Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

So much acting talent here, agency sets up shop

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Onalee Ames Film Studio, an acting school for film and TV hopefuls, has sent so many talented Winnipeggers to Carrier Talent Management, the Vancouver-based agency is opening a branch here this month.

They're setting up in the back office at Onalee Ames' glamourous L.A.-style studio at 701 Corydon Ave. In the last six months, coach Ames has seen at least 50 of her students get acting parts. "You really don't have to leave Winnipeg anymore to make it," says the experienced actress. Her roster of former acting students includes former Bomber Khari Jones, Falcon Beach lead Melissa Elias, ballerina Evelyn Hart -- and Tommy Europe, major-domo of The Last 10 Pounds Boot Camp and Bulging Brides. She's recently coached Steed Crandell and Darren Felbel of the Men with Brooms sitcom that has been filming in Winnipeg this summer, plus Jennifer Pudavick, Kyle Nobess and Jason Wishnowski of Norma Bailey's APTN series Cashing In, where Ames also has an ongoing part to keep up her own acting chops.

Ames says rising star Mitchell Kummen, age 11, "does tons of roles, so he's been flying in and out of Vancouver. He's going to be a really big deal." Kummen played the young Don in The Don Cherry Story, and most recently he's been a guest star on Vancouver TV series show Shattered. Ames, an actress and standup comic who spent 14 years working in Vancouver and L.A., took her first comedy class with student Seth Rogan of The 40-Year-Virgin and Pineapple Express fame. "Seth was noticed right away," says Ames, who also went with Seth and his mom to a Judy Carter workshop in the mountains near L.A. You can catch Ames acting in Shall We Dance? as J-Lo's assistant Diane. "Of course Jennifer knows she's a star, but she doesn't show it when she works with you. She just opens her heart."

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POLITICAL BREKKIES: Falafel Place owner Ami Hassan says rival politicians stop into his place. Can he make any predictions for the upcoming elections by their tastes? "Well, Jenny Gerbasi stops by almost every day. She likes poached eggs and toast -- the breakfast of champions," says Ami. "Ian Rabb, who's running against her, comes here, too, but he wants the chicken soup. What is that about?" Putting the chicken before the egg?

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TRUE GRIT: Talk about a testosterone-fuelled crowd at the Red River Co-op Speedway for the local 2010 championships. Lots of macho T-shirts on show like "Cowboy Up" and "When the Green Flag Drops, The Bull**** Stops." Plus there were some serious mullets among the short-haired yuppies on the lam, and a parking lot full of king-size shiny black trucks. Yours truly spotted rabid fan Kim Wall in the crowd of 2,500, close enough to the fence to get dirt-sprayed.

She was panning a camera phone, and giving the "thumbs-ups" to two different guys in the same race. Turns out husband James Wall, 36 and son Cody Wall, 15, were racing against each other in a heat. Mom says Cody also raced last summer at 14. He's rolled his car both seasons, but escaped unhurt both times. "It's really safe in those cars," says his mom, smiling. (Racing's not for sissy mothers.)

Track promoter Blair Bodley says the cars are quite safe, but sometimes there are freak accidents, and kids can only race at 14 and 15, with special permission.

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WALKING ART PIECES: Owner of City Haul Matthew Frost is proudly displaying an entire wall of retro Converse running shoes starring Jimi Hendrix, The Ramones, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Jim Morrison and faces of other legends on the shoes popularized by basketball stars years ago. "These shoes got a big injection of excitement when Nike bought out Converse," says Frost. (For $305 million.) "They suddenly got a lot more muscular, which allowed them to buy the rights."

Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Email maureen.scurfield@winnipegfreepress.com, or send mail to The Insider c/o The Winnipeg Free Press at 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 1, 2010 B1

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