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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion - A polite Canadian TV invasion

Wednesday 21 January 2009, by Webmaster

Canuck contingent takes centre stage at recent TV critics tour

Yo, Canada. Those Brits and Australians who stole all those network TV jobs from Canadians last summer (who previously had stolen them from Americans) are giving them back. The just-ended January press tour saw many Canadians appearing before TV critics on panels for new and returning shows.

Besides the usual superstar Canucks, such as 24’s Kiefer Sutherland and House creator/producer David Shore (from London, Ont.), there was a strong mix of veterans and newcomers from north of the border. Even Canadians not at the sessions were making headlines, such as Michael J. Fox, who has a five-episode guest star stint coming up on a new season of Rescue Me, and Howie Mandel, who won’t miss a day shooting Deal or No Deal, says NBC programming exec Paul Telegdy, despite a recent heart scare in Toronto.

Among the Canadian contingent on U.S. network TV this winter:

Eric McCormack (Toronto) and Tom Cavanagh (Ottawa) starring as two ad industry hot shots in the new TNT series Trust Me (coming Feb. 2 to the new premium service Super Channel). McCormack, in Will & Grace, and Cavanagh, in Ed, have headlined hits before in America. Even though, as Cavanagh kidded, "Canadian actors tend to know each other through osmosis," the two had never met before their first Trust Me table read. They kidded about their Canadian-ness at the press tour, with McCormack suggesting that, "when we need to have a private moment, we talk metric."

Joshua Jackson (Vancouver, back on Fringe). Jackson has heard the frustration from fans sick of waiting for new episodes over the holidays. The good news is that the show returns with a new episode tonight and it’s better than ever, according to Jackson. He has nothing but praise for J.J. Abrams, the super producer responsible for both Fringe and Lost, although Jackson complains that he still doesn’t get any inside scoop on the latter. "What’s the deal with that?" asks Jackson.

Will Arnett (Toronto, Fox’s Sit Down, Shut Up). The Arrested Development grad joins his Bluth brother Jason Bateman on the new animated series, where both play two of the lamest teachers ever. Arnett says he has fond memories of many "great teachers who were very patient with me" growing up in Toronto. He immediately singled out Judith Robertson at the Subway Academy, an alternative school Arnett attended while he pursued acting. "She had a tremendous positive influence on my life," says Arnett.

Nathan Fillion (Edmonton, ABC’s upcoming drama Castle). Fillion is best known stateside from his season on Desperate Housewives as well as the short-lived Sci-Fi cult series Firefly. Fillion says he still gets shout-outs from Firefly fans. "The thing about my sci-fi fans," he told critics, "is that they’re always very polite. They’re kind of Canadian in that way."

Shenae Grimes (Toronto), who plays Annie Wilson on 90210, was not prepared for the tabloid shellacking she’s been getting stateside. "I never thought people would care to follow me around and take my picture. It’s insane," she says. At least she has plenty of other Canadians to protect her, including Yellowknife’s Dustin Milligan (Ethan Ward), Vancouver’s Jessica Lowndes (Adrianna Tate-Duncan) and original 90210-er Jason Priestley, back to direct.

Corey Monteith (Calgary-born, Vancouver-raised; stars in the upcoming Fox musical Glee). Monteith, 26, jumped in his car and drove 20 hours straight from Vancouver to L.A. to audition for Glee, one of the big buzz shows this winter. He landed the role of the all-American high school quarterback who tries out for the school glee club. While getting his acting feet in Vancouver, he shared an apartment with fellow Canuck Dustin Milligan from 90210. "This is my first time working in the U.S.," says Monteith, who was a little star-struck at the Fox party. "I wanted to go over and introduce myself to (new 24 villain) Jon Voight," he says, "but I lost my nerve." Montreal native Jessalyn Gilsig also stars in the upcoming Fox musical.

Keir Gilchrist (Toronto; Showtime’s United States of Tara). Gilchrist was born in the U.K. but calls Toronto home.

Before landing the role of Marshall Gregson on United States of Tara, the 16-year-old starred with Rob Corddry on the short-lived comedy The Winner and also appears on the upcoming CTV/NBC drama The Listener. He says it’s pretty cool to be working with some big name stars. "It didn’t really hit me until I was there," he says. "Oh my God, I’m going to be acting in my pyjamas with Toni Collette."

Other Canucks at the January press tour: Tahmoh Penikett (from Vancouver, who stars in the upcoming Fox drama Dollhouse); Andrea Roth (Woodstock, Ont., FX’s Rescue Me); Lauren Lee Smith (Vancouver, Riley Adams on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation); and Eli Stone star Victor Garber (London, Ont.; NBC TV movie The Last Templar, shot in Montreal and Morocco).