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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town’s Malcolm MacRury on making “Anne of Green Gables on Acid”

Malcolm MacRury (Cra$h & Burn, ZOS: Zone of Separation, Republic of Doyle, Deadwood, The Man Without a Face) is the screenwriter and an executive producer on Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, based on Stephen Leacock’s classic book as well as the author’s life. MacRury recently answered some questions on this literary reimagining, airing Sunday, February 12 on CBC.

In the television movie, co-produced with Movie Central, the elder Stephen Leacock (Gordon Pinsent) narrates the tale of his boyhood self at age 14 (Owen Best). The movie combines two key stories from Leacock’s comic masterpiece: the sinking of The Mariposa Belle steamer with its holiday crowd in the perilously shallow waters of Lake Wissanotti, and the frantic campaign to save Mariposa’s hotel and bar from the Liquor Commission’s shutdown.

Why this book at this time for you?

I’ve loved Stephen Leacock ever since I fled academia to write comedy. Here was a genius who could do both — write best-selling humour books that went around the world and also teach political economy at McGill. I’ve been on a mission to bring his comic masterpiece, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, to TV for about 20 years. The stars finally aligned when the centenary of his book and the 75th anniversary of the CBC coincided. Timing is everything!

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TV, eh? Interview: Ron E. Scott of Blackstone

Blackstone's Ron E Scott with Michelle Thrush

By Diane Wild of TV, eh?

Touching on topics such as missing women, tainted water on reserves, and how parenting issues have a devastating ripple effect on a community, no one could accuse APTN’s Blackstone of being a guilty pleasure. But executive producer, writer and director Ron E. Scott aims for it to be a pleasure all the same.

“Our primary goal is to entertain, not educate,” he said in a recent interview. “There’s always value in wanting to speak to issues. Any great television series out there, whether it’s in Canada or the US, always has something to say. We never want to come across as comfort food. I like to call it a big steak – there’s a lot to eat, a lot to take in. Everything’s not going to be wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end of your 60 minutes.”

A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Scott draws on his own experiences “growing up in a fairly dysfunctional part native, part white world,” and on current affairs, to keep the show relevant. But he’s particularly interested in developing an ensemble of rich characters that keep an audience, native and non-native alike, tuning in week to week.

“As a content creator, as someone who wants to tell stories, it’s important the series is accessible to everyone,” he said.

He also sees the value of accessibility from an economic standpoint – a factor that resonates given that former broadcasting partner Showcase is not airing Blackstone’s second season (or much other original programming.) “This is a business, and for that business to continue you have to penetrate certain markets.”

Michelle Thrush’s Gemini win as Best Actress in a Drama helped. “It did open the eyes of the non-native audience, because the native audience has already embraced it.”

The series has sold to New Zealand, has a US distributor, and “other deals are pending,” said Scott, but in the meantime Canadian audiences can watch season two on APTN Wednesdays, or catch up on the show at APTN.ca .

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TV, eh? Industry Roundup

Industry

 

By Cameron Archer for TV, eh?

CRTC Introduces Capacity Based Billing

The CRTC will introduce capacity-based billing starting February 1, 2012. Under CBB, smaller ISPs buy a set amount of network capacity per month from major players MTS Allstream, Cogeco, Rogers Communications, Bell Canada, and Shaw Communications.

In essence, the smaller ISPs are capped, much like individual consumers. Bell is exempt from this new billing, while it resolves its problems with the Canadian Network Operators Consortium.

Under this new billing, oversubscription and higher average usage could slow average speeds. Quite a way for new interim CRTC chairman Leonard Katz to begin his run.

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TV, eh? Interview: Martin Gero of The LA Complex

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By Diane Wild of TV, eh?

The LA Complex creator Martin Gero might have found early success in Canadian film (Young People Fucking), Vancouver-shot television (the Stargate franchise), and a New York-based HBO series (Bored To Death), but even he knows how it feels to be a displaced Canadian in Los Angeles.

“Whether you’re a writer, dancer or actor, being out of your element is a universal. Everyone in LA is out of their element. Very few people are born and raised in LA. And the ones that are, are kind of weird,” joked the writer/director. “But being out of your element is something people feel as a universal in life.”

A blend of sexy, smart, funny and wildly dramatic, MuchMusic’s The LA Complex features a group of photogenic twenty-somethings, including Degrassi’s Cassie Steele and Firefly’s Jewel Staite, as a group of struggling performers trying to make it in Hollywood.

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