‘It’s just a mag­i­cal town’

Ac­tor Jerry O’Con­nell en­joy­ing his time in North Bay

North Bay Nugget - - FRONT PAGE - GORD YOUNG

Jerry O’Con­nell seems to be hav­ing a ball in small-town North­ern On­tario while shoot­ing his new light-hearted de­tec­tive pro­ce­dural, Carter.

The 43-year-old ac­tor, who stars op­po­site Sydney Tamiia Poitier in the se­ries now be­ing shot in North Bay, took some time in be­tween takes Thurs­day to chat with lo­cal me­dia about the show and what’s it been like to work in the North.

“It’s re­ally fun to come to North Bay right now be­cause I have a feel­ing it’s right be­fore the rest of the world finds out about it,” said O’Con­nell, ex­cited to be a part of cap­tur­ing the city on film and shar­ing it with the world.

“The peo­ple are so nice. It’s just a mag­i­cal town.”

In the se­ries, North Bay serves as the fic­tional small north­ern Cana­dian home­town of Bishop that O’Con­nell’s char­ac­ter – Harley Carter, the star of an Amer­i­can hit TV show – re­treats to af­ter an em­bar­rass­ing pub­lic melt­down.

Once back, Carter, who plays a de­tec­tive on TV, teams up with Poitier’s char­ac­ter, Sam St. Clair, a long­time friend and vet­eran cop, to help solve real crimes.

“It’s re­ally dra­matic at times . . . it’s su­per cute. It’s like if Car­di­nal had a re­ally great sense of hu­mour,” says O’Con­nell, pok­ing a lit­tle fun at CTV’s se­ri­al­ized drama that’s also be­ing filmed in North Bay. “It’s like if Car­di­nal had a cou­ple drinks and just let it all loose on the dance floor at The Voy.”

Yes, O’Con­nell has in­deed vis­ited the Voy­ager Inn on Delaware Av­enue sev­eral times, and like many lo­cals, is ap­par­ently now af­fec­tion­ately re­fer­ring to the hotel as ‘The Voy.’

It’s a tes­ta­ment to how much he has im­mersed him­self in the com­mu­nity since shoot­ing be­gan last month.

Wise­crack­ing to re­porters while on set at Amelia Park, O’Con­nell gave a string of shoutouts to lo­cal busi­nesses he’s vis­ited with crew mem­bers and co-stars, in­clud­ing The Crown and Beaver Pub, Fraser Tav­ern, the Sta­tion Tap House & Steak Co and the Wal­to­nian Inn on Lake Nipiss­ing’s south shore.

His pub­lic out­ings in re­cent weeks have been well doc­u­ment by lo­cal res­i­dents who have posted pics of them­selves with the ac­tor on so­cial me­dia.

“North Bay is as much of a char­ac­ter in Carter as we all are, so it’s sort of fun to re­ally em­brace that,” said O’Con­nell, jok­ing about how he’s work­ing at build­ing up a fan base in North­ern On­tario.

Ge­off Richard­son, an owner of the Voy­ager Inn, said O’Con­nell first came in last month dur­ing a Def Lep­pard trib­ute show and has since re­turned a cou­ple times, in­clud­ing on karaoke night.

“He’s as down to earth as you could pos­si­bly imag­ine,” said Richard­son, not­ing the ac­tor doesn’t have a prob­lem min­gling and hav­ing his pic­ture taken. “He’s a lot of fun.”

Richard­son said it’s been great to have cast and crew mem­bers fre­quent­ing the hotel and other lo­cal busi­nesses.

Poitier, who’s been stay­ing in a house on Lake Nipiss­ing with her 2 1/2-year-old daugh­ter, said they both also have been en­joy­ing their time in the city.

“Ev­ery­body is wel­com­ing and the city is beau­ti­ful. It’s been a re­ally, re­ally won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for us,” said Poitier, not­ing her daugh­ter is par­tic­u­larly fond of the North­ern Tikes in­door play­ground on Main Street.

Al­though she lives in Cal­i­for­nia, Poitier says North Bay’s lo­ca­tion – nes­tled on the shore of Lake Nipiss­ing – is one of the city’s most dis­tinc­tive fea­tures and one of the first things she men­tions to friends about the city.

Shoot­ing of the 10-episode se­ries will con­tinue in North Bay un­til mid-Oc­to­ber.

Bell Me­dia and Amaze Film + Tele­vi­sion are pro­duc­ing the se­ries for Sony Pic­tures Tele­vi­sion Net­works’ in­ter­na­tional chan­nels, in­clud­ing AXN. Carter is slated to pre­miere on Bravo in early 2018 be­fore join­ing Canada’s CraveTV stream­ing ser­vice.

O’Con­nell said “the sheer beauty” of the city has been the most strik­ing thing about shoot­ing here. And hopes to be able to re­turn to film a suc­ces­sive sea­son dur­ing the win­ter.

“Hope­fully, with suc­cess, we come back when it’s re­ally snowy and do some snow­mo­bile episodes ,” he said, not­ing the show, with a back­drop like North Bay, wouldn’t be com­plete with­out some win­ter episodes.

GORD YOUNG/THE NUGGET

Jerry O'Con­nell speaks to re­porters Thurs­day on the set of Carter dur­ing film­ing at Amelia Park in North Bay.

GORD YOUNG/THE NUGGET

Sydney Tamiia Poitier and Jerry O'Con­nell were on set at Amelia Park in North Bay Thurs­day dur­ing the film­ing of the tele­vi­sion se­ries Carter.

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