“Leave it to Joan to go and die just as both TIFF and Fashion Week, in New York, are cranking up, and the Fashion Police are out more than ever,” a man said to me, heading into the Robert Downey Jr-Robert Duvall party for The Judge at Montecito late Thursday.
“She always did have perfect timing,” I managed back, as our thoughts went to the just-dearly-departed provocateur. At which point, the first Robert - Duvall - arrived to a constellation of über-respectful authograph-hounds (“Mr. Duvall! Mr. Duvall!”), followed shortly by the younger Robert, a jaunty, loose-tied RDJ in the flesh. The crowd got considerably rowdier, as this point, as two police officers hovered near the restaurant. (Though it wasn't an inordinately large congregation, this being a pretty under-wraps party hosted by Warner Bros and presented by Audi.)
Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey photo: © Getty
It was a teeny red carpet and a fairly dignified “logo wall,” as far as these things go, but both only reminded me of one of the legacies left in the wake of Rivers' 50-year-long career. Though first and foremost a funny-woman - and what a comic assassin she was! - who can deny that she all-but-created the modern red carpet industry, as it were (Who are you wearing, indeed?) and, for every carpet at every film and every party during this 10-day fest in Toronto, a bit of Joan lives on.
Joan Rivers photo: © Getty
Inside the month-old power-restaurant, which looms three floors, the action was all on ground level, where a whole wall plays video footage captured outside the home of Ivan Reitman, in California. (It's his restaurant – and he'll loop if he wants to!) Joining Downey Jr. and his producer wife, the several-months-pregnant Susan Levin – the buff star was seen rubbing her back, and ferrying her a beverage – were the co-stars of his opening-night flick, The Judge, including Vera Farmiga, and Dax Sheppard. (The latter arriving with Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell!)
Kristen Bell at Montecitophoto: © Getty
The scene itself was tempered, and very much business on the side, as demonstrated by RDJ's huddle in a corner with CAA agency almighty (and the man who was once married to Carrie Fisher), Bryan Lourd. And, for a reformed hell-raiser like RDJ – whose past is an open book – the only powder to be found was the packet of Emergen-C spotted coming out of the front pocket of a certain partier's tux.
One thing that possibly did come out of this night? The planting of a seed for a restaurant of his own, where Mr. Downey Jr. is concerned. When told that Montecito is owned by the Canada-sprung director of Ghostbusters et al, the actor – recently named Forbes magazine's most bankable star of 2014 – sprung an impish smile, and revealed that opening a restaurant is on his list of things to do too. Alas, you have been warned! An Iron Man Kale Salad, coming right up!
Ok, and also:
Joan. Joan. Joan. The death of a legend was very much on people's minds at other shindigs held 'round Toronto on the first day of TIFF, including at the Maison Birks soirée held at the Shangri-La, where the party's key luminary, Juliette Binoche, was seen kissing babies (literally!) and enjoying some Perrier-Jouet. A few blocks away, meanwhile, Noah Baumbach sat in a booth at Byblos, on Duncan, between his quirky flame, Greta Gerwig, and that we're-not-worthy icon, Al Pacino.
Greta Gerwigphoto: © Getty
“For someone who always had something to say, or rant about, for 50 years,” an industry type was saying re: Joan, “it's almost impossible to think she's gone, and all there is is silence.” Greta, in town for the premiere of The Humbling, was palpably subdued, having been known to even bring up the comedy legend in interviews. As a model of stick-with-it-ness, workaholic Joan was clearly an inspiration, as Greta reinforced when she said, “I don't want to ever stop. I'm like Joan Rivers – did you see her documentary? When she opens her calendar, it's blank, and she's like, 'You wanna see fear? A blank calendar!' I feel that way. I think a lot of people who are in the arts feel that way.”