Not 81/2 Weeks with Claudia Cardinale in Abu Dhabi

There are some women who can cut through your armor like a hot knife through butter and get to your heart. Next thing you know you’re in love. You’re a lost pup. You don’t know if you’re coming or going. I’ll tell you. I’ve lived with some gorgeous women. You throw into the mix Italian, and top the word off with Sicilian, and Dio mio, it’s Claudia Cardinale.

Now how can you not like a women who told reporter in 1965: –

She liked a dry martini before dinner, caviar for hors d’oeuvres, lobsters or oysters for seafood, or a steak alla Fiorentina. When it came to wine, her preference was for a rich, red wine.


I love films, and I love film-making, and everything that goes with it. Cardinale, and her image was something that never left my mind. Since 81/2 weeks that image of her’s has stayed with me. I felt like Seinfeld kissing his date during Schindler’s List,  watching Franco Zeffirelli Jesus of Nazareth and all the time thinking give me more on the screen of Claudia Cardinale.

While Cardinale was born in Tunisia on April 15, 1938, her parents were from Sicily. Her father was an Italian railroad worker. Despite having an Italian father, she grew up speaking French after her French mother. Cardinale speaks French, Italian, English, Spanish and Arabic. Cardinale first attracted attention in 1957 after winning the “Most Beautiful Girl in Tunisia” contest; her prize was a trip to the Venice Film Festival, inspiring her to pursue a career in acting. After studying at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale film school, she made her screen debut in 1958 in Mario Monicelli’s classic caper comedy I Soliti Ignoti, followed a year later by Pietro Germi’s Un Maledetto Imbroglio.

Under the guidance of producer Franco Cristaldi (later to become her husband), Cardinale emerged as a major sex symbol; however, she also continued to appear with highly regarded filmmakers, including Abel Gance (The Battle of Austerlitz), Luchino Visconti (Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli), and Philippe de Broca (1962’s Cartouche). In 1963, Cardinale received her widest exposure to date, playing herself — the object of star Marcello Mastroianni’s fantasies — in Federico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 1/2. That same year, she also appeared in Visconti’s epic Il Gattopardo. Their combined success piqued Hollywood’s interest, and in 1964 she co-starred in her first American production, Henry Hathaway’s Circus World. She also appeared opposite Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther. I could not stop thinking of her in, Once Upon A Time In The West.

Cardinale continued dividing her time between Hollywood and Europe for the remainder of the decade, appearing in diverse projects ranging from the 1965 Visconti war drama Vaghe Stelle dell’Orsa to the 1966 Richard Brooks Western The Professionals. In 1968, she also co-starred in the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon a Time in the West. However, with the 1969 Mikhail Kalatozov adventure La Tenda Rossa, Cardinale began appearing almost exclusively in European films, few of which were distributed in English-language markets. As a result, she was largely a memory when she resurfaced in the 1976 hit The Pink Panther Strikes Again. A year later, she also co-starred in the television miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. Cardinale’s next high-profile international project was the 1982 Werner Herzog art-house hit Fitzcarraldo. She followed it with another miniseries, 1983’s Princess Daisy, then again remained in Europe prior to the 1993  Son of the Pink Panther.

As at Toronto International Film Festival, in Abu Dhabi the world’s oldest living filmmaker, and he remains one of its most inventive, prolific, and relevant at age 103, Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira, film Gebo and the Shadow will be presented.

Gebo and the Shadow, based on the 1923 play by the great Portuguese modernist Raul Brandão, assembles a cast of cinematic legends — including Cardinale, Michael Lonsdale, Jeanne Moreau,along with de Oliveira regulars Leonor Silveira and Ricardo Trêpa (the director’s nephew) for a tale of a fin de siècle Parisian family beset by economic crisis — a story that has powerful resonance with our own times.

Would 81/2 weeks be enough time to sit down and talk to Cardinale about her adventures over time from Europe to Hollywood? I think not.
If time could be had with Cardinale to just sit and talk, where would it be? Abu Dhabi would be a good place to start.

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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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From Sweden With Love – Styling from Prince to 007

Josefine, sat in a cafe with her laptop open, talking on Skype.
She spoke in Swedish. How did I know? I had been to Sweden many time, had friends living there, flown to Stockholm with American Airlines, connecting through Chicago.

Chicago is where Prince began a series of Chicago concerts Sept. 24 at the United Center in support of Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream organization.

Rebuild the Dream offers entrepreneurs tools that individuals and communities can use to create a fairer economic future for all.

As Josefine spoke into her headset, I felt I was watching a scene from the film Girl Who Played with Fire directed by Daniel Alfredson and, starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist. So I decided to leave. As I walked out of the coffee shop, I paused, and thought. I could walk over to Magpie fashion down the street, see what they where making for Prince, or Andy Allo, as both where heading off to Australia for the Welcome 2 Australia Tour, or I could go back and, wait till she finished her Skype call. I went back in.

When Josefine had gotten off the phone I said to her “so where in Sweden are you from?”, she was stunned,  and yet pleasantly surprised. We became friends.

Josefine who is a student, mathematician, cook, astrologer, and model.

During the summer Josefine was in Sweden visiting family, and I sent her an email. I was going to be helping the Toronto International Film Festival, with their first fund-raising gala.

The gala was based on a James Bond 007 theme (as it was James Bonds 007 50th anniversary), and called ‘Night That Never Ends’.  Having been asked to be the Chair of VIP talent I wanted her to meet with the organizers to be one of the Bond girls.

When Josefine returned from Sweden, she met with the organizers, went to a fitting for the Bond girls.  Josefine was not selected to be a Bond girl.  She was selected to be the girl of Magpie fashion.

When Josefine went in for her fitting,  everyone at Magpie were busy getting outfits ready for Prince, those that he has been rocking on-stage in Chicago.

As the festival opened Josefine sitting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto wearing Magpie, posed for a photograph with a Jarrell guitar.  The girl from Sweden, linked to Prince and Andy Allo not with a thread or fabric, but also a guitar. She had gone, from a coffee shop, to the red-carpet wearing Magpie with one-degree of separation between Prince, Andy Allo and herself.

Magic is real and dreams come true. Now let’s  rock Chicago.

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Go With The Flow – Girls, Wine and the band Kiss

In full make up the band Kiss would appear to be one that comes charging at you with their guitars and drum sticks to rob you of your greatest happiness, vanquish you like an enemies, to chase you to the worlds end and rob you of your wealth, and see those you love the most in tears. Gratitude to them being a sickness suffered by dogs. Hello! welcome to the world of Kiss, not!

On the second last day of the Toronto International Film Festival French actor Mehdi Nebbou was excited after all he with the cast and crew of English Vinglish was heading off to the red carpet premier of the film at Roy Thompson Hall across from the Ritz Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Gauri Shinde, an Indian ad-film director. She is the wife of R. Balki, who has directed highly acclaimed films such as Cheeni Kum (2007) and Paa (2009). Shinde’s is making her directional debut through English Vinglish, which marks the comeback of actress Sridevi. This is a big deal. As the leave, the band Kiss returns from dinner and join my friends and I.

It had nothing to do with me whatsoever, it was very simple I was with a lot of great looking women. That to a rock band, is like a beehive is to bees.

Eric Singer, looks to me and say’s “where is the wine, I thought all the bottles would be lined up on the table” as I tell him that they will be arriving shortly. Eric say’s “Paul is a wine guy, so is Doc”.

Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer and manager Doc McGhee are chatting with those hanging out at the Ritz Bar patio, as Ashley runs to get glasses for the wine.

I introduce Doc McGhee to Luisa, Stephanie, Mary-Anne and Enza who I had met earlier, the Ritz Bar was like a Hullabalou Concert.

The wine arrived, it was opened, and served, Doc McGhee tried a taste, while Eric check-out every ladies watch. Eric Singer confesses to me he likes watches.

Soon, everyone was having a great time, this was not hard to do at the Ritz Carlton the epic center for the film festival, and the team of the hotel that kept going to the very end full speed, making everyone feel like they were at home.

Stephanie told me we have to stay in-touch and gave me her email and one look at it before I could say anything she looked at me with a look that said it before the words came out of her mouth, “I know my e mail sounds like a strippers”, which cracked me up and while the rest of the girls wrote their contact information on a paper The Ritz Carlton cocktail napkin Stephanie with a concerned look on her face said “Tim, Doc has invited all of us to the show, it’s in Buffalo it’s a hour and a half drive, do you think he is serious?”, “Steph, it’s the manager that has invited you he is absolutely serious”, I assured her. I looked around and Doc McGhee was standing nearby, “Doc, Stephanie has a question and I told her you were serious”. Stephanie explained her concern to which Doc replied “I would not have anyone waist seven seconds of their time, or seven minutes, If I have invited you, then you are looked after”. I gave Stephanie that look, kinda like saying told you he was serious kinda look, somewhat the look intending to reassure one don’t worry about it your in really good hands. After all they were standing in my fort, The Ritz Carlton in Toronto.

Life my friend is wonderful, just let it be so, and at times you will find yourself at a moment in time and if your are going to allow yourself to go with the flow then anything can happen, you can fall in-love, end up in bed with a total stranger, kiss someone you would never have thought you would kiss ( no pun intended ), try a drink you thought you would never have, or just be chilling at the right spot at the right time and get invited by the manager of Kiss to a show only a few hours away from Toronto. Such to me is the wonderment of life. Just go with the flow.

Gauri Shinde the writer and director of English Vinglish had now also returned to the Ritz Carlton, and she too was in wonderment of where she was at that very moment as I stood talking to her. She had been making ad’s now here she was in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton having shown her film at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Gauri” I said, “you know I discovered Gurinder Chadha, Shekhar Kapur at this festival and now here you are”, you see I was also in wonderment of the magic that was around me. Mehdi Nebbou and Gauri Shinde, were excited to meet the band as well, I let them know introductions would be made, “you know it would be kinda cool to make a film where the band Kiss goes to India, and one of them fall for a Indian girl, there might be a script in that”, before Gauri could even comment on my off-the-cuff remark, Mehdi looked me intensely in the eyes and said “you should do that, you should” it was as if saying wake-up man you can do it, produce such a film all the elements are here right now, director, actor, the band and manager, yes, the wonderment of it all.

A few day’s later, Enza, Luisa, Stephanie, and Mary-Anne sent me the following messages, and this is when you know you have done what you were put on this earth to do, create a flow, with love, put a smile on someones face, make people laugh, and spin magic that could bring them joy if they just go with the flow.

The most touching part was the message on the profile of the twitter account – simplymps

@simplymps FOLLOWS YOU Go with the flow My new tagline, Thanks Tim!! I love being a mom to my girls…..Alyssa 23 and Emily 19

The wonderment of it all, who knows what all this will lead to. I can tell you one thing, when you put good people with good people then only good things will happen. Maybe, a film, Kiss in India.

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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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