The New York City-born screenwriter was a fearless champion of Canadian TV as a blogger and member of the Writers Guild of Canada.
Denis McGrath, the popular Canadian TV writer and executive producer with a specialty for genre series like Syfy’s Continuum and Aftermath, died Thursday in Toronto. He was 48.
The Writers Guild of Canada, where McGrath was a councilor since 2008 and helped negotiate IPA contracts with Canadian producers, said he died at St. Joseph’s Health Centre following an undisclosed illness.
“There will be much to say in the coming days, but for now thank you to Denis’ many, many friends and loved ones who have helped and supported and been with us through this — your kindness means more than you know,” Trish McGrath, sister of Denis, said Thursday night on her Facebook page after being at his hospital bedside.
Born in New York City in September 1968, McGrath moved to Toronto and worked at the TVOntario and City TV networks during the early 1990s. After serving as a TV producer at Space, Canada’s cable sci-fi channel, McGrath completed a TV writing program at Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre.
During the next two decades, McGrath wrote on and executive produced Canadian TV shows, often thrillers and sci-fi series, that were also sold into the U.S. and other world markets. These included The Border, SGU Stargate Universe, Bitten, InSecurity, Republic of Doyle and X Company.
McGrath also wrote comedies, stage plays, documentaries, animation and video games. Between 2005-10, he wrote the popular blog Dead Things on Sticks, where McGrath dished on his screenwriting craft and the Canadian TV industry.
“Denis took on the powers-that-be in the industry, questioning assumptions and challenging ill-informed rhetoric. Denis never gave up a fight,” the Writers Guild of Canada said Friday in a statement as the union paid tribute to McGrath. Fellow Canadian screenwriters also penned their own tributes.
“I tip my hat to my friend @DMcWriterboy and salute his life with a writer’s send-off: no notes,” Daegan Fryklind, showrunner on Syfy’s Bitten, tweeted. McGrath was also remembered as a fervent Toronto Blue Jays fan.
“You could always see this grown man become an 8-year-old boy — beside himself with joy when catching a ball in the stands,” Canadian screenwriter Gary Pearson (Mad TV, Corner Gas), said on his own Twitter account.