Sean Cullen at work on Martin Short’s opener for Screenies

The curtain will go up on the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards after an industry detente has etalk, ET Canada, and Breakfast Television join the CBC to coproduce a red carpet special.
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Canadian actor/comic Sean Cullen is back helping write the funny for the upcoming Canadian Screen Awards.

“Really enjoying working on writing the Canadian Screen Awards with Martin Short. Look forward to violent magic,” Cullen said on his Twitter account.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, which organizes the CSAs, on Tuesday said Cullen is working with Martin Short on the opening production number for the March 9 broadcast gala to air on the CBC.

That opening will follow a red carpet special at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto to be co-produced by the CBC, Bell Media, Shaw Media and Rogers Media as each broadcaster supplies their top celebrity interview talent.

“It’s interesting that we’ve all come together. It’s about time. We’re shining a big spotlight on Canadian talent,” said Nataline Rodrigues, director of original programming at Rogers Media, which is sending City’s Breakfast Television team to help cover the CSAs.

The impetus for the cross-broadcaster cooperation, to include etalk and ET Canada participating in the red carpet special, came from CBC factual head Jennifer Dettman, whose network is charged by the Academy with airing the Screenies.

Dettman told Playback Daily that the ratings for the inaugural CSAs last year were promising. Even so, the CBC wants to add to that early success with the support for rival broadcasters this time round.

“It started from the idea that we wanted to build on the success from last year. We were happy with the show last year, with the overall re-branding. Then you feel a bit of pressure. We’ve created something here. So how can we grow that further,” she pointed out.

That call to action has been accepted by rival broadcasters.

“CBC is the broadcaster of the event. It’s their show. It’s also smart to reach out to fellow broadcasters to engage and be inclusive and ensure it’s the best broadcast possible,” Scott Henderson, VP of communications at Bell Media, said.

Shaw Media content topper Christine Shipton shares in the optimism among broadcasters about coming together to spotlight Canadian talent at the CSAs, while also conceding there will be hometown cheering by the individual broadcasters as their shows contend for awards.

“It really feels that every broadcaster has something to celebrate. We all have successes that are being rewarded,” Shipton said.

The CBC Television and the Academy also Tuesday said Viggo Mortensen will be on hand March 9 to give director David Cronenberg the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

And presenters of Screenies include Lauren Holly, Amanda Brugel, Anna Silk, Arisa Cox, Dave Foley and Tatiana Maslany.

Also handing out trophies at the CSAs is David Sutcliffe, Jason Priestley and Missy Peregrym.

Additional presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.