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Big Picture: Alan Thicke ‘funniest interview’ in Victoria-made documentary

Like many Canadians, I reacted with shock and sadness after learning that Alan Thicke had died at age 69 from an apparent heart attack on Tuesday. It has been four years since I last chatted with the Kirkland, Ont.
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Alan Thicke, who died this week at age 69, appears in a scene from the Victoria-made documentary Gone South: How Canadians Invented Hollywood.

Like many Canadians, I reacted with shock and sadness after learning that Alan Thicke had died at age 69 from an apparent heart attack on Tuesday.

It has been four years since I last chatted with the Kirkland, Ont.-born actor, songwriter and talk show host, whom I first met at a celebrity softball game at Royal Athletic Park in the mid-1980s.

Thicke had flown here from Los Angeles to participate in his pal David Foster’s inaugural fundraiser for his charitable foundation that helps families with children who need organ transplants.

It was the first of many fundraisers he participated in here, including 2003’s Courtnall Celebrity Classic golf tournament and banquet to raise funds and awareness about mental-health issues.

When he returned in May of 2012 to reunite with Foster, Wayne Gretzky and other Foster foundation alumni for its 25th Anniversary Miracle Concert and gala, the memories flowed.

“I must have had better writers back then,” he quipped with characteristic self-deprecation when I reminded him how quotable he was when we first met.

He was still quick-witted, exuding a refreshing lack of pretense along with his trademark Canuck pride.

It was something else Thicke said in 2012 when I asked him how he managed to remain so youthful-looking at age 65 that haunted me this week.

“It’s just a lot of poutine and Haagen Dazs, a little hair colour and you hope you’re on the right side of the grass every morning,” deadpanned Thicke, who actually had a healthy lifestyle.

More recently, he appeared in Ian Ferguson’s and Leslie Bland’s homegrown documentary Gone South: How Canadians Invented Hollywood.

In an online highlight (gonesouthdoc.com) he recalled how many years ago his young son Robin called him while he was in Norway to tell him about the commotion Gretzky was causing while staying at his house.

“He’s probably the funniest interview we did for Gone South,” said Ferguson, comparing him to Howie Mandel in terms of coaxing laughs.

“He was remarkably talented, tremendously funny and gracious. This is a big loss to the entertainment industry, to Canada and — most importantly — to his family, friends and loved ones.”

 

With Jewel having recently filmed Hallmark’s Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery here, we had to wonder whether another Canadian pop star might follow in her footsteps.

While Chantal Kreviazuk hasn’t been offered a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie franchise like the Jewel vehicle that debuts Jan. 15, she said some might find similarities in one of two movies she made last year.

“It does kind of have that Hallmark-ey thing to it,” said the Winnipeg-born singer, referring to Kiss and Cry, a fact-based drama set to open early next year.

Kreviazuk plays the mother of Carley Allison, the teenage Toronto figure skater who made medical history while battling an extremely rare type of cancer.

“It was a harrowing experience playing the role of a mother of a child dying of cancer,” said Kreviazuk, who will also soon be seen in Welcome to Nowhere, Robin Dunne’s romantic comedy set in Saskatchewan.

Kreviazuk is no stranger to the screen with songs she has written or performed appearing in projects including Armageddon (Leaving on a Jet Plane), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (Feels Like Home), and Smallville (In This Life).

She made her feature debut in David Weaver’s 2001 indie drama Century Hotel, and co-wrote the film’s theme song Can’t Make It Good with her husband Raine Maida.

“I wouldn’t do a lead role [unless] it was exactly the right fit, or a reflection of something I wanted to say,” said Kreviazuk, who prefers short-term gigs.

“Six weeks straight or three months I just can’t commit to. Kissing people on camera and all that … I’m not into that just now.”

 

Rushes: Victoria’s independent production community got some early Christmas presents this month. Ana De Lara came home from the Whistler Film Festival with the MPAA Short Film Award, which includes $15,000 and up to $100,000 worth of “in-kind” production services to develop Good Girls Don’t, a short film she successfully pitched.

Sharing the Best International Short award for The Cameraman at Paris Courts Devant 2016 with director Connor Gaston was thrill for producer Arnold Lim. Now Lim has learned that he and his collaborator on his new film All-In Madonna, UVic grad Susie Winters, have been selected as one of four new teams for the 2017 National Screen Institute’s Features First training course. So were Victoria’s Jeremy Lutter and his We Came From the Sea collaborator, Vancouver writer Ryan Bright.

NSI Features First, which kicks off with a week-long boot camp in Toronto in January, is a 10-month training launch pad for producer-writer teams looking to produce their first or second feature with commercial potential. Victoria filmmaker Maureen Bradley’s festival hit Two4One is one of 19 feature films produced since the coveted course’s inception.