New York Times: How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?
How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?
By Margaret Lyons, New York Times
Dec. 14, 2018
No matter how much free time you have this weekend, we have TV recommendations for you. Come back every Friday for new suggestions on what to watch.
… Many Hours, and Take Me to Canada
When to watch: Now, on Amazon.
“Corner Gas” is one of the most popular shows in Canadian history, a single-camera, low-concept comedy set in the small town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. Brent Butt created and stars in the show as Brent, the owner of the local gas station and convenience store. “Gas” debuted in 2004, so it can feel a little bit slow by contemporary standards. But it’s a richly imagined world with well-defined characters and an easy sense of flow and structure. It is also the most Canadian show I have ever seen, and that’s saying something.
Hollywood Reporter: Amazon Prime Video to Stream Popular Canadian Sitcom ‘Corner Gas’ (Exclusive)
Amazon Prime Video to Stream Popular Canadian Sitcom ‘Corner Gas’ (Exclusive)
7:00 AM PST 12/12/2018 by Etan Vlessing, Hollywood Reporter
A record-breaking 3.02 million Canadian viewers watched the series finale on April 13, 2009.
Corner Gas, the most popular Canadian sitcom ever, is headed to Amazon Prime Video outside of Canada.
The streaming VOD service will offer all six seasons of the comedy, or 107 episodes and a 90-minute TV movie, about a host of oddball rubes at a gas station in fictional Dog River, Saskatchewan via the Prime Video Direct self-publishing service. Prime Video will stream Corner Gas in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and in around 60 international markets overall.
In Canada, the Corner Gas comedy, TV movie and an upcoming Corner Gas Animated series will stream exclusively on the Crave service, a division of Bell Media, which originally developed and financed the CTV sitcom. Corner Gas executive producer Virginia Thompson of Verite Films told The Hollywood Reporter that publishing to Prime Video answers demand from loyal fans of the sitcom outside of Canada after the series previously aired in over 24 countries, including on Superstation WGN in the U.S.
“This gives our established fans and new ones a chance to get to know the characters and the comedy, and build a fantastic fan base that hopefully will see Corner Gas Animated at some point in the future,” Thompson said. A record-breaking 3.02 million Canadian viewers watched the Corner Gas series finale on April 13, 2009.
The ensemble cast includes series creator Brent Butt, Eric Peterson, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewanuick, Nancy Robertson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Lorne Cardinal and the late Janet Wright, who played the long-suffering matriarch Emma Leroy. Corner Gas became a Canadian cultural phenomenon as it spawned a book series, theatrical comedy tours, a merchandise line, DVDs and a Christmas TV special.
Canadian Prime Ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper had star turns on the comedy, as did 24 star Kiefer Sutherland and singer Michael Buble.
Unlike Canada-originated dramas, local sitcoms breaking into the U.S. market have been a rarity, despite the prominence of Canadian stand-up and sketch comedy talent working in New York City and Los Angeles. Trailer Park Boys, a comedy about low life in a Halifax trailer park, eventually made its way to Netflix.
The Corner Gas franchise is produced by Thompson, Butt and David Storey of 335 Productions, in association with CTV and The Comedy Network.
Brent Butt was born and raised in the small farming community of Tisdale, Saskatchewan (population 3000). He discovered early that being funny was a good way to get attention. He decided he was going to become a comedian when he was 12 and he watched a stand-up comic on television.
Brent honed his comedy in school, and at the age of 20, he moved to Saskatoon to pursue a career in stand-up. Within months of his first amateur night appearance, he was offered a tour on the road. After a year, he was headlining top clubs in Toronto. Within four years, he began touring internationally and was showcased in his own gala performance at the world’s largest international comedy festival – Montreal’s Just For Laughs – where he became a regular.
Brent appeared on numerous national and international television programs, including his own special “Bedtime With Brent Butt” and “Comedy Now – Funnypants,” earning a Gemini-nomination.
He was named “Best Male Stand-Up in Canada” at the 2001 Canadian Comedy Awards and was subsequently selected to represent his country on the World Comedy Tour in Australia. He followed that by hosting the Just For Laughs Asian Tour in Singapore. His invitation to appear on “All-Star Comedy Homecoming,” the 50th anniversary special for a major Canadian network, secured his reputation as one of the funniest people in the country, as he performed alongside the most noted Canadian comedians of the past five decades.
Over the years, Brent, who claims he never really went after an acting career, landed bit parts in Duets, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, the Bob Saget directed TV movie Becoming Dick, and episodes of “The Kids in the Hall,” “The X-Files” and “Millennium.”
He began cooking up his own series, Corner Gas, set in the tiny town of Dog River with an odd bunch of archetypal characters. Brent not only starred in the series, he also wore several hats including creator, writer, showrunner, executive producer and director of several episodes. The series premiered January 22, 2004, on CTV and became a Canadian icon with unprecedented ratings and numerous accolades. It went on to become Canada’s #1 comedy, broadcast in over 26 countries including the US, and aired for six seasons.
Corner Gas was nominated for a 2004 International Emmy Award, surviving three rounds of preliminary judging from over 500 judges in 38 countries. The series won numerous awards, including Gemini Awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, Director’s Guild of Canada Awards and Writers Guild of Canada Awards.
In 2005, Brent followed in the footsteps of Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain… not as a singer, but as host of the 2005 Juno Awards.
In 2007, Brent, along with his Corner Gas co-stars, took home the Gemini for best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series. In 2008, he was honoured to join the ranks of Bob Newhart, John Cleese, John Candy and others when he received The Comedy Network Sir Peter Ustinov Award at The World Television Festival in Banff.
In 2010, Brent created another sitcom for TV called “Hiccups,” starring himself and Nancy Robertson. They made 26 episodes over two seasons, winning multiple Leo awards.
In 2013, Brent was honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to community and country. Later that same year, he made the transition to feature films and wrote and starred in his first feature, No Clue.
In 2014, Corner Gas: The Movie, written by Brent, Andrew Carr and Andrew Wreggitt, directed by David Storey, and starring the entire original cast, was shot in Saskatchewan. The landmark feature film rolled out via a national multi-platform event in December of that year, opening with an exclusive Cineplex Front Row Centre Events theatrical debut, followed by premieres on The Movie Network, CTV, and The Comedy Network. It was further complemented by a special collector’s edition DVD release.
In 2018, Corner Gas Animated, an all-new animated version of the iconic comedy franchise re-imagined by Brent, is to premiere on The Comedy Network.
Brent has made his home in Vancouver for the last 20 years and continues to tour the country with his unique brand of stand-up comedy, performing in theatres and as a much sought-after corporate entertainer.
David Storey spent 2014 directing and producing the Canadian Screen Award-winning Corner Gas: The Movie. Critics raved and the box office was incredible. Nearly 60,000 movie-goers, more than 7 million TV viewers, 60,000 Blu-rays/DVDs shipped and tens of millions of social media impressions made the Storey-directed Corner Gas: The Movie a ground breaking, multi screen hit. “It’s terrific entertainment, often hilarious,” John Doyle, The Globe and Mail.
After a colourful and varied career through the 70s and 80s that included stints as an actor, musician and Assistant Director, David began directing many CMVA-winning and Juno-nominated music videos. These included “Life Is a Highway” for Tom Cochrane, “Margo’s Got the Cargo” for Stompin’ Tom Connors, as well as hour-long specials for artists such as Anne Murray, Corey Hart, The Rankin family and Rita MacNeil.
These endeavours brought David to the attention of the CBC brass, who invited him to direct a new series called “Comics.” Here, he worked with some of Canada’s best and brightest funny men – including Brent Butt, Ron James and Mark Farrell. From these relationships, David helped pitch and create many successful shows for a number of networks. He directed and, with Ron James, created the pilot for “Blackfly”, a single camera, film-style comedy for the Global Network. He directed the multi-camera, laugh track-driven “The Seán Cullen Show” for the CBC. But the granddaddy of them all was the family friendly, film style, hit comedy Corner Gas which he executive produced and directed.
David and Brent Butt pitched Corner Gas to the CTV network thinking that if they were lucky, they would get one summer’s work and a few good sod busters (Saskatchewan beer). Six groundbreaking seasons, 107 episodes and many rave reviews later, Corner Gas could be the defining Canadian comedy of a generation. Along with an average audience share of 1.52 million, the series was nominated for an International Emmy in 2004, and has won 6 Gemini, 5 Leo, 6 Canadian Comedy, 4 Directors Guild and 3 Writers Guild Awards to date. The show has been sold to markets across Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the USA. Storey directed the final episode, which garnered a 3.02 million audience share, setting a record for a Canadian scripted show.
Since the end of Corner Gas, David has been busy as Co-Executive Producer on Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story, a miniseries for the CBC as well as executive producing and directing the first two seasons of “Hiccups”, a Brent Butt-created series for CTV. David is currently Executive Producing and Voice Directing on Corner Gas Animated, which will debut on The Comedy Network in 2018.
Virginia Thompson, co-founder of Vérité Films, is an award-winning executive producer, TV series creator and audience engagement strategist.
Currently, Virginia is Executive Producer of The Governor General Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) Gala, which recently opened Canada’s New National Arts Centre and launched Canada’s 150 Celebrations in Ottawa. She is also the Executive Producer of Corner Gas Animated, the new prime time animated re-boot of Canada’s most beloved comedy series.
Virgina also Executive Produced Corner Gas: The Movie. The hit feature film won the 2016 Golden Screen Award for the highest rated scripted program in Canada, reaching 7 million Canadians across multiple platforms. Working with Bell Media, Telefilm and Cineplex, Virginia championed a new “event-based” release model for Canadian features to maximize viewership of Corner Gas: The Movie. Virginia also executive produced the original Corner Gas sitcom. The #1 rated smash-hit series changed the comedy landscape in Canada, and has become an indelible part of Canadian culture.
Prior to Corner Gas, Virginia was Executive Producer/Co-Creator of the comedy series “InSecurity”, the award-winning youth series “renegadepress.com,” and the internationally-acclaimed children’s series “Incredible Story Studio.” “Incredible Story Studio” was a highly interactive series that took short stories written by school children from across Canada, the UK, France and Germany, and made them into “movies” for television.
Virginia’s productions have won or been nominated for over 114 Awards. In 2012, she was inducted onto Ryerson’s School of Media Wall of Fame. In 2008, Virginia won the WIFT Award for Creative Excellence in screen-based media. She enjoys mentoring emerging creators and regularly lectures at the National Screen Institute and Ryerson School of Media.