Spun Out finale Dodges Ford

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J.P. Manoux (left) deals to Dave Foley and Marty Adams

“The city’s unruly mayor has found himself in hot water again, this time for pot…holes.” So reads the press  blurb for Friday’s season finale of Spun Out (CTV, 8 p.m.). Marty Adams guest stars as a tubby mayor who acts and sounds a lot like you-know-who.

The episode has the mayor seeking help from Dave Foley’s character’s P.R. firm after behaviour described as lewd, obnoxious and drunken. Executive producer Jeff Biederman was backpedaling a ton when I spoke with him this week about the obvious comparisons to Rob Ford. “I don’t know if he’s a litigious man,” says Biederman, of Ford, “but that’s not the kind of attention Spun Out wants.”

Spun_Out_S1e13Really? Not sure if that message is getting through to the CTV publicity department. Their poster for the episode declares the mayor “Found” following “an overwhelming amount of alcohol, sexual impropriety and out of control behaviour…”

There’s a reason Biederman is putting a softer spin on this Spun Out storyline. The Canadian legal system–based on old British laws–takes a different view of libel and defamation, forcing producers here to approach reality-based storylines with caution. With “free speech” afforded such a high level of protection under the U.S. constitution, goofing on celebrities on shows such as “SNL” is seen as fair game and “parody.” It is more accepted in the States–where malice must be shown for a defamation charge to stick–that a celebrity has opened themselves up for greater scrutiny. Therefore, Jimmy Kimmel can show a video of a Rob Ford look-a-like appearing to smoke crack cocaine and cavorting with undesirables and get away with it.

On Canadian shows such as This Hour Has 22 Minutes, not so much, although limits are tested and boundaries pushed, especially with politicians.

Spun Out is expected to be renewed when CTV unveils its 2014-15 season June 5 in Toronto, although no announcement has been made yet. Audience levels have hovered around the half million mark since the move to Fridays on CTV.

Read the full story here at this article I wrote for The Canadian Press.

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