Monday 30 May 2011

How I survived being "Lost" on TV

I try not to spend too much time watching television, preferring to focus my attention on writing my columns and blogging. However, readers of The Suburban will recall how a year ago I shared my deep regret over the end of my favorite television program Lost. Yes, someone in the family bought me the box set of the final season and I have actually started to watch each episode. However I focused on filling the void and did so with four shows, three of which contained significant Montreal connections.
Here is a look:

In Hawaii Five-O, Chomedey native Peter Lenkov (left with cast members on the set) is the executive producer of the reboot of the popular 1968-1980 series and broadcast on CBS and Global. I must admit I had my doubts whether the program would succeed upon viewing some of the previews. Yet I watched every episode, some of which were written by Côte Saint-Luc native David Wolkove. I was not alone. Hawaii Five-O was a huge hit, has been renewed for next season and already sold into syndication.

I got in touch with Lenkov last week and asked whether he knew from the scripting of the first episode that the finale would result in killing the Governor and showing her to actually be on the wrong side of the law “When we were shooting the pilot, my partner Alex Kurtzman and I were talking about what we should do in the first season if we were to get picked up,” he said. “One of those ideas was discovering that the Governor was corrupt and the target of McGarrett's father's investigation. Some of the details changed over time, but the core idea remained the same.”

Wolkove wrote four scripts this season, including the penultimate episode which set up the finale. “I did not get to write on the last one, which is too bad because it was awesome,” he said. “I'll be back for next season, and we already have some great stories lined up.”

Shooting for next season resumes during the second week of July, with a premiere in September. Suburban readers can look forward to another exclusive related to this series towards the end of the summer.

The three other news shows on my list were Being Human, Off the Map and The Event.

Being Human is produced by Muse Entertainment and shot entirely here in Montreal, Being Human is the North American version of a British show which depicts a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost living together as roommates. I actually started to watch the show after interviewing former Lost star Mark Pellegrino for this column last December (pictured at the right). Broadcast on SPACE TV in Canada and the SyFy Network in the USA, Being Human is a pretty dark series. While there are moments of comic relief, it is actually pretty frightening. The scenes in which vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer), Josh (Sam Huntington ) transform had to even be uncomfortable for Montreal actress Meaghan Rath to watch. She stars as ghost Sally. Pellegrino ended up being killed off in the season finale so we will unfortunately not see him back here when shooting resumes in late summer.

Off The Map was an ABC medical series, also shown on Global, which debuted in the winter and starred Montrealers Rachelle Lefevre (pictured below) and Caroline Dhavernas. They were both excellent in this show which evolves around six doctors who have "lost their way" and travel to a remote South American jungle to help those in need and to try to rediscover the reasons why they wanted to become physicians. Ratings were poor and it was cancelled. They actually filmed this in Hawaii and used the old Lost set.

The Event, on NBC, was supposed to be the new Lost. For me it almost was, with a mysterious stories of life like Aliens who never age taking over the world. It did not gain traction in the fall and returned to sub-par ratings in the spring. The finale tied up a lot of loose ends, but sure made folks like me begging for more. Maybe another network like SyFy (and SPACE) can scoop it up.

Sunday 29 May 2011

St. George's School holds grand 80th anniversary bash

St. George’s School of Montreal held its 80th anniversary gala evening at the L’Astral Theatre recently and it was quite the standout affair for the private primary and second institution. More than 300 people were on hand for the benefit, proceeds of which went to the school’s enrichment opportunities and bursary programs. Head of School James Officer announced that this had culminated in a successful year during which more than $500,000 was taken in as part of fundraising endeavors.

Teenage jazz sensation Nikki Yanofsky (right), who now performs around the world, was the star attraction. She has attended St. George’s since Grade 4 and will graduate in June. Ironically this marked the first time she had ever done a show for her own school. “Everyone at St. George’s has been nothing but supportive of me,” the 17 year old beauty, who now has more than 10,000 Twitter followers, told the adoring crowd. “I do not even feel like I was going to school. And they have all been really understanding about my travelling.”

High profile Hollywood film director Shawn Levy (left), the man behind such hits as Night at the Museum, The Pink Panther, Date Night and Cheaper By the Dozen, was the evening’s honouree. Officer announced that the school is establishing the Shawn Levy Junior Filmmaker Award. Levy graduated in 1985 and credit’s the school with giving him the necessary tools to succeed in his chosen profession. “To me this is such an inspiring place,” he remarked. “St. George’s so much respects the value of the individual. The teachers from St. George’s remain galvanizing people in my life.”

The emcee for the evening was Andy Nulman, the head of the popular Just For Laughs Festival. He sent his two sons to St. George’s. He was proud to introduce another alumni, standup comic Ryan Wilner (class of 1995), who brought the house down with his clever routine. Nulman recalled that he first heard about Wilner from his sons, who claimed that there was a really funny camp counselor itching for a spot in the Just For Laughs lineup. As it turned out, Wilner did indeed make it to the big event. Yet another alumni, social trends and pop culture expert, Shira Lazar brought greetings via a taped message on the big screen. Celebrity photographer Heidi Hollinger, also a St. George’s grad, was on hand and volunteered her services to take photos which you see on this blog. She is pictured above with Officer and some of her former teachers.

There were also performances by the St. George’s Glee competition team and the 80th anniversary gala band (below). Parent Colleen Wicha chaired the event and was crowned “Lady Gala,” complete with a Lady Gaga disguise on the big screen display. For more about the school log on to