Tag Archives: Dimitrios Koussioulas

Review: Only in Montreal is an entertaining window into the city’s life (but it needs a better timeslot)

Only in Montreal's cast: Matt Silver, Dimitrios Koussioulas and Tamy Emma Pepin

Only in Montreal’s cast: Matt Silver, Dimitrios Koussioulas and Tamy Emma Pepin

We’re seven episodes into the 30-episode first season of Only in Montreal, the weekly local lifestyle series that airs on City TV. That’s about a quarter of the way through, so it’s time for a review.

When it was first announced in April, I was surprised. This show wasn’t part of Rogers’s promise to the CRTC when it purchased CJNT from Channel Zero. Unlike its daily morning show and weekly sports show, this wasn’t part of the licence obligations, and it wasn’t necessary to meet a local programming quota.

As it turns out, the CRTC is a big part of the reason why this series was ordered, because of two recent decisions that set quotas on Rogers Media.

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Only in Montreal debuts Saturday

The Only in Montreal set at Whalley-Abbey Media's office. This is where the three hosts set up their pieces with a discussion.

The Only in Montreal set at Whalley-Abbey Media’s office. This is where the three hosts set up their pieces with a discussion.

Only in Montreal, the new weekly magazine show about Montreal city life, debuted Saturday night at 7pm on City Montreal. You can watch the first episode online.

Each half-hour episode of the series, which is produced by Montreal-based Whalley-Abbey Media (the folks behind those Debbie Travis and Chuck Hughes shows) features one piece each by hosts Matt Silver, Tamy Emma Pepin and Dimitrios Koussioulas, exploring some interesting facet of life in Montreal. Because the segments are shot months in advance (early segments were shot in April while it was still snowing), there’s nothing very topical on the show. The first episode has Silver exploring Montreal’s food trucks during a First Friday event at the Olympic Stadium, Pepin talking to Corey Shapiro of vintage sunglasses fame, and Koussioulas hanging out with the roller derby crowd.

I talk about the show and its hosts in this story, which appears in Saturday’s Gazette.

Koussioulas vs. Koussioulas

You might have noticed that the debut of this show coincides with the airing of the Parc Avenue Tonight live show, also starring Dimitrios Koussioulas. In fact, they’re both on at the same time, as I point out in this short story, which features both CBC and Rogers downplaying the significance of introducing a new face and having him competing against himself.

The conflict has been known for months, and it’s hard to imagine with all the weeks and all the time slots they could have chosen, that this conflict isn’t somehow intentional. The official explanation from both sides is that the two shows have been in the works for months, and the schedules were set before they were aware of each other. And in any case it’s not a big deal.

But really, with months of advance notice, neither of these shows could have been moved by half an hour, or moved by a week?

I’m having a hard time buying that.

UPDATE: Because the Calgary Stampede ran way long, the local CBC newscast was pushed back by almost an hour, an episode of Marketplace was killed entirely, and still Parc Avenue Tonight was delayed by about 15 minutes. Maybe CBC should run it again some time.

Photos: Behind the scenes at the Parc Avenue Tonight live taping

You might recall a few months ago I mentioned that CBC was going to record and air a special live-audience version of Dimitrios Koussioulas’s Mile End talk show Parc Avenue Tonight.

The show was recorded in front of a live audience on May 15 at Cabaret du Mile End. I was invited to witness the setup, and took a bunch of pictures. I talk a bit about the show for this story in Saturday’s Gazette, which discusses the state of local non-news television in English Montreal.

CBC Montreal presented Parc Avenue Tonight Live Saturday at 7pm as part of its Absolutely Quebec series of regional specials. You can watch it online if you missed it.
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CBC TV to air special episode of Parc Avenue Tonight

When Dimitrios Koussioulas, whose name I will one day learn how to write without having to copy and paste it, started his Mile End online talk show Parc Avenue Tonight, I thought to myself: This looks dirt cheap, but promising. This should be on actual TV.

Well, despite what can be said about our Toronto-controlled television networks that seem to have all but abandoned local programming, Koussioulas is being given his chance to be on Montreal television. In fact, he’s getting two, on two different stations.

A week after City announced that Koussioulas would be one of three hosts of a new weekly magazine show on local culture and lifestyle, CBC announced on Friday that it will be taping a special episode of his Parc Avenue Tonight show in front of a live audience and airing it this summer as part of its Absolutely Quebec regional series.

Absolutely Quebec is a summer series of (usually) one-hour specials that air Saturdays at 7pm during the summer (during hockey’s off-season). It is, for now at least, the only regional programming that airs on CBC television outside of the local newscasts. You can get an idea of what it’s like from last year’s shows.

Parc Avenue Tonight is an interview show in which Koussioulas speaks with fellow Mile Enders. Aside from its glorification of smoking, its canned audience applause and its strange love of bananas, it’s worth watching when it has a good guest. The episode above is an interview with Marianne Ackerman, an author, freelance writer and the person behind the Rover arts website. It showcases the solid (though modest) production values and Koussioulas’s warm and inviting personality.

The show’s live taping will happen May 15 at the Cabaret du Mile End (naturally), and will air on CBMT TV two months later, on July 13th. Ticket information and a copy of the press release are below:

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City TV Montreal to launch local culture/lifestyle show this summer

Tamy Emma Pepin

Tamy Emma Pepin will be one of three hosts for a new local weekly series on Montreal city life

I don’t know why they made this announcement on a Friday afternoon, but even before their first local program goes to air, City Montreal is expanding its slate of local programming.

According to the press release, which I regurgitated into Tuesday’s Gazette, Rogers-owned City has greenlighted a half-hour weekly “magazine-style” series on local culture, to be hosted by three fresh faces to the local television scene: Tamy Emma Pepin, the former Tourism Montreal ambassador, HuffPost Quebec editor and prolific tweeter; screenwriter and producer Matt Silver; and Dimitrios Koussioulas, whose name I hadn’t heard at all until he came onto the scene with his own Mile End web video talk show Parc Avenue Tonight.

“Only In Montreal takes viewers into the kitchens of the latest restaurants, feature humourous portraits of famous locals and Montreal-loving celebrities, and informative stories on local hidden gems,” the press release says.

CJNT, which officially became a City TV station in February, had promised to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that it would produce a local three-hour morning show and a weekly half-hour sports show to fulfill its mandate for local programming. It decided against a 6pm local newscast mainly because CTV, Global and CBC already have those, and going up against all of those would be asking for failure.

But those programs fulfill the requirements, and there was no talk of a culture/lifestyle show before now, so there’s no reason that Rogers has to do this. Unless … unless it actually thinks it could make money with it.

Imagine that.

English Montreal hasn’t had programming like this in years. CBC cancelled Living Montreal as part of severe budget cuts in 2009. CTV had cancelled Entertainment Spotlight along with Sportsnight 360 a few months earlier, incorporating their features into expanded weekend newscasts.

Put simply, this is exciting news, and I’m anxious to see how it’ll turn out. Without specifying a date, City says the show will begin airing in the summer, which means it would be the first local show to begin on the station since Rogers bought it from Channel Zero and changed it from an ethnic station into an English one.

The biggest question will be what time slot City gives this show. It’s one thing to put it at, say, 7pm on Thursdays, when a lot of people might watch it (provided it’s also properly marketed). It’s another to sandwich it between two infomercials on Sunday morning, or to put it against the top-rated 6pm local newscasts it has already decided it doesn’t want to compete with.

The show will be produced by Whalley-Abbey Media, the Montreal-based production house behind everything involving Chuck Hughes and Debbie Travis.

Parc Avenue Tonight: Why isn’t this on TV?

Are Montreal anglos well served by local television? There are three stations with daily local newscasts, and a fourth could be coming within months. By this time next year Montreal could have two English-language TV morning shows. But what about the rest? What about the entertainment shows, the talk shows, the music shows, the cooking shows and everything else that we used to get on local television?

We get some of these things as part of the news (or, in the case of Global’s Focus Montreal, a weekly program set in the news studio). But their very nature limits them in terms of length and format.

It was this lack of non-news programming that led to Mitch Melnick starting up an online video talk show in 2009, which didn’t last long.

Now, someone’s trying something like this again. His name is Dimitrios Koussioulas, and the show is called Parc Avenue Tonight. It’s a very-low-budget (like, $2,000 a season) weekly talk show about Mile End, with videos so far between 10 and 17 minutes long.

The Gazette’s Bill Brownstein has details about the show, and Cult MTL also has a brief writeup.

The show looks promising from the three episodes posted so far. It has a nice intro theme, and seems to be well edited. Koussioulas is an engaging host. About the only thing that I don’t like about it is all the smoking, which seems almost as if it was put in there to seem cool, like this was the opposite of an after-school special.

But could this make it on regular television? The answer depends not only on whether the advertising it could generate would offset its costs, but whether the profit it generated would be higher than whatever programming CTV or Global would put on the air instead of it.

Canada has tried commercial entertainment talk shows in the past. Remember Mike Bullard? But nowadays all that’s left in Canada is fluffy daytime programs like Cityline and Marilyn Denis, and stuff imported from the U.S. Primetime talk shows are limited to the one subsidized by the CBC and the one subsidized by its host. And none of this is local.

Sadly, with most local television owned by big national vertically-integrated companies, there’s little incentive to change. Even putting a show like this in a low-rated spot like Friday nights at midnight would be asking too much of local commercial television stations.

Which is a shame, because given modest means, something like Parc Avenue Tonight could turn into quality programming that attracts a small but loyal audience.

Thankfully there’s the Internet, where anyone can do something like this on their own, and if it’s good enough it will attract enough eyeballs to make it financially viable.

We’ll see if Parc Avenue Tonight is good enough to make it past one season.

You can watch Parc Avenue Tonight with Dimitrios Koussioulas at ParcAvenueTonight.com.