Everything about Featured, eh?

Comedian Mae Martin to host The 2024 Canadian Screen Awards

From a media release:

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) announced today that Mae Martin, award-winning Canadian comedian, actor, writer, and producer, will host The 2024 Canadian Screen Awards, airing on Friday, May 31, 2024 at 8:00 PM (9:00 PM AT, 9:30 PM NT) on CBC and CBC Gem.

“We are thrilled that Mae Martin will be hosting The 2024 Canadian Screen Awards,” said Tammy Frick, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “They are the perfect fit for this show: a dynamic and accomplished Canadian who is breaking barriers and making waves globally both in front of and behind the camera, just like the many talented individuals who we will be celebrating during Canadian Screen Week 2024.” 

Join comedian and host Mae Martin for The 2024 Canadian Screen Awards at the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto on Friday, May 31. The one-hour broadcast, airing at 8:00 PM (9 AT, 9:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem, promises an innovative blend of unpredictable, emotional award-show moments and unprecedented access to nominees and Special Award winners, offering audiences a celebratory look at the best in Canadian film and television. Produced by creative forces Roma Ahi and Katie Lafferty of Makers, this year’s broadcast will continue to redefine the award show and shine a spotlight on the achievements of our homegrown talent.   

“I am elated to be hosting this celebration of all the amazing talent in Canada, and plan on asking a lot of people I admire for selfies,” said host Mae Martin.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Mae Martin is an award-winning comedian, actor, writer, and producer who presently hosts the hit comedy podcast Handsome alongside Tig Notaro and Fortune Feimster. They are best known for creating, starring, and co-writing Feel Good, a critically acclaimed drama-comedy series for which their stunning performance earned them a 2021 BAFTA TV Award nomination. Beloved for their stand-up comedy, Martin’s show Dope was nominated for “Best Comedy Show” at the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and their standup special SAP, directed by Abbi Jacobson, launched on Netflix in March 2023.

The nominees for the 2024 Canadian Screen Awards will be announced on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 7:00 AM ET on academy.ca/nominees.

The full schedule for the 2024 Canadian Screen Awards can be found at CanadianScreenWeek.ca

Image courtesy of Joseph Sinclair.

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Cash Cab Music hits the road

From a media release:

Buckle up, Canada! The iconic Cash Cab series returns with a musical twist, as Cash Cab Music premieres on GameTV on Monday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET.

Adam Growe—beloved Canadian personality, comedian, and licensed taxi driver—hosts this thrilling game show, giving unsuspecting passengers the chance to test their music knowledge for cash prizes. As they drive to their destination, Growe asks them a series of increasingly-challenging questions. They’re not entirely alone on their journey, however. If they get stumped, there’s help – they can phone a friend, ask the world on social media, or shout out to a stranger on the street. But only once per game!

Each correct answer puts money in their pocket, while each incorrect answer counts as a strike. Like baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out! The contestant must immediately exit the vehicle, no matter where they are on their route. Contestants who manage to reach their destination without earning three strikes, will have the opportunity to add to their winnings in the all-new “Cash Cab Karaoke” segment. In this electrifying final round riders can double their money if they can belt out the answer to the final question.

About GameTV
GameTV is a Canadian channel specializing in game-related programming such as game shows, competition-based shows, reality series and movies. The channel is available in over 6+ million homes in digital basic on IPTV, cable and satellite systems throughout the territory. GameTV is a subsidiary of Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., a leading global sports media company

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Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent is a killer homegrown addition to the storied franchise

It was about time that the Law & Order franchise headed north of the border. With four international versions airing around the world, Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent debuts Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv.

You may have seen the massive billboards in Toronto, the teasers on Citytv, the cast appearances at a recent Toronto Maple Leafs tilt and the social media posts. Rogers/Citytv is expecting big things from Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent. Judging from the first episode I screened, the show will deliver.

Starring  Aden Young (Rectify, The Disappearance) as Detective Sergeant Henry Graff, Kathleen Munroe (Chicago Med, Call Me Fitz) as Detective Sergeant Frankie Bateman, Karen Robinson (Schitt’s Creek, Pretty Hard Cases) as Inspector Vivienne Holness and K.C. Collins (Pretty Hard Cases, Shoot the Messenger) as Deputy Crown Attorney Theo Forrester, the first episode of Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent hits the ground running and never looks back. Mixing the wry humour of the Law & Order franchise with crimes and a killer guest cast, I can’t believe it’s taken this long for a Canadian take to air.

We spoke to executive producer Amy Cameron about how the series came about, “being Canadian,” and how the iconic “dun-dun” can and can’t be used.

Walk me through the process of how Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent came to be.
Amy Cameron: Well, it came through Erin Haskett at Lark Productions. Erin has Lark Productions, which is based in Vancouver. Universal Studio Group are minority shareholders and they hold the format license for Law & Order. They’re always looking for different places to bring Law & Order and what would make sense and what’s the right fit.

I think this conversation started a couple of years ago now with Erin and Rogers about whether or not they could do a Law & Order Canada. And when push came to shove, ultimately people felt that Law & Order Toronto was the sort of city where they wanted to have this start in Canada rather than Vancouver. They’re a Vancouver production company.

I used to be an exec on a project of Erin’s when I was at CBC, but other than that, we hadn’t worked together, but we are friends and enjoy each other’s company and similarly think about the industry. Last Christmas, she came to us and said, just after Christmas, ‘Would you guys be willing to take something on with me and produce it in Toronto and be our co-producer on the show?’ Sure.

Aden Young and Kathleen Munroe

And then it turned out it was Law & Order, which honestly, I spent the winter and the spring kind of feeling like it was all a bit of a surreal joke. I’m not actually checking out studio space for Law & Order Toronto. I’m not actually looking at crew for Law & Order. I mean, I was such a super fan

Tassie [Cameron] ended up writing a pilot that was presented and that was accepted, and we found out that it was green-lit on a Thursday. I should look at the dates, but it was the Thursday, a Thursday night, we found out that we were going to go ahead and it was announced to the world on the Monday.

Were still reeling with the information that we were green-lit, and we were going to produce Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent when the rest of the world found out too. That was the end of May, the beginning of June, and we started filming at the end of August. So it was insanely quick to turn around, locking down a studio space, getting our key creatives in place, having our designer design a set, and finding directors. The casting process was so wild, how do you define what’s Canadian? There’s the idea of trying to define how Canada is different from the U.S. What is Canadian versus what is American? No one thing can, there’s no one way to answer that question. It feels like it’s a million little decisions,

We wanted to make sure that this version of Law & Order was imbued with Canadian creatives, Canadian decisions, very much embedded in the Canadian culture and mindset and way of doing and creating. It was pretty wild. We were on the road for the first two weeks because our sets weren’t ready. It was wild. So much fun though. No time to stop and second-guess things. You’re just going.

This being a Dick Wolf creation, is there kind of a checklist that you had to meet? Did he see episodes and have to approve anything?
AC: With the format agreement, you have access to Wolf executives for consultation purposes. We had a wonderful conversation with their post-producer, and we were able to sort of dig into, ‘OK, how do you do this? What’s this with those location cards, with the use of dun-dun? It was so incredibly valuable to have someone just say it out loud, which is the dun-dun sound is never used as an exclamation mark on a scene or music. If you have a score going, you can never count on the dun-dun as the thing that takes you. It’s a small nuance, but it’s its own entity, and it’s not meant for emphasis.

There are certain guidelines, when it came to writing the scripts. For Criminal Intent, you’re aiming for about 10% of the episode from the criminal’s perspective. It is much more an intellectual pursuit of a criminal rather than a physical one.

But for the most part, Wolf and Dick Wolf were hands-off. That said, he did watch the first episode, and he really liked it. The feedback we got was the Canadians did good work.

Karen Robinson

The cast is so strong. Aden Young, Kathleen Munroe, Karen Robinson and K.C. Collins really hit the ground running and are wonderful. Was there chemistry with the cast right away?
AC: The only character that Tassie wrote with the actor in mind was Holness, Karen’s character. We had worked with Karen, and we knew that she would be able to bring it, that she would be able to bring in that humanity and humour when needed.

Working with K.C. on Pretty Hard Cases, we knew how strong an actor he was and really loved working with him again. Aden and Kathleen have worked together in the past. They get along very well.

Rogers and Citytv couldn’t have given you a better time slot on Thursday. You’re right after the mothership. Are you cautiously optimistic for a second season?
AC: We don’t know about the second season, but I feel we have done everything we can to get a second season. If this season is the only season that we get to share with fans, I would be disappointed. And yet I’m incredibly proud. I’m so proud of our crew, they knocked it out of the park. The sets are spectacular. Oleg Savytski is our production designer. Unbelievable. The performances from our actors, the commitment of the writers to cracking the formula, cracking the format, just even our post team, the editors, and the attention to detail in terms of the edit and understanding that … I don’t think there’s anything else we could have done. It is up to Canadian audiences to show up if they want a second season.

Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv.

Featured cast image courtesy of Steve Wilkie. Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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From the producers of Trailer Park Boys, the well-oiled and witty new Crave original comedy The Trades premieres March 22

From a media release:

As revealed last night during TSN and CTV’s broadcast of SUPER BOWL LVIII, Crave’s new original comedy series, THE TRADES, debuts Friday, March 22. From Trailer Park Boys Inc. and Kontent House Productions Inc., the eight-part comedy series is a love letter to skilled-trade workers, written with grit, humour, and heart.

Set in a blue-collar community where the high stress of working in a refinery is balanced by the comedic high-wire antics of its plant workers, THE TRADES centres around Todd (Robb Wells), a pipefitter, and his sister and roommate, Audrey (Anastasia Phillips, MOONSHINE), who follows in her big brother’s footsteps pursuing a career in the trades as a carpenter, just like their father Rod (Patrick McKenna, THE RED GREEN SHOW). The first two episodes of THE TRADES drop on Friday, March 22, followed by two new episodes on subsequent Fridays for the duration of the run.

While Todd loves his life, he dreams of climbing the corporate ladder and becoming site manager at Conch Industries, which isn’t too far-fetched, given the current manager Bennett’s (Tom Green, THE TOM GREEN SHOW) chaotic lifestyle. But Todd’s future, and that of the plant and the entire town, is thrown into question when Chelsea (Jennifer Spence, YOU ME HER), an ambitious young executive from head office announces she’s the new site manager, and vows to make some changes.

In the season premiere, Todd works overtime to get a new robotic welding arm up and running, to improve the refinery’s productivity. Audrey debates joining the “family business” and an incident at work opens a job in management, reigniting Todd’s leadership aspirations.

In the second episode, Todd’s crew gives him a makeover to help him dress for the job he wants. His odds at a promotion look promising, until head office sends hot-shot executive Chelsea, to the refinery. Meanwhile, Audrey potentially blows her chances at joining the trades when she tries to save her big bro from humiliation.

THE TRADES is a Trailer Park Boys Inc. and Kontent House Productions Inc. co-production, in association with Bell Media’s Crave. The series is distributed by Rollercoaster Entertainment with Blink49 representing U.S. licensing. Ryan J. Lindsay is creator, writer/executive producer; Shelley Eriksen is writer/executive producer; Warren Sonoda is director; Gary Howsam is executive producer; and Jonathan A. Walker and Robb Wells are producers. John Morayniss and Virginia Rankin are executive producers for Blink49 Studios. Co-executive producers are Andrew McMichael, Angelo Paletta, Ross Mrazek, and Benjamin Rappaport. Series casting is by Marjorie Lecker; cinematographer is Jeff Wheaton; production designer is Michael Pierson; costume designer is Sarah Dunsworth-Nickerson; composer is Jonathan Goldsmith; editors are Sarah Byrne and Jeremy Harty.

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Supinder Wraich discusses her latest series, CBC’s excellent, emotional Allegiance

The last time I spoke to Supinder Wraich, it was about The 410, the excellent CBC Gem series she created, wrote, and starred in.

After gigs on Sort Of, Surreal Estate, Hudson & Rex, Private Eyes and Crawford, Wraich is back, toplining the excellent new Allegiance.

Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem, created by Anar Ali (Transplant) and showrun by Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern (Flashpoint, X Company), Allegiance follows the journey of new cop Sabrina Sohal (Wraich), who is of Punjabi heritage.

Sabrina is a smart, confident newbie cop. She’s been paired with a veteran training officer named Vince (Enrico Colantoni) and looks to make a difference in her home city of Surrey, B.C. But her personal (and to an extent, professional life) is thrown into disarray when her father, Ajeet Sohal (Stephen Lobo), the revered Minister of Public Safety, in charge of the police, is accused of treason.

With a debut episode packed with action, humour and emotion, we spoke to Wraich about her journey to Allegiance, what Sabrina will face in Season 1, and if there will be more The 410.

How did you end up getting involved in the show? Did you have to audition, or did they have you in mind? How did the journey all begin for you?Supinder Wraich: Well, it was a little bit of both, but I didn’t know at the time that they had me in mind. And so, originally I was under contract for Sort Of, so I wasn’t looking for work because contractually it wasn’t something that was open.

When we found out that Sort Of was coming to an end, it opened an unexpected door. At the same time, I think that the Allegiance folks had been casting for a while in looking for Sabrina. But when I went in to audition, I really didn’t think that they were looking for me. There was a naiveté to this character that where I was in my life at the time I had just played Aqsa. Tonally, in terms of energy-wise, they’re very different characters. And also, I’d just had a son.

And so, when I went into audition, I really just thought my friend Anar Ali had written the show, Anar and I had known each other for years and wanted to work on something, so she was doing me a favour by bringing me in just because I was Sikh Punjabi and we knew each other. I was like, ‘Oh, it’s nice of Anar to bring me in.’ When I got the call that they wanted to offer me the part, it really was a bit of a surprise for me, and I had to figure out, okay, how do I build Sabrina? How do I find this woman and where she’s at in her life?

Enrico Colantoni and Supinder Wraich

Was it easy to identify with this character? Could you understand where this character was coming from and being caught and having to deal with racism every day, unfortunately?
SW: Yeah. Some of the things that I had built for Sabrina and was just wondering about her life, I can definitely draw a couple parallels. One major one was that this is my first big leading role and in a way a new position for me that I’ve had to learn as I stepped into those shoes. For Sabrina, similarly, it’s also a new job and something that she’s learning as she goes along, so that I could lean on.

But then, there was also something very different where one of the things that Anar wanted to explore was what does racism look like for a family who’s been in Canada for generations?

And that’s very different from my experience because I was born in India. I was born in Punjab, and I moved here when I was four. And so, finding that balance of what it would feel like to belong to a family that had existed in Canada for generations and the type of confidence that gives you in a way that I didn’t have growing up in terms of real feeling of belonging somewhere and what it means to have that taken away from you is something that I had to define and then allow that fall to happen for Sabrina when her father gets charged and all of a sudden in a very significant way she is confronted by the color of her skin and this particular experience.

What I like about Sabrina and what I connected with right away is how smart she is and how instinctive she is at being a cop. Even though she is a rookie, you’re already getting that feedback that she knows what she’s doing and her gut reaction is good. That’s refreshing to see a rookie cop on television these days.
SW: I think that where that comes from is this confidence that has been instilled in her because of her father.

I remember we had a couple of conversations about who Ajeet Sohal was and how he carries himself in the world. I think for somebody like him, a Sikh Punjabi man who has a beard, who wears a turban, and has confronted so much about his culture, about his religion, and had the confidence to stand up for himself, Sabrina’s watched that happen her entire life. He really is a mentor to her. And so, amid everything else that’s happening, when she embarks on this career, one of the things that she’s really learned to do, and I do believe that it comes from her father, is to trust her instincts.

Speaking of mentors, I love Enrico Colantoni. I’ve spoken to him many times, and I feel as though the character Vince fits him like a glove. I love that there was that connection with Sabrina right away. The dad jokes are all there. What’s it been like working with him?
SW: Oh my god, Enrico’s a dream. We had this genuine chemistry the moment we met, and I can’t explain it. We’d never worked together. I obviously knew who he was and had seen his work, and so I was really excited to work together.

I remember when we were first auditioning together. Enrico wasn’t auditioning. He was there during the test, and there were a couple of different Sabrinas that he tested with. I remember just being enamored in terms of watching him work and thinking like, ‘Oh my god, he’s really in it, he’s really in this scene. He’s very present, and if I got the chance to work with him, I think I could really learn a lot from this person.’

It’s funny how life works. In Sabrina’s situation, Vince is definitely not the training officer that she wants, but he’s very much the training officer that she needs.

Obviously, I wanted to work with Rico as soon as I knew that he might be taking the project. But there is a beautiful thing. I learned a lot from working with Rico. Likewise, I think Sabrina also learns so much from Vince’s relaxed mindset because she’s so driven and so focused, and she begins to figure out what the important things are.

Lachlan Quarmby and Supinder Wraich

Not to mention everybody else in the cast. Brian Markinson, Stephen Lobo, you already mentioned David Cubitt, from top to bottom, this is a stellar cast. This is a who’s who of Canadian television all on one screen. It is just amazing.
SW: Yeah, and you know what? It makes your job a lot easier when you go to work every day and get to work with people who are so talented. You show up in the scenes, and they’re there with you, and you can play and bounce off of each other.

One of the things that also intrigued me about the show was the script and the dialogue. The dialogue sounds very natural. Everything just felt very natural and conversational to a point.
SW: I would say definitely credit the scripts. I think what’s really cool is that Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis had worked with Rico for years. And so, when it came to developing Vince, and I’ve heard Rico say this, they got him in terms of just his humor. There’s a lot of humor in the show too. He did a really good job of inserting those jokes. And also, just we have a great team of writers.

And the other thing is as showrunners, Mark and Stephanie are not precious about dialogue, that it has to be word-perfect. And so, between them and the directors, there was a fair bit of ad-libbing that was allowed and encouraged.

And Rico and I, sometimes we would just riff, and the directors would let us keep going until we ran out.

Did you do any police training in advance of this role? If so, what was that experience like?
SW: Yeah, we did a little bit of police training just right before we started, and then we would always have someone on set to ensure that what we were doing was accurate in terms of gun control or making arrests or just general walking into a room and where the dangers are, how do you clear a room? And so, we did that.

And then, I also spoke with a couple Sikh Punjabi female RCMP officers just to understand their world and what they dealt with on a day-to-day basis and also just their familial relationships. Because as much as it is a cop show, there’s also so much family stuff. For me, I really wanted to understand Sabrina’s experience, what the reality of it looks like.

And then, also just things that you pick up along the way, like once you’re done training in depot, it’s the little things, even running. You’re trained to run with your hands up so you can protect yourself when you’re fast. And so, Sabrina had a lot of running scenes. I remember it was one of our first days, and it was something that one of my references had told me. She was like, ‘Your body gets used to doing things a certain way, because for six months while you’re in depot, it’s ingrained into you.’ And so, if I was a cop who had been doing this for a while, those things would need to be less specific. But especially when you join the force in those first couple of episodes, I can remember just thinking about whenever Sabrina enters a scene, she’s always referencing the training that she’s had. Because it’s not like it was years ago. It was she just got out of it.

What can you tell me about Sabrina’s professional journey this season?
SW: Without giving too much away about the show, I think that there is a removing of the rose-coloured glasses, because one of the things I think that the show and the writers have done beautifully is to not shy away from the things that we experience, we as in society, and have experienced over the last couple of years with the policing system, right?

Our legal systems are troubled. Depending on who you ask, a lot of people would say that they’re broken, they need to be rebuilt. One of the things that we wanted to look at was what’s legal is not necessarily always what’s fair and what happens to the human hearts that are involved in those negotiations. And so, for Sabrina, I think that the show is really aptly named in terms of allegiance because this thing happens to her father, and then all of a sudden this organization that she’s taken an oath to serve and to protect is no longer serving and protecting her and her family. In fact, they’re a threat.

And so, that journey, I think, it’s a fascinating one to watch as she negotiates being… When she comes in, she believes in the system normally. And then, she really does have to at some point choose sides in terms of who is she going to serve. Truly, what does it mean to be caught within those two worlds?

And then, I think there’s also a strength. I think for a long time in Sabrina’s life, she’s benefited from being her father’s daughter. And then, without him around to protect her, to show her the way, she really has to go on this journey where she has to become her own woman and be in this police force in her own right.

Okay, last question. In your bio, it mentions future seasons of The 410. So, what can you tell me?
SW: I’ve been working on the hour-long version for The 410 for, I think, since we’ve released The 410. And so, I’m working with a showrunner in India.

His name is Vikram Motwane. He did Sacred Games on Netflix. It’s this big crime series. And so, right now for the last little bit, we’ve been developing the hour-long version, and now that the strike is over, we’re going to take it back out to mostly American networks and start pitching the show.

Allegiance airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC/Lark Productions/Darko Sikman.

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