You probably recognize the name Charles H. Joffe, even if you can’t remember where from. So I will remind you: he has been the producer or executive producer of almost every one of Woody Allen’s films, starting with Take the Money and Run in 1969. You see his name, along withat of Jack Rollins, in the opening credits.
Few of us — myself included — know what most of the people credited on a movie actually do. We’re pretty clear on the actors, and know (or think we know) that the Director is nominally in charge. We may have heard about grips, and know about gaffers from the tape they’ve named after them, but deeper down into the list I know I lose focus pretty quick. Young Dave Moses, the closest thing Charlottetown has to a movie mogul, tried to explain all of these positions to me in the Delta Airlines lounge in Boston in July, but I soon forgot everything he told me.
But this is all tangential to my main point.
When we Rukavina boys were wee, we spent a lot of time on Saturday mornings getting shuttled (and, later, shuttling ourselves) back and forth between our country home in Carlisle and the Big City of Hamilton were were devotees of the YMCA’s Saturday morning programs.
During these trips back and forth, Mom and Dad’s radio was inevitably tuned to the CBC (it was just called “the CBC” then). And on Saturday morning, that meant that it was tuned first to Fresh Air, with Sy Strange and Bill Macneill, and then, in later years and later in the morning, to Basic Black with Arthur Black.
We knew of Arthur when Basic Black came along, of course, because he was “Arthur Black in Thunder Bay” in guest spots on the Fresh Air show. I think we actually thought that was his real name — Arthur Black in Thunder Bay.
At the end of every Basic Black, Arthur would, with much vigor, read the names of the “behind the scenes” people on the show. And in these credits, no name was read more forcefully, and thus burned more inextricably into our young minds, than that of David Joseph Malahoff.
Although we didn’t know what David Joseph Malahoff did, we imagined — or at least I did — that his role was something like that of Perry White on the Superman cartoons. That is to say a loveable but crusty taskmaster that kept the enterprise afloat.
Fast forward many years. I am walking along scenic Victoria Row in downtown Charlottetown and spy my newfound friend Ann Thurlow sitting out on the patio at the Black Forest Cafe. Sitting beside her is a mysterious tall man. I stop to say hello, and Ann introduces her tablemate as David Malahoff. “Not DAVID JOSEPH Malahoff?” I exclaim. “Yes,” says Ann, “David Joseph Malahoff.” The shock of the situation being too much for my swirling mind, I quickly made haste.
Fast forward several more years. Basic Black has moved west, and David Joseph Malahoff has stayed in Toronto. He is working on an ill-fated project with one of the Richler boys for Newsworld. I believe it was called either “Big Life” or “Big Hair.” Aforementioned Ann Thurlow puts me in touch with David to see if my wacky Internet ideas can bear fruit inside this show. Shortly thereafter either the show implodes or David does or both. No fruit born. Probably best for all concerned.
And finally, fast forward to the present day. The Black Forest Cafe lunch obviously worked its magic, as David Joseph Malahoff is now co-resident with Ann Thurlow in her spacious mansion in the NoHo district of Charlottetown, has been usurped into the Campbell Webster Entertainment empire, and can regularly be spotted walking the streets of Charlottetown, newspaper in hand, making his way from home to GrabbaJabba to work and back.
So the next time you see the sandy-haired tall guy with sun glasses and an aubergine windbreaker walking the Queen — Kent — University route with a copy of the Globe and Mail in hand, realize that you are walking among one of Canada’s cultural treasures, the Charles Joffe of our national morning show.
Gods walk among us.
The next thing you know, Catherine Hennessey is going to start dating Lister Sinclair.