Thursday, April 16, 2009

TIME TO PUT GENIE BACK IN THE BOTTLE

For the most part, I’m still a shit-kicker from the poorest area of Saskatchewan. A red-neck. A Hillbilly from a land without hills. “Hill William” as we would re-coin the term at the University of Saskatchewan since we were now “edumacated”. Life, luck and perhaps some talent led me to work in the Canadian Arts, travel the world to hone my skills and receive validation at my craft through success in America.

Also for the most part, and I don’t see recent indigenous successes like “Corner Gas” and “Trailer Park Boys” causing a sea change in how Canadian audiences assess Canadian Artists. We just still aren’t considered truly successful in our own country until we’ve been Validated by Americans. Those of us who’ve “been there” know that American studios and networks don’t care (or mostly even know) what credits you’ve accrued up here. That body of achievement means nothing to them. Prove yourself to their audience and it’s a different story.

And when that happens, the Canadian media is all over you. “Ohmigod, Rachel Macadam is in a movie with Russell Crowe”, “Elton John married a Canadian guy”, “The Office mentioned Winnipeg in an episode.” Suddenly, because one of us has been Validated and accepted, all of us have been Validated and accepted just a little bit as well.

“They like us! They really like us! We must be worthwhile!”

                                                                    THORNTON GDM 082108

Last week, a fellow Hillbilly named Billy Bob Thornton was in town with his recently formed Country band.

Billy Bob has achieved more success and Validation in America than pretty much any Canadian actor, screenwriter or director has on either the Hollywood or celebrity scales of Validation. Certainly, he has achieved far more than any Canadian triple-threat combination of those talents. But last week, he appeared on our national broadcaster, the CBC, in a widely discussed interview in which he was cranky, rude and insulting to the host. And in describing Canadian audiences as “unresponsive” and “All mashed potatoes and no gravy” he did the one thing we don’t allow Americans to do…

Billy Bob IN-VALIDATED us.

And immediately the media was full of outrage and the censorious nature commonly ascribed to “red-neck” Western Canadians was now on show from the audience at Toronto’s prestigious Massey Hall, amid the trendy bars on Queen Street West and within the hallowed halls of the CBC.

Bud the Spud wanted revenge.

In less than 15 minutes of bad behavior, the guy our Art House crowd had taken to their bosom with “Sling Blade” was now decried as just another “Ugly American”, a spoiled Hollywood brat and an ignorant, insensitive a--hole. He was the new Greg Gutfeld of Fox News (That other American who Invalidated us a few weeks ago). It was front page news here a few days later when Billy Bob chose to end his Canadian tour and “High tail it for the border” as one paper chose to describe the departure.

What Billy Bob had failed to understand in his interview was that CBC host Jian Gomeshi had been trying to help him over one of our major cultural hurdles.

By explaining to his radio audience that while Billy Bob had not yet been Validated as a musician by the American media, he still retained his Validation as an actor, writer and director, Gomeshi was assuring those listening that the man should still be afforded a few minutes of consideration. What Billy Bob also didn’t understand is that until he receives his musical Validation by the American media, those Canadian audiences will continue to sit on their hands at his shows.

But he didn’t and it was the sharper side of the double-edged Validation sword that cut us so deeply.

The fact that we’re a reserved bunch in public is no surprise to any Canadian who’s ever been to a hockey game in Boston or New York or Philadelphia finding a seething mass of drunken, partisan excitement that wouldn’t be allowed out of the parking lot in Toronto.

My first Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine included an all out beer fight between two sections in the stands, one white the other predominately Mexican. Nothing more lethal than a 32 oz. tub of beer or popcorn was ever launched at the other side and everybody had fun including the laughing, soaking wet cops who ultimately came between us.

On the other hand, I’ve seen guys escorted from Blue Jays games for suggesting the Umpire was a “bum” and a scene like the one in LA would inevitably lead to cancelling the ballgame and page long editorials on public intoxication and the need for racial harmony in our press.

Yet we see little wrong in clubbing baby seals, like having a Quebec kid hold aloft the Ultimate Fighting belt and live for a bench clearing brawl.

We are an odd bunch.

                                                                                            GeniePhoto

About 30 years ago, I was part of a group of Canadians who tried to hijack the traditional American Validation process. There were maybe 25 or 30 of us at the beginning, all little “Energizer Bunnies” in the Canadian film business, fed up with the staid, boring, unwatchable and mostly pointless “Canadian Film Awards” and convinced that Canadians would begin to embrace their own artists and go to see Canadian films if they were Validated in a meaningful way by their own kind.

It took us about a year to wrest the Etrog statuette away from the original owners and mount our own event, but we did and it was a huge success. Thousands of members of the film community kicked in a few bucks for a membership card that allowed them to see all of the eligible films, nominate the members of their own craft and cast a final vote for those who would be honored. The first Genies were presented in 1980 with all the Klieg lights, limos, red carpets and glamor made mandatory by the Academy Awards.

Millions watched the television broadcast on the full network of the CBC (Yes, I used the multiple ‘M’ word in describing a Canadian TV audience) and the winners’ faces graced the front pages of newspapers from coast-to-coast, their acceptance speeches and beseeching the audience to give Canadian films a chance made it onto real newscasts and not just the hokie gossip shows.

A few days later, that original clump of now bedraggled upstarts gathered in a room over the old New Yorker Theatre on Yonge Street to crack one last bottle of Champagne and congratulate ourselves. We had done it. Canadians were now Validating themselves. There was even a baseball cap that read “Fuck LA! This is how we do it in Canada”.

But a Leopard can’t change its spots and a Beaver NEVER swaps its pelt.

And although the US Immigration Department scored Canadians who’d won or even been nominated for a Genie with more points on any work permit applications, winning that trophy didn’t put the recipient in greater demand up here or increase ticket sales at the box office.

Validation from America was still a requirement.

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A week before Billy Bob suggested that Canadian audiences suck, that was the theme of the 29th Genie Awards in Ottawa.

The running joke of the show was that NOBODY had seen the films. Only one of the nominated features had received a National release and the Host of the evening admitted he’d screened DVDs of the work he was there to celebrate in his hotel room – after arriving on the red-eye from his real showbiz job in LA – the self same Validation which qualified him to act as Host in the first place.

The buzz was so insignificant the swag bag presented to the nominees and presenters included a We-Vibe vibrator, perhaps in the hope it might arouse someone – anyone - to appear at least a little excited. The television audience totalled 113,000, which when you subtract the casts and crews of the films, their families and friends and the staffs of all of their multi-level funding agencies that backed them, amounts to – what? Maybe 4 – 5 real film goers? Tops?

And even though the network no longer broadcasts this home grown celebration of Canadian film and most of the films nominated for the evening will never even play on the CBC, further financial support for the public broadcaster was the political sub-theme of the evening. Artist after artist slammed the government for not giving the CBC more money and chanted the mantra that putting money into the Arts invariably creates jobs.

That must’ve been news to 70 former employees of the Art Gallery of Ontario who had just been laid off despite a government investment of $300 Million into their just opened new facility.

Look, maybe it’s time we start being honest with ourselves.

The reason Canadian audiences are “reserved” is because we haven’t been good enough at entertaining them. And the reason they look Southward for the Validation is because our own Validation process has often been an outright lie.

The whole point of the Genie Awards was to pack Canadian audiences into Canadian theatres to see Canadian films and that has been an abject failure.

Why?

Because way too often the Canadian Academy has marched in lock step with the Institutional funders who bankroll the industry. If they put money in something that was dull as dishwater, boring as an early morning piss and mostly made to serve some regional or social agenda, it still had to be celebrated, Validated and foisted on the public.

And when the membership of the Academy (also audience members themselves) wouldn’t co-operate with that process, their franchise right was replaced with the compliant Juries that had so undermined the original credibility of the Canadian Film Awards. The “right people” were once again telling you who mattered and who didn’t.

Most film people knew that to reach an audience you needed to create something that those folks might spend real money to see. But that wasn’t the agenda of the Gala attending, film festival circuit crowd the funding bureaucrats were a part of -- and on whom the Academy of Canadian Cinema also depended for support. The audience took a back seat to the private party.

Therefore, in those ensuing decades, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on the Genie Awards themselves. Perhaps that money could have been better spent on making actual films, or in making sure the films we did make had adequate marketing budgets or could even hire a decent publicist.

But instead, the money went on another lavish party that 99.99% of the country wasn’t invited to attend.

And they weren’t there because, like most film and television and Arts endeavors in this country, it ultimately wasn’t about them or their need to be entertained and enriched.

Any politicians along the way, be they Prime Ministers, Ministers of Culture and/or Heritage or whatever, who also chose not to attend were derided as uncaring “Philistines” who didn’t ‘get’ the value of the Arts – or perhaps more accurately, the self-importance of its IN Crowd.

This private party syndrome spread from the Genie Awards to film and television awards in all parts of the country. Some of those are tied to local film festivals. Many are just there to imply that the Region or city hosting them has a flourishing Arts community. But in all cases, few but those attending the party have any awareness of the work being celebrated.

A few years ago, I was asked to go back to Saskatchewan and present an Award at one of their local events. The ballroom was filled with representatives of all kinds of Arts organizations named SaskFilm and SaskMedia and other similarly “Sask” branded outfits. None of them thought it was funny when I suggested they should amalgamate into one big bunch they could call “Saskwatch”. Nor were any of them dismayed that the film I was presenting an award to had only ever been seen by the five person jury who had decided to honor it. I hope it’s had wider distribution since, but I have a feeling its audience never encompassed many beyond those who were in that ballroom.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think a certain amount of celebrating our own is important and I know the Arts aren’t the only Canadian industries receiving boatloads of taxpayer support. Yet I never see Award ceremonies for “Best Roughneck” in the Oil Patch or “Most Valuable Riveter” at Bombardier. Maybe they have them and I’m just out of that social loop.

But when so many exist within the film and TV industries recognizing so little the public actually sees or even has access to, it widens the gap between us. And it also begins to feel like they’re little more than a photo op for politicians and funding bureaucrats who could just as easily be turning up at the local Mission to serve soup to the homeless. Somehow the process continues to make them appear noble, caring and in-charge while reminding everyone that we’re actually doing quite well living on Welfare.

You also wonder if any money would be there at all if the Government class weren’t the honored guests at these soirees.

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A few weeks from now, the Governor General will host another party in Ottawa and hand out medals to Canadian artists considered to have greatly contributed to our culture. Among them will be playwright George F. Walker and film actor/director/writer Paul Gross. For better or worse, they will likely be the two honorees most familiar to Canadian audiences. Gross wrote, directed and starred in this year’s Best Film Genie Winner “Passchendaele” and Walker writes and produces TMN’s “The Line”.

But “Passchendaele” was received as a mediocre film at best, earning only $4 Million at the Canadian box office (meaning fewer than half a million Canadians went to see it). Meanwhile, “The Line” isn’t exactly setting the television world ablaze or even a-flicker as far as “Must-See-TV” goes. And yet these two men will receive the official government stamp of approval as valued Cultural icons.

Although both are being honored for their body of work, would it surprise anyone if the average audience member sees this, recalls their supreme lack of enjoyment of those last offerings from both and shakes their head at what gets recognized as Canadian culture? Does the fact that they then look elsewhere for Validation of what’s worth spending their money on not start to make some sense?

Could it be that the very fact that we appear so cozy with and doted on by our elites be what keeps our audience wary of what we’re selling?

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to say that I appeared in about a dozen of the first productions of George Walker’s plays, consider him a friend and wish him nothing but success. But I find “The Line” about as derivative, pointless and boring as anything on television. The series is based on a group of plays collectively known as the “Suburban Motel” cycle George has created over the last decade, all set in the same seedy motel room and all pretty great evenings – on stage.

I’ve always felt George was Canada’s greatest playwright (living or dead) and have found it profoundly odd that the plays which made him internationally known and once packed Canadian theatres, plays like “Bagdad Saloon”, “Beyond Mozambique”, “Theatre of the Film Noir” and “Zastrozzi” still haven’t been translated to film. While the Suburban motel cycle became both the hideously failed feature “Niagara Motel” and “The Line”. My own theory is that Canadian producers see those one-set, small cast, mostly nihilistic pieces and say “Hey, cheap and depressing! I can sell that to Telefilm!”

It’s odder still that after two generations of Canadian audiences making it clear that “Cheap and Depressing” aren’t what they want to see at the movies, the recent slate of Genie nominees indicates that’s still what the powers-that-be consistently fund and feed them. I keep hoping I’m wrong in assuming this is because it keeps the parties private.

George, please do us all a favor, check out of that motel and have a new idea. Let’s be honest here, your earlier funny stuff was – well, earlier (as in ahead of its time) and funny.

Let me finish by telling a couple of stories I probably shouldn’t tell about our apparently culturally important CBC. Because for me they exemplify why that particular corporate culture may not serve either the audience or artists of this country well and why the people we all say we want to reach continue to look elsewhere for their seals of approval.

                                                                         CBC_Logo_1958-1966

I’ve written and produced multiple pilots and a couple of resulting series for all of the major American networks. I’ve also developed two pilots at CBC that never went to camera.

Maybe that’s because they ultimately weren’t very good or what the network decided their audience wanted in the final analysis. Maybe they felt my American influences had poisoned me as a purveyor of Canadian content. That all goes with the territory and is a reality you have to accept. Sometimes, it’s just your turn in the barrel.

But part of me thinks there might be something else at work as well.

My first failed attempt at a CBC show followed hard on the heels of the final episode of “Top Cops”. CBC wanted a gritty cop show and I had just run one for 4 years. An established CBC producer approached me with a development deal and I jumped at it.

Following the “Top Cops” research approach, I spent a few months embedded with the Toronto Homicide Squad, learning what made them tick, how they differed from American cops and finding what I felt would endear characters like them to a Canadian audience. My producing partner and I hammered out a detailed concept to present to the people who would ultimately decide the show’s fate.

Now, one of the first revelations I’d gotten working on a US series was how few people actually worked for the networks there. The executive offices of CBS in Television City were half the size of any single floor at the CBC’s Toronto tower (gaping Rotunda hole in the middle and all). It was clear that 30 or 40 people managed the entire television operation. An operation that programmed more original content in a couple of nights than the CBC did in a week.

The supervising CBS executive on “Top Cops” also ran “Northern Exposure”, “Evening Shade” and “Designing Women”. Two dramas and two comedies. One executive. I had two very precisely scheduled note sessions, Wednesday morning at ten (7:00 am in LA) and Sunday nights at eight (5:00 pm in LA). The phone would ring. The notes would be direct and curt and then he’d sign off with “Gotta go. Northern Exposure’s waiting.”

This same guy handled network scheduling, took one full day a week to listen to pitches and was familiar with every line item in your budget.

I’ve never understood the behemoth proportions of CBC staff that seem necessary to keep that operation afloat and when Bill Brioux pointed out that their recent layoff of 800 did not include any of the corporation’s 553 Senior managers, I remember wondering if CBC even had 553 separate shows in need of management on all of their multiple platforms put together or why some of those many managers, all apparently deserving of hefty annual bonuses, couldn’t handle 2 or 3 shows on their own so maybe there could be fewer Senior managers and more series, episodes and people who worked on them.

I mean, isn’t what CBC produces more important to the country than how many people have comfortable jobs there?

Anyway, the day arrived when we were to pitch our cop show to Senior management. Well versed in the rigors of an American network pitch, I’d spent days rehearsing, covering all the possible questions and concerns the people who could green-light it might have. If there’s one thing I will toot my own horn about it’s that when I’m in the room, you get the heat, the curve, the slider and the knuckleball. I can fuckin’ pitch!

We walked in to meet three very lovely people, all happy to see my CBC producer and meet his new “find”. They didn’t have much time as they had to leave for the airport, Amsterdam and some TV conference or sales market. I got out my notes. They asked if I’d ever been to Amsterdam. I had. Could I recommend any restaurants. I could not. Oh, well. I laid out the 25 words or less concept of the show. They nodded. Somebody looked at a watch. They had to go and gave us a “Go” as well.

I was dumbfounded. It had never been this easy. Then I realized they were all shaking my producing partner’s hand. He was one of them. Of course it was okay.

A script got written and made the approval rounds. Then I got a call from my agent. My producing partner needed to adjust our agreement. Instead of being a 50-50 deal, the CBC needed him to have final say on all creative matters. They knew him. They needed “Their guy” in charge. I pointed out that “Their guy” didn’t know the first thing about running a series and had openly admitted as much. That didn’t matter. I said, “No.” The show died.

A while later, I sat in another CBC office with a writer and two terrific network development execs who had shepherded a piece we all had high hopes for to what we also hoped was the last hurdle we had to clear. The CBC Exec we were meeting had some minor reservations and then stunned us by saying, “You need seven good actresses to pull this off and I don’t think you can find seven good actresses in Canada.”

We were speechless.

If that Exec had said the material just didn’t make their ass tingle like Harry Cohn said it should, we all would’ve understood. But this was so far beyond ignorant, so far above arrogant that it was almost unbelievable. No arguments could dissuade. We were done.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, none of the 800 people who will be walking the plank at the CBC in the coming weeks were included in those anecdotes. They still have their jobs and will continue to decide what is presented to the Canadian public as the shows they really should be watching.

And one wonders if such superb Canadian actresses as Wendy Crewson and Sarah Polley and others who regularly speak with heartfelt eloquence and passion on the importance and necessity of the CBC know how they (and other capable artists) are sometimes regarded within that air-tight building they’re defending.

None of this is to say that there’s an over–arching conspiracy to keep good work from appearing on the CBC. The network has any number of exceptional people who do exceptional work. But there is a bureaucracy and attitude present in their midst whose apparent embrace of culture is so tight it actually strangles some of it.

It’s an attitude born of attending those parties and galas and private screenings. One that doesn’t even consider the needs of the wider audience because it’s so aware of what those at the private party want. 

And perhaps even those executives (who I’m certain some feel I’ve maligned here) were all trying very hard to do the best job they could.

But when only 1 in 12 Canadians now invites the CBC into their lives each day, I think it’s safe to say their best isn’t good enough.

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Which brings us back to Billy Bob. For whatever you may think of the man, he’s doing something most of the Artists in this country aren’t. He’s stepping outside the safe confines of what others have decided is his “box”, risking ridicule, lost income and the occasional flying long neck bottle of Lone Star to reach an audience with something he personally believes in.

With 10 minutes of research, one of the (however many) Senior managers supervising “Q” could have learned that Billy Bob Thornton is attempting to revive a musical fusion that can be traced back to Buck Owens and The Beatles. A fusion of styles which became so profound that following Ringo’s rendition of Buck’s signature tune “Act Naturally”, the country star had to take out ads in the Nashville trades assuring everyone he wasn’t abandoning Country music. That research would have also pointed out that Billy Bob was playing in bands long before he was a movie star, including one that ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons called “The best damn cover band in Texas”.

Maybe they did and things just got derailed before the train got that far. And there are no legitimate excuses for Billy Bob’s petulant behavior. Perhaps all we can find that’s positive in this sad affair is the consummate professionalism of Jian Gomeshi. There are moments in that video where you can see him straining to be civil, perhaps, as a musician himself, aware of that old country lyric requesting that we always show extra kindness because everybody’s strugglin’ with somethin’.

Or maybe he was just aware of his own struggle to reach an audience, knowing this meltdown was just going to make it harder. As I’ve said before about Ghomeshi, “Q” and the CBC …it'll take better brains than the ones who appear to be running the place at the moment to find him the audience he deserves”.

But overall, we need to finally start admitting that if our audiences are quiet, when they even bother to turn up at all, that’s OUR fault. And it’s mostly the fault of those Canadian Artists who don’t hold those who “approve” their work to an appropriate standard or demand that the shrimp trays and open bars be put away until we have an industry in which the people we’re trying to reach decide they want to throw a party for us.

Until then, we’ll constantly be catering to a different crowd, the one that continues to ride on our backs and decides through meeting their own needs what our audience will be and what they will be served.

Like it or not, Billy Bob spoke a difficult to accept truth. This Hillbilly’s just trying to help you to understand how we got that way, hopefully in a less rude manner. You need to forgive us country boys sometimes. We don’t always remember to take our boots off when we get up to the Big House and our manners ain’t as proper as the folks who know which one’s the fish fork.

Seriously. It’s time to put our Genies back in the bottle until we do work that truly earns them.

9 comments:

Cunningham said...

If the choice ever came to me whether to fight conspiracy or fight bureaucracy... I'll take conspiracy.

Conspiracy at least has an endgame.

Bureaucracy is ingrained. That doesn't come out, even with bleach.

Racicot said...

I had a friend who used to cut clips for the Genies telecast.

He shared this story of when (in whatever year) he included scenes from Michael Dowse's awesome FUBAR, he was told: 'that's not the kind of film the Genies are about.'

Which pretty much sums up why Canadians of my generation don't watch the Genies.

That and Ben Mulroney, of course.

It's in my opinion that to 'save' Canadian film we have to get back to our Canuxploitation roots and build again from there.

Australia is a prime example of where we should be as a filmmaking nation.

Great post, Jim. Thanks.

Trevor B. Cunningham said...

A play without an audience is called a rehearsal. It seems we have been rehearsing for the past few decades.

Brandon Laraby said...

Great post Jim - though, you know, I don't think it just comes down to American Validation though for why Canadians are quieter at concerts...

I went and saw Santana way back when he played at the Amphitheater - and though it seemed like the whole place smelled like Otto's Jacket, not a damn soul was out of their chair dancing until almost halfway through the concert when a pissed-off Macy Gray finally came out on stage and yelled out at the crowd "This is Goddamned Santana! Get outta your seats!"

At which point EVERYONE (and I mean everyone) got up and started dancing and having a good time.

Thing was, we needed to be told it was okay to dance and have fun. We needed permission.

I'm not sure why that is, but maybe that's just how we like to be entertained, sitting down and watching it unfold before us?

I dunno.

Still, it was a surreal experience to see this wave of people all get out of their seats and begin dancing on command. Surreal and a tad embarrassing.

jimhenshaw said...

Please consider this entry for your blog: still don't remember my password lol

cheers

joel

CBC and it's insular attitude is not restricted to Toronto. I can assure you that in Saskatchewan the same attitudes exist. Back in 1980, I was hosting a regional exchange musical 1/2 hour TV summer replacement show called "Razzmajazz". Some friends had recently purchased the Hotel Saskatchewan from CP rail and much merriment was indulged in the lounge from a consistent crowd of Business, Political and general party scene makers. I had been invited to be a regular, primarily because I played tennis and I could represented the Bohemian Artist element at the lounge table. One evening in the summer of 1980 while imbibing in the Hotel Lounge with owners Peter Gundy, Pat Waters, also the head of the Potash Corp David Dombowsky and the Premier Blakeny's deputy minister Frank. Bogdasavich, Frank directed me towards a quiet gentleman sitting across the lounge sipping a drink alone. I immediately recognized Al Johnson the CBC President. Not missing a self promoting moment I approached Al and introduced myself. He looked at me and said "yes, you are Joel the Razzmajazz host," I was really taken by surprise as it was clear Al knew what was going on at the CBC. He accepted the invitation to join us for a drink, and the night was on! Over the next 3, or ...6 hours of "socializing," Al Johnson and the Premier's Deputy Minister hammered out a deal to build a new CBC plant...which turned into a stunning 60 million dollar Broadcast Centre designed by Clifford Wiens in Wascana Park, The first completely integrated Radio Canada and English broadcast Centre in Canada .

To return to insular attitudes at the CBC.the point of this preamble is: In 1983 the building was set to open and there were 340 people to be employed in the building. I had been asked to submit a proposal to perform but was told by several highly paid CBC employees that my 1000 dollar price tag was too high and in place of live music would be providing taped music in the lobby!
It was galling that the building was suppose to assist artists had already become an enclave for employees.
Needless to say, I was disappointed...that is until the head of Public Relations Doug Chase called and pulled my fee from his PR budget and retained my band to perform. Doug was a great guy transplanted from the CBC in Toronto because he loved Sask and it's people. We used to coffee regularly and he would pull out his picture he took of John Lennon in Toronto...I was duly impressed and loved the 1 degree of separation from my hero. The opening was a huge success and 10, thousand people flowed through the building on that opening day. I did indeed have a short conversation that day with Al Johnson and he thanked me for hooking him up with the right people to make the Broadcast Centre a reality. The most telling part of the conversation was when Al turned to Doug Chase and with a twinkle in his eye, he said: "I understand there were some obstacles placed in your way by some local CBC types." I responded yes, and then Al said that he had been informed of the "situation " by Doug Chase and he was delighted that Doug could fix it! Al Johnson knew it then, and I'm sure it still exists today....territorial employees with agenda's that are not at all about the CBC...it's about their job and their position protecting it. I should also note that the CBC is filled with great folks not unlike Doug Chase (RIP) and they DO have the CBC's mandate in their sites. They are there doing their job more than protecting it and they deserve kudos, but alas, many work there for their own career building agendas and in my opinion, this sadly has not changed in 3 decades

joel scott--
We think, Therefore We are!

jds

Joe Clark said...

May I suggest that Validate and Validation not be capitalized mid-sentence?

Otherwise, liked it. Rilly.

jimhenshaw said...

Style choice, Joe. Grammar and syntax can be such cruel mistresses.

Mark said...

I often wonder if all of these government institutions try too hard to prescribe 'culture' in film and television. In order to get the approval, you need to show that you are unique and Canadian. There is very little in our lives that are uniquely Canadian. We fall in love like everyone else on the planet. We need to eat and provide for ourselves and our families. We want success. We want peace and prosperity. We want love and happiness. We also hurt each other in pursuit of these things. We are greedy. We are selfish. And we learn and sometimes we are punished.

There isn't anything uniquely Canadian about drama. Maybe it's cultural validation or an appearance for being 'unique'. Our political way of saying 'we are not American, we are special and unique'. It's insecurity. Kurosawa said the same thing about Rashomon. The Japanese were critical until the Americans liked it. After that, the film was a success...

Do you think we have an unrealistic mandate? Too afraid to be 'entertaining' as we might look American?

Barry Kiefl said...

Jim, this was a monumental post. I read it several days ago and still can't believe the importance of your analysis. When time permits, I will provide more comment. Thank you for taking the time and courage to say this.

Barry Kiefl