By Jonathon Gatehouse - Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 0 Comments
A profile of the right-wing gadfly who loves to offend
Ezra Levant is retelling his favourite story: the one where he’s the hero. However, the hour-long monologue about the plucky kid from Alberta who dares to speak truth to power is really more of a dramatic performance. Pacing the stage of a community theatre north of Toronto, the 40-year-old broadcaster, author and columnist darts and cringes, waving his arms and pulling faces as he unspools a tale of fascist clerics, zombie bureaucrats and holy free-speech warriors. Levant’s version of his battle with the Alberta Human Rights Commission over his 2006 decision to publish controversial drawings of the Prophet Muhammad in his now-defunct Western Standard magazine is epic stuff, filled with references to his “ordeal,” “interrogation” and “900-day trial.” And more than enough broadsides to satisfy an audience of 200 who have paid $25 per grey head to hear the closest thing that Canada has to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh lecture on “Political correctness and the rise of Islamism.”
“I showed the cartoons like a prosecutor would present evidence, so people could make up their own minds. We’re all adults in this country,” he proclaims, voice rising to an excited register that makes him sound uncannily like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. But somehow, he says, that was all lost on the Calgary imam, who took offence to seeing the founder of his religion depicted wearing a bomb as a turban, and filed a formal complaint. “He was madrasa-educated. He came from Pakistan, with those medieval values, those censorship values, those burn-it-down values.” Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, May 9, 2011 at 9:10 AM - 24 Comments
If Sun News hopes to compete with Fox, it needs to up its production values
Sun News Network expected to be attacked for its politics—not its professionalism. But the reviews of the conservative-leaning news channel have pointed out that it looks amateurish: “The sets and lighting are Spartan,” wrote Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press; Globe and Mail critic John Doyle called it “cheap, cheesy, terrible television.” That’s not a charge often levelled at Sun’s U.S. model, Fox News, whose high production values are acknowledged even by people who hate it. If Sun has trouble looking classy, it has nothing to do with the rather modest short skirts and sleeveless dresses; it may be because of the unexciting scenes behind them.
The hyper-patriotic Sun turned to the Toronto-based AKA Creative Group to design the sets. Andrew Kinsella, AKA’s president, feels they created “a style that Canadians have never seen before,” but adds that it would be “a lot more expensive to work with the big-name [design] competitors south of the border.” But on screen, the American competitors sometimes look more spectacular. Ezra Levant’s The Source is modelled on Glenn Beck’s soon-to-be-cancelled Fox show; it has the host do wacky conservative things like destroy a bush to show his contempt for Earth Day. But Beck’s program has an elaborate set and there’s creative use of camera angles and lighting. Levant’s set, dominated by two fairly small TV screens with his name on them, looks much more low-tech. And like many of the Sun shows, the backgrounds are often monolithically blue, which can give news shows a feeling of sameness: U.S. set designer Jim Fenhagen, who designed shows like ABC World News Tonight, hasn’t seen Sun but told Maclean’s that as a general rule, “doing blue sets is pretty old-fashioned now.”
While some Sun programs make good use of space—Kinsella is proud of the main news hub, with a “retractable rear-projection screen as well as flexibility for the host to move freely from one area to another”—others don’t look much more big-budget than the average local newscast. Some of the daytime shows feature the familiar sight of announcers at a desk with a drab-looking newsroom in the background, the kind of thing Fenhagen tried to avoid when he created the newsroom set for ABC: “Usually the main shot is all the people back there and you can’t get rid of them, which I think is a mistake.” Conservative TV host Michael Coren, who has appeared as a guest on Sun, considers the overall look “sharp and modern” but added that “because of the number of linked interviews with guests around the country, there is always going to be a certain limitation to the overall look.” But those limitations may mean the Sun hosts can’t compete with a Fox personality like Megyn Kelly, the network’s aggressively blond daytime star, who yells at guests against a stylish background of glass, metal and flickering screens.