Wednesday 3 July 2013

City Montreal's Breakfast Television adds charismatic Verdon-Diamond to their team

To say that Catherine Verdon-Diamond made a good impression on me is an understatement. Until recently, she was  CBC TV Montreal’s weeknight 11 p.m. news weather forecaster, a post she only began last December.  Always known as a shrewd judge of talent, CityMontreal executive producer Bob Babinski has signed her up to do weather and traffic for the local Breakfast Television show, set to launch Monday, August 26 at 6 a.m.
Jeffrey Feldman and Catherine Verdon-Diamond,

Joanne Vrakas and Alexandre Despatie will be the  co-hosts,  with Wilder Weir and Laura Casella reporting from different locations.

I went to meet with  supervising producer Jeffrey Feldman, New Media expert Elias Makos and
Elias Makos
segment producer Melanie Porco (who just came over from CTV Montreal).  Verdon- Diamond was a pleasant and surprise addition to my itinerary. She is charismatic, beautiful and made for television. Not bad for someone 37 years young who had never envisioned a career in front of the camera until six months ago. Give a big assist to Shelagh Kinch, the managing director for English services at the CBC.
“I was an administrative assistant at CBC when Shelagh one day told me I was going to be doing weather on the weekend news because the regular Sabrina Marandola was away,” Verdon-Diamond told me. “She saw something in me and she decided, ‘you know what Catherine, I think I am going to give you a chance, I think you’d be great on television and if it does not work out we are never putting you back on air.'  I thought about it, I was a little apprehensive but then decided to take a chance. “

Verdon-Diamond is impeccably bilingual. She speaks openly about being adopted at the age of seven months (something she intends to explore on the show). Her dad worked  for Pratt and Whitney, so  the family spent three years in Egypt when she was very young and  four in Israel when she was a teen.

Prior to landing at CBC, she was a senior executive assistant at a production company  called Cineflix.  

 You can see her amazing personality yourself in this video:

As for City, when Babinski first contacted her she thought it was a mistake. “But it was not,” she smiles. “He said  ‘I saw you on TV and I would like to talk.’ We did and two and  a half weeks ago I left CBC. This is a very exciting opportunity.”

I also chatted with the Vrakas, who said she has already become close friends with her new co-host Despatie. “We clicked right away,” she said.
Joanne Vrakas

Monday 1 July 2013

Is Restaurant Antico Martini closed for good?

The message  on their answering machine says, "Closed for vacation," but sources close to the scene tell me that one of the West End's most popular restaurants  may not reopen. Antico Martini on Somerled Avenue in NDG has been an institution for decades. Specializing in Italian cuisine, it was always one classy spot.

"The last night of business was Saturday, June 22," my very reliable source says. "Thomas Papayanatos owns the building and is the original owner of Antico Martini. We were told he is selling the restaurant and the building. How we found out about this was  through the wait staff, whom we've known for many years. It was sad to learn about this and we knew that going the last Saturday would be too emotional, thus we last dined there on Saturday, June 15. It was  emotional saying goodbye to Carlos the chef  and the wait staff whom we've know for so many years.

Thomas'  sons, George (now in Calgary) and Jerry (who left the family business about three years ago and is no longer in restaurant business) ran Antico Martini for quite a few years.

"After the departure of George and then Jerry, the atmosphere in was not the same," my source says. "Many regulars whom we knew and saw there often soon stopped coming. That was so sad."

My source has frequented this place since it opened almost 40 years ago.  

We will follow this up to learn more.