‘Avonlea,’ Atlantis lead competition for Genies

“Road to Avonlea” led nominations yesterday for Canada’s Genie Awards, which recognize excellence in English-language television.

The show’s 13 nominations include best drama series, writing (both Heather Conkie and Charles Lazer), picture editing (Gordon McLellan), series lead actor (to both Zachary Bennett and Cedric Smith), series supporting actor (Michael Mahonen), Kate Nelligan for guest performance and Sarah Polley for lead actress in a drama series.

The Sullivan Films show is seen on the Disney Channel in the U.S.

Also competing for best dramatic series are pubcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Street Legal” and Alliance Communications’ “E.N.G.” and Atlantis Films’ “Neon Rider.”

Acting categories offer interesting showdowns. The 13-year-old Polley is up against “E.N.G.’s” Sara Botsford for lead actress, in addition to Sonja Smits and Cynthia Dale, both for roles on “Street Legal.” Lead actors on that same series, Eric Peterson and C. David Johnson, are also going head to head for best series lead actor.

Among Canadian production companies, Atlantis Films for the second year running garnered the highest number of nominations with 18, including “The Sound and the Silence” for dramatic miniseries; short dramatic program to both “Ray Bradbury Theatre” and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Monkey House”; “Maniac Mansion” for comedy series; “Howie!” for variety program; and telepic “Curse of the Viking Grave” for children’s program.

“E.N.G.” secured nine nominations, including two for best writing (Wayne Grigsby, Barbara Samuels and Angelo Stea, Peter Lauterman), best series actor to Art Hindle, best guest performance in series to Robin Gammell, best series supporting actor to Jonathon Welsh and best series supporting actress to Theresa Tova. Alliance Communications also received two nominations for drama series “Bordertown” (best costume, best production design) for a total of 11 nominations.

By company, Paragon Entertainment followed close behind Alliance, taking 10 nominations divvied up among “Rapture” (best TV movie); “Forever Knight” (Best series direction, best series photography, best sound in drama series, best series lead actor, best series supporting actor), which is seen on CBS in the U.S.; “Beyond Reality,” broadcast on the USA Network, “Lamb Chop’s Play Along” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

CBC’s drama “Grand Larceny” took 10 nominations, out of a total of 33 that went to in-house drama programs produced by the pubcaster. “Conspiracy of Silence” took eight, including best miniseries, best direction (Francis Mankiewicz), best writing (Suzette Couture); “Street Legal” received seven, “Bethune: Making of a Hero” garnered five; “Scales of Justice” collected two nods; while “Wojeck: Out of the Fire” got one nod.

The 55 program, craft and performance awards will be spread out over three consecutive nights of awards presentations, culminating in a live broadcast airing March 7 on CBC.

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