Tag Archives: Writer’s Guild of Canada

Denis McGrath on his WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination for Less Than Kind

DenisMcGrathThis 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. 

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Esta Spalding on her WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination for Saving Hope

Esta SpaldingThis 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. Saving Hope‘s Esta Spalding was nominated for her episode “Bea, Again”.

Can you describe the episode “Bea, Again” and how it fit into the Saving Hope season?

The episode “Bea, Again” was the episode of Saving Hope that came after the three week break the series had taken so that CTV could air the Olympics.  Right before the break, in episode 8, there was a very big cliffhanger:  Charlie (a lead character who has been in a coma since the first episode and has been walking around the hospital as a ghost) is unplugged from life support.  Alex, his fiancee, is devastated.  In my episode, Charlie has to survive this process.  The plug is pulled in episode 8, but he needs to be hanging between life and death and only declared alive at the end of episode 9.  Now, in real life, once the plug is pulled you either live or die.  So the challenge was to make that process last for a TV-hour without having it last for an actual hour.  I also knew that dramatically Alex needed to be with Charlie, at his bedside, but that the show’s mandate was for her to have a high-stakes medical case each week. How could I do both things?  It was such a strange, challenging crossword puzzle.  Maybe because of my background as a poet, I found all of the limitations really energizing and I came up with a very fun structure and story.

What does this recognition mean to you?

This recognition means so much to me.  There’s no higher honor than to be honored by your peers — your fellow writers in the trenches. I am thrilled to have been nominated.

If there was one Canadian show that is no longer on the air that you could see honored at this year’s awards, what would it be? (If you have a specific episode, even better).

I’ve been watching Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom show on HBO and thinking how much better Semi Chellas’s Eleventh Hour was.  There was always great critical acclaim for that show, but I wish that show had found a larger audience while it was on the air.  It’s a show I’d still be happy to be writing for, all these years later.

Saving Hope season one airs Saturday nights on CTV Two. Season two is slated to air this summer.

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Continuum’s Simon Barry on his WGC Screenwriting Award Nomination

SimonBarry

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. First up, Continuum‘s Simon Barry, nominated for his episode “End Times.”

Can you describe the episode “End Times” and how it fit into the Continuum season?

“End Times” brings together many of the threads we set up in season one and resolves them while also setting up new questions and threads that carry over into season two. It also sets up some new characters and some new dynamics for established characters.

What was the biggest triumph in this particular episode?

I’m not sure there was anything worthy of the description “triumph.” I could say that one of the goals was to find the balance between a satisfying finale and an intriguing tease. I think we accomplished that goal and challenged ourselves to make an entertaining episode.

What does this recognition mean to you?

It’s great to be recognized by fellow writers who appreciate how difficult it is to get ideas from your imagination onto the page and then on screen intact. It’s great that a new show has found support in the first year and I hope we can live up to the expectations of the audience and my fellow Guild brothers and sisters.

If there was 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).

SCTV – one of my favorite all time shows. The episode where they parodied Ingmar Bergman was sublime brilliance.

Continuum is currently in production on season two, which will premiere on Showcase on April 21, 2013.

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