Mose Persico: from
Sorrento to Westmount
A beloved English chronicler of the Montreal cultural scene talks about Westmount
By Patricia Dumais
Mose Persico hardly needs introduction. As both CTV Montreal’s movie reviewer and MIKE-FM 105.1’s entertainment reporter, he is one of the city’s most trusted and beloved English chroniclers of the Montreal cultural scene. As well, he is often seen around town, hosting or participating in various events, including fundraisers and benefits for a number of charities.
Over espresso and cappuccino at one of his favourite Westmount haunts, Café Crème on Victoria Avenue, Mose shared the story of his career as well as his impressions of Westmount.
With over 30 years on the Hollywood beat, Mose has interviewed just about every star possible – except Jack Nicholson. “He never does television, so impossible to interview him”, explained Mose. One of the stars who has impressed him the most is Oprah Winfrey. “There is something larger than life about her, a glow. She told me that to succeed in the business you have to be respectful and grateful, wise advice I have followed.”
Born in Sorrento, Italy, Mose immigrated to Canada in 1965 aboard the ship Cristoforo Colombo, with his parents and two sisters, when he was four-years-old. When I mentioned that I had visited Sorrento and found it one of the loveliest places in Italy, he confessed that he only returned at age forty. “I had travelled pretty much everywhere, but not back to my roots. What a surprise to discover my beautiful hometown and the fact that the Persico family was an important part of that community – they were the major supplier of lemons for the Limoncello factory!”
With over 30 years on the Hollywood beat, Mose has interviewed just about every star possible…
As a child, Mose loved to entertain his family with impersonations and would interview relatives at gatherings. Little did he know he was rehearsing for what would ultimately be his career, after acquiring a BA in Communications with a minor in Broadcast Journalism from Concordia University.
Mose recounted how he started in the CFCF Channel 12 mailroom 35 years ago. “The very first day at work, Bill Haughland told me that he too had started in the mail room and that I would not be there for long.” Determined to further his career, Mose volunteered on a show called Reel-to-Reel, was sent on press junkets and soon started interviewing celebrities for CFCF Pulse. Before long he had his own 3-minute weekly feature.
‘As a child, Mose loved to entertain his family with impersonations and would interview relatives at gatherings.’
He eventually produced and hosted a number of award-winning shows including Teenage Life, Between the Sexes and Mose’s Kitchen. From 2001 to 2008 he hosted Entertainment Spotlight, a half-hour mix of everything entertainment: lifestyle, fashion, leisure, music and… food.
On the topic of food, Mose now hosts the series Mo…Food! where he interviews the chefs behind the culinary creations. He mentioned an episode about Petit Lapin, a Westmount bakery on Victoria, specializing in allergen-free cakes and pastries. “It’s a great story – this mother was so upset that her child could not enjoy a birthday cake that she decided to come up with an allergy free recipe and later open a bakery for all those who suffer from food allergies.” There are presently ten episodes in the can and he hopes to take the show outside Montreal for the third season next Fall.
We talked about how the business has changed over the years. “I used to travel for my 30-minute prime time show with a big film crew – camera man, make-up, production assistant, etc. Now that budgets are low and with the current race for content, it’s just me, interviewing and filming!”
Mose arrived in Westmount twelve years ago, first residing in a townhouse on Lewis Avenue and then moving to a house on Roslyn Avenue, close to Westmount Park. He shares his home with his wife Joanne and their two 3-year-old Yorkshire Terriers, Pacino and DeNiro, named after whom else but his two favourite actors, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. He recounted the time he shopped at a PetCo in L.A. “The sales person told me that I just missed dog-lover Pacino by five minutes!”
‘It’s important that citizens encourage our local merchants. It’s great to have them close by, but so many are closing these days…’
He shared with me what impressed him most about Westmount. “There is much pride and devotion to the community by its citizens. Neighbours are friendly, not snobby as some outsiders may assume. The preservation of heritage and natural spaces is a priority, and the city is pet friendly. Westmount is close to Downtown Montreal but the trees give it a suburban feel. The city is well managed with no debt. I think we owe a lot to Mayor Trent and I’m sorry to see him go.”
Walking down Victoria Avenue after our rendezvous, Mose pointed out a number of shops that he patronizes. “It’s important that citizens encourage our local merchants. It’s great to have them close by, but so many are closing these days…” I asked him if Westmount is experiencing an “Italian culinary invasion” given that a number of Italian restaurants have opened or are in the process of opening. He explained, “Since the economy in Europe is not great many young Italians are looking to North America to open businesses and who doesn’t appreciate Italian cuisine?”
Active in sports, Mose appreciates the Westmount Recreation Centre, an “excellent community investment and example for other municipalities”. He enjoys the pool, plays in the Senior Men’s soccer team and rides his bike up the mountain to keep fit. He just loves the Lawn Bowling Green and hopes to join one day. “Health is the most important thing in life. I have seen so much suffering, visiting hospitals. It is not something to take for granted.”He also hopes to eventually get more involved in the community when time permits. “Actually, Mayor Trent suggested I volunteer. I love kids and would love to coach a soccer or hockey team.”
Finally Mose shared his philosophy, “Smile at strangers and embrace every single day like it’s your last one on earth!”
Catch Mose Persico on CTV Montreal, on Sundays at 6 pm and Mondays at 12 pm, and on CTV News at 6 pm, for Mose at the Movies.
Mose Persico is also host and executive producer of Mose’s World, a daily Entertainment news capsule broadcast on MIKE-FM 105.1.
Patricia Dumais is co-editor and artistic director of WestmountMag.ca, and occasionally contributes articles. She began her career as a graphic designer and assistant artistic director on several Canadian feature films and documentaries. Patricia then worked in the field of communication and, in 1988, she co-founded Visionnaires branding design. firstname.lastname@example.org