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The Toronto trip

The Toronto trip


The Advocate's arts and entertainment editor seeks out swag, chats with stars, and takes us to the InStyle party in the second entry of his exclusive dailies from the Toronto Film Festival

It's my second day here at the festival, and I'm already exhausted. I awake early to get my press badge, and then I walk over to the Cineplex Odeon on Cumberland to catch the much buzzed-about mockumentary The Death of a President. There's a line around the corner, and I worry that I may miss my very first screening of the week. Standing there, I am a mess of bags; the press office has given me a tote full of information, and I've filled it further with the trades and various other free daily papers that print specifically for the festival. I also have my bag from Whole Foods, where I stocked up on Clif bars to make it through the day. A woman comes down the line with a clipboard asking members of the press to sign in. As I write in my affiliation and pass the list back to the group of three journalists behind me, the woman in the group asks me if I write for The Advocate. "I do, actually," I reply. "Do you know Sean Kennedy?" she asks. Of course I know him. Sean Kennedy is our associate news editor in New York. With her is a friend of mine, Logan Hill from New York magazine. They brief me on the ins and outs of lining up (very important if you want to see the films you came to see) and on what they've seen thus far, making me feel a little less clueless.

There's nothing about TheDeath of a President on-screen that you couldn't imagine on hearing the concept. George Bush, in 2007, is shot during a meeting with Chicago businessmen and dies in a nearby Chicago hospital. The mockumentary is clever in its use of real footage: A fake Secret Service chief is inserted into dozens of frames, as is a fake speech writer. Both speak emotionally of how they failed this great man. The film attacks the Bush administration's policy on Iraq by extension: The first man accused of the murder is Syrian, and on-screen interviews point to Dick Cheney's trying desperately to link any evidence he can to the country in order to start a war. On the whole, though, the idea that such a movie would be made is more interesting than the movie itself.

After the film I dart over to the Park Hyatt to visit with my old client M.A.C. Cosmetics, host of the Luxury Lounge gifting suite. My ulterior motive is to score some free food. Just inside the door I see two of my favorite things, roast beef sandwiches and Gregory Arlt, director of West Coast artistry for M.A.C. He's here on his own, though, doing Parker Posey's makeup. She's in the other room having her photo taken for People magazine. "It's a bit like raking leaves in a storm," Gregory says, describing working with Parker. He then mimes how, after careful makeup application, she has no qualms about rubbing her eyes or pulling her hair down.

Inside I score some tea and have a chat with M.A.C.'s Shelly Hancock. Lee Pace, star of Soldier's Girl, who's at the festival this year playing murderer Dick Hickok in Infamous, is brought over to us. He doesn't seem to remember me, so I don't remind him that I worked on Soldier's Girl with my client Shawn Hatosy. I scuttle out but am caught by my friend Ivy Mollenkamp at Rogers & Cowan, who offers me a pair of Luxotica sunglasses. I chose a vintage black pair of the company's recently relaunched Wayfarers, which were such a hit in the '80s. "It's all Reese Witherspoon is wearing these days," Ivy tells me to indicate just how hot the new look is. Good enough for me then.

No line at all to see Eytan Fox's new film The Bubble, and I find a seat right in the middle and settle down for a nice long nap before the movie starts. I awake to opening credits and a full theater. The film is one of the best I've seen in a while, and not having been a fan of Fox's Yossi and Jagger, I'm a little surprised. The film is a touching story of an Israeli officer who falls in love with a Palestinian refugee. He hides him in his apartment with his two roommates, another gay man and their very politically active girlfriend. They become a foursome, walking the streets of Tel Aviv protesting the occupation and advocating peace by organizing a come-one-come-all rave on the beach. The movie captures the struggle of the Palestinians, particularly their traditionalism and antigay views, and, as its title indicates, brings to light the bubble that even Israelis are living in. This only further illustrates the bubble we Americans are living in. They don't even flinch at the sound of a bomb going off, even when it's close enough to make their house shake. The movie is political and timely, but it's a love story first and last, and that's what makes it so stunning.

I rush home to shower and change and then take a cab back from my distant hotel to meet with Tamar Salup of I/D Public Relations, who's dropping off my former client Rachel Weisz at a dinner downstairs. After catching up, we go downstairs to say hello to Rachel. She has the same tired look I remember from our long days on last year's Oscar campaign trail, so I just give her a big kiss and ask to see her when she next comes to L.A. I haven't yet seen The Fountain, the time-travel epic starring Rachel and directed by her love, Darren Aronofsky, but there are giant Hummers driving around the festival with the film advertised on the side. More than a little embarrassing, if you ask me. Rachel bails on our previous plans to go to the InStyle party, so Tamar and I hop in a lovely Warner Bros. SUV (it's raining now, so the ride is much needed).

The InStyle/Holywoood Foreign Press party is the party of Toronto. Odd, then, that it's thrown after the opening weekend, when so many big stars were here. I make the rounds, reminding everyone that I'm at The Advocate. I run into Jason Weinberg, president of the management firm Untitled Entertainment, who regales me with stories from Venice, where he just traveled with Lindsay Lohan. "I told her she had to see The Fountain in Venice," he says, "and she e-mailed me back: 'What fountain, where? I want to see the fountain.' " No doubt she thought it was the Trevi. Jason has also just seen Legends with Linda Evans and Joan Collins and shows me the cutest picture of himself sandwiched between the two divas.

More schmoozing: Nicole David at William Morris tells me to go introduce myself to her client James McAvoy, and I gush over him for a minute, but I'm sidetracked by Shinan Govani of The National Post. He's the Liz Smith of Toronto, and he congratulates me on The Advocate's recent Julian McMahon cover--he says the gays and lesbians of Toronto have definitely taken notice. After that I make my exit past Joan Allen, stopping briefly to say hello to Mike Goodridge, editor of Screen International, Hollywood Foreign Press member, and a frequent contributor to this magazine. Off to a good start, I figure. I head back to my hotel room determined to get some rest and go at it again tomorrow.

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