Saturday, September 08, 2007
Toronto Diary: Foster care, Canadian-style
The best and worst thing about taking the red-eye on a business trip is that it allows you to hit the ground running. Yesterday, I ran so fast the wheels nearly broke off.

After checking in to my hotel (by the way, as you will learn a bit later there are two Hotel Intercontinentals in Toronto -- the one where all the stars do tons of press events, and the one where I am staying) I quickly made my way to the Varsity Screening Room No. 2 to watch the new Coen brothers masterpiece, "No Country For Old Men."

I say "masterpiece" because a lesser film would have lost my jet-lagged attention to a well deserved slumber in a matter of minutes. Instead, I was met with a film so nuanced and powerful in its execution that I didn't even notice there wasn't a soundtrack. Javier Bardem's performance is perfect, subtle and downright scary. Make no mistake, this is an extremely violent film -- which is usually not my favorite kind of movie -- but in this case the bloodshed is well explained and consequences are shown, somehow making it much more tolerable, even at 11 a.m.

After the screening, I ran like a jackrabbit on fire to make my interviews for the new black-and-white feature, "Control." It wasn't until I arrived to the Hotel Intercontinental Spa and was asked if I would care for a cleansing men's facial that I realized I was on the wrong 3rd floor of the WRONG Hotel Intercontinental, and that there are in fact, two of these delightful establishments in Toronto.

Rushing to the appropriate hotel, complete with singed fur, is when I came to the quiet understanding that this year's film festival was going to be fast and crazy and completely out of control. I took a deep breath and just accepted it.

Luckily, the studios are now offering an abundance of pre-festival screenings in a variety of cities around the country in order to give overbooked, overwhelmed journalists the ability to focus on interviews rather than seeing movies ... at the Toronto Film Festival. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

In any case, I screened the new Warner Bros. adrenaline flick "The Brave One" nearly three weeks ago. (Warner Bros., it should be noted, is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN -- ed.) Therefore, it was a fun challenge to prepare a solid interview with its star, Jodie Foster, this morning before our chat.

Ultimately, I settled on the themes of courage and heroism, and thought these topics would unfold nicely in a conversation with the acclaimed actress. I imagine Jodie Foster is a hero to a lot of people and the character she plays in the film, an average woman with a taste for revenge, certainly is.

After 10 minutes with the illustrious Ms. Foster I learned three things: (1) She is simultaneously vulnerable and powerful, a convenient trick for an actor; (2) when you ask her about her significant other she very politely declines to answer; and (3) she has "classy and famous" down to a science. A few other stars I've chatted with in my life would benefit greatly from a little Foster-care.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Toronto Diary: Hunt for Moore
From CNN Entertainment Producer JD Cargill at the Toronto International Film Festival:

It was 10:30 p.m. when I boarded my flight for the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. At 10:31 I rolled my Samsonite carry-on past the feet of Helen Hunt.

She was in first class, of course. I had a slightly more ... cozy seat waiting for me. It was somewhere around 31F that I realized: (1) I really need to make more money; and (2) long gone are the days when film festivals were dominated by no-name actors and no-name directors.

This being my third consecutive year to attend the prestigious event -- and having interviewed everyone from Johnny Depp to Jude Law in the process -- I feel it's safe to say to say, Air Canada Flight 794 was transporting me away from Hollywood, the city, and taking me to Hollywood: The Machine.

I'm heading out to my first public screening -- Michael Moore's latest offering, "Captain Mike Across America," which chronicles his travels during the 2004 presidential campaign. It will be interesting to see if the world's most famous documentary filmmaker packed his trusty monkey wrench for this year's festival.

-- JD Cargill
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The worst TV shows of all time
TIME's James Poniewozik has just put together his list of the 100 best TV shows of all time. Here you will find the usual candidates -- "Taxi," "60 Minutes," "All in the Family" -- along with some idiosyncratic picks -- "The Abbott and Costello Show," "Oprah," "Beavis and Butt-head."

But (no offense to Poniewozik) we see these lists all the time. What we need are more lists devoted to the WORST shows of all time. (Here's one from TV Guide, courtesy Wikipedia.)

Let's hear it for "The Montefuscos"! Can we have an amen for "Sing Along with Mitch"? And even Brandon Tartikoff, who green-lighted it, knew just how awful "Manimal" was.

So let's hear some nominees. (I'll bet there's someone out there who can't even stand "I Love Lucy.") The floor is yours.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Music business savior?
I like Rick Rubin. I like him because he's a brilliant producer -- he's done terrific work with Tom Petty, the Dixie Chicks and LL Cool J, among many others -- and because he cares about music. He took on Johnny Cash when Cash had been left for dead by Nashville, and he saw through Neil Diamond's 1970s and '80s soppiness to the crisp songwriter who did fine work for Bang and Uni in the '60s.

I think I like Rick Rubin even more now, given his comments in Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile.

Rubin has been brought in to help run Columbia Records and, perhaps, rejuvenate the record business, which has insisted on shooting itself in the foot, face and eardrums for the past several years. (You could argue -- I could argue -- the major labels have been doing that for the past several decades, but we'll leave that discussion for another time.)

So here's Rubin on the challenge:

"So many of the decisions at these companies have not been about the music," he said. "They sign artists for the wrong reasons -- because they think somebody else wants them or if they need to have a record out by a certain date. That old way of doing things is obsolete, but luckily, fear is making the record companies less arrogant. They're more open to ideas."

Of course, that could be wishful thinking on Rubin's part. The major record companies may continue to do things the way they always did, and this time that inability to change may force them out of business. I wonder how many people will shed tears over that demise.

Rubin can always head back to producing and making great music, and musicians will find some other means of distribution -- many already have.

But I'm rooting for Rubin, anyway. Given his track record, he's easy to root for.
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