Degrassi goes to Hollywood

The bright lights of Hollywood lure the Degrassi kids to California in their first-ever TV movie airing this weekend, with celebrity friends including Pete Wentz, Vivica A. Fox, Kevin Smith and Perez Hilton among those helping Paige, Manny and the gang find fame and fortune in tinseltown.

Degrassi’s Stacey Farber

TORONTO — The bright lights of Hollywood lure the Degrassi kids to California in their first-ever TV movie airing this weekend, with celebrity friends including Pete Wentz, Vivica A. Fox, Kevin Smith and Perez Hilton among those helping Paige, Manny and the gang find fame and fortune in tinseltown.

The teen romp revolves around a tongue-in-cheek spoof of High School Musical, but despite its light-hearted fantasy elements, star Lauren Collins admitted the tale may hint at her own real-life career ambitions, which include a possible move to Los Angeles.

“I’ve never really spent an extended amount of time there but I think that’s something that’s in the cards for me,” said Collins, whose character, Paige Michalchuk, wrapped up her Degrassi storyline last year.

“Within the next year or so I’ll be doing that.”

Last time fans saw Paige, the snotty character landed a job working in fashion in Toronto.

In “Paradise City: Degrassi Goes Hollywood,” Paige has moved to L.A. to pursue her dream of working as a stylist, but instead finds herself slaving as a lowly assistant to a D-list reality star.

Collins, who turns 23 this weekend, said she’s eager to pursue new opportunities as her chapter with the “Degrassi” franchise comes to an end.

“Now that Degrassi has finished up for me I kind of have been able to step back and look at everything that I’ve done in the past 10 years with the show, and 13 years acting, and I’m like: ‘OK, what have I missed out on because of that?”’ said Collins, whose TV character has survived date rape and an HIV scare and experimented with a brief lesbian fling over the years.

“I went to Europe, which is something I’d put off for a long time, I just got back about a month ago . . . but I think, you know, as far as career-wise, I definitely want to keep acting and I think that’s why L.A. is probably the next logical step.”

In Degrassi Goes Hollywood, Collins gets to stretch her performance skills to the max as Paige lucks into a starring role in a High School Musical-style film directed by “Jay and Silent Bob” actor Jason Mewes.

Thrust into the spotlight, Paige bluffs her way through the song-and-dance role while struggling with a newfound celebrity lifestyle. Meanwhile back home, Manny (Cassie Steele), Jay (Mike Lobel) and the Degrassi gang decide to drive to L.A. to try to score parts in the movie, too.

Featuring musical performances by Collins, Steele and Jake Epstein as Craig, the film is a marked departure from the weighty tone that’s typical of the series. Director Stefan Brogren, known to longtime fans as Snake on Degrassi Junior High, calls it a refreshing change of pace.

“We sort of consider it our Degrassi fairy tale,” Brogren said.

“It was an opportunity to bring back some older characters that we haven’t seen in a while, and mix them with some of our younger characters that sort of exist on the show now. It’s really about the power of celebrity and how it can be used for good or evil, basically.”

“This was sort of, in a lot of ways, the final chapter for some of them,” he added.

The past couple of years have seen several Degrassi alum move on to a wide range of big-time triumphs: Aubrey Graham, who played Jimmy Brooks, is storming the rap scene with his alter ego Drake; Nina Dobrev, who played Mia Jones, stars in the new CTV/CW series The Vampire Diaries; Shenae Grimes, who played Darcy Edwards, is heading into her second season on 90210; while Epstein is touring North America as the lead in the stage musical Spring Awakening.

Brogren said he too is looking to a possible career beyond Degrassi as a feature film director.

But for now, he said he’s excited about the new season, when he’ll be directing six episodes. Upcoming storylines include the football jock Riley, who will continue to question his sexuality, a dangerous meth addiction that takes over another character, and an unhealthy relationship that develops between a student and their older mentor.

Paradise City: Degrassi Goes Hollywood airs Sunday on CTV.

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Street Tales: Life is filled with unlearned lessons

There are days that I almost believe evolutionists in that we are… Continue reading

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month