Shafted at the Film Festival

In Arts & Life /

By Chris Daniels

Everyone seems to be waiting for Kevin Spacey.

Finally, it’s time for my 15 seconds of fame. Make that 15 seconds with fame. Everybody seems to have a story about meeting somebody famous. Well, I’ve met no one. Nada. But this week, Toronto becomes a mini-Hollywood with big0time stars like Julianne Moore, Brad Pitt, Spike Lee, Tom Selleck and Claudia Schiffer in town for the 22nd annual Toronto International Film Festival. What bester way to have a close encounter with a movie star than covering the festival for The Eyeopener?

“Who? Who do you write for?” asks media control at Roy Thomson Hall. So I’m not with Entertainment Tonight, I grumble, as E.T. swallows up my photo-friendly territory on the red carpet and spits me out in the far-away fan section.

Here we are: a bunch of inferior fans clutching our pens and pathetic cameras hoping to share a few words with Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, or Spacey, all expected to arrive for the premiere of the thriller L.A. Confidential.

There they are: a bunch of photographers and reporters with their mammoth microphones and protruding camera lenses knowing they have the, uh, equipment that commands most starts’ attention.

Thus it is a surprise when Spacey, as cool in real life as he is in films like The Usual Suspects and A Time to Kill, pops out of the black limousine and, ignoring the pleas from the press, saunters straight to the frantic fans. Photographers curse (“He had better come over here,” says one) and fans fawn (“I love you Kevin!”). In place of my close encounter with Spacey, an oncoming video camera hits me in the head and I’m shoved out of the way. All i see is Spacey’s back as he’s escorted away.

Other fans missed out too. One film fanatic, a 50-year-old man with thick circular glasses, chinos and a baseball cap, wanted Basinger’s autograph but she stayed away from the fans and close to her hubby Alec Baldwin.

“I want her autograph because it is the effect of seeing her in the movies. That makes her larger than life,” Mr. Film Fanatic says. “But she is just a person, a signature.”

He certainly came prepared for those signatures. In hand are numbers screenplays for the stars to sign such as Glengarry Glen Ross for Alec Baldwin. But he only got L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson’s signature on the video box cover of The Bedroom Window.

But don’t feel sorry for Mr. Film Fanatic. He has talked to stars like Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, and Mira Sorvino, although he has run into a few celebrities who refuse to sign like Quentin Tarantino (“He says he’s a private person”) and Sean Penn. “Sean just wouldn’t sign,” he says. “I did take a picture though, and he didn’t punch me out.”

Getting punched out by Sean Penn certainly qualifies as a close encounter of the movie star kind. Maybe too close.

I try attending (okay, crashing) the festival’s opening night party at the Guvernment. Among those partying are Sarah Polloy and Atom Egoyan, star and director, respectively, of . Director Michael Moore (Canadian Bacon) with underwear-model-turned-movie-star Mark Wahlberg are also partying it up.

I figure I’ll pose as a journalist friend of Polley, the hot-at-the-moment 19-year-old actress. I tell this to the woman in charge, and she tells me that’s a good line. Polley doesn’t consider journalists friends, she counters.

Feeling dejected (I thought I was a much better liar than that), I find myself eating a hotdog with a tired bus driver outside The Guvernment while the movie stars eat caviar inside.

Bus driver Barry Emo drives festival-goers around town and says he hasn’t met anyone famous either. “Who knows if I will meet anyone?” Hopefully. It will make this job worthwhile.” Just maybe.

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