Shirley Douglas slams CBC, lack of Canadian star system

Shirley Douglas (middle) with children Rachel and Kiefer Sutherland (Galit Rodan/The Canadian Press)

Veteran Canadian stage actress Shirley Douglas is "fed up" with our star system -- or lack thereof.

The 78-year-old "Wind at My Back" star and her son Kiefer Sutherland attended Toronto's 11th Annual ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) Awards at The Carlu this weekend, where Rick Mercer handed Douglas the 2013 Award of Excellence for lifetime achievement.

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But before she received her trophy on Saturday, the Saskatchewan native took aim at the CBC for not turning its actors into stars, the Canadian Press reports.

“CBC is in my line of fire,” she said. “I just cannot believe that that company has not recognized that they need name recognition."

Douglas illustrated her point using CBC's promotion of "Heartland," the family drama about a pair of sisters living on a horse ranch in Alberta. You may remember the show, now in its sixth season, being advertised by a low-key poster of star Amber Marshall posing with a horse against a photogenic Prairies backdrop. The only text on the image was the series title.

Douglas lamented "that poor woman standing there with the horse [and] miles of blue sky to write everyone’s name on. You don’t even [know]: Is it a car company? What is it?”

"Heartland"

She claimed that she had once been told the CBC didn't want to create a star system because the actors would then become famous and command higher salaries.

“There isn't a picture on a cover of a magazine in Canada by Canadians that has our people on it. And somebody has to change it unless they want everyone to leave,” she said, according to the CBC.

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A veteran thespian, Douglas has been treading the boards since the '50s and has appeared with her famous son onstage in Toronto's 1997 production of "The Glass Menagerie." She has also appeared in Hollywood films such as "Lolita" and "Dead Ringers" and on television in "Wind at My Back" and "Degrassi: The Next Generation." For her five decades of performing arts work, Douglas was awarded the Order of Canada in 2003.

Despite her distaste for Canada's lack of celebrity culture, Douglas announced to ACTRA that she is here to stay.

“I'm never leaving. I'm here," she said this weekend. "Too old to be leaving anyway."