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: 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.


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.


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!


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.


Discovery takes flight with two new specials


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.


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.

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.


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.


“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.