Michelle Lomack (far right) and her Rogers’ PR players

Tonight is Halloween, but it was Rogers shelling out last night at their cool and comfy in-house Toronto screening room, the Velma Rogers Theatre. That’s where the inaugural TV on Film Project was launched, and many thanks to the folks who braved the elements to come down for an early night of classic TV gems on 16mm film. 

The original plan was to take over the Astral screening room for this occasion but the CRTC wouldn’t let us. Just kidding.
Rogers made everybody feel at home. Michelle Lomack and her fab PR team provided plenty of theatre-style candy and snacks–even butter for the popcorn! Thanks also to Rogers’ executive vice president Malcolm Dunlop for his kind introduction and all at the media company for hosting this event.
Have to give a shout out, too, to Reg Hartt. The fiercely independent Toronto-based exhibitor has long been an inspiration. Over the years, going way back to high school, I spent many an evening at one of Reg’s “Cartoons Too Hot for TV” screenings, which continue–now in digital 3-D–at his Cineforum on Bathurst.
Needed a lens to throw a bigger picture on the giant Rogers’ screen and Reg donated his entire Elmo projector for the occasion. Had been frantically phoning across North America in search of 16mm parts before Reg came to the rescue. The man knows the importance of presentation.
Bridget Loves Bernie, new on CBS in ’72
The Giller Prize took the CBCers out of the room Tuesday night but a nice cross section of industry peers braved the weather for the two films, a Dick Van Dyke episode (with original commercials) from 1961 and the CBS Fall Preview reel from their 1972-73 season. That 40-year-old time capsule neatly coincided with Rogers’ own broadcast property, City-TV, which launched that fall of ’72.
Beyond the kick out of seeing a young Mary Tyler Moore on a 12-foot by 16-foot screen, the point was made Tuesday that Canada’s TV heritage is disappearing. The TV on Film Project hopes to spur a search for Canada’s “lost” programming. A Paley Center North is needed to help find, preserve and archive Canadian television for future generations.
In the audience last night were Leah Pinsent and Peter Keleghan. Pinsent’s celebrated father, Gordon, starred in such early Canadian TV efforts as The Forest Rangers and Quentin Durgens, MP. CBC was much better at archiving their libraries but Leah says her father doesn’t have prints of either one of these series.
My old pal Eric Kohanik raised his hand when I asked if anybody in the crowd had ever been on Tiny Talent Time. Almost all of that Hamilton-based series was erased and the tapes re-used, wiping out 25 years of history.
Thanks to daughter Katie Brioux for designing this logo
Rod Coneybeare’s grandson was in the house. His grandfather, The Friendly Giant puppeteer, worked both Rusty and Jerome all those years opposite Bob Homme as Friendly. CBC has most of those episodes but the earliest black and white years from the ’50s haven’t been seen in ages.
The plea for film had an immediate dividend as Kitchener-based cameraman Danny Bailey (MotorWeek) arrived with a trunk load of 16mm gems from the ’50s and ’60s which he promptly donated. Included were rare Texaco Canada commercials and industrial films, some featuring stars such as Leave it to Beaver dad Hugh Beaumont, Love Boat skipper Gavin MacLeod and even a very young Martin Sheen. Thank you Peter!
The next screening of the TV on Film Project will take place in the coming months, with more rare TV gems on the playbill. The hope is we can soon start threading up some early made-in-Canada TV gems. Stay tuned for details.

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