Everything about Dramas and Comedies, eh?

Jacob Blair’s crash course on The Pinkertons

Jacob Blair is no stranger to Canadian winters. He grew up in Edmonton, but even he found the cold in Winnipeg while filming the syndicated cops and robbers Canadian co-production The Pinkertons to be daunting.

“They’ve been quoting me things like the weather has been colder than the surface of Mars and I’m like, ‘That’s not a selling feature, guys,'” he says from the set with a laugh. “You let people discover that once they’re already here.”

Still, Blair is having a blast. And who can blame him? The chance to play William Pinkerton, son of Allan, the man who founded the legendary law enforcement, detective and security agency in 1850 is just too much fun. Hired by President Abraham Lincoln to be his security detail during the Civil War, the company was based out of Chicago; the series is loosely based on the Pinkerton’s real case files. Blair is joined by Angus Macfadyen (Turn) as Allan, and Martha MacIsaac (1600 Penn) as Kate Warne, the first female detective in the United States.

Blair, who has appeared in episodes of Rookie Blue, Republic of Doyle and Beauty and the Beast, only had two weeks between being cast on The Pinkertons before cameras rolled—he was the last of the principals to sign on—so he crammed for the role. He’d already known from watching shows like Deadwood that the Pinkertons were feared and not a group you wanted to run afoul of, but learned there wasn’t much information regarding William’s personality, just snippets gleaned from Allan’s memoir and in case files.

“I had to create him on my own,” Blair says. “He’s his father’s son, so growing up he would pick up on those traits of being no-nonsense. Because we’re going the family angle, we do need to infuse it with humour. Viewers really love the friction and the dynamic between the characters, so we have William giving it back to Allan and William and Kate getting under each other’s skin, but there’s a mutual admiration there.”

Of course, whenever you place a young man and woman in close quarters and at odds on television, an obvious question must be asked. Will William and Kate end up falling in love like so many small-screen couples have before them? Blair hopes not.

“I just don’t know where it would go,” he says. “I have a hard time picturing that and if they did I’d hope they’d wait a few seasons.” Guess the winters will have to get even colder before the two would ever consider huddling for warmth.

The Pinkertons airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CHCH.

Some Assembly Required premieres January 6

From a media release:

YTV Adds Hilarious New Live Action Series to its Winter Slate

  • Some Assembly Required premieres on YTV Monday, January 6 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT

What kid wouldn’t love to be in charge of running a toy company? And what better way to get around the place than a full-scale indoor roller coaster? The sky is the limit for fun and imagination in YTV’s Some Assembly Required, a new live action comedy series, which follows an eclectic and mismatched group of kids who operate Knickknack Toys. The series premieres on Monday, January 6 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, following Sam & Cat at 6 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.

Fourteen-year-old Jarvis Raines played by YouTube sensation, Kolton Stewart (The Art of War, What’s Up Warthogs!) is at the helm as President of Knickknack Toys. If Jarvis is going to succeed in running the toy company, he has to invent some of the most exciting, fun and creative toys in history and have a dynamic team to help him. His first hire is a girl from school Piper Gray, a computer-savvy “gamer dude” played by singer/songwriter Charlie Storwick (winner of YTV’s The Next Star, Season 4). Then, he rounds out the team by enlisting: his best friend with dubious talents, Bowie, played by Harrison Houde (Diary of a Wimpy Kid); a charming personal assistant Geneva, played by Sydney Scotia (The Letter); Knox, an extreme sports daredevil played by Dylan Playfair (Mr. Hockey: the Gordie Howe Story), and Aster, fashion-forward “King of Swag” played by Travis Turner (Marley & Me: The Puppy Years). Surrounded by doubters, including the former owner Candace Wheeler (Ellie Harvie, The New Addams Family), Jarvis and his team try to prove to the world that not only can they run the company, they can make it better than ever, restoring honour to the name of the company’s founder, P. Everett Knickknack.

In the premiere episode, a Christmas toy gone wrong blows up Jarvis’ house. When Candace refuses to remedy the situation, a jury awards Jarvis the company, making him the new owner of Knickknack Toys. Jarvis and team invent their first toy, StrongSuit – a bodysuit for kids that makes them big and strong. They decide to test it out on a group of local schoolchildren, but when the kids refuse to give the StrongSuit back Jarvis must stop them before they destroy the company.

Shot in front of a live audience in Burnaby, British Columbia, Some Assembly Required is a YTV original series produced by Thunderbird Films. The series is created by Dan Signer (A.N.T. Farm, Mr. Young) and Howard Nemetz (Mr. Young, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody). To be part of the studio audience viewers can email someassemblylive@gmail.com to reserve their seats.

Coinciding with the series launch in January, YTV.com will feature an innovative Some Assembly Required video mash-up tool that allows fans to create their own thematic videos using select clips from actual episodes of the show. Prior to the premiere, fans can play an all-new web game featuring 20 levels of fun and challenging game-play. A free-to-play app version will also be launched in the New Year along with 20 more levels of game-play.

Olympia Dukakis stars in OUTtv’s Sex & Violence

From a media release:

OUTtv has Sex & Violence

  • Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis Stars in and Executive Produces this original miniseries

OUTtv premiered Sex & Violence, its first original Canadian mini-series, this past Sunday night. The series stars Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Tales of the City), Gemini winners Jennie Raymond (The Associates) and Jackie Torrens (Made in Canada), Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave, An Angel at My Table), along with Canadian Idol alum Naomi-Joy Blackhall.

The gritty and graphic series looks at the lives of professionals who work in the aftermath of domestic violence: a social worker, a victim advocate, a prosecutor, a police officer, and a therapist. The show chronicles their struggles to maintain healthy, intimate personal relationships while working daily with people caught in violent and dysfunctional lives.

Sex & Violence highlights OUTtv’s commitment to Canadian television production. “As an independent Canadian channel, we’re delighted to be working with the multi-talented Thom Fitzgerald,” said OUTtv COO Brad Danks. “And it’s a thrill to have Academy Award® winner Olympia Dukakis involved both as the star and Executive Producer. At 82, she proves that there are still strong roles for women in television.”

Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden, Cloudburst) wrote and directed the six-hour Nova Scotia-based production. Sex & Violence is produced by Halifax’s Emotion Pictures. Film and Cultural Industries Nova Scotia and the Eastlink TV Independent Production Fund also financed Sex & Violence.

Encore of episode 1 airs on Friday, Nov. 22, at 10pm ET/10pm PT. New episodes Sundays at 9pm ET / 10 pm ET.

Industry Update – Adapting Bitten: From Book to Television


Bitten was the focus of a panel discussion at the 2013 Canadian International Television Festival, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I had the opportunity to ask executive producers Daegan Fryklind and J.B. Sugar about the show. The Bitten panel included castmembers Greg Bryk, Joel Keller, Michael Xavier, Paulino Nunes, and Steve Lund, and was hosted by InnerSPACE‘s Ajay Fry and Morgan Hoffman.

Cameron Archer: This one would be for Daegan and J.B. Sugar. How closely did you work with Kelley Armstrong in adapting the [Women of the Otherworld] book series to this show?

J.B. Sugar: Kelley was involved in the early stages a lot more heavily, when Daegan delivered her first couple drafts of the first and second episode scripts, as well as the show bible. I think the best news for us, as creatives adapting her work, was to have her kind of give us her blessing and say “Daegan really got the world, and the voices, and the characters”…I  think that was an amazing blessing to get, and let us move forward with confidence. (whispers to Daegan Fryklind) Expand.

Daegan Fryklind: And then Kelley did come to set, also, and met the writing team, and took a tour of Stonehaven, and our standing sets, and loved it. As J.B. said, to get her stamp of approval was really an honour. She was extremely busy during our production season with her newest novel, and touring a lot, so…

Steve Lund: (attempts a menacing tone) Omens. Check it out.

Fryklind: …but would throw us a lot of good feedback on Twitter, which was great.

Sugar: Random House Canada’s about to re-release Bitten in a new edition, and there’s a nice little burst on the cover, giving some props out to the show, saying “coming to Space”.

Morgan Hoffman (InnerSPACE): Cool!…[Women of the Otherworld is] such a beloved book series, and there’s numerous books within it. What would you say were the biggest challenges in adapting [the series] to a TV show?

Sugar: I’m sure Daegan has the right answer…Bitten the first season of the show follows closely to the plotline of Bitten the novel. The Otherworld series kind of jumps in time, and goes into backstory. I think the challenge was to take this wealth of mythology, and backstory, and character that needed to be crafted into a narrative that would work for the medium of TV. That’s something that Daegan and our writing team just did so brilliantly, so I’ll let her expand on that.

Fryklind: The novel itself also stays very closely to Elena [Michaels]’ P.O.V. – that’s internal monologue. In adapting the novel to a series, I had to really blow out character arcs for (refers to male cast attending CITF panel) each of these fellows, so that they had their own storylines, and so that when we were coming away from Elena to other storylines, we had B-plots and C-plots. We sorta blow out the world, blow out their valley, and create characters there, and Toronto, and Philip [Madden]’s world, and his family, and just give everyone their own throughline, and their own want and need throughout the first season.

Super Duper Deelia in development


  • New half-hour live action series for girls from the mind of Supergirl

Leading producer and distributor Shaftesbury today announced that it has partnered with actor, writer and producer Laura Vandervoort (Bitten; Smallville) on Super Duper Deelia, a new series for girls created by Vandervoort and targeted to girls aged six to 12. Produced by Shaftesbury in association with John May and Suzanne Bolch of Heroic Television (How to be Indie; Connor Undercover), the half-hour live action series follows the adventures of a young girl who discovers she has superpowers on her 10th birthday.

“I was a tomboy growing up, and didn’t like princesses, ponies or pink,” said Vandervoort. “There weren’t any television series that I wanted to watch growing up. With my Supergirl background and fan base, I thought it would be great to develop a series that speaks to girls like me.”

“Super Duper Deelia is about embracing your individuality and learning how to be yourself in the world,” said Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury. “Laura has created a unique and empowering character for girls in Deelia, who struggles with how best to use the superpowers she suddenly inherits on her 10th birthday. Luckily she has a great group of friends, a wise grandmother and a talking dog to confide in.”

Deelia has always been super – a super friend, a super creator of the most original outfits and a super human to her dog. But on her 10th birthday, she discovers that she’s not just super in a regular way – she has actual real powers. The big question: what to do with them? Deelia wants to use them to change things for the better, but her ideas of how to do that don’t always work out the way she hopes. Luckily, she’s not out there super-heroing it on her own. Deelia comes from a long line of super women including her grandmother, who has plenty of good advice to share. Plus Deelia’s dog, Shadow, is not just a loveable mutt. He’s also her very own sidekick with powers of his own, including the ability to talk. Super Duper Deelia is a series about the fun, challenges and temptations of growing up super – and discovering that the ultimate power is actually the ability to think differently.

The star of the highly anticipated new Space and Syfy series Bitten, Laura Vandervoort is a Canadian actor, writer and producer best known for her iconic role as Kara (Supergirl) in The CW’s global hit series Smallville. Vandervoort launched her career at a young age in popular kids’ series Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? before going on to star in such series as Instant Star and V and feature films including The Entitled, This Means War and Ted.

Super Duper Deelia is created by Laura Vandervoort and executive produced by Vandervoort, Christina Jennings, John May and Suzanne Bolch.