JUDGE DREAD: There are a few intriguing details emerging in the wake of the announcement this week of a Canadian version of Project Runway.
In a Canadian Press story, we learn the show has no host broadcaster yet, and no host or judges. Producer John Brunton, the man behind Canadian Idol, apparently hopes that it can still be called Project Runway, though it sounds like that’s on the table, as well.
Prizes are also up in the air: Brunton hopes the show will be able to offer its winner a show at Fashion Week in either Montreal or Toronto — staging the final showdown on the runway there is apparently not in the cards — and a spread in a national fashion magazine like Fashion, Flare or Quebec Elle. At this point, some dismal voice in my perpetually disappointed Canadian soul mutters that we might be looking at a walk-off by the perfume counter in the Eaton Centre Sears, and a spread in the Loblaws Insider’s Report.
Calgary designer Paul Hardy, contacted by CP for a comment on the news, said he was surprised someone would attempt a Canadian version of the show. “Our industry is not overly large,” Hardy said, “and it’s not really a main export of our country, the same way it is in the U.S. or Europe.”
In any case, Hardy hoped the judges will provide frank, constructive criticism for the contestants, and avoid our overriding national fondness for inoffensive pleasantries.
“It’s really important for the judges to be honest,” Hardy said. “On America’s Next Top Model, the judges actually say it directly to the models’ faces but on Canada’s Next Top Model they say it after the girls leave. We are a passive nation and very non-confrontational,” he said.
Wait a minute there, fella — why should a show about the fashion industry stick to rules any different from the ones we apply to our music, movie and publishing industries? Like you said, it’s a small country up here, and you never know when you’ll need a favour. Besides, if the show ends coming across like a big, wet dramatic dud, we can always comfort ourselves with the thought we’re basically so much better — so much nicer, and far more polite — than the British or Americans. Honestly, why should you have to pay such a dear price for really watchable TV?
THE VERY, VERY SMALL SCREEN: Big new summer season aside, some of the best TV these days continues to pop up on websites like YouTube.com.
Speculation about the offscreen lives of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street is nothing new, but go to YouTube and type “Ernest” and “Bertram” into the search engine — you’ll get an eight-minute short by director Peter Spears that fit in rather nicely at Sundance a few years ago, before attracting the attention of the lawyers working for the Children’s Television Workshop. Best line: “You love me like a Muppet loves another Muppet!” Best detail: The big Spartacus poster on the wall of the tastefully furnished split-level bungalow shared by Bertram and Ernest.