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Barbers beware; Sheepdogs documentary airs Monday on Super Channel

- December 12th, 2013

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The Sheepdogs suddenly were running around in a much bigger pasture.

It was back in August 2011 that the Sheepdogs, a previously largely unknown rock band from Saskatoon, graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The group had won a contest, in which Rolling Stone picked an unsigned up-and-coming band for its cover.

Things changed for the Sheepdogs overnight. They had been given a golden opportunity. The question, however, was whether they could take advantage of it.

That’s the general setup of the documentary The Sheepdogs Have At It. An original production for Super Channel, it makes its TV debut on Monday, Dec. 16.

The Sheepdogs certainly have a striking look to them. If it were 1970, no one would blink an eye. But in 2013, the long hair and the beards certainly give the band a throwback vibe. In fact, their Rolling Stone cover featured the headline, “The Sheepdogs: A Very Hairy Rock & Roll Fairy Tale.”

That was part of the challenge the band faced in its early days. Early in 2011 they were touring in an oft-broken van, playing a vintage brand of music that they were told repeatedly had no future, especially if they ever hoped to grasp the holy grail of radio play.

When I’ve seen and heard the Sheepdogs – most recently it was when they performed at the Grey Cup in Regina – they bring to mind the Guess Who or the Stampeders (the band, not the football team). Their sound is a mixture of those two bands with some Southern rock thrown in for extra spice.

The Sheepdogs Have At It follows the band members – Ewan Currie, Leot Hanson, Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett – into a Nashville recording studio as they make their new album with producer Patrick Carney from the Black Keys. The doc also tells the tale of the band’s origin and features concert footage from across North America.

The overall impression is that the Sheepdogs are neither sheep nor dogs, but rather their own unique breed of Canadian animal.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Host Arisa Cox keen to bring some sporty spice to Big Brother Canada

- February 22nd, 2013

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Arisa Cox, sports reporter.

Okay, not literally.

But in her role as host of Big Brother Canada, which debuts Wednesday, Feb. 27 on Slice and Global, Cox will have to call upon some sports-reporting skills.

Think about it: Cox (pictured above) will be the one doing the exit interviews when contestants are booted from the Big Brother Canada house. It’s as if they’re athletes who have just lost the big game and have to face the media.

“That’s a perfect analogy, actually,” Cox said. “Because they’ve still got that adrenalin running through their systems.

And a lot of times when people are evicted from the house, they didn’t see it coming. For a viewer, those are the best evictions, for sure. But a lot of the contestants are really blindsided when it happens.

“So just like an athlete, they’re coming out of this extremely stressful situation. They’re already so overwhelmed from being in this surreal life experience, and then they pop out, and there’s a huge live studio audience, and cameras, and I’m there.”

That’s when Cox will have to be at her best, gauging what approach to take to get the most out of her interview subjects.

“There are millions of things going through their heads, but it’s a really good time to get at some of the meat of the drama that has happened in the house,” Cox said. “So I’m really excited to do those exit interviews.”

Cox described the Big Brother Canada hosting gig as the “perfect job” for her. It gives her an opportunity to call upon many of the things she has learned through her career, both on-camera and behind the scenes.

I think having come from a reality-show background myself (Cox was a house-guest in the first season of Canadian reality show The Lofters back in 2001), and before that journalism, I feel that you have to come at this with a fair amount of levity, because it is, of course, entertainment,” Cox said. “But at the same time, you do have to bring a certain amount of gravitas to it, because it is serious for the people in the house.

I think what I’m bringing to the table is a certain amount of empathy. Sympathy is not the right word, because I don’t feel sorry for anyone on this show. They’ve all volunteered with their eyes wide open, the (U.S. version) has been on TV, they know what they’re getting into. But that said, the second they’re in that house, and the applause has died down, and there’s nothing to do but talk and be with other people and interact, it becomes really real and a little bit scary.

“So I definitely have empathy for the people and what they’re going to be going through, because audience members get the wrong idea that it’s easy. It’s a hard, hard thing these guys are going to do.”

As hard as trying to win the Stanley Cup or the Grey Cup or the Super Bowl or the World Series?

Well, the reporting side of it is very similar. But at least Big Brother Canada host Arisa Cox won’t have to venture into a sweaty locker room.

* Want to know who the Big Brother Canada contestants are? Click here. *

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Canadian Football League makes a “guest appearance” on The New Normal

- November 18th, 2012

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Is someone associated with The New Normal a Canadian Football League fan?

In light of the CFL Eastern final taking place today (Sunday, Nov. 18 on TSN) between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes, I thought I’d point out something odd that I saw in a recent episode of the rookie sitcom The New Normal, which originates on NBC and also airs in Canada on CTV.

In a scene during the Oct. 23 episode (titled The Godparent Trap), David (Justin Bartha, pictured above left) was sitting on a couch watching TV when his partner Bryan (Andrew Rannells, pictured above right) walked into the room. There was a quick camera cut to what David was watching on TV.

It was a football game. But not an NFL game, or an NCAA game, as one might expect because of the show’s California setting.

Rather, any Canadian sports person instantly would recognize that it was a CFL game, between the Argos and Als. It was seen just for a second or two, but it gave me a good chuckle.

That’s a pretty wide-sweeping cable package that David has!