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.

The Listener cast says goodbye

It’s the end of the road for Toby Logan and The Listener gang. After five seasons on the air, the drama–about crime-solving telepath Toby (Craig Olejnik)–signs off this Monday night. The situation is bittersweet for a cast that includes Lauren Lee Smith, Ennis Esmer and Rainbow Sun Francks; after all, the show is closing down after delivering consistently impressive ratings of over a million viewers each week. Still, the cast realize television is a volatile business and though they’d have loved to see the show go on, they’re not dwelling on it.

Monday’s “In Our Midst” sees Toby, Michelle and Dev investigating possible dirty dealings between Becker and disgraced former cop Curtis Maynard (Noam Jenkins). And while the cast were mum on the details, they were more than willing to reveal their thoughts on The Listener, their message to the loyal fans and hinting as to what’s next for each of them.

Lauren Lee Smith (Michelle McCluskey)
Thoughts on playing Michelle

“Michelle has grown so much. Every season there have been these crazy changes and the show has really sort of re-invented itself, which as an actor is really fun to play.”

Message to the fans
“The fans are the reason we’ve had any success. The fans are the reason that we make this show. A giant thank you from the bottom of my heart for watching us week to week for the past five seasons. It’s been an incredible journey with them and without them we wouldn’t have had five seasons of a Canadian show.”

What’s next?
“I’m in Montreal doing a show called Ascension [for Syfy and CBC] where I have a five-episode arc as a really dark, dark, dark character. I have a movie coming out called If I Stay and then Ennis and I are doing a movie called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town. The title alone gives you an impression of what that’s all about!”

Rainbow Sun Francks (Dev Clark)
Thoughts on playing Dev
“Dev is one of those characters that could just go and do his job and be a robot. It was a new skill set for me to play a techie guy, so it took me awhile to get his story and bring out his humanity. It was all about the writing and finding those little moments in myself and having the writers see that and give me some more. It was a really interesting journey with this guy. He turned out to be a really likeable, fun character.”

The importance of Twitter and connecting with fans
“I love connecting with my Twitter friends. It’s so quick. The thing about the 140 characters is limiting but a great thing because it doesn’t allow you to be too long-winded. One we did the live tweeting, or ‘twatching’ as we called it, it really changed the effect of the show.”

What’s next?
“I’m having a viewing party on Monday at my [Toronto] bar, Ravage & Rumble and I encourage anyone to come down. It’s not a giant entertainment space, but it’s a quaint little space on Queen Street West and I’m going to set up a big TV and a projector and we’ll have a last ‘twitch’ together and have a really, really good time.”

Ennis Esmer (Oz Bey)
Thoughts on playing Oz
“This is the first time I’ve been a regular character on a series and it’s made my career, basically. That’s something that I’ve always appreciated. We had great people on the set all the time that kept you honest and reminded you that it was a team effort. I will miss everyone.”

Message to the fans
“I have come to fall in love with every fan of The Listener over the last five years. The FanExpo session that we did last year really made me realize what the show meant to people. I got this email from a girl in Slovenia who emailed me to say she was a huge fan of the show and watching you guys got me through some tough times and you were always good for a laugh. I really appreciated that. Even people who come up to me on the street and say, ‘Wow, you look thinner on the show!’ it’s all appreciated.”

What’s next?
“I’m looking forward to the Oz spinoff that we’re working on right now. It’s called Look Who’s Listening Now. Oz moves to Seattle … well, rural Washington … and he starts up a phone-in therapy chat show. Aaron Abrams is playing the studio manager is a real rough and tumble guy sort of producer who clashes with my dainty, refined sensibilities as an on-air therapist. I’m looking forward to it, and we’re breaking scripts next week.” [Editor’s note: he’s kidding.]

Craig Olejnik (Toby Logan)
Thoughts on playing Toby
“I’ve held on to Toby Logan since the pilot and it ebbs and flows and changes. It is still slowly trickling out of me. I said to my girlfriend, ‘I think Toby Logan is dead!’ It’s like I was possessed of something. [Laughs.]”

Message to the fans
“A deep thanks. Thanks for sticking with us and supporting us and watching us loyally every week and for bumping into us and showing joy for the show. It’s been incredibly rewarding. We do these things in closed sets and environments and to have people come out in your day-to-day life in the grocery store or whatever and tell you that they love the show really makes it all worthwhile.”

What’s next?
“I’m down in California laying my roots here to move on to the next level. Once you’ve been the lead on a show in Canada, the next thing is you gotta come down here to go a little higher and then you can reach another threshold in Canada. We’re lucky to be Canadian and have access to the Canadian and American market. I don’t want to really produce or write or direct or anything like that. I just want to be a for-hire actor.

The Listener series finale airs Monday, Aug. 18, at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Do you have a message for the cast of The Listener? Let them know via their Twitter feed! Follow Greg on Twitter.


Hugh Dillon toplines CBC’s Camp X


From a media release:

CBC and Temple Street Productions announce the start of production on the highly-anticipated original series CAMP X, shooting on location in Budapest, Hungary until the end of the October. The eight-episode, one-hour series is set to air in early 2015.

CAMP X is an emotionally driven adventure drama, set in the thrilling and dangerous world of WWII espionage and covert operations. It follows the stories of a team of highly skilled young recruits – Canadian, American and British – torn from their ordinary lives to train as agents in an ultra-secret facility on the shores of Lake Ontario. Inspired by remarkable true stories, CAMP X is about the origin of spycraft.

“We are excited to bring life to this captivating story that weaves pieces of Canada’s history into a rich and dramatic narrative,” said Sally Catto, general manager of programming, CBC.  “We are encouraged by the strong caliber of talent that has banded together to create CAMP X and can’t wait for its premiere this winter.”

The series’ international ensemble cast includes Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black, Pawn Sacrifice) as AURORA – half Jewish-German, half French-Canadian, a trilingual strategist and undercover specialist; Jack Laskey (Endeavour, Hatfields and McCoys) as ALFRED, a gentle soul with synesthesia – a condition that cross-wires one sense with another, giving him near-perfect memory; Warren Brown (Luther, By Any Means) as NEIL, an English ex-copper specializing in weapons and combat who lost his family to the Blitz; Dustin Milligan (Demonic, 90210) as TOM, a Madison Avenue advertising wunderkind, intimately familiar with the mechanics of persuasion, propaganda and seduction; and Connor Price (Being Human, Carrie) as HARRY, the team’s radio operator, explosives specialist and gadgeteer.

Teaming up again with Ellis & Morgenstern is Hugh Dillon (Flashpoint, The Killing) as the Camp’s beating heart and clenched fist, DUNCAN SINCLAIR.

Rounding out the CAMP X cast are Lara Jean Chorostecki (Hannibal, Copper) as KRYSTINA, the bright, motor-mouthed young woman who oversees the all-female staff at Camp X’s state-of-the-art communications facility, and special guest Francois Arnaud (The Borgias) appears as RENÉ.

CAMP X is a story we’ve been burning to tell for a long time.  It’s incredibly powerful to see it take shape in the hands of so many talented people,” says creators Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern.

“We’re tremendously excited to be working with Mark and Stephanie to bring this incredible project to life,” says Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier, executive producers and co-Presidents of Temple Street. “Don’t mistake this series for a history lesson or a stodgy period drama – it’s an exciting and compelling show, filled with spies, sabotage, action, tragedy and triumph, grounded in an incredibly rich and engaging piece of history (of which little has been told) and set against the backdrop of World War II and German-occupied France. And we’ve managed to assemble the world-class cast and crew needed to do the stories justice.”

CAMP X is a Canadian-Hungarian co-production, produced by Temple Street Productions and co-produced by Pioneer Stillking Films and commissioned by CBC. CAMP X was created and written by multi-award winning Mark Ellis & Stephanie Morgenstern and is executive produced by Ellis & Morgenstern, Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier, and Bill Haber of Ostar Productions.


AMI’s Four Senses to return for second season

Carl and Christine

From a media release:

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announced today that its cooking show with an accessibility twist, Four Senses, will begin production on season two in the fall. Additionally, episodes from season one are now available on Air Canada domestic flights. Four Senses is a unique food show produced by AMI in conjunction with Varner Productions Limited that unites blind and sighted chefs in the kitchen. Hosts Christine Ha and Carl Heinrich are back for season two to whip up delicious dishes with a new lineup of celebrity guests. Each 30-minute show will also include discussions related to eye disease and accessibility tips and tools for independence in the kitchen. Season two begins production in Toronto on September 12 and will feature high profile celebrity chefs and guests including: Frank Ferragine (aka Frankie Flowers), Bonnie Stern, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, Annabelle Waugh from Canadian Living and Looney Spoons authors and cooking aficionados, Janet and Greta Podleski. Season two will once again contain embedded description, where hosts and guests describe their surroundings and actions for audience members who are blind or partially sighted. “We are so pleased to bring back Four Senses after the overwhelmingly positive response to season one,” says Brian Perdue, Director of Programming for AMI-tv. “It’s a show unlike any other that appeals to a broad audience. Christine and Carl are back with a whole new set of guests, recipes and kitchen tips, all with a focus on accessibility in line with AMI’s mandate of making accessible media for all Canadians.” Additionally, Varner Productions and AMI are pleased to announce the sale of season one of Four Senses to Air Canada for inflight entertainment on domestic flights throughout August and September. Four Senses producer Anne-Marie Varner is thrilled by the success of the program to date. “It’s wonderful to see a show about cooking and accessibility generating such interest and positivity amongst people of all abilities,” she says. “We’re looking forward to reaching a whole new audience through our partnership with Air Canada, and carrying that momentum forward as we begin production on the exciting new season.” Season two of Four Senses will air on AMI-tv in January, 2015.


Let’s make a toast! ET Canada celebrates its 10th season


From a media release:

ET Canada, Canada’s most influential newsmagazine entertainment program celebrates its 10th season beginning Tuesday, September 2 at 7:30pm ET/PT on Global. The 10th season anniversary is chock-full of more exclusives, more specials and even more celebrity. Powerhouse hosts from the very beginning, Cheryl Hickey, Rick Campanelli and Roz Weston continue to serve up entertainment’s latest scoop along with entertainment reporters Sangita Patel, Erin Cebula, Natasha Gargiulo and Matte Babel.

“This iconic brand has flourished by delivering a uniquely Canadian perspective on pop culture, making ET Canada a top destination for entertainment news,” said Barbara Williams, Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media. “Boasting a charismatic roster of talent, our audience has embraced us since the show’s inception and will continue to rely on ET Canada for seasons to come.”

ET Canada visits the vault for a collection of Season 10 specials including the most memorable celebrity interviews, blooper moments from behind the scenes, and “Star Evolutions” featuring Hollywood’s biggest names from their humble beginnings to superstardom. Fridays will host “The Ten List” covering a countdown of various topics including host’s fashion faux pas, celebrity mug shots, best New Year’s Eve moments and more.

Part of the world’s largest entertainment news brand, ET Canada has been the go-to destination for A-list entertainment news and reporting since the show premiered on September 12, 2005. From the ET Canada Beach Hop to ET Canada Live; the unforgettable TIFF rooftops parties and Cannes Festival coverage; to New Year’s Eve events and Orange Lounge music exclusives, ET Canada has proven itself as a tastemaker of the Canadian entertainment industry.

“We’re elated to be celebrating 10 seasons, which is a testament to the passion and dedication of our production team, the loyalty of our viewers and the trust of our industry partners,” said Sholeh Fabbri, Executive Producer of ET Canada. “With an extremely talented and imaginative group, we look forward to creating 10 more seasons of distinctly conversational television.”

Viewers can count on ET Canada to let them in on the celebration both on-air and online with countless opportunities to be announced throughout the year. With a robust online following, ET Canada has the leading Twitter and Facebook accounts for entertainment news with 135,000* and 7,400* followers respectively. Generating stories and exclusives that are picked up internationally by some of the most notable outlets, is the most trusted online source in Canada for breaking entertainment news.


Review: ‘Amazing Race’ missteps in Winnipeg

Darn it! My second favourite Amazing Race Canada team has been eliminated. Yup, former ballet superstar Rex Harrington and partner Bob Hope were jettisoned from Tuesday’s Leg after they arrived last in front of Jon Montgomery in Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The two admitted to being shocked at their final placing–they somehow believed they might have been in third place because they saw just two other teams at the dreaded Roadblock, where one had to dress up like a rock star and belt out a tune none of them (or myself) had ever heard. I was a little surprised show producers didn’t select a tune by the Guess Who for everyone to perform–you can’t get more Canadian or Winnipeg-focused than that–but maybe licensing issues put the kibosh on it.

As for my favourite pair, Meaghan and Natalie, they’re still in the thick of it. Barely. They were the first team to arrive at the Detour box after matching world coins to their corresponding flags at the Royal Canadian Mint (I had no clue that A) the Mint made coins for other countries, and B) the Mint was located in Winnipeg.), but made a stupid–and arrogant–move by bypassing the Fast Forward. Yup, instead of finding missing words in antique painted advertising on the sides of downtown buildings and skipping forward to the Pit Stop, they opted for the Detour challenging them to shoot hockey pucks through five different targets on a goal net. I understand them wanting to show off the prowess that won them Olympic gold medals, but they should have been thinking of the Race. Rubbing their hands with glee, Meaghan and Natalie plowed through the first four targets before getting stuck hitting the target between the goalie’s legs. They could only look on in shock as brothers Pierre and Michel, siblings Sukhi and Jinder and buddies Mickey and Pete completed the challenge and departed ahead of the hockey champs.

Alain and Audrey, meanwhile, had their game faces on. Realizing the Fast Forward was still up for grabs, the went for it. The test proved to be more challenging than they initially thought, but they still placed a respectable second behind brothers Michel and Pierre, who used the Express Pass to skip the singing on the way to a first-place finish.

Next week the teams fly to the Normandy coast of France, where they take some time out to remember the Canadians lost during world wars. I’m really enjoying the producers’ decision to use Canada as the main focus of Season 2 while spending time in other countries too. It’s brought a nice mix to the season so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if CBS tried something similar to keep their own version of the Race fresh.

The Amazing Race Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

What did you think of this latest Leg of the Race? Will you miss Rex and Bob? Comment below to let me know! Follow Greg on Twitter!