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.

Omni greenlights Season 2 of Bollywood Star

628_bollywoodstar

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 Makeover, The Next Star, Bollywood Star) serving as executive producer. Paritosh Mehta is Director of Independent Production Development for OMNI Television Ontario, Rogers Media.

 

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Interview: Canadian TV’s “that guy” takes on new role

Matthew Bennett is the “that guy” of Canadian television. You know, the dude who whenever you see him on the small screen you yell, “It’s that guy!” That’s Bennett. Most recently spotted on the Toronto shot U.S series The Strain, he portrayed Daniel Rosen on Orphan Black (and met a bloody end at the hands of Helena), he has a recurring role on Murdoch Mysteries as U.S. government spy Allen Clegg. Other roles include spots on Rookie Blue, Flashpoint, The Listener, Cold Squad and Stargate SG-1.

The veteran actor laughs when he discusses the similarity in the roles–in almost all he’s worn a suit and acted like a jerk–but gets serious when the topic of being a working actor in Canada comes up. Gigs for guys like him, even with roles stretching back to 1991 under his belt, don’t come every day, meaning seeking out other creative outlets.

Enter Straight Kill Films, a company he and fellow actor Matt Wells have teamed to create. As the Toronto native tells it, the duo want to offer the opportunity for fledgling actors and actresses to get into the business by appearing in their feature film Straight Kill. Not only that, but they’re looking for people to contribute to the soundtrack, the makeup, the costumes … everything. In short, Straight Kill will give those involved a crucial leg up to a career in the Canadian television and film industry while building a community.

We got Matt to reflect on his career, where he thinks the Canadian television industry is headed, as well as give us the details on how people can get involved in Straight Kill.

On your Twitter page, you describe yourself as a “professional that guy.” Was that something you’ve noticed over the course of your career?
Matthew Bennett: It’s funny, it’s actually something that I realized just recently. When you’re involved in the business it’s sometimes difficult to get some perspective on what people see. I think it was about a year ago when Cold Squad was in re-runs. I was flipping around the channels and I would literally see myself three times in an hour on different shows. That’s when it clicked in: ‘Wow, I have this body of work that I hadn’t recognized.’ I was always looking at something else.

Not a bad resumé of recent work, with roles on Orphan Black and Murdoch Mysteries and going back to Battlestar Galactica.
I’ve been very fortunate. And when you go back and look that them, the roles have a common element to them, and I guess that goes with being ‘that guy.’ I usually end up in a suit and doing things that aren’t too great. And I usually end up dead too. [Laughs.] I am a master squib taker at this point.

Why do you think you’ve gotten these types of roles?
I think it’s a number of things. I think it’s certainly my delivery. I’ve always, I’ve felt, been known as an actor who can handle dialogue. When I was in my 20s there were these guys in their 30s and 40s who would go out for what I called ‘Captain Exposition parts,’ where you advance the plot through straight exposition and they would usually come in these chunks of dialogue. And I became known for being able to do that.

I think that I look right in a suit, I can handle the dialogue and I guess there’s just something about me that says ‘death to all those around me.’

Which type of role do you like better, the recurring or the guest star?
I realized when I was on Cold Squad that the best role was the guest star because the main storyline revolves around you. Recurring you may not have as much to do in the episode but it’s great to come onto a show and establish an audience share and get known for that. I’ve been very surprised by the reaction to Murdoch Mysteries and the number of people who come up to me about it. He’s such the bad guy, and the bad American to boot.

clegg

But are those roles tough because you never know when the next gig will be coming along?
Absolutely. I’ve been doing this for 22 years and I’m unemployed right now. That’s the reality of the job and it is very difficult to adjust to. I’m not really sure what’s happening in Toronto right now but I do know that not a lot of us are auditioning. It creates a great deal of stress. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of work.

I’ve seen the industry change a lot over the last several years. Canada is not producing the volume that it once did. Distribution is changing. They are trying to figure out what works and being very careful about what they do make.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? How would you fix it?
I don’t know how long this model can continue. You look at Amazon, where they are making TV now, Netflix. The specialty channels really seem to have a stronghold on good product and product that is being rewarded on award shows. I don’t know if any networks in Canada are going to make House of Cards. I haven’t seen this country take risks like that. It seems to be a lot of similar shows that come out of this country, you know. Models that work.

But the business is changing and people are moving away from the cable box and watching more TV on their computers. That changes access. You could create your own TV show and distribute it to the world. You don’t have to go through the traditional mechanism anymore.

Speaking of non-traditional mechanisms, you and Matt Wells are certainly doing that with Straight Kill Films.
I think so. It was this idea I had a couple of years ago, the idea of building an audience first. If you look at the analytics of any film or television show you create the project and then aim for that 18-34 audience. But our idea was to build the audience and then shape the project around that.

In the YouTube clips you both talk about community and Toronto. How are you getting the word out there about involvement in Straight Kill?
We’ve hired a woman named Sarah Dawley, who has experience with social media while working for Bell Media. She’s working with us. Our website is up and moving forward. We’re launching on Sept. 6 and we’ll be targeting high schools and universities and building the audience share. We’re also looking for talent. One of our ideas is that there are a lot of actors in this city and not a lot of them get work. There are some exceptionally talented people who I feel will never see the camera. That’s just the system. I have been fortunate enough to get through that gauntlet and to have a career.

This is a world-class city that I think needs to be presented on a world stage.

You set Straight Kill in St. Jamestown. Can you talk about that area a bit?
It’s in the Sherbourne and Bloor area, and it was built in the 1960s to house young professionals that were going to be working downtown. It was an idea that never really took off. It encompasses nine city blocks and has 17,000 people living in it. You enter St. Jamestown and you are surrounded by high-rises. It’s an amazing and unique pocket and when you walk through there is is absolutely  a community unto itself. There are a lot of new Canadians, a lot of working-class people … there is a whole mix of people.

Now, if you go two streets east of Sherbourne, behind the subway station there is a tunnel. If you go through that tunnel there is a pedestrian bridge over Rosedale Valley Road that takes you into Rosedale, which is one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the country. St. Jamestown is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the country and they are literally a stones’ throw away. That’s the placeholder for this film, two kids from very different cultures and they need each other to survive.

OK, so what happens on Sept. 6?
The script is done and we’ve had investor interest. We are looking for the leads for this film–two male and two female–and the majority of the other roles. The older generation characters will be anchored by known professionals. We are also looking for soundtrack. We’ll be hitting the high schools and universities to look for opportunities there.

Head over to Bennett and Wells’ YouTube page to find out more about Straight Kill and how you can get involved.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Comments and queries for the week of Aug. 29

Not sure if I am doing this correctly, but how does one apply to be on Til Debt Do Us Part? Is the show still currently running?–JS

Unfortunately, Gail Vaz-Oxlade doesn’t have any new seasons of Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess or Money Moron in the works, but when/if she does, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, you can get some guidance from her website.

I hope [TSN’s five national feeds] means the TSN Jets channel is going to merge with one of the feeds so I can finally watch more Jets games.–Alicia

Good news Alicia, you are getting your wish. A quick query to TSN and I was told that the 60-plus regional Jets games are headed to TSN3, meaning you no longer have to subscribe for that extra service.

This is somewhat of a technical question. I’ve noticed that, while recording, a few of my programs are being cut off with a minute or so to go. It seems the channels are not keeping the show run within the time slot that is set for the show’s running time.

This is problematic as, if you are recording two programs in the following hour (and your PVR only records two at time), you would need to record the following hour to get the entire program.
Have spoken to Bell (our cable provider) and it is not their doing, and they replaced our PVR, just in case that was a problem. It was not.

Is this a tactic to make it necessary for viewers to watch the programs live? Or just something they didn’t take into consideration? Glad to see you are up and running again. –Kat

Thanks Kat, we’re glad to be up and running again too! I totally get your frustration, and it’s becoming an increasingly common occurrence. You sit down to watch the show you recorded on your PVR and suddenly the last few minutes are cut off. VERY frustrating and I feel your pain.

And you are absolutely right as to why shows go over by one to several minutes: networks want you watching the end of their show live rather than the beginning of a rival network’s program. The result? PVR chaos. I have two suggestions that you can try to solve this problem. The first is to edit your recording to add a couple of minutes to your record time, something that I do. The other fix? Go back to your cable company and get a PVR that records more shows at once. Of course, that will cost you.

Got a question? Contact me at greg@tv-eh.com!

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail