Category Archives: Entertainment

The Double J Jukebox: One Week in Music History

When our Digital Public History class was told we each had to do a podcast as a class assignment, and it could be about anything, in any format, as long as it was historical, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.

You may already know that I worked in radio for a couple of years last decade. I started as a reporter and then I became a newscaster, and for the most part it was pretty cool. (Terrible pay, but a cool experience.) But what I really wanted to be was a disc jockey.

I grew up surrounded by – no, immersed in – music. My mother was a semi-professional singer, and my sisters were talented singers too. My father and his brother played the guitar. Either a radio or a record player was always on at our house. And because my parents were into country music while my older siblings were ’60s and ’70s kids who loved Top 40, I received a very eclectic musical education at home. Nobody was surprised when I eventually started playing the guitar and singing too.

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Fab Five: Who was the real Fifth Beatle?

I took a Beatles history course in the Winter 2018 term, something that would have been inconceivable for 18-year-old me in 1988 as I sang “I Saw Her Standing There” at my high school’s talent assembly. This term paper and that course are, by far, the highlights of my undergraduate career.

(That said, please excuse the MLA citations; I had not yet switched my major and learned that Chicago-style is the preferred format for History).

* * *

For the past five-and-a-half decades, we have lived with the notion of The Beatles as “The Fab Four.”

Of course, at the beginning there were five Beatles in the group. In fact, six men are considered to have been full-time members of the band.

But, also for the past five-and-a-half decades, as we embraced and accepted the idea of a Fab Four of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, there has been speculation as to who, if anyone, could or should be considered the so-called “Fifth Beatle” – a person who is or appears to be as much a part of the band as the Fab Four themselves.

This paper will examine a number of leading candidates for the title of Fifth Beatle. They are, in alphabetical order: Neil Aspinall, Pete Best, Brian Epstein, Mal Evans, Murray Kaufman, George Martin, Chas Newby, Jimmy Nicol, Billy Preston, Tony Sheridan, Derek Taylor, and Stuart Sutcliffe. Each of these people have compelling cases, but this paper will show that if any one person really deserves the title of Fifth Beatle, it was the group’s producer, George Martin.

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Beatles Midterm Essay

This was my first Beatles essay, at midterm in Winter 2018. I don’t know why, but I didn’t give it a title when I submitted it for grading. It’s not as good as what I came up with for my final term paper, but it’s still worth sharing here.

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Do you want to know a secret?

Do you promise not to tell?

Actually, it really is no secret why The Beatles became the biggest rock band in the world by the mid-1960s.

There were many reasons why, after years of struggling in their hometown of Liverpool, they suddenly catapulted to fame in their native Britain before conquering America and the rest of the world in relatively short order. This paper will outline the main factors involved in their meteoric rise.

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Great day for hay: Jared Keeso’s “Letterkenny” hits the small screen



The focus is on Jared Keeso.

And that makes him uncomfortable.

It’s an unusual attitude for someone who makes his living in the performing arts, but it’s Keeso’s reality. Tonight is one of those times when he has to face up to it.

The 31-year-old actor is sitting in a chair on a stage in a packed theatre at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Family members, friends and admirers have filled the 220 seats, and they’ve all just watched the world premiere of Keeso’s new CraveTV comedy series, “Letterkenny.” (Season 1 begins streaming on Super Bowl Sunday.)

They love what they’ve seen, and now they’re watching Keeso. He appreciates their appreciation. But he doesn’t particularly enjoy being the centre of attention in this environment. He sits hunched forward in his chair during the entirety of a question-and-answer session with the audience, unable to completely relax.

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19-2 returns: “It’s unlike anything you’ve seen on Canadian TV before”


Originally published on Yahoo Celebrity, January 19, 2015.

The intense cop drama “19-2” is about to burst out of your screen.

Which is appropriate for a TV show that is also just now starting to burst into public consciousness.

The show, which just received 10 Canadian Screen Award nominations, including one for best drama, has its second-season premiere on Monday night on Bravo. It was Bravo’s top-rated original series last season, and hopes are high for a new slate of 10 episodes.

Unlike most dramas that use a slate of episodes to build toward a culminating moment, “19-2” begins in ultra-high gear with a mass school shooting.

The hour-long episode is violent and graphic and jarring. It will be repeated in a commercial-free encore the following night on the full CTV network, which also aired repeats of Season 1 last summer.

“It’s going to make some waves, I can promise you that,” says series co-lead Jared Keeso, who’s up for best actor in a drama. “Buckle up. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen on Canadian TV before.

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Once a teacher: Scott Russell is still delivering important lessons

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Scott Russell

Scott Russell wanted to be a school teacher. And he achieved that dream.

But when he got there, he realized it wasn’t exactly the kind of teaching he wanted to do.

So in the spring of 1984, he quit his job at West Hill Secondary School in Owen Sound, Ontario, and returned to the University of Western Ontario in London to study journalism.

A year later, he emerged with a master’s degree and also began a relationship with CBC that continues to this day, having become one of Canada’s most visible – and tireless – sports broadcasters.

How tireless is Russell? This year alone, he journeyed to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, then hosted CBC’s coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, then went back to Europe for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

It’s a workload that made him an obvious choice as the year’s outstanding broadcaster, as chosen by Sports Media Canada. He was presented with his award at a banquet on Wednesday in Toronto.

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Sustained success as last: Actor Jared Keeso is finally breaking through

Jared Keeso as Ben Chartier

Jared Keeso is a big fan of second chances.

It was a second chance that gave new life to his acting career after his award-winning turn as legendary hockey coach/broadcaster Don Cherry in two well-received CBC movies.

And it was a second chance that allowed Keeso’s newest project to find a home on the airwaves. “19-2,” a police drama set and filmed in Montreal, debuts later this month on Bravo and CTV.

Keeso is a native of Listowel and a former junior hockey player who used his on-ice expertise to win the role of Don Cherry in the movies “Keep Your Head Up, Kid” and “The Wrath of Grapes.” After those successes, his career seemed to stall while CBC tried to find another project for him.

The network came up with “19-2,” an English adaptation of a popular Quebec series of the same name. Keeso was hired as one of the series’ two leads, a police officer named Ben Chartier. But then CBC pulled the plug after filming the pilot episode.

“That’s one of those things that, as an actor, it’s just so heartbreaking,” he says. “You do great work with great people, and then all of a sudden someone tells you that you can’t do that anymore. So it was pretty crushing.”

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Alfie Fromager looks back

Originally published in the Owen Sound Sun Times, July 31, 2007.

Any way you look at him, Alfie Fromager is a big man.

He stands nearly six feet tall and weighs well over 250 pounds. Yet his dominance of a room stems not from his frame but from his friendly personality and his booming laugh.

He’s big in terms of his reputation, both as a person and as an entertainer. Nine years after he retired from life as a full-time country musician, his fans constantly implore him to perform again and flock to see him whenever and wherever he does.

“Everywhere we go, every party we sing at, they go crazy over him,” said his daughter Della Fromager, his longtime musical partner. “They could just die for what he does. He’s always been an entertainer.” Continue reading