By Zeff Davies
Oh god, it’s sooooo embarrassing. I’m referring, if I can stop gritting my teeth long enough to do so, to the flap over the non-awarding of a new car to a couple at Sunday’s Junos Awards. Steve Ryde and Vanessa Thomas were approached before the show and asked if they’d like to move from their upper-level seats to the Pontiac Solstice convertible waiting stage-side, the whole thing being, of course, some cheezy promotional tie-in. They agreed, but before they could make the move, minor Canadian celebrity Farley Flex arrived onstage to announce that they had won the car.
The young couple were delighted, of course, and happily took their new seats in their new car. The only problem being that, er, they hadn’t actually won it. Our Farley was confused. They’d just been granted the right to sit in it during the show. As a producer explained to them about halfway through.
Now, the problem isn’t that a mistake was made. These things happen. The problem isn’t that Ryde and Thomas were apparently chosen because they’re pretty good lookers — that’s precisely the sort of shallowness we expect of our TV producers. Nor is it that we must regard Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex as a celebrity — though that is pretty embarrassing.
No, the problem is the response of the producers the next day. Reacting to the fact that the couple were more than a little pissed-off and using words like “sue,” CTV and Insight Productions offered them — no, not a new Pontiac Solstice — but a year’s lease on one.
This reminds me of when I used to watch Canadian game shows as a kid and the prizes would be things like a pair of gloves or a garden hose. American TV: A NEW WESTINGHOUSE REFRIGERATOR!!!! Canadian TV: an ice-cube tray. American TV: AN ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO ACAPULCO!!!!!! Canadian TV: two days in Buffalo. What do you want to bet that by now, if this was a screw-up on an American awards show, the producers would not only have given the aggrieved couple the Pontiac Solstice, but a year’s gas to go with it and, yes, AN ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO ACAPULCO!!!!!! Come on. The car only costs about $23,000 Canadian; my Chevy mini-van cost more than that. They don’t think they’d get $23,000 worth of good publicity and goodwill out of giving the golden kids one? Is the Canadian entertainment industry still that chintzy?
Guess so. I used to think nothing was quite so cringe-worthy as hearing the judges on Canadian Idol tell a contestant “You’re going to Toronto!” (to which the only possible sensate response is “Toronto! Gateway to the English Canadian entertainment industry. Yay?”) But this is worse. Call me when it’s over. I’ll be in Buffalo.