Tag Archives: Burden of Truth

Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk reflects on her past and looks to the future

Kristin Kreuk has, literally, grown up on television. The Vancouver native, who landed roles on both the Canadian teen drama Edgemont and The WB/The CW superhero series Smallville in 2001, has seen steady work since.

Her current role? Playing Joanna Hanley on CBC’s Burden of Truth, where she also serves as an executive producer. With Season 3 of the CBC legal drama in production for a winter return, we sat down with Kreuk during the Banff World Media Festival, where she received the Canadian Award of Distinction.

How do you view it when it comes to women being represented either in front of the screen or behind the scenes? Obviously, there’s an issue. Do you feel as though it’s getting better?
Kristin Kreuk: Absolutely. Are we there yet? No. We’re not. I’ve said this many times, but prior to, I think I’ve worked with two female directors on my seven and a bit years on Smallville. Maybe one more than that. So going from that to, I worked with a few more on Beauty and the Beast, and with Burden, we don’t get a lot of directors but for our first two seasons it was like 50:50. Now it’s not, but a part of the reason why it’s not is that so many women are hired across the board until mid-2020. So that’s great. It just means that there are spaces now for the young ones to come up and fill that void. And they need to be supported to do that. And given the chances.

But yeah, I think that it is changing. And in Canada, I feel like we may be a little further ahead and I don’t know for 100 per cent because I haven’t worked in the States for a while, but from what I hear anecdotally you can still end up in a writers’ room in the U.S. and it isn’t even close to par. It’s very much weighted towards male voices. So I know that they’re working on it too.

It feels as though, to me, this has been a natural evolution for you, to move towards being an executive producer. Has it been a conscious decision?
KK: It was a conscious decision for me. I was just joking with these guys. I have been saying for years that I’m done with acting. I want to produce. And I’m moving in that direction. And so it was a decision I made because A, some of this is very practical. I have no other skill sets. I’ve been doing this since I was 17 years old. I understand, I’m going into my 19th season as lead on a television series, which is so insane to me. So I have all this experience with storytelling and I’ve seen how you start a story and I can kind of imagine where it’s going to go and how it might fail or what might happen to it. So all of that lends itself to moving into a more creative producing role.

A woman looks off into the distance.It’s still hard for me to make the transition. I think that it will be a process over time to the point where I can take on a show more on my own and not have other producers that I need. I will always have people, I think because I’m not a money person and just it’s not my skill set yet. Maybe it will be one day. As of now, I don’t feel like I have the entire skillset required to do the job, but I think that I’m getting closer and closer.

Directing? Does that interest you at all?
KK: You know what, it doesn’t. And I wish it freaking did. I wish that’s what I wanted to do. I think I’m a visual person. I think I’m just uncomfortable handling a set. I think that it’s a very specific environment that I just don’t… And it’s not even out of fear. I just don’t want to do that. I don’t think. I mean, never say never, I suppose. But I have friends who are like, ‘Yeah, I want to direct,’ and they’re former actors who are moving into other fields. Women especially want to move out of acting because as you get older, sadly, you sort of age out a little. Which we can also change when we’re in positions of power. But yeah, I wish, I wish, wish. Directing, I wish, directing.

It was interesting watching those Season 1 and Season 2 clips again this morning because, specifically the Season 2 clips that I made note of, where the camera was in tight. I feel like that’s different from season one.
KK: It’s new. We made a conscious decision to change the look of the show between Season 1 and Season 2. And then Thom Best, who was our Season 2 director of photography, and director Grant Harvey got together and kind of pitched a whole look. And they were like, ‘We want to get more intimate close-ups of the characters,’ which we had certainly not done and I’m always like, ‘Blah, I don’t want to be that close.’ But it really was effective. Really effective.

Not only that, they shift compositionally. So they changed the compositional palette of the show and the colour palette, too. The whole thing is a little more cinematic versus season one, which was also beautiful, but much more like small-town and warm and glowy and I think that the shift was really great for the story that we were telling for season two.

You mentioned Edgemont so I have to ask you about that. It’s on Encore+. Have you gone and looked at any old episodes?
KK: God, no. I can’t do it.

Isn’t that incredible that this show that you made is now available on YouTube for people to stream any time they want?
KK: It is so bizarre to me that Edgemont was and continues to be popular. It was so popular. Not just in Canada. In France, it was massively popular. I would get recognized for Edgemont in France. So funny. And I was on Smallville simultaneously. I did both those jobs at the same time. And I think that it’s great. It’s such a fun small little show and we did five seasons of that show. And it was great. I loved it. I mean, I hated it at first because I had no idea what I was doing and I felt so uncomfortable, but I grew to love it.

A woman, looking angry, talks to a man.What would you have told your younger self?
KK: I would’ve told myself to take classes. I would’ve told myself to make an effort to develop a deep relationship with acting because I didn’t have one and I didn’t understand it. I had only done theatre. So when I started acting, I didn’t know how to be smaller. And then when I did smaller, I lost all of my feelings. And so it was this weird thing and instead of just going like, ‘I’m uncomfortable and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to go and work really, really, really hard.’ I got scared. And I was like, ‘I’m not doing this any more.’ And it turned out that I just kept doing it and I never really gave myself the time to develop a craft. And I did it all on set. Which is fine, I guess, in the end, but it put me through a lot of discomfort of being like, ‘God, I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck, I suck.’

There are just so many things I would’ve told myself. Also, ‘Don’t stress so much,’ is great too. I think the big lesson, too, is getting over the hump of caring too deeply about what people think of you in a negative sense, because when we started on Smallville, there were no social media. Thank God. But there were forums on the Internet and, I forget, there’s actually a technical term for it, but when you’re drawn to reading the worst things you can about yourself.

It was just something that I was compelled to do. It was almost like I was trying to numb myself to this thing. But why did I care what these people thought? If they thought my eyes were too far apart or they thought that I looked too young or they thought whatever. Or that I was this or that. I’m like, ‘Why was I obsessed over this?’

Season 3 of Burden of Truth returns in winter 2020 to CBC.

Feature image courtesy of Kristian Bogner. Other images courtesy of CBC.

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Kristin Kreuk and Jonathan and Drew Scott win 2019 Rockie Awards

Canadians Kristin Kreuk and  Drew and Jonathan Scott were among the winners celebrated during the Rockie Awards gala on Tuesday night at the Banff World Media Festival.

Hosted by Jann Arden—who kept the night light and upbeat with tales of bad relationships and once suffering from diarrhea onstage during a performance in Berlin—the festival honours outstanding talent and executives from the industry.

“We want to extend a giant thank you to all of the people who made this possible for us,” Jonathan Scott said. The pair were given the Innovative Producer Award, which recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. The Scott Brothers have amassed an empire of television programs through Property Brothers and spinoffs, as well as launching programs under their production banner like Menu Match-up, Reno, Set Go and Half Price Paradise. Past honorees of the Innovative Producer Award include New Metric Media, Wolf + Rabbit, Don Carmody and marblemedia.

“The reason that I am standing here today is in large part due to luck/privilege and other people who could see more of the playing field than I could,” Kreuk said. The star and executive producer of CBC’s Burden of Truth was given the Canadian Award of Distinction for a body of work that exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry. Past honorees include Sheila Hockin, Just For Laughs, Eric McCormack and Kim Cattrall.

“I never really set out with a plan to do any of this, and along the way, I have made some good decisions and some terrible ones,” Kreuk said. “There are times that I just wanted to leave and times I’ve been devasted by the toxicity of this business. And without good, solid people around me, professionally and personally, I would not have made it this far.”

Here is a complete list of the winners:

CANADIAN AWARD OF DISTINCTION:
Kristin Kreuk (Burden of Truth, EuroTrip, Smallville)

INNOVATIVE PRODUCER AWARD:
Scott Brothers Entertainment Inc.

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR:
Surviving R. Kelly

THE GRAND JURY PRIZE:
Sharp Objects

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE:
Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks, Ghostbusters, The Heat)

SHOWRUNNER OF THE YEAR:
Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard, Line of Duty)

A+E INCLUSION AWARD:
Kitti Jones, survivor and author, Brie Miranda Bryant, SVP and Executive Producer, Lifetime, dream hampton, executive producer, Tamra Simmons, executive producer (Surviving R. Kelly)

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IMPACT AWARD:
Justin Simien (Dear White People)

SIR PETER USTINOV COMEDY AWARD:
Bill Hader (Barry, Trainwreck, Saturday Night Live)

Image courtesy of Kristian Bogner.

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CBC announces first round of renewals for the 2019-20 season

From a media release:

As Canadian Screen Week kicks off and CBC celebrates 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the national public broadcaster is confirming an initial round of original scripted and unscripted renewals for the upcoming 2019-20 season on CBC and the CBC Gem streaming service. To date, 17 titles across drama, comedy, factual, arts and documentary programming have been confirmed to return, with additional renewals across all genres and content areas to be announced later this spring.

Returning series for 2019-20 confirmed to date are as follows:

  • ANNE WITH AN E (Season 3, 10×60, Northwood Entertainment)*
  • BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (Season 4, 10×30, Frantic Films)*
  • BURDEN OF TRUTH (Season 3, 8×60, ICF Films, Entertainment One and Eagle Vision)
  • CBC ARTS: EXHIBITIONISTS (Season 5, 26×30, CBC Arts)
  • CBC DOCS POV (Season 5, 18×60)
  • CORONER (Season 2, 8×60, Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films and Cineflix Studios)
  • THE DETECTIVES (Season 3, 8×60, WAM Media GRP Inc.)
  • DRAGONS’ DEN (Season 14, 10×60, CBC)*
  • FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (Season 3, 10×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (Season 3, 9×60, Proper Television)*
  • HEARTLAND (Season 13, 10×60, Seven24 Films and Dynamo Films)
  • IN THE MAKING (Season 2, 8×30, White Pine Pictures)
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE (Season 4, 13×30, Thunderbird Entertainment)*
  • MURDOCH MYSTERIES (Season 13, 18×60, Shaftesbury)
  • THE NATURE OF THINGS (Season 59, 18×60)
  • SCHITT’S CREEK (Season 6, final season – 14×30, Not A Real Company Productions Inc.)*
  • STILL STANDING (Season 5, 13×30, Frantic Films)*

*Previously announced as returning

CBC is celebrating 236 nominations at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, a new record for the national public broadcaster. ANNE WITH AN E and SCHITT’S CREEK each received 15 nominations – the most for any scripted series this year. THE NATURE OF THINGS was honoured with 21 nominations and CBC DOCS POV received seven. Other returning titles that were nominated include: BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW (5), FRANKIE DRAKE MYSTERIES (5), THE GREAT CANADIAN BAKING SHOW (5), MURDOCH MYSTERIES (5), STILL STANDING (4), IN THE MAKING (3), THE DETECTIVES (2), BURDEN OF TRUTH (1) and DRAGONS’ DEN (1).

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Links: Burden of Truth, Season 2

From Alaina Pawlowicz of Beyond Fashion:

Link: Kristin Kreuk Talks the New Season of ‘Burden of Truth’, Acting, and Living Life in Toronto
“In Season 2 Joanna is involved in this crazy incident in her car. She is working with this hacktivist kid, played by Varun Saranga, and her technology starts to go out of control and that’s what propels the season.” Continue reading.

From Jill Wilson of the Winnipeg Free Press:

Link: Nothing but the Truth
“A lot of the bonds that were formed last season have deepened in a way by this season, so the subject matter that we’re dealing with is extremely heavy, but there’s a closeness to the characters.” Continue reading.

From Charles Trapunski of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Burden of Truth’s Kristin Kreuk
“It’s nice to see an appreciation for stories that are particularly located in Canada, and Canadian stories. We were really excited to have another shot with it because we had a difficult start last year with the changing of showrunners and things like that. So we got to take our time without interruption in the prep for season 2, and that was really exciting for us. In season 2, we really made an effort to give it a distinct visual style.” Continue reading.

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Burden of Truth: Kristin Kreuk and Peter Mooney preview “dangerous” Season 2

The first season of CBC’s Burden of Truth was a pleasant surprise. At first glance, the series—with its vague title and legal theme—had the unfortunate outer markings of a bland procedural, a sort of brown paper bag among more colourful “Peak TV” offerings.

But in a wonderful sidestep, the series eschewed a plot-focused case-of-the-week format in favour of a single, serialized case that took its time and built its characters. Moreover, its environmental storyline involving big-time corporate lawyer Joanna Hanley (Kristin Kreuk) and a mysterious illness affecting high school girls in her hometown of Millwood, Manitoba, exonerated its seemingly punchless title. As the suffering of the girls became impossible to ignore, the weight of Joanna’s conscience—which her lawyer-boss father David Hanley (Alex Carter) proudly proclaimed she didn’t have—became heavier and heavier. This moral awakening led her to defect from her dad’s big-city law firm and help small-town lawyer Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney) investigate the cause of the girls’ illness. It also led her to discover that her father once preyed upon an underage girl, resulting in the birth of her sister Luna (Star Slade). This helped her to win the case but forced her to change her name.

The burden of truth, indeed.

In the show’s Season 2 premiere, which airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, that burden still looms large. Now working at a high-pressure corporate law firm in Winnipeg and using the last name “Chang,” Joanna is trying to distance herself from both her father’s shadow and the Millwood case. However, the events of Season 1 won’t be easy to shake off.

“I think Brad Simpson, who created the show, really wanted to be sure that we stayed with the lives of these people and to really instill that these cases don’t just end and that’s it,” Kreuk explains during a phone interview from Toronto. “There’s a lot of complexity and also a lot of horrible things happened, so they have to deal with the balance of that.”

For Joanna, that means having to deal with Millwood-related aftershocks—be they in the form of a visit from her estranged father or in the form of an unwanted Case of the Year award—while she is struggling to rein in her difficult new client, a hacker-turned-political activist (Varun Saranga). For the people of Millwood, that means finding a way to rebuild their lives after the closure of Matheson Steel, the source of the environmental contamination that made the girls ill.

While the series is admirably willing to delve into the aftermath of Season 1, Mooney assures viewers that there are plenty of fresh storylines and threats lurking about in Season 2.

“I think the danger in the second season is so much more immediate,” he says. “The onus in the first season was chipping away at these girls’ lives in a really tragic way, and this season is just as dangerous. But that danger is not a future danger, but a danger that’s present and right there in every day of the season.”

One major source of danger is Joanna’s new case, which involves hacktivists, shadowy corporations and Internet privacy.

“When the hacktivist stuff happens, it’s hard for her,” Kreuk says. “Not just because she doesn’t understand the Internet and she doesn’t understand privacy, but because she’s dealing with young people who are really emotional and really intense, and that’s really tough for her. I think, practically, that puts her into a space where her life is on the line and so are the lives of her clients.”

To make matters worse, the case forces Joanna to confront parts of her personality she would rather keep hidden.

“When people attack Joanna’s privacy, it starts to get into emotional profiling and the darkest parts of your psychodynamics that you don’t want to look at and you don’t want anyone else to see,” Kreuk says.

Meanwhile, back in Millwood, Matheson Steel victims Molly (Sara Thompson) and Taylor (Anwen O’Driscoll) are trying to physically and emotionally heal after their ordeal, while Luna remains troubled by the crime David Hanley committed against her mother (Jessica Matten). The town is also reeling from the closure of the mill—an event that is driving up unemployment and increasing tensions. This causes Billy to retreat to the outskirts of town, but his tranquil existence is interrupted when his impulsive younger brother (Andrew Chown) suddenly turns up.

“Billy got away pretty clear in Season 1,” Mooney says. “Anything from his past that he’d rather have avoided, he was able to avoid in that season. But in Season 2, it comes crashing back into his life and we meet his brother Shane, who brings us back into his history, and it’s tricky history. There’s a lot going on. We see a lot of different sides of Billy beyond the side that he usually puts forward.”

If all of this sounds like a Season 1-style slow-burn instead of the “immediate” danger Mooney spoke of, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. There is an early-season twist that turns everything on its head, and Kreuk says the fallout will challenge viewers and push them to “think about their place in Canada, or in the world, in a more nuanced way.”

Mooney concurs, adding, “We tell a really difficult story this season, and I think it’s really well told. I’m really proud of it.”

Burden of Truth airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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