Nelvana, the animation studio founded in Toronto in 1971, made unexpected news in Tulsa, Oklahoma for suing a medical cannabis dispensary chain for copying its logo—even though the lawyer for Treehouse Wellness argues that they’re not violating anything.
Treehouse debuted as a program block for pre-schoolers on YTV, before launching as a dedicated specialty channel in September 1997. And those who remember its original flagship show, PJ Katie’s Farm, might wonder if weed helped with inspiration from the start:
The YTV era of Treehouse also had interviews with Mordecai Richler and Robert Munch. Today, it’s mostly Peppa Pig, The Wiggles, Mike the Knight and Max & Ruby, as well as merchandise including vitamins—but no cannabis products for stressed-out parents.
Once upon a time in… Drake
Perhaps the most effective retro-flourish of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is the deployment of real radio samples from 1969. Los Angeles radio station KHJ used the so-called Boss Radio or “Drake” format, which was also employed in San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston—and Windsor, Ontario. CKLW played a major role in the popularization of Motown, thanks to music director Rosalie Trombley. “The Big 8” also ignited Toronto media characters, like Dick Smyth, Tom Rivers, and Mark Dailey:
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Too Much for the Mask
July 29, 1994 was the release date for The Mask, the second of three movies that exploded Jim Carrey’s career that year, in between Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber. To promote the film, Carrey appeared on MuchMusic, where he famously interrupted the interview to remark upon the absurdity of the incessantly-ringing desk telephones—even though it was a hallmark of the “Living Movie” atmosphere of Much:
Fuzzy memories from 107.9 FM
Retrontario recently found a promotional VHS from Energy 108, produced to showcase its star power circa 1996, before the Burlington radio station was acquired by Shaw Communications. The original FM 108 was primarily promoted as an oldies outlet in the 1980s, until it phased in the rhythmic hits:
Corus Entertainment later moved Energy from 107.9 to 95.3 FM—and from Burlington to Hamilton—to anchor a network of stations across Ontario that failed to catch on as hoped. Energy branding disappeared for 17 years, before it returned to where it left off.
Toronto cheers the end of Cheers
The finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation came up in the first Retrontario newsletter, upon the 25th anniversary of its screening at the SkyDome. But, one year earlier, a similar event was held for Cheers, from which we’ve finally acquired a sliver of excited footage.
If this sold a million copies…
July 28, 1992 saw the release of the first Barenaked Ladies album, which went on to gain Diamond certification, for the sale of over 1 million copies in Canada. It arrived after the band won a YTV Achievement Award, appeared on Citytv’s Speaker’s Corner, and released their own “Yellow Tape.” Winning the $100,000 prize in a “Discovery to Disc” contest from CFNY-FM helped BNL get signed to Sire Records. But this original cover of Gordon is something that they’ve aspired to suppress.
Godzilla is attacking our wallets
The Criterion Collection announced that its 1000th release will be a box set of 15 Godzilla films from the so-called “Showa era” of 1954 to 1975. Southern Ontario viewers who either grew up with Saturday afternoon Action Adventure Theatre on Buffalo’s WUTV 29, or Citytv’s weekend Not-So-Great Movies strand, were forced to endure badly-dubbed, washed-out old film prints, which added to the charm:
R.I.P. actor Bill Luxton, 92
A graduate of the Lorne Greene School of Broadcasting in Toronto, Luxton was Willy in the CJOH Ottawa kids’ sketch series. Willy & Floyd. (Floyd was You Can’t Do That on Television’s Les Lye.) Luxton also appeared on CTV’s The Pig and Whistle variety show, CBC’s supernatural soap Strange Paradise, and he was the announcer for The Amazing Kreskin:
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