CBC, CTV share Gemini honours
TORONTO (CP) – The Eleventh Hour, a program already cancelled by CTV after its third season of low ratings, won the 2005 Gemini Award as Canada’s best dramatic series.
Michael Riley and Cara Pifko of CBC’s legal drama This Is Wonderland were named best drama series actor and actress.
The results were announced Saturday night at a black-tie gala, the finale of three successive nights of Gemini events marking the award’s 20th anniversary.
“I believe that’s why they invented the word bittersweet,” said Eleventh Hour producer Peter Simpson, who was reluctant to blame the network for the show’s cancellation.
“In terms of audience, we were on life support for a long time.”
Simpson said they just couldn’t hustle the ratings.
“We were very proud of our quality, the problem was we didn’t know how to whore ourselves enough to get the numbers.”
The Gemini telecast, airing for the first time on Global TV, got off to a rocky technical start but soon picked up steam with a sketch that featured a wide variety of Canadian TV entertainers past and present, from 8-year-old kids’ show host Daniel Cook to veteran comic Dave Broadfoot, who turns 80 in a few weeks.
Best dramatic miniseries was CBC’s Sex Traffic, an intense story about the modern-day international slave market. Nominated for 14 Geminis, it won seven.
In comedy, CTV’s runaway hit sitcom Corner Gas was voted the best, although the Brent Butt series was not nominated in other key categories. Conversely, that other popular comedy, Showcase’s Trailer Park Boys, was not nominated in the best comedy series category this year but won for best ensemble performance.
Best lead actor in a dramatic program or miniseries was Brendan Fletcher for his chilling performance as a psycho killer in The Death and Life of Nancy Eaton. It was his second win out of four nominations. Kristen Thomson won best actress in a drama or miniseries for CBC’s I, Claudius.
“My mom is going to be so happy,” said Fletcher, 23, who confessed he was so nervous he forgot to go to the washroom.
“Can you say holy crap on TV?” blurted an excited Pifko in accepting her statue.
The Eleventh Hour, which dealt with life behind the scenes at a fictional TV newsmagazine show, went into the Gemini weekend with a leading 15 nominations. On Friday, it won four other awards, for best direction (David Wellington), writing (Semi Chellas and Tassie Cameron), makeup (Marilyn O’Quinn) and guest actor (Henry Czerny).
In a departure from tradition, Global’s Kevin Newman – who already has two Emmys – won the best news anchor Gemini, although Global News did not win in the best newscast category at Thursday’s non-televised gala.
“I want to thank you for giving me the Peter Mansbridge award,” he said, referring to the usual winner in that category.
“We are blessed in this country with three fabulous newsrooms,” the former ABC-TV newsman said. “Canadians have a good choice in this country. I think we should be very proud of that.”
Newman called Global National a “small guerrilla team” that works hard to be worth viewers’ support.
The nod for best writing in a comedy or variety show went to Ken Finkleman for The Newsroom on CBC while best drama program or miniseries writing went to Alan DiFiore and Chris Haddock for CTV’s gritty street crime drama The Life.
“The best thing about writing is you don’t have to thank anyone,” is all the droll Finkleman said in accepting his award.
Best sports host or interviewer honours went to Scott Russell of CBC Sports Saturday and the Gemini Viewers’ Choice award went to Marilyn Denis of Cityline on CHUM’s Toronto-based Citytv.
Denis conceded she felt like the Susan Lucci of Canadian TV, a reference to the much-nominated U.S. soap actress. Denis was nominated five times in the past but this was her first win.
“I’m so happy for our show,” she declared, noting she had been doing it for 17 years.
Here are some of the key winners at the 2005 Gemini Awards:
Best Dramatic Mini-Series
(Big Motion Pictures Ltd., Granada Television, in association with the CBC)
Wayne Grigsby, Michele Buck, David MacLeod, Derek Wax
Best Dramatic Series
The Eleventh Hour
(Norstar Filmed Entertainment)
Ilana Frank, Semi Chellas, Daphne Park, Ray Sager, Peter Simpson, David Wellington
Best Comedy Program or Series
(Prairie Pants Productions II Inc)
Brent Butt, Mark Farrell, Paul Mather, David Storey, Virginia Thompson
Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program
(ASLI Films Inc.)
Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Chris Abraham – I, Claudia
Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Alan DiFiore, Chris Haddock – The Life
Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series
Ken Finkleman – The Newsroom Season III – Baghdad Bound
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Brendan Fletcher – The Death and Life of Nancy Eaton
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series
Kristen Thomson – I, Claudia
Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role
Michael Riley – This Is Wonderland – Episode 213
Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role
Cara Pifko – This Is Wonderland – Episode 212
Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series
John Paul Tremblay, Cory Bowles, Lucy Decoutere, Barrie Dunn, Sarah Dunsworth, John Dunsworth, Jeanna Harrison-Steinhart, Michael Jackson, Garry James, Tyrone Parsons, Pat Roach, Mike Smith, Shelley Thompson, Jonathan Torrens, Robb Wells – Trailer Park Boys: Season 4 – Working Man
Best News Anchor
Global National with Kevin Newman
Best Host or Interviewer in a Sports Program or Sportscast
Scott Russell – CBC Sports Saturday
Gemini Viewers’ Choice Award
Marilyn Denis – Cityline
A complete list of winners is available at www.geminiawards.ca
CBC, CTV share Gemini honours