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Shatner, Foley, help Genies mark 30 years

TORONTO - William Shatner admits he doesn't know much about the Genie Awards.

TORONTO - William Shatner admits he doesn't know much about the Genie Awards.

He's never received one — he's never even been nominated for one — and he makes hay of that fact in a one-hour TV special celebrating Canada's biggest film prize that airs Friday on CBC.

The bit of buffoonery is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Genies' fractured history with a Canadian public much more familiar with U.S. superstars and the ostentatious glitz of the Oscars south of the border.

"Not that many people watch the Genies," Shatner acknowledges in a phone interview earlier this week.

"I did everything I could to make it interesting, to make it fun," he says of the TV special, in which a boorish version of himself hosts the proceedings while clashing with crew members in a behind-the-scenes comedy bit.

"They came down from Toronto to Los Angeles and they came with a script ... and I just did everything I could to make it entertaining."

Kids in the Hall comic Dave Foley appears as the special's exasperated director, Alan Thicke plays a brown-nosing producer and Jason Priestley shows up as a possible host replacement for an out-of-control Shatner.

In between, clips from past Genie shows recall some of the most beloved Canadian productions of the last 30 years while homegrown film giants discuss their favourite features.

Director Atom Egoyan cites 1982's "The Grey Fox" as having a special place in his heart while actor Paul Gross jokingly cites his own films "Men With Brooms," "Passchendaele" and "Gunless" as paramount before settling on 1970's "Goin' Down the Road" for being "one of the great films (that) sort of started us all off in many ways."

Shatner says Canada has much to be proud of.

"The film industry in Canada far exceeds in excellence what would be assumed given the population up there," he says.

"Canadian talent is outstanding in every respect — in production, and in front of and behind the cameras and cameras themselves and the script, they're wonderfully talented."

"Making A Scene: 30 Years of the Genies" airs Friday on CBC-TV.

 
 
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