By Amanda-Marie Quintino
After six hours of pacing the ritzy streets of Yorkville last Thursday in search of Hollywood hotshots — ducking into trendy cafes, scouring hotel lobbies and window-shopping outside high-end boutiques — I decided to throw out the binoculars and hit the red carpet, where celebrity sightings were guaranteed.
No matter how many times I walked up and down Bloor St. W. and along Hazelton Lanes, it looked like finding Brad Pitt was mission impossible.
It was the eighth day of this 10-day glamfest and world cinema celebration — and still, I had yet to spot a star.
I picked up a pamphlet that read “Toronto’s most up-scale neighbourhood, filled with restaurants and bars that provide the perfect setting for stargazing.” Well, the pamphlet was wrong.
I thought for sure I’d find a chic chica browsing Over the Rainbow’s over-priced racks, but no such luck. These stars were either still asleep or had sent their assistants on a Starbucks run, sparing them from appearing on these high-class Toronto streets.
They may have been hiding in their hotels by day, but I knew they’d be out by night. All I needed was permission.
So, before putting on my reporter attire — complete with blazer, tailored trousers and glasses for a touch of sophistication — I headed to Sutton Place for a media pass. This laminated card would give me accreditation to stand on the red carpet as select stars strolled by. Things got complicated. There were two of us and only one card. Thinking quickly, I made a sacrifice and gave my photographer, Scott McLeod, the pass. Now he could snap exclusive shots of those glammed up gals and guys.
Bobby, a film by big name Hollywood talent Emilio Estevez, was set to start at 6:30 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. In typical journalistic style, we were fashionably late. As stars started sliding out of their limos and rolling onto the red carpet, our Co-Op cab was just pulling up to the curb.
Scott and I shoved through screaming fans and argued our way onto the red carpet. He flashed his press pass. I just followed him — and it worked. Until a PR lady approached me, asking to see a pass. When I didn’t produce one, she bumped me back behind a barricade. But that put no end to my determination to get star coverage.
As Ben Mulroney stood screwy-faced on the carpet, biting his nails, holding a microphone in his available hand, I stuck my size five feet into one of the barricade’s bars, elevated myself and yelled for attention. I didn’t even need to be a high-profile entertainment journalist or the daughter of a well-known Canadian politician. My voice got that PR lady’s attention again.
“I thought I told you…” her voice trailed as she inspected my positioning on the barricade.
“I need you to get down and back,” she instructed sternly.
So I did what any self-respecting student journalist, desperate to get good coverage of an extremely popular event would do — I made a scene. I asked if she knew who I was (as if I was someone important), I told her who I worked for (as if it was someplace important), and I told her what my position was (as if it was something important).
And I don’t know if it was my charm or my persistence that won her over, but once that drama was done, the celebrity ogling began. I now had a front row star-spotting spot.
Christian Slater worked the crowds and the cameras with various thumbs up and even more smiles. William H. Macy looked suave and sexy in his grey suit, no tie. Sharon Stone got the most cheers, but spent the least time on the carpet. Emilio Estevez signed books, movies, and even arms after he stepped out of a black Escalade.
And then I saw him. Canadian Idol judge, Zack Werner, dressed down and decked out in denim, looking as if he just wanted to blend in, popped out of the crowd, had a short chat with a security officer, and then disappeared back into the sea of flailing arms.
Ear-busting cheers faded to boos as power couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher darted into the Hall, leaving fans, photographers and reporters with just a backside photo-op.
But not every star dooped the crowd. Although tardy, Joshua Jackson, who pulled up seconds before the screening, still gave his fans some time, snapping shots with them and signing all sorts of Dawson’s Creek paraphernalia.
As things settled down and the stars made their way in for curtain call, I huddled into a corner and made notes.
“Nice shoes,” I heard someone say to me. It was Global’s entertainment anchor, Cheryl Hickey.
“Thanks,” I replied. “You, too.” I may have gotten kicked off the red carpet, but at least I looked good.