Academy Award Winner Alan Arkin – Makes The Best Fake Movie – ‘Argo’

I recite the Robert Browing poem to myself all the time. You know the quote?

“Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be. / The last of life, for which the first was made.”

“I’m praying it’s going to be true” – Alan Arkin

Argo opened the Toronto International Film Festival, the same day that Iranian Embassy officials were being expelled from Canada. The festival in my home town of Toronto also presented the opportunity to learn more about Alan Arkin, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine which came twenty -eight years after his last nomination for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (1968).

Argo is a political thriller but Alan Arkin will tell you himself that he is not a political analyst, but what he see’s is a worldwide paranoia. Everyone knows: The. Jig. Is. Up. I happen to agree with him that nature is pissed off and everybody’s waiting with bated breath for the other show to drop. Nobody’s free from that fear.

Alan Arkin is a great actor, but all his philosophies of acting: they all fell apart over the years, and suggests that one should not stay rigid, because, sooner or later, the rug is going to get pulled out from under you.

Acting was not really a calling, oh I have to be an actor, rather it came out of a lot of emotional needs – the same old actor bullshit, he say’s: “I need attention. I need love. Blah, blah, blah. And the truth is, being an actor doesn’t help with that at all”.

Little Miss Sunshine for which he won the Academy Award, took a lot of work, they never even thought of Alan for the role in the film. “They were thinking of somebody, I think, about ten or fifteen years older than I was. They thought I was a little virile. Well, ‘Virile’ was the word they used.”

Alan and I both have the same views on relationships, well not that but most certainly marriage. We are both on the same page that marriage requires searing honesty at all costs. Alan learned that from his third wife. Imagine being a CIA agent and you can’t tell your wife anything, and all that bullshit you make up, how do they do it?

Hollywood is and always has been a game where you have to out-bullshit someone else. The art is to turn the bullshit into reality, that is the magic, and few can do it. “It a strange place Hollywood. The class structure there is more rigid than almost anyplace. I have ever experienced. It’s made more difficult by the fact that it’s constantly changing. You never know what class you belong to unless you’re on of the two or three people that have been in the same echelon for a long. Long time.”

So what echelon does Alan Arkin belong to, let me tell you he will get nominated for an Oscar. In my opinion no one stands a chance against the cast and crew of the Ben Affleck’s thriller based on true events than Argo.

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Canadians, Iran , CIA, – Ben Affleck – ‘ARGO’ cast of ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’

In this world no morning is like every other. On one particular morning my bank of telephones had lit up and somehow I had missed the call. The message once retrieved went like this.

“Timothy we have a meeting with the Prime Minister call back tout-suite”.

I returned the call, immediately.  A scandal was brewing in President Reagan’s White House.

Barbara Walters had just finished her third and last day as temporary co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday when the phone rang. At the other end: Adnan Khashoggi, (my former business associate) the Saudi billionaire arms merchant.

” ‘I am going to Europe. Perhaps you would like to do the interview,’ ” Barbara recalled his saying.

That call led to a transatlantic trip at 4 a.m. Thursday that yielded exclusive interviews with two key middlemen–Khashoggi and Manucher Ghorbanifar–in the secret (now to be very public) U.S.-Iran arms deal being probed by Congress, the Justice Department and a special review board.

The interview was hurriedly transmitted back to New York by satellite from Monaco and aired Thursday night on ABC News’ “20/20” program, Walters’ double interview was as unique in circumstance as it was in content.

In the interview Khashoggi had eluded that Canadians where involved, and the only Canadian anyone knew associated with him at the time was yes, (big spotlight) yours very truly, finding myself right smack in the middle of it all.  When the above statement was made to the media it was too late.

My building had been surrounded by various media.  Elaine my assistant at the office had been flooded with calls, offers of large sums of money made to disclose my whereabouts while others beat a path to my office in an attempt to have a face to face with Elaine.

The momentum was building and this scandal, would become the infamous ‘Arms to Iran Contra Deal’, which shook the White House.  Oh, someone was going to go down.  The FBI, RCMP, CIA, the Justice Department where all investigating and you could not find a rock big enough to crawl under, oh my oh my. What a ride that was.  I felt I was Lost in Breaking Bad and Dazed and Confused.

This is not the subject of Ben Affleck’s film based on a true story, Argo.

Argo, had it’s premier at this years Toronto International Film Festival.  The film in which Ben Affleck stars in and directs is a political thriller that’s getting significant Oscar buzz, Argo tells the true story of the CIA’s attempt to rescue six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran in 1979 by posing as a sci-fi film crew.  The film stay true to the historical facts for 80 percent then it takes that Hollywood turn to give it more spice.  The film is loosely based on Tony Mendez’s account of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats – with help from Canada.

You also should see Argo because it’s the third piece of cinematic evidence that Ben Affleck is a really good director.

But if neither of those factors serves as adequate Argo motivation, perhaps you’ll be compelled to check out the film once you fully grasp how phenomenal its cast is, something I am still coming to grips with since the film festival in Toronto.  Most people probably already know that Affleck plays CIA extractor Tony Mendez, and sports a truly fantastic late ‘70s haircut and beard.

At the film festival, we sat and watched Argo, connected to the subject of Iran, CIA, and the White House.   Actors who played a role, and others who played a role caught in the web while years apart, yet connected.  The festival opened with a bang in Toronto, which has a Canadian Football Team known as the ‘Argos’.  Surreal or what?



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Five Ladies and Two Brothers – Ritz to Ursa

At times unbelievable events begin to feel not just familiar but pre-ordained.

In the tick of the madness of the Toronto International Film Festival, in the luxury of the Ritz Carlton, racing back from the lobby, as I made my way through the Ritz Bar to it’s patio outside, Steph, Brenda, Ioanna, Corinne and Leanne caught my eye. How our conversation started is cloudy and vague to me. What I do know is that the ladies were a kaleidoscope of smiles, energy, and gimlet eyes, that would make anyone stop and say “hi”. I did just that.

The ladies informed me that they were celebrating two of their birthdays, and I believe I offered them a bottle of wine, which they declined as they would soon be off to dinner at a Queen Street, West restaurant Ursa. A friend had said so many great things about it they told me, “Wow, you’re going to Ursa, I know the chef” I said, “let me call him and let him know you are on the way”. It was one of those Hollywood moments, when you run into someone at a restaurant or bar, and make certain they are looked after wherever they are going.

The Ritz Bar and the hotel itself was in full swing, it was the second last day of Tiff, the band Kiss were off to dinner as well, and my friends had begun to arrive, not to mention that the cast and crew of ‘English Vinglish’ were getting ready for the evening gala screening.

I called Ursa, asked for Jacob,( that is chef Jacob Sharkey Pearce), who with brother Jonathan Lucas and their team make this fine restaurant run. As soon as I had Jacob on the phone I handed my cell phone to one of the girls, so they could talk to the chef directly. But hello, what about cocktails? Now I wanted to see what day it was, and as it was Friday Robin Goodfellow would be working the bar. I wrote Robin’s name down for the ladies, and let them know they would be looked after with great cocktails.

Later in the evening as things were rolling the band Kiss had returned from dinner at Scaramouche Restaurant, and if you thought you were in the tick of things at earlier in the evening now things were really taking-off, the red carpet in full swing, and it was then I got a call from Corinne, she wanting to know if they should come back to the Ritz Bar for wine. I had not checked my emails earlier as I had one from the ladies that was as follows.

Hey Tim,
Thanks from the ladies at URSA !
Your friends are taking care of us – excellent food and drink. Let us
know if we’re welcome to share the fabulous wine you were talking about
with you and your friends Gene. Paul, Eric etc….

…Gene, Paul, Eric being the band members of Kiss. “Absolutely, come over”. The wine in question was that from my friends vineyard Ravine Vineyard, which is a fabulous place to go chill eat and drink wine in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region. This was Tiff, it was Canada, and I was keeping it Canadian (represent!).

I did not see the girls arrive, but as I floated through the Ritz Bar I saw the ladies sitting at my favorite table, in the corner, I made certain they got wine, and introduced them to Doc McGhee best known for working with KISS, Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe. The latter two groups experienced their rise to stardom under his management. He has also worked with Hootie & the Blowfish. Things were set, the ladies back at the Ritz Bar, in good hands and who wouldn’t be entertained by the stories of Doc McGhee.

Now that is what I call a birthday night out.

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Kiss to English Vinglish – Ritz to Red Carpet – Tiff12

Eric Singer, Paul Stanley, with their manager Doc McGhee came out of two black trucks, jumped out and walked directly over to a few fans standing behind the Ritz barricades. They posed for photo’s, signed autographs. That’s what real stars do.

Jane who had been sitting with me asked me if I needed food. I told her right now my body was like the McLaren sitting in the driveway, running on all cylinders, as if it was at LeMans.

Kiss the band and I have so many friends in common it’s boggles even my mind. The band was going to go have a quick shut-eye before they went off to dinner to Scaramouche Restaurant, an old standard in Toronto, but not one I would go to having grown up in Toronto, been there done it too many times. This did not prevent me from suggesting some new spots, “I think we are back in spring, we’ll try it”, said one of their security people who was friends with my mutual friend Jamie Wood, who’s father Ronnie Wood plays in the band The Rolling Stones.

As the dudes from Kiss took off for dinner, colorful saris now adorned the entrance of the Ritz Carlton. It was showtime, and the red carpet premier of the film ‘English Vinglish’.

French actor Mehdi Nebbou came over to say hello. He was wearing a tux with no shirt. “I think it looks good without a shirt”, he said after I told him that I liked his style. Yes, he’s french and he has style. Soon it was time for them to take off in Audi VIP shuttles, while other walked across the street to Roy Thompson Hall for the gala. This was my cue to dash to the red carpet with my BlackBerry Playbook and get some candid shots for this particular story.

Upon my return back to the the Ritz Bar my wine and friends, I ran into a great guy with whom I have had the pleasure of working this year a board member of Tiff Warren Spitz. Warren was off running off to see English Vinglish. “Warren”, I said, “Kiss guys went off to dinner”, “There here, are they coming back, I know Gene Simmons and his wife Shannon!” he told me. “I know you do Warren that is why I am tell you, they will come back after dinner I want to show them the Jarrell guitar which Madonna’s guitarist Monte Pittman had rocked on the deck of the Ritz Bar.

Late in the evening everyone was back at the Ritz.

Sridevi after a 14 year sabbatical posed for some pictures in the lobby of the Ritz, with debutant director Gauri Shinde, after returning from English Vinglish premier at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Eric Singer,Tommy Thayer, and Doc McGhee sat in the Ritz Bar, talking to some people I had introduced to them.

Gauri Shinde, who had also written English Vinglish was free, so I began asking her a few questions, “you’re sounding like a journalist,” was her remark to me, she was still over the moon over the red carpet, it was her first feature film, Mehdi Nebbou was nearby, “come let me introduce you to the band Kiss”, their eyes lit up, “you now Gauri one day someone should do a film with Kiss in Bollywood”.

The Ritz Bar reminded me of the day’s at Le Dome, or the Ivy, in Los Angeles, it was doing the rounds connecting people and then letting the universe take it’s course. After all this is why we have film festivals so artist’s can be discovered and introduced.

At the end of the night, Eric Singer was saying to me “English Vinglish”, I told him Eric, man you got to say it with a twist of the wrist, and nod of the head, he mimicked my gestures and said “English Vinglish”, it was a moment. A Bollywood moment. A Night that could have never ended.

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Ritz to Red Carpet with Penelope Cruz and back – Tiff12

Penelope Cruz has been at the Ritz Carlton for a few day’s during Tiff12.

This has been the hotels second year of Tiff since opening and they thought they where ready.

The hotel across from the red carpet from the gala’s of the Toronto International Film Festival did not expect the overwhelming response to it being the number one hot spot (sizzling like burn) more like it during the film festival. Honestly, there is no other spot in the city like it, everyone keep searching for it, but really people, if you want class, elegance, that goes with the red carpet then one name stands out alone, Ritz Carlton.

Penelope Cruz, who is so very polite, sweet, and we all know this, naturally beautiful came to Toronto with her cast and crew to show their film ‘Twice Born’.

Those who were around with me got to enjoy some Ravine Vineyard wine and while there are plenty of cool photographs this one taken with the BlackBerry Playbook after I was chatting with Penelope and Adnan Haskovic of the pink dress through the wine set’s the tone of what was going on at the Ritz Bar prior to dinner.

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Music in Films with Monte Pittman – Ritz Carlton – Tiff12

Monte Pittman, got his big break in music because of a film director. That director happened to be none other then Guy Ritchie, who at that time was married to Madonna.

Monte taught Guy guitar, that led to him teaching Madonna some pointers, which led to touring with Madonna as her lead guitarist. That’s how magic happens. But if you’re a nice guy magic just keeps happening as  it did again at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto, in the heart of the Toronto International Film Festival, Tiff12.

Music people, get out do live shows in the middle of film festivals and deals will happen. Studio executives don’t have time to listen to demos, CDs or come to some venue.

The Ritz Carlton in Toronto is not just a hotel;  it wants to make it happen for everyone, creates an environment in which business can take place and during the week of the film festival, they brought in another big gun, Madonna’s man, on tour with the MDNA World Tour 2012, Monte Pittman.

Monte Pittman, played his MPS Jarrell guitar in front of the Ritz Bar. Watching Monte play was a film producer who has ten film on the slate ready to go and  is showing a film at Toronto International Film Festival.

This led to them meeting and here you get to see film business which is what Tiff is all about taking place.  The art of film-making meets music.

My Manager will call your manager. This is Toronto, it’s the Ritz, the Toronto International film festival, with Monte Pittman.

One day Monte Pittman will be picking up an Oscar for scoring a film. I can see it now. Check it out.

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