DHX Television’s Family Channel and Aircraft Pictures in association with American Greetings Entertainment announced today that principal photography has begun on its Holly Hobbie™ live-action series. The contemporary new tween drama, based on the American Greetings character first introduced in 1967, is being filmed in Toronto and Hamilton this month. The series makes its debut with 10 episodes in the US exclusively on Hulu this fall, followed by its Canadian debut on Family Channel. Universal Kids (US) has also purchased the linear rights for the series following its first window run on Hulu.
A dreamer and a doer, Holly Hobbie has lived her whole life in the small town of Collinsville. Holly’s a 13-year-old singer-songwriter who’s got her best friends and close-knit family by her side, but she’s dreaming of ways to save the world – even if it’s starting in her own backyard.
Cast for Holly Hobbiefeatures newcomers and notable stars including: Ruby Jay (Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy) as Holly Hobbie; Saara Chaudry (The Breadwinner, Max & Shred) as Amy Abbasi; Kamaia Fairburn (Star Falls, Odd Squad) as Piper Parish; Hunter Dillon (The Exorcist, Supernatural) as Tyler Flaherty; Charles Vandervaart (The Stanley Dynamic, Murdoch Mysteries) as Robbie Hobbie; Kate Moyer (Our House, IT) as Heather Hobbie; Erin Karpluk (Saving Hope, Being Erica) as Mrs. Hobbie; Evan Buliung (Reign, Bitten) as Mr. Hobbie; and Sara Botsford (Ride, The Lot) as Holly’s grandma, Helen Hobbie.
Holly Hobbieis produced by Aircraft Pictures, with the financial participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund. Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen(The Breadwinner, Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall) serve as producers. Karen Vermeulen, Ryan Wiesbrock and Sean Gorman of American Greetings Entertainment (Tinpo, Buddy Thunderstruck and Care Bears) and Matthew Wexler of Wexworks Media (D.N.Ace, Paw Patrol) are serving as executive producers alongside showrunner Sarah Glinski (Degrassi: Next Class, Degrassi: The Next Generation).
Aircraft Pictures (2018 Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award-nominated producers of the animated feature film “The Breadwinner”) in association with American Greetings Entertainment (creators and producers of “Buddy Thunderstruck” – the 2018 Emmy nominated stop-motion series) today announced they will be partnering to produce an all-new and contemporary scripted take on the venerable Holly Hobbie™ brand as a live-action kids series. “Holly Hobbie” will make its US debut in Fall 2018 exclusively on Hulu, followed by its debut in Canada on Family Channel.
In a first-of-its-kind co-commissioning structure, the series has also been pre-sold to leading US children’s cable outlet, Universal Kids, who will have the linear rights to the series after it streams on Hulu.
First introduced by American Greetings in 1967, Holly Hobbie is recognized worldwide as the bonneted “Blue Girl” in paintings and illustration, accumulating more than 50 years of fans and $1B in worldwide licensed product sales. This new 10 episode single-camera series, produced by showrunner Sarah Glinski (“Degrassi: Next Class”, “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), updates Holly as an aspirational, modern-day 13-year-old singer/songwriter. A dreamer and doer, Holly plans on saving the world someday but is happy to start in her own small town.
Beginning principal photography in May 2018, the new series is produced with the financial participation of the Shaw Rocket Fund. “Holly Hobbie” Producers are Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen of Aircraft Pictures (“The Breadwinner”, “Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening At Macdonald Hall”) with Karen Vermeulen, Ryan Wiesbrock and Sean Gorman of American Greetings Entertainment (“Tinpo”, “Buddy Thunderstruck” and “Care Bears”) and Matthew Wexler (“D.N.Ace”, “Paw Patrol”) of Wexworks Media serving as Executive Producers alongside Sarah Glinski. In addition to Glinski, the writing team includes Courtney Jane Walker (“Degrassi: The Next Class”, “Living in Your Car”) and Cole Bastedo (“The Next Step”, “Mr. Young”).
When I was in high school (oh so long ago), I viewed the new school year as starting over. The summer was spent hanging out with my closest friends, on family vacations and working. Every September was a new year with new classes and in most cases, new friends.
The same is true of the kids at the Keaton School of the Arts. They’re back for another school year in 30 new episodes of Backstage—airing next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel—with plenty on their minds. For Vanessa (Devyn Nekoda) and Carly (Alyssa Trask), it’s owning up to pulling the fire alarm. For Bianca (Julia Tomasone) and Jax (Matthew Isen), it means reuniting after a summer he spent on tour with DJ Diamond Mine/Kit (Romy Weltman). And with seven new characters joining Keaton, this year promises to be a humdinger.
To sort it all out, we turned to Lara Azzopardi, Backstage‘s co-creator, showrunner, writer and director for help. She tells us what’s in store for some of your favourite characters, a peek at new ones and the injury that caused an entire rewrite of the Season 2 scripts a week before filming began.
Backstage is back for Season 2! A new season means a new year at school.
Lara Azzopardi: Yes, a new year. The students have all had a summer to get over and evolve during and they return with new problems and new drama. Lots and lots of drama at Keaton!
I always viewed the new fall school year as a clean slate. Is that the case for some of these kids?
One hundred per cent. We’ve got quite a few new characters. All of the emotional storylines carry through. For any viewers who watched the first 30 episodes, you will see a lot of carry over but we are starting fresh. New year, new characters. Old characters but with new problems. We’ve all been through high school so we all bring our problems and stories about it to [the writer’s room] and try to make it as grounded and real as we can.
You have several new characters this year, but does having a group return from Season 1 help you production-wise with filming 30 episodes? Have you all developed a shorthand to make production move more smoothly?
Definitely. Everyone had a rhythm and we were lucky enough to have all of our directors from Season 1 come back. Everyone knew what we were up against. The writing process for Backstage is that I like to have as many scripts finished before we start shooting as we can. We have a big readthrough of the first 15 episodes before we shoot them. We spend an entire day reading and the actors can ask questions. It’s great. However, a week before shooting, our lead broke her ankle. And, fictionally, Vanessa broke her ankle in Season 1 of Backstage. She broke her ankle a week before we started shooting and we had to rewrite everything. That was really fun. [Laughs.] We decided not to shy away from it and just go for it. It meant a lot of sleepless nights for the writers. We were writing as we were shooting.
The first episode begins with Vanessa and Carly. They were the first two characters we met in Season 1. Have you always viewed these two as the anchor for Backstage?
For me, it always started with Vanessa and Carly. Episode 1 in Season 1 is them meeting outside of Keaton and walking in together. Yeah, they are a bit of the anchor. I look at the storylines as streams and they are the anchors for those streams. However, I think that relationship between them is the heart of the show. As a female, going through that experience of high school and having a friend that you grow with and have your conflicts with and love with, that’s where I really share my experience.
Will Vanessa and Carly keep in touch 20 years down the road?
One hundred per cent. Their friendship as a love story is what I try to explore with Vanessa and Carly. I think for sure that they end up together as best friends, talking about their kids 20 years later.
Let’s discuss Jax and Bianca. He returns from a summer tour with Kit. What can you say about their relationship this season?
It’s a bit of a slow burn. It’s going to go up and down. There are some very exciting things that happen with the Jax, Bianca and Kit storyline.
Alya and Miles broke up last season. What’s the deal with them this time around?
Alya and Miles have been arced out through 30 episodes. We like the slow burn on Backstage and it’s ups and downs. I look at them as our OTP—our One True Pairing—and there is quite a journey for them this year.
There are several new characters this season. Can you tease a couple of them for me?
A theme of this season is family. We explore family in the 30 episodes. We try to go into these kids’ lives a little bit more. We have a brother duo in George and Aidan, who are going to be a part of the show. Beckett explores family as you will come to see. Our cast is so big it’s impossible to show every kind of kid on a TV show but we really did try to represent as many people as we grew up with through the show. We’ve got some bad guys this season. But even our bad guys are good guys … we try to figure out the good in the bad and why these kids act the way that they do.
Season 2 of Backstage airs next Monday to Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on Family Channel. Backstage airs in its regular timeslot beginning Friday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.
It may be March Break for most fans, but class is back in session at Keaton School of the Arts as Family Channel’s popular tween drama Backstage returns for its second season. Premiering Monday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT, the highly anticipated second season debuts as a full week event, with new episodes airing daily at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT until Friday, March 16, and an advance preview on The Family Channel App. The all-new season headlines Family’s March Break programming lineup, which includes the return of the out-of-this-world competition series, Massive Monster Mayhem and new movies every day!
Backstage follows a group of exceptionally talented teenagers as they face the challenges that come with attending the prestigious Keaton School of the Arts. Season two welcomes a brand new school year for the students with the emergence of new rivalries, friendships and a multi-school arts competition. The series, which is filmed in Toronto, features an all-Canadian cast and all-original musical score, with episodes directed by some of today’s most notable music video directors including RT! (Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul), Director X (Drake, Rihanna, Zayn), Wendy Morgan (Dragonette, Janelle Monáe) and Warren Sonoda (Johnny Reid, George Canyon). Following premiere week, Backstage moves to its regular timeslot, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Season two of Backstage premieres as part of Family Channel’s March Break lineup, a can’t-miss programming event for the entire family. The fun officially begins on Friday, March 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT with the network premiere of Daddy’s Home (starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell) and features must-see movies daily at 7 p.m. ET/PT, from March 10 – 18. Movie titles include: The Smurfs, Astro Boy, Hotel Transylvania, Monster House, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Away & Back, Open Season 3, Surf’s Up and The Peanuts Movie. The festivities also include the return of Massive Monster Mayhem, a laugh-out-loud comedy that pits real-life kids against all-star monsters in the most grueling and toughest challenges known to mankind. New episodes will debut on Monday, March 12, Wednesday, March 14, and Friday, March 16 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT, before the series moves to its regular timeslot on March 24, Saturdays at 9 a.m. ET/PT.
Family Channel’s multi-platform offerings will also be joining the March Break celebrations with new episodes of Backstage available on the The Family Channel App beginning March 9. Immediately following each episode’s broadcast premiere, fans can head to the App to watch the next episode of Backstage, one day early! Those looking to catch up on past episodes can take advantage of the App’s Free Preview, which currently offers the entire first season of Backstage and the first part of Massive Monster Mayhem to users without a subscription throughout February and March. New episodes will also be available on Family OnDemand, with a sampling on Family.ca.
Backstage stars Josh Bogert as Miles; Aviva Mongillo as Alya; Mckenzie Small as Scarlett; Devyn Nekoda as Vanessa; Alyssa Trask as Carly; Colin Petierre as Sasha; Matthew Isen as Jax; Julia Tomasone as Bianca; Romy Weltman as Kit, Kyal Legend as Julie, Adrianna Di Liello as Jenna and Madison MacGregor as Cassandra. Joining the cast for season two are: Thomas L. Colford (Center Stage: On Pointe) as Beckett; Joshua Kilimnik (Odd Squad, Bruno & Boots movies) as George; Stephanie La Rochelle (Heartland) as Frances; Sydney Kuhne (Dino Dan) as Azadehl; Robert Bazzocchi as Aidan; Corteon Moore as Matteo; and Hailey Fauchere as Mindy.
Commissioned by DHX Television, Backstage was created and developed by Fresh TV. The series’ executive producers are Brian Irving, who also serves as producer; Lara Azzopardi, the series’ co-creator, show runner, writer and director; Jennifer Pertsch, also co-creator; Tom McGillis and George Elliott. Mario Azzopardi (Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits, Degrassi) also directs. Backstage is internationally distributed by DHX Media.
DHX Media (or the “Company”) (TSX: DHX.A, DHX.B; NASDAQ: DHXM), a leading global children’s content and brands company, and Nickelodeon are spreading mayhem worldwide with a new international broadcast agreement for season one of the original DHX Media series, Massive Monster Mayhem. Following the show’s successful premiere on Nicktoons in the U.S., Nickelodeon International has picked it up for air across more than 140 territories. Produced by DHX Media, Massive Monster Mayhem is co-created by Artur Spigel (founder of 7ate9 Entertainment) and Michael Chaves.
Massive Monster Mayhem is an original show for kids 6–11 that combines live action and CGI animation with real competition and comedy. Each episode features three real-life kid heroes competing in a gauntlet of Intergalactic Battle Alliance challenges to become Earth’s champion and face off against Master Mayhem’s league of monsters in the ultimate “Monster Mashdown.” The unique series combines cutting-edge, real-time CGI and pre-visualization technology.
Massive Monster Mayhem originally launched on Nicktoons in the U.S. in October 2017, garnering solid ratings among the network’s audience. As part of the new agreement, the mayhem will begin rolling out on Nickelodeon’s international channels beginning in 2018, with season one scheduled to premiere on the broadcaster’s Nordics, Australian and MENA channels in January. The series will roll out across remaining territories throughout the year.
Global distribution for Massive Monster Mayhem is handled by DHX Media, while licensing is managed by the company’s brand management and consumer products arm, DHX Brands. With its stunning visuals, which combine cutting-edge, real-time CGI and pre-visualization technology, and its host of exciting characters – like Master Mayhem, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Ruler in the Universe” – Massive Monster Mayhem offers significant appeal for young audiences and great potential for consumer products.
Produced by DHX Media, Massive Monster Mayhem is a brand-new concept in kids’ entertainment. Massive Monster Mayhem features live gameplay by kids in futuristic challenges against gigantic Monster Superstars for the chance to win prizes and save the planet from destruction. The series is executive produced by 7ate9’s Art Spigel, together with DHX Media’s Steven DeNure, Anne Loi, Ken Faier and Josh Scherba. The Massive Monster Mayhem Match App invaded the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store on October 2017 and was developed by Epic Story Interactive.