By Susan O'Neill Posted September 15, 2009, 12:13 PM EDT
TORONTO BlackBerry and Lionsgate hosted a pre-screening reception attended by 300 guests—including Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and Robert De Niro—for the film Precious at the Royal Ontario Museum Sunday. Executive producer Oprah Winfrey was scheduled to walk the carpet but failed to show for the event.
“The movie is a very gritty and inspiring drama and it takes place in a poverty-stricken landscape, but it's about the fact that no matter how bad your circumstances are, you can always rise above it,” said Chris Benarroch, president of the Los Angeles-based Benarroch Productions, which planned the party. Benarroch said she selected the ROM for the reception because the exposed brick wall in the museum's Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court “looked like a scene from the movie ... this element seemed perfect.”
The venue, which has soaring ceilings and angled white walls, also enabled the company to fill the space with light and projections that included images from the film and the names of event sponsors Lionsgate and BlackBerry.
Sequined black cushions topped white furnishings from Contemporary Furniture Rentals, and splashes of orange—the colour featured prominently in the film's promotional materials—could be seen in the flowers (gerbera daisies), and the lighting. C5 Restaurant catered the event, and guests sipped on cocktails including the BlackBerry Martini during the party.
The production company chose to hold a pre-film reception rather than an after-party because the film was slotted a 9:30 p.m. screening at Roy Thomson Hall, the site of all of TIFF's gala presentations. “It was just too late. Also this movie is really heartfelt, and when you walk out of the movie you are so floored you really just want to sit and take it in,” Benarroch said.
Organizers installed barricades and red ropes at the museum's Bloor Street entrance and set up a red carpet and step-and-repeat inside the ROM's foyer. The museum closed at 5:30 p.m. and guests, including the film's stars, began arriving at 6:30 p.m. Although Winfrey was scheduled to attend the party she had yet to arrive when the media cleared the red carpet at 8:45 p.m.
According to The Toronto Star, the talk show host “was having a lie down, exhausted after a heavy press day.”