Jen at 10

DAVE 'CRASH' CAMERON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 4:02 PM ET

Move over, Darren Dutchyshen. There's a new diva in the house.

"Oh, yes. I said I want my own dressing room, I want my own makeup artist, a catered meal every night at 8 o'clock and I want my steak rare," said Jennifer Hedger, explaining in her best J-Lo voice how she demanded the prime-time spot on TSN's SportsCentre next to the one-time Edmonton sportscaster.

(For TSN, the "prime time" numbers are mostly generated in the lower Ontario region, which is the 10 p.m. time slot. SportsCentre airs in Edmonton at 8 p.m.)

Actually, our Jen was laughing. Something she does naturally and frequently.

"No, there's no room for egos around there. I'm working with Dutch - he's got ego enough for both of us!

There's a price to be paid, though. To Hedger.

"Obviously there's a multimillion-dollar deal (in order to) to sit beside the Saskatchewan boy, the Prairie boy," again laughed the London, Ont., native.

She starts Monday. This could prove to be the best on-air duo since Abbott and Costello. Or, at least, Elvis and Costello.

"I watched Dutch before I was in this business. I'm looking forward to working with (him). He's a hoot!"

One of the reasons these two are a pick to click is because they are both relative small-towners thriving in the Centre of the Universe.

Dutchyshen from Drink-and-Fish, Saskatchewan via We've-Got-the-Oilers, Alberta. Hedger from laidback London.

"It was incredibly scary moving to Toronto. Toronto was the big bad city.

"When I left London (five years ago) it was about 350,00 people ... Downtown Toronto, (there's about 350,000 people) in my condo!

"I was nervous. I thought, 'All these people are so much cooler than I am.' They dress so neat. They pay five bucks for a coffee every morning.

"It's so fast-paced. The restaurants have all these exotic things on the menu. For me, The Keg was going out for a big dinner."

"I thought, 'I'm never, ever going to be comfortable here.' But I love it now. All the preconceived notions I had about the city quickly dissipated.

"I still am that girl from London. I just drive a faster car now! And I pay a ridiculous amount of money for rent."

THE START: A stint on the world's least-watched reality show, Lofters, at least got her known to media industry people. Then she had a stint on the world's least-watched sports network, WTSN.

"It was great. I hosted more of an Off the Record kind of show. It was great because it was all women that we were working with and I had lots of opportunities to be on-air. I could learn as I went along and at the same time do some reporting for TSN."

As for Lofters: "That was a necessary stepping stone for where I am today, but I don't think I'll be going back to any sort of reunion show."

No Lofters All-Stars, then, Jen?

"I don't think there were enough Lofters to be all-stars, was there?"

GOT GAME: While her on-air ease was apparent from the get-go, Jennifer was more than part of the hire-a-pretty-face program in sports broadcasting.

"I've been a sports fan all my life. I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster.

"I really don't think you can survive in this business and not, first of all, know your stuff, and secondly, really be passionate about our sports.

"Your audience is pretty savvy as far as whether someone is faking it or not."

HIGHER PROFILE: Is there a worry that her creepy-stalker quotient will rise now that she's prime time?

"I hope so! Gosh, I mean, that's why I got into this job.

"I never really thought about that," she said as the that's-not-really-funny laughter died down. "I get a lot of nice e-mail.

"But I get a few marriage proposals and get asked out on dates and people send me their photos."

So, I should be listing your unlisted phone number at the bottom of this page?

"Yeah, that'd be great," Jennifer said with a covering-up-the-truth laugh.

"My phone number, any personal information so I can be contacted directly by strangers, that'd be great.

"Maybe we'll flash it on the screen at the end of SportsCentre."

Maybe not.

THE TOURIST: Jen got her first taste of 40-below-and-off-to-the-rodeo on a recent trip through the Big E, meeting her boyfriend's relatives on their way to B.C. (Did I mention the boyfriend? Sorry, guys.)

"I was cold for about six days when I came back!

"I saw the stadium. I saw where Wayne Gretzky used to live. I got the grand tour!

"I had some Alberta beef and I drove a 4x4 down the Number 2. I had the Alberta experience!"


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