Tag Archives: CBC

MY SUNDAY “IN THE ROOM” WITH CANADA’S LEADING TV STARS

I recently met Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck, founders of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment Inc. (RDG) (pictured below, L-R) who have created an original TV series, IN THE ROOM, featuring Canadian actors from all ages and stages of career success in a round-table discussion setting.

photo 1 (5)This past Sunday, I attended a taping – their second “Hollywood North” themed episode – at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto, where they welcomed some of our country’s finest and most award-winning stars, pictured below: Tantoo Cardinal (Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall), Kris Holden-Ried (Lost Girl, The Listener, The Tudors), Shawn Doyle (Endgame, Covert Affairs, Reign), Zoe deGrand’Maison (Orphan Black, Rookie Blue, Bad Hair Day), Philip Moran (Total Recall) and the multi-talented actor, director and mainstay of 80s and 90s TV and film Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG).

TantooKHR2Shawn DoyleNicolePhilipArt HWith Rafael and Jason co-hosting, the stars took the stage during the closed-taping, and shared stories from the acting trenches. Supported by a highly proficient crew, Rafael and Jason captured intimate moments with each actor as they shared stories of screen triumphs, emotional impact of past roles, on-set camaraderie & rivalries, and many hilarious tales from behind as well as in front of the cameras.   So why is this new show not on TV now? Canada, and Toronto in particular, has a huge TV viewing audience many of whom, it appears, love reality and chat shows so how come all we have to watch are the chaotic morning shows with predominantly weather and traffic news, tired homemaker magazine shows, dry-as-a-bone political argument panels, plus a couple of celebrity gossip shows targeting the hipster 20/30-something crowd? We need our own “Tonight Show” or a Graham Norton-style outrageous celebrity couch programme (if you have BBC Canada you’ll know exactly what I mean). In The Room could easily fill that void AND please advertisers – let’s face it, networks don’t really give a rat’s ass about content, it’s all about the potential for billions of advertising dollars!

Based on the amount of traffic my Tweets and Facebook posts garnered during the shoot yesterday, I know we have an audience for shows like In The Room so consider this blog editorial as me throwing down the gauntlet – let’s get In The Room on air. So anyone out there know a hungry distributor or network buyer?  http://reeldealguys.com/

logoHere are some behind the scenes photos, courtesy of my wonderful Samsung Galaxy 3!

(below) make-up room shenanigans with Shawn, Kris, Tantoo and Zoe….

20150308_111355 20150308_111405 20150308_112356Setting up the stage….then bringing in the actors!

20150308_101419 20150308_120446 20150308_120514 20150308_125750Time for a break….with the best craft services in town!

20150308_101524 20150308_103717(above LtoR) Crew members Lana & Dwayne joined Jason and actor Brian Kaulback (Murdoch Mysteries) during break time.  Then back to work…roll cameras!

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20150308_141002I spent some time with the lovely ladies in make-up, Carlene & Stephanie (below), whom I challenged to a face/off – make me pretty in 10 minutes – but they just laughed…I wonder why?

20150308_135059 20150308_135135 20150308_135118Once In The Room finished taping, the actors and hosts gathered for a “class photo”….

20150308_140111 20150308_135944….then it was time for some candid shots on stage…..

20150308_135642 20150308_135720 20150308_131202 20150308_140332 20150308_135800 20150308_135812…then the good-byes, with the actors signing posters backstage. This is where Assoc. Producer Janine grabbed some quick pics with the stars. She especially enjoyed taking one with her fave TV actor, Kris Holden-Ried (pic#4) who I still say looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay (here they look much cuter than Chris and Gwyneth, don’t ya think?)

20150308_140916 20150308_130833 20150308_141129 20150308_141210 20150308_141641 20150308_141559 20150308_141305I grabbed a wacky selfie with my all-time Canadian idol, Art Hindle. What a nice man…and so damned talented.

20150308_114021Congratulations to RDG for producing such a great show which, once it gets on air, will have a large and appreciative audience. For details of IN THE ROOM and other RDG projects, visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/

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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.

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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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URBANSOURCE CATERING SPONSORS CATERING FOR FIFE HOUSE FUNDRAISER

Congratulations to UrbanSource Catering (www.urbancatering.com)  on another fantastic catering gig last night – the exciting Fife House benefit “Spotlight” produced by Michael Rubinoff, featuring TV and Broadway star Megan Hilty with Seth Rudetsky, held at the Glenn Gould Studio in CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto. Urban has sponsored the food for this annual event for over a decade.

now_ad_2UrbanSource Catering always delivers great food and last night’s hors d’oeuvres were no exception…

20141110_181309 20141110_182056 20141110_184614 20141110_180358 20141110_180037I was especially thrilled to see the re-appearance of my favourite “cheesy balls” (they’re really very tasty risotto balls filled with deelish gooey cheese)

20141110_181150 20141110_184441 20141110_184426The bar was packed, too, with fabulous wines from our friends at Tre Amici

20141110_183617and the food service was handled by Urban’s always friendly staff

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20141110_182100Fife House (www.fifehouse.org) held a silent auction during the pre-show reception and there were lots of great items vying for bids, and the lovely volunteers selling drink tickets helped keep everyone well-lubricated!!

20141110_180250 20141110_184116Wayne W. Abell, Urban’s Catering Sales & Business Manager, posed with Fife House Exec. Director Keith Hambly (below)

20141110_182316Lots of guests packed the Glenn Gould Studio foyer devouring all the fabulous treats….including Urban’s Catering & Events Mgr. Calvin Hambrook and http://www.Newz4You.net publisher/writer, KJ Mullins pictured below with Wayne.

20141110_190802 20141110_191314Ooooo, look…more cheesy balls – I must have nibbled at least a dozen (or two) myself!! Yummmm

20141110_185418And I met the delightful Dusty Balfour who came in all the way from Niagara Falls to attend the event – damn, I want that tiara!

20141110_190404 20141110_190507Big thank you to everyone at CBC, the Glenn Gould Studio, Fife House (esp. David Currah, Dir. of Development & Communications), all the sponsors and the mgmn’t & service team at UrbanSource Catering. Bravo and a big standing O to all!

 

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CONVERSATIONS WITH INFLUENCERS: Meet TIM PROGOSH of the CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS

 

I met the multi-talented TIM PROGOSH (pictured below) way back in the 80’s during my tenure as Business Manager of Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret and agent for the associated Funny Business comedy agency.  Back then, Tim was one of the hardest working stand-up and sketch comedians and then as a TV actor (everyone remember The Adventures of Sinbad?) and director. He has since gone on to work in an advisory capacity with various government and film/tv industry organizations and is currently the President of The Canadian Comedy Foundation for Excellence and the Canadian Comedy Experience. And for the past 15 years, Tim has been the driving force behind the annual Canadian Comedy Awards.  I caught up with Tim recently at Lettieri’s Coffee Shop in Yorkville, just around the corner from where it all began for us at Yuk Yuks over 30yrs ago.

Tim

Looking back over the past 15 years, how do you see the CCAs have impacted the comedy industry as a whole?
The impact has been in two major ways: the first is a sense of community. Before these awards, I toured and did stand-up, sketch and improv. There was a real rift between stand-up comedians and those performing the other forms of comedy – they did not like each other. They did not appreciate how funny they all were. The CCAs was the first chance to bring everyone together for one party. And our Variety Galas were like Vaudeville – we put different genres in the same show. The voting process gave everyone an equal say and because we were the first major awards show with online voting, everyone got a chance to see everyone.
The impact was more cross-over acts, more camaraderie, more sharing and of course the best party of the year – every year!
The second impact was bringing together film,TV people and live performers. Writers, directors and producers were mingling and getting to know stand-ups, improvisers and sketch performers. Soon people like Ron James, Brent Butt and Shaun Majumder were seen by agents, TV and film people in new ways. If you look at our winners and who our stars were – you will see a pattern.

What first inspired you to launch these awards?
Our mandate has never changed: “To recognize, celebrate and promote Canadian achievements in comedy at home and abroad”
Funny story…..I was at the Laugh Resort to see Gilbert Gottfried. Mike Wilmot (pictured below) opened. At the end of the show as people left I asked a few people what they thought of the show. They all said Gilbert was funny but that “first guy” was hysterical. I toured for over 20 years in sketch , improv and stand-up, seeing some very funny people and I knew they were better than what the “stars’ of the day were. Now combine that knowledge with a love for comedy inspired by my family who were comedy junkies – there was no way my Dad would ever let us miss Wayne and Shuster on TV. Finally, I had just completed 10 years as a full time working actor/comic/writer and producer, 2 years starring on a TV series filmed in Capetown, and came back to Canada where there was a new TV network: The Comedy Network. I felt it should be breeze selling the network and sponsors on the idea of a “Canadian Comedy Awards” and a “Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame”.

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Who were your first award winners/categories?
The first year a group of advisors got together (Mark Breslin, Andrew Alexander, myself, Sydd Capp and representatives from ACTRA/Equity/DGC and WGC) and we wanted to include Film and TV because lets face it, no one in comedy wins the Oscars or, at that time, Canadian film and TV awards: Genies or Geminis. So we decided to have Live, Film and TV as our main categories and give out awards in each category and here were the winners:
LIVE / STAND-UP
Ron James
LIVE / BEST STAND-UP NEWCOMER
Wade McElwain
LIVE / BEST SKETCH TROUPE OR COMPANY
Skippy’s Rangers
LIVE / BEST MALE IMPROVISOR
Colin Mochrie
LIVE / BEST FEMALE IMPROVISOR
Kathryn Greenwood
LIVE / BEST COMEDIC PLAY, REVUE OR SERIES
The Drowsy Chaperone
LIVE / DIRECTION OF A COMEDIC PLAY
Steve Morel (The Drowsy Chaperone)
LIVE / LIVE PERFORMANCE MALE
Mump and Smoot, Inferno
LIVE / LIVE PERFORMANCE FEMALE
Lisa Lambert, The Drowsy Chaperone
LIVE / DIRECTION, NEW PLAY
Steve Morel, The Drowsy Chaperone
LIVE / DIRECTION, REVUE
Paul O’Sullivan, Piñata Full of Bees
TELEVISION / DIRECTION, SPECIAL OR EPISODE
Henry Sarwer-Foner (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, “New Year’s Eve Special”)
TELEVISION / DIRECTION, SERIES
Michael Kennedy (Made in Canada)
TELEVISION / WRITING, SPECIAL OR EPISODE
Tim Steeves, Rick Mercer, Cathy Jones, Mary Walsh, Edward Kay, and Greg Thomey (This Hour Has 22 Minutes)
TELEVISION / BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE – TELEVISION
Rick Mercer (Made in Canada)
TELEVISION / WRITING, SERIES
Tim Steeves, Rick Mercer, Cathy Jones, Edward Kay, Mary Walsh and Greg Thomey (This Hour Has 22 Minutes)
TELEVISION / BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE – TELEVISION
Mary Walsh (This Hour Has 22 Minutes)
FILM / BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Mike Myers, Austin Powers:International Man of Mystery
FILM / BEST PERFORMANCE BY A MALE – FILM
Mike Myers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me)
FILM / BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE – FILM
Sarah Polley (Go)
FILM / BEST WRITING – FILM
Mike Myers (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me)
FILM / BEST DIRECTION – FILM
Don McKellar (Last Night)
JURIED CATEGORIES / PAL AWARD
Happy Gang

Pictured below: Bruce Hunter & Rosie Shuster, Deb DiGiovanni and Jeremy Hotz

1th cca's presenters Bruce Hunter and Rosie Shuster Female stand winner Deb Digiovanni jeremy hotz

Over the years, can you share any wild’n’crazy stories about award nights?
• Having a Board meeting in London and realizing that there was a couple under the table from the night before. Still not sure exactly what they were up to, but…..
• Seeing 50 people cram into a hotel room, including members of the legendary Air Farce tv show and The Sketchersons and TV directors, at 4 am all still partying because The Sketchersons had got their hotel room sponsored! It was a veritable comedy who’s who from Jayne Eastwood and Don Ferguson to Deb McGrath to Derek Edwards to Pat Thornton and Deb Digiovanni!
• Nick Bayley of the Bayley Group convinced the DJ at a club in Regina to come back to the hotel room hospitality suite at the Ramada so we could keep the party going and dance until 7am!
• Last year in Ottawa at the Arts Court Theatre, Tom Green ended up rapping at a late night soiree.
• My favourite was walking into the Guvernment nightclub after the Awards Ceremony in year 2 and having The Sadies play as the crowd filed in.

Pictured below: Roger, Mary & Don from Air Farce/This Hour, Will Sasso hosting awards, and Shaun Majumda with Tim

mary figures it out with don androg Sasso-presenting Shaun M, Tim & mystery man

The 80’s were considered the “golden age” of Canadian comedy, especially with the emergence of stand-ups like Mike McDonald, Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey and break-out sketch comics Martin Short, Mike Meyers and Tim Sims – thirty years later, what is your take on the state of the art in Canadian comedy?
I think every decade has had its own string of artists. Frank Van Keeken was story editor for Mad About You during its run while Brian Hart and Gary Campbell piloted Mad TV with Will Sasso and Ron Pederson during its hay day. Then The Kids In The Hall dominated for a decade or more as Dave Foley went on to the News Radio show with Phil Hartman, then Scott Thompson on the Larry Sanders Show. Then there was Seth Rogen who came out of Vancouver’s Urban Well stand-up scene and Will Arnett and Michael Cera from Arrested Development. But here’s the kicker – once the Comedy Awards started we had Made in Canada, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Rick Mercer, Corner Gas, Mr. Dee ….all of which got to STAY IN CANADA.
And Ron James, Deb DiGiovanni, Nikki Payne and even Derek Edwards do a great job touring in stand-up…Sugar Sammy sold over 200,000 tickets last year! Mike Wilmot got roles in The Foundation and It’s All Gone Pete Tong – and the movie Bad Cop Bon Cop is hilarious.
We continue to turn out great comedy that needs to be recognized!

Pictured below: Nikki Payne, Tom Green and sketch troupe Picnic Face

12th cca Stand up winner Nikki Payne Tom Green 12t cca's sketch winners Pic nic face

This year, who are the ones to watch and why?
For Sketch, Peter n’ Chris, last year’s winners, a two person sketch troop
Sugar Sammy (pictured below) – he performs in three languages and sells tickets.
Jared Keeso & Jordan Beirnes, Hockey Players, Letterkenny Problems – these guys are burning up the internet
Hannah Spear & Versus Valerie – very talented
Hold Mommy’s Cigarette – one person show by Shelly Marshall (also pictured below)
And of course all the gang at 22 minutes and Mr.Dee

Sugar Sammy

Shelley Marshall

How crucial is audience/fan support and how has this grown over the years?
We get a lot of fan and audience support and it’s growing every year. Best was last year in Ottawa and the years outside of Toronto because we did not have the money to compete with bigger events in TO. Now my kids talk to people who use the term CCA winner to describe a person they see on a video or on YouTube and not a day goes by without a Google alert mentioning a CCA winner. So media and the public are both supportive and it is growing, in fact, we have 15,000 registered voters.

How have corporate sponsor dollars enabled the CCAs to grow and expand? (so many people don’t understand that these are the $s that allow you to run the shows)
Well it’s all about the public funding so far. The Governments of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and now Ontario have helped us stabilize our organization and local sponsorships have been fantastic. We used to have The Comedy Network but they decided to pursue other directions once it became part of BellMedia. We currently have great corporate sponsors and a growing product. I believe the next 3 years leading to Canada’s 150th celebrations will be our best.

Has the media supported and promoted the CCAs and how difficult is it to get bums in seats at the actual awards show?
We‘ve sold out 12 of the 15 actual awards shows, so it’s not a problem even when we’re outside of a major city the size of Toronto. Yes, the media covers our nominees and launch events as well as the winners every year; over the last three years CBC has done a full report on the next morning’s news show. And all media writers when describing an act or a show refer to their Canadian Comedy Award or nomination.

Tim & ladies

Who are your judges and how are these people selected for jury duty?
Well, after the submissions are vetted for accuracy – a painful and time consuming process – they go to jury. We’ve had close to 180 jurors over the past 5 years who meet independently to cast their votes in the categories they judge. Their rankings determine 35% of final vote. They can not be submitters in the category and are chosen with the following criteria:
• Professional status – they have previously won or been nominated
• Years in the business – ACTRA, Equity , DGC, CMPA or WGC
• Regions – each committee must represent Canada, not just Toronto
• Discipline – live TV and Film
• Gender – our juries are not just a bunch of guys, lots of funny ladies are included
• Minimum of 5 members to a jury.

Any successful project always has its naysayers – have you experienced any backlash within the comedy community as to the nominating and judging process?
Every year there are those who criticize. Some do it directly by voicing concerns at our annual live stream town hall meeting or by writing in with a concern. We have answered these criticisms by trying to improve the systems when/where we can. We also have committees every year who try to keep our criteria relevant to the industry. The Newcomer category has evolved into the Breakout category because it is tough to police “first time on stage” as a newcomer. That was a result of constructive criticisms. The jury and voting systems have also evolved from this constructive criticism.
The negative side is a small group of individuals who don’t respect the systems we have worked so hard to create, so they attack the people who may chair a committee or sit on a jury. Sadly, they do so out of ignorance and rarely want to establish fact. So they use social media to make a statement based on lack of knowledge (ignorance) or because they “heard” something or simply repeat what somebody else has posted. That piece of unverifiable fact becomes circulated on social media.
I offer to take time to meet these individuals to show them the amount of work and time and the care that is taken – but only twice in 15 years has any of these people wanted to meet face to face. It must be tough for an actor, writer or comic who has no other experience to comprehend what has to happen to make this event happen every year, let alone for 15 years. There are few areas of the business where I have not had such great teachers, mentors and experience. I’ve made mistakes but as long as I’m here we will always listen to those who care.
That is why I respect those who serve as jurors and on committees and will stand by their side. We have answered every question or brought the questions into discussions at Committee and even Board level which is brought to us directly. I have learned that it is almost impossible to discuss anything with those who merely want to sit in a room and gossip or tweet out knee-jerk factless rants. Either they are too narrow minded to embrace complex issues, or they prefer to be bitter and angry. The ones who care and are trying to make a rational point, and who also listen make great Committee members and make a constructive impact to better the awards.
We are not perfect but after chairing, jurying or being a part of The Banff Rockies, the Genies, the Geminis, the CCMA’s and the Junos, I feel the CCA’s have a terrific system as good if not better than any other national Awards.

Any advice to new comics starting out in their careers? 
Nothing beats stage time – nothing.

And in closing, any other comments?
All awards and contests where juries are in play are not perfect. We’ve tried to create an event to fulfill the mandate and have a lot of fun. As a result, more people have a chance to earn a living in comedy in Canada and more people get their “green cards” to work abroad.

THIS YEAR’S CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS LOCATION, DATE, TIME, ETC.
The 15th Canadian Comedy Awards And Festival take place Sept 10 to 14th in Ottawa, Ontario
Venues: Ottawa Little Theatre, Yuk Yuks and Absolute Comedy
Awards: Sunday September 14th at Ottawa Little Theatre 7:30 pm
Galas: Friday Sept. 12 & Saturday Sept. 13 at Ottawa Little Theatre
Website: http://canadiancomedy.ca/

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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…

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

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

 

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CANADIAN MUSICAL THEATRE ICON DONATES GRAND PIANO TO PERFORMING ARTS LODGE

The super talented Canadian musical theatre star LOUISE PITRE [ www.louisepitre.com ] joined the equally talented residents of Toronto’s answer to filmdom’s “Quartet” residence – the Performing Arts Lodge Toronto [ www.PALToronto.org ] last night, donating her beautiful 7ft shiny black Schiedmayer grand piano to the PAL Crest Theatre Green Room.

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Thanks to PAL Board member DAN LYON and Canada’s main “piano man” ROBERT LOWREY (below, L & R respectively), Ms. Pitre’s generous donation will now benefit all the PAL residents who use the Green Room for shows, recitals, social events and fundraisers. The piano, now named “Louise”, stands proudly on stage and will no doubt accompany many of the residents who contributed to Canada’s golden age of television, radio, film, theatre and music.

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Board member KEN GASS welcomed VIPs, guests and performers (below). 20131030_184536

 

 

 

 

We were thrilled to welcome Councilor PAM McCONNELL in whose constituency PAL resides, as well as KATIE UHLMANN, host of the hit WebTV series “Katie Chats”. [ www.katiechats.com ] Katie spoke with many of the guest performers after the show, including 90yr old comic actor and MC KENNY WICKES (below L in his new blue angora sweater).

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Councilor McConnell joined Robert Lowrey for the post-performance celebrations (below)

20131030_194621Kenny, pianist Alan Cohen and the cast of performers led the audience in a rousing sing-a-long “I Love a Piano”.20131030_194420 20131030_194516

Special thanks to PAL residents who took the stage to entertain and salute both Louises (the artist and the piano!) include Robert Godin, Patty Gail & Barb Sadegur, June Mitchell, Eileen Boyd (below) and Bob Ashley played an exquisite version of a Minkus Pas de Deux.

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Special thanks to all the volunteers who helped create this joyous occasion.

20131030_203607 20131030_203618 20131030_204755An old friend and acting colleague of mine, Brian Kaulback  (below) joined in the fun and it was so cool to catch up on showbiz gossip with him and his fellow PAL residents.20131030_200503Here are some more great photos from the evening…and I recommend you follow PAL Toronto on Facebook and watch out for news of their annual celebrity fundraiser “SCRABBLE WITH THE STARS” taking place next spring.

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ALL STAR LUNCHEON….THE BEST ANNUAL PARTY @ TIFF!

Every year I look fwd to receiving my invitation from Sari & Bill Marshall, Founder of the original Festival of Festivals, now known around the world as the Toronto Int’l Film Festival, and without a doubt this year’s luncheon was the bestest ever!! LOL.  Held at the legendary Barberian’s Restaurant in downtown Toronto, the food was spectacular, the drinks never-ending and our hosts held court over an amazing cross-section of the film industry’s elite, politicos, rock stars, sports celebs, media…and us. My lovely, charming assistant, Kaneesha, and I schmoozed our faces off, connecting our clients Peter & Edna Pereira of Fit2Touch  www.fit2touch.com and filmmaker Joseph Procopio  www.josephprocopio.ca with all the cool party revelers.

(below – Kaneesha w/Edna & Peter of Fit2Touch)  20130907_125307 20130907_125547                                          (above – Edna, Peter & Joseph Procopio)

We were thrilled to connect with Yannick Bisson, star of the hit TV series Murdoch Mysteries and his gorgeous actress wife Chantal.  Murdoch has been sold/distributed around the world and has become one of the biggest TV series to come out of Canada. Fingers crossed that the US market picks it up for network broadcast – Murdoch Mysteries has become a brand synonymous with quality dramatic acting and writing and showcases Toronto and turn of the 20th century Canada so brilliantly. (below – Yannick & Chantal)

20130907_135943Joseph Procopio recently returned from screening his latest film, Sundae, at the renowned Rhode Island Film Fest where the film took top honours with the GERALD LAMOUREUX AWARD. He flies off on Monday to appear at the LA Shorts Fest where Sundae is again in competition. Good luck, JP!  Here he is with Edna & Peter.20130907_125547

Can you spot the pop star here? Photo below features 70’s pop icon Andy Kim (Rock Me Gently & Sugar Sugar) mixes it up with political animal John Tory (L) and their respective ladies. Check out Andy’s website www.andykimmusic.com  John Tory with Andy Kim

And speaking of politics, we were thrilled to meet Senator Don Meredith and his beautiful and elegant wife Michelle who graciously posed for photos with Kaneesha, Edna & Peter…and I finally got the guts to get in front of the camera myself.

20130907_14550520130907_145930Sari Marshall welcomed legendary writer & film aficionado George Anthony (below L) and Bill Marshall chatted with guests Michael and Jessica (bottom photo).Sari with Geo Anthony Michael, Jessica & Bill MarshallAnd CBC TV was well-represented at the All-Star Luncheon, too (centre)

CBC boysand first time TIFFer’s Edna & Peter really got around – here they are with Canadian Olympic cycling medalist & World Record holder Curt Harnett who couldn’t have been nicer to chat with.  20130907_151032

Here are some more maaahvelous guests including the oh so fabulous Jaymz Bee (in elegant blue suit) with his lovely date, singer Barbra Lica www.barbralica.com and then a very powerful threesome – my ex-boss & Founder of Yuk Yuk’s Mark Breslin, Bill Marshall and Telefilm Canada’s Dan Lyon (I can only imagine what naughty showbiz stories those fellas are sharing!)

Jaymz Bee Breslin, Marshall & LyonOne of the charming caterers was Nisha Amin of Bite Bar www.bitebar.ca who made sure we all satisfied our sweet-tooth cravings with deelish cheesecake and mini cupcake treats.Bite Guide

And I think Kaneesha boarded the Love Boat with Commander Tim O’Leary, Commanding Officer of the HMCS York (below)Comm. Tim O'Leary & Kaneesha

When I arrived at the party, there was one heck of a musical mash-up happening outside with cast and musicians from the new Avi Federgreen movie, The Cocksure Lads Movie which stars Alan Doyle of Canada’s award-winning Great Big Sea band. Writer/Director Murray Foster (below R) also of Great Big Sea was leading the wacky troupe – you can check out the trailer at www.thecocksurelads.com

The Cocksure Lads

Needless to say, wherever there is film business being done, you’ll always find “the suits”. Ah yes, the legal beagles – the lawyers! But we found a couple of real cuties: Michael and David joined the Fordham PR gang (pictured below) for a cocktail and I made sure to get a biz card…you never know when a girl’s gonna need a lawyer!

Clients & lawyers!BIG THANK YOU’s to Sari & Bill for yet another superb soiree, and to BARBERIAN’s for being the brilliant old-school restaurant that Sammy, Dino & Frank would have loved. Bravo, everyone…see you next year!

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