One of the more unusual stories arising from the Vancouver International Film Festival and its Toronto counterpart has to do with The Dick Knost Show, a low-budget media satire with a titular character who is suspiciously familiar to fans of Canadian sports-talk radio.
The fictional Dick Knost is an acerbic, big-haired, highly-skilled, self-confident, soccer-hating radio host who wears sunglasses in the studio and hates interviewing athletes. On the other hand, Bob McCown, a sports-broadcasting personality whose Prime Time Sports is syndicated nationally on radio and simulcast out of Toronto on Sportsnet, is an acerbic, big-haired, highly-skilled, self-confident, soccer-hating radio host who wears sunglasses in the studio and hates interviewing athletes.
The blatant appropriation of character gave rise to more than a few Spockian eyebrows, to coin a McCown-esque phrase, and piqued the curiosity of the man himself. After watching the trailer for the film, McCown didn't know whether to be flattered or insulted.
Knost is clearly a copycat Bobcat, but the character is not without his flaws. Eventually the film's director, Bruce Sweeney, was booked as a guest on Prime Time Sports, where he unashamedly admitted to the veteran radio host that he was a big fan of his, and that he was an obvious inspiration for Knost.
In the interview with The Globe and Mail, the director gushed about McCown.
"He's the sports junkie's talk-show host," said Sweeney, who also wrote the script. "I like who he interviews. I like how he runs interviews. I like how he can be prickly and terse one moment and then buddy up with a person the next."
Sweeney wished to make clear that he knows nothing of McCown's personal life, and that while the character is an "obvious homage," Knost was a "composite" of more than one sports personality.
Tom Scholte, the actor who plays the role of Knost, adds the character is "completely fictional," and he, like Sweeney, is a major fan of McCown. "I love his candour. He's a pioneer of Canadian sports broadcasting."
McCown, whose signature flippancy is reflected in a catch-phrased "Who gives a flying fadoo," has seen the film. It's clear to him that Prime Time Sports was an inspiration for the film, but he sees Knost as an exaggerated version of a sports-show host.
"It's somebody else's perception of what we do, in a broad sense," McCown told The Globe. "It's more of a caricature than an effort to accurately depict either me or the show itself."
Despite its presence at September's TIFF and the ongoing VIFF, The Dick Knost Show, filmed in just 12 days, is actually more of a television project than a movie. "It doesn't have the scope or weight of a feature film," Sweeney said. "Basically, we wanted to make a pilot."
As it turns out, McCown's own production company has developed a treatment involving an ex-jock radio host. He and Sweeney have now begun conversations on working together to synergize the two projects. "The essence of the shows is the same," McCown said, "so there's a possibility that we may be able to work together."
With or without McCown's involvement, The Dick Knost Show will be pitched to possible distributors. It remains to be seen if any network gives it a flying fadoo.