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Canadian film and TV awards combined into one show

The Genies and the Geminis — Canada’s answer to the Oscars and the Emmys, respectively — will now be combined into one large award show event. But will it be as successful an enterprise as the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television hopes?

Martin Katz

Lovers of Canadian TV and film, listen up: The Genie Awards and the Gemini Awards, which celebrate great achievement in Canadian movies and television shows, respectively, will no longer be separate entities. On May 1, it was announced that the two awards shows will now be combined, reconfiguring Canada’s answer to the Academy Awards and Emmys into its own version of the Golden Globes.

The buzz around this decision has been largely positive. Martin Katz, chairman of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, hopes the show will have a greater impact than the Genies and the Geminis had separately, shining a bigger light on everything all at once. Instead of two hour-long televised broadcasts that would occur in the middle of the week, the plan for the revamped awards show is one two-hour-long broadcast during prime time on a Sunday — exactly the spot inhabited by America’s widely viewed major awards shows. The academy’s main goal is to increase viewership; at only 430,000 viewers for the most recent Geminis and 378,000 for the Genies, we don’t blame them.

But is this going to reap the rewards they want it to? We Canadians have a notoriously hard time caring about homegrown artists without validation from the States: No one knew who Carly Rae Jepsen was until Justin Bieber took her under his internationally famous wing and brought her to stardom, despite the fact that she’d been a working musician in Canada for years prior. And we challenge anyone to name five Canadian homegrown films that weren’t released and given attention south of the border. For many of us, if it doesn’t have America’s seal of approval, it’s simply no good.

Canadian film and television artists work just as hard as the biggest American stars do to create the best possible product — harder, perhaps, since Canada’s resources are far inferior to those of America’s and greater resourcefulness is necessary. We therefore completely support and admire the academy’s desire to grant them the greatest celebration possible. But the sad truth is that they may just be a tad too optimistic about what this new venture will mean. Yes, it stands to reason that one larger televised awards show that gives viewers everything they want in one shot will draw a bigger crowd than the Geminis and Genies do separately. However, aside from those who already watch the Canadian awards shows, who else is likely to tune in? Amalgamating the two won’t change many Canadians’ indifference toward the movies and television shows being recognized.

In our hearts, we hope this does work. What we don’t want is for the awards to not be televised at all; not broadcasting a show that celebrates achievements in the arts of film and TV is a far crueller irony than we’re willing to deal with. It’s up to Canadians to start giving a damn and get excited about the work being done here. Because, ladies, it’s some fine work. So let’s give the Genie-nis (as we will refer to the yet-to-be-named new awards show) a fighting chance. And if it doesn’t work out, we just hope they don’t toss the Junos into the awards show salad.

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