MAP : I have recognized many of the crew in most of the episodes of Degrassi. Also, I saw you in one of the episodes where there is a slight reflection, it is called "Rumour Has It", Season 1, where Duncan Waugh (Arthur) and Siluck Saysanasay (Yick) spy on Craig Driscoll (Rick), thinking he stole money. There is shot of the two (Arthur and Yick) by the door window of the bottom floor...and if you can look very closely, I can see the camerman (Phil), you, and I think Yan...maybe.
KH: Yup. It's me and Phil -- we saw our reflections when we first screened the dailies, but thought no-one else would ever notice. No, I don't think it's Yan (might be, but he wasn't on set very often) I'll take a closer look next time I get hold of a print.
MAP: Can you discuss the syndication process for Degrassi. Who was in charge of selling the series, did a syndication company buy the series, and sell it to local stations, networks.
KH: Atlantis releasing now has the TV distribution rights to Degrassi. They hire sub-agents in various countries who negotiate sales to foriegn TV broadcasters. (and they take a HUGE percentage for doing this!) Any Syndication deals are handled by these agents. These contracts and all pre-existing distribution deals are completely out of PWT's hands these days. Also, We have had a distribution deal with Beacon films -for non-theatrical distribution - for many years. They take care of all sales toschools and libraries.
MAP:It was documented that Degrassi was exported to 70 countries. How about Kids of Degrassi Street, was it as successful as DJH and DH?
KH: Almost. I believe it has been sold to most of the same markets as DJH.
MAP: 3)Why did Degrassi's 2nd season still have the students in the same grade, and not have them advance one grade.
KH: I really don't remember. DJH had only two grades. Perhaps we had not decided to move everyone on to DH yet (or maybe we hadn't found a suitable location for the school) I do know that once we did decide to move on to high school, we burnt DJH down -- so we could never go back there!
MAP: In Degrassi High's introduction, the animation, and the Jacy Hunter's butt with the jeans that say PWT. My question would be, are all the scenes in that intro clip at the beginning depicted in the episodes. I am asking because there is a scene with Amanda Cook kicking a soccer ball and Duncan Waugh scraping peanut butter off the bicycle, are they in the actual episodes of Degrassi High or only in the intro clips for DH?
KH: No, not in any episodes. You've picked out the two scenes that were 'additions', well done. These scenes, and a bunch of others, were shot while we were still designing the Generic opening titles. Most never survived the editing room -- but these two did. The peanut butter (how the hell did you recognize what it was??) scene came from an idea that never really got developed, about Arthur being bullied.(Duncan grew too big, too fast. If we'd let a very large Arthur become the victim of 'hazing' he would have seemed a really wimpy character.
MAP: When Degrassi was broadcast on CBC, who decided, (CBC or PWT) the certain clips to cut out because PBS versions had no commercials, and CBC had commercials.
KH: We always edited TWO versions. Domestic (CANADA) and foreign (US). Since commercials were added in the Canadian versions, we had to lose some content. We usually completed the longer version to the final mix stage, then edited the Canadian version from that. PWT always decided what scenes to lose.
KH: Not always an easy choice -- As we got more proficient we'd know during the first edit what scenes would never be seen in Canada. Sometimes I would shoot a scene knowing it was only for the US version -- but not often.
MAP: Does CBC, PBS, Showcase, etc...still have Degrassi tapes.
KH: I guess so.
MAP: Do the actors make royalties on syndicated shows?
KH: No. All degrassi allumni were well paid for their performances, but receive no residuals. (Neither do the writers, directors, crew or Art dept.) When DJH began, Linda and I put every cent we had into it, not knowing if it wouldever be broadcast. We paid eveyone as best we could, but could not afford union rates. In later years, as the show grew successful, we were able to pay the Crew and performers more, upgrading people who had shown their good faith in the early years -- until most of them were getting much more than union minimums.
KH: Also,during the second season of DJH, PWT started a non-profit foundation for the Rep Company, to help them through the transition we knew would occur when the show ended. The PWT Foundation has supported most of the Degrassi alumni for many years by giving annual scholarship grants to many of the "kids' and also to some crew members. PWTF has also supported some of the more 'creative' kids by assisting them with their own film and TV projects.
MAP:When did PWT split exactly? I went to 935 Queen Street, and saw a car, with license place PWT LS or LS PWT ( I assume Linda Schuyler) in August 1996.
KH: She was probably just visiting.
MAP: I later went there 2 months ago, and the building still says PWT.
MAP: I understand you still own the building, but what part of PWT is yours, and what part is LS? Once you sell your series to the syndication companies, or networks, etc...does that mean you lose the rights to it?
KH: (YES! until the contract expires)
KH: KH and LS still jointly own PWT. But the company is virtually dormant.
MAP: How does it happen that one Degrassi actor was able to get more lines, and be able to perform more often than another. Was there an evaluation process? In other words, the popular actors, Pat, Stacie, Amanda, Neil, Anais, Stefan, how come they had the monopoly? How did they (the extras) move up the ladder to more lines in the script?
KH: Of course there was an evaluation process. We had a TV show to produce -- we could not afford to take too many chances on some of the "less motivated" performers.
KH: Linda, Kit and Yan would frequently meet to discuss how we could try to spread out the best roles. We did not want to create a "star system" and knew it was important to keep the other characters alive and busy. But clearly, some performers were more 'tuned in" than others. And, as you know, cream always rises to the top
KH: We knew these kids really well, there was not much going on in their lives that slipped past us. We had a pretty good idea who "really wanted" a good role (not just someone needing some attention) So I would meet with my assistants (kid control dept) each episode to find out which of the extras been a really good Narbo and deserved a line or two. So it goes...
MAP: How many actors were originally called in for DJH season 1, and how much did it grow to?
KH: I can't answer this without digging back into dusty files. Not now , Mark, sorry.
MAP: Are you still in touch with the actors from Kids of Degrassi Street?
KH: Occasionally I see some of them. Most of my contact is through the PWTF (a couple of Rep-co members are on the board of directors each year, so they keep contact alive, and I read all the scholarship and special projects applications that get sent in) Arlene Lott (the original Rachel) is still around my neighbourhood, i see her a lott.
MAP: Who amongst the Degrassi cast are family, apart from you and Eve Jennings ( your mum)?
KH: My two daughters made brief appearances in early "Kids' of Degrassi" eps. But the acting bug did not bite them hard. Fenna, my youngest, was an occasional extra on DJH, but I think the "social" aspect of the set was the biggest appeal. I would have loved to given her more to do, she had a lot of talent, and a wonderful voice -- but I was scared that too much encouragment might be precieved as 'nepotism' and might affect the rest of the Rep.co.
(See, Mr Spelling and I do think differently)
KH: Also, My late step-father was an occasional extra (he's seen shoping with my mum in the drug store when Joey buys condoms)
MAP: Are Sarah and Christopher Charlesworth siblings? I know about Anna and Cathy Keenan and Duncan and Anabelle Waugh. Are Robert and Stacie Mistysyn father and daughter?
KH: YES, Yes, Yes.
MAP: Thank you very much Mr. Hood for taking the time in answering my questions.
Best wishes. KH.