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The Globe and Mail
September 9, 2002

Think hissy fits and inflated egos are reserved for movie stars? Not so. Roger Ebert, TV personality and film reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, proved he could huff, puff and whine with the best Hollywood prima donnas after he was denied access to a press screening of Far From Heaven.

Festival organizers planned only two press screening on Saturday at the small Varsity theatres for the much-talked-about Todd Haynes film starring Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. When about 50 journalists who were lined up outside were told they would not get in, Ebert shocked the crowd by shouting about the importance of his paper and the terrible treatment he was receiving.

When a few more journalists were let in, Ebert yelled again to the front: "Who are those people? Why are they getting in?"

"Because they are next in line," was the calm response.

Eventually, Ebert and his five-person entourage wandered off for some broiled chicken he said he heard was nearby.

Fire the ad guy
Ads running in front of films at public screenings promoting AGF, the mutual-funds company, are drawing some negative responses from the audiences. One of the ads, in particular, features a poor and dirty white man sitting in front of a broken-down trailer, smoking and spitting. A voice-over announces: "This trailer brought to you by AGF."

When the ad was shown at Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine,some in the crowd booed and one shouted: "This is a film about poverty," which drew a round of applause.

"Oh yeah, this is the ad I heard about, making fun of poor people," said an audience member at Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's The Man without a Past,a film about homeless people.

Hirsute star?
It's not often you hear a beautiful actress long for the days when she had a monobrow.

But on the weekend, Salma Hayek, the gorgeous Mexican actress who stars in Frida, about the legendary artist Frida Kahlo, talked about the good old days when her brow stretched right across her forehead, giving her a sense of freedom (and hairiness).

At a weekend news conference, Hayek was asked if she hated the monobrow she sported so convincingly as Kaho. Au contraire, the actress pointed out, she used to have a single brow and wanted it back. "It's swallow wings," she gushed about the big brow. "It's a beautiful image. For Frida, the single eyebrow was a symbol of freedom. I used to have one eyebrow, and I was stupid enough to go through the pain of plucking them. And, of course, now I needed them. And I wished I had it back."

Frida, especially in her later years, also had a pretty good-sized mustache. Hayek said the makeup people tried to recreate one for her. But it just didn't fly. So she shaved her upper lips, hoping the hair would grow in thick enough to resemble the 'stache of the bohemian painter.

It didn't. "But it was big enough for me to be stuck with it now that the movie's over."

9/11 silver lining
George Friedmann, the genial owner of the 28-suite Windsor Arms Hotel, says there's been at least one pleasant side effect of the events of Sept. 11: People are nicer -- or, at least, the people he deals with at his establishment, a favourite haunt for visiting TIFF celebs.

"In a sad way," he mused the other day, "it's probably a better world to live in. In many respects, people are nicer to deal with than they used to be. Things are calmer and when it comes to events, they no longer seem to be trying to outdo each other."

A beautiful loser
William H. Macy said he'd love to break away from playing a loser for a change and try, say, a romantic hero or a deliciously nasty villain. At the festival to promote the comedy Welcome to Collinwood, Macy, known for his roles in Magnolia, Fargo, Wag the Dog and Boogie Nights, made a pitch to his current directors for a shot at playing a villain.

"Why do I play all these losers? I don't know. I'd sure like to stop it. They just seem to follow me around. I'd love to play an assassin, play a real villain bad guy. That would be fun. I'd like to be a guy that looks like the Fuller Brush man, but when I leave, the entire family, including the dog, is dead. . . . I'd like to try that, I'd like to try that," he said, turning in his chair and looking pointedly at the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, who directed and wrote the uproarious screenplay for the movie, about the heist of a lifetime in Cleveland.

Unscripted drama
A real-life medical drama unfolded during the media conference on Saturday for Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta's new comedy/musical Bollywood/Hollywood, making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival that day.

A woman had a seizure halfway through the meeting. While the cameras whirred, the male lead of the kitschy movie, Rahul Khanna, leaped from the stage to come to the women's aid. He rolled her on her side and stayed with her until the paramedics arrived. Asked later how he had known what to do, Khanna replied he'd been through it before. Turns out the woman is his manager.

At last year's festival, a women collapsed at a screening of Thirteen Conversations about One Thing,and Matthew McConaughey jumped in to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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