Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ichannel Documentary Highlights: The Evil and The Dead

Here's a sneak preview of some of ichannel's documentary highlights for the week of January 10:

** ichannel Premiere **
MOMENT OF DEATH - Friday Jan. 14 at 9 pm ET/PT
Death: it’s the last thing you’ll ever do – and you’ll never get to tell anyone else what it’s like. As medical research reveals more and more about the process of dying, physicians face new and difficult questions regarding the boundary between life and death. What is the precise moment of death? Is it your last breath, or your last thought? Is it when your heart stops beating, or when you stop being you? This intriguing National Geographic documentary looks at how the scientific understanding of death has evolved, and shows some of the ways in which modern medicine can manipulate the moment of death to prolong life. Drawing on insights from doctors, bioethicists and authors such as Mary Roach (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers), the hour-long film probes the medical, ethical and philosophical questions associated with our definition of brain death, compares and contrasts various ways of dying, from electrocution to the guillotine (“instantaneous and painless”), and considers an unusual but persuasive explanation for the strange phenomenon of near-death experiences.

** ichannel Premiere **
SCIENCE OF EVIL - Saturday Jan. 15 at 9 pm ET/PT
What is evil? Is it the product of damaged and abnormal minds? Or does the latent capacity for evil exist within each of us? Can science help to illuminate the nature of evil, or is it a phenomenon only philosophers and religious thinkers can comprehend? This National Geographic documentary takes a probing look at evil through the eyes of men and women who are struggling to understand where it comes from and how – or whether – it can be overcome. Among them: psychologist Philip Zimbardo, whose notorious Stanford prison experiment in 1971 revealed how situational forces can make ordinary people capable of extraordinary cruelty – a finding that took on new relevance more than 30 years later when the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib came to light; Christian minister Roy Ratcliff, who scandalized many of his Wisconsin congregation when he befriended and eventually baptized imprisoned serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer; Ivy League neuroscientists Jonathan Cohen and Joshua Greene, who are studying the human brain in an effort to determine where our sense of right and wrong comes from; and United Nations aid worker Aya Schneerson, whose experiences in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have shown her just how easily our potential for evil can be unleashed in the face of poverty and war.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Faces of a Vanishing World

We're big admirers of the work of young Canadian photographer Joey Lawrence, the subject of tonight's ichannel documentary Faces of a Vanishing World at 9 pm ET/PT. Largely self-taught, he has assembled a formidable body of commercial work for the likes of Warner Bros. Records, NBC and Forbes Magazine. Tonight's doc, however, is about a much more personal project: his quest to capture and preserve images of endangered indigenous peoples in some of the world's most far-flung locales.

Joey's Web site showcases the very best of his personal and professional work. (The recently-posted "Halloween in Brooklyn" series is a highlight.) There's also a blog, and a neat little "GPS" feature. Give yourself a holiday treat today and check it out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

C'est chic

Nothing says Christmas like Warren Buffett activewear. Check out the gift possibilities available for purchase online at the no-frills Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Web site. And while you're waiting for your handsome jacket, sweatshirt or cap to arrive, why not tune in to ichannel's encore broadcast of the documentary Warren Buffett: The World's Greatest Money Maker tonight at 9 pm ET/PT?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Before there was WikiLeaks ...

ichannel presents THE PENTAGON PAPERS: Sunday January 9 at 9 pm ET/PT.

Long before Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, there was Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon analyst who unleashed a political firestorm in 1971 by leaking classified Vietnam War documents.

This acclaimed, Emmy Award-nominated production – released, coincidentally enough, during the 2003 run-up to the Iraq War –stars Boston Legal’s James Spader as Ellsberg, whose experiences in Vietnam and his access to confidential papers regarding the conduct of the Southeast Asia campaign turned him into an ardent anti-war activist.

Determined to help bring an end to the conflict, Ellsberg provided The New York Times and other media with copies of the exhaustive 7,000-page study known as the “Pentagon Papers,” which revealed that four successive U.S. administrations had lied to Congress and the public about the progress of the war effort.

Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Claire Forlani (CSI: NY) also star. Rod Holcomb (ER) directed, from a script by Jason Horwitch (Rubicon).

Monday, December 20, 2010

The limits of forgiveness

Are there limits to forgiveness? That's the question at the heart of tonight's encore documentary presentation at 9 pm ET/PT. FORGIVING DR. MENGELE is the story of Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor, who sparked a controversy in 1995 when she publicly forgave the Nazis for their genocidal crimes. Read a review from the Jewish Tribune here.

For more on Eva Mozes Kor and her CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, visit this link.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More ichannel Documentary Highlights: Week of January 3

Kidfluence: How the Kids Took Over airs Jan. 8
A WAR ON SCIENCE - Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 10 pm ET/PT
In a Pennsylvania courtroom in the fall of 2005, a landmark legal case began – one that, in the eyes of many Americans, would pit God against science. At the heart of the proceeding, one simple question: does the controversial theory of “intelligent design” have a place in the science classroom alongside the theory of evolution? This BBC documentary tells the story behind the latest skirmish in a war that began with the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.

POLIO HUNTERS - Friday, Jan. 7 at 9 pm ET/PT
Though polio has been eradicated throughout the Western world, this crippling disease still thrives in a few parts of the globe. One of its last strongholds is in northern India. This 2005 documentary by Jack Silberman follows a Canadian physician, Dr. Yakub Vaid, as he travels to the site of a recent polio outbreak in Uttar Pradesh to assist the World Health Organization with a daunting mission: to halt the spread of the disease by immunizing close to one million children in a span of just two weeks.

Here’s a thought for parents to ponder as they contemplate the horror that is the post-Christmas credit card bill: according to marketers, children 12 and under today are the most powerful consumer demographic in Western history, influencing an estimated $600 billion in spending every year. Over the last decade, corporations have doubled their investment in marketing to kids. This 2006 Canadian documentary by Ann-Marie Redmond and Nathalie Bibeau takes an eye-opening look at how the world’s biggest advertisers are battling it out for the hearts and minds of your children.

A Panther in Africa

Pete O'Neal then ...
ichannel presents the award-winning documentary A PANTHER IN AFRICA on Monday, Jan. 3 at 9 pm. ET/PT

“I’m kind of lost in a no man’s land”Pete O’Neal

Will the great battles of the Sixties ever be completely ended?

For Pete O’Neal, a former Black Panther leader, that tumultuous decade continues to cast a long shadow. For nearly four decades he has lived in exile, unable to return to the United States. While he has built a fulfilling life in his adopted home of Tanzania, this onetime radical is haunted by a sense of loss, and by a growing estrangement from the country he once fought so hard to change.

Writer/director Aaron Matthews' award-winning film A Panther in Africa is a moving 90-minute portrait of Pete O'Neal and his struggle to come to grips with the legacy of his past.
...and now

In 1968, O’Neal founded the Kansas City chapter of the militant African-American revolutionary organization known as the Black Panther Party. Arrested on gun charges, he fled the U.S. with his wife Charlotte two years later, eventually settling in a village near the city of Arusha, Tanzania.

Today, the O’Neals run the United African Alliance Community Center, a modest but well respected organization that provides education, training and other much-needed social services for Tanzanians. Through the UAACC, the couple put their Sixties ideals into action.

In news footage from his Black Panther heyday, O’Neal appears as the model of an angry young radical in severe black shades, talking matter-of-factly about violent revolution. It’s an amusing contrast with the man he has become decades later: a grumpy, grandfatherly figure with graying dreadlocks who dotes on his wife, frets about his blood pressure, and spends his days fussing over broken water pipes and the cost of new computers for the community centre.

Though Pete O’Neal has found contentment and a sense of purpose in his present life, the past isn’t done with him yet. His youthful, pre-Black Panthers career as a predatory street hustler is a source of constant regret – and the reason he has committed himself to community work. “This is my salvation,” he says.

More troubling still is a growing sense of disconnection from his African-American identity. When a pair of inner-city teens arrive as part of an exchange program, O’Neal discovers he has little in common with these reflections of his youthful self.  After years in exile, he has become a man without a country – a sobering reminder of the price that many idealists, past and present, have paid for dreaming of changing the world.

For more on A Panther in Africa, visit the film's Web site.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming Up on the Groundbreaking Drama ST ELSEWHERE

Before ER, before Grey's Anatomy or House M.D., there was ST. ELSEWHERE: the groundbreaking, Emmy Award-winning medical drama that helped to change the face of prime time television.

ichannel, Canada's political and social issues network, is the ONLY place to catch episodes of this now-legendary series: Thursdays at 10 pm ET/PT and Sundays at 8 pm ET/PT.

Next Week: "In Sickness and In Health”
Thursday, Dec. 23 and Sunday, Dec. 26
The Craigs (William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett) host the wedding of Ehrlich (Ed  Begley Jr.) and Roberta (guest star Jean Bruce Scott), and encounter Ehrlich's alcoholic Aunt Charise (guest star Louise Lasser). Joan (Nancy Stafford) makes some special plans on behalf of her terminally ill father (guest star William Windom). Chandler (Denzel Washington) makes a practice run for the Boston Marathon that proves dangerous.

Upcoming Episodes:

"Drama Center" - Dec. 30 and Jan. 2
A TV documentary crew follows Dr. Craig (William Daniels), and a rape takes place in the hospital parking lot. Michael Richards (Seinfeld) guest stars.

"Attack" - Jan. 6 and 9

Ehrlich (Ed Begley Jr.) is mortified when Roberta (guest star Jean Bruce Scott) broadcasts their marital problems to the whole staff, Dr. Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) is reunited with an old flame, and a ski-masked rapist continues to terrorize St. Eligius.

"After Dark" - Jan. 13 and 16

Dr. Craig (William Daniels) preeningly anticipates winning the coveted Doctor of the Year award, while Ehrlich (Ed Begley Jr.) and Dr. Caldwell (Mark Harmon) make decisions about their romantic futures, and the rapist strikes again.

"Vanity" - Jan. 20 and 23

Dr. Craig (William Daniels) tries to put a stop to the TV documentary when it casts him in an unflattering light, while Rosenthal (Christina Pickles) undergoes breast implant surgery and Martin (Barbara Whinnery) reveals the reason for her sudden disappearance. Michael Richards (Seinfeld) guest stars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beautiful Minds: Inside the Strange and Fascinating World of Savants

In the field of brain research, there is no subject more intriguing than the savant: a person with a mental, behavioural or physical disability who manifests acute powers of observation, mathematical aptitude or artistic talent. These three documentaries offer a rare window into the mysterious world of the savant, and reveal how the study of such remarkable individuals is helping neuroscientists to better understand the nature and capabilities of the human brain.

THE MEMORY MASTERS – Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 9 pm ET/PT: The extraordinary abilities of certain savants are giving researchers greater insight into how human memory works. In this episode, viewers will meet "memory masters" such as Orlando Serrell (pictured left) of Virginia, who can recall every detail from every minute of his life since he suffered a head injury at the age of 10, and Kim Peek of Salt Lake City, the real-life inspiration for Rain Man: a human hard drive with a brain capable of storing and instantly recalling anything from an entire encyclopedia to a list of every area code in the United States.

THE EINSTEIN EFFECT – Wednesday Dec. 29 at 9 pm ET/PT
Can studying the brains of savants help us to understand where human creativity comes from? In this episode, viewers will meet two young autistic men with extraordinary artistic abilities: 18-year-old Matt Savage of Boston (pictured right), who has been playing jazz piano since he was seven years old, and 36-year-old Stephen Wiltshire of London, England, who draws detailed, panoramic cityscapes entirely from memory.

A LITTLE MATTER OF GENDER – Friday Dec. 31 at 9 pm ET/PT
Do fundamental differences between the brains of men and women account for the relatively higher incidence of male savants? In this episode, viewers will meet one of the world's rare female savants: Temple Grandin, a Colorado academic and a high-functioning autistic whose unique insight into animal behaviour has earned her renown as a consultant to the U.S. livestock industry.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Upcoming ichannel Documentary Highlights

Upcoming ichannel Documentary Highlights: A Dog’s Life, Pictures of Mary, and Warren Buffett’s Guide to Untold Riches

Meet the anti-Scrooge. Warren Buffett: The World's Greatest Money Maker airs Dec. 22

FORGIVING DR. MENGELE – Monday, Dec. 20 at 9 pm ET/PT
Auschwitz survivor Eva Mozes Kor and her twin sister Miriam were among the human guinea pigs subjected to monstrous experiments by the sadistic Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Eva triggered a controversy when she publicly declared her forgiveness of all Nazis, including Mengele. It was a gesture intended to help free her from the grip of the past. But does forgiveness have limits? [Encore Presentation]

THE PLASTIC FANTASTIC BRAIN – Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 9 pm ET/PT
Can a blind man learn to “see” with his tongue? Can a woman missing half her brain become a successful Paralympic swimmer? Until recently, medical science assumed the brain was incapable of changing or adapting to damage. Neuroscientists, however, have discovered that it has a remarkable ability to rewire, regenerate and heal itself. This Gemini-nominated documentary looks at the work of leading researchers from the U.S. and Canada, and introduces four ordinary people whose extraordinary brains are helping to unlock the mysteries hidden within our grey matter. [Encore Presentation]

Meet the anti-Scrooge. Warren Buffett is the greatest investor of all time: a man whose prescient stock market decisions have made him one of the world’s richest people, with an estimated personal worth of $37 billion. Yet he lives modestly – and has pledged to give away more than 99% of his vast fortune to charitable causes. This 2009 BBC documentary tells the story of a modern Midas. [Encore Presentation]

** ichannel Premiere **
THE SECRET LIFE OF THE DOG – Wednesday Dec. 22 at 10 pm ET/PT

Dogs have been domesticated for longer than any other animal on the planet. They are close relatives of fearsome wild wolves – yet we treat them as members of our families. Why have canines forged such a close bond with human beings, and what can we learn from this unique relationship? This 2010 documentary from the BBC looks at new research that is helping us to understand, better than ever, how man’s best friend truly thinks and feels.

FACES OF A VANISHING WORLD – Thursday Dec. 23 at 9 pm ET/PT
Barely 21 years of age, Lindsay, Ontario native Joey Lawrence is already one of the world’s most sought-after professional photographers. His portfolio includes sessions with the likes of 50 Cent and the stars of Twilight. But as this hour-long documentary portrait reveals, one of his greatest passions is a wholly personal project: photographing indigenous tribes around the world in an effort to preserve their memories before they vanish from history. [Encore Presentation]

** Holiday Special **
PICTURING MARY – Friday Dec. 24 & Saturday Dec. 25 at 8 pm ET/PT

For centuries, depictions of the Virgin Mary, the humble young woman at the heart of the Christmas story, have numbered among the world’s most treasured works of art. This visually stunning documentary tells the story behind some of the most celebrated of these paintings and sculptures, revealing how great masters through the centuries, from Michelangelo to Rembrandt, have portrayed the mother of Jesus.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The "Happy Hooker" Uncovered

Check out Tanya Enberg's feature from today's Toronto Sun on Robert Dunlap's documentary Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary, airing next Monday Dec. 13 at 9 pm ET/PT on ichannel.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Reflections: The Legend of the Cape Breton Porkpie

ichannel's Kevin O'Keefe shares the secret of a great Cape Breton holiday delicacy. Read more ichannel holiday reflections here and here

Christmas eve on Cape Breton Island means one thing. Porkpies. My mother always made them a few days before the 25th. You would open up the fridge and there they would be. They always looked so festive; rows and rows of little date tarts. That’s right. Porkpies are not pies at all. They are tarts. And they are not made of pork either. Remember: this is Cape Breton so things are not always as they appear.

I really have no idea why they are called porkpies. I have asked many people over the years. My friend Gwen suspects it is because they look like little porkpie hats. The porkpie hat is light brown on the side and dark brown on top. Just like the date tart porkpie. Of course, this begs the question where do porkpie hats get their name.

To my knowledge the only place on the planet where you can find porkpies is on the Eastern tip of Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton can be found on the most Northern part of Nova Scotia. Lost yet? Don’t worry. It’s a confusing place. For example, my friend Sadia grew up in Saskatchewan and had the good fortune to land a gig at CBC Cape Breton after journalism school. She was at a party once and was offered a porkpie. She politely declined telling her hostess that she doesn’t eat pork. “I’m Muslim”, Sadia said. “Oh there’s no pork in a porkpie”, the hostess exclaimed. Once again Sadia politely declined thinking the woman didn’t understand the Islamic dietary restriction.  Finally a good friend pulled Sadia aside telling her the woman was telling the truth. The filling in porkpies is made of dates. And for the record, the shells are floor, butter and brown sugar, and the icing contains maple extract. All together there are about five ingredients in a porkpie.

Aside from Christmas, porkpies are also eaten at special occasions. For example, when I had the world premiere of a film I co-produced in Cape Breton called, “The Tar Ponds Loonie Give-Away”, we served tray after tray of porkpies at the party. Shout out to my good friend and co-producer K.C. and my sister Susan for making a couple thousand porkpies for the occasion. BTW, they were served with an ice cold Keiths. Porkpies were also featured in the movie. When one of the main characters Lefty, played by yours truly, is seduced by the town vixen Mary Anne, she uses porkpies to win him over.

When I turned 40 I served porkpies at my birthday party and they were a hit. There were many friends there from all over the world and they loved the porkpies. I have always had this dream of opening a porkpie kiosk in the Eaton’s Centre in Toronto. “Why not sell them by the dozen at the mall”, I said to people. “Look what happened with the cinnamon roll. You think the same thing couldn’t happen to the porkpie? I’d live like a king I tell ya.”

I think one of my fondest memories of porkpies happened last year when I was on a plane heading home for Christmas. I had flown from Toronto to Halifax and had just switched flights on route to Cape Breton. I could tell by her accent that the woman sitting next to me had grown up on the island. We quickly struck up a conversation about what part of Cape Breton we were from and, in typical Cape Breton style, tried to figure out if we were related. About 20 minutes after take off the flight attendant came down the isle offering beverages and snacks. The woman sitting next to me pulled out her tupperware  and smiled sweetly saying, “all I need is a cup of tea to go with the porkpies I brought for the trip.” Then she turned and offered me one. Naturally I accepted knowing I was almost home.

Here's Kevin's Cape Breton porkpie recipe:

Kevin O'Keefe co-hosts ichannel's current affairs flagship @issue, Mondays through Saturdays at 8 pm ET/PT.

Holiday Reflections: Volunteering at Christmas

ichannel's Kevin O'Keefe explains why volunteering over the holidays holds special meaning for him. Read more ichannel holiday reflections here and here.

Christmas is really about remembering others. For over 10 years I have volunteered at Holland Bloorview Kid’s Rehab hospital. I run a support group for people who have a member of their family with a brain injury.  I volunteer to give back. My sister has a brain injury from a car crash. When she was in the hospital the staff there saved her life. The following is a short story I wrote about the day I found out she was going to live.

"Normally we only let two family members in at a time", the nurse says with quiet efficiency, "but today, if you'd like, all three of you can come in". I wasn't sure if that was a good or a bad thing. According to the sign in the waiting room, only two family members at a time are allowed in the ICU.  As we left I felt a little superior to the other families waiting.  Like I was back in elementary school and the teacher had just said everybody in pairs but the class was an odd number so I got to be in a group of three because I was so well behaved. As my parents and I approached my sister's bed I soon realized that our grouping was a consolation prize. Something meant to console us.  My sister was in such bad shape that the rules didn't apply to us. Death breaks the rules, so we can too.

The doctors said the crash was bad. Lungs and liver damaged. Spleen removed. Brain damaged. They called it a closed head injury so I assumed the tube running from her head was draining fluid.  It had nowhere to go as the brain swelled. I looked at my sister and tried to figure out if a closed head injury was better than an open one. Maybe I was still hoping for something to feel superior about or maybe I needed to believe I could control this situation. Once I knew where things stood I could do something to make it better. I think I learned that from my mother.

Actually looking at her this time was surprisingly easy.  She appeared comfortable. The bandage around her head was neatly wrapped and the mass of machines that kept her alive seemed to function properly. Bells and peeps constantly sounded.  I began to study the ventilator.  The information on the display changed every few seconds telling me whether her last breath was taken on her own or made for her by the machine. Then I noticed the tube leading to her mouth. It was filled with fluid again. The alarm sounded. Like the kind you hear at McDonalds when the fries are ready. That's where she worked years ago. She met her husband there too. He was the manager and she was the fry girl. Last year, for their 10th anniversary, they went to McDonalds. Not the one where they met. That one's long gone. Like most things in the small town where I grew up. There's not much that I recognize when I go home now. "Move aside please" the nurse says, this time her patience a little forced as she drains the fluid out of my sisters breathing tube.

"How is Susan doing today" my mother asks hopefully.

"Oh well she didn't have a very good night" the nurse replies with newfound compassion.  A look of failure floods my mother’s face. She took responsibility for the accident immediately after the 2 AM phone call last week.

"I should never have let her grow up so independent" she told me one day in the car on the way to the hospital.  "I pushed and pushed. I made her finish university. I talked her into buying a house.  I even gave her the car she was driving when she had the accident. That old K car without the air bag". I looked at my mother in amazement. In just a few short sentences she managed to make herself responsible for the failed safety standards at Chrysler.  "She never had an air bag" she tells the nurse, worried that she might finish her shift without knowing who's to blame.  The nurse smiles and changes my sister’s IV bag.  The IV pole holds another key to Susan's recovery. A small photo of her that one of the nurses told my mother to bring in.  Apparently it helps the nurses see her as more human.

"She wore size 8 jeans when that photo was taken", my mother proudly announces to the nurse.  In the photo my sister is thin. My mother gives her full marks for that. Weight is a constant battle between mom and sis. "You should get more exercise" is usually how the fights open.

"I do get exercise" my sister would yell back. Then things would escalate until one of them left the room crying. Today it's my mother who's crying.  But she quickly recovers and smiles back at me.

"Only positive thoughts honey" she says and turns to Susan whispering, "We love you very much and you're doing really well". Another lesson mom learned. A nurse told her that you shouldn't assume your daughter can't hear, especially when she starts to come out of the coma.  My mother unties Susan's arm and gently strokes it. Yesterday we were told about the restraints.

"It very common to restrain a patient once they start to surface from a coma" the doctor said during our family meeting.” It keeps them from pulling out their IV's".  While not the most pleasant thing to witness we took the news as positive. But then we were told about Susan's lungs.  "They've started to fail" the doctor reported. "The condition is usually fatal".  My sister’s husband cried for a while then wiping away his tears announced that he wasn't going attend anymore family meetings.  He refused to give up. My mother refused too. In some strange way I think the accident validated all those years of worrying. She was right to worry so she's right to believe that her daughter is going live. My father just sat there quietly saying how proud he was of me. It seemed strange at the time but that's all he could say. Over and over again.  I guess when faced with the loss of one of his children he realized how little time he had to tell the other one how he felt.  He's a man of few words.  He unties Susan's other hand and puts a golf ball in it.  Another tip from the nurses. Give them familiar objects to hold.

Golf had become a recent passion of Susan's.  Perhaps she got tired of fighting with my mother about exercise. For the last few years she spent every summer on the driving range.  I think golf also renewed her relationship with Dad. It gave them something to do together. Whenever she went home for a visit the two of them would get up at 6 AM to go hit a buck of balls.  Susan was his first child, and the only girl, so it was “father daughter” day all over again.

"She's quite a fighter, Mr. O'Keefe", the doctor says to my father as he enters the room.

"Oh we know that" my mother interrupts.

"I wonder if we can talk about her condition" he asks.

"Perhaps we should step out into the hall" my mother says walking towards the door.

"Oh I think this is something you’re going to want your daughter to hear Mrs. O'Keefe" the doctor said smiling. "A piece of tissue was caught in the tube inside her lungs. She coughed it up last night. It was rough going after that, but since then things have started to take a real turn for the better. Congratulations"
 My mother cried again. This time she didn't mind if my sister overheard. My father held Susan's hand and told her how proud he was of her. And me, I just sat there feeling superior.

Award-winning journalist Kevin O'Keefe co-hosts ichannel's current affairs flagship @issue, Mondays through Saturdays at 8 pm ET/PT.


Is America's scientific soul in peril? That's the question ichannel explores in tonight's documentary presentation A WAR ON SCIENCE at 10 pm ET/PT. In a Pennsylvania courtroom in the fall of 2005, a landmark legal case began -- one that, in the eyes of many Americans, would pit God against science. At the heart of the proceeding, a simple question: does the controversial theory of "intelligent design" have a place in the science classroom alongside Charles Darwin's theory of evolution? This BBC doc tells the story of the most recent battle in a war that began in 1859 with the publication of Darwin's The Origin of Species. Features interviews with David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins (pictured).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

GREEN Home For the Holidays!

Candice Batista from ichannel and The Pet Network shares her tips for an eco-friendly Christmas! Read more holiday reflections here and here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

THE HAPPY HOOKER: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary

ichannel premiere Dec. 13: Award-winning documentary looks at the life and times of Seventies icon Xaviera Hollander

It was the book that everybody read – even if nobody wanted to admit to it.

Published in 1971, Xaviera Hollander’s The Happy Hooker was one of the landmarks of the sexual revolution. Along with Deep Throat, Last Tango in Paris and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, this best-selling memoir helped to push the frank discussion of sex out of the bedroom and into the cultural mainstream.

On Monday, Dec. 13 at 9 pm ET/PT, Canada’s ichannel presents the documentary Xaviera Hollander: The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary.

Directed by Robert Dunlap and co-written by Hollander, this 90-minute account of her life and times reveals how the young woman who once earned the prize for best secretary in the Netherlands became a $1,000-a-night call girl, and eventually one of the great cultural icons of the Seventies.

Born Xaviera de Vries in the Dutch East Indies during the Second World War, Hollander spent the first two years of her life in a Japanese internment camp. In 1964, she moved to New York City, where she became a secretary at the Dutch consulate. But in time she found a more lucrative line of work: prostitution.

By the dawn of the 1970s, Hollander had established herself as Manhattan’s best known, most glamorous and most successful madam. Legal troubles forced her to leave the U.S. in 1971, but the publication of The Happy Hooker in that year brought enduring fame and fortune.

Shockingly explicit for its time, The Happy Hooker has sold more than 15 million copies. The primary appeal was titillation, of course: the book is chock-a-block with tales of lesbianism and fetishism from the New York swingers’ scene. But Hollander’s self-portrayal as a confident, independent woman fully in control of her own sexual fulfillment was in tune with the emerging feminist movement, and has given The Happy Hooker a lasting significance. You can make the case that Carrie and Samantha from Sex and the City are Hollander’s spiritual descendants.

Since then, Hollander has enjoyed a successful career as an author, publishing nearly 20 different works of fiction and non-fiction – from good-sex guides to a moving memoir of her mother’s life and death – and contributing a column to Penthouse for more than 30 years. These days she divides her time between Spain and the Netherlands, produces theatre and runs a popular bed and breakfast (“Xaviera’s Happy House”) in Amsterdam.

Canadians, incidentally, may recall that Xaviera Hollander lived in Toronto during the 1970s. She was a fixture of the city’s downtown scene for several years, and starred in a big-screen sex farce, My Pleasure Is My Business, directed by the King of Kensington himself, Al Waxman.

Visit the Happy Hooker online at

Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary has screened at film festivals worldwide, and earned a number of awards, including Best Feature Documentary at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival. To learn more, visit


Where do our dreams come from? Find out tonight at 10 pm ET/PT, as ichannel presents the documentary WHY DO WE DREAM? As this intriguing BBC film reveals, scientists have finally begun to unravel the mysteries of the dream world. By measuring brainwave activity during sleep and analyzing the content of dreams, research...ers are gaining insight into the essential role that dreams play in our mental well-being.

ichannel adds ANY DAY NOW to lineup, starting Dec. 11

ichannel, Canada’s political and social issues network, adds award-winning drama series ANY DAY NOW to prime time lineup on Saturdays, starting Dec. 11, at 10 pm ET/PT.

Birmingham, Alabama. The 1960s. In the city at the heart of America’s bitter struggle over civil rights, two young girls – one white, one black – become fast friends.

Fast-forward to the present day. After years of estrangement, these two are reunited. Picking up their friendship where they left off, M.E. and Rene confront both the legacy of their city’s troubled past and the complexities of life in the contemporary urban South.

Originally broadcast from 1998 to 2002, the award-winning drama series Any Day Now stars Annie Potts (Designing Women) as wife and mother Mary Elizabeth (“M.E.”) O’Brien and Lorraine Toussaint (Saving Grace) as Rene Jackson, an unmarried civil rights attorney.

Each episode of Any Day Now alternates scenes of M.E. and Rene’s present-day struggles with flashbacks to their younger selves. Created for the Lifetime network by writer-producer Nancy Miller (Saving Grace, The Closer, CSI: Miami), the series earned praise for its sensitive and subtle handling of issues such as homosexuality, women’s rights, alcoholism and poverty.

Above all, Any Day Now stands out as one of the few prime time TV dramas ever to deal head-on, week after week, with America’s racial history and its lasting consequences.

In addition to its award-winning lineup of documentaries and original current affairs programming, ichannel offers thought-provoking dramas and feature films that confront the most challenging issues of our time.

St. Elsewhere, the groundbreaking medical drama that changed the face of prime time TV, airs Thursday nights at 10 pm ET/PT and Sundays at 8 pm ET/PT. ichannel movies air Sunday nights at 9 pm ET/PT.