All posts by Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.

W Network launches fall food block

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From a media release:

This fall, Tuesdays get hot in the kitchen as W Network launches a new food programming block with the premiere of two new original series, Pressure Cooker, a primetime culinary competition show, and Million Dollar Critic, a critique of North America’s most enticing and interesting restaurants. The two series premiere back-to-back on Tuesday, October 7, with Pressure Cooker airing at 9 p.m. ET and Million Dollar Critic airing at 10 p.m. ET on W Network.

Pressure Cooker (10×60) illustrates the real-life pressures of cooking at home when time is tight and ingredients are scarce, pitting skilled home cooks against the clock – and each other. Million Dollar Critic (6×60) takes U.K. based restaurant critic Giles Coren to cities across North America to review up-and-coming or authentic food establishments to determine which will receive his million-dollar review.

“Everyone loves food, from cooking in to dining out, and W Network’s two new series give our audiences the best of both worlds,” said John MacDonald, Vice President, Head of Women’s and Family Television, Corus Entertainment. “The series are connected by foodie extraordinaire, Giles Coren, known in the U.K. for his outspoken opinions and spot-on reviews of restaurants and chefs. We are excited to introduce Canadian audiences to this food superstar.”

Pressure Cooker features Giles Coren (The F-Word, Million Dollar Critic), as the tasting expert alongside host Anne-Marie Withenshaw; an award-winning entertainment and live event TV personality. Each episode features four competitors vying for one of the largest weekly grand prizes in Canadian television – one year’s worth of fresh groceries from Walmart SuperCentres. Each week two celebrity guest chefs who will serve as coaches for the competitors as they show how creative you can be with the same ingredients. Guest chefs include: Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes, Iron Chef America), Hugh Acheson (Top Chef), Rocco DiSpirito (Top Chef), Stefano Faita (In The Kitchen With Stefano Faita), Alex Guarnaschelli (Chopped, Iron Chef America), Rodney Bowers (chef and owner, Hey Meatball!), Graham Elliot (Masterchef judge), Nadia Giosia (Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen), Anne Burrell (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Iron Chef America), Eric Greenspan (The Next Iron Chef) and DJ BBQ (YouTube star on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube).

On Pressure Cooker, home cooks are faced with the eternal dilemma – what do you cook when you have only a few random ingredients in the kitchen and not a lot of time to prepare them? In each episode, guest celebrity chefs are paired with skilled home cooks in a culinary contest combining great cooking and mischievous game show mechanics with a twist – home cooks must select their ingredients from a specially designed conveyor belt that kicks in at timed intervals, and whatever they choose, they must use. Pressure Cooker is produced by Bristow Global Media, in association with W Network and is based on an original concept created by Jamie Oliver’s Fresh One Productions.

Lead broadcast and grocery sponsor Walmart Canada provides food staples in the Great Value branded pantry as well as the fresh food on the Pressure Cooker conveyor belt. Canadians can find fresh and accessible meal ideas from Pressure Cooker at Walmart.ca/recipes to use in their own kitchens. ESKA Natural Spring Water has also signed on as the official water supplier for the season.

Million Dollar Critic also stars Giles Coren, the bitingly funny and controversial restaurant critic of one of the U.K.’s best-selling newspapers, The Times. His good opinion can bring as much as a million dollars of profit to those restaurants graced with his words of approval. He cannot be bought. He cannot be invited. If your place is good, then you hope he shows up. And if it is bad, then you better hope he doesn’t. And now he’s coming to North America. Giles doesn’t care about reputations. He isn’t interested in fancy or flashy or famous. He is simply looking for a place that offers him a drink when he sits down, that serves him a dish filled with love, and doesn’t play the music so loudly that he can’t have a proper conversation with his dinner companion. He’ll take everything the restaurants throw at him and throw it right back. And so, with his trusty researcher by his side helping him navigate this strange and tasty new world, Giles traverses cities and towns across Canada and the U.S., discovering the newest, freshest, and most authentic dining experiences. In each town, Giles visits five restaurants and grants one a million dollar review that could change the owner’s life forever. His reviews will also appear on Huffingtonpost.com and Wnetwork.com. Million Dollar Critic is produced by Temple Street Production and BBC America, in association with W Network, and will be distributed by BBC Worldwide.

 

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The Social gals get chatting for Season 2

They’re back and they’ve got a lot more to say. Yup, those Social gals–news anchor Melissa Grelo, relationship expert and life coach Cynthia Loyst, gossip maven Lainey Lui and entertainment reporter Traci Melchor–return for Season 2 this week and they’re raring to go.

No topic is out of bounds for the quartet; they feel equally at home discussing the latest fashion trends, current news making headlines or spilling the dirt on the most recent celebrity breakup. And the foursome say they felt a chemistry between them from the get-go.

“The first time that they put us all together for auditions I said to myself, ‘This is it,'” Melchor explains. “None of the other formations felt as good as us.” It hasn’t been all smooth sailing on-air. As Loyst tells it, they’ve all become great friends but have argued on more than one occasion on the show. Of course, she explains, that not only makes for great TV but cements they are real people with differing opinions on subjects.

“We still get along, we’re like a weird sisterhood,” Loyst says with a laugh. “You fight, you make up and then you move on.”

They admit the hardest part of being the hosts of a daytime talk show has been pulling back the curtain on their personal lives and sharing them on-air with each other and the audience. For Grelo, that meant a shift in thinking and departing from the typical news anchor mentality of reporting without injecting any personal opinion.

At the other end of the scale is Lui: co-hosting The Social has just confirmed what she already knew.

“I already knew that I had no shame,” she admits. “I have talked about my bowel movements to the point that our viewers know my favourite thing to talk about is poo, and my sex life to the point that everyone knows who I would have casual sex with if I wasn’t married.” Revealing those intimate secrets–and bodily functions–has led to a connection with viewers none of the hosts anticipated. Sure, they knew fans would have opinions and feedback but they were still surprised. Loyst points to her Season 1 blog about breastfeeding as an example of a topic that stirred plenty of discussion.

“That is what makes this show so unique,” she says. “There is this constant conversation happening with our audience. Viewers have watched my son grow from three months to 15 months. People definitely feel and intimacy or kinship with me because they know my family.” Expect more of the same in Season 2, teases Grelo. This past year has been the ladies’ introduction to viewers. Any nervousness they had about connecting with an audience is gone; fans know who they are as broadcasters and people.

“I think people will be watching in an even more engaged way,” Grelo says. “There will be thoughtful discussion about interesting topics that are going to affect you in the bedroom, the boardroom, your living room and we’ll continue to engage with our viewers via social media and amazing celebrity interviews.”

Season 2 of The Social airs weekdays at 1 p.m. ET on CTV.

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Omni greenlights Season 2 of Bollywood Star

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From a media release:

Bollywood boot camp is back in session, as OMNI Television and Makan Media greenlight production on Season 2 of the dynamic original reality series Bollywood Star. Equal parts talent search and documentary, the six-part, half-hour series follows Canadian would-be Bollywood stars on their quest for the opportunity of a lifetime: a role in a Bollywood film, and a chance to become the next Bollywood sensation. Canadians can submit their auditions online at OMNITV.ca/BollywoodStar beginning today. Additional production and broadcast details will be announced at a later date.

“It was clear from last season that Canada boasts an immense wealth of talent across all cultures and communities,” said Paritosh Mehta, Director of Independent Production Development for OMNI Television Ontario, Rogers Media. “OMNI Television has always celebrated the Bollywood film industry, and we look forward to once again offering viewers this life-changing opportunity and delivering a fresh new season of this captivating series.”

OMNI Television’s nationwide search is open to all talented Canadian hopefuls over the age of majority. Beginning today, applicants can visit OMNITV.ca/BollywoodStar for more information on how to submit their application form and video audition.

“We are very excited to produce another season of Bollywood Star and to share the real-life experiences of Canadians trying to make it in biggest movie industry in the world,” said Shaam Makan, Executive Producer, Makan Media. “This season, our Bollywood hopefuls will not only experience the glamorous sights and sounds of India, but they’ll also tackle some of the hard-hitting issues that affect Indian society today.”

Surrey, B.C.’s 25-year-old Simran Sidhu was crowned Bollywood Star’s Season 1 winner in April. Beating out talented hopefuls from all over the country, Sidhu’s stunning performances during the competition’s Indian leg dazzled industry experts and led her to the ultimate prize: a role in an upcoming Bollywood film.

Bollywood Star follows the format of the successful Bollywood Star Australia and United Kingdom. The series is commissioned by OMNI Television’s original content team and produced by Makan Media Inc, with Shaam Makan (Restaurant MakeoverThe Next StarBollywood Star) serving as executive producer. Paritosh Mehta is Director of Independent Production Development for OMNI Television Ontario, Rogers Media.

 

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Rick Campanelli celebrates 10 years of ET Canada

Has it been a decade already? It seems like just yesterday that Rick Campanelli, Cheryl Hickey and Roz Weston burst onto the scene in Entertainment Tonight Canada. The spinoff of the hugely successful U.S. newsmagazine show celebrates its 10th anniversary this week in grand style, with specials that include the most memorable celebrity interviews, bloopers, and “Star Evolutions” spotlighting the humble beginnings of Hollywood’s biggest names.

We asked Campanelli to look back on the last 10 years of ETC.

My favourite interview subject has been…
Rick Campanelli: Wow this is a tough one for me. I’m going to narrow it down to my Top 3, in no particular order of course. Michael Bublé because he is a great interview. He is super-talented and super-nice. Michael also has fun during the interview–hejokes around and makes you laugh. He also opens up and tells you things you never knew about him. I met Michael many years ago when he was singing at a Toronto stage show called Forever Swing. With all his fame and success he is still the same lovable Canadian I met all those years ago.

George Clooney because for someone of his stature in Hollywood, he has to be the most down-to-earth celebrities I have ever met. I’ve interviewed George a few times and he is truly genuine. He even gets up out of his seat to introduce himself to you in a junket setting. The guy really does have it all and you’ll feel like he could be one of your good friends after spending just five minutes with him.

Cher. Yes, I said Cher! The woman is an icon. She has been entertaining us since I’ve been in diapers and she is not about to slow down … or put more appropriate clothes on. I’ve done a couple full-length sit-down interviews with her and she just opens up and tells it like it is. She’s not afraid to speak her mind. She made me laugh out loud when she said one of her and Sonny’s first purchases was a toaster oven.

I was most nervous to interview…
Two people come to mind. The first time I ever interviewed Tommy Lee Jones. This man is an icon, he has been acting for longer than I’ve been alive and he is damn good at it! But it was the reputation he has during an interview setting that had me a little frightened/nervous about the outcome of my five minutes with him. Trust me, I was sweating but I was also prepared and knew a lot about this Hollywood legend. It turned out to be a pretty good interview and I even made him laugh which is always a good thing.

The other celebrity I was pretty nervous to interview was Jennifer Aniston. She’s gorgeous, she’s fun, she’s super-talented she’s gorgeous and the whole world knows her. Did I mention she’s gorgeous?

My most memorable on-air moment on ET Canada so far was…
My most memorable on-air moment for ET Canada was when we travelled to the Bahamas with Sharkwater director Rob Stewart to actually go dive with sharks. Yes, it took me a while to build up the courage but I finally took the plunge and hung out with 30 or so sharks down 30 meters in the ocean. I’m always up for a challenge and when my executive producer asked me if I would even consider doing it, I jumped at the opportunity. The day was gorgeous, the water was warm and the sharks were hungry. It is another world down there and I am so grateful all the underwater creatures welcomed me that day! Also, to hang out with Rob Stewart, one of Canada’s most passionate and dedicated documentary directors, was a total honour for me and we even became good friends.

My most memorable behind-the-scenes moment so far was…
My most memorable behind the scenes moment has to be going on the set of Vikings in Ireland. We hung out with the cast both in and out of their wardrobe/make-up, got an exclusive tour of the set where all the action goes down and even got made up as a pillaging Viking to see what it’s all about. I have been on so many sets and I will never forget this trip to Ireland because of the excitement and generosity that everyone showed us. From the make-up department, to the director and even the extras involved–they were all so happy to working on this project and it made my job that much easier to get so many amazing moments. The even better news is that we are going back on-set of Vikings soon, so stay tuned!

The best junket I have been on has been…
Hands down, the best junket I have been on was for Skyfall in New York City. We even included a trip to London, England, to tour all the famous James Bond spots. Got fitted by 007’s tailor, drank the classic Vesper martini, which Ian Fleming used to drink at Duke’s hotel bar and even sat in his Aston Martin! I’ve been a huge fan of James Bond for many years now and my obsession began back in the 1970’s when Roger Moore played the British secret agent. Although this is the new generation of 007 with Daniel Craig taking over the role; in my mind he’s the most rugged and real James Bond since the franchise began making movies back in the early 1960’s. He is the one that I sat across from at the Crosby St. hotel in NYC and who talked in great depth about one of my favourite big screen characters of all time.

The member of the ETC on-air team that pulls the most pranks is…
The member of the ETC on-air team that pulls the most pranks would probably be me … followed by Sangita, who takes a close second. I’ve loved pulling pranks for as long as I can remember. As you could probably imagine, I don’t like to be too serious. I have to be honest I had a bit more of the “prankster” in me earlier in my career … streaking, mooning, etc., but I had to slow down a bit over the years! I just like to make people laugh and smile – it lightens up the mood. Of course I can’t list all the pranks but I can say one of my favourites was when I did an up close and personal interview straight into the camera and when we were done and the camera pulled out, I was sitting in my boxer briefs…

I’m honoured to be a member of the ET Canada team because…
I’m honoured to be a member of the ET Canada team because we are part of an entertainment brand that has been around for 34 years. This entertainment franchise is an institution that has built a foundation for entertainment content to thrive. Entertainment Tonight is known throughout the world as THE No. 1 reliable source for all things entertainment and we here at ET Canada are proud to be able to share that same attribute with our Canadian viewers. I am also so proud of the team I work with every day. They are the best in the business at what they do. It’s such an amazing feeling to go home at the end of each day, sit back and take in what we created … and do it all over again day after day! Here’s to another 10 seasons!

Season 10 of Entertainment Tonight Canada airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. ET on Global.

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Highway Thru Hell slides into Season 3

It takes a special kind of person to want to drive tractor trailer loads of supplies along the notoriously dangerous Coquihalla Highway during the winter around Hope, B.C. But it takes an even more special kind of person (some may say “nuts”) to pull crashed tractor trailers out of the ditches along the Coq. Meet Jamie Davis, whose company, Jamie Davis Heavy Rescue, has been doing it for over a decade.

Davis and his motley assortment of drivers, mechanics and staff are back behind the wheel for Season 3 of Highway Thru Hell–returning to Discovery with 13 new episodes tonight–and the stress and danger has been doubled for the grizzled road veteran. A drop in business in B.C. meant Davis needed to explore other options, leading to an opportunity for his company to patrol Alberta’s Highway 881 and 63, the former the only lifeline between Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray in the newly discovered oil fields.

“We had to take a gamble and move to Alberta,” Davis says. “It was do or die. We moved to Fort McMurray, as well as having locations closer to Lac La Biche and now we’re in Edmonton. Long-term employees have stuck through me through thick and thin and they have the gumption to just do it.” Doing it is a tough, long slog. Hours are spent pulling shattered rigs upright and coordinating with law enforcement and firefighters to re-open the mountain or tundra thoroughfares as quickly and safely as possible. Davis teases viewers will see how stressed even longtime staffers get during the course of Season 3.

The road to Fort McMurray presented a particular challenge for everyone because of its remoteness–a closed highway means no groceries or fuel make it there not to mention the heavy equipment needed at the oil fields–but the conditions are harsher with winter temperatures plunging to minus-46, wreaking havoc on both man and machines.

Davis is still amazed over the popularity he and his crew have gotten over the last two seasons of Highway Thru Hell. The whole TV thing started innocently: driver Adam Gazzola was helping a guy whose truck broke down and they compared jobs. Gazzola told the dude, who revealed he worked in the television industry, that he drove a heavy rescue truck for a living and that driving the Coq in the winter was a gong show. The TV guy’s boss? Mark Miller, the man whose Great Pacific TV production company is behind such shows as Air Dogs, Untold Stories of the ER and Daily Planet. A series was born.

And despite Highway Thru Hell‘s success–the 2012 debut is still the No. 1 series premiere in Discovery’s history–fame isn’t their goal.

“That isn’t our business,” he says. “Our business is towing.”

Highway Thru Hell airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.

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