Skip to main content

This year’s Canadian Screen Awards won’t have a host – a move organizers say is a deliberate attempt to try something new amid a “crisis” of declining ratings and not something done out of necessity, such as the Oscars.

Beth Janson, chief executive officer of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, says the traditional approach of trying to attract viewers and channel-surfers by having a famous face as host is “a very old-fashioned way of thinking,” since TV audience habits have changed.

“Awards show are just trending down, down and down – 20 per cent per year, for most of them – which to me indicates obviously a big crisis, as someone who produces one of these shows,” Janson said in a phone interview.

Story continues below advertisement

“But I also think that this environment allows us to take a few risks.”

The academy puts on the annual Canadian Screen Awards, which honour homegrown talent in film, television and digital media. This year’s nominees will be announced on Feb. 7.

Last year’s show had two hosts who both live and work in Canada: comedians Jonny Harris and Emma Hunter. Previous hosts have included Canadian names who have largely built their careers in the United States – Howie Mandel, Norm Macdonald, Martin Short, and Andrea Martin.

Janson said after assessing shows of the past, she convinced the board to go with no host about two months ago. That was before comedian Kevin Hart backed out of hosting this year’s Oscars because of controversial statements he made in the past, leaving the Academy Awards with no emcee.

“I think our country is different and we need to have a different style of awards show – and I think that can be better and it can be something … that people enjoy watching,” Janson said.

“I’m excited about that. I’m not scared of it.”

Janson’s team hired an all-female writers’ room for this year’s show, which will include pretaped comedy bits.

Story continues below advertisement

Shelagh O’Brien will direct the March 31 broadcast gala on the CBC. Jennifer Dettman, executive director of unscripted content at CBC, is the show’s programming executive.

“It’s a big risk. It could totally fail,” Janson said. “But in my mind our ratings would drop 20 per cent anyways, probably, on traditional television.

“So, this is the time to take a chance.”

Janson said the show will have “a clever opening number” that will use a lot of talent in the room but won’t be a song-and-dance performance.

Over all, the Canadian Screen Awards will have an air of levity and a “throughline” narrative “that will make the show in and of itself a thing and a piece of entertainment that we can really be proud of – and that shows off the best of what we’re doing right now in the country,” she said.

“We’re really approaching the show as a platform for Canadian comedy right now,” Janson said, pointing to the success of shows including Baroness von Sketch Show, Letterkenny, Schitt’s Creek, Workin’ Moms, Mohawk Girls and Kim’s Convenience.

Story continues below advertisement

“There is a huge moment happening in Canada right now around comedy that I think we’re going to look back on with the same significance as the SCTV or the Kids in the Hall eras, which is that we have these really interesting voices, they’re really incredibly original. We’re not just trying to copy the States.”

Janson noted the show will still be the same two-hour length.

She hopes it will become an event audiences look forward to watching and not just be “about who’s nominated or how many American celebrities are there.”

“We need to try to figure out what the future of awards shows is going to be,” Janson said.

“Millennials don’t like awards, they like appreciating everyone for their unique differences, so how do you do an awards show in that sort of environment? This is our attempt at an answer to that.”

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies