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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

The Detail’s Wendy Crewson on “mysterious” Fiona and the show’s “unapologetically female-focused” approach

Wendy Crewson knows a thing or two about the entertainment industry. Over a four-decade career, the widely-respected actress has appeared in over 130 TV shows and films in both Canada and the U.S., including recent credits Saving Hope, Room and Kodachrome. So when she says the industry is undergoing a major transformation in the way it treats women—both onscreen and behind the scenes—you can believe it’s true.

“I think it’s been a very telling time for women,” she says. “It’s a real sea change.”

And Crewson is proud that her latest project, CTV’s new detective series The Detail, is part of that wave. The series explores the complicated personal and professional lives of three female homicide detectives at Toronto’s Metropolitan Police Service. The Hamilton, Ont., native plays Staff Inspector Fiona Currie, the formidable—and somewhat secretive—boss of crime-solving duo Jack Cooper (Shenae Grimes-Beech) and Stevie Hall (Angela Griffin).

“To have a show like this, where the women, without fanfare, just happen to be the focus of the series makes it very different than most shows,” she says. “It’s not a token female in a male environment, it’s all women with men in the secondary roles, which you never ever see.”

She believes that dynamic offers something new—and necessary—to audiences.

“People really want to see this on their screens now,” she explains.

To prepare us for this Sunday’s new episode, “The Long Walk,” Crewson joined us by phone to tell more about The Detail, give the scoop on what’s coming up for Fiona and talk about the importance of onscreen representation.

We recently spoke with The Detail’s co-showrunners, Ley Lukins and Adam Pettle, and they said they always had you in mind to play Fiona. At what point did this role come on your radar?
Wendy Crewson: Well, I must say that years ago, just after we started Saving Hope, Ilana Frank, our executive producer, who has done a lot of female-led series with Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, and now The Detail, came to me talking about this idea that she had. She said, ‘Doesn’t this sound great?’ and I said, ‘It sounds fantastic. Count me in.’ So I did know that it was on the radar, but a million things can happen between someone being interested in you and the project actually coming to fruition and you actually being offered a role. It can go sideways in a lot of different ways, and I’m so glad that it didn’t, and I’m so glad that we managed to actually get it on the air.

Could you tell us a little bit about makes Fiona tick?
She’s a career professional in a paramilitary organization, so she’s spent a lot of time in a male-dominated world, making her way to the top, which as we know now, is so difficult to do in those male-dominated industries. She really, like Ginger Rogers, had to dance backwards in heels to make it happen. And you don’t have to be tougher than the guys, you just have to be smarter than the guys. I think she’s always taken that professionalism to a different level, and it’s made her into a great leader. And she really wants to make sure, most importantly, that she mentors other females to take those leadership positions. Which is why she is so concerned with and tight with the two younger detectives.

I think the fact that Fiona, Stevie and Jack are all at different stages in their lives and careers is one of the best things about the show. It gives viewers an opportunity to see a wide-ranging mosaic of women’s lives that isn’t available on many shows. Was that something that really appealed to you?
Of course, it’s a great feeling. As we say, representation matters. You can’t be what you can’t see. So until women start seeing themselves in these leadership positions, it’s hard to imagine what that might be like. To have a show like this, where the women, without fanfare, just happen to be the focus of the series makes it very different than most shows. It’s not a token female in a male environment, it’s all women and with men in the secondary roles, which you never ever see. I mean, how many years have I played the girlfriend, or wife, or the sidekick, or secretary to a man’s story? But we are unapologetically female-focused. From Ilana Frank, our executive producer, through Ley Lukins, our showrunner and writer, through several female directors that we’ve had on the show. It’s really been a remarkable experience, and I think the audience is hungry for female-led dramas. Women want to see themselves reflected back in these positions, and they like to see their lives and all the flawed messiness of it, and the compromise of family and work and how difficult it is to support your family and get ahead in your career. People really want to see this on their screens now. I think it’s been a very telling time for women. It’s a real sea change.

Ley and Adam also mentioned that you thought it was important for Fiona to hold back many of the personal details about her life in the early part of the series. Why was that?
I think, like the leaders in any kind of industry, Fiona keeps her cards pretty close to her chest. I think she feels she’s had to do this, in a way, to protect herself in an industry that is ready to sabotage her at every turn. And I think she’s found that the less people in her job know about her and about her life, the better. I think we’ll begin to see more and more, but I like the idea of keeping her out of the fray of what the other two women were going through—the boyfriends, the children, the husband, the affair. That’s all stuff that happens truly in your white-hot years. We get tidbits about things that are happening in her life, but I like keeping her a little mysterious and rolling it out a bit slowly. In the end, it’s more surprising when we start finding out things about her.

Are we going to learn more before the end of the season?
Yes. We start to learn a little more. Of course, she’s divorced. Her ex-husband is with the police force. He’s her superior, which makes things very difficult at work. We see her as boss now, and she’s formidable, but when he comes in, we see all the ways women can be diminished and belittled in a workplace through their superior. So we start to understand her and the way she has to manoeuvre her relationship with her ex-husband and her daughter and how women protect men after divorce because they are the father of their children because they don’t want to disappoint their children. [We also see] the ways in which some men do not always step up in the ways that they need to after divorce, and the way that women cover up for them. And I found that very interesting.

A pathologist, Rita Moretti (Elizabeth Whitmere), hit on Fiona earlier in the season. Does she appear again?
She does! I like the idea of questioning your sexuality at a certain point in your life and seeing, as you change through the years, how challenging the recognition of something like that is in somebody’s life. And I loved the idea that we are looking at that in Fiona, who is very buttoned down, who is not really open to personal change, and looking at how that might affect her life.

You are a vocal advocate of Canadian television. How do you think the industry is faring right now?
I think the domestic industry is still struggling, and I think that as we look to the new methods of broadcasting—as in over the top through Netflix and various organizations like that—I think the government and the CRTC struggle to find the right balance for supporting domestic industry. I mean, Netflix is a broadcaster, no doubt about it, and of course they should be contributing to our domestic industry the same way CTV does and Global and other private networks. It needs to contribute.

You know, we live beside this huge producer of cultural content, and it’s always important to leave some space for our own stories. I mean, this is a communication of storytelling that joins us as a nation, and it needs to be protected. And I will always be a big advocate of that. And as the idea of supporting our industries sort of wanes in popularity, I think it’s very important to keep that voice loud that these stories are meaningful.

And speaking of Canadian TV, you also play Nora on CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries. Are you going to be back for Season 2? 
Yes, I am in Season 2 of Frankie Drake, and I can’t wait!

The Detail airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

 

 

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Comments and queries for the week of April 20

Well, [Workin’ Moms‘] Kate should do a brief introspection re: 1) how big or little was her own part in bringing her marriage to this which is, after all, a boat with two rowers who can be in harmony, at cross purposes or simply drifting and, 2) whether the marriage is important enough for her to attempt salvage.

If she’s basically an honest person, she’ll tell Nathan she knows about his affair and hear out his version of their marriage. However, the Kate the show has shown may well delay notifying her husband in order to make preparations that will benefit her at the dissolution of the marriage, e.g. consult a lawyer unilaterally, use Nathan to hold the fort while she’s getting her business off the ground. She was incredibly dishonest at her dual workplaces so her default setting appears to be subterfuge for personal gain. But when that would require a continuing sex life with a person who’s deeply betrayed her … it may be a step too far even for Kate who makes her living in an artificial world of lying or exaggerating for money.

Certainly, her toxic friend Anne is likely to egg her on in a bitter punishing direction as a wronged wife herself in her first marriage instead of bringing a therapist’s calm view to the situation. A therapist instead of a harpy type friend would urge more time spent on one’s own development instead of conducting an immature vendetta against what was a neglected husband in a marriage that clearly took last place in Kate’s priorities with career first and child second. Since Anne just aborted her own child for sheer personal convenience, imagine her advice should Kate get pregnant while her marriage is coming apart.

Nathan behaved like a jerk by stringing along wife and lover but both men and women often do that for a transition period while weighing whether to leave a marriage or not. Indeed, the lover is often a tool to get out of an unfulfilling marriage, a transition object. That said, his willingness to risk pregnancy by having unprotected sex with his wife makes him either stupid, swinish (not previously shown) or likely to break with the lover who’s then just a fling. —Laine

 

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

 

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INIS sets up new training program thanks to support from Netflix

From a media release:

INIS (L’institut national de l’image et du son) announced today that it has secured Netflix’s support to develop and implement, over the next three years, a brand-new film and television production apprenticeship program intended for participants from First Nations, Aboriginal communities and diverse cultural backgrounds in Quebec. This is Netflix’s first partnership agreement with a Quebec organization as part of its commitment to support industry development opportunities in Canada, with a focus on developing the next generation of Canadian creators and talent.

The creation of this intensive six-month program is a continuation of many actions carried out by INIS in recent years. These actions were all intended to encourage the arrival and accelerate the professional development of new creators in the audiovisual sector so that they can share their vision and reality through documentary and fiction. This new program will promote access to high quality training for talented and motivated individuals.

Offered at a low cost to its participants, the program will be developed with the collaboration of several partners who already work with targeted clientele. It aims to counter the exclusion often experienced by members of these communities. By taking the proven structure of INIS and its educational philosophy, the program will cover essentials, alternating theoretical workshops (always centred on the practice) as well as a series of concrete creative exercises, offering the possibility to apply the learnings in a tangible way.

INIS plans to recruit nine students – three scriptwriters, three directors and three producers – for each edition of the program to be offered in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The agreement with Netflix also includes scholarships for emerging professionals from First Nations, Aboriginal communities and diverse cultural backgrounds to access other regular programs offered by the institution.

INIS contributes to the development of the professional environment of film, television and interactive media in Quebec and Canada by providing individuals and businesses with training and support programs that promote diversity of content and meet the needs of the public requirements and changes in the audiovisual, communications and entertainment markets. INIS is the recognized training mutual in the audiovisual sector. INIS is supported by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Commission of Labor Market Partners; by its main partner, Corus Media; its major partners, the INIS Foundation, Technicolor, NBCUniversal, UDA, DGC and AQTIS as well as their respective members.

 

 

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New episodes of Global’s hit original series Private Eyes return Sunday, May 27

From a media release:

Canada’s favourite detective duo – Matt Shade(Jason Priestley) and Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) – are back on the job with new cases and new faces as Private Eyes returns with all-new episodes on Global, beginning Sunday, May 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. From Entertainment One (eOne), Season 2 picks up with Shade (Priestley) and Angie (Sampson) settling into personal relationships with their respective partners Mel (Bree Williamson) and Dr. Ken (Mark Ghanimé), while focusing on expanding their ever-evolving partnership and taking on bigger and better cases. From morning shows and microbreweries, to medieval knights and a missing octopus, no case is too outrageous for the dynamic pair. But will their undeniable attraction to each other get in the way of their ability to solve crimes?

The first new episode takes place in the fast-paced world of female professional boxing as Shade and Angie try to avoid being sucker-punched. Shade is hired by a boxer to prove a fight was fixed, but is blind-sided when he meets the boxer’s manager: none other than his ex-manager who made off with all of Shade’s pro-hockey money! Meanwhile, Angie brings in her mother, Nora (Mimi Kuzyk), as a gambling expert (and reformed gambling addict) to help crack the case before their client gets the knockout of her life. The episode guest stars include Canadian sports legend George Chuvalo as himself, plus on-screen cameos by “Fearless” Fred Kennedy of 102.1 The Edge and Q107 morning show host Ryan Parker.

Additional guest stars this season include ET Canada host Cheryl Hickey, Peter MacNeill (Call Me Fitz), Colin Ferguson (Eureka), Laura Vandervoort (Bitten), and Lucas Bryant (Haven).

Along with the Season 2 return of the series, production for Private Eyes Season 3 is now underway in Toronto. With a 12-episode order, the new season is set to return to Global in 2019, and will feature Shade and Everett as they become more intertwined into the antic adventures, taking on Toronto’s most difficult and unusual cases. Familiar faces including Jules (Jordyn Negri), Don (Barry Flatman), Zoe (Samantha Wan), Detective Mazhari (Ennis Esmer), Detective Nolan (Cle Bennett), and Becca (Nicole DeBoer) all return to Season 3, along with new characters Inspector Carson (Linda Kash) and Officer Danica Powers (cast to be announced). Season 3 also welcomes an impressive roster of guest stars, including multi-platinum, award-winning singer-songwriter Jann Arden, who will make a special cameo appearance in the first episode.

Leading up to and throughout the remainder of Season 2, GlobalTV.com delivers viewers exclusive Private Eyes content, including behind-the-scenes videos featuring the series stars, executive producers, and creative team. Also, in anticipation of Private Eyes‘ summer return, GlobalTV.com offers viewers the chance to catch up on the entire series as Season 1 and the first half of Season 2 beginning May 13. Plus starting May 28, new episodes from Season 2 will also be available following the broadcast premiere on GlobalTV.com Global GO (available on Apple TV), and on demand.

Private Eyes is produced by eOne in association with Corus Entertainment, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and IPF’s Cogeco TV Production Program. The series is executive produced by Jocelyn Hamilton and Tecca Crosbyfor eOne, Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan for Piller/Segan, Jason Priestley, Alan McCullough, James Thorpe and Tassie Cameron. McCullough and Piller are also showrunners.

 

 

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The art of piecing together tremendous teams on MasterChef Canada

Tonight’s episode was all about being a team or staying true to your goal of winning the MasterChef Canada prize.

The Top 11 took it to the construction site where they fought for their right to stay in competition in the first Team Challenge of the season. The home cooks had to prepare and cook fresh chicken for 101 builders who then voted on which team made their favourite dish.

The stars of the last Elimination Challenge, Michael V. and Jonathan, were chosen to be the team captains for the blue and red teams. What a great chance to show your ability to manage people, especially when they all have different ideas! But that was just one of the benefits for the captains. Each also had an option of choosing people or protein first. Michael V. had the right to choose the kind of meat he wanted to cook with: dark or white chicken. Jonathan had the power to choose a teammate first. Which would you choose, meat or chefs?

The countdown began. With two hours to go, teams got together to discuss their menu. The blue team had a lot of inspiration from Middle-East and Mediterranean cuisine while the red team went more Southern by using Beccy’s idea of stuffing the chicken breast with duxelles (finely chopped mushrooms), she was almost a team captain for the red team. The red team cooked stuffed chicken breast with white and sweet potato mash and garlic swiss chard, and the blue team made Moroccan-spiced chicken with Egyptian red rice and spiced roasted cauliflower.

Both teams made some fantastic dishes but the winning team was the red team! Was it because the blue team made raw chicken, or there is another reason? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

Losing the Team challenge meant a Pressure Test for the blue squad, but Michael V. got the chance to save one of his team members or himself. He saved himself, leaving Michael G., Kaegan, Nadia and Reem to prepare a replication of black forest cake in just 80 minutes. The pressure was on!

Nadia and Michael G. made it through the pressure test, leaving Reem and Kaegan in the bottom two. Though Kaegan’s cake was the most flavourful, it wasn’t enough for chefs Michael, Alvin and Claudio to let him stay on MasterChef Canada. Kaegan went home and Reem headed to the balcony.

MasterChef Canada airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV.

 

 

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