The 23rd Annual Gemini Awards took place at Toronto's Intercontinental Hotel, the one that spreads across Front street. The building is rather complicatedly connected to the Metro Convention Centre, whose bowels housed the media covering the event.
Us journalists (and publicists) sat watching the awards unfold on a smallish TV, sporadically emerging from our lair to peek at which stars were coming through to answer questions while clutching their trophies.
I wish I could say I rubbed shoulders with host Jason Priestley, but, alas, he was one of the few Canadian celebs who didn't pass through our hood. It was unfortunate because backstage was the best thing about the Geminis.
The pre-broadcast was slightly more lively than the actual ceremony. Carla Collins and Daryn Jones were surprisingly well paired and fairly charismatic. Collins could have done with less references to nipples and her recent relocation to LA ( she was no doubt plugging her new reality show, which apparently will soon be airing on E!), including quips about cocaine and bronzer. At one point Jones said with a hint of weariness: "You talk about sex a lot, I've noticed." Later on he was heard asking which way to the booze - he was not alone.
The first presenter of the night was Vic Sahay, an actor who has somehow escaped my notice despite the fact that he is unbelievably conspicuous in a landscape of bland Canadian stars. Sahay is like a cross between Michael Jackson and Prince - someone needs to tell him to hold off on the straighteners as his curtains of black hair were in danger of eclipsing the entire stage.
It turns out Sahay plays Lester Patel in Chuck, and, more notably, MIT Student #3 in Good WIll Hunting. Kudos!
Cock'd Gunns were the big winners of the night, which makes me a little embarassed that I never cracked open my preview copies of their show. The rockumentary series (think Flight of the Conchords) is supposedly one of the funniest and most innovative shows on Canadian TV right now. Funnily enough, one of their awards was for best writing even though the entire show is basically improvised.
George Stromboulopoulos won for best host, again, surprise, surprise. Backstage he mentioned that he was shocked that Gene Simmons recently cried on his show. "I never expected the Demon to shed a tear," he said.
Actress Kristin Booth (MVP) already looked cute as pie in a little purple number, but she tipped the scales when she started laughing at the ridiculous lines she had to read off the monitor. It almost makes me want to watch MVP. Almost.
Best looking of the night, though, was hands down Natasha Henstridge. So her hair looked like it belonged to her alien alter ego in Species, I'm going to let that slide. Her makeup was flawless, her cherry red dress was flattering and her rubinesque figure was absolutely to die for.
Henstridge won for best actress in a mini-series for her role in We Would Be Kings, but she deserved the prize for hottest lady. In actuality, that award (my neighbour: "When did the Geminis turn into the MTV Movie Awards? Do they win a surfboard?") actually went to So You Think You Can Dance, Canada? host Leah Miller.
My favourite moment of the night was when someone won an award and did not turn up to claim it. I guess said person was known to the woman next to me because she burst out: "But we paid for them to come!!!" It's times like this when I remember why we constantly jeer Canadian entertainment for being so cheap.
Following the pre-broadcast, our host of the night, Jason Priestley, appeared in a number of skits mocking his lack of Canadian-ness (I didnt realise that was something to be ashamed of). The people in the press room actually clapped after the skits, which made me a little sad, but not as sad as I was when I found out a 19-year-old photographer didn't even know who Priestley was.
Incidentally, I know Priestley has not been particularly famous for a while, but his wife is a make-up artist. Should she not have told him to ixne the satin suit he wore on stage? I think it even had pin stripes. Even Brandon Walsh ca. 1991 could not have pulled that off.
As a host, Priestley was a bit stiff and uncomfortable, but he was not unlikable. Some of the jokes he made were even pretty funny. "Degrassi paved the way to Beverly Hills 90210 with poorer, less attractive kids," he said at one point.
Speaking of 90210, Shenae Grimes looked overly comfortable on stage. As I tried to determine whether she was actually a diva or not, one of my neighbours revealed that she was a pain in the bum even back when she was on Degrassi. Who becomes a diva after appearing on Canadian TV? Anyway, she strutted across the red carpet in her Asian-themed outfit like it was the Oscars or something.
Most unexpected moment of the night? When B.C. native Brendan Fehr - who I still remember from his stint as Michael Guerin on Roswell in 1999 - won for hottest guy. Apparently he is now on CSI:Miami and has trouble with his forehead because he kept cocking his eyebrow like he was James Bond or something. He talked about date nights with his wife and shooting something called Samurai Girl in Vancouver.
The sweetest moment of the night would have to be when Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes) was presenting an award alongside Leah Miller. At one point she tried to get him to dance and he turned so red that he put Natasha Henstridge's dress to shame.
It's 10:50pm and I'm about to nod off so one last thing: Natalie Dormer revealed her biological clock is ticking (she's only 26!) and Enrico Colantoni may have a poker face, but even Keith Mars can get overwhelmed sometimes. Towards the end of the night, one of the handlers asked if he now wanted to do photos with the press and Colantoni quipped: "Do we want to do photos?"
I know how he feels.