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January 2010

New owners again for the Delly Boys

The Famous Delly Boys Restaurant has changed ownership for the second time in three years. In the spring of 2007 original owners Guido (Chico ) and Sonny Broccoli sold the business to Sam Koniaris, and two partners. The Broccoli brothers stayed on for a while to ease the transition while Sam in particular made a special effort to get to know the clientele and maintain the tradition of Cöte Saint-Luc’s oldest restaurant. It is the same age as me – 47 – established in 1962.

Sam and company made some visible changes, adding a delicious-looking glass dessert display case, large flat screen television, the Interac payment option and a new glossy takeout menu. . All of the items we have grown to love remained: smoked meat and other deli delights, club rolls, their famous party sandwiches, pizza burgers, chicken, veal, fish, steak, ribs, pasta and salads.

As of January, the Famous Delly Boys are in new hands. Tahir Lifanov, his brother Kharson and their mother Fatima have purchased the restaurant. Tahir is the front man, having begun working there himself only a few months ago. He is personable and already familiar with their regulars. Of course many of the folks who have been dining at this spot for decades are enjoying their winter in Florida and will only be back in late March.

Many years ago, when the Cavendish Mall was looking for a anchor restaurant to replace Pumperniks, there were talks to move the Delly Boys from their Westminster Avenue strip mall location. It seems that someone in the Mall ownership group was not in favor of this (clearly not a good decision). Instead, Chilis, Sternz Rhapsody and then Jakes set up shop and failed. The Mall has not had an established restaurant since then. There is no telling if they ever will, given the fact they will soon demolish at least 40 percent of the property in order to make way for a housing development. The Delly Boys would have been an excellent fit.

As for Chico and Sonny, I am told they have resurfaced at another restaurant in the West End.

Famous Delly Boys is located at 5509 Westminster. The phone number is 514-484-8555.


Lies My Father Told Me -The Sequel?

Last week’s DVD launch of the classic Montreal made film Lies My Father Told Me at CinemaSpace of the Segal Centre for the Arts had those in attendance waxing nostalgic.

There were three separate screenings, one by invitation-only and two for the general public, which sold in the days leading up to the event. At the former, actress Marilyn Lightstone who played one of the lead roles of Annie Herman took part in a wonderful question and answer period with co-producer Harry Gulkin, Cleo Paskal (who played three year old Cleo in the film) and through the magic of skype star Jeffrey Lynas (the lead as five year old David). Subsequent launches are planned for Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.Lies Group  

When I spoke to Lightstone and Gulkin afterwards I asked them both why there had never been a sequel to this 1976 Golden Globe Award winning film about a young boy’s special relationship with his grandfather and his lack of one with his dad. “You’re a writer,” Lightstone pointed out. “Maybe you can come up with something. Send it to me. Maybe we can get someone interested.”

There are no shortage of Jewish film executives in Montreal. Certainly one of  them would like the idea! Lies My Father Told Me takes place in 1920s Montreal. So fast forward 35 years and we are in the late 1950s. What would the storyline entail? Here is how I see it.

Annie Herman and her awful husband Harry (Len Burman) are miraculously still married. Harry, who was always trying to hatch a get rich scheme, is estranged from his son David. Lynas, now a film and television executive for E-1 Entertainment in Los Angeles, was asked at last week’s event  whether he’d ever make a comeback. He said that when he turned 18 he realized he did not see a future as an actor and pursued work on the other side of the camera.

I am sure Lynas could be coaxed back for the sequel as the father of two young children. In my  Lies My Father Told Me 2 (or More Lies My Father Told Me) David maintains a close relationship with his mother. He still thinks back constantly to the days with his Zaida and the neglect he experienced from his dad. But when he sees his two young children begin to bond with his father he wonders how it is possible for a man to show no care for his own child yet express so much love for his grandchildren. Ultimately David and Harry develop a new understanding of each other.

Gulkin, who at 82 remains as sharp as ever, should be enlisted as a special consultant. Watching last week’s DVD launch with great interest was noted Montreal film and television producer Ina Fichman.

“So Ina, would you be involved in a sequel?” I asked.

She smiled, but did not say “no!”

Soon Dustin Hoffman will star alongside Paul Giamatti  in Barney’s Version, an adaptation of the book of the same name by the late Mordecai Richler. Hoffman will play the father of Giamatti’s title character, Barney Panofsky, a TV producer whose colourful life story, including three marriages and a position as prime suspect in the murder of his best friend, is told in flashback . The movie was shot partly in Montreal and has a significant Jewish cast.  Let us follow how well it does at the box office, as well as paying attention to any buzz resulting from the Lies My Father Told Me DVD. As an entirely new generation gets the chance to be exposed to this amazing film, the appetite for a sequel may indeed grow.

Well, I think I have completed Lightstone’s assignment. Time for her and Fichman to get to work! I am on board to help with the screenplay.

Pictured left to right in the photo are:

 Ezra Soiferman (CinemaSpace Director), Marilyn Lightstone (Lies star), Bryna Wasserman (Segal Centre Artistic Director), Eric Goldman (Ergo Media, DVD Distributor), Harry Gulkin (Lies Producer), Hila Feil (DVD restorer), Cleo Paskal ("Cleo" in Lies), Gerry Feil (DVD restorer). Photo taken in CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, 1/25/10 by Nicola Zavaglia.


Actress Marilyn Lightstone thrilled with Lies DVD

In Lies My Father Told Me, noted Montreal-born actress Marilyn Lightstone plays one of the starring roles of Anna Herman.

Co-producer Harry Gulkin says Lightstone was right for the role of the mother. Her strength as an actress had been tested in many demanding stage and film roles. In Lies My Father Told Me, her mobile features express and reflect all the trials and tenderness felt by a young woman who is at once wife, daughter, and mother.

Lightstone, a multi‐talented artist, won accolades for her work as Annie . She was also seen in such films as "In Praise of Older Women" (1978), and "The Tin Flute/Bonheur D’Occasion" (1983). She distinguished herself in theatre, starring as Leah in the Los Angelesproduction of "The Dybbuk" playing in New York opposite Lee J. Cobb in "King Lear" and as Masha in Chekhov's "The Seagull" at the Stratford Festival. On television, she co‐starred as Miss Stacy in both the Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea series and made guest appearances on Cheers, Cagney and Lacey, Street Legal and E.N.G. She has written scripts for television and her first novel, Rogues and Vagabonds, received much acclaim. She was the founding "Voice of Bravo", Canada's NewStyleArts Channel where she currently hosts a series called Playwrights and Screenwriters.

Lightstone grew up in Montreal, initially in the Plateau on Clark Street and then in Snowdon. She got an Arts degree from McGill and was a member of the second graduating class of the National Theatre School, moving to Toronto in 1964

What effect did being part of the cast of Lies My Father Told Me have on her career? "Lies My Father Told Me was my first film role after eight years of stage work and it established me as a film actress," she said. "That is not just because I was on the screen, but because it was such a fine and special film and one which would continue to be meaningful, not just for the Jewish community, but in the history of Canadian film. In other words, it had legs."

Lightstone (pictured below in a scene from the movie) is thrilled about the DVD release. "People have been wanting their own copy for years and now it is finally possible," she remarked.MarilynLightstone

It has been a few years now since Lightstone, now 69, had her last TV role. "There are very few roles for women my age, and when there is one they're usually looking for a tsekrocheneh oldster , preferably one with a Yiddish accent who can play stereotypical bubbies. To cast that, they can do far better than me because  I don't fit the bill, and it's not that interesting to me.

Lightstone says she spends half of her time researching, writing and recording her radio show, which is on for two hours every night and which can be heard at www.classical963fm.com between 11p.m. and 1 a.m. Toronto time anywhere in the world. The other half is spent in her studio where she work on the visual arts - painting and photography, and sometimes the two together. "When I was a child I thought I was going to be a painter," she says. Samples of her work can be seen at www.marilynlightstone.com.

"Rest assured, that should something really interesting come along I would be most interested in acting again, but I'm not sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring," she says.

Please read the article below about Lies My Father Told Me and the memories it evoked about my own grandfather.


Thinking of my grandfather while watching Lies My Father Told Me DVD

When I was provided with an advanced copy of the DVD version of Lies My Father Told Me, I was not sure whether I had actually seen the classic 1975 film which was shot in Montreal and went on to win a Golden Globe Award as best foreign film. It also captured six Genies and garnered an Oscar nomination. Well, it was quite clear to me that I never did see it. I was 12 years old at the time of its initial release.

Set in 1920s Montreal, it recounts a slice of the Jewish immigrant experience in this city and focuses on a loving relationship between six-year-old David and his Orthodox "story-teller" grandfather. I must say that I was touched by this film and in many ways it brought me back to the days when my grandfather, the late Lewis Sherwin (pictured with me below about 20 years ago) spent so much time with me.

Grandpa Lew

Grandpa Lew passed away just over 15 years ago. He was 94 years of age and spent his last days at the Veteran’s Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. I think one of his proudest moments was when he got to introduce me as a guest speaker at the Cöte Saint-Luc Senior Men's Club. I was working for the Canadian  Jewish  Congress at the time

A veteran of both the first and second world wars, Grandpa Lew was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He came to Canada after the war, raised a family and made his living as a pharmacist. In fact he worked behind the counter filling prescriptions until his early 90s. Like David’s grandfather in Lies My Father Told Me, Grandpa Lew was a storyteller. We spent an enormous amount of time together when I was growing up. While watching the DVD, all of those memories came flowing back. Suddenly I missed my grandfather a lot. Boy what I would not give to be able to sit down at a table and just talk about politics or hear some of his war stories.

On Jan. 26 (7 p.m.) CinemaSpace at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts (5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine) will host the formal launch of the newly restored 1975 classic film’s DVD, with a repeat the following evening at the same time. The DVD, which has many extras, like a photo gallery, cast lists and menus, is being released across Canada by New Jersey-based Ergo Media.

"We are filled with pride at this opportunity to host the first public screenings of this restored film classic," said Bryna Wasserman, the Segal Centre’s Artistic Director. "Lies My Father Told Me is one of the great Canadian films. It is remembered as a milestone in Canadian cinema."

Harry Gulkin, the co-producer of the film, is equally excited. "I know that new audiences will receive it with the same joy and enthusiasm that greeted it when it was first released," said Gulkin, a former executive director of the Saidye Bronfman Centre and at the age of 82 recently retired from the Quebec government agency called SODEC that invests in film and television

"Because this is a period film set in the 1920s it remains as contemporary today as when it was released 35 years ago," Gulkin told The Jewish Tribune. "It really is not dated and now that it is on DVD I believe it will have a long life."

On the DVD, Gulkin recounts some of his recollections about the making of the film. He will be on hand during the film’s screenings in CinemaSpace for Q&A sessions.

 

LiesYadinLynas

The film was directed by Academy Award-winning Czech filmmaker Ján Kadár ("The Shop on Main Street") and starred Len Birman, Marilyn Lightstone, Jeffrey Lynas, and Yossi Yadin (as Zaida), with screenwriter Ted Allan playing the role of a revolutionary tailor. Lynas, who played young David, was nominated for a Golden Globe as best supporting actor.

That the launch of the DVD is taking place at the Segal Centre is most appropriate. Indeed, in 1984 Dora Wasserman collaborated with Allan to adapt his short story into a Yiddish production at the Centre. Allan played the role of narrator. Twenty years later Dora’s daughter Bryna successfully adapted the play into a musical, also at the Centre. The version being screened at CinemaSpace is the original English edition, but the DVD has both French and English audio tracks. The film runs 104 minutes.

The film was restored by Gerry and Hila Feil, work that Gulkin says was essential in order for him to greenlight the project.

In Lies My Father Told Me, David lives with his Canadian-born parents, his grandfather Zaida, a junk peddler who emigrated from Russia, and Zaida’s aging horse, Ferdeleh. The two characters are pictured above.  David’s father is a modern materialistic man of science who dreams of striking it rich by designing unique inventions. Zaida, on the other hand, is a humble man who works hard for his living and patiently awaits the arrival of the Messiah. Intuitively, David responds to his grandfather’s love. Every Sunday, David travels the back alleys of author Ted Allan’s Montreal with Zaida and his horse Ferdeleh and carriage. Zaida answers all of David’s questions about the world in terms of the Creator and the miracles that he performs. But this winter there are no miracles to spare David the pains of growing up.

It  was Gulkin who took Allan's screenplay version to Kadár, who was enthusiastic on all counts, and excited about directing the film. Lynas of Toronto was making his acting debut. He was discovered in an anteroom, waiting for his mother who had brought another son to a casting session in a Toronto hotel suite. The casting proved to be inspired as young Jeffrey brought a native innocence and ingenuousness to the role.

Get a copy of this marvelous film and if you were fortunate enough like me to have a grandfather whom you still have cherished memories for, consider yourself lucky.

Lies My Father Told Me was shot principally on Panet Street in Montreal, about two blocks from where Allan, grew up, and in Mount Royal Park. For more details about the DVD go to http://www.LiesMyFatherToldMeDVD.com.

What to do about the budget?

Normally at this time of year, Côte Saint-Luc city council would have adopted its budget. However we remain in a holding pattern because of the City of Montreal.

Here is a press release issued today by the Association of Suburban Mayors, which best describes the situation.

On Wednesday January 13th, City of Montreal taxpayers will learn how much the Tremblay administration proposes to increase their property taxes for 2010. At the same time, Montreal Island suburbs will also finally discover the details of proposed increases in their contribution to regional services, increases which will translate into substantial hikes in their residents’ tax bills. Regional spending includes things like police, fire protection, mass transit, water management, and so on.

 

Even at this late hour, Montreal’s suburban “partners” who contribute to these regional costs have been told simply that their contribution will go up by roughly 13%. They are still in the dark about how this number was arrived at. What is clear is that these alarming increases are driven by one thing: runaway spending by the City of Montreal. Since the birth in 2006 of the “Agglomeration Council” where City of Montreal representatives rubber stamp regional spending over the objections of suburban mayors, such costs have ballooned by over three times the rate of inflation.

 

For example, in 2006, fire protection costs according to Montreal’s audited financial statements amounted to $264 million. The 2009 Budget called for fire protection spending of $304 million – a 15% increase. Inflation over the same three year period was only 5%. Mass transit costs were $321 million in 2006, but rose to $371 million in the 2009 budget: a 16% increase. Police costs went from $476 million to $567 million during the same period: a 19% increase. While there were some offsetting new police revenues, costs still rose far more than the rate of inflation.

 

If one removes the costs for arterial roads – which were returned to local municipalities to manage – overall regional spending went from $1,776 million to $2,067 million in three years: a 16.4% increase that is over three times the rate of inflation.

 

“All signs point to a continuation of this penchant for spending increases well over the rate of inflation when Montreal tables its 2010 Budget,” said the president of the Association of Suburban Municipalities, Westmount Mayor Peter F. Trent.

 

“Residents across the island will see the suburban mayors vigorously contesting these spiraling costs that will lead to tax hikes that no one can afford in this recessionary climate,” commented  Côte-St-Luc Mayor , Anthony Housefather.