Not Such a Friendly Place Anymore

Bolted out of Brampton today to grab a little face time on CBC Newsworld. Specifically, to tape a segment for Newsworld’s CBC News Today with David Gray. The topic was Letterman, Leno and O’Brien, all returning to late night, strike or no strike. (I’ll update on that shortly).

On my way out of CBC’s cavernous broadcast bunker I passed by the CBC Museum on the ground floor, curious to see if someone had turned out the lights and pulled up the drawbridge. As everyone knows by now, the family of Bob Homme–better known to millions of boomers as the late, great Friendly Giant–were so offended by a sketch which aired during the most recent Gemini Awards they demanded their puppets back.
If you haven’t seen the sketch, and, since it aired during the Geminis, nobody did, you can check it out on YouTube. It showed Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe, along with some other rumpled CBC puppet pals (no, not Peter Mansbridge), slumming at an old puppets home.
The bit was really no more of a tweak than something Wayne & Shuster would have done back in the day, but the Homme family had a deal and the deal was no puppet pranks without our permission so they took their dad’s rooster and giraffe and went home.
Too bad. Last June, when I snapped these photos, I brought my son’s grade eight class down to the CBC museum. We were on our way to a MuchMusic taping and had some time to kill. I worried that the kids would think Jerome and Rusty were so 1965 but they were all over the museum. (It helped, too, that Rick Mercer stopped by and gave them all a photo op to remember.)
Anyway, today I walk into the CBC Museum and the first thing I see is the Friendly exhibit, stripped down to the bare castle wall. Where Jerome once stuck out his neck, an open window, where Rusty hung, a sad little hole. That chair for two to curl up in? Storage. As Friendly would say, Goodbye. Goodbye.
Taped to the wall was a plain white piece of paper. On it was written: “Exhibit work underway. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Gone too was the castle, which once stood in a case behind the Friendly wall. It was cool to peer inside it and see the tiny gears and springs that once opened and shut the castle doors and drawbridge.

To rub it all in, the familiar Friendly Giant theme could be heard echoing throughout the empty museum space. The rest of the gallery, free and open to the public, stands exactly as it has for many years, filled with old microphones, sound effect props and assorted other dusty kiddie show critters.
Now, forget the writers guild and the Alliance of movie and TV producers–can somebody please bring the Hommes and the CBC back together? Homme taught several generations of Canadian kids all about dignity and grace. The family is right to guard his memory and his legacy. Build a better TV museum, one that showcases props from Front Page Challenge, Hockey Night in Canada, the Anne of Green Gables films and other CBC triumphs. It would be a Giant step in the right direction for a network that is slowly starting to look up, look waaay up.

One Response to “Not Such a Friendly Place Anymore”

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