Tag Archives: Canadian actors

“IN THE ROOM” tv show taping this Sunday featuring top Canadian talent

My friends at RDG Entertainment Inc. are taping another episode of their IN THE ROOM actors’ round-table series this Sunday at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto and I’m thrilled to learn that some of Canada’s most popular actors will be appearing.

RDG producers and show hosts, RAFAEL KALAMAT and JASON BARBECK (below, L-R) will be welcoming …..

photo 1 (5)…..the star of TV’s Lost Girl, KRIS HOLDEN-RIED (below) who was also one of my faves from The Tudors series and, of course, The Listener.

Kris HR KHR2Also on this week’s panel are Canadian stage & screen icon Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG) – below…..

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…..multi-award winning Shawn Doyle (below) of Endgame and countless Canadian television appearances (Rookie Blue, Covert Affairs & Reign)….

Shawn Doyle Shawn….recipient of this year’s ACTRA Award of Excellence Tantoo Cardinal (below) of Dances with Wolves (my personal fave performance of hers – she brought the heart and soul to the story) , Legends of the Fall, Blackstone

Tantoo dances….Total Recall’s Philip Moran (below)…

Philip….and young Zoe deGrand Maison (below) currently making a name for herself with appearances on Orphan Black, Murdoch Mysteries, Rook Blue and this year’s Bad Hair Day (TV movie).

NicoleI’m looking fwd to watching the taping and meeting these incredible ambassadors for the Canadian TV and film industry.  To learn more about In The Room and other RDG projects, please visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/  and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.




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Reel Deal Guys take on Canadian film & TV production

I recently spoke with actor, writer, director & producer Jason Barbeck (below), co-founder of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment Inc. (RDG) about his new Toronto-based TV and film production company he launched with business partner Rafael Kalamat, also a multi-talented filmmaker/actor.


Windsor-born Barbeck’s acting credits include films A Father’s Claim (2014), Saving Grace (2010) and A History of Violence (2005), plus TV appearances in Murdoch Mysteries, Copper and Flashpoint.  He’s also a voice specialist with hundreds of commercials to his credit for numerous Canadian and US campaigns.  He’s currently the voice of SAIL, The Outdoor Superstore.

GF: Jason, what first inspired you to become an actor?
JB:  In Gr.3, we had to build life sized cardboard figures of what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I made a lawyer in a pinstriped suit.  I loved the way a lawyer commanded the audience in a court room, but then I realized…he was acting! I wanted to be able to do that.

GF: What was your first paid acting job?
JB:  My first paid professional gig was as a dancer in a magic show.  It was at a place called Boblo Island which was an amusement park island between Windsor and Detroit.  It was a summer job while I was still at Sheridan Music Theatre School so it was pretty awesome!

GF: When did you realize you could actually make a living as an actor & why?
JB: After doing summer stock for about six straight years, it was clear that there were people out there who would actually give me money to sing, dance and jump around on stage.  Who knew?

GF: What prompted the move to found RDG Entertainment Inc. and what brought you and your business partner, Rafael Kalamat, together?
JB: Well, it was the classic case of getting tired of waiting for the phone to ring.  Rafael and I felt that we had a lot to offer and both of us had been in the industry for over 25 years so we decided to join forces.  We met on the set of Murdoch Mysteries where we played “continuity constables” for three years.  Our plan of action was to form a company to make demo reels for actors because we felt it was a good niche for us, being that we could write, produce, act and direct. Next thing you know we have this TV talk show (In The Room) for which our first guests were the entire cast of Murdoch Mysteries (below).

murdoch 2 murdoch 4 murdoch 5 murdoch 6GF: How do you see RDG impacting the Canadian film & tv scene?
JB: Our hopes are that our TV series, In The Room, can really put Canadian talent on the map.  We’re interested in promoting a star system similar to what they do in the US by showcasing and exposing the world to what is being shot in our country and who is featured in these projects.

Below: a recent In The Room taping during RDG’s recent trip to LA.

Roundtable guests roundtable 3 Group1GF: What are your current/upcoming projects?
JB: We are in the development stage of a feature film called Adam’s Testament.  It’s a project that is close to me personally, being that I wrote it back in 1998, and Rafael and I are giving it new life…..it’s all very exciting. We also have multiple episodes of In The Room in the works, and a TV pilot for the fall.

GF: What are your dreams/aspirations for yourself and for RDG?
JB: My dreams are to leave a legacy for my son and to solidify the work of RDG in the archives
of Canadian film and television history.  We want to create a home where creative artists can come together and collaborate to turn their artistic goals into a reality.

GF: Are you looking for new actors, writers, directors and if so, how do people reach you?
JB: Because we are in a multifaceted, multi-collaborative and multi-tiered business, we are always looking to team up with like-minded individuals who can bring forward material that can be marketed and distributed.  It is such a daunting process and experience to bring a project from script to picture to broadcast, so our aim is to ease the journey by educating and advising from a grass roots level.  Anything is possible when you have the right team and we’d love to hear from similar minded filmmakers – reach us via out website (see below)

Jason went on to say: I just want to add that we would not be here without the support of our families and mentors. I feel truly blessed to be where I am at this point in my life.  Thank you.

You can reach Jason and Rafael via the RDG website: http://reeldealguys.com/ and follow their series, In The Room on:  Facebook.com/In-The-Room  and on Twitter: @reeldealguys

ITR_S1E2_Jason_Rafael_Poolside_Hilton_1Above: RDG partners Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck working poolside in LA! And (below) on the red carpet for recent film tech awards in LA.



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CEILING, music and lyrics by Sarah Fisher, Derek Hoffman and David Fischer

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Shot in numerous locations across Toronto, including Bayview Glen School, the video shows how everyone can push through the ceiling and be whoever they want to be in life, and if you want something badly enough, it’s worth working hard for. This philosophy has guided Sarah in her own life, and wanting to share this with others, Sarah was inspired to write this song with music industry pro’s Derek Hoffman and David Fischer.

In the video, the youngsters (students from Bayview Glen) show that you can achieve your dreams and goals when you truly believe in yourself, no matter how young (or old) you are. You can be a skater, a gymnast, you can be a musician, even a great cook…and if you work hard at relationships, those, too, can be successful and happy throughout your life. It reinforces self-respect and kindness, attributes that are rarely incorporated in today’s pop music videos.

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Featured in a very touching scene is an elderly serviceman reminiscing about his glory days in the military; that gentleman is, in fact, Sarah’s grandfather, Judge Hugh Foster, who fought in Normandy during WWII and landed on Juno beach where he lost a leg. When he returned from the war, he entered the legal profession eventually becoming a well-respected judge.

The skater is played by Carley Alison, an 18yr old cancer survivor who certainly pushed through the ceiling big time.  The little fairy princess girl is Sarah Kluge, and the cute-as-a-button dog is Gypsy, who belongs to Sarah’s sister, Kelly.

The inspirational video suggests all the images you see are simply pictures on a ceiling, and Sarah is seen in the closing scenes high atop a ladder putting up a heart.

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 Ceiling is available now on iTunes for just $0.99

If you’re in Toronto this Sunday (July 20) join Sarah at Yonge/Dundas Square for a live performance of Ceiling (approx.8:45pm) on the main stage of YOUTH DAY, a celebration of Canada’s young citizens. She will also be appearing at the Kids Help Phone booth between 5:30-6:30pm for autographs and photo opps (come take a selfie with Sarah). Sarah is the official spokesperson for KHP.

You can also see the Ceiling video at www.SarahFisher.ca & you can follower Sarah at http://www.Facebook.com/Sarah-Fisher

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It’s been almost 30 years since DEGRASSI HIGH first hit our TV screens and since then, the show has evolved, moving with the times and has included story lines that has addressed the social, emotional and educational issues endured by every kid who ever went through high school. Commonsensemedia.com states: this Canadian series tackles big issues like sex, teen pregnancy, sexual identity, drug use, school violence, hate crimes, and mental disorders in a frank, thoughtful way. It presents these subjects as everyday factors in teens’ lives and explores their repercussions through the students’ eyes. This uncensored honesty gives the show credibility beyond that of many of the soapier series available to teens, but at the same time, it creates a classic know-your-kid situation for parents. Some episodes have a far heavier tone than others do, and the amount and type of controversial material varies widely from story to story, so previewing each episode is your best bet. Ultimately, though, this series manages a moral tone without coming off as preachy, which goes a long way in maintaining teens’ interest and earns it a spot among the best, most responsible series out there for teens. The content is edgy but both relevant and appropriate for the target audience.


The latest 21st century incarnation of the show, DEGRASSI, features a talented cast of young actors, one of whom is SARAH FISHER, and I’m please to share this interview I recently undertook with this multi-talented young lady who plays “Becky Baker”.


How old were you when you first performed in front of an audience?
I was twelve when I did my first singing performance. It was actually at my babysitter’s wedding in front of about two hundred and fifty people. I’m surprised she trusted me to be the flower girl as well considering all I put her through (laughs).

Once you realized how much you enjoyed performing, did you want to focus on singing or acting?
Acting actually came as quite a surprise for me, so music was always the focus. I have two vocal coaches: Kim Briggs, who focuses on classical training and Elaine Overholt, who works with me on my pop sound. They are both incredible teachers and I’m very lucky to have them both work so closely with me. Lately I’ve also focused on acting, too. I go to Armstrong Acting Studio in Toronto, and they have taken great care of me and they have helped me grow as an actress. They have incredible teachers and I would recommend the school to anyone interested in going into the business.

How did your parents react when they learnt that you wanted a career in showbiz?
Words cannot express how incredible my parents are. They have believed in me more than anyone, they have always supported me and let me be who I have always been, an artist. I could not have done it without them, and I really mean that. They are the reason I am so happy every day because I get to do what I love to do and have them with me every step of the way. I love my parents so much.

Do you play any instruments, and if so which ones?
I play piano, it took a while because of scales, but I’ve really fallen in love with the instrument. I played flute in grade 8 and got way too light headed to continue, then I played drums in grade 12.

You took classical voice training, yes? Tell us about your choice to focus on pop music for now?
I have been trained classically since I started voice lessons at the age of 11. I have been exploring my pop sound because I wanted to feel more comfortable singing pop songs and I never wanted to strain my voice. I wanted to be able to sing pop songs in a way that’s healthy for me while adding my classical sound to it as well. Plus the music I write has a pop sound to it.

Do you maintain a vocal training regime or classes?
I have classical training once a week and pop training every other week. I think it is so important to always continue working on your craft (I know that sounds cheesy) but I believe everyone should always continue growing and learning.

Apart from Degrassi, have we seen you in any other TV shows or films?
You will see me shortly (I believe) in a film called Lost After Dark. I had so much fun! Even though in one of my scenes before we were shooting, I was in a patch of long grass and couldn’t see my feet, and I felt something bite me. So I tried to tough it out and be professional but I’ve never run faster in my entire life…I was standing in a wasp nest!

How do you relate to “Becky” and what parts of Sarah do you bring to the role?
I think one of the main things I’m always asked is, “how are you so happy all the time?” (laughs). Becky is known on the show as ‘little miss sunshine’ and I can definitely say the smiles are all real. I love what I do and I am so thankful for that. I wouldn’t say I’m as stubborn as Becky, but because that’s not reality for me, it’s really fun to play.


How many more seasons do you see Becky being on Degrassi – when does she graduate?
I’m not sure! I wish the actors knew first but we don’t – she is technically in grade 12 this year, Season 14, but I would definitely not be upset if she failed school and stayed another year (grins).

You are currently recording some great pop singles and filming a music video – can you share anything about those or are they all super secret right now?
They are SUPER SECRET! But I will say the studio is one of my favourite places to be, I really could live there. Making music is such an amazing experience and I can’t WAIT to share it with you guys!


Anything you’d like to share with your fans?
You guys are so incredible! You are always so sweet and supportive and I love talking with you guys and getting to know you all. I respond to as many emails, tweets, Facebook posts as I can and I really appreciate all of your support. You guys are all fantastic – follow your dreams, I really mean that because every single one of you is special and brilliant and creative!


Sarah is the national spokesperson for the KIDS HELP PHONE and frequently participates in fundraising events for kids and teen-focused charities and causes – she will be appearing at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday July 20th for YOUTH DAY.

If you’d like to meet Sarah, she will be making a special personal appearance at the TORONTO HORSE DAY on Saturday June 7th, down at Toronto’s Exhibition Place (at the Horse Palace). She’s be there between 11am and 1:30pm and at approx. 1:15pm she’ll be leading the kids in a “stick pony” parade in the main ring. Should be fun and if you love horses, like Sarah, this is the place to be. And it’s FREE!


Follow Sarah at:  Facebook.com/Sarah-Fisher  or  @SarahFisher28





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SCRABBLE WITH THE STARS celebrates 10 years of fundraising for PAL Toronto

Last Monday evening (May 5) many of Canada’s showbiz legends gathered at the Arcadian Loft at Queen & Bay Streets in downtown Toronto, to play Scrabble with the Stars and raise funds (and awareness) for the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) in Toronto. PAL is home to many of our mature leading lights of Toronto’s theatre, film, television and radio.

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Event chair, Kate Barris and SWTS Founder Vivienne Muhling welcomed all the guests including Councillor Pam McConnell (in red) who helped cut the celebratory cake along with SWTS celebrity hosts (and 2 of the funniest people in the country!) Deb McGrath and Colin Mochrie.

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I was thrilled to meet the charming Marilyn Lightstone (pictured below winning a prize & meeting Vivienne) who came to play and win…and who generously donated 2 works of art for our silent art auction.

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Canada’s most beloved children’s entertainers Bram and Sharon (of Sharon, Lois and Bram) joined us (below left) along with Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew (below right) and the always wacky Jaymz Bee of JAZZ-FM (bottom).

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Proud-FM’s Mike Chalut shared a photo opp with TV goddess Dini Petty (below right), jazz diva Jackie Richardson (centre) came ready to lay down her tiles, and SWTS Committee member, show producer and all-round funny man Brianne Nazimok introduced young actor (Life with Boys) Michael Murphy to the finer points of Scrabbling (bottom)

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There was also a stunning art auction plus other wearable art handcrafted by our celeb guests, plus some pretty cool goodies donated by prize sponsors. Comedian and artist Jayne Eastwood posed proudly with her beautiful painting, perfect for Mother’s Day (below left) and Emmy-nominated writer/producer Eva Almos (bottom) donated a stunning necklace she designed specially for the event.

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More great photos from the night attended by a galaxy of stars, generous sponsors and auction bidders who helped raise funds for PAL.

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Acting legend Paul Soles enjoyed the “red carpet” treatment with Vivienne (below)

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And special guests Sean Cullen and Rick Miller (below) kept the audience laughing their tiles off throughout dinner.

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Here are lots more happy Scrabblers….

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My photographer, Gabriella, won tickets to Yuk Yuk’s and I had my own red carpet moment outside the Mirvish Celebrity Lounge!

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A big BRAVO to all the volunteers from the Scotiabank who kept things running smoothly…


….and to Kate, Vivienne and the entire committee who pulled off another glorious success at the Scrabble tables.


Keep up to date with Scrabble with the Stars news for 2015:  http://www.ScrabbleWiththeStars.com


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Celebrity participants of SCRABBLE® WITH THE STARS, one of the year’s most anticipated showbiz events, are set to start laying down tiles the evening of Monday May 5th at the Arcadian Loft in downtown Toronto.   Benefiting the Performing Arts Lodge, (PAL) Toronto, which provides affordable housing to members of our entertainment industry, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary for this important fundraiser. Hosts COLIN MOCHRIE and DEB McGRATH (pictured below) will again be at the helm to ensure the evening is both a financial success and a fun-filled soiree for the stars, sponsors, media and PAL residents!


Today, Tuesday April 29, several sponsors joined Colin and Deb, and SWTS Chair KATE BARRIS, Founder VIVIENNE MUHLING and other committee members to add the sparkly sponsor stars to the Thank-You sponsors’ board located in the lobby of PAL. Featured in photos below with Kate (in green), Deb & Colin are sponsor reps: VINCE COMMISSO, President of 9 Story Entertainment (2013/14 Celebrity Sponsor)

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The new sheriff in town (below) is ALAN HOLLINGSWORTH, VP & Partner of HUB International (2013 Celebrity Sponsor)

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Below are BOB UNDERWOOD, President &  CEO of ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society (left) and RON ZAMMIT (ctr) CFO of  ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society (2013 & 2014 Production Sponsors)


Colin & Deb are real troopers, hamming it up with the PAL photographer, Norm, and myself…. and even playing a quick round of Scrabble just to get in the mood.

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There are still a few individual tickets available for anyone in Toronto who fancies themselves a keen Scrabbler, and there are lots of cool prizes to be won as well as raising funds for PAL.  For more details & to purchase tickets, please Email: info@scrabblewiththestars.ca or visit www.scrabblewiththestars.ca

Monday, May 5th from 6:00pm to 10pm at the Arcadian Loft, (Simpson Tower) Toronto 
Individual Tickets: $175 – Includes dinner & prizes galore …everyone is a winner!

Founded ten years ago by PAL resident VIVIENNE MUHLING, I had the pleasure of chatting with her, asking how Scrabble With the Stars started and how it supports the work done at PAL. I’d like to share that “interview” with you here:

What first inspired you to create Scrabble With the StarsI was brainstorming with our then-President, Nigel Napier-Andrews, about raising funds and awareness for PAL and we discovered Centennial College had a non-celebrity Scrabble-based fundraiser for a children’s charity. I myself am deeply into Scrabble, in fact, I’m a life member of the North American Scrabble Association and play in tournaments around the world.  At 75, I was still working both as a publicist and producer and had celebrity friends to whom I could approach — and it was worth trying!

10 years ago, who were your first celebrity players? David Warrack., Margaret Atwood, Sharon Lois & Bram, Dave Broadfoot, Don Harron, RH Thomson, Michael Burgess, Colin Fox, Paul Soles, Gordon Pinsent, etc

Why is it important to support the event? It’s The Performing Arts Lodges, Toronto,  only annual fundraising event and helps PAL to fulfill its mandate of “caring for our own” – these being all manner of aging and needful performing arts professionals.

How do the funds raised help PAL? In earlier years, the funds raised helped PAL hire and pay a professional Health Care worker who works in our “Supporting Cast ” department and helps needful seniors find the services they need, and helps our volunteers to also help those who need trips to doctors, etc.  For the last few years, we’ve been focused on raising funds essential to build or renovate a nearby building where PAL’s aging and ailing residents can receive extended care without having to move away from the friends who share their common interests and life’s work.

How have your sponsors helped drive Scrabble With the Stars to success?  Centennial College brought a Scotiabank executive as their table guest in our 2nd year. This executive was so enamoured by being able to rub shoulders with celebrities she admired that she was happy to bring the bank on board in year three. Their support has grown every year – they supply volunteers on the night, and the executive is always there to offer advice when we ask her for assistance. ACTRA Fraternal Benefits Society has been a sponsor from day 1 and has been very helpful in leading us to other major sponsors.

Anyone you would like to thank or acknowledge? There are so many…Jayne Eastwood, who told me that she and Gordon Pinsent painted and suggested we hold a celebrity art silent auction along with the Scrabble which has proven to be very successful. Marilyn Lightstone, who donates her art work and helps us reach interested journalists in the Zoomer media family; PAL Vice President Dan Lyon who vets sponsor prospect lists for us; my Toronto Scrabble Club pal Heather McCall who has been a hardworking committee member since day 1; John Chew, the celebrated international Scrabble Tournament Director who donates his skills to Scrabble With the Stars each year – I could go on……

Are you already planning next year’s event? We always have a wrap up committee get-together soon after each year’s event where we exchange notes of what went well, what needs improving or a new approach, and we will consider those notes at our first meeting for SWTS 2015 in early September this year.

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