thanks for all the cigarettes

1.

The Toronto Film Festival had a touch of madness to it. Other than THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, I didn’t see or make any effort to see any of the films — I’m still bruised by my Sundance experience — I just wanted to sleep in and walk the neighborhood and hang out in the nearest Indigo bookstore (Canada’s answer to Barnes and Noble). Couldn’t resist asking the clerk if BLOODANGEL by Justine Musk would be appearing on those particular shelves.

He said, “Why does that sound familiar?”

“I have absolutely no clue.” Truly.

He told me that yes, the book should soon be in their (rather impressive) Fantasy & SF section, so I smiled and picked up the new novel by Steven Heighton and some David Gemmell paperbacks and went on my way.

At the hotel, people clustered around the exit and entranceways, trying to see celebrities. The lobby was a madhouse. The elevators took forever to get to you, and then to get you where you needed to go.

2.

Attended a party for THANK YOU FOR SMOKING hosted by In Style magazine. I walked in the door at the same time as actor Cameron Bright and his mother, and immediately noticed that Cameron looked less than thrilled to be there. I like kids and I particularly like kids of that age — Cameron is 12 — and would have sought him out for conversation regardless. He’s a cool individual. I wanted to know how he felt about situations like this, having a job that required him to hang out with adults who were wining and dining on a rooftop patio, casual conversation backdropped by the hum and buzz of ambition, negotiation, people slinking off into the shadows with their cell phones, a situation I would have found deathly boring when I was a kid. “This is my first festival,” Cameron told me. (He was also in BIRTH and GODSEND). “It’s okay, it’s just that there aren’t any other kids here. There’s nobody my age to talk to.” He likes to play paintball. He talked about how the producers of the movie fitted him up with a paintball suit and talked about taking him out to play — then decided not to. Cameron said, mimicking them, “‘What if he gets an injury?'” He talked about seeing GODSEND on DVD with a friend of his, who got scared, but Cameron only laughed because he knew when all the scary parts were coming up.

Cameron was an intense-looking child — he joked about this, and the kind of parts it helped get him — who has turned into an astonishingly striking adolescent. In the months since filming SMOKING he’s grown longer and leaner, his voice deeper. He seems perfectly cast for X-MEN 3. I told him that one of our sons was named after Professor Xavier.

At the dinner table I discussed LUNAR PARK with Adam Brody, who turns out to be a big fan of Bret Easton Ellis. (“David [the producer] thinks Adam’s going to be a huge movie star, wants to find a vehicle for him,” someone told me. But Bret’s agent had laughed at the idea of the film rights to LUNAR PARK going to anything other than a major studio). Talked about writing with Jason Reitman, the writer-director, when his cell phone went off: “This is about the deal,” he told me apologetically, “or else I’d never take this.” And he went slinking off into the shadows.

Some of us went on to a club, where David, the producer, continued to take phone calls. Someone told me there was a bidding war going on for the film. Someone told me that Jason was “a mess”. Someone told me that a beloved talk show host is a lesbian, that her best friend is actually her lover, that she heard this from a friend who’s assistant to a famous actor who’s close friends with the aforementioned talk show host. Someone told me that Professor Xavier dies in X-Men 3, which was news to me (and disappointing). Someone told me about an affair an acquaintance had had with a predatorial older woman when he himself was quite underage (“Lucky bastard,” said someone else). A Canadian woman in a cowboy hat told me she was going to buy my book, which I appreciated. I was getting increasingly drunk. E and I hit another party but I couldn’t take it anymore; we ducked out and went to McDonald’s next door, where I ran into an actor from LA I know enough to say hello to, who was wearing a black t-shirt that said I AM PROUD OF MY PARTS. “I am proud of my parts too,” declared a woman who was standing behind him. E and I went back to the hotel, slept, and in the car ride to the airport the next morning found out, via the all-important all-knowing all-seeing cell phone, that SMOKING went to Fox Searchlight for 6.9 million. The people involved seem happy and relieved.

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