Everything about Rookie Blue, eh?

Pretty Hard Cases: Sherry White and Meredith MacNeill preview Season 1

Sherry White and Meredith MacNeill are no strangers to CBC. White’s most recent project for the network was as director, executive producer and writer for Little Dog. MacNeill, meanwhile, has just come off five seasons as co-creator, writer, producer and star of Baroness Von Sketch Show. Now the two have paired for one of the most entertaining new series on the network, Pretty Hard Cases.

Debuting Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC, MacNeill stars as Sam Waszowski, a guns and gangs detective—and single mom—who finds herself teamed with drug squad detective Kelly Duff, played by Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black). Together, the pair are trying to take down a neighbourhood gang dealing drugs and weapons. Co-created by White and Tassie Cameron—who previously worked together on Rookie BluePretty Hard Cases is notable not only for its tone but its focus: telling the stories of two women in their 40s.

We spoke to Sherry White and Meredith MacNeill about the first season of Pretty Hard Cases.

Sherry, can you give me the background on how the show came about? Did you and Tassie Cameron keep in touch over the years and say ‘Let’s try and find something together’?
Sherry White: Tassie and I worked on Rookie Blue together and I was on that from the first season until the end. We got really close during the making of that. We moved on to do other things and there was a couple of times when people approached me with, ‘Could I take on some young writer’s cop show and try and help elevate it.’ Somebody came to Tassie and said it, and I’m like, ‘If there’s a demand for this, why don’t we do this ourselves?’ and really reflect more where we are now in our career. Rookie Blue is more about the early days of these characters and their careers.

This show is more about women who are in their 40s, who had given it all to their career and are finding themselves a little wanting for a full life. They’ve sacrificed a lot of their own personal goals in order to have their career, which is totally where Tassie and I were. We wanted to reflect our friendship and we wanted to reflect where we were in our careers and that sort of, what next? How else do we get a full life? We also wanted to have fun. We wanted it to be more in this sort of Paul Feig kind of… the ways he can celebrate women and be really raw and honest and funny about whatever situation they’re in, and I think we accomplished that with the show.

Meredith, did Sherry or Tassie come forward and say, ‘Hey, listen, we’ve got this character for you.’ How did you end up playing the role of Sam?
Meredith MacNeill: I was approached by Sherry and Tassie for the role, so I didn’t have to audition. When I was talking to Sherry about the role, I remember the absolute shock and pleasure and being completely thrilled.

How did you decide how you were going to play Sam? Did you have to learn how to rein her in a little bit?
MM: I was really fortunate to have Sherry and Tassie, who knew my work from Baroness. Actually, there was a lot of freedom on the floor. When I got the part, we talked a lot about, in terms of the physicality and the part, and the part was really on the page. I didn’t have to deviate much from that. In terms of feeling free to do whatever I wanted to bring to it, Sherry and Tassie, I would say, they were my rein-ers. Sherry directed some episodes and because she knew my work so well and we had such a great trust I’d be like, ‘I’m going to do this.’ And she’s like, ‘Great. Do it.’ In terms of reining in my physicality, Baroness and Pretty Hard Cases are such different shows, so the way it used my physicality was a bit different.

Sherry, how tightly scripted is Pretty Hard Cases?
SW: That was one of the major questions we had going into this because we knew we wanted them to find their way and all that stuff but as everyone knows, improv can get unwieldy and we didn’t want to have 65-minute episodes. We found a really good system where we mostly stuck to the text and certainly, for all the procedural stuff, there’s not a lot of improv room in that. You need just the facts, you need what that content was. In the more personal scenes, there was a lot more play and we would always allow for [Meredith] to, once we nailed it, just go. Just do something else if you wanted to play. I would say it was mostly not improvised, but definitely, enough to bring a special flavour that Meredith and Adrienne would bring themselves.

The relationship between Sam and her son is fascinating. Can you talk about how complicated this relationship is going to be as we see this first season roll out?
MM: It’s going to be extremely complicated. Sam is desperate for attention and the love and respect of her son. I’m a single mom and my daughter’s only 10 and I’m starting to feel like she would rather be with her friends. So imagine that amplified. And then Percy [Hynes White] is incredible to play opposite of. We had good chemistry as well, so we were finding a lot about the relationship as it was going. One of Sam’s big storylines for the show is her relationship with her son. It gets pretty exciting.

SW: And again, because loneliness is a theme in this show, there is nothing more lonely than being a single mother about to be an empty nester.

MM: I was so grateful because it’s been my therapy because it’s going to happen to me. I used to call Sherry and sometimes I’d just start crying at the thought of it.

Sherry, what can we expect to see in Season 1?
SW: The core of the series is Sam and Kelly building a friendship, finding a friendship despite their differences and relying on each other, and finding this common ground as they are working together. They’re dealing with the main neighbourhood gang. But then, through that, they have personal stories that develop and challenge their professional life and vice versa. It’s a lot of fun. I think every episode brings a lot of laughs and also it can get pretty sad sometimes.

Pretty Hard Cases airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Reaction to CRTC’s Policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds

By Anonymous 

UPDATE: If the intent is to attract “top talent” that will make all these new “American” Canadian shows more viable, the CRTC should probably know that even some of the most successful Canadians in L.A., like the showrunner/creator of Bones, isn’t impressed.

Hanson1

Hart2


Canadian Television is about to become slightly less full of Canadians, thanks to a major CRTC decision released quietly yesterday.

The CRTC is allowing the independent production funds (including the Shaw Rocket Fund, Rogers Fund, Cogeco Program Development Fund, Telefilm Canada, and the Harold Greenberg Fund) to reduce their “point system” for what determines Canadian-ness of a project from 8 to 6. The general effect of this will be to allow for the hiring of non-Canadians in key creation and starring roles (ie: Americans will be able to create and star in “Canadian” TV series).

This, in fact, by the CRTC’s own admission, was one of the points of the decision:

“The current criterion requiring eight out of 10 Canadian content certification points to qualify for CIPF funding is restrictive and excludes many productions that could otherwise be of high quality and qualify as Canadian. Moreover, a reduced requirement could help smaller and perhaps more innovative projects to qualify for funding. A reduced requirement of at least six points could also facilitate the hiring by production companies of non-Canadian actors or creators, who may increase a project’s attractiveness and visibility in international markets.”

Reaction from the Canadian creative community was swift, and critical.

Ellis

Zmak

McGrath

Senecal

Andras

What’s particularly unusual about this decision is that something with far-reaching implications was done as a “paper hearing,” ie: the CRTC did not hold any public consultations.

The last time something like this was proposed, the Writers Guild of Canada brought a group of screenwriters to Hull to appear before the commission. They made a convincing case as to why this “flexibility” wouldn’t lead to better quality Canadian programming. It seems that current chairman J.P. Blais was determined to not repeat this exercise.

Of concern to fans of actual Canadian TV shows, of course, is the fact that once again in no way was the audience consulted. The CRTC didn’t bother to seek out or try to understand the feelings of fans who celebrate unique Canadian points-of-view and creative directions on display in Canadian-created shows such as Orphan Black, Flashpoint, X Company, Letterkenny, Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl, Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, Motive, or many more.

As Peter Mitchell, executive producer and showrunner of Murdoch Mysteries explained on Facebook, even the premise of the CRTC’s decision is faulty:

Mitchell

The problem with the CRTC’s decision is that it really doesn’t advance any new idea. Many Canadian producers have been doing their level best to copy “American-style” shows for years, watering down the Canadian creative role as much as possible. They never seem to do as well as the original work such as Orphan Black or Murdoch Mysteries. That’s why you’re not seeing Season 4 of the forgettable XIII, and why Houdini & Doyle, which debuted to so much fanfare, died a quiet death.

The idea that Canadian producers will be able to attract top American talent is dubious at best. Because if you’re American, and you’re working in the American industry where there’s more money, and more prestige, why would you take a massive pay cut to work in Canada? Instead of top American talent, you’re likelier to get the people who can’t get hired anymore, who might have had credits in the 1980s or 1990s. And now the CRTC has blessed the idea that these marginal players are more valuable than the top homegrown talent who are responsible for the industry’s top successes.

Senecal2

Filia

There are other ways to approach the idea of creating hits, rather than this failed road. But the CRTC seems to be enamored with the fantasy that “flexibility” fixes all, rather than actually supporting talent.

WGC

And the best part? A government that ran at least partially on a platform of promoting culture is signalling to the next generation of storytellers not to bother—that it’s time to leave:

Morrison

Natty

So there’s nothing good here if you’re a Canadian writer or actor hoping to star in or create a Canadian show. Or if you’re someone who likes the unique point of view you see from Canadian TV shows. But the producer’s association loves it. I’m sure you’ll be getting something great from that writer who did one episode of Simon & Simon any day now.

McGrath2

Zmak2

Zmak3

Senacal4

Great news, isn’t it?Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Link: Women behind Canadian TV: Tassie Cameron

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Women behind Canadian TV: Tassie Cameron
“We have a huge responsibility to help people along, to mentor them, to make sure young writers are getting their names on scripts, to make sure they are getting paid properly, to make sure they are getting the opportunities they need to rise up to become the next generation of television writers. It’s something I take very seriously. Partly just for job insurance. When they are all running shows and I’m 100 years old, maybe they will hire me.” Continue reading. Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Lisa Rose Snow

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Women Behind Canadian TV: Lisa Rose Snow
“I have worked every “Joe Job” under the sun. I’ve been a nanny, I’ve worked at McDonald’s. It came a time where I was like ‘OK, how can I work in my field and still pay my rent and still make my own thing?’ So I’ve been very fortunate to have a job where I’m in my field, I’m paying my rent and I’m learning a ton under amazing people–lots of amazing women but lots of amazing men as well. I feel like if you surround yourself with really good, strong female leaders then the men they put in the room are good, strong men that are the kind of men you’d want in a room.” Continue reading.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

19-2 and Schitt’s Creek lead 2016 Canadian Screen Award TV nominations

Bravo’s gritty cop drama 19-2 and CBC’s high-profile comedy Schitt’s Creek topline the nominations for the 2016 Canadian Screen Awards. Announced Tuesday morning in Toronto at TIFF Bell Lightbox by Lyriq Bent (The Book of Negroes) and Aislinn Paul (Degrassi), 19-2 captured 12 nominations, including Best Dramatic Series and Best Performance nods for supporting cast and leads Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes; Keeso and Holmes recorded a video to mark the occasion (check it out below).

Meanwhile, Schitt’s Creek does battle in the comedic categories, with co-stars Eugene and Dan Levy facing off for Best Performance and the Tuesday night comedy fighting off fellow CBC series Mr. D, Mohawk Girls, Young Drunk Punk and Tiny Plastic Men for Best Comedy Series.

Space’s Orphan Black did well too, snagging 13 nominations including performance acknowledgements for Ari Millen and Tatiana Maslany, though it was shut out of the Dramatic Series list. Global’s final season of Rookie Blue was recognized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, as Missy Peregrym and Ben Bass received nominations.

The nominees in the key television categories are listed below. Who do you think deserves to win? The two-hour Canadian Screen Awards gala airs Sunday, March 13, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role

  • Gerry Dee, Mr. D
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Dave Foley, Spun Out

Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role

  • Adrian Holmes, 19-2
  • Jared Keeso, 19-2
  • Ari Millen, Orphan Black
  • Ben Bass, Rookie Blue
  • Aaron Poole, Strange Empire

Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role

  • Brittany LeBorgne, Mohawk Girls
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
  • Belinda Cornish, Tiny Plastic Men

Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role

  • Kristin Lehman, Motive
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Megan Follows, Reign
  • Missy Peregrym, Rookie Blue
  • Jennie Raymond, Sex & Violence

Best Dramatic Series

  • 19-2
  • Blackstone
  • Motive
  • Saving Hope
  • X Company

Best Comedy Series

  • Mr. D
  • Mohawk Girls
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Tiny Plastic Men
  • Young Drunk Punk

Best Reality/Competition Program or Series

  • The Amazing Race Canada
  • Big Brother Canada
  • Dragons’ Den
  • Game of Homes
  • MasterChef Canada

Best Animated Program or Series

  • Endangered Species
  • Numb Chucks
  • Rocket Monkeys
  • Slugterra

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series

  • Annedroids
  • Degrassi
  • Full Out
  • Max & Shred

Best Factual Program or Series

  • Emergency
  • Ice Pilots NWT
  • Jade Fever
  • Million Dollar Critic
  • Still Standing

Best International Drama

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
  • Vikings

Best Lifestyle Program or Series

  • Buy It, Fix It, Sell It
  • Carnival Eats
  • Income Property
  • Masters of Flip
  • Survivorman Bigfoot

Best TV Movie or Limited Series

  • The Book of Negroes
  • First Response
  • Forget and Forgive
  • Kept Woman
  • Studio Black!

The rest of the television categories can be seen here.

As previously announced, comedian Norm Macdonald will host the 2016 event. Wendy Crewson—currently starring on CTV’s Saving Hope—will receive the Earle Grey Award for acting and Martin Short will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Canadian Screen Awards air Sunday, March 13, at 8 p.m. on CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail