Keeping it real on the festival circuit
By ALEXANDRA GILL, The Globe and Mail
September 9, 2002
There are many ways of covering the nightlife at the Toronto International Film Festival. And if my editors had their way, I would line up along the red carpets and attend parties that promise the most celebrity appearances.
Being a dutiful employee, I tried it -- sporadically. And now I can report on how Whoopi Goldberg got nervous about the large number of mere mortals milling around the VIP corner of the patio during the Canadian Film Centre's annual festival barbecue yesterday afternoon. The police were called. Or how a riot almost broke out when Salma Hayek sauntered down the red carpet on Saturday.
But that's all boring.
So, without warning my editors, I decided to just go with the festival flow. Before they disconnect my phone, let me explain that had I not partied like a real person instead of a reporter, I never would have caught Mickey Rourke flashing his family jewels. Well, I didn't actually get an eyeful -- but I saw more than enough.
You never know who you might meet if you take a chance. On Saturday I was heading to the Four Seasons and so was the dodgy looking character behind me, who was dressed in black, right down to his nail polish. I offered to share a cab and it turned out we were off to the same press conference for Spun.
This black comedy about a college dropout strung out on methamphetamines has been generating a big buzz. It stars Mickey Rourke and Mena Suvari, with a script drawn from the real-life experiences of screenwriter Will De Los Santos. "Are you a journalist?" I asked. "No," he said. "I'm the writer." He said he was drug free "so far today," but wasn't expected at the press conference because he had passport problems. In fact, he didn't have one. "My ex-wife stole it," he said.
I ran into Mr. Santos again later. This time, we were at the Yorkville nightclub Amber for a party thrown by producer John Wells to celebrate his three festival gala films (The Good Thief, White Oleander and Far From Heaven). Nick Nolte, Dennis Quaid and Julianne Moore were mixing in with the crowd.
I was carried away by the current of squashed bodies on the patio, until I stalled next to a handsome man who told me I had a powerful energy. We chatted and then, since he was so tall, I asked if he could spot Ms. Moore. Mr. Handsome told he was almost positive the actress had left. Would he recognize her, I asked. "Yes," he replied, chuckling. "I was her co-star." Oops. That tall, mystery man was Dennis Haysbert, whom you might recognize, even if I didn't, from his recent appearance as the senator on the TV series 24.
With my Pradas firmly wedged in my mouth, I cha-cha'd to the party for Frida, which was held in Hazleton Lanes. There weren't any celebrities there, but I was told I hadn't missed much. Sharon Stone walked out after five minutes and a publicist started freaking because the bright mall lights were scaring everyone. A crane was rounded up, some black blankets and a crew to cover the lights. The mood lighting must have worked because Salma Hayek stayed for 10 minutes.
Around midnight, I rocked over to the Spun party at the Bovine Sex Club on Queen Street West, where I found Mr. Santos being interviewed in the backroom next to the fire juggler. The strippers had departed, but I didn't despair because Mickey Rourke was still there.
I arrived just in time to hear this barely recognizable victim of way too much plastic surgery tell a beautiful young woman to beat it because he had very specific plans in mind for that evening. "I'm not into small talk," he said.
The woman wouldn't take no for an answer so he threw Floria Sigismondi up on the bar and began simulating intercourse. When the activity died down, I asked Mr. Rourke what he thought of Planet Claire, Bruce McDonald's director's-cut documentary about the making of Picture Claire, in which Mr. Rourke starred.
"Great guy," said Mr. Rourke, "but I don't really remember anything about that film."
As for Spun, he loved the party but hated his character (a sex-obsessed crystal-meth chemist who wears acid-washed jeans and white cowboy boots). Why accept the role? "Because my agent told me it would be good for my career."
Eventually, I headed over to Bistro 990, which is open during the festival until 4 a.m. Cabs were scarce, so when three desperate souls begged me to let them in, I did.
"There are so many freaks out here," one horrified man exclaimed. Turns out he was an agent from William Morris. He was still a little dazed after watching Mr. Rourke urinate into a bottle.
I can't tell you how thankful I am. Had I been focusing more on work, I might have experienced the same misfortune.