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BWW Interviews: Producer Rick Muller talks IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING - Toronto's Largest Variety Show

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Once a year the stars flock to Toronto's largest theatrical venue - The Sony Centre - for a magical evening of music, song, dance and variety called It's Always Something! The event honours the memory and wish of the late Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. Gilda loved to laugh and entertain and felt that no one should have to face cancer alone. The evening is a splashy variety show in every sense of the word, and all the proceeds from the event go to support and fund Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto, an incredibly important charity that gives those living with cancer a place to go for support, camaraderie and most importantly - laughter.

BWW is a proud supporter of both Gilda's Club and It's Always Something - myself in particular because of the young age that I lost my mother to this insidious disease. My Mom loved Gilda Radner, and I know she would have loved the event, so I consider it a personal honour to be able to provide them coverage each year and hope to inspire more young people to attend the show, volunteer their time, or otherwise support this amazing cause.

In a special interview, co-producer of It's Always Something Rick Muller took some time to talk about the importance of Gilda's Club and why it means so much to him to support this cause and produce this event each year. He talks about losing people to cancer, the importance of living Gilda's message of laughter and magic every day, and of course - what we can expect from the incredible It's Always Something event this year:

First off, could you tell us about what Gilda's Club does and why you feel it's so important?

Gilda's Club is a wonderful welcoming community because it provides what doctors say is the missing link in the cancer care system. There are machines and medicines for folks who are diagnosed with cancer, but it's the head and the heart - the social, emotional and psychological support that Gilda's provides free to its members that is the 'the missing link'. When you've got a kid who's eight years old and suffering from cancer, this gives them a place they can come to and feel happy.

Whenever I get frazzled I go into Gilda's and walk around and look at these programs, and see these kids and teens who are there with not just themselves but also their friends and their family. Can you imagine being ten years old and having a friend who is diagnosed with cancer? How do you deal with that? Gilda's Club gives these kids an outlet so that they have somewhere to go and deal with these issues. It is so important in the treatment of people living with cancer.

In fact, last year Gilda's was asked to move their clubhouse closer to hospital row on University Avenue. The doctors realized that they didn't know how to do the head and the heart, and Gilda's is the expert in doing that. It's so important for those who are sick but also for the family and friends. It is a magical and very powerful place.

Most importantly, it also fulfills Gilda's wish. Before she died of ovarian cancer in 1989 she said 'no one should face cancer alone'. I think that's at the core of Gilda's Club and is why it's so important to keep it alive and growing so it can serve the people of this community.

How about you personally? Why did you want to get involved in helping Gilda's Club?

I'm involved personally because my Mom died of cancer and my younger sister is a cancer survivor who lost her husband to cancer. There probably isn't a family in Toronto or the world who hasn't been touched by this disease. It's a pernicious predator and we have to stop it.

Tell us about 'It's Always Something!' - what's the show all about? And how do you pull it off?

First and foremost it's a vehicle to help raise much needed funds for Gilda's Club. All of our talent kindly donate their time so that the proceeds go directly to the cause. Over the last twelve years we've had amazing people including Marty Short, Eugene Levy, Russell Peters, Paul Schaffer, Catherine O'Hara, Randy Bachmann, Ron James and Eric McCormack. How unbelievable is that? These are all popular people who command big time gigs and salaries anywhere in the world.

We also have hundreds of volunteers who marshal their services to put this show on, and we have an incredible production team who somehow manage to make it all happen. These guys are showbiz veterans and we are really blessed. What people often don't realize is we only get access to The Sony Centre at 8am on the day of the show - which means we put this whole thing together in less than twelve hours. We call that 'Gilda's Magic'.

And how would you describe the show?

It's Canada's largest, biggest and number one variety show! We're proud to call it that - and we aren't shy about it. We produce a hell of a night of entertainment once per year for 3200 people and at the end of it we have an aftershow party that is beyond anything you've ever seen. It's fabulous. The talent come and mingle with the guests and we consider it a huge tribute to Gilda who loved entertainment and loved variety. It's so important that we do it every year and do it properly - we want to keep Gilda's Club expanding and keep Gilda's memory alive.

Failing that - I like to say it's like Ed Sullivan without the Russian plate spinners!

What's this year's line up look like?

As for the lineup this year, we've got a great line-up of folks who have been doing incredible things that people not be aware of. Look at Nikki Yanofsky - she's now being produced by Quincy Jones and has a new single coming out this year that she will debut for the first time at our show. We've got Cody Karey - maybe people haven't heard of him now but he's being produced by David Foster and he's going to do big things! Is he the newest up and coming prodigy? Yes. We also have something different this year, which is a great acapella group - a fourteen member group called Countermeasure who are unbelievable. We've got an eclectic electric violinist with a choreography number done around his performance, and we've got the amazing Ron James hosting and he always kills. We've got Matt Dusk who is an incredible jazz crooner (who I look nothing like... *laughs*) and we've got Corey Hart. This is one of only three Canadian performance in many years. That points to the variety behind the show that you never know what's going to come out next! As always is our tradition, we hold a few surprises up our sleeves as well.

For young people, why should they come out and check out this event?

Come, enjoy and embrace the full range of what entertainment is. It's more than just a singer or a 'star' - entertainment is talent. Talent has many forms. We've had magicians on our show and that's a talent. Or great choreography and dancing. Tremendous musicianship, singing, comedy - we've got improv this year with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood. How talented are these two guys?!?! You can't even believe how fast their brains work! It's so hard because you don't know what the person is going to say. They've got to go with the flow and it's incredibly impressive.

For a young kid, we're promoting this idea of looking at all the options of entertainment. You might think that you're a dancer, but maybe you come and see a new kind of dancing you've never seen before! Or maybe you want to grow up and be a comedian, and then you come and see Colin Mochrie and see a whole new range of what comedy can be. We hope it'll be inspirational for the young group to see the wide variety of the incredible Canadian talent that we have. We don't book exclusively Canadian, but we do love to trumpet it. When you think of our population in the world and what we've given in song, music, entertainment and dance it is staggering. I would put us up against any country in the world. And we are proud to promote that.

When and Where?

It's Always Something - Benefit for Gilda's Club of Greater Toronto

The Sony Centre

Saturday Nov 16th at 8PM

For tickets please call 1-855-872-7669 or visit www.itsalwayssomething.ca


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