Television

Hearts of the West

JUDITH TIMSON September 6 1976
Television

Hearts of the West

JUDITH TIMSON September 6 1976

Hearts of the West

The brochure was classy, eye-catching. The question it posed was a lyrical triumph, a genuine work of pap, and living proof that Vancouver is a dedicated navel-gazing city: “Where better to glow than in a city whose people love passionately their striking environment, crouched on the rim of the Pacific, looking outward across an ocean, isolated from the rest of Canada by the rocky battlements of the mountains?” The glowing, the brochure explained, would be done on the airwaves, when Canada’s newest television station, CKVU, the seventeenth UHF channel in the country, is born September 5 in Vancouver.

Assisting in the birth are renowned film director Daryl Duke, president of CKVU, and an assortment of local media high rollers. Since approval last year by the Cana-

dian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC), they have put together a community-oriented station whose major marvel will be a two-hour, live, prime-time show devoted seven nights a week to revealing the city to itself. It will be called, appropriately enough, Vancouver. That they are coming in on the low-power, higher-cost UHF channel was a source of immediate— but not long-lasting—chagrin to Duke, 47. With his partner Bill Bellman, president of a local broadcasting company, Duke formed Western Approaches Ltd. and originally applied to the CRTC for either a VHF or UHF channel in the Vancouver area—and would plainly have preferred the VHF outlet, with a more powerful signal reaching a wider audience. However, the CRTC apparently decided that Vancouver was well served with major channels and awarded Western Approaches the UHF— thus giving local boys Duke and Bellman the nod over Toronto television Wunderkind Moses Znaimer of CITY-TV, who gave what many thought was the most dazzling presentation at the hearings last year.

“He got all the press, but we got the station,” says the bearded, blue-jeaned president, widely acknowledged to have been one of Canada’s most brilliant contributions to the North American television and movie scene. Now Emmy-winner Duke is back home, urging his staff to be “nonchalant” as they put together a flagship show which, he promises, will captivate a city “shut out from itself.” But is Vancouver ready, for example, for an in-depth interview with lisa, the “she-wolf of the SS,” otherwise known as a Las Vegas show girl who makes porno movies for a Montreal company? Or a simulated expedition by a CKVU crew to track down the mysterious Ogopogo monster in Lake Okanagan? Or, for that matter, the return of Vancouver’s own Juliette as a regular? Duke seems to think so, and so do, apparently, some of the top media talent in the city who have joined him at no great boost in their salaries. Says Allan Fotheringham, Vancouver Sun and Mac/ean’5 columnist who will be a regular on Vancouver. “In six months we’ll be heroes or bums.” Apart from Vancouver, CKVU will be picking up some top imports—including Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Rich Man, Poor Man, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and a series of classic movies.

Although he was one of the original investors in CITY-TV, Duke gets upset when comparisons are made between the two stations. He does not quite put CITY down, beyond remarking that “we’ll be more of an entertainment centre than a protest vehicle.” His high-powered public relations man, Tom Butler, unblushingly responsible for the gushing brochure but more down to earth in conversation, guarantees a certain sophistication. “Listen,” says Butler, “this isn’t any low-rent cable station where a guy comes on and does a folk dance. If there’s gonna be a folk dance, it had better be damn good.” JUDITH TIMSON

JUDITH TIMSON