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Charity auction with a prized prize

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

How many people want to prove Matt Damon wrong?

Matt Damon may not be a trained auctioneer, but he's skilled at putting his friends on the spot. At Sunday night's gala fundraiser for the collection of children's charities known as One X One, Damon's pal Brad Pitt held court at a table that also included Rick Mercer, while Damon led a live auction from the stage. First prize was a walk down the red carpet with Pitt, Damon and George Clooney; when Damon announced that "anyone who bids $75,000 right now also gets to have sex with Brad Pitt," Pitt himself -- without missing a beat -- jumped to his feet and yelled, "$75,000!" Bidding eventually stopped when HP and Damon agreed to award a full prize to each high bidder, neatly earning $260,000 for One X One. Damon (who also bought a SmartCar for $80,000) was pleased with the result, which helped the auction raise more than $2-million, up from just $1.3-million at last year's inaugural event. But he couldn't resist one last joke: "I've had sex with Brad Pitt, and it isn't that great."

The many reasons for being in Polley's movie

The Away From Her presser yesterday was a verging-on-embarrassing Cancon love-in, but luckily the cast and director were there to break up the tedious gush.

"She's not the most ambitious actor in the world," Sarah Polley quipped of her leading lady, Julie Christie, who stars in Polley's first feature, Away From Her.

The perennially elegant (and hard-to-get) Christie chuckled at this, and went on to say the entire reason she chose to do the film was because of her long-standing friendship with Polley.

"We were friends and it's just very flattering to be asked to be in a friend's film," the actress said. "I thought it seemed terribly exciting to be involved in this part of Sarah's life."

On the opposite end of the stage, Michael Murphy, who plays Christie's elderly, wheelchair-ridden, non-verbal, extramarital love interest, declared his own reasons to do the film.

"I knew it was my last chance to play a really hot guy," he joked. "It was all about sex appeal.

"And what better incentive to get you out of a funk than Julie Christie?" he added.

"I mean, I think the last time she deigned to go to work was 35 years ago."

Asked why she so often shuns the chance to be on screen, Christie shrugged and lightly replied, "I just think there are so many more important things to do in life than to make movies." Hollywood hits the unemployment line

Until now, filmmakers' chief interest in the phenomenon of worker outsourcing has consisted of Hollywood griping about Toronto getting all the juicy gigs. Now, the real business of outsourcing is getting its day onscreen.

Director John Jeffcoat brings us Outsourced, a romantic comedy that follows a pink-slipped Seattle call-centre dude (actor Josh Hamilton of The House of Yes and Sorry, Haters fame) to India, where he has to train his replacement worker. It makers its debut tomorrow at TIFF.

And Office Tigers is a documentary by Liz Mermin that made its debut Saturday. It goes inside the Chennai, India, offices of a bustling six-year-old American company, Office Tiger, with 3,500 employees on three continents. They handle something called "sensitive document processing" for law firms, investment banks and consultancies.

Lest the big Hollywood players get left out, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are slated to appear in another film called Outsourced, in 2008, about two workers who lose their jobs to Mexico and cross the border to get them back. No word yet on which NAFTA country landed the production.

The TIFF tower -- and your own personal festival

If you move into one of the 500 or so condo suites that are going to be built above TIFF's new, five-storey headquarters in downtown Toronto, you're going to have TIFF's co-director, Noah Cowan, as your personal movie guide. As part of the marketing to lure buyers to what's temporarily being called Festival Tower -- construction starts in late January with a 2009 completion -- Cowan has agreed to assemble three packages of three festival films each, and offer them exclusively, at a special rate, to tower residents. TIFF plans all sorts of other "exclusive" or "priority access" features for the condo owners, who also are going to have the use of their own state-of-the-art 60-seat theatre.

Pant styles of the rich and famous

Galen Weston, the husbandly half of Ontario's former vice-regal couple, apparently gives no credence to the old adage "No white after Labour Day." He showed up with wife Hilary at Sotto Sotto on Sunday evening -- Sept. 10, folks -- wearing a pair of slacks in just that (non-)colour.

They were there for a dinner party thrown to honour famed fashion photographer Bruce Weber and the upcoming commercial re-release of Let's Get Lost, Weber's celebrated, Oscar-nominated documentary of doomed jazz trumpeter Chet Baker.

Of course, as proprietor of Holt Renfrew and Canada's second wealthiest man, Weston can wear whatever he pleases, even velvet after Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, Weber told Ross Porter, head of Toronto station Jazz FM, that he's interested in taping a late-night jazz show, similar, one imagines, to Bob Dylan's Deep Tracks program on satellite radio. Porter, former host of CBC Radio's late-night After Hours, said he would be happy to help. For your consideration: Whitaker as himself

The Oscar performance for best leading male isn't in any of the festival films. It was at the press conference for The Last King of Scotland yesterday when Forest Whitaker made a deeply impassioned speech about what it really takes for an actor to get into a role and how strongly it stays in one's psyche.

This was particularly interesting since Whitaker plays despot Idi Amin in the film and explains how hard it was to capture the role of such a complicated man.

More than ordinary research and reading up on the character and his situation, Whitaker mentioned how even eating food can by Eucharistic. It becomes spiritual. "You leave it, but it is also reincarnate. It becomes inside of you. It stays with you. Gestures become a part of you." Film roles can become like past lives which continually resurface unexpectedly for actors. It was brilliant and beautiful, and the often jaded press clapped at the end.

And when the same question, about how to prepare for a role, was directed at the highly touted Scottish actor James McAvoy, all he could say in response was "I'm a hack." Whitaker burst out in laughter.

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