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The bunfest must go on
George Christy's Saturday luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel has been a staple of the Toronto International Film Festival for the last 17 years

The Globe and Mail
September 6, 2002

George Christy's Saturday luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel has been a staple of the Toronto International Film Festival for the last 17 years. But there were concerns this year that it's 18th instalment might not come to pass, given the change in Christy's employment. But, no, Christy, 75, who wrote "The Great Life" gossip column for more than a quarter-century for The Hollywood Reporter, is hewing to tradition, and going ahead with his fete. About 100 or so friends are expected to show, including Garth Drabinsky, Norman Jewison, Robert Lantos, Salma Hayek, Dennis Quaid, Roger Ebert, Atom Egoyan and Arsinée Khanjian, and Ivan Fecan.

Christy resigned from The Hollywood Reporter last October, five months after the publication had suspended him amid allegations of unethical behaviour that were being investigated by a federal grand jury and the Screen Actors Guild. The allegations were, in fact, unearthed by writers for the Reporter. However, the story was quashed by Reporter publisher R. J. Dowling. At least three Reporter staffers, including two managers, resigned in protest. The separation agreement reached with the Reporter prohibits the affected parties from discussing the terms of Christy's departure.

Christy now writes something called "Celebrity Watch" for a San Francisco monthly called The Nob Hill Gazette (which says it caters to an audience "upscale in taste and lifestyle"), supplemented by occasional appearances on CTV's Open Mike with Mike Bullard.

We're holding out for the lake of emeralds

Marie-Josée Croze, the Canadian actress starring in Atom Egoyan's Ararat, which opened the festival at a gala screening last night, was sporting the it watch of the festival - so far. Tag Heuer had lent Croze its River of Diamonds watch, which boasts 358 diamonds, and rings in at over $20,000.

Definitely not for the transphobic

If the festival is just a little too staid and established for your avante-garde tastes, don't despair. Numerous spinoff festivals are taking place arond the city during the next few weeks, including the Counting Past 2 Transsexual, Intersex, Transgender Festival. Films and shorts on the program include: Almost Human, "a retro and fun family trip to the zoo confronts a beast of escaped transphobia"; Allo Performance, in which Mirha-Soliel performs her own pregnancy by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; and True Spirit, featuring an S & M scene in a staircase, "including the rarely seen aftercare"; and, for the ubiquitous 9/11 anniversary content, Small Town America, in which a transgendered man reflects on a portrait of innocent pastimes with a patriotic theme, after the terrorists attacks. A complete list of films and ticket information can be found at www.countingpast2.com.

Petrified Eminem?

Eminem is not coming to the festival. Rumours that Slim Shady would be in town for the Sunday screening of 8 Mile, his acting debut, are not true, said Universal's Janice Luke.

Reports have Eminem being petrified about his performance although those who've seen the film say he is a natural, and very charismatic.

8 Mile, a semi-fictional (or not) biopic on the rapper directed by Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys, L.A. Confidential), and also starring Kim Basinger, will be screened for the public as a "work in progress," and will likely be released next year.

Eminem last appeared in Toronto for a concert in 2000, after the Ontario government failed to convince Immigration Canada to bar him from the country due to outstanding weapons charges. Rumours that he is facing the same problem this year are moot because, "He'll actually be in Detroit on Sunday," for a concert, Luke confirmed.

Rosh Hashanah may quiet party scene

It might be a bit quiet at the festival this weekend as Friday evening marks the onset of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. One festivalgoer who will be lying low today and Saturday is the Emmy Award-winning Toronto documentarian Simcha Jacobovici, whose works include Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream and The Struma. The last, you may recall, was about the 1941 sinking, by a Soviet submarine, of a dilapidated ship carrying about 800 Romanian and Russian Jews through the Black Sea en route to resettlement in the Palestine protectorate. It had its world press premiere at the TIFF on the morning of Sept. 11 last year, then played to packed houses the next day. "People were looking for something meaningful that day, and here was this film about survival," he recalled.

Jacobovici attended last night's festival opener, Ararat, directed by his pal and fellow Torontonian Atom Egoyan. "But I'm not attending anything Friday and Saturday. It's that simple."


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