Friday, 28 August 2015

Montreal gets another live morning TV show - sort of

Every weekday morning I switch TV stations back and forth between City's Breakfast TV and the Global Morning News. So imagine how surprised I was when I quickly passed by CBC and noticed what I thought was Daybreak host Mike Finnerty. I circled back and sure enough there he was with the complete Daybreak crew simulcasting their morning radio show between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. So I was not seeing things. It turns out that this was kind of soft launch of a very novel idea - something that is not uncommon in the United States and is done by some shows here nationally.
What a great idea!  Because we generally hear them only, radio personalities do not necessarily have to be attired the same way as their TV counterparts. Will that change for the Finnerty crew?  It was an interesting dynamic to be sure.

Finnerty is a terrific interviewer and for viewers it is really nice to put some faces to names.
Below is what they published on their website:
Starting this Monday, you'll get to go "behind the scenes" on CBC morning radio.
Daybreak, your local morning show, will broadcast between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on CBC Television. You'll be able to watch Mike Finnerty and the team as they bring you all the local news, guests and information you need to begin your day in Montreal.
Broadcasting Daybreak on television is about giving you, our audience, more ways to find us.
This will not replace your experience of listening to Daybreak in the morning.
The show will still air from 5:30 a.m. ET to 8:30 a.m. on Radio One. We're simply providing you another way to access the program. You'll see the Daybreak team broadcasting from Studio 20 in La Maison Radio Canada.
We'll also provide continuous local headlines and weather on screen.
Daybreak on the radio
We're using some pretty interesting technology to make this happen. Cameras have been installed throughout the Daybreak studio and control room.
These cameras are voice-triggered and follow whoever is speaking at any time.
The system works remotely with human intervention, leaving theDaybreak team to do what it does best — make great radio.
Computers Daybreak
So this Monday, Aug. 24, you have one more place to tune in to your favourite morning show – CBC Television. You can find Daybreak on CBC Television, CBC Radio (88.5/104.7FM), streaming online or on your CBC Radio app.
Make sure to check us out and as always, we want to hear from you. To let us know how we're doing, you can email me at or leave a comment.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

So You Think You Can Dance Top 10 Tour Montreal January

There are not too  many live shows I look  forward to seeing more than the So You Think You Can Dance Tour, which will roll into Montreal for the third successive year on Thursday, January 28. Instead of the Bell Centre, though, they’ll be at the 2,200 seat Theatre St. Denis.

The Top 10 finalists of SYTYCD, the 13-time Primetime Emmy® Award-winning show that sparked America’s fascination with dance, will captivate audiences once again this fall and winter.   Celebrating its momentous 12th season and its exciting new Stage v. Street format, the dancers will make their way across North America performing in 70 cities. The Season 12 tour lineup includes the following Top 10 finalists: Team Stage’s Gaby Diaz, Edson Juarez, Jim Nowakowski, Hailee Payne and Derek Piquette; and Team Street’s Megan “Megz” Alfonso, Eddie “Neptune” Eskridge, Virgil Gadson, Jessica “JJ” Rabone and Jana “Jaja” Vankova. 
Hailee Payne

Of course the show airs Mondays (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX and CTV. They are now down to the final six: Hailee, Alfonso, Jim, Gaby, Virgil and Jaja.   The tour kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, TX and crosses the United States and Canada with 70  stops. The first leg of the tour will wrap on December, 29 at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, ID. The dancers will then return for the second leg of the tour in Canada in January 2016.

Tickets go on sale to the public beginning Friday, Aug. 28. Visit for more information.

Let me tell you, there is hardly a more electrifying feeling than being in the audience for one of these shows. Consider that only a few months ago these very talented dancers were virtual unknowns. Now they are superstars. The shows I have attended never let me down and I loved watching how wild the spectators went for their favorites. I have also had the good fortune of getting to meet the top 10 in person  for interviews.

The folks at 19 Entertainment and dick clark productions have a real winner on their hands. Sadly for us, So You Think You Can Dance Canada was cancelled by CTV after only four seasons in 2011. Their tours, the  last one at the Bell Centre and prior to that Place des Arts, were pretty exciting as well.

SYTCD   recently received eight 2015 Primetime Emmy® Award nominations, including Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and Outstanding Host In A Reality or Reality-Competition Program (Cat Deeley), in addition to nominations for Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Hairstyling For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special, Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Series, and Outstanding Makeup For A Multi-Camera Series Or Special (Non-Prosthetic). SYTYCD’s exceptional costume team of Marina Toybina and Grainne O’Sullivan also won an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program.

“I am thrilled with this season’s new Stage vs. Street format and the brilliant, fresh talent we have discovered,” judge, executive producer and co-creator Nigel Lythgoe said in a statement. “These dancers have inspired the choreographers to create remarkable dance numbers each week, truly showcasing individual talent. I am excited for your favorite dancers to bring their inspiration and routines to even more cities on this year’s nationwide tour.”

Take a look at this video and enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Breaking News: P.F. Chang's Montreal locations sold to owners of Cage Aux Sports; Toronto locale closes

There is good news for fans of P.F. Chang’s. Groupe Sportscene, owners of among other things the very successful Cage Aux Sports franchise, has purchased the two Montreal area locations---one at Rue des Jockeys next to the former Blue Bonnets and the other at Carrefour Laval.

Last April the Canadian operation of P.F. Chang’s, run by Interaction Restaurants and CEO Michael Aronovici, filed  a Notice of Intention to make a proposal to creditors in order to obtain the courts` protection so they could gain time to find a strategic partner or a buyer.

The Toronto location in suburban Don Mills has been sold to Cara Foods and will no longer be a P.F. Chang’s. They will convert it into one of their other brands, possibly a Milestones, Montana’s or Kelsey’s.
Jean Bedard
I spoke to Jean Bedard, the CEO of Sportscene, who was very excited about this new venture. He recently returned from the head office of P.F. Chang’s in Phoenix where he got the go ahead to change the branding and adjust the menu. For starters, it will not be called P.F. Chang’s China Bistro – simply P.F. Chang’s. “We have more Asian cuisine than Chinese,” Bedard said. “The word ‘Chinese’ might make some associate with Chinese buffets. It is not necessary.”

For now Bedard’s goal will be to solidify the two Montreal area locales, which already have a loyal following. “The Cage has been around for 30 years,” he said. “We have resources. I must admit up until recently I did not know P.F. Chang’s was in Montreal. It needs brand recognition. I have always loved the place. When I take my family to Florida, that is the first place we go and eat. I have been to both of our locations. They are well operated and I think by adding them to our existing 200 restaurants will be a bonus.”

In the next week or so both Montreal area locations will be closed for three days in order to prepare for the rejigged menu, which will still have all of the staple favorites like chicken lettuce wraps,  Mongolian beef, crispy honey chicken, double pan-fried noodles and more.

Bedard said that once he is satisfied the two Montreal area locales are doing well, he will look towards expansion. He already has his eye on the South Shore,  downtown, the West Island, Quebec City and Gatineau. “After that we will look outside of Quebec,” he said.

In terms of continuity, the operating partners of two locations – Emile Haykal and Elie Sucar – will remain in place. That is great news as they know the business well.

As for Aronovici, he should be commended for bringing the storied brand to Canada.  “When it becomes evident that you cannot achieve your stated business objectives, the best thing to do is move on.,” he told me. “We had a lot of headwind on this project. The US dollar got much stronger, driving up many of our costs. The price of oil dropped badly hurting the Alberta economy, the economic situation in Montreal is worse than we had expected and the real estate market in Toronto is extremely hot driven by Western based casual dining chains looking to expand and the list goes on. Such is business. On to the next challenge!”