TIFF celebrities soak up the red carpet razzmatazz

She pulled out a Pacino.

After causing old-fashioned pandemonium in the very underbelly of TIFF on Friday, Taylor Swift rocked herself with dinner in a much more serene fashion, according to eyewitness testimony. Found walking through a side entrance into Opus, Prince Arthur’s classic restaurant, just north of Bloor. Far from the city center, all those Swifties who had gathered, with their faces lit up by angels – to sing, dance, simply bear witness – on King Street, outside the Lightbox.

Headed to Opus, TaySwift, after his buzzing Toronto stage talk — the very low-key spot where « Michael Corleone » also, indeed, popped in for a surprise dinner when he was at TIFF for a conference a few years ago, if I remember correctly. She moved in with a few people on the back patio. A kind of secret garden.

Opus, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year – an almost unheard-of feat in the restaurant world these days – remains one of those places that exudes a kind of hushed luxury. Regulars (and in many cases now their children) have long flocked here to feast on dishes such as « seared foie gras and maple apples with current mashed potatoes » or « black pepper-crusted tuna loin on shredded vegetables with green onion beurre blanc. » Oenophiles have long had a soft spot for the place, as it also has one of the finest wine cellars in town, and it’s also the kind of place where stars like Robin Williams regularly hung out when he was working in town. I once spent a very memorable night with the late great comedian there, when he went behind the bar and spontaneously started making a » set ».

Back here in 2022, meanwhile, the city is still buzzing on a Swift high. By all accounts, she really charmed the audience during her onstage chatter related to her new short film. Not only did she reveal that she’s a huge Guillermo del Toro fan, but she also shared that her favorite movies include « Breakfast Club, » « Marriage Story, » and « The Way We Were. » No controversy here!

Another moment stood out during her time on stage: When a woman rushed onto the stage at one point, security jumped, at which point the Princess of Pop intercepted. « It’s okay. They’re just flowers.


Another millennial icon, Zac Efron – in town for his crazy gala movie, ‘The Greatest Beer Run,’ starring Russell Crowe – was in a confessional mood when he recently revealed he suffers from agoraphobia. « I just don’t go out, » he told Men’s Health for a cover story, calling « people in large groups » a « trigger » for his anxiety disorder. (A career hazard for a movie star, I think. And the TIFF certainly difficult, if that’s the case).

The red carpet razzmatazz for him will, in any case, be a far cry from how Efron has spent most of his pandemic – sequestered in Byron Bay, a seaside enclave in Australia. According to the magazine: “He slept in a hammock in the trees. He went out with a civilian.


Hillary and Chelsea Clinton are definitely making the rounds in Toronto. Popped up at the Middle Eastern-inspired Shook on Portland St on Friday. Was a reception for their Netflix doc « In Her Hands » — about an inspiring young Afghan woman. Huma Abedin, Hillary’s trusted advisor? She was there too. Skip the tahini. Later that day, the Clintons were also spotted at Louix Louis, inside the St. Regis. It takes a village — and it also takes fuel.

To finish:

“Never since my bar mitzvah have I seen a celebration like this. So gushed Billy Eichner at the classy party Variety threw for him — and his fat, fat rom-com “Bros” — at Hotel Le Germain the other night, on Mercer. That was just hours before the enthusiastic response the film received when it world premiered later at Roy Thomson’s. Something I’ve heard time and time again, in terms of the response, is that not only does this satisfy all your ’90s rom-com itch – think of it as a gay « You’ve Got Mail » – but there were actually so many rapid-fire zingers that a lot of people missed some of the jokes because they were too busy laughing at the joke that had just zinged right before!

Shinan Govani is a Toronto-based freelance columnist covering culture and society. Follow him on Twitter: @shinangovani

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