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Slideshow: reality television stars and a (fake) jewel heist at the 2013 Producers Ball

Producers Ball 2013

TIFF’s big opening gala is still a few hours off, but the industry parties kicked off last night with the Producers Ball at the Royal Ontario Museum. W Network’s studly twins Drew and Jonathan Scott hosted the gala, which drew Canadian celebs like George Stroumboulopoulos, handyman Mike Holmes and reality TV star Shannon Tweed (who mugged on the red carpet with daughter Sophie). Meanwhile, Colin Mochrie trolled the charity silent auction tables with his wife Deb McGrath, who observed, “No one’s bidding on the Swarovski necklace!” Mochrie suggested they distract security and make off with it. Instead, the pair duly bid on a bauble, helping organizers raise more than $15,000 for World Vision.

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Holiday Feast Recipe: Brandy-spiked apple cider from Museum Tavern’s Moses McIntee

Moses McIntee’s Brandy-Spiked Apple Cider

Moses McIntee’s Brandy-Spiked Apple CiderMoses McIntee, who holds court at Museum Tavern, the posh bar across from the ROM, is the kind of highbrow bar hand who speed-chills his martini glasses with liquid nitrogen. His punch bowl is a departure into the humble: cider, cinnamon, oranges and not a nitro-smoke cloud in sight. He adds cranberry juice as a nod to the berry-picking trips he took with his uncle as a kid.

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Today in Toronto: Leonard Cohen, Tchaikovsky Spectacular and more

Leonard Cohen The rumbling 78-year-old baritone and the wry, melancholic lyrics continue to entrance. Cohen’s most recent album, Old Ideas, is full of somber yet occasionally winking reflections on age and death. Find out more »

Tchaikovsky Spectacular Members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra join the TSO for this highly populist take on the Russian master’s oeuvre—what could be more crowd-pleasing than the suite from Swan Lake and the second piano concerto? Find out more »

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Condomonium: $1.25 million for a Bloor Street suite with a protected view over downtown

ADDRESS: 175 Cumberland Street, Unit 1407

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Yorkville

AGENT: Brian Gerstein, Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd.

PRICE: $1,250,000

THE PLACE: A recently renovated two-bedroom suite in the Renaissance Plaza building, which partially surrounds the Church Of The Redeemer on Bloor. The subtle decor of this unit contrasts with the hipper look of a different condo in the building that we featured in April.

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New Reviews: Museum Tavern, Moo Milk Bar and Riverside Public House

An old-timey bar, fancified fried chicken and haute milk and cookies

Museum Tavern star½
208 Bloor St. W., 416-920-0110

New Reviews: Museum Tavern, Moo Milk Bar and Riverside Public House

Walking into the new restaurant across from the ROM, you half expect the tipplers at the bar to shout, “Norm!” The place, styled as a classic American brasserie with dark wood and brown leather galore, looks like a high-class version of Cheers, although the cocktails are fancier than the pints Norm and Cliff swilled. They’re created by Moses McIntee, the former bartender at the Ritz-Carlton, who plies the ubiquitous formula—classic cocktail plus premium booze plus modern twist—better than almost any mix master in town. For example, he upgrades his apricot bourbon sour with Maker’s Mark and black pepper–apricot syrup for zip and sweetness. Stephen Gouzopoulos, who ran the kitchen at L’Unita in York­ville, executes the ultra-trendy pub menu with skill (and a heavy hand on the condiments). Steamed buns, piled with duck confit, are drenched in hoisin and sriracha but make for compulsive snacking nonetheless. The steak frites is a straight-forward rendition—a fat cut of rare flatiron ladled with a sherry-bacon gravy. A buttery house-made egg bun, smothered in spicy mayo and mashed avocado, cradles an enormous pink tuna steak—it’s a luscious, somewhat healthy take on the pub burger. The servers, who introduce themselves by name, are intense people pleasers, which likely suits the clientele of tourists and buttoned-down gentle­men just fine. Mains $20–$38.

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Today in Toronto: Free Flicks (The Karate Kid) and ROMwalk

Free Flicks: Rise of the Underdog All summer, Harbourfront hosts weekly free screenings of films celebrating the triumphs of losers, nerds and the generally undervalued. Tonight, the audience choice winner, The Karate Kid. Find out more »

ROMwalk The ROM’s history-themed neighbourhood walkabouts continue with guided tours into the wilds of the Annex, Yorkville, St. James’ Cemetery, the Distillery District and more. This evening’s walk goes through Cabbagetown. Find out more »

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The Weekender: Buskerfest, Fan Expo and six other events on our to-do list

Silver Elvis returns to Buskerfest this year (Image: Buskerfest)

1. SCOTIABANK BUSKERFEST
Last year, over a million people descended upon Front Street to see the world’s top buskers, making BuskerFest the largest street performer festival in North America—and this year it’s expected to get even bigger. With over 100 buskers from Japan, Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K. (among other places), expect a mind-boggling variety of performers. There’s also plenty of Canadian representation, of course, like Toronto’s Stilt Guys and the Canadian-Australian duo CACDUS, who will perform a set that includes the decidedly nationalistic (and hopefully animal-friendly) stunts “Beaver Bowling” and “Koala Chucking.” The event raises money for Epilepsy Toronto. August 23 to August 26. PWYC. St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood (Front Street, between Jarvis and Yonge), torontobuskerfest.com

2. FAN EXPO
Billed as the Comic Con of the North, Fan Expo brings a slew of gaming, horror, comic, sci-fi and anime fans, stars and industry insiders together this weekend for the largest gathering of its kind in Canada. If you’re a total Neo (meaning you’ve never been to the expo before), you might want to brush up on the lingo used by the predicted 80,000 fans: with appearances by two generations of Star Trek celebrities (Kate Mulgrew from Star Trek Voyager and Levar Burton from Star Trek: The Next Generation), it’s best to arrive with the Trekkers/Trekkies distinction down pat. Also attending: Stan Lee (of Spiderman fame), Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd and Doctor Who’s John Barrowman. $25–$45, weekend pass $95. August 23 to August 26. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, fanexpocanada.com

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The ROM is bringing dinosaurs back to life (through the magic of a smart phone app)

Cultural institutions are really starting to get tech savvy: last week, the AGO launched Express Yourself, an Instagram-like app; and now the ROM has launched Ultimate Dinosaurs, a smart phone application that uses augmented reality to bring the fossils on display back from the dead. Users point their phones at markers throughout the museum, and the dinosaurs are reborn as living, breathing creatures on the screen. (If that smart phone screen isn’t big enough, there will also be iPads mounted throughout the exhibit.) The ROM’s assistant vice-president of marketing Tracy Ruddell said, “As a museum we’re all about real-world objects… but being able to bring prehistoric dinosaurs back to life was a pretty amazing thing.” Amazing, yes—as long as it doesn’t turn out like this.

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Current Obsession: Larry Towell’s haunting photographs from the ruins of Afghanistan

The Canadian photographer’s images capture the human side of an unwinnable war

Current Obsession
Larry Towell was in New York for a meeting when he heard that the twin towers had been hit. He immediately grabbed his camera and ran to the scene; his resulting images of dazed and dust-covered New Yorkers have become iconic. That reaction was part of a pattern for the 58-year-old Towell, who for more than three decades has been travelling from his southwestern Ontario home to places like Nicaragua, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and South Africa to take photos of people caught up in bitter, bloody conflicts. Beginning in 2008, Towell went to Afghanistan to witness first-hand the war that had been sparked by 9/11. He spent months in the country, and though he spent some time embedded with U.S. military units, he was determined to take pictures that said more than what government and political officials were telling the world. Many of his stark and unnerving photos are now on display at the ROM as part of a joint exhibition with the Irish photographer Donovan Wylie. We asked Towell to give us the backstory on some of the show’s unforgettable scenes.

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Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 3, because Drake had babies

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 3, Because Drake had babies

The next wave of hip-hop stars, clockwise from left: Gangis Khan, JD Era, The Weeknd, and The Airplane Boys. (Image: Weeknd by Getty Images)

As fans of the rappers Maestro, Kardinal and K-os well know, Toronto hip hop has been thriving for at least a couple of decades. But despite local success, the rest of the world was never all that interested in the T Dot’s brand of rhyme. Not, that is, until an actor from the mean streets of Fo’ Hill named Aubrey Graham packed up his Degrassi-issue wheelchair and re-emerged as Drake, rocking an auto-tuned mic beside Lil Wayne and almost single-handedly putting Toronto hip hop on the map.

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Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 15, because baroque rocks

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 15, Because baroque rocks

This is the 30th anniversary of Jeanne Lamon’s leadership of Tafel­musik, the orchestra of obsessively period-perfect baroque classical music. Lamon, who plays violin, is the group’s driving force. Every recital is like a time portal to the 18th century—you hear symphonies performed much like Frederick the Great heard them, on exact replicas of the era’s harpsichords, lutes and bassoons, if not originals. On one recent night at Trinity–St. Paul’s United Church in the Annex, the orchestra’s favourite venue, the audience squeezed into the pews to witness the spiky-haired recorder player Marion Verbruggen perform concertos by Vivaldi. She appeared possessed, her fingers moving so speedily that her ivory instrument seemed to float. Impassioned musicianship has earned Lamon’s Tafel­musik an international following (on tours they play in such sacrosanct venues as New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein) and spawned 80-and-counting studio albums. Sometimes it pays to be old-fashioned.

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Today in Toronto: Ron Sexsmith, Kim’s Convenience and more

Evgeny Kissin If anyone can breathe new life into Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, it’s the renowned Russian pianist with the Eraserhead hairdo. The program also features a less familiar work: the overture to Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s opera Maskarade. The TSO will take a run at Strauss’s tone poem Don Juan and the suite from his opera, Der Rosenkavalier. Find out more »

Home David Storey is a former professional rugby player who rocketed to notoriety as a playwright in the 1960s, despite having no theatrical experience. Though not as well known here as his compatriots Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter, Storey shares their love of humour and surprise twists, as evidenced by this show about two aging gentlemen who aren’t quite what—and where—they seem to be. Previews from May 8. Find out more »

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The Weekender: Picasso, Bring It On and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Bring It On, Picasso and Star Wars Day

1. PICASSO: MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSÉE NATIONAL PICASSO, PARIS
Even if you know nothing about art, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the great Pablo Picasso. The Spanish painter and sculptor was an artistic pioneer—he co-founded the Cubist movement and collage, and revolutionized several other styles. He was hugely prolific, and the creator of some of the most expensive and most oft-stolen pieces of art. This AGO exhibit, comprised of 150 works from the Musée National Picasso in Paris, covers all of the painter’s major periods and includes works like The Death of Casagemas, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and the famous The Matador, a self-portrait completed three years before Picasso died. This summer-long stop at the AGO is the final stop of its tour, and the only Canadian one. To August 26. $19.50. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648, ago.net.

2. STARS ON ICE 2012
Spandex and sequins and Salchows, oh my. Four-time world champion Kurt Browning makes the jump from performer to co-director and choreographer with this edition of the annual figure skating extravaganza. He shares the ice with Olympians Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Joannie Rochette and Jeffrey Buttle. May 4. $25–$150. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.

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Real Estate

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Condomonium: $1.3 million for a fully upgraded suite across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum

ADDRESS: 175 Cumberland Street, Unit 1110

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Yorkville

AGENT: Irena Elina, Royal LePage

PRICE: $1,275,000

THE PLACE: A two-bedroom suite in the Renaissance Plaza. One of the earlier Yorkville condos, the building was built in the early 1980s, but the owner recently overhauled this unit to bring it into a more modern (and glassy) era.

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The designers vying for $25,000 of Suzanne Rogers’ money have been announced

The Toronto Fashion Incubator has announced the four finalists for its annual New Labels competition, and they include Sid Neigum, Patrick Larrivee, streetwear duo Diego Fuchs and Heidi Augiar and outerwear team Genevieve Pearson and Stanley Capobianco. Each finalist will show their collection at the TFI gala on May 3 at the ROM in hopes of winning a spread in Flare magazine, studio space at TFI and a cash prize. It was announced last year that fashion enthusiast, philanthropist and party scene favourite Suzanne Rogers will be making a generous contribution of $25,000 to the winner, which she may or may not have found in one of her many purses.

(Images: Sid Neigum and Suzanne Rogers, Jenna Marie Wakani)

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