Writers hand awards to Corner Gas, Motor City

Writers Guild of Canada members saluted a passing generation April 14 when they gave the 2008 Canadian Screenwriting Award for best half-hour drama to CTV’s Corner Gas.

‘Brent [Butt] gave everyone a year’s notice. That’s nice of him,’ said Mark Farrell, who along with Robert Sheridan earned a trophy for their work on the popular homegrown comedy that will run out of gas in spring 2009.

Robert Wertheimer and Denis McGrath picked up top honors for the six-part saga Across the River to Motor City in the best one-hour drama series category. When accepting their trophy at the 12th annual Canadian Screenwriting Awards, they promptly thanked the originating broadcaster, CHUM, which is now part of the CTV empire.

‘Thanks Jay Switzer, Roma Khanna, Ellen Baine. We all miss CHUM, but it’s a new time and a new world,’ said Wertheimer.

‘Let’s have a moment of silence for CHUM,’ McGrath added during his turn at the microphone.

Other winners at the 12th annual CSAs included Travis McDonald for best feature script for his work on Carl Bessai’s Normal, and Ian Weir, who earned the miniseries prize for Dragon Boys, the Vancouver-set drama about Asian-Canadian street gangs.

Afghanada writers Jason Sherman, Adam Pettle and Greg Nelson picked up the best radio drama award. Kenn Scott took home the trophy for best kids show writing for the episode ‘Petition Impossible’ on Iggy Arbuckle, while Barri Cohen was honored for best documentary writing for Toxic Trespass.

Elsewhere, in the youth category, Brent Piaskoski came out tops for Naturally, Sadie and its episode ‘In or Out of Africa.’

Other big winners who are hardly strangers to trophies or critical praise included the ensemble writers on the CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, which won for best variety show. The CSA categories were shuffled this year, and reclassified Gas and other sitcoms as half-hour dramas in a bid to open up the variety and comedy field.

The writing desk for 22 Minutes includes the host of the CSAs, Gavin Crawford.

He cut up the audience with a string of jokes, including the suggestion that Bill C-10, Ottawa’s controversial censorship legislation, should not be thought of as spelling the end of cutting-edge TV.

‘Think of it as the Conservatives finally supporting the CBC,’ he said with a wry smile.

The emotional high point came when veteran producer/writer Peter Mohan (Blood Ties, Mutant X) was honored with the WGC Showrunner award.

As well, the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize went to Tony Elliott for Stranger Than You. Allan Magee picked up the Alex Barris Mentorship Award, while the WGC Writers Block Award was shared by Jack Blum, Jeremy Hole and Ann MacNaughton.

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The Alpern Group 20th Anniversary Party

The Alpern Group 20th Anniversary Party - Peter Mohan (TAG Client), Scott Garvie (Shaftesbury Films), Dr. Fiona McConville

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