Monday, March 4, 2013

I Remember Jeannine Locke

CBC producer Jeannine Locke was a real pepper pot.
I remember in 1977 I was sitting in a CBC screening room with her as we watched her latest TV production: The Family Prince, a look at Prince Charles.
At the end the young prince turns to Jeanine off camera and asks "Was that good enough?"
And Locke then explained she was taking that line out because she didn't want Charles to think she was taking advantage of his  camera innocence.
I thought it was a line that humanized Charles but she would not budge.
She never would bend, you see.
A talented writer, Locke died last week, aged 87, still feisty and argumentative to the end.
The last time I bunped into her she took me to Timothy's coffee shop in Toronto's Manulife Center and calmly dissected all the current ailments of her beloved CBC.
"Public Television is worth preserving, worth fighting for," she maintained --it was a line of hers I had often heard.
Born in Saskatchewan she jumped into the newspaper world finally winding up at the Toronto Star for a decade before jumping again in 1969 to CBC.
By 1980 she was specializing in docudramas including the three parter You've Come Along way Katie with Lally Cadeau .
I tried to get on the set of every Locke TV movie because she always gave great copy.
She usually wrote the scripts and was on set every minute to aid, assist  and occasionally harass the director.
I remember particularly the force of Chautauqua Girl (1983) because after privately previewing it CBC President Pierre Juneau predicted it would fail with viewers.
Enraged, Locke forced him to sit beside her at a special press screening and had the last laugh when Chautauqua Girl won its time slot and launched the career of young director Rob Iscove.
Also highly praised and highly rated were such Locke TV movies as The Other Kingdom (1984) with Gordon Clapp and Terence Kelly and The Private Capital (1989), a four hour look at life and love in Ottawa in Laurier era with Marha Kelly, Clapp and Michael Riley.
Her final CBC effort, The Greening Of Ian Elliott (1992) starred Carol Sinclair and Helen Carscallen. and was a highly unusual drama with an ecology theme.
Locke left CBC because she feared the private broadcaster was only attempting highly commercialized fare.
She had quite a dust up with CBC's Yvan Fecan but in the long run her fears were justified --there's nothing on the CBC schedule these days to compare with any of those well remembered Locke TV movies.

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