted Tuesday, Sept. 13, 8:43 p.m.

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    Jen moves on to the red carpet tonight

    Jen's not too happy that Liev Schreiber and the cast of Everything is Illuminated has not taken her up on her award (see two posts earlier), but now has two red carpets to hit to try to complete today's task of getting a star recording for our readers.

  • Jen outlines her battle plan (Mp3 file)

    Posted Tuesday, Sept. 13, 1:36 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Your next assignment — no typing!

    In the spirit of the assignment #5 (getting an audio recording of a celebrity saying hi to globeandmail.com readers), Jen has decided to record a few blog entries by phone.

  • Jen talks about her assignment today (Mp3 file)
  • Oops! Jen corrects her schedule (Mp3 file).

    Posted Tuesday, Sept. 13, 10:27 a.m.

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    A goofy, award-winning response

    Liev Schreiber, director of Everything is Illuminated, wins the Jen Gerson blog award of irreverence for admitting that he had no idea what I was talking about during today's press conference.

    "How do you reconcile the postmodern themes in your films with the mass appeal of neo-liberal populism, in today's, um, market?"

    "Uh, is there a translation for that?"

    I repeated the question.

    "I'm sorry, I still don't understand the question."

    The moderator of the conference made a valiant effort to interpret the obscurity.

    Schreiber responded with valiant stab at a competent answer.

    "This is really just supposed to be a goofy movie," he said, before pulling some attempt at a response out of his hat.

    "Does that answer your question?"

    "Actually, I'll be honest. It's a fake question. I've asked that at three press conferences today and you're the first to call me on the fact that it doesn't make sense. So congratulations Liev Schreiber, you win the Jen Gerson blog award."

    "You mean three people have tried to answer that?"


    For the rest of the conference, Eugene Hutz, one of the actors in the film, flashed his obscene bling around and winked at me.

    Eugene Hutz flashing his bling.

    What does Schreiber win? He and the rest of the cast have won drinks -- and I'll emphasize cheap drinks -- at my expense.

    Liev, or Elijah Wood, or Eugene can claim his prize by emailing me here.

    Posted Monday, Sept. 12, 6:32 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    They answered!

    The great thing about a question like the one I came up with is that, because it's nonsensical, it can mean absolutely anything and apply to absolutely everything. And just about everyone in the room is too afraid of sounding stupid to ask you what the heck you're talking about.

    What's fun, is seeing how these questions are interpreted.

    At the press conference on North Country, a movie about a woman who is harassed at the mine she works in, writer Michael Seitzman heard the word 'neo-liberal' and immediately interpreted the question as a political one.

    "It's just primal instinct to take care of the people you love," he said. "I don't think it's a liberal notion."

    While in the press conference for Proof, a movie about a daughter who struggles with her math genius after her borderline insane father's death, director John Madden talked about how the rarefied world of insanity was actually accessible because the movie was really about relationships between parents, children and siblings.

    "These are accessible subjects," he said. "The original writing has many ways of coming into the matter."

    Well at least I find that fun, but as mentioned before, I'm not cool.

    The last press conference is at 4:30. I'm off to tally swag.

    Posted Monday, Sept. 12, 2:06 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Post-modern populists out there?

    After lamenting my outcast state in the press office, I met up with some fabulous independent documentary filmmaking women who gave me a pass to their new movie, Zizek!.

    Who would have thought the Slovenian philosopher could make Marxist revolutionary thought and concepts such as; 'love is evil' so much damn fun.

    I wound up at a party for "Pick up the Mic: the Evolution of Homohop." Great music, yummy food, no swag. But good on the gay community for reclaiming hip hop. It's a proud, proud day when a lesbian dyke can, indeed, pick up the mic.

    As you can probably tell, the swag collection has not gone well. But according to a piece published in today's Review section, there is a swag room in the Intercontinental that I didn't know about, so I'll head up there before submitting my final swag tally.

    And before anyone says that that was yesterday's assignment: It's the Internet man, deadlines are arbitrary.

    (You have to picture me making emphatic hand gestures when I say that.)

    My assignment for today: Go to every press conference and ask them a question. The question I've come up with: "How do you reconcile the postmodern themes in your movie with the mass appeal of neo-liberal populist thought?"

    My English and sociology profs would be proud, if I had actually seen any of the films.

    Posted Monday, Sept. 12, 10:20 a.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Yes to the Yukon


    I just received the first party invite that I haven't had to beg, buy or steal.

    Yes Yukon International Film Festival, I will be attending your celebration of film festivals north of 60.

    And I give some mad loving w00ts out to everything Yukon.

    Why? Because you invited me.

    Yes folks, despite the fact that I'd talk about the films and parties I attend, and display any gifts from their promotional partners, these PR firms are sending me nothing but FO&D emails ('Ef off & Die) or asking me to leave voice messages that will never be returned.

    Okay, I get it. I'm not one of the cool kids. I'm so sorry, we can't all be uber-hip aging industry vets. I'll just take my twenty-something self and my crazy "blogging" technology and mock you from afar.

    Oh, and if one of these too-cool-for-skool types ask me one more time what a blog is, I am going to flip. Just flip.

    The swag thing is not going well.

    Posted Sunday, Sept. 11, 5:12 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Pretty in pink

    The quadruple-bladed disposable leg shaver, picked up from a promotional truck at Yonge and Bloor, looks like a hospital visit waiting to happen.

    Jen checks out her oh-so-useful swag

    The handsome young men who were handing out the razors while wearing bright pink suspenders and standing in front of a fuchsia fire truck admitted that they felt a tad bit emasculated by the work.

    "But whatever, it's a job."

    Posted Sunday, Sept. 11, 4:57 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Drinks upon drinks

    I don't exactly know how I found myself at the Inside Entertainment party.

    No, really.

    It was midnight and this party was happening in a revamped warehouse just outside of the distillery district. I'm not sure that I could find it on a map even now.

    Apparently Elle MacPherson was in the VIP room (didn't see her, and I did make it to the VIP room), so were "The Designers" from Home and Garden TV.

    Poker tables were set up, cars were in display and there were drinks (upon drinks, upon drinks, upon drinks, upon Ow).

    Much thanks goes to the bright blonde cicerone who introduced me to everyone (and my apologies to everyone, I've already forgotten all of your names).

    Swag was two-tiered. The paper bags held a hat, a small cologne, an Inside Entertainment magazine and a donation that would be made in my name in lieu of a gift if I logged on to a website.

    The bags with the red ribbon around the handle had a bigger cologne, a CD and a toy miniature car. I grabbed the CD from a newly acquired friend.

    Posted Sunday, Sept. 11, 4:45 p.m.

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    Back at it tomorrow

    When I left the party last night, volunteers were handing out vouchers for a free meal at Il Fornello.

    They were handed out after midnight so they count.

    Also, I scored one of the much-coveted Chanel giftbags (Not swag, I was informed. Chanel is a sponsor of the festival and provides a service)

    The Chanel giftbag: "not swag" 

    In it: Chanel Chance perfume, lipstick, lipgloss and nailpolish. Beautiful, all of it, but not my colours.

    For the record, the editors have given me two days to complete this assignment. Tomorrow I hit the streets...

    Posted Saturday, Sept. 10, 10:06 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Help me, Jebus

    After catching Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic -- in which my favourite line from Silverman was something to the effect of 'Mommy is from God's chosen people. Daddy thinks Jesus is magic,' -- a Jebus parade crashed Yorkville.


    On a side note, I doubt my Diversity in Journalism professor would approve of Sarah Silverman's offensive film. Bad Sarah Silverman, bad.


    Posted Saturday, Sept. 10, 3:35 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    "Buff" Boreanaz gives me his granola bar

    As mentioned, I just got out of an interview with David Boreanaz, Caroline Dhavernas, Amanda Walsh and Holly Lewis from the Canadian film These Girls.

    (Dhavernas and Walsh told me that neither they, nor Boreanaz got access to the VIP room at last night's party--they only had the red wristband and were curious about who was there. Mostly industry people, I explained. I met a producer who told me that I had a good spirit and made me promise not to lose faith in myself.)

    Anyway, Boreanaz's publicist told me not to mention Buffy in the interview. So, of course, I did and received a polite response about not wanting to look back.

    Boreanaz is as handsome in person as ever he was during my formative high school years when I watched him make out with Sarah Michelle Gellar in graveyards. *Epiphany about my current taste in men.*

    In These Girls he plays a new father who gets trapped into sleeping with his three teen aged babysitters.

    In real life, he also drinks six litres of water a day, wears a rosary blessed by the Pope and has the tattoos "soul" and "faith" written on Chinese on his wrists.

    I told him about my blog and explained that the picture I needed of him must be goofy and pixellated. He was happy to oblige, but his publicists soon came swarming in to examine the image.

    David strikes for pose for Jen

    "It's cool," he said.

    I also asked his advice about scoring swag.

    "What do you mean, swag?"

    "I mean, free stuff."

    "Here, this is free," he said, while throwing me a crunchy peanut butter granola bar that he was about to eat.

    Granola swag

    I thanked him, as I hadn't yet had breakfast and explained that I meant the good stuff that celebrities got, the gift bags and prizes and packages.

    "I call it whoring yourself out," he said.

    Yes that, I need to do that for the next two days.

    Boreanaz said that it would be hypocritical of any celebrity to say that they don't get swag.

    "These sunglasses were for free," he said, pulling them off and examining them. "It's amazing what they give. They give all this stuff for free but they can't help their own people out."

    Walsh and Dhavernas fight over who should appear in Jen's picture

    Dhavernas and Walsh received gift bags from Chanel with lip gloss and sundry. They hadn't yet checked in the most recent bags they had received, but said they saw chocolate and beauty products.

    Posted Saturday, Sept. 10, 1:23 p.m.

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    A swagging we will go

    My head hurts.

    I'm off this morning to interview David Boreanaz of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.

    The best places to start in the search for swag are hotels, where often food is set up for press, publicists and celebrities. Parties are also a good spot, so it looks like I'll be trying to finagle another invite...

    Posted Saturday, Sept. 10, 10:12 a.m.

    Celebrity parties aren't all they're cracked up to be

    I'm in, but it was close and thisis boring.

    First I tried flashing the press pass.

    No go. All of the entrances, stairwells and elevators in this building are guarded by security guards and a six-level colour-coded wristband system. None of the guards know what the colours mean, neither do I, but I figured out that blue (my wristband) was the lowest on the scale.

    I met up with a director who had three wristbands and was willing to give a red one up. I ripped it off his wrist and went for the security guard I had been flirting with all night.

    "Uh, you need an orange one," he said. Red was marked off with an 'X' on the informative security posters marked on the wall.

    All I needed was to find someone with an orange or a purple band, and I needed to find them before the day was out.

    One of the amazing young men I had met up with earlier in the night knew a friend of friend who let me lean on his arm as if in a stupor while heading to the third-floor VIP lounge. We were stopped by three security guards on the way. I just leaned my pass-free wrist into his arm and acted drunk.

    "We all have the purple band, we all have it," my new posse slurred as we made our way in.

    "But you're going to be disappointed."

    The alcohol is certainly less disappointing.

    It's called a hypnotic: white cranberry juice, tequila and a splash of lime? And unlike the cosmos downstairs, it's served in a glass. There is no other redeeming trait on this floor. Everyone is beautiful and bored.

    Assignment: Completed.

    Tune in tomorrow as I collect swag, and ask David Boreanez to call me Buffy and kiss me.

    Posted Saturday, Sept. 10, 12:23 a.m.

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    Few stars and less schmoozing

    For a party that bills itself as the "Star Celebrity Schmooze," there are few stars and less schmoozing.

    But I've learned that the further you get into the bowels of the CHUM building, the better the food gets.

    Now I've hit the red chicken curry and the oysters.

    I met up with a young filmmaker named Greg Atkins. He said that if I fixed his make up, he'd give me some advice. He says that he made it into the VIP room twice. He said that I must talk it up with someone with access and then follow them up the stairs.

    "But it's pretty boring. Honestly, within 15 minutes you're going to be bored. They just bring the celebrities out, go click, click and then the stars want to leave."

    In any case, I hope his plan works. I don't think I can take the bodyguard.

    Posted Friday, Sept. 9, 11:09 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    The VIP treatment?

    Where am I you ask? Go turn on MuchMusic. See that party? I'm there. Well, the outer echelons of there, at least.

    They've closed down Queen St W. obscure electronica is blasting and the VIP room hovers above me on the third floor.

    In the meantime, my alcohol selections are limited to white or red wine in tiny plastic cups or the-ever-so-trendy cosmo. Let's just hope I don't fill up on the chicken, and the burger that one attendee describes as "adequate."

    Posted at Friday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m.

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    Jen's got a secret

    This assignment is going to prove to be a tad too easy. I already have tickets for four parties tonight, one of which is the party. I mean, the, the party, of which I can say no more for fear of getting the person who showed mercy to my poor, poor begging soul in trouble. You'll just have to stick around until 10 p.m., when I start blogging live from the scene. Let's just say that I don't think I'll have any trouble getting pics of celebs today.

    In the meantime, it should be noted that this will be my first major party, ever. I have no idea what I'm doing. So I'll be meeting up with some vet TIFF party goers who will impart their wisdom onto me, and similarly onto this blog.

    Blogging will be light today, but heavy tonight. Let's see if I can catch a film...

    Posted Friday, Sept. 9, 12:54 p.m.

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    Jen tackles Day 2

    Festival parties have a VIP room? Really?

    Coffee first, first before anything. Then back to the press office, I've got a lot to learn.

    Posted Friday, Sept. 9, 11:43 a.m.

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    Jen brings home the Downey

    The gala opening night of Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was held in the school I should probably have been attending.

    Go Ryerson.

    I got there early and found a spot for myself next to some broad-shouldered men with big cameras.

    "Where's your camera?"

    I pulled it out of my pocket.

    Two hours later, it was me and about a dozen other photographers. I was against the ropes.

    "I have a feeling that I'm going to get pushed."

    "When these guys come, there are going to be a few who are going to want to push you," said a photographer with a British accent. "You tell them that you've been here for hours. Just tell them that."

    "They'll find that I'm scrappy."

    "I'm just warning you."

    I tried to accommodate them as best I could. I weaved, ducked and limboed over the rope. But the assignment stipulated that I had to get the photo with the celebrity, meaning that I had to be in the picture. If you've ever tried getting a photo while bent backward over a rope, looking into the lenses while competing with a dozen other photographers--I'm too tired to finish that sentence. It was an experience.

    Photographers, love them though I do, are catty. They yell at people, and make snide comments like: "Yo, you in the Pink. Move. Unless you're important."

    Ron Sexsmith and John McDermott come out.


    Then, in the distance, just beyond my lens's limited capability were Val Kilmer, and Robert Downey Jr. (And Michelle Monaghan and, Joel Silver). They were so close. The photographers started yelling their names to get their attention and a good shot.




    "NO, GET OUT OF THE WAY. What is she, dense?"

    Just then, when Val Kilmer was but a few metres away, the little low battery light popped up on my phone.



    I held its tiny camera phone body close in my hands, hoping the warmth would keep its battery from dying. I only needed it for a few more minutes, just until the big names came my way.

    "Hold in there!"

    After what seemed like minutes of me screaming at my phone, Kilmer finally comes close enough for a decent shot--of my hat.

    "You only have a camera phone!" he yelled at me over the din.


    *click, click, click*


    He did not understand a word I said. It didn't matter, the camera phone held out and I think Robert Downey Jr. got a shot of me on his camera phone too. I don't know how I feel about that.

    The assignment: Completed.

    As for the cockamamie scheme. I wrote "Are you a celebrity?" on a white T-shirt in the hopes that it would grab someone's attention on the carpet. It didn't.

    I'm going to sleep now. Only 9 more days to go...

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 11:23 p.m.

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    Jen deals with a slight meltdown

    After exhausting all other options, it's time to pull out the cockamamie plan.

    I put that white shirt and sharpie to good use to create something that's sure to stand out on the red carpet. It's obscure, it's ugly, it's existential.

    Because I've spent the last two hours dealing with a slight technological meltdown (as in, I threw my sophisticated wireless technology against the wall and ground its silicone bones to make my bread) I'm afraid to say, I will miss the red carpet for Deepa Mehta's film.

    I will however, be able to make the carpet for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang where Shane Black, Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan and Joel Silver are expected to show. If I leave right now.

    On a parting note, wires are highly underrated.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 7:43 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Jen makes a true film friend

    I may not be having much luck finding celebrities, but neither is Bill Evans--and he's much less happy about it. Mr. Evans has sat on the corner of Bay and Bloor (right in the heart of TIFFmania) off and on for the past 16 years. He's a movie fan, and has been for the past 30-odd years. His first time, he spent $75 on a ticket to see a Bette Middler film but didn't get in because all of the theatres were sold out. Now he finds the tickets too expensive.

    He says he caught sight of Courteney Cox two weeks ago, and Timothy Dalton (who once played James Bond) but today, nothing. Even the people he's asked on the street haven't seen anyone, and he's been here since at least 9:30 a.m.

    "I think that if they're promoting movies, they should come out and let the public know they're alive," he said. The two celebs he's hoping to see: Natalie Portman and Jackie Chan.

    "I saw [Natalie Portman] in [Star Wars] Episode Iand II, but not in Episode III because it seems to be too much of a sad ending."

    And Jackie Chan? He's Mr. Evans's favourite because Mr. Evans likes comedies best.

    I promised that I would tell Mr. Evans how Corpse Bride turned out and he said he'd keep his eye open for celebs for me.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 6:47 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    Still no celeb, but an offer for a free hair consultation

    The highly recognizable coffee franchise attached to the Four Seasons was my next stop. Surely here the celebs must congregate?

    A coffee preparer said she had heard that a celebrity had visited the shop.

    "Kevvie Case, or Chevy Case...no, Chevy Chase. Yeah, I've probably seen others but I wouldn't recognize them because I'm from a small town."

    I hear that.

    Just then, two coiffed men with tanned skin and strong cheekbones walked in. Hope upon hope.

    "Are you a celebrity?" "Why yes. Of course."

    What luck. "I'm a celebrity, I do hair."

    His name is Joe Faraj, a celebrity hairstylist who owns a salon up the street called Jie.

    "You should come up for a consultation."

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 3:33 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    'Do you have a telephoto lens?
    No, but I have a camera phone'

    After hitting the streets and taking a picture of someone who I thought was a celebrity, but in fact wasn't, it became clear that I needed some advice.

    Such advice was to be found on the third floor of the Sutton Place Hotel where I found myself lost, in front of a room with a sign that said: "photography."

    I wandered in. "So you guys are photographers?" The three men inside nodded.

    I explained my assignment and asked for advice.

    "Do you have a telephoto lens?" "No, I have a camera phone," I said, pulling out my [product placement] Motorola Razr Phone [/product placement].

    They suggested that I try to get myself into an opening night party where celebrities abound. Deepa Mehta's new film, Water, should be having such a party following the opening night gala.

    (Rest assured, I will be attending that red carpet...More on that later.)


    Call the publicists, they suggested, try to score some tickets.

    Good thinking. Pulling out the trusty Toronto International Film Festival 2005 Press/Guest Directory, I found the publicist, who told me that the party is happening at 10 p.m. tonight at the Liberty Grand and to talk to the press office to get tickets.

    (A bad sign)

    The press office said they would put in a request and that I should check my mailbox later.

    "But I don't know how feasible it's going to be to get you tickets into that...Who are you again?"

    (Another bad sign)

    Next: Off to Starbucks.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 1:42 p.m.

    Send your comments on this item to jgerson@globeandmail.ca

    No celebs yet, but at least the pastry was tasty

    The easiest way to get this challenge done, I figured, would have been to just wander up to the second floor of the Intercontinental, and start asking around.

    I found several publicists and a few body guards. I thought I saw a celebrity walking out the main entrance, but I didn't recognize her. One publicist promised me a photo at 8 p.m. tonight. I'll keep that in my back pocket should the cockamamie scheme fail.

    The hotel seemed dead, except for one surreal room with yellow walls, cream carpets and wall hangings out of the 1960's. The people working on it insisted that everyone take off their shoes before entering. They said it was for a photo shoot. I asked if I could take a quick pic of it. "No, no way. Absolutely not." Oh.

    I did, however, score breakfast. It was some form of pastry that tasted like bannock stuffed with a blueberry. Paired with the free coffee in the press office, I'm set.

    Life lesson: Don't eat pastry dusted with icing sugar next to sensitive wireless equipment. Bad. Bad.

    Next stop...Better luck at the Sutton Place Hotel.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 11:08 a.m.

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    A Sharpie and a white T-shirt

    It's pouring rain. This will hinder my progress somewhat, but I've come up with a cockamamie plan that involves a white T-shirt, a Sharpie and a good pair of shoes. Off, off to the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel I go.

    Posted Thursday, Sept. 8, 8:52 a.m.

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    A newbie to TIFF moves with swagger

    After running three times around Yorkville, standing on one foot, smiling pretty and howling at the moon, the sweet staff manning the tables at the TIFF helped this moon-eyed newbie get her very first press pass.

    It's pink, has my name on it and — according to the helpful information sheet handed to me with the pass — will enable me to see press and industry screenings for free and get access to the red carpet. We get our own mailboxes so that publicists and party planners can invite us to special events (cough ... my mailbox is 279 ... cough).

    We also received a bag of what is known in the industry as "swag." In other words, promotional gifts and products thrown at people of influence in order to ply their favour.

    One day before the film fest has begun and already I've wracked up an official film-fest vinyl satchel, a $50 gift certificate to the Rosewater Supper Club, a $25 gift certificate to the Court House Market Grille, a CD, a VIP winery tour in Niagara region and most importantly, a Rubik's cube featuring pictures of Toronto's tourism hot-spots.

    To pull out an expression that I would never be able to use in the Globe's print edition: w00t!

    More pictures:

    Posted Wednesday, Sept. 7 12:12 p.m.

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