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April 24, 2014

The New Biopics: Undistinguished Canadians

by Stephanie Earp, posted Mar 29th 2010 5:02PM


On Sunday night, I watched 'Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story' on CBC because, as my beloved said, "We kind of have to, don't we?" I think he was thinking of my job as a Canadian TV columnist, our status as hockey fans or maybe he only meant there wasn't much else on.

But watch it we did (the first half anyway - the rest airs Monday March 29, 8 pm, CBC) and frankly, I thought it was pretty good, and I'm a little surprised about it.

CBC miniseries are not usually my cup of tea. The subjects are usually dead white guys who made Important Contributions to Our Country, which I always feel I'm supposed to know about already.

Don Cherry even agrees with me. "I feel like I should be dead," he said at a press conference for the series. "Don't they usually do these kinds of movies about dead people?"

On Sunday night, I watched 'Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story' on CBC because, as my beloved said, "We kind of have to, don't we?" I think he was thinking of my job as a Canadian TV columnist, our status as hockey fans or maybe he only meant there wasn't much else on.

But watch it we did (the first half anyway - the rest airs Monday March 29, 8 pm, CBC) and frankly, I thought it was pretty good, and I'm a little surprised about it.

CBC miniseries are not usually my cup of tea. The subjects are usually dead white guys who made Important Contributions to Our Country, which I always feel I'm supposed to know about already.

Don Cherry even agrees with me. "I feel like I should be dead," he said at a press conference for the series. "Don't they usually do these kinds of movies about dead people?"

They usually do, Don - and they are stiffly performed by actors who work almost exclusively for the Ceeb, in period dress that somehow manages to look too new, and still leaves you a bit confused about just why this dead white guy was so important. And the moral of the story is always the same: Canada did something important this one time. It's like watching one of those Heritage Minutes stretched to fill four hours or more.

The above description, I realize, is completely unfair - at least it is lately. Both 'Canada-Russia '72' about the hockey summit series, and 'Shades of Black' starring Lara Flynn Boyle's bag of bones as Barbara Amiel, have been about events and people that aren't that important to Canada's magnificent history. I know some hockey fans who would disagree with that assessment but let's face it, Ken Dryden is no Tommy Douglas and Conrad Black is no John A. MacDonald.

And Don Cherry is the perfect subject for a biography. He's well known enough to generate interest, and his origins are obscure enough that a movie isn't telling us something we already know, and because he isn't the cornerstone of Canadian democracy or anything, we can have a bit of a laugh with it. I think CBC should model an entire slate of minis on this one - call it the Not-So-Illustrious Personages Series. And yes, I have few ideas to get them started.

Blowing Up: The Pamela Anderson Story

With Jennifer Baxter in the tittle role, this biopic will cover all the important moments in Pam's early life - the day she wore a Labatt's shirt to a BC Lions game and was discovered, the day she decided to get breast implants, the day she decided to remove her implants, and then the day she decided to have them put in again.


$10,000 a Day: The Linda Evangelista Story

The story of Evangelista, a girl who wanted to be a model - and succeeded! - is a jet-setting adventure that takes viewers from St. Catharines to New York and Paris. Watch as Linda and her frenemies Naomi, Christy and Cindy demand higher and higher wages, get unexpected haircuts and dance in music videos! With Allan Hawco ('Republic of Doyle') as George Michael.

Strange Animal: The Lawrence Gowan Story

From his beginnings as a classical pianist to his rise to the top of the Canadian pop charts, his eventual decline and ending with his resurrection as the lead singer of Styx, this biopic is at least as engaging as the Ray Charles and Johnny Cash films that earned Oscars.

Snow Job: The Ross Rebagliati Story

The classic tale of athletic triumph marred by swirling rumours of drug use, ending with a doomed run for a political seat against the current Minister for International Trade. Why should CTV be the only network Rebagliati sues for defamation? He thought a character on 'Whistler' was based on him - just wait till he gets a load of this. With Eric Petersen ('Corner Gas') as Stockwell Day.

Lucky Break: The Michael Bublé Story

Oh, this one has lots of juicy cameos. Like the aide to Brian Mulroney who first passed along Bublé's demo. Or Brian himself, who booked Bublé for his daughter's wedding. Or David Foster, who happened to be a guest at the wedding. As for Bublé himself, I think the casting is obvious - paging Matt Dusk.

You're welcome, CBC. Call me if you need more - this brain never stops working.

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