Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TONIGHT: Christmas Song a Hallmark moment


If you cover TV in Canada, sooner or later you'll run into a Hogan. Saw Gabriel last June on the set of A Christmas Song, one of three Hallmark holiday TV-movies shot in and around Hamilton, Ontario, last June. It premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on CTV Two and the Hallmark Channel and repeats Dec. 22 on CTV.
Hogan is part of a Canadian acting family which includes dad Michael (Battlestar Galactica) and mom Susan (The L-Word). His sister Jennie Rebecca is an actress as is his wife, Inga Cadranel (Copper).
Gabe has worked steadily in Canadian series television, with stints on Traders, The Border, Rent-A-Goalie and, more recently, King and Heartland. He was even in the pilot for Flashpoint, which ends its five-year run tomorrow night on CTV.
Hogan arriving for work last June on A Christmas Song
He had just come back from the Heartland set in Calgary when I caught up with him on a hot day in June in Ancaster. That's where he was shooting A Christmas Song in the most beautiful, sunny weather. The setting was the tranquil grounds of the Mother Mary Immaculate retreat centre in Ancaster, an oasis of fields and cottages tucked off the main street.
Hogan plays a music teacher who has to lead his music students into a sing-off against a rival teacher played by radiant Natasha Henstridge. Naturally they fall in love. It is typical Hallmark fluff, a sweet Christmas card for the holidays.
The three movies, all shown on CTV as well as the U.S. Hallmark Channel, were cranked out on 13 day schedules. As Hogan arrived for work in shorts, crew members were draping white cotton rugs all over the grounds at the retreat house manor in an attempt to make things look winter-y.
I asked Hogan about one of my all-time favourite one-season wonders, Wonderfalls. He had a small role on the Fox series as a courier who becomes smitten with one of the leads. The episodes gave him a chance to play for laughs and he took full advantage. Shoulda run for years, I say.
Hogan, naturally agrees. "I never know why they get cancelled, you know?" he says. "It was such a treat. I thought it was going to keep going too."
He was even more shocked at the demise of King, which did well in its first season but disappeared when Showcase moved it to Fridays in season two. "Then your grandmother says, 'Your show, it's over?', and you're like, 'No, it's on Fridays now'! She doesn't know!"
I asked Hogan about this actor's life, the uncertainty--even for a seasoned performer--of going from one show or movie set to the next. 
Beautiful Henstridge on that same June day in Ancaster. This is her fourth
collaboration with Hogan
"It really is like a gypsy life - having kids and having a wife who does the same thing," he says. "I mean, I'm lucky enough to have a fairly stable career, but your phone could ring and you could be in Europe next week, you could be wherever. " It's not like Hogan didn't see it coming: "I have the advantage of growing up that way too."
He and his wife are trying to develop their own projects now to have more of a say in their future. As Hogan and others have told me lately, though, really, is there any stability in any career? You don't have to make that point too often with a former newspaperman. 

Staying in Canada is another choice, although Toronto (and Hamilton), Vancouver and even Halifax and parts west are maxed out with film and TV crews at the moment, knock wood.
The prop team did a convincing snow job on these retreat house gates
Hogan says working in Canada you get more opportunities to play different kinds of roles. You get a reputation for being able to do drama or comedy, and that extends a career. Hogan says a friend told him recently he had seen the actor playing Scottish, Russian and disabled all in one day in front of the TV set. Those opportunities don't come in the States, says Hogan, because there's such a larger pool of talent, "if they want a Russian guy, they just go get a Russian guy. So you don't get the chance to be a character actor unless you usually come from the UK or Canada or have an established career. If George Clooney wants to do it, or Paul Giamatti wants to be the Latvian guy or something, and then, of course, then, you get him, you know? But, just generally, you don't get the opportunity because, - oh, well, let's just get the real guy. You know what I mean? It's an interesting thing. We get such a broad range, we get to use all our tools."

Read more about Hogan, Henstridge and A Christmas Song in this CP story I wrote that's been picked up in today's Hamilton Spectator.
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