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The spirit of so much music is reignited in the documentary premiere

The spirit of so much music is reignited in the documentary premiere

Thousands of people flocked to Roy Thomson Hall, a few blocks from Mooch’s former headquarters, to see the Canadian premiere of “299 Queen Street West,” a feature film about the television channel’s legacy.

Joining the crowd were some of the most famous “video jockeys,” known as VJs, including Rick Campanelli, Erica Ehm, Sook-Yin Lee, and “Electric Circus” host Monica Deol.

Many of them were amazed by the excitement generated by their reunion.

“It’s surreal,” Campanile, known to television viewers as “Rick the Temp,” said from the red carpet as he looked at the crowd outside the room.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be this way, but deep down I was kind of hoping for it,” he added.

Bill Welishka, who worked as an announcer at the station for most of the 1990s, finds himself scratching his head when he thinks about his old job.

“I didn’t know that fascination with so much still existed after all these years,” he admitted.

Director Sean Maynard had the VJs less surprised by the turnout, which nearly filled the 2,600-seat room in the Queen City.

The Hamilton native invested about six years in making “299 Queen Street West” and mortgaged his home to have the time and resources to dig through the archives.

He’s confident the excitement generated at the Toronto screening will be replicated across the country when he takes the film on tour next month.

The MuchMusic Experience tour combines a screening of the film with a conversation between Mr. Maynard and a selection of VJs, who will answer audience questions and share memories.

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The tour crosses the country and makes 12 stops, including Montreal (October 17), Halifax (October 25), Calgary (November 1), Vancouver (November 24) and Winnipeg (November 27).

Filled with archival footage, the two-hour documentary traces the origin story of MuchMusic, beginning with its inception on August 31, 1984.

MuchMusic launched as a 24-hour live music video channel, created by Toronto media visionary Moses Znaimer and a team of young, inexperienced but creative people.

Three years after MTV launched in the United States, the concept was no longer new, but the look of the Canadian version was very different, partly because the budget was tighter and there were no rules.

“We were kids in the trunk heading into the wheelhouse, that’s kind of what it felt like,” former Steve Anthony said at the premiere.

The documentary features the VJs’ memories in full in audio commentary on old MuchMusic footage.