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Canada In Development: Spun Out with Bell Media

Next on our Canada In Development roster is Spun Out, a multi-cam, half hour sitcom from the minds of Jeff Biederman, Brian K. Roberts and Brent Piaskoski. In development with CTV and the Comedy Network, Spun Out follows a writer who falls victim to a disastrous PR scandal and lands a job at the PR firm that worked to salvage his career from the rubble.  The unofficial logline is “To err is human, to spin divine.”

The series is being produced by Andrew Barnsley with Project 10 and currently has a pilot script as well as four episodes written.  Right now they are awaiting the decisionthat will take them either to pilot, production or back to the drawing board.

Brent Piaskoski says:  “We are looking to be a show that you can put on after an American sitcom like The Big Bang Theory.  The plan is to tape it in front of a live studio audience, so it is comedy-heavy and more theatrical than your standard single-cam comedy.  If I was to compare it to any workplace comedy I would have to say NewsRadio.”

Decisions on Spun Out should be made by mid-April.

If you have a project in development with a Canadian broadcaster or production company, let TV, eh? know.


WGC Award Nominee Mark Farrell on Dan For Mayor’s “Ethical Dilemma”

Leading up to the Writers Guild of Canada awards on April 23, TV, eh? will be posting a series of interviews with some of nominees. Mark Farrell was nominated in the TV Comedy category for the “Ethical Dilemma” episode of Dan For Mayor.

Can you describe the episode, and how it fit into the Dan For Mayor season?
We had pitched a slightly serial show in the first season, but in the second season we decided to go more stand-alone. The episode was first thought of in the writers room and Jenn Engels, Carolyn Taylor and Tim McAuliffe helped me out. Later Mark DeAngelis, Kevin White and Paul Mather made some important suggestions. I originally thought of it to make fun of all the commissioners you always hear about in government. There was an ethics commissioner, then integrity commissioner, then a privacy commissioner but it was a little … okay a lot … over-written and arch and, well, shitty, so I simplified it.

What about this episode are you particularly proud of?
There was a scene that made fun of bad stunt doubling that I really liked and that the director and actors pulled off fantastically. I also liked that in this episode Claire was getting Dan in trouble instead of the other way around.

What does this recognition mean to you?
I always like that it’s writers picking and it’s based on the script and not the finished, packaged episode the way the Geminis does its writing awards.

And finally (imagine my best Joan Rivers impression): what will you be wearing to the ceremony?
Something that I’ll look good in watching Matt Watts win.


Multicam format helps bring the funny to Mr. Young

Mr. Young is a rarity in Canada: a multi-camera sitcom filmed before a live studio audience.

“We’re emulating the American sitcom model which has been around for eons since the I Love Lucy days,” said producer Victoria Hirst in an interview last summer at the converted warehouse studio in Burnaby. Season two premieres March 12 on YTV.

Is it genetic, the Canadian industry’s lack of affinity for the multicam format? An additive in our maple syrup? Or is it just too expensive for our bare-bones budgets?

Continue reading Multicam format helps bring the funny to Mr. Young


Jared Keeso as Don Cherry: “Fire him or shut up”

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Walking into Vancouver’s Shark Club for an interview with the man who plays Don Cherry in a CBC miniseries, I could be forgiven for expecting someone who looks a little like Don Cherry.

27-year-old Jared Keeso, star of tonight’s Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II, is proof that television makeup and hair artists deserve more recognition.

“Oh my goodness I’m glad you asked,” he laughed to a question about the transformation. “It really is something.”

The first miniseries, Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story, ended as Cherry began Coach’s Corner. In this one, airing in two parts on March 4 and 11, Keeso plays the man into his 70s – a makeup process that took five hours each morning. “They poke and prod you like a lab rat, gluing stuff to your face.”

Even more remarkable is that Keeso didn’t know until two weeks into shooting that he would end up playing a man three times his age. “They originally entertained the idea of Don playing himself in the final two acts of the movie,” Keeso revealed.

Wrath of Grapes focuses on “Don’s tumultuous relationship with the CBC,” Keeso explained. “What it comes down to is: fire him or shut up.”

As a youth, Keeso himself played for the Strathroy Rockets of the Western Ontario Hockey League and the Listowel Cyclones of the GOJHL. “I was a bit of a suitcase,” he said, meaning he was frequently traded. He never missed Coach’s Corner, and watched Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey series on the team bus.

But perhaps surprisingly, he added: “I’m a big Don Cherry fan, but I’m a huge Ron MacLean fan.”

As thrilled as he was when Cherry called after the first part of the first miniseries aired to express his love for it, Keeso was even more thrilled when MacLean mentioned Keep Your Head Up Kid on Coach’s Corner the night before.

Keeso won a Gemini for that role, but he won’t copy MacLean’s habit of giving his awards away. “I respect his principle but I’ll squeeze that thing until the day I die.”

Check out the full video interview with Jared Keeso: