Cana­dian TV fail­ing view­ers, says di­rec­tor

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Cas­san­dra Szklarski

TORONTO — Cana­dian tele­vi­sion lacks vi­sion and courage, and that’s the rea­son it’s fail­ing to keep up with the so-called Golden Age south of the bor­der, says TV di­rec­tor Jeremy Podeswa.

The Toronto-born Emmy nom­i­nee be­moaned a lack of bold home­grown dra­mas Thurs­day to match the pres­tige prop­er­ties that have lured him to the United States, where his cred­its in­clude Board­walk Em­pire, Amer­i­can Horror Story, The Walk­ing Dead and Home­land.

“It’s a lack of vi­sion at the top in terms of the peo­ple who are com­mis­sion­ing pro­gram­ming,” Podeswa said dur­ing a stop in his home­town to screen an episode of Board­walk Em­pire and speak about his Hol­ly­wood ca­reer at the TIFF Bell Light­box.

“I don’t feel like they’re look­ing at that crit­i­cally enough, they’re not see­ing where they are in this land­scape. I think if they did they would see that they’re not in the land­scape where they should be.”

Podeswa jumped un­re­servedly into a sim­mer­ing de­bate that erupted Oct. 10 when Globe and Mail colum­nist John Doyle railed against this in­dus­try’s “point­less in­vest­ment in medi­ocrity.”

Doyle lam­basted a re­cent spate of “generic” Canuck pro­ce­du­rals, de­scrib­ing the last 14 years of Cana­dian TV as “al­most com­plete cre­ative fail­ure.”

Podeswa said he, too, be­lieves the Cana­dian in­dus­try has not kept pace with such wa­ter­shed U.S. dra­mas as The So­pra­nos, Break­ing Bad and Six Feet Un­der. He puts the blame squarely in front of net­works and de­ci­sion-mak­ers.

“I feel like in Canada they still think mono­lith­i­cally about the au­di­ence — that there’s just like this one Cana­dian au­di­ence and they have to be served in a cer­tain way,” he says.

“They’re not re­ally tak­ing ad­van­tage of the mo­ment to be in­no­va­tive and clever and niche when it’s nec­es­sary and even on a broader-based level to take more risks... It’s not even so much of a risk th­ese days to do th­ese kinds of things be­cause they’re proven to be suc­cess­ful in the States. All you have to do is just look and see what’s be­ing done, what peo­ple are watch­ing, and it’s so much wider in terms of what peo­ple are pro­vid­ing for view­ers than what they’re do­ing here.”

Podeswa does ap­pre­ci­ate some Cana­dian fare — he heaps praise on Space’s sci-fi clone saga Or­phan Black and the de­funct noir Durham County, which aired on The Movie Net­work and Movie Cen­tral.

He was also a fan of CBC’s short­lived com­edy Michael: Tues­days & Thurs­days, and the City se­ries Less Than Kind, which re­cently fin­ished its run on HBO Canada.

But he’s not a fan of a re­cent trend to­wards Canuck multi-cam come­dies shot in front of a live stu­dio au­di­ence. City is heav­ily pro­mot­ing its half-hour Pack­age Deal as unique for shoot­ing in the dis­tinctly U.S. style also used by The Big Bang The­ory and Two and a Half Men, while CTV is gear­ing up for its multi-cam of­fer­ing, Spun Out.

“I think that’s a very bad idea,” Podeswa says of res­ur­rect­ing the for­mat, vir­tu­ally un­seen in Cana­dian come­dies, which tend to be sin­gle­cam­era.


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