Alanis among Walk of Fame inductees
TORONTO (CP) – Singer-songwriters Alanis Morissette and Paul Anka, who both hail from Ottawa, are among nine Canadians who will be celebrated on the country’s ever-growing Walk of Fame this year.
The list also includes boxer George Chuvalo, ballet dancer Rex Harrington and actors Kiefer Sutherland (who now joins his acting parents Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas on the Walk) and the late Fay Wray. Also there are two figures prominent in the entertainment field but who are not familiar faces to the public: concert promoter Michael Cohl and TV producer Pierre Cossette. Finally, Daniel Lanois, who has produced several albums for Irish supergroup U2 and is a performer in his own right, will be inducted.
“This is a very exciting year for Canada’s Walk of Fame,” said chairman and founder, Toronto businessman Peter Soumalias. “We are proud to induct Canadians that have changed the face of Canadian arts and culture.”
Since its inception in 1998, 84 Canadians have been honoured with a personal “star” – actually a stylized maple leaf – embossed in cement on an ever-growing stretch of sidewalk in Toronto’s downtown theatre district.
The tribute gala this year will be held on Sunday, June 5, and will switch from Global to CTV as the host broadcaster under a new three-year contract.
And again, Ottawa comic Tom Green will serve as emcee.
Green was present Tuesday at the inductee unveiling and joked that there had been intense negotiations with Soumalias over a contract to have him return this year.
“Eventually we settled on $20,000. And as soon as I wrote the cheque he said I could host. So I appreciate that, Peter.”
Green, known for a penchant for gross-out humour, such as bringing a rotting roadkill carcass onstage, also had fun with that reputation.
“I haven’t told you this yet, Peter, but I do plan on throwing some dead raccoons into the audience this year, which I’m very excited about. Is that OK, if we have some dead raccoons?”
Soumalias said there will be four days of ceremonies in downtown Toronto this year, starting June 2 and culminating in the gala on the 5th. He revealed that a partnership had been formed with the Mary Pickford Foundation of Los Angeles to develop what will be an annual national competition for young filmmakers.
Details will be revealed in a few weeks but the debut competition will involve Fay Wray, who at 96, was unable to attend last year’s induction event and died shortly thereafter. The Alberta-born star of the 1933 classic King Kong will be inducted posthumously into the Walk this year.
Soumalias said the filmmakers will be asked to creatively package the screen legend “in a way that she would be presented in today’s multimedia entertainment environment.”
Soumalias also said there are still a handful of Canadian personalities from Hollywood’s early years that they’re trying to connect with. If they are successful, he said, one of them might join the festivities.
Last year saw the posthumous induction of several film pioneers who had Canadian roots: Pickford, Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and Mack Sennett.
To be eligible, a nominee must have been born in Canada or spent their formative or creative years here, had a minimum of 10 years experience in the field and had a national or international impact on Canada’s cultural heritage.
Each year, the public at large submits thousands of recommendations, which then go to a review committee of Canadian peers. After the committee’s evaluation, the names go before the Walk of Fame board of directors, which makes the annual selection.
Soumalias said well over 20,000 names were submitted by the public this year, which were then boiled down to 200, then to a dozen and finally to the nine. And he conceded there were still enough Canadians to keep the Walk going for years.
“We’ve got to get to Don Messer and Lorne Greene and Ruby Keeler and Giselle MacKenzie,” he said. He declined to identify some of the crazier proposals, but conceded there are two perennial responses from the public.
“There’s ‘How could you possibly have put this person on the Walk of Fame?’ and the other. . .’If you ever consider this person let me give you five reasons why you should not.’†”
He said the funnier ones he’s saving for a book some day.
Here are the 2005 inductees into Canada’s Walk of Fame announced Tuesday. The annual induction gala will take place June 5:
-Paul Anka. The singer was raised in Ottawa and started out as a teen crooner in the 1950s. With more than 124 albums, he’s considered one of the most successful songwriters of all time (including authorship of the famous Tonight Show theme).
-George Chuvalo. Born in Toronto, the heavyweight boxer became a Canadian champion from 1958 to 1979. In 1966 he fought Muhammad Ali, who won but still called Chuvalo the toughest man he ever fought.
-Michael Cohl. Toronto born and raised, he has for years promoted concerts, musicals, prize fights, skating shows and tennis matches. He organized Rolling Stones tours and was the man behind the 2003 SARSstock concert in Toronto.
-Pierre Cossette. A Montreal native, he started his own record label and launched many music careers in the U.S. In TV he produced Emmy-winning variety shows for the likes of Dick Clark and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as the annual Grammy Awards since 1971.
-Rex Harrington. Born in Peterborough, Ont., “sexy Rexy” entered the National Ballet School in Toronto and joined the National Ballet of Canada upon graduation. He had a long-term partnership with Karen Kain. Harrington retired last year but still is actively involved with the National Ballet company.
-Daniel Lanois. He was born in Hull, Que., but moved to Hamilton, Ont., where he developed an interest in music at an early age. He helped produce U2’s Unforgettable Fire album in 1984, launching him into a music producer career. He’s worked with Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan and the Neville Brothers.
-Alanis Morissette. The Ottawa-born singer-songwriter began her career in 1991 as an instant pop sensation for her hit song Too Hot. Her Jagged Little Pill CD, however, launched her into superstardom, selling more than 30 million copies and earning her multiple Grammy awards. She’s also acted in films and directed.
-Kiefer Sutherland joins his acting parents on the Walk this year. Born in London, England, he began his acting career in Toronto. He’s appeared in more than 50 films, including The Lost Boys and Stand By Me, and is now the star of Fox TV’s hit thriller series 24, of which he is also an executive producer.
-Fay Wray. The Alberta-born actress is probably best known as King Kong’s leading lady in the 1933 classic film. She was supposed to be inducted last year but at 96 was unable to make the visit to Toronto and died shortly thereafter. She gets her Walk star posthumously.
Alanis among Walk of Fame inductees