A Canadian comedian – now there’s an oxymoron. But Shaun Majumder star of This Hour Has 22 Minutes is from Burlington,Newfoundland and, although his stomping grounds are stunning, there isn’t anywhere to stay, or eat – which is exactly what he’s hoping to change with Majumder Manor.
What began years ago as a quest to build a Burlington abode for when Majumder wanted to escape his chaotic life in Los Angeles, soon turned into an off-the-grid green project involving David Suzuki, and then a quaint bed and breakfast, before he finally decided to create a $2.6-million five-room boutique “eco-lux” inn with guest cabins, which will generate revenue for the community.
Cue W Network’s new 12-part documentary Majumder Manor, debuts tonight. The biggest challenge Majumder and the crew have faced is trying to get the community of 350 to embrace the new infrastructure and the tourism opportunities they hope it will bring. (W Network – 7 p.m.)
“(Bob Newhart) had that beautiful old inn (in the 1980s series Newhart). Ours is a little more modern. says Shaun
“But no, I actually have no desire to be Newhart. I want to be Fawlty Towers. That’s really where it’s at.”
Of course, Newhart and Fawlty Towers were scripted sitcoms. Majumder Manor– which debuts Jan. 7 on W– actually is hard to pigeon-hole when it comes to genre.
It’s part documentary, but it certainly isn’t boring and, in fact, is quite funny.
It’s also part reality series, but as Majumder puts it, “It’s real, it’s more real than reality. It’s too real to be reality TV.”
Majumder is well-known on US TV for his dramatic roles on series such as 24, The Firm and Detroit 1-8- 7.
With rural Newfoundland towns struggling economically, it long has been Majumder’s dream to build a five-star, eco-friendly inn in Burlington. The idea is to provide lodging and restaurant options for tourists attracted to the area because of its intense beauty, and to revitalize –or as Majumder says, “vitalize, is that a word?”–the community.
Majumder Manor chronicles his efforts in this regard, as he interacts with the home-town people he has known his entire life. And fortuitously, Majumder’s fiancee Shelby Fenner, a true California girl, is on hand to provide built-in cultural comparisons.
During a recent interview with Majumder and Fenner, the former turned to the latter and said, “Shelby, how would you describe the food when you first went there (to Burlington)? Honestly, no filter.”
“Salt,” Fenner replied flatly, “They had to salt everything historically to preserve it. But they need to evolve beyond that, with things like a greenhouse so we can have fresh vegetables all year.”
Majumder added, “So the greenhouse she’s talking about is an evolution of the project, it’s one of the pieces of infrastructure that we’re putting there to kind of foster community support.
“We don’t want to turn Burlington into Las Vegas. I’m not coming back from afar, building a nice lodge, doing a TV show and then walking away.”
That was the initial reaction from some Burlington townsfolk, as seen in the first episode of Majumder Manor.
“This always has been a project with a 20-year plan in many ways,” Majumder said. “The TV show just happens to be catching the very beginning of it.”
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