The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa,  · Page 130Click to view larger version
November 16, 1974

The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa, · Page 130

Publication:
The Ottawa Journal i
Location:
Ottawa, Canada
Issue Date:
Saturday, November 16, 1974
Page:
Page 130
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: Producer Paul Wayne (left) and director Cordon Wiles get the first laughs from the scripts. Wies acts out the script to cast members as rehearsals for the next episode get underway. "Nobody in the west cares about Excuse My French" Canada. Excuse My French was English Canada's way of saying we're trying to understand Quebec; a harmless and naive little simplicity that was about 30 to 40 years too late. Yawn. Joseph Germain Rudel-Tessier, TV critic for La Presse, French-Canada's largest daily, hasn't seen the show, doesn't plan to and furthermore hopes no other'Quebecois will watch it either: "You have a problem with American TV," he said of English Canada, "and we don't want a problem with yours." Rudel-Tessier, who speaks English fluently, was born and raised in Ottawa and is a separatist; he says. he makes it a point to stay away from English TV. And then you get to Calgary where Shirlee Cordon is TV critic and entertainment editor of the Calgary Albertan. There is a lot of interest in Calgary, and the west generally, around the offices and set of Excuse My French. Audiences might like a line in Montreal or Toronto but how will it play in Calgary? Not well, says Shirlee Cordon. She says the show won't catch on in Calgary, mainly because "people out here aren't too fond of anything French." Excuse My French deals with all the hot topics jus like Maude and All In The Family but Gordon says sex, religion, pornography, and French-English sensitivities won't draw much more than a yawn in her territory. She hasn't even reviewed the show yet, "It just isn't any kind of priority here. People out here don't understand the Quebec thing nearly as well as they do the race issues in the US and they don't seem to want to understand. I'm appalled at the bigotry I've found since I arrived here from Montreal six years ago." She-receives complaints every time she lists French TV shows in her column. "Why waste space on that?" they want to know. "The gap is fantastic," says Gordon. "And Excuse My French isn't going to bridge it. I like it but realty, nobody cares." Paul Wayne cares. Wayne, 42, is the Emmy-winning TV comedy writer who created and produces the show. Wayne is an English Canadian, from Toronto who married a French-Canadian girl and took French lessons from Pierre Bourgault (a fiery separatist leader in Quebec in the sixties) when they both worked as announcers for the CBCin Ottawa. Wayne has written television scripts for All In The Family, Sanford And Son, the Smothers Brothers and Front Page Challenge among others, and he says the show is proof that Canadians have matured. It just wouldn't have made it to the air a few years ago. ' We can laugh at ourselves and our problems more today and so what, he says, if Archie Bunker led the way just a little bit. "And if we can make you laugh and clear the air - a bit at the same time by exposing some, of the problems such as English domination in Quebec, so much the better," he says. He says he can prove it's working. Each episode is taped three times before live audiences at CFCF-TV in Montreal once on Thursday and twice again on Friday. The producer says the audiences are usually split about even between French and English Canadians, and during the first few episodes the French would only laugh nervously when the other group got stung. Same with the English if their side was dishing it out it was funny. But not anymore. Today both groups laugh when it's funny, says Wayne, no matter who is getting ribbed. But can you say funny things about English domination, priest-ridden homes and -birth control and sell commercials for it? Excuse My French, says the producer, sold out all of its commercial time for the first 25 weeks including repeats in advance. Whether it goes beyond that is still anybody's guess. "There is no topic we won't touch," Wayne says. "The only thing we won't do is repeat a joke or. hopefully, be dull." Continued " ; Say it again, Sam: Each week's show is rehearsed several times and then come the three tapings before live audiences on Thursday and Friday. " - ' ' ' WmM MogalhM, Not. 1. 174 7