Killed two birds with one stone this evening as I fulfilled both a long-time Canadian wish and also a “bucket list” (full list coming soon) item by attending a taping of CBC’s “The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos” at Vancouver’s CBC studios on Hamilton Street.
Surviving a torrential downpour while waiting in line outside the studios, Chris, Andrea, Hazel and I eventually took our seats along with around 450 others in the studio and sat back and enjoyed a LIVE (to Nova Scotia anyway) taping of the program with “Strombo” (@strombo) going through his paces with featured guests consisting of James Moore, the Federal Minister for Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, “Our Lady Peace’s” Raine Maida and the Vancouver Canucks very own Swedish super duo the “Sedin Twins”.
First up, George did his best to present James Moore, a member of Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet, with some intelligent probing questions regarding funding cuts and changes to the CBC and the promotion of Canadian content on television which, as per usual with almost all politicians, the Minister dodged with lots of fluff containing ZERO substance. If you ask me, James Moore’s segment was a wicked waste of time (through nobody’s fault other than Mr Moore himself, mind you) that could have been spent conversing for longer with Strombo’s next guests, the Vancouver Canucks’ Sedin Twins (see below).
Talking briefly about their painfully cut-short 2009/2010 season, playing together on the ice, playing identity tricks on referees, Hank’s season scoring title and what it’s like to play in front of a Vancouver crowd, Strombo managed to extract more conversation out of the pair than I have witnessed all season during ANY of their press conferences all season. Good stuff (see below)!
Closing off the episode with a pre-recorded segment with Raine Maida of legendary Canadian band “Our Lady Peace”, the last treat live in the studio was a 3-track performance by local folk/roots songstress “Billy the Kid”. Recording her signature tune “These City Lights” for tomorrow night’s show, she stuck around after the recording to perform two extra tracks that will be posted on “The Hour’s” website in the coming day or so.
In between all of this, Strombo told stories to the audience off camera. He’s a master story-teller entertaining us all with tales of his last spill off his beloved motorcycle outside “Gretzky’s” in down town Toronto, and an honest evaluation of his encounter with Sarah Palin. Strombo confirmed for us all that, although he admires her for whatever quality it is that’s gotten her as far as she has until now, yes, she does say some rather kooky and intellectually questionable things both on and off camera…
Now, that’s the long-time Canadian wish taken care of – watching a LIVE taping of “The Hour”, which I always thought I would have to travel to the CBC studios in Toronto to do.
Next up it was the ol’ “tick another one off the bucket list” time – meeting and chatting with George after the show. He is, after all, firmly ranked in my top 3 entertainment interviewers in the world alongside Australia’s Andrew Denton and the incomparable Michael Parkinson from the UK.
Displaying every bit of the class, patience and generosity he is well known for, Strombo stuck around backstage probably well beyond the 20-30 minutes Hazel and I waited, to individually meet and greet with over 100 fans from the night’s audience. He told stories; fielded questions; took photos; spoke to audience member friends who were unable to make it to the show, on cell phones; and generally did whatever he could to appease his fans. What a class act!
Being a fellow fan of fine music, all I wanted to ask George was about his favourite Aussie music acts. He enthusiastically rattled off names like “The Living End”, “Silverchair” and “Powderfinger”, but stopped short of giving my current faves “The Temper Trap” a vote of full confidence as he thought they needed to add a little more “oomph” (I think he meant anger and aggression) to some of their songs.
A little over 3 hours ago, jet-lagged and all, I was actually talking Aussie music with George Stroumboulopoulos – very cool and an awesome way to go in ticking off another bucket list item!