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Toronto 2011: William Friedkin Gives Reserved Seats Away at 'Killer Joe'

Some audience members were upgraded to primo seats, while volunteers watched helplessly

Killer Joe

William Friedkin, with his genial rambling demeanor, may have endeared himself to the Ryerson Theatre audience prior to this TIFF premiere of Killer Joe, but certain volunteers were less than pleased.

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Friedkin was very talkative on stage introducing the movie, going off on tangents and circuitous paths talking about his adaptation of the Tracy Letts play and introducing members of his cast (he called Emile Hirsch “the next James Dean. Possibly Groucho Marx.”).

At one point he noticed there were empty seats in the centre section, and not knowing it was the reserved swath, asked why wasn’t anyone sitting there? TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey, on stage with him, responded “They are your people’s seats,” but Friedkin’s mind had moved on.

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“Please move in. Everybody, just go ahead,” he told the crowd, waving them to grab seating.

There was a momentary pause – it this guy serious? – and then about 20 or so people from around the theatre began excitedly shuffling, squeezing, and hopping to primo seats.

The orange shirted volunteers, who firmly but always politely guard the reserved section, watched in helplessness as this happened, looking at each other for guidance. One lady threw up her hands in frustration and walked away.