Matt Demers may have invented his A-list celebrity reporter alter ego, Mr. Hollywood, to manifest fame and fortune, taking on the mantra, “I’m famous because I wanna be.” But Matt’s continuing success has everything to do with his hard work and commitment to the entertainment industry across a fifteen year career in television, radio, and online media that’s made him famous, not just at home in Ottawa, but around the world.
He got his start in the business the same way all great, 21st-century artists do — by winning a reality TV show contest. It all began back in 2008 with a Rogers TV Ottawa program called Your Screen Test. For their prize, the contest winner was given the opportunity to host four episodes of their very own Rogers TV show. And thus, Mr. Hollywood was born — a larger than life, exaggerated caricature of Matt’s true self, bordering on obnoxious and miles away from ‘politically correct’. It was the style at the time.
You may remember another Ottawa native who got his start doing public access TV at Rogers: the internationally-renowned comedian Tom Green. Mr. Hollywood didn’t take off with quite the same energy as The Tom Green Show, but it was enough for Matt to live out his fantasy as a late-night talk show host and securely jam his foot into the entertainment industry’s doorway. “From there, I kind of made relationships, and I ended up doing a lot more stuff on TV and radio,” Matt says.
Mr. Hollywood was all about taking an eccentric, comedic approach to the world of celebrity reporting. Kind of like if you were to smash together The Colbert Report with Entertainment Tonight and produce it all on a shoestring budget.
Matt created a sort of guerrilla warfare-style approach to red-carpet affairs. Two examples: he crashed the Toronto International Film Festival without media accreditation; similarly, his infamous coverage of the 2010 Genie Awards left Dawson’s Creek star, Joshua Jackson, stunned and near speechless in response to Mr. Hollywood’s questioning.
“That’s the avenue we were going with; it was a fight to get seen or have these Canadian production companies see your tape,” says Matt. “We had a few meetings, but I couldn’t see a finish line of a big career coming out of it.”
But he kept grinding. He was waking up early to make appearances on CTV Morning Live in Ottawa for Oscar predictions that eventually led to him becoming their resident pop culture commentator and analyst. That opened the door to an international audience with CTV News Network’s Fame Factor entertainment panels.
Through the Bell Media umbrella, Matt found himself on Ottawa’s AM talk radio CFRA in 2016. Host Evan Solomon liked him so much that Matt kept getting invited back week after week until Mr. Hollywood became the station’s resident film critic, a position he still holds and which keeps him watching and reviewing three new release movies every week.
At the same time as all that was happening, Matt secured a position with Canadian media giant WatchMojo, where he’s now employed full-time as a Senior Content Editor and host of the weekly Pop Culture Now! podcast.
Matt also posts all of his latest movie reviews on his website, The Flaming Thumb, where he has implemented his own unique rating system. Each film receives a score out of ten flaming thumbs. A good movie is on fire, a great one is exploding, and a lacklustre movie gets a fizzle.
Over the years, Mr. Hollywood and Matt Demers have found a kind of equilibrium in their public persona. “So the Mr. Hollywood character was very excited about celebrities and pop culture, but he was maybe a little too excited,” says Matt. “Now, when I go on TV or radio, it’s not a character; it’s me being genuinely excited about all the stuff I’m talking about.”