Juno Awards 2017: Russell Peters pinch hits for Michael Buble and our fearless predictions
Canadian comic Russell Peters, pictured hosts the Juno Awards with Bryan Adams. (Handout)
Canadian comic Russell Peters is old hat at hosting the Juno Awards - having previously done so in 2008 and 2009.
But for this third time, he’s also helping out old friend Michael Buble, who had to bow out last month as Juno ringleader while his three-year-old son Noah continues to battle cancer.
Airing Sunday night in Ottawa on CTV at 6:30 p.m. Peters will share master of ceremony duties with Bryan Adams.
“I wanted it to be as stress-less on Mike as possible – [we] are good friends so when they asked if I would come in and step in for my brother, I said, ‘Hell, yes,’” said the 46-year-old Peters.
“He’s trying to stay positive as far as I know. What a crappy thing to have to happen and to have to deal with.”
Allan Reid, president and CEO of the Juno Awards and the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences told Postmedia Network, “(Adams and Peters) stepped up right away and said, ‘If you need help, we are here to support.' So that’s really nice they did that for him and for us. We've gone from one iconic Canadian to now two. It should be a lot of fun.”
24 Hours caught up with Peters down the line from South Africa where he’s spent the last two months filming the series The Indian Detective for CTV before heading to India to shoot.
When do you arrive in Ottawa?
Well, I fly in the day before the Junos. It’s not normal. ‘You’re in Mumbai one night, you’re in Ottawa tomorrow.’
Do you think you’ll have much co-hosting chemistry with Adams?
We’ve met. I wouldn’t say I know him. But I’m a fan. He’s a fan. So I think we both mutually respect each other. He’s a Canadian icon. He’s not just a Canadian icon, he’s a rock icon. It’s more an honour for me than it is for him.
So is there even time to do any pre-taped sketches?
I really don’t know to be honest. I know we’re both gunning for greatness on this so that’s really the bottom line there. It’ll be, I don’t want to say your basic award show, but it’ll be the recipe for an awards show. It’ll be up to Bryan and myself to make it special, which I plan on doing. I’m not flying all that way just to come and s--t the bed.
Do you anticipate an appearance by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since the Junos are in Ottawa?
I really hope Trudeau comes - that’d be great.
What about including politics in your monologue?
I think it would be hard-pressed to avoid. What with ‘the genius’ running America right now.
Obviously, your past as a hip-hop DJ makes you familiar with Drake and The Weeknd but what about Shawn Mendes?
My daughter actually likes [Shawn]. She’s six. I don’t think she knows his name but she likes his song. She asked me to buy it for her.
Is she attending?
Oh, no, no, no. That would be way too much stress for me. Once she gets a little older, she’ll be more cognitive. And Alessia Cara’s from Brampton [where I grew up], which excites me.
And do you return to India after the Junos?
We complete the rest of the shoot in Toronto, which worked out well for that.
How would you describe the tone of The Indian Detective? I know you play an ostracized Toronto cop investigating a murder in your parents’ city of Mumbai.
I really want it to be more drama heavy than comedy heavy but there are some funny moments in it. I am pretty much me ... so I am a goofball in it. It’s actually really well-written. The guy who wrote it, Frank Spotnitz (The Man in the High Castle, The X-Files), is an amazing writer.
FEARLESS JUNO PREDICTIONS!
The Toronto-centric trio of Mendes, Drake and the Weeknd led the pack going in with five nods each while Alessia Cara and the late Leonard Cohen trail in second place with four nominations.
Here are my guesses in the top categories. (The majority of the hardware will be handed out Saturday night during the pre-telecast gala dinner.)
JUNO FAN CHOICE AWARD
Should/will win: Shawn Mendes, who’s a lot nicer to his fans (who decide this category) than The Biebs these days. Also, Drake and The Weeknd are skipping the event this year.
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Shawn Mendes, Treat You Better
Drake, One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla
Alessia Cara, Wild Things
The Weeknd, Starboy ft. Daft Punk
The Strumbellas, Spirits
Should win: Cara’s outsider anthem is the strongest of the bunch but can she crack the #JunosSoMale stronghold?
Will win: Neither Drake or The Weeknd’s tunes were their best so I’m giving it to Mendes’ chivalrous love song.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Weeknd, Starboy
Shawn Mendes, Illuminate
Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker
Céline Dion, Encore un Soir
Should/will win: Drake for sales dominance, which is how this category is determined.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Should/will win: Cohen, who said a proper goodbye with his final album before his death last November.
GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Tragically Hip
Tegan and Sara
Should/will win: The Hip, whose last tour dominated the music world in Canada last summer like no other as frontman Gord Downie battled brain cancer by going back to work.
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Tegan & Sara
Should/will win: Downie. He's nominated for his powerful solo work on Secret Path. The project shone a light on Canadian residential schools treatment of Indigenous children -- specifically Chanie Wenjack, who died after he ran away and tried to walk home in 1966.