Tag Archives: Frankie Drake Mysteries

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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More mystery to go around: Frankie Drake Mysteries greenlit for Season 2

From a media release:

From the Shimmy to Art Deco, the Roaring Twenties return with Shaftesbury’s prohibition-era-set FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES renewed for a second season (10 x 60) by CBC, UKTV, and Kew Media Group. Season 1 of the series garnered an audience average of 782,000 on CBC, making FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES the public broadcaster’s second-most-watched drama of the current broadcast season after Murdoch Mysteries.

FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES stars Lauren Lee Smith (The Shape of Water, The Listener, The L Word) as the private eye with the mysterious past Frankie Drake, Chantel Riley (Race, The Lion King) as Frankie’s fearless and clever partner Trudy Clarke, Rebecca Liddiard (Alias Grace, Houdini & Doyle) as keen police morality officer Mary Shaw, and Sharron Matthews (Mean Girls, Odd Squad) as spirited morgue attendant Flo.

Season one saw secrets emerge from Frankie’s tightly hidden past, from discovering her mother alive and working as a con woman, to her friends uncovering her past as a spy. What other secrets will be discovered about the enigmatic Frankie Drake in season two?

Set in 1920s Toronto, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES follows the city’s only female private detectives as they take on the cases the police don’t want to touch. In a time of change and hopefulness, their gender is their biggest advantage as they defy expectations and rebel against convention. Their cases take them through every cross-section of Toronto, meeting people of all backgrounds and means, as well as historical characters, along the way. Frankie and Trudy’s fearless sense of adventure gets them into all kinds of trouble, but they always manage to find a way out. They are new detectives for a new world – but is the world ready for them?

Created by Carol Hay and Michelle Ricci, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES is executive produced by Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie, Carol Hay, and James Hurst, who also serves as showrunner, Ruba Nadda serves as lead director/co-executive producer, and Teresa Ho is producer. A CBC original series, FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES is developed and produced by Shaftesbury in association with CBC and UKTV, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit, and the Bell Fund. Kew Media Group is the global distributor of the series.

Source: Numeris TV Meter, Nov. 6, 2017 – Feb. 5, 2018, CBC, A2+, Mon. 9:01-10:00p, Total Canada, AMA, generated by InfoSys+TV

 

 

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TV Eh B Cs podcast 78 — The Amazing Grace Lynn Kung

A Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy, Grace Lynn Kung has won the Chancellor’s Trophy (OSSD), is a two-time Award for Acting recipient (York) and holds two Certificates of Distinction for Speech and Drama from Trinity College London.

This year she has incited violence aboard Star Trek: Discovery, lobbied Washington with Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, risen in ranks as Congresswoman Yoshida on Designated Survivor, met her demise in Cult of Chucky and cultivated Mars on The Expanse. She has aided Corey Stoll in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, scarcely kept it together on Slings and Arrows, fought Amanda Schull on 12 Monkeys, and played special agent JoJo Kwan on the spy series InSecurity.

Grace directed her first short film, A False Sense of Security, which premiered and won Special Jury Mention this summer in Dallas, Texas and has received a 2017 ACTRA Award nomination for her performance in the feature The Death and Life of Carl Naardlinger.
Grace has a Doozers character modelled in her likeness, studied naturopathic medicine in England and if you’ve played Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4, she’s yelled at you. She plays Whiskey Wendy in the 1920s detective series Frankie Drake Mysteries, Charlotte Bronte in the feature Carmilla, was the guest star on the season finale of Mr. D and plays Chairman Mao in HBO’s new adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, out this May, directed by Ramin Bahrani.

She is also looking for Independent Production Fund support for her web series What Got Did.

Listen or download below, or subscribe via iTunes or any other podcast catcher with the TV, eh? podcast feed.

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Comments and queries for the week of March 9

I live in Brazil and I discovered Frankie Drake Mysteries through the Internet. I’m just saying one thing about the show: I LOVED IT! It’s funny, creative and does not have to appeal to nonsense. Please, CBC, renew the show! —Carolina

Loved it from the first episode. Ernest Hemingway! No idea he had worked in Toronto ( I did check it out). I had wondered about possible Murdoch crossovers and then Jonny Harris shows up in an episode. Like to see more. Please get renewed. —Nat

We love this program! We were so sad to see it suspended until the fall! Please bring it back … and cancel the Caught fiasco. —Terry

 

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

 

 

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Link: Christina Jennings: A lifetime in TV

From Jesse Whittock of TBI Vision:

Link: Christina Jennings: A lifetime in TV
“Younger companies should not be fearful of new models – be prepared to think out of the box and think of partnerships in different ways. The first film this company ever did was a coproduction with a UK company, and we’re still doing them. We’ve expanded that now to New Zealand and are looking at Canada-France coproductions too. It’s also worth remembering coproduction is about making sure your creative is solid and that you don’t end up wasting time with no creative leader.” Continue reading. 

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