Everything about Unspeakable, eh?

Reaction: CBC’s slate of new programs for the 2018-19 broadcast season

I spent a couple of days in Ottawa this week, which meant I missed attending CBC’s presentation for its 2018-19 broadcast season. You can check out the full announcement here, which includes a list of the shows returning to the schedule, programs that are moving and even better news for Kim’s Convenience fans. (Not so for 21 Thunder and Hello Goodbye; the former has been cancelled and the latter is on hiatus.)

In no particular order, here are my thoughts on (almost) everything that CBC revealed on Thursday morning.

— A lot of folks, myself included, were scratching their heads over the decision to bring back Street Legal for another go-round. What more could be said about those characters over 20 years later? That all changed once I saw Bruce Smith named as showrunner. He’s the guy behind two of my favourite TV series in recent memory, Cracked and 19-2. Both were gritty, realistic portrayals of life, so I expect the same from Street Legal as well as catching up on what Olivia Novak is up to. And I can’t wait to have Cynthia Dale back on my TV screen.

— CBC does family drama, really, really, well. Just look at the success of Heartland for crying out loud. I’m expecting big things from Northern Rescue and all it offers: tragedy, redemption, starting a new life in an unfamiliar place and Kathleen Robertson.

— I was unaware of Floyd Kane until this week, though he’s been involved in several projects I’ve watched or admired, including writing for Continuum and Backstage and producing That’s So Weird and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He’s a bona fide lawyer, so it makes sense he’d create a series about being one in Diggstown. I’m into this, especially after learning Diggstown marks the first original Canadian drama series to feature a black Canadian female in the lead role.

— I’m excited to see Back Alley Films—the folks behind the excellent Bellevue—working with the CBC on Coroner. Based on the best-selling book series by M.R. Hall and created for TV by Morwyn Brebner (Saving Hope), it’s about former ER doctor Jenny Cooper who now investigates suspicious deaths.

— I’m over the moon that Kim’s Convenience, which just began production on Season 3, has been greenlit for Season 4. I’m equally jazzed that Paul Sun-Hyung Lee has been tagged to host Canada’s Smartest Person Junior.

— Banger Films are the folks behind must-see music documentaries like Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Super Duper Alice Cooper and Rock Icons. I’m intrigued and excited by From the Vaults, which takes a look at Canadian history and music by utilizing the CBC’s archives.

— High Arctic Haulers. Remote northern communities relying on ships to bring them supplies? Right in my wheelhouse.

— Baroness Von Sketch Show and Still Standing both moving to the fall on CBC is a curious move, as is bumping Kim’s Convenience to the winter. Regardless, it gives the CBC a solid night of comedy on Tuesdays all year long.

— Heartland is back, but for only 11 episodes. That’s a little concerning and I can’t help but wonder if this might be the last season for the long-running Canadian drama. I have no evidence to back this up—it may be because some castmembers want to do other things—it’s just a gut feeling.

— Murdoch Mysteries is currently listed at 18 episodes, which would indicate to me there will be no holiday special this year. Again, I have nothing to go on other than the number.

What are you most looking forward to or excited about from CBC’s announcement? Let me know in the comments below.

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CBC and Sundance TV confirm casting for Unspeakable, including Shawn Doyle, Michael Shanks and Camille Sullivan

From a media release:

CBC and SundanceTV today announced casting for the dramatic eight-part miniseries UNSPEAKABLE, which chronicles the tainted blood scandal beginning in the 1980’s. Acclaimed actors Sarah Wayne Callies (Colony, The Walking Dead), Shawn Doyle (Bellevue, Big Love), Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1, Saving Hope) and Camille Sullivan (The Disappearance, The Man in the High Castle) will lead the series. Production on UNSPEAKABLE begins spring 2018 in Vancouver, BC, for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S.

Created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis) and based on first-person experience and non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, UNSPEAKABLE chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars in compensation to victims.

A CBC and SundanceTV original series, UNSPEAKABLE is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists’ Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood. The series is written by Cooper, Carl Binder, Adriana Capozzi and Lynn Coady, with Cooper and Callies set to direct episodes.

AMC Studios will manage worldwide distribution outside of Canada.

CAST BIOGRAPHIES:

Sarah Wayne Callies has made an indelible impression on audiences worldwide by bringing complex and unique female characters to life on screen. She was recently seen in National Geographic’s miniseries The Long Road Home, opposite Michael Kelly, Kate Bosworth, Jason Ritter, and Noel Fisher. She also currently stars on USA’s drama series Colony, opposite Josh Holloway. In addition to her projects with NatGeo and USA, Callies recently starred in the season five reboot of FOX’s critically acclaimed series Prison Break. Another notable role held from 2010-13 was starring as Lori Grimes, on the internationally renowned, record breaking series The Walking Dead. On the film front, Callies most recently starred in This Is Your Death, alongside Josh Duhamel and Giancarlo Esposito, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in March 2017. She also recently appeared in Warner Brothers’ action-packed Into the Storm, directed by Steven Quale. Other feature credits include: The Other Side of the Door, Pay the Ghost, Black November, Whisper and Benoit Phillipon’s Lullaby for Pi; where she composed and performed an original song in addition to acting opposite Rupert Friend.

Shawn Doyle can currently be seen on WGN America starring opposite Anna Paquin in CBC’s Bellevue. He recently wrapped filming a role starring opposite Keon Alexander and Genevieve Kang in UCP’s Impulse for YouTube Red as well as season three of the SyFy series The Expanse, starring opposite Thomas Jane and Steven Strait. He can also be seen on TV starring opposite Jason Momoa in Netflix’s Frontier. He was last seen in theaters starring opposite Joanne Kelley and Jason Priestley in the independent film Away From Here, directed by Justin Simms. Shawn also starred in season three of the Emmy® nominated Netflix seriesHouse of Cards, as well as season one of Fargo and USA’s Covert Affairs. Shawn starred opposite Tatiana Maslany in the Sundance hit Grown Up Movie Star, and played “Joey” (Bill Paxton’s unlucky brother) in the critically acclaimed HBO show Big Love.

Michael Shanks, after a decade-long stint as fan-favourite Dr. Daniel Jackson in sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, has gone on to star on several other hit series, TV movies, and films, including, most recently, the drama series Saving Hope which earned him a Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series in 2013. Shanks has also directed three episodes of the series, after making his directing debut in 2001, directing Stargate SG-1. Shanks appeared in a three-episode arc on the Emmy Award®-winning drama 24, and recurred on the hit series Smallville, as Carter Hall (a.k.a. Hawkman). Shanks played opposite Anne Archer in the made-for-TV movie Judicial Indiscretion, and portrayed the hockey legend Gordie Howe in Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story, a role which earned him a 2014 Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Television Movie, as well as a Canadian Screen Award nomination. His other television credits include a recurring role on Burn Notice and guest-starring roles on CSI: Miami, Stargate: Atlantis, Mr. Young, Endgame, Supernatural and more. He also co-starred in the Emmy Award®-winning William H. Macy telefilm Door to Door and the film adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild.

Camille Sullivan is an award-winning Canadian actress. Most recently, she was nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for her work on the miniseries The Disappearance. Sullivan has twice been nominated for Gemini Awards: once for her portrayal in the series lead role of Amy Lynch on Shattered, and then again for her portrayal of Francine Reardon in Chris Haddock’sIntelligence for CBC. She played a lead role in the drama pilot Mistresses, and other recent television credits include recurring roles on Man in the High Castle, Rookie Blue, Red Widow and Hellcats. She has guest starred on shows including Proof, Motive, Falling Skies, Combat Hospital, Alcatraz, Flashpoint and The Killing. Past film projects include the much lauded Ally Was Screaming for which she won the UBCP/ACTRA Best Actress Award for her stunning performance. Sullivan was also luminous opposite Gabrielle Rose in the heartbreaking film Birdwatcher for which she garnered another UBCP/ACTRA Best Actress Award. Another lead credit includes Carl Bessai’s multiple award-winning dramatic feature film, Normal. Her performance in Normal won her a Leo Award for Best Actress in a Feature Length Film. Other starring roles include Mount Pleasant, written and directed by Ross Weber, Mothers and Daughters, an improvised film directed by Carl Bessai for which she earned another LEO nomination. Sullivan also appeared in Bessai’s Fathers and Sons and now completes the set with Sisters and Brothers.

 

 

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CBC and Sundance TV greenlight miniseries Unspeakable

From a media release:

CBC and SundanceTV have greenlit a new eight-part drama miniseries UNSPEAKABLE focused on the tainted blood scandal in Canada in the early 1980s. Created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis), who will also serve as showrunner and executive producer, the project is produced by Cooper’s Mezo Entertainment and will be filmed in Canada in early 2018 for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S., with AMC Studios managing worldwide distribution outside of Canada.

Based on first-person experience and two non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, UNSPEAKABLE chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were unnecessarily infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars of compensation to victims. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood.

A CBC and SundanceTV original series, UNSPEAKABLE is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists’ Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. Cooper is currently showrunning season two of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” for BBC America, Netflix and AMC Studios.

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