Peterson having a 'Gas' playing Oscar

Sunshine Girls Holly, left, and Michelle plant kisses on actor Eric Peterson at West Edmonton Mall.

Sunshine Girls Holly, left, and Michelle plant kisses on actor Eric Peterson at West Edmonton Mall.

-- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:37 AM ET

Corner Gas star Eric Peterson is in Edmonton on his first book tour, even though he has never written a book.

"It's amazing," giggles the 60-year-old actor who plays Oscar Leroy, Brent Butt's impossible-to-please father on the hit CTV series.

"You don't have to write a book, you just have to be featured in the book, or bring one of the fictional characters along."

Peterson and author Michele Sponagle will be at Perfect Books at 258 Elgin St. today at 12:30 p.m. to sign copies of Tales from Dog River: The Complete Corner Gas Guide, the new companion book to the hit TV series.

Published by Penguin, the glossy picture book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the hit series, including a show guide covering each episode of the first three seasons and all the celebrity appearances, including prime ministers Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, who have appeared on the offbeat comedy about life at a prairie gas station in the slow-poke town of Dog River, Saskatchewan.

"It's fun to read if you are a fan of the show and all the characters," Peterson says smartly. "It's very reader-friendly.

"I enjoyed the book immensely, reading about how Brent Butt came up with the original concept of the series and all the behind-the-scenes stories that I wasn't even aware of while I was behind the scenes."

Corner Gas has been a hit since its debut in January 2004, attracting more than 1 million viewers each episode to become the most popular comedy series in Canadian television history.

And at this rate, there's a pretty good chance that Corner Gas will last a long time.

The show is currently aired in 26 countries and recently scored an American distribution deal for 2007. Now in its fourth season, it is one of the top-rated shows in Canada, winning the 2006 Gemini for Best Comedy Series.

Not surprisingly, the book has been a No. 1 Canadian bestseller since it initially hit stores Nov. 4.

Whether playing the crusty Oscar, or the seven years between 1987 and 1994 he spent as the idealistic lawyer Leon Robinovitch on CBC's Street Legal or the hero Billy Bishop he's been playing off and on over the last 30 years in the one-man musical Billy Bishop Goes To War, Peterson remains one of the country's most recognizable actors. Now, 42 years after launching his acting career, Peterson says the obstinate elder Oscar is a very good fit for him at this point in his life.

"I was nervous about turning 60 for the last five years," he admits.

"Sixty in my mind was the portal to the land of the elderly. But since I turned 60, I've rationalized that when I was 59, I was an old adult, and now I am a young geriatric. So now, I'm keen that the series goes on and on and on."


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