TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

David Oulton’s talk show, Face to Face with David, returns for a second season

From a media release:

David Oulton’s talk show, Face to Face with David, is set to return this fall for a second season. The show premiered in July 2020 in the United States and the United Kingdom on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV and was an instant success, currently rated higher than The Ellen Degeneres Show on both IMDb and Amazon Prime. The series features 27-year-old Oulton in his signature Versace bathrobe sipping red wine, while he interviews guests from the worlds of entertainment, business, fashion and more via remote link.

While the second season has increased from six to thirteen episodes, the format remains the same – casual and informative discussions focusing on a more “timeless” conversation, rather than current events, allowing the audience to watch whenever they want. With the guests often being in their homes or even on set, it provides a more intimate atmosphere and greater insight into the personal lives for the viewers. The host, Canadian actor David Oulton (Guns of Purgatory, Hannah Montana), said this was intentional as it allows the viewer to feel like they are listening in on a casual conversation between two people, rather than a formal interview.

The guest line up for season two includes Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Melissa Rivers (Fashion Police), Ali Landry (Miss USA, Eve), Corbin Bernsen (Psych, L.A. Law), Pamela Rabe (Wentworth), Manjit Minhas (CBC’s Dragons’ Den), Natasha Henstridge (Species, Commander in Chief), Caroline Stanbury (Ladies of London), Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1), comedian Debra DiGiovanni, viral singing sensation Charlotte Awbery and many other recognizable names. Some notable moments from the season include Rivers explaining how she was turned down by several major networks for her own show because she is “not famous enough”, and Henstridge revealing she would consider joining a Real Housewives franchise. Bernsen’s interview is deeply personal, as he removed Oulton from an abusive home situation over a decade ago and introduced him to the woman who would later legally adopt him.

David created the show during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was initially intended to be a very simple social media project as a means to save himself from boredom. Within one week of presenting the idea to his agent, Kelsea Forzani-Mannix and some industry friends, he had signed a distribution deal with Amazon and was developing a full-fledged talk show with Carson Kressley and Perez Hilton as his first major guests. The first season was filmed in Oulton’s home in Calgary, with the second season moving production to the Fairmont Palliser Hotel. Oulton serves as executive producer, along with Lisa McGillivray, Candace Schmidt and Luis Gonzalez of LnC Style, and Rae Farrer.

Season two is expected later this fall.

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Global sets Season 4 premiere of Private Eyes for November 2

From a media release:

Shade and Angie are back on the case with the highly-anticipated Season 4 (12×60) premiere of Global Original Private Eyes debuting Monday, November 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. From global independent studio Entertainment One (eOne) in association with Corus Entertainment, the new season of Private Eyes joins Global’s previously announced lineup of hit fall series including #1 new show I Can See Your Voice, #1 late night show Saturday Night Live, Global Original event series Departure, and much more. All of Global’s hit shows, including seasons one through three of Private Eyes, are streaming now on STACK TV and the Global TV App.

Season 4 picks up following a paternity bombshell dropped in Matt Shade’s (Jason Priestley) lap, presenting a sudden realization that family is far more complicated than he ever anticipated. Helping to keep him grounded is his partner, whip-smart PI Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson), whose concern for Shade’s well-being involves a secret DNA test and more than a few white lies. Luckily, a pressing case becomes a welcome distraction from personal conflicts as Shade and Angie delve into the mystery of a wealthy family whose Gatsby-themed party becomes a setting for battles over inheritance…and murder.

Returning this season are fan favourite characters Zoe Chow (Samantha Wan), Don Shade (Barry Flatman), Jules Shade (Jordyn Negri), Becca D’Orsay (Nicole DeBoer), Liam Benson (Jonny Gray), Nora Everett (Mimi Kuzyk), Inspector Mathilde Carson (Linda Kash), Officer Danica Powers (Ruth Goodwin) and Tex Clarkson (Brett Donahue). New characters this season include Canadian singer and ET Canada Correspondent Keshia Chanté as Angie’s friend Mia Torres, and Supinder Wraich (The Beaverton) as Danica’s girlfriend Kate. Plus, series star Cindy Sampson makes her directorial debut in episode three.

Among this season’s guest stars are acclaimed Canadian actors Erica Durance (Smallville), Katie Boland (Reign), Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys), and Eric Peterson (Corner Gas), along with renowned personalities Chris Candy, HGTV Canada’s Scott McGillivray, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, and pro golfer Mike Weir.

As previously announced, production for Season 5 of Private Eyes is now underway. The series is produced by eOne in association with Corus Entertainment, with the participation of the Canada Media Fund, IPF’s Cogeco TV Production Program, the Bell Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit. The series is produced by Alex Jordan. The series is executive produced by Jocelyn Hamilton and Tecca Crosby for eOne, Shawn Piller and Lloyd Segan for Piller/Segan, Jason Priestley, Alexandra Zarowny and James Thorpe. Piller, Zarowny and Thorpe are also showrunners.

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Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules

From Jude Dry of IndieWire:

Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules
Whether it’s the absurdist escalation of Red Wine Ladies’ Night, or the anti-misogynist virtue signaling of a Queer Theory Reading Group, “Baroness Von Sketch Show” took advantage of under-explored scenarios to produce hilarity that resonated with the everywoman. Continue reading. 

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Jann co-creators Jennica Harper and Leah Gauthier on the success of the show and writing Season 2

CTV’s sitcom Jann is an undeniable critical and ratings success. Its first season garnered rave reviews, millions of viewers, and a 2020 WGC Screenwriting Award for Best Comedy Series.

However, there was a time when the show’s co-creators and executive producers, Jennica Harper and Leah Gauthier,  were unsure if the series—which stars singer-songwriter Jann Arden as a highly fictionalized version of herself—would work.

“It was a real act of faith at first,” says Harper, explaining that Arden “was very funny and very talented” but unproven as a comedic lead. There were also some concerns about the show’s unique blend of tones: part entertainment industry satire, part slapstick comedy, part family dramedy.

“It’s not a comedy in the conventional way, it’s a little bit more cable, I think,” says Harper, who also acts as the series showrunner. “There’s a bit more of a blend of very silly comedy right up to, hopefully, poignant, dramatic moments. We’re trying to kind of have our cake and eat it, too.” 

Harper and Gauthier got their cake and more when CTV quickly greenlit the series for Seasons 2 and 3. But having a hit show creates new worries.

“You immediately put pressure on yourself,” Gauthier says. “Like, ‘Can we do it again in the second season?'”

The answer to that is a resounding yes. The first four episodes of Season 2 have provided some of the series’ funniest moments as chronically narcissistic Jann works to win back her family after ditching them to go on tour last season. Her hilarious quest has featured a wrestling match with Sarah McLachlan (who guest-starred in the first episode of the season), some bizarrely unconventional couple’s therapy with girlfriend Cynthia (Sharon Taylor), and a disastrous camping adventure with sister Max (Zoie Palmer) and mom Nora (Deborah Grover).

On Monday’s new episode, “Drop the Single,” Jann is in for more uncomfortable situations when Cale (Elena Juatco) pushes her to record an electronic dance track and she shares a talk show couch with a very unimpressed k.d. lang. The instalment also features some of the show’s patented family drama as Dave (Patrick Gilmore) brings the baby to visit his mom.

We recently chatted with Harper and Gauthier about their approach to writing the new season and what to expect in the show’s second half.

Season 2 has been excellent so far. Did you find it easier or harder to write than the first season? 
Jennica Harper: Easier. When we were breaking the stories for Season 2, I was just so excited because it became clear who the characters are and we had the casting. When we wrote those [Season 1] scripts, we hadn’t cast anybody yet, other than Jann, of course, and now that we know those actors and those characters, it was a lot more playful. 

Leah Gauthier: For sure. And as we watched [the actors] as we were making Season 1, we were like, ‘What are these characters naturally great at that we can pick up on in seasons following? Is this character really good at panicky situations? Has this person come up against Jann as a buddy or as an enemy? Where can we expand on what organically happened on its own and lean into it?’ Because the Charley character, she becomes sort of a social influencer in Season 2, and that was because we were watching Alexa [Rose Steele] in real life, and were thinking, ‘This woman is very interesting and her social media following is huge’. That’s the kind of thing that we sort of lean into and pull from real life, that’s kind of what we’re doing in these later seasons, and I feel it’s more fun to write. 

JH: Another example was with Nora, Jann’s mom, who’s played by Deb Grover. There are these moments where she’s kind of sassy, not just this sort of sad person going through her early stages of memory loss, and we loved that.

How does an episode of Jann begin in your writers’ room? 
JH:  We essentially develop a story arcs document for the season, and that’s something that Jann, Leah, and I do together. Traditionally, that would be the three of us going to Jann’s house in Calgary for a few days and just talking about the shape of the season, because it’s serialized, and what the theme is before we figure out what some individual funny story would be within that. For example, in Season 2 it was about whether Jann could make things up to the people she pissed off and also Cynthia and Jann giving it a go and her relationship with Cale, with Cale being someone who has a lot of ideas that Jann is uncomfortable with.

The three of us developed a road map for the season and some story ideas that could go with that and had them fleshed out. So when we get together with the rest of our writers, we’re presenting our thoughts for the whole season, ‘What do you think?’ Then we ask them to respond and help us refine that and start talking individual stories. That’s not necessarily typical on other shows. Sometimes you just show up and there’s a blank page and you kind of have to figure out one by one what the episodes are going to be. But we kind of come in with some of that work done, so that we can really be running when we have the writers together.

Where do you come up with some of the crazier situations that Jann gets herself into? 
JH: We pull from Jann’s personal stories for sure, anytime we’re chatting about something that kind of works. For some of the family storylines, we have more relatable stories [from our own lives] that apply. But there’s also a lot of what-ifs. You know, ‘What if Jann and Cynthia went to couple’s therapy and maybe this person isn’t even a therapist?’ There’s a lot of just pitching jokes and story ideas in the writers’ room. 

LG: Our writers’ room is a really comfortable space. Everyone feels really comfortable to pitch any idea, even if it’s crazy. Sometimes people will start with, ‘OK, this is a bad pitch, but what if Jann is hanging from her crotch on a barbed wire fence?’

And Jann is game for doing whatever. She understands that the physical comedy lands really well. She’s really helpful because no one is scared to say, ‘I was thinking we’d put you in boxer shorts and you drag garbage cans out the front’ because she’s not ever gonna shut it down. 

JH: She actually pitches it sometimes. She’s the one in the camping episode that really ran with the idea of having an emergency situation in the woods. She went all the way. She went, ‘What if I use a sock?’ That was in the script for a little while, and then we thought this is bizarre for even us. But I think the show works because she is fully committed to looking ridiculous. 

LG: And she’s such a good sport. In the last episode, when she’s on that inflatable pink couch, she was flipping around upside down and sideways on that thing, and she’d just had her gallbladder removed about 15 days before. That’s how committed she is to doing whatever it takes to make people laugh. She’s a true hero. 

Speaking of the inflatable pink couch, how much of the physical comedy is specifically scripted and how much of it is just finding funny situations that allow Jann Arden to be Jann Arden?
LG: For the pink inflatable chair thing, it was scripted that she was stuck in it and she couldn’t reach her pop and she knocks the pop over and says, ‘What a waste.’ But then she kept going, like flipping up and back. That was just her going for it. 

JH: We try to create the space, like you said, for her to run with it. And sometimes we realize later and add it. Like in Episode 3 with the fall out of the rickshaw, Charley pulls up outside the school and Jann is texting and she gets out and she falls, and it’s very funny. 

LG: That was her own stunt. We put a pillow underneath the black mulch, and then we [told her], ‘You’re good.’ 

JH: Yeah, ‘Just fall like you mean it!’

LG: And she did. 

I love Jann’s relationship with Cynthia. I’m a woman of a certain age, gay, and in a relationship, and it’s rare to see characters and humour representing my demographic.
JH: When we were recently talking about Season 3, Leah said how important it is that we feel we are writing a woman in her 50s and living her best life. I mean, obviously, Jann is not actually living her best life yet, but there’s sort of an aspirational quality to it. You know, we want to see women in relationships, we want to see women in sexuality. That’s really important to us and we feel it’s really underrepresented. I think people who haven’t watched the show maybe don’t know how progressive it is.

LG: We’re writing Season 3 now, and in one of our Zoom writing rooms, I said to everyone, ‘As we’re wrapping up our first drafts, can we look back at them with an eye for the moments where Jann can be very proud of herself. ‘ She’s a woman in her 50s that is not done. She’s not over, we haven’t forgotten about her, she’s still excited about stuff, she still gets to do really cool shit, the game’s not over. I want people to watch this and go, ‘I can still do lots of stuff. I have so many days ahead of me that I can do some great things.’ 

And Jann is so helpful in those rooms, too, because she’ll just tell us a story from her real life and we’ll just be like, ‘Got it. Hot flash, girlfriend, laying on the bathroom floor. Cool, it’s in the show!’ 

You’ve had great guest stars this season, including Sarah McLachlan, and in the next episode, k.d. lang. How was it to work with them?
JH: Intimidating. I was very excited, but there were definitely moments where I couldn’t believe this was happening.

LG: Jennica was freaking out. 

JH: I was, in my calm way, freaking out. No, it was very cool, and they were so different. Sarah was really like, ‘Let me do the silly stuff, I’m totally excited about this,’ and k.d. was more reserved, but I thought it was hysterical how she, just with her facial expressions, absolutely nailed the ‘I can’t, this woman is ridiculous,’ vibe. 

LG: She’s very cool and calm, that k.d. lang. She drove herself there and dressed herself, nailed it, and then drove home. 

What can you preview about the second half of the season?
JH: A big thing that’s ramping up is Jann and Cale’s adversarial business relationship. It’s going to really come to a head.

LH: I’m excited about [an episode where] the sisters go on a road trip. I really like the sister dynamic, so putting them in a car together and sending them off was really fun. That’s Episode 207, and I’m really looking forward to that. 

Can you tell me anything about Season 3?
JH: We plan to shoot after the new year, so a little later than normal. We’d normally be shooting now. We’ve already scripted the whole season, we’ve got drafts of the whole thing. We’re revising and punching them up a bit, but we have a story to tell, so we’re pretty excited. 

Jann airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Top casino films available to watch on Netflix now

Netflix makes watching movies cheaper and more convenient than any other method that existed before it, with a small monthly fee for unlimited access to its entire library on just about any device you want. While that’s great, it has another, often overlooked advantage too.

Its collection of content is so vast that there is a selection of movies and TV shows for each genre and topic. This is partly down to the company spending a lot to acquire content from other studios and it investing heavily to create its own local content.

There are few cinemas or stores that show/sell such an extensive library due to the logistics and economics of doing so being nearly impossible.

So if you want to binge-watch some great casino films, Netflix is going to be your best bet. Especially with these great titles ready to stream.

21

Released in 2008, 21 is based on the true story of the MIT Blackjack team. A group of mostly students were taught to count cards in teams to gain an advantage over the house. After rigorous training, the team made regular trips to Las Vegas in an attempt to win big.

Card counting is a genuine technique used in blackjack. While it can improve your odds, it’s still not a guarantee of success, particularly since some casinos use additional decks to make card counting more difficult. Many online casinos like 888 Casino have even offered guides to their customers on blackjack rules and strategy. It’s only possible to count cards live, so there’s nothing to lose for online companies.

Everything goes great for the MIT team, who see a lot of success from their regular weekend trips to Las Vegas, that is, until the money creates rifts between them and they begin to betray each other.

It’s a gripping film that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

Ocean’s Eleven

It’s almost 20 years old, but Ocean’s Eleven still holds up as a great casino movie. Set in Las Vegas, you get to see plenty of casino shots as Danny Ocean’s team of 11 people prepare and enact a daring heist to steal $160 million from three casinos.

The film, which has an impressive ensemble cast of many of the biggest names in Hollywood, including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon, was a huge box office hit. While it received two sequels, the first in the trilogy is by far the best.

It’s a well-balanced mix of brains and brawn, with the team using clever deception techniques to break into the vault of the casinos and get the money back out again. If you’re watching it for the first time, you’ll be surprised by some of the twists and turns in the heist as the group manage to recover from what appear to be metaphorical dead-ends.

Even if you’ve seen it before (which you probably have), Ocean’s Eleven is a great watch.

You’ll see many famous Las Vegas landmarks in Ocean’s Eleven

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Guy Ritchie is famous for creating gangster films and one of his first was Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. This 1998 comedy movie helped to kickstart the career of both Ritchie and former diver Jason Statham.

Like Ocean’s Eleven, the film is a heist movie with an ensemble cast that included Vinnie Jones, Sting, Steven Mackintosh and Nick Moran, each with classic British gangster nicknames like “Bacon,” “Soap,” and “the Baptist.”

Instead of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is set in London, being filmed mostly in the city’s East End. The story revolves around a skilled card player who loses £500,000 while playing in a rigged three-card brag game (which is similar to poker) against a high-ranking criminal.

While he and his friends try to recover the money, they’re caught up in more and more ridiculous scenarios, involving a traffic warden, a van loaded with contraband, and some antique shotguns.

Mississippi Grind

Mississippi Grind is one of the newest casino films available on Netflix, having first been released in 2015. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Mendelsohn and Sienna Miller, it’s a comedy film about Gerry, a poker player who travels along the Mississippi River to play in casinos and bet on horses.

Gerry is joined by Curtis, who he has invited along as his “lucky charm”. They go through ups and downs as Gerry wins and loses in different games and the pair run into people from their pasts.

After some disagreements, the two rejoin at a blackjack table where they manage to win more than a quarter of a million dollars. Before calling it quits, they head to the craps table to bet it all.

Mississippi Grind is a film with many ups and downs but will keep you engrossed throughout.

Casino Royale

Bond is one of the most famous characters from books and film, with a franchise that spans more than half a century. The 2006 Casino Royale release was the first to feature Daniel Craig as 007. The film also resets the chronology of the films, being as it is set at the start of Bond’s career with MI-6.

Bond remains as sophisticated as ever though, heading to the Casino Royale in Montenegro dressed in a tuxedo and driving his Ashton Martin. Everything goes downhill for him when he loses and he gets poisoned, and Bond has to try to use a defibrillator on himself in his car.

He’s not playing poker for fun though. Bond’s there to catch an international terrorist known as Le Chiffre, who had organised the game to recoup funds lost in a bad investment. As you’d expect from a Bond film, there’s plenty of action, including shooting and car chases.

Casino Royale is probably Daniel Craig’s best outing as 007, and it’s definitely worth a watch.

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