August 26, 2004 — 9 Elul, 5764

Young Jewish actress meets tragic end

By Mike Cohen — Tribune Correspondent

MONTREAL — A year ago, life could not have been much better for Jaclyn Linetsky. The beautiful young Jewish actress from the Montreal suburb of Hampstead had just scored a starring role in a new YTV tween comedy-drama 15/Love.

Filmed in Québec’s picturesque Eastern Townships, this impressive Canadian series follows the hotheaded drama and sometimes hilarious antics of gifted young athletes who laugh, love, cry and dream their way through adolescence at the internationally renowned Cascadia Tennis Academy. But tennis is often just the backdrop to the real stories that take place courtside — in the dorms, and in the locker rooms. Through it all, the students bond over illegal birthday bashes, curfew-busting excursions, contraband junk food and tough competition.

Linetsky portrays type ‘A’ overachiever Megan O’Connor. In the first 11 episodes, she stands out as one of the show’s true stars. However, as she and fellow cast member Vadim Schneider were being driven to the set one fall day a year ago the vehicle went out of control. Both teenagers were killed.

Gala Films, which is co-producing the series, immediately shut down production. When they finally met with the grieving Linetsky and Schneider families, it was agreed to write their tragic deaths into the script for episodes 13 and 14.

The show debuts on YTV Monday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. It will continue to air every Monday at the same time., with repeat airings Wednesdays at 9.30 p.m. and Sundays at 6.30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“ We were very careful in how we approached the publicity of the series,” says Lindsay Smith of Corus Entertainment, owners of YTV. “ We did not want to mention the tragedy in the press materials for the show launch because we didn’t want to capitalize on the loss of these two actors. It is something I discuss verbally with the press. We will be doing some special publicity around the transitional episodes, 13 and 14, which air in 2005, where we will recognize the tragedy in the press materials, and pay tribute to Jaclyn and Vadim.”

Linetsky was already a sought-after actress with a specialization in voiceovers when she joined the cast of 15/Love. Universally adored as the English voice of cartoon character Caillou, she also had legions of fans for her voiceover work on numerous shows, including Kit and Kaboodle, Mega Babies, Tommy and Oscar, Kids from Room 402, Daft Planet, What’s With Andy? And Sagwa. She also had a part in the motion picture Kart Racer, starring Randy Quaid. Getting her start on stage at the age of eight, she began doing voiceovers when she was 11 in a radio milk ad. She later starred in a string of radio and TV commercials. Affectionately known as Muffin to her family and friends, she starred in many school productions at St. Georges High School.

Another Jewish member of the cast is Ottawa’s Kyle Switzerm who plays campus newspaper editor Rick Geddes.

“15/Love is a unique concept about kids who are friends but also competitors, and are learning how to deal with the pressures of the adult world,” said Bonita Siegel, director of original productions for children’s television. “With strong characters and storylines, and intelligent and humourous writing that will appeal to both kids and adults, 15/Love represents a new level of high-calibre production being created in Canada.”

In the premiere episode of 15/Love, a new year of Cascadia begins with a Survivor-style boys versus girls tournament to determine who gets the best dorm rooms, while Cody, the school’s newest member, discovers her role as the academy’s scribe and shutterbug. As an outsider, she is quick to jump to the conclusion that the students are all wealthy, arrogant jocks, but she soon realizes there is more to her new peers than meets the eye.