One-on-one with Jann Ar­den

The mu­sic leg­end plays her fic­tional self in a new CTV com­edy se­ries that pre­mieres March 20. With a new sit­com and two Juno Award nom­i­na­tions, things are look­ing up for the Cana­dian icon

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Ron John­son

Tell me about your new show. It is bi­o­graph­i­cal?

It’s not bi­o­graph­i­cal at all. It’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son. The TV Jann Ar­den is a mu­si­cian and her name is Jann Ar­den. Other than that, ev­ery­thing is fic­ti­tious. It makes for a lot of ad­ven­ture and things that I’d never nor­mally do. Hon­estly, I’d have to say, I’m a bet­ter ver­sion of my­self than TV Jann. I think peo­ple will re­ally like it.

And you have some well-known guest stars?

Yes, we had Rick Mercer out, as well as Les­lie Feist.We are not re­ly­ing too heav­ily on the cameo stuff, but we’ve re­ally tried to give them fun and in­ter­est­ing sto­ry­lines that are coun­ter­in­tu­itive to who they are. It was so much fun.

What did you en­joy most about mak­ing the show?

I think the col­lab­o­ra­tive thing. My job, over the last 30 years, is quite soli­tary. You’re on the road, spend a cou­ple hours on­stage with the band, then it’s back to the ho­tel. It is quite iso­lat­ing. This is the po­lar op­po­site. You are con­stantly around 80 to 90 crew peo­ple who are com­ing and go­ing, and you never stop. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. The hours are go­daw­ful.

And although you’ve had small roles on TV, this is dif­fer­ent, right?

I’ve never ob­vi­ously been the num­ber one char­ac­ter in prac­ti­cally ev­ery scene in a sit­com. So there was a lot of con­cern, but I feel like I did a lot bet­ter than every­one thought I would. So it was an ad­ven­ture. But I like a chal­lenge.

Your last al­bum was also just nom­i­nated for two Juno Awards.

It has so much to do with [pro­ducer] Bob Rock. I wrote this record with him. He’s one of the con­sum­mate global pro­duc­ers. And to be in there with [fel­low Al­bum of the Year nom­i­nees] Men­des and The Weeknd in this cat­e­gory, it makes me laugh. I’ve been do­ing this 26 years with Univer­sal, and I’ve never been nom­i­nated in this cat­e­gory be­fore. We feel like we’ve al­ready won.

You’ve had a chal­leng­ing few years with the death of your par­ents.

Ev­ery­body my age is go­ing through the same bat­tle. It is cer­tainly not in­dige­nous to me. You hit 50 and all of sud­den every­one starts dy­ing. You’re deal­ing with prob­lems that seem to be on top of you in a mo­ment, and you’re never quite pre­pared.

But you were very open about it, shar­ing your feel­ings on­line. Why?

I think I was scared. The first time I wrote on Face­book, I think it was 2014. I re­mem­ber post­ing, think­ing am I crazy even post­ing this? I had never dealt with Alzheimer’s and didn’t know any­thing about it, didn’t know the cat­a­strophic num­bers. A cou­ple days later, there was a mil­lion read­ers. So I just kept writ­ing.

What is your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness? Sit­ting be­side some­one you re­ally love in your py­ja­mas watch­ing some­thing about ar­chae­ol­ogy. What is your great­est fear?

I don’t have a lot of great­est fears. I’m not afraid of dy­ing, pub­lic speak­ing. I think [it’s] the day I sort of hang up my spurs. I’m not re­ally look­ing for­ward to that. Hope­fully I’ll die on my feet do­ing what I love do­ing (which is sit­ting on the couch with some­one I love watch­ing the ar­chae­ol­ogy chan­nel).

What trait do you most de­plore in oth­ers?

Cru­elty.

What is your great­est ex­trav­a­gance?

I love this face cream. It costs $400 a jar. I buy it maybe once a year, and I try to make it last for at least four months, then I com­plain about not hav­ing it for eight months, and then I break down at the Duty Free [store] and buy it again. It’s called La Mer, “the sea.” Maybe they’ll send me a case.…

What is your most trea­sured pos­ses­sion?

A ring that I have on my hand right now. It’s my grand­mother’s wed­ding stone, her lit­tle di­a­mond and my mom’s di­a­mond and these lit­tle di­a­monds I had, and I had this amaz­ing jew­eller make me a ring that I will just trea­sure un­til the day I die.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Def­i­nitely my par­ents. They were very heroic. I think that word is thrown around a lot, but my mom and dad were al­ways in the ser­vice of oth­ers and were the most non-judg­men­tal peo­ple.

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