How They Met: Catherine Reitman and Philip Sternberg, of CBC’s Workin’ Moms, on and off-camera lovebirds
Philip Sternberg and Catherine Reitman call Yonge and Lawrence home
Image: Matt Barnes
Catherine Reitman and Philip Sternberg are the team behind CBC’s new sitcom Workin’ Moms, premiering Jan. 10. The duo also star in the series — as a married couple, of course. Aside from their onscreen duties, Sternberg is an executive producer on the show, and Reitman is the showrunner, creator and co-producer. Here they dish on how they met, married and made it all work while balancing two busy careers.
How they met
Catherine: I was picking up a paycheque for my friend after an audition when I first saw Philip. I was dressed ridiculously, in short shorts, with two braids, for a role that I absolutely was wrong for and didn’t get. Philip handed me the cheque and there was clear electricity between us. We didn’t exchange numbers. We just smiled and knew that something was happening. Three months later, we ran into each other at an event. Philip told me there was no way I was walking out of his life again.
The first date
Philip: We went to the cast and crew screening of Knocked Up.
Catherine: I remember feeling deeply embarrassed about him seeing me act. When my back first appeared on screen, Philip leaned into me and whispered: “Now that’s a nice neck.”
Philip: We moved faster than either of us had ever experienced in previous relationships. We were saying “I love you” within the first month and were engaged by six months. We just knew.
Catherine: I remember visiting Philip’s apartment for the first time. This confident man all of a sudden appeared so nervous. He lived in this dirty studio apartment in a dangerous part of town. I was taking the tour of his place when I stopped dead in my tracks. The man had an artsy mirror at the head of his bed. I looked at him and he turned beet red: “It’s not what you think.… It’s an antique.”
Catherine: Philip is, hands down, the most brilliant producer I’ve ever worked with, and so his proposal was very well-planned. We were driving down to San Diego from L.A. for the weekend. I was starving and in a terrible mood for the entire drive. Little did I know what secret Philip was sitting on. I begged him to stop for fast food, but he said he had something planned. Did he ever. When we arrived, he pulled a picnic out. It was all of my favourite cheeses and cured meats. I dove in like an animal, while he sat and watched me nervously. A storm was rolling in, and he began to panic. He asked me to take a walk with him. I was crushed: “But we just started eating!” I took that walk and we approached a cliff. He asked me to walk over the fencing onto the cliff’s edge. It hit me all of a sudden: this man was either going to propose … or murder me. I took the risk. He pointed to a nearby beach. It was hard to see through the storm, but there, in the sand, he had written out “Will You Marry Me?” in painted white seashells and long-stemmed roses. He dropped to his knee, and I took the crappy flea market ring off my ring finger and threw it into the sea. Saying yes to him was the smartest move I’ve ever made.
Catherine: We were married in Santa Barbara, Calif., at my parents’ home the following year. We honeymooned in Italy and managed to each gain 20 pounds. Worth. It.
Philip: We live in the Lawrence and Yonge neighbourhood and love it! It is very family-friendly and has such great restaurants and shops in walking distance.
Catherine: We have two boys. Jackson is three, and Liam is six months old.
Balancing work and marriage
Philip: I don’t know. This remains one of the harder challenges for us. We are producing partners for the first time on a new TV series called Workin’ Moms for CBC. Plus Catherine is the showrunner, stars in it and directs two of the 13 episodes. We try to take these moments whenever we can. Naptime on the weekends has become our favourite minutes of the day.
Catherine: As we work together and have very young children, taking the time to just be together is extremely difficult. What always floors us is how just taking a small moment to connect can make such a difference.