Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Now Let Us Praise Sean McCann

Sean McCann was one of my favourite Canadian TV character actors.
His death at 83 although not unexpected creates a huge void in the Canadian TV acting community.
I guess I first met and interviewed him on the set of Night Heat, a series that was made for CTV and for CBS late nights.
He was always good, sometimes great.
Born in Detroit he gravitated to Toronto after deciding  a career in acting was what he wanted.
Like all Toronto based actors he supported American stars who were making TV movies in Toronto simply because it was cheaper.
When I asked McCann about it he simply shrugged and said "That's the reality of the situation. Every job helps pay the bills."
But he understood when younger Canadian actors set off for L.A. simply because they were tired of supporting American stars.
"That's the economics," he told me. And he'd say for the record the private networks including CTV and Global were simply not living up to their regulations dictating 50 per cent of prime time content had to be Canadian.
'"If I have to do Littlest Hobo, then so be it," he said with a laugh." And let me tell you the dogs used on that show are very professional."
But there was one time in 1983 when McCann proved his mettle.
He starred in Don Brittain's sizzling TV biography of our most successful prime minister, Mackenzie King.
Sure McCann got all the ticks right. He also dug deep to show the man's humanity--it was a masterful portrait.
And yet because of cruel politicking McCann never even got a Gemini nomination.
"Everything is politics," McCann told me with a laugh when he phoned me to thank me for the column. "I'm sure I ticked off the establishment with my warts and all portrayal."
"I was interested in what made him tick. weird he may have been but he won campaign after campaign, even diminishing his adversary Arthur Meighan who was considered the brainiest PM of all time."
I remember meeting up with McCann in on the set of  the 1985 TV movie remake of Anne Of Green Gables. And there he was at it again in the 2016 TV remake --but in a different role.
When I asked McCann he simply shrugged and said "That's Canadian TV for you."
And yet he survived and prospered for many decades giving finely textured miniature portraits that linger in the mind.
And already I'm missing the guy.