Tuesday 25 October 2011

Jim Slotek

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Jim Slotek 

I was hired by the Sun twice - the first time as a proofreader while in my final year at Ryerson. It was a $5-an-hour job that often entailed emergency headline writing and editing just because it needed to be done now, you were there and a body was a body.

Worked with a legendary rim that included Paul Heming, Ben Grant and Lloyd Kemp and was proud to earn their trust.

I’ve burned the legendary candle ends many times, but never like when I was editor of the daily Ryersonian. Would put it to bed by 6 p.m., help put the Sun to bed by 11 p.m., drink with the Rim Pigs at Crooks until closing, and get up at 8 a.m. to do it all over again.

Sun hiring #2 came after I’d worked at the Ottawa Citizen as an entertainment writer for three years and was keen to return to Toronto. A TV critic job was open and I impressed Entertainment editor Kathy Brooks by obtaining her unlisted number and bugging her at home.

(Some people would be decidedly unimpressed at being stalked, but Kathy thought it showed enterprise).

When my name entered the mix, Gary Dunford recommended me. I’d never met him, but apparently he’d read my Citizen stuff and judged my attempts at humour favourably. What’s that line about a stranger being a friend you haven’t met? Dunf and I would bond.

What I remember most about the hiring process with Kathy and whip-smart exec entertainment editor George “Mr. Hollywood” Anthony was a series of meetings where it was never overtly stated that I was hired, but future tense began to replace subjunctive.

“You’ll be required…,” instead of, “You’d be required…” Finally, I had to ask, “So…. am I to understand I have the job?” – “Oh, didn’t we tell you?” George replied dryly.

Motivation was 90% carrot and 10% stick back then. Doug Creighton sent me a kind memo after my first month.

GM Hartley Steward wrote a fan note after I reviewed a show called Helltown - in which Robert Blake played a two-fisted priest - in the form of a dialogue at the confessional between Blake and his real priest.

On the bad-cop front, nobody could roast you when you screwed up like Peter O’Sullivan (who had the last word on hiring me both times).

In my 28 years at the Sun, I’ve interviewed thousands of celebrities and had countless adventures (many of which I’d be wise to keep to myself).

Today is a new normal and that’s all I’ll say about it. But I’m proud of what skills I bring to the table, a legacy I’ve been blessed to have passed on to me by the very best. 

Thanks for the soapbox, John. 

Jim Slotek

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1 comment:

  1. Still the best arm with a tomato in the biz, Slo.
    The Ukrainian Boys Club is very proud.