Celebrating women, reality TV and Ben Mulroney's hair at the Canadian Screen Awards's first gala

By Ava Baccari

For a night that highlighted the best in documentary, lifestyle, sports and news in Canada, there was a lot of song and dance – mostly by the evening's host, comedian Sean Cullen, who sashayed on stage and serenaded the evening's notable guests. Midway through the Canadian Screen Awards Television and Digital Media Gala at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto on Tuesday night (Mar. 8), our gracious host took to the mic to spotlight some of the famous faces in the room, complimenting etalk host Ben Mulroney's luscious locks and professing his undying affection for CBC News Network host Ian Hanomansing through song.


Host Sean Cullen had some fun with Ben Mulroney. Photo: © George Pimentel Photography

The Amazing Race Canada took home top honours of the night in marquee categories, including best direction (Rob Brunner), best editing and best reality/competition program or series.

Canadian television and radio icon Marilyn Dennis picked up the inaugural award for best lifestyle program or series for The Marilyn Dennis Show. "I have to go to bed!" joked the beloved host when accepting the award. "I'm so lucky to have had a second chance, a second go-around. Please continue to watch television because it's worth it!"

CBC's Ian Hanomansing joked that he'd call his award the Mansbridge. Photo: © George Pimentel Photography

Presenters and winners were quick to acknowledge that it was no coincidence that so many women were being honoured for their work in Canadian television and film on International Women's Day. "I think you should salute the women at your table tonight," said Helga Stephenson, CEO of Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

And there was no shortage of women picking up awards. CBC host Andi Petrillo, the first woman to host a daily sports radio program in Toronto, took home the first award of the night for best sports host in sports program or series for the 2015 Pan Am Games - Pan Am Afternoon. Incoming Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton picked up the award for best host or interviewer in a news or information program or series (she couldn't make the evening's ceremony as the political journalist was on assignment interviewing John Kerry).

Toronto city councillor, presenter and Drake enthusiast Norm Kelly. Photo: © George Pimentel Photography

A highlight of the night was when Twitter-beloved Toronto city councillor Norm Kelly took the stage to present the news category awards, including one to CBC's Ian Hanomansing for best news anchor, national. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his wife of 25 years, Nancy, and decided to name his honour after another marquee anchor nominated in the category. "I'll call this award the Mansbridge and I'm very proud to win it."

The awards ceremony continues tonight in the Drama, Comedy, Variety, Children's, Performance, Digital Media categories.

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