Famed Beverly Hills Courier columnist George Christy gives you an insider's peek into Hollywood's A-list parties and personalities.
“Wonderful idea, I love it!,” beamed Oprah Winfrey, when a suggestion was made about initiating an Oprah Winfrey Film Club, after the fashion of her successful Book Club. Oprah arrived in Canada for the 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to “ring the bell” in behalf of Precious, the film she executive-produced with Tyler Perry that stars Mo’Nique as the bitch mother of the year. Mo’Nique verbally and physically abuses her obese teenage daughter Precious, whose father is Mo’Nique’s lover and rapes Precious, who births two children. Raw and scary, the movie, as Oprah claims, “Sucks the air out of a room.” Mo’Nique is insisting on payment for any promotional appearances.
Tyler was celebrating his birthday and receiving congratulations on leading the weekend’s boxoffice with his I Can Do Bad All By Myself, and he was happy-birthday serenaded by Mary J. Blige at Sotto Sotto, the popular Italian restaurant on Avenue Road. Sotto Sotto owner Marisa Rocco was overwhelmed with the hundreds of fans outdoors, screaming for a gander at Oprah.
Long ago, I believed that TIFF would emerge as one of the great film festivals of the world, and so it has. Early on, during my two-decades-plus tenure at the Hollywood Reporter, I wrote time and again that Toronto was the place to show films, both mainstream and indies. We speak the same language, the dollar gave great value, and the studios realized, as I did, that Torontonians are nuts about movies, even lousy ones. As always, in this roll-of-the-dice filmmaking world, there’s both crapola and wonderful surprises.
This year’s surprise was Tom Ford. Yes, that Tom Ford, the former Gucci designer in his impressive first-time directing debut of A Single Man, based on the Christopher Isherwood novel and starring Colin Firth. Tom co-wrote the film with David Scearce, with Colin winning the best actor award last week during the Venice Film Festival. CAA’s Bryan Lourd negotiated the $1 million-plus sale of A Single Man to TWC’s Harvey Weinstein, whose wife Georgina Chapman is a prominent designer. Sales were slim in Toronto, with Elliot Roberts, who manages Neil Young, noting that sales were non-existent at the Berlinale.