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Joan Rivers dead at 81

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Sep 4th, 2014

Joan Rivers has died at the age of 81, says her daughter Melissa Rivers.

The comedian had stopped breathing during a surgical procedure at a clinic in New York City last week.

She was undergoing vocal cord surgery when she stopped breathing and was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital.

A message from Melissa Rivers was posted on her website.

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers. She passed peacefully at 1:17pm surrounded by family and close friends. My son and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother.

Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated.

My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.

State health officials are now investigating the Manhattan clinic where Rivers became unresponsive.

Rivers found fame as a stand-up comedian and TV host before becoming a regular on reality television in her later years as a celebrity-bashing fashion pundit.

Onstage, Rivers came across as acidic and manic – sort of Don Rickles in diamonds and a Chanel dress. “Can we talk?” she would ask her audience in a husky New York accent before delivering a brutal put-down line, such as, “Elizabeth Taylor’s so fat she puts mayonnaise on her aspirin.”

When it came to getting a laugh or just being provocative, no topic was taboo for Rivers.

“If you laugh at it, you can deal with it – and if you don’t, you can’t deal with it,” she told a TV interviewer in 2010. “And don’t start telling me that I shouldn’t be saying it. … I would have been laughing at Auschwitz.”

Rivers, who was Jewish, said she was only saying what everyone else was thinking and if someone found it mean or inappropriate – too bad.

She didn’t always like criticism, however, and stormed out of a CNN interview in July when asked how she could be an animal rights activist and still pose in fur on the cover of her book “Diary of a Mad Diva.”

Rivers also drew fire when she said that relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks should have been thrilled to get a financial settlement for their loss. She once singled out model Heidi Klum by saying, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” Despite complaints, Rivers steadfastly refused to apologize for either comment.

Joan Alexandra Molinsky was born on June 8, 1933, in Brooklyn and grew up there and a nearby town, the daughter of a doctor and a housewife. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College and had a six-month marriage that was annulled before she began pursuing an entertainment career with the last name Rivers, which she borrowed from her agent.

Rivers first wanted to be an actress but veered into comedy and wrote sketches for Topo Gigio, a talking mouse character on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in the 1960s after a friend turned down the $500 job. “For $500, I’ll write for Hitler,” she said in an interview with National Public Radio.

She also worked on the seminal reality TV show “Candid Camera” as a writer and in sketches with unknowing members of the public. She wrote jokes for comedians Phyllis Diller and Bob Newhart before concentrating on her own stand-up act.

Rivers’ peers in the comedy club scene of New York’s Greenwich Village at the time included Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and George Carlin, but she said she never felt like she was part of their clique.

Her career got a boost in 1965 when Johnny Carson – the undisputed king of late-night TV in the United States – had Rivers on his “Tonight” show and declared she was a star in the making.

By the 1980s, she had well-paying stand-up work, regular TV appearances, an Emmy-nominated album and a best-selling book, “The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz,” based on one of her characters.

Rivers reached a pinnacle in 1983 when Carson crowned her as his regular guest host on the popular NBC television show. But their relationship imploded three years later when she left to start her own late-night talk show on the fledgling Fox network. The two never spoke again and the move to Fox turned out to be the start of a downward spiral for Rivers, both personally and professionally.

The Fox show lasted only seven months. It was canceled amid low ratings and much enmity between Rivers’ husband-manager, Edgar Rosenberg, and network executives. A few months later, Rosenberg committed suicide.

Rivers fell into depression, fought bulimia and endured suicidal thoughts. Her relationship with daughter Melissa fell apart at the time because Melissa blamed her for Rosenberg’s death.

Rivers had to pull out of a financial trough because Rosenberg’s bad investments left her several million dollars in debt. She accepted an offer from a television shopping network to hawk her own line of jewelry and it became a success.

From 1989 to 1993 she hosted “The Joan Rivers Show,” which in 1990 won a Daytime Emmy for outstanding talk show.

As she aged, Rivers was a carefully constructed testament to her belief that looks matter a great deal, especially to a woman in show business. She was slim and always well dressed, her hair was immaculately styled and her skin taut and seemingly wrinkle- free.

Rivers described herself to People magazine as the “plastic surgery poster girl” and said strangers would stop her on the street to ask for advice on cosmetic surgery.

“Looking good equals feeling good,” Rivers said in her 2008 book “Men Are Stupid … And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery.” “I’d rather look younger and feel happy than look older and be depressed.”

Rivers said she had undergone full face lifts, nose jobs, chin tucks, liposuction, breast reduction, an eye job and botox injections. One of her comedy albums mentioned her plastic surgeon in the credits.

In recent years, Rivers found a career niche commenting on celebrity fashion. She was seen along the red carpet at televised award ceremonies asking stars “who are you wearing?” She also hosted the cable TV show “Fashion Police” where she mercilessly skewered celebrities’ wardrobe choices.

Rivers was tough on herself, too. “I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw that my bath toys were a toaster and a radio,” she said.

Rivers and Melissa also starred in “Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” with Rivers living with her daughter.

She was the winner on Donald Trump’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” show in 2009. In addition to several best-selling books and writing and directing the movie “Rabbit Test,” Rivers wrote and starred in the 1994 Broadway play “Sally Marr … and Her Escorts,” which was based on the life of comedian Lenny Bruce’s mother and earned Rivers a best actress Tony Award nomination.

With files from Reuters

TIFF day 1: Toronto’s film festival to kick off with opening night galas

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Sep 4th, 2014

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The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival officially kicks off on Thursday, with Hollywood stars set to stroll the city’s red carpet.

Film icon Al Pacino is expected to attend the North American premiere of his new film, The Humbling, at Elgin Theatre. The film starts at 6 p.m, with the red carpet to be streamed live on this website at 5 p.m.

Pacino also has another film, Manglehorn, which is set to debut at the Winter Garden Theatre on Saturday.

Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. will also be on the red carpet for the world premiere of his film, The Judge, which starts at Roy Thomson Hall at 8 p.m. It’s the official opening night film at TIFF.

The Judge also stars Robert Duvall and Vera Farmiga, who are also expected to attend the gala. Watch the red carpet event on this website starting at 7 p.m.

The action got an early start on Wednesday night with Pacino, who was at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a Q&A session, hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos. The on-stage conversation was part of a $1,500-a-ticket fundraising gala for the festival.

Click here for full coverage of TIFF 2014.

Some of actresses who will grace the 11-day film bash include: Reese Witherspoon, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Winslet, Kristen Wiig, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Octavia Spencer, Julianne Moore, and Greta Gerwig.

The actors include: Benedict Cumberbatch, Denzel Washington, Michael Douglas, John Travolta, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Bateman, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Channing Tatum, Christopher Plummer, Chris Rock, Morgan Freeman, and Adam Sandler.

The festival is also attracting some major Canadian talent, including actor Colm Feore and Olympic gold medalist Tessa Virtue.

There are also a number of parties, including the after-party for The Judge, the Mongrel Media TIFF party and a bash featuring some of the stars from Bachelor in Paradise.

Meantime, a stretch of King Street West will be closed during TIFF, and streetcars will be on diversion in the area.

King Street, from Peter Street to University Avenue, will be closed from 10 a.m. on Thursday to 6 a.m. on Monday. King will also be partially closed in each direction between John and Duncan streets Sept. 8-11, and will reopen on Sept. 12.

The closure will turn the area into a pedestrian-friendly zone, so fans can get a little closer to the action.

Three-hundred films from 79 countries will be screened at the 39th annual festival, which runs until Sept. 14.

Some of the other TIFF galas include:

  • Black and White, starring Kevin Costner and Spencer
  • The Equalizer, starring Washington and Melissa Leo
  • Foxcatcher, starring Anthony Michael Hall, Tatum, and Sienna Miller
  • Haemoo, starring Kim Yoon-seok and Park Yoo-chun

Click here for a list of the gala presentations.

Click here for a list of all the films being shown at TIFF.

Click here for a schedule of the film screenings.

With files from Eva Fragiskatos

New digital product to live-stream more than 1,000 NHL games, including playoffs

Breakfast Television | posted Wednesday, Sep 3rd, 2014

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Rogers Communications has unveiled a new digital product that will live-stream more than 1,000 NHL games throughout the 2014-2015 hockey season, live including all playoff games.

Rogers GameCentre LIVE can be accessed through a new mobile app as well as NHL.com. It will be available on computers, smartphones and tablets.

Some of the features of the new product include:
• More than 1,000 games
• All national games, including Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays and Hometown Hockey on Sundays.
• All playoff games, including the Stanley Cup Final
• The NHL All-Star Game, Bridgestone Winter Classic and Stadium Series.
• Regional in-market games for Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, and Leafs on an authenticated basis.
• Out-of-market games in French for the Montreal Canadians (60 games) and Ottawa Senators (54 games)

Rogers wireless data and Hi-Speed Internet customers will get a free subscription until December 31, 2014. For non-Rogers customers, NHL GameCentre LIVE will cost $199.99 for the full season. A French-only package that includes les Canadiens (60 games) and les Sénateurs (54 games) regional games for $59.99 will also be available.

“We talked to fans in local rinks and living rooms across the country and it’s clear, they want access to more of the games and teams that matter to them,” said Keith Pelley, president, Rogers Media.

“We’re bringing fans national games and lifting more local blackouts so they can watch the teams and players they love. We’re also offering the app free to Rogers wireless and Hi-Speed Internet customers until the end of the year. And this is just a warm up – more fan experiences will be revealed before the puck drops.”

Alongside the news, Rogers also announced a new NHL ambassador: hockey legend Mark Messier.

Messier will be participating in a live Q&A on all things hockey Wednesday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET. To ask him a question, send it on Twitter using the hashtag #AskMess.

The announcement from Rogers comes a week after it unveiled Shomi, a digital-video streaming service, set to launch in November.

The company added Wednesday’s announcement is “the first of many that will significantly change how Canadians watch hockey. More details will be revealed closer to puck drop.”

Rogers is the parent company of this organization.

How to avoid the ‘Freshman 15′

Alexandra Davies | posted Tuesday, Sep 2nd, 2014

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The rumours are true—the dreaded “Freshman 15” really does exist. For those unaware, the Freshman 15 is a nickname for the extra weight students typically gain in their first year — and we won’t lie, it is difficult to avoid. Myself? Well, I managed to gain my Freshman 15 thanks to copious amounts of Mini Eggs and the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies served all day every day. Who would pass that up!?

As you take your first steps into residence, your home-cooked hearty meals turn into mere memories. Your new life is composed of ready-made crispy homefries, a make-your-own sandwich bar conveniently open ’til the wee hours of the morning, and all the bulk candy your stomach can hold. Why would anyone choose a boring ol’ salad when Thursday is Pizza Day? To make things worse, students are typically set up with a meal plan that is pre-paid — so it really looks like you are getting all this glorious food for no money at all. Why hello, heaven!

I clearly fell into this trap and I know how hard it is to work off. To help out all the soon-to-be university students looking to dodge their own Freshman 15, I have composed a list of a few helpful hints to keep you on track, focused, and ready to enjoy a happy and healthy year.

Take Advantage of the Campus Gym
Odds are your campus will have a recreation centre of some kind. If you have the option for a membership, seriously consider getting one. Not only will you have full access to their fitness equipment, the price of the membership will motivate you to get your money’s worth. If your tuition covers a full membership, that is even better. Don’t let your money go to waste — take advantage of all the cardio classes and weight machines that you can get your hands on! Busy schedule? Excuses, excuses! In between your classes swing by the gym for a 30-minute cardio boost. You’ll be in and out well before Psychology starts.

Buddy Up
Committing to hit the gym yourself is hard, especially if you’re like me and “promise” to break a sweat after a couple episodes of Orange Is the New Black. But let’s get real — that never ends up happening. If you make plans with a friend to tackle a group fitness class, you’ll feel obligated to go. Bonus points: Take this same friend to the cafeteria where you can influence each other to choose healthier meals. You will be surprised at what can come from making your health a team effort.

Plan Your Meals Ahead
I know this sounds like a bore and very time consuming, but it will be worth it. Studies show that if you record what you eat in a journal, your odds of losing weight will increase. Planning out your meals ahead of time forces you to think about your calorie intake and can influence healthier choices while you scope out your dinner. Big lunch? Instead of selecting the chicken parmesan for dinner, opt for a salad with chickpeas, a little feta cheese, and your favourite veggies! There is always a healthy alternative that tastes good and is good for you.

Educate Yourself
What is the proper amount of calories for my age and height? I had no idea when I first stepped into my residence cafeteria. Without help from my parents, who usually took care of my nutrition, all I saw were the juicy hamburgers and omelettes bigger than my head. Educating yourself on healthy options and how much protein, carbohydrates, etc, you should be having per day is crucial for keeping control of your meals. Becoming aware of your body and what is good for it can significantly help to keep off the pounds. Most cafeterias will post Canada’s Food Guide on their walls, but if they don’t, you can find it here.

Final Thoughts
The most important note to take from this is to use common sense and make smart food choices as often as possible. A proper combination of exercise and healthy eating can save you from that first-year weight gain worry.

Do you have any anti-’Freshman 15′ tips and tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

For more back-to-school content from Cityline, click here.

Week of Sep. 1, 2014

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Aug 31st, 2014

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Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

We get you ready to head back to school all week long with everything you need to know–in studio and out and about with our Live Eye crew!

On Wednesday and Thursday’s Live Eye, we’re giving away thousands of dollars worth of prizing–be sure to tune in to find out how you can win.

Plus, we’re kicking off our Toronto International Film Festival coverage live from the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Friday.

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!

5 things to do this weekend: Labour Day Parade, Fan Expo & air show

BT Toronto | posted Saturday, Aug 30th, 2014

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Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2014 

Fan Expo Canada: More than 120,000 fans of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and video games gather in downtown Toronto to meet their favourite celebrities, try the latest games and take home some unique collectible items. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Single day: $25-50. Deluxe pass: $115
fanexpocanada.com

Canadian International Air Show: It’s the last weekend at The Ex and what better way to celebrate the end of summer than to spend some time there on Labour Day weekend and see the planes at the 65th annual air show, including CF-18 Hornets, CF Snowbirds and many more. Plus there will be Great War Flying Museum aircraft on display. Saturday to Monday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Exhibition Place. Free with CNE admission. VIP tickets: $125-245.
cias.org

Kurios: It’s the opening weekend for Cirque du Soleil’s newest acrobatic act, which is making its debut in Toronto. Go see the unique costumes worn by the artists, jugglers and acrobats in a show about a 19th-century inventor who creates a machine that defies the imagination. Until Oct. 26. Grand Chapiteau at the Port Lands, 51 Commissioners St. $65-275.
cirquedusoleil.com

Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market: It’s the 11th season of this pedestrian-only event that celebrates the downtown neighbourhood by making the streets car-free on the last Sunday of the month. Sunday, noon-7 p.m. Kensington Market. Free.
pskensington.ca

ArtFest Toronto: Now in its eighth year, this summer art show features Canadian painters, photographers, sculptors, jewellers and more. Friday to Monday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Distillery District. Free.
artfestontario.com

If you have a suggestion, email us at torontoweb@citynews.ca, submit it to CityNews.ca or 680News.com or via our iPhone & iPad apps.

With files from Showwei Chu, CityNews.ca

New streetcar proof-of-payment system may slow down commuting process

CityNews | posted Friday, Aug 29th, 2014

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The new streetcars starting Sunday on the 510 Spadina route will feature a new proof-of-payment system and it may slow down the commute.

The fare payment box next to the driver will be replaced by a machine that will print out a proof of purchase.

CityNews timed out a ticket purchase using the new machine. It took about 16 seconds from the second a token went in to the minute the ticket printed.

With the older streetcars, it only takes a few seconds to pay with token or cash by dropping it into the fare payment box at the front of the vehicle.

“I think the TTC can do one thing really well and that’s waste my time,” one rider said.

When asked if the machines will cause congestion, the TTC said it might but that’s why there will be machines at some stops.

There will be two machines per streetcar and eight along the route at the actual stops.

With the new system comes amped-up security, with about 20 fare inspectors checking proof of payment.

In addition to the new method of payment, the new streetcars are bigger, lower, and are wheelchair accessible.

Two new streetcars will start running on the 510 Spadina route starting on Sunday.

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