Canada nets pick up Toronto party tabs

CTV, CanWest hosting festival afterparties

TORONTO -- Major U.S. specialty distributors have come up with a novel way to reduce movie launch costs at the Toronto International Film Festival -- get a local network to provide the red carpet and velvet ropes and pick up the tab.

Canada's big two networks, CTV and CanWest Broadcasting, will host a slew of glitzy afterparties in Toronto over the coming week as they plug into Hollywood's press tour in Toronto for fall releases.

CanWest will host televised afterparties for Rainmark Films/Gotham Prods.' "The Other Man," which stars Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas and Laura Linney; Sony Picture Classics' "Adoration" by Atom Egoyan; and Kari Skogland's "Fifty Dead Men Walking," which is being shopped in Toronto by Handmade International.

Rival CTV is planning an afterparty for Miramax's "Blindness," a Friday night block party for Canadian filmmakers at its Queen and John Street headquarters -- with Sean Combs performing -- and celebrity-driven fashion shows.

The way CanWest senior vp programming and production Barb Williams tells it, the studios and distributors provide the film and star wattage so TV viewers get an "inside peek" on the festival, while her network supplies the studios with a festival launch pad in Toronto.

"The studios are trying to be sure they have their feature films showcased in the right places to get the right audiences, and distributors want to ensure the films are launched in the best way possible," Williams said.

While CTV is similarly making a beeline for Hollywood stars to make festival-themed TV show, Jordan Schwartz, senior vp and GM of CTV's entertainment group, said his network is aiming more at glitzy outdoor events attended by locals than invite-only industry showcases.

"Yes there's industry people, but it's exciting to allow Torontonians to get that close to the stars and to the festival," he said of plans to throw the CTV parties open to ordinary people.