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Before you say goodnight, Gracie, listen to my decades-old interview straight from the vault with comedy legend George Burns. The conversation was recorded in December of 1985, back when Burns was about to turn 90 and I was a rookie writer with the Canadian edition of TV Guide magazine.The audio was recorded 37 years ago on a Sony cassette tape I've kept among dozens of others dating back to my days at the magazine. I spoke with Burns and his manager, Irving Fein, at the comedians office on a studio lot in Hollywood. We talk about his incredible career spanning vaudeville, radio, television and film, including his nearly 40 year marriage and comedy team partnership with Gracie Allen. He also talks about "these comedy kids today" (Billy Crystal, Bill Cosby, etc) and his Oscar win at 80 for "The Sunshine Boys." He also shares memories of vaudeville pals such as Harpo Marx, hints on diet and exercise (he lived to be 100) and why he only smoked cheap cigars on-stage and off-.Travel back in time and listen to a true Hollywood legend -- as well as George Burns.  Out of the vault now at
Mary Mammoliti -- a home cook and a food blogger with a significant loss of vision -- has no trouble finding her way around the kitchen. She is also very at home in front of a TV camera. The second season of her AMI-tv series, Dish with Mary, just started airing on Tuesday nights and can also be streamed on demand on and the AMI-tv App. Listen as Mary describes how she pivoted from being a financial advisor to a food blogger and eventually a TV chef as her vision became more and more limited. Actually, there's nothing limited about her vision, or her reach, as you'll lean on this podcast. The Toronto resident tells how she copes in the kitchen and how her other senses help her create memorable meals. She also talks about the fellow food enthusiasts from across Canada that she has welcomed as guests on her series. So listen in and dish along with Mary!
Comedian Ron James

Comedian Ron James


We catch up with comedian Ron James as his bestseller, "Ron James All Over the Map," is nominated for the Stephen Leacock Award. If you haven't read it yet, the book is 100 per cent Ron, all in his voice -- 275 pages; four commas!James is also pumped to be performing a rare standup set July 16 at the Avon theatre as part of the Stratford Festival. His post-pandemic schedule also just included a comedy concert swing through British Columbia. Then there's his role on the Nova Scotia-based series "Trapped," which John Doyle of The Globe and Mail recently raved about. All in all, these are peak times for James.We also touch on some serious stuff: the recent passing of so many celebrated comedians such as Bob Saget, Norm MacDonald and Gilbert Gottfried. James also talks about his admiration for comedy legends Billy Connolly and George Carlin. We speculate on what the heck is happening with that SCTV documentary. And then there's his epic choice for all-time favourite TV theme song. Sing along with James on a sweet and lively conversation. 
After a two year delay, The Amazing Race Canada is finally back on the starting line. Host Jon Montgomery returns and shares his thoughts with Season 8 set to kick off Tuesday, July 5 on CTV. Jon's love of Canada is genuine and infectious as you can hear on this podcast episode. The Olympic gold medalist addresses the challenges in re-mounting Canada's most-popular summer series after a two-year pandemic pause.Jon also talks about some of his favourite teams from past seasons as well as the destinations, both foreign and domestic, he enjoyed visiting the most. This year's Race is, as it was on Season 7, run in Canada only, a wise decision or the ten new teams would probably still be trying to get past customs at Pearson.One thing that hasn't changed is the grand prize money: still a cool quarter million. Plenty of other prizes, too, including cars and flights.Listen in as Jon also tells what TV shows he's currently binging, the series he enjoyed the most as a  youngster and his favourite, all-time TV theme song -- which he even sings! It's always a blast catching up with Jon Montgomery.
"Henderson has scored for Canada."Those five words, spoken by radio and TV legend Foster Hewitt, had me and five friends jumping up and down all over my parent's house on September 28, 1972. We had just witnessed history as Team Canada came back to defeat The U.S.S.R. in an eight game hockey summit series that put the Cold War on Ice.This episode, I speak with author, sports commentator and former Toronto Sun colleague Scott Morrison. His new book, "1972: The Series That Changed Hockey Forever," is the A-Z on a dramatic and unforgettable event. Scott spoke with several hockey heroes, including Phil Esposito (who wrote the forward to the book), Paul Henderson, Brad Park, Bobby Clarke, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Ron Ellis and others and answers every lingering question -- including whether or not Pat Stapleton smuggled the winning puck out of Moscow.   Come back to September of 1972 in this conversation steeped in nostalgia -- not just for the days of a 14-team NHL but for a nation and a culture where colour TV was still a novelty and bitcoins was what you did to see if coins were real.
Part Three of "Battle of the Network Stars: Executive Division" features CBC Executive Vice President Barbara Williams.Williams, a respected industry veteran who called the shots at Global prior to joining CBC,  oversees all of the public broadcaster’s English language programming services. This episode finds her just back from the Banff TV fest and fresh off the news of a long-term deal between CBC and Toronto's historic Massey Hall. CBC also just picked up a Peabody for Sort Of, the Toronto-lensed comedy starring Bilal Baig that returns this fall to CBC and HBO.On the podcast, we walk through several programming decisions with the focus on what's new for 2022-2023. We also talk about the future of Coroner, which ended after four seasons with the departure of lead Serinda Swan. Might it return? And what of Private Eyes? Did CBC make a play for the popular Jason Priestley PI drama unceremoniously jettisoned by Global?
Part II in our series, "Battle of the Network Stars: Executives Division," features Daniel Eves, Senior Vice President, Broadcast Networks, Corus Entertainment.Eves helped guide the network to a breakthrough last fall when Global became Canada's No. 1 draw in Core Prime (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.). While CTV still won the full, Fall/Winter/Spring season, Global's September through December run was their first fall victory in 20 years.Eves took an unusual route to programming. He studied film at Waterloo ("I don't think they even offer it there anymore," he says), interned at Alliance/Atlantis and started working for Showcase. “I started to realize that there was this whole other world where I can pick shows and buy shows and manage a schedule..." he says. "I abandoned everything else I ever thought of and said that just seems like the thing I want to do.”Things seem to be working out so far. Listen in as Eves talks Hollywood screenings, Upfronts, and Survivor's lasting appeal.
Fresh off the Canadian Upfronts, we kick off our "Battle of the Network Stars: Program Executives Division" with Justin Stockman, VP Content Development & Programming and Pat DiVittorio, VP Programming, CTV & Specialty. They outline CTV and Bell's goals for the 2022-2023 season. New US imports include East New York, Rookie Blue: Feds and Alaska with Hilary Swank and later a Night Court remake set for mid-season. Bell also has plenty of Canadian originals set to join Transplant on their schedule. The return of The Amazing Race Canada after a two-year pandemic pause should jolt CTV's summer. Will it all be enough to insure a 22nd-straight year at the top of the Canadian network ratings? 
When it comes to ratings and putting today's television landscape in context, I always call on the Programming Insider himself, Marc Berman.The New York native has been a friend and colleague since he began attending the Television Critics Association's semi-annual network press tours in 1999. Back then, Marc was reporting for Mediaweek; before that, he worked in the research department for NBC.Now his insights and analysis -- as well as his unbeatable knowledge of TV trivia -- can be found daily at his Programming Insider site as well as at his regular contributions for Forbes online.In this conversation, we look at the recent TV upfronts in New York and ask: have traditional broadcasters simply surrendered the future to streamers? Berman doesn't think so but he does wonder if they didn't blow a big opportunity this fall by not offering a more dynamic content mix for consumers. Listen in also for what he's binging now, his favourite shows as a youngster and Marc's all-time favourite TV theme song. Plus find out which famous TV star used to call him daily for ratings!
As fans old and new will discover, podcast guests Dave Foley and Mark McKinney, along with fellow troupers Scott Thompson, Bruce McCullough and Kevin McDonald, are sketchier than ever. Twenty-seven years after their last season, their brand-new re-boot of The Kids in the Hall, premiers Friday, May 13 on Amazon Prime Video.  That's also where to watch "The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks," a two-part documentary premiering one week later on May 20.Foley and McKinney have enjoyed successful careers in television on both sides of the border. Hear their take on staying relevant as they enter their sixties plus what notes they received this time around from executive producer Lorne Michaels. They also discuss how the lingering pandemic may have helped the writing process and how much they love their eternally cool theme song, "Having an Average Weekend."
Jay Baruchel, who visited here about a year ago, returns to talk about his latest project, We're All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel). The six-episode docu-series premiered April 30 on Crave and can be streamed now on demand.The 40-year-old actor-director-filmmaker returns to his roots, going way back to his teen years when he was a  correspondent for Popular Mechanics for Kids. Here he's on a quest to investigate various end-of-the-world scenarios, including an asteroid Armageddon; a nuclear catastrophe; a pandemic pandemonium; an alien invasion; a volcanic cataclysm; and a climate apocalypse. This episode includes clips from the series plus a shorter-than-usual chat with Jay, who is hella busy. Besides his recent hosting duties on LOL: Last One Laughing Canada, Baruchel was in St. John's directing episodes of Mark Critch's CBC series Son of a Critch. He can also be seen in the new Kids in the Hall series, coming up mid-May on Amazon Prime Video.
 Billed as "The World's Slowest-rising Comedian," Ronnie Schell has been making people laugh for seven decades.His story began at The Purple Onion and the hungry i in the late '50s where Schell shared stages with The Kingston Trio and Phyllis Diller. From there, the now 90-year-old seemed destined for showbiz success.His TV history starts as a contestant on "You Bet Your Life" with Groucho Marx. The big break came with "Gomer Pyle, USMC" where he played Jim Nabor's army pal Duke Slater. He shared top billing with Montreal-born Joby Baker, Billy De Wolfe and newcomer Goldie Hawn on the radio station sitcom "Good Morning World" -- a series co-created by previous guest Bill Persky.Schell went on to a string of Disney movies in the '70s and '80s starring some of the biggest names in comedy, including Don Knotts, Tim Conway, and Phil Silvers.That was his voice on many Hanna-Barbera animated series, including versions of The Flintstones, The Smurfs and Scooby-Doo. Almost 50 years ago, a request came in to voice a character that was a hit with Canadians -- Peter Puck. The character explained hockey rules to Americans on NBC. In real life, Schell didn't know an icing from an off side!Hear these stories and many more, including the names of a few famous headliners Schell was not a fan of, as he looks back on a half-century of entertainment history. 
Are you ready to go Tripping with Mitch Azaria? The executive producer behind two very successful real-time travel documentaries for TVO is back with a third: "Tripping the Bruce." It premieres Friday, April 15 on TVO and repeats on Sunday the 17th. Bruce Who? Bruce Peninsula, silly. That glorious, prehistoric Great Lakes land mass that separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay. I've spent all my summers cottaging there and I still did not know most of the amazing factoids that flash upon the screen during this three-hour sailboat ride across the tip of the peninsula.  Did you know that the Bruce is home to it's very own sub-species of black bear? That a reported one thousand shipwrecks surround its coasts -- the world's largest collections of intact wooden shipwrecks? That it is home to 150 species of migrating birds?Mitch knows all and shares more fun facts, including how he and a small crew were able to capture the Bruce in all its glory from the deck of a sailboat last summer. Listen in, and see you up at Flowerpot Island this summer.
Phil Keoghan

Phil Keoghan


Come on down Canada, says Phil Keoghan.The New Zealand-born host of The Amazing Race is throwing the doors open to any Canadian who wants to prove themselves on his other show, Tough as Nails.Canadian citizens 21 or older can now apply to be on the CBS series, which will be retuning next season on Global.  Tough as Nails features competitors at work sites who are challenged to prove themselves as individuals and as team members.Keoghan, 54, agrees that the war in Ukraine has raised the bar when it comes to toughness under fire. He created this series, together with his wife Louise Rodrigues, with an aim to present a positive salute to ordinary heroes.There’s also a substantial cash prize: $200,000 – American – and a Ford Super Duty truck.Keoghan is hoping Canadians do well. After all, at one time he enjoyed landed immigrant status. His family lived in Guelph, Ont., for nearly four years when Keoghan was a lad, and he’s been back many times since.Back in the ‘90s, however, a Calgary border official tore up his Canadian status card. That was a drag, he says. “I was kind of proud of being a landed Canadian immigrant.”Good thing he doesn’t hold any grudges. Canadians can fill out a CBS casting application for Tough as Nails by following this link. Listen to the podcast to get more information. You’ll also hear Keoghan’s inspired answer to how people of all ages can seize the day with his “No Opportunity Wasted” philosophy.
Those stylin' siblings, Carolyn Wilbrink and Billy Pearson, are back with a second season of Farmhouse Facelift (Tuesdays on HGTV and streamable on StackTV).  They launch their ten new episodes by tackling a much-needed renovation on an Ontario farmhouse built in 1881.Shooting a second season in the middle of the pandemic was a challenge, they say, not just in having to obseve all the production protocols, but also dealing with sharply-rising prices and supply issues. In some cases, projects started in summer did not get finished until winter and vice-versa.Still, the wait was worth it for Ron and Jason, whose 141-year-old farmhouse needed a whole re-think. Carolyn and Billy had to put together a plan that would also accommodate Ron's 84-year-old grandmother, who raised her family in the cherished homestead. The challenge for Billy and Carolyn, who were raised in a farmhouse themselves, was to combine country charm with 21st century convenience on a multi-generational level -- and on a $100,000 budget (stretched thanks to sponsor support).It all leads to a sweet and satisfying happy ending. Hear more from Carolyn and Billy on a fun and free-wheeling podcast conversation.
Since 2008, HGTV host and handyman Scott McGillivray has helped homeowners throughout North America turn their properties into income opportunities. In his latest series, Scott’s Own Vacation House (premiering March 14), he applies lessons learned on Vacation House Rules (returning in April for a third season) to his newly-acquired cottage property in the Kawarthas. There Scott and his family, wife Sabrina and daughters Myah and Layla, set about renovating three 40-year-old cottage structures plus a boathouse. Helping is his “secret design weapon," Debra Salmoni.First up is turning the guest cottage into a beach house, a spectacular transformation that begins with the removal of a 100-foot-tall white pine teetering inches from the front roofline of the cottage. After hiring a chain saw whiz who scampers to the treetop like a circus trick, McGillivray trucks the giant trunk off to a mill and has the pine turned into a portico.On the podcast, we also discuss the soaring increase in properties (and in renovation costs), the impact of rising interest rates and the “rental tax” being introduced throughout Ontario’s cottage country.  Plus there’s Scott’s cheer-full pick for his favourite TV theme song of all time.
Last year, "Hearties" turned out in force to listen to our episode with two of the stars from When Calls the Heart, Pascale Hutton and Kavan Smith. With the Langley, BC-based series returning for a ninth season March 6 (on Super Channel Heart & Home), it's time to hear from Andrea Brooks. This is her eighth season as (now doctor) Faith Carter on the ever-popular Hallmark series. The Brantford, Ont., native grew up in Vancouver and has credits on several BC-based series, including a fun run as troublemaker Eve Teschmacher on The CW's Supergirl. Brooks shares stories working opposite Jon Cryer (as Lex Luthor) on that series. She also talks about her recent UP network movie "Fishing for Love." Brooks drops a few hints as to what fans have to look forward to in Season Nine -- it gets a little Bachelor-y -- and agrees that, yes, the Hope Valley wardrobe has evolved from corsets to "Frontier Caszh."The new mom also picks an animated children's show as her all-time favourite TV theme song -- sung by none other than the late '50s rocker Little Richard.
Ennis Esmer

Ennis Esmer


Ennis Esmer plays the grass is always greener guy on Children Ruin Everything. Unlike his married workmate James (Aaron Abrams), he’s the guy with no kids, no responsibilities, and no money worries.It’s a character that should be hard to like but, when it comes to Canadian TV shows and movies, Esmer is always welcome.Born in Turkey and raised in Toronto, the actor-comedian has been the secret weapon on several series. He played “Oz” on The Listener, “Maz” on Private Eyes, Nash on Red Oaks and Rich Dotcom on Blindspot. He acts in Canadian indie films with the sexiest titles, including “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town” and, of course, “Young People F---ing.”Now he gets to play a guy named Ennis on Children Ruin Everything. The CTV sitcom airs its season finale Feb. 23 and is already renewed for a second season. Esmer has credits on a variety of other shows, including Man Seeking Women, The LA Complex, Covert Affairs and Schitt’s Creek. He’s been a host on everything from the Canadian edition of Wipeout to the Gemini Awards and, most recently, Roast Battle Canada.Not bad for a guy who arrived in Canada with his family at three and learned to speak english from watching TV!
Arnold Pinnock

Arnold Pinnock


Arnold Pinnock welcomes viewers to step back in time 100 years with The Porter. The historical drama premieres Monday, February 21 on CBC and CBC Gem (and later this year on BET).Based on true events, this is a little-known slice of Canadian history. This tale of Black porters working out of Montreal in the 1920s and battling to form their own union is a passion project for Pinnock. He learned about it several years ago while working on another project near Montreal's Little Burgundy neighbourhood. That area of predominantly Black settlement was home to pianist Oscar Peterson, whose father was a porter.Pinnock teamed with Bruce Ramsay and Sienna Films to bring these stories to life. They pulled together a wonderful cast, which includes Ami Ameen, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Mouna Traore and Alfre Woodard, among others.  Vintage trains stationed in Winnipeg, where production was based, add a great deal of authenticity to the narrative.Pinnock himself has a history worth celebrating. Canada's first Black member of the Second City improv troupe, his comedy resume includes credits on The Royal Canadian Air Farce and Baroness von Sketch Show. In series work, Pinnock has appeared on Life with Derek, Combat Hospital, The Listener, Travelers, Cardinal and Hudson & Rex. In movies, he has starred opposite Chris Rock and Liam Neeson. All aboard the Pinnock podcast express, the best way to arrive at The Porter. 
Colin Mochrie

Colin Mochrie


When I heard who the ten comedians were for LOL: Last One Laughing Canada, my first thought was just give the trophy to Colin Mochrie now.Coming to Amazon Prime Video Feb. 18, the six-episode series follows similar LOL reality competitions featuring the best comics from Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain and other countries. It features previous podcast guest Jay Baruchel as host and two other past guests among the competitors – Andrew Pfung and K Trevor Wilson. The others are Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Debra DiGiovanni (Humour Resources), Dave Foley (The Kids in the Hall), Jon Lajoie (The League), Tom Green (The Tom Green Show), Mae Martin (Feel Good), and Brandon Ash Mohammed (This Hour Has 22 Minutes).That’s a strong field, but Mochrie would still seem to have the edge. All those seasons keeping a straight face next to Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, Brad Sherwood and others on Whose Line is it Anyway should have him battle ready and steeled for success. Being married to a very funny lady, Deb McGrath, has also honed his skills working without a script. And, aye, being born in Scotland dona hurt either.Mochrie has also watched all of the other LOL’s including the Australian one hosted by Rebel Wilson. We assess the competition, and both agree that Baruchel would be terrible at this game because he's an easy laugh. “He’d win if the game was who can swear the most,” says Mochrie.
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