Corner Gas creator Brent Butt puzzled by Gemini nomination snub

“Corner Gas” creator and star Brent Butt says it’s “kinda goofy” that his celebrated show has been shut out of the Gemini nominations this year, adding that he’s taking the snub “with a pound of salt.”

Brent Butt

“Corner Gas” creator and star Brent Butt says it’s “kinda goofy” that his celebrated show has been shut out of the Gemini nominations this year, adding that he’s taking the snub “with a pound of salt.”

Nominations for the awards, which celebrate the best in Canadian television, were announced Tuesday, but “Corner Gas” did not make the cut in a single category.

Butt said Wednesday from Vancouver that he’s surprised but is not upset.

“I always say in show business you have to take everything with a pound of salt,” Butt said.

“If you win an award, you can’t go around thinking you’re the bees’ pyjamas…. And when you don’t get an award, you can’t think, ’Well, this is a travesty of justice and I am outraged.’ You’ve got to put it in perspective.”

Butt said he’s received several emails from others connected to the show and notes that “everybody’s just kind of confused.”

“I understand not winning any awards. If we went to the Geminis and didn’t win any awards, you’d kind of roll with it and go, ’Oh, all right, whatever.’ But to not even have a nomination, that is kind of goofy. I’m not angry or outraged, I’m too busy trying to wrap my head around it, you know? To kind of go, ’Really? Not a nomination? In 99 categories, after 107 episodes? OK.”’

“Corner Gas” is widely considered the most popular Canadian sitcom of all time. It ended a critically acclaimed six-season run in April with a final episode that drew nearly three million viewers to CTV and the “A” channel. CTV says that’s the biggest audience that has watched a Canadian-made scripted television series since the network began keeping electronic records in 1994.

The quirky series has nabbed five Geminis over the years including the best comedy titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007. This is the first year the show has not been up for the best comedy trophy since debuting in 2004.

This year, Citytv’s dark comedy “Less Than Kind” leads the nominations among sitcoms with nine nods. It will face off against CBC’s “Rick Mercer Report,” CBC’s “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”, CMT’s “Three Chords from the Truth,” and Showcase’s “Testees” for the title of best comedy.

CTV’s cop drama “Flashpoint” leads overall with a record 19 nominations.

Nominees for the annual bash are determined by secret ballot by members of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Deliberations are confidential.

Academy head Sara Morton said jury members take their role very seriously.

“Traditionally, the purpose of the Gemini Awards has been to recognize the best television programming,” Morton said.

“It’s not, strictly speaking, about the popularity of a program, although the two often coincide.”

She noted that upwards of 20 sitcoms were competing for the title of best comedy this year.

“Without question, (’Corner Gas’) is a show that has changed Canadian television for the better, but when we’re looking at whether a show is nominated in a given year in a particular category, that depends not just on the particular show but also on the other shows entered into the same category.”

The Geminis have not been without controversy. A few years back, CTV announced it would no longer submit news coverage for consideration.

Former “Gas” writer Paul Mather, now working on a new sitcom with Fred Ewanuick — another alum from the show — said he, too, was bewildered by the snub.

“With all due respect to the Geminis, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that you wouldn’t nominate them,” Mather, who did not work on the show’s final season, said from Toronto.

“It does the Geminis themselves a disservice not to have Brent Butt and the gang there at the awards ceremony. Three million people watched that finale, that’s just a big part of Canadian TV this year and I think that it’s a missed opportunity for the Geminis not to recognize that. I don’t think it’s good for the industry and I don’t think it’s good for the Gemini Awards themselves. And I don’t think it’s fair.”

This year’s Gemini bash will take place Nov. 14 in Calgary and will be broadcast on Global and Showcase.

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