A jet-set journalist leads a double life: documenting true stories of crime and intrigue by day, and writing romantic Christmas TV movies and sinister mysteries by night. It may seem far-fetched, but for Andrea Canning, it’s just another day of the week.
“Dateline” correspondent Canning celebrates her 10th anniversary next month with the longtime NBC newsmagazine, which premieres its 31st season Friday at 9 p.m.
“I can’t believe how fast it happened,” Canning says of her decade with the show. “It’s amazing, the reach of ‘Dateline’.”
But in addition to her “dateline” duties, the 49-year-old Canada native has a stint as a writer for Lifetime and Hallmark Channel films. Canning’s many writing credits include “Galentine’s Day Nightmare,” “Til Ex Do Us Part,” and the 2020 film “USS Christmas,” which Hallmark describes as about a journalist who “boards a Tiger cruise during Christmas time where she meets a handsome naval officer and stumbles upon a mystery in the ship’s records room.
Canning, 49, says the “handsome Navy officer” was loosely based on her husband, Tony Bancroft, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot. She is also a mother of five daughters and a son.
ITK needed to know more about this Jane-of-all-trades – and we didn’t even mention the part where she talked about an internship on “Baywatch” – so we asked her to answer those questions.
Hometown: Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada.
College attended: University of Western Ontario and Ryerson University
What did you want to be when you were a kid? : I wanted to get into advertising. I wanted to do advertising campaigns, like jingles and logos.
Full disclosure, I couldn’t stand the news as a kid. We had almost no channels in the small town where I lived, and the news came in at 6 o’clock, and I was always so annoyed when the news came in. I had no idea how my life would change from there.
My family owned a ski resort and I followed our ad agency. And they took me to a TV commercial, and I was like, ‘TV sounds really fun.’ Then I went to Los Angeles and worked for “Baywatch”.
What does a Baywatch intern do? : Since I was working in David Hasselhoff’s office, it was very David-centric. It was like, “Go get David’s birthday cake.” Go get that card signed for Pamela Anderson by the cast. It’s hard to say what I did because every day was completely different.
[Hasselhoff’s family] asked me to move in with them after [the internship] and be their nanny and personal assistant. So I did that for a while before I left and got a full time job at “Extra”.
Favorite hobby: I write scripts for Hallmark and Lifetime.
I have a lot of down time. I travel a lot for “Dateline”, so there is a lot of time on planes. After a while, you’ve done enough research to say, well, I can either watch these movies on my computer on the plane or start writing them. I just felt like it was something I could do. So I started cold emailing producers and found one who was willing to help me and just taught me how to write scripts.
Does your work at “Dateline” influence the writing of your screenplay? : Yeah, in some ways. I mean, not rom-coms, obviously, because that’s counter-intuitive to “Dateline.”
Just being entrenched in mysteries at work all the time definitely helps writing thrillers and mysteries because you’re constantly there. Clues swirl around me, mysterious stories and police interviews – so worlds definitely collide.
Greatest Achievement: Have my six children [Anna, 13; Charlie, 12; Kiki, 10; Georgia, 8; Elle, 7; and Tripp, 3]. There is nothing more important in this world than them.
The most embarrassing moment: There was a time when I was in the local news [around 1998]and the teleprompter went off as I got wet.
It was the biggest disaster, and it was the first time I was rooted in this market and it was my native region. Apparently, there was a phone chain going around, like, “Oh my god, Andrea is so screwed up right now.” People called each other, like.
Pets: We have a mini goldendoodle named Topaz. We have two rescue cats named Binky and Baba, brother and sister. We have a lizard named Tickles. And we have hermit crabs.
Guilty pleasure: Purchases. When you’re on TV, you’re constantly thinking, “I was just wearing this. I need something new!
I am happiest when: When I’m with my family, of course. When we are all together. We just did this kind of glorified camping trip, maybe it felt like a tiny step above glamping.
I was just in heaven just all together, because at this point in life your kids are hanging out with their friends and flying away, and we don’t see them as much. So when we’re all together, it’s like happiness.