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TORONTO – Talk about savvy talent-spotting.
The definition of making it in Canadian entertainment has long been getting on Canada AM.
CTV’s flagship morning news show, this week celebrating its 40th anniversary, has brought Canadians early breakout appearances, including 12-year-old Ryan Gosling being interviewed on air after finding out he would be a Disney Mousketeer.
The Canada AM vault also revealed video that features a young Aubrey Graham, a.k.a. superstar rapper Drake, talking to the morning show about landing the role of Jimmy on the high school drama Degrassi.
Fox News Channel senior reporter John Roberts, a former co-anchor of Canada AM after making his name as an early MuchMusic VJ, recalls showcasing a host of local acts that went on, like him, to shine in the American spotlight.
“When the new crop of (Canadian) bands exploded in the 1980s, giving them airtime was simply a matter of good programming, good programming that eventually became a source of national pride,” Roberts said of homegrown rockers like Rush, Triumph, Loverboy and Bryan Adams.
He added Alannah Morrisette launching her Jagged Little Pill CD signalled a wave of Canadian divas making it internationally, including Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Avril Lavigne.
“I don’t think any one person really paved the way for a recognition of of Canadian talent on the global stage. The whole industry just sort of came of age all at once,” Roberts noted.
Canada AM executive producer Lis Travers recalled appearances by Johnny Reid, Diana Krall and Sarah McLaughlin when they were either on the brink of fame or topping the music charts stateside.
There was also a skinny 20-year-old Shania Twain emerging from northern Ontario to take on the world, or Jacob Hoggard, a.k.a. Hedley, talking to Canada AM‘s Seamus O’Regan in his first TV interview after being eliminated from Canadian Idol.
Travers’ favorite guest? Canadian crooner Michael Buble.
“Even after his CDs topped all the charts, he always took time to meet, greet, take photos, sign autographs with everyone in the audience,” he recalled.
And celebrated thesp Christopher Plummer traveled from his home in Connecticut to a New York City studio to record a goodbye poem for a departing Seamus O’Regan for reciting on air.
Fox News’ Roberts credits his Canada AM stint, which included endless interviews with politicians and other newsmakers, for sustaining his subsequent U.S. network career.
“Canadians, as a group, take their politics very seriously. Where else could you do a two-segment 10-minute interview with the finance minister on a morning show and still have an audience left at the end?” he insisted.
Watch the videos of Ryan Gosling and Drake below.
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