Canada’s Got Talent Searches for Homegrown Superstars

Will Canada's Got Talent capture the nation's attention, or is it just another knock-off? Judge Martin Short says the Canadian version will stand on its own

Credit: Citytv

CGT judges Stephan Moccio, Measha Brueggergosman and Martin Short

Canada’s Got Talent looks to blaze its own trail

Canadian versions of American reality shows face a tricky dilemma. On one hand, shows like Canadian Idol and Canada’s Next Top Model have a built-in audience who presumably already know and love the concept.

Unfortunately, the same level of familiarity that makes us want to tune in to these shows inevitably causes us to compare them to their American counterparts, which usually have bigger stars, bigger budgets and bigger buzz.

With that in mind, Citytv is betting viewers’ love of America’s Got Talent will spill over to its homegrown version, Canada’s Got Talent. The show kicks off its 11-week run this Sunday on Citytv, with a format that promises to be almost identical to that of AGT. Hosted by Dina Pugliese of Toronto’s Breakfast Television, performers will audition for a trio of judges: former SCTV/SNL star Martin Short; opera singer Measha Brueggergosman; and songwriter/producer Stephan Moccio.

Personally, I’ve always found AGT to be a weird combination of The Ed Sullivan Show and The Gong Show, with singers and comics competing alongside variety-show acts (magicians, jugglers, ventriloquists) and various deluded weirdos who make viewers wonder whether the show’s title should have a question mark at the end.

According to judge Martin Short, CGT will have a very different tone from AGT, which promoted the addition of Howard Stern as its new judge in a Super Bowl commercial that depicted the raunchy radio star blasting an awful singer with a fire hose.

“There’s an element of reality TV that cannot exist without the word humiliation,” Short told The Hollywood Reporter. “One of the things that turned me off about these shows . . . is I would find some judge with questionable talent being mean to someone who was trying their best. And you realize that must be part of why it’s a big hit.”

While the spectacle of a mean judge reducing a talentless wannabe to tears may play on American television, Short feels the Canadian sensibility is fundamentally different.

“These are people getting up and performing and their hearts are in their mouths,” he said. “They’re nervous. To sit back and snidely put them down because it’s good for ratings . . . makes the judge look like a complete fool.”

Canada’s Got Talent premieres March 4, 2012.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.