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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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CBC Announces Winter 2021 Premiere Dates

From a media release:

CBC today announced broadcast and streaming premiere dates for its winter 2021 slate of original programming, including over 20 new and returning Canadian series reflecting a diverse range of storytelling and perspectives. The new winter primetime schedule launches Monday, January 4 on CBC TV and the free CBC Gem streaming service.

MONDAYS:
Mystery Mondays return on January 4 with new seasons of hit detective series MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 14) and FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 4).

New weeknight primetime program CANADA TONIGHT WITH GINELLA MASSA launches Monday, January 11 at 8 p.m. on CBC News Network.

TUESDAYS:
CBC’s Tuesday night comedy lineup continues on January 5 with new episodes of THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES and BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW The Final Season: Bonus Episodes, featuring never-before-aired sketches, followed by irreverent new series HUMOUR RESOURCES, starring Jon Dore and featuring comedians including Sarah Silverman, Aisha Brown, Tom Green, Scott Thompson and Ronny Chieng.

KIM’S CONVENIENCE returns with Season 5 beginning January 19.

New seasons of WORKIN’ MOMS (Season 5) and TALLBOYZ (Season 2) debut on February 16.

WEDNESDAYS:
British drama QUIZ, based on the true story of a former British army major who was caught cheating on the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and starring Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), premieres January 13.

Season 3 of procedural crime drama CORONER starring Serinda Swan, followed by new buddy-cop drama series PRETTY HARD CASES (formerly Lady Dicks), starring Meredith MacNeill (Baroness von Sketch Show) and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is The New Black), premiere February 3.

THURSDAYS:
documentary Channel originals Fear of Dancing, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse and The Oslo Diaries premiere on CBC TV, January 7 through 21.

Beginning January 28, legal drama BURDEN OF TRUTH starring Kristin Kreuk returns with Season 4, and THE FIFTH ESTATE continues on a new night.

FRIDAYS:
MARKETPLACE continues on January 8, featuring an ongoing series, “Face Racism,” hosted by Asha Tomlinson, which follows people in search of justice in their communities, the marketplace and the workplace, often bringing them face-to-face with company executives and government officials.

The landmark 60th season of THE NATURE OF THINGS returns on January 8 with an ambitious archeological dig that peels away myths surrounding the last queen of Egypt in SEARCHING FOR CLEOPATRA, and the following week, a special five-part series, WILD CANADIAN WEATHER, showcasing a cinematic journey through Canada’s most extreme and spectacular weather.

New docuseries ANYONE’S GAME (formerly Orangeville Prep), offering an inside look at the competitive, high-pressure world of basketball’s most successful preparatory program at The Athlete Institute in Orangeville, Ontario, launches on January 15, with all episodes available that day to stream on CBC Gem.

New family-friendly series ARCTIC VETS, offering an up-close look at the wildlife that inhabits Canada’s north and the veterinarians at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy who work tirelessly to keep them safe, premieres February 26.

SUNDAYS:
Audience favourite HEARTLAND returns with a new season on January 10, followed by a four-week special event featuring back-to-back episodes of BBC’s acclaimed LES MISÉRABLES dramatic miniseries, starring Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins and Olivia Colman.

Starting on Valentine’s Day, February 14, Season 4 of THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW welcomes a new batch of amateur bakers and two new hosts, Second City alumni Alan Shane Lewis and Ann Pornel, followed by the exclusive Canadian premiere of BELGRAVIA, highlighted in Vanity Fair’s Five New Juicy Costume Dramas to Add Glamour to Your Quarantine, centering on secrets and scandals amongst the upper echelon of London society in the 19th century.

CBC KIDS:
CBC Kids’ refreshed weekday lineup begins Monday, January 4 with new seasons of PJ MASKS, KIRI AND LOU, and TRUE AND THE RAINBOW KINGDOM. New CBC Kids and Radio-Canada original preschool animated series DINO RANCH, produced in partnership with Disney, premieres on Saturday, January 16, featuring the adventures of the Cassidy family as they tackle life in a fantastical, “pre-westoric” setting where dinosaurs still roam. CBC Kids original tween sci-fi drama ENDLINGS, produced in partnership with Hulu, returns for a second season, launching on CBC Gem Friday, January 15, with episodes released weekly.

SUNDAYS

7 PM – HEARTLAND Season 14 (10×60) premieres January 10

8 PM – LES MISÉRABLES (8×60) the BBC miniseries premieres January 10 with back-to-back episodes

8 PM – THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW Season 4 (8×60) premieres February 14

9 PM – BELGRAVIA (6×60) Julian Fellowes’ historical drama premieres February 14

10 PM – THE NATIONAL CBC News’ flagship program continues Sunday to Friday each week

MONDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) continues Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – MURDOCH MYSTERIES Season 14 (11×60) begins January 4

9 PM – FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES Season 4 (10×60) begins January 4

TUESDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) continues Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – KIM’S CONVENIENCE Season 5 (13×30) premieres January 19

8:30 PM – THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES Season 28 (19×30) continues January 5

9 PM – BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (5×30) The Final Season: Bonus Episodes featuring never-before-aired sketches premiere January 5

9 PM – WORKIN’ MOMS Season 5 (10×30) premieres February 16

9:30 PM – HUMOUR RESOURCES (6×30) a new irreverent comedy premieres January 5

9:30 PM – TALLBOYZ Season 2 (8×30) premieres February 16

WEDNESDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – CORONER Season 3 (10×60) premieres February 3

9 PM – QUIZ (3×60) the British drama starring Matthew Macfadyen (Succession) premieres January 13

9 PM – PRETTY HARD CASES (formerly Lady Dicks, 10×60) a new female-driven buddy-cop series premieres February 3

THURSDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – FAMILY FEUD CANADA Season 2 (104×30) Mondays to Thursdays

8 PM – documentary Channel originals Fear of Dancing, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse and The Oslo Diaries premiere January 7 through 21

8 PM – BURDEN OF TRUTH Season 4 (8×60) premieres on January 28

9 PM – THE FIFTH ESTATE Season 46 (7×60) continues January 28 on a new night

FRIDAYS

7 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 PM – CORONATION STREET continues weekdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30 p.m.

8 PM – MARKETPLACE Season 48 (22×30) continues January 8

8:30 PM – ANYONE’S GAME (formerly Orangeville Prep, 6×30) a new factual series about basketball’s most successful preparatory program premieres January 15

8:30 PM – ARCTIC VETS (10×30) a new factual series featuring the wildlife of Canada’s north premieres February 26

9 PM – THE NATURE OF THINGS Season 60 (13×60) continues with an ambitious archeological dig in SEARCHING FOR CLEOPATRA on January 8

SATURDAYS

Afternoon – ROAD TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES Season 6 continues

6:30 PM – HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA begins January 16

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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.

Images courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules

From Jude Dry of IndieWire:

Link: ‘Baroness Von Sketch Show’ Season 5 review: IFC’s feminist Canadian comedy still rules
Whether it’s the absurdist escalation of Red Wine Ladies’ Night, or the anti-misogynist virtue signaling of a Queer Theory Reading Group, “Baroness Von Sketch Show” took advantage of under-explored scenarios to produce hilarity that resonated with the everywoman. Continue reading. Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition winners announced

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition. Hosted by Aurora Browne, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen of the award-winning Canadian sketch comedy Baroness von Sketch Show, the virtual edition of the Rockie Awards International Program Competition was streamed live celebrating excellence in television and digital media content from around the world.

One of the largest awards programs of its kind and juried by an esteemed panel of 150 international industry professionals, the Rockie Awards International Program Competition presented awards in twenty-six (26) categories spanning Documentary & Factual, Arts & Entertainment, Children & Youth, Scripted and Podcast. In addition, special gala awards were presented including Innovative Producer Award, A+E Inclusion Award, Canadian Award of Distinction, Francophone Prize, $25,000 Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content and the Grand Jury Prize.

The competition featured 128 nominations from 35 countries including the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, China and Switzerland.

International Program Competition winners include:

Drama Series: English Language
Gentleman Jack
BBC, HBO, Lookout Point
UK, USA

Comedy Series: English Language
Fleabag
all3media, BBC Three, Two Brothers Pictures
UK

Limited Series
Chernobyl
HBO, Sister, Sky Atlantic, The Mighty Mint, Word Games
Lithuania, UK, Ukraine, USA

Drama Series: Non-English Language
Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame)
BBC Two, Netflix, Sister
Japan, UK

Comedy Series: Non-English Language
Mytho
ARTE France, Netflix
France

Children & Youth Fiction Series
Hardball
ABC iview, ABC ME, Australian Children’s Foundation, Northern Pictures
Australia, UK

Lifestyle Program
Employable Me
Accessible Media Inc., all3media, Thomas Howe Associates Inc.
Canada

Comedy & Variety Program
Baroness von Sketch Show
CBC, Frantic Films
Canada

Science & Technology Program
Science Fair
Muck Media, National Geographic, Univision
USA

History & Biography Program
Free Solo
Image Nation, Itinerant Media, Little Monster Films, National Geographic, Parkes+MacDonald
USA

Docusoap & Docuseries
Who Are You Calling Fat?
BBC, Love Productions
UK

Sci-Fi & Genre-Based Series
His Dark Materials
Bad Wolf, BBC, HBO
Canada, UK, USA

Podcast of the Year
This Sounds Serious
Castbox, Kelly&Kelly
Canada, USA

Innovative Producer Award
Winner: Wattpad Studios
The Innovative Producer Award recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media.

A+ E Inclusion Award
Winner: Niecy Nash
The A+E Inclusion Award is presented in recognition of visionary work in media that champions and reflects the diversity of the world in which we live.

Canadian Award of Distinction
Winner: Aurora Browne, Carolyn Taylor, Jennifer Whalen & Meredith MacNeill of Baroness von Sketch Show
For the first time, this year the award is presented to a group whose body of work exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry.

Francophone Prize
Winner: MAMMOUTH 2019
The Francophone Prize is awarded to the jury’s highest-scoring French-language video submission.

Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content
Winner: Baroness von Sketch Show 
The $25,000 Rogers Prize is awarded to the highest-scoring Canadian program or property in the Rockies International Program Competition across two rounds of independent jury review.

Grand Jury Prize 
Winner: Fleabag
The Grand Jury Prize recognizes the “best in show” from all Rockies International Program Competition winning entries.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail