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Mayor Rob Ford gets celebrity treatment on Hollywood Boulevard

LOS ANGELES—Two women spotted Rob Ford on Hollywood Boulevard. One of them squealed. She demanded a photo.

Ford complied. A man stared. Then the man asked Ford a question.

“What movie were you in again?”
The mayor of Toronto quietly explained that he is the mayor of Toronto. The man, who goes by the name “Fifth Ave Dave,” said “Ohhh.” One of the women yelled, “He’s the f–ing mayor!” Someone yelled something about “crackhead” former Washington mayor Marion Barry.

Ford and entourage — chief of staff, press secretary, assistant; Councillor Doug Ford; third brother Randy Ford — started their walk in the direction of a waiting SUV.

The mayor who says he is not a celebrity played one in Hollywood on a surreal Sunday in something loosely connected to municipal government. With the real stars inaccessible to the proletariat kept from the red carpet by barricades and a high chain-link fence, the crack-smoking Canadian happily walking the Walk of Fame became a sub-marquee attraction unto himself.

It was hard to tell if he was being celebrated, as Doug Ford said, or mocked, as his critics back home argued; during the multi-person boulevard exchange, it seemed like it was both at once. Rob Ford revelled in the attention regardless — handing out his business cards, as he does habitually back home, and talking up the city to whoever he could.

“Say New York!” one man demanded while posing for another photo with Ford. “Toronto!” Ford responded with a smile.

He did not attend the Academy Awards, as he told the Toronto Sun on Saturday he would; Doug Ford told the Sun on Sunday that “security” scuttled the plan. He did, apparently, get to participate in some kind of post-show shindig; Doug Ford told the Sun that Jimmy Kimmel hosts “the best Oscars party in town,” but the Kimmel camp said Kimmel doesn’t host a party at all, just a post-Oscars show.

The frugal mayor was silent when asked twice by the Star who paid for the trip, and his spokesman, Amin Massoudi, cut off questions as they walked the boulevard. Massoudi said he could not say directly who paid. He responded only: “Not the taxpayers of Toronto.” Doug Ford repeated the same words, but he added that he was paying for “a lot of it.”

Ford will appear on Kimmel’s show on Monday. The city’s code of conduct for members of council prohibits many kinds of gifts, and airfare and hotel stays from Kimmel would represent a possible violation. Doug Ford said he is sure everything was above-board. He added: “As long as the taxpayers aren’t paying, it doesn’t matter.”

The jaunt to Hollywood sits uneasily with the mayor’s carefully cultivated everyman persona — and with campaign manager Doug Ford’s criticism of mayoral candidate John Tory as an “elite.”

Immediately after picking up his tuxedo for the post-Oscars festivities, Rob Ford told a CityTV interviewer that he is an “average, hard-working guy,” not a celebrity. He was not in the mood to muse about the curious nature of his fame.

Asked by CTV’s Tom Walters whether “Kimmel is laughing with you or at you,” Ford said, “You ask Jimmy that.” Asked again — “Do you not think you’re here to be made fun of, sir?” — he said, “I’m going to let you go.”

There is no itinerary for the trip. Ford spent the pre-Oscars day exercising — he tweeted a treadmill action photo — and walking the streets. But he and Doug Ford said the purpose of the trip is to sell Toronto as a destination for tourism and movie-making. They say they have already been successful.

“We’re going to be making more movies than ever up in Hollywood North,” Rob Ford told Kiss 92.5’s Roz and Mocha Show.

“All about Toronto,” Doug Ford told the Star. “Promoting the city, talking about Hollywood North, talking to some directors, telling them what a great city it is, and how we have great tax incentives to bring movies up to Toronto. And we have a great city, a multicultural city, the best city in the world. So if we invited one person, we invited 10,000 people up there.”

Torstar News Service

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