'Corner Gas' wins big at Gemini Awards
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 29, 2007 11:50AM EDT
REGINA - "Slings & Arrows'' was a bull's-eye again for Gemini voters.
The third season of the Movie Network series about the backstage misadventures of a troubled Stratford-like theatre festival took home the award for best dramatic series and best writing in a dramatic series as the most high-profile of the Gemini awards were handed out Sunday night.
The series' stars -- and real-life husband and wife -- Paul Gross and Martha Burns picked up the awards for best performance by an actor and actress in continuing leading dramatic roles. The show won the Gemini for best drama last year and Gross won the best actor award for his role in the show in 2004.
Gross dedicated his award to his "Slings & Arrows'' co-star, the late acting legend William Hutt, who had been posthumously nominated in the same category.
Gross called Hutt's nephew, Peter Hutt, to the stage to be recognized but he was cut off as the band played out to a commercial, which angered "Slings & Arrows'' director Peter Wellington.
"Their insistence that the snappy music comes in so that no one gets too self indulgent is a little tasteless,'' Wellington said. "It's one of those things that makes you say, `oh yeah, Canada right, we screw it up again.' ''
Gross said it was seeing Hutt playing Shakespeare's "King Lear'' at Stratford that inspired him to become an actor when he was 11.
"It was quite a magical experience to be with him toward the end of his career and at the end of his life,'' Gross said. "It was an extraordinary honour and privilege for me.''
Hometown favourite "Corner Gas'' also filled up on praise at Sunday's show.
The CTV hit, filmed on location in Rouleau, Sask., about a half hour's drive south of Regina, took home the award for best comedy series, as well as best writing in a comedy series and best ensemble performance in a comedy series.
It's the third year in a row the show has won the best comedy award.
Show creator and star Brent Butt said it was the ensemble award that meant the most to him.
"This is the one I was really hoping we would win at some point eventually, because I really believe that this is a super strong cast,'' Butt told reporters.
Butt asked the cast members who made their way to the stage to accept the award to say a few words.
"The show got me a husband at over 40,'' exclaimed Nancy Robertson, who plays Wanda on the show and is married to Butt.
"You're over 40?'' Butt responded to laughter.
CBC's west coast crime drama "Intelligence'' picked up the award for best direction in a dramatic series, while actress Phyllis Ellis won the award for best individual performance in a comedy for her role on CMT's "The Wilkinsons.''
"Hockey Night in Canada's'' Ron MacLean won the award for best host of a sports program, while City TV Toronto anchorman Gord Martineau was named best news anchor.
"Deal or No Deal's'' Howie Mandel won the fan's choice award as favourite Canadian on a TV series not eligible for a Gemini - a list that also included "24's'' Keifer Sutherland, Sandra Oh of "Grey's Anatomy,'' "Lost's'' Evangeline Lilly, "Boston Legal's'' William Shatner and Kristin Kreuk of "Smallville.''
This is the second year the Gemini's televised award show has been held outside Toronto. Last year, the awards were held in Vancouver.
Saskatchewan and Regina were very much part of the program.
The show began with a hilarious skit in which show host George Stroumboulopoulos offended various television personalities, including the cast of "Corner Gas'' and ''Little Mosque on the Prairie,'' by calling the province flat.
Stroumbolopoulos, host of CBC's "The Hour,'' brought an edgy sense of humour to the show. One skit alluding to two puppets having sex was particularly racy.
"I just think that if you are going to let our team work on the show, it's going to match the tone of who we are,'' he said. "Never once did we do a bit and somebody said `you can't do that.' I thought: `Really? All right then, we'll have a puppet go down on a puppet.'''
"Slings & Arrows'' beat out "Intelligence,'' the Movie Network's bio-thriller "ReGenesis,'' CTV's ski-hill drama "Whistler'' and "Jozi H,'' a hospital drama set in Johannesburg, South Africa and airing on CBC, for the top drama award
"Corner Gas'' defeated the CBC's "Royal Canadian Air Farce'' and "This Hour Has 22 Minutes,'' as well as Showcase's "Rent-A-Goalie'' and the animated series "Odd Job Jack,'' for the best comedy.
Much of the pre-awards discussion was focused on how the CBC hit "Little Mosque on the Prairie'' was not among the nominees for best comedy. Butt and Little Mosque star Carlo Rota poked fun at that fact when they handed out an award together.
The show was honoured during the televised event with the Canada Award, given to program that best reflects the racial and cultural diversity of Canada.