Cut-bedeviled CBC tops Gemini nom list

TORONTO — The beleaguered Canadian Broadcasting Corp., coping with budget cutbacks and staff layoffs, finally got some good news Tuesday. It led the field in nominations for the Gemini Awards, which recognize the best in Canadian television.

The 11th annual Gemini award-winners will be announced over three days, from Feb. 28 to March 2, by the Acad-emy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Most of the CBC’s 150 nominations were for news and public affairs shows — including the national news with 15, the “5th Estate” newsmagazine with 11 and the “Witness” program with 16 — but many of its top nominated dramatic series were produced by others.

The CBC’s final season of “Road to Avonlea,” a family drama produced by Sullivan Entertainment Inc., garnered 11 nominations, and “North of 60,” a drama about life in Canada’s north produced by Alliance Communications Corp., earned 10.

CBC also dominated the best TV movie category but, again, it had plenty of help from the indies. Among the most nominated CBC films were “Diana Kilmury: Teamster,” produced by Alliance; “Under the Piano,” produced by Sullivan; and “The War Between Us,” produced by Atlantis Communications Inc. and Troika Films and directed by Anne Wheeler, were among the CBC’s most nominated films. Its inhouse productions, “Little Criminals” and “Net Worth,” still fared well.

“We’re so delighted that we have so many nominations,” said Phyllis Platt, CBC executive director of arts and entertainment programming. “It’s a real testament to the ability of the CBC to continue in its role as the primary broadcaster of strong Canadian programming despite all the budget cuts.”

‘Traders’ dividends

CanWest Global Communications Corp.’s biggest nominees were “Forever Knight,” a cop-vampire series produced by Paragon Entertainment Corp. but no longer in production, and “Traders,” a series about high finance produced by Atlantis. Global has not determined whether it will renew “Traders” for a third season.

Two American actors, Beau Bridges and Ron Silver, were nominated for best actor for their work in Paragon’s TV movie “Nixon and Kissinger.”

Ann Medina, chair of the Academy, said more than 2,200 entries for Gemini nominations were submitted this year, up more than 50% from 1,400 a year ago.

Dual announcements

The nominations were announced at simultaneous press conferences in Toronto and Vancouver.

English-language programs aired in Canada between Oct. 2, 1995, and Aug. 31, 1996, were eligible for nomina-tion in the 64 program, craft and performance categories.

Canada’s two biggest production companies never compare themselves to each other, but Alliance brought home 31 nominations, Atlantis 26.

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