DEGRASSI HIGH CRIME SPREE!!!!: TV Know It All tells all

95-01-19 REEL LIFE: Degrassi High Crime Spree

DEGRASSI HIGH CRIME SPREE!!!!
TV Know It All tells all

by
LAURA LIND

DEAR TV KNOW-IT-ALL: What are the jail
sentence and arrest records for the Degrassi television actors?

ANSWER: Degrassi High actor Tyson Talbot
was jailed for one year for attacking two teachers and a student
in 1990. Byrd Dickens, who played Scott on Degrassi High, was
arrested in August of ’91, in connection with three sexual
assaults. (He was acquitted a year later — ed.) And perhaps most
violent of all, in ’92, Tamara June Saunders of DeGrassi St.
faced five counts of robbery and one of assault causing bodily
harm, assault and having a dangerous weapon, all in connection
with the robbery of five senior citizens. One 77-year-old woman
was slashed with a knife and bitten. (Waitaminnit, Saunders
lived on DeGrassi St. She didn’t star in the shows. — ed.) (Oops
— Laura.)

* * * *

Q: Was Degrassi High like some sort of
big crime school like the one in Nikita?

A: No. There have been no reports of,
say, guns or ammunition being distributed through the TV
production offices. In fact, Degrassi producer and former high
school teacher Linda Schuyler says she immediately realized that
when you put someone on TV, you change them and people’s
perception of them. So she says the cast were treated as normally
as possible. They held rehearsals after school so the kids could
continue regular classes; they had tutors who checked in with
their teachers; and the actors were not given special star
dressing rooms. And the production company set up a charitable
foundation to provide counselling. “I’ve heard a lot of them
say that they kept on the straight and narrow longer because of
Degrassi,” said Schuyler.

* * * *

Q: Do criminals make better actors and,
if so, does the Don Jail have a rep theatre company?

A: It depends on whether they’re method
actors or not. And no, the Don Jail does not have a theatre
company. “A what!?” they asked. But the federal
penitentiary system has several theatre companies who put on
plays every year that are open to the public.

* * * *

Q: How much money did Clerks director
Kevin Smith pay for the entire Degrassi catalogue on videotape?

A: Three thousand dollars, according to
Stefan Brogren (who played Snake).

* * * *

Q: Why would people like Kevin Smith
watch Degrassi?

A: Well, I for one watched because of
the tempestuous love affair between Joey and Caitlin!

* * * *

Q: Was Pat Mastroianni (Joey) the only
Degrassi alumnus who could act since he was the only member of
the Degrassi regulars hired for the new Schuyler project, Liberty
Street?

A: The answer, of course, is that just
because someone is hired for Liberty Street does not mean he or
she can act. Secondly, Mastroianni was not the sole cast member
from Degrassi who went on to Liberty Street. Stacie Mistysyn
(Caitlin) was hired to play River in X-Rated, the Liberty Street
pilot. But when Mastroianni was hired as River’s ex-love interest
in the series, Mistysyn walked. According to Schuyler, Mistysyn
didn’t want to play opposite Mastroianni for fear she’d be
typecast.

Schuyler says she explained to Mistysyn that they weren’t
making “Degrassi Revisited” and that Mastroianni
auditioned for the role of Frank and won the part hands down
because he was the best actor for the job. But Mistysyn’s agent
Carolyn Govers says there’s more to the story — she says Pat was
hired for Liberty Street at the last minute and the script
suddenly had Mastroianni’s “Joey” calling Mistysyn
“Caitlin.” Mistysyn’s character replies, “I’ve
left that behind, my name is River.” Apparently somebody
wanted to turn Liberty Street into “Degrassi Again.”

According to Govers, Mistysyn felt she’d end up playing the
same Caitlin role she’d been associated with for so many years.
Now she’s out of work, and Mastroianni is signed to a three-year
contract, according to Govers.

* * * *

Q: Did she make the right choice?

A: Judging from the Liberty Street
outline for week eight, when Mastroianni’s character and what
would’ve been Mistysyn’s character are persuaded to pose nude for
a life drawing class, yep, she got out of there just in time!

* * * *

Q: If Mistysyn gets a role, say, in a
Stratford musical production of Kiss Me Kate, would the director
come up to her before the first week of rehearsals and say,
“We’ve made a couple changes, the musical is now being
called Kiss Me Caitlin, and Petruchio is now Joey”?

A: I guess that would depend on how hard
up Stratford was for money.

* * * *

Q: What did Pat Mastroianni say to the
TV Know It All in 1991 after taping the last Degrassi project,
School’s Out?

A: “If Playing With Time
[Degrassi’s production company] were to come to me and say,
`Look, we’re going to do another Degrassi feature,’ I seriously
doubt I would do it. I’m basically stereotyped right now. I want
to break away.”

By the way, Liberty Street is on the Internet.

“It’s a forum for you to exchange information and
feelings in an uncensored and unsupervised format!”
according to press agent Pamela Keary. So if you would like to
discuss any Kids of Degrassi topics, say, “Which restaurant
do they work in now?”, feel free to log in!

SPEAKING OF YOUNG ACTORS…

Ms. Conceptions, a CBC documentary, airs Tuesday (Jan. 24) at
9 p.m. on Witness. It’s the story of three women and a sperm
bank. Director Ric Esther Bienstock (Deadly Currents) follows a
trio of women who choose to conceive and raise children alone.
The show manages to portray them with sensitivity, while
maintaining the light touch of Roger And Me. It’s eggcellent.

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