Bach tops Geminis

Yo-Yo Ma series scores 14 Canuck nominations

MONTREAL — An innovative series of shows featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and performances by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma leads the race this year for the Gemini Awards, Canada’s equivalent of the Emmys.

“Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach” — which had its world preem at the Venice Film Festival in 1997 and won the top prize at this year’s Montreux TV Festival — has been given the nod in 14 Gemini categories, including short dramatic program, music/variety program or series, direction in a dramatic program or miniseries and best performing arts program or series.

Rhombus produced

The series of six one-hour shows was produced by Toronto-based Rhombus Media, with segments directed by some of Canada’s top filmmakers, including Francois Girard (“The Red Violin”), Atom Egoyan (“The Sweet Hereafter”) and Patricia Rozema (“I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing”).

“Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach,” which teams the cellist with artists from various disciplines in an unorthodox take on a classical theme, aired on PBS in the U.S. earlier this year.

The nominations cap a busy few months for “Yo-Yo Ma” producer Rhombus Media, which has upped its international profile substantially, thanks to the series and its two most recent features.

The two Rhombus films are Don McKellar’s “Last Night,” which had its world preem in the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, and Girard’s “Red Violin,” which will premiere later this month at the Venice Film Festival and then open the Toronto Intl. Film Festival in September.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television announced the nominations for the 13th annual Gemini Awards on Tuesday. The Academy received more than 3,000 entries for shows aired on Canadian TV between Sept. 1, 1997, and May 31, 1998.

Fall show

The Gemini Awards show, which has been held in the spring in recent years, is moving to a fall slot in an effort to help boost the autumn promotional campaigns of Canuck broadcasters. The awards will be handed out over three nights of ceremonies in Toronto Oct. 2-4, with the final Gala broadcast live nationally on CBC Television.

The second-most-nominated show was CBC’s nightly 10 p.m. newscast “The National,” which garnered 13 nominations.

Other leading nominees include the Cinar Films/Bernard Zukerman Prods. miniseries “The Sleep Room,” a harrowing tale of abuse in a Montreal psychiatric hospital, which nabbed 11 nominations; and Alliance Communications’ Mountie series “Due South” and Salter Street/Cinar family series “Emily of New Moon,” which tied with 10 nominations each.

Cochran Entertainment’s “Pit Pony,” Atlantis Films’ “Cold Squad” and CBC public affairs show “The Fifth Estate” each scored eight nominations.

Your list of lists

“This year’s nominations showcase the best of a flourishing Canadian industry that is steadily increasing the volume of high-quality domestic production each year,” said Maria Topalovich, president of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

The following are nominations in some of the key categories:

Best TV movie or miniseries: “Borrowed Hearts” (Atlantis); “Pit Pony” (Cochran); “Platinum” (Prisma Prods.); “The Sleep Room” (Cinar/Bernard Zukerman Prods.); and “White Lies” (CBC).

Best dramatic series: “Cold Squad” (Atlantis); “Due South” (Alliance); “Emily of New Moon” (Salter Street/Cinar); “Once a Thief” (Alliance); and “Traders” (Atlantis).

Best direction in a dramatic program or miniseries: Atom Egoyan (“Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach, Sarabande”); Ted Kotcheff (“Borrowed Hearts”); Bruce McDonald (“Platinum”); Eric Till (“Pit Pony”); Brad Turner (“Major Crime”); and Anne Wheeler (“The Sleep Room”).

Best actor in a leading role in a dramatic program: Nicholas Campbell (“Major Crime”); David Cubitt (“Major Crime”); Donald Moffat (“The Sleep Room”); Michael Moriarty (“Major Crime”); and Leon Pownall (“The Sleep Room”).

Best actress in a leading role in a dramatic program: Tanya Allen (“Platinum”); Laura Bertram (“Platinum”); Nicola Cavendish (“The Sleep Room”); Sarah Polley (“White Lies”); and Lisa Repo-Martell (“Night Below Station Street”).

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