Thursday, August 9, 2018

No Avoiding Cliches: Must-See TV!

"The business wanted to kill me."
Alfie Zappacosta is trying to explain the strange up and downs of a career that included working on the Dirty Dancin' album, leads in such hits as Hair, and resurrection as a brilliant singer-songwriter.
This hour long documentary of Zappacosta's weird ride makes for riveting TV.
It answers for me what happened to the brilliant young guy who was on  target for a superstardom career before he burned out  and disappeared for what seemed like decades.
The hour long profile is accurately titled No Avoiding Cliches and during TV's summer rerun season this new production should garner a strong rating.
The premiere is on CBC-TV's Documentary Channel Sunday August 12 at 8 p.
Director Stephanie Volk and producer Braden Rorke have done  outstanding jobs of ferreting out obscure musical sets Alfie made almost four decades.
Stitching all this material together into a seamless whole is quite an achievement.
And Alfie is hardest on himself --he pulls no punches on his mistakes and accepts responsibility for everything.
He came from a very tight and loving Italian family and these roots are still apparent in the way he and his two kids interact with each other.
But with his dazzling good looks and clear bell of a voice he got pushed into an evolving super star status that he loathed from the start.
Staring straight into the camera he talks of the way coke fueled the entire music business in the seventies and eighties.
He also suffered from excruciating bouts of stage fright,. He was playing a character created by the music industry giants who saw him as a great cash generating source if he played the game "the right way".
But success as a music star wasn't what Alfie wanted. I remember a friend seeing him in Hair and saying how dominant he was but Alfie hated the routine even though it generated terrific profits.
Then he did something very unusual --he moved his young family from Toronto to Edmonton and pushed back, determined to reinvent himself.
It was a bold gamble that ultimately worked big time. He was able to write songs from the heart.
For long periods he was inactive, trying to jump start a new career  and defy the preconceptions of what the music industry wanted him to be.
The surprise in thje recently filmed concert scenes is how handsome he remains aged 65 with his blaze of stark white hair and how he still has the clear voice of a very young man.
One of his friends accurately says it's not really a reinvention but a maturation and it's about being timeless and not timely.
Of course he's recorded a new album and taped a convert video which go on sale on August 12. And it seems to me he's now singing jazz instead of rock and roll.
You can order a copy on or at
This well constructed hour includes candid interviews with his two children and the music industry producers who have seen him mature as both a performer and a very loving father.
No Avoiding Cliches is pretty terrific --it leaves one wanting more.
MY RATING: ****.

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