Jerry O’Connell loves loves loves North Bay, Ontario

Expert selfie shooter O’Connell (left) with scribe

Jerry O’Connell is one caffeine-fueled perpetual promotion machine — especially when it comes to the city where his new series Carter is shot — North Bay, Ontario. He’s part Speedy Gonzales, part Energizer Bunny, zipping around Europe for a day of international sales promotion, touching down in Toronto for some radio and TV appearances, then back to his beloved North Bay for a screening.

He wanted me to mention that the whole town is invited. “Just say you’re a guest of Jerry O’Connell,” he insisted. The screening is tonight and the theatre seats 700, so better get there early. There are 51,553 people living in North Bay according to the latest census.

The series — about a Canadian actor who plays a detective on TV only to move back to his old northern Ontario town and become a real crime fighter — premieres Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.

Folks up in North Bay, Ontario, where Carter was shot, don’t have to huddle around their TV sets, however. There is an opening night screening  in town Tuesday at a 700-seat theatre. O’Connell and the producers will be in attendance.

O’Connell and writer/executive producer Gary Campbell, along with several other writers on the series, were at a special screening of the premiere episode Monday night in Toronto. Campbell, who wrote for MadTV and Kids in the Hall prior to Carter, checked with his Kid connection Bruce McCulloch about casting O’Connell as the lead in his series. (McCulloch produced a comedy O’Connell starred in a decade ago called Carpoolers.) The report: grab him; he’s a dream as an actor and as a human being.

Campbell is no stranger to North Bay; his wife is from there. Yes, he says, the Dionne Quintuplet homestead was in nearby Calendar, Ont. — until it was moved!

The city works perfectly as the series is set in a northern Ontario town. And to think, says Campbell, Carter almost wound up being shot in Atlanta.

Bruun (left), O’Connell and the sputtering coffee wagon

The pilot episode features a couple of vintage wheels in the pilot, including a cool coffee wagon that looked amazing on camera but actually broke down about half the time. There’s also a beautiful, black, mid-’60s Mercury Montclair with the back rear window that goes up and down just like my uncle Norm had back on the farm.

O’Connell was so impressed with the cars in North Bay he bought one of his own, a vintage Buick he has “on ice” up in the northern Ontario town. Look for it, fingers crossed, in season 2.

The series co-stars Sydney Poitier Heartsong (yes, Oscar winner Sidney’s daughter) as a police officer who knew O’Connell’s character back in their school days. The two actors also share a school connection dating back to their own education at NYU.

Kristian Bruun (Orphan Black) also stars as coffee truck vendor Dave Leigh. O’Connell says they’ve all bonded like Vegas Knights teammates.

O’Connell got so into North Bay he started giving rave Yelp reviews to every bar and restaurant in the city. Scroll down for Jerry O’s review of The Crown and Beaver Pub (“Order the Special Burger. Just trust. So good”).

Read more about O’Connell and Carter here at this feature I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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