Movie and Television Personalities

Our former Police Commander shows his "historian" side

It was most interesting to watch the recent French-language documentary called Le Berceau des Anges le documentaire) about the Montreal Black Market baby ring of the 1940's and '50's. Montreal West resident and former Montreal Police Department photographer Harold Rosenberg brought it to my attention.

"I was sold to my parents by the same people who operated the ring," Harold explains.

I was delighted to see former Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette interviewed and identified as a "historian."  This is something I did not know about Sylvain, a true gentleman who ran police operations out of the Kildare and Cavendish headquarters for seven years until August 2013.  He is now the commander at Station 8 in Lachine.

Here I am with Commander Bissonnette shortly before his departure.
"Sylvain and I volunteer together at the Montreal Police Museum.," Rosenberg explained. "Neither of us realized at the time that we were both participating in the same documentary project. He's a very smart guy. He's the historian for the Police Museum, while I'm a researcher."
Rosenberg spoke French while most of the others did so in English with sub-titles. "It was very well done, and really shows the way things were with the Jewish and Catholic communities in those years in Montreal," Rosenberg notes.
The 45-minute  film aired last week on the Historia specialty channel. It's now available for free viewing.  Here is the link: 
The documentary was produced as accompaniment to a five-part drama series (Le Berceau des Anges) that aired on SeriePlus.
As for Commander Bissonnette, he shared this information with me.

"When I was doing my BA, I met a chief inspector who was an history buff," he explained. " I decided then to do a Master's Degree in history on the subject of the amalgation of police forces on the Island of Montreal.During my second year, he proposed that I join the force, which I did. I completed my Master`s  part-time and established  with him the Police Museum. He became my first boss. We are still very good friends and speak on a weekly basis, and we are both members of the museum with Harold. His name is Robert Côté. We also did a project with The Montreal History Center. Another boss told me that management studies would also be important for the future and that's what I did after. I'm also a lecturer at the dept of Criminology at the Université de Montréal  in crime prevention and  I participated in a number  of documentairies about the police."


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 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 [email protected]

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.   

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.

Actor Jamie Elman's Breakout Role in Crazy/Sexy/Awkward

Jamie Elman lived on Greenwood Avenue in Côte Saint-Luc for 20 years and attended Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools (JPPS) and Bialik High School in the same municipality.

Elman_Jamie_2Now aged 33, but looking much younger, Jamie pursued a career as an actor immediately after graduating from high school. It is a big gamble, with so few individuals actually making it in the business. His first brush with stardom in the business in 1997 when he landed the lead role of  Cody Miller in the YTV/Fox sitcom  Student Bodies. It aired for three seasons, gained a cult following and set the wheels in motion for his move to Hollywood permanently in 2000. He has been one of the lucky ones, landing a number of television and movie roles. Besides appearing in such well known programs as Without a Trace, Criminal Minds, CSI New York, Crossing Jordan, and Mad Men, he won the role of Luke Foley in the NBC drama American Dreams for three seasons (2002-2005). He played the love interest of Brittany Snow, who subsequently went on to star in Hairspray.

In terms of his own favorite TV shows, Elman says he was always partial to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  It was therefore the thrill of a lifetime in 2007 when he got called to be a guest star in an episode of Curb. His entire scene was with the show’s star and creator Larry David, also the genius behind Seinfeld. He played a bartender at a party hosted by Ted Danson. David strikes up a conversation and asks him why he is wearing a bow tie.  When Jamie indicates it was Danson’s idea, David tells him he will raise the matter with the host. The back and forth between Elman and David

Here is that scene and a few of his other appearances:


 “Curb is completely improvised,” Elman notes. “I auditioned for the role with Larry David himself. They tell you the situation and you come up with the lines. Guest starring in that show was a dream come true.”

It was also an inspiration for Elman’s new project, Crazy/Sexy/Awkward of which he is the star, co-writer and producer. For now, this is a series available exclusively on the internet at Set in the singles scene of present-day Los Angeles, each episode is about six minutes long and follows gun-shy romantic Ben (Elman)  as he tries to re-enter the dating game after a year of mourning his last relationship with his first love, Rachel. Joining Ben in his efforts, for better or worse, are Sebastien and Ashley, his hyperactive best friend and alluring neighbour, respectively played by Jewish actors Jason Kaufman and Maité Schwartz Each episode finds Sebastien and Ashley dragging Ben, kicking and screaming, into another opportunity to end his self-imposed celibacy, and follows the humiliating results as Ben pursues women with a single-mindedness that proves time and again to be his downfall.

The show is being   produced and financed by  Atomic Wedgie, the digital comedy production arm of Hollywood giant FremantleMedia, which is behind such top programs as American Idol and The Price is Right. 

Elman and his co-writer Jerome Sable, who like him grew up in Côte Saint-Luc, pitched  the idea to Freemantle and they liked it.  Anyone who watches the webisodes will see the similarity of Elman’s character to David on Curb Your Enthusiasm and George Costanza on Seinfeld.

“The biggest compliment I have received so far is from people who ask if the script is improvised like Curb,” says Elman.  “It is not, at least 90 percent of what we do is scripted.”

Elman says that his friend Sable was pursuing a graduate degree in film from the University of Southern California. When Elman found out Sable’s teacher was Michael Watkins, who directed him in American Dreams, he decided to collaborate on a short film which turned out to be the pilot of Sexy/Crazy/Awkward.

“We pitched  it to Freemantle and they loved it,” Elman said. “We  auditioned for the cast. I never met Jason or Maité before, yet we come across on film as real life best friends. As a crew, we had some of the brightest young minds from USC.”

The episodes were shot a year ago.  Post production took place during the summer while the sound was completed in the fall by Montreal’s Wave  Generation, an outfit which includes Jamie’s brother Michael.

Internet buzz about the show is excellent. It has been screened in Los Angeles and while in Montreal just prior to Passover Elman premiered all six episodes for close friends and family at the Segal Centre of the Arts CineSpace.  Efforts are now been made to have it carried on American and Canadian television and for  to   develop 30 minute episodes.

Elman is keeping busy with other projects. He just filmed a two episode guest spot on the CBS daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless, which will air April 23 and 26. He’ll appear in the big screen soon in The Chicago 8, based on actual court transcripts of eight anti-war protesters on trial for conspiring to cause riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. One of his co-stars is David Julian Hirsch, another Montreal born Jewish actor who has done well in Hollywood. Elman will also appear in the sci-fi drama The Scientist.

Bravo Jamie!