Slings & Arrows, a Movie Network show about the goings on behind the scenes of a fictional Shakespearean theatre festival, nabbed four major awards at the Gemini gala in Regina on Sunday.
The show won best dramatic series as well as best writing in a drama. Actors Paul Gross and Martha Burns, a husband and wife team who star in the show, were honoured with acting trophies.
CBChost George Stroumboulopoulos launched the 22nd annual Gemini Awards Gala with a pre-packaged skit involving a bus trip to Saskatchewan, calling the province "flat" and dropping by the outdoor sets of CBC's Little Mosque on the Prairie and CTV's Corner Gas, both filmed in the province.
Throughout the sketch, various TV personalities, including Rick Mercer, sex therapist Sue Johanson and Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!, admonished the host of The Hour for his faux pas.
Stroumboulopoulos, dressed nattily in a black suit with tie, hosted the final awards night celebrating Canadian English-language television at Regina's Conexus Arts Centre, the second time the gala night has been located outside of Toronto. Vancouver was host to last year's show.
Men in Trees lead James Tupper, Jason Priestley andGrosswere the first guest hosts on the stage.The three joked about their tenuous connections as Priestly played a game of Six Degrees of Separation.
The threesome handed out the best actress award in a dramatic series to Gross's wifeBurns. Gross was later presented with a best actor trophy for the same series.
Instead of giving a thank you speech, Grosshonoured William Hutt, a founding company member of Canada's Stratford Festival, who died this year.
Next in the show came Brent Butt of Corner Gas and Carlo Rota of Little Mosque on the Prairie.Rota commented on how his show was shut out of all categories but was given a special Canada Award for fostering racial tolerance in the country.
Butt's response? "Oh, too bad."
Actress shocked by win
The pair presented the award for best individual performance in a comedy program.The winner turned out to be a very shocked Phyllis Ellis for The Wilkinsons, beatingout the likes of Rick Mercer of the CBC's Rick Mercer Report and John Cleese in the Just for Laughs Gala Series.
"I feel great. I'm sure you're all wondering who I am but I'm not hurt," joked Ellis.
Best Comedy Series went to Corner Gas, which beat out CBC shows This Hour Has 22 Minutes and the Royal Canadian Air Farce, the animation Odd Job Jack and Rent-A-Goalie.
"We all want to dedicate this to the crew which works hard on the show here in Regina … and gets it into 1.6 million homes every week," said the series creator and star Brent Butt.
Howie Mandel, who now hosts the popular game show Deal or No Dealand handed out the award with wrestler Trish Stratus, complained how none of these series offered him a guest starring role.
After the award was given out,Stroumboulopoulos sat behind Luba Goy and pointed out the Air Farce star, joking that he once went out with her.
Little Mosque captures Canada Award
Other skits included a mock public service announcement for FLOP, Forgotten Lives ofPuppets, with actress Camilla Scott telling the public that "Did you know that puppets only have a five-year life span in the entertainment business?"
The fast-moving show,sliced downto a one-hour broadcast from the usual two hours, cut to CBC comedian Sean Majumder, Smallville's Kristen Kreuk and Sarah Chalke of Scrubs to present the best drama series trophy to Slings & Arrows.
The show's creators and stars stood back to allow Peter Hutt, the nephew of William Hutt, to give the official acceptance.
|Best Dramatic Series||Slings & Arrows (Movie Network)|
|Best Actor in a Drama Series||Paul Gross, Slings & Arrows|
|Best Actress in a Drama Series||Martha Burns, Slings & Arrows|
|Best Direction in a Drama Series||Chris Haddock, Intelligence (CBC)|
|Best Comedy Series||Corner Gas (CTV)|
|Best Ensemble in a Comedy||Brent Butt, Lorne Cardinal, Fred Ewanuick, Gabrielle Miller, Eric Peterson, Nancy Robertson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Janet Wright, Corner Gas|
|Best Writing in a Comedy||Mark Farrell, Corner Gas|
|Best Writing in a Drama||Susan Coyne, Bob Martin, Mark McKinney, Slings & Arrows|
|Best Host or Interviewer in a Sports Program||Ron MacLean, Hockey Night in Canada (CBC)|
|Best News Anchor||Gord Martineau, CityNews at Six - Toronto|
|Best Music or Variety Program||2006 MuchMusic Video Awards|
|Best Social/Political Documentary||Fatherland|
"Thank you for Slings & Arrows … it's as magical an experience as I've had in television," said Hutt, whose uncle appeared in the series.
Mercer presented the prize for best host in a sports program to the CBC's Ron MacLean for Hockey Night in Canada. MacLean began his career on the program in 1986.
MacLean, who now has seven Geminis, thanked his wife, parents and singled out fellow sportscaster James Duthie who covers the NHL for TSN: "Duthie, you deserve a win, too."
CBC program Little Mosque on the Prairie was then honoured with the Canada Award for helping spread tolerance and understanding through its series.
"I'd like to thank my broadcaster, CBC, for being brave," said show creator Zarqa Nawaz, who stood along with her producers and several members of the cast.
The show, now in its second season, gets more than a million viewers every week.
Last presenter: Dan from Regina
The last award of the televised show featured a "regular white guy"— introduced as Dan from Regina — who presented the inaugural Viewers Choice Award, given to a Canadian who is not eligible for a Gemini.
"This is so amazing," said an ebullient Howie Mandel, who won through an online voting poll over 21 other Canadians starring in Hollywood productions.
"It's great to reward people for their talent and skill but I think it's much more important to be popular."
Mandel had the audience laughing as he said, "I can now tell people I am the favourite Canadian" and then invited Dan to hang out with him.
Stroumboulopoulos ended the show by thanking the people of Regina and Saskatchewan and the crew: "For the love of God, we got it done in an hour."
William Hutt was a founding company member of the Stratford Festival, not its founder as was originally reported.Oct 29, 2013 12:13 AM ET