West Vancouver Magazine Podcast. Live interviews with people you know and love. News and views, plus updates about local issues. Influential and relevant information with a little entertainment too. Building our new community online at WestVancouver.com - representing Canada's stylish waterfront and west coast lifestyle.
Exclusive Interview with TV star Vanna White from Wheel of Fortune
It takes a certain kind of toughness to survive in showbiz - and a whole lot of magic to make it last. Hear how game show legend Vanna White solved the biggest puzzle of all, turning her career into a ‘wheel’ of a deal, and becoming the face of ‘fortune’ we all admire.
CAT: We are so honoured to have the beautiful (and I do mean beautiful inside and out) and delightful celebrity, Ms Vanna White, co-host of Wheel of Fortune fame, with us here today. Thank you so much for joining us.
VANNA: Thank you for having me.
CAT: You’re here today supporting some very special charities, including Variety, the Children’s Charity and others. But we’re going to talk about you first. Vanna, how did it all begin? We all want to know. Did you get a phone call? What did your agent call up and say? Did you jump up and down and go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is my big break.’ Take us back to that moment and tell us where it all started.
VANNA: It all started on Dance Fever, which was a Merv Griffin show. Janet Jones at the time, who is now Janet Gretzky, is a friend of mine. And I heard they were looking for a replacement on Wheel of Fortune. And I knew it was a Merv show, so I said to Janet, ‘Hey, can you introduce me to somebody?’ And she introduced me to someone there that day, and he said, ‘If we haven’t made a decision on a Wheel of Fortune Hostess, you give us a call on October 5th.’ I called him on October 5th at 10 am, and they had not made a decision. So I went in for the audition - and got it.
CAT: So, did you know? Did you say, ‘Oh my God, this is my big break?’ Because you had done some acting, you were modelling, and you are a showbiz person. Did you know what had happened at that moment?
VANNA: Well, I knew that I was going to be on TV, so I was thrilled - and I was going to have a paying job. And at that point, the nighttime version wasn’t on yet. It was only the daytime version. So I didn’t know where it would go. So Pat Sajak and I are sitting in the makeup chair one day, and I said, ‘I wonder where we’ll be in 10 years. And it’s been 40.
CAT: She admitted that out loud, ladies and gentlemen. She admitted that out loud. (laughing)
VANNA: Let me add that I was 11 when I started. (laughing)
CAT: I was going to say - you started when you were six. So, you now have this glamorous job - and I’m going to get this one out of the way first because my listeners would never forgive me if we didn’t ask you. It’s a glamorous life. It looks like a glamorous life. And I think one of the things all of us girls go for is the clothes. Tell us about the clothes. Where do you get them? Do you get to keep them? Have you ever worn the same outfit twice? Let’s talk about the clothes.
VANNA: Great question. The clothes come from designers that send their clothes to the studio. I wear them, and then they take them back - so I do not get to keep them. And I’ve worn over 7,500+ dresses - and I’ve only repeated one - and that was by mistake.
CAT: You’re kidding. What one was it?
VANNA: I don’t remember. I was traumatized. (laughing)
CAT: Now, I don’t know about you, but when I do red carpets, and the dress is all sequins and beads and bits - between you and me, I kind of hate them. Because if you twist wrong or a bead pops and you hear it popping, or you’re breathing wrong - it’s kind of traumatic when you wreck a designer dress. Am I right? It’s kind of upsetting.
VANNA: You know, some of the dresses aren’t the most comfortable. They look gorgeous on, but you know, you’re squeezed in there. They’re tight, and you can hardly move - but they look good. So that’s the most important thing.
CAT: Well, accessories are an important part of fashion and show business. But maybe one of your better accessories is your co-host, Pat Sajak.
Vancouver International Film Fest 2022 - Best of Fest Picks starring Woody Harrelson and Brendan Fraser
CAT: Welcome everybody. Catherine Barr here. We’re back with another episode of West Vancouver Magazine / Turner Magazine podcast. You can find us on Apple. You can find us on Spotify. But coming up, you’re going to find us on the red carpet because I have another fabulously exciting guest here with me today. It is Kyle Fostner, executive director of the Vancouver International Film Festival. All you film buffs will want to know this man because he knows everything there is to know about the upcoming festival. Kyle, welcome to our show.
KYLE: Thank you. Great to be here.
CAT: Now, you’ve probably had a really hectic few weeks here. As the new Executive Director, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).
KYLE: Sure, thank you. It’s true that my background is in music. I have always known that I wanted to be in the arts. I spent my 20s on the art side of things, making video art but also as an aspiring musician. I lived and worked in Montreal and released records, toured and did that whole business. Then I found myself working in music venues and worked my way up from the very bottom as a handyman to the general manager. I did this for about six to eight years before my partner and I moved out here to be closer to her family. When we arrived, I didn’t want to work in music any longer. So I dabbled in film production, and that opened the doors wider. I started as a venue manager for VIFF and quite literally worked my way back up again. This is the first full-tilt role at the festival since taking over, so I’m both excited and terrified.
CAT: Well congratulations on everything. It takes a lot to get a festival like this off the ground, and there are so many people behind the scenes. And that’s something I really love about the Vancouver International Film Festival. There isn’t just an emphasis on the red carpets and the actors and stars - there’s a lot of focus on writers, directors, musicians and more. It is about the fundamentals. It’s about all the people who work in the industry.
KYLE: The days of festivals being about ‘just going to the movies’ are over, to be honest. I think that we all spent the past few years getting through periods of isolation through streaming films, and we were able to do it on our terms. We’ve all got subscriptions to the many streaming services out there. So, you know, binge-watching is an option that’s available to everyone in their lives all the time. What VIFF offers is a deeper experience. The world is full of film festivals of all shapes and sizes, so it’s really important as a festival planner to define yourselves by your strengths.
From the written word to the visual image to the sound behind it, film is a creative decision. We are not concerned with celebrity and are not concerned with the endless red carpets and the sponsors. We’re an audience-first festival. We’re here for the community.
CAT: And there’s so much inclusiveness here at the Vancouver festival. There’s diversity and variety and so much to take in. There are talks, speakers, and even a night with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performing live. Tell us a little bit more about these features.
KYLE: So the ‘Talks’ series is one that I’m really proud of. It’s the bridge between industry and the general public. It’s for people who want to explore film culture beyond just the simple cinematic experience. The series is a way to find our favourite creators from around the world and then connect them with Vancouver audiences. We had a free online talk called ‘With Dean Fleischer Camp’, who’s the director and leader of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a 2021 comedy. It started as a viral video, and it just went wild. It’s an adorable heart-wrenching animation of this little tiny shell with a single eye and these tiny shoes and the adventures it goes...
Exclusive Interview with singer Bif Naked
Welcome back everybody - back to another West Vancouver podcast. I am so honoured and privileged to have this amazing artist, singer and musician with us here today. She calls herself the ‘Super Beautiful Monster’. I prefer to call her a friend - but she is so much more than that. Please welcome the spectacular Bif Naked.
BIF: We are friends. And we go back. We go way back. That is so fun. I love it. And I love the magazine, obviously - and of course, now the podcast. What you guys have always done with the community has just been incredible. It’s always fun to keep up with what’s going on here. I’m just thrilled to be on your show.
CAT: Well we love you too. And you’re always looking good - and you’re always up to something fun. You were just back here in Vancouver recently to help support the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball gala event. And whenever we manage to get you on stage, we get way more than just a music performance. We get ‘you’ the real person - the person who talks about her life and her philosophies and your positivity. You share so much more than music. And you’re also a cancer survivor and can speak to that experience as well. You have that connection.
BIF: It was amazing to be there. The gala was virtual for the past two years, so it was an honour to be asked this year. They do so much and raise wonderful amounts of money for cancer research. There’s the new lodge, which I toured the day before, so it was a real full-circle moment for me.
CAT: Now, some people are lucky to get to know this side of you, but most people know you as Bif Naked music star. How did you ‘assemble’ Bif the character? How did you grow up to become this famous person? Tell us where it all began?
BIF: Well, you know, I am a performing arts kid. My parents were just regular academics who put their three daughters in ballet and dance, theatre and spoken poetry, and art festivals - like a lot of art festivals across Canada. And I just really loved it.
So I think it’s always been in my blood. And then, in university, I fell into being in a punk rock band as a vocalist. And I had no plans at all, no training, no plan at all. I always say you didn’t require a lot of talent to be in a punk rock band - you just needed to have a whole lot of heart. And it just kind of kept happening.
And eventually, I became a solo artist. Bif Naked was already a nickname that I had from the early days. It was a punk rock stage name that I kind of donned because all the guys had, you know, provocative stage names - so that set me apart. I love what I do. I’m very, very lucky.
CAT: You mentioned university - but you were also given a great honour recently. And you’ve also got an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University (SFU) as well. Tell us about that.
BIF: That was just such a joy. My dad was still alive in 2013 when the University of the Fraser Valley gave me an honourary degree in letters. So he was very proud. We lost him to prostate cancer shortly after. But my parents were both academics. They both had Master’s degrees.
So in 2020, I was lucky enough to get an honorary degree from SFU in Fine Arts. We’ll finally be able to celebrate that convocation ceremony in person at the beginning of May (as it was delayed due to Covid).
Being able to have these accolades like this - it just makes my mother so proud, and for me, I could die happy.
CAT: You are also an actor. How do you like acting compared to music? Do they play an equally important role in your life?
BIF: I would say it was the early 2000s. I was in a couple of feature films, and I enjoyed it immensely. Nicholas Lea was my co-star along with Ching Wan Lau in Lunch With Charles. And then another film I was able to do was Crossing with Crystal Buble. And it was just, you know,
Cypress Village - West Vancouver's Newest Community
With a wealth of history behind them, British Pacific Properties is looking to develop a different kind of future. Now, in a new partnership with Beedie Living, these community builders are proposing some innovative ideas to rise to the challenge while addressing a potential uprising against traffic, the environment and sustainable housing. An exclusive interview with president, and West Vancouver resident, Geoff Croll.
The new Upland development, with Hawksley and Wildwood, how does partnering with Beedie affect this?
Well, we have entitlements for over 800 homes in Rogers Creek. And if Cypress Village gets approved, they’ll be another 3,500 new market homes in Cypress Village. And one of our guiding principles as a company is ‘be a small giant’ - which means we focus on getting better rather than getting bigger.
So how do we deliver all these homes in a timely fashion without getting bigger? We find someone to work with us. Someone who shares the same core values. Someone who has the same dedication to quality and customer service. Someone who shares our commitment to community - and someone who shares our vision for the future. And the people at Beedie checked all those boxes. We’re pretty excited to supercharge our team.
The vision is large. The time commitment is enormous. The kind of home we need is changing? What does all that say?
We’ve always played the long game. We’ve been here since 1931. It’s always been a steady, slow progression across the hillside. And we’ve evolved from the 30s and the 40s and 50s to where we are today. We’re addressing the needs of the community. And we have to do it in a thoughtful step by step manner that we can create a community on the hillside that meets the needs of both the new residents and the community that’s already here.
If you go back to the company’s guiding principles, the number one thing is reverence for nature. We have to respect and conserve the natural environment that we have.
How do you respond to those who say it’s going to make the mountainside too busy - or there’s going to be too much traffic?
When we did the Rogers Creek plan back in 2008, the number one concern was the environment. Now, 13 years later, it’s traffic and housing affordability.
Traffic is a major concern in West Vancouver - and so it should be. If you look at where West Vancouver sits, it’s at the intersection of Hwy 1 and Hwy 99, and it also has a large ferry terminal that connects the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver Island. There’s also a popular ski hill in the most visited provincial park in the province (Cypress Provincial Park). Over a million cars a year travel up and down Cypress Bowl Road - none of it by public transit.
So anything we do at Cypress Village will pale in comparison to the existing and future traffic generated by [these roads].
There’s a lot that we are committed to doing to reduce traffic. So first and foremost, we are creating a complete community where it is truly possible to live, work and play without getting into a car. The village will provide all the amenities and services people need on a daily basis.
Secondly, we’re also committed to a developer-funded transit system from day one (at no cost to the taxpayer). We’ll provide regular, reliable service to Ambleside and Park Royal using electric buses (carbon-free).
Thirdly, we’re providing other transportation alternatives to the alternative single- occupancy cars, such as an integrated system of walking and biking paths. We’ll also have electric car sharing.
Brightlight Pictures Celebrates 20 Years of Film in Vancouver
Welcome everybody back to another episode of WestVancouver.com / West Vancouver Magazine Podcast. Here in Hollywood North, we have lots of glam. And live on air with me today is one of those people who makes it all happen. We have Shawn Williamson here with us from Brightlight Pictures. It doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to lights, camera – action! Shawn, thank you for joining us.
Oh, thank you, my pleasure.
Now I can only imagine what you’ve seen over 20 years of movie-making, T.V. and films. You’ve been involved in all aspects of it. Rumour also has it you’re from North Vancouver. So, where did this all start?
Well, I did. I grew up in North Van. I went to Argyle. And so I’m a North Shore boy originally. But it started organically out of the theatre. I went to university for a very brief moment, and discovered it wasn’t really for me, and ended up working at the Arts Club Theatre where I did an apprenticeship and ultimately worked in all kinds of different technical and behind the scenes positions over the years - and ended up there as a stage manager before I transitioned into film and television.
So you weren’t the guy up front doing the tap-dancing - you were always the guy kind of behind the scenes helping put it all together? (laughs) Is that kind of accurate?
I’ve never been on stage. (laughs) I have no talent whatsoever. So I’m very, very happy behind the camera.
Well, that’s completely not true. Because you clearly have absolute mounds of talent to be able to survive in what is an incredibly difficult industry and sometimes made more difficult by the fact that you’re Canadian. I know L.A. is a tough scene as well for anybody looking to make it big, but you’ve clearly made it big. So what exactly would you say your job title is? Tell us, what does somebody in your position do? What is your day like?
(Use the timestamps below to forward ahead in the podcast above)
Cast and Crew of ABC’s The Good Doctor - from left, David Shore, Shawn Williamson and Freddie Highmore. Photo credit: Sony Pictures Used with Permission
02:47 - Shawn
Well, it really does vary. Different producers do very different jobs. Some are working in development, finding scripts and packaging them, or putting them together with other talent, with actors, directors and studio money. And some producers, which is how I started, just grew up making movies.
Vancouver has generally been a destination for foreign films. And it certainly now has blossomed and grown and matured into a proper production destination where you can finance and package films. But earlier on, it was a destination. So I grew up in the industry making movies and television shows for U.S. studios or foreign financiers.
And so, part of my job originally was simply to make the movie. And you are effectively the employer on set. You’re the person that deals with the creative elements. You juggle all the elements that you would think - actors, directors, the studio’s desires, and the script. So you have a budget you’re working towards, and you’re spending effectively every part of that budget. But it’s largely people management, and our philosophical view in producing comes from what I learned at the Arts Club as a stage manager.
05:36 - Cat
Wow, well, I’m going to guess that there isn’t a producer’s school - this is something you had to really get in and get your hands on, as you said, use your experience. But it sounds like you really need to hone your focus and your talents on keeping all these balls in the air. I imagine the bigger the story, the bigger the script, and the bigger the cast, the more it can really run wildly out of control. So that sounds like that’s the hardest part – but what is the best part of you...
Park Royal Proposal for New Micro-Unit Development
A podcast conversation with Park Royal VP Rick Amantea about the history of Park Royal and their new proposed micro-unit development.
Affordable housing. It’s a problem plaguing the Lower Mainland - and never more so than in West Vancouver, where mega-houses rule the land. Now, armed with a unique plan for the future, Park Royal VP Rick Amantea discusses how they are seeking approval for a new micro-unit complex designed specifically for singles. It strives to help solve the housing crisis with a tiny bit of innovation that still allows people to ‘live large’.
UPDATE Oct 5, 2021 - Council approved the proposal to advance to the next steps of review and consultation. The next steps in the application process include community consultation and staff review to identify issues and technical considerations for the proponent to address. Staff identified the following items that require further review: Traffic functionality, Number of parking stalls, Number and size of rental units, Potential community recreation uses in the current green space, Impacts to privacy and view corridors to properties north of the site.
Q: Tell us a little about why you have proposed this new micro-unit development?
A: As we continue to evolve, and we look
at the needs of the community, we try to examine developments and bring to the table ideas and concepts that kind of meet those needs. One of those needs is to provide housing for those individuals who work in our community and do the important work of those services and those frontline jobs.
And so when we were thinking about what we could do to address that, the notion of micro-units came up. We decided to try to bring something like that to West Vancouver to make it more affordable, make it more attainable, and really provide an opportunity for those people - those important people who work in our community.
Q: Who would want to live here?
A: The occupants are, generally speaking, those single people that want to find a more affordable means and ways of living in the community, which generally means they don’t have a car. They rely on walking
or cycling, or public transportation to get to and from their place of work. As such, we’ve designed the building for 0.25 cars per unit, and lots of bicycle parking.
Q: What is the approval process for this?
A: The first step is to have council consider this concept - so we need to go through a pre- application proposal. We will then go into a much more intense public consultation. We would then take it forward to the community and see what they think - and then they’ll consider it at that stage of the game for the rezoning and the development permit that would be required.
Q: In addition to the micro-units, what else is going to be unique about the property?
A: There are a couple of unique things that we’re proposing. One is that the six-storey building would be built all from wood frame. So that is a more environmentally sensitive means of construction. All 199 [units] will be rental units. We’ll have a rooftop garden on top of the building with
a little amenity space up there that could be converted into a community dining room. There will be a collaborative workspace. And [instead] of an indoor fitness amenity, we have proposed putting outdoor adult exercise equipment on the front lawn of the building. So those people who want to get exercise can do it literally on the front lawn.
Q: How much will each unit cost per month?
A: I think the goal here is is is to bring a compact, high quality living accommodation to this community that would be about 2/3 the size of a studio or a one-bedroom - and by virtue of that, the rent should be two thirds.