Attention, Tom Hanks: Meet Jonas Chernick

By Morley Walker
Winnipeg Free Press — Sept 27, 2002

Nia Vardalos, watch your backside.

Another Winnipeg actor-writer has a career that's beginning to cook. Jonas Chernick is back in town after having completed shooting the first three episodes of the upcoming CTV series The Eleventh Hour.

Chernick, 29, is part of the show's 10-member ensemble cast, which also features small-screen star Sonja Smits and Stratford veteran John Neville. The hour-long series, set in a 60 Minutes-like investigative TV newsroom, begins airing Nov. 11. It is CTV's new marquee drama, from the people who produced the now-defunct legal series The Associates. Chernick plays video editor Gavin Kwalchuk.

He also recently finished shooting a CBC-TV movie sequel, Chasing Cain: Face, which airs in the new year, and The Pentagon Papers, a TV movie for the U.S. FX Network opposite James Spader. Chernick plays Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan in Pentagon Papers, a fact-based drama slated to air Dec. 15.

"It's a pivotal role," said Chernick, who starred in the award-winning local feature Inertia. "I got to do all sorts of research".

Chernick, who also nabbed a part in the locally made Enron TV movie, thinks of himself as a writer. He has had a play produced and he has co-written a film script for Inertia director Sean Garrity's next project. The working title is Bed Bugs.

He's in town to star in the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre's production of The Chosen, which opens Oct.10. Then he heads back to Toronto to shoot more episodes of The Eleventh Hour.

Last May, Chernick turned up on the U.S. cable network Showtime in the Emmy-nominated movie Last Call, where he had a supporting role opposite Jeremy Irons, Neve Campbell and Sissy Spacek. He also had a part in the Fox movie The Glow, where he worked with Portia de Rossi, who played babe lawyer Nelle Porter in Ally McBeal, and in the Global-aired TV series Mutant X.

"That time I played a mutant who shoots fire out of his hands".

A University of Manitoba Black Hole Theatre grad, Chernick joins a list of able Winnipeggers who've cracked U.S. film and TV, including Adam Beach, Scott Bairstow, Brendan Fehr, Nadia Litz and, of course, Vardalos. The star and writer of My Big Fat Greek Wedding appeared on the Oprah Winfrey talk show yesterday, adding another chapter in her Cinderella story that began when Tom Hanks went to see her one-woman show in Los Angeles with his wife Rita Wilson.

"I just need Tom Hanks to come and see one of my movies," joked Chernick, who has agents in L.A. and Toronto. "Then I'll really be on my way."

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