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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From the Ritz to Madonna and Monte – MDNA Tour – Tiff12

It’s the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff), and while there are many parties one party you do not want to miss is Madonna, and her MDNA World Tour.

The MDNA World Tour for me started in front of the Ritz Carlton in Toronto where Madonna’s very talented guitarist, singer, songwriter, musician, performer came to shred a bit of his MPS Jarrell guitar.

After receiving a call from Kelsey who worked so hard on Tiff’s biggest party fund-raiser “The Night That Never Ends” I was off to the show having to painfully part company with the beautiful Jane and a bottle of Ravine Vineyard Wine. Why? you ask. I did it to see Monte, seriously.

Having been an alter-boy, Madonna got me to go to church again with a twist. Madonna’s life-long themes of church and spirituality once again dominated the show.

The Girl Gone Wild opened the show, which had plenty of moving parts, slick lighting, big screens, and great sound.

Monte Pittman on a busy day had said that the sound check takes longer then the one-hour-and-55-minute show. It’s totally worth it, you feel every beat, hear ever note, so you can be assured of a good party.

Needless to say the dancers, they can dance well.

Tiff has been good to Madonna and she did not forget Tiff mentioning it several times, and showing clips of the film that was at Tiff last year W.E., while she sang the movie’s Golden Globe-winning song Masterpiece, with Monte Pittman by her side making the guitar sing.

Highlight for me at the show, watching and listing to Monte do his thing on his MPS, after all that’s why I had left a beautiful women behind at the Ritz, yes I am passionate about music and guitar.

When Madonna started Turn Up The Radio all those who had now heard and seen pictures of Monte Pittman at the Ritz started jumping, to me this part of the show really kicked-ass.

Madonna, what can I say she made it a family affair, rocked it, and acknowledged Tiff. She and all those around her are true artist’s.

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Gary Lucas brings his magic to the Ritz Bar – Tiff12

Gary Lucas is an American guitarist, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, a soundtrack composer for film and television, and an international recording artist with over a twenty solo albums to date. He has been described as a “guitarist with a global guitar” by Larry Rohter, of the New York Times.


“one of the best and most original guitarists in America”

– David Fricke, Rolling Stone

He is also associated with vocalist Jeff Buckley, who performed for a year in Lucas’ band, Gods and Monsters, early in his career.

Phillip Jarrell, let me know that Gary was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival ( Tiff12 ) and so I thought it would be a great idea to get Gary to come play at the Ritz Carlton, at the Ritz Bar outside.

Various people stopped over to talk about films including George who is a partner of Greg Binions CEO of Jarrell guitars a partner of Phillip Jarrell. Those who came talked, drank Canadian wine from Ontario’s Ravine Vineyard.

The action at the Ritz Carlton is never ending during Tiff. My friend Warren Spitz director of Tiff and Chair of the gala fund raiser for the friends of Tiff walked past with his family off to a screening. It began to get cold. So everyone drank more wine. The team of the Ritz Carlton hotel brought some blankets, while Amy, Ashley and Duncan floated around seemingly effortlessly at a very busy bar.

At about 9 in the evening I called Gary, just to confirm that we are still on, Gary had been at his film screening’s dinner and let me know that he would be on his way hitting the Ritz Carlton around about ten-thirty.

The arrival of Gary was magical, he is a true musician and he did not care about anything really he just wanted to play the Jarrell guitar and just rock some tunes out. Oh, yea Gary rocked some tunes alright.

Kristin Gibeau who had been visiting from Ottawa to help people at the festival drank her Ravine Vineyard red wine and as Gary played she said to me “what a magical night this has turned out to me”.

How can it not be magic, it was the first time a Grammy nominated musician was on deck of the new Ritz Bar, playing tunes in the middle of the biggest film festival in the world, The Toronto International Film Festival.

Here is some of the magic that was produced.

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Clafouti Toronto – My Cafe for Tiff12

If your coming from Los Angeles then you’ll love the fact that everything at this cafe owned by my friend is made fresh daily.

The almond croissants are so good, and made with almonds from California they are made into paste in the kitchen. Now that to me is fresh.

As far as sandwiches go, everything is fantastic. Hey they even make something sweet, sexy like The Lana for Lana Del Rey.

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Bruce Willis – Gave me the greatest hug ever! Welcome to Tiff12

It’s 2005. The setting was Los Angeles, Hollywood Bowl, dressing room of The Rolling Stones.

I was walking around with my friend Jamie Wood, who at the time was managing his father the band member of The Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood. Jamie and I went here and there, Mick Jagger was busy looking at the wardrobe diligently inspecting it. Kieth Richards was in his room but and the door was closed and Charlie was chatting with someone.

Jamie and I kept on walking and then Jamie saw his mom Jo Wood, they chatted and Jamie and I found what we were looking for Jamie’s love of his life Jodi Wood, and his son’s. The room they were in was set up as a play room, kids where running around playing. I left Jamie with Jodie and walked into the hallway only to find standing back against the wall observing everything Bruce Willis.

Jamie Wood had noticed that Bruce Willis was backstage and had commented to Jodie, if she thought it would be a good idea to have Bruce Willis hold their baby so they could have a picture taken. Jamie said “It be kinda cool, when he grew up and all to say look there I am in Bruce Willis’s arms”. Jodie looked at Jamie “You can’t be going asking Bruce Willis to hold the baby”, both were scared to approach Bruce Willis. Here is Jamie, who’s grown up all rock and roll and he was just shy to approach Bruce Willis.

Standing with Bruce Willis, I introduced myself to Bruce and we started to chatting. I told Bruce I wanted to make a movie in India with him to which Bruce responded “let’s go”. Bruce being a very easy going guy, I said, “hey Bruce, would you mind holding my friends baby for a picture, his grand-daddy is Ronnie Wood?”, Bruce let me know that was no big deal.

After the picture was taken, Bruce and I started talking again, and Johnny Depp walked in smoking something (not cigarette), “Hey Johnny What up” I said Johnny nodded and kept on going straight over to Keith Richards room. A few moments later Ronnie Wood was running around all excited holding what ever Johnny Depp had previously had in his hand. Welcome to rock and roll, where even a Rolling Stone will get excited by Johnny Depp.

It was time to go for me, it was getting hectic backstage, in the dressing rooms. I said my good-bye to Bruce Willis we shook hand and as if old friends hugged. It was at this moment I found out more about Bruce Willis then anyone could ever tell me. It was that hug. The hug that someone give you that means something. Not a fleeting hug, such as see ya, bye kind of hug. It was the kind that, was a hug, with a pause, in which it was said, cool to meet you man, take care, a hug with a surging sincerity. It was the last time I saw Bruce Willis or Johnny Depp.

So here we are in 2012, the setting will now be Toronto, where I had grown up at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Bruce Willis will open it with a gala for his film, Looper.

Johnny Depp well he too will be here at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The Rolling Stones? Well I invited them including Richard Branson, will they come or will Mick, Ronnie or Keith? who know’s. What is kinda cool for me, to see Bruce Willis open this fantastic film festival.

Who know’s maybe Bruce will give me another hug this time to say, hello nice to be in your town. What will I say to Bruce? “Brucee, you got to come up and make a movie here in Toronto. The city really welcome’s you”.

Here is a short clip of the welcome to Bruce Willis, and a message to Johnny Depp at Fresh restaurant on Queen Street West, in Toronto.

Let’s start the party and rock Tiff12.


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