Screen Gems was a U.S. television production and distribution company that was probably the first such organisation to take significant advantage of the fact that production costs were much cheaper in Canada than below the border. They produced many shows in Canada, initially in Vancouver, but later in Montreal at CFCF-TV – which, being owned by Canadian Marconi, had been quick off the mark in getting equipped with colour cameras.
CTV bought several Screen Gems series, both U.S. and Canadian. One of the latter was Little People, hosted by game show veteran Jack Barry. This was another variation on the Art Linkletter segment in his House Party radio series, where kids were asked questions on subjects ranging from politics to marriage, and proved that “kids say the darndest things”.
The kids used Little People were picked from nursery schools in the Montreal area, and were chosen for their extrovert personalities. Proof that the producers knew how to pick ‘em lies in the fact that one of the panelists chosen was 4-year-old Wendy Lands, who some 30-plus years later became a star performer in musicals – Les Miserables and And The World Goes Round among them – and on records. Her most recent CD is of songs by Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose son Andrzej chose Wendy to record vocal versions of music by his father, whose powerful life story was the subject of the movie The Pianist, which won a 2003 Academy Award for director Roman Polanski.
Little People was produced in the studios of CFCF-TV Montreal, and played on CTV on Thursdays at 7:30pm in the 1972-73 season.
Written by Pip Wedge - March, 2003