Friday 2 December 2011

Who will replace van der Heyden on CTV Montreal?

The news today that Todd van der Heyden, currently the co-host of CTV Montreal's noon and 6 p.m. newscasts, is moving to the media capital of Canada - Toronto- to join  CTV News Channel was  not a big surprise. I had been hearing rumours of his potential departure for weeks.
Todd van der Hayden

Paul Karwatsky
Van der Heyden will be joining the network full time as co-anchor with Amanda Blitz, hosting Express, weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m. His last newscast in Montreal will take place on Dec. 30 and he will begin his new role at News Channel on Jan. 16. He's been with CTV Montreal since January 2000,  initially as a reporter and backup anchor. In October 2003, he was promoted to reporter/producer of the new feature investigative  segment "On Your Side." Two years later he became the co-anchor of the 6 p.m. weekend newscast, joining  Tarah Schwartz. His big break came nearly five years ago when he moved from anchoring weekends to weekdays at noon, co-anchoring with veteran newscaster Mutsumi Takahashi. Then  in August 2008, he assumed the co-anchor chair of the flagship weekday 6 p.m. show, again teaming up with Takahashi.

Andrew Peplowski, shown here visiting LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent.

I have always liked Todd, as a reporter, anchor and of course a person. He  will be greatly missed. So now what does news director Jed Kahane do to replace him? It appears very likely that he will continue the male/female duo which places Paul Karwatsky at the head of the class. He succeeded van der Hayden as Schwartz's weekend co-anchor. He's young, handsome, talented and homegrown. If Kahane goes outside of the station, it would not be shocking to see the likes of Andrew Chang  from CBC be given a look? A real wise choice, in fact, would be Andrew Peplowski. He has vast radio and TV experience, anchored Global TV's former This Morning Live Show for years, has a great TV presence, a fabulous on air personality and great following these days at CJAD.

There is already a draft Mose Persico movement underway. The stylish and popular entertainment reporter  could add an interesting dimension to the program.

Will Kahane pull the trigger on a replacement quickly, insert Karwatsky in on an interim basis or have Mutsumi fly solo for a bit? It will be interesting to watch this story unfold.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Famous Cosmos Diner back in the news with Man of Grease premiere

I must confess that when the original version of Man of Grease came out in 2000, chronicling the story of Tony Koulakis and his greasy-spoon  Cosmos diner in NDG, I never saw it. Last week Ezra Soiferman, the man behind the documentary, contacted me with news that a remastered version  will premiere next Monday, December 5 (7 p.m) at CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre on Cote St. Catherine Road. Tickets are $8 (general) and $6 (seniors). With a score by Socalled (Josh Dolgin),  this is the first time the movie is being released on DVD. It contains two hours of bonus features compiled by the film's editor and DVD  designer, Mika Goodfriend. 
Tony at the grill.

Filmmaker Soiferman takes a loving look at Tony’s one-of-a-kind eatery and its loyal patrons. I just finished watching the DVD and I must say I feel like I know Tony and his family personally. For one thing, it gave me a certain appetite for his mish mash and other amazing concoctions. Soiferman touches all of the bases in this film, showing Tony at work, home and during the return to his  his birthplace, the mythical sun–drenched Greek island of Crete, for his first vacation in 32 years.  The DVD extras include a great showing of the actual premiere of the film.

I laughed as one patron shared the news how Tony warned him that it was not healthy to eat at Cosmos three days a week. “So now I come once a week,” he said.

Even noted morning show host Terry DiMonte, who will actually be returning to Montreal from Calgary soon to reclaim his CHOM FM wakup show, makes a cameo appearance.

This piece of work has been to eight  film festivals, part of  46 TV broadcasts and was nominated for a 2001 Quebec Jutra Award for Best Documentary.  Produced by Perpetuum Productions and SODEC: Programme d’aides aux jeunes créateurs, the 50 minute piece of work was a labour of love for Soiferman who provided me with these Cosmos-related facts:
  • The diner opened in 1967.
  • The film covers Tony's first trip back home to Greece in 1999. He returned with his wife Erene (sadly now deceased). It was his first vacation in 32 years. 
  • Tony is now retired and spends most days at home resting.
  • Niki and Nikos (Tony's two eldest kids) are running the diner and cooking. They alternate days running the place and each have a different (non-family) colleague serving the food while they cook at their dad's famous grill.
  • Tony's youngest son Johnny no longer works at the diner. 
As for Soiferman, he is currently directing a documentary about the history of the Herzl Family Practice Centre of the Jewish General Hospital, which will turn 100 in 2012. The film, to be narrated by former CBC anchor Dennis Trudeau, will screen in the  fall of 2012 as part of the Herzl's Centennial celebrations. The film's producers are Soiferman’s wife, Alexandra Yanofsky (formerly of NFB and CTV) and his old friend, filmmaker Christos Sourligas. Soiferman is also working with his wife on the film adaptation of a successful Concordia drama therapy play called  You Arrive  by psychoanalyst and Concordia professor Bonnie Harnden. “My wife is producing it and I'm doing cinematography,” he says. “Bonnie Harnden will direct the film. The emotionally-charged play has toured to many cities across North America and they just got a grant to turn it into a film.
The Soifermans had a baby in 2009 and they have spent a lot of time with Lulu, now two  years and two months old, doing family things. Previously Ezra had been at the Segal Centre for three years (2007-2010), where he created and ran CinemaSpace, the boutique screening room that thrives to this day.

“I’m proud to have the Man of Grease DVD launch there,” he says. “This is the first time the film is  on DVD.  Mika and I are both really proud of it. The demand for a DVD of the film to this day was very high since Cosmos has so many devoted fans so we decided to go for it. We think Cosmos fans and fans of the film will love seeing the film again, or for the first time,and watching the over two hours of bonus features - especially the new short film on there called  Premiere Night,  which follows Tony and his late wife Erene going to the film's sold out 2000 Montreal World Film Festival premiere in a stretch limo. It's a pretty special little time capsule of the couple in their hey day.

The only question I have is why wasn't this turned into a reality television show 11 years ago?
The heartwarming and offbeat film will be shown in its entirety (50 mins.) along with a preview of select bonus features. For tickets to the screening click here. DVDs will be on sale after the screening for $19.99 each including taxes, cash only. There will be a holiday–gift–friendly buy–three–get–one– free promotion.  You can buy the DVDs online starting  Saturday, December 3 at


Sunday 27 November 2011

Dr. Sass and the cookie diet

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a public relations firm in New York City, asking if I would like to interview the creator of the world renowned Smart for Life Cookie Diet. My first reaction was the probable lack of a local angle, until I read the note further to discover not only did the man in question – Dr. Sasson (Sass) E. Moulavi -  grow up here, but he actually graduated with me from Wagar  High School in 1980.

Sass was indeed one of those individuals whom I completely lost contact with.  Born in Iran, his family moved to Israel when he was two and came to Montreal 11 years later. The Smart for Life Cookie Diet provides a safe and efficient way to lose weight by eating all-natural, appetite suppressing meal replacement diet cookies made without toxins and preservatives.  I reached Sass last week in Boca Raton, where he now resides.  He obtained his medical degree from the University of Toronto, holds Board Certification in Bariatric Medicine (the branch of medicine which is concerned with the treatment of obesity, as well as its causes and preventive technique) and completed the Annual Practical Approaches to the Treatment of Obesity at Harvard University. He has directed the operation of multiple Weight Loss Centers in both the United States and Canada and says his passion is “to protect our planet by keeping our food supply clean of toxins and providing healthy choices for generations.”

How did he get into the cookie diet business? “The concept was developed while I worked as an emergency room doctor in Montreal and saw the rise in heart attacks in 30 and 40 year old patients,” he explained. “I was about 30 pounds overweight.  I knew what had to be done, established Smart for Life, lost the weight and began to really grow the company while pushing for the product to contain healthy ingredients.”

Montreal presently has one Smart for Life location on Decarie Boulevard. Moulavi says new locales are  set to open in Laval and Pierrefonds next summer. He also has a book all about the cookie diet which will be published in the next few weeks. Not bad for a guy whose high school prelude book lists his ambition as  joining the Golani in the Israeli army and a  probable destination of  mission accomplished.

According to Dr Sass, what makes Smart for Life unique is that it uses mostly organic ingredients that are free of preservatives, pesticides and toxins. “Smart for Life is also a lifestyle change,” he says. “ The unique meals train you to eat multiple, small meals throughout the day. Many clients use our products as a form of maintenance, a convenient replacement for fast food, and a helpful tool for keeping weight off.

The Smart Foods (cookies, shakes, muffins and more) are designed to suppress your appetite with a unique blend of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, fiber and natural sugars.

“If you were to eat a typical lunch of a burger and soft drink, your caloric intake would equal about 800 – way too much and mostly from fat,” Dr. Sass explains. “But if you eat a Smart Cookie for lunch, not only will you eat about 100 calories, but you will also receive all of the nutrients and nowhere near the amount of fat. You will feel full longer – as if you ate more food to satisfy you. Your body will then become ‘Smart’ by releasing 200 or so calories from your fat stores. Now that is how you lose weight.

Comic Paul Morrissey is coming to town

Comedian Paul Morrissey will be in Montreal next weekend, appearing at Ernie Butler's Comedy Nest at the AMC Pepsi Forum. Here is a clip from one of his appearances on the  Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS: