Geminis too Toronto-centric by Alex Strachan
Dec 11, 2004
Source : Vancouver Sun
Awards don't do their job: creating a Canadian star system
Ask any Gemini expert and they'll tell you: CBC's Human Cargo, with a field-leading 17 nominations heading into this weekend's 19th Annual Gemini Awards, is the closest thing to a Gemini lock since Anne of Green Gables snagged the inaugural prize for dramatic miniseries at the first Geminis in 1986.
Then again, good luck finding a Gemini expert -- especially one outside the Toronto orbit of publicly subsidized production companies and self-important cultural critics.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem.
The Geminis were originally established to recognize the best in Canadian English-language television production, but their real reason for being is to nurture a homegrown star system.
Few viewers are likely to be on the edge of their seats over whether Me, My House and I will top Stylin' Gypsies II or The Surreal Gourmet: Season 3 for best practical-information series, or whether the CBC News Disclosure segment "Dead Silence" will edge the CBC News Sunday segment "Guantanamo" for best news-magazine segment.
Those are just two of some 85-odd award categories, not to mention a brace of additional special awards, including the Viewers' Choice Award -- an opportunity for you to have your own say -- that will be handed out over a three-day period. (Thankfully, the two-hour televised portion of the event will be limited to just 15 categories, including dramatic series, comedy program and, in the interest of fairness and to give viewers a stake in their own program, the Viewers' Choice Award.)
The bigger question of whether Canadian television will ever be able to mount a credible alternative to the slick production machine of the Hollywood studios lies in establishing our own star system.
Gemini winners are chosen by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, a national, non-profit association created in 1979 to promote and support Canada's fragile film and television industry. That's the intent. The hope, however, is that Canadians will tune in, sit up and take notice of the talent in our own country -- and that means familiar faces, even though some of them may appear in unfamiliar shows.
That's why the list of attendees will be of more interest to viewers than whether Gavin Crawford in The Gavin Crawford Show wins the Gemini over Gavin Crawford in This Hour Has 22 Minutes, in the tongue-twisting category of individual performance in a comedy program or series.
This year's roster of presenters and attendees includes Paul Gross, Sonja Smits, Ben Mulroney, Kalan Porter, Scott Thompson and Brent Butt -- familiar faces to anyone with a working TV set.
And the year's list of nominations reflects a growing maturity and deepening of quality in Canada's still-developing TV industry, despite the usual raised eyebrows and hand-wringing over curious omissions. (How is it possible, for example, that This is Wonderland can lead all series with 15 nominations, but be overlooked for best drama?)
And the inclusion of a laboured, amateurish miniseries such as Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion in the miniseries nominations, coupled with no fewer than five nominations for the rote, obvious Open Heart, including nods for best writing and made-for-TV movie -- this, for a film notable only for Megan Follows's sensational performance -- suggest there is room for further growth.
Then again, if the Geminis weren't consistently inconsistent, they wouldn't be a real awards show.
The Geminis continue to favour earnest fare over populist programs -- fair enough -- but the lingering perception that programs made within the CBC/Toronto production orbit have an unfair advantage is more troubling. Judging from past results, the three most important programs on Canadian television today -- Corner Gas, Trailer Park Boys and Da Vinci's Inquest -- could easily be overlooked when the awards are handed out in Monday's major categories. And that would be a shame.
Human Cargo was filmed in B.C. and in South Africa, and the perennial comedy winner, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, is based in Halifax.
The key decisions, however -- and most of the award winners -- are still based in Toronto. And that's a problem. Not insurmountable, perhaps, but a problem just the same. The country is bigger than Toronto, and it's time the Geminis reflected that.
TV Movie or Dramatic Miniseries
Cowboys and Indians: The Killing of J.J. Harper
The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie
Da Vinci's Inquest
The Eleventh Hour
The Shields Stories
Slings & Arrows
Snakes & Ladders
Puppets Who Kill
The Red Green Show
This Hour Has 22 Minutes
Trailer Park Boys
Donald Brittain Award for Social/Political Documentary
CBC News Sunday -- Deadline Iraq: Uncensored Stories of the War
Dying at Grace
Dying to Be Free: Zimbabwe's Struggle for Change
The Man Who Could Be King
Direction in a Dramatic Program
Norma Bailey, Cowboys and Indians: The Killing of J.J. Harper
Bruce Pittman, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion
Brad Turner, Human Cargo
Anne Wheeler, The Investigation
Writing in a Dramatic program
Brian McKeown, Linda Svenson, Human Cargo
Andrew Rai Berzins, Roland Rhodes, Cowboys and Indians: The Killing of J.J. Harper
Raymond Story, Open Heart
Best Actor in a Lead Role, Dramatic Program
Bayo Akinfemi, Human Cargo
Nicholas Campbell, Human Cargo
Brent Carver, Elizabeth Rex
Nicholas Lea, The Investigation
Vincent Walsh, Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion
Best Actress in a Lead Role,
Dramatic Program or Miniseries
Diane D'Aquila, Elizabeth Rex
Megan Follows, Open Heart
Kate Nelligan, Human Cargo
Best Actor in a Continuing
Lead Role, Dramatic Series
Nicholas Campbell, Da Vinci's Inquest
Shawn Doyle, The Eleventh Hour
Paul Gross, Slings & Arrows
Michael Riley, This is Wonderland
Jeff Seymour, The Eleventh Hour
Best Actress in a Continuing
Lead Role, Dramatic Series
Martha Burns, Slings & Arrows
Catherine Disher, Snakes & Ladders
Cara Pifko, This is Wonderland
Waneta Storms, The Eleventh Hour
Tracy Waterhouse, Blue Murder
in a Comedy Program
Gavin Crawford, The Gavin Crawford Show
Gavin Crawford, This Hour Has 22 Minutes
Roman Danylo, Comedy Inc.
Shaun Majumder, Comedy from the Coast
Russell Peters, Comedy Now!
in a Comedy Program
Brent Butt, Lorne Cardinal, Fred Ewanuick, Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Janet Wright in Corner Gas
Rick Mercer, Peter Keleghan, Dan Lett, Leah Pinsent, Jackie Torrens in Made in Canada
Paul O'Sullivan, Debra McGrath, Lisa Merchant, Rebecca Northan, Peter Oldring in The Joe Blow Show
John Paul Tremblay, Cory Bowles, Lucy Decoutere, Barrie Dunn, John Dunsworth, Sarah Dunsworth, Jeanna Harrison-Steinhart, Michael Jackson, Tyrone Parsons, Mike Smith, Pat Roach, Shelley Thompson, Jonathan Torrens, Robb Wells in Trailer Park Boys
Mary Walsh, Mark Critch, Cathy Jones, Shaun Majumder, Greg Thomey in This Hour Has 22 Minutes
Host or Interviewer
in a Sports Program
James Duthie, NHL on TSN
Tom Harrington, Sports Journal
Ron MacLean, Hockey Day in Canada
Josette D. Normandeau, Deadly Arts
Scott Russell, 2003 World Road Cycling Championships
Viewers' Choice Award
Marilyn Denis, CityLine with Marilyn Dennis
Mike Holmes, Holmes on Homes
Pat Mastroianni, Music Works
Ben Mulroney, etalk Daily
Seamus O'Regan, Canada AM
Candice Olson, Divine Design with Candice Olson
Sarah Richardson, Room Service
Maria Shapiro, Balance Television for Living Well
Natasha Stillwell, Daily Planet
Debbie Travis, Debbie Travis' Facelift