Up against the Wallin

NEAL WATSON

, Last Updated: 3:30 PM ET

By NEAL WATSON --

That poor Pamela Wallin.

Fired from the CBC in public, she limped away to host some little interview show on that all-news station - the one where Don Newman is a star and all former MotherCorp stars go when they are put out to pasture.

That may have been the public perception after all the headlines that followed Wallin's public dismissal from CBC Prime Time News last March.

But it's far from the real truth.

The firing was nothing more than a flesh-wound, according to the veteran broadcaster, and Wallin is very much professionally alive and in charge of Pamela Wallin Live, now the highest-rated show on Newsworld's prime-time schedule.

And this week, Wallin takes her show on the road, a la Larry King, to Hollywood for a week's worth of programs showcasing Canadians in the entertainment business.

Apparently, living well on air is the best revenge.

"I've never been happier in my life," reported Wallin, in an interview last week shortly before heading off to Hollywood. "It's very satisfying professionally."

Since her debut last fall, the host of Pamela Wallin Live has spent an hour each weeknight with politicians, performers and players, everyone from Garth Brooks to novelist Pat Conroy. She says the approach and the simplicity of her show harkens back to broadcast pioneer Edward R. Murrow and a television era when conversation was the only required production value.

"We try to let the viewers experience it for themselves," she said. "You let people into these smart people's minds."

After years working in the mainstream of Canadian broadcasting, Wallin finds the atmosphere at Newsworld refreshing.

"Newsworld is a very different place," she says. "It's young and aggressive and lean. You get a nice energy."

If there is a shot at CBC there, Wallin would likely say so be it. She says of her abrupt departure from Prime Time News that she has "moved on."

"When you are a public figure, you have to expect there will be attention. What I was surprised at was the response of viewers."

While Wallin exists in a different professional context now - Pamela Wallin Live is co-produced by her own company and Newsworld - she hopes that CBC survives - although she admits that the tax proposed by the Juneau mandate review committee wasn't the right answer.

"I hope CBC finds a way to re-invent itself," she says. "I think there is a market for it. People will choose Canadian over American."

Wallin will hope to get some input on this elusive Canadian sensibility and why it seems to be so successful in Hollywood with a lineup of guests this week that includes Joni Mitchell, director Norman Jewison and JAG star David James Elliott.

"We are now players," she says of Canadians in Hollywood. "What they are proving is Canadians are extremely talented and can work in the big leagues."

You could say the same about Pamela Wallin. But now, that lean, energetic little cable network will do just fine.

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