Nose pressed to glass

Monday, September 19, 2005

Spinning Terry Fox

Did you guys see the Terry Fox special?

Truly embarrassing, like an A Channel on a bad day. Real CBC specials of this type might (OK, will) be cringey in their earnest adoration of a Canadian icon. But, my God, at least the hosts are competent, the cameras find the people speaking and the audio doesn't sound like it was patched through a Candle Hi-Fi.

Jody Vance did her best, and Terry's parents said some lovely stuff to her, but from start to finish she was flailing like a bespectacled eel. (She seems smart enough - how could she sign on to a CBC production that would normally be hosted by a locked out Mansbridge and somehow not know she's scabbing?)

But the rottenest of the low-rent tomatoes was former Electric Circus host Juliet Powell on Parliament Hill. There was no substance at all - just a huge fake smile and lots of questions in the vein of: "Isn't it terrific to be here today?" It wasn't the meatiest of assignments but Powell is not a journalist in any form (do you know any journalist who can really, truly DANCE?). While I despise her for taking scab work, the real villains of the piece are the managers who let her do it.

So that's sad for Terry Fox and sad for the CBC.

But what really got my llama was the pre-show fireworks over CBC's aborted attempt to do a broadcast from Signal Hill with more scab labour. I'm not sure why the issue blew up there and not Parliament Hill or the other places but I think a union has a right to picket any location where replacement workers are doing a job that union members would normally do.

Now, nobody in CMG wanted to screw over Terry Fox and his family. It would be morally wrong and suicide with the public. The union's apprehension was apparent as the contretemps unfolded but prez Lise L. seemed to do the right thing. She spent the better part of a day negotiating with Darryl Fox, came up with an agreement and then wrote a long note explaining how things went down.

From reading the various accounts, it seems management cancelled the St. John's live hit because the satellite truck turned around rather than wait and because the St. John's crew members balked at the last minute when they discovered it was a CBC production. (If I'm wrong on this, let me know).

Management, however, had no compunction about wresting off Terry's artificial leg and beating the union with it. Jason MacDonald, the Comical Ali of Canadian broadcasting, made with some faux outrage about the union "stunt" that ruined plans to honour Terry where his run began.

A press release accused CMG of "undermining" the Fox special and of requiring wee children to cross a picket line. The union denies the line would ever have been "hard" i.e. hissing "scab" at little Madison. So the spin is just a bit of "I've got it - we'll invoke the kids" flummery. Management's final boot in was alleged disappointment that the union would use poor Terry to make a "political point."

Nobody spun Terry Fox like CBC management spun Terry Fox. And the biggest dishonour done to a great Canadians' legacy was a shoddy jerry-rigged broadcast that should have been done right - with real CBC talent - or not by CBC at all.

I shouldn't be suprised at the spin considering management's bully boy tactics to date but I still was, a little. I mean, is Karl Rove one of Stursberg's contract hires? Are we going to get Swift Boated and accused of being incompetent, dangerous broadcasters or, perhaps, not even broadcasters at all?

This is the crappiest kind of silver lining but management slimed its employees for nought - after the show aired, the showdown on Signal Hill was a non-story.

Coming up in future posts:

- An interview with the Toronto radio staffer that Susan Marjetti has not yet called.

- Managers' nickname for Simcoe Park, where the fun never stops.

- Call me Suzy Stardreamer but I've got a funny feeling there will be a negotiating breakthrough this week.

3 Comments:

At 8:58 PM, Blogger pickdoff said...

i thought jody was gonna come down to the picket line monday and explain why she did it

 
At 1:57 AM, Blogger bettyhutton said...

sigh

 
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