Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Gemini's, The Regina, And Those Heavenly Glory Days

The 2007 Gemini Awards (Canada's Emmy's) begin next week in Toronto. Starting Monday there are three (count 'em 3!) nights of ceremonies to award TV excellence in Sports and Documentary; Youth and Children's; and Variety and Comedy programming.

Then two weeks later the festivities pick up again for the Gala televised awards night (October 28) out here in lil ol' Buttkick. It's heady times for the small prairie city of Regina (Ree-gi-nah), and they're already promising "one hell of a party!"

That last part I don't doubt, but I am wondering how many celebs and nominees will actually be making the long and expensive cross-country trek to partake in the event. It's a bit of a hump, and if you've already had to shell out the serious coin for the Toronto nights...well, I do wonder.

But that said, if any readers are planning to attend, please comment or email me your coordinates and contact info and let's see if we can't put together a 'blogland' dinner or something.

Okay, post proper.

I won a Gemini once (or at least shared it with producing partner Stephen Onda) still sits on a shelf in my living room. It was in 1992 for Best Children's Program or Series - a one hour family drama I also directed entitled The Garden. Jan Rubes starred as an eccentric recluse with skeletons in his closet who befriends a young boy and together they put demons to rest while protecting the old man's fabulous garden from teenage hooligans.

As with most Canuck productions, it came and went with little fanfare - I believe it aired once as a Halloween special on CTV. So it was a pleasant surprise to receive the nomination. Actually, we received two nominations that year. The other was in the category of Best Short Drama Program for a CBC half hour dramedy entitled Home On The Range (which didn't win, but was probably the more solid effort). So Onda and I flew to Toronto with wives (now ex-wives) in tow for the awards weekend (back when it was only three nights). Exciting times, they were.

Both our categories were on the Saturday evening, and we were giggling like kids in a candy store as we teetered into the expansive ballroom: "Hey, there's Albert Schultz. And Lloyd Robertson. And Graham Green.

And Cynthia Dale!" (famous for Street Legal but worshiped for Heavenly Bodies )...

All good...until we found our table waaaaay at the very back. In the last row actually. Onda and I immediately looked at each other and said: "Well, let's enjoy this party cuz if this is where they seated us, there's no way we're winning." And we set about polishing off wine and bread baskets while chatting to whoever was sitting in the vicinity.

The night dragged on and on (as they are want to do) - the short drama winner was from one of the front tables, further confirming our expectations of being shut out. Finally it was time for our other category...Ernie Coombs (aka Mr. Dressup) was the presenter. Kewl.

I will admit some butterflies surfaced as they read the nominees, but still, seriously...what were the odds? And then they announced the winner (these were also the days of 'And the winner is..." as opposed to today's fair-minded 'And the award goes to...'): "The Garden!"

Spit take.



Onda and I finally realized we were supposed to get to the podium, and began the long and arduous journey through the maze of tables. Applause quieted down to nothing as people looked around for the recipients.

Mr. Coombs actually began to accept the award on our behalf when we were spotted, still not halfway to the stage. All waited patiently as we finally made it up the stairs. Obligatory half-hearted applause followed.

Onda got choked up and thanked his wife and newborn child. I believe I behaved more like a 'producer' and thanked the cast, crew, network, and financiers. Then we were whisked off stage right for photographs (which I have somewhere but can't locate). And then back to our table and the 'real' party began.

And even knowing how little winning a Gemini really means to your life or career (as in, it never translated to a gig or a job or even a meeting, best I can recollect), I will admit to experiencing a feeling not unlike 'floating' for the rest of that evening. It was, in the end, a gas...a thrill...a 'moment', no matter what others might say.

For Saskatchewan and Regina, it was the first nominations and trophy for what was essentially a baby film and TV industry. It made headlines and the local news for a week...people were proud. Heck, Onda and I were proud, even if deep down we knew the only reason anyone voted for us was that it had the most 'children's or family'-sounding title...'The Garden', as opposed to 'Take Off' or 'Join In' (the other two nominees). I'm sorry, but I asked people, and that's how it went down.

Nevertheless this was a long time ago, and Regina and the local production community have come a ways since then....(see Prairie Giant, Corner Gas, Little Mosque, etc.). The Gemini's, however, continue to struggle for respect and credibility.

Maybe this year is the one that turns it around.

And if you happen to win, try to savour it. I've attended plenty more ceremonies and been part of several nominations since, but there's been no more trophy hoisting. And let's face it, even if it's only a Gemini, 'moments' like that just don't come along very often.


Book of Don said...

Great post Will. (And I apologize for NOT realizing you were Regina-based). I have quite a few friends coming to the Queen City for the if you're looking for a cheap date just let me know and I'll hook you up. :)

I too won a Gemini. My award category was the first to be called. No sooner had my bum hit the chair than it was ...."the nominees are...". I did my semi-articulate thank you's...sat down and proceeded to get royally pissed as all the adrenalin mixed together with the cheap white wine I'd been swilling and the scotch someone had bought me in the lobby. As I had not eaten since breafast this all became somewhat of a noxious mix....and the chicken dinner decided it had spent enough time in my colon and decided to make a break for it.

Sick as a dog.

All over the table. All over the remaining crusty buns and half eaten arugala salad...and, of course all over my shiny little trophy.

wcdixon said...

That beats my story down down down, Don. Too funny.