Sunday, 28 September 2014

Habs play by play announcer update: winning candidate to be revealed before season opener

TSN 690 Radio Program Director Chris Bury is not tipping his hat as to who will replace John Bartlett as the new play by play man for Montreal Canadiens broadcasts.

Bartlett left his post very recently to accept a job with Rogers Sportsnet TV, where he will call the plays for regional Canadiens telecasts.

Bury seems to have been using the Habs pre-season games as a chance to evaluate the talent.

Veteran Rick Moffat should be at the front of the line. He's done the job before and only stepped away when CJAD lost the rights to the Habs to TSN. Of course now they are part of the same family. Moffat already worked with colour commentator Sergio Momesso and it has been great listening to them during the exhibition season.

These days Moffat has a full plate. He is part of the TSN 690 morning team, does the sportscasts on the Andrew Carter Morning Show on CJAD and also does play by play for the Alouettes and the Impact.  While Bartlett only worked play by play, the thing I always admired about Moffat is how he would call the plays for a night game and be on the sports desk the following morning. Another plus to Moffat getting the gig would mean Conor McKenna finally getting a permanent spot on the roster. He fills in for Moffat when he is away, spells Mitch Melnick and does the Habs intermission and post game shows. Elliott Price and Brian Wilde could handle the Als and Impact duties.

Price should not be counted out as a candidate either. He was, after all, Bartlett's backup the last few years and has decades of experience with baseball, hockey, football and soccer.

AJ Jakubec from Ottawa's TSN 1200 Radio already has the experience calling games for the Ottawa Senators, Ottawa RedBlacks, Ottawa Fury, Ottawa 67's
AJ Jakubec
and CIS basketball. He has sounded good during his Habs stint.  The other new voice we have heard is Dan Robertson, a polished  play caller from the Maritimes who has been behind the mic for countless university basketball, hockey and football events.  He too did nit seem out of place during his so-called TSN 690 audition.

Bury said that the identity of Bartlett's successor will be announced in time for the face off at the Habs opening game against Toronto on October 8.

"I’ve received a lot of applications from people with all levels of experience and strong resumes," Bury shared with me. "We’re in a good position and excited."

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Who will replace John Bartlett as Habs radio play by play man?

Who will replace John Bartlett as the play by play man for Montreal Canadiens hockey games on TSN 690?

Bartlett completed three seasons on the job after coming over from Toronto where he undertook the same duties for the American Hockey League Marlies. During his time here he did some TV work for TSN Regional broadcasts of the Canadiens, as well as some other assignments. It was only a matter of time before an offer came his way to go on the small screen full-time. With Rogers Sportsnet East and City TV getting the rights to regional Habs games, Bartlett was an obvious choice to call the plays.

For TSN 690 program boss Chris Bury, there is not a lot of time to select a replacement. Then again, with this job description posted and the available  in house talent, the task should not be too difficult.

So who are the leading candidates?

Rick Moffat
  • Rick Moffat handled the play by play for CJAD before they lost the rights to the Habs.  Now CJAD and TSN 690 are under the same Bell Media roof.  Moffat is presently the voice of the Impact and the Alouettes. He previously handled Als and Habs duties simultaneously and this season he actually splits Impact duties with CTV's Brian Wilde. There would be no learning curve for Moffat and if he took the job, Conor McKenna  could get a long overdue promotion to full-time status as part of the morning team.
  • Elliott Price did  a masterful job as the play by play man for the Expos. He also saw
    Elliott Price
    duty with the Alouettes and for the last three years served as Bartlett's very capable backup. Price has paid his dues and definitely deserves a shot.
  • Scratch Derek Wills  as a candidate. He was the play by play man for the Habs' AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs and was a leading candidate three years ago. I spoke to him on a number of occasions three years ago and he was very interested in the job.  He is a talented  broadcaster whom we have been able to hear when TSN 690 carried Hamilton games. Had Bartlett left in June he would have been in the running. However, he was recently hired by the Calgary Flames.
  • Would Brian Wilde consider the job? He does an outstanding job covering the Habs for CTV and has the play by play experience with the Impact.
Brian Wilde
Bury says that different talent will be used during the exhibition season and I expect you will see the likes of Moffat, Price and possibly even Wills chosen for this task.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

YidLife Crisis is so funny it should be on network TV

What would an episode of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm be like if two central characters conversed in Yiddish? This is one of the first observations The Suburban made after screening episodes of the hilarious new web series starring Montreal actors Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion called YidLife Crisis.

The four part series went live at  via YouTube yesterday and it is rated Chai or 18 plus due to its edgy nature. It features Elman and Batalion engaging in rip roaring funny dialogue in Yiddish, with English sub-titles. There is also some great music featured. The duo graduated four years apart from Bialik HighSchool in Côte Saint-Luc where Yiddish was part of the curriculum.

 “At one point we were looking at shows like Seinfeld and Curb and agreed that they both have a real Yiddish spirit,” said Elman. “First we considered taking classic episodes of Seinfeld, with me being Jerry and Eli as George speaking in Yiddish. Then we came up with our own original idea to talk Yiddish with the sub-titles.”

One episode each of about five minutes will be rolled out over the next four months. The premiere, arriving the week before Rosh Hashana is appropriately called   "Breaking the Fast.”  It was filmed at La Banquise, best known for its Quebec delicacy of poutine. The latter is how the duo decide to break their fast on Yom Kippur. They’ll wrap things up in December, with a finale along the spirit of Chanukah, after which they will decide what direction to take. Everything from more episodes to a stage version are possibilities. Filming also occurred at Lester’s Deli and the St. Viateur and Fairmount bagel factories.

A French version of the site is planned, as well as a French sub-titled version of the episodes, for early October.  Seed money came from the Jewish Community Foundation Arts Grant and the Bronfman Youth Fellowships Venture Fund.

“A lot of great North American comedy is deeply influenced by Yiddish expression, cadence and logic…or lack thereof”, says Batalion, once the Yiddish valedictorian of Bialik.

This series is pure brilliance. Here  is the first episode

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bell Fibe TV subscribers can enjoy "excellent" new Give Back Montreal program

Leslie Perez is our newest star
Subscribers to  Bell Fibe TV in Montreal can now access an unprecedented new program which shares heart-warming personal life stories about local philanthropists and profiles the respective organizations they support in the same episode.

Give Back Montreal is hosted by the dynamic Leslie Perez, a marketing and communications professional who also serves as the producer. She began working on the concept a year ago and her touch is immediately evident in a catchy opening sequence which includes a variety of different Montrealers endorsing her theme.
Leslie Perez
The show appears on Bell Local is to engage local Canadian communities by working together to create and share entertaining, informative and inspiring local stories.  To access this show and others 24/7, one must go to channel 1217, press select, “view all” and then when on the  Greater Montreal category go to “view all” again and scroll down to find the episodes.

Perez says she wanted to create a show that highlights the ways philanthropists become who they are as a result of their personal trials. “Many philanthropists undergo life-changing hardships and one of the most constructive ways they deal with their challenges is by giving back or advocating for the cause they believe in; my goal is to reveal just that,” said Perez, a single mother of two who opens up about that experience and even showcases her daughters in the opening.

The first two episodes profile  Diane and Sal Guerrera, major contributors to The Miriam Foundation and influential advocates for children and adults with autistic spectrum disorders or intellectual disabilities; and  lawyer Norton Segal and his connection to the Friendship Circle, which provides assistance and support to children with special needs.

I watched both shows with great interest. Who knows? Leslie  could become the Barbara Walters of Montreal!

Here is the catchy opening:

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Alain and Audrey share their thoughts about being eliminated from The Amazing Race Canada

And then there were none!

The second and only remaining Montreal-based team on CTV’s TheAmazing Race Canada has been eliminated. Super couple Alain Chanoine and Audrey Tousignant-Maurice from the South Shore saw their dream of winning it all end with a last place finish  in picturesque Prince Edward Island.

It was a detour (a decision between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons) requiring them to strip a bin full of mussels that did them in. “Those mussels smelled pretty disgusting,” said Audrey, who joined me by telephone with Alain the morning after the telecast. Added  Alain: “The way we looked it is a good thing we did not need to race to a taxi.”

Alain and Audrey were  overtaken by Ryan and Rob, who also had to complete a Speed Bump which involved finding moonshine bottles buried in a steaming pile of horse manure. Ryan and Rob have survived being bounced twice already thanks to finding out they were part of non-elimination rounds when they arrived at the pit stop dead last.  This included the previous episode in Montreal. “We thought P.E.I. was going to be the non-elimination round,” said Alain. “We were not aware , of course, that this had occurred in Montreal.”

Alain (L) and Audrey (R) learn they are the seventh team eliminated when they join host Jon Montgomery at the mat in Rustico, Prince Edward Island.
Now that their adventure is over,  Alain and Audrey no longer have to keep their fate secret with friends, family and fans. Two episodes earlier, in Paris. Alain proposed marriage and Audrey accepted. “That was taped four months ago,” said Alain. “So for all of that time I had to still keep calling Audrey my girlfriend. Now I can call her my fiancée."

There is no question that any couple’s compatibility is tested in a competition like this whereby they are together 24/7 and according to show rules unable to communicate with anyone from the outside world,  including family. At the hotels radios, TVs and phones are removed. No newspapers are accessible. Guards are placed in front of each door to ensure you do not leave the premises. No contact is permitted between teams. “It is like being incarcerated,” Alain told me in an earlier talk. “We loved this entire experience. We’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Alain the stuntman and Audrey the real estate agent will likely walk down the aisle next spring.  Just like last year's Montreal couple, physicians Brett Burstein and Holly Agostino, we clearly have a rock solid head over heals in love two some here. And yes, they have spent time with Brett and Holly.

 “I’m sad this experience is over,” said Audrey. “But we’re gonna start our life together and that’s absolutely wonderful.”  

The four remaining teams competing for the biggest grand prize in Canadian television history ($250,000, two Chevrolet Silverado trucks, free gasoline for life from Petro Canada and the ability to fly for free anywhere for a year with Air Canada in business class)  are Mickey and Pete, best friends from Muskoka, Ont; Sukhi and Jinder, siblings, from Terrace, B.C.;  Natalie and Meaghan,  Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team players from Scarborough, Ont. and Calgary; and Ryan and Rob, co-workers from Vancouver, B.C.

Twin brothers Pierre and Michel Forget from Terrebonne were eliminated a few weeks ago. There was no love lost between them and Alain and Audrey and they hardly became friends. The twins claim that they offered the couple a chance to work together early on in the show and never got a proper response. Audrey and Alain said they considered the twins to be quite unfamiliar with what the show is all about and for that reason they wanted them to succeed. “We were a strong team and they wanted us out,”  said Alain. “That was a compliment.”


Next week it is  semi-final time (Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV and CTV GO) as ther teams race to New Brunswick to fight for a spot in the finale. It’s an uphill battle as racers claw their way through a gruelling Roadblock. Teams face a blizzard of a time at an Acadian birthday party, but a complicated coastal Detour leaves them desperately waving a white flag.

Below is a link to episode 8 of the series, my personal favorite from Paris, France, when Alain proposed to Audrey near the end and the twins were eliminated.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Federal Minister Lisa Raitt draws a crowd at Montreal breakfast reception

When Richard Yufe personally invited me to the  Place Ville Marie offices of the marquee law firm Norton RoseFulbright to hear Federal Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt speak at a breakfast reception, I chose to attend. For one thing I wanted to personally thank Raitt in person for blocking a strike by Air Canada pilots two years ago which would have stranded me in Florida. I got to deliver that message and whole lot more, rubbing elbows with some of the movers and shakers of the Conservative Party of Canada who clearly intend to have a strong presence in Montreal leading up to the 2015 federal elections.
Yufe and Mulroney.

Introductory remarks were delivered by none other than former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. He praised Raitt for performing "yeoman service for the Harper government and Canada." Looking back at his years as PM, he added: "I remember the contribution of women in Canadian public life. They have to be quite as good to get half the credit. Keep an eye on her. Remember her name. Get her autograph. You will be able to say 'I knew her when.'"
Sochaczevski, Bachand, Wajsman, Caspar Bloom and Assouline.
Weiner and Drabkin.
Yufe, the National Council Vice-President of the Conservative Party of Canada, introduced Raitt who has quite a CV. She was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. In July 2013, she was appointed Minister of Transport. Previously, she was appointed Minister of Natural Resources in October 2008 and Minister of Labour in January 2010. Prior to her election to the House of Commons, she  was the president and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA). She had previously served as the TPA's general counsel and harbourmaster. 

As a lawyer,  Raitt specialized in the areas of intellectual property, commercial litigation and shipping arbitration. Raitt is an active member of her community. She volunteered as a Halton canvasser and fundraiser for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and for her children's hockey, soccer and gymnastics organizations. In 2002, Raitt was invited to become a member of the Canadian chapter of the worldwide Young Presidents' Organization. She is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University (like Mulroney)  and holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph. She earned her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University. She resides in Oakville, Ontario, and is the mother of two boys whom she talked about a lot in her speech.
Corey Bloom and dad Caspar.

Raitt started off with a few words in French, promising to improve her skills in that regard.She planned to spend a few days doing business in Quebec and will be back here again for more meetings September 22. She called the Bloc Québecois "a radical party and something we need to be concerned about." On her party's record, she said: "What makes me proud is our own projections of lowering taxis and our projections of spurring on the economy. Who does not love lower taxes?"

After Raitt's address, it was interesting to watch those on hand line up to shake her hand and that of Mulroney's. In fact there was a lengthy lineup of people requesting photos from the former PM. Even noted photographer Joe Papa handed his camera to someone and shared a pose.
Raitt, Papa and Mulroney.

Former Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand, now a member of the Norton Rose Fulbright team, was on hand and looked like a man who would not turn his nose up at a chance to get back into politics if a winnable seat opened up for him with the Tories.  Arnold  Cohen, another partner at  the firm, was an interested observer as well.

Also in the room were Suburban owner Amos Sochaczevski, editor Beryl Wajsman and architect/politician Robert Libman.  Former Tory cabinet minister Gerry Weiner reunited with immigration lawyer Neil Drabkin, his former chief advisor and most recently chief of staff to Stockwell Day and Joe Oliver in Ottawa.  West Island lawyer Valerie Assouline was on hand as was Marianopolis College head of alumni affairs Dino  Mazzone, noted lawyer Caspar Bloom and his multi-talented daughter, Corey Bloom, perhaps one of this country's top specialist in  investigative and forensic accounting. Naseer Mehdi Khan, the president of the India Canada Organization, was on hand.

I chatted with Cheryl Stein, recently appointed to the new position of director of major gifts for the party. "It was a crazy opportunity that I just couldn't pass up," said the former head of the Canadian Jewish Parliamentary Affairs Committee in Quebec and Atlantic Canada. "It happened over the summer. I got a call that was life changing. I am still staying in Montreal, but get to develop a national program"