Sandra Faire, Pioneering Canadian TV Producer, Dies

Courtesy of Bell Media

The veteran reality and variety TV maker produced 'So You Think You Can Dance Canada' and 'Comedy Inc.,' which aired on Spike TV.

Sandra Faire, the veteran Canadian reality, comedy, music and arts TV writer and producer, who worked with artists like Shania Twain, Joni Mitchell and Garth Brooks, died Feb. 27 in Toronto. No cause of death or age was available.

Faire's TV credits during a near-50 year career included So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Comedy Inc. and Comedy Now, which aired between 1997 and 2001.

Faire worked as a producer in the 1970s at Canada's public broadcaster CBC, before launching her production shingle and making shows for a slew of local broadcasters. Her death sparked a number of industry tributes for her pioneering contribution to Canadian TV.

"She was a trailblazer for women in film and television whose commitment to excellence helped set the standard for production in this country," Randy Lennox, president of Bell Media, whose CTV channel has a vault filled with Faire's variety series output, said Friday in a statement.

"A trailblazer for women, she was a driving force and had a special place in the industry. I had the pleasure of working with Sandra for many years, and she will be deeply missed,” Rogers Media president Rick Brace, a former CTV executive, said in his own statement.

Valerie Creighton, president and CEO of the Canada Media Fund, a major Canadian TV financier, said in a statement: “A role model for women in the industry, her work has inspired future generations of women producers."

Faire got her start in TV as an associate producer in 1972 on Half the George Kirby Comedy Hour, a comedy show shot in Toronto and hosted by American comic and singer George Kirby. In 1975, Faire became a producer on The Joyce Davidson Show, a Canadian morning series hosted by Joyce Davidson. A CBC TV personality during the 1950s who went stateside during 1960s, Davidson co-hosted a syndicated talk show with Mike Wallace and married David Susskind.

By the 1990s, Faire was consistently showrunning family programming for the CBC, including six TV specials hosted by Canadian songstress Anne Murray, two more that featured rocker Bryan Adams and the TV special Buffy Saint Marie: Up Where We Belong.

She also produced TV specials for k.d. lang, Rita MacNeil, Corey Hart and the Rankin Family. In 1993, Faire left the CBC for Baton Broadcasting, a Toronto-based TV station that also owned a stake in national broadcaster CTV.

A year later in 1994, her husband, Ivan Fecan, a former vp creative affairs at NBC in Los Angeles, also segued to rival Baton Broadcasting to become senior group vp broadcasting.

By 1996, Fecan had become CEO of Baton Broadcasting, where he set about to consolidate control of parent CTV for the Bassett family, who were majority owners. That successful power play coincided with Faire in 1997 launching her own production company, SFA Productions, as she continued to produce Canada's top reality and variety programming, much of it for CTV.

That included four seasons of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, five seasons of Comedy Inc., which also aired on Spike TV for two cycles, three seasons of Comics, a stand-up comedy series for the CBC, and 15 seasons of Comedy Now!, which briefly aired on Comedy Central in the U.S.

Faire's variety TV programming had her working with star Canadian and American music talent, like Shania Twain, Barenaked Ladies, Jann Arden, Paul Shaffer, Joni Mitchell, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and Patti LaBelle. In 2008, Faire received an honorary doctor of laws degree from York University, and in 2012 she was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Along with her husband, Faire supported Canadian arts and education with donations to The National Ballet of Canada, Canada's National Ballet School, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, York University, Toronto General Hospital and the University of Guelph.

She is survived by her husband, Fecan.