| [Photo: Sharon Dunn,
BASSETT: "People love the '80s."
Matthew Bassett is clearly excited about the upcoming production of This Is Our Youth, and why not, given the roster of talent involved. It was written by Kenneth Lonergan (who wrote Analyze This and Gangs of New York, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award) and the director is actor Woody Harrelson. That's enough to account for the buzz around town; the involvement of Bassett, son of the late media titan John Bassett and TVO chair Isabel Bassett, just adds to the interest.
Bassett is involved in the project through macIDeas, the creative group that's bringing the production to town. It was founded by Marcello Cabezas (the artistic director and producer), and Bassett, 30, is chairman of the board. The two have known each other since University of Western Ontario days, and Bassett lauds Cabezas for his "great work ethic."
When his friend started macIDeas, "I got in because I wanted to get involved with something in creative, since I deal with finance all day, and I knew this was a great project.
"My mother and father have given me a great appreciation for the arts. Everyone knows that about my mom, but not about my dad. He loved theatre, music, books."
This Is Our Youth has enjoyed successful runs in London and New York. "It's a play that generates a lot of attention because of its author. And it deals with the '80s, and people love the '80s."
Of Harrelson's involvement, Bassett says, "We wanted someone to come in who was a top, A-list individual. There's no money, that's not the motive. The actors, director, producers are all doing this because it's a great project."
That said, Bassett, who is president of EagleCrest Capital, says, "We have about 20 investors, who each put in $5,000. We think it's better to have more [investors] and get younger people of our generation involved, who have some disposable income and will actually see the show."
And what can the investors expect besides some choice tickets?
"If you're putting $5,000 into the project, you're not going to lose it," says Bassett. "We'll fill the seats. Woody Harrelson is huge for us, and there is the potential to make money on the investment." He adds, as a realistic and self-evident aside, "When you invest $5,000, you can't expect to get $50,000."
Response to the fundraising effort "has been overwhelming," he says. "The investors are from all walks of life -- an art gallery owner, a businessman, executive women -- and the aim is to support local talent." And, while they're at it, get involved in a Toronto project and have some fun. A private party to thank the investors is being held tomorrow evening at a midtown restaurant.
Bassett adds that macIDeas is always looking for new people who want to get involved. If that's you, you should contact the company. "What you are investing in here, more important than the stars, are accomplished, talented young people in their late 20s and early 30s. Our stand is that N.Y. and L.A. are great, but Toronto is our city."