Crisis-era Academy of Canadian Cinema & TV Unveils New Board

The Gemini and Genie organizer appoints a dozen Toronto power-brokers to its new board to get back in touch with the Canadian film and TV industry.

TORONTO -- The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which runs Canada’s film and TV awards, on Wednesday tried to put years of unprecedented turmoil behind it by unveiling a boardroom clear-out.

Out goes a 22-strong board led by former chair Ronald Cohen that included craft reps like David Gale for performers, Allan Novak for producers and Michael MacLennan for screenwriters, with most hailing from across Canada.

In their place comes a slimmed down 12-member board of Toronto heavy-hitters that includes Bryan Gliserman, co-president of Entertainment One Films, Mark Slone, senior vp of marketing and publicity at Alliance Films, and John Young, managing director of Temple Street Productions.

The new board, led by incoming chair Martin Katz, president of film producer Prospero Pictures, will need to overcome a skeptical industry as it continues to stage the annual Genie and Gemini awards.

Charles Ohayon, Quebec chair at the Academy, said the organization was in dire financial straits before recent cost-cutting moves, and was out of touch with its membership.

“The members felt the Academy was basically useless, and was not doing what it was supposed to do,” he said.

Out-going Academy CEO Sara Morton was recently replaced by interim CEO Helga Stephenson.

And an interim advisory council that included Toronto players like John Riley, president of Astral Television Networks, Jay Switzer, founder of Jay Switzer Media Consulting and Sandra Cunningham, president of Strada Films, recently came on board to steer the organization through its current crisis.

The Academy, launched in 1979 as a not-for-profit, promotes Canadian film and TV with annual awards shows that in recent years have largely been ignored by ordinary Canadian TV viewers.

Ohayon, who orchestrated the boardroom shakeup to revive the Academy, hopes to change that by lining up the CBC to air the Geminis and Genies going forward.

“The Academy is extremely happy to be back with the CBC,” he said.

Other reforms to follow the Academy’s Arab spring moment include changes to the nomination process for the Genies and Geminis, better promotion of Canadian film and TV shows contending in the awards shows, and a national advisory council to represent regions outside Ontario and Quebec.

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