‘Schitt’s Creek’ enters final night of Canadian Screen Awards as top contender

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TORONTO — The Canadian Screen Awards wrap up tonight with the final virtual show honouring winners in major film and TV categories.

Homegrown actors Stephan James, Karine Vanasse and Nahéma Ricci will narrate the pre-recorded presentations, which cap four nights of trophies in 141 film, television, and digital media categories.

The sixth and final season of CBC’s “Schitt’s Creek” took a leading six trophies in last night’s presentations, including a writing nod for co-creator and star Daniel Levy.

Its other wins included Emily Hampshire for best supporting actress and a directing trophy for Levy and Andrew Cividino.

The widely beloved riches-to-rags sitcom was the leading contender going into this year’s CSAs with 21 nominations and is up for many key trophies tonight, including best comedy series and acting honours for Levy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy.

The Indigenous zombie feature “Blood Quantum” was up for a leading 10 film awards going into the CSAs week and won one trophy last night for best stunt co-ordination.

This is the second year in a row the CSAs are unfolding online because of the pandemic, which has curtailed the usual pomp of the film and TV awards show circuit.

The Oscars, Grammys, Emmys and other awards bashes have experimented with different types of pandemic-tailored broadcasts to meet health and safety precautions but the result has been low ratings and, in some cases, critical pans.

“I can’t see an awards show just returning to what it was. I think that there will be some changes, and I think that’s going to be great,” said Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which puts on the Canadian Screen Awards.

“Yes, there were a lot of disastrous attempts this year in the awards shows. But there’s also some really interesting stuff that I think worked well. There were parts of the Grammys that I thought were really innovative and interesting to watch.”

Then there’s the issue of the Golden Globes, which NBC says it won’t air next year amid controversy surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the voting group behind the awards. The group is facing backlash over the lack of diversity among its membership.

“COVID has really exposed the true nature of the entities that are putting on these award shows, because generally an award organization, they tend to be fairly conservative and full of very powerful people,” said Janson.

“And it’s not easy to pivot in those sorts of situations. So you really have to, at your core, be aware of what your mission is in order to pivot. So I think that’s something that has changed.”

Awards shows also face a challenge with getting the attention of teenagers and young adults, who don’t seem as “enamored with competition and competitiveness,” Janson said.

“There’s definitely a sense of appreciating people for their differences. So I think that’s a major generational shift and awards shows have to figure out how they’re going to fit in to that paradigm.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press