NEWS
09/01/2011 12:17 EDT | Updated 10/31/2011 05:12 EDT

Priestley Series 'Call Me Fitz' Hauls In Half-Dozen Geminis

Jason Priestley's raunchy comedy Call Me Fitz heads into next week's Gemini Awards gala with a leading six trophies after an industry event Wednesday night handed out the bulk of the hardware for the best in Canadian television.

The HBO Canada series about a lascivious used car salesman stands to collect two more trophies in next Wednesday's show, when it competes for best comedy and its former Beverly Hills, 90210 star vies for best comedic actor.

CTV's cop series Flashpoint had led the Gemini race overall with 17 nominations, but gathered just three trophies at Wednesday's ceremony: best supporting actor for Sergio Di Zio, best guest actor for Tim Rozon and best dramatic writing.

Flashpoint is up for two more next week, when star Enrico Colantoni competes for best dramatic actor and the show vies for best drama.

Other big winners Wednesday included The Movie Network and Movie Central's period miniseries Pillars of the Earth, History Television's The Kennedys, Bravo's papal drama The Borgias and MuchMusic's long-running teen soap, Degrassi. Each garnered three wins.

Kudos for The Kennedys include acting hardware for Barry Pepper, who plays Bobby Kennedy, and Diana Hardcastle for her supporting role as matriarch Rose Kennedy. The B.C.-born Pepper is also nominated for an Emmy Award, to be handed out in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

The Degrassi wins included best direction, best children's or youth program and a best performance nod for actress Jordan Todosey, who portrays the franchises' first ever transgender character. The groundbreaking storyline earned the acclaimed show a Peabody Award in May and a best drama nomination from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It's also up for an Emmy in September for best children's program.

Other Gemini winners Wednesday included:

- CBC personality George Stroumboulopoulos for best host of interviewer in a general/human interest or talk program

- CBC's figure skating contest Battle of the Blades for best music or variety program or series

- Space's Todd and the Book of Pure Evil for best ensemble performance

Fierce competition for marquee awards

The Gemini Awards are being handed out over three nights in Toronto, culminating with next Wednesday's gala on CBC-TV. Comedy superstar Russell Peters will host, with presenters set to include Catherine O'Hara, Alan Thicke, Hugh Dillon and Priestley. The hour-long show will feature just six marquee categories: best actor and actress in a comedy, best actor and actress in a drama, best drama and best comedy.

The best drama contest includes Flashpoint, The Borgias, the Showcase mystery Endgame, the Movie Network/Movie Central teen series Skins and CBC's sexy period serial The Tudors.

Call Me Fitz faces off for best comedy against CBC's 22 Minutes, The Movie Network/Movie Central's Good Dog, CBC's Halifax Comedy Fest 2010, The Movie Network/Movie Central's Living In Your Car and CBC's Rick Mercer Report.

The first instalment of the awards ceremony, on Tuesday, celebrated the best in news, sports and reality programming, while Wednesday focused on children's or youth, drama, comedy and variety categories.

Before the awards were handed out, best director nominee Jeremy Podeswa — who won for The Borgias — described the Gemini bash as a favourite get-together for members of Canada's tight TV industry. He compared it with the Emmys, where he was nominated last year for his work on The Pacific.

"It feels like much more of a family kind of thing," said Podeswa, who added he would be unable to attend this year because he would be in Ireland directing Game of Thrones.

"The Geminis have always been a place where I immediately felt comfortable and at home."