No Sask stop for ‘Canadian Idol’
REGINA – A move to drop Saskatchewan from the list of “Canadian Idol” audition locations has generated outrage in the Prairie province and even has the premier calling on fans to speak out.
The province of one million people has produced three top five performers in the first five seasons of the show, including Season 2 runner-up Theresa Sokyrka, but producers of the CTV hit say there wasn’t room on the schedule this year for a Saskatchewan stop.
With the Juno Awards for the best in Canadian music being held in Calgary this year, supervising producer Mark Lysakowski said the show wanted to have auditions in that city as well as Edmonton.
Saskatchewan ended up on the bubble.
“We only have so much we can do in the allotted time from when we start our auditions and when we need to have the show on the air,” Lysakowski said.
“We will be back. This is not to say that Saskatchewan has fallen off the ‘Canadian Idol’ radar forever. It’s a place we want to come back to – we need to come back to.”
It’s the first time since Season 1 that an audition has not been held in either Regina or Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was outraged when word of the change reached his office.
“I think it’s more than a little bit ironic that we are apparently good enough for the Rolling Stones, but no longer good enough apparently for ‘Canadian Idol,”‘ Wall said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press.
In the fall of 2006, the Stones played two sold-out shows in Regina, thrilling thousands of diehard fans who felt privileged that the iconic rock band would stop in such a small Prairie city.
Wall encouraged Saskatchewan fans of “Canadian Idol” to voice their displeasure through the show’s website. He predicted they would turn out in the same numbers they do when someone from Saskatchewan is in the top 10.
Equally outraged was Jackie Rapley, mother of Regina’s Matt Rapley, who made it to No. 5 on the show last season.
“Maybe that is not their intent, but my feeling on it is that they are saying there is no talent in Saskatchewan – that is how I am taking it,” she said. “I personally consider it a bit of an insult.”
It’s unlikely Rapley’s son – a shy 18-year-old who was encouraged to audition by his music teacher – would have vied for a spot on the show had there not been a tryout in Saskatoon last year, she said.
Rapley himself said he also considers the move an”insult.”
“I do take it personally a little,” Rapley said. “I know a lot of talent came out of Saskatchewan in the last five years.”
Producers may have dropped Saskatchewan because, outside of people like Rapley, the talent pool in the province was rather shallow during last year’s auditions, Sokyrka said.
“I know there are a lot of people that have an extreme amount of talent, but I do know that a lot of people that had the talent last year were pretty freaked out about going and trying it out,” she said.
Sokyrka is hopeful that anyone in Saskatchewan who thinks they can make will make the trek to one of the other cities. In Season 2, she said she was first turned down after going to Edmonton to audition and ended up making it when she came back to Saskatchewan.
“I know that even though they are not coming here, there will be someone in the top 10 from Saskatchewan. There is no question of it.”
Without a Saskatchewan stop, hopefuls will have to make the trek to Edmonton, Calgary or Winnipeg to try out for the show. That means a day’s travel each way.
Aside from Sokyrka and Rapley, Tyler Lewis of Rockglen, Sask., made it all the way to No. 3 on Season 4 of the show.
Peggy Pilsner runs a cafe in Rockglen and said the atmosphere in the town was electric when Lewis was making his run. You could buy buttons, window stickers, posters, T-shirts, mouse pads and pillow cases with Lewis’s picture on them. Pilsner served up a hamburger in her cafe bearing his name.
“I don’t really think it’s fair,” Pilsner said of the show’s decision not to stop in Saskatchewan. “I’m sure they could make a stop somewhere in the province, especially when they are stopping on either side of us.”
The 10-city audition tour begins Jan. 26 in Edmonton, and would-be stars are once again being invited to bring musical instruments.
Hamilton, Ont., the hometown of reigning Canadian Idol Brian Melo, will be among the stops.
It’s the second year that performers can accompany themselves at the auditions. In 2007, almost half of the contestants who made it past the initial stage of competition chose to do so.
The show, which will return to the air in June, is hosted by Ben Mulroney, son of former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
CTV recently announced the younger Mulroney is engaged to Montreal clothing designer Jessica Brownstein.
Here are the cities, dates and locations, where available, of auditions:
-Edmonton, Jan. 26-27, West Edmonton Mall.
-Calgary, Feb 2-3, Sunridge Mall.
-Vancouver, Feb. 9-10, Metropolis at Metrotown.
-Winnipeg, Feb. 23-24, St. Vital Centre.
-Hamilton, March 1-2.
-Ottawa, March 8-9.
-Montreal, March 15-16.
-Halifax, March 29-30.
-St. John’s, N.L., April 12.
-Toronto, April 19-20.
Auditions for “Canadian Idol” are open to all Canadians between the ages of 16 and 28 as of Jan. 25. For more information, registration forms, rules and regulations, visit idol.CTV.ca.
No Sask stop for ‘Canadian Idol’