Winning and Losing

Journal Entry. Thursday night, Dec 20th, 1979.


Got caught writing in this journal the other day by GMD (Editor's Note: Gary Michael Dault, Morningside's senior producer) while having breakfast in the caff.

“What are you writing Young – a book ? Quote me accurately now.” (Well – Ok Gary, sure).

Dault’s a large Walrus of a man with a scrappy little beard who uses words like –“panache” and “obfuscate” and “soupcon” (WTF ?). He’s a hold over from the previous regime and is not really a Richard-kind-of-guy. But he knows his stuff and with all the tension around this place GMD is low maintenance.

He patronizes me as a kind of hick-from-the-sticks. But this week he changed his mind when he saw me having lunch with Margaret Laurence on Church Street. GMD came over desperate for me to introduce him. Which I did. Now we’re buds.

He has this killer girlfriend who’s sexy-in-a-sluttish-kind-of-way -- SARAH THRING, a book publicist.
She dresses all-black all the time and hangs around sucking up to Harron trying to get her crappy authors on the show.

These fucking publicists are the BANE OF MY LIFE. I simply don’t know how to deal with them. This crazy English woman Lucinda calls me everyday and treats me like shit in a snot-nosed private school way if I don’t pitch her authors at the story meeting. But I get lots of free stuff. I guess Dault does too.

Books and blowjobs -- nice.


Saturday, October 6th, 2007.

I’ve decided to go to the Geminis.

It’s the last thing I can afford right now as a few days in Toronto will cost me close to 1000 even with the prodco picking up the ticket (they’re 235 each). But going to the City will be fun and I’m keen to slide into the TBC to see if anyone mentions this blog to me. I KNOW they’re reading it.

I’ve been nominated for two awards – Best Director in a Documentary Series; and Best Writer in a Documentary Series.

It’s flattering (and re-assuring) to get these noms and whoever says “oh, I don’t really care if I win or not as long as I’m nominated” .... is an idiot.

I’ve been to the Geminis before. Winning and losing. The time I won Marni (my ex) and I had a fight afterwards. The time I lost I spent the night dancing with my 12-year old daughter, Aleana - who was my date.

For me losing was way more fun.

We’d been doing a family travel show hosted by Aleana called “Travels with Mom” which aired on the Corp and on YTV in a split-window license deal. I had been nominated in one of the Director categories.

(** Note to parents who are struggling producers – do NOT put your kids on TV as you’ll feel like shit signing deferrals on their behalf and after the first week or two the kids will hate it and you’ll have to force them to do the show because you'll be locked into the license deal.)

Travels with Mom ran at 11:00am Saturday mornings on the CBC and at 7:00pm Sunday evenings on YTV.

Our ratings were strong and we had private sector moneys behind us (a sure sign that the show was working). We were also picked up in the USA by Discovery, at which point we became mini “celebrities” being recognized in a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa, on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, and by a drunk guy on Lexington Ave. in Manhattan.

But it was a brutal show to do. It's tough pushing kids through the type of production schedule these low budget life-style shows demand.

Here’s how we financed it (remember this was ten years ago so the numbers are low) -:

- 15,000 per half hour from the Corp – Canadian rights (exclusive of cable) for five years;

- 12,000 per half from YTV – Canadian cable rights for five years;

- the distributor kicked in 5k per episode as a distribution advance;

- throw in a bit of CTF, CAVCO, and some deferrals and the show was financed.

Even back then it was tight doing a TRAVEL show on 50k per half hour. But we sucked it up... ate the deferrals (sorry kids)...and got the show made. And at the end of the day, that’s what being a producer is really all about – finding a way to get stuff done.

But on the night of the Geminis I can HONESTLY say that all the stress, tension, and acrimony was forgotten (briefly) as I sat in the darkness with my little daughter who was dressed to kill, listening to the nominations -:

For Best Direction in an Information Series -:

The Fifth Estate.
The Health Show

...and Travels with Mom.

The winner is -: ????

“The Fifth Estate”.

Morris Karp a producer on the 5th won.

But not really.


Allan said...

I'm impressed.

And great insights here. Don't know of anyone else laying it on the line with so much info, and the honesty gives it quite an edge.
It'll be interesting to see the kind of difficulties you encounter as you continue this.

Allan said...

The part that irritates me is that people have to produce according to someone else's agenda, instead of their own unique view about what's important and worthwhile and useful to humanity.
As much as we need another heritage moment we need even more the unique voices of those who have a passion to be heard, to bring the world before their fellow species of all nationalities.

It irks that you, who know the game and a desire to really put out something worthwhile has instead to think of a comforting, bland piece on model railroading just to put food on the table.

And these unique voices - none of them have to be mine. I'd be just as satisfied to sit back and be dazzled by the work of everyone else, and their art.

Book of Don said...

well....they do call it show BUSINESS, don't they ?

Eric said...

Love the Geminis story. Kind of like one of this year's categories: Best Host or Interviewer in a something or other:

Peter Mansbridge
Wendy Mesley
Evan Solomon
George Stroumboulopoulos
...and David Manning - Spam: The Documentary

Dave Manning is a tall, middle-aged, hairy guy who slathered himself with fat-burning cream, wrapped himself in fat-reducing bandages, and headed out on the street, all in the name of science and his first-person film, Spam: The Documentary.

I'm rooting for Dave.

Book of Don said...

I saw that doc Eric....LOVED it...and loved Dave too


I love Aleana ))) (travel with mom) said...

Dear Don Young
I very wish speak with your daughter Aleana.
My name is Aleksey.
I From Russia. From The Kirov city. I am 23.
I have seen Aleana Young in program Travel with Mom for 1996.
In my town this program show only now.

my email 11...11@mail.ru
Can you help me contact with Aleana? ))
thank you for all ))