Bestselling NY Times Author Has Kind Words For Yours Truly

NY Times bestselling author/filmmaker Ian Halperin specializes in undercover investigations. He is the author of seven bestselling books and has directed three films, including the highly acclaimed documentary The Cobain Case. Halperin has appeared on hundreds of TV/radio shows including Dateline, Anderson Cooper, Howard Stern, Geraldo Rivera and The CBS Early Morning Show. He is a native of St. Laurent and attended Dawson College and Concordia with me.

I read his very popular blog on a regular basis and I would like to thank him for the kind words he gave to me which you can read here.

Thoughts on CTV Montreal's (CFCF) 50th Anniversary

I had the pleasure of being interviewed on CTV Montreal January 16 about the station’s 50th anniversary.


In its day, CFCF TV was known for much more than its newscasts. A lot of original programming came out of its Park Extension headquarters at 405 Ogilvy Avenue: Mr. Chips, The Tapp Room, Flashback, Kin to Win, McGowan’s Montreal, Travel Travel, Fighting Back, Sportsnight, The Habs This Week, Grand Prix Wrestling, Magic Tom, As It Is and much more. There was even an attempt to have The Q 92.5 FM morning man Aaron Rand to his then side kick Tasso Patsikakis (Paul Zakaib) host their own late night comedy show a la Letterman and Leno.

Today,  known as CTV Montreal,  the station’s programming is limited to an outstanding newscast which airs three times weekly and twice on weekends.
This week longtime co-anchor Bill Haugland is being reunited with sportscaster Dick Irvin and weather forecaster and program host Don McGowan. At www.ctvmontreal.ca there is a wealth of nostalgia to view.

These days the  CTV Montreal newscast is overseen by news and public affairs director Jed Kahane and executive producer Barry Wilson. They work with a large crew of researcher, producers, camera operators and many others.

Mutsumi Takahashi has been the co-anchor for 24 years now. She is joined  by the smooth Todd van der hayden while  Debra Arbec handles late night and  Tarah Schwartz and Paul Karwatsky do weekends.  Lori Graham delivers the weather, with Lise McAuley covering weekends,   and Brian Wilde, Randy Tieman, André Corbeil and occasionally Paul Graif handle sports.  The reporting team includes Annie DeMelt, Stéphane Giroux, Maya Johnson, Tania Krywiak, Christine Long and Mose Persico (entertainment), Kai Nagata (Quebec City), Aphrodite Salas, Cindy Sherwin, Anne Lewis and Caroline Vlan Vlaardingen. Behind the scenes there are people like assignment editor Amy Fernandez and researchers  Peter Schiavi and Holly Haimerl

And whom can we remember from newscasts past? There are Herb Luft, Brian Britt, Robert Vairo, Lynn Desjardins, Joe Singerman, Andrew Marquis, Mike Donegan, Mike Piperni, Liz Travers, Sandy Krawchenko, Bob Benedetti, Ron Francis, Brian MacGorman, John Grant, Ralph Noseworthy, Frank  Cavallaro, Brian Nelson, Leslie Roberts, Brian MacFarland,  Ken Ernhoffer, Howard Schwartz, Rob Faulds, Jack Curran, Suzanne Desautels, Jeannie Lee, Tom Velk, Ron Reusch Dr. Mitch Shulman, Del Archer  and many more. Whom have I missed? Let me know by email at info@mikecohen.ca

I have received a lot of amazing feedback to this posting.

Here is what Del Archer had to share:

"I arrived in Montreal from Vancouver on the weekend Pierre LaPorte's body was found in the trunk of his car. I had listened to the coverage while driving across Canada, spent that night in a motel on the Ontario side of the border and saw the military roadblocks set up on the westbound (Quebec) side as I was driving east. I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into but it was an amazing time to be in the province.
 I met with Bert Cannings and Mike Donegan on the Monday and was on air the same day.  I stayed with 'CF for seven years, moving over to the television side in about 1973 as a reporter and later became a fill-in anchor for Andrew Marquis.  The night of the Parti Quebecois election, I was offered the opportunity to join CTV network News and I remained there for the next 23 and a half years. Montreal in the 70's was an exciting, LIVING, storybook with a new chapter virtually every day and I loved every minute of it. Thanks for  giving me the chance to add my name to your list."
 See my story on page 40   in this January 19 edition of The Suburban Newspaper.   

Rosie O'Donnell's Furry Montreal Appearance

It  has been more than 30 years since Dubarry Furs Inc. began operating in Montreal. Owner Ivan Katz manufactures superior quality garments and provides personalized service at his Old Montreal location. 


Dubarry offers a wide selection to choose from. This includes fine and sheared furs, reversibles, cashmere and alpaca capes with fur trim, shearlings, soft leather, hats, scarves, purses, headbands and muffs. There are hundreds of accessories in stock.

As Mr. Katz, a  Côte Saint-Luc resident,  points out,  Dubarry strives to provide their customers with the latest styles of the finest quality fur garments. In fact, the extensive inventory available enables Dubarry to cater to a variety of tastes, sizes and styles.  Custom made material is also available.

Shearling coats and jackets are available for both women and men. “They are made from the finest quality skins, are lightweight yet warm and designed for the fashion conscious and discriminating customer,” says Mr. Katz, whose father originally started the business in Europe prior to WWII. “We also have ultra soft leathers which are made in Montreal. They come in various colours and styles.”

Among the company’s services are cleaning, repairs, remodelling, trade-ins and storage.  Mr. Katz welcomes customers to come in for a complimentary consultation. Remodelling is a nice option. With their years of experience, Dubarry can work magic on your old, heavy fur garment and turn it into a lightweight, sheared, reversible coat!  A testament to their success is seen in the letters of thanks on display in the store.

Dubarry offers generous trade-in allowances towards the purchase of new items. Meanwhile, a lot of people do take advantage of storing their valuable furs during the off-season in their secure, fully insured climate-controlled vault.


At Dubarry, you never know which celebrity will walk through the door.  Such was the case just over a week ago when actress and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell dropped by unannounced to look for a fur coat. She reportedly came to town with her own film crew to do some research on a very recent finding that she may have some French Canadian ancestors. “My husband called and said that she was in the store,” noted Elizabeth Katz. “At that point Rosie took the phone and started to talk to me. She was charming.”

Dubarry Furs is located at 206 St. Paul Street West in Old Montreal at the corner of St. Francois-Xavier and near the Place D’Armes Metro. For more information call 514-844, 7483 or 514-816-7483. You can also email info@dubarryfurs.com or log on to www.dubarryfurs.com.


Virgin Radio sweeps radio ratings; bravo to CSL's Mark Bergman

Last week marked the two year anniversary in Montreal of the Portable People Meter (PPM), a pager-sized device that is carried by a representative panel of radio listeners which the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (BBM) uses to officially determine local radio listenership.

Results unveiled  last week for people surveyed between August 30 and November 28 showed Virgin Radio FM as the top anglo market performer.  In the all important aged 25 to 54 demographic, Cat SpencerCat and Lisa  and Lisa Player (below)  lead the morning show competition followed by CJAD’s Andrew Carter and Aaron Rand of The Q. 

Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Virgin is also at the top, followed by The Q, CHOM, CJAD and THE TEAM 990. The drive home has newcomer Cousin Vinny keeping Virgin in the lead ahead of CHOM’s Bilal Butt, Ken Connors and Donna Saker from The Q, Ric Peterson of CJAD and Mitch Melnick (below)  of THE TEAM 990, whose ratings have definitely come up since the advent of the PPMs. Melnick

The man behind Virgin Radio's impressive programming controls is Mark Bergman, formerly the drive home show host (The Rush). He has been at the helm for less than a year now and clearly has a steady touch. Mark, a longtime Côte Saint-Luc resident,  is the son of D'Arcy McGee Liberal MNA Lawrence Bergman.

A video interview with Jacob from Lost, Mark Pellegrino

When the cult hit television show Lost  concluded its dramatic six  year run last May, as a devoted fan I went into withdrawal. Recently, I received the DVD box set of the final season. That helped  ease the pain a bit.  In November  I met the man who played the pivotal role of Jacob, actor Mark Pellegrino. He was in Montreal shooting the much anticipated new original drama called  Being Human, a North American version based on the British series. Look for it on SPACE TV in Canada and t he SyFy Network in the USA in January. After I interviewed him for my column in    The Suburban Newspaper  my friend and colleague Daniel Smajovits, helped me film this chat with “Jacob.”

Although Pellegrino only joined Lost at the very end of the second to last season, his character was the key to making sense of all of the plotline mysteries. Meeting him was a real thrill, Ever since Lost ended its run I held out hope that I would meet a cast member and be able to ask them the same kinds of questions all fans had on their minds. Pellegrino was an absolute delight: polite, humorous and very open. We met in the lobby of his hotel. He was wearing glasses and reading a book. When he stood up I was surprised to see how tall he was – six-foot-three- and in what phenomenal physical condition he’s in.

Star Hollywood producer/director Shawn Levy visits hometown

I had the opportunity to meet one of Hollywood’s most successful producer/directors this week in Shawn Levy (shown with me below), a native Montrealer who was in town to attend the 25th anniversary of his St.  George’s School of Montreal class of 1985 high school reunion.  Upon the request of Head of School James Officer, Levy agreed to chat with present-day students from his alma mater – many of whom reside in Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Westmount. Despite the fact there were only a few days notice and it was on a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, the St. George’s theatre on The  Boulevard was packed to capacity.MikeShawnLevy

Levy spent his time recounting some anecdotes and answering questions about some of his most notable films. These include the two Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen and Night of The Museum movies with Ben Stiller, as well as Date Night. He is presently working out of New York City with none other than Steven Spielberg on the drama Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman. The Hardy Men, starring Tom Cruise and Stiller is in pre-production.  For a complete list of his movies click here.

I asked Levy about the controversy that surrounded the second Night of the Museum movie to switch locations from Montreal to Vancouver upon the request of Stiller. “There have been a lot of venomous stories about Ben’s request to switch locations,” he says. “The truth is he had two young kids and he did not want to be filming on the other side of the continent. Being in Vancouver, he, like I, could commute back and forth to California easily. He is one actor who had the clout to make such a request

Levy is one of the most commercially successful film directors of the past decade. To date, his films have grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. From St. George’s, he went directly to Yale University where he later graduated at the age of 20 from their Drama Department.  He later studied film in the Masters Film Production Program at USC, where he produced and directed the short film Broken Record.  This won the Gold Plaque at the Chicago Film Festival, in addition to being selected to screen at the Director’s Guild of America.

“I was really driven from a young age,”  said the 42 year old Levy. “When I was 10, I was taking theatre class and asked the teacher what the best place to go study acting was. She said Yale and in my last year of high school that was the only place I applied to. That was kind of psychotic. I did not even apply to CEGEP.”

In his talk at St. George’s, Levy did not forget about his roots. “This school fostered my creativity,” he said. “It was a great place to start.”

Levy also told a story about his Grade 11 class trip to Quebec City where he decided to do something wild and threw a bed out of his hotel room. “I was with my brother and some friends and said, ‘Let’s do something wild,’ and we were kicked off the trip.”

Levy conceded that there will not likely be a third Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Clouseau. But for fans of the Night at the Museum franchise, there is hope of another sequel.

I absolutely loved Martin in the lead role and I asked him about the scene in the first Pink Panther where Clouseau was trying to pronounce the word “hamburger.”  First he laughed and then responded how “there is no other scene I have ever done that I am asked about more. Steve Martin and I were having lunch one day and he suggested that Clouseau get an accent coach. Martin conceded that he did not know what he would say. “Get two chairs and lots of film in the camera,” he told me. “It was done in one take.”

In addition to his directing slate, Levy is developing several films to produce through his production company, 21 Laps Entertainment, which is housed at Fox. These projects include The Ten Best Days of My Life (with Amy Adams), Neighbourhood Watch, The Devil You Know and How to Talk to Girls for Fox; and Arden for New Regency, Men of Magic for Universal; The Berenstain Bears for Walden; and The Spectacular Now and Table 19 for Fox Searchlight.

What does Levy miss most about Montreal? “The Snowdon Deli,” he responded. “As soon as I am picked up at the airport that is the first place I want to go for a karnatzel.”

Perhaps owner Ian Morantz should offer his place as a location for a future Levy movie, to be shot in Montreal.