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]

The Gist Of It – December 7, 2011


Don’t be fooled by Don’s friendly demeanor. If you make fun of Andy Williams there will be hell to pay.

This week on THE GIST OF IT, Bill Hayes and Don Landry get all Christmassy and stuff. Don smokes a pipe through the whole thing, to feel more like Bing Crosby. Bill wears a dickie under a thin synthetic sweater, because he loves Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation. Among this week’s topics: Christmas music and the money it makes, the scourge of the phrase “Happy Holidays,” Alec Baldwin’s reported airline meltdown, those Commies also known as The Muppets, and blocking idiots on Twitter.

Segment 1 – Bill trots out his exceptional skills of poetry to salute Herman Cain’s departure from the American political landscape. He IS gone, right?

Segment 2 – The guys explore the possibility that the Muppets are dirty Commies. Plush puppets of the proletarian struggle. Beware of soft, cuddly Bolsheviks, people.

Segment 3 – Oh, Alec. Alec Baldwin is kicked off an American Airlines flight. Embarrassing for him and embarrassing for the other Baldwin brothers, who we assume were right there in their jobs as baggage handlers.

Segment 4 –  Why is blocking a jerk from your Twitter account seen as some kind of unfair censorship? Shouldn’t you have the right to revoke a person’s right to send you insulting messages? #whateverdude

Segment 5 – Okay. Here’s where we start to get Christmassy. Complaining about too much Christmas music too early? Liar! You love it. Bill has data to prove it. This is also where Bill almost meets his maker because he shoots Don a look of scorn when the name Andy Williams comes up.

Segment 6 – Don and Bill argue over the phrase “Happy Holidays.” Bill thinks it ruins Christmas. Don thinks it’s much ado about next to nothing.

Segment 7 – A teacher in Michigan got into trouble when she changed the lyrics of “Deck The Hall,” when having trouble keeping students from giggling when they got to “gay apparel,” in choir rehearsals. Went with “bright apparel.” Uh-oh. It’s still okay to go “dashing through the snow,” isn’t it?

The Gist Of It – November 30, 2011


Don Landry (L) and Bill Hayes discuss the top rock guitarists of all-time during a paid appearance at a Toronto high school sports banquet


This week on The Gist Of It, Don Landry and Bill Hayes marvel over the new Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens. Actually, they marvel at the fact that people would line up to be the first in. As well, they discuss the Leafs’ continuing good play, the Grey Cup Game (including Nickelback), Bill’s new favourite website and, once again, the never ending delight that is the Republican Party of the United States Of America. And they argue over Rolling Stone’s list of top 100 guitarists of all time.


Segment 1 – Hey, a new grocery store has opened at Maple Leaf Gardens! Don’t you wanna line up in the freezing rain, overnight, so you can be first in?! Us either.

Segment 2 – The Toronto Maple Leafs. If you’re waiting for them to slip back into the pack, mightn’t you be waiting in vain?

Segment 3 – The Grey Cup Game. Don spent a week in Vancouver and gives you his impressions of the game, the festivities and a theory as to why Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca got into that dust up.

Segment 4 – Want substance? Depth? Then, why are you listening to this podcast? Actually, Bill has a good website for you to check out.

Segment 5 – Rolling Stone’s list of 100 greatest guitarists. They got number one right, but after that? Not so much.

Segment 6 – Try as they might, Bill and Don just can’t take their eyes of the Republican Party. Bill worries about America’s future. Don doesn’t think any of these candidates are worth worrying about.

The Gist Of It – November 16, 2011


This week, Bill Hayes and Don Landry take a serious run at NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. No worries, they know the guy handing out suspensions would allow them to, without penalty. Bill wonders if people may be treating Penn State’s Mike McQueary a little too harshly.  As well, there are light hearted discussions about Rob Ford’s ballet career, Herman Cain’s, well, “Herman Cain – ness,” and whether we’re seeing the first few crumbles at the beginning of the fall of the Facebook empire.

Let’s just put NHL goaltenders on the “Endangered Species” list and have done with it.

Segment 1 – The guys ask the question: Are you sure you know exactly how you’d react if you walked into that infamous shower at Penn State?  [button link=”” window=”yes”]To read Don Landry’s column on former Argo and Penn State linebacker Reggie Givens, click here.[/button]

Segment 2 – Occupy Toronto. Should demonstrators be kicked out of their tent city at St. James Park? Wouldn’t they be better off moving around anyway? And Don sings some Gordon Lightfoot.

Segment 3 – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford joins the National Ballet of Canada. Obama takes out crocodile insurance. And, who wants to lead the federal Liberals?

Segment 4 – Herman Cain. The comic gift that just keeps on giving. He should get paid for almost single-handedly writing The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Segment 5 – One of Don’s friends has decided to quit Facebook. Don’s thinking about it, too. Is Facebook’s time starting to fade?

Segment 6 – Boston Bruins’ forward Milan Lucic gets a walk after running Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller, and both Bill and Don think that’s unacceptable.

Segment 7 – Toronto Star reporter Dave Feschuk called Leaf goalie James Reimer’s mom to get a story. Is that okay?

The Gist Of It – October 19, 2011


This week, Bill Hayes and Don Landry sink their teeth into a wide range of topics. Bryant Gumbel’s comments about racism in NBA collective bargaining, the lack of focus in the Occupy Toronto protests, even Shia LaBeouf’s reported troubles in Vancouver. As well, they discuss the accomplishments of the late columnist, Earl McRae, and  argue over whether an elderly barber in Nova Scotia should get more money from a guy who bought his antique hockey stick from him.

2 Mill for this hockey stick? Wonder how much the snowshoes are worth….

Segment 1 – Bryant Gumbel. Racial overtones in NBA collective bargaining? Nonsense.

Segment 2 – “Occupy Toronto.” What the hell are you trying to say?!

Segment 3 – Don Cherry’s apology. Arron Asham’s apology. And complaints that the NHL is turning into a touch hockey league.

Segment 4 – The plight of injured Leaf Centre Tim Connolly and the hot start for Phil Kessel.

Segment 5 – A Nova Scotia barber sold an antique hockey stick to someone for a thousand dollars. Now, it’s been appraised at 2 million. Should the buyer share the profits? Bill says: “Tough luck.” Don says: “Pony up the dough.”

Segment 6 – The great Earl McRae. Don and Bill share warm memories of the columnist/broadcaster who passed away last weekend. And some funny Earl stories, too.

Segment 7 – Trending on Twitter. Is that ever good? Not for Shia LaBeouf.

The Gist Of It – October 13, 2011


This week, Don Landry and Bill Hayes wrap their noggins around such conversational topics as Don Cherry, the Blackberry crisis, the best movie tough guys and the dysfunction of the Boston Red Sox. In honour of the remake of Footloose, it’s an all singing, all dancing edition of The Gist Of It.

Who doesn’t love a guy in a jacket like that?

Segment 1 – A quick hello and update on Bill’s basement.

Segment 2 – “Bombs Away:” Don sets his sights on Blackberry whiners and Bill can’t find a book he really, really wants.

Segment 3 – Don can’t believe Bill thinks Jason Statham should be mentioned in the same breath as Clint Eastwood.

Segment 4 – Grapes. Bill thinks Don Cherry’s dangerous. Don tells him to relax about it.

Segment 5 – More Cherry. Should he be allowed to continue? Is Ron MacLean the real culprit?

Segment 6 – The collapse and housecleaning of the Boston Red Sox: Don declares that the dysfunction of the team should have been remedied long before the exits of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein.

Segment 7 – The boys want people to stop tweeting every little thing and focus on quality.

[button link=”” bg_color=”#666666″ window=”yes”]To read: “Don Cherry: You Should Be Thankful For Him,” click here.[/button]

The Gist Of It – October 5, 2011


This week on “The Gist Of It,” Bill Hayes and Don Landry wonder how the Progressive Conservative Party let Ontario get away from them (at least according to the latest polls). They’re amused by Hank Williams Jr’s attempt at political commentary and the possibility of Madonna playing the halftime show at the Superbowl. They size up the Leafs’ chances in the upcoming NHL season and debate Leaf forward Clark MacArthur’s view that hitting is being taken out of the game. Bill thinks MacArthur has a point, while Don says that’s nonsense.

Segment 1 – Is Madonna the right choice for the Superbowl’s halftime show?

Segment 2 – How did Tim Hudak and the Tories sink so quickly in the polls?

Segment 3 – Hank Williams and his Netenyahu/Hitler golf comment. How stupid do you have to be…

Segment 4 – Bill is not impressed by the Leafs’ latest trade.

Segment 5 – What chance have the Leafs in the Eastern Conference? Don: playoffs. Bill: uh, no.

Segment 6 – Is hitting being taken out of the NHL? Bill believes it might be. Don gets irked by the argument.

Segment 7 – Isn’t Apple ticking off its customers by being too innovative?

Segment 8 – Bill wants to know what Don is thankful for.

THE NUTSHELL: Timmy’s in Dubai, NHL Disciplinary Videos And Einstein’s Brain Cramp

A collection of random thoughts on random things.


There’s some autobiography news this week; Arnold Schwarzenegger has been furiously scribbling his thoughts and hopes to release a book called – I’m not making this up – “Total Recall.” It’s probably true that if he wanted to name his memoirs after one of his films, “True Lies” would work well. So would “Predator,” come to think of it.

Neil Young: A Man Needs A Copy Editor.

Neil Young is writing his autobiography as well. No working title has been announced, but, let me offer one: “I’m An Old Man. Look At My Life.”

Curious that Charlie Sheen was so polite and magnanimous about his former bosses from “Two And A Half Men” when he presented an award at the Emmys. Oh, wait. Then we find out he’s nearing a 25 million dollar settlement with those ex-bosses over his firing. Sheen’s not sorry so much as he’s satisfied, I guess.

Tim Hortons has opened an outlet in Dubai. But, like everything in Dubai, I imagine it’s been done to the hilt. You know, with the world’s biggest timbits, the size of basketballs, and solid gold coffee cups. Which makes it real tough to do a roll up the rim contest but, hey, the cups are solid gold, so quit complaining. I think their grassroots hockey programs will go over very well there.


The CBC had to do some hard thinking about October 6th. That night, they’re scheduled to present the Leafs and Canadiens on Hockey Night In Canada. But, that’s also election night in Ontario. Ultimately, they decided that hockey rules and the electoral fate of the province was better left for their cable news channel. Personally, I think they could have combined the two seamlessly. You telling me that P.J Stock wouldn’t do a great job with out of town electoral results and highlights? Or that Terry Milewski couldn’t completely piss off Brian Burke in a scrum? I’ve taken the liberty of piecing together a transcript of what a hybrid HNIC/election night coverage broadcast would sound like. You can read it by clicking here.

"Nice ruling, Shanny. Jody Shelley's been suspended more times than my disbelief at the M. Night Shyamalan Film Festival."

Love, love, LOVE that NHL disciplinary Czar Brendan Shanahan has taken it upon himself to explain suspensions through video presentation on the league’s website. Shanahan looks pretty cool. Kind of like he’s auditioning for “etalk.” I’d be looking over my shoulder if I were Ben Mulroney. But, the NHL could glitz and glam it up. How about having a few babes with briefcases, a la “Deal Or No Deal?” In each briefcase, a different number, corresponding to the length of the suspension to be doled out. Or, at least, Gary Bettman playing Andy Richter to Shanahan’s Conan O’Brien, leaning on a podium and tossing in the odd saucy remark. At the very least.


The Liberal candidate in Beaches-East York is a woman by the name of Helen Burstyn. Who’s she running against, Cheryl Streep? Diana Keaton?

The Feds have hired a $90k a day consulting firm to help find ways to save money. But as I understand it, their report will never be completed considering their first recommendation was to fire themselves.

Ya got any other brilliant ideas, "Einstein?!"



Scientists in Europe believe they have discovered a particle that actually travels faster than the speed of light. Which would debunk Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity or, as it will now be known: “E = MC Hammered.” Einstein. What a dumbass.

The Gist Of It – September 14


This week, Landry and Hayes discuss the relative merits of NHL prospect camp hockey. What’s the lure? As well, they kick around some of their favourite story lines and performances from Week 1 of the NFL season, and Week 11 of the CFL season.

Serena Williams’ bad mood at the U.S. Open is discussed, with one of the boys being particularly disgusted.

Bill’s not big on all the fawning going on at the Toronto International Film Festival, while Don kinda digs the hoopla.

What’s to become of the TTC? And, is it really so terrible to be known as “Premier Dad”?

The Gist Of It – August 17, 2011


This week on “The Gist Of It,” Bill and Don wonder if Blue Jays’ rookie phenom Brett Lawrie will be able to continue to live up to the hype. As well, they discuss baseball veteran Jim Thome’s no-brainer inclusion at Cooperstown. Can you stomach the CNE? The boys talk over some of the gastronomic… um… delights available at this year’s Ex. They also explore the synergy that a possible provincial Conservative government could create with the Feds and debate the name changes coming for Canada’s military branches. What about the kid who won $50k in a hockey game intermission contest? Should he be penalized just because it wasn’t actually he who took the shot, but rather, his twin brother?