Everything about Awards, eh?

Top 5 reasons to be optimistic about Canadian TV

The days are getting longer, but they’re still pretty damn short. Spring with its warmer weather feels like a distant mirage. And there’s always something to complain about in Canadian television. But there are some hopeful signs this winter season:

  1. CBC is out of the gate this winter with fine ratings. Phew. Their newcomers Schitt’s Creek and The Book of Negroes found an audience, while returning favourites like Murdoch Mysteries continue to earn lots of eyeballs.
  2. Funny ha ha. City has launched two delightfully off-centre comedies in Sunnyside and Young Drunk Punk, and with them and CBC we now have a nice complement of the Canadian comedy old guard on our screens (Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Bruce McCulloch) without simply trying to recreate the good old days.
  3. Please sir, can we have some more? Global’s got Remedy, the possibly-in-its-last-season Rookie Blue and … ummm … not a lot else coming up for original series. So they must have an announcement coming sometime soon about what else is up their sleeve. Right?
  4. 101 nights of awards. OK, the Canadian Screen Awards have only four nights of awards, but now that sounds like nothing right? What better than the recently announced nominations to keep us chatting through the winter about who was snubbed, why there’s a separate category for Best International Drama that doesn’t include any international dramas that aren’t Canadian, and why Tatiana Maslany wasn’t just nominated for all five slots under best actress in a drama. The broadcast on March 1 will be hosted by Andrea Martin — another Canadian comedy legend — or at least they will be if she shows up this time.
  5. Jay Baruchel knows how to fix Canadian comedy. He says give CBC more money (yes!) and get rid of the old boys club who “regardless of the quality” keep getting jobs. It’s an uncomfortable position for me, defending old guys, but I’m not entirely sure who he means, or who we can blame when relative newcomers’ shows tank. Canadian TV executives or marketers? Maybe, but I’m not sure how many of them have successful original programming in their job performance plans, and many of them are not boys. Still, it can only help when a homegrown celebrity is passionate about improving our homegrown industry. I mean, it might be better if he wasn’t getting lauded for starring in an American show while advocating for Canadian content, but baby steps.

Comments and queries for the week of Jan. 16

Readers were positively chatty this past week, with comments about Schitt’s Creek (an early ratings winner for CBC), the latest development news out of Canada that includes one TV series based on Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike and another on Nora Roberts’ book trilogy with former Lost Girl showrunner Emily Andras. Veteran TV writer Denis McGrath explained the nuances that go into what is considered a Canadian series when it comes to the Canadian Screen Awards nominations and some Bryan Baeumler fans voiced their opinions his latest show.

I loved that Schitt’s Creek didn’t feature an annoying laugh track. The giggles and belly laughs were coming out of me last night! Hilarious! Excellent! Love it! Hope they show two episodes in a row every week. Can’t get enough.—Karen

I like historical dramas, so The Last Spike sounds good to me. Also, Black Magick sounds good too. Pacific Spirit is something I’m really excited for.—Alicia

The determination was made that the Best Series category should be driven by and open to those shows where the primary creative personnel are Canadians. This would normally be the producer, the writer/showrunner, if there is a directing producer, i.e.: where was the show conceived and primarily developed? These shows would include made in Canada fare like 19-2, Flashpoint, Continuum, Motive, Orphan Black.

Series that have Canadian involvement at the industrial or craft level but whose writers, directors, and key decisionmaking come from elsewhere are eligible for the Best International Series Award, recognizing their unique position as pulling from labour and crews and artists from all over the world. In this way, the division is modeled after a similar split at the BAFTA Awards (the British Film & TV Awards). They basically do the same thing.

It’s easy to get confused because when people come in with money sometimes it’s said that they’re a “co-production.” That can mean maybe a U.S. or American channel gave money to the show, or bought presale or whatever.

But there’s a separate, legal defined term called a “treaty co-production” — which are governed by treaties Canada has with a number of countries. These treaty co-productions under the terms of the treaty count for 100% 10/10 content for the purposes of the Canadian broadcaster … but they might actually also include shows that are actually “Minority co-productions,” i.e.: where Canada as the partner has the lesser of the investment, and in these cases most often most of the primary creative decision making (showrunner, lead writer, directors, stars) is made outside of Canada.

So … sometimes a show like Orphan Black is called a “co-production” because it has a financial partner — but if you look at the production it’s actually legitimately 10/10 Canadian because the writing staff, the producers, etc., are Canadian.

And sometimes a show like The Borgias can be “deemed” under the international co-production treaty as being “10/10 Canadian” for the broadcaster, though when you look at it further, most of the creative decisionmaking isn’t made here. In cases like this, as per the way the BAFTAS do it, it can compete for International Series but not Best Series.

Once you get beyond the series level to the craft categories, none of that matters … and all craft categories are treated similarly. So you can have Costume Design or Sound or Editing on Orphan Black compete against the same artists working on The Borgias, so long as that work was done by a Canadian as the Canadian part of the international treaty co-production.—Denis

Glad someone posted something about Sarah Baeumler. I am finding it difficult to watch her. Perhaps it’s the editing, but she comes across as entitled. A $20,000 custom imported monster of a stove, and now she “will learn how to cook”? All we ever hear is how they need a big kitchen and space for all the family entertaining they do. I am more interested in the nuts and bolts of this construction, and the real obstacles people encounter in a major reno. That is why all his other programs have done so well. He’s funny and educational without being demeaning.—Mary

Sarah may be annoying, but she allows Bryan to shine and use his wit. Let’s worry about worse things.—Bob


Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? greg@tv-eh.com or head to @tv_eh.

Andrea Martin named as host of 2015 Canadian Screen Awards

From a media release:

Andrea Martin to host Academy’s 2015 Canadian Screen Awards

Andrea Martin will host the Academy’s 2015 Canadian Screen Awards, broadcast live on CBC prime time on Sunday March 1, 2015, it was announced today by Helga Stephenson, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. www.academy.ca

“Andrea Martin is the perfect host as we move into the gorgeous Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts,” says Stephenson.

Stage and screen star Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) previously hosted the Academy’s former Gemini Awards on CBC in 1986 and 1987 to rave reviews.

“I’m thrilled to be hosting the CSAs,” said Ms. Martin, “especially since the film and television awards have converged on one special night. It gives Canadians everywhere, more time to figure out what’s happening on ORPHAN BLACK.”

“Andrea Martin is an unrivalled comedian,” says Jennifer Dettman, CBC Executive Director of Studio and Unscripted Content. “We are honoured to welcome her back to the CBC to host the live 2 hour 2015 Canadian Screen Awards,” she added.

Andrea Martin’s incomparable list of credits – both on stage and screen – was celebrated once again when she won the Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics, and Eliot Norton award for Best Featured actress in a musical, for her show-stopping performance as Berthe, in the 2013 revival of “Pippin”. Martin followed this up with receiving the Outer Critics Outstanding Featured Actress Award in the James Lapine adaptation of Moss Hart’s Act One . Previous theatre work includes both Drama Desk and Outer Critics Award nominations for her role as Juliette, opposite Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon, in the Broadway production of “Exit the King”. Other Broadway credits include, Frau Blucher in Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein” (Tony, Drama Desk nomination), and her Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics nominated performances as Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma”, and the Old Lady in “Candide”, as well as “My Favorite Year” at the Lincoln Center for which she won her first Tony Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards.

Andrea Martin received two Emmy awards for writing and an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a variety series for her work on the legendary sketch comedy show, SCTV. Martin received a special Emmy for her contributions on Sesame Street as well. Martin’s Television work includes: NURSE JACKIE; 30 ROCK; and her own special for ShowTime, ANDREA MARTIN, TOGETHER AGAIN. Martin tours North America with her one-person show entitled, “Final Days! Everything Must Go!!” and starred in the NBC/Shaw series WORKING THE ENGELS.

Andrea Martin’s film appearances include Club Paradise, Wag the Dog, The Producers, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, All Over the Guy, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (SAG award nomination, best ensemble and People’s Choice award). Martin will be seen this Christmas opposite Ben Stiller, in Night at the Museum 3 movie.

Link: Paul Gross honoured by Canadian Screen Awards

From The Globe and Mail:

Actor Paul Gross, documentary filmmaker Ric Esther Bienstock and TSN personality Michael Landsberg are among six honourees set to be recognized at next year’s Canadian Screen Awards.

“Due South” and “Slings & Arrows” star Gross will receive the Earle Grey Award, given to an actor or actress for a body of work in Canadian TV.

“Rookie Blue” producer Tassie Cameron will receive the Margaret Collier Award for a written body of work in TV, GlassBOX founder Jeffrey Elliott will claim the Digital Media Trailblazing Award and Landsberg will be honoured for his humanitarian work. Continue reading.

Link: Rick Mercer and Jann Arden set to host CCMAs

From Bill Harris of QMI Agency:

Rick Mercer excited to co-host CCMAs with Jann Arden
“You know, I have a file on my computer of song ideas that I’ve sent to Jann Arden and she refuses to read. Every single time I’ve spent time with Jann Arden (for segments on Rick Mercer Report or otherwise), I’ve suggested, ‘Hey, you and I should write a song together,’ and she quickly changes the subject. That is not an exaggeration.” Continue reading.