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Geminis more than kind

Winnipeg sitcom wins three awards at gala

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TORONTO -- After a tough year involving the death of series star Maury Chaykin, the talent behind Winnipeg sitcom Less Than Kind had reason to celebrate Saturday as the show was crowned the king of comedy at the Gemini Awards.

"I know Maury would be thrilled to see this," said Mark McKinney, producer of the HBO Canada series that won a leading three Geminis at the 25th annual gala, hosted by Canadian Glee star Cory Monteith.

"He was so proud of the show and he really liked it and he was a creative partner on it, so I think he'd be happy for the success.

"But we miss him an awful, awful lot."

Less Than Kind won awards for best comedy, best writing in a comedy for series creators Chris Sheasgreen and Marvin Kaye and best individual comedy performance for Benjamin Arthur.

"This is Maury's," said Arthur as he held up his trophy backstage. He beat out co-stars Wendel Meldrum and Lisa Durupt in the category.

Chaykin, who died in Toronto in July at age 61, played the patriarch of a dysfunctional family in Less Than Kind.

The death of his character is now being written into Season 3, which just started shooting on Friday.

"I think we're really lucky that the writers are so talented and that they can take such a sad storyline and actually still put humour into it and still set it with the tone of the piece," said Durupt.

Dozens of fans lined the streets outside Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre Saturday to catch a glimpse of the stars attending the gala, which celebrated the best in Canadian TV.

Monteith, who was born in Calgary and raised in Vancouver, even stopped to sign autographs before the broadcast.

In his opening skit, Monteith got on his cellphone in his Glee trailer and called a bunch of Canadian TV personalities, including Call Me Fitz star Jason Priestley, to say he was homesick.

He then jumped onstage at the show, sat at a drum kit and played with a marching drum band before launching into a humorous monologue that touched on the differences between Canadian and American TV.

"Watch your back, America -- Canada's ready to crack some skulls," he said after noting Canadian programming often has sinister-sounding titles, including Dragons' Den, Cra$h and Burn and Less Than Kind.

Monteith, who plays heartthrob Finn Hudson on Glee, also professed a love for Degrassi and addressed what he called the "giant elephant in the room" -- why someone with more experience in hosting wasn't helming the show.

A total of 19 awards were handed out at the gala, which was broadcast on Global and Showcase. CBC's Henry VIII hit The Tudors won best drama, beating out four other series including CTV's slick cop series Flashpoint, which landed a trophy for best direction in a drama (David Frazee) at the gala.

The broadcast also featured a tribute Degrassi with alumni including Nina Dobrev and Adamo Ruggiero. Degrassi was also deemed the favourite Canadian program from the last 25 years after an online voting contest that was open to the public.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 14, 2010 A6

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