Tag Archives: Canadian TV

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.

MV5BMjExNDA1NTczN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjk2ODIwNDE@._V1._SX450SY450_

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.

RDGRedCarpet2

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lights, camera, ACTION! Chatting with actor Brian Kaulback.

Back in the late 70’s, I was a working actor (which meant I was also a waitress or bartender!!). One of my favourite gigs was actor/writer at the Flamingo Cabaret located in what was then the German-Canadian Club on Sherbourne St, Toronto – now home to the Phoenix Nightclub. We were a group of crazy improv actors, much like Second City, but we didn’t have the big show budgets they did. We were lucky if we made $50 a week each back then, but we loved creating comedy sketches and making people laugh. And we were especially happy when our shows scored better reviews than Second City did…and that was pretty frequent (I still have the press clippings to prove it!!).

img241L to R: Brian, Jim, me & Lawrence on stage at the Flamingo Cabaret (1979)

I’ve kept in touch with a couple of my cast mates and recently sat down with the hard-working Brian Kaulback  whose face you may recognize from his numerous appearances as Constable Hodge on the hit tv series, Murdoch Mysteries. (Brian is below right with Murdoch star Yannick Bisson, centre) and movies such as Tommy Boy, Gotti, Cold Creek Manor and X-Men.

BK murdochPhoto: Craig Grant/Shaftesbury Prods.

Q: Brian, did you always want to be an actor, and when/what was your first acting job?
BK: When I was in Grade 3, I entered a school talent show and sang Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star” and I remember the applause at the end of the song….and I was hooked on wanting to be on stage. By the time I was in Gr. 7 or 8 and I saw my older brother, Gary, in a school musical “My Fair Lady” and I followed a few years later by getting involved in my high school production of “Oliver”.

Q: Theatre, film or TV…which do you like the best and why?
BK: I love theatre, although I’m unfortunately out of the loop in the Toronto theatre scene right now. It’s more about who you know and being connected, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t do a theatre production if asked. It makes more financial sense for me right now to focus on film and television like I have for many years.

Q: You’ve been working on Murdoch Mysteries, one of Canada’s most successful series airing around the world. What’s it like on set – who do you hang with and how did you flesh out the character of Const. Hodge?
BK:  After 8 seasons on Murdoch Murder Mysteries, it really has become a family with the cast and crew. Mostly I hang out with the other regular Constables as they have a nice room set aside for us with couches and lockers – all very comfortable and relaxing.

Brian KQ: You recently wrote an outline for a tv series called Forensic Fringe Cop and a pilot has already been shot. What inspired the story and what are your aspirations for the show?
BK: I wrote an outline for “Forensic Fringe Cop” while hanging out with the Murdoch constables. It was my first time ever doing something like that and when I showed it to a couple of the other constable actors (Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat) they said why don’t we shoot this. So they became my director and producer and we shot it in one day. I live in The Performer Arts Lodge (PAL building) in downtown Toronto and fellow resident native Canadian actor Billy Merasty inspired the story. However, when it came to shooting the pilot he wasn’t available to play the lead so we had to recast. I feel that Tim Hill, another native Canadian actor, did a very good job in the role, and I would love to “Forensic Fringe Cop” be developed into a series.

FFCQ:  Among other great directors, you’ve also been directed by one of my favourite Canadian actors, Clark Johnson, who starred in Homicide: Life on the Streets – a brilliantly written cop show set in Baltimore. Did you learn anything from Clark that you are now applying to your work as a writer/actor?
BK:  I met Clark Johnson when I was standing in for the lead actor on series called “Katts and Dog”. At the time, Clark was keeping himself busy working for the Special Effects Department. He really knows how to work with actors and through the years I would bump into him and once in awhile, hand him my latest demo reel and thankfully he would remember me. He brought me in to audition for a couple of good projects and I got the roles. He never forgets what it’s like to be a struggling actor and he was willing to give me opportunities. As an actor, I really appreciated the faith he put in me and I’ll never forget that.

Q:  Any upcoming films, tv shows or stage appearances we should watch for?
BK: I had a small role on “Haunted Peak” directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston, and I hope my scene is still in when it comes out. Having del Toro’s name on your resume certainly doesn’t hurt. I’m also waiting to hear on a few more projects but nothing certain yet…oh the life of an actor!

Q: Do you have a website or social media account we can follow you on?
BK: I’m not too computer savvy so Facebook is the only social media I’m on. I welcome tv and film fans to come on over and Like my Facebook page: Facebook.com/Brian.Kaulback

BK photo 2Congratulations to Brian on successfully shooting his “Forensic Fringe Cop” pilot with Rafael and Jason of RDG Entertainment Inc.  http://reeldealguys.com/ and fingers crossed we’ll soon see Brian chasing down the bad guys in his own TV show!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CATCHING UP WITH THAT CANADIAN GUY – COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER

glen_foster_banner_v1Back in the early 1980’s, I ran the day-to-day business for Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret in Toronto, and quickly became the in-house agent for all the comedians, too, as we developed satellite clubs and cross-country tours. I’ve been privileged to witness the debut of some pretty talented local comics as well as play host to now legendary US comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Sandra Bernhardt, Steven Wright and the frighteningly brilliant Sam Kinison. The late, great Robin Williams dropped into the club shortly after Mork and Mindy finished, and he held the club ransom for laughs one night; we were all in tears from laughing so hard. He was manic and marvelous.

This was the golden era for Canadian comedy talent and I’m thrilled to say that one of the outstanding stand-ups from those days is still making people laugh…you may know him as That Canadian Guy…I know him as my  Glen/Glenda “twin” – Glen Foster.

Glen has a series of comedy shows – Comedy Aces – coming up at The Pilot Tavern on Cumberland St (between Yonge & Bay) in Toronto, so I thought I’d invite him to share some stories from the comedy trenches, and I’ll post some photos later from his live show (with special guests David Merry, Simon Rakoff, Evan Carter, Simon Cotter & Derek Edwards) this Thursday. Check Glen’s website (linked below) for dates/times.

aces

Glen, you’ve been performing since the early 1980’s – what first inspired you to get up on stage and where did you first perform?
Short answer?  I wanted to meet chicks but couldn’t play guitar!  Actually, I was always a comedy fan.  My dad was a pretty funny guy, very likable and always telling jokes. When I was a kid, we watched a lot of comedy on TV together like the old Bob Hope comedies. Then later, we enjoyed watching sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show, The Carol Burnett Show (a big favorite of mine), I love Lucy.

How long did it take you to get from amateur night to headlining shows and where/how did you hone your skills?
Probably took me about 6 months to a year to reach feature status from amateur night, through working regular nights to weekend spots, then headlining.   It was a lot easier back then as there was way more stage time available and a lot fewer comics vying for spots.  I imagine at one point, I was probably doing about 8 to 10 shows a week in an actual club.  I just don’t think it’s possible to have that kind of experience or rapid career growth for comics these days.

head_hands_out_0093The 80’s is considered the golden era of stand-up comedy in Canada – who were your early stand-up heroes (Cdn and/or US) and did you ever open for the big headliners?
The first time I saw Mike MacDonald was about two weeks after doing comedy.  He did nearly two hours and closed with his signature air guitar bit. It was incredible.  I thought to myself, “What am I doing in this business”.  On the more famous side, my early heroes were Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart , Woody Allen and later Steve Martin and some of the SNL crew. There were also a lot of US comics I was exposed to at Yuk Yuk’s such as Steven Wright and Sam Kinison (pictured below)

Sam kWas it difficult to make an actual living as a comedian when you first started out or did you hold down a day job, too?
I was working in advertising as a copywriter. It wasn’t quite the Mad Men days, but it was a good job and I didn’t want to give it up. I finally did give it up when I went moved to LA in 1984 -85. This is actually my 30th year as a professional comic which I count as “thirty years without a day job”!

When you first started touring, who were your favourite comics to share a motel room with…and who weren’t?
I got to be a headliner pretty quick so I didn’t have to share very often at all.  I can’t even remember if I ever did.  I must have.  I know the names of a few people that I wouldn’t want to share a hotel with EVER, and a few people who had a reputation for doing very nasty, gross things to hotels and condos.  I never wanted to be the guy in the condo the week after they came through.  Sorry no names (wink)

Any “gigs from hell” you remember and care to talk about?
Some of the Western gigs could get pretty dicey.  There was a gig in a place called North Battleford, SK (if it has “Battle” in the name…..) and Fairview, AB was another hell hole.  The audience generally started drinking at noon for a show that started at 9:00pm. The hotel was so disgusting that I refused to stay there and got a room in a classier (safer) hotel at my own expense, so I probably ended up making nothing on the gig because of it.

glen-jfl-09You’ve been fortunate to have your own comedy specials as well as appearing on comedy festival broadcasts – any memorable moments you’d like to share?
My very first TV show was “An Evening at The Impov” (1982).  The host was Tony Curtis, yes, screen legend TONY CURTIS!  I was pretty green and went waaay over time with my set. Curtis came on stage and stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder while I finished.  I didn’t even realize that I f*cked up, in fact, I thought it was cool of him to do that…..Duuhh
I got to meet a number of people at the Just For Laughs festival over the years including John Candy (below), who was a really nice guy.  I was also introduced on stage at one JFL gala show by William Shatner (below). He called me back briefly to centre stage after my set and I got to shake his hand.  Craig Fergusson hosted the gala I did in 2008; I was really happy about my set that night because Fergusson was really funny, and you’d always rather have a real comic as MC rather than a non-comedy celebrity.

Candy ShatnerDo you currently contribute to tv or radio shows, either as a writer or performer?
I’m on with Jerry Agar on radio Newstalk 1010 for the “round table” every second Wednesday, and I’m also a contributor to TV’s Sun News Network a couple of times a week.

Your humour is considered relatively clean but with an edge – how do you describe your stand-up?
I guess it’s observational, usually topical and occasionally politically incorrect. It really bothers me that people seem to be so easily offended these days, so I try to push those buttons, but in a thought-provoking manner.

As you’re now one of the “elder statesmen” of the Canadian comedy scene, any advice for up and comers?
Stage time. Stage time. Stage time. You can take all the courses and read all the books, but it all comes down to stage time.  Get on as many stages, even crappy open mics where 98% of the audience is other comedians. And try not to be too scripted – comedy should not sound rehearsed, even though it usually is.

And do you still have any career aspirations or goals not yet achieved?
I keep saying that I would like to write a movie or a sitcom….hasn’t happened yet.  Other than that, I am pretty happy just doing stand up.  Of course, I would like to do more of it in bigger venues for more money, but that’s about it.

Will you have any “My Canada Includes…” t-shirts for sale at your Canadian Aces shows?
Yes I will. I actually did a reprint as part of my 30th anniversary.  I had to change the design slightly to include Nunavut, which did not exist when I did the original shirt.  So I guess this is “My Canada 2.0”

glen_foster-my_canada_t-shirtHow can people find out about your live shows & tours, tv or radio appearances?
I am the most findable guy in the world! I have two websites:
www.thatcanadianguy.com  and  www.comedyaces.com
My Twitter handles are: @fosterfunny  or  @comedyaces
My Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/That-Canadian-Guy-Glen-Foster/33438953821

16742So watch out for That Canadian Guy, coming to a comedy club near you!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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.

20140505_190147 20140505_190831 20140505_190708

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.

20140505_181207 ???????????????????????????????

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).

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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)

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

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

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Here are lots more happy Scrabblers….

??????????????????????????????? DSC03273 ??????????????????????????????? 20140505_182234 20140505_183550 20140505_181104

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

20140505_181244 20140505_184136 ???????????????????????????????

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

20140505_191027

….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

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,