Author appearance, Round table, Special Event: IFOA
Exhibition Place – Direct Energy Centre
210 Princes’ Blvd
Toronto M6K 3C3
IFOA returns to the CNE for an exciting panel with authors Crissy Calhoun, Richard Crouse, Adam Nayman and Richard Rosenbaum, who will take the stage to discuss their pop culture commentary.
For information about admission to the CNE, please click HERE.
Crissy Calhoun is the author of the Love You to Death series of Vampire Diaries companion guides and, under the pen name Liv Spencer, she’s co-authored books on topics like Pretty Little Liars and Taylor Swift. She lives in Toronto. Calhoun presents the fourth installment of her Vampire Diaries guides, Love You to Death: Season 4, which delves headlong into the twists and turns of each episode, exploring the layers of rich history, supernatural mythology, historical and pop culture references.
Richard Crouse is a regular film critic for CTV’s Canada AM. He is also the author of six books on pop culture history and writes two weekly columns forMetro newspaper. Crouse presents Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils, which examines Russell’s 1971 film about an oversexed priest and a group of sexually repressed nuns in 17th-century France. From the film’s inception through its headline-making production and controversial reception, Crouse explores what it is about Russell’s cult classic that makes it a cinematic treasure.
Adam Nayman is a film critic for TheGlobe and Mail, and a contributing editor to Cinema Scope. He is a lecturer at Ryerson and the University of Toronto, and programs for the Toronto Jewish Film Society. He lives in Toronto. Nayman presents It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls, which examines and encourages a shift in cultural perspective on the box-office bomb Showgirls.
Richard Rosenbaum is a fiction editor at Broken Pencil and a regular contributor to OverthinkingIt.com. He has a Master’s degree in Communication and Culture, and lives in Toronto. Rosenbaum presents Raise Some Shell: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which examines the origins, evolution and impact of the Ninja Turtles phenomenon.
From Emmanuel Lopez – Motivatorman’s blog: Toronto film critic Richard Crouse has become my latest hero for inspiring resilience. In a recent article, Richard revealed that in mid-2013 a tumor was found during a routine colonoscopy. He experienced shock and anger and then transformed his mindset and attitude to say… “Screw you, cancer. You’re not making the rules, I am.”
“The mishmash of Kafka’s bureaucratic frustration, Beckett’s oddness, and Del Rio’s sense of humour puts an entertaining spin on the Canadian theatre controversy.” -Mooney on Theatre
“Del Rio’s dialogue is lively, and Salgueiro has fun being the aggressor, twisting Gass’s statements into politically correct pretzels of incoherence.” -NOW Magazine
Monday February 24, 2014 (Toronto): By popular demand, HLIBKA ENTERTAINMENT INC. in association with BIG PICTURE CINEMA are bringing back the critically acclaimed comedy THE TRIAL OF KEN GASS from Friday March 21st to Thursday April 3rd.
The remount has a STAR-STUDDED cast including: Stratford veteran David Fox, actor/playwright Matthew Edison, Canadian comedy legend Kenny Robinson, movie reviewer Richard Crouse, Second City mainstage alum Anand Rajaram, Kids in the Hall alum Paul Bellini, performer and personality Ryan G. Hinds, Caitlin Driscoll, indie film darling Robert Nolan, Just for Laughs comedian Sandra Battaglini, and many more.
The Trial of Ken Gass is a play based on the famous dismissal of Canadian theatre legend Ken Gass. In a Kafkaesque series of interrogations, Ken Gass is continually put on trial for crimes he is not aware of. The absurdist comedy is a metaphor for the power institutions wield over artists and individuals.
The play is being put up by producer / conceptual artist Jonathan Hlibka and will again be directed by acclaimed playwright Bobby Del Rio. Every show, the spectacular Jess Salgueiro returns to play SARAH BRIGHT opposite DIFFERENT ACTORS PLAYING KEN GASS!! It is highly encouraged to see multiple performances as each performer will bring their own unique interpretation to the role of Ken Gass. Lighting and set design will be a collision of minimalistic expressionism and pop art design styled by Jonathan Hlibka.
Opening March 21st: Matthew Edison – 8:00pm
March 22: David Fox – 8:00pm
March 23: Amish Patel 2:30pm matinee, Kenny Robinson – 8:00pm
March 24: Richard Crouse – 8:00pm
March 25: Caitlin Driscoll – 8:00pm
March 26: Anand Rajaram – 8:00pm
March 27: Ryan G. Hinds – 8:00pm
March 29: Paul Bellini – 8:00pm
March 30: 2:30pm matinee TBA, Robert Nolan – 8:00pm
March 31: Sandra Battaglini – 8:00pm
April 1: Derrick Chua – 8:00pm
April 2: TBA
April 3: TBA
In 2013, at the Sterling Studio Theatre’s first one-act playwriting competition, The Trial of Ken Gass ended up as a top-3 finalist. The original production was at Sterling Studio Theatre in July 2013. Highlight performances from the first run include: Peter Keleghan (The Newsroom), Diane Flacks, Huse Madhavji (Saving Hope), Pat Thornton and Julian DeZotti.
The play will open Friday, March 21st @ 8pm. It will close on Thursday, April 3rd @ 8pm. All shows will be @ 8pm. The show will run every night from March 21 – April 3 (except Friday March 28th). On Sundays, there will also be matinees @ 2:30pm. All tix are $15, with PWYC Sundays for both shows. Passes for all performances for the run of the show are available for $35. Big Picture Cinema is located at 1035 Gerrard St East. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online at www.bigpicturecinema.com
Please join us for a unique and exciting panel discussion. The C.C.E. welcomes film critics Richard Crouse, Rob Salem and Parker Mott to discuss their views on editing in film and television and how it impacts their reviews and criticism. How did we get from Eisenstein believing editing was the most important ingredient in filmmaking to today, where it is an invisible art known only by those in the industry? A young filmmaker is given a chance by a major studio to direct… with a caveat. They must hire a veteran editor to lead them through the story and pacing. Why will Schoonmaker be mentioned in a review, but not Lee Smith or Dylan Tichenor? How important is the editing to them in reviews? These topics and much more will be discussed, with a Q&A to follow. The discussion will be moderated by Film Editor and Canadian Cinema Editor Co-President Paul Winestock, C.C.E.
This event is open exclusively to C.C.E. members until February 11th, non-members may RSVP now and will be notified February 12th if there is still space available.
Here’s a shot from the Q&A Richard hosted with the “Knights” of the Living Dead Russ Streiner, George A. Romero, and John Russo after the Oct 19, 2013 performance of “Night of the Living Dead Live”! Thanks to John Migliore for the photo!
The Devils was one of the most controversial films ever made, considered to be blasphemous, indecent and downright demonic — but top Toronto film critic and author Richard Crouse wasn’t put off. In Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils(ECW Press), Richard writes about a film so notorious that people have been talking about it for forty years.
Raising Hell examines this unique film in all its horrible glory via new interviews with cast and crew, including an exclusive interview with late director Ken Russell.
Today we welcome Richard to Open Book as part of our Proust Questionnaire series. In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Richard tells Open Book about sock lust, a flower with an appetite and the best meal to be had in Toronto.
The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent’s “true” nature.
What is your dream of happiness?
Writing a perfect sentence… and having someone there to read it.
What is your idea of misery?
Being thrown in jail for something I didn’t do, or spending time at a cottage.
Where would you like to live?
Exactly where I live right now.
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
See above… and dark curly hair.
What is your chief characteristic?
What is your principal fault?
What is your greatest extravagance?
My (uncontrollable) lust for buying Paul Smith socks.
What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Drunkeness and ego.
What do you value most about your friends?
See above… actually, loyalty, humour and patience.
What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My intolerance for incompetence.
What is your favourite virtue?
What is your favourite occupation?
What would you like to be?
Keith Richards’s guitar pick.
What is your favourite colour?
Anything that isn’t taupe.
What is your favourite flower?
Audrey, the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.
What is your favourite bird?
Lyrebird, an Australian bird that can mimic any sound in the world.
What historical figure do you admire the most?
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Thanks for the BLT’s!
What character in history do you most dislike?
Jay M. Arena, creator of the Child-Proof Cap.
Who are your favourite prose authors?
Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote and Richard Matheson.
Who are your favourite poets?
Ogden Nash, George Carlin and Edgar Allen Poe.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
George Bailey, Ferris Bueller and Ziggy Stardust.
Who are your heroes in real life?
The people who read my books and watch my shows.
Who is your favourite painter?
Who is your favourite musician?
In cascading order… David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits.
What is your favourite food?
The Piquant Shrimp at Southern Accent on Markham Street in Toronto.
What is your favourite drink?
Most anything in a pint glass… but especially Guinness.
What are your favourite names?
Andrea, Max, Jack and 国.
What is it you most dislike?
What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The innate ability to know how many chili flakes is too many.
How do you want to die?
While watching The Godfather… Part 62, which will star an actor who hasn’t even been born yet.
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Convincing my publisher to let me write a book about The Devils, a decades old movie not many people have seen.
What is your motto?
With a nod to Dr. Thompson: Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Bieber with members of his entourage, at the Royal York Hotel on Tuesday.
Justin Bieber was in town Tuesday, promoting the soon-to-be-released movie about his life—all sixteen years of it. There was a press conference yesterday afternoon in the ballroom at the Royal York Hotel. Torontoist was invited, of course.
The ballroom at the Royal York would be a pretty lavish backdrop for a state dinner, let alone a publicity stunt. There are painted ceilings in there, and chandeliers. The dour, stylishly dressed writer seated next to us theorized that Bieber’s handlers had simply over-prepared, in case of an unexpectedly large turnout. But Bieber is famous on such a galactic scale, at the moment, that his publicists probably could have pulled the same or better number of media outlets if they’d held the presser in a public washroom.
Though even the public washrooms at the Royal York are really nice.
Bieber was late, and the assembled crowd of journalists began to get restless. A paper placard with his name on it was perched (somewhat needlessly, what with the galactic fame) on top of a red-velvet-fringed table on a dais at the head of the room. A reporter for TVO Kids was the first to succumb to the temptation to get her picture taken with the placard, which would have been maybe a slight breach of decorum had she not been ten years old. Then Steve Murray from the Post did the same, but he’s a satirist, and so not always taking himself seriously is kind of his job. Then half-a-dozen other reporters, none of them children or satirists, did likewise.
So yes: Even Justin Bieber’s name, printed on a folded piece of paper, has more personal charisma than most of humanity.
The first indication that His Biebness had entered the building was the arrival of his security retinue: a cadre of men built like refrigerators, wearing suits and Secret-Service-style earpieces. (They might have been employed by the hotel.)
Then, almost forty-five minutes after the scheduled start of the presser, Justin Bieber took his seat on the dais, alongside a few members of his entourage (his security guy, his stylist) and Jon Chu, who directed the Bieber movie.
Up close, the first thing that impresses itself upon one about Bieber is how small and very authentically kidlike he is. Next to the full-grown adults on the dais, he looked like a doll. And yet he had a way of taking control of the entire situation.
“Hey, where my fans at?” said Bieber. “We have so much room in here. Why don’t we bring them in here? Yeah, yeah, yeah. That makes more sense.”
Perhaps twenty adolescent girls filed in from the hallway and took some of the seats that weren’t occupied by members of the press.
“I’m not really good at press conferences,” he continued. “I’m not really sure how this works. If you guys could inform me how this works, that would be great.”
Fans react to Bieber’s answers during the Q-and-A session.
CTV’s Richard Crouse, who was moderating the press conference, asked Bieber when it first dawned on him that he was “really famous.”
“Um, I don’t know. I still don’t really notice it. I’m still just, like, a regular teenage boy,” said the guy with a security detail and, now, a personal cheering section of twelve-to-fourteen-year-old girls. “And I mean, my fans have been here since day one, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
The twenty girls let up a unison “Woo!”
Crouse asked if Bieber still cleans his room. “I do clean my room,” said Bieber. At another point, he spoke about living in geared-to-income housing in Stratford. But that was years ago. Like, at least two.
Bieber had a way of projecting an appealing humility. It may have been false, but the point is that he knows he needs that image—knows that it’s a defence against backlash and a key component of his appeal to the core Bieber demographic.
And he seems to know his demographic.
Talking about the movie, he said to the assembled reporters: “Some of you are probably a little surprised you liked it, right? Be honest.”
Then he singled out the dour, stylish writer sitting next to us. It was as though he’d read the room already, and had picked out the one person most likely to be hostile to the project.
“You liked it, right?” asked Bieber.
“Yeah, I enjoyed it,” said the writer.
Bieber cut him off: “You enjoyed it. It’s a good movie whether you like me or you hate me.”
Twenty minutes into the conference Bieber interrupted a lineup of journalists waiting at a microphone for their turns to ask him questions, and gave the cheering section a chance to pose one of their own. He called on a girl. She took the mic and laid out her query: “Will you marry me?”
“We get that question at least once a day,” said Bieber. “The answer is: never say never.”
Never Say Never is the title of the movie. And so in one breath he’d reassured a fan that he wasn’t beyond her reach, romantically—that he was just an ordinary teenage guy—and had also plugged the 3D theatrical extravaganza that he stars in.
The conundrum of Bieber’s fame is that, to keep it, he has to be at least nominally ordinary, otherwise the legions of fans who’ve turned him into the hottest shit on all the internets might no longer consider him boyfriend material. He needs to oscillate between extremes of celebrity and banality so quickly that all we see is a blur. The fact that he was able to do this in a room stacked with skeptical adults made him seem uncommonly smart.
Justin Bieber during a press conference for his documentary film “Never Say Never” in Toronto on February 1. (CP Images)
Justin Bieber kept the crowd waiting at the Royal York Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, but when he did show up – well, the afternoon wasn’t just for the reporters in the room, anyway.
“Whassup?” calls out the 16-year-old Canadian pop sensation – his hair a little looser than constantly photographed; his face starting to firm toward adulthood – as he appears from the wings and takes his seat 45 minutes later than scheduled for about 50 reporters and photographers. “Hey! Where are my fans at? Are those fans out there? There’s a lot of fans out there, right? But there’s, like, so much room in here.”
“Should we bring ‘em in here?” someone calls out.
“You should bring ‘em in,” Bieber – keeping the wardrobe simple today with a modest grey hoodie – concurs. “Yeah, yeah, yeah – that makes more sense. I love you guys behind the cameras and stuff. That’s cool, right? But what’s the point if my fans aren’t here.”
Playing up the “Rocky” theme while a score of teenage girls comes in through a lobby door, Bieber points out toward them: “Everyone give it up for my faaaaans!”
The small and tidy phenom from equally small and tidy Stratford, Ontario, is making a home-ground whistle stop on the promotional push before his 3D half-concert/half-documentary feature, “Never Say Never”, hits the cinemas big-time on February 11. Flanked on a Royal York ballroom stage riser by the closest-knit of his team – stylist Ryan Good and strapping security chief Kenny Hamilton to his right; general manager Allison Kaye and Toronto journalist and moderator Richard Crouse to his left – Bieber had been setting off squeals since just before his press conference was scheduled to begin, at 2 p.m.
Reporters looking to bookend their TV reports take turns before Bieber’s arrival by occupying the space marked for him and giddily running through intros. “Have a great Bieber day!” gushes one talking head; another pumps up the adrenaline for his thought-to-be-imminent arrival with rapid-fire effusion before being prompted, in a stunt, to get out of the chair.
“…Awkward…!” she zings. Um… yeah. But, in its own sidelong way, gleefully par for the course.
“I’m not really good at press conferences,” Bieber says at the outset. “I haven’t really done a lot of them. So, I don’t really know how this works. You guys can inform me about how this works. That would be great.”
Crouse leads into an upbeat and fast-moving 25 minutes that feature a few questions about the making of “Never Say Never” – which not only chronicles the 10 days before a long-anticipated (and somewhat nerve-racking) sellout show at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, but fills in the details of Bieber’s less grandiose background – and a lot of questions of a more “16″ magazine variety.
The answers pretty much tell the level of the questions:
- “I think that Twitter’s such a good thing because I’m able to just be, like, interactive with my fans. I’m able to talk to them. They feel like they’re a part of me, which is really important.”
- “I’ve gotta say at first, like, a year ago, I was, like, all about Sour Patch Kids, right? They were the greatest things. But then my fans – they started bringing them to every show. Everything I was at. So, I kept eating them. Now, it’s like if I eat another Sour Patch Kid, I’m probably gonna just throw up. Now, I really like – well, in Canada, they’re Bigfoots. In America, they’re Swedish Fish. Canada’s better, obviously. Ketchup chips are good. I love them.”
- “I never wore long johns. Just sweatpants or something.”
- “I miss Tim Horton’s. I miss Timmy’s. I miss my Ice Cap. I miss seeing my friends and family. I miss my dog, Sam.”
- “Shout out to YouTube!”
The whole world of Bieber’s though, with his adoptive entertainment family keeping him company on stage and keeping him moving throughout “Never Say Never”… it can’t help but bring up the big question: Who does he trust?
“For sure,” he answers. “There’s so many people that are just new in my life. You can’t just think that someone’s going to do something wrong – because if you think like that, you’re not going to be happy in your life. You always have to expect people to do the right thing, but at the same thing you have to guard yourself and make sure you’re letting the right people in.
“All these past two years, these people have become like my family – just travelling with them every day. We’re going to fight like family and we’re going to have good times like family. Overall, at the end of the day, they’re here to make sure that I just become a good person, overall.”
“Never Say Never”, beyond showing singing and dancing sequences from last year’s My World tour, fills in the legendary blanks of Bieber’s seeming rise from nowhere. The famed YouTube clips of Bieber busking outside the Avon Theatre in Stratford and sweetly singing Ne-Yo songs as a wee neophyte on a local stage are included, but there are a few more digs deeper from the home vaults: Bieber bundled up to shovel snow, Bieber entering the Stratford Star talent contest (and finishing second), and some astounding footage of eight-year-old Bieber holding his own as a jazz drummer in a band with full-grown musicians.
There are the expected appearances by celebrities, mentors and peers. Producer LA Reid speaks of how he knew he’d heard “the Macaulay Culkin of music” when he was alerted by Scooter Braun, the aspiring (and relatively inexperienced) Atlanta manager who nabbed Bieber on YouTube faith alone. Usher, who famously took Bieber under his wing, is on-stage and off-, duetting live while also admonishing the young star for balking at health drinks designed to preserve his vocal cords.
“You’re not gonna be 16 forever,” Usher warns, like an older brother, as Bieber holds his nose backstage and downs a special concoction that he complains “tastes like dinosaur pee.”
There is talk of the famed hair, and of his allegiance to his mother Pattie Mallette and the rest of his Canadian family. But, mostly, “Never Say Never” is about the fans – be they the screaming girls in braces outside Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place, or even the 40-somethings at the Royal York press conference who can’t keep their crazed enthusiasm dimmed.
“There’s gonna be haters, no matter what,” Bieber admits at the conference. “People wanna see you succeed, and then once you’re there, they want to bring you down. It’s a weird world. But that’s how it is.
“There’s people who aren’t gonna like me, and that’s just – if they watch this movie and they really get to see that I’m just a nice person, and I’m not like… A lot of people think I’m just a factory machine, and people just put me together out of recycled product. Well, I really worked hard to get here. There’s so many people that helped me.”
And, with that in mind, Bieber invites one of the fans at the press conference to ask him a question. A young girl in a purple hoodie can’t get it out fast enough.
“Will you marry me?” she asks.
“We get that question at least once a day, too,” Bieber responds. “The answer is – you know – never say never, right?”