Stripped of almost all his mayoral responsibilities, Rob Ford appears to be easing into his new full-time position: self-aggrandizing spin machine. Since yesterday evening, Toronto’s sort-of mayor has appeared on CBC, CNN and NBC, as well as his new Sun News Network show, repeating a series of folksy talking points about not being perfect and siding with “poor people” instead of “rich people” like himself. But is Ford’s media blitz is really helping his case? With each interview, his explanations become more convoluted, his rants more unhinged and his denials less plausible. Below, we pull out the day’s most bizarre quotes.
All stories relating to CBC
Ron MacLean is known for many things: his vast knowledge of hockey, his life-saving dip in the Delaware River and his patience with Don Cherry. Now, we can add “dancing” to that list. Zip ahead to 2:00 of this live performance of “Watch Your Backbone Slide” to see McLean slide on stage with Maestro Fresh Wes and do a one-legged groove reminiscent of everyone’s favourite uncle at a wedding with an open bar (there’s some great faux-punch interaction between the two Canadian media titans at about 3:20, too). The event, which also featured the stars of Battle of the Blades, was part of the CBC Connects lunchtime events that happen in the atrium of their building every Wednesday at noon.
The scoop on the month’s red-hot releases
A Canadian Prime Minister writing a book about hockey is a little like an Australian PM writing about kangaroos: the stuff of hack comedy. And yet—A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey, a nostalgic look at the sport’s pre-history, is the literary debut of Stephen Harper (a more writerly “Stephen J. Harper” on the cover). Harper, who laced up for the Leaside Lions as a kid and is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research, has been dropping hints about the book for years and claims to have spent a whopping 15 minutes a day on the tome. (He reportedly also employed a researcher and got advice from sports writer Roy McGregor, though his publisher claims every word in it is his own.) You could fill a small-town arena with the number of hockey books that come out every year, but Harper’s is the only one with a prorogued Parliament as part of its pre-publication build-up.
When I became a father, I decided it was time to make the long-delayed leap into adulthood. The best way to be a grown-up, I reckoned, was to look like one
One night four years ago, I was rocking my infant son to sleep and he looked at me with that soul-searching gaze all babies have. I could almost hear him saying, “So, you’re going to teach me how to be a man.” In that moment it dawned on me that I didn’t really know what it meant to be a man.’
Like many men of my generation, I’d lived an extended adolescence. Even as an adult, I bought all the toy robots I wanted and watched The Matrix on loop. I neither learned nor cared to learn the so-called manly skills of past generations: how to fix things around the house, how to polish my shoes, how to change the oil in my car. As a result, I entered many situations as a boy instead of a man, fumbling my way through.
Two and a half years after Richard Stursberg’s ouster, the CBC is once again looking to fill a void at the helm of its English-language services. News broke just after noon that head of English programming Kirstine Stewart, who introduced Can-Con gems like Dragons’ Den, Battle of the Blades and Being Erica, has left the public broadcaster for a job as managing director of Twitter’s nascent Canadian operation. The social media addict has already changed her Twitter handle from @KStewartCBC to the more neutral @kirstinestewart.
George Stroumboulopoulos sure has come a long way from his days as the cooler-than-thou host of The New Music on MuchMusic. Canadian TV’s most eligible vegan has been tapped to host a new 10-episode series on CNN this summer. The hour-long show, whose name has not yet been released, will be filmed in Los Angeles, and will air during prime time on Fridays starting May 31. The format will be similar the one on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight—namely, celebrity interviews conducted in front of a live audience (the CBC show is still scheduled to return for a tenth season in the fall). The addition to CNN’s summer line up is part of the broadcaster’s ongoing efforts to appeal to a younger audience by bringing in younger, hipper hosts—no word, yet, on whether that includes Strombo’s signature red armchairs. [Deadline]
Video never did kill the radio star. Neither did CDs or MP3s or even satellite radio, which tried to take down dusty old AM/FM radio by offering a cable TV–like galaxy of choices. iPods were a big contender: with our entire music collections in our palms, who needed a DJ to play the same tunes (and a bunch of annoying ads) over and over? Apparently, we did. Picking songs from an infinite library became a chore, and iPod fatigue set in. Digital music sales were supposed to double, then triple, as hundreds of millions of people bought music-capable smart phones and tablets. That hasn’t happened.
Calum de Hartog has seen some scary things in his job as a frontline Toronto cop. Now, as the co-creator of the new CBC drama Cracked, he has a different challenge: get people watching
Calum de Hartog is one of about 90 officers on Toronto’s Emergency Task Force, a unit that routinely does things like execute high-risk search warrants and manage volatile domestic disputes. He has talked people out of committing suicide, and once scrapped with a gasoline-soaked assailant wielding both a knife and a lighter. Last July, he was one of the officers on the scene after the Danzig Street block party turned deadly. “It’s a trip, man, it’s a real trip,” he says of his day job. It’s also in his DNA: his father is a retired cop, and his brother still serves on the force. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Amanda Lang, No. 41 on our 2012 list of Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People, is widely considered the heir to Peter Mansbridge’s throne. CBC News’s senior business correspondent is self-taught in the racket (she has a BA in architecture), and she has proven a natural in her role as the less obnoxious half of daytime business show The Lang and O’Leary Exchange. Here, Lang reveals that she got fired from her first ever job—a gig at a Winnipeg Dairy Queen—because she sent her twin sister into work for her, even though said sister didn’t know how to run the soft-serve machine. Lang also tells us that if she were mayor of Toronto, she would make an irrevocable pledge to spend billions of dollars on a world-class subway system. Sorry, Amanda, somebody already tried that.
Kirstine Stewart, No. 13 on our 2012 list of Toronto’s Most Influential People, is leading the CBC through a perilous time. Over the past year, the public broadcaster has come under attack on both the fiscal front (the feds’ 10 per cent budget cut) and the ideological front (the battle with Quebecor). Yet Stewart has steered the Corp into ever more innovative and cost-efficient territory. Ad revenue is up nine per cent in an otherwise stagnant market, and CBC Music, a live-streaming music site launched in February, brought in millions of visitors in its first few months. In this interview, she dishes on her first job (delivering newspapers), her dream job (a record executive) and that she has never been fired from a job (though she admits sometimes she wishes she had been).
The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.
What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
If anyone in Toronto was unaware that Rob Ford and a contingent of councillors and business types headed down to Chicago this week, it’s certainly not the fault of the local media. They’ve been publishing story after story about the trade mission, despite the fact that there wasn’t much to report: the mayor met Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, business leaders and politicians, attended panel discussions, and saw a few sights (the biggest drama was that Ford got a little confused about the whereabouts of Winnipeg). Below, a quick roadmap to the multitude of articles—and a reality check from the Chicago media.
CBC wins the domestic rights for 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, saving Canadians from having to watch NBC
After much uncertainty and several failed bids, CBC has wrangled the TV, radio and Internet rights for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. That’s a relief, considering there was a chance Canadians would be stuck watching the (very unpopular) NBC broadcasts after the International Olympic Committee shut down a pair of joint bids between CBC and Bell Media, and Rogers Communications withdrew from the race in September 2011. The details of how much CBC paid have not yet been released, but the rights for the Vancouver and London games cost a Bell-CTV-Rogers consortium $153 million. Not chump change. [CBC]
Canadian broadcasters have teamed up to try and buy domestic media rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, but apparently they still can’t afford them. The International Olympic Committee has shut down two joint bids by CBC and Bell Media (which owns CTV and TSN), and Bell says it’s giving up. Meanwhile, Rogers Communications never even bothered vying for the rights—mostly because they are pretty darn expensive and the Games tend to be money-losers. (Rogers and Bell paid $153 million for the 2010 and 2012 Games; they lost money in Vancouver and are expected to lose more in London.) That leaves the financially strapped CBC to try and go it alone or attempt a long-shot joint bid with Shaw Communications. Or (please, no!) it could just leave Canadians to watch NBC during the Sochi and Rio de Janeiro Games‚ which would mean no feel-good features on Canadian athletes, no French-language feed and broadcasts helmed by the wrong Brian Williams. [Toronto Star]
The Trillium Awards, the annual ceremony for Ontario-based authors, took place, fittingly, at the Toronto Reference Library last week. The awards have honoured some of Canada’s most famous writers, like Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, and this was an extra-special night in celebration of the event’s 25th year. Nominees wore pink flowers, while past winners wore white to differentiate themselves in the massive crowd of literati (we guess wearing trilliums would be a little premature for the pink-flowered crowd). As it has since 1994, the event also fêted French- speaking nominees, so hosts Heather Hiscox of CBC News and Karen Thorn-Stone, president of the Ontario Media Development Agency, jumped between French and English (it becomes a rather long night when you hear everything twice). Though Hiscox sounded fluent, Thorn-Stone’s delivery seemed a touch forced—she even quipped, after her first French foray received a round of applause, “Now you’re just making fun of me.”