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Globe and Mail

Festival Notebook
Pot brownies, lamb chops and Oscar talk


Monday, September 12, 2005 Page A11

I survived the mob outside the Yorkville Birks boutique, where hundreds of screaming fans ringed the red carpet for a fleeting glimpse of Johnny Depp after the Saturday night premiere of Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.

I managed to score a ticket to last night's One X One charity gala, which was hosted by Kate Hudson and attended by almost every A-list celebrity in town.

But I still maintain that the best party of the weekend was the smoky Friday night fete to celebrate a/k/a Tommy Chong, the Josh Gilbert documentary about the iconic comedian and marijuana activist who spent nine months in jail for trafficking bongs. In true stoner fashion, the Toronto Hemp Company baked 200 pot brownies for the occasion.

"Don't eat more than three if you don't want to completely lose control," Ingrid Hamilton, the film's publicist warned, as the creamy chocolate desserts were passed around the back room at Stones Place on Queen Street West, where Mr. Chong and his wife, Shelby, held court.

Pot brownies as party favours apparently pass Canada's drug laws, says Dominic Cramer, owner of the Toronto retail store and marijuana resource centre that provided the finger food. It was legal, he explained, so long as no one could break one open and pull a leaf out. From what I could tell, the ingredients were very finely ground. I was only checking for professional reasons, of course.

They didn't have quite the same kick, but the New-Zealand-inspired hors d'oeuvres at The World's Fastest Indian cocktail reception on Saturday night certainly were delicious. After all the complaining I've heard about there never being any decent food to absorb all the free-flowing red wine at these festival parties, it's nice to see that some sponsors still know how to put on a spread.

The chili-dusted lamb chops and miniature pavlova kisses were prepared by the Gibson & Lyle catering company for this event, which took over the Caban flagship store on Queen Street West.

Dozens of vintage Indian motorcycles were rolled out for the red-carpet arrivals, which included director Roger Donaldson, Kiefer Sutherland and Sir Anthony Hopkins, who starred as Burt Munro, the real-life Kiwi speed demon who moved to Utah in his 60s and stunned the world by setting records on the back of his 1920 Indian motorbike.

The lauded Welsh actor zoomed past reporters as he was swiftly hustled into the VIP area. Mr. Hopkins's handlers didn't want him to give any interviews, but he graciously leaned over the velvet ropes and chatted away with us anyway.

How fast did he go?

"I went 80 miles an hour," he roared.

Who cares about Brian de Palma and Kris Kristofferson when Douglas Coupland is in the house? The Vancouver author and artist was mobbed by frantic school teachers at the annual CHUM/CITY-TV schmooze fest on Friday night.

"Your work is so insightful -- I talk to my students about you all the time," Emmanuelle Deaton excitedly exclaimed. "I was at a book signing of yours," a friend of Ms. Deaton's gushed. "But I was so nervous and sweaty I couldn't even talk to you."

Mr. Coupland, who is here for the Souvenir of Canada, a documentary by Robin Neinstein, based on his non-fiction, seemed pleasantly bemused by his fans.

"All this excitement," he said. "It's so not Canadian."

Hmm. Perhaps he should take a break from the writing and get out a bit more.

The Canadian Film Centre had a multimillion-dollar reason to pop the champagne at yesterday's annual festival barbecue at its North Toronto ranch. As weary festival goers nursed their hangovers on hotdogs and sunshine, Ontario Culture Minister Madeleine Meilleur announced that the government is investing $10-million in the centre's training programs.

"The film centre is a world leader in developing emerging talent for screen-based entertainment," Ms. Meilleur said, singling out Clement Virgo, Sarah Polley and other illustrious graduates in the crowd.

Too bad former director Wayne Clarkson, now head of Telefilm Canada, wasn't able to cash in. Mr. Clarkson was kind enough to give me his membership card to the Spoke Club the other night, and told me to use it as often as I wanted for the duration of the festival.

How generous, I thought. But then when I arrived at the private club on Saturday night, where Elle MacPherson was being hosted for dinner by club president Michael Shore, the hostess swiped the card and stopped me in my tracks.

"Sorry," she said. "This membership is no longer valid. The fees haven't been renewed."

Thanks Wayne. I guess it's the thought that counts.

Cuba Gooding Jr. doesn't want to hear any more rave reviews about his performance in Shadowboxer, in which he and Helen Mirren star as mother and stepson contract killers whose relationship is anything but maternal.

"All this hype and buzz about me winning another Oscar is a dangerous thing," he explained at the party for Premiere magazine at Club Monaco on Saturday night. With bluntness that would break the heart of his manager (who quickly stepped in to shuffle him away) Mr. Gooding went on to rant about the film festival buzz being "all bullshit."

"It's too early," he complained. "If it were December or January, I'd take it. But if it starts now, they're just going to try to pull me down."

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