Prominent actors on Parliament Hill to boost television fund

David Gonczol/for Metro Ottawa


Actors Amy Lalonde, John Paul Tremblay, Natalie Brown, and Rob Wells, from left, clown for the cameras last night during a reception on Parliament Hill for the Canadian Television Fund. Tremblay and Wells are well known for their roles as Julian and Ricky on the hit show Trailer Park Boys, while Lalonde and Brown both star in the new CBC comedy, Sophie.

« Canada is home. A lot of us have families and we don’t want to raise them in the U.S.»

When Anastasia Phillips graduated university in Vancouver, the then-aspiring actress had a revelation after finding work in theatre and television.

"I realized I didn’t have to base myself out of L.A.," said the star of MVP: The Secret Lives Of Hockey Wives. "It’s an interesting time to be an actor in Canada. We’re producing work we can be proud of. You don’t have to lose touch with who you are to be an actor."

Actor Peter Keleghan agrees. Best known for his roles in The Newsroom and The Red Green Show, Keleghan lived in the U.S. for a time while doing sitcoms like Murphy Brown and Seinfeld — and he hated it.

"I want to live in my homeland," he said.

"Canada is home," said John Paul Tremblay, who plays Julian on Trailer Park Boys. "A lot of us have families and we don’t want to raise them in the U.S."

Dozens of famous Canadian faces gathered at a Parliament Hill reception last night to support the Canadian Television Fund. Across the river in Gatineau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) opened a public hearing yesterday into the fund’s future.

The hearing is considering the report prepared by the Task Force on the Canadian Television Fund, said Rita Cugini, CRTC Regional Commissioner for Ontario, who is presiding. Two of the fund’s major contributors claim the CTF only produces a small number of successful shows.

But with productions like The Rick Mercer Report and Little Mosque On The Prairie regularly drawing audiences of over one million, the TV industry here is thriving, said CTF president Valerie Creighton.

"The best opportunities are here," said Rob Wells, who plays Ricky on Trailer Park Boys. "And there’s so much talent. I’d hate to see it go south of the border for money."

Last June, the task force recommended that the CTF be split into two funding sources that would benefit shows deemed either "cultural" or "commercial."

Creighton called the CTF’s role in supporting Canadian content "critical." Funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Broadcast Distribution Undertaking, the CTF contributes to over half the jobs in the TV production industry by funding domestic programming.

A poll commissioned by several groups representing producers, actors, writers and directors said that a majority of Canadians believe it’s important to have access to distinctly Canadian television programs.

The CRTC hearing continues this week.

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