Everything about Bitten, eh?

Cristina Rosato and Greyston Holt among first to film during pandemic

While many cities and provinces are still mapping out how, exactly, television and feature films will resume production during COVID-19, Cristina Rosato and Greyston Holt are already back at work.

The real-life couple is among the first of North America’s actors to re-start filming, starring in the TV-movie For Better or Worse, in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. And while Rosato and Holt didn’t have to worry about social distancing when it came to working with each other—they are a couple after all—not so the case with the rest of the cast and crew.

“We originally thought we might be back filming For Better or Worse, very conservatively, in August, September or October,” Holt says, on the line from Vancouver alongside Rosato. “When we got the call that we would potentially be filming on June 8 as a start date, it was surreal. It didn’t make sense that something was coming back that early.” But, with pandemic cases in B.C. holding steady, the project went to camera with guidelines to keep everyone safe.

Rosato describes the taking and recording of daily temperature checks for everyone on the cast and crew, with the stipulation that anyone having a fever would be immediately tested and would not return to set until the testing was complete; no one had a fever or became sick. Everyone reported to a sanitization station and put on masks. Champlain Media, the production company behind For Better or Worse, had everyone involved in the project stay in the same resort during filming.

“We just always wore a mask,” Rosato says. “And then when we were rolling, we would take them off.” Because of the way the script was written, day players and extras were kept to a minimum and only a very small, core cast interacted with each other.

For Better or Worse stars Rosato as Olivia Owens the owner of a community garden centre. Holt portrays Brian Wolf, a property developer for low-cost housing. Brian’s aim is to tear down Olivia’s garden in favour of subsidized housing. There is, of course, friction between the pair that only grows when they’re paired up for a friends’ wedding. It’s the light-hearted TV-movie fare we’ve come to expect from projects like Holt’s previous work in A Very Country Wedding, A Puppy for Christmas and Love is a Piece of Cake. Holt believes that, with the world being such a crazy place, viewers like to watch people falling in love and jump at the chance for some light escapism.

With pandemic fears continuing, For Better or Worse couldn’t be more timely, content-wise. And, with production ramping back up, Rosato and Holt realize For Better or Worse could serve as the template for TV and film.

“We felt a real responsibility to do it right and not mess it up for everyone else,” Rosato says. “We were very, very aware of playing by the rules and we hope that other people can get back to work because of it.”

Image courtesy of Shawn Goldberg/Shutterstock.

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Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy being developed for TV by J.B. Sugar and No Equal Entertainment

From a media release:

Canadian production company No Equal Entertainment has secured exclusive worldwide rights to Robert J. Sawyer’s award-winning WWW Trilogy, consisting of the novels, Wake,Watch and Wonder. Each novel in the trilogy has won Canada’s top honour in science fiction and fantasy writing, The Aurora Award, in addition to earning numerous other international accolades, as well as appearing on multiple bestseller lists around the world. Producer J.B. Sugar and No Equal have commissioned Shelley Scarrow (Wynonna Earp, V-Wars, Lost Girl) to adapt the novels for television and she will also write the pilot. The project has received development support from the Bell Fund’s Slate Development Program and the Canadian Media Fund’s Export Pilot Program. No Equal and J.B Sugar have a history of producing adaptations of other classic and popular novels including John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, for which Sugar was nominated for an Emmy Award, Douglas Coupland’s JPod for CBC, and the popular SPACE and SYFY television series Bittenbased on the Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong. David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga previously adapted Sawyer’s novel FlashForward into a series for ABC Television starring Joseph Fiennes. Sawyer served as a consultant and writer on the series. 

The three books — WakeWatch, and Wonder — contemplate the ramifications of an emergent sentient intelligence. The inception of this consciousness occurs in familiar settings: the homes, workplaces, and streets of the world we know, as the digital infrastructure we rely on literally comes to life — an entity with millions of webcam eyes and billions of gigabytes of data at its disposal, a consciousness that knows everything you’ve ever said in an email, and everything anyone has ever said about you online. The novels center around Caitlin Decter, a young blind woman who is given sight enabled by new technology; an internet enabled retinal implant. Caitlin becomes the first to discover the arrival of this new form of intelligence and begins to teach it the ways of the world and, more importantly, about being human. As their relationship evolves and their secret is exposed, they become a formidable team that must fight against a clandestine government organization, help a subversive Chinese anti-government blogger and work with an animal behaviorist on the cusp of making a profound discovery.

Wake is the first novel in WWW Trilogy. Caitlin Decter is young, feisty, a genius at math, and was born blind. But she can surf the internet with the best of them, following its complex paths in her mind. When a Japanese neurosurgeon develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation. But the visual cortex in Caitlin’s brain has long since adapted to allow her to navigate online. When the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, she sees the landscape of the World Wide Web spreading out around her in a riot of colours and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something—some other—lurking in the background. And it’s getting smarter.

In the second novel Watch, an extraordinary presence within the Web has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But this emerging consciousness has also come to the attention of WATCH—the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States, whether foreign, domestic, or online—and the agents are fully aware of Caitlin’s involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind’s capacity for compassion—and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.

In the final novel Wonder, the advent of Webmind—a vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web—is changing everything. From curing cancer to easing international tensions, Webmind seems a boon to humanity. But Colonel Peyton Hume, the Pentagon’s top expert on artificial intelligence, is convinced Webmind is a threat. He turns to the hacker underground to help him bring Webmind down. But soon hackers start mysteriously vanishing. Meanwhile, Caitlin Decter —the once-blind math genius who discovered Webmind—desperately tries to protect her friend. Can this new world of wonder survive—or will everything, Webmind included, come crashing down?

Robert J. Sawyer has been called ”the dean of Canadian science fiction” by The Ottawa Citizen and “just about the best science-fiction writer out there these days” by The Denver Rocky Mountain News — is one of only eight writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the science-fiction field’s top honors for best novel of the year: the World Science Fiction Society’s Hugo Award, which he won in 2003 for his novelHominids; the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula Award, which he won in 1996 for his novel The Terminal Experiment and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, which he won in 2006 for his novel Mindscan.  According to the US trade journal Locus, Rob is the #1 all-time worldwide leader in number of award wins as a science fiction or fantasy novelist. Rob is a member of the Order of Canada, the highest honour bestowed by the Canadian government; he is the only person ever inducted into the order for work in the science-fiction field. For more information, please visit Sawyer’s personal website: www.sfwriter.com

Shelley Scarrow’s television credits include writing and producing for Wynonna Earp, Being Erica and the upcoming V-Wars for Netflix. Her varied experience also includes comedy and children’s programming, with programs including Degrassi: The Next Generation, Mysticons, the Total Drama franchise and Sophie. Her writing has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and has won several Writers Guild of Canada awards. Coming from a theatre development and producing background, including work on several Broadway musicals, Shelley has also received a National Magazine Award for food and travel writing.

J.B. Sugar is a dual American and Canadian citizen working as a producer, director, writer and showrunner through his production company, No Equal Entertainment. Sugar most recently produced a long-form investigative documentary called The Guardians airing on CBC’s documentary Channel in 2019 and directed Hallmark Channels’ A Midnight Kiss. He also worked as a director on the third season of Dark Matter for SYFY and SPACE. Previously, Sugar produced three seasons and directed multiple episodes of the drama series Bitten for SPACE (Bell Media), SYFY (NBCUniversal) and NETFLIX, based on the New York Times best-selling novels by Kelley Armstrong. Prior to moving to Canada, Sugar was nominated for an Emmy Award for producing Showtime’s A Separate Peace, based on the classic novel by John Knowles, in addition to producing and co-creating the game show Wintuition for GSN and SONY and winning the Student Academy Award for his AFI thesis film John.

No Equal Entertainment was founded in 1998 by Larry Sugar and is now owned and operated by J.B. Sugar. Based in Canada, No Equal develops, produces, and distributes feature films, television movies, television series, and mini-series for the domestic and international marketplace. To date, No Equal has produced over 300 episodes of television for US and International broadcast. No Equal produced the feature-length documentary The Guardians for CBC’s documentary Channel and Bitten, a one-hour drama for Bell Media’s SPACE, SYFY, and NETFLIX. Past productions include: Peter Geenaway’s NightwatchingjPod, based on the novel by Douglas Coupland (CBC), The Collector (SPACE and Chiller), Kill Kill Faster Faster, Dead Man’s Gun, (Showtime and MGM, First Wave (SPACE and SYFY), So Weird (Disney Channel), Romeo (Nickelodeon), Just Deal(NBC), Secret Central (Hasbro), and The Troop (Nickelodeon). 

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Comments and queries for the week of April 22

Bitten says goodbye

Jeremy getting stabbed in the eye is not enough justice for Karen being murdered in cold blood by that SOB (literally). He should be given up to humans by the pack and pay for his crime (since they have now outed themselves). I did not like the ending. I mean, werewolves and humans living in harmony … puhleeeze. Unrealistic and contrived conclusion. Watch Wolfblood, which is essentially a CBBC series for juveniles but is more coherent. —Keith

All I have to say is I’m sad a great show like Bitten, their storylines and most of all the actors will not have a next season. —Lori

I wanted Nick with Paige, his ending upset me! —TanyaLeigh

Damn, that was a good finale. It makes me want to watch the series all over again. —Kimberly

I am very sad to see this series end. I do hope you can put out some new series to let us know what going on with the witches. —Lorie

 

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

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Link: Bitten postmortem: Elena finds her place

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Bitten postmortem: Elena finds her place
“Elena has been trying to find her place since Day 1, and we’ve rattled that cage across three seasons. It’s the series arc for that character, and we’ve seen her grow into her Alpha position from early on in the first season (starting with Logan suggesting she’d be the best fit). We wouldn’t have been able to wrap this series out in a satisfying way if Elena hadn’t found that acceptance.” Continue reading. 

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Bitten says goodbye

It’s always hard to say goodbye to a television show, especially one like Bitten. Far from stale, Season 3 felt like a bit of a rebirth for the show, and a move in a bold new direction. That’s certainly the case for Friday’s series finale “Truth, Changes, Everything.” Written by Daegan Fryklind, the script does close out stories, but leaves others wide open for interpretation and the imagination. Yes, there have been dark moments for several of these characters over the last three seasons, but by the end of “Truth, Changes, Everything,” I definitely felt hope.

Here’s what’s in store for Jeremy, Elena, Clay, Nick, Rachel, Paige, Sasha, Alexei, The Albino and Konstantin moving forward.

“Truth, Changes, Everything”
The episode title has a wonderful double meaning to it, referring both to how the truth literally changes everything and the storylines deal with truth, changes and, well, everything. Fryklind is a damned wordsmith and I love it.

Things start slow
The first 20 minutes are prep and posturing. Then the wheels really start to move and there’s no let-up. The next 22 minutes sped by faster than a wolf chasing down prey.

Bitten2

Elena’s dream is realized
“We’re the outlaws now. It’s time to embrace our fate. This won’t stop until it happens, so let it come.” With those words, Elena makes a decision, putting irreversible steps in motion that can’t be stopped. Whether or not those steps were the right move will have fans talking for awhile.

Not everyone survives
It would be silly to assume everyone emerges from “Truth, Changes, Everything” unscathed—Bitten is a series about werewolves, blood and witches, after all—so place your bets on who will, and won’t, survive the final showdown. I can say those who do perish don’t do so in vain and are given the proper sendoff.

Bitten‘s series finale airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET on Space.

Let me know what you think of Bitten‘s series finale!

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