A Look Back at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival

Another year of The Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, and gone with it are the extended 4 am last calls (Toronto’s last call normally arrives at cruel 2 a.m.), celebrities, and the unique energy that is bestowed upon the city which Steve Martin once referred to on 30 Rock as being “just like New York but without all the stuff.”

The pre-festival buzz this year was how the new TIFF headquarters, the Bell Lightbox, located farther south in the entertainment district, was going to steal the thunder from the usually chicer hub further uptown known as Yorkville. As the festival kicked off, everyone quickly learned of more parties happening downtown, closer to the King West strip, but it didn’t stop fans from stalking out the usual celeb-stacked hotels like the Four Seasons up in Yorkville.

Just north of the main Yorkville strip, a condo showroom for PEARS on the Avenue was taken over for five days to serve as TORO After Dark, a late-night lounge for VIP and celebrities. The space hosted a number of events including a preview exhibition of RED, The New York Times Canadian photo archive as curated by Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of director David). “I was trying to pick images that are what Canadians are all about, interesting stories and cool artistic visions. That’s sort of our thing and people don’t necessarily think of that immediately when they think of Canada. I wanted to make sure the pictures were really interesting and that they had a story behind them and our country is more than they think we are,” Cronenberg explained.

The same space hosted the Artists for Peace and Justice Fundraiser hosted by Paul Haggis, Maria Bello, James Franco and AnnaLynne McCord, to assist children through education in Haiti. One of the moving moments of the evening was when McCord made her appeal to potential donors in the room by recalling her trip to Haiti, and choked up as she described when she “saw a girl licking a puddle for water.”

On a night which had no particular scheduled programming at TORO After Dark, Paul Haggis and Josh Brolin stopped by for a low-key drink, and were joined by Javier Bardem shortly after, in a space that had less than 40 guests.

At the swanky Hazelton hotel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) held it’s bash for their late show host, George Stroumboulopoulos, where Chromeo and Rory Them Finest DJ-ed throughout the night.

Down on the King West strip, Brassaii was transformed to the YouTube Lounge and hosted private parties for Zach Galifianakis’ It’s Kind of a Funny Story which also featured an amazing ice cream sundae bar, and Emma Roberts was spotted on some steps wearing a furry white jacket.

As fun as the parties are, many stars make the obligatory appearance for only a few minutes. More pre and post film dinners with casts, crews and VIPs in intimate settings have emerged. Giorgio Armani Cosmetics hosted an exclusive 10th anniversary dinner with Sam Worthington and Eva Mendes during the film festival at the Nikki Beach pop-up at C Lounge, where Reza Zaimeche, International Face Designer for Giorgio Armani Cosmetics, unveiled their latest ad campaign featuring Megan Fox. In between courses, Mendes spotted jewelry designer Shay Lowe wearing one of her signature creations, and was seen exiting the dinner carrying the statement necklace, fresh off Lowe’s neck.

Mendes isn’t the only one who made off with a sparkly gift. TIFF has not quite reached the same level of swag as Sundance, but celebrities and talent are still inundated with freebies.

The CBC hosted a Made In Canada Lounge where celebrities including Will Farrell, Ryan Phillippe and Zach Galifianakis stopped by to check out items from Canadian brands including the Hudson’s Bay Company, Roots, Canada Goose and Red Canoe, before taping a segment for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. Snacks scattered throughout the lounge were mainly items that can’t be found outside of Canada, such as Lay’s Ketchup Chips, Caesars (like a Bloody Mary but with Clamato) and red velvet whoopie pies by Bobbette & Belle.

Spotted at the IT Lounge was Paul Haggis picking up a Kobo eReader, Martin Sheen picking up a few Baker Street Pecan Pie Cheesecakes, and Catherine Deneuve checking out Goody hair accessories.

Over at the Fresh Goods Tastemakers Lounge, Charlotte Rampling picked up a leather coin purse from Jessica Jensen, while Abigail Breslin picked up a pair of foldable flats from Damn Heels. Breslin, Colin Firth, Ed Norton, Freida Pinto and Jay Baruchel all autographed Mattel board games to be auctioned off until October 1st in support of the SickKids Foundation.

Good Cause in New York; Good Fun in Miami

People in the nightlife biz meet thousands of people. Sometimes that’s in one night. Most of these folks are highly forgettable. Many you remember, but not in a good way. Some are just outstanding. These are the ones that make it all worthwhile. Macdella Cooper is a needle in a haystack type person. She is beautiful, classy, brilliant and gives more of herself than anyone I know. Tomorrow night she is hosting an event to benefit the Macdella Cooper Foundation.

Other hosts include television personality Nolé Marin, Steve Eichner of Fairchild Publications, Devorah Rose of Social Life, Irina Shabeyeva of Project Runway, Brooke Alpert from B Nutritious and Lauren Brody from Glamour . Proceeds go to the MCF Academy for orphans and abandoned children. This is billed as a fashion week finale and features a runway show by designer Melani Von Alexandria. Tyger Lilly will DJ. It’s at Nikki Beach Midtown from 6 to 10 pm. I will not make it and I am sincerely sad as I know it will be a great event. Fun and for a great cause. Alas, I’m stuck in Miami on business.

Miami is just the way I left it a couple years ago. With fun, sun and money on everyone’s agenda. The temperature is in the mid to high 60s during the day and plummets to mid 40s at night. The Floridians are in a panic. They wear huge overcoats or stay home and are constantly complaining. For me it’s positively balmy compared to New York City.

After our 20 person dinner meeting we divided into smallish groups. Mine went to my favorite South Beach haunt Mac’s Club Deuce. It’s a very fine establishment that I have been visiting for many, many years. A place that would make Erik Foss of Lit very proud. Images of Bogie stared approvingly at my rock glass, which was constantly emptied and then immediately reoccupied with Jameson. Rock n’ roll neon and a paired jukebox kept me interested while we watched Shaun White snatch Olympic gold.

My dearest friend Brittany Mendenhall of chichi212 has just been made New York editor for Societe Perrier. Between juggling law books, writing her 1000% improved blog and attending every social event in time, she is gaining more and more respect from me every day. Chichi212 is very hot and I congratulate Brit for her success.

Thinking of Haiti

It’s hard to speak of the club world when images of destruction fill the media. The club community has many dear friends from Haiti. Kiki, Unik, Pascal, Jacques, Tigra, Dmitri, Joel, Irving, Jeffrey Dread are just a few of the names of the Hatians in our small world. They provide all of us joy and sanctuary, places and events where we can escape for a few hours from that which ails us. Now it’s our turn to ease their pain, to provide answers to questions and solutions for problems we don’t even know about yet. Prayers, money, clothing, water, fuel and fundraising events will soon be asked for and when the calls come we must be ready.

I spoke to my dear old friend Pascal Sugar Menard who suggested we support the Wyclef Jean Foundation by dialing in a contribution. It’s easy. Just text 501501 and then the word “yele”. Yele is Creole for scream. I asked Pascal about his family and was told they had survived, but the devastation is unimaginable. Homes everywhere are destroyed and cars are abandoned as roads are impassable. Those that have homes are sharing with neighbors, but fears of aftershocks and the future collapsing of existing houses are real. Pascal, known for smiles and belly laughs, has been crying all day.

Victor Medina-San Andres has helped organize a benefit with the proceeds going to Unicef at Nikki Beach Midtown Thursday, January 20th. More events will be forthcoming and are extremely necessary in nightclubs. We must do our part to spread the word and organize aid. In nightclubs tables are set up so that people can see the other guy popping bottles and a frenzy of spending begins. Sparklers scream, ‘I’m a big shot look at me.’ It all looks very small, surreal and actually disgusting in view of the devastation. We must create a frenzy of hope and aid. We can all do without a little debauchery, a little conspicuous consumption. The club community must rally around the cause and pop some bottles for those in dire need.

New York: Top 10 Places to Get Devoured by a Cougar

Growing up, my friends had very traditional pets: dogs, cats, Tamagotchis. My family, being the eccentrics that they are (re: immigrants) made sure that my brother and I had something a little more fierce to play with. Our pet cougar loved us for ten passionate years before his unfortunate death at the hands of a demented hunter. My mother, saint that she is, told her distraught sons that our dead cougar was going to “cougar heaven,” a place where “cougars roamed free and never went hungry.” Little did I know she was talking about New York City.

Stone Rose Lounge (Midtown West) – NY’s reigning cougar sanctuary, where newbie Time Warner suits come to get served. Owner’s wife is Cougar Ultima Cindy Crawford. And the fact that I just referred to Cindy Crawford as a cougar makes me feel pruney. ● Nikki Beach A cougar oasis, if you will. No small coincidence that the first cougar I tamed was also named Nikki Beach (she was an amateur porn star). This is where you go to get your tiki torched. ● Geisha (Upper East Side) – Gogougar describes a geisha as a “subservient breed of cougar, and, as a result, a species that doesn’t totally subscribe to the whole Cougar ethic. She’s more interested in pleasing you, than she is in pleasing herself.” We describe it as a posh Japanese restaurant on the Upper East Side in which to get picked up by cougars. ● Bemelmans (Upper East Side) – The great thing about this Carlyle hideaway is that only the rich drink here. The great thing about cougars is that money is irrelevant to them. The great thing about divorces is that they breed cougars. You do the math. ● Cabanas at the Maritime (Meatpacking District) – Cougars love meat and they travel in packs, so the fact that you’ll find them in the Meatpacking District is self-explanatory. And the fact that this island-themed bar resides in a hotel is just lucky. ● 123 Burger Shot Beer (Midtown West) – The opposite of fancy, and that includes the women. Anyone who’s been here knows this place should be renamed 1234 Burger Shot Beer Cougar. ● STK (Meatpacking District) – From Yelp: “The bartenders were nice, and as I was facing them while stuffing my face, we were able to exchange knowing looks when the cougar beside me would lift her breasts and heave them onto the bar while the light reflected on her almost-plastic brown skin as she ordered a dirty, dirty martini.” So yeah. ● Plunge (Meatpacking District) – In the penthouse of the Hotel Gansevoort, Plunge has been code-named “Cougar Central” by, well, me. It’s not very creative, I know, but in terms of accuracy, it can’t be beat. Helpful hint: The pool is off-limits unless you or your cougar are guests. ● Rodeo Bar (Kips Bay) – Question: What is the only thing more cougar than Texas? Answer: A vaguely Texas-themed bar in New York. ● Schiller’s (Lower East Side) – A cougar’s weakness is your strength — it’s called cheap red wine, and this place bleeds it.

See also: Miami cougar dens.
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