Despite all the slash and burn scenarios coming out of CBC, Rick Mercer says he's back next season with a full order of 19 shows.
Met Mercer for drinks on the Danforth yesterday afternoon. The host of the Rick Mercer Report is coming off his best season ever in terms of ratings--averaging around a million viewers a week--and that's being rewarded with a full season order. Other CBC shows are having their number of episodes cut back next season, including This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Being Erica, The Border and Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Mercer says he's signed a one year deal the last few seasons and that is what he's committed to moving forward. He says he usually takes stock every December but is having a blast doing the Mercer Report heading into a seventh season. What other job, he says, would allow him to bounce around weightless on a Canadian jet, which he got to do this season? His current TV gig plays to all his strengths, mixing politics with satire, streeters with sketches. "It's not like I'm dying to stop this so I can start playing a teacher on a sitcom," he says.
Summer plans include a trip with his dad to India, which has surprised Mercer since he normally can't get the old man to ever leave The Rock.
He says he was astounded by all the Internet attention RMR got this past season after Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion was featured on the series. "They love her everywhere, all over the States," says Mercer. Hanging with Don Cherry, Feist, Nancy Green and Anne Murray were also highlights this past season.
Mercer says he felt for CBC colleague Geri Hall after she got beat up in the press for her ambush on Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. He says he stopped doing ambushes on 22 Minutes after Mary Walsh perfected the sneak attack. "She's like your crazy aunt who can barge in and say whatever she wants," he says of Walsh.
A patron at the bar where we were chatting came over and offered to buy both of us a drink. The gentleman--who may have been battling throat cancer judging by the way he struggled to speak--thanked Mercer for a year of laughs when they were tough to find. Mercer told him the thanks were enough and the drinks weren't necessary, but once the classy dude left the waitress carried out his wishes and brought over another round.
It was a nice, low key, Canadian celebrity moment, the kind you like to hear about and love to pass along. In what has been a trying year and month and week for people in Canadian television, here was some genuine, unsolicited proof that Canadians are connected to their home grown stars and appreciate their efforts.
It's also good news for dumdum journalists who forget their wallets at home. Nothing like driving home that stereotype.
The Rick Mercer Report begins a run of repeats tonight at 8 p.m. on CBC.