If there is one thing you can count on during the first weekend of a major film festival is an abundance of good parties and Sunday night at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival was no different. The news of the day, however, was Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Mariah Carey descending on the fest to promote their new film "Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire."
The big "O' and Perry came on board as executive producers after the film was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, but were proving their worth by making the picture a media magnet all over town this weekend. Winfrey already unintentionally caused a scene at Saturday night's "Up in the Air" premiere (she's BFF with director Jason Reitman's mom) and the TIFF press office was so overwhelmed with requests to cover the picture's red carpet on Sunday night they went to a lottery system. Ironically, TIFF and Lionsgate didn't inform enough of the media that the official press conference, at 9 AM Sunday morning, would include Perry and Winfrey which lead to many seats still being available (a rare occurrence at TIFF press conferences).
Happily though, this prognosticator -- who has loved "Precious" since attending its world premiere in Park City -- was able to make the film's pre-premiere cocktail party at the beautiful Royal Ontario Museum. While best supporting actress candidate Mo'Nique didn't travel up north (something about moving), Mariah Carey (without hubby Nick Cannon, but bodyguard in tow), "The View's" Sherri Shepherd, Mary J. Blige, Paula Patton (and husband Robin Thicke), author Sapphire and Robert De Niro (whose wife has a role in the film), all attended the soiree. Winfrey and Perry took a break from a long day of press and missed the party, but showed up with a vengeance at the premiere. Check out photos from the red carpet here. Sadly, this writer missed De Niro, however, because it was all he could do to duck over to the Ryerson Theater for the world premiere of...
"Whip It." Yes, cinefiles, the actress who first shined in "E.T. The Exra-Terrestial" under the watchful eyes of Steven Spielberg has finally directed her first film. The verdict? She's definitely got talent, a voice that's worth listening too and "Whip It" is pretty fun to boot. Premiere attendees were greeted by members of two local Toronto Roller Derby teams, but Barrymore arrived in a yellow, 50's style dress along with buddy/lover/who knows Justin Long. She introduced the entire cast (and we mean the entire cast) which included Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, and hip-hop star Eve (director Brett Ratner was also in the house for some reason). After the film ended, the festivities moved on to the Tattoo Rock Parlor where the music was loud, the joint was packed, guests could get fake tattoos and the macaroni and cheese was simply delightful. But still the night wasn't over.
Jumping in a cab with the smart and now Indiewire-powered Anne Thompson, we headed over to the "Capitalism: A Love Story" after party which was appropriately held in a blue collar diner (well as blue collar as you can get for a movie after party). Michael Moore held court humbly and his old buddy Harvey Weinstein was in the house when we arrived (in fact Ol' Harvey has been hitting a lot of other companies events during the Festival, but that's a whole other story...). Having seen "Capitalism" earlier in the day, it's classic Moore and as expected will get some conservatives all hot and bothered (you know who), but it also might find more right wing support than his previous films. The overall reaction will be curious to track as it opens in a few weeks.
Biggest lesson this whirlwind night? You know it's been a long day when you get a second wind by the sight of a well-lit venue and open bar.
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