TV, eh? | What's up in Canadian television | Page 4
TV,eh? What's up in Canadian television

Bachelor in Paradise Canada’s Claire Freeland: “You leave having been impacted by the experience”

For the most part, reality TV gets a bad rap. At best, it’s described as a guilty pleasure. At worst, it’s simply dismissed. But look a little deeper into a series like Bachelor in Paradise Canada, and you realize something. These people are putting themselves out there to find love, on-camera and sharing things most would only tell their closest friend.

“This is a show that dives deep into feelings,” executive producer Claire Freeland says. “What you want for your life, what you want for your life partner. A lot of these people leave transformed and having learned things about themselves. Whether or not you leave Paradise, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette with a life partner, you leave having been impacted by the experience.”

Freeland’s Good Human Productions brought The Bachelor Canada and The Bachelorette Canada to viewers years ago. Now they’re back with Bachelor in Paradise Canada.

Debuting Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv, Bachelor in Paradise Canada (followed by The Bachelor After Show: After Paradise Canada at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT with Deepa Prashad and Daryn Jones) is distinctive for a couple of reasons. First, it’s in northern Ontario in a camp setting very different from the U.S. version fans are used to. And, secondly, the cast of 26 participants is made up of Canadian Bachelor alumni, U.S. Bachelor alumni and members of the Bachelor Nation—Canadian fans of the franchise—a series first. Freeland, a fan of the franchise overall, has grown to love Paradise because it gives her the opportunity to check on a bunch of relationships rather than just one.

“We always knew we wanted to do a Canadian version of Paradise, but there was always the conundrum about how to attack it,” Freeland says. “And I feel like we’ve cracked the nut.”

Familiar names from the Canadian series include Bianka Kamber, David Pinard and Stacy Johnson, while the U.S. franchise offers up Caitlin Clemmens, Alex Bordyukov and Brendan Scanzano. Guiding the ship is host Jesse Jones (featured image) and serving up drinks and advice to these love-lorn folks? Kevin Wendt.

“We’ve remained friends with Kevin over the years,” Freeland says. “When we thought about who could be the bartender, but also be a symbol of this process working, it was pretty easy that we arrived at Kevin.

“When that guy is on the beach, on the other side of the bar, and you’re looking for someone to give you some advice or share your feelings with, Kevin is the ultimate person.”

Bachelor in Paradise Canada airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Rogers Media.

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CBC and Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Zarqa Nawaz reunite for Zarqa

From a media release:

Award-winning Canadian film and television producer, author, journalist, and internationally renowned thought leader for Muslim women in media, Zarqa Nawaz, is delighted to announce the start of production on a new original comedy series for CBC Gem, ZARQA (6×11). Commissioned by CBC and financed by the Bell Fund, the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and Creative Saskatchewan (with the Canada Media Fund and IPF funding the show and trailer development phase), the series films in Regina, Saskatchewan from October 12 to 29 and will premiere on CBC Gem in 2022. International broadcast and streaming partners are yet to be determined.

Nawaz was the creator of the ground-breaking Muslim sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie (2007-2012), which was widely recognized as the world’s first comedy about Muslims living in the West when it launched in 2007. The show premiered on CBC with record-breaking ratings and won awards at home and internationally. The series aired 91 episodes over six seasons, and was broadcast internationally in France, Switzerland, Africa, Israel, UAE, Finland, Turkey and more, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Nawaz’s next project is ZARQA; she is the creator, showrunner, and lead actor in the series. ZARQA follows its titular character, a complex, middle-aged Muslim woman (played by Nawaz) who learns on social media that her ex-husband is marrying a white yoga instructor half his age named Bethany. Zarqa impulsively comments that she will attend the wedding with her own cliché: a white brain surgeon named Brian. Now she just has to find him. Watch the trailer here.

The comical chaos continues with the arrival of Zarqa’s former love interest, Yusuf, played by Rizwan Manji. Manji received a 2021 Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Guest Actor for his portrayal of Ray Butani, Emmy-award-winning series Schitt’s Creek’s jack-of-all-trades. He is also well-known for his role as Rajiv Gidwani in the NBC comedy, Outsourced.

ZARQA, a project of Nawaz’s Regina-based production company FUNdamentalist Films, boasts a team of award-winning writers, producers, and directors, several of whom are diverse, and all of whom are women. Show writers – Zarqa Nawaz (Gemini award-winning Little Mosque on the Prairie, Me and the Mosque), Sadiya Durrani (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Overlord and the Underwoods, The Parker Andersons/Amelia Parker) and Claire Ross Dunn (Little Mosque on the Prairie, Degrassi, Falling For Look Lodge, Cupids on Beacon Street) – each wrote two episodes of ZARQA’s first season.

With the exception of Nawaz who is now stepping into acting in addition to a career in television production, all other ZARQA producers started their careers as actors. These include Dunn (producer for DHX’s Make it Pop for Nickelodeon, The Smart Woman Survival Guide for W/Cosmo TV), Dawn Bird (Producer of Beyond the Curve International Film Festival Best Queer Narrative Film Mercy, producer of Canadian International Film Festival’s Rising Star Award Winner Bread Thieves, TV series Why Am I?), and Liz Whitmere (producer of CSA Award-winning CBC Gem series The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island, Late Night in the Studio). ZARQA directors are Whitmere (award-winning shorts Up To Here, Cat’s Got Your Tongue, the original ZARQA trailer, Candy Fox (ahkâmêyimo nitânis / Keep Going, My Daughter, The Other Side) and Iman Zawahry (Emmy-winning short film Tough Crowd, Undercover, award-winning feature film Americanish).

ABOUT ZARQA NAWAZ
Zarqa Nawaz is a Canadian producer for film and television, a published author, public speaker, journalist, and former broadcaster. She created, wrote, directed, and produced episodes for the international CBC comedy series Little Mosque on the Prairie, which won a Gemini Award as well as Best International Television Series and Best Screenplay at the 2007 RomaFictionFest. The television series was inspired by Me and the Mosque, Zarqa’s ground-breaking National Film Board documentary which premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival, examining how patriarchal cultural traditions have become mixed up with theology.

In addition, Nawaz has sold four pilots to ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox Studios, has written a bestselling comedic memoir, Laughing All the Way to the Mosque (published by HarperCollins), was an advice columnist for The Globe & Mail, a broadcast personality for CBC Radio, the host of CBC Saskatchewan’s “The Morning Edition,” and anchored CBC Saskatchewan News at 6.

In addition to launching her new self-titled CBC Gem series in 2022, in which she stars, writes, and produces, Nawaz will also debut her new novel, Jameela Green Ruins Everything (Simon & Schuster Canada in Canada, and Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, in the U.S.). The new book is a satire about a disillusioned American Muslim woman who becomes embroiled in a plot to infiltrate an international terrorist organization and, in the process, reconnects with her loved ones and her faith.

A frequent public speaker on Islam and comedy, Nawaz received a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Saskatchewan for her interfaith work in the community. In recognition of her contribution to the world of arts, she received The Brampton Walk of Fame in 2019. Nawaz lives in Regina with her loving but long-suffering family and is the proud mother of four children.

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marblemedia announces Blown Away: Christmas debuts November 19 on Netflix

From a media release:

marblemedia, leading global entertainment producers of numerous award-winning TV series announces today that Netflix’s “Blown Away” is cranking up the heat for a spectacular holiday showdown!

’Tis the season for redemption as five fan favourites return to the hot shop to compete in a series of Christmas-themed challenges in the quest to become The Best in Holiday Blow.

Sharing his thoughts with Variety today, host Bobby Berk says “I’ve been a fan of Blown Away since the moment it premiered, and I’m honoured to be officially joining the family as the host of Blown Away: Christmas. I got a taste of the incredible experience and craftsmanship as a guest judge on Season 2 and can’t wait to get back into the hot shop this holiday season.”

In the spirit of giving, the winner will not only receive a $10,000 cash prize but an additional $10,000 will also be donated to their charity of choice.

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Preview: Hudson & Rex returns for Season 4 with a new look and feel

I like Hudson & Rex for a few reasons.

First, its cast is top-rate. From John Reardon, Mayko Nguyen, Kevin Hanchard and Justin Kelly to Diesel vom Burgimwald on down, everyone on the call sheet is enjoyable to watch. Secondly, the writing team is truly gifted. Led by showrunner Peter Mitchell, they craft stories that are believable, have real dramatic stakes and a pinch of humour thrown in. And third, that stellar Newfoundland setting and the crew that works it. Every episode is a love letter to that part of Canada, no matter how dark the crime may be.

Returning Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Citytv, here’s the official synopsis for “Sid and Nancy,” written by Peter Mitchell and directed by Gary Harvey:

When two hikers are discovered murdered near a remote coastal trail, the team is on the hunt for a fugitive duo wanted in a series of grisly campsite murders.

And here are some non-spoilery notes from me after watching a screener of the episode.

A new setting…
As I mentioned above, all the main players are back in Season 4. But, there is a big change within minutes of Episode 1. The Major Crimes team is on the road and reporting out of a mobile unit.

“It keeps all of us together and takes us out into the field more and in the office less,” Reardon says in the Season 4 press kit. “Having the team together adds a new element of storytelling and it showcases Newfoundland even more than we have in the past. I think it makes the show more dynamic because we’re all in communication with each other, we’re responding in real-time, and solving the case in real-time instead of regularly coming back to the office to regroup.”

… and a new vibe
I totally agree with Reardon’s statement. There is an energy, sometimes frantic, in Thursday’s return, that has been added to Hudson & Rex. It just feels like there is more at stake and more opportunity for conflict between local police forces that don’t appreciate the big-city unit rolling onto their turf.

A little spark?
Over the past three seasons, Hudson & Rex has faintly hinted at an emotional connection between Charlie and Sarah. Judging by a scene on Thursday, the needle may be headed into “strongly hinting.”

Hudson & Rex airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.

Images courtesy of Derm Carberry for Shaftesbury and Pope Productions.

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Links: Sort Of, Season 1

From Debra Yeo of the Toronto Star:

Link: In ‘Sort Of,’ a straight white male and a queer brown trans-feminine creator combined to make a groundbreaking TV show
What do you get when a straight, cisgender male actor and director, and a queer, trans-feminine actor and playwright create a television show together? Something that hopefully anyone can relate to. Continue reading.

From Glenn Sumi of NOW Toronto:

Link: TIFF 2021, Day 7: CBC show Sort Of is all kinds of great
After the fallout over the way Kim’s Convenience abruptly ended, the new CBC show Sort Of is doing things right. Continue reading.

From Glenn Sumi of NOW Toronto:

Link: Bilal Baig is ready for their close-up
Bilal Baig is taking me on a mini-tour of Little India – their Little India. It’s early afternoon on a weekday, so the patios are closed and there’s none of the liveliness that comes at night when this stretch of Gerrard resembles a bustling, brightly lit urban street in India or Pakistan. Continue reading.

From Victoria Ahearn of the Canadian Press:

Link: ‘Sort Of’ is about transition in all walks of life, says star/co-creator Bilal Baig
In deciding to not only co-create but star in a comedy series about a gender-fluid millennial nanny in Toronto, Bilal Baig was nervous. Continue reading.

From Melissa of The Televixen:

Link: Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo on their trailblazing new series, Sort Of
“There was a very steep learning curve that I feel like I’m still on, but it’s amazing and rewarding.” Continue reading.

From Leora Heilbronn of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Sort Of’s Bilal Baig, Fab Filippo and Jennifer Kawaja
Sort Of was so important to us that we made a concerted effort to participate in the press junket for the CBC, and soon to be HBO Max, series. Continue reading.

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