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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Interview: 19-2’s Jared Keeso teases his new effing comedy project

For Jared Keeso, AC/DC will forever be burned into his brain as the soundtrack to the next step in his television career. A tune by the Aussie rockers was blaring from his cellphone the day he found out his Internet series, Letterkenny Problems had been ordered to TV.

Keeso’s creation, about a foul-mouthed pair of dudes living in the fictional small town of Letterkenny, is the first original Canadian series to air on Bell Media’s CraveTV followed by broadcast on Comedy Network. Last Thursday’s announcement caps off one heck of a week for Keeso that started the previous Sunday when he captured a Canadian Screen Award for his lead role on Bravo’s 19-2.

Congratulations on the Canadian Screen Award. Did you know what you were going to say in your acceptance speech?
Jared Keeso: I had an idea of what I was going to say. I had some points, but I can’t believe I got through it without too many ums and uhs. I managed to seem pretty organized up there. As soon as they called my name the nerves shut off and I was pretty comfortable up on the stage.

How long ago did you find out that Letterkenny was a go? And did Bell Media contact you via phone call, email, text?
They called the producers, Mark Montefiore and Patrick O’Sullivan of New Metric Media. I was in Montreal doing press for 19-2 at the time. We were expecting the green light or red light call. I was in between interviews for 19-2 and my phone rang and it was Montefiore and I knew it. This is the call. I pick up and say ‘Hello?’ and there is AC/DC music playing. [Laughs.] They let that go for 10 for 15 seconds while they were probably dancing around their offices and then Montefiore yells out, ‘Six episodes greenlit, baby!’ I was speechless. I could tell that it was a big a deal to them as it was to me. Everybody at Bell has been so supportive and seem so enthusiastic. Working with them has been a pleasure.

I’m almost positive on CraveTV we can say the f-word as much as we want.

Letterkenny is the first Canadian original to be commissioned for first window on CraveTV. How does that feel to be breaking new ground?

I couldn’t be happier about the decision to make us the first original Canadian show to be on CraveTV and then shift us over to Comedy after that. I really like it because I’m almost positive on CraveTV we can say the f-word as much as we want. And that’s good because the way things are scripted right now I think I have one page with a baker’s dozen f-words on it. It’s in every line and sometimes twice per line. Hopefully we get away with it.

Had you guys been aiming for a six-episode order?
A six-episode order is exactly what we wanted. It’s my first time being paid as a writer—it’s my first rodeo—and having six episodes to cut my teeth on gives us a great opportunity to launch without having to water down anything with a larger order. I don’t think I’m able to really pack a punch in 10 or 12 episodes.

Who is writing it? You mentioned yourself already. Is your Letterkenny Problems’ co-star Nathan Dales writing too?
Nate’s not involved in the writing. Jacob Tierney and I are writing every episode and we have Mike Dowse from FUBAR and Goon as our script consultant. And I’ll tell you, that guy is just so valuable to the process. Not only does he bring a ton of expertise to it but he speaks English very, very well. His notes are very concrete and it’s easy for us to understand what he means. We’ve done a lot of moving and shaking based on his advice. It’s pretty crazy to be working with the guy who made one of my favourite movies of all time in FUBAR.

What are you learning about yourself as a writer? Are you a lazy writer? Are you able to whip stuff off?
I’m certainly learning what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m glad that we’re going the sitcom route with this. My strength is the dialogue, as many laughs as possible. Big story and character arc is not my strength. Working on a show like 19-2 makes me appreciate guys like Bruce Smith and Jesse McKeown that much more because what they do I simply could not do.

Growing up on Listowel, Ont., I’m so proud to have come from that town. But growing up there, getting your ass kicked was a legitimate concern on a day-to-day basis.

Give me a lowdown on the setup of the show. The release says ‘The residents of Letterkenny belong to one of three groups: Hicks, Skids, and Hockey Players. The three groups are constantly feuding with each other over seemingly trivial matters.’

Growing up in Listowel, Ont. … I’m so proud to have come from that town. But growing up there, getting your ass kicked was a legitimate concern on a day-to-day basis. And I think that was because we were all in this small town with nothing better to do so we drink and we fight. We drink we fight and we dance, actually. It is true to life in that you were in one of those three groups. In high school I was friends with everybody so I can draw from actual experiences there. Letterkenny doesn’t drift too far into the absurd. The dialogue is nutty but we do keep it true to real life for the most part.

But I wanted to make sure that the show was tough. We think that’s what sold so much of our audience with Letterkenny Problems. It’s funny but it’s still tough. I don’t think you’d want to eff with either of those two guys.

Where will you be filming?
We’re going to Sudbury, Ont. I’ve only been there once, but I know from growing up and playing hockey that those guys used to come down and just beat the shit out of us physically on and off the scoreboard. There are a lot of tough dudes in that town.

The elephant in the room, of course, is 19-2. When do you expect to hear about a third season of that and how will it impact on Letterkenny‘s production schedule?
We found out about Season 2 of 19-2 a couple of days before the first season finale aired and I think we’d all love to find out around that same time again. That was great, watching the last episode and knowing we were all going back to do it again. I think everybody is pretty optimistic about it and it would be a shame if we didn’t get to go back and do it. Six episodes of Letterkenny is tailored to not get in the way if 19-2 goes back.

Meanwhile, Keeso’s 19-2 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.

City announces debut for original drama Between

From a media release:

– Summer event series makes exclusive Canadian SVOD debut on shomi following City broadcast –

– Get to know the class of ’15 with companion web series Between Video Yearbook on –

City and shomi™ today announced the world broadcast premiere date for new premium original drama series Betweenstarring Jennette McCurdy (iCarlySam & Cat). With six, one-hour episodes, Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except those 21 years old and under. The series will air Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT (check local listings), beginning May 21 on City.  Following the broadcast, Between will make its exclusive Canadian SVOD premiere next day on shomi.

In the series premiere episode “School’s Out,” a mysterious virus begins to kill off adults in the small town of Pretty Lake, and those left alive scramble to survive. Wiley Day (McCurdy) is pregnant but she has a plan: she’s going to give up the baby and leave Pretty Lake behind forever – that is until the government quarantines a 10-mile radius around the town. Trapped inside, Wiley’s best friend Adam (Jesse Carere, Finding Carter), whose plans to attend MIT are dashed, knows their only hope of escape is to find the cause of the virus.

During the chaos, other teen residents take advantage of the ensuing lawlessness. “Creekers” from the edge of town  Ronnie (Kyle Mac, Hemlock Grove) and his brother Pat (Jim Watson, The Strain– drive into Pretty Lake for a looting spree, while Chuck (Justin Kelly, Maps to the Stars), a rich-kid athlete, tries to keep some semblance of law in the town his father used to practically own. Gord (Ryan Allen, Blue Mountain State), a farm boy, tries to keep his friends from getting hurt or killed, and Ellen (Sarah Podemski, The Border), a prison guard, tries to save Mark (Jack Murrah, Beauty and the Beast), a young inmate, from a prison gang with a grudge.

An original series, developed and produced for City, Between was created by Michael McGowan, who executive produces along with Don Carmody (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Goon, Chicago), David Cormican (The Tall Man, Faces in the Crowd), and Naveen Prasad, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Elevation Pictures Corp. Emmy® award-winning director Jon Cassar (24, The Kennedys) will direct the first two episodes. The series is produced by Don Carmody Television, Mulmur Feed Co. and in association with Elevation Pictures Corp. Prasad, along with Jayme Alter (Denton’s Canada) for DCTV negotiated the deal. Elevation will oversee worldwide distribution.  From Rogers Media, Nataline Rodrigues is Director of Original Programming, Hayden Mindell is Vice President of Television Programming & Content, and Colette Watson is Vice President of Broadcast.

Review: MasterChef Canada winner returns

Competing on a show like MasterChef Canada is an exercise in skill and humility. You may be excellent at what you do, but if you show up your competitors too much or—even worse—the judges, you will get burned for it.

Such was the situation Michael and Cody found themselves in on Sunday night.

Michael, who has never shown a lack of confidence in anything he’s done, was once again slapped down by Michael, Alvin and Claudio for his pretentious plating during the Elimination Challenge. Roasting three vegetables, creating a cylinder of truffle mashed potatoes and grilling a hunk of lamb and placing them on a long white plate may have looked cool, but it made him a target. Claudio especially took umbrage with Michael’s plating and ripped him for salty potatoes.

Cody, meanwhile, one-upped Michael in his douchebaggery by nullifying his Mystery Box win and participating in the Elimination Challenge. Why? Because he really wanted to cook with Season 1 winner Eric Chong’s favourite ingredient: truffles. Clearly riding an adrenaline high, Cody’s decision to compete was a slap in the face to the judges who had given him the win. Dude, if the judges tell you you’re safe and to go to the gallery … YOU GO TO THE GALLERY. Instead, Cody tried too hard to impress everyone and was on the verge of going home.

Thankfully for he and Michael, Kevin once again crashed an burned with an insipid-looking egg and asparagus dish that had a smattering of truffle on it. Kevin, the chef who included puff pastry wrapper in one recent recipe, was shown the door.

Next week, team captains David and Sabrina lead their teams to the University of Guelph where they’ll make poutine for a bunch of students.

Notes and quotes

  • I would have made a pizza with caramelized onions, roasted garlic, brie, smoked gouda and proscuitto on it.
  • When did Cody injure/burn himself? I either missed it or it happened off-camera.
  • “Essence of unicorn… angel tears…” — Jennifer mocking Cody
  • “They seem like they’re just overpriced little turds.” Quote of the night from Kwasi
  • “That’s like me … yellow magic.” Um, what, Alvin?

MasterChef Canada airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET on CTV; the show is pre-empted for the JUNOS this coming Sunday.

Review: Separation anxiety on Heartland

“Sometimes you make decisions for people even though they’ve told you it’s not what they want.” And with that Georgie finally got through to Lou.

Yes, Heartland fans, it looks as though the writers are going there. Lou and Peter seem set on separating, even though by the end of “Eclipse of the Heart” they were smiling at each other. Of course, there are still a handful of episodes left in this season for the pair to right their listing marital ship, but those smiles looked rueful and full of what has been instead of happiness to come.

Or perhaps, over the next few weeks as they prep for Amy and Ty’s nuptials, Peter and Lou will realize their marriage is fighting for and we’ll see a vow renewal alongside the wedding. I’m kind of on the fence about how I want things to play out. Part of me is interested in how Heartland‘s writers would handle the Lou and Peter being apart and the affect it would have on the girls, while another wishes they would stay together and have them both make some changes in the way they treat each other.

Marriage consumed the other two major storylines as well, with Jack stopping Tim from driving to Moose Jaw and possibly making a fool of himself in front of Miranda and her fiancé. I was thankful for the back and forth between the men by the side of the highway, first when Jack told Tim his truck wouldn’t start (an obvious ploy to slow Tim down) and then by taking his truck keys and pretending to throw them into a field.

As for Amy and Ty, they’re full speed ahead on wedding prep, with plans to use the hall for the ceremony and Amy narrowing in on the perfect dress. I was actually surprised she didn’t tell Lou she’d rather wear her mom’s old dress, but I’m sure that’s to come. After all, having the girls in the dress shop enabled the writers to continue Lou’s flashbacks to the good and bad times in her courtship, marriage and child-rearing with Peter and reflect on whether all that is worth saving. What do you think? Will Peter and Lou really separate? Will they renew their vows at Amy and Ty’s wedding? Comment below or via @tv_eh.

Notes and quotes

  • Congratulations on Heartland‘s season renewal!
  • “You’re not planning on driving to Moose Jaw and making a fool of yourself, are you?” Jack to Tim.
  • “The heart wants what the heart wants.” — Caleb
    “I don’t think you’re thinking with your heart. Or your head.” — Amy

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Link: Rick Mercer no longer worries about what to shoot next

From CBC:

After 11 seasons, Rick Mercer no longer worries about what to shoot next
Comedian Rick Mercer cleaned up at the Canadian Screen Awards last week, but the St. John’s native didn’t always think his show would last this long. “I’ve stopped worrying about what to shoot next,” he said. Continue reading.

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