Cory Monteith plays drug addict in ironic final role
By Bill Zwecker July 15, 2013 8:14PM
GLEE: Cory Monteith as Finn in the Season Four premiere of GLEE debuting on a new night and time Thursday, Sept. 13 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Tommy Garcia/FOX
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:05AM
As friends, fans and associates of Cory Monteith await the Vancouver medical examiner’s report confirming the cause of the actor’s untimely death, there’s a sadly ironic final note to the actor’s career: His likely final appearance may be in the film “McCanick,” in which he plays a drug-addicted street hustler.
Given Monteith’s known battles with addiction, many believe his death was drug-related.
Also starring David Morse and Mike Vogel, “McCanick” is currently in post-production, with director Josh C. Waller telling the Los Angeles Times that Monteith “wanted to tap into things from his youth that he hadn’t been able to use as an actor yet.
“He didn’t say it was a cathartic experience, but you could sense it,” Waller said.
† In the meantime, sources close to Monteith’s girlfriend and “Glee” co-star Lea Michele say the actress is feeling horribly guilty. “She just wishes she could have been with Cory … could have been there for him, and maybe this might not have happened,” said a Michele associate Monday.
JENNY’S NEW GIG: As long expected, Barbara Walters made it official Monday — announcing Our Town’s own Jenny McCarthy will join “The View” as a new co-host in September. Walters noted McCarthy, who also pens an advice column for Splash magazine in the Sun-Times, “can be serious and outrageous” but added the South Side native “has connected with our audience” during her eight outings as a guest co-host.
McCarthy herself showed her comedic side on Monday’s show, saying “I look forward to helping make hot topics a bit hotter, and showing my mom that my interrupting skills have finally paid off.”
† In an email to this column Monday, McCarthy revealed she is “still living in Chicago and commuting” to the Big Apple, which means she’ll be booking some serious air miles.
CHICAGO’S OWN: Michael Pena, was clearly happy to be back in his Chicago hometown the other day. Here to promote the animated “Turbo” (opening Wednesday) — in which he stars as Tito, the main human character — the actor was delighted to get a chance to see his family, including his brother, Joel Pena, a corrections officer at Cook County Jail.
Looking back to his youth, Pena revealed he “never, ever had any thoughts about being an actor” while growing up at 16th and California or attending Marist High School.
“I was all about sports. Football, wrestling, boxing, the track team. That’s where my head was at back then. … I went to one play at Brother Rice, where my brother went, and thought, ‘Nah. That’s not for me.’ ”
But thanks to the insistence of his best pal’s mom, Pena did finally go for an audition and “the light suddenly went off. I knew this was what I had to do.”
The reason that friend’s mother spotted Pena’s latent talent? He was such a good mimic.
“Growing up, we spoke Spanish first, then learned English. But in the beginning, my vocabulary wasn’t so good. So if I was telling a story, I’d start describing something and then say, ‘He would do this,’ and act it out. … Mimicking just became a part of who I was, and I guess she saw that as natural acting talent.”
† While a lot of Pena’s best work has been in strongly dramatic roles in such films as his breakout in “Crash,” “End of Watch,” “World Trade Center” or “Shooter,” the actor said he loved providing the voice for Tito in “Turbo” — about a snail who dreams of being super-fast. “Besides, my son [Roman, who’s age 4] won’t be able to see most of them for years. It’s nice to have made a movie he can see right now.” Though when Roman screened “Turbo” with his dad the other night, “he was so into the story, I loved that I made my kid laugh, and he didn’t even realize that Tito was me!” Pena said.
† The actor next heads to London to film a circa-1945 film currently titled “The Fury,” with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. “It’s about five guys in a tank out to save the day.”
In early 2014, “Chavez” will be released, with Pena in the title role as civil rights and farm workers’ advocate Cesar Chavez.
ON YOUR TOES: There’s a nice twist to the annual Happiness Club “End the Violence” benefit Sunday at Park West, chaired again by Eli’s Cheesecake’s Maureen and Marc Schulman. It’s a truly interactive fete! There’s a YouTube link on the party’s invitation which will show viewers how to learn a special flash mob dance that they then can perform on stage with the Happiness Club kids the night of the gala.
† The event also honors popular Mesirow Financial exec Les Coney — for his long support of both the Happiness Club programs and so many Chicago arts programs over the years.
SEEN ON THE SCENE: While here for his “Mustache & Comedy Fiesta” tour, Chelsea Handler’s “Chelsea Lately” sidekick Chuy Bravo was a hit at Paris Club, on the Chicago Q patio and at Giordano’s on Rush Street — the pizza palace where Bruno Mars also made an appearance. … Mayor Rahm Emanuel was spotted on the patio at City Winery. … Fans spied the Cubs’ Edwin Jackson at AyChiwowa. … Burlesque queen Dita Von Teese was seen at the Windy City Smokeout Festival, at Giordano’s and over at Nellcote. … TV chef Ann Burrell dined at Sunda the other night. … Former Bears chairman Mike McCaskey was seen checking out Rob Wallace’s Wilmette Chop House in the North Shore suburb. … Baseball lovers enjoyed seeing Orel Hershiser and Cardinals coaches Derek Lilliquest and John Mayberry at Rosebud Steakhouse on Walton. … Funny man J eff Garlin slipped into Tavern on Rush on Saturday to dine on seafood and risotto. … “Charmed” star Holly Marie Combs stopped in for a quick bite at Siena Tavern the other night. … Among “good sports” sighted at Joe’s Stone Crab: the Cubs’ Chris Bryant and Oklahoma Sooners’ head coach Bob Stoops . … Comedian Jeff Dye got his steak fix at Harry Caray’s on Kinzie and even slapped a Harry patch on his Cubs cap.