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

- February 22nd, 2013

Arisa Cox - inside

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

Glenn Anderson “sees red” in To Russia With Love on CTV’s W5

- September 27th, 2012

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Glenn Anderson “sees red.”

Anderson was only 12 years old when Canada played Russia in the 1972 Summit Series. But Anderson’s parents were among the famed 3,000 Canadian fans who travelled to Moscow for the final four games of that heated affair, helping to spur the Canadian hockey players to victory in extremely hostile territory.

I’ve often said that if you didn’t grow up during the Cold War era, you can’t quite fathom what it was like. Today, if Canada loses to Russia in hockey, we know the sun still will come up the next day. Back then, we weren’t sure that it would. It was that serious and that tense.

There has been a lot of coverage lately of the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series. But Anderson (pictured above right) adds an interesting personal touch with his film To Russia With Love, a version of which airs Saturday, Sept. 29, on CTV’s W5.

Anderson, of course, won six Stanley Cups as an NHL player, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and played against the Soviets many times in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s interesting to hear that as a youngster, Anderson’s hockey hero was none other than Alexander Yakushev, one of the biggest Soviet stars of the 1970s.

Anderson’s boyhood fascination with the 1972 Summit Series clearly fueled a curiosity about Russia that continues to this day. To Russia With Love delves into the history of this classic hockey rivalry, and the tale is illuminated by the people Anderson tracks down in Russia, including some former players and coaches who have not been seen by Canadian eyes in many years.

Anderson even gets to meet his hero.

Unlike To Sir With Love, To Russia With Love doesn’t end with Anderson singing to Yakushev or anything like that. But Anderson does conclude the film with a heartfelt acknowledgment of how glad he was to grow up in an era where he could play the Russians regularly, and be inspired and pushed by them.

“My journey revisited the rivalry over the past 65 years, a competitive relationship that has defined us as nations,” Anderson says. “And it is this bond that is at the core of who we are – who I am, as a hockey player.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv