According to a ZoomerMedia spokesperson, the new show, to be called Conversations With Conrad, will consist of extended interviews with the same types of political and media-world guests Black already interviews on his other ZoomerMedia show, The Zoomer, which is co-hosted by Denise Donlon. The new show will be all Conrad, all the time. It’s expected to begin airing on VisionTV in April or May.
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Judging by recent events, you’d think Rob Ford’s career as a media star was going about as well as his career as a politician. The longstanding radio talk show he hosted with his brother, The City, ended two weeks ago. A few days later, the Fords’ TV show on Sun News,
The Great White North Ford Nation, was cancelled after just one episode. Apparently, this dismal track record is deceiving. Doug Ford revealed in the National Post last night that he and the mayor have been approached by several American and Canadian television producers to star in some unscripted programming. According to Doug, everyone “from Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil” has been courting them for a reality show. Reality, however, has never been the brothers’ strong suit. They are opting to turn down the powerhouse offers in favour of producing their own talk show on YouTube. The show will once again be called Ford Nation, and will be online before Christmas. Stay tuned for more. [CBC]
(Image: Christopher Drost)
Breaking Bad fans are intense. So intense that they’ll brave hours in the cold for the chance to dork-out in a Hazmat suit just like Walter White’s. The meth-focused Breaking Bad RV Tour (not to be confused with the crack-focused Rofo Bus Tour) drew surprisingly long lineups when it hit Yonge-Dundas Square on November 26. Patient fans were rewarded with the opportunity to play dress-up and dabble around with trays of fake meth in a convincing replica of Walter and Jesse’s mobile drug den. The RV, which is part of a promotional campaign for the show’s DVD release, will be touring the city until December 9. Anyone yearning to throw on a gas mask can follow the the RV’s movements on Twitter and Facebook. [Toronto Star]
When the media closes a door, sometimes it opens a window. NewsTalk 1010 ended the Rob and Doug Ford’s weekly radio show last week, sensibly realizing that the risks of giving the increasingly unpredictable brothers unfettered access to the airwaves outweighed the rewards. Apparently, the Sun News Network has no such qualms—despite the mayor’s recent history of shudder-inducing soundbites. Kory Teneycke, a vice president at the station, today announced that the Fords have agreed to host a show called Ford Nation, which starts airing this Monday at 8 p.m. Details about the program remain scarce, but it’s expected to include in-studio chatter from the brothers, along with in-the-field segments and guest personalities like the network’s polarizing bigmouth David Menzies. Doesn’t exactly sound scintillating, but the show should, if nothing else, give the late-night comedians a regular supply of joke fodder. [Sun News]
Reality television is booming in Toronto; nearly 100 shows are made here every year—some of them drawing more viewers than (gasp) hockey. Call it an affront to good taste or appointment TV, it’s the future of Canadian entertainment
Every Wednesday last fall, a friend of mine invited a bunch of us over to her Front Street apartment to watch The Bachelor Canada. The star was Brad Smith, a broad-shouldered himbo tasked with choosing a wife from a harem of 25 tanned, bleach-toothed beauties, including a former Playboy bunny and a Miss Universe contestant. We rated the questionable appeal of the contenders and cringed as they performed awkward cabaret routines or competed in lumberjack competitions to prove their marriage potential. During the solemn rose ceremonies, when Brad sent home our favourites, we shouted expletives at the TV. My friend also hosts parties for a handful of other reality series. We consume these shows the way sports fans watch Leafs games—screaming “Oh my god!” in glorious, cathartic unison.
In a stroke of casting genius, Amazing Race Canada has signed up legendarily chipper Body Break pair Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod for its first season. We’re delighted that the couple is still at the forefront of keeping fit and having fun (though less pleased to note the demise of Hal’s once-heroic moustache). We’re also suddenly a lot more interested in watching the Race’s July 15 premiere, if only to get the answers to some burning questions. Do Hal and Jo use those polished television voices when they fight? Do they wear matching tracksuits every waking hour? Are they going to do in-seat airplane exercises on all their flights? The people need to know.
Three years ago, the Mississauga-born actor Shay Mitchell, then a total unknown with zero notable screen credits, suddenly exploded as one-fourth of the titular clique on the soapy TV whodunit Pretty Little Liars. The show, which recently began its fourth season, borrows liberally from Twin Peaks, Desperate Housewives and Mean Girls, and has barrelled way beyond its target teen audience to become appointment television. Every episode is like hyper-caffeinated Hitchcock, with enough shocking twists, big reveals and ridiculous plot contrivances to keep the army of Liars fans in a constant state of OMG. (The third season’s finale prompted a million tweets in a single hour.) The 26-year-old Mitchell plays Emily Fields, who started out as a timid, closeted jock secretly in love with her school’s missing queen bee. She has since become the show’s stoic centre: an intrepid sleuth, a fierce defender of the unjustly persecuted and an out lesbian with some serious game, always ready to kick ass as the glossy-haired girl next door.
Pretty Little Liars
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
Like so many Canadian television personalities, freewheeling SportsCentre hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole are moving south of the border. Apparently, after a Wall Street Journal article alerted Fox Sports execs to Onrait and O’Toole’s comedic antics and on-screen chemistry, the pair landed a gig with a new show running on the network nightly from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Onrait and O’Toole’s final appearance at TSN is in late June, giving their legion of fans, including Stephen Harper, less than two months to soak in as much wise-cracking hilarity as possible. And here we were just getting used to Don Cherry and Ron MacLean’s big seat swap. [TSN]
We knew Conrad Black had big plans for his release from prison. What we didn’t know is that they involved co-hosting a weekly television show for viewers 45 and up (but, really, of course Conrad Black is hosting a TV show!). The Zoomer—Television For Boomers With Zip begins airing in late spring on VisionTV, and the early details suggest the hour-long show is going to be something a spectacle. Below, the five things we’re most gleefully looking forward to watching.
Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, the wildly popular, wise-cracking hosts of TSN’s SportsCentre, can’t stop laughing—at fumbling athletes, at ranting coaches and especially at their own jokes
In 2002, Jay Onrait was hired to co-host TSN’s late-night edition of SportsCentre. The broadcast, which airs after the night’s big games and matches, is the channel’s highest-profile slot. Onrait came with TV hosting experience and an encyclopedic sports mind. He was nevertheless an unusual choice: he’s a lanky joker with a background in stand-up comedy, the sort of guy who can’t resist contorting his face to make an audience laugh. He worships early David Letterman, especially his cheap gags, like when he’d chuck a watermelon off the roof. That sort of thing, he assumed, wouldn’t fly at TSN, where sports stats are analyzed with utmost seriousness.
A high-stakes turf war is heating up between Rogers and Bell over the chance to provide television to Toronto’s ever-growing ranks of downtown condo-dwellers. For decades, bylaws prohibiting satellite dishes on condo balconies prevented Bell from selling its satellite TV in high-rises, leaving Rogers to sign exclusive deals with developers. But the landscape has changed: Rogers’ deals are now expiring and, with Fibe TV, Bell has traded in ugly satellites for discreet fiber optics cable. The company recently made its first major play, offering steep discounts on TV and PVR rentals (but buyer beware: the ultra-low rates expire after a year, and customers must also sign up for home phone and internet). Bell has even taken the unprecedented step of running fiber into single suites—some private residences at the Four Seasons are on Fibe—setting the precedent for a gritty customer-by-customer battle between it and Rogers. And here we thought the competitors were learning to play nice. [Globe and Mail]
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An episode of Nikita is being filmed outside my condo. Every morning for the last few days, the crew has stopped traffic until the take wraps—which feels like an eternity when I’m trying to get to work. It’s absurd that my day is interrupted for a TV show. Can I just drive past the woman with the headset next time? What authority does she have to stop me?
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People with kids will know who The Wiggles are, but for anyone who is unfamiliar, they’re a mega-popular Australian children’s music group who have been around for 21 years (so, Barney with an Australian accent). Of the four original members, three—Greg Page, Jeff Fatt and Murray Cook—are retiring from the group and will be replaced. To say goodbye, the foursome is setting off on a farewell tour that will stop in Toronto on October 5 and 6 at Ricoh Coliseum (tickets go on sale August 13 through Ticketmaster). The lucky children who get tickets to this event are probably going to also want T-shirts, hats and cotton candy, so perhaps now is the time to start setting aside a nest egg.
Before Suits debuted last year on the tiny USA Network, it sounded like every other legal dramedy with impossibly good-looking lawyers sassing judges and having confrontations in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. That assessment wasn’t entirely off the mark: Suits is set in a stylish Manhattan firm (though shot in Toronto) and features an easy-on-the-eyes cast, including its boyishly handsome star Patrick J. Adams. But the show, which recently began its second season, quickly distinguished itself from the clones with its snappy pacing and sharp dialogue, and became a sleeper hit. The Toronto-born Adams plays the dishy and disheveled anti-hero, Mike Ross, a low-level con artist who stumbles into a job as an associate, despite having no law degree, after impressing the firm’s star litigator with his photographic memory and self-taught mastery of legalese. (TV rules of plausibility are in effect.) Adams brings nuance to the role of the savant hustler. Ross can be ruthless, and yet vulnerable—a mere guppy in a sea of Armani-clad sharks. Earlier this year, he nabbed a Screen Actors Guild nomination for best actor in a drama series, which pitted him against award heavyweights like Bryan Cranston (for Breaking Bad) and Steve Buscemi (who won for Boardwalk Empire). For the 30-year-old Adams, who spent a decade stuck in Hollywood’s revolving door of guest spots and doomed pilots, landing Suits has meant a huge leap in name recognition. It’s the breakout moment actors dream of, and almost as unlikely as, say, stumbling into a job as a lawyer without a law degree. Read the rest of this entry »
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