On The Town With Shinan: Princess Charlene, James Franco, Heidi Klum coming to TIFF

By Shinan Govani

Diana Ross will help kick off TIFF in a rare performance.
Photo: © Getty Images

Too soon to be talking TIFF?

Before the Canada Day fireworks have launched a single spark comes news of a major new tentpole event, happening on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival in September. And it’s one that involves royalty – both real and musical. Diana Ross, it’s been confirmed, will confer a very rare performance at the Four Seasons Hotel, in aide of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

The event – set for Wednesday, Sept. 9 - has been dreamed up by Lady Monika Bacardi, together with Andrea Iervolino, founder of AMBI Pictures. “Monika and I are so pleased to establish this annual benefit gala in Toronto, a city which not only shares our love of cinema but where we have also met a great number of people who are concerned, like ourselves, with the challenges of climate change” says the later.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene will attend the gala benefitting their foundation.
Photo: © Getty Images

The 71-year-old Diana – who, way back in 1976, was hailed by Billboard magazine as the “Female Entertainer of the Century" – is sure to give the event all the glamour leverage it needs. But, just in case, His Serene Highness himself is set to grace the event – along with wife Princess Charlene, I’m gathering. Also confirmed, in terms of celebrity wattage: Heidi Klum and James Franco, both of whom have signed as honorary co-chairs of the event, plus Oscar winner Angelica Huston.

Some context about the players here: the 2013-launched AMBI Pictures has a distribution office in Toronto where their newest film, Rupture, starring Noomi Rapace, is currently in production. Also set for production in Toronto is the animated 3D family feature Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, featuring the voice of Alec Baldwin and others. Previous projects include The Humbling, which starred Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig, and had its premiere at TIFF last year.

Lady Monika Bacardi with partner Andrea Iervolino in Toronto.
Photo: © Getty Images

Lady Bacardi, meanwhile? She is the glamorous heiress to the Bacardi rum empire, said to be based mostly in Monaco.

Meanwhile, The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation was established in 2006 to address environmental issues, in particular. The Foundation, I’m told, “is dedicated to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development on a global scale, supporting initiatives of public and private organizations, in the fields of research studies, technological innovation and socially-aware practices.”

Ticket and table information can be found at info@aicmovie.ca.


Earlier this week, I had a dizzyingly fun sit-down with Kevin Kwan, author of the mega-hit novel Crazy Rich Asians and its just-out sequel, China Rich Girlfriend. He’s back alright – ready to take us into the decadent worlds of the Asian jet-set.

Enjoying a drink with Kevin at Soho House in Toronto, he told me that it’s full steam ahead for the movie version of Crazy Rich Asians. Not only is it being made by the producers of the Hunger Games movies, but the script is being cobbled together by the same guy who wrote The Proposal, starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. Casting for the film is set to commence in the fall.

His decadent new novel, by the way? Featuring many of the same players from the first book, plus some new characters – including a way-beyond blogger – it manages, once again, to make the kids from Gossip Girl look like paupers and Downton Abbey feel like nothing but a shack!

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