The Gist Of It – February 29, 2012


Who would YOU cast in a remake of The Love Boat?

Welcome, welcome, welcome, to another edition of The Gist Of It. Don Landry and Bill Hayes are your hosts for a rip roaring clash of ideas and opinions on a wide range of topics. Like any other red-blooded Canadian, the guys love their hockey. Not so crazy about the NHL trade deadline, though. They talk about the trades, Rick Nash and the state of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Women’s curling is a hot topic, as are the Oscars and a remake of The Love Boat. And a recent study that shows that the richer you are, the more likely you are to lie, cheat and steal.

Segment 1 – The NHL trade deadline. Bill actually pvr’d portions of it. Not Don. He stayed away from his TV. They have ideas on how to revamp the deadline.

Segment 2 – Does Leafs’ General Manager Brian Burke have all his eggs in the Toronto Marlies’ basket?

Segment 3 – Rick Nash and his request to be traded. Don thinks Columbus Blue Jackets’ GM Scott Howson was certainly within his rights to tell people Nash asked for a trade.

Segment 4 – Women’s curling!! Don, of course, is a huge curling fan. Bill tells us he kinda digs The Scotties. They discuss the sex appeal of the sport. And Heather Nedohin’s “S#!+balls!”

[button link=”” window=”yes”]To read Don’s blog on Heather Nedohin’s “S#!+balls!” moment, click here.[/button]

Segment 5 – A new study done by big-brain schools in both Toronto and California shows that rich people are more likely to lie, steal and cheat. Certainly, they drive poorly, Don says.

Segment 6 – The Oscars. Crystal, Jolie, and The Dictator. Snarky comments on all of them. And, sure, Don reiterates his dislike of Meryl Streep.

Segment 7 – You know it. It’s time for someone to bring back “The Love Boat.” The guys discuss who they’d cast as The Captain, Gopher, Julie, Doc and Isaac. Why? Ummm… just… because.

Segment 8 – Ever wondered where the word “dude” came from? Bill has. So, he found out.

There it is. Hey, who would you cast as Landry and Hayes in a remake of this podcast?

[box border=”full”]To read: “ESPN Runs For Cover Over Lin, Bretos,” click here.[/box]

The Gist Of It – February 23, 2012


Mitt Romney: Enraptured by Michigan’s inanimate objects.

On this week’s TGOI, Don and Bill make fun of Mitt Romney. Well, not so much as Mitt makes fun of himself. By, you now, just talking. What about Rob Ford and his vendetta against the now-fired TTC General Manager, Gary Webster? Feel better now that you kicked Poindexter out of the sandbox, Mr. Mayor? ESPN suspends one employee and fires another over Jeremy Lin – related comments, and for some mysterious, twisted reason, Rihanna has decided to do a duet with the guy who assaulted her. What’s love got to do with it? Indeed.

Segment 1 – Is Mayor Ford’s firing of the TTC’s general manager fair or foul? Can he learn to play nice? Does he care? We hear he has a burgeoning radio career….

Segment 2 – Mitt Romney likes everything in Michigan, it seems. The guys have some fun with Mitt’s new found exuberance.

Segment 3 – ESPN suspends an anchor for saying “chink in the armor” at the wrong time. Don takes them to task for what he sees as the wrong decision.

[box border=”full”]To read Don’s column: “ESPN Runs for Cover Over Lin, Bretos,” click here.[/box]

Segment 4 – The NHL’s trade deadline. Dead would be the operative word here. Bill’s tired of the hype. Don just wants the big picture, not a thousand tiny ones.

Segment 5 – Bill thinks Whitney Houston’s funeral should have been more about cautionary tales than album sales. Don’s disappointed in everyone. Except Alicia Keys.

Segment 6 – What in THE hell is wrong with Rihanna? A duet with the guy who assaulted her?! Bill finds it a sad commentary on society itself. Don wonders if Rihanna is to be pitied or pilloried.

And there you have it. Bill Hayes and Don Landry just sittin’ around and jabbering on like the rocket surgeons they are. So many, many problems solved in one tiny, little weekly podcast. See ya next week.

ESPN Runs For Cover Over Lin, Bretos

The sports anchor made a mistake. But not one that deserves punishment.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I’ll just bet that phrase has been uttered by every right-minded broadcaster in the history of the media that have carried every unscripted utterance, every slip of the tongue, every idiotic statement and every unforseen double entendre ever propelled into a microphone.

ESPN Anchor Max Bretos: Have some sympathy.

Say it again, brothers and sisters of the congregation, because another has fallen.

In the case of ESPN vs Linsanity vs bad puns gone wild vs Max Bretos, Bretos is the one getting shafted.

Shafted by his own bosses, and shafted by a large public element that fails or refuses to see alternative theories to, or plausible explanations for, Bretos’ now infamous and unfortunate choice of words in questioning an analyst about a drop off in the play of New York Knicks’ rookie sensation, Jeremy Lin.

ESPN’s suspension of Bretos is the source of my objection and concern here. The firing of an on line editor is another story and I’ll get to that later.

But first, Bretos.

You’d be correct in feeling that asking about a “chink in the armor” in Lin’s play is not at all an appropriate choice of phrase when speaking about a man of Asian descent. At least I hope you would.

Unless I miss my bet, I’ll wager a few bucks that Bretos would agree.

I don’t know Max Bretos. Not at all. So maybe it’s my folly to conclude that he’s as horrified by his choice of words as anybody else, perhaps even more so. If not, however, you can be assured that ESPN would have gone beyond suspending their man for 30 days. They’d have fired him outright. Instead, they opted to slide their dutiful employee under the proverbial bus, for what might very likely be nothing more than an unfortunate confluence of using a perfectly acceptable and often used phrase within a context that immediately made it mean so much more than it usually does.

Have you never used the phrase? I have, often in my career as a broadcaster and writer. As I mentioned, it’s a perfectly acceptable choice of words to be used when questioning the suitability of one’s continued battle readiness.

For those who don’t know, and I can’t believe there are really that many, a chink in the armor means a crack or fissure, a weakness on an opponent. Suffer a chink in the armor in the “olden days” and you were likely to have enemies aiming their lances directly at it. Fast forward to modern sport and it’s a turn of phrase you’d have heard over and over and over again. After the Green Bay Packers stormed out to a 13 and oh start, did their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs suggest they had a chink in their armor?

Pretty pedestrian, in that context. A cliché, really. Clichés get to be clichés by being spoken again and again and again. That means they can fly out of one’s mouth at any given moment without dutiful thought. As well as automatic, time-worn intention.

New York Knicks’ star Jeremy Lin has been slighted. Just not by Max Bretos.

Entertain, if you will, the notion that not everything that passes a broadcaster’s lips is perfectly crafted, planned and executed. That’s hardly a stretch, right? Ever say something in the spur of the moment that was, in almost immediate hindsight, idiotic, just plain stupid or could easily be construed as rude, obnoxious or even racist? Me, too.

Once, while manning the microphone for a Toronto radio station’s morning show, I was talking about the power of a rather large African-American athlete. I blurted out, “Yup, he’s a big boy…” with absolutely no racial overtone implied. I knew what I really meant (I’d used the term “boy” or “young man,” or “kid” dozens and dozens of times before when talking about white athletes) but was petrified by what the perception could be in this case. I’d barely gotten the words out before I started to realize how they might incorrectly be taken. 

Quite frankly, I rather doubt that Bretos purposely chose to use that phrase in a way that would be insulting to Lin, or anyone of Asian descent. If he did, I’d wholeheartedly agree with the idea that he be taken to the town square and pelted with rotten tomatoes. Or at least the modern age equivalent, be roasted on Twitter.

No, I’ll bet that Bretos just trotted out a familiar phrase, with the usual sporting context as backdrop and before he could possibly connect the dots on the racial implications, the damage was done. This was not a scripted portion of the show, remember. This was a live Q and A session where the broadcaster is usually left to ad lib the questions and conversation.

For ESPN, this is all about saving face and ensuring they can properly manage the amount of damage that their vaunted brand will suffer in the wake of this scandal. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t make it right.

If Bretos is a good man and a valuable employee, his network should have rescued him from this embarrassment, not added to it. If, in their investigation into the faux pas, they discovered that this was just a slip of the tongue as I’ve described it, they ought to have issued a statement of support for Bretos, with an explanation. If their interrogation of Bretos led them to believe that he did it on purpose, they should have fired him. They didn’t, so what are we to conclude?

As for the on line editor, as I hinted, that’s a different story. The headline was concocted, the column designed, the picture of Lin added and then it was published. Time there for thought and filtering. The employee who let it happen either thought it was funny or lacks the editorial judgment that I’d insist upon when keeping someone at the helm of my global news service for any amount of time.

As for Bretos, I can sympathize. But luckily, at least so far, only to a point.

[box border=”full”]To read: “140 Character Assassinaton,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Secrets Of The Media Lockdown Room,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “The London Rippers and Political Correctness,” click here.[/box]

BLOGGERNAUT: Is Barnes The Guy The Argos Have Needed?



[box border=”full”]To read “Anatomy Of The Rocket Ismail Deal,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read more of Don’s work at, click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him,” click here.[/box]

The Gist Of It – February 9, 2012


Karen Stintz (holding baby) seems to have reservations about Toronto’s transit plan, as Mayor Rob Ford (background) excitedly waves to the crowd

This week on TGOI, The incredible world of municipal politics once again captures the fancy of Don Landry and Bill Hayes. Transit City returns from the dead. At least for now. As well, the guys take you behind the scenes at that Budweiser “Flash Fans” Super Bowl commercial, talk over the relative merits of Mats Sundin and the NHL’s Winter Classic, and discuss the incredible case of a Quebec man who ended up being treated like a terrorist after one little text message. This week’s episode of the Gist Of It has been endorsed by the Donald! (Landry, that is.)

Segment 1 – Transit City. Is it really back? What’s the next twist in this enduring Toronto saga? Is Karen Stintz ready to run for mayor? Don has an idea for a musical based on the whole sordid tale.

[button link=”” window=”yes”]To see Don’s blog “Transit City: The Musical!” click here[/button]

Segment 2  – Bill talks about his inability to feel the love for either team on Super Bowl Sunday. Don makes a crack about Madonna.

Segment 3 – The new age of Super Bowl advertising. It isn’t actually about the number of people who see your commercial during the game, anymore. And, Will Ferrell’s LOCAL beer commercial in Nebraska.

Segment 4 – Don took part in the Budweiser Super Bowl “Flash Fans” commercial, shot at the Port Credit Arena. He takes you behind the scenes and talks about the secrecy that surrounded the ad.

[button link=”” window=”yes”]To see the Budweiser ad, click here[/button]

Segment 5 – Don is almost giddy with excitement over the prospects of next year’s Winter Classic between the Leafs and Red Wings, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bill… well… “meh.”

Segment 6 – The Leafs hoist a Mats Sundin banner to the rafters this weekend. Just where does he rank on the list of all-time greats? Should his number 13 be retired?

Segment 7 – The crazy story of a Quebec man who had his door kicked in by law enforcement officers after he sent a text message to his colleagues exhorting them to “blow away the competition” while they were at a trade show in New York.

There you have it. We apologize if we went beyond giving you merely the gist of some topics. Oh, and do yourself a favour. Check out William Shatner’s version of “Rocket Man.”


Transit City: The Musical!

I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines while everybody else gets into the fun of musical theatre.

They’re making millions and those of us who don’t dip into the ever-growing and lucrative world of the old soft shoe and warble are suckers.

There’s a “Shrek: The Musical,” for God’s sake. Only a matter of time – mark me – before we’re enjoying the elevated buzz around opening night of  “Flashpoint: The Musical.” Hell, Hugh Dillon will probably write the music himself.

Stintz and Ford: Another title could be “A Streetcar Named You’re Fired.”


However, long before we get to that, we shouldn’t look past the incredible drama and intrigue that is Toronto’s own city council. Lots of meat on that bone, even if the gravy’s gotten scarce.

Divine inspiration struck me as I watched the unfolding events down at the ol’ clam shell on Wednesday. As wave after wave of venom-filled tweets from both sides of the debate electrified my brain, I had an epiphany.

“Transit City: The Musical.”

Oh, baby. Ka – friggin’ – ching!

‘This idea’s too good not to have an exclamation point in the title,’ I thought. And so was born:

“Transit City: The Musical!”

Political intrigue. Backstabbing. Quickly unfolding drama. This can easily be translated to the stage. And will be, once Garth Drabinsky gets out of jail and is looking for the next great thing.

What follows is a general overview of my vision for Toronto’s greatest homegrown musical.

As far as casting, I’ve already nailed down my principal players. I need the mayor and his brother, as well as a TTC Chair.

Brent Butt will play Rob Ford. Gerry Dee will play his brother Doug. That’s perfect casting. Use your imagination. And we’ll use hair and make-up. As well as prosthetics, if need be.

Their signature number will come in a scene where, just after coming to power, they hatch their plan to ditch former mayor David Miller’s Transit City initiative. The scene is punctuated with their duet treatment of an old Spoons’ chestnut, with a slight twist:

Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo…. Doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo… broooooomaaaaantic traffic….

Butt’s big dramatic solo moment will come later in the show, when Transit City is revived by council vote. It’s at that point that I see him making his way to downstage right, and sitting with his legs dangling over the edge. A single spotlight trained on him, he forlornly sings The Doors’ “The End.”

Sheila McCarthy: A better Karen Stintz than Karen Stintz.

Playing TTC Chair (for now) Karen Stintz, I’d like Sheila McCarthy. Only she could bring the complex mixture of strength and weariness so crucial to the multi-layered role of a woman who is conflicted by past alliances with a man she’d previously been devoted to, and her burgeoning ambition. She’s basically the Brutus to Rob Ford’s Caesar. (Mental note: Should we re-imagine this play as being set in Roman times? Brent Butt and Gerry Dee would be hysterical in togas.)

It HAS to be Sheila McCarthy. Realistically, Reese Witherspoon could carry it off, too, but, c’mon, we need to keep spending under control. If we can’t get McCarthy, I’d be happy with BT’s Jennifer Valentyne. She’s delightful.

I haven’t quite worked in a David Miller part just yet, but I know it’s essential. When I get a handle on that, I’ll approach veteran actor Michael Murphy to do it. Great actor. And look at him! That’s David Miller!

Let’s see, what else have I got?

There will definitely be a “West Side Story” type of number in there, probably to close the first act. A Sharks versus Jets thingy. Subway advocates against LRT lobbyists. It’s here that I envision a bit of a Ford-Stintz romantic tension undercurrent.

I hope to build in a gaggle of journalists, who can push the narrative with the odd question for each of the main characters. That’s where I’ll be able to invite crowd-pleasing Toronto news celebrities to do quick cameos, like in The Nutcracker. Peter Mansbridge. Lisa LaFlamme. Gord Martineau. Somebody From The Weather Network.

It’s a work in progress, so be gentle with critiques of this treatment. We need to workshop this puppy a bit, preferably at a place that’s not easy to get to by public transit. Soulpepper would suffice. Are you interested, Albert Schultz? I’d even let you play Giorgio Mammoliti, if you’re willing to go there as an actor.

I envision casting changes, rewrite after rewrite after rewrite, and impatient third party investors wondering when the hell this thing is going to actually hit the stage. If ever.

That only seems appropriate.

[box border=”full”]To read “The Mammoliti Gambit,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Rob Ford and Mary Walsh: Do Two Wrongs Make a Funny?” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Jim Flaherty’s Budget Speech Translated,” click here.[/box]

[box border=”full”]To read “Unveiled: Top Secret Rookie MP Guidebook,” click here.[/box]