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Cool & fun March Break activities to do in Toronto, GTA

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 7th, 2014

Not everyone can get away for March Break. But for those who stay in town, there are 3D scanners to try, drama classes to channel your inner Cate Blanchett and safari camps to bring out the zoologist in you.

Check out the cool and fun activities in Toronto and the GTA that will make you and your child leap for joy and chase away those winter blues.

Fun at the library

The Toronto Reference Library is offering cutting-edge workshops for teens at its Digital Innovation Hub.

One class, 3D Printing 101 for Teens, teaches them how to make 3D things like jewelry, toys and phone accessories, using the library’s new 3D printers.

“Over the course of two hours, teens will learn a variety of 3D design software, and they’ll also learn how to use a 3D printer so that they can come back next time and use it themselves to print cool designs,” Ab Velasco, project leader at the Toronto Public Library, told CityNews.

The Digital Innovation Hub opened at the Toronto Reference Library – located at 789 Yonge St. – a month ago, with plans to open another hub at the Fort York branch in the spring, and a third one at the Scarborough Civic Centre at the end of this year.

“Learning comes in all its forms, so we want to provide teens with a really fun activity, and also where they can learn digital and technology skills,” Velasco said.

In terms of how a 3D printer actually works, a plastic called PLA at the back of the printer feeds through a tube and gets heated through an extruder. Velasco said “it’s actually [like] fancy hot glue, where it prints things layer by layer until it’s completed.”

With that in mind, some projects can take up to an hour to print depending on their complexity.

Teens will learn how to create their design by using 3D design software or by downloading ready-to-print designs from websites such as Thingiverse.

There are also classes for teens who want to learn DJ skills, video editing and how to use green screens.

The 3D printing, video editing and DJ-ing sessions will be held March 11-13. Click here for program details and availability.

Drama camps at Young People’s Theatre

Theatre is the perfect outlet to nurture the talents of creative and imaginative children. The Young People’s Theatre is offering a March Break Drama Camp, March 10-14, for children from junior kindergarten to Grade 6.

“Over the course of the week, all of these different groups will be meeting and will be learning all sorts of theatres skills, improvisation, vocal stuff as well, and then they’ll make a piece … that they get to show their parents, their friends and family at the end of the week,” Liz Pounsett, YPT’s drama school director, told CityNews.

“They’re learning not just about theatre but they’re learning how to express themselves and be confident and find out about the world around them through theatre, which is really fun.”

The YPT drama school has been around for 44 years, and the professional artists and educators who work there, will be bring their experience to the camps.

“They’re excellent artists but they’re moreover excellent teachers. They know how to engage kids and they know how to get kids to be engaged in their own creative process,” Pounsett said.

New this year, the Grade 5-6 camp will feature two teachers – a theatre artist and a dancer – allowing the children to “explore theatre while learning break dancing, and having that technique support their theatrical expression.”

Click here for more information on the camp and pricing details.

Safari Camp

If your child is a budding zoologist, or is generally interested in animal welfare and conservation, the Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp is offering a March Break Safari Camp for children aged eight to 14. The program is run in conjunction with Jungle Cat World (3667 Concession Road 6, Orono) and private animal sanctuary Nova’ Ark.

Campers will spend the week taking care of various wild animals and interacting with them.

“It’s a hands-on animal camp where children will have the opportunity to interact with a variety of different animals from birds to rabbits, sugar gliders, lemurs, kangaroos, so a really wonderful opportunity for kids to explore the world of animals,” Jennifer Ego, owner of Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp, told CityNews.

“Safari camp is a great opportunity for kids to really start exploring the more wild animals — animals you can’t keep as pets.”

The camp, which will be held March 10-14, offers half-day and full-sessions and includes busing to and from the pickup spots to the zoo locations. Click here for information and pricing details.

ROM adventures

The Royal Ontario Museum’s has plenty to offer families through its Passport to the World programs. Some of the activities include taking a walk on the moon, building a Forbidden City out of LEGO, exploring the age of dinosaurs and more. Click here for a list of programs.

Earth Rangers Wild Journey, one of the most popular shows at the ROM, also returns this year. Meet various animal ambassadors and learn about their habitats from their trainers and biologists and trainer.

Every artifact, skeleton and fossil has a story, and you can discover what it is as you “Scopify the ROM.” Use the ScopifyROM app to bring these objects to life through a series of “scopes.” For instance, you can add skin to skeletons to learn what they looked like when they were alive, or find out what an object looked like in its original state. Click here for details.

Click here for ticket information and hours of operation.

Toronto Zoo

Want an easy way to turn your child’s frown into a smile? Visit the Toronto Zoo’s adorable baby polar bear cub and giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao. You can also get a temporary tattoo of the polar bear at the activity centre. Click here for a list of events.

During March 8-12, the zoo – located at 2000 Meadowvale Rd. — will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here for ticket prices.

Dr. Seuss-themed party

“Kid, you’ll move mountains,” Dr. Seuss says in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Join the Grinch at Casa Loma’s March Break-a-Palooza, which runs March 8-15.

Families can enjoy a host of activities including a scavenger hunt, live performances, storytelling and performance art.

Click here for more details and ticket information.

Toronto Comicon

If your child is obsessed with comic books and gaming, then the Toronto Comicon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (222 Bremner Blvd.) is the place to be. The event runs from March 7-9. Click here for more information and ticket prices.

Harbourfront camps

Do you have an aspiring young chef in your home? Harbourfront Centre’s Emerging Chef Challenge camp offers children cooking and nutrition lessons from the Liaison College of Culinary Arts, and allows them to create their own dishes from start to finish.

The Harbourfront Centre is also offering other camps in architecture, digital photography, dance, junior circus, and more, for children aged three to 12. Click here for a list of camps and pricing details.

New this year is the Urban Explorers camp, where children can learn about the history of Toronto while having fun. They will head to different neighbourhoods each day, such as Kensington Market and the Distillery District, and then take part in creative projects about them.

Wizard World Fun Park

Although outdoor amusement parks are not open yet, children and their families can still get the amusement park experience indoors. Wizard World Fun Park — now in its 11th year — features over 20 rides, magic shows, arts and crafts, and other activities for children.

The event runs March 9-16, and is located at Exhibition Place, 200 Princes’ Blvd. Click herefor more information and ticket details.

TIFF digiPlaySpace

Sparking creativity in children is at the forefront of TIFF Kids award-winning digiPlaySpace, in which children and their families can take part in virtual adventures, robotics, educational video games, multi-player installations, to name a few, from Canadian and international artists.

One of the installations is called Water Light Graffiti, which lets children create their new media creation with LED lights that shine when “painted” with water. Another installation, PaperDude VR, allows the user to ride a bike equipped with a virtual headset along an imaginative paper route. Click here for more details.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox, located at 350 King St. W., is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Click here for ticket details.

Children’s yoga

The Shops at the Don Mills, located at 25 Karl Fraser Rd., is offering free yoga classes to children between five to 12 years old on March 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and March 14, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Call 416-447-6087 (ext. 243) to reserve a spot.

City of Toronto programs

The City of Toronto is hosting free and low-cost programs for children and families at its recreation centres, parks facilities and museums.

Historic sites

Several historic sites and museums will be running camps and family drop-ins, including at Gibson House Museum, Fort York, Scarborough Museum and Todmorden Mills Heritage Site.Click here for more details.

Some of the camps are sold out, but you can find a list of other camps here. Also, click herefor a full list of events at the city’s historic sites and museums.

Skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding facilities at Centennial Arena (56 Centennial Park Rd.) and Earl Bales Park (4169 Bathurst St.) will be open from March 10-14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click herefor more details.


The city’s 28 outdoor ice rinks will be open until the end of day on March 16, weather permitting. Also, families can take part in free skating lessons at Ricoh Coliseum (100 Princes’ Blvd.) from March 10-14, from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

The lessons are first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 311.

Click here for more details.

Spring flower shows

For those who want to escape the cold and get a taste of spring, flower shows will be sprouting up at Centennial Park Conservatory (151 Elmcrest Rd.) and Allan Gardens Conservatory (19 Horticultural Ave.). The conservatories are open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day and admission is free. For more information, call Centennial at (416) 394-8543 and Allan Gardens at (416) 392-7288.

With files from Patricia D’Cunha, 680News.com

Mayor Ford grilled on Jimmy Kimmel Live

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Mar 4th, 2014

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel prodded Mayor Rob Ford to seek help for his excessive drinking during an awkward, at times cringe-worthy appearance on Kimmel’s show on Monday night.

“If you are an alcoholic, if you’re drinking enough that you tried crack in your 40s and you don’t remember it, maybe that’s something you might want to think about, like talking to someone about it,” Kimmel said.

Ford, decked out in an all-black suit and bright red tie, threw his head back and laughed before saying he “wasn’t elected to be perfect.”

“I was elected to clean up the mess that I inherited and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”

“I’m just a normal, average, hard-working politician that’s real…”

Kimmel quickly quipped, “You are not the average politician my friend.”

Despite claims that he travelled to Los Angeles to be an ambassador for Hollywood North, Ford spoke little about films during the appearance.

But he did rehash some familiar territory.

He bashed the local Toronto media for its incessant hounding, took angry pokes at police chief Bill Blair and city councillors, and hammered home his “taxpayers-first” policy whenever Kimmel momentarily relented the virtual roasting.

Kimmel kicked things off asking what many Torontonians were likely already thinking; “Why are you here? What good could come of this? Have you ever seen my show?”

Kimmel proceeded to ready angry messages from viewers, many from Toronto, while Ford’s face began to match the crimson hue of his tie.

“I’m really disappointed you are giving this abusive exploiter the time of day,” Kimmel read.

“Do you know about Rob Ford’s domestic abuse, drunk driving, racism, homophobia and inability to tell the truth?”

Ford, sweat now rolling down his forehead, asked, “Is that all I got?”

“I guess they don’t talk about all the money I’ve saved. How we straightened out the city.”

A little later, Kimmel had Ford stand and watch a series of his most notorious, and embarrassing, moments caught on tape. They included Ford’s infamous Steak Queen rant and the video where a clearly agitated Ford threatens someone.

When asked who he was threatening, Ford said he didn’t know.

“You have that many enemies that you don’t know which one this was?” Kimmel asked.

The Great Gonzo was the next guest.

He too poked fun at Ford, who by now was hightailing it back home to more familiar, and seemingly safer territory.

Part two:

Part three:

With files from Michael Talbot, CityNews.ca

Live from Las Vegas: Monday, March 3, 2014

| posted Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014

It’s Vegas, baby! We’re off to the entertainment capital of the world to celebrate my’s 50th birthday!

Monday through Wednesday, BT will be live from The Strip and surrounding attractions where we will be living it up Vegas style!

For behind-the-scenes updates and more, check out our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram postings using the hashtag #BTvegas.

Ellen DeGeneres brings pizza, breaks Twitter during Oscar hosting gig

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014

Comedian and talk show star Ellen DeGeneres returned as Oscar host on Sunday, bringing her deadpan affability, and free pizza, to the 86th Academy Awards show while still poking fun at Hollywood royalty.

In a back-to-basics approach to a live, 3 1/2-hour telecast that largely eschewed sophisticated clip montages and lavish song-and-dance productions, DeGeneres displayed her flair for playing informality for laughs.

Shrugging off complaints from some critics that the breezy levity of her first Oscar stint in 2007 was at odds with the Academy Awards’ traditional sense of decorum, DeGeneres forayed into the Dolby Theatre audience several times during Sunday’s show to mingle with the film industry elite, as she did seven years before.

She handed a faux consolation prize – a pair of lottery tickets – toAmerican Hustle star Bradley Cooper after he lost his bid for best supporting actor; took a “selfie” snapshot with a group of nominees that was swiftly re-tweeted more than two million times during the show; and even ushered a pizza delivery guy into the auditorium to hand out slices to the stars, then called on producer Harvey Weinstein to pay the tip.

“No pressure, only a billion people are watching, whatever you feel is right,” she shouted.

While mostly veering away from the ribald streak that marked Seth MacFarlane’s widely panned, and far more provocative, stint as emcee last year, DeGeneres showed she was not above mocking the movie industry’s biggest stars.

In another pithy moment, DeGeneres declared two possible scenarios for the final outcome of the Oscar race: “Possibility No. 1, 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility No. 2, you’re all racists.”

DeGeneres, 56, made broadcast history in 1997 as the first openly gay lead character on U.S. prime-time television, shortly after she came out publicly as a lesbian in real life.

Her return Oscar engagement came a year after MacFarlane, the creator of the animated sitcom Family Guy, drew critical scorn for a risque performance that included zingers about gays, Jews and domestic violence, and a musical tribute to female frontal nudity called We Saw Your Boobs.

Early reviews of DeGeneres’ latest performance were mostly positive.

Variety’s TV columnist Brian Lowry gave her points for “playful jabs” at the stars that “managed to feel fun without being mean-spirited,” saying that her opening monologue “screamed of a desire to dial back the show to safer terrain.”

USA Today said DeGeneres kicked off her sophomore Oscar run “in uproarious fashion,” and the Washington Post review said that DeGeneres “told jokes that were easy on the ears, gentle on the mind and, for the most part, sparingly nice.”

With files from Reuters

‘12 Years a Slave’ takes top prize at Oscars

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014

The slavery drama 12 Years a Slave won the best picture Oscar on Sunday, becoming the first film from a black director to win the film industry’s top honor in the 86 years of the Academy Awards.

The film from British director Steve McQueen is based on the memoirs of a free black man, Solomon Northup, who is tricked and sold into bondage in Louisiana in an unflinching account of pre-Civil War slavery in America.

Its biggest competitor, space thriller Gravity took the Oscar for best director, Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, and racked up five other awards for technical achievements like visual effects and cinematography, a reward for its groundbreaking work on conveying space and weightlessness.

Meanwhile, Matthew McConaughey was named best actor for Dallas Buyers Club; Cate Blanchett, best actress for Blue Jasmine; Jared Leto, best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club; and Lupita Nyong’o, best supporting actress for 12 Years a Slave.

Click here for a full list of the winners.

Nyong’o’s win over Jennifer Lawrence for her role as a loopy housewife in American Hustle injected some drama halfway through the 86th Academy Awards, after early Oscars went to heavy favorites.

Comedian and talk show star Ellen DeGeneres returned as Oscar host on Sunday in an appearance many saw as calculated to project a lighter, more affable tone for Hollywood’s biggest night after the provocative performance of her immediate predecessor, Seth MacFarlane.

She mixed with the star-studded crowd, taking selfies with the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and showed in her opening monologue she was not above poking fun at some of the film industry’s biggest names.

In one of the strongest years for film in recent memory, the 6,000-plus voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were expected to scatter golden Oscar statuettes widely among the many acclaimed movies in contention.

Sunday was the culmination of an unusually long awards season, extended by the Winter Olympics, and for many of the nominees it spelled the end to months of campaigning and years of work on a film.

Bedecked in gowns, tuxedos and even shorts, the world’s top actors and actresses strode down the red carpet right after the sun broke through four days of heavy rain that threatened to put a damper on Hollywood’s biggest night.

With files from Reuters and CityNews.ca

LIVE BLOG: The 2014 Academy Awards

BT Toronto | posted Sunday, Mar 2nd, 2014

And the Oscar goes to…

Reporters from 680News, Entertainment City and The Hollywood Reporter are partnering up to provide Oscars coverage in real time, including red carpet highlights and fashion, analysis of the show and updates on the winners, losers and reaction.

Entertainment reporter Eva Fragiskatos will cover red carpet fashion, and film critic Leslie James, news reporter Momin Qureshi and Vancouver Breakfast Television host Riaz Meghi will provide colour commentary throughout the entire show itself.

Follow along below starting at 6 p.m. EST.

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