Whoever becomes the new permanent host of CBC Radio’s Q has to ask the tough questions, Joel Rubinoff says, like former host Jian Ghomeshi did of Billy Bob Thornton.
.By: Joel Rubinoff Torstar News Service, Published on Mon Dec 15 2014
While CBC producers scurry about like rats on a sinking ship — trying to get their stories straight over who knew what when about the Jian Ghomeshi scandal — the radio show at the centre of this controversy limps brazenly onward like a marathon runner with a shattered tibia.
I’m not knocking the contributions of early fill-in hosts Brent Bambury, Piya Chattopadhyay and Tom Power — nice people, I’m sure, and not without talent.
But listening to them ingratiate themselves with your audience has been like watching Katy Perry sing “Yesterday” on the Grammy tribute to the Beatles: stilted, awkward, painful.
It’s sad, really. From demurely snooze-inducing with a side order of Stiff Upper Lip to aggressively boisterous with a fake bonhomie more suited to school fundraising carnivals, the deer-in-the-headlights quality of those overseeing a show once renowned for its effortless charm is staggering.
It’s not that Ghomeshi — whose name now conjures up creepy visions of women being sexually violated — is irreplaceable.
I listened to Elvira Kurt’s Cultural Hall of Shame the other week — where she riffs on obscure entertainment trends with varying degrees of hilarity — and couldn’t believe it was the same comic I found so engaging during the Ghomeshi regime.
Instead of the irreverent teasing that defined her relationship with the now disgraced host, and gave her steam-of-consciousness ramblings a veneer of wit, the satirical comic was hung out to dry by the buoyantly ebullient Power, who laughed too hard, talked too fast and seemed oblivious to Kurt’s jittery brand of verbal slapstick.
You don’t have to approve of Ghomeshi’s reputation — four charges of sexual assault and one of choking after 15 women came forward with abuse allegations — to concede he brought a unique set of qualities to the broadcasting table: intelligence, charisma, a willingness to push the envelope.
Or to acknowledge — as we have learned in the days since his departure — how rare they are to find.
Still, there are bills to pay, products to promote, U.S. syndicates to appease.
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