April 24, 2004
Prodigal Kid back
Scott Thompson is here to host the Genies, but he's got bigger plans
By JIM SLOTEK
TORONTO -- Showbiz sings in Scott Thompson's blood, such that he's always conscious of a microphone in the room -- even a tiny one plugged into an interviewer's mini-recorder.

"Excuse me," he says between bites off a snack tray at CITY-TV as he holds forth on the travails of his erstwhile Hollywood career, "...Oh, they won't know why I'm saying 'Excuse me,' will they? But you can tell them I spat a little bit of muffin out," he says, addressing the recorder -- as if editing him is out of the question.

The location is relevant because CITY is producing and airing the Genie Awards (for Canadian movies) next Saturday at the Convention Centre, and the ex-Kid In The Hall is hosting.

Whether as a nod to his status as "the gay one" or not, the 44-year-old Thompson was the diva of Kids In The Hall, the Kid who staked out the satirical turf of Hollywood cheese, lounge lizardry and queer-camp -- replete with de rigueur jet-puf'd narcissism.

The other Kids always played along. Dave Foley once favoured me with his impression of Scott reading the newspaper, flipping pages frantically before pronouncing, "There's nothing about me here!" (It's been suggested the bit was first invented by Kids writer Paul Bellini. A good pal, the two are writing a TV pilot).

If it's put on, the eminently likeable Thompson loves playing it. The week we speak, he's been rehearsing a scene with Vin Diesel in the movie The Pacifier. "It's kind of like Uncle Buck," he says. "Vin Diesel is a Navy SEAL looking after some kids."

Thompson plays the director of a production of Sound Of Music -- which Diesel disrupts because he found a Nazi uniform from the musical in the bedroom of the youngest child in his care, and he thinks he's breaking up a neo-Nazi bund meeting.

"It's one scene. I have a meltdown. That's my specialty," Thompson says.

Vin Diesel. It sounds like the name of a gay porn star. "Are you kidding? In my mind he IS a gay porn star. I've loved Vin Diesel for years. I've been completely giddy about this."

If giddiness is contageous, the Genies -- the least-watched of Canada's major awards shows -- can only benefit.

The irony of a Hollywood movie role notwithstanding, Scott Thompson has said goodbye to L.A. after many years there. Mostly he was ahead of the curve trying to convince studios that gays could be played by gays, rather than by Tom Hanks and Greg Kinnear.

Lately, he's heard another story. Shopping around a talk-show/reality-series starring his lounge-lizard character Buddy Cole (and featuring "the Rough Trade Dancers"), he got turned down by Bravo -- home of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy -- because "they said they don't want to be known as the gay network. My feeling was, if I didn't sell this one I'm going home. And I did."

"The bottom line is Scott's very bright and very funny, and if you could funnel all of his feelings and intellect into a show, it would be incredible," says Kids lawyer/producer David Himelfarb. "Is Canada a better place for Scott? Yeah, because there's more creative freedom. Kids In The Hall was uniquely Canadian and would never have happened anywhere else. It's a harder place to do television in terms of financing. But it's a smarter place."

The prodigal Scott Thompson is throwing himself heavily into his first gig as Genie host, seeing all the nominated movies (which I can assure you, most Genie hosts have not done). "The Saddest Music In The World, Mambo Italiano. I've been watching these movies and it's amazing. They're real good movies, and no one goes to them."

Any advice for the industry? Well yes, since we ask.

"Enough with the suicide plots, it's grim. They should make more comedies. It's like this weird English-Canadian bias against making an out-and-out hilarious comedy -- because, well, that's what Americans do. I mean, could you imagine if we embraced our own, and made a Canadian film starring Samantha Bee, Mike Myers, Mark McKinney, Jim Carrey, Tom Green and Harland Williams?"

He reiterates he's "not just dropping in and giving advice. I'm home. This is my audition, my chance to whore my personality."

IT'S A TRAGEDY, ONLY WITH JOKES

What does Scott Thompson want to do now that he has come home to Canada? Make a mordant comedy about a tragedy, for starters.

"I've got screenplays and I'm continually trying to get them made," he says. "The first is a coming-of-age high school comedy set in Brampton in 1975."

Um, it occurs that there was a Columbine-like shooting then.

"Oh yeah, it was my class and everything," he says of the tragedy in which a teacher, a student and shooter Michael Slobodian were killed and 14 wounded.

"It (the screenplay) is dark, it has heavy moments, but it's my life and you have enough time to think about certain things and you have to recognize some parts are a kind of comedy. It would be wrong to do a one-note tragic movie because it wouldn't be true. It would be kowtowing.

"As a 15-year-old you're not really aware what death is, but you're certainly aware what it means to be written about all over the world in papers. You're in a sleepy town where nothing ever happens and it was exciting. It's a terrible thing to say, but the truth is, if you weren't injured and you didn't lose anybody close, there was this incredible thrill. The eyes of the world were upon us.

"Hopefully it'll be funny," he says of the Gus Van Sant-inspired dark film. "I'm not being funny right now as I talk about it."