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BLIZZARD: The Sun backed TIFF from the very beginning

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Usually in September, the streets of Toronto are full of limos and glittering parties with movie stars.

COVID-19 has forced the Toronto International Film Festival to go virtual. That gives us time to take stock of just how it put this city on the entertainment map and the economic boom it brings every year.

Usually hotels and restaurants are overflowing.

And it never would have happened without two people and one newspaper — the Toronto Sun, its first publisher, Doug Creighton and our first entertainment editor, George Anthony.

Back in 1975, three film producers and entrepreneurs, Bill Marshall, Dusty Cohl and Henk Van der Kolk came to Creighton with an idea to launch a world film festival.

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In an interview with Anthony some time ago for a book I’m writing, he explained just how TIFF got started. He believes Creighton never got enough credit for his vision in promoting it.

“Over the years, I’ve been given a huge amount of credit for helping to launch the film festival,” he said. (And he certainly earned that acknowledgment given the ground-breaking work he put into the festival).

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But TIFF’s creators first went to Creighton and he told them to meet with Anthony and then threw his support behind them all the way.

“Doug said, ‘Do you think we should support this? Do you think it’s a good thing?’ And I said, I think potentially it’s a great thing for the city,” Anthony recalled.

It was a long, lonely venture, with Anthony writing daily features to promote the festival. There was no support for it from other newspapers.

“For the first three years, we were the only paper to support it,” he recalled.

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In the first year, the Star’s movie critic, Clyde Gilmour, took his vacation to coincide with the festival and the Globe & Mail would have nothing to do with it.

Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert came the second year, giving the festival a big boost.

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TIFF has always shown appreciation for Anthony’s early leadership in getting it up and running. He’d like to see Creighton’s vision in backing the start-up recognized, as well.

“My name’s on the wall, and that’s nice. But it was Doug who said, ‘Do you want to do it?’”

Cohl, Marshall and Van der Kolk didn’t want an elitist festival. They wanted it to be something the average moviegoer could appreciate.

“It just seemed like a great idea because this city was movie-mad. This is one of the great movie towns in North America,” recalled Anthony.

“It wouldn’t have happened without Doug. It was the official paper of the festival,” he said.

Anthony changed the way movies were covered. In the run-up to the first festival, the Sun allowed Anthony to go to the Cannes Film Festival to get experience and to research how to cover such events.

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In the past, local reporters had filed one or two columns a week. Anthony started to send four or five a week — which proved hugely well-read.

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The following year, he filed every day. The Star and Globe both would soon cover it intensively — but by that time, Anthony had the Cannes festival locked up for the Sun, got many exclusives and the paper became the go-to entertainment read in the city.

“Whatever was happening, we were there,” he recalled.

It was a team effort.

“We were all working so hard and long and there was tremendous pride in our coverage,” he recalled. He joked that the Sun’s ethos was that other papers could send four reporters, this paper was so good, they only had to send one.

“It wasn’t arrogant, it was just scrappy — and we didn’t have four reporters anyway,” he laughed.

Like the song says, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. And this year that’s TIFF on the streets of TO.

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The Sandman release date confirmed for 2022

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Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is a beloved modern classic. The comic book series–centered on Morpheus, the Dream King, and his quest to reclaim his power after being imprisoned–is getting its own Netflix adaptation.

The streamer has been the home of more than one high profile fantasy over the last few years. In 2019, The Witcher snagged mainstream pop culture’s attention and is set to do so again with its second season on Dec. 17. Earlier this year, Shadow and Bone took the top fantasy spot on Netflix, and it looks like The Sandman will do the same in 2022.

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, Netflix Geeked announced more than a handful of upcoming titles for subscribers to expect next year.

Sandwiched in-between Resident Evil and Stranger Things season 4 was The Sandman. So, it won’t be too much longer before fans can binge watch the 11 episode season which will cover storylines from the first two volumes of the comic book series, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Here’s when the series could land on Netflix.

The Sandman release date predictions

What’s on Netflix reports that filming wrapped on The Sandman in July. As such we’re likely see the series launch its freshman run in either the spring or early summer 2022. We’ll keep you posted on more release date news as it comes in.

For information on The Sandman cast, including their character descriptions, click through to the next page for a rundown of who will make an appearance in season one.

Wondering if a new season of your favorite genre series is coming to Netflix in 2022? Check out the full list of announced Netflix originals hitting the platform next year including Mike Flanagan’s upcoming series, The Midnight Club, and the third season of Umbrella Academy!

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Trump tested positive for Covid before Biden debate

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WHO says South Africa hospitalizations rising, omicron severity unclear

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Hospitalizations are rising across South Africa, but it’s still too early to know whether the omicron variant is driving an increase in severe Covid-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid technical lead for the WHO, said Wednesday that some patients infected with omicron are showing mild symptoms, but there are also reports of cases in which the disease becomes more severe. Hospitalizations could be rising due to a general increase in Covid cases and not necessarily because omicron is more lethal, Van Kerkhove said.

“With regards to severity, there are studies that are underway looking at hospitalizations, looking at those individuals who are hospitalized, whether or not they have this variant or not,” Van Kerkhove told reporters during an update in Geneva. “We’re also getting a picture of some of the cases that are detected in other countries.”

The WHO reported Wednesday that 23 countries have identified omicron cases so far, up from 18 just two days ago, and that number is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks. The United States has not yet detected the variant, but White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has said it’s a matter of time before omicron is sequenced in America.

Van Kerkhove said there are early indications that omicron is more infectious, and the WHO expects to have more information on the variant’s transmissibility within days.

“It is certainly possible that one of the scenarios is that the virus, as it continues to evolve, may still have a fitness advantage, meaning that it can become more transmissible than delta, we’ll have to see,” she said. “But we don’t know quite yet about the severity.” Van Kerkhove noted there’s a “surveillance bias” in reported Covid cases that may cloud the early data.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member and a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Wednesday that there was a mini-delta surge in South Africa as well as an uptick in a separate variant, C.1.2, which complicates efforts to gain clarity on omicron’s transmission and virulence.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told CNBC on Monday that omicron symptoms reported in South Africa may not be a good predictor of the variant’s virulence in other parts of the world, because the country has a much younger and healthier population than European nations and the United States. The elderly are typically at higher risk of developing severe Covid than younger individuals.

Van Kerkhove said Wednesday that the public health measures used to fight delta, which is currently the dominant variant worldwide, should be strengthened to combat omicron.

“That does not mean lockdown. What that means is using proven public health and social measures,” Van Kerkhove said. The WHO recommended last week that people wear masks and socially distance regardless of their vaccination status.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday advised countries against imposing “blanket travel bans,” warning that such measures do not prevent the spread of omicron and place a heavy economic burden on the nations that are targeted. The U.S., the European Union and the U.K. restricted travel from southern African nations after South Africa alerted the world about omicron. Botswana said Friday it first detected the variant on four foreign nationals who entered the country on a diplomatic mission on Nov. 7 as part of its regular Covid surveillance.

“I thank Botswana and South Africa for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant so rapidly,” Tedros said. “It’s deeply concerning to me that those countries are now being penalized by others for doing the right thing.”

Van Kerkhove said placing travel restrictions on countries that report new variants to the international community could make them hesitant to share critical information in the future.

“If there is any disincentive if countries feel like they will be penalized for recording that information, that is of course a worry for us,” she said “We rely on this information, quite frankly.”

The WHO will hold a meeting on Dec. 6 to discuss how well natural and vaccine-induced immunity is holding up against Covid, including the omicron variant. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the organization’s chief scientist, said the primary goal of the world should be to ensure that as many people as possible have received their first vaccination series, particularly those who are vulnerable.

“There are all countries that still have vulnerable populations that have not been vaccinated for one reason or another,” Swaminathan said. “Of course, there are a large number of low-income countries where it hasn’t happened because we haven’t had the supplies.”

Wealthy nations such as the United States have started rolling out booster doses to the general public as vaccine efficacy wanes over time. That has been a source of controversy internationally because many people in poorer nations have very limited access to vaccines.

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