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National Entertainment

‘Anne with an E,’ ‘Cardinal’ lead Canadian Screen Awards with 7 wins each



  • TORONTO — TV dramas and debut features by women scored big at Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards as the hostless show moved along at a brisk pace with comedy bits from some of the country’s biggest stars.

    The CBC series “Anne with an E” and CTV detective drama “Cardinal: Blackfly Season” won two awards each during the CBC broadcast from Toronto’s Sony Centre of Performing Arts, putting them atop the TV pack with a total of seven trophies apiece after a week of galas.

    “Anne with an E,” which is inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel “Anne of Green Gables,” won best drama series and an acting nod for lead actress Amybeth McNulty. That added to five trophies acquired on Wednesday for a season that expanded upon the source material to include more diverse characters.

    McNulty, 17, used her acceptance speech to encourage “every young person out there who doubts their voice, their mind, their power.”

    “We are strong, capable and willing to fight for our world,” she said.

    Meanwhile, “Cardinal” took top acting nods for stars Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse during the show, adding to its five trophies from Wednesday.

    In a tearful speech, Virginia-born Campbell thanked Vanasse and the local cast and crew of northern Ontario, where the show is filmed.

    “I’m a Yank and I’m particularly grateful for Canada being Canada these days,” he said.

    Best comedy series went to “Schitt’s Creek,” resulting in a total of four awards for the week, including an acting nod for Catherine O’Hara’s portrayal of eccentric matriarch Moira.

    “In ‘Schitt’s Creek’ we are writing a world that examines the transformational effects of love when the threat of hate and intolerance has been removed from the equation,” said co-creator and showrunner Daniel Levy.

    “And while that’s not a reality for many, our goal is to shine a light out there that asks the question, ‘What if it was? Wouldn’t we all be happier if we were able to love out loud?'”

    The CBC riches-to-rags show, which recently announced its next season will be its last, had tied with “Anne with an E” with a leading 15 Canadian Screen Award nominations going into this year’s ceremonies.

    On the film side, best picture went to Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ debut feature, the Quebec coming-of-age drama “A Colony.” It got three awards in total, including best first feature and best actress for Émilie Bierre’s portrayal of an insecure high school student who bonds with an Indigenous boy. 

    “This is a dream, guys,” said Bierre, 14, noting she’s been acting since she was five.

    Barrie, Ont.-raised Jasmin Mozaffari won best director for her critically acclaimed debut feature, “Firecrackers,” about two young women longing to escape their small town. The Ontario-shot drama also won an editing award earlier in the day.

    “Really did not expect to win this, honest to God,” Mozaffari said onstage, noting it was “a micro-budget” feature that she made “especially for women about living in a patriarchal world.

    “I think I’m one of the few women to win this award. I don’t think I’ll be the last.”

    Overall, the leading film winner was Maxime Giroux’s allegorical drama “The Great Darkened Days” with five awards, including best cinematography for Sara Mishara and best supporting actress for Sarah Gadon. Martin Dubreuil stars in the surreal wartime story as a Quebecois draft dodger and Charlie Chaplin impersonator in the American West.

    It was also a big night for Crave’s small-town sitcom “Letterkenny,” which walked away with a nod for writing and one for acting for creator Jared Keeso, bringing its grand award total to five for the week.

    Other top acting nods went to Kim Coates for the City mafia series “Bad Blood” and Théodore Pellerin for the crime drama film “Family First.”

    The Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award went to actress Dominique Provost-Chalkley of the supernatural Western horror series “Wynonna Earp.”

    The show on CBC and its Gem streaming service capped off a week of ceremonies in which the bulk of the trophies were handed out.

    The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television administers the awards, which honour Canadian talent in film, television and digital media in 135 categories.

    Organizers chose not to have a host this year in a bid to experiment with the awards-show format.

    The broadcast kicked off in quippy Canuck style, with a skit on homegrown celebrities involving the cast of “Baroness von Sketch Show,” singer Jann Arden and actor Jerry O’Connell.

    Comedy star Mary Walsh received the Earle Grey Award for her body of work, while Deepa Mehta got the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    “Will & Grace” star Eric McCormack presented the Kids in the Hall comedy troupe with the Academy Icon Award, and actor Stephan James received the inaugural Radius Award, which goes to a Canadian making waves globally.

    “When I was coming up in Scarborough with my brother, we hadn’t seen too many black actors who were doing incredible things abroad … people who had come from Toronto and Canada,” James said backstage.

    “We’ve always wanted that, we’ve always yearned for that, and to look around and realize that you may be that person for some young girl or some young boy, it’s an incredible feeling.”

    Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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    The hardest choice of this long weekend: Raptors or ‘Game of Thrones’?




  • TORONTO — As a “Game of Thrones” fanatic who is also a devoted Toronto Raptors fan, Oriana Di Nucci finds herself weighing the pros and cons of what to watch this Sunday when the fantasy saga concludes at the same time her beloved team hosts its first home game of the NBA Eastern Conference final.

    Despite the ubiquity of on-demand viewing, watching event programming live on a traditional television is still the preferred mode to experience mammoth meme-able moments, says the pop culture junkie. But she is still kicking herself for switching to “Game of Thrones” last Sunday just before Kawhi Leonard scored an astonishing buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the playoffs’ second round.

    This Sunday will feature a similar double-draw, when the most critical moments of the Raptors’ Game 3 will almost certainly overlap with the first half-hour or so of the “Game of Thrones” 80-minute finale.

    But Game 3 is a much different proposition than a deciding Game 7, says Di Nucci, who will risk missing another Raptor moment to watch “Game of Thrones” live with her family.

    “I’m really bad at accidentally spoiling things a lot. It’s not good for me and my friends who hadn’t watched it yet,” she explains, expecting both social media and traditional media to be awash with GoT details Sunday night and Monday morning.

    Despite pronouncements that event television is dead, Di Nucci believes the fear-of-missing-out drives many to the tube, often with friends and family in tow.

    And anyway, the advent of time-shifting and on-demand viewing has addressed remote control battles that would have split family viewing just a few years ago, adds sports fan Keith Morris.

    “I’m in my thirties and I remember back then Dad would have been downstairs watching the game and somebody else that was into the show would have been upstairs,” he says, noting screens are also more likely to run simultaneously in the same room.

    “But now with technology you can kind of do it all.”

    This Sunday, Morris will be at his friend’s condo with about 10 others for what’s primarily considered a GoT finale party. But the game will be on, and he expects most guests to trickle in during the second quarter.

    It’ll be especially hard to avoid Raptors fever when they return home Sunday, even with a “Game of Thrones” finale, he predicts.

    “The city is definitely on fire. We have a chance this year,” says the Missouri-born Morris, also devoted to watching the St. Louis Blues chase the NHL’s Stanley Cup.

    Raptors fan Heba Habib of Pickering, Ont., says the choice isn’t hard for her, since Crave makes “Game of Thrones” available as soon as it airs on HBO at 9 p.m. ET. Generally speaking, she ignores linear broadcast.

    “I’ve never really watched television live. I normally watch on-demand, or I watch whenever I have the time. It’s only live games that I normally watch (live),” says Habib, who’ll join a dozen friends to watch Sunday’s game, followed by “Game of Thrones.”

    She says her parents will stay home to focus on the game. 

    Indeed, the proliferation of mass media has actually made the notion of mass consumption less and less the reality, says York University film professor John McCullough.

    “That’s the contradictory thing,” he chuckles. “It seems we have more mass media at our disposal nowadays but in fact the way that mass media (and) content is produced is actually (encouraging) fragmented audiences.”

    That was certainly the case last week for Di Nucci, who watched the Raptors with her sister and parents on the living room TV until she and her father commandeered the set for “Game of Thrones.”

    Her mom and sister were relegated to an upstairs bedroom to finish the game between the Raptors and visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Di Nucci soon realized that was a mistake “based on their yelling and running around.”

    “The timing was not great, right? sighs the 21-year-old.

    “I wish I saw Kawhi’s last shot live. I wish I saw it in the moment, but it happens. It happens. I’ll be there for the next one. I’ll be there for the next big win.”

    Bell Media says “Game of Thrones” has been averaging 2.5 million viewers each week in its Sunday 9 p.m. ET time slot, with no indication that fans delayed viewing habits for the Raptors.

    Sportsnet says last Sunday’s Game 7 attracted an average audience of 2.2 million viewers, a big jump over a typical game. A peak audience of 3.8 million tuned in to catch Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

    If Di Nucci had another screen available at the time, she expects she would have caught Leonard’s shot but she was using her phone to text a friend during “Game of Thrones,” which was being streamed to the television via her laptop.

    There’s no escaping spoilers when a popular entertainment juggernaut captivates social media, says Meg Wheeler of Toronto. For that reason, “Game of Thrones” trumps all viewing, and did so last Sunday when she convinced her partner to switch from Game 7 to watch the series live.

    “We are both so active on Twitter that we know it’ll get spoiled if we don’t watch it live,” says the 28-year-old, admitting to some regret for missing Leonard’s shot.

    “I don’t feel it was that big of a deal — I’ve seen it now so many times replayed — but there is something special about seeing it happen live. It’s one of those things where you would remember where you were when it happened.”

    Habib, meanwhile, has worked out key house rules for watching a delayed “Game of Thrones”: “Nobody can go on social media.”

    “We’re good. As long as it’s not a blowout, we will always watch Raptors first,” she says.

    Being respectful is key, adds Morris, citing past experience in asserting the difficulty of reading online leaks without spoiling the fun for others.

    “If they’re searching through Twitter or people are live tweeting and they’re reading it and they’re getting spoiled, you can kind of read on their face what’s going on,” he says.

    “That’s when we decided to say: ‘Everyone put your phones on the table and turn them over and for 20 minutes let’s just watch the rest of this game and be present in this Toronto moment.'”

    Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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    National Entertainment

    Rolling Stones to make single Canadian stop in Ontario on North American tour




  • NEW YORK — The Rolling Stones are ready to get back on the road in North America after postponing their tour because Mick Jagger needed medical treatment.

    The rockers announced Thursday the No Filter tour will kick off in Chicago with two shows on June 21 and 25.

    The band will then make a stop in Canada for a June 29 concert at the outdoor Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ont., about 30 kilometres north of Barrie.

    All the cities previously postponed are locked in and there’s a new date in New Orleans.

    Tickets sold for the original dates will be honoured, but those who can’t attend can get refunds by accessing their Ticketmaster accounts.

    The group says in a statement the concerts will feature classic hits such as “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Paint It Black.”

    The No Filter Tour was slated to start April 20 in Miami. However, doctors told the 75-year-old Jagger in late March he couldn’t go on tour.

    The Associated Press

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