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.

Interview: Steve Anthony reflects on MuchMusic’s 30th anniversary

I distinctly remember where I was on August 31, 1984: tuned in to the debut of MuchMusic, the upstart music video station launched by Moses Znaimer. I watched as veejays J.D. Roberts and Christopher Ward burst through a screen of some sort and began talking. Unfortunately, a glitch in the sound meant I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it didn’t kill my excitement for the channel.

For years Ward, Roberts, Erica Ehm, Michael Williams, Steve Anthony, Master T and Laurie Brown were my guides to the newest singles by the hottest bands. Sure, I was more into the hair bands of the 1980s (the above image of Poison’s Bret Michaels with Anthony brings me great joy), but I appreciated all music, especially when it was served up via video form.

On Saturday, the channel celebrates three decades of being on the air with the retrospective 30 Years of Much. We spoke to Anthony–who is back at Much’s 299 Queen St. West headquarters as host of CP24 Breakfast–about his memories of working at MuchMusic.

MuchMusic launched in 1984 and you joined the crew in 1986. What was it like joining this group that Moses Znaimer had put together at the time?
Steve Anthony: Just as the thing that makes Moses the visionary that many people refer to him as–these days they would call him an architect–he would draw up the blueprint for this thing and then he would go, ‘OK, I need an electrician, I need a plumber, I need a lighting guy or girl,’ and then he would find these people and say, ‘Go!’ That was it. Once he had his blueprint down, he didn’t change them a lot.

I was told what my role was and I was successful. My attitude would be to be carefree and I had this reverence and that’s one of the things that he wanted on this channel. That’s where I fit in. I knew that I would not be replicating the things that Michael Williams would be doing. When you talk about a team effort, you’re all heading in the same direction but you each have your own skill sets. It was like basketball. Everybody on the court has their own style and does their own thing but it’s together that they try to beat the other guys.

You had already built up a career in Montreal on radio and then moved to Toronto to work at Q107. What made you decide to move from behind the microphone and in front of the TV camera?
I discovered when I got in front of the camera the impact that the visual message had. It’s so much more powerful than just the audio message. Don’t get me wrong, I love radio. I adore radio; it’s where I’ve come from.

I never had a five- or 10-year plan, but I imagined that I would inevitably get on TV. It just seemed like a natural evolution because I’m very animated and I like being in front of a crowd. But I didn’t know what the timing of it would be. I had just gotten to Toronto and had spent a year doing radio here; I didn’t think it would happen that fast. I’m flattered and very happy that it did. It was thrown into my lap and I seized the opportunity.

What I liked about you on-air was the handful of paper in your hands and the relaxed way you had of speaking right to the camera. Did that come naturally, or was it something you worked on?
I wish I could say I worked on it, but the fact is I just wasn’t very good. [Laughs.] Let’s face it, real television people were able to stay focused and didn’t go off the rails. It just became part of who I was.

Did you guys feel like you were doing something special or were you just trying to survive?
Our mandate was to keep people entertained between the most entertaining thing on television, which was music videos. The youth were hungry for videos. We weren’t told what that had to be. Over the mosaic of the day, Moses knew that we would all bring a scope of Canadian culture to young people.

What do you think of the current incarnation of Much?
It’s evolved into a much more professional product. It knows what it wants to be and is very smart about it. It is still relevant to young people. They still address what viewers want, and that’s being on top of the latest comedy, the latest in music and the music videos.

30 Years of Much airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on Much.

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Discovery takes flight with two new specials

discovery

From a media release:

Move over stars and socialites of TIFF – the superstars this September are Hercules and Jumbo! Discovery buckles up for a Sunday night in-flight extravaganza with back-to-back original Canadian specials 747: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE and MIGHTY PLANES: HEROIC HERCULES. Premiering Sunday, Sept. 28 beginning at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT, the first hour tells the definitive story of the planet’s most iconic plane – the plane that has shaped the world of travel more than any other – the 747 or Jumbo Jet. Then at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT, a special two-hour installment of hit series MIGHTY PLANES takes viewers on a journey with the most flexible airlifter in the world – the C130J Hercules – fresh off the Lockheed Martin production line.

Descriptions of 747: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE and MIGHTY PLANES: HEROIC HERCULES as follows:

747: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE
Sunday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT
It’s the most famous passenger airplane ever to take to the skies: the Boeing 747 or Jumbo Jet. With exclusive behind-the-scenes access, never-before-seen archival footage, super life-like CGI and gripping dramatic reconstructions – this one-hour special reveals just what makes the 747 one of the most ground-breaking and awesome aircraft in the sky, a jet that has carried the equivalent of 80% of the world’s population. Travelling to Boeing’s Seattle HQ, the biggest building in the world – 747: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE reveals the mind-blowing technical effort that goes into putting together a 747 – millions of parts, six storeys high, and wings the size of a parking lot. Then, meet Colonel Mark Tillman, the pilot who flew Air Force One for President George W. Bush on the morning of 9/11.

MIGHTY PLANES: HEROIC HERCULES
Sunday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT
The Hercules is the most flexible airlifter in the world. With more than 70 variants, the C130J or “Super” Herc is the newest model in the longest continuous production run of any plane in aircraft history. This medium-range bird is the tactical cargo and personnel transporter for the U.S. Air Force, and serves multi-mission capabilities. Its many jobs include: special operations; search and rescue; aerial refueling; medevac; natural disaster relief missions; fire fighter; maritime surveillance; and hurricane hunter. In this two-hour special, MIGHTY PLANES takes flight with the delivery of a brand-new C130J fresh off the Lockheed Martin production to the Little Rock Air Force base in Arkansas. Then, meet Tim Nguyen, a Lockheed Martin Aviation Engineer who has dedicated his life to protecting the mighty Hercules from attack. He journeys to Little Rock to visit the very Herc that saved his life 40 years ago during the fall of Saigon.

747: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE is produced by Handel Productions in co-production with Arrow Media U.K. Canadian Screen Award-winners Alan Handel and Tom Brisley are executive producers.

MIGHTY PLANES: HEROIC HERCULES is produced by Exploration Production Inc. Gemini-Winner Kathryn Oughtred is Executive Producer.

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Set visit: Montreal the star of 19-2

Bravo’s cop drama 19-2 is jam-packed with a who’s-who of Canadian actors and actresses, from Jared Keeso (Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story) and Adrian Holmes (Continuum) to Mylène Dinh-Robic (The Listener) and Maxime Roy (Heartland), but they–along with showrunner/executive producer/writer Bruce Smith–all say the biggest role on the show is played by the city the show is set in: Montreal.

That point was driven home earlier this week when a small group of Canadian media–TV, Eh? included–were given exclusive access to the cast and crew while scenes for Season 2 were being filmed just off Parc Darlinton near Mont Royal. Dozens of crew bustled around the cramped quarters between two apartment buildings while a scene between Officer Nick Barron (Holmes) and a key figure from his past were filmed. Unlike Toronto, where residents would be kept far away from filming, those living in the apartments all around got a free show as they leaned over balcony railings to take it all in. It adds to the realism portrayed in the tense drama about the men and women who work for the Service Police Metropolitain.

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“There is a flavour about the province of Quebec,” Roy, a native of Rigaud, Que., says. “I think Montreal is like what New York City is to Sex and the City. There is a passionate side to Quebecers that you don’t find anywhere else and I think it’s reflected in the series, in the writing and in the characters.” She adds that having a Quebec crew ensures that their unique joie de vivre translates through the small screen.

“Cities like Toronto and Vancouver deserve to be the backdrop of series,” Montreal’s Dinh-Robic explains. “The Listener was great because it showcased Toronto just as 19-2 showcases Montreal as this beautiful, really dangerous, exciting place.”

Season 1 boasted several examples of all three, whether it was Officer Tyler Joseph (Benz Antoine) looking out over the sparkling city from Mont Royal and proclaiming it his mistress or–in the most shocking scene of the debut season–a group of anti-cop thugs brutally assaulting Officer Audrey Pouliot (Laurence Laboeuf) with baseball bats. And while that last offering is an extreme one, it does reflect the complicated relationship some Montrealers have with authority in general and the police in particular. It probably doesn’t help that Montreal is embroiled in real-life controversy at the moment, as cops are working under protest along with other city staff against a plan to cut their pensions.

“There is not that same respect for authority for police here in Montreal,” Keeso says candidly. “There is a history of protests and corruption and organized crime. We’ve been told by the police to put a coat on over our uniforms when we’re not working. I’ve been on the way to the set in my uniform and had people pull up next to me and just start screaming at me.

“For me, when I see a cop, I shut up,” Keeso continues. “But here when they see a cop it makes them want to lash out.”

Season 2 of 19-2 is tentatively set to return early next year.

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Sebastian Clovis tackles renovation nightmares

Mike Holmes, Scott McGillivray and Brian Baeumler have become household names thanks to HGTV Canada. Those lads have spent several television seasons informing, educating and instructing homeowners on how to get the dream homes Canadians crave.

Now there’s a new player on the block in Sebastian Clovis.

“It would be a wonderful thing if I could step up to a level where they could put me up there to become the face of HGTV,” the host of Tackle My Reno says humbly.

For now, the former CFL player–he was a defensive back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and 2006 Grey Cup-winning B.C. Lions–is just happy to return to his construction roots. Clovis swung his first hammer at the age of 15 when a contractor working on the family’s kitchen took on the young man as an apprentice. A football career sent renovations to the sidelines but now he’s back at it.

Debuting Tuesday night on HGTV, Si Entertainment’s Tackle My Reno isn’t your typical renovation series. Yes, Clovis drops by on an unsuspecting homeowner–in the first episode it’s Ben, who still hasn’t completed the family basement after 16 years of hacking away–and gently chastises them for their slipshod attempts at home building. But unlike, say Holmes on Homes or Disaster DIY, there isn’t a lot of time spent on the intricacies of grout or taping drywall. As Clovis tells it, Tackle My Reno is more focused on the entertainment than the nitty-gritty.

The result? A series that spotlights both the homeowners and host on a level not served in most home renovation programs. The strapping Clovis–muscles rippling under a tight tee–is shown equally comfortable threading beads into a necklace or helping sort through basement detritus as he does buttering the back of tile for a shower stall. You can’t fake the natural charm Clovis exudes while sharing a laugh with the folks he’s trying to help; the dude is a natural for the small screen despite having no aspirations for hosting a home reno show.

“It really came about by chance,” he says. “I had sent a video to my director friend where I said, ‘I bring energy to the work site like I’m still playing football, baby!’ It was a joke between friends, but he showed it to production and the next day they were at my renovation site with the cameras, doing a three-hour interview. Two days later I was at HGTV. Four days after that I was in somebody’s house with a TV camera behind me.”

Tackle My Reno airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.

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Lost Girl to end after five seasons

It’s the end of the road for the Bo and her friends. Lost Girl lead Anna Silk broke the news Monday that the upcoming fifth season of Showcase’s sexy fantasy series will be its last.

“After five incredible seasons, we have decided that it’s time for Bo’s journey to come to an epic conclusion,” Silk said during a YouTube message to the show’s fans on Monday morning. “And while endings are always sad, this one comes with a tremendous gift.” The actress detailed Season 5 will be a super-sized 16 episodes that will be broken up into two parts.

“The massive popularity of Lost Girl is a testament to the inventive and hard-working team at Prodigy Pictures, the magnetic and talented cast and the most devoted and passionate fan base in Canadian television,” Barbara Williams, senior vice-president, of content for Shaw Media, said in a press release. “We’re so proud that Showcase has been the home to this landmark series and we look forward to sharing these final 16 episodes with the show’s fans.”

The news comes following the announcement that Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras  had departed the series at the end of last season; now it’s up to new boss Michael Grassi to sail the ship into the sunset.

“Being a part of the Lost Girl family has truly been a gift,” Silk stated in the video. “And you guys have been here since Day 1.”

Lost Girl debuted in 2010, and focused on a succubus named Bo (Silk). Silk’s co-stars include Kris Holden-Ried, Richard Howland, Zoie Palmer and Ksenia Solo, who captured a Gemini Award for her role as Bo’s buddy Kenzi, who was killed off at the end of Season 4.

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