Television

4 Reasons Why I Watched 13 Reasons Why

My daughter is a typical teenager, only she doesn't turn thirteen for another three months. She had been urging me to watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix because she wanted to talk about it. I had my marching orders, so I dove in.

Initially, I treated the task as if it were homework. There are thirteen episodes, each about an hour, so this was going to take some time. I only really have two or three hours a night for television, depending on the night, and I wasn't going to miss a Maple Leaf or Raptors playoff game. So my wife and I started watching an episode or two a night, a significant time investment.

13 Reasons Why was not written and produced for guys in their forties, so it was tough sledding at first. It employs this trick I hate where something happens and then it's revealed the character was just imagining it. I didn't like it when I saw it on The Sopranos and I don't like it when they do it on 13 Reasons Why. I never disliked the show, but I'm not certain I liked it. But it was homework, so I soldiered on.

Then, almost by surprise, I found myself invested in the characters. It got heavier and heavier and by episode nine I was completely hooked. There was no longer any doubt. I was enjoying this show and looking forward to each episode.

------> Spoilers below <------

Last week, I had CBC's Here and Now on while I worked. Someone from the school board was on talking about concerns they had about how this series treated suicide. Remember, the only reason I invested 13 hours in this program is because my 12.75 year old daughter watched the series and asked me to do the same so we could talk about it. I have four children, which actually gives me four reasons to watch. Here are my thoughts on this recent controversy...

Suicide is not glorified in any way. In fact, you not only see a promising young life cut short but you see the many people who suffer in the wake. Initially I thought the counsellor at the school was being blamed unfairly, but upon further reflection, I think it's a great catalyst for conversation.

And that's precisely what I love about this series. It's thirteen tremendous catalysts for conversations between parents and our children. My oldest daughter and I have been conversing about Hannah's suicide and her cassette tapes all week, and there's more discussions to be had.

It's this conversation that's so important. It's not whether Hannah was being vindictive or putting unfair blame on the school counsellor, it's about communication and knowing when to ask for help and how to spot someone in trouble. It gets heavy, as does life. Being a teenager can be awfully shitty and sometimes we forget that.

My homework assignment morphed into a thought provoking bonding experience between me and my daughter. That's as rewarding as television gets.

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I Watched the Speakers Corner Outtakes Video Tape

In September, I sat down with former-Citytv anchor Anne Mroczkowski for an episode of my podcast. She mentioned a video cassette of Speakers Corner outtakes the staff would watch at parties. I took a mental note that I had to see these outtakes.

Brother Bill, a popular deejay at 102.1 the Edge throughout the 90s and into the 2000s, heard that episode, and mailed me his tape of Speakers Corner outtakes.

For those of you from out of town or too young to remember, Speakers Corner was a television show on Citytv comprised of user-generated videos taken in a booth outside the Citytv studios at 299 Queen Street West. In the days before YouTube, it was really something.

A podcast listener named Grant lent me his VCR so I could finally watch this video tape. Here's what a saw.

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It begins with 45 minutes of... well... how should I describe this... It's good ol' consensual adult debauchery on stage while a hard rock band plays on. Since I don't want to host nudity or pornography on this site, this is only screen I could capture.

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On today's internet, we're all only two clicks away from better quality, more graphic content. These 45 minutes were a true throwback to the pre-web days.

Next up were some highly anticipated Speakers Corner outtakes. In a nutshell, it was lots and lots of nudity! Flashing aplenty. The star stickers were added by me to protect the identity of those on this well-circulated cassette.

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Then there's a lengthy clip of a couple having sex on a public street. This footage was taken in 1995 by a Citytv cameraman and contains real-time commentary from a group of guys.

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Back to more Speakers Corner outtakes! But this time, it's not just flashing. There's fellatio, cunnilingus and more!

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Then we have a few recordings from an American radio show. The first clip includes a well endowed guest and a pie.

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But wait, there's more! A trio of nude wrestlers engage in further debauchery and a woman distracts a newsreader by removing her top. Essentially, a Howard Stern influenced deejay convinces female guests to strip down for a radio show.

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If you enjoy flatulence humour, this next bit is for you. It's a religious show called Only Heaven Knows with farts inserted into the audio with hilarious results.

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And finally, if you've made it through all of that, there's a cartoon entitled "Lupo's Meat" "Lupo the Butcher" with plenty of swears and a decapitation to boot.

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Now I've finally seen the Speakers Corner outtake video and bonus material copied to VHS in the mid-90s, so you don't have to!

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Shomi is No More

Rogers introduced Shomi as a Netflix alternative only two years ago, but is already shutting down the service.

"We tried something new, and customers who used shomi loved it. It's like a great cult favourite with a fantastic core audience that unfortunately just isn't big enough to be renewed for another season," said Melani Griffith, Senior Vice President, Content, Rogers. "We will be reaching out to eligible customers in the coming days as we have a wide range of premium experiences available for people to enjoy."

shomi, a joint venture of Rogers and Shaw Communications announced today an orderly wind down with service ending November 30, 2016. As a result, Rogers expects to incur a loss on investment of approximately $100-140 million in its third quarter ending September 30, 2016 relating to the carrying value of its investment and a provision related to future liabilities in shomi.

I have Shomi, but I never paid for it. It was given to me with my internet service. Although I periodically complained about the interface, I enjoyed many of the shows available there, especially Transparent.

Season three of Transparent only dropped last week and now I have a couple of months to see it before it Shomi disappears. That'll be easy enough.

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The Problem with HBO's Vinyl

"A New York music executive in the 1970s hustles to make a career out of the city's diverse music scene."

That's the description of Vinyl. With Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger on board as co-creators, they had my curiosity, but with the HBO seal of approval, they had my attention. I had to see this.

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I watched all 10 episodes, quickly deeming it a low-rent Madmen wannabe, but the music and artist "cameos" kept me interested. After all, it's all about the music, and it's pretty cool seeing Alice Cooper, Joey Ramone, the New York Dolls, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Velvet Underground, Buddy Holly, DJ Kool Herc and others.

My biggest issue with Vinyl was the acting of Bobby Cannavale. His over-the-top performance of Richie Finestra was just too much, and often cringe-worthy. If he was supposed to be the Don Draper of Vinyl, Vinyl didn't stand much of a chance.

Rumour has it Cannavale has been good in other projects, such as Boardwalk Empire, but since I've not yet seen Boardwalk Empire, I just know him as the guy in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. As I recall, I didn't like him in that, either.

Vinyl has been cancelled, and it deserved to be cancelled. It's a shame, though. With better writing and acting, this could have been a great deal of fun.

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The Untold True Story of Ann Rohmer's Two Retirements from CP24

Ann Rohmer has been a fixture on Toronto television for decades. Before joining Citytv in 1986, she was a features reporter for Canada AM. At Citytv, she was the CityPulse Weekend sports anchor before joining David Onley as the first hosts of Breakfast Television on September 6, 1989.

Ann hosted BT for 12 years until she took an anchor position at CP24. CP24 and Citytv, you will recall, were both owned by CHUM Limited at the time. Ann would become an institution on CP24, hosting a wide variety of shows in addition to her anchor duties. Here's a sample of Ann Rohmer-hosted programs on CP24, either as primary host or fill-in host.

  • Hot Property
  • Animal House Calls
  • HomePage
  • Perfect Fit
  • More On CP24
  • Live at Noon
  • CP24 Breakfast

Needless to say, Ann became the most recognizable face on CP24, which is why I found it so puzzling when she announced her retirement in June 2010.

As you'll recall, there was a massive sendoff on CP24 as Ann was leaving the industry for a job in aviation. No specifics were given, but this Toronto Star article at the time quoted Ann.

And then, literally, the sky’s the limit. Though she can’t yet be specific, Rohmer will follow family tradition for a new career in the aviation industry. “Air travel, airlines, flight, it’s in our blood,” says Rohmer, whose father, General Richard Rohmer, is a former fighter pilot and chief of the air reserve. She herself was a Nordair flight attendant in the ’70s.

I assumed Ann was going to become head of communications at Porter Airlines or something like that, but by that fall, she was back on CP24 as if she had never left in the first place. CP24 did not address the reason for her return, or even the fact that she had returned to the anchor desk. This is when I began my quest to learn what really happened.

The closest I came to learning what really happened was when Steve Anthony visited my home for episode 123 of my podcast, Toronto Mike'd. I grilled Steve on the subject, and he did his best to answer. But, in retrospect, he was careful. Too careful.

Our story resumes in November 2015. That's when Ann once again announced she was retiring from broadcasting and CP24. Here's video footage of her big announcement.

Once again, gifts were purchased for Ann, a party was thrown and cake was sliced and devoured by many. Once again, Ann was cryptic about why she was retiring from broadcasting, only to say she was moving to Collingwood for the next chapter of her life. There was no mention of Ann's first retirement during celebrations for her second retirement. I even closed my entry about this second retirement with a snarky "Happy retirement, Ann! See you back on CP24 in a few months..."

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And here we are, about eight months later, and Ann is back on CP24. Once again, it's as if the retirement and public farewell never happened. But this time, I know the untold true story of why Ann has retired twice and returned to CP24 twice. My sources are impeccable, and I share this information with nothing but admiration for Ann. The following paragraphs took me six years to write.

In 2010, Ann complained to management about having to host CP24 breakfast and anchor the 5pm newscast. It was a gruelling schedule, and she was a veteran broadcaster. She told management she'd do one or the other, but not both.

Management called her bluff, and when the smoke cleared, Ann decided to retire in an attempt to recreate the happiest moments of her professional life. Those were her years as a flight attendant in the 1970s. She was a flight attendant for Air Canada when she was in university, and was an award-winning flight attandant at Nordair. Her first retirement in 2010 was not to head communications at Porter Airlines but to recapture the joys of her youth as a flight attendant.

It was only after her retirement party and departure from CP24 that Ann received her new compensation plan. It was far less than anticipated, and Ann negotiated a return to CP24, at a much reduced rate. And her return to the aviation industry was never spoken of again.

In the fall of 2015, Ann had her sights set on another role. She wanted to become Attorney General of Ontario. Ann is not a lawyer, but neither was Marion Boyd, so there is precedent. Of course, every other Attorney General of Ontario was a lawyer, but Ann was confident being the daughter of General Richard Rohmer would carry a great deal of weight in this regard, and she was no doubt inspired by former colleague David Onley who spent seven years as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

It's become apparent her campaign to be Attorney General of Ontario will bear no fruit, and Ann has negotiated another return to the airwaves. The question remains, is she merely back for the summer or longer term?

And when she retires a third time, will there be gifts and cake? And will it finally stick?

I'll stay on this story, as long as it takes.

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Ann Rohmer Returns to CP24 (Again!)

Over six years ago, Ann Rohmer left her job at CP24 for a position in the aviation industry. (Note: It took me 6 years, but I finally have the untold true story about this retirement and will share it here another day.) Then, mere months later, Ann returned as if she had never left in the first place.

I spoke to Steve Anthony about this in episode 123 of my podcast as he tried to make sense of it all. Give it a spin if you have an hour to spare.

Then, with a farewell cake and everything, Ann Rohmer retired once more from CP24. Speculation at the time was that she was stepping down in order to save another's job during the Bell Media cuts of November 2015.

A few days ago, there were several Ann Rohmer sightings on CP24. Comments like this one started arriving in my inbox. Is Ann Rohmer back for a third tour of duty at CP24?

According to the CP24 website right now, she's not only back, she's lead anchor.

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My question is, when she announces her retirement for the third time, will anybody bother to show up for cake?

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Canada AM Cancelled

CTV has announced that Canada AM will broadcast its final episode tomorrow.

Canada AM first hit the airwaves on Sept. 11, 1972 as Canada’s first morning television news program and ran for 43 seasons.

Your final Canada AM hosts are Beverly Thomson, Marci Ien and Jeff Hutcheson.

Bell Media has yet to announce what program or programs will be assuming Canada AM's 6-9am weekday timeslot.

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Jennifer Valentyne Fired as Live Eye Host on Breakfast Television

I read every news item this morning with great skepticism. The morning of April 1 is when news organizations like to have fun with fake stories. When Breakfast Television posted this to their Facebook feed, I thought it was in very poor taste. What's funny about someone losing their job, especially when Rogers Media let go over 200 people earlier this year?

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But then, I visited the Breakfast Television bios page. Yesterday, it included Jennifer Valentyne's biography. Today, this has been removed from the site.

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Jennifer started her career in 1987 at City as a weekend intern while attending school and performing as a cheerleader for the Toronto Argonauts. She had been on Breakfast Television since 1992. That was an impressive 24 year run.

I'm sorry this wasn't just a bad April Fool's Day joke. Here's hoping Jennifer lands on her feet.

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Hammy Hamster's Adventures on the Riverbank

Twelve years ago, I sang the praises of Hammy Hamster.

I remember fondly being mesmerized by Hammy Hamster. Hammy Hamster was the lead character in a television show entitled Hammy Hamster and he was indeed a hamster. Not a cartoon hamster, but an actual hamster. His best friend was G.P. who was a guinea pig and there were others. These riverbank creatures had calming adventures and I was just psyched to see actual rodents performing. It was very cool.

Now, thanks to Retrontario, we have a full episode of Hammy Hamster's Adventures on the Riverbank as it aired on Global TV back in 1982. It even has the original commercials.

That's my jam right there... sweet, sweet nostalgia.

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Gord Martineau Signs Off as CityNews Anchor

Surprise! Gord Martineau signed off as anchor of the six o’clock news for the last time today. There was no goodbye, no farewell tour, he signed off as normal and a press release was issued by Rogers.

From the press release:

Martineau began his career with City back in 1977 as anchor of CityPulse. A Montreal-native, Martineau easily adapted to the Toronto environment and became an important part of the community, bringing a new brand of newscast to Torontonians. Throughout the years, he led coverage of the biggest local stories of our time, from Terry Fox’s heroic marathon run, to international affairs including Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, and the events surrounding former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Here's something I wrote about Gord 12 years ago. As I wrote then, I don't remember a time he wasn't anchoring the six o'clock news on CityTV. I even ranked him #5 on my list of Canadian Gords.

Here he is returning to CityTV back in 1980 after a few weeks working for the Global Television Network.

Mike Cooper recently left his Rogers Media gig to much fanfare. Gord Martineau was the biggest name at City for decades and didn't even say goodbye. This doesn't look like a happy parting, but I won't speculate any further.

It's the end of an era.

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