Some awards are sweeter than others — just ask Brent Butt.
The star and co-creator of CTV’s Corner Gas was extremely proud of the three awards the sitcom earned at the 22nd Annual Gemini Awards on Sunday at the Conexus Arts Centre.
Although the series captured the Gemini for best comedy program or series for the third straight year, it was the victory as the best ensemble performance in a comedy program or series that caught Butt’s attention.
“This is the one I was really hoping we’d get,” said Butt. “I really, truly believe that these are the most talented group of people I could ever assemble and work with.
“They’re just really special.”
The ensemble award was presented to Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Fred Ewanuick, Lorne Cardinal and Janet Wright. Corner Gas also captured the Gemini for best writing in a comedy or variety program or series with Mark Farrell recognized for last season’s finale, “Gopher It.”
Filmed on location in Rouleau and at the Canada/Saskatchewan Production Studio in Regina, Corner Gas has become one of Saskatchewan’s top exports.
The show finished its 19-episode Season Four with an average audience of 1.52 million viewers and has delivered an audience of at least one million for each of its 69 episodes.
Taking home the hardware in its own backyard was special for the cast.
“It’s been truly wonderful for me,” explained Peterson, who portrays Oscar Leroy. “I came from this province, so it has come full circle for me. It’s exciting that Canadians are watching in big, big numbers. I’m very blessed and lucky to be part of this.”
Corner Gas has a more personal meaning for Robertson. “This show got me a husband — at over 40,” said Robertson, who married Butt in 2005. Butt followed the remark with a quip of his own: “You’re over 40?”
While Corner Gas dominated the comedy genre, the awards for the dramatic series belonged to Slings & Arrows. The series, about an unusual Shakespeare troupe, won four Geminis, including the one for best performance by an actor in a continuing leading dramatic role, which went to Paul Gross.
Martha Burns captured the Gemini for best performance by an actress in a continuing leading dramatic role. Susan Coyne, Bob Martin and Mark McKinney completed the Slings & Arrows assault by earning the Gemini for best writing in a dramatic series.
Gross dedicated his Gemini, the sixth of his career, to Canadian theatre legend William Hutt, who passed away on June 27 at age 87. Hutt joined the cast for Season Three and it was an experience that Gross will always treasure.
“He made me want to be an actor. I had known him for a long time, but I never got to work with him. It was a magical experience to work with him, at the end of his career, at the end of his life. It was an extreme honour and privilege for me,” Gross said.
Little Mosque On The Prairie, another sitcom with its roots in Regina, received the Canada Award, which honours excellence in mainstream television programming that reflects the racial and cultural diversity of Canada. Created by Regina’s Zarqa Nawaz, Little Mosque is produced by Westwind Pictures, also of Regina.
Hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos, Sunday’s show had a number of distinct differences from the usual awards show. For one, Stroumboulopoulos and his staff put a sharper edge on the production. The show got off to an impressive start with an imaginative opening and powered its way through the 65-minute program with some slick, if somewhat racy, jokes.
Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Matt Dominguez into the fun during an intro with Stroumboulopoulos. Dominguez, sidelined with a knee injury, has been taking some heat lately for comments he made criticizing the Canadian health-care system. He didn’t back away from those comments Sunday.
“I’ve made Regina my full-time home, but I didn’t really feel Canadian until I waited a month for surgery,” said Dominguez, with tongue firmly in cheek.
Miriam McDonald of Degrassi: The Next Generation learned first-hand about the dangers of live television. Presenting an award with Kathleen Robertson and Andrea Roth, McDonald’s script required her to drop an F-bomb which was supposed to be bleeped.
As happens sometimes with live television, the bleep didn’t happen and McDonald’s F-bomb made it to air, much to her embarrassment.
“Oh man, I can’t believe everyone heard it,” said McDonald. “I saw it scripted as WTF and that it was going to get cut out. But it didn’t and I feel just awful.”
Sunday also marked the first time the Geminis were open to the public. While the majority of seats were occupied by people “in the business,” the balcony seats were sold to the public.
The Leader-Post (Regina) 2007