London Calling, more than your average MTV

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Deneen Kavinsky climbing a tree and Drew Skitt

YOU'RE BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE, PAL. Drew Skitt (bottom) and Deneen Kavinsky, hosts of London Calling, bring new depth to London's arts & entertainment scene.

Toronto may have MTV Canada and MuchMusic, but London has London Calling, its own music variety show, which combines music, comedy sketches and interviews in a perfect blend of entertainment.

Earning two Impression Award nominations for Best Arts and Entertainment show and Best Promo after its first season, London Calling is the brainchild of producer and host Drew Skitt, a Western graduate. Skitt brought his big city ideas from his home in Toronto to London in the hope of filling the void in London’s arts and entertainment culture.

“When I was a student here I knew there was an awesome concentration of artists. The more I stopped saying ‘London doesn’t have much of a scene’ and just started exploring [it], I started networking and finding people,” Skitt says.

“I think it’s all about choice, especially relevant choice. There is so much going on in the Canadian music scene. The majority of what kids see is a very American version of a really large and diverse music industry.”

Unlike MTV, London Calling doesn’t have a specific target audience. “My demographic is anybody who has a keen interest in music, acting, the arts " anyone who likes to laugh. I don’t think there is a specific age,” Skitt says.

A talented pool of actors provides the laughs, and depicts characters living and working in the London entertainment scene. John Turner, for example, plays “the Bossman,” a character almost everyone can relate to.

“John represents not just a boss in the music industry, while he does play that extraordinarily well; he might also be a boss at Burger King. He’s a boss who is always worried about the bottom line,” Skitt says.

Turner is used to restrictive scripts, but London Calling gives him plenty of room for creativity.

“[Skitt] gives me a chance to wing it,” Turner says. Turner’s improvisation pays off, as many of the show’s best laughs come from the Bossman’s impromptu rants about the sorry state of the entertainment industry or the incompetence of the show’s host, Skitt.

As an arts and entertainment reporter for Rogers Television, Skitt meets a wide variety of artists and musicians and is always on the lookout for talent. The true beauty of London Calling is the assortment of talent, from Grammy-nominated Chicago blues artist Eddy, “The Chief” Clearwater, to up and coming London emcee, Shad. The mixture of musicians is unparalleled.

Skitt believes his education as a media, information and technoculture student prepared him to produce the show. “The one thing that MIT really taught me is being critical. I’m now a proprietor of alternative media.”

Skitt has carefully handpicked the London Calling crew to create the best possible show. London Calling is independently produced by an innovative and up-and-coming company, PA Productions, in association with Rakehellrow Productions.

All too often, Western students fail to adequately explore the city of London and break out of their bubble. London Calling provides viewers with an itinerary of upcoming concerts and entertainment events in the Forest City.

Although Skitt is tight-lipped about the new season of London Calling, he does promise a season of great artists and more laughs than ever before.

London Calling airs Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on Rogers 13 with reruns throughout the week.

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