Debra DiGiovanni: Single, Awkward, Female
Saturday, Comedy, 9 p.m.
“I hate people who don’t hate people,” says DiGiovanni, the Toronto-based stand-up comic, in this hilarious special, made for the Showtime channel. One of Canada’s best-known comics these days – she can be heard on CBC Radio’s The Debaters and is a judge on the MuchMusic show Video on Trial – her act is all lethal self-deprecation. Much of it is about her weight, but she can also be savage about showbiz and, well, about men. “If you want to make a woman really mad, tell her to relax. That will do it. I’ll flip over a table if someone tells me that.” An account of joining a gym is brutally honest and a rant about diets she has tried is both rude and funny. Mainly it’s all about her but the humour is universal.
Saturday, CBC NN, 9:30 p.m.
Steve James, who made the classic doc Hoop Dreams, made this much-praised look at CeaseFire, a Chicago group trying to defuse and ultimately end gang violence there. The title comes from the belief that violence is a disease, spread from person to person, and can be stopped by “interrupting” the spread. At the doc’s core is Ameena Matthews, daughter of a notorious Chicago gang leader and now devoted to training people to spread conflict-resolution tactics that stop violence. It’s an extraordinary portrait of Matthews, who is a vital, powerful figure. Her cohorts are mostly men who have had the sobering experience of prison time after indulging in violence. They intervene in petty disputes and large, toxic ones. The doc is one of those that surges on hope, the hope that the tactics will actually work.
18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
Sunday, Global, 8 p.m.
In awards season, some people will watch anything that has movie stars traipsing around and making speeches. Hence the rise of the SAG shindig from lowly status to big-time TV coverage. This is an actors-only event. No speeches from unglamorous writers or technical people you've never heard of. Among the presenters are Kathy Bates, George Clooney, Jessica Chastain, Ben Kingsley, Melissa McCarthy, Brad Pitt, Zoe Saldana, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig. Such categories as Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture mean that armies of movie actors are there. Also, many people from the TV racket are present. A nomination for the cast of Game of Thrones means that 33 actors from it are nominated. Expect long-winded speeches, inside jokes and, of course, exhortations to help various causes. And the frocks. Lotsa lady actors in gee-whiz frocks.
Sunday, HBO Canada, 8 p.m.
This is HBO’s first glamour show of 2012. Luck is a work of genius and not your average show in terms of background explanations and easy-to-follow plotlines. It’s dense, tricky and slides all over to tell a complex story. From Deadwood creator David Milch and directed by Michael Mann, it stars Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon in a drama about the winners, losers, sharks and suckers at a local horse-racing track. Mann makes it look spectacularly beautiful, and the horse-racing sequences are breathtaking. As much as there is beauty, though, this is very much a dark drama about the hard-edged side of the racing and gambling worlds. Not easy viewing, but not to be missed.
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