Maybe a bit hyperbolic (and inaccurate), but it does rhyme.
The other day, I was talking to some friends about the bizarre and mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Neil Hope, "Wheels" from everyone-of-my-generation's favourite "teen issue of the half-hour" show, Degrassi. From Degrassi, I learned all about teen pregnancy (difficult), doing acid at rock concerts (devastatingly awful), and changing into revealing clothes in the school bathroom every morning so your parents won't think you're a slut (ingenious). In this day and age (that phrase always makes me feel decisive and authoritative, whatever comes after it), when celebrity corpses are followed from death-bed to morgue by crowds of avid TMZ-ers, it's almost unbelievable that Hope's death went unnoticed and unreported for five years. He might not have been Whitney Houston, but most people my age would have recognized him, celebrated him, and said annoying things to him at bars.

So my friends and I were discussing the fact that he had died in a Hamilton rooming-house, and my talented actor friend mentioned that, while Hope might well have been battling various issues that led him to a rooming-house life, it was understandable that he was down on his luck, as Degrassi actors of his era received no residuals. I thought that sounded totally outrageous, and so the next day looked it up online so that I could gently correct him. Instead, I found (on a website that, despite the fact that it features a background made to look like a sheet of lined paper, I choose to trust) the following:

"Today's actors would not 'screwed over' [sic] financially like the original Degrassi cast, who receive no residuals on reruns at all. There is more information accessible to younger people out there, thus there may be less exploitation of younger actors. Syndication residuals (money made from reruns of the show) get distributed to the producers of the Degrassi TV series but not the actors."

Dan Woods (Mr. Raditch) backed up the creator of this distressingly informative Degrassi website when he explained in an interview: "Well, it wasn't a union shoot. But they actually paid better than scale. However, we were on a buyout so there are no residuals. But those are tough to get. The producers have to really want you on the series to get residuals." He also commented: "Well, it's still on a lot here! One hour every night on Showcase. My wife calls Thursday's Dan TV. CCR at 6:30, Then DJH at 7, then DH at 7:30. And I'm still broke!!!!!"

So maybe my other friend wasn't kidding when she said that half the Degrassi cast was working in some food-service capacity at the Bayview Village mall complex during the '90s.

I'm not claiming that the Degrassi producers were utterly evil child abusers, or that Wheels would not have ended up alone and broke even if he hadn't had a small-screen career that led only to jobs at Money Mart and United Furniture Warehouse. But it's certainly depressing to find out that these kids, who taught us all about alcoholism, and depression, and sex, and unfortunate adolescent rock bands, were rewarded only with the nostalgic attentions of 30-somethings and empty pockets. 

POLITE DISCLAIMER: This site is intended for entertainment purposes only. If you are not entertained, fair enough.

10/24/2012 12:09:43 pm

Thanks to your blog, I'm gonna create one now too, thank you.

Marie Bastian
1/15/2013 10:56:09 am

Wow! That is AWFUL. I used to watch that show awhile ago too, but don't now that life has gotten busy and I've started an unexpected journey. I was suprised too when I found out that the cast worked in <a href="">bell - bayview village</a>. I hope that they end up getting more attention than that someday in the future. It's a shame, and I'm sad to hear of that boy's death. May his family be comforted. Thank you so much for this great post!

10/1/2013 06:08:56 am

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10/2/2013 07:40:55 am

When you're taking care of the customer, you can never do too much. And there is no wrong way... if it comes from the heart.


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