As an actor familiar with the vagaries of show business, Tom Cavanagh didn’t know how viewers would react to Ed, the much-hyped new NBC television series in which he has the starring role. “The only thing we can really control is the quality of the stuff that we put on-screen,” the Ottawa-born Cavanagh told Maclean's a few days before the Oct. 8 première. So far, viewers appear smitten with the romantic comedy, which critics hail as one of the best new shows of the season—and which received the highest ratings for the première of any NBC Sunday series in six years. Cavanagh plays lawyer Ed Stevens, who moves from New York City back to his home town of Stuckeyville, Ohio, after catching his wife in bed with the mailman. He buys a bowling alley—which serves as the base for his law practice—and tries to woo the most popular girl from his high-school class. The show is produced by David Letterman s company. “The best thing about it is the opportunity to do a show that is so well written,” says Cavanagh, who is in his mid-30s. One of five siblings, Cavanagh spent
several years as a youngster in Ghana, where his parents worked as educators. When they returned to Canada, they settled in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where Cavanagh studied in a Frenchimmersion program and later attended a French high school. Affer graduating from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., he did stage and TV work, and headed to New York for a lead in the Broadway musical Shenandoah. He also worked in Vancouver, appearing in films and television shows such as Jake and the Kid. He returned to the United States more than three years ago for pilot season and immediately landed the lead role in a new Fox Television show. The show never made it to air, but, Cavanagh says, “getting a role like that right off the bat allowed me do a bunch of other things in quick succession, which was great.” Dogs have been a running theme in some of Cavanagh’s roles. In the NBC drama Providence, he played “dog boy,” a Newfoundlander who thought he was a canine creature. He is likely best remembered in Canada for a memorable series of Labatt commercials he appeared in
with a dog in the mid-’90s. As for Ed, Cavanagh notes that his character does not have a dog—“yeti' One of the NBC promos for Ed is an overt takeoff on Molson’s wildly popular “I am Canadian” commercial. Of that, Cavanagh says: “It kinda felt nice to have one of the ads inspired by a piece of Canadiana.” Especially when he has cause to raise a glass to his own good fortune.
A Canadian writer—for real
Toronto author Joy Fielding confesses that she used to be bothered by what she calls “the Canadian writer angle”— meaning she was never considered one by critics because her novels were set in the United States. But after almost 30 years
of writing and 12 mostly bestselling novels of romance and suspense, the snub no longer stings. “The rootless American terrain,” she believes, “actually works very well for my writing” and for her lost and bewildered characters. Not that the foreign setting stops her from inserting sly Cana-
dian references. One of the minor characters in her newest novel, The First Time, a 60-year-old spurned wife who shoots her husband six times in the back, is based on Dorothy Joudrie of Calgary, who did the same to her husband, Earl, in 1995. Now, Fielding, 55, has become interested in a deeper cultural divide. “Even good male writers have no idea how women
think,” she says. “Their female characters are never as real as those of women authors.” To see how the shoe fit, Fielding for the first time adopted a male voice for part of the narration in her apdy named new book. “I drew from my husband, Warren—a corporate lawyer—and some friends,” says Fielding. “I don’t know if it helped me understand men—but like all my books, it helped me understand myself.”
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