Monday 29 December 2014

A toast to Nick Auf de Maur: Local content Montreal-based Quelque Show TV program revived on the net

When I was growing up our two local TV stations, CFCF (now CTV Montreal) and CBC, could always be counted on for some good local programming. Some of my favorites included Travel Travel, McGowan’s World and Fighting Back with Terry DiMonte. From 1970 to 1975 the late Nick Auf de Maur and Les Nirenberg brought us Quelque Show,  featuring on the street interviews and observations  on a wide range of subjects, from religion to pornography. Essentially, it provided a voice for a number of well-known Montreal street people.

Well, we now have four local English TV stations. CBC has  brought us Our Montreal, hosted by Sonali Karnick and essentially a compendium of news items which ran the previous week; City introduced a lifestyles show called Only In Montreal, only to cancel it after 30 episodes.; Global has Focus Montreal with Jamie Orchard, which runs three times each weekend and is quite good; CTV has nothing besides its highly rated newscasts.  CBC's suppertime news will be chopped from 90 to 30 minutes next fall while Global's newscasts remain status quo.

Global and City, of course, run morning news programs which deserve more viewers. On Saturdays, you catch the best of the Global morning news highlights. City also has a weekly sports show which has to be the most poorly promoted program I have ever seen. We do live in the age of the Internet, which opens the door to new opportunities. Enter  Paul Shore, who has created a reboot of Quelque Show online only at the moment and in both English and French.
Paul Shore

“It's my attempt to bridge the growing divide between everyday Montrealers and our political leaders, bringing back the speakers corner in a modern context,” explains Shore. “It's part soapbox and  part oral history.”

According to Shore, only three out of 100 Montrealers approached by his show said they had ever been asked for their opinion by a politician or a journalist. He describes Quelque Show as  a speaker’s corner for Montrealers, created in response to the growing divide between political leaders and the everyday citizen.

The show has been designed to be viewed in both French and English, first by audiences online, and eventually on television and in public spaces around Montreal.  "Political apathy, rooted in a sense of helplessness, has led to the everyday citizen's deep frustration over their perception that they are voiceless,” says Shore, the show’s co-host and creator. “By providing an interactive and non-threatening platform for people to express themselves, we’re hoping to stimulate the building of local community, even social change opportunities, in an innovative and meaningful way.” 

Shore, a veteran video-journalist and filmmaker is working alongside and co-host and former engineer, Rosalynn Nguyen.  In each episode they swiftly disarm interviewees, encouraging them to speak freely about controversial, even taboo issues.

Themes explored in the first series of episodes include immigration, integration, love, death, and public art. Montrealers are speaking up about sex, politics, language, multiculturalism, stereotyping and about how technology is affecting our relationships.

The original Quelque Show provided an unfiltered platform for Montrealers to express themselves on a variety of issues from pornography to religion. This new version brings back the town hall in a modern context. By providing a space for the sharing of personal experiences in a spontaneous way, Quelque Show is hoping to create a greater sense of community in our world of seemingly increased isolation caused by technology and the web.

“Quelque Show is indigenous to Montreal, but has been designed as a scaleable concept and platform, accessible to all other cities,” Shore says. "I am seeding the project now online,  but i will be working on TV deals in English and French in the new year, as well as hopefully a partnership with an ad agency to do co-branded content with their local clients. It's a transmedia show, and is clip driven and non linear,  so it has been designed to work on any platform imaginable such as  30 second  instagram episodes, one minute Facebook episodes, seven minute Youtube episodes, 22 minute TV episodes, and my holy grail having the show on interactive monitors in public spaces around the city."

Here is one of the segments.

Monday 22 December 2014

Michel Boyer leaving CJAD for TV job in Edmonton

CJAD 800 News is losing one of its promising young reporters in Michel Boyer, who will embark upon a new career in television. He has been hired by Global Television in Edmonton.
Michel Boyer

"It's been a while in the works," Boyer shared with me. " I'll be flying to Edmonton and starting work on the fifth of January. It was  all very exciting."

Boyer did a little bit of everything in radio, starting off by doing traffic for  CJAD, Virgin Radio and CHOM, He got a chance to anchor and was excellent in the field  filing different reports. I had the pleasure of interacting with him often wearing my school board hat. He is a true professional and hopefully we will see him back here one day. 

"I'm really looking forward to this opportunity," said Boyer.

Since Boyer was a full-time staffer, it looks like a permanent spot has opened up on the CJAD news team roster.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Two pieces of bad news: CBC TV supper hour news slashed and Corbeil leaves CTV

As 2014 draws to a close, I was especially sad to hear two pieces of news regarding the local television scene:  the local CBC News is being cut back from 90 to 30 minutes and André Corbeil  is leaving CTV Montreal News.

The one thing you can always count on CBC for is inconsistency. That is what you get from a crown corporation which in my opinion should have been privatized years ago.  Beginning next fall,  regional supper-hour newscasts will be reduced in time. Some cities will see them go to 60 minutes. We are the losers, with 30. This goes along with CBC president and CEO Hubert T. Lacroix promised in June - that the broadcaster would be shifting its priorities from television and radio to digital and mobile services.  
It really is too bad. I have enjoyed the 90 minute format, which in Montreal resulted in three separate 30 minute newscasts beginning at 5 p.m. It's funny because when I do get home from work early I end up watching CBC live for parts of the first hour and then watching CTV and Global online. The Montreal team did a great job packaging a whole lot of information, complete with regular weather forecasts with Frank Cavallaro, a number of sportscasts with Douglas Gelevan and Andie Bennett, special features and a lot more. How will they squeeze the  toothpaste back in the tube? Will there still be live weather and sports?
As for Corbeil, CTV News has to make some cutbacks and his permanent post was
André Corbeil
slashed. He was invited to stick around to do weekend sportscasts, but he declined. Corbeil is talented, perfectly bilingual and a man with a lot of class. He should not have trouble finding work. He would certainly be an excellent addition to the staff of any local communications and marketing outfit. If Global TV or CIty wanted to add a permanent sports expert, he'd be a wise choice. I first met Corbeil early on in his arrival here. The Montreal Alouettes were visiting one of our schools, Dante in St. Léonard, for their off-season tour and I invited him to come cover it. 
"Bring your shorts and running shoes," I offered. "You can play for Dante when the Als take them on in basketball."
Corbeil accepted the challenge and played pretty well. Over the years he was always enthusiastic about covering school events. He was a regular guest at our Sports Celebrity Breakfast and made sure to get out there and cover the amateur sports scene, something which has been terribly neglected by our only English language daily.
While Paul Graif is the logical choice to handle the weekend duties, a role the K103 FM morning show co-host has fulfilled before, there will no doubt be others in the mix. Thankfully we still have such outstanding pros as Brian Wilde and Randy Tieman on board.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Main and Local personifying Montreal's most memorable icons, events and expressions

Local entrepreneurs David Prince, Jonny Goldmaker and Andrew Cohen have come up with a pretty neat concept that both present-day and former Montrealers are bound to embrace - especially the latter.
Andrew Cohen

Main and Local  is personifying some of Montreal’s most notable and memorable icons, events and expressions in a collection of whimsical housewares and apparel. Inspired by Montreal landmarks, local delicacies and the melting-pot mentality of the city, the partners wanted to bring the creativity of the city into something you can touch and bring home. 

“We love the city, celebrate it and share it the best way we know how,”  the trio emphasize in a statement.

Prince, Goldmaker and Cohen have sought out Montreal artisans to produce their exclusive giftables, ranging from 100 percent  natural olive oil soaps, handmade leather valet trays, t-shirts that say "Poutine,"  an Expo '67 wall clock, Orange Julep earings and limited edition Montreal Royals prints.
Prince and Goldmaker

Main and Local recently opened a pop-up shop at Place Montréal Trust featuring their bestselling items, just in time for the holidays. The pop up will be open until mid-February in this location and until 5 p.m. on December 24. Online orders are guaranteed for Christmas delivery when placed by this Friday, December 12, 2014. Online rders can also be delivered to the Montréal Trust location for free pickup anytime on and before the 24th.

I have a family member now residing in the United States. During his annual visits back home he purchases all types of articles which remind him of Montreal. He and others like him should appreciate Main and Local.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Camp Pripstein's is shutting its doors

After 75 years in business,  Pripstein's Camp Mishmar in the Laurentians is shutting its doors.

"With our Early Registration promotional period completed, our camper numbers are lower than targeted," stated owner Ronnie Braverman in a letter to families. "Not only does this have financial implications for us, but we would be unable to ensure a great experience for campers without healthy group sizes. Therefore, after much discussion, my family and I have regretfully decided to call it a day and close the camp."

When  Braverman first joined his grandfather Chaim Pripstein in the business 42 years ago, the Laurentians were one of the booming centres of the Canadian camping scene. In addition to Pripstein’s, there were over a dozen privately operated co-ed English camps dotting the countryside, such as Hiawatha, Pine Valley, Pembina, Bayview, Panorama, and more.

"Most of us know that when the Parti Quebecois took power in 1976, threatening to separate Quebec from Canada, over 100,000 anglophones and many head offices left the province," Braverman says.  "This exodus continued unabated till today, with the majority of our former campers and staff choosing to start their careers and families elsewhere. This had a devastating effect on our private camp scene. Camps started closing one after the other, and by 2007, Pripstein’s was the sole camp of the original group still operating."

Chaim Pripstein came to Canada from Poland  and got a job teaching at United Talmud Torahs School. However, when the depression hit he was one of the casualties and had to become a peddler to make ends meet. He made his way to the Laurentians often and in his broken French became friendly with many of the farmers. Business was difficult for them too. Pripstein had an idea. One summer he asked if he could rent a farmhouse and convert it into a small hotel. “He promised them to use their food, which was not being sold and that his wife would do the cooking,” Braverman recalls. “At the end of the summer they would at least get some revenue.”

Soon enough guests were looking for an activity for their children. Pripstein hired some counselors and eventually established an actual camp in place of the hotel. Camp Mishmar (which means “On Guard” in Hebrew) was born, although most people liked to call it Pripstein’s.

In an effort to help out the camp's  loyal families, Braverman has  met with  with Sol Birenbaum and Howie Grossinger, owners of Camp Walden and they have reserved spaces for those already registered at Pripstein's.  

"After meeting with Sol and Howie, it was clear to me that their emphasis on nurturing their campers and staff and maintaining strong communication with parents would be a great fit for our families," says Braverman.  "I have visited Walden, which is just a four hour drive from Montreal. They have a beautiful, private site and own the complete frontage on their lake"

Sunday 7 December 2014

Rick Moffat will indeed return to CJAD and TSN 690; McKenna keeps seat warm

Frequent listeners to CJAD and TSN 690 each morning might be wondering what happened to the golden pipes of Rick Moffat. While we heard him handling the play by play duties for Montreal Impact and Alouettes games, his regular spot doing sportscasts on the Andrew Carter Show and as a co-host of the TSN 690 morning show with Elliott Price and Shaun Starr has been occupied by the uber-talented Conor McKenna.

Rick Moffat
"If you're wondering about me, I'm back fresh on January 5," Moffat  tells us. "I just had to burn off time racked up from a year filled with Impact, Rogers Cup and Alouettes games."

The average listener probably does not realize it, but from spring to fall guys like Moffat work almost seven days a week with plenty of overtime. Not an easy grind for a fellow who has to wake up by at last 4 a.m.  "It feels weird to sleep normal hours," Moffat admits.

Last week Moffat was kept busy following the death of hockey legend Jean Beliveau. "I did radio hits from coast to coast," he said.
Conor McKenna
While we will welcome back Moffat, one wonders how TSN and CJAD might be able to find a permanent spot for McKenna who is indeed a rising star in the industry. He delivers his sportcasts with panache and has a great sense of humour. We have already grown used to his great work on the Habs post-game show. If AM 600 ever does go on the air, he'd be a wise choice to lead their sports team.


Wednesday 3 December 2014

Book of Mormon the Musical knocks them dead at Place des Arts

Thank you evenko for bringing us some Broadway musicals again. While the Lion King graced the stage of the Place des Arts last summer, the national tour of The Book of Mormon  has now arrived. I was on hand Wednesday for the second of eight performances and the show was everything I expected it to be: controversial, hilarious and unforgettable. Next up will be Jersey Boys January 6 to 11. 

The Book of Mormon won  nine Tony Awards,  including Best Musical. It is on here until December 7 and includes a pre-show lottery at the box office, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece. The wildly popular lottery for the Broadway production has attracted as many as 800 entries at some performances.  The producers are offering low-priced lottery seats for every city on the National Tour.   Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (one or two) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID with photo to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.

The Book of Mormon is bound to offend and entertain you.
The Book of Mormon  features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q.  The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. 

As for those nine Tonys, they included  Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus). 

The Book of Mormon follows two young missionaries who are sent to Uganda to try to convert citizens to the Mormon religion. One missionary, Elder Price (Gavin Creel), is an enthusiastic go-getter with a strong dedication to his faith, while his partner, Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill in a knockout performance), is a socially awkward but well meaning nerd whose tendency to embroider the truth soon lands him in trouble. Upon their arrival in Africa, Elders Price and Cunningham learn that in a society plagued by AIDS, poverty and violence, a successful mission may not be as easy as they expected.

This show was a real crowd pleaser. People were laughing non-stop and at the end the standing ovation was expected and well deserved. This touring cast knocked the ball out of the park. I can't imagine their counterparts on Broadway being that much better.

Book of Mormon was booked by evenko about a year ago and this was worth the wait indeed. I am anxious to see Jersey Boys and look forward to more large-scale productions coming to town.

Remembering my personal connection to Jean Beliveau

When I was 18 years old and a rookie reporter for a newspaper called The Sunday Express, I was assigned to go to the old Montreal Forum and interview Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau, who passed away December 2. He was vice-president of corporate affairs at the time, following a Hall of Fame career which saw him score 507 goals and add 712 assists over 20 seasons and 10 Stanley Cup wins.  From this meeting onwards he always remembered my name.
My last encounter with Jean Beliveau in April 2013.

Just under two years ago I had a chance to visit with Jean at his South Shore condo for a video I was doing as a tribute to community leader Roy Salomon, an honouree at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors Foundation Sports Celebrity Breakfast. Beliveau had accompanied Salomon twice to Israel for the Maccabiah Games.   Beliveau successfully battled cancer more than a decade ago and was still recovering from a stroke  when we visited.  

“I should be gone,” he told me. “It is a miracle I am still alive. Right now I am affected by two things: a lack of energy and weak legs. Every morning I do 25 minutes on the treadmill. I force myself to do it so I can get going. I have been to a few Canadiens games this year, but I only have the strength to stay for the first period.”

I asked Jean about today’s NHL salaries, recognizing that with his star status he would have commanded at least $7 million a season. “The most I made was $100,000,” he laughed. “I guess I was born too early.”

I told Jean that my dad Larry had passed away seven month earlier. He apologized for not being aware. "Larry and I were from the same era," he said, remembering the many years my dad covered the Canadiens for local radio stations and United Press International.

Yes that is me at the right receiving a trophy from Jean. Neil Denbow is the photographer.
So close was my dad with Beliveau that he managed to have him attend the Côte Saint-Luc Minor Hockey Association Awards Banquet. Unlike today`s generation of players, he attended with pleasure and of course did not expect a penny in return.

On this day I think of the many Beliveau fans, notably my friend Cheryl Nashen. When I first met her some 25 years ago and we got talking about hockey it was all Jean Beliveau. She could often be seen around town wearing the fabled Canadiens number 4 jersey. On important family occasions,  she even made attempts to invite him. She came close a few times.

There will never be another Jean Beliveau. That I am certain of. Rest in Peace "Le Gros Bill."

Here is a clip of a Beliveau goal.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

New leadership group takes over the YM-YWHA

There is a new leadership group at the helm of the YM-YWHA Montreal Jewish Community Centres, with Andrea Rosenbloom assuming the role of president, Alvin Fagen as  vice-president and    Marla Gold as  executive director.

Rosenbloom succeeds Joel Shalit. She has served in a lay leadership capacity at the Y in various roles, most recently as its vice-president.  Fagen is a past president of  theShaare Hashomayim Synagogue in Westmount.  

An Executive Director Search Committee was convened under the leadership of board member Tina Apfeld Rosenthal. After a search that Rosenbloom describes as both “methodical and rigorous,” the committee presented Gold’s candidature, which was readily accepted. When asked how the first few days have gone, Rosenbloom stated, “Marla has keen insight into the Y because of her history here, and has transitioned seamlessly with her collaborative management style.”
Marla Gold

Gold previously served as Director of Health, Fitness, Membership and Recreational Services at the Y. Most recently, she was the vice-president, Quebec and Atlantic Region, for Health Systems Group, where she had significant oversight functions. She is intimately aware of where the Y has come from, and where its future lies: in renewal and growth, in offering the highest standard of services and relevant programming, engaging youth, and ensuring that the Y remains a central gathering place for our community.

Andrea Rosenbloom
Rosenbloom and Gold share a vision for the Y. They expect it to be run with fiscal responsibility, in a professional, efficient manner.  “Everyone is part of this process,” stated Gold.

Gold effectively replaces Marlene Jennings, who was hired as executive director amid much hoopla following a lengthy term in office as the Liberal Member of Parliament for NDG- Lachine. Shalit's term ended on a challenging note, with the closure of the West Island Jewish Community Centre. Members there battled for the facility to remain open, but they were unsuccessful. 
The Y still remains a hub for the Jewish community. With United Talmud Torah-Herzliah building a new campus as part of the same facility, this could breath new life into an organization which continually must battle the private health clubs in the city.

Monday 24 November 2014

Annual Notable Awards set to take flight in Montreal

With over two million monthly Canadian visitors,  is the largest website for young professional adults (aka: YPs) in Canada. Launched in 2008, it curates a 360-degree approach to living the optimally balanced YP lifestyle. highlights young Canadians who are doing notable things, while also showcasing the places, products, and events YP’s need to know about to take their work-life and social-life to the next level.
Julian Brass

This year's Notable Awards will be held in Montreal,  Vancouver and Toronto, with our edition set to take place on Wednesday, November 26 at the Centre de Science. I have  met Notable founder and CEO Julian Brass and the man is a true mover and shaker.

"This story is a top-40-under-40-style crowd with plenty of cool, given the organization’s membership composed of the youngest of Canada's outstanding professionals," says  Katia Piccolino, publicist for Notable and the PR boss at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. "It's the Oscar’s for the young professional world."

Kimberly Marx
Here are the categories.

Advertising & Marketing Professional

The recipient of this award is among the very best in the business when it comes to creatively and strategically getting products on the minds of potential customers. One  of the nominees is Kimberly Marx, who has done a fantastic job since joining Interaction Asian Restaurants (P.F. Chang's Canada) last year.

Architecture and Real Estate

The recipient of this award develops or sells some of Canada’s most sought-after properties.

Arts & Culture

The recipient of this award uses their right side of the brain better than anyone in the industry, and can turn heads with their work everywhere people see it.

Best Bartender

The recipient of this award understands exactly how to guarantee you’ll be coming back for a second round – from what’s in the glass to exceptional service.

Best Blog

The recipient of this award has made their mark on the digital space with a significant, loyal following to match. They’re an expert within their niche and have an endearing offline personality too.

Best Chef

The recipient of this award leads a kitchen that’s the talk of the town; they create meals where you can’t help but Instagram every course.

Best DJ

The recipient of this award can move any dance floor, no matter the crowd or genre. Their name alone sells tickets to some of the city's hottest events and clubs.

Best Online Business

The recipient of this award is a master of the ecommerce game and understands what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

Best Personal Brand

The recipient of this award has done exceptional work in their industry by selling services, products or ideas under their own name.

Best Restaurant or Lounge

The recipient of this award has established a culinary gem in their city where anything less than consistent five-star ratings just doesn't happen.

Sugar Sammy


The recipient of this award really doesn’t need an introduction. They grace red carpets across the world on a regular basis and can usually be found in the VIP section. Sugar Sammy, comedian extraordinaire, is one of the nominees.

Digital or Media Agency

The receiving agency of this award is not only delivering immense value for its clients but also fosters a culture of growth and opportunity for its staff. The agency also foster an internal culture of supporting the community and charities around them.
(agency must verify that at least 50% of your Canadian employees are under the age of 45)


The recipient of this award is teaching our next generation of thought-leaders through immersive, innovative and motivational strategies – they’re the mentor we all will one day want our children to have growing up.

Jessica Laventure

The recipient of this award is making waves on stage or screen through a combination of enviable charisma and technical skills. They're the reason you tune in – whatever it is. This is an interesting competition with the likes of Alexandre Despatie, Joanne Vrakas and Wilder Weir of City; Natasha Gargiulo, Freeway Frank and Andrea Collins from Virgin Radio;  and Jessica Laventure from Global TV.


The recipient of this award is an absolute game changer in Canada, having built an exceptional business that is innovative, profitable, sustainable and enhances people’s lives.

Environmental Sustainability

The recipient of this award is the greenest thinker in the room, making decisions with our planet's future's well-being always top of mind.

Event Planning

The recipient of this award plans celebrations, soirees, galas, fundraisers and getaways that are among the hottest tickets every single year. You compare every social outing to the last event they hosted to see how it stacks up. My old friend Lorne Levitt from Total Events is nominated.


The recipient of this award is accelerating Canada's growing fashion scene and is one of the most recognized names in the industry, both at home and abroad. Sarrah Sheiner from Show and Tell Fashion is nominated. She will be in Toronto, where is a nominee  for yet another very prestigious award.


The winner of this award is someone who is a force in all things finance-related.


The recipient of this award dedicates almost every waking hour to ensure others are living their most healthy lives possible and is the first person you want to call in a medical emergency.

Hospitality Management

The recipient of this award is the reason you give five stars for service and always tip above what's recommended. They’re the reason you keep coming back.


The recipient of this award covers some of world’s most pressing issues and responsibly forms public opinion on matters both in Canada and abroad through the written word. It is nice to see Toula Drimonis nominated. She was the last editor of The Monitor Newspaper, before it supposedly switched to an online only publication but effectively folded. Toula is a great blogger.


The recipient of this award makes the cast of Suits jealous with their expertise in the world of law. They’re the king or queen of the courtroom.

Not For Profit

The recipient of this award is as giving as they come, always with the intention of seeing their hard work pay off for those in need. Denburk Reid, director of community relations for the Montreal Alouettes and someone who undertakes many programs for community leaders,  is a worthy nominee.

Public Relations and Communications

The recipient of this award has all the connections, strategies, and expertise to take your business or personal brand to the next level. They elevate the brands of some of Canada’s top companies and celebrities. I like Dan Delmar and Leeja Murphy in this category; Dan started his own PR firm a few years ago while Leeja handles media relations for Comic Con and a whole lot more.

The recipient of this award is someone who can successfully sell Leonardo DiCaprio that pen in Wolf of Wall Street. This person knows a thing or two about the perfect pitch.

Social Entrepreneurship

The recipient of this award understands the necessity of using business and innovation to solve social problems - their work often involves a goal towards the greater good.

Social Media

The recipient of this award lives and breathes in the online world, using dozens of platforms and multimedia to creatively and strategically present information to large followings.

Sports and Fitness

The recipient of this award is among the most active young professionals in Canada and often uses their skills to help others reach their personal fitness goals. Can anyone really beat the Habs' PK Subban in this category?