Saturday, 4 March 2017

Dear John (2017)

Dear John, 

well 4th March has rolled around again, 23 years since you left us and yet, you are still as present as ever. 

Ottawa has just made 12th February officially 'John Candy day', Bill Murray is still mentioning you in his acceptance speeches, there are nods to you in the latest Ghostbusters movie, a podcast called 'Popcorn with Candy' (a dedicated show going through each of your films in chronological order), the internet is a constant hive of articles remembering you or talking about one of your characters or movies, and your kids... well your kids must make you so proud. Every time one of your old classics is replayed on the TV, one only has to take to Twitter to see how much the world still misses and loves you. Facebook pages and groups such as American Light and Fixture - Shower Curtain Ring Division, dedicated website, people sharing their own memories, I could go on. 

The book, well I have to apologise, last year (and the year before), was pretty damn shitty. Chronic illness, among other things, makes everything go slower, however two surgeries later my power is creeping back up and although I am running on around 50-70% most of the time, I can live and function with that. 

Once again John you have got me through a very dark time.  Before each surgery I instructed my boyfriend, Rhys, that if anything happened he was to find the means to get the book finished and released - that was the most important thing. I believe my first words to the nurse as I came round morphine drugged was "Do you like John Candy?, I'm writing a book about him", before I drifted off again, so you and the book have been constantly on my mind. Well I'm working on finishing the book right now, whilst editing I noticed it was a little light on your heritage, so I have gone down a rabbit hole and I'm presently in England, 1801.  I won't go that far back in the book, but to see where you have come from is fascinating. 

So John, I am sending my love to you, your family, friends and fans, and today I will celebrate your everlasting life. You Sir, are the real article. 

Love and thanks as always, 
A very grateful, 

Tracey x

Thursday, 12 January 2017

RIP Tony Rosato, John will be thrilled to see you x

So yesterday I heard the really sad news that Tony Rosato passed away at the age of 62. 

I was lucky enough to have interviewed Tony for 'Searching for Candy' and although we only ever shared an hour on the phone I fell in love with him instantly. He was a very kind, sweet and supportive man. 

Tony was Italian, but grew up in Ontario, and as a child he was neighbors to Dan and Peter Aykroyd, he actually went to High School with Peter. When Tony was considering going to University in Toronto, he saw Peter perform at Second City and Peter suggested he should go into comedy. Tony ended up in the SC joining group, this is how he met John. John was there at times to help train the group and stepped in as Show Director for a while, he and Tony hit it off instantly and became lifelong friends.

Tony told me "As a director he (John) was very giving, very profound in his direction, he would always know exactly what the problem was and how to fix it. He was very gentle as a Director, very supportive he would make you feel very good about yourself whilst you were also getting ideas from him on how you could improve your performance. So he didn’t take you confidence away, but bolstered your confidence,  he kept it simple and within reach so we knew what to do. He was very free with us.

"As a friend he was very protective, very loyal, very gentle, always kidding and a little bit cheeky, but always supportive."

Later John and Catherine O'Hara pushed for Tony to become part of the Second City Toronto's main troupe and also John and Joe Flaherty got him onto SCTV.  

In 1981 Tony went to Saturday Night Live for a season and from there was in a lot of TV Series and Movies as well as being the voice of Luigi in Mario Bros. 

2005 was a sadder time as Tony struggled with his mental health and his family broke up. Once better he went back to work and I am glad to report over the last few months was in a very loving relationship and appeared to be very happy. 

Talking to Tony was like talking to an old friend and his love for John was palpable, yesterday when I heard the news it hurt, I know I didn't really know Tony but some people are special and the world seems a nicer place for them being in it. 

My heart goes out to Tony's family, Second City Toronto, his agent Larry Goldhar, his friends and his girlfriend, Tanya, who brought so much love and happiness into his life. 

RIP Tony, John will be thrilled to see you. 


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 - A year of transition

Well, what a year it has been! Firstly Happy New Year to you all, may your life be filled with love and hope in 2017 and every year to come after that.

So 2016 seemed to be a year of transition for so many, for some it's been a good year and others very challenging, house moves, new babies, loss of loved ones, health challenges, job changes, break ups and get together's. Some have even transitioned off this mortal coil, not just icons but old friends, my heart especially goes out to all those innocents that have been victims of war. In tribute let us live life more fully and be kind to everyone.

For me, this was the year I was definitely going to get the book out, fulfill the crowdfunder, hopefully make John proud. That is until my body decided to declare war on it'self and chronic illness took hold. Luckily a few months ago I had surgery which has made me feel a hell of a lot better (thank you NHS), however I still seem to be running between 40-65% (depending on the day) but getting better all the time. So my body put me on my ass and the book stalled a little, back on track now with a release date in mind (I daren't say it out loud in case illness hears and decides to postpone me further), so although very frustrating, 2016 has been a year of healing and has hopefully prepared me for a good 2017. 

I would like to thank everyone that has sent me well wishes and messages of support, to everyone who contributed to the crowdfunder and have been so patient and understanding, you are magic and I am so very grateful.

One icon we lost merely days ago was the most beautiful inside and out, Carrie Fisher. As well as being everyone's favorite princess, Carrie was  funny, bright, a mental health advocate, author, dog lover and all round good egg. I had tried to interview her for the book but I never got past her gatekeepers. I would have loved to have heard about working with John on The Blues Brothers and one of my favorite Candy sketches Roy's Food Repair

RIP Carrie you did a wonderful job and will be missed terribly, but John will be thrilled to see you.

This year I have also battled increasing anxiety, something that John struggled with in later life and spoke about quite openly in interviews. It is wonderful in 2016 that we had people like Carrie to speak out about mental health, there are still so many walls to knock down, but it did make me think how courageous of John to speak out in the early 90's, how many people he must have helped when it really was a taboo subject back then.

So my new years resolution is the same as it is every year, to be more like John.

Best of luck to us all and sending you huge amounts of love as always,

Trace xx

PS has anyone else gone off food over Christmas? It's never happened to me before but maybe aversion therapy of eating beyond myself may also help me shed a few pounds in 2017 - stranger things have happened, right?

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Things you may or may not know about Planes, Trains and Automobiles...

OK so our friends across the pond in the USA are celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday, and seeing as Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of the most renowned Thanksgiving films (as well as being one of my top five favourite movies of all time), I thought it was only right I shared a few facts about this wonderful film.

I wanted to steer away from the usual "It's Kevin Bacon in the race for a taxi scene", we all know that. So I have collected a few new things I have learnt from researching the book about John and some of the interviews I have conducted, hopefully you may have not have heard one or two of them.

1. Del's late wife, Marie, was played by Susan Issacs. Only the picture of Susan made the final film, but they had filmed flash back scenes with the couple, oh how I would love to see those cuts. "To the wives!"

2. John's friend, Jonathan O'Mara had a similar motel room "those aren't pillows" moment with John when they went to Buffalo as teenagers for John to apply for the Marines. Luckily for us John was rejected because of his bad knee, however Jonathon was sure that night had an influence on that famous scene in PTA.

3. John Hughes wrote PTA in just over a weekend and the original cut of the film was four and a half hours long, how I wish they had released that version. Only one deleted scene is in the public domain and you can find it here, it's pure comedy gold. (Yes I have shared this before but you can never watch it too many times).

4. John had to have a perm for the role of Del and ***amendment*** in this film his mustache was real! In other films where a tache was necessary he absolutely hated wearing it, people were constantly pressing on his face to make sure it was in place.

5. After filming the Doobie's Taxiola scene, John Hughes sent everyone home apart from a skeleton crew, John Candy, Steve Martin and Larry Hankin (Doobie). He asked them to improvise in the cab and they spent all afternoon doing so. Hughes made a ten minute short from the footage, Larry told me he had never had the chance to see it but he knows it exists as Chris Columbus had confirmed he'd seen it.

So there you go, just a few more to add to the Planes, Trains and Automobiles facts that will be circulating this week!

To all who are celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving :)

To everyone, please go and watch this great film, laugh and cry, marvel in it's beauty, for the writing and casting is as good as it gets.

With lots of love always,


PS Here is how the book is looking so far x

Monday, 31 October 2016

You should have seen the toast, I couldn't even get it through the door!

Dear John,

Today would have been your 66th birthday, Halloween! I wonder which you would have celebrated more? I am guessing whichever made other people happier (that would be so typical of you).

I'm nearly there with the book. I had major surgery a couple of months ago (three hours on the theatre table) and after 18 months of real suffering I am feeling much better and so now my tribute to you will get finished.

I know wherever you are, you are so proud of your family. Everyone still misses you and can't believe you are really gone, probably because you are still very much with us and always will be.

I usually have a hard time deciding which of your movies to watch on this day, but I think with all the challenges I have had I need a life affirming "you can do anything" movie so tonight it will be Cool Runnings.

My day will be spent writing, if you can spare a second to dip out of the party please come look over my shoulder, make sure I'm getting it right.

Happy Birthday Mr Candy! You are remembered everyday.

With love to you and yours,

Trace xx

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Surgery, Gene and Some Stuff Inbetween

I was so sad to hear Gene Wilder passed away on Monday. Similar to the way I feel about John, I always felt connected to Gene, he was such a big part of my childhood and he was just one of those people that you knew had such heart. He was magic and like John, he always managed to bleed a little of himself into every character.

I researched Gene a couple of years ago, I have mentioned before that by learning about John I had to learn about a lot of other people, one of whom was the wonderful Gilda Radner. (If you don't know anything about Gilda she was one of a kind, please go and watch her work, read her story and share her legacy.) Gilda, of course, led me to Gene as she was his third wife. I researched Gilda to learn about her life and hopefully find out about her friendship with John. I contemplated trying to contact Gene for an interview as I was sure he would be able to tell me a few John and Gilda stories. I chickened out, I really wish I hadn't.

During this time I read Gene's Autobiography "Kiss Me Like A Stranger" and I just fell in love with him. It's a must read for any fan, he is sweet, kind, clever and does not try to hide his flaws.

My fear when any celebrity and all round 'good egg' passes away, is that some authors tend to jump onto a biography bandwagon straight away - totally fine if you are a lifelong fan, you are going to take your time, research every angle, interview people (please let them grieve first), but there will be some books written in a matter of weeks of regurgitated material looking to make a quick buck. For now. please go and read his own words, another biography is justified - just not yet.

Rest in peace Gene, I know Gilda in particular is going to be over the moon to see you. My heart goes out to your wife for the last twenty five years, Karen Boyer, your friends and family. Eighty three is a wonderful age, you brought so much happiness and laughter to this world and just like John you will never really die.


In other news I have finally had surgery (ten days ago to be exact), a bigger job than they thought I was on the table for three hours! It took two years to get to this point but I am now on the mend and apart from post op pain, I am for the first time in a long time - chronic pain free. Great news for me and it means now much life can continue and focus fully on the book as opposed to fighting my own body on a daily basis (which I have been doing for the past year). I really appreciate all your patience through this rough time, you have all been nothing but supportive and I can't thank you enough. I'm now looking forward to finishing "Searching for Candy" and getting it out this year.

Hope you are all doing really well!

Lots of love to you as always
Tracey xx

Monday, 1 August 2016

Who ya gunna call? Mayor Tommy Shanks...

Soooooooo finally I got to see the new Ghostbusters film, I couldn't go to the cinema when it first came out as for the past three weeks I have been staying in the most beautiful manor built in the 1500's - on my own! My imagination spooks me enough I certainly didn't need to fuel it with anything else (yes I know it's a 12 rating but still...)

"What's this got to do with John Candy?" I hear some of you cry! Well it's no secret John was going to be in the original Ghostbusters, however he had a disagreement with director Ivan Reitman on how his part should be played. John was originally going to be cast as Louis Tully (later played by his friend Rick Moranis), but they couldn't agree on the type of character Louis was going to be. John wanted to play the character as a German that owned several dogs, however their visions didn't really meet so John decided to pass. He was however in Ray Parker Jr's Ghostbusters theme video.

Strangely enough there were many roles that were meant for Candy and were cast to Moranis and vica versa, although they are physically very different, they worked quite similar and according to Mel  Brooks when I interviewed him,  both were great at "Comedia dell'arte".

Dean Thomas Shanks
Fast forward 30 years and Paul Feig, director of the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, got so many references in for old school fans of Ghostbusters, SCTV and SNL. Harold Ramis' (RIP) bust was in the University, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts all make cameos. What I loved most was the two John Candy references, the un-apologetically offensive, short fused Dean Thomas Shanks (played by Steve Higgins) at the Kenneth P Higgins Institute was a homage to John Candy's character Tommy Shanks, Mayor of Melonville in SCTV, he even chases them out of the building with a baseball bat. Also Abby, played by Melissa McCarthy, says the line "that will leave a mark" a nod to John's character Mog in Spaceballs, a line that John ad-libbed and Mel Brooks kept in. I love the fact so many years after the original came out, John was not even part of the film and yet his spirit and influence sneaks into the reboot.
Tommy Shanks, Mayor of Melonville

With regards to the book I am getting my head down. I have a surgery date now for 22nd of this month which is hopefully going to take the chronic pain away (or at least relieve it for a bit) and fingers crossed take away the chronic fatigue and brain fog that pain brings with it. I do have a release date in mind but until I know for definite I daren't announce it.

Thanks for all your patience and sending you all lots of love

Tracey xx

PS Who ya gunna call?
PPS I now want to be Kate McKinnon with a proton pack