Ryerson students produce, star in YouTube reality series


The Avenue showcases five young Torontonians’ glitzy lifestyles

Graham Slaughter
Eyeopener (Ryerson University)

TORONTO (CUP) — A handful of Ryerson University students are broadcasting their posh lifestyles living in the upscale blocks of Toronto with a new web-based reality series.

Take MTV’s The City’s focus on style, knock it down to a Canadian calibre, toss in the high school drama of MTV’s Laguna Beach and the sexual ambiguity of LOGO’s RuPaul’s Drag Race and voila! — The Avenue is paved.

“We’re not trying to be any kind of Jersey Shore. It’s not just drama and going out and partying for shock value,” Jacob Morris, an executive producer, said.

Scott Fisher, another executive producer jumped in: “The way I see it is that it’s all real. They’re real people and we’re following the real things that they’re really doing.”

But Fisher was quick to correct what he meant by “real”.

“It’s a TV show, we’re constructing something,” Fisher admitted. “We can frame people to entertain an audience.

“It’s a show. We need drama. We will tell them, ‘Why don’t you guys go out for lunch, go to this club,’” he continued.

The paradox that reality shows lack “reality” isn’t groundbreaking by any means, and The Avenue is no exception.

The weekly show premiered on YouTube on Jan. 25, and is scheduled to air on a Rogers channel sometime next month.

Fisher first got the idea for the show while watching Gregory Lazzarato, the main character, on YouTube.

“I was thinking, ‘How can I launch a successful show right from the get go?’” Fisher said, “So I wanted to follow an Internet celebrity.”

And Lazzarato’s online following has been very receptive to the new show.

Also known by his YouTube persona Gregory Gorgeous, his uploads include personal vlogs and make-up tutorials that have attracted over 90,000 subscribers.

Still, the cast is prepared for varied responses.

“Since I have been getting a lot of attention, I have learned that you shouldn’t read what people write about you,” said Arta Ghanbari, the show’s resident fashion journalist, about negative comments and press.

Executive producer Stephane Pare added, “A lot of celebs do that.”

According to the press release, the show profiles “the lives of five up-and-coming Torontonians as they build new friendships, deal with drama and enemies, and climb their way to the top.”

But in reality, the show conveniently stars two Ryerson radio and television arts students and a journalism student that were already friends with Lazzarato.

A small camera crew follows the fabulous five as they romp across Toronto’s most unrecognizable clubs, bars, ultra-lounges and the occasional lunch spot – “for drinks.”

But the cast has adjusted to the spotlight.

“It did take a little getting used to, having a normal conversation with the camera there,” said Rachel Guest, Lazzarato’s self-described “sassy” friend.

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