Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Melissa Grelo: The Cat Herder on The Social


CTV - Weekdays

The Cat Herder

Melissa Grelo Keeps The Talk 
On Track On CTV's "The Social"

By Eric Kohanik

It would be easy to lump The Social into a certain breed of talk show that has been growing on daytime TV.

But co-host Melissa Grelo doesn't want people to put CTV's new entry into the same paddock as ABC's The View or CBS' The Talk.

We can use analogies and comparisons to The View all you want,” Grelo says. “But the reality is, we have a very distinctly Canadian perspective. A perfect example of that would be the gay-rights issue or, perhaps, the gun-control issue. These are issues that have a vastly different tone if you're talking about them north of the border vs. south of the border.

And there's the fact that we've never had [on TV] a round table of Canadian women of varying backgrounds discussing the issues that matter not only to Canadians, but what everyone is talking about around the world.”

The Social airs live each weekday on CTV, with same-day rebroadcasts on CTV Two and E! The hourlong show features Grelo and her co-hosts – gossip blogger Lainey Lui, relationship expert Cynthia Loyst and entertainment reporter Traci Melchor – tackling each day's most talked-about issues, inviting viewers to join in via social media.

Grelo acts as the show's moderator, keeping the conversation going and keeping it on track. She often gleefully refers to herself as the “cat herder” on the show.

We've got some very, very feisty, sassy women,” Grelo laughs. “This is exactly how everyone envisioned the show.”

Social media was also envisioned as a significant element on The Social. And, according to Grelo, that is where she and her co-hosts have an advantage.

We are of that generation and we are definitely participants in this new world where people who are watching television are simultaneously on social media,” Grelo explains. “It's almost like one doesn't happen without the other. That's the centre point of our show.”

Of course, that can lead to some on-air juggling. But then, Grelo is no stranger to the demands of live TV.

Since 2008, Grelo has been the co-host of Toronto specialty channel CP24's morning show, CP24 Breakfast. She also co-hosted CTV's live Olympic Morning telecasts from Whistler, B.C. during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Add that to stints as a news anchor, fill-in host, reporter, entertainment correspondent and weather/traffic reporter and you quickly get the sense that Grelo can tackle any topic on The Social.

A self-confessed news junkie, Grelo didn't always see TV on her career path. In fact, she had set her sights on teaching at an early age.I started teaching horseback riding when I was a kid,” Grelo recalls. “Teaching was something that came very naturally to me.”

After pursuing degrees in psychology and education, she embarked on a short stint as a teacher before shifting her focus to journalism.For someone who's always been a news junkie, I never considered it a career,” Grelo confesses. “Then I realized, 'Wait a second, here's a very similar skill set.' I love writing. I love reading.”

And now, she loves combining her duties on CP24 Breakfast with her role on The Social – even if it means her days get pretty hectic. 

It's insane,” Grelo concedes. “That's my middle name these days. But I'm so excited. It's something I've wanted to do for a really long time.

I first talked to the network about a show kind of like this a couple of years ago. To actually see it happening, it's a dream come true.”

The Social - CTV - Weekdays 

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - October 2013.) 

Vincent Walsh and Dwain Murphy in Played


CTV - Thursdays, beginning Oct. 3


Vincent Walsh and Dwain Murphy Clicked 
Right Away As Underover Cops On "Played"

By Eric Kohanik

It's just past noon on a warm late-summer day. Next to an outdoor storage-locker facility near the waterfront in downtown Toronto, actors Vincent Walsh and Dwain Murphy have been going through take after take since the early morning hours of what will be another whirlwind day of location filming. 
Walsh and Murphy are part of the ensemble cast of Played, a new Canadian drama series that debuts this month on CTV. The police procedural casts them as detectives who work for the Toronto police department's Covert Investigations Unit, donning a variety of alter-egos in order to carry out undercover “plays” – sting operations that nab criminals.

Much of the filming for Played is done on location around Toronto. That often means 15-hour days that require a lot of intense teamwork.

You fly by the seat of your pants,” Walsh relates during a short break in filming. “This whole project is one big ensemble piece. It's very much character driven, by outside stories. It's all very much a work in progress.”

Walsh plays John Moreland, a veteran undercover cop who lives in the moment, is somewhat pigheaded and could easily go over the edge at any time. Murphy plays Moreland's partner and wingman, Daniel Price, a smooth-talking, exuberant detective who sometimes has a tough time separating his undercover persona from his real one.

What drew me in initially was the fact that we get to play multiple characters,” Murphy explains. “What I connected with was the fact that every episode is like a mini-movie and you're literally adapting a new character to that episode along with maintaining this other character throughout a season.

I get to stretch myself as an actor. In one episode, I'll play a DJ. In another episode, I'll be an undercover bank robber. And in another episode, I get to play a Brazilian drug lord. You don't really know what angle you're going to come from, episode to episode.”

Walsh and Murphy both have solid lists of TV credits under their belts. The Irish-Canadian Walsh has an acting resume that runs the gamut from guest shots on such Canadian series as Murdoch Mysteries and Republic of Doyle to lead roles in such productions as Hemingway vs. Callaghan and Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion.

Meanwhile, Murphy, who was born in Dominica and raised in Toronto, boasts a list of credits that ranges from roles in such Canadian series as Combat Hospital and Degrassi: The Next Generation to guest stints on such U.S. shows as The Mentalist and Ghost Whisperer.

Right now, though, both are busy pouring all their energy into the teamwork that is required of them and their characters as they watch each other's backs on Played. Fortunately for the duo, their chemistry clicked right away.

This is my first time playing a cop and I absolutely love it!” Murphy declares enthusiastically. “And I get to do it with this guy,” he continues, playfully tapping Walsh's knee. “We make it fun. I think that will resonate, when people see it on the screen, just how much fun we really have working together. From the first time I met Vincent, I could see he's just a fun-loving, happy guy. From Day 1, I instantly clicked with him.”

Walsh is quick to return the compliment. “Right back at you, mate,” Walsh says in an Irish lilt punctuated by a wry smile. “Dwain brought an amazing energy the second he walked on the set.”

As for their chemistry on screen, “we didn't really have any time to think about 'clicking,'” Walsh quips. “The only time we really had was to hit the mark and say the line. That was it.”

Played - CTV - Thursdays, beginning Oct. 3

(First published in Channel Guide Magazine - October 2013.)