On the Town with Shinan: Jessica Chastain's a sucker for Sondheim

By Shinan Govani

Lorde takes Toronto!

The family that double-deckers together... stays together? It was a lesson learned by singing sensation Lorde when she made a pretty particular excursion with her parents during their visit to Toronto last weekend for the MuchMusic Video Awards. I can confirm they hopped on a double-decker bus to take a tour of the city, zipping around Queen's Park, swooshing through Chinatown, getting an eyeful of the CN Tower.

“So nice,” reports the tour guide, who was shocked when the trio climbed aboard with the hoi polloi. Whatever the case, the excursion seemed to go over well because a few hours later – when the family were enjoying the sights of Niagara Fallls – Lorde's dad was proposing to her mom, as the 17-year-old singer herself informed via tweet. Though her parents, Vic and Sonja – an engineer, and a poet, respectively – have been together for some 30 years, they'd never apparently married. Amazing the effect the right city tour bus, followed by the right gush of water, can have!

“BEST DAY,” confirmed Lorde, who the night before had thrilled revelers at the MMVAs, and all but raised the dead with her on-stage act on Queen Street.


That was Jessica Chastain talking to me about her new bangs at a Toronto party here, over the weekend. “Bardot,” I verified, after which she told me how fabulously absurd it had been to debut the style recently on Instagram. It was “quite the reaction,” the two-time Oscar nominee said with a laugh.

She and her bangs, like moi, had come to this bash at the Shore Club restaurant after having just taken in the night's hottest ticket – a Luminato Festival-spurred concert dubbed If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway. A re-imagination as well as a re-appropriation of the American songbook, it was arranged by Rufus Wainwright and included duets between him and an array of Y-chromosome'd stars, including Boy George (celebrating his 53rd birthday that day!), and ending with the entire group crooning “Summer Nights” from Grease. Jessica, who'd flown in for the concert, said she particularly dug the Sondheim bits.

Mixing with ease at the after-party were many of the stars who'd taken the stage that night, including Josh Groban, David Byrne, Brent Carver and Steven Page. The next stop for this made-in-Toronto singsong? The Hollywood Bowl in L.A., according to the late-night scuttlebutt.

Oh, and:

The kiss! The kiss! The media crowd is still talking about the full-on pucker that Toronto Star editor-in-chief Michael Cooke laid on the woman who fronts Canada's biggest newscast, Lisa LaFlamme. The public display of affection was there for all to see, on stage at the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards when Michael accepted the Excellence in Journalism prize at Fairmont Royal York. (The two have been power-coupling for a while.) Earlier, the CTV anchorwoman, the evening's emcee, also exercised her pipes when she performed a special duet of Amy Winehouse's “Rehab” together with Rob Ford-scandal breaker Robyn Doolittle. It wasn't bad!

Scene! Heard! … in Toronto

* The Adam Sandler files: the professional joker was spotted dining with his family at La Société on Bloor Street.

* “He taught me how to sing one of my own songs!” - Elvis Costello giving the grandest of compliments to Canadian crooner Ron Sexsmith who joined him on stage at a Massey Hall concert

* Walking into Soho House on Simcoe Street Tuesday eve: Justin Trudeau. The prime ministerial contender looked collegiate-casual in Levis and a hoodie.

* Out of the slammer and at the Shangri-La hotel: Orange Is the New Black star Taylor Schilling, who was in town meeting with media

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