The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on May 30, 1977 · Page 21
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The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Page 21

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Monday, May 30, 1977
Page 21
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';?-:Mooday, May 30.1977:1 BVv:'-;..V --v ;V , V. 1 i' :- Canada fares well at Cannes What ACTRA's fight is abo ACTRA (Association of Canadian Radio and Television Artisls) has threatened to withdraw its services from die CBC on May 31 if the CBC does not accept what amounts to an ultimatum concerning Jurisdiction over Casting policies regarding foreign performers. ACTRA wants to be able to veto the use of foreign talent when it deems Canadians are available and the CBC refuses to cede this managerial right. This weekend ACTBA representatives met in Toronto to discuss the various ways a strike could be averted. In this and a subsequent article tommorrow Journal entertainment columnist Frank Daley examines some of the circumstances that have led to the crisis. ACTRA represents actors, writers, researchers, on-air program hosts who are not CBC employees and other people necessary to the production of TV and radio programs. I have refrained from commenting on the threatend ACTRA strike against the CBC because while 1 am a journalist I am also a member of ACTRA. For the past 12 years I have worked in journalism, radio, television, and theatre as well as education. I have been and will be a "performer" on radio and television (in the loose sense that word implies in contracts between the CBC and ACTRA) and I have written and will continue to write for CBC radio and television. Given, of course, the grace of God and others, a continuance of hiring practices of some CBC producers and my ability to persuade. I have also worked for Global and CTV television although on a much more restricted basis given their programming policies relative to the publicly-funded CBC. But on the eve of what could be a devastatingly harmful open rift between the CBC and ACTRA I think I should try to say something about their relationship. I am depending upon your good will to believe that I will endeavor not to nullify whatever insights my relatively rare position as both a performer on television and an occasional commentator on it can provide. A strange union ACTRA is a strange union. It is called the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists but it differs from many, unions in that its members are not employees. This means, of course, that while ACTRA can negotiate rates and terms of contract employment with the CBC (and Global and TV Ontario and CTV and other engagers) it cannot guarantee them work, on a regular or even irregualar basis. There are over 5,000 members of ACTRA but only between 400-500 earn an average of more than $10,000 annually. Most earn less than $1,000. And most of these people do not rely on the CBC for their daily bread (they hardly ever rely on Global, TV Ontario, or CTV because those networks simply aren't in the same hiring league as the CBC). For the purposes of this article we'll restrict ourselves to the ( CBC. They drive cabs or do other work. Some of its members are specialists who have full time employment elsewhere and are called upon periodically as commentators. These people belong to ACTRA because they must join after six "on air" jobs-Some members' are actors who work in the theatre, radio, television,, films and commercials. They may also do "voice-over" work, dubbing or any number of jobs connected with Unmaking of films, radio and TV shows. While it is true that these actors do not rely on the CBC for their entire livlihood it is also true that an actress of the calibre of Frances Hyland (which is a high calibre in any country) reportedly made approximately $3,000 frorffhe CBC two years ago and during the same year made only another $7,000 in theatre contracts. That sad statistic says much about making a living as an actor in this country.,. If Frances Hyland, who is one of Canada's most respected actresses, can make only $10,000 a year acting what kind of money do you think most actors and actresses make? Right. That problem is not wholly of the CBC's making whatever some people might think. Although the CBC did have a slow-down in Canadian productions in radio and TV in the '60s (they preferred to import British and U.S. productions which were cheaper) management at the CBC now is definitely prepared to increase Canadian productions in as many areas as they can. Had to leave In the '60s many Canadians unable to get work here went to the United States where, among other things they practically took over variety programming on the U.S. networks, proving again that Canadian talent often has to leave this country before they are considered good. The American actors took umbrage at this Canadian invasion and requested the U.S. Congress to close the border to "foreign" (mainly Canadian but also some British) performers and writers. The U.S. department of immigration complied and it became far more difficult for a Canadian to work in the U.S. in films or television. (Theatre personnel were not shut out to the same extent although policies tightened.) Later, when Britain joined the EEC, it clamped down on Canadian and Commonwealth performers and writers because its EEC commitments, while permitting free movement between its member nations, required Britain to shut the borders (strictly speaking) to Canadians and other non-member nations. ' So by the time of the early '70's (and continuing) the U.S. and Britain had effectively closed their borders to Canadian performers and writers by law not simply by a cavalier decision of an ad hoc union committee. On the other hand Canada's border was and is open to American and British performers. ACTRA's position is that since the U.S. has a population of. over 220 million and Britain more than 55 million, porformcrs-from those countries denied acting jobs at home (because of the poor climate for production nearly everywhere) should not be. allowed to get jobs in Canada with its much smaller population and even more meagre production opportunities when the Canadians can't seek work in the U.S. and Britain. In other words, says ACTRA, epen all the borders or close them all unless in exceptional circumstances. ACTRA has never asked for the borders to be closed against all foreign (read American and British) performers. What they have7asked for is control over which performers and at what times, shall be allowed-tajvork. In this country. It is possible tb view ACTRA's position sympathetically; the situation is simply not a fair one. Foreign actors can come and go but Canadians must work at home in a depressed Industry and in competition with U.S. and British actors. In any case ACTRA wants to be able to have a negotiated control over casting of foreign performers who work at the CBC and naturally, and quite rightly, the CBC refuses to hand over its casting to the union. It won't and it shouldn't and that is not a negotiable oolnt. ENTERTAINMENT by Frank Daley X vmu I ternk C By Frank Taylor Journal Correspondent CANNES, France Perhaps for those jaded by a number of pre- s visits, this year s Cannes in- tional film festival is a mere shadow of its predecessors. But for neophytes experiencing it for the first time, Cannes is a veritable ci reus of delights, not only in terms of the great number of films presented, but also for the inevitable peripheral sideshows that one might expect when 40,000 film people gather in a small city for a celebration of their industry. The carnival atmosphere reaches its most electric peak each evening when an impenetrable throng of beautiful people descends to the seaside croisette to see, to be seen, and to revel well into the early morning hours. Rolls Royces, in queues 30 and 40 long, wait in front of the posh hotels to whisk their illustrious owners the block or so to the black-tie competitive screenings in the Palais des Festivals. rican hucksters and itinerant artists hawk their wares on the street corners. A sensational fireater spews flames high into the night air casting a yellow glow on the thousands of upturned faces. Arid every now and then the crowds will gravitate into a fireworks of flashbulbs as some screen personality is recognized in a sidewalk cafe or along the street. The stars are certainly here Roger Moore, Sissy Spacek, David Carradine, Michael York, Faye Uunaway, Mia Farrow, Peter Ustinov, Sophia Loren, Telly Savalas. Shelly Winters, Canadian stars Moniquc Mercure, voted the festival's best actress, Carole Laure, Lewis Furey and many, many more. . So are the producers and directors, among them Robert Altman, Carlo Ponti, Hal Ashby and Dino Risi. Most arc here to promote their recently completed films or to participate in the unveiling of some new project. Charles Bronson and his wife Jill Ireland (sporting diamond studded crutches due to a broken leg) ar-' rived here the other day for British mogul Sir Lew Grade's announcement of their involvement in his new $125 million production package. Mr. Olympia, Arnold Schwart-zeneger, flexed for photographers on the beach to promote Pumping Iron, the new U.S. film in which he stars. And the producers of Stunts, a new drama about the dangerous lives of stuntmen, staged some high-flying aerial exploits over the bay. The results of such promotion can bo heard everywhere: On the beach, in bars, elevators, and in the street where an Oriental pro Af fIt's just like in the movies' MONTREAL (CP) "I thought il happens only to others, like in the movies." said Moniquc Mercure. winner of the top female acting award at Cannes. "I never thought it would happen to me." Mercure, a native Montrealer. had tears and kisses for the well-wishers who crowded around her following a performance Friday at this city's Theatre du Nouveau Monde. She shared the Cannes film festival's Golden Palm award for her role in director Jean Beaudin's film J. A. Martin, Photographe. Co-winner was American actress Shelley Duval who starred in Robert Altman's Three Women. "They told me from Cannes that I had a chance," Mercure said. "But when they phoned me that night, when I realized there was no longer any doubt, I was very . moved. I broke up." Mercure, currently appearing hero as Irma in Jean Genet's Le Balcon, was up at 4 a.m. Friday morning trying to arrange a trip to Cannes for the award ceremony, but had to scrap her plans when she could not get a flight. But at the Theatre du Nouveau Monde later, she was greeted by deafening applause and an informal reception after the play. Among those dropping by were a pair of Quebec cabinet ministers Louis O'Neill, minister of communications and cultural affairs, and Lise Payette, minister of consumer affairs. Payette, a former televison star at Radio-Qfenada, the CBC's French-language network, grasped Miss Mercure In an enthusiastic and vigorous embrace. "I've played in 18 movies," said Mercure. "But J. A. Martin is the first time they gave me the role of a tender and sweet woman. I've aways been used in the roles of hard and aggressive women." The role for which she won recognition is that of a woman who is at the turning point of her love life with her husbanaVa travelling photographer. v The story Is set in the 1900s, and the woman scanadallzes vJJfage ducer and Mexican distributor were overheard closing a $10,000-deal to distribute a kung fu film in South and Central America. But what of the over 500 films being presented here this year either as official selections or in the ' film market? For although at times the question of their quality is somewhat eclipsed by the promotional hustle, they nevertheless are the core and raison d'etre of the entire festival. If one is to judge by the general discontent of critics and buyers alike with the films presented thus 1 far, this most certainly is a bad year at Cannes, and thus perhaps for the entire industry. Since the disappointment with Dino Risi's The Bishop's Bedroom, which opened the festival a week and a half ago, there has been little to raise dampened spirits. This may, however, be working to the advantage of the Canadian films here which are faring quite well. In fact, Jean Pierre Le-febvre.s Le Vi'eux Pays Pour Rimbaud est Mort, about a Quebecer pilgrimage to France, is one of the very few films seen thus far which has been described almost universally with superlatives. The other Canadian competitive entry, Jean Beaudin's J. A. Martin Photographe, seems to be respected here, although one New York critic was overheard saying that although he was glad he had made it from the Nice airport in time to see the film, he was thankful he hadn't missed his breakfast in so doing. - In other sections, Silvio Mariz-zano's Why Shoot The Teacher, set on the Prairies during the Depression, received very warm applause and Robin Spry's National Film Board production. One Man, about a renegade television newsman, fared similarly well in the section entitled L'Air du Temps. The only Canadian film amoung the official selections to be met with a.y kind of general ambivalence was Paul Leduc's Ethnocide. a Mexican co-production describing the plight of Mexico's Otomi population, which was presented in the critic's week. In the market other Canadian films, including Outrageous, The Rubber Gun, and Cathy's Curse, have been doing quite well while David Cronenberg's Rabid has walked away as one of the festival's cult sensations. According to David Novek of the National Film Board, contracts for over 40 territories have been signed for their Games of the XXXst Olympiad, making it one of gossips by leaving, her children with a nurse to follow her husband, on his trips. A veteran of the Quebec stage who frequently appears on Radio-Canada, as well as in Quebec-made films, Mercure was uncertain when asked if she now feels herself Mime Theatre introduces new style at Shaw Festival By James Nelson Of The Canadian Press NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. (CP) - The Canadian Mime Theatre opened its 1977 season Saturday and Sunday with a new director, a new cast and two new shows in a new style of mime entertainment. Wayne Pritchett, one of England's most Versatile mime artists, took over the theatre as artistic director last winter when its founding director, Adrian Pecknold, resigned to become a free-lance entertainer. Harro Maskow, associated with Pecknold for many years, and nearly all of the old company quit in a disagreement with Pritchett. They set up their own company of players which is to begin performing this fall. Pritchett. with a free hand to organize a new company, has produced a first work, Mime-on-the-Lake, which seemed more subtle, more carefully based on ensemble playing, but less whimsical than the old. Mime-on-the-Lake, written and directed by Pritchett, but employing the spoken words of a Vancouver-born poet v. ho is identified by the lower case spelling of his initials, bp nichol, is a variety show wih A Timeless Tree as its centrepiece. It tells about a Niagara-district family engaged over the years In X jj ft lQ & i it sjli w.w&mtmg J .CP Photo Canadians Marcel Sabourin, Monipuer Mercure and Jean Beaudin show their happiness the most widely sold films at the festival. Perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises for Canadians, however, is one of the three Italian competitive entries, Ettore Scola's A Great Day, starring Sophia Loren and Marccllo Mastroianni. This film, which is universally regarded as the best film of the entire festival thus far, and the only film of masterpiece potential, though officially Italian is, through Canafox of Montreal, a Canadian co-production. In spite of the critical success of the Canadian films at Cannes, it on the threshhold of an 'international" career. "I'm not the one who will decide that," she said. "I'm not ready to throw myself whole-heartedly into an international career, like Genevieve Bujold." Bujold, a Quebecer who has won fruit farming and industry. It ranges from Iffe in pioneer times to the present, with the tribulations of pruning and harvesting, frost damage and orchard diseases. Its plot is meagre: a hired hand played by William Finlay steals part of the crop and sells it as his own, gambles with the proceeds, and, when caught, goes to work in a factory. Alongside Pritchett, the star of the show is Mary Barton, who has played in many of the leading acting companies of the country including the Shaw and Stratford festivals, and has returned to the mime theatre where she worked in 1970. Peter Townsend, who started as an apprentice here in 1973 and spent last winter directing a student company in the Sudbury Theatre Centre, has also returned. And three new apprentices are being featured, including Peggy Coffey as the innocent farmer's daughter seduced by the villainous hired hand. Pritchett opened the show with a solo number as simple and absurd as some mime theatre can be: a man goes fishing, falls asleep, and catches such a whopper that it drags him into the water where he drowns. Best laughs of opening night were reserved for Pritchett's closing number, a visual cabarft in which he was free to give his first will not be publically known until Friday just how well they have fared commercially. At that time a news conference will likely reveal (he dollar value of distribution contracts signed here. Though the international offer-- ings thus far have not been but-standing, there are still four days and over 100 films remaining in the festival. With some of these' films coming from such highlyfegarded directors as West Germany's Win Wenders, the 1977editjon of the Cannes-International Film Festival couldffTunreel some very interesting material. - Mercure international acrcaim for her film roles, has rarely worked in the province in recent years. "'As usual." said Mercure. "I'll just take the rules I like and that let me advance in my craft, but not necessarily in my career." audience in his new theatre a sampling of the kind of work that made him popular in England. With nothing -more to work with than a microphone on a stand he deftly created a string of impressions: a submarine, a helicopter, a soldier doing rifle drill, a man in jail, a cabaret singer and a dozen more. Then in a sequence which was half dance, half mime, he enacted with the dcafs sign language. Morning has Broken, to close the show. ' Mime Theatre's second production of the season. The Magical World of Nothing, also written and directed by Pritchett, is a children's story suited to all ages, including grandparents. It starts as a play with dialogue, props, scenery and costumes and moves into the silent world of mime in which imagination takes over. Despite the complete change of artistic personnel, the Canadian Mime Theatre says Its advance ticket sales for the summer season in the recently renovated old movie house now called The Royal George are running well ahead of last season. ' The old company made a round-the-world tour last winter. The new company plans to concentrate its workJiere and in Toronto this fall to prepare for next season and a six-week tour of Japan in the fall of 1978. '

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