Entertainment briefs – April 25

Kids in the Hall comic Mark McKinney has won a special achievement award from the Writers Guild of Canada.

Special achievement award for ‘Kids in the Hall’ comic Mark McKinney

TORONTO — Kids in the Hall comic Mark McKinney has won a special achievement award from the Writers Guild of Canada.

The veteran TV scribe was presented with the guild’s showrunner award, which recognizes “exceptional leadership, impressive body of work and unique creative vision.”

McKinney’s writing credits include the defunct Movie Central/The Movie Network series Slings & Arrows and HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind.

The Writers Guild of Canada handed out its annual screenwriting awards Monday.

Other winners included Larry Bambrick for CTV’s cop drama Flashpoint, Craig David Wallace for the Space comedy Todd and the Book of Pure Evil, Darrin Rose for the YTV animated series Scaredy Squirrel and Bruce Smith for the CBC-TV movie John A: Birth of a Country.

The Writers Guild of Canada represents more than 2,000 English-language screenwriters across the country.

Memorial set for Levon Helm at his home in Woodstock

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — Levon Helm’s friends and fans have been invited to a memorial at the home where the late drummer and singer for The Band staged his Midnight Ramble barn concerts in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Helm’s family says on his website that parking will be available at three locations in Woodstock and there will be shuttle bus trips to the Woodstock property from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. A private funeral is scheduled for Friday.

Helm died April 20 at the age of 71 from complications of cancer.

Quebec comedy ‘Starbuck’ spawns U.S. remake by DreamWorks Studios

TORONTO — The francophone smash Starbuck is getting a U.S. makeover by Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios.

The Canadian comedy, about a middle-aged man whose life is turned upside down when he learns he fathered 533 children through sperm donation, is set to be filmed in New York this fall.

Quebec producer Andre Rouleau says the deal came together after Spielberg watched the film last month and was enthralled by the story.

He says the remake will be written and directed by original writer-director Ken Scott and that he’ll stay on as a producer.

Rouleau says he’s thrilled to be working with DreamWorks, noting it’s highly unusual for a U.S. studio to allow a film’s original creative team to also helm a remake.

DreamWorks says casting has begun but no details were revealed.

“We were completely charmed by the story in Starbuck and saw the potential for a commercial remake with universal appeal,” Stacey Snider, co-chair and CEO of DreamWorks Studios, said in a release.

“We are excited to be working with the original filmmaking team of Ken Scott and Andre Rouleau and look forward to our collaboration on this film.”

The original Starbuck was released in Canada last summer and collected several awards on the festival circuit, including audience prizes at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Sonoma International Film Festival.

That film was set in Montreal with Patrick Huard playing the inadvertent dad, David Wozniak.

The original film was co-written by Martin Petit.

Commonwealth Book Prize short list has three Canadian authors

LONDON — Johanna Skibsrud’s Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel The Sentimentalists is among three Canadian titles on the short list for this year’s Commonwealth Book Prize.

The other Canuck finalists are The Town that Drowned by Riel Nason of Quispamsis, N.B., and Dancing Lessons from Jamaican-born, Toronto-based Olive Senior.

Skibsrud, who grew up in Pictou County, N.S., won the Giller for The Sentimentalists in November 2010. At 30, she was the youngest recipient ever for the $50,000 honour.

Jay Manuel clears air about ‘Top Model’

TORONTO — Canadian fashion guru Jay Manuel is stamping out rumours that he and fellow America’s Next Top Model cast members Nigel Barker and J. Alexander were fired.

In an interview on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight Monday, Manuel said it was a case of their contracts on the CW reality show expiring and not being renewed.

“That’s the thing that people don’t know, and the show was at a point where they had to make a change,” Manuel said.

“It’s not a huge surprise to us. They just didn’t do new contracts with us, so we weren’t really fired for doing something wrong.”

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