Film Fes­ti­val In­sider

ET Canada’s CHERYL HICKEY talks stand­out mo­ments from TORONTO’S most PRES­TI­GIOUS FES­TI­VAL.


The Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val

has grown to be­come the world’s lead­ing public fes­ti­val since its in­cep­tion 42 years ago. With Hol­ly­wood’s elite flood­ing the streets of Toronto for 10 days in Septem­ber year af­ter year, along with thou­sands of fans, TIFF has es­tab­lished Canada as a ma­jor player on the global cin­ema scene, and turned the coun­try’s largest me­trop­o­lis into a movie-lover’s par­adise filled with celebrity sight­ings and world pre­mieres. “It’s like our Su­per Bowl,” says Cheryl Hickey, host of En­ter­tain­ment Tonight Canada. “It re­ally is the kick-off to Os­cars sea­son—the buzz is born at TIFF.”

As an en­ter­tain­ment re­porter and pow­er­house, Hickey has been cover­ing the film fes­ti­val for more than a decade. “We’re at all the screen­ings and par­ties, we’re on the red car­pets, and we’re do­ing in­ter­views with all the top stars, even the upand-coming stars.”

Here, Hickey, who’s in­ter­viewed lu­mi­nar­ies rang­ing from Ni­cole Kid­man to Oprah Win­frey, shares her favourite TIFF mo­ments, dream celebrity in­ter­view, and more.

How does ET Canada stand out from other Cana­dian en­ter­tain­ment se­ries dur­ing TIFF?

“We do a re­ally good job of putting the spot­light on Cana­dian stars and artists, which is re­ally im­por­tant. And it’s not just the peo­ple in front of the cam­era: it’s the di­rec­tors, the pro­duc­ers, the writ­ers, the edi­tors, and the cam­er­apeo­ple. Canada is so rich with tal­ent. Also, we cover that star power ev­ery­one craves: what are they wear­ing, who are they on a date with at a party—we’re up on all that stuff.”

What’s your favourite part of the film fes­ti­val?

“I love the par­ties. They are so much fun and ev­ery­body re­ally lets go dur­ing those days. It’s tough for us, though, be­cause we have to let go, but we also have a show and big in­ter­views to do the next day.”

When you say, “ev­ery­body lets go,” does that in­clude celebri­ties too?

“Yes! I think be­cause Canada is a place where stars can re­lax; they aren’t go­ing to be bom­barded too much, so they feel like they can be them­selves and just have fun. I think the dif­fer­ence is that Cana­dian fans un­der­stand that there’s real life, and then there’s en­ter­tain­ment. They al­low stars to have their real life, and that’s spe­cial.”

Which celebrity has sur­prised you the most over the years?

“The year Jamie Foxx came into town for his movie Ray, he af­fected the film fes­ti­val like no­body else. The story of Ray Charles was so pow­er­ful and beau­ti­ful, and the mu­sic spoke to ev­ery­body. Also, Jamie loves to party—he held some of the best par­ties of all time!”

What’s been your most mem­o­rable red-car­pet mo­ment?

“One year, on the red car­pet with Ni­cole Kid­man, all of her fans were stand­ing be­hind me and some guy whacked me on the head with a clip­board. She be­came a momma bear and jumped over me and said, “Ev­ery­body step back!” It was amaz­ing. She’ll for­ever be my body­guard and big­gest de­fender.”

Who’s still on your dream list to in­ter­view?

“I’ve al­ways wanted Goldie Hawn and Kate Hud­son for a Mother’s Day spe­cial—and some­day I’m go­ing to make that hap­pen! Ansel El­gort is amaz­ing. He’s some­one who’s newer and do­ing great things. And I love Chris Pratt. I in­ter­viewed him a few years ago for Money­ball.

What do you love most about what TIFF brings to Toronto?

“There’s a spe­cial en­ergy. You feel it three days be­fore, and ev­ery­one’s get­ting amped up. And it does so much for this city and, re­ally, for this coun­try: it’s great for the in­dus­try, pro­duc­tion houses, and small busi­nesses that are in and around the area. As great as it is to have the Amer­i­can ac­co­lades, TIFF shines a light on all the great work Cana­di­ans do.”

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