Friday 7 October 2011

CBC TV/Radio creates new sports unit with Bennett and Gelevan

It has been a rapid rise for Andie Bennett, who joined CBC Daybreak as sports anchor last spring via the former TEAM 990 (now TSN Radio 990). The talented and attractive broadcaster now adds television to her repertoire.  CBC Daybreak and TV have formed a “sports unit.” Bennett and Douglas  Gelevan will share the duties  between mornings and  the  90 minute supper hour news package.
Andie Bennett, shown here with Als great Peter Dalla Riva.

“We're looking at a four week rotation right now,” says news chief Mary Jo Barr. “It should be very exciting!”

The unit will be launched on October 17, with Bennett joining the Andrew Chang-Debra Arbec newscast.  This move was made necessary when Michel Godbout left CBC for TVA Sports. Bennett had replaced Sonali Karnack last May. She spent several years working on the Mitch Melnick drive home show and attracted a loyal following, even hosting her own program called Totally Broad.

 Gelevan  has been working in the Montreal radio and television newsroom for about a year now and substituted for Bennett a number of times. I was most impressed  with his blog in which he  provides clips of some of his own reports at

Gelevan, 28,   grew up in Bedford Nova Scotia. He has a degree in History from Mount Allison University (’05) and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Kings College Halifax (’10). He speaks four languages, considers himself a Trudeauist and stubbornly admits to remaining a faithful Toronto Maple Leafs fan.  He has over 27 different stamps in his passport, including working visas from Austria, Japan. 

“I'm very excited about the new challenge,” Gelevan told me.  “It's great that Andie and I are going to be able to combine our resources and provide our audience with more complete coverage of local sports. Having both of us on radio and television is going to be excellent for our audience.  Sports stories will seamlessly be covered across all our local platforms. Personally it will allow me to challenge myself in telling sports stories using the different styles and elements of both radio, television and the web. It  is going to be great.”

And does Douglas have a career in peforming arts? Catch this clip of him shaving off his beard.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Filmmaker Simona Atias has heart

Simona Attias
(Note: this is an expanded version of my October 5, 2011 Suburban Newspaper column)

Growing up in Côte Saint-Luc, Simona Atias always loved to write. It was something which inspired her at Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools, Bialik High School, Dawson College and ultimately  Concordia University. There she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Professional Writing.

Deep down, Atias knew that working in film was her true calling. Five years ago, at the age of 24, her life took a frightening turn. A heart condition she had been living with for years required fixing. It was either a risky and complicated surgery or a heart transplant. She chose the former and when she walked out of the hospital feeling better than ever she realized there was no more time for her to waste. Three months after the hospital stay she packed her belongings and headed for UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).

“It was a risky move given the fact I was not even fully insured,” said Atias. “But I just had to go. There was a reason why that surgery worked. I had this calling to learn about filmmaking and I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by.”

Atias did indeed enroll at UCLA, where she studied film production and screenwriting. While there she started to get phone calls from people who had heard about her talents, offering to pay her to review their scripts. This would ultimately be the catalyst for a company she runs now called Script Simantics.

 Rather than settling in Montreal, Attias  moved to Vancouver where she began making some connections. She snagged a role as first assistant director for a feature film, which ended up on the cutting room floor, but gained valuable experience. It was recommended that she start interning with different productions, something she pursued with enthusiasm. Then last April, her big break came. The producer for a short film called Afternoon Tea was seeking a co-producer and production manager. “I had two weeks warning to put the whole thing together,” she recalls.

Afternoon Tea follows an Indian grandfather, who has no family left and lives alone secluded from society. Unbeknownst to him, his life will change when a seemingly lost boy comes to his home asking to use his phone. He is unaware that this boy is not who he appears to be and holds a secret that will change him forever. The film was shot in only two days, completed and given the ultimate compliment by being accepted to the Toronto International Film Festival where it was shown twice. Atias walked the red carpet. “It got good reviews,” she said. “Most viewers remarked that it was one of the few short films there that had a plot.”

Atias stopped in Montreal to visit friends and family last week before returning to Vancouver where she has a number of short film projects scheduled. However, she gets a little emotional when  alking about the movie she really wants to make  - a kind of self portrait about how she survived her heart scare and the brave young man who helped get her through it.

“When I entered the hospital there was a man named Nicola Sidorenko,  just a bit younger than I, who had gone through a heart transplant procedure,” she says. “We became friends immediately. He came to visit me each day and really helped get me through this terrible period in my life. Last year he died. It turned out that he had been given a faulty heart.  I had already started to write my story for film several years ago. I am still heartbroken over Nic’s passing and I am working on a rewrite to include his story as well.  I will work on raising some funds for this project and making it a reality.”

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Astral radio farming out traffic reports- Yarnell off weekdays

Orla Johannes

Montreal's three local Astral radio stations - CJAD, CHOM and Virgin 96 - have made adjustments to their traffic lineup.

In a memo to staff last week Martin Spalding, the GM of the three stations, announced that traffic reports are now being provided by the Canadian Traffic Network (CTN). "Some employees have been offered positions at CTN, while others will take on new challenges within our cluster of stations and unfortunately, some will be leaving us," Spalding stated. "Rest assured, all employees have been treated with the utmost respect and all efforts to assist them in this transition have been taken by Astral."

Sharman Yarnell
These moves will have no effect on the listener. CTN held auditions for those interested in working for them. Drop dead gorgeous Orla Johannes got the morning show post. Catherine Wood moves to the 11 am. to 4 p.m. shift and Eramalinda Boquer does late afternoons and early evening. No longer part of the traffic landscape is Sharman Yarnell, whose reassuring voice will be missed. For now we are told she will still be heard on Saturdays hosting the Travel Show with Chris Robinson and anchoring her wonderfully entertaining Showtime program at noon.

With CRTC hearings scheduled to take place soon for Cogeco's bid to launch an all traffic English radio station, likely at the 940 AM dial, Sharman would be a logical choice to join their lineup: a known commodity with vast traffic reporting experience.