Monthly Archives: September 2015



And so the dance begins….20150911_133522

20150911_133526The fans are lining up outside the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (above) in hopes of spying visiting celebs during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival (TIFF) – the annual high holidays for the movie industry.

Got a great start to my TIFF’ing this year…I got to visit the media hospitality suites in the Hotel Intercontinental on Front St West and my first stop was the suite, hosted by the gorgeous, friendly MELISSA DIMARCO (yes, she’s even prettier in person).

Her team of hosts (below) welcomed me to the suite and I had fun with the photo wall….can’t wait to see how “fabulous” they made me look – only hope their Photoshop program was working overtime..LOL!20150911_134618

20150911_134627Downstairs, there was lots of schmoozing going on, as well as tons of nibblies and sponsor drinkies….20150911_134943


20150911_13501920150911_135023…and more networking opps with industry folks like Dixon and Bruce (below)20150911_135412and I caught these two fellas below mid-chew (sorry)…. LOL20150911_135548Young ACTRA party organizer Sarena Parmar (below right) was working the room like a pro!20150911_135614…and here she is again with Rodger Edralin of Napintas Films (centre) and one of the numerous casting guys (left) in town over the next 10 days.20150911_135634Here are more of Melissa’s great team of room hosts and her official photographer (below right) who looks quite a bit like Chrissy Teigen, don’t you think?20150911_135652

20150911_135700Sadly I left the party a bit too early as I missed fellow countryman and Oscar-winner, Geoffrey Rush (below with Melissa )Geoffrey RushAussie star Rush is famous for The King’s Speech and numerous other films but I will always remember him for his award-winning portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in the movie SHINE which holds a special place in my heart. It’s based in my home town of Perth, Western Australia, and I remember seeing the real David play in the piano bar of the Parmelia Hotel which I frequented after work in the early 70’s (I was under-age to drink booze but kids and dogs were allowed in hotel bars in Oz – civilized or what, eh?). G’day, Geoffrey…if you need any Vegemite or Lamingtons, I got a stash here!

As I left the suites I ran into the adorable and super talented Katie Boland who was making her exit with her hands full of goodie bags. Such a pretty dress!20150911_142502So a really big thanks to Melissa and the Out There with Melissa DiMarco gang, and a special thank you to Caron Nightingale, Director of Sales for APM Canada (one of the suite’s sponsors), who kindly extended the invitation to me.  Check out what APM does here:  

I’m looking fwd to visiting the ladies of Sirius XM’s What She Said next week so check back for more TIFF news.20150911_141038






Tonight marked the official launch for local artist NANCY-JANE PRICE‘s latest painting series “Don’t Be Afraid of Colour” at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto

20150910_17535620150910_18313820150910_183135Nancy-Jane’s first passionate encounter with colour occurred while she was still in kindergarten. She was to fill in a single pane of a stained glass window design on a piece of brown paper. She chose the most beautiful shade of magenta her young eyes had ever seen, carefully filling in the space. But when the teacher noticed that Nancy-Jane hadn’t started at the bottom, she was summarily removed from painting duties. That memory runs deep. She continued her love affair with colour in public school and colour has stayed with her ever since, mostly through dress and home decoration.  Five years ago, after various art classes focused on traditional drawing and painting, she decided to “loosen up” her style, and signed up for an ongoing studio class where she concentrates on non-objective painting in acrylics with an emphasis on intuitive sense of colour. IMG_4402IMG_442720150910_183116Artist statement:  Colour, space, juxtaposition, design; the mystery in the way it works, the joy of being alive…

Here’s Nancy-Jane (below left) with KJ Mullins, Publisher of www.Newz4U.net20150910_175434And here’s artist Linda Langerak (below left) with Wayne Abell of UrbanSource Catering, and KJ Mullins20150910_180646

Visit to take a virtual walk thru the gallery (video)


Paintings by Nancy-Jane Price.  Show runs until Sat. September 26, 2015UG-Letterhead-BC





21st Annual GWN Dragon Boat Challenge Presented by CIBC
Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto, Ontario
September 12-13, 2015

With all the hub-bub surrounding the opening weekend of the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, it’s easy to forget other things happening around the city. Jake Gyllenhaal is already causing hearts to flutter tonight at his film’s premiere, and we’re all hoping Bendy (Benedict Cumberbatch), George & Amal, Brangelina and Matt Damon will visit us, too. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that in 10 days time, the tents will all be packed up and the circus will have left town. But we’re still here and so is one of the most insidious diseases that affects so many of us: breast cancer.

So I’m sending a big SHOUT OUT to my new friends on the Dragons Abreast dragon boat crew, a team of breast cancer survivors who will be paddling for our lives when they participate in this weekend’s annual GWN Dragon Boat Challenge Presented by CIBC down on Toronto’s waterfront.11202810_1651762988373332_2553160250793327470_n-300x169Along with 9 other dragon boats crewed by teams living with and surviving breast cancer, Dragons Abreast will be helping raise funds for The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation as well as raising public and media awareness. PrintDID YOU KNOW….One in nine Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from the disease. Since it’s beginning, the Foundation’s Ontario Region has awarded over $84 million in funding for nearly 600 grants, supporting research projects, fellowships and community health initiatives.  Funds raised through the GWN Dragon Boat Challenge Presented by CIBC will go towards breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.thThis weekend’s events mark the 6th stop of the Major League Dragon Boat Series and the marquee season-ending festival in Canada for dragon boat enthusiasts. In its 21st year, the Challenge is the perfect festival for corporate and club crews wanting to have a last blast before the end of summer. headWhat began as the 9-1-1 Challenge (a race organized by the Toronto Police Services with a modest 5 teams made up of emergency services members) has transformed into an all-out festival infusing the thrill of the dragon boat racing with an outdoor family friendly event. Participation in the annual event has blossomed through its charitable donations, with over $1.25M donated to non-profit organizations such as the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, our 2015 charity-of-choice.

Today, the Challenge continues to celebrate the sport, attracting dragon boat teams to Toronto’s waterfront from all over North America and overseas. Teams range from novice to competitive skill level and represent local corporations and clubs, public agencies, non-profit organizations and the community at large.  In addition to the exciting racing, the festival features many fun activities: the Rock the Boat Concert Stage with live musical performances, the Lake of Bays Beer Garden, a children’s activity zone with live entertainment, a health and wellness area, plus a variety of food, arts & crafts, and other vendors.racingRACE LOCATION:  The GWN Dragon Boat Challenge Presented by CIBC is held on the Western Beaches Watercourse at Marilyn Bell Park in downtown Toronto.

To learn more about DRAGONS ABREAST, visit their website at www.dragonsabreast.catimthumb

You go, ladies. We’ll all be cheering you on!!



Every year, I have the privilege of attending a number of media events during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival (TIFF) and today I had the pleasure of visiting the Bask-It-Style celebrity gift lounge presented by GLO Communications (for the seventh year). This year, they’re located in the exclusive Private Estates Above the Shangri-La Hotel….and oh what a view!

20150909_114053Bask-It-Style hand delivers their VIP gift bags to the hotels where the stars are staying during TIFF and this year’s sponsors cover all the want/need bases from beauty to fashion and from food to books. Past celebrities gifted through Bask-It-Style’s hotel partners have included Sir Elton John, Megan Fox, Matt Damon, Ellen Page, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Garner, Julianne Moore and many more.

“We are excited to kick-off the seventh year of Bask-It-Style,” says Jessica Glover, Principal, GLO Communications. “Every year we work with some top brands showcasing new products that we are thrilled to share.”

So here are all the lovely folks who greeted us all today….come enjoy a virtual walk-thru with me and see what fabulous swag the stars enjoy.

First, I was greeted by a lovely “safari guide” who escorted me around this stunning mansion in the sky….20150909_112044…and I was quickly whisked into the NEUTROGENA® room where I was treated to some great product info and samples, courtesy of the two Laura’s (below). www.Neutrogena.ca20150909_112326 20150909_112331 20150909_112513Then I met the mother & son team of Pat & Ian MacDonald (below) of Old Tomorrow, an exciting new Canadian Pale Ale named for the original Canadian Idol – John A. MacDonald (a.k.a. “Old Tomorrow”).  I can’t wait to enjoy my complimentary brewskie now chilling in my fridge!
20150909_112943Next, I met Jeannie and Melissa from the Starlight Children’s Foundation who were promoting the charity’s “Tea & Tiaras” fundraiser in October. Learn all about them at and 20150909_114002 20150909_114012I was pleased to see some great books and authors represented in the gift lounge, and I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Houston (below), the Marketing Director for DK book publishing [ ]  All the books are beautifully printed and bound – I know what’s going on my list for Santa this year…LOL20150909_114711 20150909_11420120150909_114205These two fabulous ladies (below) immediately caught my eye – I want that purple dress!! Here’s author L.C. Moon (below left) and her BFF composer Lana Chacra (right) who together have created a great book/CD package. LC’s erotic romance, A Bedtime Story, looks like a must-read, and the CD offers the perfect soundtrack for the book. Looking fwd to tuning in and turning the page! 20150909_115414 20150909_11550520150909_115417A Bedtime Story is available via

Who doesn’t love dogs? Nobody here, that’s for sure. I was thrilled to meet author Colin Campbell who was autographing copies of his new book “Free Days With George” published by Penguin Random House Canada His book tells of how caring for an abused rescue dog ends up rescuing him; a heart-warming tale of a once-nervous un-trusting dog walking into a man’s life and changing his world – for the better. Yep, I’m in!20150909_120219I may have to write a review of Colin’s book for as I know horsey people are also doggy people, too.

Now let’s hit the fashion studio…follow me.20150909_12035420150909_120512

20150909_120624Gorgeous clothes and accessories from Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein (above) had me aching for my old svelte bod from the 80’s and 90’s, and don’t get me started on the glam Warner’s & Olga unmentionables (below). Their No Side Effects Bra and No Pinches, No Problem Panties are awesome and I’m thrilled to have a few samples for some special ladies (sadly, my big girl knockers wouldn’t fit these lovelies).20150909_120943Love the Van Heusen shirts that offer a little stretch in the collars and the soft Izod sweaters (below). I have a special man in mind for the beautiful sweater I was given. Thanks to Zov and Czery of PVH Corp, the marketing specialists for these heritage brands.20150909_120749

20150909_121207Bling! I see BLING ! Yaaaay, now these will fit me. LOL Here’s Tamara Kronis, designer, gemologist and metalsmith from Studio1098 that’s located up on Yonge St near Rosedale. Tamara is currently collaborating with CANFAR by creating a simple wishbone pendant to raise funds.  Here’s Tamara, pictured below left, with the charming rep from CANFAR. Thank you for my beautiful earrings, Tamara.20150909_122126 20150909_122135Coffee, coffee, coffee! Meet John A. Darch, President of Doi Chaang Coffee (below left, with the charming Daliah) the delicious new Beyond Fair Trade organic coffee.   20150909_123022

20150909_123025Doi Chaang Coffee is a single-estate, premium Arabica coffee. It’s certified organic, shade grown, hand picked, fresh water washed and sun dried. Each bean is hand sorted and freshly roasted to ensure the highest possible quality for each cup. Naturally low in caffeine, it has a complex and flavourful profile that is enhanced and released through detailed cultivating, processing and roasting methods.  Cannot wait to brew up my first batch of the Social Medium beans.

So a BIG THANK YOU to all the gift sponsors I met today (and those who supplied the tasty treats found inside my gift bag when I got home) and an especially big thanks to Jessica and her GLO Communications team for their generous hospitality.

20150909_105938Gotta love the Shangri-La Hotel for presenting such an outstanding hospitality suite, too. Now you know why I always refer to it as the Shangri-La Dee-dah (thanks to The Flintstones). Happy TIFF’ing to you all !


















The Baby - LA production


Back in the late 70’s, I was cast in the stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show here in Toronto – I made a great Magenta – but due to some differences of opinion between the director and myself (he thought I should be pulling an extra after-show shift…and I didn’t) I withdrew from the show, dignity and virtue in tact! BUT…that first taste of high camp and horror/humour has fueled my appreciation of grindhouse movies and stage shows. A few years back, I saw the production of  Bat Boy at the Bathurst St Theatre and was just as entranced by the audience’s reaction to the play as the actors themselves. All the ooo’s, aaah’s and yikes from the seats were as funny as the action on stage.

I now have the pleasure of working with the new master of said “genre” live theatre, DAN SPURGEON, who arrived in Toronto last month after years of helming critically acclaimed productions in LA and New York. He has a wicked glint in his eye, a wry sense of the absurd and he recently sat down with me to share his love of live theatre, his award-winning camp send-ups of 70’s classic cult films and plans for his upcoming production of THE BABY at Toronto’s Storefront Theatre (see end of story for details).

Writer/Director DAN SPURGEON

DAN SPURGEON, writer/director

Welcome to Toronto, Dan. What prompted this move from LA to Toronto?
Actually, I’ve visited many times and had Canadian citizenship since 1989 via my mom. My husband, Drew Blakeman (Exec. Producer of The Baby) and I were considering moving to Toronto from New York a decade ago, but after the US dollar collapsed against the Canadian it wasn’t an option. LA was second choice… it turned out to be a great second choice based on what I was able to accomplish there, but we’ve had our eyes on moving here for a while. As far as why we left LA and the US… well, both are facing enormous problems that appear to be getting worse rather than better, and we decided that it was time to revisit the idea of moving up north. A year later, here we are!

Over the past 5 years, you built a successful theatre company, The Visceral Company, in LA – what challenges did you experience working with stage actors in a film town?
In LA, everyone’s an actor. Or at least, they think they are, despite many having no craft, discipline, training, or talent. There’s a general feeling in that city that theatre is no more than just a film without a camera pointed at it – many people don’t understand that under the surface, they’re very different mediums. I’ve dealt with actors who whispered on stage, who didn’t understand they couldn’t paraphrase a playwright’s words, and one performer who was very upset that her character costume wasn’t something she’d personally wear. If you request a monologue audition, you’d have to specify that it be memorized, and if you don’t mention “previous stage experience required” your inbox will be flooded with folks who may not know what a play even is. Plus it’s a given that if you’re working with pros, you always run the risk of losing them to a better-paying project with higher exposure at any time, and often with little to no notice. Thankfully, we seldom ran into that issue, and were only caught fully off guard by one exit – we were lucky enough to get the real pros most of the time, I guess.

You also worked for some time in New York, a real theatre town. What did you learn from your time working with the Shubert Organization and directing for Cobblestone Productions?
In theatre terms, I’m from the street. I don’t hold a drama degree, I took several years of classes but ultimately got sick of performing before I was allowed to study directing. So I just kind of did it myself. In the final semester of my film degree in San Francisco, I was strongly drawn back towards wanting to create theatre, so my final project was in fact producing and directing a play. We moved to New York shortly after I graduated. My time at Shubert provided me as much guidance as school ever did, both practical and artistic. I got to see the inner business workings of the highest professional level of theatre, and even more importantly, I got to see all kinds of shows – Broadway, off-Broadway, Off-off-Broadway, readings. I also did script coverage for creative projects. Getting to see what worked and what didn’t, what stirred me and other audience members and what left us cold, was absolutely invaluable in figuring out the standards I would set for myself and my work. In the same way, Cobblestone, a tiny nonprofit company, simultaneously taught me practicality, and how to apply these professional standards within time, space and budgetary constraints.

As an artistic director and writer, you specialize in the horror, thriller and sci-fi genres, especially plays with a comedic edge and a touch of the absurd. What attracts you to those dark, macabre and bizarre themes?
I’m drawn towards big, operatic emotions and an intensely heightened sense of reality. After horror and thriller stuff, I’m most fond of musicals and futuristic sci-fi – all these genres share that sensibility. Comedies tend not to share it to the same degree, so the ones I like tend to have a darker, sharper edge that brings out bigger performances. I have a real soft spot for cheaply made, shoddy, “exploitation” films that have a lot of heart. The Baby (LA stage stills, below) is a love letter to the sleazy, grindhouse cinema I devoured on VHS as a teenager. Beyond that, it’s kind of tough to explain my personal aesthetics – it’s like someone asking me why I like sushi more than pizza. I just do, it’s part of what makes me me.mama-wailing-sm charlies-angels-sm judith-axe-smIn Toronto, there is a huge underground “goth” and horror genre cult following – do you anticipate your upcoming production of The Baby (based on the 70’s cult movie classic) will attract these audiences?
The Baby is certainly designed with a certain sensibility, but I’d say it’s less “goth” than “punk rock.” The original film is generally labeled as “horror,” but I think it defies such simple categorization. While the show has elements of horror, drama, and comedy, it’s primarily “camp” – albeit camp done with excellent actors. My biggest inspiration for this project have been the films of John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble), Russ Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) and Herschell Gordon Lewis (2000 Maniacs, The Gruesome Twosome) – so any fans of those kinds of “midnight movies” should find plenty to like about The Baby!FasterYou’ve won numerous awards for your stage adaptation and direction of The Baby including the Encore Producers Award/Best of Fringe selection (Hollywood Fringe Festival 2013) and LA Bitter Lemons named The Baby one of the Top 10 LA Theatre productions for 2013 & Best LA Premiere of a Play (honorable mention). Having done research into Toronto’s theatre scene, how do you feel (or hope) the critics as well as the public will receive The Baby?
This show began as an experiment, and I wasn’t even fully convinced it worked until I started seeing the audience reaction. Many of our fans in LA thought it was the best show our company ever did. So, hopefully Canadians aren’t radically different in taste and they enjoy it just as much! As far as critics go, I’ve learned not to listen to them. I hope they like the show, as much as I hope every patron enjoys the show… but I also know that opinions are opinions, no matter how informed they might be, and it’s very rare that you can please everyone. I’ve seen a few reviews that hated Book of Mormon, and even more that hated Kinky Boots. What I’m hoping is that everyone, critics and public audience alike, at least enjoy the uniqueness of The Baby, the general weirdness of the story (including a truly surprising twist ending), and a performance and design aesthetic that one very pleased and enthusiastic Hollywood Fringe attendee referred to as “Technicolor vomit.”
At one of our shows a few years ago, a young woman came up to us afterward and told us that she had never  seen a play before (not uncommon in the US, sadly), and that she liked it so much she had to go see more plays. That’s a better review than any critic could ever give us.Baby-logo-web-bannerYou’re working with the Storefront Theatre (pictured below) who will be staging this latest production of your award-winning play. Do you already have plans for your next production, and if so, can you give us any hints as to what that play will be?
Oh, I always have a bunch of ideas in my pocket – probably more than I’d ever be able to bring to fruition in my lifetime. My original show Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite – a puppetry-laden anthology from the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft – has enjoyed successful runs in New York and LA, and is being produced this October by the Molotov Theatre Group in Washington DC (concurrently with The Baby, so I unfortunately won’t be able to attend). I’ve found some people that are very interested in the idea of that show, so I think Toronto might see it in the next year or two. Beyond that, I try to keep myself open for whatever interesting notion screams to be picked up and run with.

storefront 2I’ll be posting more news on The Baby and it’s cast over the coming weeks but in the interim, please mark your calendars for the run Oct. 15 thru Nov. 1 at Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St West (between Ossington & Dovercourt). You can buy tickets now from
Showtimes: Tuesdays – Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 2pm
The Baby website will be launched shortly:



My friends down at URBAN GALLERY (400 Queen St East, Toronto) are putting out a “call for submissions” for next year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (May 2016) so they’re looking for professional or semi-pro  photographers and emerging photographic artists to submit photos of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules…even zebras!…for next year’s city-wide festival.logoDeadline is Sept. 30th so hurry up and email Calvin at Urban Gallery ( for fest info and eligibility. Am sure you can do better than my efforts (below)…LOL

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