PRIDE month is going strong in Toronto and the spirit reached feverish heights this weekend with the 38th annual Pride Parade. The celebration of diversity is known as one of the biggest cultural festivals in North America, spanning 22 blocks and bringing-in an estimated 1 million people to the City. Entertainment always is a highlight of Pride and providing that are several prominent community DJs and Drag Performers. RuPaul’s Drag Race stars like Bendelacreme also graced the stages and coming to town this year were a star-studded line-up including SWV, Kehlani and Brandy, the latter who headlined at Yonge & Dundas Square tonight.
GRAMMY-winning, 40 million album-selling superstar BRANDY is a star of TV, Film, Theatre and Music, dominating the airwaves in the ’90s through early 2000s with smash hits like The Boy is Mine (alongside Monica), Full Moon, I Wanna Be Down, Sittin’ Up in My Room and Top of the World. She has shown her love for the LGBT community, performing also at Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis last night, prior to arriving in the City for her eagerly-awaited set.
We spotted Brandy earlier and while her handler tried intercepting, she was amazingly nice and came over for a Selfie and some autographs. We love her braids and glasses, and it’s as if she hasn’t aged a day! Toronto is extremely lucky to have her this year and we can’t wait to see who’ll be here next year!
Few films in the new millennium have had as great a cultural impact on a generation as 2004’s Mean Girls. Directed by Mark Waters, Tina Fey‘s adaptation of the book Queen Bees and Wannabes, would go on to both Box Office success and cult hit status, making bona fide movie stars out of Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried, Lizzy Caplan, Amy Poehler and Fey herself.
Shot right here in Toronto, it is only appropriate that TIFF and Pride Toronto team-up to celebrate on a Wednesday, where the audience just like the girls in the Movie, are to wear pink only!
Reunited tonight for the special screening at Harbourfront Centre (along with a live stream on the Internet) were cast members Rajiv Surendra (Kevin Gnapoor), Olympia Lukis (Jessica Lopez), Ky Pham (Trang Pak), Daniel DeSanto (Jason) and of course Daniel Franzese (Damian). LindsayLohan even joined-in for a chat with her cast mates via a live chat.
Franzese (pronounced “fran-zay-see”), who was front and center, has found much success of late starring on HBO series LOOKING, which after ending prematurely, sees new life in Movie-form late July on the network.
Timed perfectly for Pride, the theme of exclusion in the Film and one of its several catch phrases, “You can’t sit with us”, got flipped right around with the evening’s tagline being “You can sit with us”.
The Cast who stayed past 11 PM, were so nice after the screening to pose for photos with fans who were lined-up in an orderly fashion. The CN Tower lit a rainbow, was just the perfect backdrop.
Based on the Stephen King Novel about a Time Traveler who goes back in time to try and stop the assassination for Robert J. Kennedy, 11-22-63 has been filming in the Greater Toronto Area this Summer under the guidance of Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland), starring James Franco. In recent weeks, filming has moved to Hamilton and Guelph.
We spotted one of its stars, George MacKay out and about this weekend and although he might be unfamiliar to many, Film Lovers will recognize him from TIFF ’14 Selection, PRIDE which played to a standing ovation. He tells me that he unfortunately couldn’t make it for the Festival last September, while most of his Co-Stars did, but meeting him randomly more than makes up for his absence!
11-22-63 films here through October, so expect to see some its Cast out and about come TIFF! Hulu will be streaming the exciting new Series.
Cinema Lovers were inundated with fantastic Selections at the Movies in 2014. Although there isn’t quite a definitive Standout, there were many, many outstanding Films released. Dare we say, one of the strongest years in recent memory? This certainly makes the race for dominance this Awards Season a rather curious one.
We rely regularly on the opinions of our resident Contributors: Jonathan Godfrey (now with us a third year!), David Baldwin, Justin Waldman and our newest Team addition George Kozera, to keep us informed on what to watch and asked them what their Favourites of 2014 were. We’re not professional Film Critics by any measure, but we love Film passionately and if you ever want a Friend’s opinion, we are happy to share! The voice of the Fan always should matter most and we are Fans just like YOU!
As you will see, the choices are eclectic, a reflection of the offerings this year…
1. Interstellar 2. Lucy 3. The Tale of Princess Kaguya 4. Nymphomaniac 5. John Wick 6. Maps to the Stars 7. Wild 8. Mood Indigo 9. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1 10. Bjork: Biophilia Live
Every year of my life has been cinematically-splendid, and 2014 was no different. Numerous Films from diverse Genres excited my eyes and elevated my mind-state. None more so than Nolan’s Interstellar. Having seen it four times in the theatre it still doesn’t feel like enough. That said, it wasn’t the only slice of Sci-Fi I gobbled up. Lucy also satiated my appetite for Techno-Fantasy. Then there was the outright Fantasy of Studio Ghibli’s breathtaking tale about a Bamboo Princess, Lars Von Triers four-hour dive into sexual addiction, Keanu’s kick-ass Escapade, Cronenberg’s Olympian Tragedy, Witherspoon’s awe-inspiring performance, Michel Gondry’s take on a cult novel that finally made its way to Canadian screens, and Katniss Everdeen… the Icon who continues to inspire me. Last, but most definitely not least, Björk released her incredible Concert Film which combined technological advances with her love for nature. Maybe 2014 was a little different after all, it was grippingly- cinematic, but with a touch of the divine.
Looking back, I think 2014 was one hell of a year for Film. There were some truly awful and sub-par Films released this year too. But there were just as many good, and even a few truly-great Films released as well. It was a mixed bag, but the quality and ambition of some of this year’s crop of Films was truly extraordinary. While Franchise/Comic Book Film fatigue is starting to become quite evident, some pretty huge and experimental gambles paid off brilliantly (did anyone ever expect The LEGO Movie to be as wildly enjoyable as it was?). The Box Office stats in North America may not suggest it, but it was a truly memorable year. And if this is what we have to expect in 2015, I am immediately excited for some of its prospects — and for some time to re-watch some of this year’s best Films again!
1. Whiplash 2. Nightcrawler 3. Birdman 4. Boyhood 5. Life Itself 6. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 7. The Imitation Game 8. Gone Girl 9. How To Train Your Dragon 2 10. Guardians of the Galaxy
(Potential top Films not seen before end of 2014: Big Eyes, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year)
It is New Year’s Eve and that means that we are supposed to look back at the year and discuss the best things we have seen and witnessed this year. This year brought a ton of great Films that were released throughout the entire year, most of which came out in the second half of the year but some came out earlier on. With so many great Films that came out this past year and one Title that comes out in February, here are the best Films of 2014 with a few extra Titles. In absolutely no particular order:
1. Snowpiercer 2. Big Hero 6 3. Whiplash 4. Nightcrawler 5. Foxcatcher 6. The F Word 7. Pride 8. Dear White People 9. Calvary 10. Guardians of the Galaxy
Now that the best 10 Movies of the year I saw are out there, here is a few of the other Titles that did not make the Top 10 but deserve recognition, at least in my mind. Into the Woods, Big Eyes, Theory of Everything, Interstellar, Birdman, Gone Girl, Locke and Life Itself. 2014 was an excellent year of Film, 2015 has a tough year to compete against but BRING IT ON!
For the first time in years, I struggled with whittling down the Movies I saw that were eligible for my Top 10 Movies of 2014. That in itself is a strong indication how many great movies were released this year! So it is with great apologies to the following Movies that WOULD have made the list in a weaker movie year (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wild, Gone Girl, The Lego Movie, The F Word, Locke & The Babadook), I submit my Top 10 that made the biggest impact on me in 2014.
1. Boyhood 2. Foxcatcher 3. The Theory of Everything 4. Birdman 5. Ida 6. The Immigrant 7. The Imitation Game 8. Mommy 9. Nightcrawler 10. Whiplash
My 2014 in review, including my Best-Of? Click here for that.
Stick with us once again in 2015 for the most exciting Canadian Advance Screening Giveaways, Prizes, Star-Spottings and Reviews!
Everyone loves The Village People! The six-member Disco group with the catalogue of hits forever have impacted parties on Dancefloors across the World. YMCA, In the Navy, Macho Man need no introduction as they are instantly lift spirits.
Currently in Toronto for World Pride celebrations, the Group are set to take the stage Friday night at The Phoenix Concert Hall as part of 103.9 PROUD FM’s DISCOS & DIVAS Party.
Although their Lineup has changed over the past 30-plus years, remaining members Ray Simpson, Alex Briley and Felipe Rose still tour. New members Jim Newman and Bill Whitefield are recent additions to the Band.
Also, while we are at it, here’s a chance to win a Digital Download on iTunes (available now!) of their Cult Classic Can’t Stop the Music: The Village People Film! To enter, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook!
See a Clip below:
See our Snap:
(Photo/video credit: The Village People/Mr. Will Wong)
In just over a year, Netflix Original Series ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK quickly has taken over the World by storm. The ever-popular craze of Bingewatching not only has Fans under house arrest, but quickly it is making Stars out of up-and-coming Actors equally.
Transgender Actress Laverne Cox plays Sophia Burset on the Series, perhaps my favourite of many likeable Characters in the Cast. Just appearing on the cover of TIME Magazine earlier this month – with the distinction of being the first-ever Transgender person to do so – she is in town to appear tonight at an In Conversation With at TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of the World Pride Festivities taking over the City this week. More here.
In addition to acting and looking fabulous always, Cox writes occasionally for The Huffington Post and is an ardent Advocate of Transgender Rights.
Cox graced the Morning Show circuit this morning, appearing bright and early at KISS 92.5‘s The Roz & Mocha Show where Fans were moved to tears by her inspiring words. Shortly after, she made her way to Global Television’s The Morning Show (National Edition). Fans were left disappointed though as Cox opted for Loading Docks and Underground Garages. We were lucky enough to catch-up with an on-the-go Cox who made an exception for one Fan Photo. We are on cloud nine that Billy and I got to meet her.
Netflix streams both Season One and Two of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, available now!
Tegan and Sara may have been responsible for the rise in temperatures today in Toronto. The three-time JUNO Winners surprised all with a Pop-Up Concert at Roy Thomson Hall this afternoon as part of TD Bank‘s TD Music Café Summertime Series. The Calgary-born Twin Sister Duo known best for their recent Hits Closer and I Was a Fool achieved a Career High with their latest Disc, Heartthrob reaching the Top Three of the U.S. Billboard Hot 200 Albums Chart – their best performance yet. As an aside, TD’s MusiCounts Program, for which the Series is in support of, last year alone raised over $200k to organizations across Canada.
In their 40-minute Set today, they pleased Fans new and old alike sipping away on a variety of Sodastream Beverages, focussing much on their recent material before fielding questions from CBC‘s Jian Ghomeshi in an intimate Q&A afterwards. Their performance despite a hectic touring schedule which last saw them in Boston, still packed a punch and sounded pitch perfect.
A handful of Fans hoping to get “closer” to the Duo unfortunately didn’t have much luck as they were rushed into their SUV before heading-off to the Airport for a two-week hiatus. The Sisters will be back in Toronto at WorldPride 2014 at the end of June!
Before Destiny’s Child there was En Vogue. Those of us who grew-up in the early ’90s will have fond memories of our Airwaves dominated by the Girl Group responsible for smash Hits Don’t Let Go, Hold On, My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Free Your Mind and their Collaboration with Salt-n-Pepa, Whatta Man.
After surviving multiple Lineup changes which included Founding Members Dawn Robinson and Maxine Jones reuniting/departing the R&B Outfit, the Group now tours as a Trio with former The All-New Mickey Mouse Club Alumni Rhona Bennett, whom at one point was in-the-running for a promising Solo Career circa Britney Spears Era.
Those of us celebrating Pride in Toronto had the treat of witnessing a free Performance by En Vogue tonight at the 15th annual Blockorama, held at TD Wellesley Stage. Although there were several issues with sound – Co-Lead Vocalist Terry Ellis got the worst of if with her microphone levels being off the early part of their Set – they definitely wowed the Audience with their still-amazing Vocals. Zipping through their biggest Hits and also a Tribute Medley to the likes of Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Anita Ward, The Emotions and more, they certainly left the Crowd wanting more. And more they gave, performing a rousing Cover of Whitney Houston‘s I Wanna Dance With Somebody!
Their Handler was kind, collecting CDs and Albums from Fans, bringing them in to be personalized and on their way out, Security tried stopping Fans from getting Photos although both the lovely Cindy Herron and Bennett were nice to accommodate me, despite my Camera failing to fire in the dark with the latter.
Although clearly not the best quality, here’s a Clip of their Performance of Hold On:
Earlier in the day, I was lucky enough to meet amazing ’90s R&B/Reggae Diva Diana King, known best for her massive Hits Shy Guy and high-energy Cover of Dionne Warwick‘s I Say a Little Prayer. Just last year, King came out as a Lesbian on Facebook and even brought along her Girlfriend on-stage, who served as her DJ. Although her Set was brief, her Voice is still amazing and if not even stronger. She wrapped things up with Shy Guy, which had the Audience singing out loud as it vamped into a Remix.
With over 1.2 million people estimated to be in attendance this year, Pride Toronto kicked-off last weekend and concludes today. The annual Festival celebrating history, courage, diversity and future for the LGBTQ Community sees its Marquee event tomorrow, the annual Pride Parade, take place for the 41st consecutive year. Click here to view the Route.
Always a big draw to the Festival, Musical Talent this year includes En Vogue, Carol Pope, Diamond Rings, Anjulie, KAY, Diana King and Carmen Electra. The latter, whose eclectic talents include Writing, Acting, Modelling, Dancing and Singing too, performed original material tonight on the South Stage at Church x Carlton. Many don’t realize that Electra actually recorded a debut Disc back in 1993, produced by none other than Prince, and only recently returned to her roots. Sporting an edgy Electro/Hip-Hop/Dance Sound, Electra electrified on-stage even if her performance was brief with Tracks like Bigger D*ck and I Like it Loud, with the help of two Backing Dancers.
Upon leaving the Venue, Electra was nice enough to stop for a quick Snap (thanks so much to Reader Jay Stoney for taking it!), even offering to take more Photos with Fans before her Entourage shut it down, leaving a couple Fans disappointed.
For those curious about Electra’s sound, check out latest Single, I Like it Loud below:
See our Snap:
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong | Video credit: Citrusonic Stereophonic & Bill Hamel)
Toronto as you might know, is hosting WorldPride 2014 – deemed an international Celebration incorporating Activism, Education, History and Culture of global LGBTTIQQ2SA Communities. The dates for the Festivities have been confirmed to take place between June 20 to 29, 2014.
On the newly-confirmed dates, Pride Toronto Co-Chair Luke Amona says, “In the interest of good planning, the new dates ensure Toronto is capable of accommodating the predicted influx in tourism for WorldPride 2014.”.
In addition to these dates being confirmed, the Theme of the Celebration has been unveiled as Rise Up!. Yes, as in the 1983 Hit from Toronto Band, Parachute Club. Although a Teaser Video was leaked yesterday featuring the Song, Pride Toronto stated that they will in the next few weeks be releasing a new exciting Logo and official Teaser.
In Toronto Magazine, TD Bank and Pride Toronto hosted a Gala for WorldPride 2014 last night with a Toronto Gay Who`s Who in attendance, while in addition to the spirit of Pride, gathered for the chiseled Go-Go Boys, Cocktails and Daniel et Daniel Catering.
How could I not resist getting a Souvenir from the Festivities?