‘Schitt’s Creek’ Creator/Star Daniel Levy’s 5 Fave Spots in Toronto

 

The creator and star in Schitt’s Creek – which has won 11 Canadian Screen Awards and received another 15 nominations, as well as picking up three Director’s Guild of Canada Awards – Dan Levy is a Canadian to his core. The entertainment multi-hyphenate and son of actor Eugene Levy grew up mostly outside the glittering spectacle of Los Angeles in his home country, spending much of his time in Canada’s notably culturally diverse city of Toronto.

We asked Levy to pick some of his favorite spots in the city – where he can be found passing the time when he’s not busy doing the obligatory dealing with the Hollywood types in LA.

 

La Palma

It’s a great new addition to the Toronto restaurant scene. Get the lasagna!

 

 

Hoof Cocktail Bar

A cozy little romance-y spot, with very low lighting and very solid and strong drinks.

 

 

Business Woman’s Special

A big gay dance night held every second Saturday of each month.

 

 

The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario)

Go sit in front of a piece by one of The Group of Seven and forget your worries for an afternoon.

 

 

Assembly Chef’s Hall

Some of the best food in the city in one big marketplace.

 

 

Tiana Reeves Makes ‘Money,’ Heads To London, & Talks About Sex

Tiana Reeves a fixture on the NYC scene, an imp, a problem child, has been missing. As it turns out (and we all know she can turn it out), she has been spending her time back and forth between London and Toronto. Our world has been a little darker, a little quieter, a bit boring, and definitely bland since she has been gone. Now she comes at us again with a track, a single, a song… "Money (That’s What I Want)," written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. It was Motown’s first hit, and later was covered by many others including The Beatles and The Flying Lizards.

Tiana’s take on it is available on iTunes and it’s very good. As I listened to it last night, my house of snarky snarks commented that it was good and attributed its wonderfulness to all sorts of fabulous others before I told them it was Tiana. Tiana is, of course, fabulous and unconventional and her track reflects a thorough understanding of the meaning of "Money". I chatted with her last night.

You are spending your time between London and Toronto. Why these places… and why not much here?
Well, I’ve been in NYC for 20 years, and as much as I always will love NYC and all my friends there, I feel like i need to move on to something different. I am not the kind of person that could live in one city for the rest of their lives…..but that’s just me! I know I will go back to NYC to visit, but living in NYC that part of my life is done.

What was it like working with the amazing Amy Sacco?
Amy and I had a great relationship ….we where friends, and even tho our friendship was odd to some people, we always got each other even if people on the outside never really got the whole dynamic of it. We made it work! My time spent at Bungalow was amazing …many memories of celebrities and fun nights were left behind when the doors where closed….

You are a transexual who is found more often in the straight(er) parties and clubs. How did you find acceptance, and how do you deal with the fools who dont get it?
Well, my primary audience in Toronto is definitely gay (I love the gays), but yes, in NYC and London it is definitely more straight, and usually I am very well accepted… but for the few douche bags that don’t get it, I usually tell them to get with the fucking program. It’s 2013. Get with it, honey! for the few fools that don’t get it after that ,well…….let’s just say, they will never forget me.

Is Toronto accepting of you?
Yes, very much so! I feel that Canada is very accepting of transexuals and is very, very gay friendly and sooooo forward in their thinking, with laws toward acceptance in all aspects of gay life! Of course ,you do have this side of Toronto that is a bit backwards and set in their ways, but I always find a way to make them like me 😉

How vibrant is the scene in London?
The scene in London is very vibrant but its unlike any other …but i suppose every city has a different scene ,but London has all these nights and events that are hidden in so many nooks and crannies and also you do have to be part of the IN crowd to really experience the best of London’s night scene!

How do you use your sexuality to earn a living and get what you want? Is it easy to attract the moths to your candle?
Well being a transexual for soooo many years means that sexuality and appeal has always been a very big part of my life.  It’s helped me in getting what I want and, especially now, when getting into the music industry, your appeal is everything. So I guess all prior experiences were a crash course in what was to come!

You covered "Money." Tell me about this musical foray and why you chose that particular song? You aren’t by any means a Fying Lizard.
Well, I always loved that song, so when Ruben, my producer, asked me what I wanted to do as a musical track and genre, I said, "How about doing a remake of this song ?" and he replied with a lot of enthusiasm and was instrumental in pushing me to do this song and be confident about it. 

Also, I think that society is finally ready to see transexuals involved in the music industry. I, for one, am so ready to be part of it and am very happy to see that my single "MONEY (That’s What I Want)" is taking off so fast and has so many positive reviews! Hey, it’s finally available on iTunes and Amazon ….who knew!?

What is wrong with NY? What is right about NY?
For me, I just feel like NYC has lost its edge ….I  remember when I moved to NYC in 1989 and then worked for Peter Gatien; NYC was amazing and so edgy!  But then I saw the city becoming more and more middle America and gentrified.

On the other hand, NYC will aways be a strong, amazing city that is capable of reinventing itself. Even though its edge is no longer in your face, you will always be able to find this "je ne said quoi" about NYC and you will constantly have an influx of new "blood" that is desperate to make its mark as the new club personality or "it" factor and this …..is what makes it fabulous!

What NYC clubs do Londoners ask you about?
Well, when it comes to me, they always ask agout the clubs they know I used to be associated with, but mostly are fascinated with the legendary clubs that are now no longer such as Limelight, Tunnel, Club USA , Palladium… but recently XL has been asked about because it’s pretty much the big game in town 🙂 But now, since they know I live in Toronto part-time, they do ask a lot about the new club scene in Toronto!

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Xavier Dolan Begins Production on His Next Film ‘Mommy’

"As much as I like combining drama and humor, because life is about the duality of both in all its absurdity, for the same reason I like to write a story with very realistic environments interwoven with more extravagant parentheses and segments," Xavier Dolan once told me. "It’s important for me to have these situations where things are bigger than nature, bigger than the characters themselves, where you feel overwhelmed by life and it makes us remember how small we are and life itself in the movie reminds the characters of that." And now that Tom at the Farm has had its Toronto premiere, of course cinema’s most prolific 24-year-old has begun production on his next feature.

It’s been reported that Dolan, whose Laurence Anyways swept us away back in June, has started his next feature, titled Mommy. Naturally, the name evokes his debut film I Killed My Mother—the harrowing portrait of a troubled relationship between mother and son. Back in March, Dolan also spoke about his first American film, which he’d said was to be called The Death and Life of John F. Donovan and tells the story of a "Dean or Brando"-esque movie star whom "America has been waiting for," who becomes pen-pals with an 11-year-old boy. But it looks like that will have to be the sixth film under his belt, with Mommy kicking off production this week and reuniting him with his frequent collaborators Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément and Antoine-Olivier Pilon.  

Set in Montreal, what we can glean from the brief description announced thus far is that the film will be a “hints at a darker story of mother-son relationship, featuring a custody battle and a child with a difficult past.” And after straying from his usual milieu with Tom at the Farm—a sparse psychological thriller—Mommy sounds much more of the Dolan world we’ve become accustomed to and love. The details are few but knowing Dolan, we’ll see a release for the film around the early 2014 festival circuit. In the meantime, checkout our in-depth interview with Dolan from back in early summer, as well as the trailer for Tom at the Farm, which will hopefully  received stateside distribution in the near future.  

Photo via Out

Toronto Opening: Shangri-La Hotel

With a “phantom” opening cleverly orchestrated in time for the Toronto Film Festival, Toronto’s Shangri-La is now prepped to welcome those not necessarily hunted by the paparazzi.

Taking up just 17 floors of a spectacular new 66-story tower, the Shangri-La’s guests are greeted by Zhang Huan’s epic, stainless steel Rising sculpture, leading to a light-flooded lobby and loung adorned with stunning Chinese calligraphy paintings. The artistic flourishes continue on into The Bar, which features 180 hand-blown overhead glass fixtures. Jean Paul Lourdes, um, lords over the intimate Bosk restaurant, which proffers Asian-influenced international cuisine. Eastern aesthetic accents prevail throughout the hotel, including some particularly extravagant repros of Chinese Emperor chairs. The Health Club features chandeliers, natural light, and a 20-meter saltwater lap pool. As close to “paradise” as the name suggests.

Moscow Opening: Fresh Restaurant

With life expectancy actually on the decline in Moscow, the importation of a bit of health consciousness has an air of exigency about it. Vegetarian cuisine pioneer Ruth Tal’s Fresh Restaurants, which have become Meccas in Toronto for the non-carnivorous (and those just taking a break from meat-eating), have gone international with Fresh Restaurant, this new location amidst the shopping mania of Moscow’s Tverskaya. 

The menu features a wide range of organic dishes (burgers, noodles), and a juice bar with power shakes and healthy cocktails. The "green" interior is by star designers Olga and Irina Sundukovy, with 19th-Century brickwork that’s complemented by modern concrete, Eames chairs, and bold color schemes (lots of green, naturally). And who doesn’t like the idea of Muscovites getting a little…fresh?

Toronto Preview: Quartz Crystal Spa at Trump International Hotel and Tower

With the political aspirations put behind, The Donald is back to what he does best: erecting dazzling, monumental, skyward towers. His debut Canadian hotel will soon be unveiled, and one of its centerpieces is this glorious new 15,000 square foot Quartz Crystal Spa.

Dramatically located 31 floors above the buzzing Toronto streets (with a swimming pool one floor up), it eschews all that trendy zen, being decked out instead with a touch of old Hollywood Glamour. Fittingly for a shamelessly decadent hotel, there’s even a Spa concierge on hand, to guide you through all that luxurious pampering. Treatments have appropriately poshie titles like the Cinque Stelle Diamond Manicure and La Dolce Vita For Two, for lovebirds. Swank-eeee. Opening January 31st. 

The Latest in Rap Beefs: Drake vs. Toronto

Drizzy Drake does not have the coolest feuds. Other rappers go at each other; Drake gets barked at by inanimate international hubs. The Toronto Star is reporting that the city of Toronto isn’t very happy with a billboard promoting Drake’s new album, Take Care (pictured above). The font is too similar to the city’s official logo (fair enough), and the owl is just hideously drawn. Plus, there’s way more people living in Toronto. 

The city is reviewing its options; we hope that means a cease-and-desist order, if only so his next album can be titled Drizzy Vs. City Hall, or somethingWhen we spoke to Drake last month, he talked about feeling like a king when he’s in Toronto. If a lawsuit comes up, we’d love to see that used as his legal defense. The Toronto Star seems to agree, according to this hilariously deadpan excerpt:

The chorus of one of Drake’s songs, “City Is Mine,” goes as follows: “Yo, the city is mine/Which one?/T-O-R-O-N-T-O.” It is not clear whether he mistakenly believes his ownership of the place extends to its intellectual property; his management company did not respond to a request for comment.

I speak for everyone ever when I say that would be amazing. Listen to "Marvin’s Room," off Take Care.

Jason Pomeranc on Thompson Hotels + Joie de Vivre Merger

Exciting news for fans of boutique hotel group Thompson Hotels — they’ve announced a merger with Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a West Coast boutique brand, creating a new entity temporarily called JT Hospitality. The new group now manages 45 properties, and will be based in New York City.

Thompson Hotels CEO and co-owner Stephen Brandman will be CEO, while co-owner Jason Pomeranc will share chairman duties with John Pritzker, whose private equity firm Geolo Capital acquired a majority stake in Joie de Vivre last year and brings a $150 million fund dedicated to hotel acquisitions and co-investments to the partnership. We spoke with Pomeranc about Thompson’s next step.

How long was this merger in the works? We’ve been in talks for a little under six months — it was an interesting evolution. It’s a big deal for a privately held company to join forces with another because the founders are all very involved and very passionate. It took a courting period to be sure it made sense, so we’re very excite to have reached this point.

Thompson Hotels has a strong brand identity, as does Joie de Vivre. How do you merge the two without losing anything? We’ll certainly take this time to reinforce our own brand and help Joie de Vivre do the same with theirs. Ultimately, we’ll become more ourselves, not less, and there will most likely be one or two new concepts we create together as well.

Why Joie de Vivre ultimately? How does it help Thompson expand? We’ve always had a foot on both coasts with the Roosevelt, but this venture creates a truly national — and what’s becoming an international — company. California is a very creative community right now, and that’s where our focus has always been, on cities like Miami, New York, Toronto, Los Angeles. We’re really covering all the gateways corridors to the States, and London is the next step.

This certainly helps Thompson reach the resort community; what can your business travel clients expect from you now? With the evolution of our brands, business travel has evolved as well. Business travelers are much more independent-minded than they used to be, and they want to be in a more intimate, interesting setting. Plus, the way that we all work is very different, with smartphones and laptops and telecommuting; the big business center is really a thing of the past. We create spaces where you can eat, work, play, and sleep all under the same roof, and that is what really saves time and helps business travelers.

Was there anything unexpected in the merger? What’s been the best thing about the process so far? Pritzker really came along at the right time, and he really wants to grow. The plan we’ve laid out … we have the same vision. I think we’ve both seen three stages in the hotel business: the Hilton phase, where standardization guaranteed travelers a certain kind of experience anywhere in the world; the Schrager phase, where everyone was really deconstructing that, and being independent and unpredictable was aspirational and cool; now, we’re in this phase of blending the two, being unique and hyperlocal but still giving guests a guarantee of brand identity and quality throughout our properties.

While Pomeranc won’t give details, projects are in the work for after the new year: Two hotels and a development site have recently been acquired in Manhattan, and new management contracts have been signed for hotels in Scottsdale and Chicago, Joie de Vivre’s first properties outside of California. The new entity will also be formally renamed early next year as the result of a joint branding exercise that is currently underway. Meanwhile, look for a new Thompson property in London opening in January, and their takeover of the Victor in Miami’s South Beach even sooner.