Eleventh Hour leads Gemini noms

Toronto’s Barna-Alper Productions may have struck twice in the best dramatic series category, but it is Alliance Atlantis’ The Eleventh Hour that leads the pack with 14 overall nominations for the 18th annual Gemini Awards, announced last week by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Barna-Alper dramas Blue Murder and Da Vinci’s Inquest (which closely trails Eleventh Hour with 11 noms) will take on The Eleventh Hour, Cold Squad and The Atwood Stories for the golden profile on Oct. 20 in Toronto.

The nominations announcement, broadcast live on CBC from its Toronto headquarters, was kept very light and tight by host Jian Ghomeshi. In fact, the proceedings may have been too efficient. If a major sore point of last year’s event among some media types was that it went too long, the Academy sure fixed that. Scheduled to be only 30 minutes, this one ended with time to spare, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if it wasn’t being broadcast live across the country (although Ghomeshi joked often about how many people were actually watching and couldn’t seem to say ‘red carpet’ without smirking).

To fill in the extra time, Ghomeshi kept this year’s Gemini host Sean Cullen on stage for some amusing banter. Cullen’s quick wit and fine performance last year make him an obvious choice to host once again. He is actually nominated this year for his hosting job last year.

Speaking of nominations, the Academy kept it sexy this year, announcing only the nominees in the major categories.

Helping with the announcements were best actress in a dramatic series nominees Waneta Storms (Eleventh Hour) and Mimi Kuzyk (Blue Murder), who are up against Tamara Hickey (Blue Murder), Julie Stewart (Cold Squad) and Marina Orsini (The Last Chapter II: The War Continues) in the category.

An American in Canada’s Rick Roberts was also present to announce the noms. He and the performers on An American in Canada will vie for the best ensemble cast in a comedy award with another first-time nominee in the category, A Guy and a Girl, along with Trailer Park Boys, This Hour Has 22 Minutes (10 seasons and 10 nominations in the category) and Made in Canada.

First-time nominees in the performance categories also include Scar Tissue’s Roberta Maxwell and A.K.A. Albert Walker’s Sarah Manninen (both nominated for best leading actress in a mini or dramatic program) and Eleventh Hour’s Jeff Seymour and Cold Squad’s Matthew Bennett (nominated for best actor in a mini or dramatic program). Aidan Devine is up twice in the best supporting actor in a drama or mini for his work on 100 Days in the Jungle and Scar Tissue.

Getting back to Made in Canada, although it received nine Gemini nominations (as did Blue Murder), it was snubbed in the best comedy program or series category for its final season. That prize instead will go to either consummate category fav This Hour Has 22 Minutes, or Trailer Park Boys, Puppets Who Kill, Lord Have Mercy! or The Gavin Crawford Show.

With the Academy deeming Napoleon and Hitler: The Rise of Evil ineligible because of their foreign backing, the best MOW or miniseries category will see Chasing Cane II: Face, 100 Days in the Jungle, A.K.A. Albert Walker, The Many Trials of One Jane Doe and The Interrogation of Michael Crowe duke it out, while Agent of Influence watches from ringside. Although Agent director Michel Poulette is nominated in his category (along with Jerry Ciccoritti for The Many Trials, Rodney Gibbons for Silent Night, Sturla Gunnarsson for 100 Days and Don McBrearty for The Interrogation), Agent’s star, Christopher Plummer, also got the Gemini snub. Nominated for best actor in an MOW or miniseries are Betrayed’s Michael Hogan, Chasing Cane II’s Peter Outerbridge, A.K.A.’s Alan Scarfe, The Interrogation’s Michael Riley and No Night Is Too Long’s James Lee Williams.

Viewers would be pleased to know that very few names were mangled during the proceedings, although Storms did take a very dignified second stab at ‘Buttignol.’