Friday 16 October 2015

My Blog Has a New Home

Please note that this blog has now been transferred directly to The Suburban Newspaper Website.
You can still view past entries here.

The new address  is:

Spectacular Nitro Circus hits the Bell Centre tonight

The world's greatest live action sports event hits the Bell Centre on Friday evening, October 16, with  an all-new show.

Nitro Circus Live’s latest creation takes things to another level, as the best athletes in freestyle motocross (FMX), BMX and more will unite for an all-new production.  Starring 17-time X Games medalist Travis Pastrana, the tour will feature unbelievable tricks and insane stunts, plus a whole new repertoire of daredevil fun.  Also, look out for a host of outrageous contraptions — including trikes, a tall bike, a lazy boy recliner and more — all launching from the new jet-powered Nitro Slingshot.  
To top it all off, for its latest event Nitro is going really retro, with the entire performance choreographed and styled as a 1920’s three-ring circus.  This stunning set will transport you into the past, to an eerily haunting Big Top.  This all-new theme provides the perfect backdrop for the Nitro crew’s aerial feats. 
Organizers  say to believe them when they declare you have never seen a circus like this before.
Doors open at 6:30 pm,  with the  show: 7:30 pm. Tickets range in price from $51.50 to $115.50.

Sunday 11 October 2015

New concussion clinic at Decarie Square is a complete "management centre"

Concussions have become more common in our everyday lives and it is not only due to sports accidents. I recently went to the local fruit store where the cashier did not look to healthy. She had just been diagnosed with a concussion after smashing her head in the freezer.

For Montreal business woman Kathy Cohen this all hit home after her daughter, an excellent basketball player, suffered two concussions. When she sought assistance in the medical community she realized that there were not too many options where this could be dealt with under one roof. So she went about setting up her own operation. Neurocircuit opened quietly at the end of August at the revamped Decarie Square.  The state-of-the-art facility is located within the Kinatex Physiotherapy headquarters.
Kathy Cohen, Diane Saucier and Julia Peress
This is a complete concussion management center offering education, baseline testing, post-injury assessment, post-injury therapy and strategies to facilitate return to school, work and play. Jonathan Cohen, Kathy’s son, is a personal trainer and works with kinesiologists Diane Saucer and Julia Peress. They also work with  physiotherapists, occupational therapists and athletic therapists.
Jonathan Cohen

“We are offering a service  that has expertise, care and compassion,” says Kathy Cohen. “There is a personalized aspect to what we do.”

The team at Neurocircuit believe that proper management of concussions starts with recognition followed by immediate and decisive action. Studies show that those who understand the severity of concussions are more likely to report them. Dr. Charles Tatar, a neurologist from the University of Toronto stated that there is evidence that education about concussion leads to a reduction in the incidence of concussion and improved outcomes from concussion.

Baseline testing is used to assess an individual’s processing speed, attention span, learning ability, reaction speed, eye tracking, balance and working memory.   The results  would  be compared to pre-injury or baseline results to determine if there has been a decline in neurocognitive functioning, reaction time, balance and/or vision. In the absence of a baseline test, the post-injury results can be compared to normative data. Research has shown, however, that the “average performance” scores represented in the normative data can vary significantly thereby reducing the accuracy of the results.

An initial visit will enable the clinician to gather medical history and to gain a thorough understanding of the mechanism of injury and the severity of the symptoms. This will be followed by a series of assessments designed to identify and isolate the source of the symptoms. The assessments could include computerized neurocognitive testing, balance evaluation, strength and coordination screening, binocular vision screening, vestibular testing, a gait assessment, a generalized neurological screen and an orthopaedic assessment of secondary injuries. The various assessment tools provide objective results which will help guide treatment. The referring physician will receive a report outlining the results of the assessment.

Based on the information gathered, an individualized treatment and training plan will be developed. The clinician will design a treatment plan to target, isolate, challenge and strengthen the areas of weakness. Using state of the art assessment and treatment tools including Dynavision D2, Neurotracker, and Fitlight, the clinician will be able to train the injured person’s cognitive, visual and vestibular systems. In addition to clinical treatment, the individual will be given a home exercise program in order to expedite recovery. Progress reports will be available to referring physicians upon request.

Protocols dictate that the individual should avoid any visual or cognitive stimulation for the 48 hours following a concussion to allow his/her brain to heal. Post concussive symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. Depending on the symptoms, students may sometimes return to school with certain accommodations. Social interaction in a school environment can play a positive role in the resolution of emotional symptoms.

Once the athlete is able to complete the visual, vestibular and/or cognitive exercises symptom free, the clinician will add a physical component to the treatment sessions. Neurocircuit’s Return to Play protocols will continue to challenge the athlete. Adding visual, vestibular, reactive and decision-making components to the high intensity physical training session will help prepare the athlete for game play.  The decision to clear the athlete will be made by the treating physician. Neurocircuit will provide the medical doctor with a report with the most recent results. 

The clinic is also getting in to sports vision training, which is intended to improve the athlete’s ability to process what they see.   Many professional athletes are incorporating vision training in their weekly routines.  Studies have shown vision training will boost performance in the following sports: baseball, hockey, basketball, football, tennis, soccer, golf and martial arts.   Neurocircuit already has some elite athletes as clients.

Meanwhile, Neurocircuit will also be getting in to working with youngsters who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

For more information call 514-739-8555 or email

Breast Cancer Action Quebec aims to provide women with a more substantive discussion

Every October, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are inundated with pink ribbons and simplistic messages of “awareness” regarding breast cancer. They are encouraged to buy PINK for “the Cure.”  But Breast Cancer Action Quebec knows that shopping won’t stop breast cancer. Their antidote is to provide women with a more substantive discussion on breast cancer. This week three women will respond to the pressing question: Where is Feminism when My Body Needs It Most?

This panel discussion on Breast Cancer and the Absence of a Feminist Analysis  will take place on Wednesday, October 14 ( 7 pm to 9 pm) at the Concordia University Downtown Library Building (1400 de Maisonneuve West,  LB-1019 -10th Floor).
Julie Michaud
As for the panelists, they will include Julie Michaud, Luisa Molino and Jennifer Beeman, Michaud is the coordinator of Concordia University’s Centre for Gender Advocacy and  a young woman facing breast cancer. She will address the importance of a feminist analysis while living the experience of the disease including assumptions she confronts from her team of health professionals. Molino is the coordinator of the pan-Canadian research project Cancer’s Margin,s affiliated with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia  She will discuss the experience of breast cancer for women of the sexual diversity and the social construction of the disease. Beeman is the director of Breast Cancer Action Québec. She will present an overview of current feminist issues concerning breast cancer, including a wide range of tough, unanswered questions about the disease, for example the impact of social inequalities and rates of mortality.

“We at Breast Cancer Action Quebec understand deeply just how scary the words ‘breast cancer’ are for any woman,” Beeman said in one of her blogs. “But too many women are being unnecessarily treated for lesions that would never have caused problems.
Jennifer Beeman
Beeman was referring to a study on ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), traditionally considered a precursor to potentially fatal invasive breast cancer, which shows that the massive detection and treatment of DCIS does not lead to a decline in breast cancer mortality but does lead to significant overtreatment
“For women to better understand the issue of overtreatment, we need to change discussions of breast cancer from fear-mongering approaches of  ‘one in nine’ to an understanding that it is a complicated set of diseases requiring very different approaches, and in some cases, no intervention, but rather an attentive surveillance. We need a discussion on current screening programs, a re-examination of the treatment of DCIS and the development of less aggressive treatments, as well as the creation observational registries to study the evolution of these cases. We also clearly need better coordination of breast cancer research agendas so that fundamental research on tumor biology is made a priority.Individual women must be informed, prepared and encouraged to enter into these discussions with their doctors when the diagnosis of breast cancer is first raised. And finally, women in the women’s health movement must be included in these discussions to develop the tools necessary to bring about these changes.”
There is no admission charge for this event which aims to provide a forum for discussion of breast cancer that moves beyond the pink paradigm to take a deeper look at some real issues of concern. Breast Cancer Action Quebec (formerly Breast Cancer Action Montreal) has advocated for breast cancer prevention and the elimination of environmental toxins linked to the disease for 24 years. Log on to www.

Monday 5 October 2015

Stroll for Kids events raises $110,000 for Children's Hospital

More than 400 Montrealers and 45 dedicated volunteers came together recently \for a celebratory walk at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park in Côte Saint-Luc that raised over $110,000 for a cause that is close to their hearts. A total of 100 families with young children participated in a variety of activities ranging from musical entertainment by Adam Stotland, Funky Feet, Loony Lorny and  Emmy Aronovitch, mural painting with Jordana Fleischer, musical instrument decorating, face painting and Sportball. 
After this cheque was displayed, $10,000 more was raised for the cause.
CSL Mayor Anthony Housefather and City Councillor Mitchell Brownstein were present at the event. The proceeds from this first edition of Stroll for Kids will help purchase life-saving medical equipment and fund research into childhood conditions at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

"We are thrilled to have found a way to express our gratitude for the incredible support that both our sets of twins received from the MUHC’s pediatric care division when they were born,"  stated event co-chairs  Alana Geller and Jodie Frenkiel. "Weighing in at less than five pounds each at birth, our twins spent several weeks in the NICU where they received dedicated 24-hour care. With Stroll for Kids, we hope to instill a sense of philanthropy in young Montreal families, especially in children who will have a chance to personally give back by participating in the event."

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation supports excellence in pediatric care at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre. Only 10 percent of the hospital’s annual equipment and research budget is funded by the government.  The hospital relies on the community to finance the remaining 90 percent. The Children’s treats close to 200,000 sick children each year, and the need for state-of-the-art equipment, innovative research, and special programs continues to grow. 

Event sponsors included  Richter, Sub-Zero, Wolf, Amaya Gaming, Medisys, Aldo, Muse Entertainment Enterprises Inc., Dorel, Groupe Park Avenue and many others.  

"We have even greater ambitions in terms of fundraising for next year," says committee member Cristelle Basmaji.

Alan Maislin to Chair the new West-Central Montreal Health body

The Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal (West-Central Montreal Health) has chosen wisely with the appointment of noted community activist Alan Maislin as Chair of the new Board of Directors. The Board will play a key role in the extensive reform and reorganization of the public healthcare system, which took effect on April 1 when Bill 10 became law.
Alan Maislin

"With our healthcare network on the brink of an exciting, new era, it's a great honour for me to have been asked to play such a significant role in helping to shape its future," said Maislin, whom I have had the pleasure of working with on a variety of projects. "I'm extremely impressed by the outstanding qualities of my new colleagues on the Board, as well as our team of extremely qualified and dedicated healthcare professionals throughout the network. I'm certain that, together, we can make a major difference in improving the quality of health care for patients, residents and clients throughout our network."

"I am very much looking forward to working closely with our Chair, Alan Maislin, and all of the new members of the Board of Directors," said Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, President and CEO of West-Central Montreal Health. "These appointees, who are drawn from many walks of life, bring to our network a wealth of experience and expertise in all aspects of healthcare and social services delivery and administration.

“Now that the Board of Directors and the Senior Management Team are in place, I am confident that we can make even greater progress toward improving the quality of care and services by improving access, streamlining the continuum of care and eliminating the fragmentation and duplication of services."

The independent appointees underwent careful examination that enabled the Board to meet certain specific criteria – i.e., proper representation of the area served by West-Central Montreal Health, a balance between men and women, and a reflection of the socio-cultural, ethnic, linguistic and demographic makeup of the network’s healthcare users.

With this in mind, Gaétan Barrette, Minister of Health and Social Services, has announced the appointment of the following members to the Board of West-Central Montreal Health:

Appointed members
o Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg - President and CEO of the network
o Gail Adelson - University affiliate (McGill University)
o Dr. David Eidelman - University affiliate (McGill University)

Independent appointees
o Samuel Minzberg - Expertise in governance or ethics
o Antonio (Tony) Loffreda - Expertise in risk management, finance and accountancy 
o Allen F. Rubin - Expertise in real estate, information resources or human resources
o Ronald Waxman - Expertise in verification, performance or the management of quality
o Mordecai Yalovsky - Expertise in community organizations
o Vivian Konigsberg - Expertise in youth protection
o Alan Maislin - Chair - Expertise in rehabilitation
o Lucyna M. Lach - Expertise in rehabilitation
o Linda Fortier - Expertise in mental health
o Alyssa Yufe - Experience as a user of social services

Elected members
o Dr. Suzanne Levitz - Regional Department of General Medicine (general practitioner, Mount Sinai Hospital Centre);
o Dr. Rubin Moe Becker - Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (physician specialist, Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Jewish General Hospital);
o Julie Roy - Regional Committee on Pharmacy Services (pharmacist, Jewish General Hospital);
o Karen Rose Honegger - Council of Nurses (nurse consultant, Mount Sinai Hospital Centre);
o John D'Andrea - Multidisciplinary Council (social worker, CLSC Côte-des-neiges);
o Gloria Freedman - Users’ Committee (past president, CSSS Cavendish).

Maislin’s extensive experience in rehabilitation is particularly significant, since West-Central Montreal Health has grouped together three establishments that are distinguished for their rehabilitation services – Richardson Hospital, Catherine-Booth Hospital and the Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre. Mr. Maislin is past president of the Board of Directors of CSSS Cavendish, which has been absorbed into West Central Montreal Health.

The Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal (West-Central Montreal Health) consists of the Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre, the Jewish General Hospital, Catherine Booth Hospital, CLSC Benny Farm, CLSC Côte-des-Neiges, CLSC Métro, CLSC Parc-Extension, CLSC René-Cassin, Constance-Lethbridge Rehabilitation Centre, Father-Dowd Residential Centre, HenriBradet Residential Centre, Info-Santé Montréal Regional Service, Jewish Eldercare Centre, MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation centre, Miriam Home and Services, Mount Sinai Hospital Centre, Richardson Hospital, StAndrew Residential Centre and St-Margaret Residential Centre. Nearly 345,000 people live in the area covered by West-Central Montreal Health, which has a staff of more than 9,000, including 400 doctors. 

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Former Global TV reporter Domenic Fazioli opens up about "false" charges

In this week's Suburban Newspaper, I had an exclusive interview with former Global TV reporter Domenic Fazioli whose 15 year career with the station came to a sudden halt last spring when charges now thrown out by the court were made against him.

I go way back with Domenic and thought his side of the story should finally be told.

Domenic Fazioli and his wife Patricia

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Sheldon Kagan to make announcement regarding his prized music collection

Seven months after he officially retired from the entertainment business, following an extraordinary 50 year career, Sheldon Kagan will make a special announcement on Wednesday,  Sept. 30 at  Vanier College in St. Laurent.

Sheldon Kagan
I am sworn to secrecy as to what Kagan will be unveiling, but let’s just say it has something to do with his extremely prized collection of albums, cassettes, books, sound equipment and other memorabilia.  The event will feature a retrospective of his career and live music by Vanier’s third year improvisation ensemble.  

Kagan provided entertainment for weddings, corporate and special events. His services included disc-jockeys, orchestras, bands, classical and jazz musicians, sound and lighting, décor and theme evenings. Over five decades Sheldon Kagan International performed at thousands of functions and the company produced over 75 major concerts bringing in artists such as Dionne Warwick, The Commodores, Miles Davis, George Benson, Ravi Shankar, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Buddy Rich and many more. Kagan also has produced Le salon de Mariée wedding exhibition for the past 35 years.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Radio vet Tom Whelan joins Ted Bird Show on The Jewel 106.7 FM

The Jewel 106.7 FM has added another veteran to its roster.  Tom Whelan is now the news anchor on the Ted Bird Morning Show.

Radio listeners will best remember Tom as a producer and operator for the old CFCF/CIQC/940 News radio operations in Montreal. As Jewel Programming Director Ted Silver notes, Whelan also had a successful run as a voice over announcer.

Given the fact that the Jewel's mandate is to cover the West Island, specifically the Hudson, St. Lazare, Vaudreuil-Soulanges territory, I keep waiting to see if they will give a call to the multi-talented "Coach K" Kosta Papoulias as a sportscaster. Kosta is a major player on the internet radio show, a resident of St. Lazare and a popular fill-in sports anchor for CBC Daybreak 88.5 FM.  Whelan, by the way, lives in Hudson.

I have enjoyed the Bird Show as well as Tasso's drive home program. On some days I can actually hear the station in my car while driving in the West End. However,  I listen mostly online. It is refreshing to see a station with such a unique local mandate.

Monday 21 September 2015

Legendary Local Rabbi Sidney Shoham passes away suddenly

As he sat  in his office overlooking Yitzhak Rabin Park in the Montreal suburb of Côte Saint-Luc a number of  years ago, Rabbi Sidney Shoham’s eyes grew a little misty as he discussed how much BethZion Congregation meant to him.

 “There are a lot of memories here,”  he told me. “We pioneered the concept of the suburbansynagogue in Montreal.  Others, I believe, followed our example.”
Rabbi Sidney Shoham

Rabbi Shoham, who died suddenly Sunday evening, September 20 was a living legend in the Montreal Jewish community. For decades he was front and centre with local community organizations, holding top positions locally and nationally. He also had the distinction of being the only rabbi to ever chair the Combined Jewish Appeal campaign, primarily because of talents as a superb orator.

I met Rabbi Shoham as a toddler. As a lifelong member of Beth Zion, I would see him when I attended Hebrew school at the synagogue and I had the honour of him being at the pulpit at my bar mitzvah. I sat at my seat during the High Holy Days each year mesmerized by every word he uttered.  He was often very controversial. And that is what his audience expected.

Rabbi Shoham was a “very young” 86 years old. It was shocking enough nine years ago this Yom Kippur to hear his announcement on Kol Nidre that he was retiring after 50 incredible years at the bima and to become rabbi emeritus.  His death does not seem real. This is a man who beat cancer. I saw him on numerous occasions in the last few weeks, at the benefit Cats Concert I organized and golf tournament I co-chaired. He was the picture of health. Ironically, his last public appearance was only hours before he died at home – attending the annual Beth Zion Cantorial Concert.

When Rabbi Shoham retired, a  synagogue executive member asked. “How do you replace a legend. He has been the only rabbi this synagogue ever had.”

The synagogue had to go through three rabbis to find his proper successor.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland the son of Rabbi Yechiel and Rebbetzen Ethel Shoham, Rabbi Shoham attended the  Talmudical Academy of Baltimore grade school and then went to Mesivta Rabbi Chaim Berlin Rabbinical, Brooklyn, New York.  While studying in the Yeshiva, Rabbi Shoham attended  Brooklyn College at night and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in psychology.  Later, he attended graduate school at New York University, School of Psychology and continued his studies in Montreal at the Allen Memorial HospitalMcGill University where he furthered his courses in Pastoral Psychiatry. 

Rabbi Shoham arrived in Montreal in 1955 to visit his brother Gilbert, who was Rabbi of the Beit Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue on McKenzie.  While here, he met with an enthusiastic group of individuals anxiously waiting to build a new community in the western suburb of Montreal.  After discussions with the committee, several weeks later he was hired as the Rabbi of Beth Zion in the winter of 1956. Over the years he had been active with nearly every Jewish organization in the city, notably Combined Jewish Appeal, B’nai Brith and State of Israel Bonds.  Many Jewish organizations  held testimonial dinners in his honour. He  even hosted radio and television shows.

The synagogue itself began in a congregant’s home in 1952, four years before they hired Rabbi Shoham and moved into their present quarters on Hudson Avenue.

“There are a lot of memories here,” Rabbi Shoham, told me. “I have overseen five decades of torah studies, services, counselling, weddings, bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs. It’s like home to me.”

Rabbi Shoham recalled the early days of the synagogue. “At the time,” said the rabbi, “the park across the street from us had a baseball field. There were times when we did not have enough people for a minyan (10 men are required for prayer in the Jewish religion) so I’d go out to the baseball field and ask for a few volunteers. I was a pretty fair player myself and they wanted me to be part of their club. My message was simple. I’d join their team if they’d join mine. It worked.”

In fact, when he was young, Rabbi Shoham was considered a prospect for Major League Baseball.

From the 100 members it had when Rabbi Shoham arrived, that number rose at one time to more  than 1,000.

“To quote Hillary Clinton," said past president Eli Cohen,  “it  takes a village to build a community. And it's taken Beth Zion to help build the community. It is Rabbi Shoham who was innovative and who brought Beth Zion to the attention of the greater Montreal Jewish community.”

Funeral services will take place at Beth Zion Congregation in the main sanctuary at 10 am Tuesday, September 22, erev Yom Kippur. Shiva will be at 5703 Melling Avenue until 4 pm, Mincha at 3:30 pm.

To Rabbi Shoham's wife Jewel and  the entire family,  allow me to extend my deepest sympathies.


Sunday 20 September 2015

Vittorio Rossi looking to "Kickstart" his play The Envelope into a motion picture

After I first met noted Montreal playwright Vittorio Rossi last winter when he visited his old high school, James Lyng in St. Henri, we spoke about his then upcoming play at the Centaur Theatre called The Envelope.  I was very intrigued and made a point of going to see it. Needless to say, it was a great piece of work lambasting the Canadian film industry. In fact, my first thought was "Why can't this be turned into a motion picture?"

Vittorio Rossi

Rossi, who  has a small role as a police officer in the upcoming Montreal shot motion picture The Walk, is indeed thinking big about The Envelope. He wants to bring it to the big screen, but after depicting government funding for such projects as somewhat of a sham he plans to raise his own funds. As of October 1,he will launched a 40-day Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise $140,000, a sizeable amount but a meagre sum, even by indie film standards.

Rossi says he ispassionate about The Envelope’s universal theme of artistic integrity versus financial gain, which he’s filtered through the circumstance of a writer/director trying to make a Canadian film within the current landscape. “At one time or another, we’ve all discussed why we don’t care about or watch Canadian-filmed entertainment," he states. “The general public definitely has an opinion on the subject but what it may not know is why the state of the industry is the way it is. That’s why the making of this film is so important. If things are to improve, if we are to gain the recognition Canadian artists deserve, the system needs a major overhaul. Like the saying goes, ‘the same old thinking gets the same old results.’ Nothing will change if we keep hiding from the current state of affairs that this screenplay exposes.”

Kickstarter awards Rossi the money only if he meets his goal. He expanded on his choice to take this risky route. “As an artist I have to think big or go home! If I chose a crowdfunding campaign that gave me whatever I managed to raise, and it was only half or even three quarters of my goal, I’d have to make the movie with insufficient funds. My supporters wouldn’t see the film I envisioned and it would have little or no impact. I’ve taken the budget down to the bare minimum so if I can raise this amount, I can deliver what I imagine.”

Rossi already has an  all-Canadian cast in mind. They would include: Mark Camacho (X-Men: Days of Future Past, ACTRA Award for Outstanding Performance as President Nixon), Howard Rosenstein (well-known face to theatre audiences across Canada, most recently in Scotland, where he reprised his role of Red Peter in Kafka’s Ape at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and Brett Watson (a Ryerson performing arts grad with over 20 years of experience in film, TV, stage and voiceover). Stand-up comedian, Guido Cocomello, who blew Montreal audiences away revealing his dramatic chops in the stage version of The Envelope, would reprise his role as Marcello.

Relative newcomer, Vladimir Philogene is Rossi’s first choice for cinematographer. Simon Webb (Being Human and Mohawk Girls), who worked on Rossi’s first short film, Little Blood Brother, and is a 25-year film and television veteran, would be film editor. Sound goes to Gabor Vadnay, a two-time Gemini award-winner with over sixty film, TV and documentary credits to his name. Patrizia Pino (The Hunger and Further Tales of the City), another long-time teammate of Rossi’s, is coordinating the post production process.  

Rossi is calling in as many favours as he can to keep costs down and in addition to the feature film, he’s producing a companion documentary about the making of the film and the Canadian film industry. Donors at a certain level will have an opportunity to voice their opinions about the industry, whether they coincide with Rossi’s views or not. “Making a donation to my campaign”, stated Rossi, “tells me you think the Canadian film industry is broken too; that talented, experienced artists, not bureaucrats, should decide which film projects merit financial support; that funds need to be funneled into the promotion of our own Canadian stars; that pandering to the lowest common denominator does not a film make … all these elements currently in play only further damage our reputation as filmmakers at both the national and international levels.” 

On Thursday, October 1 between 5 and 7 pm, Rossi will celebrate the launch of his Kickstarter campaign at Old Montreal’s Ristorante Da Franco’s (233, rue Notre-Dame Ouest), a favourite Rossi hangout and the backdrop of the film’s story. Everyone is welcome: meet the cast, discuss filmmaking with Rossi and his team, and learn more about The Envelope and the crowdfunding campaign. Live Kickstarter donation stations will be at the ready for eager contributors. “Three K a day …” Rossi quipped, “… seems doable to me.”

For more on The Envelope on Kickstarter, go to; enter The Envelope in the Search Projects line.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Robyn Flynn and Jessica Rusnak to get their own hockey show on TSN 690

On the eve of another Montreal Canadiens hockey season, there is good news on the programming front at TSN 690 Radio.  Two female broadcast personalities who really know the game inside and out, Robyn Flynn and Jessica Rusnak, are getting their own show starting September 27. It will be called Centre Ice and air Sunday mornings at 10 am.  The official announcement is expected to come next week.

When I reached Flynn, she noted that this will be a hockey show primarily focused on the Habs and the NHL, but with some attention paid towards the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) as well. 

All I can say is it is about time!
Jessica Rusnak

Rusnak is one of the hardest working reporters on the beat. She has been covering Canadiens home games and practices for years and frankly I have always wondered why she did not get more airtime to guest host or do Sports Centre updates. The Pointe Claire resident has never been shy to ask the tough questions and really knows the game well. While most people in her position would have moved on by now to another opportunity, she has stuck with it. I hope that this new show allows her to shine and opens a few new doors.

Flynn is another success story. The Chateauguay native, who now calls NDG home, started off in 2011 as a volunteer at TSN 690 and sat in on any shift available. She soon found work on CJAD doing traffic reports and acting as a technical producer while still scoring some TSN 690 and Habs broadcast assignments. She is extremely articulate and like Rusnak she knows the game well. CJAD recognized her abilities when they made her the permanent mid-day technical producer for Tommy Schnurmacher and Barry Morgan.
Robyn Flynn

"I've been pushing for the chance to host my own hockey show for a while, and the timing just seemed to finally work out," Flynn says. "Jess Rusnak has been on the Habs beat for several years, and I've spent a good chunk of time in the Bell Centre press box and the visitor's locker room. I think that between the two of us, we'll be able to offer up some unique insight on the Habs and the NHL. I'm also really excited to talk about the CWHL. The women in that league work so hard, and the on-ice product is excellent. The more exposure and coverage they get, the better."

Sunday 13 September 2015

Yeh!Yogurt continues to expand; Fairview closure part of restructuring

Yeh! Yogurt and Café has closed its Fairview Centre location in Pointe Claire. But officials there note that the decision is related to restructuring at the company and the movement to franchised stores. 

Yeh!  is expanding rapidly in the Orient and the Middle East as well as Western Canada. They also just opened a Yeh! Express at the Walmart in Laval's Ste. Dorothée district.

The Fairview location was placed in the large food court. This did not turn out to be the best of spots. First off, there are many competitors in terms of dessert options. Paysanne Gelato, for instance, is placed right near one of the most convenient entrances near Old Navy.  Yeh! is better suited for storefront. My biggest gripe with the Fairview food court is the fact it does not have free WiFi, something the younger Yeh! customers tend to enjoy.

You can still get your West Island fix for Yeh! Yogurt at Cinemas Guzzos on Sources Boulevard. My sources tell me that another West Island presence is now being looked into.


Thursday 10 September 2015

Amanda Kline leaving CJAD for new Videotron cable show

 CJAD is losing one of its key behind the scenes players.

Amanda Kline, the producer of the Barry Morgan Show, will be joining her former colleague Tina Tenneriello on the new Videotron MAtv cable public affairs show called City Life. Tina is the host and Amanda will be a reporter.

Amanda Kline
The  27 year old Kline, raised on Montreal's West Island, was actually an interim producer. She assumed Sarah Deshaies duties when the latter moved to the morning show replacing Andrea Elias. Andrea is on maternity leave, but when she returns then Sarah resumes her role with Barry. So for Amanda, this is probably a good career move.

 "I'm really excited about the opportunity and what we are working on!" says Amanda, who is already looking for story ideas.  

Amanda has been with CJAD for a year as a producer and doing on-call reporting. Prior to that she was living in Toronto completing her Master's Degree in Journalism at Ryerson and chase producing  at  the CTV News Channel. I had many dealings with her at CJAD and she was really on her game. They will miss her.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Dollard's Ashley Sahakian a winner at Miss Canada Globe pageant

Dollard des Ormeaux’s Ashley Sahakian recently returned from Toronto and the Miss Canada Globe Pageant where was crowned Miss Quebec Globe.

Miss Canada Globe Productions was founded in May 2000 and has three distinct divisions: Miss Globe, Miss Petite International and Miss Teen Worldwide.  The vision of organizers is to recreate the glamour of pageants, with a stronger focus on education and equality.   Pageant titleholders are not limited to a specific height or cultural background. The goal is for candidates to gain the confidence and poise that can be applied to their personal lives and careers in order to advance in today’s competitive society.

The 20 year old graduate of Kuper Academy in Kirkland and John Abbott College in Ste. Anne de Bellevue entering her first year at the John Molson School of Business. As part of her continued connection to Miss Canada Globe, Ashley must make two appearances a month at different fundraising or community events. “I am excited about that,” she told me. “Giving back to my community is something I really took away from this experience.”
Ashley Sahakian

There were a total of 70 girls from across the country competing in Toronto: 14 in the Teen Division (14 to 18), 33 in the Petite Division (19 to 29 and under five-foot-five, and 19 in the Miss Division (19 to 26 and over five-foot-five).  Ashley, who was in the latter, says they all bonded quite nicely. “I made so many new friends,” she says. “We were kept very busy, with appearances at places like Canada’s Wonderland, Eaton Centre and enjoying   karaoke, a salsa night and a swimsuit runway competition we did just for fun. I wish I could do it all again.”

A total of three competitors were from Quebec, with Ashley finishing first regionally. “We had long days of walk training and dance rehearsals,” she explains. “We also had hair and makeup training followed by personal interviews. From there we competed for regional titles on stage in swimwear and evening gowns."

There was an interview and platform speech for the national competition. Ashley chose to talk about the Starlight Children's Foundation “because I found that what they do is simply incredible. Every child deserves to have a life full of fun and be able to just be kids without having to struggle greatly from illness and Starlight makes this happen.” Besides her regional honours, Ashley also finished among the top 10 nationally.

Ashley is currently recruiting girls for next year. She can be reached at


Friday 4 September 2015

Tina Tenneriello making a return to local media on MAtv

For months now readers have been asking me what happened to Tina Tenneriello, the energetic morning news reporter on CJAD.

Well she took some time off, before deciding to put her radio career on hold. Why? Well Tina is moving over to television and will begin hosting a new community public affairs show on Videotron’s MAtv called City Life. Details will be announced at a press launch on September 16, with the actual program set to debut September 30.
Tina Tenneriello

Tenneriello, 28, had what is known as one of the toughest shifts in the business. She arose weekdays at 4 a.m. and headed to the station, prepared to cover the hot news story of the day. It could be a fire, a murder or a political development, she basically had to be ready for anything, While the shift was supposed to end at 1 p.m., she could often be heard on air several hours later. Wearing my hat as school board spokesperson, I communicated with her often in the evenings when she should have been half asleep. She also made appearances on the Aaron Rand drive show.

“The long hours were really my doing,” Tenneriello told me. “I did not just do the breaking news. I also investigated follow ups on my own stories so that would keep me in the studio past my regular hours. I guess I wanted a better balance in my life and working on this new TV show will be fun.”

CJAD has had an array of individuals doing that shift over the  last few months, with newcomer Emily Campbell handling most of the calls lately. Tenneriello had taken over from Laura Casella, who went to City’s Breakfast TV and is now on maternity leave. Originally from Ottawa, Tenneriello came here at the age of 17 to attend the Université de Québec a Montréal, where she studied marketing. She then completed the graduate program in journalism at  Concordia,

We wish her good luck in this new endeavor and expect to see her on one  of the three main English language TV shows before long.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Idina Menzel's first concert in Montreal a huge success

Three years ago my family and I travelled to Boston to see international singing superstar IdinaMenzel perform. The drive was well worth it as this Tony Award winning gem puts on quite a show.

When I got a chance to interview Menzel at that time I naturally asked if she had plans to ever come to Montreal. “I’d love to,” she said, urging her press agent to look into the possibility.

Last December Menzel announced plans for a world tour and Montreal was on the schedule for September 1, 2015 at the Place des Arts. It seemed like a long way off when we purchased tickets, but well worth the wait. More than 3,000 Idina fans packed Montreal’s finest hall for a spectacular performance. The audience was composed of people of all ages and this included the very young thanks to the fact Menzel voiced the character of Elsa from the blockbuster animated film Frozen.

Following Menzel’s Boston concert, we went to New York City twice to see her most recent Broadway musical If/Then. We then waited patiently for September 1. Earlier this summer publicist extraordinaire Arlene Slavin arranged a telephone interview for me with Menzel – tidbits of which I will share later in this article. But first about this concert. Menzel entered the stage singing Defying Gravity from the Tony Award winning Wicked, in which she had the leading role of Elphaba the green witch. The crowd rose to its feet.
Menzel on stage.

“This is my first time in Montreal,” Menzel shouted to the crowd. “What an exquisite city.”

Backed up by a 16 piece orchestra, some of whom were hired locally for this night only, she performed for a solid two hours straight. There were no breaks or intermission. Menzel is the ultimate entertainer. She engages her audience with short anecdotes and makes her way into the crowd on certain occasions. Following a series of numbers, including selections from Joanie Mitchell, Cole Porter, Ethel Merman and the Police’s Roxanne, she took her shoes off and treated the stage like her living room. This led to the song Creep. “Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you do not feel like getting out of bed,” she said. “Maybe somebody broke your heart…and you want to put the covers over your head.”

When Menzel performs the song Take Me or Leave Me from Rent, she does more than merely sing it. This becomes one of the highlights of the show for she gives people from the audience, young and old, a chance to sing it with her. As she walked through actual rows of seats one man stopped to make it clear that he did not want to sing out loud. “But can I get a selfie with you?” she consented.
Alex Cohen gets to sing with Menzel.
We got to hear a song from If/Then, a superb musical which comes to Toronto in April. Go to for more details. Her acapella presentation of another song from Wicked, minus a microphone, was sensational. She saved perhaps the best for last, theme song from Frozen “Let it Go!” At this time she invited all of the young girls to join her up front and they did so with great enthusiasm. See this video clip. Frozen, for which the sequel is said to be set for 2018, has provided Menzel with a new generation of fans. Her encore consisted of a new young she wrote for her son and the classic “The Sun will come out tomorrow from Annie.”

Everyone left the hall very happy. A better performance we could not have asked for. Thank you Princeton Entertainment and Ruben Fogel Productions for making it happen.

 “I try to keep my concerts fun,” Menzel told me in my interview earlier this summer. “Singing in front of live audiences is simply what I love to do.”
Menzel brings youngsters up to sing  Let It Go near the end of the concert.
Frozen, which became the highest grossing animated film of all time at $1.3 billion, is destined for a sequel. “It was a career game changer, that’s for sure,” Menzel said. “Anytime you do something with Disney, it has the potential to become big. I just never thought   it would become this kind of phenomenon. It presented me with opportunities I never had before while the impact it has had on young children is a real gift.”

After the present tour, Mendel plans to help join the national tour of If/Then. “I want to be there for some of the openings,” she said.  “This musical is dear to my heart. There are some television opportunities percolating. Of course I want to spend time with the family and get my son set in school.”

If/Then starred Menzel as Elizabeth, a city planner emerging from a failed marriage. She also played Liz, a city planner emerging from a failed marriage. They're the same woman, of course; the show extrapolates her life in two different directions from one moment of choice.