Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland return to TV with Shoot the Messenger

Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland have been creating gritty, thought-provoking projects for television for years. There was 2009’s Guns, a two-part miniseries for CBC about Toronto detectives following a 23-year-old gun trafficker. Before that was 2006’s Doomstown, a TV-movie documenting the violence in a housing project. Now the writers and executive producers (and real-life couple) are back with Shoot the Messenger.

Debuting Monday, Oct. 10, at 9 p.m. on CBC, the eight-part series stars Elyse Levesque as Daisy Channing, an entertainment reporter at Toronto’s fictional newspaper The Gazette, who’s finally got her big scoop since transferring to the news department: the death of a young Somali man. Eager to impress her editor Mary Foster (Alex Kingston), Daisy makes a rookie mistake, throwing her into a foreign world she’s unprepared for, and turning to co-worker Simon Olenski (Lucas Bryant) for guidance.

“She wants to be in investigative journalism and prove herself,” Levesque says alongside Bryant during a break in filming. “She is massively ambitious to a fault, and receives a phone call about a huge tip that will blow the lid off this town.” Levesque and Bryant just finished filming a scene outside, where Daisy and Simon met to discuss the latest regarding the story. Standing on the top of a high-rise (in real life the TIFF Bell Lightbox complex) with Toronto below them, the danger of what Daisy uncovered hit home. Why was this young man killed? Who is involved in the conspiracies? The only thing she knows for sure is she’s in way over her head.

Lyriq Bent and Elyse Levesque

Complicating things for Elyse even more? She’s romantically involved with the detective on the case, Kevin Lutz (Lyriq Bent). That causes problems during the investigation and could jeopardize his career.

“Kevin wants to be an ordinary dude,” Bent says. “He wants to have a normal life away from work. He’s caring, considerate and thoughtful. And I think his relationship with Daisy is refreshing for Canadian TV and definitely for CBC.”

Shoot the Messenger‘s supporting cast is a whos who of the Canadian television world, including Nicholas Campbell, Ron Lea, Kim’s Convenience leads Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon, as well as appearances by The Barenaked Ladies’ Ed Robertson, the Toronto Raptor’s Jamaal Magloire and ex-NBAer turned television star Rick Fox.

“He is my dickhead cousin,” Bryant says of Robertson’s role. “He’s a sports agent and he’s really good. I was a huge Barenaked Ladies fan and was looking forward to meeting him and he was humble, funny and fantastic. He told me that all he ever wanted to do when he was growing up was be a rock star and star in one of Sudz’ movies.”

Shoot the Messenger airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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13 thoughts on “Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland return to TV with Shoot the Messenger”

  1. You gotta love that TV writing: “2009’s Guns”; “2006’s Doomstown.” (“TV’s Calculon!”)

    Also, could TV, Eh? please learn how to write a custom slug? It’s right there in WordPress. Hint: /jennifer-holness-and-sudz-sutherland-return-to-tv-with-shoot-the-messenger/ is a lousy URL; /shootthemessenger/ would be better. Any URL you can’t dictate over the phone sucks.

  2. Unless you’re being intentionally ironic I wouldn’t characterize the guest cast as a “who’s who” of Canadian television. First off, you could name ten well established Canadian actors to most Canadians and they’d say “Who?” Second, beyond Nick Campbell you’re marquis names include former music and pro sports celebrities with not much track laid as actors. It smells of stunt casting to me which is a sad commentary on the need to add ANY recognizable name to a project, regardless of their requisite skill as actors, in order to raise a show’s profile.

    Last, I’m getting a little tired of Sudz and Jennifer talking about diverse casting and story-telling like they somehow have a corner on it. I don’t doubt their struggles early on with an industry slow to evolve and adapt but diversity has been clearly part of the Canadian broadcaster mandate for a while now, they’re not the sole purveyors. To suggest otherwise demeans the efforts of a lot of industry types, both at the broadcaster and creator level, who have championed this for some time.

    1. Really? You’re getting tired of me and Jen talking about Diverse casting and storytelling? Are you kidding me? If you think you are tired of me talking about it, ask the reporters who lead off their questions to us with the subject. When this is the first and the last thing reporters want to talk about when talking to us – the obviously diverse filmmakers – they will write about it, no matter how much we talk about the challenges of serialized storytelling, and writing all the scripts before production and the challenges that entails for a development budget. No matter how much we talk about working with actors like Alex Kingston, Elyse Levesque and Lyriq Bent, and the rest of our killer cast, one of the main stories that people want to tell when they write about our work is around Diversity. Do you honestly think that is all we have to say? Do you honestly think that We Think we are the only ones doing work in this area? To write that we think that we are the “sole purveyors” of diversity in Canadian Drama shows how little you question the process by how these stories are written, edited and see the light of day, which is one of the things that Shoot The Messenger tries to go behind the scenes to show. Lastly, I do not hide behind any pseudonym. When I write my opinions down on a public forum, I sign my name because I am not afraid for anyone to understand that I am entitled to an opinion, no matter what it is. Can you say the same?

      1. In an industry that penalizes people for being “off message”? Yup, anonymity required.

        Sudz, I’m a fan of your work, I’m a huge supporter of your determination to bring gritty and authentic stories to the public. I’m also heartened you’ve got support from a broadcaster who feels similarly. And I’m sorry you’ve been mis-characterized by the press. The tone of much of the “Messenger” coverage suggests you and Jennifer are somehow the lone voices at the vanguard of diverse programming and sadly, in my off message opinion, that diminishes the efforts of everyone else who is in those trenches with you. If that’s the media’s fault then we all need to address that. Is this some white media mea culpa? If they lionize you then that makes their past dismissal of diversity somehow atoned for? I guess taking note of it, even if disproportionately, is better than them NOT highlighting it at all. But I would also like the coverage to be about the quality of the work not just the diverse subject matter or multi-ethnic casting. What you’re doing, what many of us are doing, can’t be allowed to be talked about like it’s tokenism. If it is then it’s just some pendulum swing to make it seem like the problem has been momentarily compensated for rather than some legitimate progress being made. But maybe I’m putting the proverbial cart before the horse. I actually celebrate what you’ve achieved Sudz and if it came off as anything else then I apologize.

        And Greg, I’m impressed by the main cast too. Much more than the musicians and athletes doing cameos. Maybe if the Canadian media focused more on our fine domestic actors we’d have a modest star system in the country that would help draw eyeballs to screens. But that’s a whole other topic.

  3. I saw the premiere last night and I am so fucking happy we’re finally getting the prestige, slow burn, HBO-style dramas on Canadian television. Like seriously, this show was leagues ahead of by-the-numbers police procedurals we export like oil. Canadian writers and directors don’t need to move to LA to make quality television anymore, the Emmys and this show proved it.

  4. Can we do a twenty questions on the identity of the “Canadian Showrunner”
    1. Are you currently running a Canadian show?

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