This year’s Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award winners will be announced on April 22. We’ve been catching up with many of the writers nominated in the comedy and drama categories. Denis McGrath was nominated for his episode of Less Than Kind, “Danger, Wrestling.”
Can you describe the episode “Danger, Wrestling” and how it fit into the Less Than Kind season?
It’s actually part of the “lost” 3rd season. As most people know, our beloved Sam Blecher, the great Maury Chaykin, passed away while we were writing Season 3. I wrote the first draft of “Danger, Wrestling” with a B-Plot featuring Sam. That had to be rewritten by the room eventually — and by that point I was on another show. I went with my draft, which had some elegiac stuff with Sam that obviously, we weren’t able to use.
Other than that there’s fun stuff of Josh auditioning talent for his acting school — and Sheldon discovers the joys of wrestling.
What was the biggest triumph in this particular episode?
Well there’s two answers to that. Obviously for the show, the fact that they rallied and got the whole season made as a tribute to Maury and wound up with a beautiful exploration of how a family moves through grief — that’s so much greater than any individual contribution, and a testimony to the talent of Mark McKinney, the creators Marvin (Kaye) & Chris (Sheasgreen), and the team they put together.
But personally? I don’t write a lot of comedy … I’m mostly a drama writer. When I was considering whether to enter the script — I have to thank Karen Hill for that — I reread it for the first time in two years and really laughed. There’s a wonderful subplot about Sam tracing the ups and downs of a piece of stock — and him coming to terms with selling it (for the same amount he bought it for 30 years ago) — but it’s really about him coming to terms with feeling his sons will be okay without him. I’d like to think that my strength as a drama writer is a light touch, and as a comedy writer, I go for the big cry. That’s a little messed up, isn’t it?
What does this recognition mean to you?
So much. I love LTK. It’s employed some of my best friends. Working on the show brought my fiancee and I together. I came from a family that yelled, with love … so I recognize those characters. I’ve had an incredibly lucky career and after winning a WGC Award for writing a drama show, it’s humbling and exciting to get nominated for comedy. And it’s a recognition by my writer peers, and that is incredibly important to me.
If there is one Canadian show that is no longer on the air that you could see honoured at this year’s awards, what would it be? (If you have a specific episode, even better).
For the love of God, why has CBC not done a Street Legal reunion/reboot movie? I miss Chuck and Olivia. I can’t be alone on that one. But the truth is — they ALL should be honoured. From Wojeck to DaVinci to Intelligence to the first 30 years of Citytv we have made, and continued to make, wonderful TV in Canada. I think it’s sad that we only note that when the New York Times or some American publication says so.
There are such strong nominees this year. So many great scripts. I am so jazzed to be among that talent. Maybe I can make a go of this writing thing.
Less Than Kind is entering into its fourth and final season on The Movie Network/Movie Central in 2013.