Everything about Baroness von Sketch Show, eh?

Aurora Browne dishes on Baroness Von Sketch and Great Canadian Baking Show

There are three big changes viewers will notice when they tune in to The Great Canadian Baking Show on CBC this Wednesday night.

Gone is judge Rochelle Adonis, replaced by Kyla Kennaley. And co-hosts Dan Levy and Julia Chan have been swapped out in favour of Aurora Browne and Carolyn Taylor. Browne and Taylor are also, as legions of fans already know, the writers, stars and executive producers of Baroness von Sketch Show, which returns this Tuesday night to CBC.

And while I will miss Levy and Chan’s roles on Baking Show, I was immediately smitten by Browne and Taylor’s witty cold opening and their natural rapport with the 10 new contestants.

We spoke to Browne ahead of both programs’ debut.

How did yourself and Carolyn Taylor end up hosting The Great Canadian Baking Show in the first place?
Aurora Browne: The Great Canadian Baking Show approached us, at the beginning of this year. Carolyn and I have known each other for a very long time, obviously. Long before Baroness, even. It worked out in our schedule to be able to do it with only minimal overlap. Why not? It’s such a fun show. It’s fun and lovely and to be honest, being paid to taste things is like a dream come true. I don’t think that was difficult for either of us.

We actually spoofed it on Baroness. There’s a scene in the third season with Jen and Meredith. The patient is talking about her existential angst and how she can’t let go of any of her anxiety. The psychiatrist advises her to watch a gentle British baking show. We had a little, 10-second insert. Of course, it takes two hours to film, so Carolyn was like the Mary Berry character and I was a contestant. On the day that we were doing that, we were saying, ‘Oh gosh, I could do that all day,’ just talking about food and looking at food.

Two women smile into the camera.Was what you did as hosts scripted?
AB: They do have a very talented writer Elvira Kurt who has been our friend for a long time. She has actually worked on Baroness as well. A bit of the show is scripted. We don’t come up with all those puns on our own, that’s the job of a talented person. We were doing the cold opens of the show. That kind of stuff is scripted. Also sometimes, to be totally honest, there is so much technical stuff for some of the baking things, especially the French patisserie, I really needed that in the script. It’s like texty sci-fi shows you are remembering all these things. Thank goodness for the script on those parts, but the rest of it is just us interacting with the bakers. I think the best training that Carolyn and I could have had for the show is just attending a bunch of parties because it’s a party in a way.

Starting off with 10 people and then fewer as weeks progress you just have to be comfortable going in and chatting to them, it’s just like that part in the party where you wander into the kitchen and the host is trying to get something done or trying to get something in the oven and you ask them questions. Except here on the show they must answer our questions.

They were very easy to get to know, they were just such lovely, lovely people. They are in the middle of this very stressful situation with cameras in their faces and we were just there to encourage them and Carolyn and I didn’t find it hard at all. We were just encouraging them to do what they loved and to sometimes have a good laugh with them, and occasionally commiserate with them if they were having a stressful moment, which of course happens.

Let’s switch things up and let’s talk about season four of Baroness von Sketch Show. What was it like having Jennifer Whalen as the showrunner this season?
AB: Jen Whalen is exceptional. I mean it’s a massive job because you’re the one person who goes between all the departments. All four of us worked very closely on the creative and talking with each other about everything. Jen Whalen, I see her being the CEO of something, before very long. But we also have been doing this for several years now, so we have how we handle the editing and that’s in place, how we work out the sketches that are in place. I’m always just like thankful and in awe of Carolyn and Jennifer being showrunners and how willing they are to just always take those calls and emails. I personally need a little bit of time at the end of the day where I just won’t pick up the phone. I need to not answer emails. I’m always very grateful that those two have been willing to helm such a busy, busy show because we are all so involved.

But they are both fantastic at it and I hope someday that Jen Whalen is captaining the starship and I get to be her XO, I would happily be her second in command for anything.

Two women on a climbing apparatus.There are some great sketches in the first episode. Binge-watching television and translating that into kids’ years. Tony Nappo in the sketch where he uses his kind words to make women smile. The blood pressure cuff. All great relatable stuff. The end credits featured a large group of writers and story editors.
AB: We have a structure that really allows us to welcome in voices and ideas even for a short amount of time because we have a core group of four of us are always there. Then we have some staff writers who are with us all the way through. For Season 4 we had Jen Goodhue who has been with us for every season. We had Monica Heisey in and then Allison Hogg, who had also written for us before. Then with the other people sometimes they will only come in for say three days or four days. That fresh set of eyes is really invaluable and it makes for a really fun room. I don’t think there was one person that came in that one of us didn’t know already.

It’s a pretty joyous thing. Even though it’s a large group it was manageable and it just means that you have these really funny, really talented people who are really thoughtful and interested in the world and are really ready to sit and roll around an idea to get at what’s the essence of this, what’s the funniest take we can take on it. And we were so happy always to be able to offer a paycheque at the very least to our talented colleagues who live and work in this city and the country.

We are very happy to be able to make this show where we live, and other people can too.

Baroness von Sketch Show airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on CBC.

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

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Baroness von Sketch Show and Employable Me win 2019 Rockie Awards

From a media release:

The 40th Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to announce the winners of the 2019Rockie Awards International Program Competition and the $25,000 Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content.

Canadian actor/writer, Juno Rinaldi (Workin’ Moms), hosted the Rockie Awards International Program Competition at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Top international media executives gathered to recognize and celebrate excellence in television and digital media content from around the world. One of the largest competitions of its kind, the Rockie Awards International Program Competition presented awards in twenty-six(26) categories spanning Documentary & Factual, Arts & Entertainment, Children & Youth, Scripted, as well as the Rockies Francophone Prize and the Jury Prize.

International Program Competition winners include:

Drama Series: English Language
Bodyguard
World Productions/BBC
UK

Comedy Series: English Language
Barry
HBO/Alec Berg/Hanarply
USA

Limited Series
Sharp Objects
HBO/eOne/Tiny Pyro/Blumhouse/Fourth Born/crazyrose
USA/Canada

Lifestyle Series
Employable Me
Thomas Howe and Associates
Canada

Drama Series: Non-English Language
Can You Hear Me?
Trio Orange
Canada

Comedy Series: Non-English Language
Arthur’s Law
good friends Filmproduktions/TNT Comedy
Germany

Children & Youth Fiction Series
Katy
BBC
UK

Reality Program
RuPaul’s Drag Race
World of Wonder
USA

Comedy & Variety Program
Baroness von Sketch Show
Frantic Films
Canada

Science & Technology Program
One Strange Rock
Nutopia/National Geographic
USA/UK

History & Biography Program
The Clinton Affair
Jigsaw Productions/Instinct Productions/A&E
USA

Serials, Soaps & Telenovela
Tangled Lives
SP Televisão/SIC
Portugal

Sci-Fi & Genre-Based Series
Doctor Who
BBC Cymru/BBC One
UK

Check out the full list of winners.

Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content
Winner: Baroness von Sketch Show (Frantic Films)

The Rogers Prize is awarded to the highest-scoring Canadian program or property in the Rockies International Program Competition across two rounds of independent jury review.

Grand Jury Prize
The Grand Jury Prize recognizes the “best in show” from all Rockies International Program Competition winning entries. The winner will be unveiled Tuesday, June 11 at the Rockie Awards Gala, hosted by multi-platinum, award-winning singer/songwriter, actor, Jann Arden (JANN).

The 2019 Grand Jury Prize finalists are:

  • Barry
  • Bodyguard
  • Dynasties
  • One Strange Rock
  • Sharp Objects
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2018 Directors Guild of Canada Awards winners announced

From a media release:

The DGC is delighted to announce the winners of the 2018 DGC Awards. There were over 350 submissions this year in both film and television from across the country.

The Awards were presented at the annual event on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. Headlined by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience) and directed by Charles Officer (Unarmed Verses, 21 Thunder), the evening demonstrated the excellent film & television productions that DGC members have brought to life. The event also highlighted special awards recipients, Norma Bailey, Alanis Obomsawin and Vic Sarin, veterans of the film industry.

DGC LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Vic Sarin

DON HALDANE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD
Norma Bailey

DGC HONOURARY LIFE MEMBER AWARD
Alanis Obomsawin

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FEATURE FILM
Presented by Technicolor
Miranda de Pencier – The Grizzlies

ALLAN KING AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN DOCUMENTARY
Jennifer Baichwal – Long Time Running

BEST PICTURE EDITING – DOCUMENTARY
Roderick Deogrades – Silas

BEST SHORT FILM
Robin Hays – Post No Bills

DISCOVERY AWARD
Presented by Vanguarde Artists Management
Andrea Bussmann – Fausto

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – FEATURE FILM
Paul Austerberry – The Shape of Water

BEST PICTURE EDITING – FEATURE FILM
Sidney Wolinsky – The Shape of Water

BEST SOUND EDITING – FEATURE FILM
The Shape of Water – Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira, Jill Purdy, Robert Hegedus, Kevin Howard, Alex Bullick, Dashen Naidoo, Tyler Whitham, Dustin Harris

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMATIC SERIES
Presented by Panavision
Kari Skogland – The Handmaid’s Tale, Episode 110, Night

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES
Presented by deluxe
Mary Harron – Alias Grace

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY SERIES
Presented by Sim
Yael Staav – Baroness Von Sketch Show, Episode 201, It Satisfies on a Very Basic Level

OUTSTANDING DIRECTORIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN FAMILY SERIES
Presented by William F. White
Bruce McDonald – Heartland, Episode 1110, A Fine Balance

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES
Arvinder Greywal – Alias Grace

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – TELEVISION SERIES
Elisabeth Williams – Fargo, Episode 309, Aporia

BEST PICTURE EDITING – MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES
David Wharnsby – Alias Grace 

BEST PICTURE EDITING – TELEVISION SERIES
Christopher Donaldson – The Handmaid’s Tale, Episode 102, Birth Day

BEST SOUND EDITING – MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES
Cardinal: Blackfly Season – Paul Germann, Jane Tattersall, David McCallum, Krystin Hunter, Kelly McGahey

BEST SOUND EDITING – TELEVISION SERIES
The Expanse, Episode 205, Home – Nelson Ferreira, David Rose, Tyler Whitham, Dustin Harris, Dashen Naidoo

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Preview: Baroness von Sketch Show deals more hilarity in Season 3

Hot on the heels of Baroness von Sketch Show‘s well-deserved Canadian Screen Award wins and continued kudos from American attention thanks to IFC picking the program up, the funny Canadian ladies are back for Season 3 on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Once again, writers, stars and executive producers Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen simply nail it with hilarious characters and dead-funny views in sketches both timely and evergreen. While some Canadian periodicals write lazy columns decrying a lack of funny at the CBC, I say the network has never been stronger because of Baroness, Still Standing, Schitt’s Creek, Mr. D and Kim’s Convenience. (The jury is still out on 22 Minutes, thanks to behind the scenes shakeups.)

The return episode, “Is that you Karen?” bursts out of the gate with immediate laughs, as two ladies who haven’t seen each other in 20 years reconnect in the oddest and most ludicrous of ways. And that’s before the revamped opening credits roll. Then, in the rat-a-tat roll out of sketches, viewers get reflections on the rites of spring (with three of the four ladies dressed as dudes), the dangers of accepting a ride home from a co-worker, rogue cops and what could happen when the barista gets the name wrong on your coffee cup.

Whenever I speak to folks about the television shows Baroness von Sketch almost always comes up. There’s a reason for that. With tight writing, stellar performances (MacNeill’s over-the-top physical comedy is a standout) and truly relatable topics, the baronesses are hitting a comedy home run every week.

Baroness von Sketch Show airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

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CBC renews Baroness Von Sketch Show for Season 4

From a media release:

CBC has renewed its award-winning, all-female original sketch comedy series BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW from Frantic Films for a fourth season (10 x 30). Created by and starring Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, the new season will begin production in Toronto this September for launch on CBC in 2019.

The renewal announcement comes just ahead of the premiere of Season 3 on CBC, the CBC TV streaming app and cbc.ca/watch on Tuesday, September 18 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT).

Since its debut in 2016, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW has been recognized with 15 nominations and 10 wins to date, including Canadian Screen Awards for Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series (2017, 2018), Best Writing, Variety or Sketch Comedy (2018) and Best Performance, Sketch Comedy (2018) for the ensemble. Additional award wins include a 2018 ACTRA Toronto Award for Outstanding Performance – Ensemble and a 2018 Canadian Comedy Award for Best TV Show.

Fast paced and irreverent, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW celebrates the absurd, mines the embarrassing and satirizes our daily lives. Shot entirely on location, this single-camera comedy series takes a fresh look at our navel-gazing, contemporary culture. From marriage equality to screen addiction, Airbnbs to ultrasounds, this satirical sketch show captures the banalities and absurdities of modern life.

A CBC original series, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW is produced by Frantic Films.  Drawing on 16 years of comedy experience and multiple collaborations, the award-winning, talented team of Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen are the writers, stars and executive producers. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Programming; Michelle Daly is Senior Director, Comedy, Scripted Content; Greig Dymond and Karen Tsang are the Executives in Charge of Production.

The series is also broadcast on IFC in the U.S. Season 3 will premiere on IFC on Thursday, November 8 at 9 p.m., with IFC also picking up Season 4 for U.S. audiences in 2019.

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