Canada’s Dream isn’t just an American Idol Knock-off
TV Guide (January, 2003)
Homegrown Talent by Sandy MacDonald
TV Guide—January 25th, 2003
Canada’s Dream isn’t just an American Idol knock-off
Sure, CBC’s Great Canadian Music Dream showcases talented young musicians, singing their hearts out hoping to win the grand prize, but don’t confuse it with that south-of-the-border star-search series, says Dream producer Jack Bond.
“We’re a very different show. American Idol is very good television, but musically the comparison doesn’t apply,” says the veteran CBC variety show producer. “Our show is about the musicians being who they are, not about us making a star.”
Bond was backstage in Halifax recently, as five anxious musicians paced nervously in the crowded green room of the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, waiting for their chance to perform. The atmosphere is electric. Huddling around a big TV screen in the crowded lounge are musicians, technicians, makeup artists and supporters, all intently watching as each performer gets their one quick crack to show their stuff before a full house.
The Halifax episode showcases a mix of musical styles—the off-kilter folk-pop of Mark Bragg and Nathan Wiley; the jaw-dropping classical violin technique of 20-year-old Marc Djokic; the pop of Jessica Rhaye; and the funk-rock of Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew.
“It happens so fast onstage,” says Wiley, 25. “You get just one song and you can’t think about it ‘til you’re done—one take and that’s it.” The young singer-songwriter from Summerside, P.E.I. is one of the rising stars in the East—he and his band are currently opening for Blue rodeo on its swing through Atlantic Canada.
Each Wednesday night for the next six weeks, the Great Canadian Music Dream will present a one-hour shared broadcast on CBC television and Radio Two, showcasing five up and coming musical acts from each region. The semifinals were taped in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. At the end of each taping, the in-house audience and a panel of judges voted for their favorite performer. The results have been kept sealed until the series airs. Then, for 48 hours following each episode, viewers can vote via Internet or a 1-900 number, and all the results will be tabulated in time to announce the winner on the next week’s show.
The five winners from each regional program will compete in an exciting live-to-air special on Feb 26 to determine who wins the grand prize—their own one-hour national TV special.
CBC threw the net wide in searching for exciting new talent for the show. “I was surprised by the sheer number of applications,” says Bond. Producers listened to more than 4,000 applicants, of every kind of music imaginable. “We were listening to music that was so heartfelt—some of it so bad, and some of it so brilliant.”
“Now the challenge is to find an audience…who will tune in and stay with it. That’s why we developed the idea of the competition.”
Jian Ghomeshi of the pop-culture show, PLAY on CBC’s Newsworld, brings his off-the-cuff charm to host the series.
“My role is to be the guy who ties it all together,” says Ghomeshi. As a singer and writer with the Toronto-based group Moxy Fruvous, Ghomeshi knows the pressure and excitement of the music biz.
He also knows what makes good TV. “My feeling was that I didn’t want this to be some precious show, where we’re patting each other on the back, celebrating Canadian artists. That’s the self-congratulatory elitism that I hate about big variety shows.
What sold me on this show was the music.”