Bako's naked truth about Hollywood

-- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Alberta, a bastion of conservatism? Not so, says actress Brigitte Bako.

Edmonton, it appears, is for swingers. The River City has been immortalized as the wife-swapping capital of Canada in Bako's hit Showcase series, G-Spot. Local tourism authorities may want to update their portfolios.

"I did an episode in Season 2 about it," she says, adding that her sister, an Edmonton resident, tipped her off about the city's seamy swing set. "She's going to kill me. It's bad enough I made an episode about it. She's led me to believe that there's some really sexy swingin' goin' on in Edmonton.

"There's a show I was going to develop called The Swap Meat," she continues. "It's about an ex-pat Canadian who lived in New York, gets kicked out of her job, loses her green card and has to move in with her 'normal' sister in Edmonton to discover that she's big into swapping. So, look for that show on a TV near you."

Truth is stranger than fiction, say Bako, whose experiences as a nice, Jewish actress from Montreal struggling to make good in Hollywood are the basis for G-Spot, a semi-autobiographical sex comedy. Now in its second season on Showcase - Fridays at 11 p.m. (Cable 31) - the Season 1 DVD set will be released Tuesday.

Over the phone from L.A., the 39-year-old says the concept developed out of a sense of frustration she felt being, in her mind, an A-list actress toiling in a B-movie world.

In the show, Bako plays Gigi, a Canadian actress just returning to L.A. after a long absence spent tending to her ailing mother.

Bako's own mother, a Holocaust survivor, also fell ill and many of the roles Bako took, which were usually more embarrassing than edifying, were a question of necessity. While other actors were scoping out new sports cars, she was sending extra cash home to pay for her mother's night nursing.

While Bako did return to Canada to be at her mother's bedside, unlike Gigi she didn't stay away from Hollywood too long. Regardless, the loss forced her to reassess her ambitions.

"It was very important for me to be successful in my mother's lifetime, and when she died I didn't really know whether I still wanted to do this anymore," she says.

Bako did have a few high points, with regular work on TV's Red Shoe Diaries series and a break starring in 1995's sci-fi action hit Strange Days alongside Ralph Fiennes.

The lowest of the lows came on Dark Tide, a torrid sex thriller involving snakes. The low-budget affair saw her lubricating a snake, so it could slither up her breasts. Back then, it seemed sort of sad, maybe even desperate. But now ...

"I parody it in an episode and it gave G-Spot one of the funniest moments in its two seasons."

Such experiences are what initially set Bako to the task of writing. After penning one episode and showing it to trusted friends and producers, few believed she'd actually written it. Too good and too funny, they told her.

Encouraged, she continued writing, quickly racking up five episodes and eventually drawing the attention of a literary agent. First picked up by Movie Central, G-Spot has since found a home on Showcase, where she says the show has exploded in popularity.

The ensemble cast includes Kimberly Huie, Heather Hanson and Ian Alden, and the racy series plays out much like Sex and the City - assuming you got see Sarah Jessica Parker's breasts every other episode. Part of Showcase's saucy Friday night lineup, sandwiched between Kink and Porno Valley, G-Spot routinely sees Bako revealing her "ta-tas."

"I'm making a complete comment on how I've been forced to be naked in all these movies," she explains. "When you're in your 20s and have tits that stand up in Hollywood, that's all they really want you for.

"It doesn't matter how funny you are. I thought of myself as a comedienne, like Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball, and they thought of me as a little sex kitten. I do it for comedy's sake, never for exploitation. I've been exploited in so many movies, so that's my commentary."

Despite becoming a hit, Bako says maintaining G-Spot's integrity has been a struggle. Being a control freak, she concedes, is part of the problem - she continues to write, produce and star in every episode.

The other, bigger part of the problem, she says, is Canada's backwards approach to the TV and film industry.

While the show is set in L.A., it's filmed in Toronto, which wasn't a problem for Bako, just so long as the show didn't look like a Canadian production. Touting shows like North of 60 and Corner Gas as benchmarks, the best Canuck TV has to offer, is a sad joke, she contends.

"I've actually lived in the U.S. longer than Canada, but I love my country. You should see me during the Olympics; I want everyone to die except Canada.

"But in production meetings with my crew, I'd say, 'If this looks like a Canadian show, I will shoot myself and then all of you. We have so much talent in Canada, we can do better.'

"I have no competition, in my opinion. I happen to think most stuff in Canada sucks ass, and you can quote me on that. I don't like one Canadian show. I watch it because that's what I'm supposed to do, to see what's out there. It's not funny, it's very politically correct and nobody steps outside of the box. And I don't know why, but when things are shot in Canada they sort of look like they were shot in a tin can."

For Season 2, she was forced to make certain regrettable concessions, like toning down the sexuality. It was a move, she says, that "cut the balls of the show" - no pun intended. As a cost-cutting measure, producers were also advocating axing three characters and having whoever was left move in with Gigi.

"I was like, 'Let's just put on a play in a barn. Why even pretend we're making a show?' In the States, if you're a hit, you get more money. In Canada, you get less."

G-Spot's third and presumably last season will hopefully take the show back to its roots, says Bako, who can't help but look forward to another deal she's just inked with HBO.

38 Special, produced by Curb Your Enthusiasm's Gavin Polone, will follow the adventures of a super sexy spy, who is armed, dangerous and premenopausal.

"It's like La Femme Nikita with a biological clock," Bako laughs. "I'm the writer, producer and hopefully star."


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