The George Findlay people remember best is the thin-skinned boor of a news producer from CBC Television's The Newsroom, but Ken Finkleman (who plays George and is his real-life alter ego) has reincarnated this commitment-phobic curmudgeon in half a dozen TV shows, including his re-emergence this Sunday night on HBO Canada's Good Dog. Why? George is the vehicle for Finkleman to take on issues that both intrigue him and tick him off. As he puts it: "George never changes, it's just the context in which he finds himself that sets each George apart."
1. The embryonic George ( Married Life; 1995, Comedy Central). He makes his debut in this series as a self-absorbed, manipulative documentary filmmaker who constantly strives to turn up the heat in the lives of a married couple to make his documentary more interesting.
2. The definitive George ( The Newsroom; 1996-97, CBC). He was the muffin-obsessed kingpin in an ensemble cast that skewered TV journalism. The tag line of the show - "Let's not paint ourselves into a factual corner" - pretty much says it all, and George would think nothing of torquing the news to boost his numbers. Ironically, the narcissistic, loathsome George is almost likable compared with Peter Keleghan's simpering, thick news anchor, Jim Walcott, or the bevy of amoral executives who hang around this newsroom.
3. The soulless George ( More Tears; 1998, CBC). He is now a roving news producer, with no professional or personal ethics, who manipulates the truth to ensure he and his dimwitted reporter Diane (Leah Pinsent) get the most viewer-friendly clips. It's a disturbing political satire, heavily influenced by Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita and 8½, and marks the beginning of George's continuing struggle with his romantic and sexual life.
4. The serially womanizing George ( Foolish Heart; 1999, CBC). Once again a TV producer, George pops up in some - but not all - of the six interconnected episodes in this series, which focuses on sex and adultery to mine the inherent shallowness of most personal relationships.
5. The quasi-cerebral George ( Foreign Objects; 2000, CBC). In this dramatic anthology, George is a documentary filmmaker confronting human frailty in six self-contained stories, largely based on famous literary works, including pieces by Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk and Italy's Italo Calvino.
6. The cradle-robbing George ( Good Dog; 2011, HBO Canada). In this latest incarnation, George is a narcissistic producer trying to launch a new reality series based on the relationship he has with a woman half his age. Ever the commitment-phobe, he's forced to confront those fears when the network executives demand he becomes more involved with his partner to spice up his reality show.
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