Ah, awards season. The Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Canadian Screen Awards. … Wait, the what?
The Genies and Geminis still have more name recognition, but the two Canadian awards shows (the former celebrating film, the latter television) joined forces in 2013 in an attempt to streamline interest and boost viewership, and voila — the CSAs were born.
Repping Edmonton this year was Mosaic Entertainment’s half-hour sit-com Tiny Plastic Men, nominated for three awards including Best Writing in a Comedy Program or Series (Chris Craddock) and Best Actor in a Leading Comedic Role (Mark Meer).
And, full disclosure, my fiancé, Mosaic’s Jesse Lipscombe, was nominated for Best Comedy Series along with his partners and fellow executive producers Eric Rebalkin and Camille Beaudoin — which is how I wound up at the pre-show, show and after-parties in Toronto.
4 p.m.: Pre-carpet drinks in our room at the Ritz. Mark, Chris and Jesse make last-minute decisions about ties. Naturally, Jesse and I have colour-co-ordinated our outfits, making us shoe-ins for the best-dressed-couple category at the very least.
4:30 p.m.: The car taking us to the Four Seasons Centre has a paper in the window reading “talent,” allowing us to bypass most of the snarled traffic.
4:35 p.m.: We are immediately humbled when security allows several black SUVs to cut in front of us. They have a special paper, we are told. I’m not sure what it says, but my guess is “real actual celebrities.”
4:45 p.m.: Red-carpet posing time. We hold up papers with our names on them and then are instructed to hit three separate marks. I am super proud to be an Edmonton Journal reporter, but I secretly hope that some of them wonder if I’m not the latest addition to Rookie Blue or a Quebecois actress.
4:47 p.m.: Several fans want Jesse’s autograph. At least two recognize him from actual shows he’s starred in (Hell on Wheels), while the rest have confused him with another actor. Not one to disappoint his fans (or anyone else’s), he happily obliges. Weirdly, nobody has mistaken me for Charlize Theron yet, and I do not sign any autographs.
5 p.m.: Pre-awards cocktail reception at the Four Seasons Centre. The new opera and ballet building is one of Toronto’s finest, but we are packed shoulder to shoulder. In 45 minutes I see exactly two trays of food with teeny-tiny appetizers. They vanish before we’re in whiffing distance. We are hungry. Rookie mistake — we haven’t eaten in hours.
6 p.m.: “Pre-awards gala” time — a one-hour show for less-glitzy categories that is pretty much like the broadcast gala except way quicker, and the winners get all of 10 seconds to thank people until they’re played off the stage. The time allotment becomes a running gag and Xavier Dolan is even bold enough to say, “Why are we even here, then?”
6:45 p.m.: Intermission before the actual awards show, which is broadcast on CBC. There’s no food or drink. At this point, we are borderline hangry (anger caused by hunger — presents most often in males).
7 p.m.: Formidable host Andrea Martin kicks off the show with a video gag: Arriving at the red carpet, she falls out of her SUV, exposing her lady parts à la Paris or Britney (they’re blurred out). She follows up with “Talk about 50 shades of grey” and “there’s your mystery tunnel” cracks in her very funny opening monologue. Only Andrea Martin could get away with opening a CBC broadcast with vagina jokes.
7:10 p.m.: Award for best actor in a comedy series is announced. Mark is up against the cream of the crop: Gerry Dee, Dave Foley. He loses to Sensitive Skin’s Don McKellar. Mark is unfazed and happy for Don. I have not seen one minute of Sensitive Skin, but I am outraged (looking back, I was probably just hangry).
7:55 p.m.: Best Comedy Series winner is announced. For the second year in a row, Tiny Plastic Men is bested by the shinier, bigger-budget show Call Me Fitz. But hey, if we’re going to lose to anyone, I’m glad it was Jason Priestley. I now have the 90210 theme song stuck in my head.
8:20 p.m.: At a commercial break, we chat with Alan Thicke, who guest-stars in Season 3 of Tiny Plastic Men and who will be in Edmonton to make a feature film with Mosaic in the summer. He’s with his wife and son and they’re nominated for best reality series for their show Unusually Thicke. There are so many questions I want to ask about Robin Thicke. But out of respect for Growing Pains, I keep them to myself.
8:50 p.m.: Xavier Dolan’s Mommy takes home the prize for best picture. Meanwhile, outside, I eat my first bite of food — a creamy delight from Jelly Modern Doughnuts — since a noon breakfast sandwich. I have never been so ready for jelly. Hunger gives way to excitement. It’s party time.
11:15 p.m.: Official CSAs after-party. The winners all seem to be congregated in a VIP section. We did not win, but they don’t know that, so we join them, and seem to be welcomed (I suspect they believe we are Idris Elba and Charlize Theron or Idris Elba and a Quebecois best supporting actress nominee).
Midnight: Jesse and I take our 70th and final selfie of the night. Both of us look tired, but we fix it with a flattering filter, natch.
12:30 to 1:30 a.m.: Champagne
2 a.m.: Back to the hotel. We’ve got two and a half hours before our wake-up call. Real celebrities might have stayed up all night, but we have work in the morning. Telling stories, making movies and shooting TV shows — all the way across the country in Edmonton.