Tag Archives: Andrew Phung

CBC announces two new comedies

From a media release:

CBC is announcing initial details for two new original half-hour comedy series featuring Kim’s Convenience stars Andrew Phung and Nicole Power – RUN THE BURBS and STRAYS – with both shows set to launch during the upcoming 2021-22 broadcast season.

Created by comedian, writer and actor Andrew Phung and his best friend and collaborator, filmmaker Scott Townend (The Secret Marathon), RUN THE BURBS is a new original comedy about a young, bold Canadian family taking a different approach to living life to the fullest in the suburbs, featuring Phung as a stay-at-home dad with an entrepreneur wife and two kids. The series has been in development since May 2020 and is produced by Pier 21 Films, with additional details to be announced later this spring.

STRAYS follows the upbeat and enthusiastic Kim’s Convenience character Shannon Ross (Nicole Power) as she embarks on a new career in Hamilton, Ontario alongside an ensemble cast including Frank Cox O’Connell (Soulpepper Theatre), Tina Jung (Suits, Second Jen), Nikki Duval (Workin’ Moms), Kevin Vidal (Workin’ Moms), Tony Nappo (Pretty Hard Cases), Paula Boudreau (Workin’ Moms) and Emily Piggford (The Sounds, Warigami). Created by Kevin White (Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek) and produced by Thunderbird Entertainment, the series has been in development since July 2018 and is currently in production. More details will be announced later this spring.

“As our comedy slate continues to evolve, we are thrilled to continue working with Andrew and Nicole and offer audiences two new comedies to look forward to starring these incredible talents they have come to know and love,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, CBC. “Both of these series were planned to join Kim’s Convenience on our comedy lineup this upcoming year, to reflect how many young Canadians are forging new lives outside of urban centres in Canada. We look forward to watching Andrew and Nicole as they explore these new stories.”

RUN THE BURBS and STRAYS join original comedy SORT OF as new additions to CBC’s award-winning comedy slate this upcoming broadcast season. Created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me), SORT OF stars Baig as a gender fluid millennial trying to live their most authentic life.

CBC will confirm series renewals and additional new original series for the 2021/22 broadcast season later this spring.

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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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Radio One’s Because News brings laughs to primetime TV

When it came to creating Because News, Gavin Crawford looked across the pond.

“When we were first figuring out what will it be and what will we do, I was like, ‘Let’s steal the British ideas,’ because those are the shows I like,” Crawford recalls. Created by Crawford, Elizabeth Bowie and David Carroll, the long-running Radio One program recently made the jump to a new platform.

Airing Sundays at 7 p.m. on  CBC (and Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Radio One), Because News features host Crawford and a rotating panel of comedians, sketch performers and funny people who make games out of the week’s news.

Last week’s radio and TV episode welcomed Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience), Jennifer Whalen (Baroness Von Sketch Show) and comedian Martha Chaves, and poked fun at Halloween amid the pandemic, COVID-19 itself and the U.S. election. Best known for his work on The Hour Has 22 Minutes and  The Gavin Crawford Show on The Comedy Network, we spoke to the Second City alum and Gemini Award-winner about adding TV cameras to Because News, how the show is written and tight-turnaround times.

Did you always hope Because News would become a television show?
Gavin Crawford: When we first started doing the show, I always thought there was a possibility if it worked out it could translate, just simply because there are so many British ones that fulfill those same things. When we were first figuring out what will it be, what will we do, I was like, ‘Let’s steal the British ideas,’ because those are the shows I enjoy watching. And so we always tried to model it that way, that it would be modular. Then, I guess, partly because it’s me and I like to do voices and characters, we would end up making things like fake movie trailers. But I guess I always had in the back of my mind, if CBC ever wants to do cross-platform stuff, it’s something they could actually manage to do.

Was it you and Elizabeth Bowie who developed the show together?
GC: Yeah. Basically, Liz and David Carroll came to me and said, ‘We’ve got a green light to make a pilot of a news quiz, and we think you’d be a good host for that. Is that something you’d want to do?’ Once we had established, ‘OK, it’s going to be me,’ we tried to figure out what we wanted to do. In my experience of watching those shows, I wanted it to be about the comradery of the panellists.  wanted us to be able to tease each other. I don’t want the answers to be necessarily that hard or important. I don’t want to try and solve a refugee crisis. We want to take the ball of news that everyone has and have fun with it where we can and make fun of the people in power. But, in a weird way, they are less game shows than they are talk shows.

I always tell the panellists, ‘You don’t have to get the right answer. You can say wet socks and a cat, for all I care. Let’s be able to take the time to riff with each other and take up ideas and improvise, the way that a lot of the people on the show are improvisers and comedians.’ So that’s what we like to do and to try and make sure that there’s enough space for that.

How difficult was it to take this show that’s made for the radio and translate it to TV? 
GC: There are definitely difficulties that you don’t have on radio. But it wasn’t too hard, because we made a conscious decision not to reinvent the wheel. I like the show the way it is, and if it was on TV, I still want it to be that. The hardest thing was how do we get people in a studio together, with the pandemic, knowing that we have to space everybody eight feet apart?

There are little technical things like how do you just keep a comradery going when you know they’re going to cut to a wide shot, and it’s going to look very wide. Those are things that you have to think of. And then there are weird technical things. If you show a graphic or TV, everything has to be triply sourced and thrust through legal. The hardest thing is clearing everything from the team of lawyers, and being like, ‘We need this clip of Trump saying this funny thing.’ Whereas on the radio, that’s a five-minute job. And on TV it’s a day and a half.

I listened to the most recent episode on the radio and noted there were a few segments there that weren’t on the TV episode.
GC: The radio is always five minutes longer, so just from a time standpoint, there’s always going to be an extra round or something on the radio that doesn’t make it to the TV. I don’t actually mind, because it gives you a reason to see things on different platforms, as opposed to a show that would be the same from one to the other, and you just pick and choose where you listen to it.

You record and film the show on Thursday, and then you’re turning this around to be ready for television broadcast on a Sunday. 
GC: It’s a very quick turnaround. That’s why those British panel shows look like that because they’re very quick. You don’t get a lot of time to edit it and things like that. There’s a number of things that I’d love to be able to do that we just can’t do time-wise. So, we try to filter in what we can do. But it’s tricky because sometimes the news doesn’t even set itself until Wednesday night. And you’re pulling graphics on a Tuesday afternoon. And of course, everybody wants the most heads up they can get on everything.

You’re having to keep on top of things happening in Canada and around the world for the show. Do you ever just feel overwhelmed?
GC: Oh yeah. I call it Bad Mood Tuesday, where after a weekend of combing through what’s going on to see what we’ll have the next week, I’m always in a bad mood on Tuesday. Then we try and lift ourselves out of it. ‘OK, what will put us in a good mood?’ And then we get to joke around about things, and the other writers come in, and then we’re like, great. I feel that’s maybe how the audience also feels. Our job is to be like, ‘OK, well, here’s your good news,’ Sunday night or Saturday morning when all these things you’ve been hearing about all week. Here’s the way you can hear about them that maybe doesn’t make you want to hide in the woods.

Because News airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. on Radio One and Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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CBC’s Kim’s Convenience hits its stride in Season 3

You can feel it when a television show has found its legs. The characters are relatable and unforced, funny but not feeling strained. That’s the state Kim’s Convenience is in as it rolls into Season 3. And why not? The CBC sitcom—returning Tuesday at 8 p.m.—has a legion of Canadian fans behind it and is expanding worldwide thanks to Netflix, Amazon and a recent deal that will see the award-winning program debut in Korea. (A fourth season has already been greenlit, meaning the Kims and their friends are sticking around for awhile.)

When viewers tune in on Tuesday, they’ll see Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Jung (Simu Liu) working together to right an Appa wrong before Umma (Jean Yoon) finds out. Spoiler alert: they don’t succeed. Meanwhile, Janet (Andrea Bang) is still fighting to be recognized as a bona fide artist and Kimchee (Andrew Phung) is the assistant manager at Handy Car Rental. The cast teased a bit of what this season has in store.

Over the last couple of seasons, Appa and Jung have come together on screen and they have been really big moments. Is it becoming more comfortable now, these two guys spending time together? The situation called for it in the first episode, and I feel as though there’s a softening towards each other. Is that the case?
Simu Liu: If you look at how Jung and Appa left off at the end of Season 2, it wasn’t necessarily a diffusing or anything. We certainly thought that there some sort of reconciliation in the works in the episode before, but then there’s a blow up that happens. It goes to illustrate that no family, no relationship like that is just going to repair itself because of one thing. The past is always going to influence how they are around each other.

I think that’s kind of the tone we’re going into the new season with. I think you will have moments where they’re together and it’ll be what it is, but it won’t be normalized.

Jean Yoon: They come together, they blow up. And they come together.

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: You also see why they fight. When you see these interactions, you kind of go, ‘Oh!’ Because in Season 1, it’s like he ran away from home or he got kicked out. Why don’t they get along? I think that’s the by-product of seeing them sort of wanting to reach out. At the end of Season 2, you know there’s the desire’s there, but they just can’t do it…

SL: There’s so much history. It’s complicated.

JY: You see how much they are alike, and why as they come together and you get this friction.

PSHK: That’s the fun exploration of seeing that, ’cause it’s like, they’re together, you know they want to repair those things, that rift, but there’s just something fundamental about the makeup, because they are so similar to each other. They’re like magnets. Same poles.

Also, in the first episode back, Jung is faking that he’s going to the job, and then wanting to watch TV. It’s such a great storyline for a television show anyway, having the guy act like he’s been going to a job or school for months and months and months. 
SL: To be doing it so that, in part, because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed, of course. But in part also because he doesn’t want his best friend to feel bad about taking his job. I think he really starts the season in the lowest of the low moments.

What can you say about what Jung goes through this season?
SL: I mean, I can’t say too much. I think you see a little bit of it at the end of the first episode. It’s just him getting used to the fact that things aren’t going to be so easy for him. I think when we start in Season 1, it’s like by Episode 3 he’s the assistant manager. Dating seems to be not terribly difficult for him. Now it’s like, ‘No, you lost your chance with the girl that you really like. You lost your job. Your best friend’s the new assistant manager at Handy.’

Andrew Phung: You start seeing Kimchee and Jung’s relationship sort itself out, because there is a new balance between them. I think that was really fun. I think always in those early scripts, I see them, this is such an opportunity for us to see a switch in the character. To see the character evolve. We love seeing characters have highs and lows. We can see Kimchee’s high. He’s coming out, looking fresh, he’s multi-tasking. So you see that character change as well. That’s throughout the season.

It’s a real opportunity for this guy that’s been the laughing stock of the show in every scene for two seasons. I’m assuming that’s not going to totally change, but it is a great opportunity for him.
AP: Going back all the way to the first season. We were work-shopping the scenes. I was trying to figure out Kimchee, because I think [Paul and Simu] had a sense of … you knew your characters. You’d lived with your characters. Kimchee’s new. We came to this conclusion that Kimchee is a genius. He is the smartest guy in the room. He thinks he’s a genius. On the outside looking in, you’re like ‘What’s this guy doing?’ Kimchee’s like, ‘You’re an idiot for not thinking my way.’

It’s fun to see him evolve to now own this role of genius. Now he has power. He’s put it into the workplace, and just having the opportunity to play with Nicole [Power, as Shannon]. There are these wonderful scenes that we developed this relationship we never had. Now we’re peers in the workplace.

Jean, what about Umma and Appa?
JY: On the other side of the world, I think what happens in Season 3 that’s really satisfying is you see Umma and Appa, you see more facets of their relationship. These marital disputes that every couple has gone through. Power play, questions about division of labour and is equal the same as the same? No. Equal should mean I’m better. That kind of thing. Also, we see Appa and Jung and some really interesting episodes with Janet and some with Gerald and a lot of the characters that we’ve all come to love to visit the store…

PSHL: Pastor Nina, Mr. Mehta, Mr. Chin.

JY: Mr. Chin, Gerald, Chelsea, his girlfriend. Again, a lot of those themes seem to be about communication, about boundaries. The driving force is in the end, that you know no matter how bad the conflict is, that in the end, these characters really love each other. These are people who at the end of the day are going to somehow find it in the bottom of their souls to say they’re sorry. And they’ll mean it.

SL: We’re really hitting a comfort zone in our own work. Especially, I think about Andrew and I on our first day of Season 1, just coming to set and basically shaking as the camera’s rolling, because we were newcomers into the whole Kim’s Convenience world, and we just didn’t want to mess it up.

I think about how nervous we were and how anxious we were. How that followed through the entire first season and a bit into the second as well. But really I think what was different for me going into the third was I think you mentioned this confidence, this self-assuredness. But it was just, ‘OK, I have some idea of what this character is and what he does and why he thinks the way that he thinks.’ I feel like I can do the work. I feel like that really gives you room and permission to play and take risks. I think that’s when you get your best work in.

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

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Link: Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof big winner at AMPIAs

From Eric Volmers of the Edmonton Journal:

Link: Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof big winner at AMPIAs
The 44th edition of the awards,  nicknamed the Rosies, were handed out at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Calgary to honour the best in Alberta film and television. Sixty trophies were handed out to Alberta-based productions and craftspeople who work in the industry …. CBC’s Heartland defeated Wynonna Earp for best dramatic series. Both shows are produced in Calgary by Seven24 films. Heartland also picked up a win for Ken Filewych, who won for best director for a drama over 30 minutes. Continue reading. Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail