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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Gusto premieres new original series Bonacini’s Italy

From a media release:

Gusto continues to pack its schedule with premium lifestyle programs featuring the most sought-after personalities with the premiere of all-new cooking series NIGELLA: AT MY TABLE and Gusto Worldwide Media’s BONACINI’S ITALY, beginning June 4.

Culinary superstar Nigella Lawson shares the food she cooks for family and friends in her latest, six-part series NIGELLA: AT MY TABLE, airing Mondays at 8 p.m. ET. A companion to her latest best-selling cookbook of the same name, the series celebrates home cooking and the food that makes people feel happy and welcome as they sit around a home cook’s table. Whether offering up her fresh take on familiar classics, or creating new dishes inspired by different cuisines, Nigella ensures that everyday eating is always pleasurable, with a minimum of fuss. Recipes include Parmesan French Toast, Herbed Leg of Lamb, and Beef and Aubergine Fatteh.

Following AT MY TABLE, viewers venture to Italy with MASTERCHEF CANADA’s Michael Bonacini as he showcases the country’s diverse and sumptuous fare in the premiere of Gusto’s latest original series, BONACINI’S ITALY. Airing Mondays at8:30 p.m. ET, the 15-episode, half-hour series features Bonacini preparing unique and sophisticated dishes from specific regions across Italy including Seafood Couscous (Sicily), Mint Fava Bean Soup (Lazio), and Chickpea Flatbread (Liguria).

BONACINI’S ITALY – Premieres Monday, June 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET – Gusto Original Series
BONACINI’S ITALY is a new sophisticated food series featuring celebrity Chef Michael Bonacini as he cooks up diverse Italian cuisine. Set in a contemporary kitchen, Bonacini explores different regions of Italy by preparing dishes unique to each local tradition. In the premiere episode, Bonacini explores the region of Tuscany, creating delectable Tuscan dishes including Panzanella (tomato and bread salad), Gnudi con Ricotta e Spinaci (spinach ricotta gnudi), Peposo con Fagioli all’Ucelletto (peppered beef stew and beans in the style of small birds), and Pesce al Forno con Patate (baked sea bass with potatoes).

BONACINI’S ITALY is created by Chris Knight, President and CEO, Gusto Worldwide Media. Bell Media Production Executive is Danielle Pearson. Corrie Coe is Senior Vice-President, Original Programming, Bell Media. Pat DiVittorio is Vice-President, Programming, Bell Media. Mike Cosentino is Senior Vice-President, Content and Programming, Bell Media. Randy Lennox is President, Bell Media.

 

 

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The Detail: Co-showrunners Ley Lukins and Adam Pettle on producing the first season and breaking free from Scott & Bailey

Showrunning a TV series is a huge job. In fact, it’s so big that it sometimes requires the help of a friend to pull it off. That was the case for Ley Lukins and Adam Pettle, who acted as co-showrunners during the first season of CTV’s new detective series, The Detail.

“It’s amazing to have a buddy in that job because it’s the job of two people at least,” says Pettle. “But it’s also got to be with someone you not only get along with but whose artistic and creative taste and sensibility are like yours.”

Luckily, that’s just the kind of working relationship Lukins and Pettle have. The pair first hit it off several years ago in the Rookie Blue writers’ room. Then, when Pettle was showrunning Saving Hope, he made sure to hire Lukins because “she’s one of the most phenomenal writers I’ve ever worked with.” So when CTV gave Lukins the green light to put The Detail—an adaptation of Sally Wainwright’s U.K. hit, Scott & Bailey starring Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharpinto productionit seemed natural to have her co-run the series with Pettle.

“Adam has a lot of experience,” says Lukins. “He’s run other shows, so he was sort of a great teacher for me. This is the first time I’ve ever co-showrun a TV series, so it was a wonderful experience for me to be paired with somebody who I already had a working relationship with and who I already implicitly trusted.”

The Detail, which focuses on the professional and personal lives of three female homicide detectives, is approaching mid-season and picking up steam. Last week, Jack (Shenae Grimes-Beech) confided in Stevie (Angela Griffin) that she’s pregnant with ex-boyfriend Marc’s (Ben Bass) baby, while Stevie and Kyle (David Cubitt) dug into an old, unsolved case. Meanwhile, Fiona (Wendy Crewson) bet on Jack’s interrogation skills to keep a serial killer behind bars and her professional reputation intact.

Ahead of Sunday’s new episode, “Secret Liars,” Lukins and Pettle joined us by phone to discuss the development process for the series, how they worked to distinguish it from Scott & Bailey, and what’s coming up next for the show’s characters.

Ley, you worked for around two years developing The Detail. How did you first become involved with the show?
Ley Lukins: Ilana Frank, one of the executive producers on the project, optioned the rights for the British format, Scott & Bailey. She had been developing it herself previously, so she sort of came to me and needed to secure a writer on it and asked if I would be interested in developing it with her. And I said I absolutely would. I watched the British series and thought it was fantastic, and then we sort of went from there.

Adam was brought in as a co-showrunner after the series was ordered. Did that lead to any changes in the show’s direction? 
LL: We sort of talked through and mapped out where we thought Season 1 could go. Initially, there were two episodes written, and the pilot remained the pilot, and the other episode we moved down the line and instead did an original for Episode 2 to kind of start planting that we were going to be diverging from the original adaptation.

Adam Pettle: Because I have showrunning experience and it was Ley’s show, I feel like I kind of brought different things to the party. I never wanted to take ownership or control and make it into my voice or my thing because Ley had worked for two years in development on it, and it was so obviously her thing. And the whole idea was for me to do a year and then for Ley to run the show on her own.

So Ley would be the sole showrunner for a hypothetical Season 2?
AP: That would be the arrangement, yes. But hopefully, I’ll write on it.

Ley, what was the biggest showrunning lesson you learned during Season 1 that you would bring forward into Season 2?
Honestly, the most valuable thing I learned was that it all comes down to trust. Despite how many balls there are in the air at any given time, everything will get done at the end of the day. You need to trust yourself, trust the team, and most importantly, trust the process.

Is the development process different when a series is an adaptation, as opposed to an original concept?
LL: It’s different in the sense that you already have a sort of roadmap of what the series is and what it looks like. And it’s unique in the sense that, a lot of the time, people will adapt things that are in different languages, and this was already in English, so that was a bit of a challenge. Instead of just taking it from a foreign language and putting it into English, it was sort of more gearing it toward a North American audience.

And, obviously, it comes with the characters. Scott & Bailey have five seasons or five series as they say in Britain, so it basically came down to kind of preserving all the things that everyone loved about the seriesbecause the original series is so phenomenalthen slowly sort of diverting from that and making it into its own thing. The pilot is very similar to the pilot in the original, and then slowly we moved the series in a different direction. We changed up elements of the characters. We added more diversity to the show because that was something that we wanted to do. And we also changed the serialized case. We have lots of original episodes as well.

AP: There are definitely challenges. I think the first one is that we all loved the original show, so there’s, not an intimidation factor, but you don’t want to f**k it up, and you don’t want to write something that everyone thinks is god-awful. And, on the other hand, we wanted to make it our own thing and wanted to make a new original show for Bell [Media]. So we had this great magnum, this great raw material in the original scripts. We were told we could use as much or as little of it as we wanted to, which is amazing. But I think the process is separating yourself from the original material enough so you can create your own thing. And that takes some time.

Let’s talk a bit about the casting. What was it about Shenae Grimes-Beech, Angela Griffin, and Wendy Crewson that made you say, ‘They’re the ones’?
AP: Well, Shenae just is [Jack]. Shenae is a badass. Shenae is super smart. She has an edge but also an amazing sense of humour, and she’s so quick on her feet and also, I think, has lived. I think there’s a lot of actors who would shy away from someone being hungover, someone sleeping in their car for an episode, and Shenae just gets it and loves going there. She’s just an amazing fit, I think she’s brilliant.

And Angela is just a powerhouse actor. The audition search, the net was cast far and wide, and obviously, it’s a big show for Bell, and they didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. I remember seeing Angela’s audition tape from the U.K., and she lights up onscreen.

LL: Ilana Frank is amazingly skilled at casting. She has sort of a preternatural ability for it. And I think the minute Shenae’s tape came in, she knew she wanted Shenae. We were all very excited about Shenae’s audition and felt that she just had something about her that felt very true to who Jack’s character is.

And Wendy was someone who we kind of always had in mind, even in the development process for Fiona. Because she worked with us on Saving Hope and she’s such a force of nature and she’s such a wonderful, amazing actress. It just didn’t seem that anyone else could do that part.

And Angela, there was just this unbelievable competence and warmth about her audition. Stevie is a character that kind of has to be very hard and very soft at the same time. She’s a bit of an iron fist in a velvet glove, and it can very hard to find that balance in people, and Angela had that perfect sort of balance of those two things that really spoke to us when we saw her audition.

The Detail is focused on Jack and Stevie’s relationship, but Fiona is almost a third lead character. Did that present any challenges in the writers’ room?
AP: It’s a balance. The relationship between Jack and Stevie, that potential loss of their relationship and friendship and love affair is kind of what created the spine of the show, so all the stories kind of branched off of that. And then Fiona, Wendy is such an amazing actor who could be the lead of any series, so it was just a matter of fitting that third part of the triangle into the stories. But because she’s their boss, and they’re not all really on the same tier, there’s a power dynamic inherent in their relationship, she fits into the story.

As far as the personal stuff goes, that was more challenging to know what we were going to reveal. In [Scott & Bailey], Jillwho’s our Fiona characterreally in Series 2 and 3, we learn way more about her. But Wendy Crewson really felt that she didn’t want too much personal stuff about Fiona early on because she feels that she wouldn’t reveal it. And being the boss, you’re going to have to play your cards a little closer to your chest. So, the personal stuff was more of a challenge.

But it’s always that balancing act in any room. I love the fact that it’s three women that we were talking about because so often on cop shows it’s skewed the other way. It was such a refreshing dialogue in the writers’ room.

Some of the criminal cases reflect what’s going on in the characters’ personal lives. How did this impact the way you chose cases for the show?
LL: Some cases very fully reflect things that are going on in the characters’ lives. We did try to sprinkle in some cases that maybe weren’t as deeply linked, just so it didn’t become too redundant or too predictable. And we didn’t want it to ever dictate a case too much, in the sense that we were only telling this case to get this character point across. Because wanting to match those two things every time, it can feel inauthentic.

Our writers in the writers’ room also came in with personal experiences or cases that they wanted to investigate because they either had first-hand knowledge or it was research that they had encountered that they felt they could tell a really great story. And so there were times that the mystery of the case trumped character. It was sort of a mixture of the two.

When we spoke to Shenae Grimes-Beech and Angela Griffin, they told us that they loved how much Jack and Stevie supported each other. Was that a theme you were purposely trying to drive home?
LL: Yes, I think that was something both Adam and I were adamant about right out of the gate. We said the primary love story of this show is between these women, and it’s their relationship. It’s not dissimilar to the original, and we wanted to make sure that we preserved that element of it, and when people tuned in, they were going to see women supportive of each other’s successes, who advocated for each other and who always had each other’s backs. Because that’s the way women are.

Can you give us any hints about what to expect in the next few episodes?
AP: The baby being Marc’s comes back into play. And then Stevie and Jono’s relationship is to be tested with the reemergence of Kyle Price.

LL: There’s a very exciting court episode coming up, which I think is a very important episode, and I think it deals with a very important issue that’s in the news a lot. We will get the answers to some of the questions that have been planted earlier in the season. It’s getting good!

And do you already have storylines in mind for Season 2? 
LL: We have lots of ideas for Season 2. I think we left Season 1 off in a really good place that gives lots of opportunities for stories in Season 2. So I’m excited.

AP: There’s definitely a Season 2 that’s well-formed already. So hopefully, we get the chance.

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 13

I live in the U.S.A. and wish that Hollywood would come up with something as great as Murdoch Mysteries. I love the series so much that when I first saw it on Netflix and when they discontinued it I subscribed to Acorn TV so that I could continue to watch it. Love the characters and the history lessons that the show brings with the drama and the comedy. Excellent chemistry between Yannick Bisson and Hélène Joy, love George (great houmor) and the Brackenreids. Thank you to the writers, the camera people, the directors, the producers and the actors for such an excellent series. I bow down to the excellent work that you do to entertain us. Kudos to you all. Love me some MM!! —Selina

Hook George up with Julia’s sister, who could be written in as burnt out on the traveling news gig and its frustrations and dangers. She could be looking for more stability and a calmer, quieter life and George could fit the bill. —James

Aside from Julia, Murdoch is actually probably the most intelligent character on the show with a deep understanding and love for science combined with a deep faith in Catholicism, a relatively rare combination these days. Crabtree, while I do like the character, is actually quite dimwitted and simple-minded with a curiosity of science of his own, but he’s written that way. —Eric

This is the best mystery series I have seen since Poirot. I am glad it will be returning for Season 12. Great job to the cast and crew of the show. I watch the show on AcornTV. —James

So pleased this show is renewed for another season. My favourite show on TV. I always dread the end of the season waiting to hear if there is going to be another. I hope it goes on for years to come. —Sharon

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

 

 

 

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Martin Scorsese to direct SCTV special for Netflix

From a media release:

Netflix today announced that Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Martin Scorsese will direct an untitled Netflix original comedy special exploring the enduring legacy of Emmy-winning sketch comedy show SCTV.

Scorsese will reunite comedy legends and former SCTV co-stars Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short and Dave Thomas in front of a live audience for An Afternoon with SCTV, moderated by Jimmy Kimmel. To be held at Toronto’s historic Elgin Theatre on Sunday, May 13 at 3 p.m., the filming will be part of the Netflix special, produced by longtime SCTV Producer Andrew Alexander of Second City, Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia Productions and Lindsay Cox of Insight Productions.

Canadian classic SCTV aired for six seasons between 1976 and 1984, quickly becoming one of pop culture’s touchstone comedies. The series’ stars include some of the most beloved and celebrated names in laughter, including the late John Candy and Harold Ramis.

Photo credit: Cara Howe for Netflix

 

 

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Workin’ Moms: Catherine Reitman talks about “that” season finale storyline

It’s been over 24 hours since the season finale of Workin’ Moms and I’m still reeling.

“Look Back” was, of course, beautiful and funny thanks to Anne (Dani Kind) and Lionel’s (Ryan Belleville) commitment ceremony that reunited the clan and saw the reappearance of Jann Arden as Kate Carlson. Throw in Val’s (Sarah McVie) outrageous dress choice and overshare about Alicia’s (Kat Barrell) bedroom antics and there was plenty to laugh at and enjoy.

But, in a stunning reveal, we learned Nathan (Philip Sternberg) and Mean Nanny (Jess Salgueiro) have been having an affair. This just minutes after Kate (Catherine Reitman) and Nathan’s quickie in the wedding hall bathroom. Now it appears as though Kate could end up pregnant. All this after a season where Kate lost two jobs, strained her friendship with Anne and started her own business. It was just too much; we had to get Workin’ Moms‘ creator, showrunner, executive producer, star and director Reitman on the phone to discuss it all!

Most showrunners, in a second season of a series, will expand their characters’ worlds a bit. But you blew the show up and sent them in different directions. Was that always your intention?
Catherine Reitman: Yes and no. We learn so much, the writers and Philip and I, during production. You can imagine things all day but the chemistry that happens in front of the camera absolutely determines things for me. Once I get in the edit bay and go, ‘Oh man! No wonder the audience is going crazy for him or her.’ I want to honour what’s meant to be and not just try to control it. Did I have a sneaking suspicion Sarah McVie was going to make Val the funniest character in the world? Yes. But did I know how great she was going to be? No. That’s something that I’m continuing to push forward. Even now I’m scratching my head in the Season 3 writers’ room wondering how I better feature our talent, how do I best include the chemistry that we’re witnessing. The yes part of it is, of course, I knew Jenny and Ian [Jessalyn Wanlim] and Ian [Dennis Andres] were never going to make it and there had to be consequences to her actions. That was something I had intended. So, yes and no.

You mentioned Val already. There were many funny moments this season and in the finale, but there were very serious moments too. Kate and Anne’s friendship … those characters were so real this season. Everyone can relate to them.
I’m so in love with Anne and Kate. I moved my world to Toronto two years ago and I don’t have a lot of close friends in my life. I have the people that I work with, my incredible kids and my husband. And I think most women that are full-time working moms are hungry for a friendship like that. We’re so desperate to see a connection like that. Dani Kind and I have become very close in real life and I saw our chemistry on-camera—which very much exists off-camera too—but I don’t think anyone, including me, knew how potent it would be. We started going, ‘OK, this is the real love story.’ The husbands and the partners are fantastic but what our audience really seems to be thumping their hearts for is the Kate-Anne storyline. And I do think that’s because so many women crave that in real life. I made the decision to direct the first and last episodes to bookend what a friendship could look like over a decade.

Let’s discuss the Brad storyline. I believe your scripts were already written when the #MeToo movement happened, correct?
You’re absolutely right.

It was a dramatic arc with, I feel, Anne getting her mojo back after perhaps questioning her strength.
As far as the #MeToo movement goes, it has always existed. It’s this fantastic thing where victims are now having a voice. All of the women in our room, for the most part, had some uncomfortable stories with an authority figure. No one was hypnotized. We thought there was something that could potentially be funny, potentially be really creepy and bothersome. But, most importantly, that it would challenge this character we love to see as strong. People love that Anne is a no-nonsense ass kicker. So of all the characters, to see her emotionally threatened in a sexually deviant way by someone she trusted, her husband, it felt like the right combo to take her on a great arc. And then you have someone as brilliant as Christopher Redman come in [as Brad]. I think I saw the whole country of Canada, Greg, I read for that role for weeks and weeks and weeks because it’s a really tricky role. Chris had this amazing ability of making him very believable and nuanced while also tapping into funny even though it’s very serious subject matter. It was really exciting to cast him and realize we had something real on our hands.

Let’s break down the season finale. We had happy moments thanks to Lionel and Anne, and we had the sad because of the revelation Mean Nanny and Nathan are having an affair. With everything that Kate has been through this season—the death of her father, losing two jobs and a falling out with Anne—why this?
[Laughs.] It’s true. She got her ass kicked this season. Something that we’re really hemming and hawing about in the Season 3 writers’ room is … look, nothing justifies having an affair. I’m a married woman of 10 years, I can wrap my head around that. Kate, whether we like to admit it not, had both feet, head, arms, legs, breasts, her whole body out the door this entire season. She hasn’t been on the same page as her husband and there are consequences to that. I don’t think she asked for this and I don’t think she deserves this. But in my quest to have it all, in the hours that I spend working and the hours that I have left that I want to give to my children, my marriage often suffers for it. Luckily, Philip is in the same game as me. For most couples, the pressure to keep things alive … fuck sex, just staying emotionally connected is so much responsibility. As a showrunner, I knew the audience wouldn’t see that coming. It is a really effective gut punch. But, if you go back over the season, we planted so many seeds to show this coming.

What was Phil’s reaction to this story angle for Nathan and Kate?
We held off letting him know that detail. About halfway through writing the season the network comes in and we pitch them what we have so far. Philip came to that and we went through to the end and I looked right at him and I could tell his socks were knocked off. Phil is always story above all else. He was totally on board for it. The day of was challenging and the person I felt most for was Jess Salgueiro. She was just incredible on the day. Not only did she have to kiss Phil but I had to direct her in doing it. I pray every director gets to work with someone like Jess because there was no bullshit. She brought her A-game. Never for a second did I see her sweat or feeling uncomfortable. I was so impressed with her.

Where are you at with Season 3?
We’ve got about six episodes outlined that we’re just starting to draft out. That being said, everything can change. After watching the season finale last night, I thought, ‘You know what this needs? This, that and the other.’ I’m re-opening the outline of the first episode so it’s still all a Tetris board.

Do you think Kate should confront Nathan right away or should she focus on building her business? What was your favourite storyline from Season 2? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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