Tag Archives: Amy Cameron

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.

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Joel Thomas Hynes’ Little Dog delivers comedy KO to CBC’s primetime

I’ve been fascinated with Joel Thomas Hynes for years. I first saw him on Republic of Doyle as Taylor Gossard, a drug trafficker who Jake Doyle ran afoul of numerous times. Since then, I’ve spotted him in The Book of Negroes, Orphan Black and Mary Kills People. Hynes is the type of guy who immediately catches your eye and makes an impression.

Now, the actor, musician, director, producer—and Governor General Award-winning writer—delivers a knockout punch with Little Dog. Debuting Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC, Little Dog boasts one hell of a hook—the tale of boxer Tommy “Little Dog” Ross (Hynes), who seeks redemption in the ring fives years after walking away from it—delivered alongside a cannonade of hilarious scenes peppered with memorable characters. The seven-episode run stars Dwain Murphy as Rico “Havoc” St. George, Ger Ryan as Tommy’s mother, Sylvia Ross; Stephen Oates as his eldest brother, Loyola “Lowly” Ross Jr; Katharine Isabelle as his sister Ginny Ross; newcomer Billy Cochrane as Ginny’s son Chesley; and Andy Jones as the wily, charming old patriarch of the family, Loyola “Lowly” Ross Sr.

I spoke to Hynes, showrunner Sherry White and executive producer Amy Cameron about the project.

Where did the idea for Little Dog come from?
Sherry White: Joel was developing this show idea and I really wanted to attach myself to it. I really love his voice and I think he’s really unique. [Producer] Perry [Zimel] set up some meetings for us to pitch it and we got it into development at the CBC. We decided to bring it to Cameron Pictures because I have a relationship with Tassie Cameron and we knew they would get the sensibility and the calibre of work we wanted it to be.

What was it about Joel’s pitch that got you so excited?
SW: The show is about this failed boxer who is trying to clean himself up and get a second chance at redemption. I liked that. It wasn’t until he showed me an unbelievable clip of a fight from 2000—I think it was Andrew Golota and Mike Tyson—where Andrew Golota walked out of the ring mid-fight. The trainers and everyone were just losing their shit on this guy and as he was leaving the audience was throwing stuff at him. It was such a visceral, emotional, dramatic kind of thing.

Joel Thomas Hynes: They called him ‘The Pole,’ as in telephone pole. A huge beast of a man.

SW: And you wonder, ‘How can this guy ever come back from this?’ What did he think when he got up the next morning? This is the starting point for this character. It’s five years later when you meet Tommy “Little Dog” Ross. He gets chance to get back into the ring and fight the guy he walked out on. He hasn’t been training and he has this very dysfunctional family who has a lot to say about whether or not he should do this and what it means to them. Because, of course, they lived in the disgrace as well. It’s really great to have a family comedy with this great boxing metaphor that you can draw on.

JTH: Boxing is beside the point after a while. It’s got a good built-in sports drama that leads to the big fight, but boxing is beside the point.

Joel, did you get the idea for Little Dog when you saw that Tyson-Golota fight? Was it immediate?
JTH: That Golota scene came up after, during research. The genesis of the show was already laid out. I used to do a little bit of krav maga and Thursday nights would be unofficial fight night. I was lined up for two weeks down the road to fight this guy who was a prick. He probably thought I was a prick. I hated him and we couldn’t wait to fight each other. I did this fight night—and I’m fighting another guy ahead of the guy two weeks down the road—and I’m not sure what happened. I got a kick or a knee in the chest and broke two ribs and my chest plate. I didn’t know it until the next morning. I went down to do burpees in the conditioning program and cracked my chest plate open. I was in the hospital, really wanting to fight this other guy in two weeks time, waiting for the doctor to come out with my x-rays. She tells me I have two cracked ribs and a split chest plate.

And I say, ‘OK, but can I fight in two weeks?’ She laughed at me and I was devastated and shamefaced knowing that this prick would think, ‘Oh yeah, broken rib.’ I got the idea for the show from that. There were a couple of other incidents that lead me to controlled fighting. I come from fighting. I come from a violent background and, for different reasons, in my early to mid-30s I had to move towards controlled fighting and martial arts for my own sanity. It’s steeped in the personal.

SW: And the tough-guy image … there was something you were interested in exploring. That image that you put forward and it not being true about who he is and what that means.

JTH: The show is also about having the courage to rise up to your full potential which, you know, takes a lot of courage.

Little Dog airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

 

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Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Amy Cameron

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Women Behind Canadian TV: Amy Cameron
“When you look at something like directors, there’s so many amazing male directors, but also so many amazing female directors that just need a shot, or just ones who don’t need a shot and are amazing and we want to work with. Holly [Dale] was like that and such a coup for us in the first season of Mary Kills People. Mary sort of came together that way because eOne is another example of smart, wonderful women who have taken charge there.” Continue reading.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Mary Kills People: Amy Cameron on the last-minute renewal and what’s coming in Season 2

In a perfect world, the creators and producers of a television show find out their show’s been renewed with plenty of time to develop scripts, scout locations for filming and nail down schedules for cast and crew.

That didn’t happen with Mary Kills People. On June 5, Corus announced via press release that a second season of the drama, starring Caroline Dhavernas, had been ordered. The producers were informed of the renewal just days before the press release dropped.

“People kept asking me if we’d been renewed and they thought I was being coy,” executive producer Amy Cameron says. “I really didn’t know. We got a surprise phone call from Rachel Nelson [Corus’ director of original content] who said, ‘We want to release the news, so don’t tell anybody.’ It was that specific and that quick.” Days later Dhavernas was in Toronto promoting a second season that is, well, still be developed. It’s suddenly a very busy year for the trio at Cameron Pictures. The production company, consisting of Amy and Tassie Cameron (Rookie Blue) and Caledonia Brown, has got Ten Days in the Valley set for broadcast this fall on ABC—and CTV in Canada—and Little Dog in production in Newfoundland to air this winter on CBC.

But back to Mary Kills People. When we last left Mary (Dhavernas), she was no longer being investigated for her role in the deaths of terminally ill patients, Des (Richard Short) seemed to have gotten his life back on track and Ben (Jay Ryan) and Mary appeared to be a couple. Meanwhile, Grady (Greg Bryk) was dead and Mary’s sister, Nicole (Charlotte Sullivan), announced she wanted to be part of Mary’s team. Will the duo angels of death become a trio in Season 2’s six new instalments?

“We are moving quickly,” Cameron says. “We’re at outline stage on about half of the episodes and hoping to be pitched the back half in the next week or two.” She’s particularly excited to have—in addition to series creator Tara Armstrong, writer Marsha Greene, script coordinator Justin Giallonardo and showrunner and executive producer Tassie Cameron—newcomers Lara Azzopardi (Backstage) and Rookie Blue and Saving Hope co-creator Morwyn Brebner in the writing room. Cameron acknowledges Mary Kills People deals with dark subject matter, but credits the writing team and cast for keeping the tone from being too heavy and a downer to watch. Cameron is mum on sophomore season storyline details—those are still being worked out—but did give us a hint.

“The writers have come up with an organic direction to go in that is still going to surprise the audience,” Cameron says. “We’ve always talked about exploring the edges of the line, that grey area, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Images courtesy of Corus.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail