Rave: Best New Shows for Fall 2011

Whether it’s hilarious Twitter memes, a good book or an exciting new film, we love to be entertained on the fourth floor. And with August on its way out and cooler weather on its way in, we’re looking for silver linings to this change in seasons (other than fall fashion, we love that). What better silver lining could there be than the onslaught of new television shows? Here’s a breakdown of some of the hot new programming we’re looking forward to this fall.

Is anyone else excited about Pan Am? Because we are. Pan Am looks like it’s going to be full of sassy charm set against a mod ‘60’s backdrop. Starring Christina Ricci and Kelli Garner, the show profiles the exciting lives of stewardesses working for the iconic airline during its heyday. The cute royal blue uniforms and plot lines full of jet-setting travel and torrid relationships with handsome pilots have us thrilled for this show’s potential. We think it’s going to be a hit.

Pan Am premieres Sunday, September 25 at 10 p.m. on CTV.

On the other side of the sophistication spectrum lies 2 Broke Girls, a raunchy, odd couple comedy from the producers of Sex and the City. The show explores the lives of two girls trying to make it as waitresses in big, bad Manhattan. Max (Kat Dennings) has been a waitress her entire adult life and Caroline (Beth Behrs) is a former socialite whose billionaire father has just disgraced the family and lost all their money. The trailer had us laughing out loud, so despite some of the naysayers out there, we think this one will be a fun spot of entertainment on a Monday night.

2 Broke Girls premieres Monday, September 19 at 9:30 p.m. on CBS (directly following the highly anticipated season premiere of Two and a Half Men, sans Charlie).

Once Upon a Time stars the gorgeous Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Joshua Dallas and Irish hottie Jamie Dornan. The show crosses between current times and a parallel fairy tale world, so we’re expecting lots of pretty costumes and intricate set designs, allowing us to vicariously live out our childhood Disney princess dreams. The fourth floor is high enough to be a castle tower, right?

Once Upon a Time premieres Sunday, October 23 at 7 p.m. on CTV and 8 p.m. on ABC.

A mysterious woman (Canada’s own Emily Van Camp) comes to town to seek revenge and settle scores with the people who destroyed her family years earlier. Based on Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Count of Monte Cristo, this modernized version is set in the Hamptons. Bring on the bling amongst the revenge plots.

We’re excited for 1) the drama, 2) the beautiful people (Van Camp, Madeleine Stowe, Ashley Madekwe, Joshua Bowman), 3) the gorgeous setting, and 4) did we mention the drama?

Revenge premieres on Wednesday, September 21 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Being publicity goddesses, we obviously love what we do and are thrilled to see the exciting world of PR highlighted in Free Agents, an American remake of a British series. While the Brits’ version was based at a talent agency, the American version is focused on two executives at a PR agency.  

The show stars Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn as coworkers, on the rebound from a divorce and a dead fiancée respectively, have a one night stand (naughty, naughty!) and try to navigate their professional and personal lives in the aftermath. We’re hopeful Free Agents gets the PR world right and that it entertains us as much as this business does.

Free Agents premieres Wednesday, September 14 at 10:30 p.m. on NBC (before moving September 21 to its regular time slot of 8:30 p.m.).

P.S. We love that there are multiple new shows premiering this fall about PR. Look for Scandal as well, about a former government media relations consultant running a crisis management agency for Washington’s elite and powerful.

Reuniting The O.C. series creator Josh Schwartz and everyone’s favourite O.C. starlet Rachel Bilson, Hart of Dixie stars Bilson as a young doctor forced to take a job in remote Alabama when there are no placements available in New York City. The show also stars Jaime King, Scott Porter, Cress Williams and Wilson Bethel as residents of Bluebell.

Hart of Dixie premieres Monday, September 26 at 9 p.m. on The CW. Yeah, we watch shows on The CW. Don’t pretend you don’t. 

The Right Hand
You’ve gotta check this one out, if simply for the curiosity factor. If you’ve ever wanted a first-hand look inside an
adult film company, here comes your chance with The Right Hand. This new reality series (co-created and directed by Matt Austin-Sadowski, one of our team on the Fourth Floor) is focused on Immoral Productions, its president Porno Dan (Dan Leal), and a fresh-out-of-college production assistant from small town Ontario. Described as “a train wreck in the middle of a circus” we can’t wait to watch. It’s gonna be fun, eye-opening and like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

The Right Hand premieres Friday, October 7 at 11:30 p.m. on TMN.

Looks like we have some TV to watch this fall. You’ll find us in front of the small screen in between parties and dinners come the end of September.

Rave: Our Idiot Brother

By Paul Aguirre-Livingston
I read somewhere that Paul Rudd’s lead role in the feature Our Idiot Brother (opened last Friday) was written specifically with him in mind. Well, duh. Take one look at the movie poster and you’ll say, “That is so Paul Rudd”, without being too sure what you even mean. But you’ll think it, and you’ll be compelled to want to watch it because it’s Rudd and he – much like the grassroots-y character Ned he plays – is so damn enjoyable and likable. 
A lot of it has to do with Rudd’s sensible comedic chops that don’t often suffocate a scene like, say, Steve Carrell would. Both actors make fine leading men because they’re one and the same; they possess a cross-generational, cross-country appeal and can emulate the every-American. Rudd’s strengths lie in his accessibility – from ’90s heartthrob to doting husband to hippie bachelor. At the core of Rudd’s performances is always the same character: a cute do-gooder with charm. Our Idiot Brother plays off that charm. Its characters and plot, in turn, are simple enough that you’ll fixate on them throughout, forgiving flaws in the movie’s annoyingly hyperbolic scenarios. 
The first of these scenarios is when a uniformed officer arrests Ned for pot possession in broad daylight at a farmer’s market; you can tell life’s always been like this for oblivious little Ned. Fresh from federal prison, when the movie actually begins, our charming hippie is thrust back into the lives of his eccentric family, shuffled between the homes of his three perfectly “archetyped” Manhattan sisters: an on-the-go junior editor at Vanity Fair (Elizabeth Banks); a free-loving, sort of directionless lesbian comedian (Zooey Deschanel); and a nit-picky stay-at-home mom of two (Emily Mortimer). The cast of sisters is great as a trio, and their scenes together are usually the best. They also serve to divide the film into three neat, distinct stories so that much of Ned’s character building happens without much effort – it’s just a product of circumstance. The flick could have just as easily been titled “Hippie and the City.” 
While Banks and Mortimer are bearable and believable as the hyper-versions of the “real world” women they’re supposed to represent, Deschanel, is, well, just Deschanel. Same girl in Elf, same girl in 500 Days of Summer, same girl here.
Much of the story depends on Ned’s inability to read between the lines, understand basic social cues, and handle delicate situations appropriately. Although the sisters joke about Ned being retarded a little too much (or maybe I’m just too sensitive?), he’s not really dim-witted at all. What translates as idiocy in our emotionally skewed world is actually Ned’s desire to love those around him without limits, and his naiveté is endearing. 

This is the most I’ve liked Rudd since his stint as Phoebe’s blind date-turned-husband on Friends. Yeah, Ned is uncomplicated and docile and unflinchingly honest, but he gets it without resorting to token neuroticism – most of the time. I mean, don’t you wish you could live with a little less bullshit? 

Our Idiot Brother probably isn’t a game changer; it’s existentialist at best. I’m just happy to see a nice guy stay nice through and through.

Yum, Yum: Drift Bar and Kitchen

The Bloordale area just scored with a new easy-going joint that hits the spot. Drift Bar and Kitchen is both restaurant and casual bar. It blends a sweet beverage list with an eclectic, little dining menu featuring homemade fare. This is the type of one-two hit that we love. Good homemade food, dive-bar comfort.

This is a wonderful place to have a drink with friends at the end of a long work day. Add a few apps or a gourmet sandwich from the ever-changing menu and you have the makings of a fab Friday night.

We checked out the poutine, starring what co-owner Damian Gaughan calls “18-hour gravy.” It has depth of flavour that goes on forever and when combined with double-fried potatoes and authentic cheese curds, the outcome is perfect comfort food.

Thick, tasty peameal bacon burger, complete with homemade bun.

We also tried the smoky, satisfying peameal bacon burger, and then gave the bean and cucumber salad a whirl. Both were fresh and simple. The made in-house bun on the burger takes it from good to awesome, and the salad was nicely seasoned.

The decor is relaxed and rustic-vintage. Lots of wood, reclaimed materials and a nice sized beer list on a chalk board. 

Delicious bean and cucumber salad with lime and cilantro. 

As for service, the staff members seem truly happy to be there, and the consideration that owners Gaughan and Matt Michowski put into every detail make it an all-around much needed shining star in the Bloor-Dufferin strip. They also serve soups, salads, sandwiches and sides, as well as brunch on the weekend.
Drift Bar and Kitchen (1063 Bloor St. W.).

Rave: Best songs of summer

Music is the soul of the earth. At least we think so. Music has the power to take you back to special times, romantic moments, cool places. And of course, it makes you want to dance. Almost no music is as good as a summer anthem, the one song that you’ll forever associate with a specific summer.

It may almost be September, but you can make summer 2011 last a bit longer with some of our favourite sunshine-worthy tracks. Here are the top jams that our team loved best this summer. A little fourth floor mix-tape, if you will. Enjoy.

Ellie Goulding ‘Starry Eyed’

Flo Rida – Club Can’t Handle Me ft. David Guetta

The Weeknd – High For This

Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend

Deadmau5 – Raise Your Weapon (Madeon Remix & Criminal Minds Intro Mix)

Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill

The Black Keys – Everlasting Light

MNDR – Cut Me Out

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Otis

So, what song made your body move on the dance floor all summer long? Comment below or share @rockitpromo.

Media, Darling: Barry Hertz

Barry Hertz is the National Post’s Arts & Life editor. Prior to dreaming up pun-happy headlines and planning stories on summer blockbusters, he was conjuring straightlaced display and copy editing pieces on Middle East strife as a member of the Post’s night news desk. He is currently trying to co-ordinate TIFF coverage, and can be found breaking into panic sweats in the office foyer. 

Twitter: @HertzBarry, @nparts

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?

I’ve always wanted to make a living writing, so journalism seemed a natural fit when deciding what to study in university. (This was about two years before everyone decided to collectively wring their hands over the future of print. Timing is everything.) While I always considered the media as a backup to my real plan (screenwriting, another easy-to-enter industry), it wasn’t until midway through my four years at Ryerson that I began to give journalism some serious, this-could-be-a-career consideration.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

On a beach in Thailand, flush with riches from the gutsiest Casino Rama heist of all time. Or, you know, editing while working on a book or TV show on the side.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Never burn any bridges and always, always, always be sure to spell people’s names correctly. Plus, it never hurts to be open to criticism and know your way around a press conference.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

Every morning before heading up to the Far North (a.k.a. Don Mills), and throughout the day, I check out New York Magazine‘s Vulture website, New York TimesArts Beat blog, The AV Club, Hollywood Elsewhere (run by the cranky yet lovable Jeffrey Wells) and The Hollywood Reporter.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
Director Terry Gilliam is one of my idols, and getting the chance to speak with him for almost an hour (up from our scheduled 15 minutes) was one of those clichéd dream-come-true journalism moments. 

Well, a certain sci-fi icon who shall go nameless once gave me one-word answers for the better part of 10 minutes. In short, I’ll never wear that franchise’s pajamas again.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Proofread your story twice before filing. Then proof it again.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?

Never check email after 10 p.m. But, it’s always 10 p.m. somewhere…

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?

I think this point has been echoed by my Post colleagues, but please make sure you’ve actually read the publication you’re pitching to. I’ve yet to publish anything in the Post’s Arts & Life section on dog food, RV shows or how to pick up women at a chicken wing bar. It’s unlikely I ever will.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

I’ve dealt with a large number of PR reps who go above and beyond — rushing to get last-minute photo requests filled, sneaking me in a few minutes early for extra interview time, etc. PR reps and the media are both here to make everyone’s lives easier, and for the most part, Toronto’s PR community gets that.

I hate?
15MB emails. And commuting. Two usually unrelated things.

I love?
Quiet nights filled with Breaking Bad and breakfast burritos.


Too many magazines. Maybe I’ll get around to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which is gathering dust on my nightstand. Or maybe not.

Best place on earth?

Trinity Bellwoods Park with a greasy bag of Chippy’s and mushy peas.

Dinner guest?
The New Yorker‘s David Grann.

Batman. You meant comic book hero, right?

Favourite app?


Pool or ocean?
Pool. I like to see what’s lurking underneath.

Voicemail or email?

Email. Always.

Fashion-able: Fall trending topics

Remember back in August when NYFW Fall 11 took off? We do too…vaguely.
For those that need a calendar reminder, and with fall now actually around the corner (truth can be harsh, we know), we wanted to refresh fashion tastebuds with trends to look forward to and attempt, come the turning of the leaves.Sigh. At least there’s some silver lining to the end of summer.
Glitter gone wild
Sparkles twinked under the flashbulbs on the runway. Be it accessories, a dress, or even a jacket, this fall is your time to shine bright.
Small sprinkles of glitter on pretty Miu Miu shoes… 
Image source.
…and large, stylish sequins by Prada
Image source.
Polka dots lighten any mood and have the ability to air their youthful playfulness to an elegant and classy outfit. Wear ’em well, so as not to look like a junior miss.
Stella McCartney meshes sheer fabric and polka dots to create a stunning, curvy silhouette. 
Image source.
Marc Jacobs takes dotting his “I’s” one step further with extreme patent leather dottage. 
Image source.

Colour me mine
Forget black for your holiday parties. Colour is where it’s at this season. Take this quiz to find out what colours suit you best. (Yes, this links to a Seventeen quiz. You know you want to do one again, for old time’s sake).
Jil Sander matches lips to coat in a hot poppy hue. 
Image source.
Givenchy raunchy in yellow. 
Image source.
So there you have it – lovely colours, prints and textures to look forward to in the coming months. How can you not be excited for a fall that involves sequins?

*Thanks to FASHION Magazine for the photos and trendy reminders!

Yum ,Yum: Black Hoof Cocktail Bar

To say we’re big fans of the Black Hoof would be an understatement. That little stretch of Dundas they occupy is one of the most mouth-watering in the city. 
We still can’t think too much about the void left in our lives after the closing of the Hoof Cafe – aka the best brunch spot in Toronto (providing you aren’t vegetarian, vegan or kosher) – the pain of never having tried the foie gras French toast is still a little too fresh.
We were eager to see what Jen Agg and Grant van Gameran had up their sleeves next. With plans for Black Hoof & Co. delayed, Agg and van Gameran decided to open the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar in the former Cafe space.
Last week we popped in to try a few of Agg’s concoctions. She’s been defying our expectations of what a cocktail should taste like since the Hoof opened, so our hopes were high. Thankfully, these creations did not disappoint.
We sampled a variety of drinks: the Rosy Cheeks, a rose-infused gin with date syrup; the Corpse Reviver, a gin and lillet drink with absinthe rinse; a cumin Mojito, with crushed ice and loads of mint; and the old-standby Gin Martini (with olives for us, but you can have it dressed anyway you like). All of them were amazing, fresh and unique. Though not pictured, each drink comes in a glass appropriate to the flavours and traditions of the cocktail, and with inventive garnishes.
Currently the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar (923 Dundas St. W.) is open Thursdays to Mondays, 5:30 p.m. to last call. There’s none of the Black Hoof’s infamous charcuterie plates available, but you can pick up a cheese plate for snacking. Oh, and one caveat: If you’re looking for vodka, you’re in the wrong place. Jen Agg hates it and doesn’t serve it, so don’t ask.
Twitter: @TheBlackHoof