Time for a really quick return to a subject I wrote about last month, and it involves something that caught my eye literally in the past 12 hours. The earlier post regarded the cancellation of a radio program I enjoyed listening to on Saturday afternoons, CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not the Opera. As mentioned in the last post, DNTO was a mix of music, interviews, and storytelling. The show’s end came on May 14, which left the program’s host, Sook-Yin Lee (that’s here in the photo, again), a bit bummed out. You know, it was the whole natural “stages of grief” thing that comes with such hard, earth-shattering news as seeing your radio program get cancelled, and it began with eating a lot of potato chips according to Sook-Yin. (Hope it was the kettle-baked kind of potato chips, because those things are good.)
But after getting through the grief, Sook-Yin had to get her act together: She’s still under the employ of the CBC, who tasked her with developing a new program for Radio One. And she came up with one pretty quick it seems: Sleepover, which is part of Radio One’s annual practice of adding short-run summer-only shows to its broadcast lineup to replace shows that take the summer off (just as veteran shows on American network television sometimes take the summertime off instead of being rerun).
So, what is Sleepover, you ask? Or, to ask that question more precisely, what will Sleepover be (since it will begin its 10-episode summer run next week)? Well, while DNTO felt mostly light and breezy, Sleepover may sound… well, a little more serious judging from the descriptions Sook-Yin gives on the program’s website and in this interview with The Globe and Mail: Each episode, Sook-Yin will invite three strangers to a hotel room and… uh uh uh, there will be no hanky-panky involved (seriously, people, get your mind out of the gutter; it’s public broadcasting after all). The three invitees, strangers to each other, come from various backgrounds and have their own viewpoints and problems. Sook-Yin and her guests will then spend 24 hours in that hotel room to hash out differences and issues and get to know one another face to face. That’s the key phrase there, for as Sook-Yin says in her online post, in this era of “21st century alienation and disconnection,” when it’s so easy to voice an opinion and shut out those from others who are not like you or disagree with you, there’s still a need to find common ground through one-on-one conversation with people in the same room as you.
It does sound like an interesting concept for a radio program. Here’s hoping Sook-Yin Lee finds new success with Sleepover. By the way, I do recommend reading that Globe and Mail interview, in which Sook-Yin does express some frank thoughts about DNTO‘s end and what seemed to be an always fragile status for the show on CBC Radio One (even though it ran for 22 years).
Oh, and one other thing about Sook-Yin Lee (and another excuse to clear out an old bookmark from my browser): She has “actress” on her curriculum vitae, and in 2013, she portrayed Olivia Chow, the wife of fellow Canadian politician the late Jack Layton, in a bio-pic on Layton’s life titled simply Jack. In this Globe and Mail essay that ran prior to Jack‘s 2013 premiere on CBC Television, Sook-Yin talks about trying to nail her portrayal of Chow, from learning about Chow’s background to trying to portray her manners and behavior to mastering her Cantonese accent. It’s a great read about how an actor tries to get into character and portray a real-life person. Definitely check it out!