Tag Archives: CBC

The Oland Murder peels back the curtain on a high-profile East Coast death

The story ticks all of the boxes for a true crime fan like myself.

On the morning of July 7, 2011, multi-millionaire Richard Oland, of the Moosehead Brewing family, was found beaten to death in his Saint John, New Brunswick, office. His son, Dennis, was quickly identified as the main suspect and convicted of the crime. After spending 10 months in prison, the verdict was overturned and Dennis was released.

That’s where Deborah Wainwright came in. The award-winning director and Gemini and Canadian Screen Award-nominated producer was there with her team to film everything that happened in the planning for the trail.

Debuting on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CBC, the four-part The Oland Murder delves into the family, the police, the investigation and the result of the retrial in a truly compelling way. We spoke to Deborah Wainwright about the project.

How did you find out about this in the first place? 
Deborah Wainwright: Richard was murdered in 2011, but it was probably 2014 that I first sort of paid attention to the case. Of course, 2015 is when Making a Murderer hit. Everybody was talking about it. And this case kept popping up on my homepage and I didn’t really pay much attention except that patricide is certainly horrifying. And so when Dennis was convicted, I was like, ‘Yikes, that’s quite the story.’ And I started to pay attention as he was applying for bail, pending appeal, and he kept being turned down for bail, pending an appeal over and over again.

I thought that was curious. So I started reading all of the news articles and watching all the news clips that I could find on the story, trying to figure out why he wasn’t being granted appeal. And eventually, I thought this guy’s going to win his appeal. He’s going to be granted a retrial. So it just kept hopping across my home page and then I thought, ‘Well, wow, if I could find a way to be able to tell this story if he does get granted a retrial and I have the opportunity to follow that story as it’s happening, that would be a really unique situation.’ I can’t think of another case in Canada that did that.

How did you get Dennis to sign on and his mother to sign on? How did you convince them that you were a documentarian, that you weren’t going to take advantage of him?
DW: I’ve been asked that question a lot. And the first time someone asked, ‘How did I get access?’, I was so shocked. I said, ‘Because I asked.’ But I also think there was a little combination of the timing and the fact that I’m from the other side of the country.

Once I was in, they definitely expressed unease for agreeing. They definitely expressed unease with the way the case has been handled in the media. They didn’t feel it had been handled fairly by the media. So I do think that perhaps it was partly because I was from Vancouver and perhaps they hoped that I was coming with more of an open mind because as I say, I didn’t know the Olands. I didn’t know Moosehead. I didn’t know anything about it. I just saw this as an opportunity to tell the story of an ongoing trial.

Do you think maybe part of it was so that they could tell their side of the story?
DW: Absolutely. I mean, no one had been told their side of the story. And I think that’s a decision by the Oland’s to be quiet, to just be stoic and quiet and try and get through it together. Oh, I think it may have bitten them in the butt a little bit because people can only tell the stories that they are given access to. They knew because I’m a documentary filmmaker my goal was to tell the truth and to tell every bit of the story that I can. I can’t be one-sided.

And so they knew that they were going to be some things that were going to be uncomfortable. You mentioned Dennis’ mother, the widow. Having a sit-down interview with her was really something. And this was, gosh, six years later, seven years later, that I interviewed her after her husband had been murdered and her son had gone to prison and was still going through this. She was so brave and what a gift she gave me by allowing me to just sit down and ask her some really uncomfortable questions.

Something that I found really unique in your storytelling was the court transcripts. You couldn’t be in there with a camera so you used animation and it was wonderful.
DW: Oh, thank you so much. I will happily tell you, our animator is our wonderful graphic artist. His name is Vern Giammartino. He’s in Toronto and he is absolutely brilliant and also hilarious. We knew we wanted to animate it because of course, you can’t put a camera in the courtroom. So we talked about making it look like courtroom sketches. We really wanted the viewer to feel like that they had been sitting in the courtroom watching it go on.

What do you think happened?
DW: Of course I have an opinion on the verdict and who the killer is and so on. I and my colleagues sat through every day of the trial and all of the pretrial motions, so we have a lot of information that didn’t even make it into the film. We worked so very hard to craft a story that is balanced and fair and truthful.

The Oland Murder airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Murdoch Mysteries’ Shanice Banton: “I hope that you understand Violet a little bit more”

Violet Hart is perhaps the most galvanizing character on Murdoch Mysteries. Facebook feeds have been devoted to her conniving and plotting, with many comments simply stating, “I hate the character, so congratulations to the actress!”

That’s music to Shanice Banton’s ears. The actress, who has previously starred on Degrassi: The Next Generation and Lost Girl, has portrayed Violet Hart for a mere 33 episodes but has made a huge splash on a show celebrating 200 instalments. When we first met Ms. Hart, she was selling vitamins. Now she’s a coroner accused of murder. With Monday’s Murdoch Mysteries season finale upon us, we spoke to Banton about the brouhaha surrounding Ms. Hart.

Give me your origin story. How did you end up playing this character of Violet Hart in the first place?
Shanice Banton: I was shooting another project and this opportunity had come up, just like a regular audition, and I ended up putting myself on tape for it, I believe. Same old audition style, regular audition style and they told me they wanted to have me on, and that was it.

What were your initial thoughts? Coming off a show like the Degrassi or Lost Girl, you’re coming onto Murdoch Mysteries, which is a period drama. Was your initial reaction, ‘Yeah, get me into some of that old clothing!’
SB: Yeah. It kind of took me back to high school, ‘Ooh, this feels like theatre.’ This is exciting, but you’re doing it for film. It’s amazing because I’ve done a lot of older plays and stuff like that in high school.

Obviously hair, makeup, costumes, all that helps make this character.
SB: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we have Deb [Drennan] who does makeup and she is just super amazing at transforming me so that I would fit absolutely perfectly for that time. Exactly knowing what to do. And with Joanna [Syrokomla] as well, she’s been doing some amazing, amazing things like pulling things from these New Age stores, like Zara and cutting things together, building things for the character and it’s amazing. They even collage and such and without those things, until I stepped into my costume, until I step into makeup, that’s when I really feel like, ah, I’m Violet Hart now.

They really help shape your character. So I’m so glad that we have a team that’s amazing at that. Really awesome.

It was interesting to see how Violet was introduced. She was at a show and she was selling vitamins. Julia took her under her wing and, right from the get-go, we knew that Violet was different, that she was ambitious. How much of the character was described to you in those first few episodes of those first few scripts? 
SB: A lot of it was just taking it, what I’d been told what she would be like and reading the scripts. [She] was just really pushing the ambition and wanting to get something out of life and get to the next level.

You don’t see Violet as an evil person. She’s an ambitious person, right?
SB: Yeah, absolutely.

How do you feel about playing one of the evilest characters on Murdoch Mysteries?
SB: I feel good about it. I feel great actually. It’s fun. No, honestly, it’s always fun to play these characters. I’m glad that she’s stirring all the other’s troubles in the end. And, you finally get to see who is Violet Hart. We’ve all been wondering. And I think what’s happening here in this last little bit is really going to show that. It is exciting.

Showrunner Peter Mitchell has always said it’s a lot more fun to write for a character like Violet Hart. You’ve already hinted at the fun you’re having.
SB: Yeah, that’s super fun.

On the Facebook pages, the compliment that I see the most is, ‘hate the character because the actress does such a good job.’
SB: I love that. That’s amazing.

What’s it like working with Hélène and Yannick?
SB: They’re really great. When I first stepped onto the show and even up to now, it’s like I’m settled more into my character now than I was in the beginning. But working in the early stages, they were just so planted in their characters and scene actions. It’s really been great to watch them work together and have scenes together and it’s funny, off-set we’ve made a lot of jokes, it’s always great. And the crew is really awesome.

What do you want to say to the fans about this character and how they feel about her?
SB: Well, first of all, I want to say thank you for all the great comments on people hating her. I hope that after this episode you can get to understand her a little bit more and see where she’s coming from and have a little bit of a change of heart.

 

Have you changed your tune on Violet Hart? What do you think will happen in the finale? Let me know in the comments below.

The Season 13 finale of Murdoch Mysteries airs Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Links: Coroner, Season 2 finale

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Coroner Season 2 finale preview + chat with Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner
“[There] was actually a real Dr. John Fernandes, who was a consultant on our show who died suddenly And so we wanted to do something to honour John and it came from there.” Continue reading.

From Bridget Liszewski of The TV Junkies:

Link: Coroner: Morwyn Brebner and Adrienne Mitchell talk “Fire, Pt.  2”
“The challenges are so great because there’s so much stuff that you could do. It’s all about paring it back to the essentials. How do we tie up these storylines and leave space to grow into future seasons? It was really hard this season.” Continue reading.

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.com:

Link: Roger Cross helps Coroner draw a sheet over the Season 2 finale
“He is this rigid police officer whose gotten there by doing things his own way and now here is this person who’s come into his life and made him second guess some things. McAvoy can’t help thinking, ‘Maybe you’re not in as much control as you thought you are.’” Continue reading.

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Adrienne Mitchell and Morwyn Brebner discuss the Coroner season finale
“[Donovan] is a romantic. He is a deep soul, and [we wanted to show] what it’s like to be that person in the middle of also doing this job where you can’t have those feelings. It was really great to be able to give him those moments.” Continue reading.

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Preview: Murdoch Mysteries, “Things Left Behind”

This is it, Murdoch Mysteries fanatics. The penultimate episode of Season 13. And, with words like “team member” and “abducted” in the same sentence, we certainly have cause for worry. And hasn’t showrunner Peter Mitchell hinted on Facebook that things may not be well for all of our favourite characters?

Here’s what the CBC has revealed about “Things Left Behind,” written by Simon McNabb and Peter Mitchell and directed by Peter Mitchell:

Murdoch suspects Violet Hart has ties to a conman’s murder, Ogden flirts with danger, and a team member is abducted.

And here is more information from me after watching a screener.

Margaret is back!
So is Higgins, Sebastian Pigott as Dr. Dixon, James McGowan as Dr. Forbes, Jeremy Legat as Aldous Germaine and Jesse LaVercombe as Jack Walker. Look for Alex Hatz as Percival Emerson, Ben Sanders as Detective Edwards, Ryan Hollyman as John Lincoln (he played Harold Richmond in “All That Glitters”) and Sarah Swire as Amelia.

Violet’s past haunts her
Violet is interrupted during her work by someone she’s not happy to see. He has a warning for her that has repercussions throughout the episode. There is a revelation about Violet that was hinted at in her early days on Murdoch Mysteries.

Watts and Jack further their relationship
We haven’t seen Watts and Jack alone for several weeks. Suffice it to say they’ve been getting to know each other.

Julia performs surgery
Which puts her back, of course, in contact with Dr. Dixon. And we all know what happened the last time those two were alone.

Parker gets some bad news
Yup, you can see it on Murdoch, Brackenreid and Parker’s faces above: they are most certainly not talking gaily about the weather.

George has a super-fan
With copies of his book flying off the shelves, George is on top of the literary world. That’s a positive. And, as it turns out, a negative too.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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