Tag Archives: Saving Hope

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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CBC and Sundance TV confirm casting for Unspeakable, including Shawn Doyle, Michael Shanks and Camille Sullivan

From a media release:

CBC and SundanceTV today announced casting for the dramatic eight-part miniseries UNSPEAKABLE, which chronicles the tainted blood scandal beginning in the 1980’s. Acclaimed actors Sarah Wayne Callies (Colony, The Walking Dead), Shawn Doyle (Bellevue, Big Love), Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1, Saving Hope) and Camille Sullivan (The Disappearance, The Man in the High Castle) will lead the series. Production on UNSPEAKABLE begins spring 2018 in Vancouver, BC, for broadcast on CBC in Canada and SundanceTV in the U.S.

Created by Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis) and based on first-person experience and non-fiction books, Bad Blood by Vic Parsons and The Gift of Death by Andre Picard, UNSPEAKABLE chronicles the emergence of HIV and Hepatitis C in Canada in the early 1980s and the tragedy that resulted after thousands of people were infected by tainted blood. One of the largest medical disasters in Canadian history, the blood scandal triggered a federal inquiry and precedent-setting lawsuit resulting in billions of dollars in compensation to victims.

A CBC and SundanceTV original series, UNSPEAKABLE is produced by Mezo Entertainment, with Cooper and Meridian Artists’ Glenn Cockburn serving as executive producers. The series is a passion project for Cooper, who himself was a victim, having contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood. The series is written by Cooper, Carl Binder, Adriana Capozzi and Lynn Coady, with Cooper and Callies set to direct episodes.

AMC Studios will manage worldwide distribution outside of Canada.

CAST BIOGRAPHIES:

Sarah Wayne Callies has made an indelible impression on audiences worldwide by bringing complex and unique female characters to life on screen. She was recently seen in National Geographic’s miniseries The Long Road Home, opposite Michael Kelly, Kate Bosworth, Jason Ritter, and Noel Fisher. She also currently stars on USA’s drama series Colony, opposite Josh Holloway. In addition to her projects with NatGeo and USA, Callies recently starred in the season five reboot of FOX’s critically acclaimed series Prison Break. Another notable role held from 2010-13 was starring as Lori Grimes, on the internationally renowned, record breaking series The Walking Dead. On the film front, Callies most recently starred in This Is Your Death, alongside Josh Duhamel and Giancarlo Esposito, which premiered at the SXSW film festival in March 2017. She also recently appeared in Warner Brothers’ action-packed Into the Storm, directed by Steven Quale. Other feature credits include: The Other Side of the Door, Pay the Ghost, Black November, Whisper and Benoit Phillipon’s Lullaby for Pi; where she composed and performed an original song in addition to acting opposite Rupert Friend.

Shawn Doyle can currently be seen on WGN America starring opposite Anna Paquin in CBC’s Bellevue. He recently wrapped filming a role starring opposite Keon Alexander and Genevieve Kang in UCP’s Impulse for YouTube Red as well as season three of the SyFy series The Expanse, starring opposite Thomas Jane and Steven Strait. He can also be seen on TV starring opposite Jason Momoa in Netflix’s Frontier. He was last seen in theaters starring opposite Joanne Kelley and Jason Priestley in the independent film Away From Here, directed by Justin Simms. Shawn also starred in season three of the Emmy® nominated Netflix seriesHouse of Cards, as well as season one of Fargo and USA’s Covert Affairs. Shawn starred opposite Tatiana Maslany in the Sundance hit Grown Up Movie Star, and played “Joey” (Bill Paxton’s unlucky brother) in the critically acclaimed HBO show Big Love.

Michael Shanks, after a decade-long stint as fan-favourite Dr. Daniel Jackson in sci-fi series Stargate SG-1, has gone on to star on several other hit series, TV movies, and films, including, most recently, the drama series Saving Hope which earned him a Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Dramatic Series in 2013. Shanks has also directed three episodes of the series, after making his directing debut in 2001, directing Stargate SG-1. Shanks appeared in a three-episode arc on the Emmy Award®-winning drama 24, and recurred on the hit series Smallville, as Carter Hall (a.k.a. Hawkman). Shanks played opposite Anne Archer in the made-for-TV movie Judicial Indiscretion, and portrayed the hockey legend Gordie Howe in Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story, a role which earned him a 2014 Leo Award for Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Television Movie, as well as a Canadian Screen Award nomination. His other television credits include a recurring role on Burn Notice and guest-starring roles on CSI: Miami, Stargate: Atlantis, Mr. Young, Endgame, Supernatural and more. He also co-starred in the Emmy Award®-winning William H. Macy telefilm Door to Door and the film adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild.

Camille Sullivan is an award-winning Canadian actress. Most recently, she was nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award for her work on the miniseries The Disappearance. Sullivan has twice been nominated for Gemini Awards: once for her portrayal in the series lead role of Amy Lynch on Shattered, and then again for her portrayal of Francine Reardon in Chris Haddock’sIntelligence for CBC. She played a lead role in the drama pilot Mistresses, and other recent television credits include recurring roles on Man in the High Castle, Rookie Blue, Red Widow and Hellcats. She has guest starred on shows including Proof, Motive, Falling Skies, Combat Hospital, Alcatraz, Flashpoint and The Killing. Past film projects include the much lauded Ally Was Screaming for which she won the UBCP/ACTRA Best Actress Award for her stunning performance. Sullivan was also luminous opposite Gabrielle Rose in the heartbreaking film Birdwatcher for which she garnered another UBCP/ACTRA Best Actress Award. Another lead credit includes Carl Bessai’s multiple award-winning dramatic feature film, Normal. Her performance in Normal won her a Leo Award for Best Actress in a Feature Length Film. Other starring roles include Mount Pleasant, written and directed by Ross Weber, Mothers and Daughters, an improvised film directed by Carl Bessai for which she earned another LEO nomination. Sullivan also appeared in Bessai’s Fathers and Sons and now completes the set with Sisters and Brothers.

 

 

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CraveTV celebrates Canada with the Canadian Screen Award nominees collection

From a media release:

Oh Canada! On the heels of last week’s 2018 Canadian Screen Award nominations, CraveTV has launched a newly curated collection that puts CSA-nominated series and specials front-and-centre in one easy-to-navigate spot. The Canadian Screen Awards take place during Canadian Screen Week, which celebrates the best of Canadian film, television, and digital media from March 5-11, 2018.

The Canadian Screen Award Nominees Collection features more than 20 titles, such as CTV’s acclaimed drama series CARDINAL, which is nominated for 12 CSAs, including Best Limited Series or Program. The drama is currently in the middle of its second season, airing Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET on CTV, with episodes streaming in advance of their broadcast premiere in a CraveTV First Look.

Also featured in the collection is: the CraveTV original series LETTERKENNY, which is honoured with nine nominations; Space’s ORPHAN BLACK and CTV’s 19-2 with six nominations each; and with four nominations, CTV’s original mystery series THE DISAPPEARANCE, which was last fall’s #1 new Canadian series.

The full list of titles streaming as part of the Canadian Screen Award Nominees Collection includes:

  • 19-2 (Seasons 1-4, The Complete Series)
  • 2017 iHeartRadio MuchMusic Video Awards
  • THE AMAZING RACE CANADA (Seasons 1-5)
  • THE BEAVERTON (Season 1 and current Season 2 episodes)
  • BUILDING STAR TREK
  • CANADA IN A DAY
  • CARDINAL (Season 1 and current Season 2 episodes)
  • THE DISAPPEARANCE (Season 1)
  • FORT MAC WILDFIRE: ROGUE EARTH
  • FRONTIER (Seasons 1-2)
  • HOWIE MANDEL: A BELL LET’S TALK SPECIAL
  • THE KENNEDYS: AFTER CAMELOT
  • KILLJOYS (Season 1-2)
  • LETTERKENNY (Seasons 1-3B)
  • LONG TIME RUNNING
  • MASTERCHEF CANADA (Seasons 3-4)
  • MAYDAY (Seasons 5-10)
  • ORPHAN BLACK (Seasons 1-5, The Complete Series)
  • REIGN (Seasons 1-4)
  • RUSH: TIME STAND STILL
  • SAVING HOPE (Seasons 2-5)
  • W5 (New episodes weekly)

 

 

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Murdoch Mysteries: Writer Noelle Girard discusses “Mary Wept”

Spoiler alert! Do not read this until you have watched the “Mary Wept” episode of Murdoch Mysteries.

Murdoch Mysteries fans can thank Noelle Girard for that super-creepy visual of the Virgin Mary weeping tears of blood in the beginning moments of “Mary Wept.” The new member of the Season 11 writing room not only pitched the bloody tears but also planting a body inside the statue. That part of the story didn’t stick but the instalment was memorable nonetheless thanks to a dead infant, George Crabtree’s return and the engagement of Constable Higgins to socialite Ruth Newsome.

We spoke to Noelle Girard about “Mary Wept” and how she came to be on Murdoch Mysteries.

Before we get into this week’s episode, let’s start at the beginning: how did you get into writing for TV in the first place?
Noelle Girard: I never studied screenwriting. I have a degree in art history from the University of Toronto. But even then, I knew that I wanted to be a writer. I was writing on my own and having various jobs. It was only when I started to write TV scripts, on my own, that it really felt right. And then I got an agent. Two years ago I was on Saving Hope and last year I was on Murdoch.

What were some of the scripts you wrote before you got a TV job?
I wrote a couple of original ones, all hour-long dramas. The one I think [showrunner] Pete [Mitchell] read was a pilot for a projected six-part murder mystery, so that was a good one for him to read. I also have written one about espionage in Antarctica.

How did Murdoch Mysteries come about?
I knew Mary Pedersen—we’ve been friends for a couple of years—but I think my agent just sent my work to Pete and we had an interview. I think he’s really good at making the writer’s room full of great people. We’re all friends and it’s a really fun atmosphere. He was so great letting me and Natalia come up with our own ideas and really run with our own scripts and guiding us very well.

What do you learn in a writer’s room peopled with folks like Peter and Paul Aitken?
Paul is great because he’s Mr. Murdoch. He’s been on the show since Day 1 and knows everything. Also, it’s such a skill to write a self-contained mystery. That was a very steep learning curve for me; just how to write a murder mystery where you don’t have a lot of dead ends, or cul-de-sacs as they call them, or false leads. You keep the mystery unfolding. That’s what I tried to do with my episode.

Has your art history degree come into play on Murdoch Mysteries?
[Laughs.] I love arcane, esoteric phenomenon. That’s why I came to the room and said, ‘What about a statue that cries blood? And there is a body inside!’ Pete and Paul both said, ‘I think we can do better than that.’ [Laughs.]

So that was your idea?
Yes, the initial kernel was my idea and then everyone else just ran with it and it became this big, complex mystery. It was really fun. I’ve been really lucky, first at Saving Hope and now on Murdoch, because both rooms have been so open and inclusive and with really smart people.

What type of writer are you? Are you able to write in a room full of people, do you prefer music playing when you write?
No, I don’t like music. I do have to go away sometimes because I do love a good chat and in the Murdoch room we can just chat the day away. [Laughs.] Sometimes I have to sequester myself. But I don’t like going away for a long time from the room because you still have to stay connected to the room. Things can always change. It was a lot of writing at night and bringing it in the next day.

Let’s get in your episode. Did you get a chance to meet the director, Megan Follows, and speak to her?
Yes, we had a script meeting before she started directing and we spent a couple of hours going through the scripts. She was amazing. I mean, she’s Megan Follows!

How did the idea for having a statue cry blood come about? Were you inspired by something in particular?
When we convened before Season 11 we all came to the room with ideas. One of the original pilots I had written was about nuns, so I guess that was still fresh in my mind. I pitched a church and a statue crying blood. I think Pete really likes ideas that give him a world and when I said that, he realized we hadn’t had an episode in awhile where we had Murdoch going to church. We all seized on these ideas of Murdoch’s faith coming up against science and how he would grapple with that.

Not only did you address William’s faith, but the faith of others.
Also, things come out during the writing and we decided to have some fun with Watts, who is kind of the philosopher of the bunch. It comes out that he’s quite interested in this phenomena.

Everyone was happy to see George back. It was fun to have him be a braggart, comparing everything to the way things were in Paris.
[Laughs.] That was mostly Pete. He was like, ‘Let’s have a little bit of fun with Crabtree being obnoxious.’

I was a little surprised that Higgins and Ruth really got engaged. I kept waiting for something to stop them … like Josephine being thrown out the window. How long has it been in the works that these two would be engaged?
Early on we were wondering about their relationship and where that would go. We thought it would be fun for one of our gang to either be engaged or be married. When I was pitching it, I said, ‘And he throws her from the bell tower!’ And somebody else said, ‘Where Higgins is proposing to Ruth!’ [Laughs.] That was a great collaborative moment where we all just died laughing.

It was pretty dark to have the infant’s skeleton buried in the garden.
Because I’m new to Murdoch, when we were working on the story I said a couple of times, ‘Can we do this?’ And everyone said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ It’s really a testament to Pete and how fresh he keeps it. He loves the show and wants to push the storylines while still keeping it in the Murdoch world. He always wants the best story.

Is there a particular character you like writing for?
I do love Brackenreid because my whole family is from Yorkshire, so I love sneaking in some Yorkshire sayings. And everything you give Siobhan Murphy, who plays Ruth, will knock it out of the park. I always love when Murdoch and Julia have a nice moment together, so I love writing those moments. I love seeing them having a giggle together or play around together.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

 

 

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Dan Levy and Julia Chan bake up fun on CBC’s The Great Canadian Baking Show

Never underestimate the power of social media. That’s what Schitt’s Creek co-creator, executive producer, writer and star Daniel Levy learned when he tweeted his love for The Great British Bake Off and announced he’d be honoured to host a Canadian version of the culinary competition if that was ever in the cards.

“I had tweeted, quite naively, that if it ever came to Canada that I’ve love to throw my hat in the ring,” Levy says with a smile. “Almost immediately I started getting these responses, ‘It is for sure coming to Canada.’ ‘It’s happening.’ And then I inevitably got the call asking me if I would actually be interested. I said yes.”

Levy fulfils his dream on Wednesday when The Great Canadian Baking Show debuts at 8 p.m. on CBC. As if helming the homegrown version of your favourite program wasn’t enough, Levy does it with one of his best friends in Julia Chan; the former Saving Hope actress (who went by Julia Taylor Ross) joins him as narrator and co-host.

“We are great friends and were watching The Great British Bake Off together and Dan got involved,” Chan recalls. “Dan threw my hat in the ring, I got a call, went through the process and, apparently, we have good chemistry.”

“Watching this show and kind of colour commentating through the whole process, I was like, ‘I have a friend, she’s never hosted before but I think she would be a great, fresh voice for the show,'” Levy explains.

The Great Canadian Baking Show is fresh on a couple of levels. First, unlike other culinary competitions such as Top Chef Canada and MasterChef Canada, this is all about the baking. That, for watchers of those other shows, is often the hardest challenge put towards competitors thanks to the unforgiving science behind baking. You can fly by the seat of your pants when searing a steak. Not so when baking a multi-tiered cake. Second, The Great Canadian Baking Show is light-hearted and fun. If Wednesday’s debut is accurate, we’re in for one heck of an enjoyable ride. Levy and Chan are natural hosts, walking amongst the 10 home bakers, tasting here, asking questions there and genuinely having a good time.

Of course, the program isn’t all crumpets, tea and giggles. Each of the eight episodes contains three rounds—the Signature Bake, Technical Bake and Show Stopper—judged by baking legends Rochelle Adonis and Bruno Feldeisen. At the end of each episode, one home cook will be eliminated. This season’s 10 competitors represent a thick slice of Canada, from Regina CFO Vandana Jain to Victoria animator Jude Somers, from Toronto human rights lawyer Corey Shefman to Montreal graphic designer Sabrina Degni. All have a passion for baking and a flair for drama on a platter. Wednesday’s challenges force the 10 competitors to up the ante with regard to cakes and the results are stunning.

And while Levy is a longtime fan of The Great British Bake Off, he’s not so great in the kitchen, admitting to just one item in his culinary repertoire: frittata.

“I don’t have any culinary experience, but I do have a lot of opinions,” he says with a laugh. “That’s something that I can bring to this. I can’t bake a thing, but I can eat.”

The Great Canadian Baking Show airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

 

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