Friday, November 01, 2013

Anna Silk's begins fourth season of Lost Girl


Showcase - Sundays, beginning Nov. 10

"Girl" Talk

Anna Silk Faces New Challenges as 
"Lost Girl" Begins Its Fourth Season

By Eric Kohanik 

It's been a busy morning of pushing and shoving for Lost Girl star Anna Silk.

Inside one of the buildings that once housed the Lever Brothers factory near the Toronto waterfront, Silk, who plays succubus/heroine Bo Dennis on the supernatural series, has been locking horns on this late-September morning with guest star Linda Hamilton, who returns as ruthless assassin Acacia in the 11th episode of the upcoming season.

Lost Girl begins its fourth season Nov. 10 on Showcase with the first of 13 new episodes. Hamilton is part of a roster of guest stars that includes Kyle Schmid (Copper, Blood Ties), George Takei (Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (Defiance) and Ali Liebert (Bomb Girls).

When viewers last saw Bo, she had mystically disappeared in one of several cliffhangers in last season's finale. Bo's return will herald some big changes in the Fae world.

“Bo is a key player in the Fae world,” Silk says. “She doesn't even realize how key she is at this point.”

The new season also brings big challenges for Bo and those around her. But then, Bo has always had to face big challenges.

“What's been so great about Bo from the very beginning is that, no matter what, she has been a character with so much room for growth,” Silk reflects during a break in filming. “Because she started into this world brand new, she had everything to learn and every skill to learn and develop. So, that has been a real pleasure to play and a real gift.

“Our writers and creators come up with great stuff every season to keep challenging her. But, man, she never gets to rest! She always has to fight something.”

Exactly what Bo will fight is being kept super-secret. “I'm under lock and key,” Silk confesses. “Every season, I try to think of a handful of things I can say. And usually I have a good handful. This season, I have, like, no handful. And I've said this before in other interviews: The best way I can describe it is that you have to take everything you know about Lost Girl and turn it upside down, in every aspect of the show. With so many cliffhangers at the end of last season, the way that people might think it's going to go might not be the way it goes. Or it might be.”

Silk has a much easier time talking about changes that took place off screen between seasons, including the birth of her son, Sam, in May. So, how is mommyhood?

“It's wonderful. It's really wonderful. He's ridiculous,” Silk giggles as she shows a baby picture on her smartphone. “He's really a dream baby, as I'm sure every mother says about her baby. But he really is a pretty easy-going babe. He's a happy boy.”

As for whether parenthood has affected how she plays Bo, Silk isn't quite sure.

“I've always heard other actors say, 'Oh, being a parent changes how you perform.' And I think that's true because it opens up your emotions,” she says. “It opens up your heart in a broader sense. I feel I can't answer that question yet. I feel I need more time before I can really answer how it's changed. It's busier, for sure. And there's a lot more to balance, but it's really great.”

Parenthood seems to be a good fit for Silk, much in the way that Bo felt like a good fit to her right from the start.

“It definitely fit right away because I feel like, in my own life, I'm a bit of a late bloomer,” the 39-year-old New Brunswick native says. “And I've learned to kind of be proud of that. But I feel like Bo was so new and I felt like I was kind of new at taking on a leading role, and we kind of got to grow together, so it has felt very organic right from the beginning.

“And I've definitely learned from her. I'm way more tough in my own life now.”

Lost Girl - Showcase - Sundays, beginning Nov. 10 

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

Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story


The Movie Network / Movie Central - Nov. 8

Ladies' Man

"Filthy Gorgeous" takes a revealing look 
at "Penthouse" founder Bob Guccione

By Eric Kohanik

The saga of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione is one of the most colourful in publishing history. And it came as a surprise to Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich when he discovered, after Guccione's death in 2010, that the story wasn't being told.

“It was odd because I expected, within the year, there would be all kinds of bio-pics announced,” Avrich recalls. “And there was nothing, because no one knew him.”

So, Avrich set out to tell the story. The resulting documentary, Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story, launched at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and Avrich was pleased with the response. He admits the story is sad: Guccione died penniless in a Texas hospital after a battle with throat cancer.

“It is a rise-and-fall [story],” Avrich reflects over coffee at a downtown Toronto espresso house. “It's tragic, [but] I don't know whether he would consider it tragic. Because, if you live for 79 years, and 74 of them are damn good, so be it. It was a great life.”

Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, Guccione briefly considered becoming a priest before setting off for Europe to be an artist. He eventually became famous for Penthouse, a men's magazine that began in England in the 1960s before taking aim at Hugh Hefner's Playboy empire in the U.S.

The success of Penthouse led to vast wealth and an opulent lifestyle that made Guccione, often decked out in gold chains, a notorious icon of hedonism in the 1970s and '80s. His success led to other ventures, ranging from movies (Caligula) and magazines (including Omni and Viva) to the development of nuclear-fusion energy and even a failed hotel/casino project in Atlantic City.

Along the way, there were ironic turns, ranging from Guccione's role as a righteous defender of the First Amendment to his decision to publish photos that would cause the first African-American Miss America, Vanessa Williams, to be stripped of her crown.

Filthy Gorgeous doesn't hold back in tracing the entire story in sometimes-stark detail. The documentary begins by warning viewers that it is filled with nudity, profanity “and some truth.”

The film is brimming with revealing interviews, ranging from Guccione's family (including sons Nick and Bob Jr.) to professional associates (including Alan Dershowitz and Xaviera Hollander). 

Particularly insightful are recollections of Guccione's personal assistant, Jane Homlish, and Victoria Johnson, who was 1978's Penthouse Pet of the Year and one of Guccione's lovers. 

“There were twists and turns for me,” Avrich says. “When I decided to make the film, I didn't know everything about him. I chose him because nothing had been done and I was curious.” 

That curiosity arose after Avrich was invited to screen his 2005 documentary, The Last Mogul (about Hollywood agent Lew Wasserman), at the Playboy Mansion.

“I was intrigued,” Avrich recalls. “After so many years, why is the Hugh Hefner brand, the Playboy brand, so powerful and the Penthouse brand is tattered and left in ruins, like a Shakespearean tragedy? So, I started to do some preliminary research. When Guccione died in 2010, that file moved to the front for me.”

It soon became clear there was a lot to the story. “He was a flawed genius, without a doubt,” Avrich says. “We're all flawed; few of us are geniuses. And that made him, for me as a filmmaker, really interesting.”

A native of Montreal, Avrich divides his time between making movies and running an advertising agency in Toronto. His credits include last year's Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky and 2011's Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project.  

Fithy Gorgeous is a compelling addition to that roster, particularly in light of how the story ultimately ends.

“The man died without a penny,” Avrich says. “Without a penny. Nothing to his name. Zero. 

“In that 200-square-foot hospital room in Plano, Texas, was this man with nothing but the name on the door. It's sad.”

Filthy Gorgeous - The Movie Network / Movie Central - Nov. 8

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