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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

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Producer was ‘hooked’ on TV from childhood

Tags: Arts
Phyllis Newman

TORONTO — Since she was a little girl, Phyllis Newman has believed she would one day be a television producer.

Newman, a creative media professional with more than 25 years experience in every area of media production last year became vice-president of production at Toronto-based Eggplant TV, which  is responsible for the company’s development and production for both film and TV for several Toronto specialty channels.

 She has produced and developed many successful and highly rated Canadian and international television and digital media shows.

“Phyllis has been a great resource for us as the company grows and expands its mandate,” Terry Tompkins, Eggplant’s executive producer, said. “Her knowledge of producing great television has fast-tracked us through a number of challenges.

“Her experience in the business makes us all better. She is really quite invaluable to Eggplant TV.”

Newman’s interest in production developed many years ago. “I was always creating and performing in plays and concerts with my friends,” she said in an interview. “Our basement was like my own little theatre, complete with closets filled with clothes from different eras that I would use to transform into various characters.

“But TV was the ultimate aphrodisiac. I was hooked. I knew early on that I had to be part of this magical and creative world.”

Her first taste of media came at CHRY Radio York, where she interviewed several directors including Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, and well-known musicians such as Long John Baldry

“At York University, I learned everything from producing and directing to editing, and I found that this is my passion,” she said, adding that she worked with film majors although she graduated with a BA in sociology.

 “But I wanted more creative control and I was determined to be a producer. This, I soon realized, was going to take a lot of hard work, focus and tenacity to survive.”

Her first job was with casting director Anne Tait, casting films and TV productions and working with directors including Richard Safarian (Twilight Zone) and Paul Maslansky (Police Academy).

Climbing the production ladder, Newman worked on documentaries that dealt with historical and political issues and supervised video shorts at the Canadian Film Centre, a school for advanced training and production in film, television and new media, founded by Norman Jewison.

When cable TV exploded and numerous specialty channels were created, Newman worked on a variety of youth, pop, cultural, talk, comedy and hidden cameral shows. “I’ve done it all,” she said.

She has interviewed and worked with Donny Osmond, Deepak Chopra, Erica Ehm and fashion, financial, food and other experts.

As she looked back on her career, she noted that she has produced and cast every type of host and expert, “including an elephant for a Bollywood-themed episode of Party Mamas and to make love connections on Love Trap.”


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