TORONTO – When Michael Buble revealed his three-year-old son was fighting cancer last year, it shattered fans and many in the music community — but it also left organizers at the Juno Awards in an unusual position.
Only a few days earlier, the pop crooner was announced as the host for this year’s celebration of Canadian music. Yet in a very short time his life had dramatically changed. Until further notice, his family was his only priority, he said in November.
What that meant for the Junos wasn’t entirely clear. It wasn’t until Thursday’s announcement that rocker Bryan Adams and comedian Russell Peters would step in that everything was ironed out.
Bell Media president Randy Lennox called the turn of events a “truly Canadian” moment, with two of Buble’s longtime friends offering to help out.
Lennox said he’s excited about the prospects of pairing one of Canada’s biggest global rock stars with a stand-up comedian known internationally for his brand of zany multicultural humour.
“It’s just a great magical combination because it doesn’t make sense,” Lennox said.
“I like the fact it’s a little bit disruptive.”
Adams has a deep connection to the Junos with 18 awards to his name, including multiple best artist, best album and best single trophies. Still, the prolific hitmaker who’s penned classics like “Summer of ’69” and “Heaven” isn’t the most obvious choice to host.
Peters doesn’t have a Juno on his mantle but hosted the 2008 show in Calgary and did it again a year later in Vancouver. He’s probably better acquainted with quick-witted banter than his counterpart.
“Bryan will be the element of surprise,” Lennox suggested.
“He’s a very funny guy … but it’s probably a drier sense of humour, I’d say.”
Talks first began last November when Lennox met with Peters, who was locking in plans for his TV series “The Indian Detective,” made for Bell Media-owned CraveTV.
The conversation shifted to Buble’s recent struggles, and the comedian volunteered to swing into the hosting gig if things got desperate. With Buble still officially signed as host, the Junos kept the possibility in their back pocket.
When Buble bowed out of the Brit Awards in late January, the possibilities increased that he might decide hosting the Junos this year wasn’t the right choice.
Word then spread to Adams, who spoke with Junos organizers in early February about filling the other half of an unlikely comic duo.
The Junos have found success in the past by pairing hosts that were well-known to Canadians but shared seemingly little else in common.
Last year’s Calgary show was hosted by singer Jann Arden and Jon Montgomery of “Amazing Race Canada,” while 1983’s gala was led by Burton Cummings and Alan Thicke.
Stranger still was the trio of country singer Johnny Reid, hip hop producer and artist Classified, and pop singer Serena Ryder in 2014.
Brainstorming sessions have already yielded some material that’ll make Adams and Peters shine, Lennox said.
“Russell is a natural writer, but Bryan, he has tons of ideas,” he added.
Whether Buble will return to host for next year’s Juno Awards seems undetermined at this point.
“The answer to that is family first,” Lennox said.
The Junos will be held in Ottawa on April 2, with scheduled performances by artists including Alessia Cara, Arkells, Sarah McLachlan and Shawn Mendes.
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