Flashpoint, Call Me Fitz Lead Gemini Nominations

Competition at Canada's TV awards now reflects the growing popularity of local pay TV and cable channel dramas and comedies in Canadian primetime.

TORONTO -- Canadian premium pay channels HBO Canada, The Movie Network and Movie Central dominated the nominations Wednesday for the Geminis, Canada’s TV awards.

The CTV/CBS crime drama Flashpoint led the pack with 17 nods, but on its heels was the HBO Canada comedy Call Me Fitz with 16 nominations.

And the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which unveiled  nominations for the 26th edition of the Geminis in Toronto Wednesday, vindicated the heavy investment by domestic pay channels in homegrown dramas as another comedy, TMN/Movie Central’s Living in Your Car, grabbed 10 nominations.

History Channel’s The Kennedys, the controversial mini-series that aired stateside on ReelzChannel, also hauled in 10 nominations, as did TMN’s The Pillars of the Earth, yet another in a string of European costume dramas that Canadians are co-producing these days as they also rely on crime dramas like Flashpoint and ABC/Global Television's Rookie Blue to sell into the international market.

Michael Souther, executive producer of Call Me Fitz with indie producer Amaze Film + Television, said TMN/Movie Central programmers encouraged the creative team behind the Jason Priestley-starring comedy to push audience buttons with edgy content.

“They gave us a pretty long leash, and I don’t recall any pull back as they let us go,” Souther insisted.

The strong showing by Canadian pay and cable channels is reflected in the Geminis’ best drama competition, where Showtime/CBC’s The Tudors and Showtime/CTV’s The Borgias will contend against CTV/CBS’ Flashpoint, Showcase’s just-cancelled crime drama Endgame, and TMN’s teen series Skins.

Canadian pay dramas also figure in the best dramatic mini-series or TV movie competition, which pits TMN/Movie Central’s Fakers and TMN’s Sleepyhead and The Pillars of the Earth against The Kennedys and My Babysitter’s a Vampire, which airs on Teletoon.

HBO Canada’s Call Me Fitz and TMN/Movie Central’s Living In Your Car also dominated the acting categories, with Jason Priestley netting a nomination in the best comedy actor category.

The best dramatic guest actor competition saw Colin Cunningham, Tim Rozon and Jonathan Scarfe each nab nominations for roles in Flashpoint.

Canadian actor Adam Ruggiero (Degrassi) received a Gemini nomination for his hosting duties on YTV’s The Next Star, a reality competition series to find the best Canadian teen singer.

Ruggiero distinguished The Next Star from U.S.-originated reality competition series that he insists are driven by “gossip” and rivalry.

“Our reality show is not about cut-throat antics, it’s mentorship for young performers,” he explained.

TMN’s Skins was also recognized with Gemini nominations, indcluding a best supporting actor nod for Jesse Carrere, despite the U.S.-based MTV cancelling the controversial teen drama after one season.

The Geminis will be handed out in Toronto on September 7, airing live on the CBC network.

Two nights of pre-gala prize-giving will take place in late August.