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TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Kim’s Convenience: Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon preview Season 5

To say a lot has happened between Seasons 4 and 5 of Kim’s Convenience would be an understatement.

Aside from COVID-19 safety measures, there were two other major behind-the-scenes events. The first was Simu Liu landing the role of Shang-Chi in the Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The second was Paul Sun-Hyung Lee scoring a multi-episode arc on a little Star Wars spinoff called The Mandalorian. Luckily, all three events failed to derail Season 5 of Kim’s Convenience.

Returning Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, we spoke to Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon about the family facing one of its toughest challenges yet as they navigate a difficult medical diagnosis for Umma.

How did the pandemic affect production on Kim’s Convenience?
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: Shooting during a pandemic, it’s not business as usual. The mere fact that we were able to go back to work, I think, was a huge win. I have to give huge props to the production team and the producers of Kim’s Convenience for creating a protocol, a COVID protocol designed with safety first. They had systems where the different departments were separated into different pods. There were different points of access for everybody where there wasn’t any cross mingling. We had PPE, checking procedures, all these different things that we had to go to these hoops to ensure our safety. And it was really, it was quite an adjustment period. It’s a different energy on set, your timing’s a bit thrown off. You can’t see anybody’s faces. As an actor, on top of having to play a scene, you’ve got to do your own final makeup touches and you have to reset your own props and you have to think about blocking … all these extra things. You’re doing three or four different jobs sort of at the same time.

Jean Yoon: [Before the pandemic] between shots, you’d have grips moving the lights at the same time, hair and makeup is chasing around trying to powder you, wardrobe, the director and the assistant directors. [During COVID-19 protocols] it was easier to keep your train of thought as an actor, which is really good because with all of these protocols, I do think on average we had fewer takes. And so you really wanted to make sure that you were right on.

Umma has a medical situation this season. Jean, what can you say about it?
JY: Any medical situation for a character in our age bracket is an opportunity to explore stories that are grounded in truth. The uncertainty of one’s health is something that is just … you pass 50 and the next thing you know, you’ve got to start watching your cholesterol and your sugar and how much exercise you’re getting. So that raises some real questions and the opportunity for those sorts of storylines based in that kind of dilemma is pretty rewarding. One thing about this show is that its strength is the relationships between family members and any kind of medical situation is going to bring up, it raises the stakes and it’s going to bring up questions and stories and emotions that are worth exploring.

There is a scene between yourselves and Andrea Bang that killed me. It was so emotional.
JY: Thank you. Yeah. Working with Andrea at any time, she’s so good. Oh, my god. She’s so good.

PSHL: You’re no slouch yourself, Jean.

JY: Let’s talk about how amazing Andrea Bang is, though. She’s got this ability to tap into this well of vulnerability that just blows me away. And I remember even in the first audition, like with we were camera testing a few people and Andrea had it right from the get-go.

Paul, what can you say about some of the storylines that are coming up in some of the things that this family is going to run into?
PSHL: Without giving away too much of the storylines. One of the things Andrew Phung and I always bug the writers about is like, we want more scenes together. We want to see Kimchee hang out a little bit more and not for only selfish reasons, although they are, because he’s my best friend. But it’s this whole idea of us hanging out together puts a bit of a strain on his relationship with Chung. It’s this neat little triangle that sort of happens. It’s always a pleasure to work with Andrew. I’m happy to say that there are scenes with Andrew this season that I’m quite happy about. But there are also some scenes with Simu that happened this season that I’m very, very happy about. With Simu going away and shooting that little boutique movie and then coming back, it was just like, ‘Hey, the family’s back together again.’ It just felt like, for that period of time, all was right in the world despite it being a dumpster fire in 2020. It was just this moment of happiness, where we were sitting there like, ‘Our son is home and that’s a lovely thing.’ So in terms of storylines, this is a season that is focused on the family, the relationships with each other and character growth.

JY: Simu came back and quarantined for two weeks and the way it worked out is we ended up having a week hiatus which was great. But then he had to shoot nine days in a row, basically 10 episodes of scenes. They had to bring in all three directors back and there were days where the morning would be one director and the afternoon would be another. He had to be incredibly disciplined and prepared, and boy was he ever. Yeah, it was great to have the family back together.

Kim’s Convenience airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Saloon Media announces start of production on Hotel Paranormal Season 2

From a media release:

Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company, announced today ahead of the Realscreen Summit 2021 that it has started production on Season 2 of Hotel Paranormal (10×60’). As part of this announcement, Saloon Media also confirms that Emmy® Award winner and Oscar®-nominated actor, Dan Aykroyd, will return as narrator, joining production efforts in Toronto, Canada this spring. The 10-part documentary series provides dramatic recreations and paranormal expert insights during its bone-chilling tales of paranormal encounters at 4-star hotels, highway motels and inns around the world. Originally commissioned by T+E in Canada, the second installment of this series is available for licensing, in the U.S. and globally, by Blue Ant International.

Filming for Season 2 will take place across Ontario, Canada, under strict, new COVID-19 provincial guidelines, with a delivery date of summer 2021. No stranger to keeping production going during a pandemic, Saloon Media had completed one in-person narration with Dan Aykroyd for Hotel Paranormal, Season 1, when Canada went into lockdown last March. Saloon Media moved forward by recording the remaining narration virtually. Aykroyd recorded in a remote studio in Ontario, Canada, with Executive Producer Michael Kot and Series Producer Sarah Zammit directing via video call.

Hotel Paranormal is produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studios company. Michael Kot and Betty Orr serve as Executive Producers. Sarah Zammit is the Series Producer. Dave Tebby and Simone Stock are Directors and Josh Pelham is the Director of Photography.

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Murdoch Mysteries: Paul Aitken discusses “Code M for Murdoch”

[Spoiler alert! Do not continue reading until you have watched “Code M for Murdoch”]

It’s simply not a season of Murdoch Mysteries until Terrence Meyers appears in at least one episode. Following his debut way back in Season 1, a visit from Meyers (played by Peter Keleghan) means a storyline jam-packed with intrigue and backstabbing (both literal and figurative).

Monday’s latest instalment also featured fan favourite James Pendrick (Peter Stebbings) and that dastardly Allen Clegg (Matthew Bennett). We spoke, via email, to Paul Aitken, the episode’s writer.

Congratulations on Season 14. Can you believe Murdoch Mysteries has gone on this long?
Paul Aitken: When we were starting Season 2, we had a phone conversation with the network (Citytv at that time). They told us they loved the show and joked that they wanted it on for 15 seasons. We laughed. They laughed. And here we are.

Is it a Murdoch Mysteries rule that there be one Terrence Meyers episode per season?
PA: I don’t know if it’s a hard and fast rule but it’s become a very ingrained habit. It’s like every Beatle album had a Ringo song.

How did the main spy-themed storyline come about? Is it inspired by any particular part of history or film?
PA: It all started with a dream I had about Murdoch getting a message saying “Murdoch Find JP.” We then combined that with a Terrence Meyers plague story we had knocking around for a few years.

Was the rabies sub-plot inspired by the current pandemic?
PA: No. We had this cooking for a few years in various forms.

I always love it when Peter Stebbings has time to reprise his role as James Pendrick. I’m surprised you were able to schedule him around his directing duties.
PA: It took a couple of years. I guess we can thank COVID for his availability.

The fans love James Pendrick. Did you have any idea, at the time he was first introduced, that he would be a hit?
PA: No. He was introduced in Season 3 as part of a season long storyline that was ultimately resolved. We brought him back in Season 5 as the inventor of an electric car that ended up being crushed by big oil. It was then that we realized the potential for the character.

Do you have a favourite recurring guest character to write for or is that an unfair question?
PA: It’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is. There are many I love of course. Terrence Meyers, Ralph Fellows, James Gillies, Roger/Rupert Newsome, etc. If I have to choose I’ll go with Pendrick. He’s such a ridiculously magnificent man. A saner, nobler Elon Musk. He gets his dreams crushed in every episode, yet rises again with an even BIGGER plan. I wish I was James Pendrick.

The first three episodes in Season 14 have featured many funny or lighthearted moments. Is that a theme this year or will things get darker as we move on?
PA: I think we’ve always had a mix, both between episodes and within episodes. I don’t think this season is any different. It’s a grab bag. You never know what you’re going to get.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Image courtesy of Shaftesbury.

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Former competitors prepare for redemption in Masterchef Canada: Back To Win

From a media release:

Through the previous six seasons of MASTERCHEF CANADA, 82 competitors earned a coveted white apron, but only six rose to the very top earning the sought-after title. For the all-new season, talented and passionate former competitors return to the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen for an unprecedented second chance in MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN. Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT beginning Feb. 14 on CTV, and the all-new CTV.ca and CTV app, MASTERCHEF CANADA: BACK TO WIN sees former competitors from previous seasons compete for another chance at the life-changing title, $100,000 cash prize, and a “Chef’s Culinary Package” courtesy of long-running series partner and official major appliance sponsor, Miele.

MASTERCHEF CANADA judges and 2020 Canadian Screen Awards nominees for “Best Host or Presenter, Factual or Reality/Competition”, Michael Bonacini (O&B restaurant empire), Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation in Hong Kong), and Claudio Aprile (Xango in Toronto), return to advise, mentor, and critique the cooks as they compete in a series of culinary challenges. This season, the judges’ expectations are higher than ever, putting experienced cooks to the test as they face the toughest hurdles ever seen in the MASTERCHEF CANADA Kitchen.

The 12 returning cooks vying for the MASTERCHEF CANADA title are:

  • Andre Bhagwandat – Season 6, 2nd place – Private Events and Pop-Ups, from Whitby, Ont.
  • Andrew Al-Khouri – Season 2, 10th place – Restaurateur from Halifax, N.S
  • Andy Hay – Season 5, 2nd place – Food Content Creator from Dartmouth, N.S.
  • April Lee Baker – Season 3, 5th place – Private Chef and Caterer from Calgary, Alta.
  • Barrie McConachie – Season 4, 3rd place – Private Chef and Culinary Events, from Vancouver, B.C.
  • Christopher Siu – Season 2, 5th place – Bakery Owner from Markham, Ont.
  • Dora Cote – Season 1, 11th place – Former Restaurateur/Plumber from Wainwright, Alta.
  • Jen Jenkins – Season 5, 8th place – Culinary Student from Niagara Falls, Ont.
  • Jeremy Senaris – Season 3, 2nd place – Private Chef from Winnipeg, Man.
  • Mai Nguyen – Season 4, 4th place – Dumpling Business Owner from Edmonton, Alta.
  • Marissa Leon-John – Season 5, 7th place – Private Chef from Montréal, Qué.
  • Thea Vanherwaarden – Season 4, 2nd place – Recipe Developer and Content Creator from Vancouver, B.C

The 12 competitors span all previous six seasons, and include a range of former finalists and tough competitors who were taken out too soon. With sky-high stakes, the competitors will need to prove to the judges that they’ve further honed their skills, knowledge, passion, and creativity – they have a tougher mountain to climb as they vie for the title for the second time. The cooks will take on everything from high-intensity skills tests to gruelling challenges, while impressing special guests and world-renowned chefs. In the end, the top cooks face off in the finale showdown. Visit TheLede.ca for cook bios and photos.

Throughout the season, fans are invited to visit CTV.ca/MasterChefCanada for exclusive content, including information on the Season 7 finalists and the MASTERCHEF CANADA judges, as well as interviews, highlights, recipes, and more. CTV.ca and the CTV app also offers viewers a behind-the-scenes look at this season’s challenges, delectable dishes, victories, and defeats

Leading up to the Season 7 premiere, viewers across the country can satisfy their MASTERCHEF CANADA cravings and relive all the culinary action from previous seasons of the series available on the all-new CTV.ca and on the CTV app, along with Seasons 4-6 now streaming on Crave. New episodes of MASTERCHEF CANADA are available on-demand the day following their broadcast premieres on CTV.

The MasterChef format and finished programs are represented internationally by Banijay. With over 60 local adaptations broadcast in more than 200 countries, MasterChef is the world’s most successful cookery television format. MasterChef was created by Franc Roddam.

MASTERCHEF CANADA is produced by Proper Television in association with CTV. Proper’s Co-President Cathie James is the Executive Producer and Showrunner and Co-President Lesia Capone is Executive Producer.

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